United Nations: A special UN envoy to Crimea who was threatened by 10 to 15 armed men is safe and will return to Ukrainian capital Kiev to continue his mission, the United Nations has said.

Senior Adviser Robert Serry is in good shape physically after being threatened yesterday by armed men who ordered him to leave the region, said a statement from UN chief Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson.

Serry “is taking a late flight out of (Crimean capital) Simferopol and will shortly return to Kiev to continue his mission, which was cut short by (the) incident,” said the statement.

Serry was surrounded outside the main naval headquarters by a number of unidentified men who said that he should immediately leave Crimea, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told reporters here via a link from Kiev.

He described the incident as “very regrettable”.
Serry was in Crimea to take stock of the situation there and had been relying on Ukrainian authorities for security.

“He feels seriously threatened and expects that all authorities that have control of the situation will continue to guarantee his safe return to the hotel and continued work,” Eliasson said.

In Kiev, Eliasson has continued to meet with authorities, stressing the need for calm and international unity in the pursuit of peace amid a standoff between Ukraine and Russia.

“I do not think I have ever made so many references to the UN Charter,” he told reporters in reference to UN Charter principles of unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“The tension along the border seems to be reduced. But of course there is considerable uncertainty about the situation. There were incidents yesterday that could have turned very nasty but fortunately did not go in that very negative direction, as it could have,” Eliasson said.

“Cool heads must now prevail,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ban Ki-moon, who is on an official visit to Sierra Leone, said he is sending Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic to Kiev to monitor human rights situation in Ukraine.

Simonovic is expected to travel to Crimea over the weekend.

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