Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : We call on Russia to allow humanitarians to operate safely in Ukraine – UK statement at the UN Security Council [October 2023]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 31 October 2023.

Statement by Ambassador Barbara Woodward at the UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine.

Thank you President, and can I start by thanking Mr Rajasingham for his briefing today and through you to your colleagues in OCHA for their work.

Russia’s brutal, illegal and full scale invasion of Ukraine has shattered lives, families and livelihoods. As we’ve heard, the humanitarian needs are most acute around the front lines and in the temporarily Russian controlled territories. Reporting indicates that civilians face significant hardship with shortages of food, fuel and water. We call on Russia to allow humanitarians to operate safely in these areas. To deliver aid to people who desperately need it. But no Ukrainian is unaffected. Over 5 million Ukrainians are internally displaced and over 17 million need humanitarian assistance.

And here, I want to echo the concerns expressed by Ecuador and by the executive director of UNICEF for the harm that Russia’s invasion is doing to Ukrainian children. Ukrainian organisations and volunteer networks remain the primary humanitarian responders in these parts of Ukraine. Their work is critical and the UK commends them for their courage and their commitment. And it is vital that the international community, including the UN, continue to support them.

And as we’ve heard from Mr Rajasingham and as we have discussed before, Russia’s attacks on Ukraines ports and grain infrastructure destroyed over 280,000 tonnes of grain in a month. Enough to feed well over a million people for a year. These attacks are clearly intended to block Ukrainian grain exports, which are crucial to global food security and the World Food Programme’s work.

So as winter approaches, I want to underline two points.

First, we repeat our call on Russia to comply fully with its obligations under international humanitarian law. To act in line with their statements in other contexts in recent days, and allow humanitarians to operate safely and to stop using food as a weapon of war.

Second, Russia must end its illegal invasion of Ukraine. This is the only way to protect global food markets and end the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

I thank you, President.