Ukraine Ceasefire elusive, but UN efforts continue
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths will visit Turkey on Tuesday to continue his efforts to achieve some level of humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine.
“Ceasefires, they’re not on the horizon right now, but they could be in a few weeks. They could be a little longer than that,” Griffiths told reporters.
He said it depended on the direction of the war and the progress of the talks between Russia and Ukraine. These talks are currently taking place at very low levels.
Griffiths also expressed hope that Orthodox Easter on April 24 could be a time for a break.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday about Turkey’s organized mediation efforts. António Guterres also stressed the need for humanitarian corridors for the distribution of aid and the evacuation of civilians. Griffiths will continue this discussion with Erdogan.
The aid chief’s trip to Moscow and kyiv earlier this month has yet to yield the hoped-for cooperation from Moscow.
“Neither I nor the general secretary, if I could speak for him, had any illusions as to whether there would be any sort of immediate breakthrough in this area,” Griffiths said. “What I wanted to do was lay out to both sides, first, what our vision of a local ceasefire would be. How would it be monitored, for example? That’s crucial, and we’ve done a lot of work on that, and how ready we are to step in whenever there’s an opportunity.”
The UN has 1,300 staff across Ukraine in government-controlled areas and non-governmental areas to the east, and recently reopened its Kyiv office. As well as trying to open aid and evacuation corridors to besieged cities like Mariupol in the south, they are preparing for a fierce battle for eastern Ukraine.
“Donbass is a huge, massive humanitarian concern,” Griffiths said, referring to the eastern region.
He urged the parties to return to the negotiating table in Istanbul to continue discussions.
“Even though the eventual war aims may not be realized or may not be clear, we certainly need that to happen,” he said of the resumption of substantive talks. “On a humanitarian level, we need a much, much more voluntary acceptance, mainly from the Russian Federation, to allow convoys to go in and out of these places that are so badly needed.”
According to the United Nations, 4.9 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded on February 24, and another 7.1 million are internally displaced.