“All Ukrainians are now beating as one big heart”: R2P Addresses UN Security Council

Remarks by Tetiana Luzan, advocacy coordinator with HIAS partner organization Right to Protection, before the United Nations Security Council, May 5, 2022. Watch on UN Web TV.

It is a great honor to represent today civil society that mobilized the first hours after the full-scale Russian invasion of February 24, as they did before for eight years of the war. Our joint efforts are aimed at supporting brave Ukrainians fighting at the forefront, as well as in public offices in Lviv, Kyiv and Kramatorsk. These are volunteers, municipal workers planting flowers in Kharkiv and other cities in Ukraine under heavy shelling, railway workers evacuating people away from hostilities and death, bakers, cashiers at groceries and all people affected by the war.

All Ukrainians are now beating as one big heart.

In the chaos of war no one should be left behind. People, their lives and health, honor, dignity and security shall always remain the highest value. In order to maintain this goal, Ukraine and the whole civilized world shall face immense challenges caused by the military invasion of the Russian Federation. The war has been lasting for eight years. In 2021, the number of IDPs in Ukraine fleeing occupied territories of Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk regions officially was almost 1.5 million. At the end of April, the International Organization for Migration informed that the number of internally displaced persons, as a result of the full scale invasion of the territory of Ukraine, reached 7.7 million. They all carry the same heavy burden of displacement. They all need equal protection.

Also should not be forgotten those Ukrainians who were forcibly displaced to the Russian Federation from Mariupol, Chernihiv, Severodonetsk, and other cities and villages. These people were forcibly displaced without documents and means of communication, exposed to the filtration by the Russian Federation. Within these two last months, over 1 million people overall and around 200 thousand children among them, were forcibly displaced to the Russian Federation from Ukraine. It must be ensured that those who are willing to come back to Ukraine or travel to other countries have the possibility to do so.

Challenges that children and their parents experience in the face of war are overwhelming. Right to Protection received calls via our hotline where parents were ready to send their children abroad with complete strangers out of desperation because of the Russian atrocities happening in Kharkiv, Mariupol and other cities. The world was shaken with stories of little boys aged even 4 or 5 crossing the state border alone or in the best case scenario with barely familiar people.

Ukraine, as well as accepting countries, shall resume responsibility over these vulnerable little Ukrainians, so that the children are safely crossing the state borders, supported by specifically trained state guard officers and child service representatives. The accepting countries shall guarantee a high level of their protection. Family reunification should be presumed and their safe and timely return to Ukraine after the end of the war must be ensured.

The number of killed and injured civilians is permanently increasing. The destinies of dozens of thousands of people in Mariupol, Kherson, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Irpin are unknown. Relatives cannot always prove the death of their beloved, even if they witnessed their last moments themselves. International community shall assist the government of Ukraine in establishing and enforcing appropriate measures of investigation and prosecution since each life is priceless and relatives deserve to know the truth.

I want to mention those who have fled Ukraine seeking safety and security in the European Union and other countries in the civilized world. These Ukrainians, overwhelming majority women and children, should not be overlooked in terms of observance of their rights, shelter, human trafficking, access to service, including psychological help. Stateless persons and third country nationals who had previously found refuge in Ukraine shall be granted protection along with the Ukrainians.

Finally, of paramount importance is to recall the immense number of IDPs, many of whom may not have a roof over their heads. In many cases, the conditions of temporary accommodation do not comply with basic rules of adequate shelter. IDPs live in collective or transit centers established in schools, places of common use, often not designated for stay during cold times.

Over 32 million square meters of housing property were destroyed, damaged or occupied. Despite the massive destruction, as the whole world has seen in Bucha, Irpin, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, thousands of civilians either returned back or never left their damaged homes.

All of them urgently need adequate temporary or permanent accommodation especially for the cold autumn and winter periods. Those who chose not to leave their damaged homes shall receive the much needed tangible support, such as the construction materials and tools, plastic wrap, and physical help.

Additionally, such unprecedented massive destruction of civilian infrastructure requires durable solutions from the Ukrainian authorities with support of the international community.

We call on all members of the Security Council, international organizations and governments to support Ukrainians firmly in these dark times.

In the name of millions of people who have died, unborn, survived — residents of Ukraine, a UN member since 1945, we require to rephrase and breathe new sense in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights: all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights for living in peace!

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