I would like to thank Assistant Secretary-General Jenča and Director Rajasingham for their presentations and tireless work in Ukraine and beyond.
Russia's military aggression against its neighboring country continues unabated. Ten days ago, and just after a new wave of drone attacks hit the capital Kyiv, the President of the Swiss Confederation underlined on site our commitment to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine. I echo his words: Switzerland continues to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people, now and for the long term.
Allow me to underline three points that are at the heart of our commitment:
Firstly, it is essential to continue supporting humanitarian actions and early recovery projects. Nearly 18 million people - almost half of Ukraine's current population - depend on them. The onset of winter, compounded by renewed Russian attacks on essential infrastructure, is having a major impact on the civilian population. Millions of people are suffering from power, heating and water cuts. The 100th inter-agency humanitarian convoy of the year, sent out last week, bears witness to the tireless efforts of humanitarian organizations. The lack of humanitarian access to Russian-controlled Ukrainian territories, despite the immense needs of civilians, is deeply worrying. Switzerland is contributing to the UN's Winter Response Plan for Ukraine, providing specific winter aid to ensure vital protection, dignified living conditions and secure electricity and heating services.
Secondly, the civilian population must be protected. At least 10,000 civilians have been killed and over 18,500 injured since February 2022. Ongoing Russian air strikes continue to add to this toll. We receive almost daily reports of attacks destroying or damaging homes, schools and other civilian infrastructure across Ukraine. Attacks in recent weeks have notably hit hospitals in Selydove, in the Donetsk region, as well as in the city of Kherson. Under international humanitarian law, health facilities and personnel enjoy special protection. IHL applies to all parties, in all armed conflicts, and must be strictly respected in all circumstances.
Thirdly, food security in Ukraine and worldwide must be strengthened. Switzerland welcomes President Zelenskyy's "Grain from Ukraine" initiative, as well as the establishment of the Black Sea humanitarian corridor. We also welcome the UN's ongoing efforts to facilitate unhindered exports, and stress the importance of the EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes. Open and uninterrupted trade is the basis for the delivery of humanitarian food aid worldwide. We reiterate our disappointment at Russia's suspension of the Black Sea Initiative and condemn the attacks destroying Ukrainian grain and port infrastructure. Switzerland remains committed to combating food insecurity, in particular by supporting the work of the World Food Program and prioritizing humanitarian demining in Ukraine, including the clearance of agricultural land.
Humanitarian efforts, the protection of civilians and global food security must be at the top of the international agenda. Switzerland remains strongly committed to these objectives, in this context as in others.
However, in order to find lasting solutions in Ukraine, we first and foremost call on Russia to immediately cease its military aggression.
I thank you.