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Cabinet reiterates its call for a ‘diplomatic solution’ to Russia’s war in Ukraine

The cabinet on Thursday reiterated the South African government’s call for a “negotiated diplomatic solution” to end Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Presidency Minister Mondli Gungubele said the government urged all parties to uphold and protect human rights during a media briefing in Tshwane on the results of Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

War in Ukraine

Gungubele said the government remained “deeply concerned” about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, saying the socio-economic costs of the war were devastating and its impact would be felt around the world.

“The cabinet calls for a diplomatic solution through negotiations and urged all parties to uphold and protect human rights, and to fulfill their obligations under international law and international humanitarian law,” the minister said. .

The government of President Cyril Ramaphosa has been roundly criticized for its stance and refusal to condemn Moscow for the raging conflict that has killed thousands of civilians and led to the mass exodus of at least 2.2 million people fleeing Ukraine.

ALSO READ: ANC NWC reiterates call for ‘diplomatic’ solution to conflict between Russia and Ukraine

Some opposition parties and civil society organizations have accused the government of “flip-flopping” its stance on the war after declaring its statement calling on Russia to withdraw his troops from Ukraine, and abstained on last week’s UN resolution condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military invasion.

‘Government not inconsistent’

Gungubele denied that the government was inconsistent in its stance on the conflict, saying South Africa remained opposed to wars that resulted in the death of civilians, especially children.

The minister said the war in Ukraine was a conflict “underlined by complex factors” and this informed decision by the government not to take sides in the matter.

“Russia would have had its reasons” [for invading Ukraine], the West, they have their opinion. But in the end it even leads to people fighting and people dying. How do you fill that in [conflict] you have to ask the question: how do I improve the situation?

“Therefore, South Africa avoids taking sides on this issue, because the best intervention you can do is the best possible solution South Africa can provide,” Gungubele said.

READ MORE: Child among three killed in attack on hospital in Ukraine

He insisted that the government stood for peace and could not “be comfortable bombing children” after Russia children’s hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

According to the mayor, some 1,207 civilians were killed in the 10-day Russian siege of Mariupol. The Red Cross called the situation “apocalyptic” after more than a week without water, power or heating. Safe routes out had been repeatedly attacked.

Gungubele added that the government believed that developing countries should also be given “greater voice and influence” in global governance institutions such as the UN and the Security Council.

South Africa therefore advocates a fairer international system and the reform of multilateral institutions to promote greater equality, he said.

SA students fly home from Ukraine

Meanwhile, a group of South African students trapped in Ukraine was expected to land on home soil on Thursday morning.

This is thanks to a collaboration between the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) and Aspen Pharmacare, who are assisting with the emergency evacuation.

The stranded students, many of whom had limited resources, were forced to flee Ukraine to neighboring countries such as Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Aspen and Dirco said the first group, made up of ten students, would arrive at OR Tambo airport around 11 a.m. on an Air France flight. A total of 25 students would be evacuated by next week.

Gungubele said the government continued to help South African The Vanir-exoduss to leave Ukraine and some of them have since returned home.

“We have also expressed concern about the ill-treatment of Africans trying to cross international borders during this period,” he said.

Additional reporting by Nica Richards and AFP

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