The UN Secretary General is in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, in a “mission of solidarity and gratitude” to recognize the generosity of that country, which has received nearly half a million Ukrainian refugees.
In a joint press conference that followed a meeting with Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita, António Guterres said that Moldova is not just another country receiving refugees.
“Moldova is the most fragile of Ukraine’s neighbors and it is by far the country that has received the most refugees in proportion to its population,” he stressed.
Guterres recalled that, not being part of the European Union, Moldova you do not receive any of the benefits granted by that block, so “it needs and deserves massive support, including budget support, to maintain its generosity and preserve stability.”
He argued that Moldova is a small country, with a relatively small and fragile economy“it is a landlocked country with all the problems and inconveniences that a landlocked country has when there is a war.”
Regarding his visit to the country, Guterres considered that it was essential because “it is the country hardest hit by this war, with fewer resources to deal with the consequences of the war and with more generosity in receiving refugees from Ukraine”.
ramifications of war
In his statements to the press, the UN leader highlighted the impact of the war in Ukraine in the region and in the world is very deep and far-reaching, warning that the consequences of an escalation “are too terrifying to behold”.
In this regard, he expressed his fear that the war would be prolonged and reach other countries.
“I am extremely concerned about the continuation and possible extension of the war that Russia is waging in Ukraine, and for the impact it is having not only in the region but throughout the world.”
Guterres noted that Ukraine’s neighboring countries, such as Moldova, are already struggling with the socio-economic ramifications of the war, which comes after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world and in the context of a uneven recovery due to “the lack of solidarityunity of the rich with the poor”.
Once again, he insisted that it must be end the war. “The weapons must be silent,” he reiterated.
The Secretary General elaborated on the refugee crisis generated by the conflagration, particularly in Moldova, where some 100,000 Ukrainians have settled, increasing by almost 4% the population of the country.
The UN and its humanitarian partners work to assist refugees, displaced persons and host communities inside and outside of Ukraine, thus far reaching more than 5.4 million people with food, shelter, blankets, medicine and water. However, the aid is not enough given the growing needs of the population.
Guterres explained the difficulties countries like Moldova have had in adapting to a humanitarian crisis.
“In Europe, we don’t have refugee camps. The refugees live with the families of the Moldovans. Here, we don’t have the traditional forms of humanitarian support deployed in crisis areas of the developing world, in fragile states,” he said.
He added that the UN does everything possible to expand assistance programsamong which he identified the delivery of cash as the most effective of all.
“Our objective is supporting more than 90,000 refugees and 55,000 Moldovan hostsin coordination with the government and other partners,” he announced.
abounded that twelve countries have committed to move Ukrainian refugees from Moldova and called on other nations to take responsibility by following suit.
“Moldova is a small country with a big heart. But your resources are limited”, he emphasized.
Guterres emphasized the devastating impact of war in the Moldovan economywith supply chains broken and fuel and food prices rising rapidly.
“For its neighbors in the European Union, massive solidarity with Moldova is not a question of generosity, it is a matter of self interest”, he maintained, urging the states of that bloc to respond to the UN humanitarian appeals for 2.25 billion dollars for its operations in Ukraine and 1.85 billion dollars for assistance to refugees.
“In global terms, it is tiny sums”, he pointed.
In his exchange with the press, Guterres defended the integrity of Moldova.
“The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrityand the solid progress that Moldova has made in the last three decades must not be threatened or undermined,” he said.
When asked about the situation in the separatist region of TransnistriaGuterres reaffirmed the “very clear position” of the UN.
“We respect and ask the whole world to respect the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Moldova. It is absolutely essential to preserve territorial integrity, and any violation of the territorial integrity of any country, including Moldova, is a violation of international law and it is a violation of the UN Charter,” he replied.