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UN chief requests meetings with Russian, Ukrainian Presidents

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres has written separate letters to leaders of Russia and Ukraine to request meetings with them in their respective capitals in efforts to end the war in Ukraine.

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric on Wednesday, said that Guterres had asked the Russian President, Vladimir Putin to receive him in Moscow and the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to receive him in Kyiv.

Dujarric said the letters were handed over to the countries’ UN Missions in New York on Tuesday.

“The secretary-general said he would like to discuss urgent steps to bring about peace in Ukraine and the future of multilateralism based on the Charter of the UN and international law.

“He noted that both Ukraine and the Russian Federation are founding members of the United Nations and have always been strong supporters of this Organisation,” he said.

The UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the announcement by Guterres to visit the two presidents came a day after he called for a humanitarian pause in Ukraine ahead of Orthodox Christian Easter this weekend.

Meanwhile, the UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, Amin Awad, has underlined the secretary-general’s appeal amid the mounting humanitarian crisis in the country and the intensifying Russian offensive in the east.

Awad said the four-day humanitarian pause would allow for safe passage of civilians willing to leave conflict areas, and the safe delivery of urgent humanitarian aid to people in the hardest hit areas of Mariupol, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk.

“During this week is the time to focus on converging interests and set aside our differences.

“This week marks a rare calendar alignment of the three of the most sacred religious holidays of Christian Orthodox Easter, Jewish Passover and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan,’’ he said.

Casualties continue to mount in the war in Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24.

There were 5,121 civilian casualties in the country as of Tuesday, including 2,224 deaths, according to the latest update from the UN human rights office, OHCR.

In eastern Ukraine, some 1.4 million people were without access to running water, including in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

Millions more had only limited access to water and electricity.

Also, some 136 attacks on health care facilities had been recorded since the start of the war, representing nearly 70 per cent of worldwide attacks on health so far in 2022.

(NAN)

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