For information only – not an official document

28 March 2022

Secretary-General’s press encounter on the war in Ukraine

New York, 28 March 2022


Ladies and gentlemen of the media, 

Good morning. It is a great pleasure to be with you again.

Today, I am announcing that in the exercise of my good offices, I have asked Martin Griffiths, the Coordinator of our humanitarian work worldwide, immediately to explore with the parties involved the possible agreements and arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine. 

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion one month ago, the war has led to the senseless loss of thousands of lives; the displacement of ten million people, mainly women and children; the systematic destruction of essential infrastructure; and skyrocketing food and energy prices worldwide. 

This must stop. 

The United Nations is doing everything in its power to support people whose lives have been overturned by the war. 

In the past month, beyond their support to refugee hosting countries, our humanitarian agencies and their partners have reached nearly 900,000 people, mainly in eastern Ukraine, with food, shelter, blankets, medicine, bottled water, and hygiene supplies. 

There are now more than 1,000 United Nations personnel in the country, working via eight humanitarian hubs in Dnipro, Vinnytsia, Lviv, Uzhorod, Chernivitzi, Mukachevo, Luhansk and Donetsk. 

The World Food Programme and partners reached 800,000 people in the past month and are scaling up to reach 1.2 million people by mid-April.  

The World Health Organisation and partners have reached more than half a million people in the most vulnerable areas with emergency health, trauma and surgery kits. 

Just today a convoy of trucks brought food, medical and other relief supplies from WFP, WHO, UNHCR, UNICEF to Kharkiv, to be delivered by our national partners to thousands of people in hard-hit areas. 

Our agencies and partners are procuring vital supplies and setting up pipelines for delivery throughout Ukraine in the coming weeks. 

But let’s be clear. The solution to this humanitarian tragedy is not humanitarian. It is political. 

I am therefore appealing for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, to allow for progress in serious political negotiations, [aimed] at reaching a peace agreement based on the principles of the United Nations Charter.

A cessation of hostilities will allow essential humanitarian aid to be delivered and enable civilians to move around safely. It will save lives, prevent suffering, and protect civilians. 

I hope a ceasefire will also help to address the global consequences of this war, which risk compounding the deep hunger crisis in many developing countries that already lack fiscal space to invest in their recovery from the pandemic, and now face soaring food and energy costs. 

I strongly appeal to the parties to this conflict, and to the international community as a whole, to work with us for peace in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and across the world. 

Thank you. 

* *** *