I will now make a statement in my capacity as the representative of Switzerland.
Let me begin by thanking Under-Secretary-General Martin Griffiths not only for his briefing, but also for all his work and the work of his teams both in Ukraine and in relation to Ukraine.
In May, this Council traditionally focuses on the protection of the civilian population, a legal obligation for any party to an armed conflict. And yet, after 15 months of war, we must note that the civilian population in Ukraine continues to pay a price that is far too painful.
In recent days, the Ukrainian population has had to endure – again – multiple waves of attacks. Russian missiles and drones have hit Ukrainian towns in various regions of Ukraine. In Kherson, attacks hit a train station and a supermarket during rush hour; they killed or injured dozens of persons. In Odesa, the Ukrainian Red Cross warehouse was destroyed, as was its mobile clinic in Mykolayev. In Ternopil, a humanitarian warehouse was also destroyed by Russian strikes last Saturday.
Switzerland strongly condemns these attacks. I reiterate once again: civilian persons and objects are not a target. We call for the respect of international humanitarian law. The parties to the conflict have the responsibility to take all possible measures to protect the civilian population.
We also recall the obligation to protect humanitarian workers and ensure their unhindered access to the 18 million people in need in Ukraine, including to those in the Russian occupied areas.
At the same time, accountability is an imperative for rendering justice. The International Independent Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine concluded in March that certain violations of international law in Ukraine constitute war crimes. The perpetrators of these and other violations of law must be held accountable. At the same time, it is essential that the needs of victims be placed at the center of all transitional justice efforts. We support the recommendation of the Commission of Inquiry that complementary instruments such as a victims' registry, reparations, and mental health and psychosocial services be put in place.
The Russian military aggression against Ukraine has negative repercussions all over the world. This is where the Black Sea Initiative comes in, along with the Memorandum of Understanding focused on the export of Russian food products and fertilizers. The initiative helps to alleviate food and energy insecurity. Last week, it reached an important milestone with the export of 30 million tons of grain and foodstuffs since its launch. Of this, more than half a million tons of grain has been shipped by the World Food Programme in support of its humanitarian operations in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Yemen.
In view of its added value, the Black Sea Initiative must continue. We encourage all parties to redouble their efforts to find a lasting solution. We welcome the commitment of the Secretary General and his representatives and the contribution of Tükiye in this regard. Switzerland stands ready to provide its support, particularly in its role as host state.
After 15 months of war, thousands of civilians are suffering from the devastating direct effects of these hostilities, as well as the indirect effects on the infrastructure necessary to meet their basic needs. We reiterate our urgent call on Russia to de-escalate the situation immediately, cease all hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory without delay
I hope that this month of May, marked by the spirit of the Geneva Conventions, will lead us to reaffirm what should unite us all: the humanitarian imperative to protect the civilian population. This is true in Ukraine, as it is everywhere in the world.
I thank you