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The UN and the war in Ukraine: key information

Everything you need to know about the UN response to the war in Ukraine.
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What is happening in Ukraine, key information

Aggression against Ukraine

  • On the night of 23 to 24 February 2022, Russia launched a military offensive in Ukraine. The United Nations considers this attack to be a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. It is contrary to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
  • On 25 February, the Secretary-General of the United Nations appointed Amin Awad of Sudan as Assistant Secretary-General to serve as United Nations Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine.
  • On 28 February, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court opened an investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • The United Nations General Assembly adopted on Wednesday 2 March a resolution deploring the “aggression” committed by Russia against Ukraine (141 votes in favour, 5 against and 35 abstentions).
  • The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on 4 March calling for the “swift and verifiable” withdrawal of Russian troops and Russian-backed armed groups from the entire territory of Ukraine.
  • The UN Human Rights Council decided on 5 March to urgently establish an independent international commission of inquiry following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
  • On 16 March the International Court of Justice ordered Russia to immediately suspend its military operations in Ukraine.
  • On Thursday 24 March, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly demanded civilian protection and humanitarian access in Ukraine, while also criticizing Russia for creating a “dire” humanitarian situation (140 votes in favour, 5 against and 38 abstentions).
  • On 30 March the United Nations appointed three human rights experts to investigate possible violations of international law committed during the conflict in Ukraine.
  • In a statement on Monday, 4 April, UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said she was horrified by the images of people lying dead on the streets and in improvised graves in the town of Bucha. It is vital that all efforts are made to ensure independent and effective investigations into what happened in Bucha.
  • On 7 April, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for Russia to be suspended from the Human Rights Council. The resolution received a two-thirds majority of those voting, minus abstentions, in the 193-member Assembly, with 93 nations voting in favour and 24 against.
  • End of April, the UN Secretary-General visited Russia and Ukraine.
  • On 26 April 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted a new resolution calling on the five permanent members of the Security Council to justify the use of the veto.
  • The UN Security Council adopted a statement on 6 May 2022 in which it strongly supports the Secretary-General’s efforts to achieve a peaceful solution in Ukraine. The Secretary-General welcomed the fact that for the first time the Security Council is speaking with one voice for peace in Ukraine.
  • On 12 May, the Human Rights Council approved a resolution at a special session on Ukraine calling for an investigation into the atrocities alleged against Russian occupation troops.
  • The Director-General of UNESCO has condemned the murder of French journalist Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff on 30 May while covering an evacuation of civilians near the Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk for bfmTV.
  • As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its 100th day on Friday, 3 June 2022, António Guterres marked the grim milestone with a renewed call for an immediate end to the violence.
  • On 6 June, Pramila Patten, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict told the Security Council that allegations of sexual violence by Russian troops in Ukraine are mounting.
  • On 10 June, the UN human rights office, OHCHR condemned the death sentence handed down to three foreign fighters in Ukraine by a court in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
  • On 21 June, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Wairimu Nderitu, briefed the Security Council on Tuesday and reinforced concerns over “the heightened risks” of sexual violence, and trafficking, which are “significantly impacting women and children”.
  • The United Nations Coordinator for Ukraine estimated on the 100th day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine that the war will have no winner.
  • On 28 June, the UN political and peacebuilding chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, told the Security Council that the “horrific conflict” in Ukraine shows no signs of abating. She pointed out that since her last update on 5 April, “countless Ukrainian civilians” have been killed in indiscriminate attacks, cities and towns levelled, and much of the country’s arable land “horribly disfigured by shelling”.
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights said at the opening of the 50th session of the Human Rights Council that the war in Ukraine will leave traces for generations and that a global food, energy and financial crisis threatens the planet.
  • An agreement on the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea amid the ongoing war was signed on 22 July. UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the signing ceremony in Istanbul, Türkiye, that it is “a beacon of hope” in a world that desperately needs it.
  • UN Secretary-General has welcomed the departure of the first ship from the Ukrainian port of Odesa, carrying grain under the landmark deal signed by Ukraine, Russia and Türkiye, overseen by the UN.
  • The Secretary-General will be in Lviv, Ukraine, on 18 August to participate in a trilateral meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He will then travel to Odessa, one of three ports used as part of the “Black Sea Grain” initiative (agreement on the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports via the Black Sea) is located.
  • On 23 August, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) expressed concern after photos and videos released on social media appeared to show metal cages being built in the philharmonic hall in the devastated Ukrainian city of Mariupol, apparently to house prisoners of war (POWs) during an upcoming “show trial”.
  • Six months ago, the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, violating the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty and the UN Charter. Europe faced the fastest forced population movements since the Second World War, with nearly one third of Ukraine’s population – roughly 14 million people – being forced to flee their homes.
  • Secretary-General’s remarks to the Security Council, six months since Russia’s 24th of February invasion of Ukraine.
  • On 7 September 2022, the UN political and peacebuilding chief, Rosemary DiCarlo, updated the Security Council, saying that 5,718 people have been killed, including 372 children. Ukrainian refugees recorded across Europe have surpassed seven million.
  • On 9 September, the head of the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has said that nearly 5,800 people have been killed in the conflict in Ukraine and the situation of prisoners of war in Russian-held areas is “worrying”
  • In Geneva, on Friday 16 September, the UN human rights office (OHCHR), said that UN investigators already in Ukraine would be looking to see if those buried in mass graves discovered in the Ukrainian city of Izyum were soldiers or civilians and whether they had died in hostilities or from natural causes.

