A senior British diplomat has recorded evidence of “credible allegations” of Russian troops’ sexual violence against children and other violations by UN Security Council rules on young wardens.
Ambassador to the UN from Britain, Dame Barbara Woodward said that there is evidence that Russia has committed four of six grave violations of the Security Council’s Children in Times of War Act.
A 1999 resolution by the council lists violations such as targeting children in conflict and recruiting and using them as soldiers.
She stated that there were ongoing reports of deportations of more 700,000 people from Ukraine to Russia, in addition to “credible allegations” of sexual violence against Ukraine children.
She stated that there was a real danger of a lost generation and the continuation of a vicious cycle of violence caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the destruction it has caused.
UNICEF warned that the conflict in Ukraine was worsening the “child rights crisis”, with schools being attacked in hundreds and children being killed in the last month.
Omar Abdi (UNICEF’s deputy executive director) stated that children are paying “an unconscionably large price” in war with 239 confirmed dead and 355 injured since the invasion of Russia on 24 February.
There are concerns that the actual number could be much higher.
In his nightly address to his countrymen, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zilenskyy couldn’t contain his anger at the country’s growing influence on its young.
He said, “Last night they [Russian forces] hit the Chernihiv area, including schools.”
“Of course, Russia is so corrupt that education can only be provided to it.
“But what is the harm in destroying Ukrainian schools?” These orders are given by Russian commanders, who are all simply incompetent and sick.”
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After the conflict began, Ukraine’s school year was effectively halted. The fighting has caused damage to or complete destruction of at least 15 schools that UNICEF supports in Ukraine’s east.
Mr Abdi stated that “these attacks must cease.”
“Ultimately, the children need to end this war. Their futures hang in balance.”
Other important developments:
* YouTube, TikTok and Twitter were asked to archive content that could have been used as evidence for Russian war crimes in Ukraine. According to NBC News four US high-ranking Congressmen have asked their CEOs to flag or mark any content that could be used as evidence of war crimes or other atrocities.
* Supporters and relatives of the Ukrainian fighters are hiding in the Azovstal Steel plant, under bombardment in Mariupol’s southern port. They appeal for their rescue.
* A close Russian ally, Putin, stated that the West’s increased military support for Ukraine could lead to war between Russia (and NATO).
* Siemens AG, a German industrial giant, has announced that it will be leaving Russia. It has been there for nearly 170 years.
* Europe was under greater pressure to find alternative gas supplies after Moscow placed sanctions on European subsidiaries, Gazprom and Ukraine. This resulted in a halt to a gas transit route, which pushed prices higher.
According to Mr Abdi, in March, over 15,000 schools in Ukraine resumed education, mostly via remote learning or hybrid options.
He said that online and distance education options are used by approximately 3.7 million students in Ukraine and around the world.
However, Abdi stated that there were still “enormous barriers” to education, such as language barriers, school availability, resource limitations, and movement of children and families.
Many council members and Mr Abdi spoke out about the “horrifying attack” that occurred at a school in Bilohorivka, eastern Ukraine last weekend. The bomb struck while children and women were sheltered inside the building.
Richard Mills, the US deputy ambassador, said that the blast claimed as many as 60 lives, many of which were children.
Vassily Nebenzia, the Russian Ambassador to UN said that his country’s armed force was “making every effort” to protect children in the “special military operation in Ukraine”. He also called the allegations of sexual assaults against children “absurd”.
He said that children in Donbas are “dying under Ukrainian shells” again this spring.
He claimed that the Ukrainian military used many buildings and educational facilities to establish bases.
This was “jeopardising children’s lives, depriving them their right to education and destroying the educational infrastructure of Ukraine”, he stated.