Addressing the media outside the Security Council chamber in New York, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that with each passing hour in Ukraine, the death and destruction is getting worse: “Whatever the outcome, this war will have no winners, only losers.”
The Secretary-General said the UN and humanitarian partners were working “to ensure safe passage from besieged areas, and to provide aid where security permits, allowing around 600,000 to receive some form of aid since the bombardment began.
And with Russia raising the alert level of his country’s nuclear forces, the UN chief described it as a “bone-chilling development.”
He said the prospect of a nuclear war, “once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility. The security and safety of nuclear facilities must also be preserved”.
“It is time to stop the horror unleashed on the people of Ukraine and get on the path of diplomacy and peace”, he said, noting that he had been in close contact with countries including China, France, Germany, India, Israel and Turkey – on mediation efforts to end Russia’s invasion.
“The appeals for peace must be heard. This tragedy must stop. It is never too late for diplomacy and dialogue. We need an immediate cessation of hostilities and serious negotiations based on the principles of the UN Charter and international law.”
We need peace now, he added. “Peace for the people of Ukraine. Peace for our world.”
The nearly two million now displaced inside the country, and close to three million who have become refugees in the past two weeks – the vast majority women and children – are becoming increasingly vulnerable, he warned.
Russia and Ukraine represent more than half of the world’s supply of sunflower oil and about 30 per cent of the world’s wheat, he added, noting that Ukraine alone provides more than half of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) wheat supply.
“Food, fuel and fertilizer prices are skyrocketing. Supply chains are being disrupted. And the costs and delays of transportation of imported goods – when available – are at record levels,” Guterres said and added that all of this is hitting the poorest the hardest.