DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 14 MARCH 2022
The Secretary-General spoke to you just now, and he said that Ukraine is on fire, with the country being decimated before the eyes of the world.
With millions of people in Ukraine facing hunger and dwindling supplies of water and medicine, he announced that the United Nations will allocate a further $40 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to ramp up vital assistance to reach the most vulnerable.
The Secretary-General also announced today the establishment of a Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance in the UN Secretariat to deal with the larger implications of the conflict on the wider world. The Deputy Secretary-General will lead an inter-agency steering committee with partners to oversee this effort.
This morning, the Security Council held an open meeting and heard a briefing by Zbigniew Rau, the Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE.
Also addressing Council members was Rosemary DiCarlo, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.
She stressed the tragic conflict in Ukraine, which over the weekend has further worsened, vividly illustrates the importance of mechanisms to maintain and strengthen European and international peace and security.
Ms. DiCarlo said that the war in Ukraine is the most severe test the OSCE and related regional frameworks have faced since their creation, with the Russian invasion having shaken the foundations of the European security architecture to its core.
She stressed that we must not allow any questioning of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, as such questioning would be inconsistent with the UN Charter and relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.
The United Nations, she said, continues to scale up not only its humanitarian support to the people of Ukraine, but also its engagement with key partners like the OSCE in support of an immediate ceasefire and a lasting diplomatic solution.
On the humanitarian side, the situation in Ukraine continues to deteriorate rapidly. Today, the UN Refugee Agency said that more than 2.8 million people have crossed international borders out of Ukraine.
Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that in Mariupol, trapped civilians face life-threatening shortages of food, water, medicine and other basic necessities. They warn that the use of explosive weapons in urban areas, particularly those with wide-area effects, carries a high risk of indiscriminate impact. They stress that parties to the conflict must abide by international law and the core principles that protect human life and dignity.
We, along with our humanitarian partners, continue to scale up life-saving response across the country and we have reached 600,000 people with some form of humanitarian assistance in Ukraine. It is expected that many more people will be reached in the coming days, given the scope and scale of the humanitarian operation being deployed by humanitarian organizations and partners. The main humanitarian challenge remains securing safe access in areas with ongoing fighting.
On funding, the Ukraine Flash Appeal for 2022 has received $219 million so far, which represents 19 per cent. As you recall, last Friday, this value was $129 million. We thank the donors who released the pledged amounts and encourage others to release the money quickly and report their contribution to OCHA’s Financial Tracking Service.
UKRAINE/ATTACKS ON HEALTH CARE
Yesterday, in a statement, the UN Children’s Fund Executive Director, Catherine Russell; the UN Population Fund Executive Director, Natalia Kanem, and the World Health Organization’s Executive Director, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called for an immediate cessation of all attacks on health care in Ukraine. They warned that these horrific attacks are killing and causing serious injuries to patients and health workers, destroying vital health infrastructure and forcing thousands to forgo accessing health services despite catastrophic needs.
WHO’s Surveillance System for Attacks on Health Care documented 31 attacks on health care in Ukraine since the start of the war. WHO is verifying further reports, as attacks continue to be reported despite the calls for protection of health care.
COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the opening of the sixty-sixth session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which this year focuses on achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.
The Secretary-General said that while women and girls face the greatest threats and the deepest harm, they are also taking action to confront the climate and environmental crises. However, they continue to be largely excluded from the rooms where decisions are taken.
“We are still living with the results of millennia of patriarchy that excludes women and prevents their voices from being heard,” he said, adding that we cannot realise any of our goals without the contributions of all.
The Secretary-General noted that the UN is working every day to support the participation and leadership of women at every stage of building and maintaining peace and that his special envoys and representatives are designing and supporting strategies for more inclusive peace processes. He added that this is not only a matter of justice. Women’s equal leadership and participation are vital to creating peaceful, resilient communities and societies.
The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, arrived in Beirut, Lebanon, today where she will be opening the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development organized by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia.
This Forum is the primary regional mechanism for the follow-up and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Arab region that will group high-level delegations and representatives of Arab Governments, regional and international organizations, civil society and the private sector, in addition to parliamentarians, researchers and academics.
On the margins of the Forum, the Deputy Secretary-General will also meet with UN Directors and Resident Coordinators in the region.
Ms. Mohammed visited the Beirut Port, the site of the tragic explosion in August 2020 that killed more than 200 people and injured thousands. She laid a wreath at the site, paying tribute to all who lost their lives in a moment of reflection and silence. She also met with UN Staff who were directly affected.
Later today, the Deputy Secretary-General will also meet with the Forum’s Chair, H.E. Mr. Nasser Shraideh, Minister of Planning and International Cooperation of Jordan, focusing on issues related to sustainable development in Jordan.
On 16 March, the Secretary-General will convene - with the President of Switzerland and the Foreign Minister of Sweden - a high-level pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie will also join the virtual gathering. Ms. Jolie recently travelled to Yemen to draw attention to the devastating impact of the war.
The event is an opportunity to demonstrate that the world has not forgotten Yemen, even as other crises are demanding global attention. We call on all donors to pledge generously and to disburse funds quickly.
Right now, severe funding shortages are forcing programmes that millions of people rely on for their survival to scale down or close altogether.
Food aid for 8 million people has been drastically cut back and in the coming weeks, nearly 4 million people could lose access to clean water and sanitation, increasing the risk of communicable diseases. And over 1 million women and girls stand to lose access to emergency reproductive health or programmes that address gender-based violence.
Geir Pedersen, the Special Envoy for Syria, issued a message on the start of the twelfth year of the conflict in Syria, saying that Syrians continue to suffer in profound ways, and the hardship is only deepening.
His message to all sides is that a military solution is an illusion. This was always so, but it is now plain for all to see, he added. There have been no shifts in the frontlines for two years. The Special Envoy said that we are facing a continuing stalemate, and at the same time, we see growing humanitarian needs and a socio-economic collapse.
Mr. Pedersen noted that the Constitutional Committee meets again soon in Geneva, and he believes it needs to move substantively forward on its mandate. He reiterated his belief that a series of reciprocal confidence-building measures in resolution 2254 could be implemented in parallel, step-for step.
On South Sudan, the World Food Programme warned today that more than 70 per cent of the men, women and children in the country will struggle to survive the peak of the lean season this year.
South Sudan is facing unprecedented levels of food insecurity caused by conflict, climate shocks, COVID-19, and rising costs.
WFP says that 8.3 million people in South Sudan – including refugees – could face extreme hunger in the coming months.
While providing critical food and nutrition assistance to meet the immediate needs of populations at risk, WFP is also working to build resilience to help communities cope with sudden shocks.