UN chief calls for cease-fire in Ukraine during Orthodox Easter

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres pleaded for a stop to the violence in Ukraine over the Orthodox Easter holiday as Russia presses on in its invasion of the country. 

“Easter is a season for renewal, resurrection and hope,” Guterres said in remarks to reporters on Tuesday. “But this year, Holy Week is being observed under the cloud of a war that represents the total negation of the Easter message.”

“Today I am calling for a four-day Holy Week humanitarian pause beginning on Holy Thursday and running through Easter Sunday, April 24, to allow for the opening of a series of humanitarian corridors,” he added.

Guterres also estimated that roughly 40 percent of the Ukrainian population that remains in the country would soon require humanitarian assistance, calling on “Russians and Ukrainians to silence the guns and forge a path to safety for so many at immediate risk.”

“The four-day Easter period should be a moment to unite around saving lives and furthering dialogue to end the suffering in Ukraine,” the secretary-general also said.

“Inspired by Holy Week and all that it represents, I urge all parties — and all champions of peace around the world — to join my Easter appeal,” he added.

But on Wednesday, the leader of Ukraine’s Orthodox church called for Easter services to not be held in areas affected by fighting.

“It is hard to believe this will really happen, because the enemy is trying to completely destroy us,” Metropolitan Epifaniy said in a televised address, fearing potential shelling by Russian troops during services, Reuters reported.

The overwhelming majority of Ukrainian and Russian people are Orthodox Christian, Pew Research Center found.

A Pew survey conducted in 2015 showed that 78 percent of Ukrainians and 71 percent of Russians identified as Orthodox. 

Over half of Ukrainians have also said that an Orthodox identity is at least somewhat important for someone to be truly Ukrainian, Pew’s poll also found.

But the war in the besieged country has continued on as a Ukrainian marine commander issued a warning that the port city of Mariupol “may have only a few days or hours left.”

“The enemy units are dozens of times larger than ours, they have dominance in the air, in artillery, in ground troops, in equipment and in tanks,” the commander, Serhiy Volyna, said.

Tags Antonio Guterres Antonio Guterres Russia-Ukraine conflict Ukraine

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