Ban urges Russia, Ukraine to exercise restraint after aid convoy crosses border

An elderly returnee to Sloviansk, Ukraine, whose house was hit by artillery and needs major repairs, is comforted by a relative. Photo: UNHCR/Iva Zimova

22 August 2014 – Reacting to reports that a Russian aid convoy crossed the Ukrainian border without Kiev’s permission, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged all sides to continue to work together to ensure that humanitarian supplies reach those most in need.

“While recognizing the deteriorating humanitarian situation, any unilateral action has the potential of exacerbating an already dangerous situation in eastern Ukraine,” Mr. Ban said in a statement from his spokesperson.

In it, he said he is encouraged by the announcement from President Petro Poroshenko that Ukraine will do everything possible to prevent more serious consequences as a result of the convoy moving into Ukrainian territory.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is meeting behind closed doors to discuss the situation.

In Ukraine, discussions with officials there about the humanitarian needs of the people in the eastern part of the country have been very positive, Valerie Amos said at the start of a visit to see how aid delivery can be improved to the estimated 190,000 people currently displaced in the area.

“I would like all the parties that are involved in the conflict to remember that it is ordinary people who suffer the most when you have conflicts,” the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs today told UN Radio.

Ms. Amos, who is also the world body’s Emergency Coordinator, is on a four-day visit to the country to see first-hand the situation of some of the displaced communities, including in and around the city of Donetsk where she heads tomorrow.

So far, Ms. Amos has spoken with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other officials.

“I hope that the political talks that are going on will lead to some kind of cessation of violence and a ceasefire,” she said, stressing that the needs of the people affected by the fighting must be put first.

Last week, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) requested $33.3 million to continue to provide aid to the affected areas, including water and sanitation, shelter, health and education.

“Should the situation deteriorate further obviously we will need to review that plan,” Ms. Amos said. “In the discussions that I have had with the Ukrainian Government, the discussions have been very positive with respect to ways in which we can work together.”


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