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General Assembly President calls for solidarity with Ukraine as ‘unnecessary war’ drags on for two years

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“As we reflect on these two years of anguish and difficulty, let us leave this place with a resounding message of solidarity and unwavering support for the resilient people of Ukraine,” he said, speaking at the eve of the solemn anniversary.

The Security Council is also due to meet later Friday on Ukraine, where new strikes were reported on the cities of Odessa and Dnipro, just a day after deadly attacks in the Donetsk region, located East.

Destruction and devastation

Addressing representatives of the 193 UN member states gathered in the General Assembly Hall in New York, Francis said they “cannot remain blind to the ongoing destruction and devastation , nor ignore the fate of the Ukrainian people.”

“This is especially true as this year also coincides with the tenth anniversary of the attempted illegal annexation of Crimea and other Ukrainian territories by the Russian Federation in 2014,” he added.

The full-scale invasion of Russia began on February 24, 2022. Since then, thousands of people have been killed and injured, millions more have been uprooted and schools, hospitals and other critical infrastructure have been damaged. Many Ukrainian children have also been forcibly deported to Russia.

Huge impacts around the world

Mr Francis said the impact of this “unnecessary war” extends well beyond Ukraine’s borders, as the environment is also “the silent victim of the conflict”, while the real risk of a nuclear accident persists.

“And, ultimately, the war has affected all the member states gathered in this room – whether in the form of soaring food prices or in the context of energy insecurity. »

Furthermore, the conflict has been an important catalyst in reshaping global geopolitics and geoeconomics, he continued, as it directly harms the countries involved while hindering progress in many other countries, particularly in developing countries.

UN Charter undermined

“This actively undermines the very foundations of our United Nations Charter – threatening the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity that we are all committed to cherishing and defending,” he said.

“This has disrupted the delicate balance of international relations – at a time when unity, solidarity and cooperation are absolutely essential to resolving multilateral issues.

Francis noted that although the 15-member UN Security Council has been paralyzed by conflict-related divisions, the General Assembly has condemned Russia’s aggression and demanded that immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of its forces from Ukrainian territory.

Work for peace

“Beyond the condemnations, we, the United Nations, must work actively towards a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, in accordance with the Charter of this organization,” he declared.

The President of the Assembly called for renewed efforts “to end wars and pave the way for a future of hope, promise and prosperity for the people of Ukraine and Russia, as well as elsewhere, without exception “.

A family receives medical treatment in Odessa after being rescued in Kherson following the destruction of the Kakhovka dam.

A family receives medical treatment in Odessa after being rescued in Kherson following the destruction of the Kakhovka dam.

Strengthening healthcare in Ukraine

Meanwhile, UN agencies are considering their response to the conflict in Ukraine, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has called Europe’s biggest emergency.

WHO works in partnership with the Ministry of Health to determine, in real time, what the main needs of the sector are and intervene where necessary to strengthen existing systems.

Support has included regular donations of essential medical supplies, vehicles and equipment to ensure existing health facilities can continue to operate.

Teams also built temporary structures in communities where health facilities were damaged or destroyed, ensuring people could continue to receive care. Currently, 12 modular primary care clinics are open in the south and east of the country.

WHO has verified 1,574 attacks on health since the start of the war, costing the lives of 118 health workers and impacting health facilities, transport and warehouses.

The conflict in Ukraine has had a devastating impact on children's mental health and ability to learn.

© UNICEF/Alexei Filippov

The conflict in Ukraine has had a devastating impact on children’s mental health and ability to learn.

Concern for children’s mental health

Russia’s full-scale invasion has had devastating consequences on the mental health of Ukraine’s youngest citizens, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The agency said boys and girls in frontline areas were forced to spend between 3,000 and 5,000 hours – the equivalent of four to seven months – sheltering in basements, bunkers or in a hole in the ground.

Seeking protection from missiles and drones is costly for these children, said UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, who was in the city of Kharkiv this week, where he spoke with families and child psychologists.

“Around three-quarters of young people have recently reported needing psychological or emotional support; a fraction of them benefit from it,” he told reporters in Geneva on Friday.

“So the ongoing bombings, the increased use of drones – all of this is heightening the awareness that children continue to be killed, hampering the ability of families to overcome the stress and trauma inflicted by this war. ”

Elder added that while education is a fundamental source of hope and stability, it is chronically disrupted and out of reach for a significant portion of Ukrainian children.

“Children in frontline areas have stayed in a school for just one week in the past four years – two years of COVID-19 and two years of full-scale war. In the Kharkiv region, two schools out of 700 are conducting their classes in person. learn,” he said.

UNICEF’s response in Ukraine has included providing a network of psychologists who support children and their parents, helping them overcome distress and trauma and find some relief and joy.

The agency also supports the reconstruction of critical infrastructure such as schools and water systems, among other operations.

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