The world is failing to protect civilians as the death toll of people caught up in conflicts surged more than 50 percent from the previous year, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council “to live up to its commitments” to protect civilians as enshrined in international humanitarian law, citing examples of civilian deaths in Ukraine and Sudan, schools destroyed in Ethiopia, and damage to water infrastructure in Syria.
In 2022, the UN said there was a 53 percent increase in civilian deaths compared with 2021, with nearly 17,000 civilian deaths recorded across 12 conflicts.
Guterres said UN research into war zones showed 94 percent of victims from “explosive weapons” in populated areas were civilians last year, while more than 117 million people faced acute hunger primarily because of war and insecurity.
“Law overlooked is law undermined. We need action and accountability to ensure it is respected. And that depends on political will,” said Guterres, sitting next to Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya. “Peace is the best form of protection.”
Worldwide, the number of refugees forced from their homes because of “conflict, violence, human rights violations and persecution” has reached 100 million, the UN boss added.