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UN Weekly Roundup: April 23-29, 2022


FILE - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres gestures as he visits Borodianka, outside Kyiv, on April 28, 2022.

Here is a fast take on what the international community has been up to this past week, as seen from the United Nations perch.

U.N. secretary-general meets Putin, Zelenskyy

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday in Moscow and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday in Kyiv. During his mission, Putin agreed "in principle" to a brief pause in hostilities around the Azovstal steel plant in the besieged southern city of Mariupol to allow the evacuation of hundreds of civilians who have been sheltering there for weeks. On Friday, the U.N. said "high-level engagements" concerning the operation were continuing in both capitals.

In Kyiv, UN Chief Pledges More Help for Ukraine

Officials demand accountability for atrocities committed in Ukraine

Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova said Wednesday that the list of war crimes committed by Russian troops in her country was growing daily and accountability was critical. Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said that her office had opened 8,000 cases of serious human rights violations and that the number was growing daily.

At UN, Calls for Accountability for Atrocities in Ukraine

ICC Joins 3 Countries in Probing Possible Russian War Crimes in Ukraine

Sea crossings prove deadly for refugees, migrants in 2021

The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, said Friday that refugee and migrant deaths were increasing at an alarming rate. More than 3,000 people died or went missing in the Mediterranean and Atlantic last year as they attempted to reach Europe. UNHCR also noted that land routes continued to be extremely dangerous and that even larger numbers of people might have died on journeys through the Sahara Desert and remote border areas, in detention centers, or while in the captivity of smugglers or traffickers.

Thousands of Refugees, Migrants Died in 2021 on Sea Crossings to Europe

In brief

— The secretary-general continues his travels, going to Senegal, Niger and Nigeria. He will arrive in Senegal on Saturday, his 73rd birthday. The visits to three Muslim-majority African nations are part of Guterres' annual Ramadan solidarity visits, which were put on hold during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The Muslim holy month culminates Monday in most of the world with the Eid al-Fitr holiday. The U.N. says Guterres will highlight the impact of the Ukraine war on the African continent, which imports wheat and maize from the country. He will also use the visit to express his solidarity with victims of terrorism in the region.

— Donor nations pledged $1.4 billion on Tuesday to assist 15 million drought-affected and severely food-insecure people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. That amount includes a $200 million contribution from the United States. The U.N. says as many as 6 million people in Somalia face the risk of famine if the current rainy season fails.

— Food insecurity is also on the rise in the English-speaking Caribbean. A survey released this week by the Caribbean Community and the World Food Program found that a million more people are food insecure in the region today than in April 2020.

— The World Health Organization and UNICEF said Wednesday that worldwide measles cases increased by 79% in the first two months of 2022, compared with the same period in 2021. The two agencies warn that the rise could lead to the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases and trigger larger outbreaks, particularly of measles, affecting millions of children this year.

Quote of note

"The pattern of abuse we are seeing in Ukraine is consistent with well-documented, grave crimes by Russian forces in other places such as Syria. The lack of accountability for those violations has regrettably opened the door for what is occurring today."

— Ida Sawyer, director of Human Rights Watch, to the U.N. Security Council Arria-formula meeting on accountability for atrocities committed in Ukraine on Wednesday. Russian troops have been supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's military in that country's civil war since 2015.

Next week

Guterres is expected to brief the Security Council on his trip to Moscow and Kyiv on May 5. Several nations are likely to raise the issue of the two Russian missile strikes that occurred while the U.N. chief was in the Ukrainian capital on Thursday. He and his team were unharmed, but Zelenskyy said the strike while the world's top diplomat was in Kyiv was intended to humiliate the United Nations. British Ambassador Barbara Woodward said Friday that the strikes were "clearly a matter of grave concern" the council would address.

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