By Linda Bordoni
Pope Francis on Sunday upheld a ceasefire agreement reached by the so-called Contact Group for settlement of the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine.
“I understand that a new ceasefire concerning the Donbass area was recently decided in Minsk by members of the Tripartite Contact Group,” he said during the Sunday Angelus.
The agreement aims to bring harmonization and the approval of additional measures of control over a current ceasefire in the ongoing conflict bewteen the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Ukrainian Armed Forces. It was reached in the Belorussian capital, Minsk, on Wednesday, and is due to come into force starting Monday, 27 July.
The Pope thanked the parties for “this sign of goodwill aimed at bringing much-desired peace to that tormented region.”
“I pray that what has been agreed will finally be put into practice, including an effective disarmament and mine clearance process,” he said. He then noted that “Only in this way will it be possible to rebuild confidence and lay the foundations for (a) reconciliation that is so necessary and so long awaited by the people.”
Since the autumn of 2014, the Contact Group for settlement in eastern Ukraine has declared over 20 ceasefires in Donbass. Members of the Group declared an indefinite ceasefire in Donbass starting in July 2019, however ceasefire violations have persisted.
Violence in eastern Ukraine between Russian-backed separatist forces and the Ukrainian military has killed more than 10,000 people, injured nearly 24,000 and displaced 1.5 million since April 2014.