United Nations Security Council Meeting: Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine
I thank you, Mr. President, and welcome your leadership over this meeting of the Council on the important and timely discussion on the impact of the war on women and children in Ukraine.
I would like to thank Ms. Sima Bahous, the Executive Director of UN Women and Mr. Manuel Fontaine, the Emergency Operations Director of UNICEF for their respective briefings on the situation. We are also grateful to Ms. Kateryna Cherepakha, President of the civil society group, ‘La Strada-Ukraine” for the views shared with the Council. We further welcome the participation in this meeting of all distinguished representatives under Rule 37.
The continued situation of instability and insecurity in Ukraine continues to be a matter of deep concern for Ghana. My delegation is particularly alarmed by the situation of women and children, as well as of the aged, arising from the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine. Ghana strongly deplores the reported acts of widespread and what is emerging to be gross violations of International Humanitarian Law in Ukraine by the troops of the Russian Federation. We condemn the attack of 8th April 2022 on the train station in Kramatorsk which resulted in high civilian casualties and commiserate with the bereaved families and the people of Ukraine. We continue to be pained by the horrifying images of war in Ukraine and by the daily images of fright and despair in the eyes of a people who just a few weeks ago lived normal and stable lives.
In situations of war, women and children suffer a disproportionate humanitarian impact and the war in Ukraine has been no different. Ghana is particularly concerned by the situation of the children of Ukraine who are being scarred by the horrifying images of war. Children should never go through such experiences and must, accordingly, be protected by all parties in accordance with applicable international law.
We note UNICEF’s report that around 4.3 million refugees have fled Ukraine into the neighbouring countries, with women and children making up 90 per cent of the refugee population. We regret the104 children who are reported as having been killed, alongside the 134 others injured. Without the immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities, these numbers would increase. We therefore call upon the warring parties, especially the aggressor State, to redouble all efforts for peace in the interest of the women and children of Ukraine, including the women in need of assistance who constitute more than fifty-four percent of the people in need from the ongoing crisis.
The rising food insecurity, lack of access to essential social services in cities like Mariupol, Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv have invariably increased the care burden of local women responsible for the care of children, the disabled and elderly family members. The war has severely impacted social cohesion, community security and the resilience of local communities, especially of women and girls.
The destruction caused by this war, particularly with the use of explosive weapons with wide-impact area in civilian populated areas and targeted at medical facilities, has created profound health crisis, with the women, girls and children bearing the greatest brunt of such deprivations. Women and young girls face an increased risk of disruptions to lifesaving sexual and reproductive health services and access to specialized medication and treatments. Ghana unequivocally condemns the reports of trafficking, sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, and exploitation. Such atrocities impact negatively on the physical and psychological health of the victims, as well as on their general well-being both in the short-term as well as over the longer-term period. We therefore encourage humanitarian agencies to ensure that identified victims are provided with the needed medical and psycho-social care to overcome the trauma of abuse.
We underscore the need for accountability for all alleged violations of international humanitarian and criminal laws and reiterate our call for an immediate, independent and impartial investigations to establish the facts of these offenses and build the evidence to hold the perpetrators of such atrocities to account.
The gender-related challenges of the war necessarily require the prioritization of the needs of the women and children and the implementation of gender-responsive humanitarian assistance. In this regard, women leaders at all levels of society should be included in coordination mechanisms and decision making processes. In the spirit of resolution 1325, we urge the parties to consider including women in their negotiating teams as a way of ensuring the meaningful participation of women in the diplomatic and political processes. It is important that women are not only counted as victims of the war but as key participators in finding a lasting a durable solution.
In closing, we reiterate our call on the Russian Federation to heed the repeated calls of the international community to withdraw all its invading troops from the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine and pursue the path of dialogue and diplomacy. The cessation of all hostilities and maintenance of effective and safe humanitarian corridors remain fundamental to addressing the worsening humanitarian conditions, especially the unbearable impact of the conflict on Ukrainian women, girls and children.
I thank you for your attention.