I thank Assistant Secretary-General Jenča and the World Food Programme (WFP) Representative and Country Director in Ukraine, Matthew Hollingworth, for their presentations.
On the 90th anniversary of the Holodomor, I would first like to pay tribute to the millions of victims of this great famine caused by the Soviet regime. Our thoughts are with the victims and the Ukrainian people, which every year commemorates this wound in its soul.
Ukraine is the bread basket of the world. In normal times, it can feed 400 million people a year.
Combat operations since the start of Russia’s military aggression have affected some of the best agricultural land in Ukraine. A third of the country is potentially contaminated by mines and unexploded ammunition. And targeted Russian attacks are destroying Ukraine's Black Sea grain and port infrastructure.
Switzerland is deeply concerned by the adverse consequences of these actions for food security, not only in Ukraine but worldwide, especially in the most vulnerable countries.
At a time when one in ten people in the world suffers from chronic hunger, everything must be done to restore and protect Ukraine's capacities and stabilize supply chains.
The solution to this is simple: Once again - and for the protection of the right to food worldwide - we urge Russia to cease its combat operations and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.
We reiterate our call for all parties to respect international humanitarian law and human rights. We recall that international humanitarian law prohibits attacks on goods essential to the survival of the civilian population. The serious damage caused to civilian property and objects, as well as the interruption of essential services such as water, electricity and heating, are particularly alarming as another winter season approaches. These attacks must stop immediately.
As the impact of Russia's military aggression is felt around the world, we commend all those involved - including Ukraine itself - who are working tirelessly to relieve those suffering from food insecurity.
Switzerland thanks the Secretary-General for giving priority to securing exports via the Black Sea. Nearly 33 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs have been exported under the Black Sea Initiative.
We regret that by withdrawing from the initiative, Russia has extinguished this beacon of hope.
Since then, more than 150 ships have used the humanitarian corridor launched by Ukraine in the Black Sea. We call on all parties to refrain from any action that could harm civilian shipping, as happened on November 8.
We also express our gratitude to the WFP, present with us today virtually. Its activities, in particular food distribution, cash assistance and, in Ukraine, agricultural demining, are essential to support the most vulnerable people. Switzerland is proud to have supported the WFP's efforts with almost $15 million since February 2022.
Finally, I underline Switzerland's support for the "Grain From Ukraine" humanitarian food program. With just a few days to go before the second summit, we are looking forward to being able to continue today's discussions in Kyiv, and will continue our commitment to global food security and to meeting urgent humanitarian needs.
Together, we can return the mined land and destroyed infrastructure to their original state: a sea of grain fields. Because hunger should never be used as a weapon of war.
I thank you.