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MOSCOW, August 09. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday called for urgent measures to prevent an imminent humanitarian catastrophe in the south-east of Ukraine.
In a telephone conversation with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Lavrov said that “the escalation by Kiev of its army operation in violation of the Geneva Statement of April 17, the Berlin Declaration of July 2 and U.N. Security Council Resolution 2166 leads to numerous casualties among civilians, including children, and the destruction of critical infrastructure facilities”, the Foreign Ministry said.
Lavrov urged Kerry to support Russia’s call for setting up a humanitarian mission in the south-east of Ukraine in coordination with the relevant international organisations.
Kerry assured Lavrov that Washington was working on this with Kiev.
Earlier this week, Russian Permanent Representative to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin described the situation in the south-east of Ukraine, especially in the Donetsk and Lugank regions, as a humanitarian catastrophe.
“By any human measure, the situation in the East, especially in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, is catastrophic,” he said said an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council on August 6. “The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has officially recognised the fact of an armed conflict in the East of Ukraine.”
The ICRC supported Lavrov’s proposal to deliver humanitarian aid to southeast Ukraine.
“In the current situation, any humanitarian initiative is welcome to alleviate the suffering of civilians”, Michelle Masson, the head of the ICRC delegation to Kiev, said on Friday.
“The International Committee of the Red Cross is stepping up activities for the affected population in deteriorating humanitarian and security environments,” the ICRC said in statement said.
“Our priority is to assist the displaced and resident people in Donbas, and to provide medical services to the wounded in all affected areas”, Masson said.
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has also stated its readiness to support the humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.
Swiss President and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter on Saturday welcomed the ICRC announcement that it would step up activities for the affected population in south-eastern Ukrainian regions and deploy additional teams there.
In a telephone conversation with ICRC President Peter Maurer, Burkhalter underlined that the OSCE, while not being a humanitarian organisation, is willing to support and facilitate humanitarian efforts by Ukraine, the ICRC and other humanitarian agencies to the extent possible.
He said that the Special Monitoring Mission was actively monitoring and registering humanitarian aspects of the crisis with a particular focus on the basic needs of persons in places affected by fighting, internally displaced persons, vulnerable groups (including minorities, women and children) and civilian victims, the statement published on the website read.
According to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, almost 850,000 people have been forced to flee their homes since the start of Kiev’s military operation in the southeast of the country’s, with 730,000 of them finding shelter in Russia.