Ukraine Conflict: After 100 days, the UN calls for end to fighting

A residential building burns after being shelled in Kyiv, Ukraine. Two people died and fifty people were rescued by Ukraine emergency workers. /UNDP

As Russia’s military operation in Ukraine entered its 100th day on Friday, the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres renewed calls for an immediate end to the violence, while the United Nations kept up its push to secure food and fertilizer exports from the war-torn region to the wider world, amid rising levels of food insecurity.

A residential building burns after being shelled in Kyiv, Ukraine. Two people died and fifty people were rescued by Ukraine emergency workers. /UNDP

In a statement, the UN chief submitted that the conflict, whose genesis was on the 24 February, has already taken thousands of lives, caused untold destruction, displaced millions of people, resulted in unacceptable violations of human rights and is inflaming a three-dimensional global crisis – food, energy and finance – that is pummeling the most vulnerable people, countries and economies.

“As we mark this tragic day, I renew my call for an immediate halt to violence, for unfettered humanitarian access to all those in need, for the safe evacuation of civilians trapped in areas of fighting and for urgent protection of civilians and respect for human rights in accordance with international norms,” stated the UN chief.

Guterres said that the UN remains committed to the humanitarian effort, “but as I have stressed from the beginning, resolving this conflict will require negotiations and dialogue.”

“The United Nations stands ready to support all such efforts,” the Secretary-General concluded.

Complex puzzle

Meanwhile, UN humanitarian on Friday issued a fresh alert about the enormous needs sparked by the conflict, as the Organization has continued to push to secure food and fertilizer exports from Ukraine and Russia, to the wider world, amid alarming levels of food insecurity.

Amin Awad, UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, confirmed that the Organization was making every effort to secure the release of grain stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. Equally important for the world’s farmers is a secure supply of fertilizer from Russia, a major world producer.

Highlighting the difficulties linked to international trade with Russia even though there are no sanctions on food and fertilizer humanitarian exports from the country, Mr Awad explained that Ms Grynspan was working “with other financial institutions and the West, in general, to see how Russia can really, as far as transactions are concerned, resume”.

1.5 billion impacted

Around 1.5 billion people “are in need of that food and fertilizers” around the world, the UN official explained, adding that he hoped that the negotiations “really go in a smooth manner and be concluded as soon as possible so that the blockade of ports and the resumption of export of fertilizer and food takes place before we have another crisis in hand.”

A 70-year-old woman stands in the doorway of her bombed and burnt out apartment in central Chernihiv, Ukraine.
A 70-year-old woman stands in the doorway of her bombed and burnt out apartment in central Chernihiv, Ukraine. /UNICEF
Jobless on the breadline

Inside Ukraine, people’s everyday needs continue to grow. Nearly 14 million people have been forced to flee, about one-third of the entire population of Ukraine, and workers have lost their jobs and are queuing for food, UN humanitarians said.

C-sections, under fire

“We have received reports and heard testimonies from doctors about deliveries, including C-sections, taking place in the basements of maternity hospitals, in shelters, and even in metro stations,” said Jaime Nadal, the UN Population Fund’s (UNFPA) representative in Ukraine.

Speaking from a railway station in Lviv, he added that other surgeries had taken place “in hard-to-reach areas with gynaecologists giving remote, online instructions during childbirth to save the lives of both the mother and newborn”.

Elderly, alone, and on the run

Speaking from Vinnitsya in central Ukraine, she explained that most of the arrivals she saw were elderly people “who had difficulties walking alone and came really with next to nothing in their hands. And for some, this was the second or even the third time that they have fled since 2014.”

UN migration agency IOM has continued to track the movement of people displaced by the conflict – including returnees – since it began on 24 February.

“Most of these returns have taken place to the north region of Ukraine including almost one million persons to Kyiv itself,” said Stephen Rogers, IOM Ukraine deputy chief of mission. “However, when those persons returned to northern and central regions 33 percent in the central region (and) 21 percent in the north, those people who returned found destruction of their property and will need to rebuild.”

(With input from the UN News)