“Our recent efforts to evacuate civilians in the east have shown us that there is goodwill and common ground on which to build between the parties,” he told the ambassadors.
Joint operations by the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) resulted in more than 600 people being evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant and other areas of Mariupol, as well as from nearby towns.
This was “a truly monumental feat amid the ongoing bombing and destruction in the east”she said, and “a ray of hope”.
Meanwhile, UN relief chief Martin Griffiths continues to explore ways to bring the parties together to discuss humanitarian issues, including safe passage for both civilians and aid convoys.
Mr. Griffiths was in Turkey this week for talks focused on the country’s support for UN efforts to provide more humanitarian aid.
“We must explore all options to reach more people where the needs are greatest,” he said.
“We remain firmly committed to leaving no stone unturned.. To find measures, from local pauses to broader ceasefires, to save lives. The world expects this of us. The people of Ukraine deserve it.”
more help needed
Despite the hope that the evacuations represent, heavy fighting continues to cause immense suffering in Ukraine. The conflict has uprooted nearly 14 million peopleeight million of whom are internally displaced, according to the latest figures.
Ms Msuya also spoke of the “unprecedented” humanitarian surge in the crisis. Some 227 partners, mostly national non-governmental organizations (NGOs), have provided assistance to more than 5.4 million people, many in the east.
In addition to the evacuations, five interagency convoys have provided a lifeline to people surrounded by the fighting, transporting essential medical supplies, food rations, water repair systems and other items. However, he said that this is not enough.
Ms. Msuya reported that the parties have been notified of the convoys, adding: “I urge you to continue your facilitation efforts so that we can reach many more civilians.”
‘Living hell’ for children
The Council also heard from Omar Abdi, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), who reported on the impact of the war on the lives of young people in Ukraine and beyond.
He said that in the last month, the UN verified that about 100 children were killed in the conflict “and we believe the real numbers are considerably higher.”
Although the evacuations from Mariupol and other frontline areas represented “small moments of relief”, the situation remains bleak for children and families in conflict-affected areas without access to aid.
“Children and parents tell us of their ‘living hell’ where they were forced to starve, drink from mud puddles and take shelter from constant shelling and shelling, dodging bombs, bullets and landmines as they fled,” he said.
Education in sight
Education in Ukraine is also under fire, with the horrific attack on a school in Luhansk this week, in which at least 60 civilians were reported killed, serving as “a stark reminder”. Since the start of the war on February 24, 15 of the 89 UNICEF-supported schools in eastern Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed.
“Hundreds of schools across the country are reported to have been hit by heavy artillery, air strikes and other explosive weapons in populated areas, while other schools are used as information centers, shelters, supply centers or for military purposes, with a long-term impact. about the return of children to education,” he said.
Mr. Abdi called for an end to attacks on schools, which he said are a lifeline for children, especially in conflict because they provide a safe space, routines and a semblance of normalcy.
Schools also serve as a “connector” to essential health and psychosocial services, and he called for support from teachers, principals and others in the education workforce.
Ukrainian children must also continue to access education, he added, stressing the need to ensure creative and flexible learning solutions. UNICEF and partners are supporting authorities to reach students, including through online education.
Learning at home and abroad
Neighboring countries that have taken in Ukrainian refugees are also helping children to continue learning, either in the classroom or through alternative educational pathways.
“An estimated 3.7 million children in Ukraine and abroad use online and distance learning options. But huge obstacles remain, including capacity and resource limitations, language barriers, and the unpredictable movements of children and their families,” he said.
In addition, more action is needed to reach children who are most at risk or could be left behind, including young students and children with disabilities.
waves around the world
The war is having repercussions beyond Ukraine, as global food and fuel prices hit record highs. Mr. Abdi said that children are also feeling the impacts.
“Children already affected by conflict and climate crises around the world, from Afghanistan to Yemen to the Horn of Africa, are now paying a deadly price for another war far from their doors. The repercussions of the war in Ukraine will continue to reverberate throughout the world.”
While aid workers will do their best for the children in Ukraine, he said, ultimately what they need is for the war to end.
“Ukrainian children tell us that they want to be reunited with their families, return to their communities, go to school and play in their neighborhoods. Children are tough but shouldn’t have to be.
“They have already paid an inordinately high price in this war. We must do everything we can to help ensure it doesn’t cost them their future.”