China: Protection of civilians in Ukraine must come first

Geng Shuang (front), China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, addresses a UN Security Council meeting at the UN headquarters in New York, on Oct 4, 2021. (CIA PAK/UN PHOTO/HANDOUT VIA XINHUA)

UNITED NATIONS – A Chinese envoy to the United Nations on Wednesday called on the international community to do its utmost to avoid further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Ukraine.

Addressing the Security Council meeting on the humanitarian issue in Ukraine, deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Geng Shuang said that the unresolved Ukraine crisis and the worsening humanitarian situation have inflicted a heavy toll on the ordinary people in the country and called on countries to "go all out to avoid further deterioration of the humanitarian situation."

He underscored the principle that under any circumstances, civilian and civilian infrastructure should never be targeted in a conflict.

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"The protection of civilians must come first. The parties concerned should strictly abide by international humanitarian law, protect the legitimate rights and interests of refugees and displaced persons, especially women and children, support the work of international humanitarian agencies, facilitate the evacuation of personnel, and cooperate with aid operations," he said.

The Chinese envoy called for diplomatic efforts, negotiation and communication to resolve conflicts and crises

China commends Ukraine's neighboring countries for providing millions of refugees with shelter, humanitarian assistance, and social services, said Geng.

"The international community should continue to lend a helping hand to Ukraine and its neighbors, mitigate the pressure on relief capacity, bring hope to more people in need, and create necessary conditions for voluntary return.”

"Ukraine's humanitarian situation has always been close to our heart," he said, adding that China has put forward a six-point initiative to prevent a large-scale humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, as well as an initiative on international food security cooperation.

Calling for and promoting the return of Ukrainian and Russian food products and fertilizers to the international market, the envoy said the Chinese government has provided three batches of humanitarian supplies to Ukraine, a concrete action that brought much needed aid to the Ukrainians caught in the conflict.

The Chinese envoy also called for diplomatic efforts, negotiation and communication to resolve conflicts and crises.

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"We encourage Russia and Ukraine to maintain communication and cooperation on humanitarian issues, and support the UN and international humanitarian agencies in providing assistance to Ukraine and neighboring countries on the basis of neutrality, impartiality, and non-politicization," he said.

"China once again calls on the parties concerned to maintain engagement, explore the possibility of a political settlement, and accumulate conditions for an early cessation of hostilities and the restoration of peace and stability," said Geng.