Editor’s note: Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.
Situation Grim for Civilians in Ukraine
The U.N. Security Council heard Thursday from senior U.N. officials who reported more than 3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia began its invasion on February 24. At least 2 million more people are displaced inside the country. Food, water and medicine are scarce in many areas as Russian bombardments continue in several Ukrainian cities. “The lifesaving medicine we need right now is peace,” the head of the World Health Organization said.
UN: Ukraine’s Humanitarian Situation Worsening Daily
OSCE Chair Briefs UN Security Council
Poland’s foreign minister briefed Security Council members on Monday in his capacity as the chairperson of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He condemned Russia’s targeting of Ukrainian civilians, as well as schools and hospitals, as “state terrorism.”
OSCE Chair: Russian Actions in Ukraine ‘State Terrorism’
UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan Renewed With Robust Mandate
The Security Council voted Thursday to extend and enhance the role of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan for another year, as the country faces severe humanitarian challenges. Its mandate includes promoting inclusive political dialogue, monitoring and reporting on human rights, and helping the country gain access to its externally frozen assets.
UN Extends Mission in Afghanistan With Long ‘To-Do’ List
Libya’s Dueling Governments Risk More Instability
Libya’s latest political crisis could bring about two parallel governments in the country, the U.N.’s political chief warned Wednesday. “This could lead to instability and possibly unrest and deal a severe blow to the prospect of elections,” Rosemary DiCarlo said.
UN: Dueling Governments in Libya Could Lead to More Instability
— The U.N. refugee agency and the U.N. children’s agency said Tuesday that every day for the past 20 days, 70,000 children in Ukraine have become refugees. That is equivalent to 55 children fleeing the country every minute — nearly one every second. In addition, access to education has affected about 5.7 million children and adolescents between 3 and 17 years old since the war started. As of Friday, nearly 3.3 million people have fled Ukraine.
— The Food and Agriculture Organization’s chief economist said Wednesday that disruptions from the war in Ukraine could drastically affect global wheat and corn prices at a time when food prices are already rising. Máximo Torero told reporters that in a moderate scenario where wheat and corn exports from Ukraine and Russia drop by 10 million tons each, global wheat prices are projected to rise 8.7% and corn by 8.2%. In a “severe shock” scenario, which includes a reduction of 25 million tons in their combined wheat and corn exports, prices would soar 21.5% and 19.5%, respectively. Torero said this could result in between 7.6 million and 13.1 million people being undernourished worldwide.
— The U.N.’s main judicial organ, the International Court of Justice, ruled in favor of Ukraine on Wednesday, ordering Russia to “immediately suspend the military operations that it commenced on 24 February 2022 in the territory of Ukraine.” The Hague-based court ruled 13 to 2. The two judges who voted against halting the war are Russian and Chinese nationals. The court, however, did vote unanimously to tell both parties to refrain from any action that might aggravate or extend “the dispute before the court.”
— An international donor’s conference for Yemen on Wednesday raised nearly $1.3 billion of the almost $4.3 billion needed to assist more than 23 million Yemenis this year. After seven years of war, a collapsing economy and a continuing COVID-19 pandemic, 160,000 Yemenis are facing the prospect of famine conditions by June. Millions more are just a step behind them, in what the U.N. has said is a completely manmade humanitarian catastrophe.
Quote of note
“We must fathom the breadth of the crisis we now have on our hands – 18 million people affected; 12 million people in need of humanitarian assistance; over $1.1 billion to address their immediate needs – it has left us all lost for words. Our worst-case scenario is a reality. But we have scaled up at speed.”
— Osnat Lubrani, U.N. resident and humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, in a virtual briefing for member states on Friday.
The U.N. General Assembly could vote on a draft resolution on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine. France and Mexico said they would take their text there, as a Russian veto would likely doom the effort in the Security Council. A similar strategy saw 141 nations vote to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in the assembly on March 2. Moscow would likely again be isolated.