Photo Credit: Fabrizio Bensch / Reuters
Anglican representatives at the UN call for an urgent response to the “ever-growing threat” faced by vulnerable people in war-torn Ukraine.
Anglican representatives at the United Nations have joined other faith-based and humanitarian organisations in calling for an urgent response to the “ever-growing threat” faced by women, children, the elderly and vulnerable people in Ukraine and those fleeing the conflict.
In a statement delivered at the 49th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Anglican Communion's representative to the UN joined with 11 other NGOs in saying that international humanitarian law and human rights law “must be respected and protection of civilians, civilian infrastructures, as well as humanitarian aid workers guaranteed”.
The statement was delivered by Caritas Internationalis, a confederation of Catholic relief and development agencies.
Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Human Rights Council that the people of Ukraine had been “enduring a living nightmare” since Russia invaded on 24 February, with millions forced to flee their homes or “hide in basements and bomb shelters as their cities are pummelled and destroyed”. Ms Bachelet said indiscriminate attacks by Russia “may amount to war crimes”.
In their Joint Oral Statement to the Council, the faith-based and humanitarian NGOs said they had been continuing provide critical life-saving assistance in Ukraine, through their grassroots networks. “Hence, it is of utmost importance that unhindered safe access for delivery of principled humanitarian aid is guaranteed,” they said.
They also expressed their grave concern for the safety of women and children who had fled Ukraine, particularly unaccompanied minors, warning they faced a serious risk of sexual violence, exploitation and trafficking.
The co-signers called for countries through which refugees are travelling, or their destination counties, to put effective measures in place to prevent and reduce the risk of trafficking and exploitation.
The UN estimates that 12 million people inside Ukraine will need relief and protection, while more than 4 million Ukrainian refugees may need protection and assistance in neighbouring countries in coming months.