UN seeks humanitarian contact group for Ukraine

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UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths announced Monday that he will meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey this week to push for the creation of a “humanitarian contact group” involving Ukraine and Russia.

Such a group would “meet convened by the UN to discuss on a virtual or actual basis at any time to discuss humanitarian issues,” Griffiths told reporters in New York.

That could include ceasefire monitoring, safe passage, humanitarian corridors or other issues between the two warring sides, he said.

Griffiths did not say when he would meet Erdogan, but initially said he planned to arrive in Turkey on Wednesday and leave Thursday.

However, he tested positive for Covid-19 shortly after his announcement, forcing him to postpone his trip to an unspecified date, his team told AFP.

Griffiths and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had spoken with Erdogan by phone Sunday to discuss the initiative. Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 and since then has been repeatedly accused of targeting civilians. Aid agencies have warned of the need to protect and evacuate civilians in the conflict.

Griffiths had visited Moscow in early April before a trip to Kyiv, to try to obtain a humanitarian ceasefire and facilitate other aid interventions.—APP

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