UN wants to coordinate efforts to save lives in Mariupol, UN chief tells Russia

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaks during the 11th emergency special session of the 193-member UN General Assembly on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the United Nations Headquarters in Manhattan, New York City, New York, US February 28, 2022. REUTERS/ Carlo Allegri

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April 26 (Reuters) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday that he was ready to fully mobilize the organization’s resources to save lives and evacuate people from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

“Thousands of civilians are in dire need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance, and many have evacuated,” Guterres told a news conference in Moscowafter talks with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“The United Nations is ready to fully mobilize its human and logistical resources to help save lives in Mariupol,” he said, proposing coordinated work with the Red Cross to allow those holed up inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol to leave.

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Guterres said he was also concerned about “repeated reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and possible war crimes”, adding that they called for an independent investigation.

Ukraine has accused Russian troops of committing atrocities when they retreated from towns outside the capital Kyiv. Moscow says the accusations are designed to derail peace talks or serve as a pretext for the West to impose more sanctions against it.

“We are extremely interested in finding ways in order to create the conditions for effective dialogue, create the conditions for a ceasefire as soon as possible, create the conditions for a peaceful solution,” Guterres said.

Russia sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24 in what it called a special operation to degrade its southern neighbour’s military capabilities and root out people it called dangerous nationalists.

Ukrainian forces have mounted stiff resistance and the West has imposed sweeping sanctions on Russia in an effort to force it to withdraw its forces.

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Reporting by Reuters

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