April 1, 2022

Statement by U.S. Ambassador Natalie E. Brown on the Humanitarian Crisis Caused by Russiathe war Against Ukraine

On March 16, a Russian missile hit the Drama Theater in the heart of Mariupol, a city in Ukraine besieged and bombarded by Russia for weeks. As Russia bombarded civilian infrastructure and residential buildings in Mariupol, hundreds of women, children and elderly Ukrainians sought refuge in the dramatic theater. On the floor outside, they painted in letters large enough to be seen by satellites a word – CHILDREN – in the hope that knowing the theater was full of civilians would protect them. Their hope was misplaced. Ukrainian officials estimate that the Russian missile strike killed 300 people sheltering in the building.

The destruction of the drama theater by Russia was an attack on the Ukrainian people, the city of Mariupol and the cultural heritage of Ukraine. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. Hospitals, maternities, schools and homes are bombarded with Russian missiles and bombs. Russian troops surrounded towns – including Mariupol – so civilians could not flee and blocked humanitarian aid convoys seeking to deliver medicine, food and water. In addition to more than 1,000 confirmed civilian deaths, more than 10 million Ukrainians – more than half of them Ukrainian children – have been displaced since the start of Russia’s new invasion of their country.

The implications of the Russian invasion extend far beyond Ukraine. The World Food Program noted that Russia’s war on Ukraine comes at a time of unprecedented humanitarian needs, with 44 million people in 38 countries already on the brink of starvation and the need for global humanitarian aid. at a record high. Russia’s war of choice has created turbulence in food and energy markets, further driving up high food prices. These price increases will bloat the wallets of ordinary Ugandans and hamper the ability of international aid organizations to respond to humanitarian crises around the world, including in the Horn of Africa.

Ordinary Ukrainians have responded to Russia’s aggression with courageous resistance, showing dignity and humanity in the face of barbarism. Citizens of neighboring countries and people around the world have shown their solidarity with Ukraine by welcoming refugees; donating food, medicine and other essentials; and protesting peacefully against war. The international community has also reacted. On March 24, 140 countries (about three-quarters of United Nations member states) again rebuked the Russian invasion and the humanitarian crisis it imposed on Ukrainian civilians. In doing so, the international community reaffirmed its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine; reiterated the call on Russia to stop its military offensive and withdraw its military forces from Ukraine; and deplored the humanitarian consequences of Russia’s hostile actions.

Tellingly, only four governments joined Russia in opposing the resolution: Belarus, Eritrea, North Korea and Syria. Equally telling, more than 70 members of the Non-Aligned Movement endorsed this and an earlier UN General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, clearly demonstrating that being non-aligned does not mean not be indifferent to Russia’s violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and international law or the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia.

To end the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and prevent the exacerbation of ongoing humanitarian crises in Africa and elsewhere, the international community must continue to speak with one voice against Russia’s unprovoked war and continue to stand side of the Ukrainian people.