Top officials at
the United Nations called Monday for both an investigation into Russia's
violence against women during its invasion of Ukraine and the protection of
children in the conflict.
"This war must stop. Now," Sima Bahous, director of the UN women's agency,
told a meeting of the Security Council in New York.
"We are increasingly hearing of rape and sexual violence. These
allegations must be independently investigated to ensure justice and
Bahous, who recently returned from a trip to the region, said the
combination of "mass displacement with the large presence of conscripts and
mercenaries, and the brutality displayed against Ukrainian civilians, has
raised all red flags."
It was not clear if the Security Council, on which Russia is a veto-
wielding permanent member, would agree to any investigation.
Russia on Monday again rejected accusations made by other members of the
Russian deputy ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyansky asked the group to
respect the "presumption of innocence," and insisted his country's "special
military operation" intended to "save Ukraine's future."
- 'Children are innocent' -
Manuel Fontaine, director of emergency programs at UNICEF, also called for
an end to the war and warned of the risk to children of famine.
"Of the 3.2 million children estimated to have remained in their homes,
nearly half may be at risk of not having enough food," he told the council.
"The situation is even worse in cities like Mariupol and Kherson, where
children and their families have now gone weeks without running water and
sanitation services, a regular supply of food, and medical care."
At a press conference, Fontaine estimated that two thirds of Ukraine's 7.5
million children are currently displaced -- 2.8 million internally displaced
within the country and another two million who are refugees outside Ukraine,
for a total of 4.8 million.
"In a matter of six weeks. It's just quite incredible," he said.
During the Security Council meeting, Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN,
Sergiy Kyslytsya, accused Russia of transporting 120,000 Ukrainian children
to Russia to be adopted.
Fontaine said there was so far "no evidence" of such accusations, but that
UNICEF would investigate the matter.
Prior to the meeting, Mona Juul, Norway's ambassador to the UN, flagged
the war's impact on education for many Ukrainian children.
"According to the UN, 5.7 million children are affected by the nationwide
closure of education facilities," she told reporters.
"Schools are important, not only for the sake of education -- but for
protecting children: from violence, sexual abuse, and even trafficking."
"Children are innocent. Always. Stop killing them. Stop destroying their
future. Stop the war," the Norwegian diplomat said.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, but has been met with an
unexpectedly strong Ukrainian resistance as well as unprecedented sanctions
imposed by a slew of countries.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)