Thank you, Mr. President, for organizing this briefing, and thanks to Executive Director Sima Bahous of UN Women as well as Mr. Manuel Fontaine of UNICEF and Ms. Kateryna Cherepakha of La Strada-Ukraine for their important contributions to this meeting
The consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine on the situation of women and children are nothing but shocking. The horrible pictures from Bucha and Irpin of bodies of civilians lying dead on the streets are engraved in our memory. Among them were the bodies of women and girls who have become victims of sexual violence and rape by Russian soldiers and mercenaries. Some reports suggest that bodies of killed women and girls were burnt or run over by the perpetrators, trying to cover their deeds.
These crimes and other crimes in dozens of Ukrainian cities will not be left unanswered, crimes against women and girls and against civilians in general. Germany stands fully behind the important work of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. The UN Human Rights Council has set in place a Commission of Inquiry that will investigate into these cases and others.
We fully support the opening of an independent investigation by ICC prosecutor Karim Khan and will provide further assistance if needed. Germany will actively contribute to ensuring that perpetrators are brought to justice.
It is important that all accountability mechanisms take into account the gendered dimension of the Russian aggression against Ukraine: Like in other conflicts, this war is impacting women and men differently; and it is often those that are already marginalized and face intersecting forms of discrimination who suffer most. We therefore have to ensure that women participate fully, equally and meaningfully in decisions regarding humanitarian assistance, their refugee situation as well as peacebuilding, reconstruction, recovery and possible post-conflict scenarios and that all measures are gender-responsive.
Russia’s aggression has caused one of the worst refugee crises since the Second World War. As the vast majority of those fleeing Ukraine are women and children, they are at risk of falling victim to criminal activity. It is crucial to protect women and children to the best extent possible. In this regard, we commend in particular the work of UNHCR and UNICEF.
The disruption of education is a deeply aggravating factor, endangering the wellbeing of children who often arrive exhausted, traumatized, and malnourished in countries of destination. More than half of Ukraine’s children have been displaced due to the war, Additionally, more than 750 schools in Ukraine have been damaged since the beginning of the conflict, denying thousands of children access to education. We commend UNICEF’s efforts to provide children of families fleeing the violence with education kits and to help repair damaged schools and kindergartens. Germany also supports the important work of the UN Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund in Ukraine and in Moldova , as has been explained by Ms. Bahous.
Germany reiterates its full solidarity with Ukraine, including its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence. And we renew our urgent call on President Putin to stop this war immediately, to end the indescribable human suffering, and to withdraw his troops from Ukrainian territory, fully and unconditionally.
I thank you, Mr. President.