Joint Statement by
Ambassador Yevheniia Filipenko
Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nations in Geneva
On behalf of a cross-regional group co-sponsors including the United States
World Health Assembly
As Prepared for Delivery – May 26, 2022
Thank you. I am delivering this statement on behalf of the following Member States Albania, Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bulgaria, Canada. Colombia, Croatia. Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia. Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Peru. Poland, Portugal. The Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania. San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden. Vanuatu, Ukraine. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America.
The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine has caused a health and humanitarian crisis on a huge scale, with grave health impacts within and beyond Ukraine. We have witnessed attacks destroying health facilities, thousands of civilian deaths, deeply irresponsible attacks near nuclear facilities and huge disruption to health services across Ukraine. The risks of infectious disease outbreaks have skyrocketed in the middle of a global infectious disease pandemic.
Millions of tons of grain sit in Ukrainian grain silos and ports unable to be exported. A global food crisis which already existed before the invasion has been made far worse and threatens millions more with starvation. This will hit the world’s poorest and most vulnerable hardest despite, as President Kenyatta said at the opening of the World Health Assembly, them bearing no responsibility for this crisis.
Latest estimates suggest over 14 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee this mindless violence, many seeking refuge in cosponsors’ countries and pushing the total number of displaced people globally to over 100 million for the first time in history.
Far from politicising the situation, Ukraine’s resolution focuses specifically on these health impacts, which we continue to bear witness to.
Yet despite the obvious reality of this health emergency, the Russian Federation has proposed a resolution based on a twisted alternative reality. In this parallel world, Russia itself bears no responsibility for this crisis. Every reference to the Russian Federation’s aggression has been excised from their text, as if this crisis had erupted spontaneously. References to health impacts beyond the European region have also quietly been dispensed with.
This is not just shamefully dishonest. It is also a cynical attempt to dupe this forum. By copying and pasting language from Ukraine’s text – and from text agreed in other contexts – Russia has cobbled together a resolution which they believe you will find it hard to vote against.
We urge you not to fall for this subterfuge. We, the World Health Assembly, must be crystal clear about where responsibility for this health crisis lies: it lies with the Russian Federation. If Russia’s military aggression ceases tomorrow, health services could be resumed within weeks and reconstruction could commence, and the export of grain could resume.
The WHO’s European Region has voted by significant margin to ask the World Health Assembly to debate Russia’s aggression fully. Respecting that regional decision requires the World Health Assembly to reject the twisted alternative reality reflected in the Russian Federation’s resolution.
The theme of this year’s Assembly is ‘Health for Peace; Peace for Health’. With this in mind, we urge you to support Ukraine’s resolution and to reject the resolution proposed by the Russian Federation. I thank you.