The Qatari official also slammed the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine and the war in Syria.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani has called for the protection of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, as Russia continues to carry out a full-scale invasion of the country.
Virtually addressing the 49th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Sheikh Mohammed said that Qatar has been following the situation in Ukraine “with great concern”.
“It is critical at this stage to engage in constructive dialogue within diplomatic means to resolve this crisis. The State of Qatar assures its respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” he said.
Sheikh Mohammed raised concern over the rise of refugees as a result of the situation in Ukraine. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates that the war will result in four million refugees from Ukraine.
“Guaranteeing the safety of civilians should be at the utmost priority in these circumstances. What is most concerning, above all, is the difficult humanitarian situation millions of refugees will face should this conflict continue,” said Sheikh Mohammed.
On Sunday, at least 200,000 people, mostly children, fled to Poland from Ukraine after Russia entered Ukraine.
By Sunday, four days after the Russian attack began, at least 200,000 people, mostly children, women and elderly men, had entered Poland, according to the Polish Border Guard. Men aged 18-to-60 who are fit for military service were ordered to remain in Ukraine.
Early on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military invasion of Ukraine following months of mounting tensions.
Ukraine’s health ministry said that 352 civilians including 14 children have been killed since the beginning of the invasion.
Talks between Russia and Ukraine on the Belarusian border began on Monday, with the aim of reaching a ceasefire.
The foreign minister slammed the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine, describing it as “one of the worst ongoing humanitarian crises”.
“The Israeli occupation of Palestinian and Arab lands still represents a model of colonial occupation that has been transcended by history…in view of the extent of violations and crimes committed against the Palestinians, including confiscating their lands and rights, violating holy religious sites.”
Qatar has long refused to normalise with the Zionist state and condemned its continuous flagrant human rights abuses against Palestinians. Unlike some of its neighbours, including the UAE and Bahrain, the country maintains its commitment to the Arab Peace Initiative.
The initiative was adopted in 2002 by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It states that member countries shall refrain from normalising with Israel until it fully withdraws from lands occupied in 1967.
Sheikh Mohammed also took aim at the “continuing systematic construction of illegal settlements” and Israel’s actions that destroy prospects for peace in the region.
He called on the international community to “assume its humanitarian, moral and legal responsibilities” to ensure Palestinians obtain their legitimate rights.
‘They had no mercy’: Palestinian remembers moment he was made a refugee in 1948
“Foremost of which is their right to self-determination, return, and the establishment of their state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister stressed the need to end the state of “impunity” that enables the occupation to continue its human rights violations.
He urged the international community to “hold all those responsible for the violations and crimes that have been and are still being committed against the Palestinian people”.
According to Amnesty, more than 6 million Palestinians remain refugees 73 years on, most of whom live in camps in neighbouring countries. The apartheid state continues to forcibly displace Palestinians from their lands to make way for Jewish settlers, depriving the native population of their basic rights.
Sheikh Mohammed brought back the ongoing war in Syria to the global spotlight, calling for the need to address the violations against Syrians by the Bashar Al-Assad regime.
“The whole world should deal seriously with the violations and crimes that have been going on against the Syrian people for more than a decade because of their demands for freedom, dignity and justice,” he said.
The senior official sad that the Syrian regime must be pressured in order to reach a political solution that would end the worsening crisis in the country.
“Serious work must be done to pressure the Syrian regime to reach a political solution…as well as ensuring justice, accountability and redress the victims of violations and crimes committed,” added Al Thani.
Qatar was amongst the countries that openly called on Assad to step down since the very beginning of the uprising in Syria and was the first Arab country to close its embassy in Damascus.
The country repeatedly expressed its staunch refusal to normalise with the Assad regime despite the shift in the stance of some Arab countries, namely Jordan and the UAE.
According to the United Nations, the war in Syria has killed at least 350,000 civilians over the past decade.
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