Over 1,500 UN staff to remain in Ukraine

United Nations: Despite the ongoing tensions in Ukraine, the UN is committed to staying with about 1,500 staff, some 100 of them in the the country’s conflict-hit east where Russia has recognised the two breakaway rebel regions as independent states, a spokesman for the world body said.

“As a result of the evolving situation on the ground, we’ve allowed for temporary relocation of some nonessential staff and some dependents,” said Stephane Dujarric, the chief spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“At the same time, we have more staff coming in … to support our operations.

“We are continuing to be committed to staying and delivering in Ukraine, especially in Eastern Ukraine,” Dujarric said. “Our operations continue to be fully operational,” Xinhua news agency quoted the spokesman as saying.

Overall, he said, the global body has about 2,696 staff and their dependents in Ukraine, approximately 1,510 staff and some 100 in the Donbas region which comprises Luhansk and Donetsk.

The spokesman further broke down the numbers to say that 149 of the 1,510 are international staff members, and 1,361 are national staff members.

However, Dujarric emphasized that the number of staff fluctuates, “as we are moving more people in and a few, because of personal family reasons… will be leaving temporarily”.

The spokesman’s remarks come after Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday night recognised the self-declared people’s republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.

The President ordered Russian troops to perform so-called “peacekeeping functions” in the two regions which are home to Moscow-backed rebels who have been fighting Ukrainian forces since 2014.

Putin’s move, which have effectively ended peace talks in the Donbas region and deepened the ongoing crisis, has been widely criticised.

Currently, Ukraine is being surrounded by more than 150,000 Russian troops on its borders.

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