Ukraine: War-end prospects look bleak, despite ‘encouraging’ grain deal


Ambassadors were briefed by Rosemary DiCarlo, UN chief of political affairs, who pointed to the recent agreement on the safe resumption of grain exports through the Black Sea as a bright light in the conflict, while acknowledging the dim prospects for peace.

“The grain agreement is a sign that dialogue between parties is possible in the quest to alleviate human suffering,” said Ms. DiCarlo, officially the Undersecretary General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs.

She added that the UN is doing everything it can to support the implementation of the deal signed in Türkiye last week.

Diplomatic Efforts Needed

The impact of the war worldwide is “obvious,” said Ms. DiCarlo, pointing out that the ramifications will only become more apparent the longer the fighting lasts, especially with the onset of winter.

“Despite encouraging developments in grain and fertilizers, we remain deeply concerned about the lack of prospects for a shift towards a meaningful resumption of diplomatic efforts to end the war,‘ she told the Council.

“Escalating rhetoric from any side, including about expanding the conflict geographically or denying Ukraine’s statehood, is inconsistent with the constructive spirit displayed in Istanbul.”

UNIC Ankara/Levent Kulu

Secretary General António Guterres (left) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the signing ceremony of the Black Sea Grain Initiative in Istanbul, Türkiye.

Attacks continue unabated

Ms. DiCarlo said that since her last briefing in late June, deadly attacks by Russian forces have continued unabated, reducing many Ukrainian towns and villages to rubble.

The number of civilians killed, injured or maimed has also increased. According to the UN human rights agency OHCHR, there were 12,272 civilian casualties on Wednesday, including 5,237 dead.

“This represents at least 1,641 new civilian casualties since my last briefing: 506 killed and 1,135 injured. These are figures based on verified incidents; tthe actual numbers are considerably higher,” she said.

winter threat

Ms. DiCarlo also warned of reported efforts to change administrative structures on the ground, including: attempts to introduce local government bodies in Russian-controlled areasraising serious concerns about the political implications of the war.

“As the conflict moves into a more protracted phase, attention is increasingly focused on its longer-term humanitarian, rehabilitation, reconstruction and socio-economic impacts. As the summer wanes, the need for winter planning also becomes more pressing,” she said.

“Unfortunately, the political dialogue almost come to a standstill, people leave without the hope that peace will come soon.”

UN agencies also continue to document damage and destruction to civilian infrastructure such as homes, schools and healthcare facilities.

The impact on the health sector is “particularly alarming,” she said, as there have been 414 attacks so farresulting in 85 dead and 100 injured.

“This includes 350 attacks on facilities in conflict zones, where an average of about 316,000 patients were treated per month,” she said.

Help to millions

Since the beginning of the war, the UN and humanitarian partners have provided aid to some 11 million people, including food and livelihood assistance, protection services, mine clearance and access to safe water and sanitation.

Nearly six million Ukrainian refugees have found shelter across Europe. Since the start of the war on February 24, there have been a total of more than 9.5 million border crossings from Ukraine, while the number of border crossings into Ukraine was 3.8 million.

“We are concerned that the winter will make it more difficult for the displaced or the returned community to access shelter and health care,” said Ms. DiCarlo.

A 12-year-old boy visits his mother in hospital for the first time since she was injured by flying shrapnel a month ago.

© UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII

A 12-year-old boy visits his mother in hospital for the first time since she was injured by flying shrapnel a month ago.

Consequences for women

She also drew attention to the specific impact of the war on women and girls, particularly in areas such as food security and health.

Women’s access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health, is rapidly deteriorating, as is access to health care for newborns and children. They are now also largely responsible for homeschooling, as access to education is severely hampered by the constant threat of bombing.

“Furthermore, women in Ukraine are confronted with significantly increased safety and protection risks,” she added.

“The number of incidents of gender-based violence, including allegations of sexual violence in conflict, has increased, but services for survivors are not fully provided. It is also likely that many victims and survivors are currently unable to press charges.”

Ms. DiCarlo stressed that for these reasons, in particular, women should be meaningful participants in discussions and initiatives to shape the future of the country, including peace negotiations, recovery efforts, peacebuilding and accountability efforts.

Hope for grain shipments

The top UN humanitarian official in Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, was in the port city of Odessa on Friday, along with the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and ambassadors from the G7 countries, according to her official Twitter account.

This week began an operation under the grain export agreement, known as the Joint Coordination Center (JCC), which will monitor ships carrying grain, as well as related foodstuffs and fertilizers, from Odessa and two other ports along the Black Sea.

The JCC brings together representatives from Ukraine, Russia, Türkiye and the UN.

Ms Lubrani wrote that she was “very hopeful for the movements of ships to” taking place soontaking much-needed grains and related foodstuffs from Ukraine to countries that need them most”.

She added that it was an honor to speak with President Zelenskyy and reaffirm the UN’s continued support for Ukraine.

The visit took place on Ms Lubrani’s last day as UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine. Her successor, Denise Brown, will take over from Saturday.

Humanitarians call for more access

The launch of the Joint Coordination Center (JCC) is an example of how the international community can influence change even during the war in Ukraine, a UN humanitarian official said Friday in the capital Kiev.

Saviano Abreu of the United Nations Office for Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, was among the representatives of six UN agencies who briefed journalists on their ongoing operations to help millions inside and outside Ukraine whose lives have been uprooted by the conflict.

“While the world’s attention seems to be moving elsewhere, the situation in the country is far from changed,” he said.

While humanitarian workers have supported 11 million people so far, he said “we know it’s not enough”.

mr. Abreu reported that since the start of the Russian invasion, aid workers have been unable to send relief supplies to areas beyond the government’s control.

He underlined the obligation to allow free and safe humanitarian passage to all people in need.

“We saw this week that if there is a will, things can changee,” said Mr Abreu, referring to the JCC launch.

“Now we have to go one step further and make sure no one is left behind here in Ukraine either. We need the parties to gently agree on humanitarian access to all regions of Ukraine so that we can save lives and alleviate the suffering of those who have endured these five months of war.”

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