NEW YORK: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for a four-day humanitarian pause during Holy Week in the war in Ukraine from Maundy Thursday until Easter Sunday, April 24, to allow for humanitarian corridors, warning that the destruction and loss of life seen so far “may pale in comparison to the horror that lies ahead”.
“In five days, Ukrainians and Russians will celebrate Easter,” said António Guterres.
“This feast (is) a time of reflection on the meaning of suffering, sacrifice, death and rebirth. But this year, Holy Week is observed under the cloud of a war which represents the total negation of the Easter message.
Speaking as Russian and Ukrainian troops engaged in a long-awaited battle in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, António Guterres said “the terrible concentration of forces and firepower” makes this battle more violent and destructive”, and warned that the civilian loss around the world has witnessed so far “could pale” in comparison to the horrors that lie ahead.
“That can’t happen,” António Guterres told reporters in New York. “Hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake.”
Many good faith efforts by many parties to achieve a ceasefire in Ukraine have failed.
Deploring the failure of efforts by many parties to achieve a ceasefire in Ukraine, the UN chief said the humanitarian pause was needed to allow safe passage for all civilians fleeing the areas of confrontation, and the delivery of vital aid to those most in need. -affected areas, such as Mariupol, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk.
According to the UN, more than 12 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in Ukraine, with António Guterres predicting that this number will reach around 16 million, or 40% of Ukrainians still in the country.
He again called on Russians and Ukrainians to silence the guns and start fighting their way to peace and security. He also urged “all champions of peace around the world” to join his Easter appeal.
António Guterres added: “Save lives. Stop the bloodshed and destruction. Open a window for dialogue and peace and keep faith in the meaning and message of Easter.