The Situation in Ukraine
UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you Mr President and thank you to John Ging for his briefing this afternoon and thank you to the United Nations agencies already working on the ground in Ukraine for their efforts.
The continued conflict in eastern Ukraine has inevitably produced a humanitarian situation that is worsening. There has been further displacement of civilians and disruption to the provision of essential services. Advice from OCHA that the conflict has caused 117,000 internally displaced persons, and that a further 163,000 have fled Ukraine is troubling.
Reports of armed groups deliberately targeting civilian facilities such as electricity, water plants, roads and bridges are alarming. These attacks on facilities which are necessary to sustain the wellbeing, indeed the lives of civilians, must cease. Civilian infrastructure must be protected and respected; all parties to the conflict must comply with international humanitarian law.
We commend the UN and other UN humanitarian actors for their efforts to respond to the needs of displaced people and host communities. And we welcome the determination of the Ukrainian authorities to ensure the needs of the Ukrainian people who have been displaced or affected by violence are met, and endorse calls for a systematic registration system to facilitate this. Continued cooperation between the UN and Ukrainian authorities is essential in planning and implementing the humanitarian response. In this regard, we look forward to the Preliminary Response Plan developed by the humanitarian community and which we understand is to be released this week.
Obviously, to restore essential services and to protect civilians caught up in the conflict it is necessary for violence to cease and for all parties to commit to and undertake genuine political dialogue.
We commend the OSCE's efforts to promote dialogue, including through the Trilateral Contact Group. We welcome the start of the Minsk talks, but these talks must deliver: to do so, it is essential that all support for armed groups operating in eastern Ukraine must stop.
As we know only too well, it is just under three weeks ago Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was downed over separatist-held territory in eastern Ukraine with the terrible loss of 298 lives.
Their deaths were a direct consequence of this needless violence in eastern Ukraine.
The Council, through Resolution 2166, rightly demanded a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the downing of MH17; demanded immediate and unrestricted access to the site to allow for the investigation and the recovery of the bodies; prohibited any actions that could compromise the integrity of the site, most notably by local armed groups; and insisted that those responsible be held accountable.
Two weeks later we still need full and urgent implementation of Resolution 2166. Although some access to the crash site has been secured we still don't have the unimpeded and complete access to the site – all of it – that is essential.
On 1 August – last Friday – the Netherlands advised the Council of the establishment of the International Mission for Protection of the Investigation, led by the Netherlands with the participation also of Australia and Malaysia.
Dutch, Australian and Malaysian unarmed personnel have been assisting with the investigation and the removal of the remaining bodies and belongings and securing wreckage and physical evidence.
This is an unarmed operation of limited scope and duration.
These personnel have been working closely and meticulously through the OSCE which is negotiating site access and local cease-fires on their behalf.
But this has not always enabled the access required to complete the essential tasks – the area around the site remains contested. Although we had the cooperation of the Ukrainian authorities, armed separatists today restricted access to several areas of the crash site, hampering the investigation and the recovery of remains and personal effects.
Urgent – unrestricted – access to every area of the site, in accordance with the unambiguous, plain provisions of Resolution 2166, remains imperative. The unarmed personnel on the ground need the Council's own demands to be met in order to undertake their work. The sooner they can achieve full unrestricted access, the sooner they will be able to complete their work.
To conclude, Mr President,
A lasting solution to the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine self-evidently requires an end to the conflict. This Council has repeatedly urged this, and the information we have received today only reaffirms for us the importance of bringing to an end the impact of the violence and destabilising activities in the east of Ukraine.