Thank you, President.
First, on behalf of the UK, I would like to offer condolences to those people affected by the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. Our thoughts are with those families in mourning on this sad day, and our appreciation with the many contributing to the rescue and relief efforts. The UK is contributing immediate support and are in close touch with those responding on the ground.
Focusing on Ukraine, I would like to thank Under-Secretary General Griffiths for his briefing today.
As the UN has set out in many briefings over the past year since Russia started this war, Russia’s invasion has been devastating for the Ukrainian people.
We receive daily reports of families, children, elderly and disabled people forced to make ends meet while sheltering from relentless firing. A staggering 17.6 million people require humanitarian assistance in 2023.
The ongoing insecurity across frontlines has prevented humanitarian organisations from establishing a sustained presence and access to those who need it most.
The UK’s support for neutral, impartial humanitarian action in Ukraine is clear.
We commend the efforts of the United Nations and humanitarian organisations. But we know that in territory controlled by Russia, there is limited, sometimes no access for humanitarian organisations. The systematic denial of humanitarian access must end.
This ongoing behaviour is consistent with Russia’s behaviour throughout the war, including the deliberate and callous targeting of civilian infrastructure, and the instrumentalisation of access to food and energy – which has had implications for vulnerable people in Ukraine and across the globe.
The Black Sea Grain Initiative has helped increase vital supplies and reduce global food prices. Global demand for Ukraine’s grain remains strong.
And yet, in recent weeks, Russian inspections of ships has slowed and the backlog of waiting ships has increased. Exports under the Initiative have decreased.
We join others in calling on Russia to fulfill its commitments, in line with MOU with the UN, to ‘facilitate the unimpeded export of food’ from Ukraine’s Black Sea Ports.
This means renewing the Black Sea Grain Initiative next month and scaling-up inspections at a rate that better meets global demands.
President, the world needs a just and sustainable peace in Ukraine.
Russia must stop seeking to shift blame and must face up to some very basic truths. First, it must acknowledge the immense suffering its war is causing to its own people, the people of Ukraine and to people around the world. And second, it must recognise that there is one clear solution to end this suffering: a unilateral withdrawal of Russian troops, in line with the UN Charter, and an end to this futile war.
Thank you, President.