Ukraine crisis: Don’t go to war; Nigeria warns US, Russia, others

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Nigeria has warned that a civil war in Ukraine can destabilise the international community and wants all concerned parties to resort to dialogue to resolve the conflict.

PutinNigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Joy Ogwu, made this known in New York on Tuesday night at a meeting of the UN Security Council on the situation in Ukraine.

Ogwu, who is currently the president of the Security Council for the month of April, spoke in her national capacity as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the UN.

Her comments came after Pro-Russia activists were reported to have stormed several more buildings in eastern Ukraine and kidnapped international monitors in the crisis-torn country.

“The situation in Ukraine remains tense and the risk of further escalation remains a matter of grave concern to the international community.

“Utmost care needs to be taken to ensure that the crisis does not degenerate into a civil war.

“If it does, it might become an internationalised conflict, with its attendant reverberations everywhere.’’

Ogwu said that Nigeria had followed with keen interest recent talks in Geneva on Ukraine which resulted in a joint statement issued by Russia, Ukraine, the EU and the U.S.

She noted that the Geneva Statement had called for the disarmament of all illegally armed groups, the return of seized buildings and amnesty for protesters.

She said that Nigeria strongly believes that the agreement reached in Geneva would constitute the basis for the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine.

“This glimmer of hope, I’m afraid, is fast fading before our eyes as armed men continue to occupy buildings in eastern Ukraine and the level of violence is escalating.’’

Ogwu called for the immediate release of the kidnapped international monitors, and stressed that the way to lasting peace rested in dialogue by all concerned parties.

She said that the alternative of a military option would “bleed the already-open veins of Ukraine’’ and a strong surgical procedure would be needed to mend those veins.

“Dear colleagues, the clock is ticking, Ukraine is the patient and this council and the international community constitute the surgical team.

“Let us stabilise and restore the patient to health or many more might bleed. It is a collective responsibility,’’ Ogwu told the 15-member council.

Meanwhile, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the council earlier on Tuesday voted unanimously to partially lift the arms embargo on Cote d’Ivoire, differentiating between lethal and non-lethal arms.

The council, in a meeting presided over by Nigeria also lifted the ban on importing rough diamonds from Cote d’Ivoire.

Also, the council extended for another year the mandate of the UN mission tasked with monitoring the ceasefire in Western Sahara and organising a referendum on self-determination for the people of the territory.

The resolution called for greater efforts to improve human rights in Western Sahara, but stopped short of widening the mandate of its peacekeeping mission.

It will be recalled that Rights groups and the government of Western Sahara has repeatedly called for human rights monitoring to be included in the mandate of UN peacekeepers.

However, the move was fiercely opposed by Morocco.

Last week, the Saharawi Ambassador to Nigeria, Ubbi Bachir, told NAN in Abuja that the Saharawi Government had strong evidence of Morocco’s human rights abuses in the occupied Western Sahara.

NAN reports that Nigeria’s government strongly supports the liberation struggle of Saharawi people since their occupation in 1975 by Morocco after the departure of colonial power, Spain.

Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aminu Wali, reaffirmed Africa’s support and position at a press conference on Monday in New York.

“The African position on Western Sahara has always been consistent; the OAU first recognised Western Sahara in 1982.

“That has been our position as the African Union up till today,’’ Wali said. (NAN)

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