Ban urges Russia, Georgia to control their armed forces

Other News Materials 14 August 2008 23:13 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Raising the spectre of lawlessness and a humanitarian crisis in Georgia, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on both Russia and Georgia on Thursday to rein in their armed forces following reports of looting, continued fighting and lack of access to those in need.

Ban said he had become "extremely concerned by the humanitarian impact of the recent conflict on the civilian population in Georgia, which has suffered loss of life and injury, significant damage to property and infrastructure."

"All sides should control forces under their command to ensure that the current state of lawlessness ceases," he said.

Ban on Thursday discussed the situation by telephone with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and with the US ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad. The UN did not provide details of the conversations.

Ban said in a statement that large parts of Georgia proper and the breakaway South Ossetia are inaccessible to international relief organizations because of the "ongoing insecurity, lawlessness and other constraints."

Russian military forces have occupied parts of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two breakaway independent enclaves of Georgia, and Gori, a central Georgian city, since the fighting erupted with Georgian forces last week.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme have airlifted relief supplies to the more than 100,000 Georgians displaced by the fighting.