Thank you for convening this meeting. We wish to thank Mr. Ivan Simonovic, Mr. Jeffrey Feltman and Mr. John Ging for their respective briefings.
2. At the outset, Malaysia would like to express sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the coal mine accident in Zasyadko in eastern Ukraine. The incident which resulted in dozens of casualties, has further exacerbated the already grim situation in the region of Donetsk. We call on the conflicting parties to give full cooperation to the relevant authorities for the rescue and recovery effort.
3. As is normally the case, the civilian population would bear the biggest brunt and pay the highest price in any conflict. The Ukraine crisis is no exception. In a matter of one year, Ukraine went from a country without a single displaced person to having over one million of its population displaced from eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Out of the one million, one in three internally displaced people in Ukraine is a child.
4. Currently, an estimated 5 million people in eastern Ukraine are in need of humanitarian assistance. Over 6,000 people had been killed in the conflict, including the 298 passengers of flight MH17, a tragic incident which was a direct consequence of the Ukrainian crisis.
5. Malaysia condemns indiscriminate attacks against civilians in the strongest terms. We are alarmed to learn that attacks which seemed to intentionally target civilians and residential areas had further intensified in recent months, including in Volnovakha, Mariupol and the city of Donetsk. As reported by the Human Rights Mission in Ukraine, the fighting and indiscriminate shelling had severely damaged civilian property and vital infrastructure, leaving civilians without electricity, gas, heating, water or food.
6. We also condemn attacks against hospitals, schools and kindergartens with stark disregard for international humanitarian law and civilian lives. We repeat our call for an independent investigation into the incidents to bring those responsible for gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law to justice.
7. Malaysia is deeply concerned on allegations of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in Ukraine. Reports of arbitrary detentions of civilians, torture and enforced disappearance against both sides of the conflict must be investigated to prevent impunity. We regret the lack of progress in ensuring accountability for grave human rights violations such as during the Maidan protests in Kiev and in Odesa last year.
8. We deplore attacks against journalists in Ukraine, particularly in eastern Ukraine and in Crimea. Over the past year, at least 78 journalists have been held by armed groups and at least 60 attacks were carried out against media offices. We call on the parties to respect the rights to freedom of opinion and expression and of peaceful assembly. We also view with concerns the targeting of religious minorities in the areas controlled by armed groups, as reported by the Human Rights Mission in Ukraine.
9. Since the ceasefire went into effect on 15 February 2015, fighting has generally reduced in the Donbas region. We also welcome the progress made in the withdrawal of heavy weapons on both sides. At this point however, the ceasefire remains fragile and the progress made is far from irreversible.
10. We urge the conflicting parties not to lose the opportunity for peace once again, and to ensure full compliance of the provisions of the Minsk agreements. We also call on both sides to cooperate fully with the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to enable them to carry out their mandate, including to monitor and verify the ceasefire and the heavy weapons withdrawal.
11. Malaysia commends the tireless efforts and commitment by various organisations, including the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in providing humanitarian assistance to those affected in the Ukrainian crisis. With the ceasefire in effect, we hope attention could now be focused on intensifying humanitarian assistance, in an environment that could ensure the safety and security of humanitarian personnel.
12. We urge all parties to allow safe and unrestricted humanitarian access and to remove bureaucratic impediments that could create barriers for immediate and effective humanitarian aid. We reiterate our position that humanitarian assistance must be carried out in accordance with international law, international humanitarian law and respect to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
13. In concluding, we wish to reflect on the priority of the OSCE Chair to ‘rebuild trust and confidence’ in Europe, in view of the worst crisis facing the region since the end of the Cold War. We believe the Minsk agreements provided an excellent opportunity for the conflicting parties to take a step back from the spiralling violence in Ukraine, and to re-commit themselves to peaceful resolution of the conflict.
14. Full adherence to the Minsk agreements by both sides would constitute the first step in rebuilding trust and confidence, and hopefully, would lead to a sustainable political solution to the conflict.
I thank you, Mr. President.