UN Secretary-General's remarks to the Media in Chişinau, Moldova
09 May 2022
- I thank the Government and people of Moldova for your warm welcome on my first visit to Chişinau.
As I told Prime Minister Gavrilita, I am here on a mission of solidarity and gratitude, to thank Moldova for your steadfast support for peace, and for your generosity in opening your borders, your homes and your hearts to almost half a million Ukrainian refugees.
Moldova is not just another country receiving refugees.
The most fragile of Ukraine’s neighbours, Moldova is by far the country that has received the most refugees, as proportion of its own population.
Moldova needs and deserves massive support to match, including budget support to match its generosity and to preserve stability.
The impact of the war in Ukraine across the region and the world is profound and far-reaching. The consequences of escalation are too frightening to contemplate.
I am deeply concerned about the continuation and possible spread of the war Russia is waging in Ukraine, and by the impact it is having not only in the region but around the world.
Neighbouring countries like Moldova are already struggling with the socio-economic ramifications of this war coming on top of COVID and the uneven recovery that unfortunately has happened in our world for lack of effective solidarity of the rich with the poor.
The United Nations is committed to supporting not only the people of Ukraine, but also the people of Moldova during these difficult times.
Your sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, and the solid progress you have made over the past three decades, must not be threatened or undermined.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine must stop. The guns must be silenced.
I urge Russia and Ukraine to step up diplomatic efforts through dialogue to urgently achieve a negotiated settlement, in line with international law and the UN Charter.
And I call on regional and international partners to support this process in the interests of global stability.
I repeat my offer to provide my good offices at any time to put an end to this senseless war.
On 9 May, of all days, we remember that dialogue and cooperation based on mutual respect are the bedrock of peace and security, in Europe and around the world.
I congratulate the Republic of Moldova on the thirtieth anniversary of joining the United Nations and thank you for your contributions and strong partnership in areas including peacekeeping, sustainable development, gender equality, climate change and I could go on and on.
Despite the difficult and indeed tragic circumstances of my visit, I have already experienced the hospitality that is a hallmark of your country. I thank you for extending that hospitality to the 100,000 Ukrainian refugees staying in Moldova – an increase of almost 4 percent of your population.
Moldova may not be the largest or wealthiest country in Europe, but its tremendous humanity and generosity are clear for all to see.
I witnessed the horrific humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine for myself. But by standing in solidarity with Ukrainians, Moldova, together with other neighbouring countries have mounted a highly effective response to the regional refugee crisis.
I also welcome the steps Moldova and other neighbouring countries are taking to protect refugees against human trafficking, gender-based violence, and other forms of abuse.
The United Nations is supporting refugees, displaced people and host communities both inside and outside Ukraine. So far, more than 200 partners – mostly national NGOs – have reached more than 5.4 million people inside the country with aid including food, shelter, blankets, medicines and water.
But obviously, this is not enough. We need to do much more. We are working to double our reach in some areas over the coming months. Everywhere, our operations in Ukraine focus on the most vulnerable: children, women, elderly people and those with disabilities.
Here in Moldova, and I have to say that it was not easy for the UN to readapt to a humanitarian crisis in Europe, Here, we do not have refugee camps. Refugees live with the families of Moldovans. Here, we don’t have the traditional forms of humanitarian support in crisis areas of the developing world, in fragile states. So it took some time to fully organize our work and to fully correspond to the needs of cooperation that Moldova expects in relation to the UN. But now, we are doing everything we can in order to scale up our programs and in particular the most effective of those programs, cash assistance – because we must trust that people know what their needs are.
We aim to support over 90,000 refugees and 55,000 Moldovan hosts, in coordination with the Government and other partners.
So far, 12 Member States have joined the EU Solidarity Platform and made pledges to transfer Ukrainian refugees from Moldova.
I encourage others to demonstrate joint responsibility and solidarity by joining this initiative.
Moldova is a small country with a big heart.
But its resources are limited.
The United Nations and our partner organizations can only support governments to meet the needs of everyone affected by this war if our two humanitarian appeals for $2.25 billion inside Ukraine and $1.85 billion for the refugee response are fully funded.
I urge all countries to give generously. In global terms, these are minuscule sums.
I also urge all countries to consider upgrading their economic partnership with Moldova, and to support opportunities for its young women and men.
The war is having a devastating impact on the Moldovan economy, with supply chains broken and fuel and food prices rising fast.
For its European Union neighbours, massive solidarity with Moldova is not a matter of generosity, it is a matter of enlightened self-interest.
Many young Moldovans are considering leaving or have already left. While many remain active in support of their country from outside, Moldova needs peace for the sake of these dynamic young agents of change, who have so much to offer.
I am speaking from personal knowledge of this subject, as one of my own youth climate advisors, Vladislav Kaim, is from Moldova.
Our United Nations Country Team in Moldova will continue to do its best to support the Government and people throughout these serious challenges.
But above all, I want to thank Moldova for its generosity and solidarity, for its steadfast support for peace and multilateral solutions, and for its example of humanity.
Thank you very much.