The United Nations has called for an end to the bombing of schools in Ukraine, while denouncing the use of schools for military purposes during a UN Security Council meeting convened at the request of France and Mexico.
“These attacks (on schools) must stop,” said Omar Abdi, a senior UNICEF official. “As of last week, at least 15 of the 89 schools – one in six – supported by UNICEF in eastern Ukraine had been damaged or destroyed since the start of the war on February 24.”
“Hundreds of schools across the country are reported to have been hit by heavy artillery, airstrikes and other explosive weapons in residential areas, while other schools are being used as information centers, shelters, supply centers or for military purposes – with a long-term impact on children returning to school, “Abdi also complained.
During the debate, Mexico and France recalled that attacks on schools constituted a grave violation of humanitarian law.
“The Russian military continues to kill civilians, including children, and the ‘cost of war’ for the latter is ‘terrible,'” French Ambassador to the United Nations Nicolas de Riviere confirmed, calling for an end to hostilities.
His Russian counterpart, Vassily Nebenzia, has denied the “absurd allegations” against the Russian armed forces.
Russia has been providing humanitarian assistance to children in Donbas (eastern Ukraine), where for more than eight years, the Russian ambassador to the UN has said, the Ukrainian army has been waging a “civil war against its own people.” The Russian diplomat added that the teaching of history to children in Ukraine is biased.
Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Sergei Kislytsia has called on the United Nations to take action so that children separated from their families can be reunited with them.
He once again accused Russia of continuing “the abduction of Ukrainian children”. “After their forcible transfer to Russia, they are being illegally adopted by Russian citizens,” the diplomat said.
Joyce Mougia, the UN’s deputy emergency co-ordinator, has said in the past that “intense fighting is causing enormous human suffering” and that “civilians – especially women and children – are paying the highest price.”
It is particularly important to support “mine action”, the official said. “Demining is a priority for opening a humanitarian space,” he said.
“I also urge the warring parties to remove any obstacles to the movement of humanitarian workers in order to ensure the continued delivery of vital aid through Ukraine,” Msugia said.