(UNITED NATIONS) — U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres is calling for a four-day halt in fighting in Ukraine, starting on Thursday to coincide with Orthodox Christians’ Holy Week observances.
Noting that Orthodox Easter is coming amid an intensifying Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, the U.N. chief said Tuesday that the need for a “humanitarian pause” is all the more urgent.
Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya called on Russia to heed Guterres’ call.
But Russian deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy said Tuesday he was “a bit skeptical” about the idea.
Guterres said the goal is to allow for evacuating civilians from “current or expected areas of confrontation” and or getting more humanitarian aid into desperately needy places such as Mariupol, Donetsk, Luhansk and Kherson. More than four million people in those areas need assistance, Guterres said.
The proposal comes after the U.N. recently helped to foster a two-month truce in Yemen’s civil war, halting fighting as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began.