Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Humanitarian Situation in Ukraine

Ambassador Lisa Carty
U.S. Representative to the UN Economic and Social Council
New York, New York
December 6, 2022


Thank you, Madam President, and thank you, Under-Secretary Griffiths, for your briefing today.

Last Thursday, the UN released its global humanitarian overview for 2023, which set another record, with 339 million people in need of assistance and a price tag of $51 billion. When the UN launched its humanitarian needs overview last year, we wondered how much worse it could get?

Tragically, Russia’s illegal war answered that question. Russia’s aggression triggered one of the largest refugee and displacement crises since World War II. Hunger, already at extreme levels because of COVID, other conflicts, and climate change, has surged this year because Russia disrupted the world’s global food systems. Russia turned Ukraine’s rolling wheat fields into battlefields and it intentionally destroyed the grain Ukraine once supplied to the developing world.

Now, as Ukraine fights back to reclaim its sovereign territory and defend its people, President Putin has focused his ire and fire on Ukraine’s civilian population. As temperatures plummet, Russia is launching a barrage of missiles at energy stations, adding to its destruction of critical infrastructure across Ukraine. These consequences are horrific and cause needless suffering. Roads, schools, and medical facilities have not been spared.

As a result of the repeated strikes, children cannot attend school and doctors cannot treat the sick. And families are forced to make decisions about whether to freeze in their homes or join the millions of others already displaced in seeking safety from the horrors of war.

We commend the Government and people of Ukraine for their tremendous resilience and resolve in the face of this merciless aggression. And we commend the work done by the humanitarian community. Over the last 10 months of Russia’s war, the UN and NGOs have delivered principled humanitarian aid under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

We heard this in October, when Humanitarian Coordinator Denise Brown briefed the Council and described in sobering detail the human toll of this war. Humanitarian aid workers have shown they are willing to stay and deliver in the face of considerable security risks that too often have ended in the loss of life.

It’s notable that despite all obstacles, aid agencies in Ukraine managed to implement the largest humanitarian cash assistance program in history, transferring more than $1 billion to 6 million people.

Since February 24, the United States alone has provided over $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid to support the displaced, including refugees, and other vulnerable populations and communities inside Ukraine and around the region.  But we know more will be needed. We applaud France’s initiative to hold an international conference focused on Ukraine’s resilience on December 13.

The United States is also grateful for the UN’s efforts to continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative that has succeeded in getting desperately needed food from Ukraine ports to world markets. This has helped lower food prices and ensure wheat purchased by the World Food Program reaches vulnerable people in Yemen, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Colleagues, during her recent visit to Ukraine, President Zelenskyy told Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield that he seeks a just peace that is based on the UN Charter and its principles, which is what this Council is here to uphold and defend. President Putin’s escalating barrages on Ukraine’s infrastructure are evidence that he has no genuine interest in negotiation or meaningful diplomacy. Instead, he is trying to break Ukraine’s will to fight by bombing and freezing its civilians into submission.

But he will not succeed because Ukraine is fighting for its freedom and for the future of its children, and we will do everything in our power to keep hope alive in Ukraine.

Thank you, Madam President.