I would like to thank Deputy Secretary General Rosemary DiCarlo and Under-Secretary General Martin Griffiths not only for their presentations, but also, on behalf of my country, Switzerland, for their tireless work to alleviate the suffering of the civilian population.
Once again, we have come to the end of a week of grim news from Ukraine. More attacks, more civilian casualties and more destruction. More uncertainty, too, for people in Ukraine and also around the world.
According to credible reports, in Mykolayv, near Odesa, an air strike hit homes and a nursery yesterday. A nursery. These attacks are as cruel as they are unacceptable. Switzerland is extremely concerned by this apparent escalation of attacks again against civilians and civilian infrastructure in south of Ukraine. We recall that international humanitarian law prohibits attacks against the civilian population and infrastructure, as well as reprisals, particularly against protected persons and property. It is imperative that the rules governing the conduct of hostilities be respected. We also echo the various condemnations of the Russian strikes against the port facilities of Odesa and other Ukrainian Black Sea ports.
These, like Russia's decision on the Black Sea Initiative, have repercussions far beyond Ukraine. The agreements signed in Istanbul a year ago have proved vital for food security worldwide. The Black Sea Initiative has facilitated the exportation of more than 32 million tonnes of food from Ukraine to 45 countries on three continents, helped reducing global food prices and made it possible for the World Food Programme to ship more than 725,000 tonnes of wheat to support humanitarian operations. We reiterate our deep regret at Russia's decision not to extend this initiative. We fear that this decision will exacerbate situations of distress and particularly affect the poorest people. We are also concerned about the risk of destabilization by food insecurity in many regions of this world.
Switzerland is convinced that it is in the interest of global food security for the Initiative to be renewed. We are concerned by the military escalation and rhetoric used since the Russian decision, and call to refrain from any prejudicial action, particularly with regard to civilian shipping. We welcome the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General, of Türkiye and all those involved to facilitate rapid and unhindered access to world markets for food products and fertilizers from Ukraine and Russia. We continue to stand ready to support these efforts, particularly in our role as host state.
The signing of the agreements in Istanbul a year ago was one of the few moments of hope since the start of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine. It proved that even in the darkest hours, solutions can be found in the interests of a wider goal. A reminder that humanity and consideration for the most vulnerable must - and can! - prevail.
This week's events are contrary to what we have been calling for since February 2022. This escalating trend must imperatively stop. The longer this military aggression continues, the greater its repercussions are. We therefore reiterate our call on Russia to de-escalate the situation, cease all hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.
I thank you.