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Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

(FILE) A woman with a dog looks at her apartment building in Ukraine heavily damaged during a massive Russian drone strike.

“In 2022, the United Nations recorded nearly 17,000 civilian deaths across 12 armed conflicts," said U.S. Representative to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
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In the past year, over 100 armed conflicts raged around the world, according to a United Nations report issued in early May. And as the average duration of such conflicts stands at more than 30 years, civilians have continued to endure profound and lasting hardship.

“In 2022, the United Nations recorded nearly 17,000 civilian deaths across 12 armed conflicts, a 53 percent increase compared with 2021,” said U.S. Representative to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield. “In Ukraine alone, the UN recorded almost 8,000 civilian deaths, although actual figures are likely higher. This is the human cost of Russia’s unprovoked, brutal war of aggression in Ukraine.”

“This war has also had a devastating impact on vulnerable populations in countries far from Ukraine. Millions and millions more people have been pushed into food insecurity as a result of this conflict. Why? Because Russia has used food as a weapon of war in Ukraine,” she said.

There is also an on-going need to protect and aid “those who have been forced from their homes, unsure when, or if, they will be able to return,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “More than 100 million people have been forcibly displaced as a result of conflict, violence, persecution, and human rights violations and abuses. Burkina Faso, Somalia, Burma, and Ukraine face some of the fastest-growing displacement crises. And according to the UN Refugee Agency, fighting in Sudan could displace an additional one million people.”

“We must all do more to stamp out hunger and to save lives,” said Ambassador Thomas Greenfield. “At the same time, we must all recognize that no amount of aid will meet the needs of the world’s most vulnerable if it cannot reach the world’s most vulnerable.”

“Too often, warring parties intentionally block humanitarian access. And too often, the very people who dedicate their lives to saving others are targeted,” she said. “Last year, more than 250 humanitarian and health care workers were killed. Many others were injured, assaulted, or kidnapped. The kidnapping of medical personnel continues across conflicts. Targeting aid workers is a clear violation of international humanitarian law and must be roundly and universally condemned.”

“We must do more, together, to protect civilians facing armed conflict,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. “We must see our common humanity in those that are suffering. Let us do everything in our power to alleviate that suffering, and to secure a more peaceful and just future for all.”