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Russia, UN call for humanitarian corridors in Ukraine

English.news.cn   2014-08-06 15:32:45
 • Russia and the UN called for humanitarian aid corridors to be established in conflict-scarred eastern Ukraine.
 • Operations chief for UN Office for OCHA said 1,367 civilians, combatants were killed in contested regions.
 • Russia calls on int'l community to take measures to improve humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine.


by William M. Reilly

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 6 (Xinhua) -- During an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday, Russia and the UN called for humanitarian aid corridors to be established in conflict-scarred eastern Ukraine.

However, the Ukrainian envoy disagreed with the Russian ambassador, describing the situation as "manageable" and saying there is "no humanitarian crisis in Ukraine." He also accused Moscow of continuing the unrest by supporting pro-Russian insurgents.

John Ging, operations chief for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), painted a grim picture of the situation while briefing the 15 council members, saying nearly four million people in the region were directly affected by the violence, with casualties on the rise and 1,000 people leaving the region daily.

He said 1,367 civilians and combatants had been killed in the contested regions and more than 4,000 wounded in fighting since mid-April.

The UN said that of the 117,910 people registered as internally displaced persons (IDPs) throughout Ukraine, 87 percent were from the east. There were 168,677 Ukrainians registered as having crossed into Russia: 60,000 of those applying for refugee status and another 115,952 applying for other ways of staying legally in Russia.

"However, this is not the full picture as many Ukrainians have fled their homes do not register with Ukrainian authorities or officially apply for assistance," said Ging.

"We call on the Ukrainian government to address some of the key challenges to implementation of relief activities," he said. "A unified system for IDPs is crucial to enable comprehensive analysis and understanding of the existing needs."

Suggesting that humanitarian assistance be exempted from Ukrainian taxes, he also called for more efficient entry into Ukraine for humanitarian workers, as well as easier transfer of medical supplies certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) into the region.

"We call on all sides to this conflict to enable free and safe movement of the population while at the same time ensuring full access by humanitarian organizations to affected populations remaining behind," he said.

Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia said there is "indiscriminate shelling of housing blocs and critical civilian infrastructure" in eastern Ukraine.

Shells fired by Ukrainian armed forces "continue to fall into Russia," he said. "There were about 20 such cases on Aug. 3 (Sunday)."

"There's a critical health and epidemiological situation in Lugansk. There's no electricity going to houses. There's no water either because of shelling. There's no clean water. There's a lack of telephone communications and even waste is not being cleaned up ... Ukrainians have begun to leave the country en masse," Churkin said.

"Our country stands ready to undertake this great burden and does not need material assistance from outside," he continued. "We stand ready to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukrainians on our own."

But, he said, the situation was different in the Ukrainian capital.

The Moscow envoy said: "We've made multiple appeals to them for humanitarian corridors to evacuate children and the vulnerable, including child orphans and also sending humanitarian assistance from Russia, but Kiev has refused all these offers scornfully."

"Russia calls on the international community to take emergency measures to improve the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine," he said.

"We'd like to send a convoy with Russian humanitarian assistance ... with the accompaniment of the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) to ... where IDPs are concentrated in the east.

"We stand ready to act with optimal transparency. Let the international committee monitor the convoys, their transport routes (and) distribution of aid."

Ukraine's acting permanent representative to the United Nations, Oleksandr Pavlychenko, in an apparent bid to counter Churkin's claim of Ukrainian shelling, said Russia "continues shelling of (Ukrainian) settlements and armed forces" near their joint border.

"The number of Russian armed forces, heavy armored vehicles and troops positioned along the Russian-Ukrainian border has been constantly increasing," Pavlychenko said. "The shelling has resulted in casualties among civilians and soldiers (and) destroyed residential and administrative buildings."

He said that despite the violence, "the government of Ukraine gives due consideration to all recommendations by the United Nations; there is no humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and the situation is manageable."

Pavlychenko said his government was able to fulfill all social obligations, including retirement payments, social benefits and salaries, to the residents of Donetsk and Lugansk regions "except for some small towns" which remain under control of the separatists.

"If the Russian Federation really is interested in stabilization of the humanitarian situation in the Ukraine we propose just a few easy steps to be made by Russia: stop sending mercenaries as well as weapons and ammunition to the territory of Ukraine, establish effective control over its part of the border to prevent infiltration of illegal armed troops and weapons, stop provoking instability and withdraw all military and paramilitary formations of the Russian armed forces from Ukrainian borders," he said.

The sooner those steps were taken by Russia, Pavlychenko said, "the sooner the situation in my country will stabilize and we will get back to normal life."

Liu Jieyi, China's permanent representative to the UN, said the situation in Ukraine "is a matter of deep concern to China. We hope that the international community would play a constructive role in easing the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine. We hope that the UN humanitarian agencies would strictly abide by the principles of neutrality and objectivity."

He called for a ceasefire "as soon as possible" and said conducting comprehensive dialogue represents "the only way out of the crisis in Ukraine."

"The international community should do more to promote peace and dialogue and create favorable conditions for the parties concerned to maintain dialogue and engagement, and make constructive efforts for political advancement of Ukraine crisis," Liu said.

The parties should "meet each other halfway," he said.


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Editor: Lu Hui
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