Zelensky requests address with AU

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has asked to speak to the African Union, according to his Senegalese counterpart, Macky Sall.

In a tweet on Monday night, President Sall, who has been chairperson of the 55-member continental body since February, referenced a call with Zelenskyy on the same day.

The duo also discussed the global economic effect of the war in Ukraine and “the need to favour dialogue for a negotiated outcome to the conflict”.

So far, a number of African countries have been neutral or muted in their criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine due to Moscow’s longstanding relations with the continent since the Cold War era.

Earlier this month, the United Nations General Assembly suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. Nine of the countries that voted against the resolution were African, and another 23 abstained from voting – more than half of the continent.

The United Nations has demanded an independent investigation into rape and sexual violence in Ukraineafter allegations that Russian troops committed such crimes during the continuous invasion of the neighbouring country.

“We are increasingly hearing of rape and sexual violence. These allegations must be independently investigated to ensure justice and accountability,” Executive Director for UN Women, Sima Bahous, told a UN Security Council briefing late on Monday.

“The combination of mass displacement with the large presence of conscripts and mercenaries, and the brutality displayed against Ukrainian civilians has raised all red flags,” she said.

Bahous added she had recently returned from the Republic of Moldova, where she spoke to women and children arriving from Ukraine.

Kateryna Cherepakha, president of the La Strada organisation, which tackles gender-based violence, told the UN council via video call that “rape is used as a weapon of war by Russian invaders in Ukraine”.

Cherepakha said witnesses spoke of Russian officers carrying out rapes in front of children and family members and threatening the lives of their victims.

Russia has denied these allegations, saying, “No convincing evidence has been presented for any of these crimes, but it’s understandable that you have trampled the presumption of innocence a long time ago,” Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russian deputy ambassador to the UN, told the council. -Aljazeera

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