Conflicts & War

UN: Russia does not have Ukraine ceasefire as a priority

United Nations, Apr 18 (EFE).- The United Nations’ top humanitarian official, Martin Griffiths, said Monday that Russia is “not putting local ceasefires at the top of their agenda,” not even to allow the evacuation of civilians from the Ukrainian war zone or to organize the delivery of humanitarian aid to the cities in that country hardest hit by Russian artillery bombardments and missile attacks.

“Ceasefires are not on the horizon right now. They may be in a couple of weeks. They may be a bit longer than that,” said Griffiths, who is the under-secretary-general for the UN’s Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, during a press conference at UN headquarters in New York.

Any progress on that issue will depend first on getting the two parties to sit down to negotiate, but he noted that is they don’t even want to sit down with one another no progress can be made. However, Griffiths several times cited Russia as the party that is mainly responsible for blocking humanitarian aid shipments.

Griffiths urged the creation of “windows of silence,” a formula that has been used in recent years in the low-intensity conflict in the eastern Ukrainian area known as the Donbas and which entails halting combat briefly to permit the passage of medical or humanitarian supplies, as well as the exit of civilians.

The UN official said that the only serious mediation effort currently under way is that being undertaken by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and he added that he intends to travel to Turkey this week to encourage the talks between the two parties.

“Turkey has been able to present itself to both sides as a genuinely valuable and useful host for those talks,” he said.

In any case, he insisted that greater efforts needed to be made to get Russian agreement on allowing humanitarian convoys to have access to Ukrainian cities, particularly Mariupol, where – he added – it is impossible to know how many people are trapped.

Finally, he warned that the war is adding to the legacy of “disaffection” among peoples of the world, adding that this problem is becoming more critical with every week that passes, and going on to say that this is what he gleaned from his latest visit to Moscow. It will take “a generation” overcome this, Griffiths said.

Also on Monday, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was seriously concerned about the humanitarian situation in Mariupol, which has been largely destroyed in three weeks of unrelenting Russian bombardment and other attacks, and he called on the warring parties to take all necessary measures to avoid civilian casualties.

EFE fjo/lll/bp

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