Emergency Humanitarian Appeal

  • On 1 March, the United Nations and its humanitarian partners launched coordinated emergency appeals totalling $1.7 billion to provide emergency humanitarian assistance to people in Ukraine and refugees in neighbouring countries. As of 25 April, this appeal was 70% funded.
  • On 26 April, facing a worsening crisis in Ukraine, the UN doubled its emergency appeal to $2.24 billion.
  • To date, the flash appeal is 86% funded.
  • The United Nations and its partners have provided more than 8.1 million people with humanitarian assistance and protection since the beginning of the war. To date, more than 6.7 million people have received food aid and nearly 1.7 million have received cash assistance.
  • The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are seeking an additional $226 million to prepare for the arrival of winter in Ukraine. These funds will enable humanitarian agencies to begin critical procurement, distribution and repair activities. The aim is to provide assistance to 1.7 million people before the 2022/2023 winter season.
  • Across Ukraine, over 580 humanitarian partners have provided life-critical aid and protection services to 13.3 million people (14 September).

Protection of civilians is a priority

  • The United Nations is making the protection of civilians its priority and will intensify its humanitarian operations in and around Ukraine. The United Nations needs safe and unhindered access to all areas affected by the Russian military offensive. There is an urgent need to establish a safe passage for life-saving medical supplies and health personnel.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has strongly condemned acts of violence against health centres, which are violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. As of 26 September, WHO has authenticated 550 attacks on health care since the war began.
  • The UN’s head of political affairs warned the Security Council on Friday (11 March) that direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes.
  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced on 11 March the use in Ukraine of Russian cluster munitions that have killed civilians.
  • On 22 August, nearly six months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, UNICEF has verified that at least 972 children have been killed or injured by the violence.
  • According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as of 26 September, 14844 civilian casualties were recorded, including 5996 deaths. The actual figure could be significantly higher as reported victims are confirmed. Tens of millions of people are in “potential danger of death“.
  • On 9 September, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) published a special report on the situation of people with disabilities in Ukraine.The Committee reported that people with disabilities trapped in the Russian control zones in Ukraine are reportedly being used as “human shields” by the Russian Federation armed forces.
  • A new UN report developed by gender agency UN Women and the Secretary-General’s Global Crisis Response Group, describes how the war has widened gender gaps in hunger, education and poverty, and has also increased gender-based violence.
  • On 23 September, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine told the Human Rights Council that based on the evidence gathered by the Commission, it had concluded that war crimes have been committed by the Russian Federation in Ukraine.

