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Coveney addresses the UN this evening. UN

'It is madness': Coveney addresses UN and describes witnessing mass graves at Bucha

“There was nothing fabricated about what I witnessed,” he told the assembly.

FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTER Simon Coveney this evening addressed the UN and described what he experienced in Kyiv as “profoundly shocking”. 

Coveney had visited Kyiv and scene of a massacre of civilians at Bucha last week – making him the first Foreign Minister from a state on the Security Council to visit Kyiv since the start of the war.

Addressing the UN Security Council this evening, he said there was “nothing staged” about what he had witnessed in Bucha, a neighbourhood on the outskirts of Kyiv described by Coveney as having the stench of burning buildings and bodies lingering through the air. 

“During my visit, I went to Bucha. Until two months ago, it was a pleasant and vibrant town; a place many of us around this table could have happily imagined living in.

“It now lies in ruins, with the stench of burning buildings and bodies in the air.

“Hundreds of family homes, shops and other civilian infrastructure: blackened, burnt, looted, damaged, destroyed. Family cars, riddled with bullets, windshields smashed, bloodstains still evident. I’ve been around long enough to know the truth from staged propaganda when I see it.

“There was nothing fabricated about what I witnessed.”

Russia has long claimed that reports of war crimes and mass graves coming from Bucha are not true and are instead a fabrication by Ukraine.  

Russian embassy and government accounts on Twitter and the messaging app Telegram have claimed that images which show dead bodies are “staged” and part of a concerted media campaign to garner sympathy from the West.

Coveney said he saw the mass graves with his own eyes. 

“I stood at the edge of one of the mass graves, where the work of carefully exhuming bodies continued. 503 civilians had been identified – and just 4 combatants.

“503 individual human lives – men, women and children who were not combatants, yet who appear to have been deliberately killed in the most brutal manner.

kyiv-ukraine-14-april-2022-irelands-minister-for-foreign-affairs-simon-coveney-and-kuleba-walking-with-ukrainian-special-forces-and-garda-eru-to-lay-flowers-at-a-memorial-wall-in-kyiv-credit-i-390x285 Coveney in Bucha last week. Alamy Alamy

“This speaks to an utter disregard by Russian forces for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians. There’s no spinning that reality away.”

Coveney said that during his visit to Ukraine,  so many people spoke to him about the urgent need for accountability to expose the horrors of what has happened.

In all situations where war crimes may have been committed, “we must ensure that timely, credible investigations are undertaken; that evidence is rigorously documented; and that witnesses, victims and survivors are supported”, he said.

For that reason, Ireland has committed an additional €3m in funding to the International Criminal Court, Coveney told the Security Council.

Refugee and Food Crisis

Almost five million people have become refugees and over 7 million people have been displaced within Ukraine.

But the humanitarian consequences of this war are also being felt thousands of miles from Ukraine, by some of the most vulnerable members of our international community, Coveney explained.

He cited how the price of wheat and oil has risen by 300% in Somalia, where more than 700,000 people are already displaced by drought. He also spoke about the growing food crisis in Palestine. 

“Ireland cannot, and will not, remain silent while this senseless and devastating war continues. Neither should any member of this Council. As it was on 25 February, so it is today – this is a war of choice. It can end immediately if President Putin so decides.

“And yet, we are instead seeing a renewed offensive in Eastern Ukraine. It is madness.

“We have to stop this war. I want to call on Russia directly; agree to an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, commit to negotiations, respect this Charter.”

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