Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska criticises world leaders at Davos: 'Insult to mankind to have mass starvation'

Ukraine's first lady Olena Zelenska has called for an increased international effort to combat Russian aggression, saying it was an "insult to mankind" to have mass starvation.

As the first anniversary of the Ukraine war looms, Mrs Zelenska told the World Economic Forum in Davos that Ukrainian parents were in tears watching doctors trying to save their children and farmers were afraid to go back to their fields filled with explosive mines.

With the war responsible for inflation and expanding food insecurity in developing nations, Mrs Zelenska called it "an insult to mankind and human nature to have mass starvation".

Referencing the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, she said: "We do not want children in the world to be forced to learn how to protect themselves from radiation disease."

She condemned government leaders, corporate executives, economists, scientists and journalists for not always using their influence enough or "using it in a way that divides even more".

Her overarching message was "unity is what brings peace back".

Her speech came days after a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, killing 45 people in one of the deadliest single attacks in months.

She told CNN through an interpreter on Sunday: "We understand that upon carrying on for a year, we are capable of persevering for even longer."

Her address was among many others at the World Economic Forum's (WEF) 52nd annual exclusive gathering in Davos.

Other speakers were the actor Idris Elba, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, and Liu He, the Chinese vice premier.

According to the WEF's website, the forum provides "a platform to engage in constructive, forward-looking dialogues and help find solutions through public-private cooperation".

Topics on the agenda that link back to the Ukraine war include the energy and food crises, inflation, technology for innovation, social vulnerabilities and geopolitical risks.

Other matters of discussion range from gender parity, the re-emergence of manufacturing and efforts to end tuberculosis.

In Davos Square, protesters spearheaded by the Swiss party Juso and the Strike WEF organisation demanded taxes on the rich and called for climate justice.

In 2019, Greta Thunberg urged world leaders to act on climate change, telling them "Our house is on fire".

She was on stage again a year later, berating the leaders for doing "basically nothing" to reduce carbon emissions, clashing with Donald Trump.