More than 500 days have now passed since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
At least nine thousand innocent civilians lie dead – including 500 children. Thousands more Ukrainians have been kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured.
Homes, businesses, schools and hospitals have been reduced to rubble.
Russia’s incessant attacks have knocked out 60% of Ukraine’s power supply.
This war has claimed countless victims.
I’m going to focus on those who have been forcibly deported in this war – and those who are going hungry as a result of it.
In Kyiv last month I met a teenage boy – I’ll call him Denys.
When the Russians captured his home town, they told Denys and his classmates that they were going on a holiday.
They were in fact transported to a Russian camp where they were neglected, indoctrinated and abused.
Denys’ distraught mother was desperately searching for him.
But the Russians pretending to look after Denys and countless others told him his parents had abandoned him.
This boy’s ordeal lasted for 7 months before his mother – thanks to the charity Save Ukraine – found him and brought him home.
But 19,000 Ukrainian children remain in Russian camps – and their parents are desperately searching for them.
A further 2½ million Ukrainian men and women have been deported to Russia.
These are barbaric crimes. Russia is trying to erase Ukrainian identity and cultural history. And they are using children as an instrument of war.
But the world is watching and Russia will be held accountable. We welcome the International Criminal Court’s investigation. And we will leave no stone unturned until the responsible are brought to justice.
Ukrainians are Russia’s principal victims. But this war is also harming the poor and the vulnerable across the world – particularly in Africa, in Asia and in Latin America.
Energy prices rocketed by 20% worldwide last year – almost doubling global inflation from 4.7% to 8.7%.
World food supplies have fallen sharply.
Ukrainian food exports – maize, barley or wheat – have plummeted by more than 40%.
With catastrophic consequences for Sub-Africa which relies on these supplies.
Food prices are rocketing – by a staggering 332% in Lebanon last summer.
Some of these losses were offset by the Black Sea Grain Initiative – brokered by the UN Secretary-General and Turkey.
But today Russia has announced it is refusing to extend it and is taking a colossal 23 million tonnes of Ukrainian food off of world markets over the forthcoming year.
As the UN Secretary General said this morning: “Today’s decision by the Russian Federation will strike a blow to people in need everywhere”. We call on Russia to return to the table and agree to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative indefinitely – and to implement it fully without delay.
Let us be clear – Russia’s actions are taking food out of the mouths of the poorest people across Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
We cannot allow this war to go on for another 500 days.
The UN General Assembly has called – repeatedly – for peace.
A peace that is based on the principles of the UN Charter and our shared belief that might does not equal right.
President Zelensky’s 10-point peace plan shows the way forward.
Ukraine wants peace. We want peace. The whole world wants peace.
Peace will bring home Ukraine’s lost children – and feed the hungry of the world.
Peace will keep the promises we all made in the UN Charter.
Peace will pave the way to a reformed multilateral system.
Peace will help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.
A just and lasting peace is what we all want.
The Russian Federation can choose peace – today. By withdrawing all Russian forces from Ukraine.
Mr Putin – bring your troops home. End this war now.