‘Grim reality’ of war’s deadly toll on civilians laid bare in Security Council |

Update the above ambassadors UN’s latest report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, Ramesh Rajasingham, Director of the Coordination Section of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

When explosive weapons are used in densely populated areas, about 90% of casualties are civilians, compared with 10% in other areas.“.

Canceled target list

War damages and erodes critical infrastructure, by disrupting vital water, sanitation, electricity, and health services, and puts education at risk – depriving thousands of students of their school fees. hundreds of thousands of children, and expose them to forced recruitment and other dangers.

In the first nine months of last year, more than 900 schools in Afghanistan were destroyed, damaged or closed, and their restoration was hampered by explosion hazards, he said.

Conflict also damages the natural environment not only by fighting but also by poor management and neglect.

Forced teleportation

Mr Rajasingham said: “We are all too familiar with the cycle of violence and displacement, and 2021 is no exception. “By the middle of the year, fighting and insecurity were already forced the displacement of 84 million people, with nearly 51 million of them internally displaced“.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) Over the weekend, news coverage of the Ukraine war and other conflicts pushed the number of people forced to flee conflicts, violence, human rights abuses and abuses for the first time on record. .

When civilians flee, they often leave people with disabilities behind, and those trying to leave often have difficulty accessing assistance.

Affect health

Conflict also affects mental health.

“More than a fifth of people living in conflict-affected areas are estimated to suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD,” said the deputy humanitarian director.

Healthcare workers, facilities, equipment and vehicles continue to be attacked, while conflicting parties interfere with medical care.

He added: “In northern Ethiopia, medical facilities, equipment and vehicles have been attacked and looted, and hospitals are used for military purposes.

And the pandemic has increased human suffering and strained weakened health care services.

Mr Rajasingham told the Council: “Nearly three billion people are still waiting for their first vaccine, many of them in a state of conflict, where health systems are weak and public trust is in short”.

Humanitarian struggle

At the same time, the parties to the conflict have increased food insecurity by destroying supply chains, as aid workers continue to face complex challenges that deprive them of assistance. civilian life.

Children play in a neighborhood ravaged by conflict in Iraq.

© UNICEF / UN0330643 / Anmar

Children play in a neighborhood ravaged by conflict in Iraq.

And as non-State armed groups further complicate humanitarian access negotiations, private security and military contractors increasingly pose barriers to humanitarians trying to provide aid desperately, said the deputy director of relief.

Furthermore, as broad-based sanctions and counter-terrorism measures interfere with humanitarian action, misinformation and disinformation have eroded trust – putting humanitarians at risk. harmed and further jeopardize operations.

“When humanitarian activities are politicized, community acceptance is threatened,” the OCHA chief detailed. “Humanitarian personnel have been threatened, arrested and detained while performing their functions.”

Last year, approximately 143 security incidents against humanitarian personnel were recorded in 14 conflict-affected countries and territories.along with 93 humanitarian deaths.

Of those killed, wounded or kidnapped, 98% were national employees.

Ukraine: Suffering and loss

As of February 24th, OHCHR There were 8,089 civilian casualties in Ukraine, with 3,811 killed and 4,278 injured.

Hospitals, schools, homes and shelters have been attacked, 12 million people have been forced from their homes and tens of thousands of civilians remain trapped and without food, water and electricity .

The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back in the realm of possibility‘ said the Deputy Relief Coordinator.

Turning to the war’s impact on exports, he said that prices for food, fuel and fertilizers have skyrocketed globally – with increases of up to 30% for staple foods affecting people. populations across Africa and the Middle East – “hit the poorest people hardest… and sow the seeds of political turmoil and instability around the world. ”

A woman collects property from her bombed house in the village of Novoselivka, near Chernihiv, Ukraine.

UNDP Ukraine / Oleksandr Ratushnia

A woman collects property from her bombed house in the village of Novoselivka, near Chernihiv, Ukraine.


Mr. Rajasingham emphasized that all States and non-State organizations must comply with international humanitarian law (IHL), including the avoidance of explosive weapons with large-scale effects in densely populated areas.

He also highlighted the need to integrate legal safeguards into military training, doctrine, as well as policy and legal frameworks.

The senior United Nations official concluded: “The parties to the conflict and the nations must apply much greater political will and commitment to respect the rules of war.

Upholding humanitarian principles

Robert Mardini, Director General of the International Committee of the Red Cross, summarizes the Security Council meeting on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

UN photo / Manuel Elias

The Director General of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Robert Mardini, reminded ambassadors that respecting the IHL requires accountability and constructive dialogue with States and parties to the conflict.

Humanitarian principles must never be compromised, he said.

Recalling that the ICRC has informed the Council year after year about the plight of civilians, he considered that the protection of civilians should be a more strategic priority for States, in the planning and conduct of all including military operations “in densely populated areas, including avoiding the use of heavy explosive weapons. ”

‘New muscle’ needed

David Miliband, Chairman of the International Rescue Committee, and a former British Foreign Secretary, stressed that early warning mechanisms should not be allowed to “gather dust”.

“We recognize limitations around this Council as well as in the conflict zones where we work. But we also look to the broader international community to break the deadlock,” he said, and supported the General Assembly to establish independent mechanisms to gather evidence of violations of international law. economic.

Mr. Miliband also maintained the need for “new muscle” to prevent “the strangulation and weaponization of aid,” and was more determined to uphold existing rights.

Click here to view the entire meeting.

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