UN chief "deeply committed" to addressing plight of Ukrainian people

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and President Petro Poroshenko, on Ukraine, in Kyiv on Sunday. Photo: UN Spokesperson’s Office.

The UN Secretary-General said on Sunday he was "deeply committed" to help alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

António Guterres was speaking in Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, after meeting President Petro Poroshenko.

With around 1.7 million civilians internally-displaced following three years of conflict in the east of the country, he pledged more UN support for humanitarian activities, as well as the on-going government reform process.

Matt Wells reports.

Mr Guterres said he had developed a strong emotional bond with the Ukrainian people when he served as Prime Minister of Portugal, and expressed his solidarity with all those suffering today.

Following the overthrow of Ukraine's former leader in 2014, and the subsequent annexation of Crimea by Russia, Russian-backed separatists have been clashing with government troops in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, fueling a humanitarian crisis.

Around three million are estimated to live in territory controlled by armed groups and more than 10,000 – including more than 2,700 civilians – have lost their lives.

The UN chief said the Ukrainian people "have to right to live in peace and prosperity” with full respect to the nation's territorial integrity and sovereignty.

"It is not a forgotten situation", he added, saying that the UN was ready to support all diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the crisis, and bring about a lasting ceasefire.

He said that he wanted the UN "to do better" supporting aid and humanitarian operations, and enhance cooperation with the government.

Mr Guterres also praised the role of Ukrainian troops in UN peacekeeping operations, as well as the country's "exemplary" contribution to the UN as a current member of the Security Council.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 1'05"

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