Governance

A year of war: Step back from the brink, Guterres urges at UN General Assembly special session on Ukraine

Some 20,000 civilians and many soldiers are dead and countless more injured, while eight million refugees have spread across Europe and beyond  

 
By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 23 February 2023
A year of war: Step back from the brink, Guterres urges at UN General Assembly special session on Ukraine
A residential building in Makariv, west of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, show signs of damage from a bomb blast. UN Photo A residential building in Makariv, west of the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, show signs of damage from a bomb blast. UN Photo

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres renewed calls for an immediate cessation to hostilities in Ukraine February 22, 2023, as the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of the country loomed.

At a special session of the UN General Assembly, Guterres said the one-year mark stood as a “grim milestone” and the impact of the conflict was being felt far beyond Ukraine.

“It is high time to step back from the brink,” Guterres said, according to a UN statement. “War is not the solution. War is the problem,” he added.

More than 80 countries are scheduled to address the General Assembly, which is expected to vote on the new draft resolution on Ukraine February 23 or February 24.

Csaba Korosi, president of the UN General Assembly, enumerated the grim costs of the year-long conflict for Ukraine and the rest of the world.

Some 20,000 civilians and many soldiers are dead and countless more injured, while eight million refugees have spread across Europe and beyond. Six million remain internally displaced. Currently, 40 per cent of Ukrainians need humanitarian assistance.

Russia’s systematic targeting of civilian infrastructure has left millions of Ukrainians without energy, water, and heat in the depths of winter, Korosi said. He added that this violated international humanitarian law.

Guterres also noted the grave threat posed by military activity around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility.

He said the UN was continuing its efforts to mitigate the impacts of the war.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative – which allows for significant volumes of commercial food exports from three key Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea (Odesa, Chornomorsk, Yuzhn) – has shown the possibility of Ukraine and the Russia Federation to advance global food security — with the support of the Government of Türkiye and the United Nations. 

“We are working hard to remove all the remaining obstacles to the implementation of the memorandum of understanding between the Secretariat of the United Nations and the Russian Federation to facilitate exports of Russian food and fertilisers to global markets,” Guterres said.

He also called for full support of the recent UN launch of a $5.6 billion humanitarian appeal for the people of Ukraine.

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