By: Chandrashekar Bhat
INDIA on Thursday (24) abstained in the UN General Assembly on a resolution by Ukraine and its allies on the humanitarian crisis in the war-torn eastern European country.
India said the focus should be on cessation of hostilities and on urgent humanitarian assistance and the draft did not fully reflect New Delhi’s expected focus on these challenges.
The 193-member UN General Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine”, moved by Ukraine and its western allies, with 140 nations voting in favour, five against and 38 abstentions.
“We firmly believe efforts at the United Nations should contribute to a de-escalation of the conflict, facilitate an immediate cessation of hostilities to promote dialogue and diplomacy and bring together parties to find an immediate end to the suffering of the people,” India’s permanent representative to the UN, ambassador T S Tirumurti said in the explanation of vote after the resolution was adopted.
“We continue to underline the need to respect the UN Charter, international law and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. India abstained on the resolution since what we require now is to focus on the cessation of hostilities and on urgent humanitarian assistance. The draft resolution did not fully reflect our expected focus on these challenges,” Tirumurti said.
Tirumurti underlined that India continues to remain deeply concerned at the ongoing situation which has rapidly been deteriorating since the beginning of the hostilities. He noted that the conflict has resulted in the death of civilians, and nearly 10 million people have either been displaced internally or moved to neighbouring countries.
“We have constantly called for a cessation of hostilities,” he said, noting that the humanitarian situation continues to worsen, particularly in the conflict zones in urban areas.
“Women, children and elderly are disproportionately affected by the prolonging of this conflict,” he said.
India supports the initiatives of the UN and its agencies and expressed hope that the international community will continue to respond positively to the humanitarian needs of the people of Ukraine, including through extending generous support to the Secretary General’s flash appeal and the regional refugee response plan on Ukraine.
He said it is important that humanitarian action is always guided by the principles of humanitarian assistance, which is humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. “These measures should not be politicised.”
Tirumurti told the General Assembly that India has already sent over 90 tonnes of humanitarian supplies, including medicines and other essential relief material, to Ukraine and its neighbours.
India is in the process of sending further supplies in the coming days. He also said India has ensured the safe return of about 22,500 Indians from Ukraine through Operation Ganga involving 90 flights.
“We have also assisted nationals from 18 other countries in that process. We are deeply appreciative of the facilitation rendered by the authorities of Ukraine and its neighbouring countries and ensuring their safe return.”
A rival resolution was also proposed in the UNGA by South Africa ‘Humanitarian situation emanating out of the conflict in Ukraine’. It made no mention of Russia and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities by “all parties” in the conflict.
Following objections by Ukraine, the assembly voted to decide whether action should be taken in the UNGA on the South African-led draft resolution. With 67 member states voting against, 50 in favour and 36 abstentions, the resolution, supported by China, was not put for a vote and no action was taken on that draft. India abstained from this vote as well.
On Wednesday (23), India, along with 12 other UN Security Council members, had abstained from a resolution by Russia on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. The UNSC resolution failed to pass as it did not get the required nine yes votes. Only Russia and China voted in favour of the UNSC resolution.
The UN General Assembly had on March 2 adopted a resolution titled ‘Aggression against Ukraine’ that had overwhelmingly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and demanded that Moscow “completely and unconditionally” withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine.
India had abstained from the resolution, which was co-sponsored by 96 UN member states and received 141 votes in favour, a total of 34 abstentions and five nations voting against.