UN chief appeals for urgent humanitarian ceasefire in war-hit Ukraine

UNITED NATIONS, Apr 19 (APP): Alarmed over the worsening situation in Ukraine, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has again called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in that country to allow delivery of life-saving aid as well as evacuations, his spokesperson has said.
The appeal followed attacks on cities across the country, most recently Lviv, Dnipro, Kharkiv and Myykolaiv, which resulted in numerous civilian casualties and destruction.
Russia launched its military offensive against Ukraine on Feb. 24, triggering Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, with more than 4.9 million Ukrainians leaving the country and a quarter of the population displaced
UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that Guterres was also greatly concerned about the continuing appalling humanitarian situation in the besieged port city of Mariupol.
“The Secretary-General strongly urges all parties to enact an urgent and immediate humanitarian ceasefire, which will enable the safe and secure functioning of humanitarian corridors, help evacuate civilian residents and also deliver life-saving humanitarian and medical assistance,” said Dujarric, speaking during his daily briefing at UN Headquarters in New York.
Stressing that “genuine negotiations must be given a chance to succeed and to bring lasting peace”, he said the UN stands ready to support such efforts.
Prior to the briefing, UN relief chief Martin Griffiths told reporters that although humanitarian ceasefires in Ukraine are “not on the horizon right now”, they could be in a couple of weeks.
Griffiths reported on his visits to Russia and Ukraine earlier this month, where he held discussions with senior officials on UN “aspirations” for humanitarian pauses and on how to improve the notification system that allows safe passage of humanitarian workers and supplies.
“Obviously we have not yet got humanitarian ceasefires in place on the Russian side,” he said. “I went into a lot of details on this, and they continue to promise to get back to me on the details of those proposals.”

Griffiths will travel to Turkey this week to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on hosting humanitarian talks between Russia and Ukraine.
On Sunday, the Secretary-General spoke with President Erdogan, expressing his ongoing support for the Istanbul process related to the war in Ukraine. He also underlined the need for humanitarian corridors for aid distribution and evacuations.
Asked about Turkey’s role, Griffiths said he was impressed by how the country has presented itself to both sides as a “genuinely valuable and useful host” for talks.
“In classical mediation terms, there isn’t a mediation really going on between the Russians and Ukrainians,” he said, “but the Turks come closest to it, I think, of all Member States.”

On the prospects for a ceasefire, Griffiths pointed to the example of Yemen, where warring sides have implemented a two-month truce.
“Ceasefires, they”re not on the horizon right now. But they may be in a couple of weeks; they may be a little bit longer than that,” he said. “And it will all depend on two things: the war, of course….and the talks.”