I thank Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo and Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Joyce Msuya for their presentations.
Russia's military aggression against Ukraine has, once again, led to numerous civilian casualties. As we have heard, last week, as many residents of the village of Hroza gathered for a funeral, the mourning in this village in the Kharkiv region was multiplied by yet another devastating attack. Tragically, more than 50 civilians – one fifth of the population - lost their lives, including a child, and many others were injured. The entire village is reeling from the consequences of this act, which struck in the middle of the afternoon. Switzerland strongly condemns this attack.
On behalf of Switzerland, I would like to offer our most sincere condolences to the victims and their families. And I would like to pay tribute to the tireless efforts of the emergency personnel and humanitarian workers who have mobilised to help in the wake of this attack - as after so many others and in particularly difficult and traumatic circumstances.
This attack is one of the deadliest since the beginning of the aggression. Once again, we are witnessing the terrible consequences of a military engagement that shows total disregard for the lives of civilians. We note that, in general, indiscriminate attacks are not ceasing; on the contrary, they have increased over the summer.
People in all regions of Ukraine continue to live in daily fear of the next missile strike, which could hit residential buildings, a school, a nursery or - as last week in Hroza - a café and shop or, in Berislav, a hospital. The day after the attack in the Kupiansk district, another attack took place in the centre of Kharkiv, where residential buildings were hit and destroyed, causing more casualties.
These recurring strikes against civilian infrastructure, including essential infrastructure, are all the more worrying as winter approaches. We reiterate that the parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants, and between civilian objects and military objectives. Furthermore, when military objectives are attacked, the principles of precaution and proportionality must be respected. Indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks are prohibited by international humanitarian law and must cease immediately.
We therefore reiterate our call for international humanitarian law to be respected, in particular as regards the protection of civilians, and international human rights law.
And we demand justice and accountability when these obligations are violated for all perpetrators of these crimes, at all levels.
This requires credible and timely investigations, documentation and criminal prosecution of those responsible for violations of international law. The deployment of a field team by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate the attack in Hroza is an important and concrete step in this direction. We also welcome the announcement of in-depth investigations by the International Independent Investigation Commission on Ukraine into attacks using explosive weapons, attacks on civilians, torture, sexual and gender-based violence and strikes against energy infrastructure.
As long as this war continues, civilians will pay a price that is far, far too high. We urge Russia to de-escalate the situation, cease its combat operations and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory. Switzerland remains fully committed to supporting efforts to achieve a just and lasting peace in Ukraine, in accordance with international law, in particular the United Nations Charter.
I thank you.