New York, 24 February 2023
It has been 365 days since the Russian Federation launched its full-scale aggression against Ukraine. It has been 365 days of trauma, displacement and suffering for the children of Ukraine.
The members of the Group of Friends of Children and the SDGs, whose fundamental tenet is to advocate for the rights, lives and well-being of all children, everywhere, and aligning countries, condemn in the strongest terms the ongoing aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. We express our grave concern about the war’s continued impact on the children of Ukraine.
We remain deeply alarmed by the targeted attacks by the armed forces of the Russian Federation against children’s homes and schools, as well as hospitals and orphanages. The UN reports that, since 24 February 2022, at least 487 children have been killed and 954 children have been injured. Millions of children have been forced to flee, have been uprooted from their homes, separated from their families or put at risk of violence, exploitation and child trafficking.
The continued use of explosive weapons – including in populated areas – has meant that thousands of schools, pre-schools and other education facilities across the country have been damaged or destroyed. This has resulted in the disruption of education for more than five million children in Ukraine.
Targeted attacks against schools and hospitals constitute one of the six grave violations committed against children during armed conflict, as well as a violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Perpetrators of such violations must be held accountable without delay. The deliberate attacks against civilian facilities and infrastructure in Ukraine have caused widespread power outages and decimated services for millions of children, leaving them with no electricity, water and heating in the midst of a harsh winter and, as a result, at heightened risk of disease. As children face extreme cold, their psychosocial situation is also at risk of further deterioration, with 1.5 million children already experiencing mental health issues.
The tragedy unfolding in Ukraine is also having an impact on children all over the world, as the Russian Federation’s aggression has caused an increase in global food insecurity, heightening the risk of child hunger and malnutrition worldwide.
One year ago today, children’s lives in Ukraine were upended in a matter of hours. Twelve months later, the threats to children’s rights, lives, well-being and development are constantly multiplying as they are forced to unjustly bear the costs of war.
Our countries demand that the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine, and that it immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraws all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters. Obligations under international humanitarian law, as well as legal and moral obligations to keep children out of the line of fire, must be strictly adhered to. We call for an immediate cessation of the Russian Federation’s attacks on the critical infrastructure of Ukraine and any deliberate attacks on civilian objects, including residential buildings, schools, and hospitals.
We fully support the humanitarian actors who are working tirelessly to ensure that children in Ukraine are protected and that vital assistance is within their reach. Rapid, safe and unhindered access to humanitarian assistance for those in need in Ukraine must be guaranteed.
Finally, we underline the need to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine, consistent with the Charter of the United Nations. We owe it to the children of Ukraine and to children everywhere.
(i) Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Benin, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Republic of Korea, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Türkiye, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and the European Union (observer).
(ii) Albania, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czechia, Fiji, France, Georgia, Italy, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Malawi, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Myanmar, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Portugal, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Samoa, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.