Speech by Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock at the United Nations General Assembly: Anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion against Ukraine, New York, 23 February 2024

Aussenministerin Baerbock reist nach New York

Plenarsitzung der Generalversammlung der Vereinten Nationen zum Thema 
The situation in the temporarily 
occupied territories of Ukraine in New York , 24.02.2024. Annalena Baerbock (Buendnis 90/Die Gruenen), Bundesaussenministerin, reist nach New York anlaesslich des Jahrestags des Angriffs auf die Ukraine. Fotografiert im Auftrag des Auswaertigen Amtes., © Kira Hofmann/photothek.de

23.02.2024 - Speech

“I am afraid the world will forget about us…. because everyone is so focused on Russia’s war and the violence in the Middle East.”

That’s what a woman my age in Gorom, in South Sudan told me.

This woman had fled the violence in Sudan – with only a small bag of belongings, carrying her child on her hip.

Her words have not left me since.

And I know that they ring true for countless women, children and men around the world who go to bed hungry, who suffer violence.

As I stand here, I say it straight out:

We have not forgotten about you.

The fact that Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine has been raging for two years does not mean that we don’t see this suffering of others.

A schoolgirl deported from the Eastern territory of Ukraine torn away from her mother is a child who suffers.

A toddler in Gaza who has lost his parents is a child who suffers.

A boy in Sudan who is hungry is a child who suffers.

Every life matters in equal measure.

Humanity is indivisible.

The worst thing we could do so now, is to play off one person’s pain against another’s.

We would only play into the hands of those who seek to divide us to push their ruthless agenda in the world.

That’s why it is nothing but cynical when at the G20 meeting in Rio, just two days ago, the Russian Foreign Minister openly asked why the world is so preoccupied with Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Well, Mr. Lavrov, we are preoccupied with your war, because your war is causing death, pain and destruction.

Not just in Ukraine. Not just in Bucha and Irpin.

But around the world.

As Russia has bombed ports in Ukraine on purpose to prevent Ukrainian grain from being exported to the world - using on purpose food as a weapon.

And this could stop tomorrow. If the Russian President were to end this war now.

If we care about a world in which every life matters in equal measure, it is up to us and every one of us to stand up against Russia’s war.

The United Nations were founded for that exact purpose - to make sure “a life is a life”.

That humanity is indivisible.

President Putin has proven again and again that to him, human lives count for nothing – neither abroad nor at home, where he now doesn’t even shy away from arresting its own children, Russian children, for laying down flowers to mourn the death of Alexei Navalny.

As I explained to the woman in South Sudan: We did not choose to be so preoccupied with Russia’s war of aggression. It is the Russian president’s ruthless actions that are forcing us.

But that doesn’t mean that we don’t see the suffering in Sudan. That we don’t see the suffering in the Middle East.

Like many of you, the devastating humanitarian situation in Gaza is keeping us awake at night.

17 000 children - left without a mother or a father.

Hundreds of thousands desperate for food and water.

This suffering needs to end now.

We need Hamas to release all the men, women and children it took hostage in its ruthless attack on Israel on October 7th.

We need a humanitarian pause to work towards a sustainable ceasefire. To find a path towards a life in dignity, peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. In two states.

I know that this conflict has stirred up intense emotions in many of our countries.

That’s why it is so important not to give in to those who try to play off one person’s pain against another’s.

Political leadership means standing up against polarisation.

To protect our societies from the poison of dehumanisation.

That is the message to send today, here at our General Assembly.

We stand with Ukraine, as long as it takes.

Because we stand against a world of ruthlessness.

We stand for a world in which a life is a life – whether Palestinian, Israeli, Sudanese or Ukrainian.

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