I would also like to express our sincere condolences to all victims of the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria. Switzerland is deploying relief teams to the affected areas and ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid to the populations in need.
I thank Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths for his remarks and for the briefing following his trip to Ukraine. His testimony underscores the magnitude of the humanitarian crisis, the serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and the heavy toll being placed on the civilian population.
This is reflected in the massive humanitarian needs. According to an assessment by OCHA, nearly eighteen million people will need humanitarian assistance in Ukraine in 2023. Thousands of people have been killed or are severely injured, physically and psychologically. Millions of people have been driven from their homes and are without access to basic infrastructure such as electricity, water or health services. The most vulnerable people, such as the disabled and the elderly, are particularly affected. For children, war causes enormous mental distress. This is compounded by the fact that, according to UNICEF, 5 million children no longer have access to education. Their future plans have been turned upside down overnight.
Attacks on civilian infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and homes further worsen the situation of the civilian population. Switzerland recalls that international humanitarian law and human rights must be respected. In this winter period, we are particularly dismayed by Russia's indiscriminate attacks on the energy infrastructure. We reiterate our call on Russia to immediately de-escalate the situation, cease all combat operations and withdraw its troops from the entire Ukrainian territory without delay. Those responsible for this aggression and all crimes committed must be brought to justice.
We commend the tireless work of humanitarian actors in Ukraine. In order for them to continue to meet the urgent needs of the population, safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access must be ensured throughout Ukraine, including in areas occupied by Russia. Nearly a year after the conflict started, humanitarian access remains a priority.
Switzerland will continue its support to the affected population with, among other things, the delivery of winter equipment and the rehabilitation of housing and energy infrastructure. In addition to meeting urgent humanitarian needs, it is now necessary to move forward with the reconstruction process in an inclusive and transparent manner, as foreseen by the Lugano principles.
Dear Madam President
The humanitarian consequences of this war are felt well beyond Ukraine. It must stop immediately. In the meantime, diplomatic solutions, such as the Black Sea Grain Initiative facilitated by the Secretary General, have helped to mitigate some of these impacts. We encourage all parties to continue these efforts.
The protection of the civilian population is an urgent humanitarian imperative. As members of this Council, we must work tirelessly for a just peace, consistent with international law, and for the protection of civilians.
I thank you.