UN Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for a four-day halt in fighting in Ukraine, starting Thursday to coincide with Orthodox Christians’ Holy Week observances.
Noting that Orthodox Easter is coming amid an intensifying Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, the UN chief said Tuesday that the need for a “humanitarian pause” is all the more urgent.
Guterres said the goal is to allow for evacuating civilians from “current or expected areas of confrontation” and or getting more humanitarian aid into desperately needy places such as Mariupol, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson. More than four million people in those areas need assistance, Guterres said.
UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths traveled to Ukraine and Russia earlier this month to try to gauge the potential for a cease-fire and emerged saying he wasn’t optimistic at the time. Griffiths on Tuesday broached the idea of a Holy Week pause with the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, an interfaith group, Guterres said.
“The four-day Easter period should be a moment to unite around saving lives and furthering dialogue to end the suffering in Ukraine,” the UN chief said.
The proposal comes after the UN recently helped to foster a two-month truce in Yemen’s civil war, halting fighting as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began. [AP]