Guterres calls for 4-day pause in fighting in Ukraine during Easter

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called for a four-day humanitarian pause in fighting in Ukraine to allow for the opening of humanitarian aid corridors during the Orthodox Christian Holy Week…reports Asian Lite News

“Today, I am calling for a four-day Holy Week humanitarian pause beginning on Holy Thursday and running through Easter Sunday, April 24th to allow for the opening of a series of humanitarian corridors,” Guterres told reporters standing in front of the “Knotted Gun,” or “Non Violence,” an iconic sculpture of a large gun, the barrel of which is tied in a knot. The sculpture is the first thing that many visitors to UN headquarters in New York see as they enter the compound and symbolizes the world body’s commitment to world peace.

Due to the intensifying Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine as Easter approaches, the UN chief said a humanitarian pause is all the more important.

During the proposed pause, Guterres stated, civilians would be evacuated from “current or expected areas of confrontation” and humanitarian aid would be delivered to desperately in needy places such as Mariupol, Donetsk, Lugansk and Kherson.

The top UN official said that more than 4 million people in those areas need assistance.

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“The four-day Easter period should be a moment to unite around saving lives and furthering dialogue to end the suffering in Ukraine,” Guterres said.

A day earlier, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths suggested that the time might be right for a ceasefire as the Orthodox Easter holiday approaches.

Clashes at Palestine

The UN chief has voiced grave concern over the deteriorating security situation in Jerusalem and called for efforts to de-escalate the tension, said his spokesman.

Palestinians clashed with the Israeli police forces on Friday at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, leaving more than 100 people wounded, Xinhua news agency reported.

The secretary-general on Friday called on leaders on all sides to help calm the situation. Provocations on the holy site, sacred to both Jews and Muslims, must stop to prevent further escalation, said Stephane Dujarric, the spokesman, in a statement.

Guterres reiterated his call for the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem to be upheld and respected, said the statement.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland is in close contact with key regional partners and the parties to calm the situation. Guterres reiterated his commitment to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict on the basis of relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements, said the statement.

The tension between Israel and the Palestinians has flared up in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the past three weeks as the Jewish festival of Passover overlaps with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.