Nearly 15 months after Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, civilians are forced to live through an “unbearable routine”, amidst alarming levels of destruction and damage to their communities, said the deputy UN disarmament chief on Thursday.
Adedeji Ebo was briefing the Security Council on the issue of Western weapons supplies to Ukraine, called by permanent member Russia – the fourth time it has been presented for discussion in light of the ongoing conflict.
The Deputy to the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs said the transfers of weapons systems and ammunition from Western governments backing Kyiv, was no secret, including battle tanks, combat aircraft, missile systems and helicopters.
Arms for Russia too
“There have also been reports of States transferring, or planning to transfer weapons, such as uncrewed combat aerial vehicles and ammunition, to the Russian armed forces for use in Ukraine”, he added.
He said any “large-scale influx of weapons and ammunition” onto any battlefield, “raises concerns for peace, security and stability, including as a result of diversion.”
He said that measures to address the issue of weapons ending up in the hands of third parties, or any “unauthorized users”, was essential to prevent further instability in Ukraine.
The UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA) is “an essential tool in this regard”, he added, for those countries with nothing to hide. In 30 years of operation, some 178 Member States have submitted a report to UNROCA at least once, he said, calling on all countries to take part, for the sake of trust and transparency.
He called on States to consider joining all other related treaties and live up to their legal obligations and political commitments.
Civilian protection outweighs arms issues
“Beyond addressing arms transfers, all parties to the conflict have a duty to protect civilians in armed conflict, and to ensure compliance with applicable international law”, especially humanitarian law”, he told ambassadors.
In this respect, the UN human rights office’s latest figures show nearly 24,000 recorded casualties since Russia’s invasion began, with the actual figure likely to be much higher.
Suffering, loss displacement, destruction
“After almost 15 months of the Russian Federation’s military offensive into Ukraine, suffering, loss, displacement and destruction continue to form part of an unbearable routine”, said Mr. Ebo.
“In addition to the thousands of civilians killed and injured, the destruction of essential critical infrastructure and services is particularly alarming. Homes, schools, roads, and bridges have been destroyed and damaged”, he continued.
“Attacks on energy infrastructure have interrupted power, heating, drinking water supply and sewage facilities, as well as mobile and internet communications. Hospitals and health facilities have been attacked, killing and injuring healthcare workers and disrupting essential services. Explosive remnants of war have resulted in widespread land contamination rendering land unusable for agriculture, while impeding the movement of people.”
Standing up for civilians in war
He said plainly that attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, “must stop”, taking the opportunity to call on all countries to support and “effectively implement” the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, adopted in November 2022.
The deputy disarmament chief concluded by reiterating that Russia’s invasion was a violation of international law, including the UN Charter, “causing massive suffering and devastation to Ukraine and its people.
“The world cannot afford for this war to continue. I appeal to all Member States to make every effort for peace. The United Nations stands ready to support all genuine efforts to that end.”