UNITED NATIONS: A Chinese envoy on Tuesday voiced grave concern over the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam in southern Ukraine.
The protection of civilians and critical civilian facilities in armed conflict is an important principle enshrined in international humanitarian law, said Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations.
“We express our grave concern over the destruction of the dam at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant. We are deeply concerned about the resulting humanitarian, economic, and ecological consequences. We call on all parties to the conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and do their utmost to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure,” he said.
The collapse of the dam has caused flooding. A great number of people are in urgent need of evacuation and tens of thousands of people may face difficulties in accessing drinking water. China supports the active efforts by the United Nations and humanitarian agencies to help evacuate the affected people, followed by further assistance, Zhang told an emergency meeting of the Security Council.
The reservoir, formed by the dam, is also a major source of cooling water for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. China notes that the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed that the dam’s destruction has not posed any safety risk to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. However, as the water in the reservoir continues to recede, it may not be possible to continue pumping water to the nuclear power plant in the future.
“China reiterates that in the event of a nuclear disaster, no one can stay immune. We call for maximum restraint, for the avoidance of words and deeds that could escalate confrontation and lead to miscalculation, and for efforts to maintain the safety and security of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” he said.
China is concerned about the protraction or even further escalation of the crisis in Ukraine. What has just happened shows once again that anything can happen in a conflict situation. The flames of war, if allowed to rage on, will only bring about greater suffering and more disasters, as well as major risks that are hard to predict, Zhang said.
The parties concerned should come to senses, exercise restraint and resume peace talks as soon as possible. The international community should spare no effort with a greater sense of urgency to create favourable conditions for dialogue and negotiations and for the restoration of peace, he said.
No party, especially countries with important influence, should fuel the fire and escalate tensions, much less try to profit from expanded crises to advance their own strategic agenda, he added.
China will continue to stand on the side of peace, and, alongside partners concerned, make unremitting efforts to promote peace talks and achieve a political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis, Zhang said.