The Security Council hears of escalating toll from attacks in Kharkov – Global issues


Informing the Security Council in New York, UN Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Joyce Msuya urged the international community to work to end Russia’s massive invasion of Ukraine, now in its third year.

Ms Msuya said the toll on civilians has continued to rise since her last briefing to the Council three weeks ago.

Kharkiv under fire

Although few areas have been spared from hostilities, the Kharkiv region has suffered the worst consequences after Russia stepped up attacks there on May 10.

UN human rights observers in Ukraine reported on Friday that At least 174 people were killed and 690 injured nationwide in Maymarking the highest number of civilian casualties in almost a year.

More than half of them were in Kharkiv, located in the northeast of the country.

“Shopping centres, homes, educational institutions, shops, office buildings, parks and public transport have all been affected in recent weeks,” she said.

An aid worker registers an evacuated woman for multifunctional cash assistance at the transit center.

© OCHA/Tanya Lyubimova

An aid worker registers an evacuated woman for multifunctional cash assistance at the transit center.

Supporting displaced people

At least 18,000 people in the Kharkiv region have been recently displaced, she added, citing estimates from the UN migration agency IOM.

About 50 humanitarian organizations provided food, water, clothing, cash, psychological support and other assistance to more than 12,000 people at a transit center in the city of Kharkiv.

Meanwhile, civilians living in the frontline and border areas with Russia face dire conditions as many lack access to food, medical care, electricity and gas. The elderly are disproportionately affected as they are often unable or reluctant to leave their homes.

“In the north of Kharkov – where the fighting is heaviest – More than half of the dead or injured are over 60 years old,” she said.

The UN Human Rights Office, OHCHRhas confirmed that at least 11,000 civilians have been killed and more than 21,000 injured in Ukraine since the conflict began on February 24, 2022, although the actual figures are likely much higher.

Attacks on infrastructure continue

Ms Msuya noted that a year has passed since the Kakhova Dam disaster, “one of the most significant incidents affecting civilian infrastructure since the start of the large-scale invasion.”

The great dam was destroyed June 6, 2023resulting in monumental floods that submerged large areas of the area, destroyed homes, displaced thousands of families and disrupted water supplies for millions.

It showed how extensive and long-lasting the humanitarian consequences of a single incident affecting critical infrastructure can be,” she said. “Therefore, it is deeply concerning that the systematic attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure – a hallmark of this war since February 2022 – continue.”

Since March 22, the UN and partners have identified six waves of attacks in 15 regions that have impacted healthcare and other social, financial and transportation services, and disrupted electricity, gas and water supplies to millions of people.

Energy hit, global food supply threatened

Ms Msuya said Ukraine’s energy system has now declined by more than 60 percent of its pre-war generation capacity, according to preliminary estimates from the UN Development Programme.UNDP).

“We note that strikes in the Russian Federation in recent months, including in the Belgorod region, have also resulted in civilian casualties and damage to residential homes and other civilian infrastructure,” she said.

She also expressed deep concern about the impact of attacks on Ukraine’s transport and port infrastructure on global food security. In recent weeks we have seen “worrying indications of renewed upward pressure on global grain priceslinked, among other things, to this damage to the infrastructure in Ukraine.”

She stressed the need for safe navigation through the Black Sea and the protection of ports and related civil infrastructure so that food exports can reach global markets.

A Ukrainian teenager stands in the rubble of her destroyed school in Zhytomyr (file).

© UNICEF/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

A Ukrainian teenager stands in the rubble of her destroyed school in Zhytomyr (file).

‘Great’ humanitarian needs

On the humanitarian front, Ms. Msuya reported that needs remain “great” as more than 14.6 million Ukrainians, about 40 percent of the population, require some form of assistance. More than half are women and girls.

A $3.1 billion funding call for 2024 has raised $856 million to date, allowing humanitarian organizations to provide assistance to more than four million people in the first quarter of the year.

She noted the “many challenges” that humanitarian organizations continue to face, especially the lack of access to some 1.5 million civilians in the Russian-occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia.

“And as the conflict continues to escalate and we seek to kick-start preparations for another winter dominated by war, full funding of the Humanitarian Response Plan is urgently needed to continue operations,” she stressed.

End suffering

Ms Msuya said fighting continues to tear apart lives, homes and futures in Ukraine, more than three years after the escalation of the war, and that the UN and partners remain committed to supporting affected civilians.

However, she warned that “the longer the violence and destruction continue, the greater the suffering will becomeand all the greater the task of rebuilding shattered lives and communities.”

Concluding her remarks, she welcomed the Ukrainian Recovery Conference to be held in Berlin next week, calling it an important opportunity to advance the government’s recovery priorities and leverage financing for crucial development in affected areas.

“And we continue to urge the Security Council and all Member States to do everything in their power to ensure respect for the rules of war, pursue peace and end the suffering of the Ukrainian people.”

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