- UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine one year ago brought “hell” to the Ukrainian people.
- Guterres said around 17.6 million people, or 40 percent of the Ukrainian population, needs humanitarian assistance and protection, while 30 percent of the jobs in the country have been wiped out.
- Half of Ukrainian children have been forced from their homes, and face higher risks of violence, abuse and exploitation.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Friday that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine one year ago brought “hell” to the Ukrainian people via “widespread death, destruction and displacement.”
“Life is a living hell for the people of Ukraine,” Guterres said in prepared remarks as UN Security Council ministers met on the first anniversary of the war.
Laying out the facts of the invasion’s social impact, Guterres said around 17.6 million people, or 40 percent of the Ukrainian population, needs humanitarian assistance and protection, while 30 percent of the jobs in the country have been wiped out.
More than eight million Ukrainians have fled to other parts of Europe, and another 5.4 million are internally displaced, “a displacement crisis not seen in Europe in decades,” he said.
Half of Ukrainian children have been forced from their homes, and face higher risks of violence, abuse and exploitation, he added.
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has already documented “dozens” of cases of sexual violence against men, women and girls that is tied to the war, he noted.
Thousands of health care facilities and schools have been damaged or shut, and vital infrastructure like water, energy and heating have been destroyed during a frigid winter.
The Security Council ministers were holding a symbolic meeting to mark the war’s anniversary.
But the meeting came after a year in which the UN’s most powerful body, while formulating its response to the invasion, has had to contend with permanent member Russia’s ability to wield its veto.
The council has met 40 times on Ukraine, Guterres pointed out.
In contrast, on Thursday the UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution demanding Moscow immediately and unconditionally withdraw from Ukraine.
The resolution reaffirmed support for Ukraine’s “sovereignty” and “territorial integrity,” rejecting any Russian claims to the parts of the country it occupies.
A total of 141 UN member states backed the resolution, while only seven, including Russia, opposed, with 32 abstaining.
Guterres told the council the world needs peace “in line with the UN Charter and international law.”
“As we work for peace… protection of civilians must remain the top priority,” he said.
He condemned Moscow’s “veiled threats” to use nuclear weapons.
Such threats “have spiked nuclear risks to levels not seen since the darkest days of the Cold War,” he said.
“These threats are unacceptable,” he said.