UN seeking 'humanitarian ceasefire' in Ukraine: Guterres

AFP , Monday 28 Mar 2022

UN chief Antonio Guterres said Monday the global body is seeking a humanitarian ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine, as the civilian toll continues to rise a month after Moscow's invasion of its neighbor.

Ukrainian soldiers observe a damaged Russian tank in the town of Trostsyanets, some 400km (250 miles) east of capital Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, March 28, 2022. AP

Guterres told reporters he had asked UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths "immediately to explore with the parties involved the possible agreements and arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine."

He said he hoped Griffiths would go to both Moscow and Kyiv as soon as possible after he returns from a mission to Afghanistan.

Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed and around 10 million have fled their homes since Russia's invasion on February 24.

Guterres condemned the civilian toll and displacement, as well as the destruction of Ukraine's infrastructure and global ripple effects of the conflict that have sent food and energy prices soaring.

"This must stop," he said, emphasizing, however, that "the solution to this humanitarian tragedy is not humanitarian. It is political."

He appealed for "an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, to allow for progress in serious political negotiations."

A cessation of hostilities would also "help to address the global consequences of this war, which risk compounding the deep hunger crisis in many developing countries" already struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, he added.

Last week, the UN General Assembly adopted by an overwhelming majority a non-binding resolution that demands an immediate halt to Russia's war in Ukraine.

Talks between representatives of both sides in Turkey have so far failed to produce a hoped-for ceasefire, and Ukrainian authorities have sounded the alarm ahead of their resumption this week over the dire humanitarian crisis in the besieged city of Mariupol.

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