A look back at 2022: February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine

It was the second emergency Security Council meeting in two days on the Ukraine crisis.

“This is the saddest moment of my tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations. I started this meeting of the Security Council by addressing President Putin and telling him from the bottom of my heart: stop your troops from attacking Ukraine, give peace a chance because too many people are dead. During the meeting, President Putin announced a ‘special military operation’ in Donbass and asked Ukrainian troops to lay down their arms,” the UN Secretary-General said. Antonio Guterresduring a press briefing at the end of this meeting of the Security Council.

President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia – Antonio Guterres

“So under the current circumstances, I have to change my call. I must say: President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia. In the name of humanity, let us not allow what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century to begin in Europe, with consequences not only devastating for Ukraine, not only tragic for the Russian Federation, but with impact that we cannot even foresee in terms of the consequences for the global economy at a time when we are emerging from the (pandemic of) COVID and when so many developing countries desperately need to have space for recovery that would be very, very difficult, with the high oil prices, with the stoppage of wheat exports from Ukraine and the increase in interest rates caused by the instability of the international markets”, added Mr. Guterres.

“This conflict must end – now,” the Secretary-General told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.

At the start of the UN Security Council meeting, when the offensive had not yet been announced, António Guterres noted that “today has been full of rumors and indications that an offensive against Ukraine was imminent. “In the recent past, there have been several situations with similar clues, similar rumors. And I never believed it, convinced that nothing serious would happen. I was wrong. And I would like to make no more mistakes today,” he said.

….. more than 9 months later

UNOCHA/Oleksandr Ratushniak

A woman collects water from a truck in Lysychansk, Ukraine.

More than 9 months after the start of the Russian invasion, fighting continues in Ukraine. Russia occupies part of Ukrainian territory, but the front lines have shifted over the past months as the number of dead and injured, destruction and human rights violations have steadily increased.

At a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine on December 6, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said the scale of destruction to electricity and heating in Ukraine required increased international support for that country.

He said 14 million people have left their homes in Ukraine. The country has 6.5 million displaced people, while another 7.8 million have taken refuge in Europe.

As of December 1, he said, there were 17,181 civilian victims, including 6,702 civilians killed since February 24, 2022. “We know, however, that the toll is much heavier,” acknowledged the head of humanitarian, adding that 715 attacks on health centers have been recorded in Ukraine.

Mr. Griffiths also pointed out that the vulnerability of civilians is heightened due to winter temperatures and the lack of basic services.

Humanitarian assistance

Faced with this situation, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs informed the Security Council that nearly 690 humanitarian partners, most of them local, have provided life-saving assistance to 13.5 million people.

Nearly 630,000 civilians were able to receive assistance to cope with the rigors of winter, while 400 generators were distributed. For the past few weeks, humanitarian access has been possible in parts of the east and south of the country. In Kherson, drinking water was distributed to thousands of civilians, while 100,000 people also received food assistance.

Mr Griffiths described donor support in Ukraine as “unprecedented”, as $3.1 billion was received of the $4.3 billion requested in 2022.

A long dark winter ahead

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk visits Boutcha in Ukraine.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk visits Boutcha in Ukraine.

For his part, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, said that the suffering suffered by millions of civilians across Ukraine should not become a new norm.

Speaking in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on December 7, after a four-day official visit to the country, he said he feared for all those caught in the “long and dark winter ahead”.

He confirmed that the consequences of the war on human rights in Ukraine were devastating. “The prognosis is very worrying,” Türk said, adding that his office continued to receive reports of war crimes “every day.”

“Information continues to emerge on summary executions, torture, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and sexual violence against women, girls and men,” he said.

A look back at 2022: February 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine