Written Statement by H.E. Ambassador Anna Karin Eneström
on behalf of the Nordic Countries at the UN Security Council meeting
on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine,
New York, 17 March 2022
I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and my own country, Sweden.
Let me start by condemning Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military aggression against a peaceful neighbour state and its 44 million citizens in the strongest possible terms. During these three weeks of war, Russia has caused widespread human suffering and a high number of civilian casualties, including children. We are appalled about the devastating humanitarian consequences and the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation.
We are deeply concerned about the continuous rise in the number of people forced to flee. In these three weeks, more than three million people have had to leave Ukraine, most of whom are women and children, and we see an ever-increasing number of internally displaced persons and refugees. We are particularly concerned regarding unaccompanied and separated children, as well as the risk of trafficking of women and children. The women, peace and security agenda must be integrated into every aspect of the response, including in humanitarian efforts. From a gender perspective in needs analysis to funding local women’s organizations.
Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine is a flagrant violation of international law and the principles of the UN Charter and undermines international peace and security. In addition, this will also have devastating human consequences far beyond the borders of Ukraine. When millions of people globally are facing acute malnutrition and stand on the brink of famine, we are deeply worried about the impact of the invasion and the risk of increased food insecurity globally. To quote the Secretary-General, their breadbasket is being bombed.
The Nordic countries are strong defenders of a rules-based international order with international law, including international humanitarian law, at its heart. The targeting of healthcare and humanitarian personnel must end. International humanitarian law is clear: medical personnel, facilities and transports must be protected. The wounded and sick must be cared for and spared.
In this regard, Russia’s flagrant violations of international humanitarian law are unacceptable. We condemn Russia’s attacks on civilian objects in Ukraine, including hospitals and schools, causing disruption of the delivery of basic services and increasing the burden on the humanitarian system. Civilians must never be a target and must be protected at all times.
There should be no impunity for war crimes and we, the Nordic countries, will do our share to bring the perpetrators to justice. This is necessary to ensure justice for victims, but also to prevent and deter future violations. Accountability is an integral part of our obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law.
This Council, and the international community as a whole, has a responsibility to fully uphold and respect international law, including international humanitarian law. humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence in the provision of humanitarian assistance must be respected at all times.
Current access constraints and rapidly changing frontlines hinder the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian assistance. The parties have an obligation to allow rapid, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian actors to reach all those in need of lifesaving assistance including food, water, healthcare, protection, and shelter, wherever they are. Safe passage for civilians must be guaranteed.
Let me express our deep solidarity with the people of Ukraine at this dark hour. Last but not least, we would like to pay tribute to the brave humanitarian personnel who are working on the ground in extremely challenging and dangerous circumstances to address the needs of the people in Ukraine.