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Don’t discriminate against civilians fleeing Ukraine: UN chief

United Nations, March 2 (IANS) UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is against discrimination against some foreign nationals attempting to flee the fighting in Ukraine, his spokesman said.

“The Secretary General strongly repudiates, in any shape or form, all discrimination based on race, religion, ethnicity, in the context of this conflict, as well as in terms of the treatment of people trying to leave Ukraine to seek refuge in another country,” said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for Guterres, on Tuesday, Xinhua reported.

The stern statement followed reports of some nationals of other countries, such as students and workers from Africa and Asia, being refused accommodation on transport out of Ukraine.

In Geneva, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths, said donors pledged $1.5 billion toward the $1.7 billion sought in relief for victims of the fighting in Ukraine.

Despite the fighting, UN staffers are still staying and delivering humanitarian aid, the spokesman said.

He told reporters in a regular briefing that the number of staffers in Ukraine remained roughly the same as he reported last week, around 1,500, with some shifting of staff in and out of Ukraine.

The world body’s communication lines with staff remain open, Dujarric said.

The UN Children’s Fund and its partners are mobilising to treat the mental and emotional damage caused by the conflict, and the first shipments of the World Food Programme are on their way from Turkey to Ukraine, the spokesman said.

The UN Refugee Agency delivered its first truckload of household materials to central Ukraine for families in evacuation shelters and others in need, he added.

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