Europe facing its biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War

  • More than 7 million people have fled Ukraine and nearly 7 million Ukrainians are internally displaced. This is the fastest forced population movement since the Second World War.
  • According to UNICEF, every second that passes, a Ukrainian child becomes a refugee.
  • It is important that solidarity with the victims of this war be extended without any discrimination. All people, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or culture, must enjoy the same treatment and protection.
  • As of 8 March, UN agencies were present in each of the country’s 24 oblasts and had provided life-saving humanitarian assistance to 2.1 million people in Ukraine.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) plans to reach 4.8 million conflict-affected people through cash transfers and in-kind food distributions.
  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has warned that Ukraine could “freefall into poverty“.
  • According to a recent IOM survey, around 28 per cent of the estimated 6.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Ukraine fled from the Kharkiv Region.
  • On 23 September UN refugee agency, UNHCR, published a new survey “Lives on Hold: Intentions and Perspectives of Refugees from Ukraine.” It is based on 4,800 responses from people who have fled the brutal war in their homeland and are now living in countries in Europe and beyond. Refugees from Ukraine are eager to work in their host countries but need additional support to do so, and to ensure their inclusion in the communities where they are staying.

Nuclear facilities

  • Nuclear power plants should never be targeted by military operations. Military operations around nuclear sites and other critical civilian infrastructure are unacceptable, highly irresponsible and contrary to international humanitarian law.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is closely monitoring the situation.
  • “Military operations around nuclear sites and other critical civilian infrastructure are not only unacceptable but also highly irresponsible,” Rosemary DiCarlo, the UN’s chief of political affairs, told the fifteen-member Council.
  • The IAEA’s presence at the Zaporizhzya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine would allow the organization to carry out important technical activities in nuclear safety, security and safeguards and at the same time provide a stabilizing influence, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told the UN Security Council on 11 August.
  • On 6 September 2022, in his briefing to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General António Guterres underlined the need to de-escalate the situation around the embattled Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine.
  • On 9 September, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, warned that shelling in the Ukrainian city of Enerhodar is putting the embattled Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) at risk.
  • 12 September: IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi reiterated his call for the establishment of a nuclear safety and security protection zone at Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine. He described the situation as ‘untenable‘.

Food security

  • According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the war in Ukraine is jeopardizing global grain supplies and food security.
  • FAO has warned that disruptions to production, supply and delivery chains for grains and oilseeds, and restrictions on Exports from Russia, will have a significant impact on food security. An additional 8 to 13 million people could suffer from undernutrition worldwide if food exports from Ukraine and Russia were permanently prevented by the war.
  • The UN Secretary-General has warned of a “hurricane of famine” and a “collapse of the global food system”.
  • More than three months into the war in Ukraine, the Secretary-General has warned that the war in Ukraine threatens to unleash an unprecedented wave of hunger and destitution, leaving social and economic chaos in its wake. People around the world are facing a cost-of-living crisis not seen in more than a generation.
  • On 13 July, Secretary-General António Guterres said that a “critical step forward” had been taken to allow the “safe and secure export” of millions of tonnes of grain via the Black Sea. The UN chief described progress between Russia and Ukraine on allowing the resumption of grain exports during UN-brokered talks in Türkiye, as a “ray of hope to ease human suffering and alleviate hunger around the world.”
  • The first vessel transporting Ukrainian wheat grain to support humanitarian operations run by the World Food Programme (WFP) has left the port of Yuzhny, also known as Pivdennyi, the UN agency reported on 16 August.
  • On 27 August, more than one million tonnes of grain and food items exported under Black Sea deal.
  • As of 14 September, 2.7 million tons of grain and other foodstuffs have been shipped from Ukraine’s ports under the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

 

Additional resources

Ukraine backgrounder

UNRIC Info Point and Library backgrounder on Ukraine - UN links and resources

Ukraine news