UN Secretary-General Visits Moscow, Calls for Mariupol Evacuations

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres traveled to Moscow on April 26, meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and calling for humanitarian corridors to be established in Ukraine.

“We urgently need humanitarian corridors that are truly safe and effective and that are respected by all to evacuate civilians and deliver much-needed assistance,” said Guterres, following a separate meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “Simultaneously, we recognize that we face a crisis within a crisis in Mariupol. Thousands of civilians are in dire need of life-saving humanitarian assistance, and many, of evacuation.”

The Secretary-General said he proposed a coordinated effort involving the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as the governments of Russia and Ukraine to “enable the safe evacuation of those civilians who want to leave [Mariupol], both inside the Azovstal plant and in the city, in any direction they choose, and to deliver the humanitarian aid required.” The plant, a sprawling Soviet-era industrial complex, has provided a final redoubt for Ukrainian fighters in the city, along with what authorities say are hundreds of civilians.

Guterres’s spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric, said that Putin had “agreed, in principle, to the involvement of the United Nations and the International Committee for the Red Cross in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol.” Credit: United Nations via Storyful

Video transcript

ANTONIO GUTERRES: We urgently needs humanitarian corridors that are truly safe and effective and that are respected by all to evacuate civilians and deliver much-needed assistance. To that end, I have proposed the establishment of a humanitarian Contact Group, bringing together the Russian Federation, Ukraine and the United Nations to look for opportunities for the opening of safe corridors, with local cessation of hostilities, and to guarantee that they are actually effective.

Simultaneously, we recognize that we face a crisis within a crisis in Mariupol. Thousands of civilians are in dire need of life-saving humanitarian assistance, and many, of evacuation. The United Nations is ready to fully mobilize its human and logistical resources to help save lives in Mariupol.

My proposal is for a coordinated work of the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Ukraine and Russian Federation forces to enable the safe evacuation of those civilians want to leave, both inside the Azovstal plant and in the city, in any direction they choose, and to deliver the humanitarian aid required.

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