SPEECH BY THE HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR FOR UKRAINE, DENISE BROWN, AT THE COMMEMORATION OF CHILDREN KILLED BY THE WAR
04 June 2023
I would like to start with a number, a very important number that should shock and horrify the world. And that is 1,500. 1,500 Ukrainian children killed or injured since the Russian invasion in February 2022. And unfortunately, that number goes up almost every single day. Last night, in Dnipro, three more children were injured in an explosion. Earlier this week, in Kyiv, a little girl was killed alongside her mother after a strike.
I know that that brings no solace, but it is important to document and keep track. The Convention of the Rights of the Child, written at the United Nations, signed by Member States, ratified by Member States, including Russia, is intended to protect children – physically, psychologically, financially – and ensure that they stay with their families. It specifically prohibits adoption during times of war. We know that the Convention for the Rights of the Child is being totally disregarded by Russia, as is International Humanitarian Law.
It doesn't make these documents irrelevant. It makes them extremely important for accountability. And the International Criminal Court has already issued two indictments for the forcible taking of children from Ukraine. And that's the beginning. We also know millions of Ukrainian children have been displaced because of violence, have seen their family members killed, have suffered great loss, have not been able to go to school, have not been able to access health care and are suffering from the trauma of the war brought by the Russian Federation.
I also know that much has been done to support these children. In Kharkiv, a fantastic centre has been set up by local authorities and UNICEF to support them. And in Antonivka, in Khersonska oblast, I met a little boy who lived in a shelter and who had his tablet and thus was able to study. And everywhere I go, I see this tremendous outpouring of support. I know it is not enough, it will never be enough. But our obligation, as the United Nations, is to stay here. And we will stay here as long as necessary to continue supporting those who need us the most.
Since 2019, Ms. Brown served as Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), and as United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator.
Prior to this, she worked at the World Food Programme (WFP) headquarters in Rome, first as Director of the Emergency Preparedness and Supportive Response Division and then as Director of Policy and Programmes.
From 2013 to 2016, Ms. Brown was WFP's Director for West and Central Africa, based in Dakar, Senegal, serving 20 countries. She spent most of her career in the field with WFP, covering a range of situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Niger, and Somalia. She has also worked with non-governmental organizations in Haiti and Cambodia. Ms. Brown has also served in New York.
Ms. Denise Brown holds a master’s degree in Children’s Development from Purdue University in the United States.
She is fluent in English and French.