Thank you, Mister President,

And I thank Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ms. Joyce Msuya for her statement. 

The consequences of the high intensity of Russian attacks are being felt throughout Ukraine. Switzerland is deeply troubled by the daily news from various regions where human lives are being shattered and humanitarian needs are worsening. These attacks must stop.  

We are particularly concerned by the escalation of attacks in Kharkiv the consequences of which Ms. Msyua has just outlined, including the strike on May 25 which destroyed a crowded shopping mall in the middle of the day. Our thoughts are with the relatives of the nineteen people killed, and we wish a speedy recovery to the nearly fifty injured. Since this Council last discussed the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, the number of civilian casualties has continued to rise, as has the damage to civilian infrastructure, including energy infrastructure. We condemn indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks. International humanitarian law is unequivocal: all parties must respect its rules in all circumstances, including those relating to the conduct of hostilities, and ensure the protection of the civilian population. Notably, civilians and civilian objects must not be targets.  

As the attacks intensify, more and more people are fleeing to save their lives. Thousands of people had to evacuate the Kharkiv region last month, among them older people and people with disabilities. One of the women who fled recalled that “Leaving all behind, knowing my friends and family are still there, is truly the hardest thing”. For some of them, it's an all too familiar nightmare: in the first few months of Russia’s military aggression in 2022, almost a third of all internally displaced people fled from the Kharkiv region, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).  

Once again, we would like to express our gratitude to the humanitarian partners who are helping displaced people and civilians affected by the fighting under difficult conditions, often at the risk of their own safety. We reiterate the obligation under international law to protect humanitarian and UN personnel, including national and local staff. The Council reaffirmed this obligation in Resolution 2730 last month. I also recall the obligation to allow and facilitate full, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access to all civilians in need throughout Ukraine, including in territories under Russian military control.  

Mister President,

Despite the dire situation, I would like to highlight two positive developments: Firstly, an exchange of prisoners of war took place at the end of May - the first exchange in almost four months. Secondly, we welcome the reunification of Ukrainian children with their families. These examples remind us that even in the most difficult situations, diplomatic and humanitarian action can lead to agreements and tangible improvements for the civilian population.  

The longer the war goes on, the more insistent and urgent are the calls for peaceful solutions. The realities on the ground remind us that more diplomacy is needed to build peace. As member States, we have the primary responsibility for those in need of protection. With the Summit on peace in Ukraine, Switzerland wishes to make its contribution. The aim of the Summit is therefore to strengthen a common understanding for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, to provide a platform for high-level discussions and to initiate a peace process. It is not directed against Russia. It is about providing a platform for a wide range of countries to express their views and proposals for moving forward, in order to contribute to the preparation of possible future peace talks between the parties. We are counting on the support of participants from all regions of the world, in order to take a step towards a future peace process in line with the UN Charter.

I thank you.