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UN: Ukrainians Suffering Torment       12/07 06:06

   The U.N. humanitarian chief on Tuesday decried the "colossal" torment 
Ukraine is suffering from "senseless war" and Russian destruction of its 
infrastructure.

   UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. humanitarian chief on Tuesday decried the 
"colossal" torment Ukraine is suffering from "senseless war" and Russian 
destruction of its infrastructure.

   That view was echoed by the United States and its Western allies at a U.N. 
Security Council meeting, but strongly opposed by Russia, which accused Ukraine 
of seeking its destruction.

   Humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths outlined the toll of "the widespread 
death, displacement and suffering" caused since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of 
Ukraine, exacerbated by Moscow's recent attacks that have created an energy and 
water crisis in the country as temperatures plummet below freezing.

   Over 14 million people are now forcibly displaced from their homes, 
including 7.8 million living across Europe and 6.5 million still within the 
country, he said. A total of 17,023 civilians have been killed, including 419 
children as of Dec. 1, according to the U.N. human rights office, though "the 
real toll is far greater," and there have been at least 715 attacks on health 
care operations.

   "In Ukraine today, the ability of civilians to survive is under attack," 
Griffiths said, pointing to strikes on power stations and heating plants that 
have left millions of people without access to heat, electricity and water in 
sub-freezing temperatures, families deprived of health care, and children 
unable to go to school.

   Griffiths put the urgent need to help Ukrainians get through the winter in 
the broader context of "a world gone mad," saying the number of people globally 
needing humanitarian assistance next year is projected to rise by nearly 24% to 
339 million. As a result, the U.N. humanitarian appeal for 2023 is a record 
$51.5 billion.

   U.S. deputy ambassador Lisa Carty told the council that global hunger 
"already at extreme levels" because of the COVID-19 pandemic, other conflicts 
and climate change surged this year "because Russia disrupted the world's 
global food systems." She said Russia turned "Ukraine's rolling wheat fields 
into battlefields" and destroyed Ukrainian grain once supplied to the 
developing world.

   "Now, as Ukraine fights back to reclaim its sovereign territory and defend 
its people, President (Vladimir) Putin has focused his ire and fire on 
Ukraine's civilian population," she said, pointing to the barrage of missile 
strikes and destruction of critical infrastructure.

   Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, claimed a Ukrainian Security 
Council official recently said Western weapons were needed to destroy Russians 
"so that they stop existing as a country."

   Moscow has to react "to such hateful rhetoric by Kyiv ... to counter these 
heinous actions, including by conducting strikes on infrastructure that are 
used for military supplies for logistics and communications for the Ukrainian 
armed formations," he said. "In other words, we will weaken the Zelenskyy 
regime."

   Nebenzia insisted Russia was conducting "precision strikes" and claimed 
civilian infrastructure wouldn't suffer if Ukraine had not placed air defense 
systems in residential areas

   Carty recalled that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told U.S. 
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield during her recent visit to Kyiv that he is 
seeking "a just peace" based on the U.N. Charter and its principles.

   She said Putin's escalating attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure "are 
evidence that he has no genuine interest in negotiation or meaningful 
diplomacy."

   "Instead, he is trying to break Ukraine's will to fight by bombing and 
freezing its civilians into submission," Carty said. "But he will not succeed 
because Ukraine is fighting for its freedom and for the future of its children, 
and we will do everything in our power to keep hope alive in Ukraine."

   Nebenzia told the council that "we confirm our willingness to conduct 
negotiations" and that "the aim would be to eradicate the root causes that 
forced us to start our special military operation in Ukraine."

   But, he argued. the West isn't interested "in a political diplomatic 
settlement," pointing to NATO's decision to expand weapons deliveries to 
Ukraine at its Nov. 29-30 meeting.

   This confirms "its desire not only to have a further escalation of the 
conflict, but to destabilize the situation in Europe as a whole," he said.

   Nebenzia said there is growing evidence that Western weapons earmarked for 
Ukraine "are increasingly falling into the hands of bandits and terrorists of 
different stripes, not only in Europe but also in the Middle East and Africa."

   He said Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari "confirmed that the conflict in 
Ukraine is the main source of weapons for terrorists in the Lake Chad basin."

   Nebenzia said this problem "creates a real threat to international peace and 
security" and called for a Security Council meeting Friday on this issue.

 
 
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