In a statement given by his deputy-Spokesperson to correspondents in New York, António Guterres called on all actors to reduce tensions, avoid acts of violence, and exercise maximum restraint.
For more than a week, thousands of protesters have held anti-Government rallies, ignited by President Lenin Moreno’s announcement of an end to fuel subsidies which have seen prices rise dramatically.
The President’s decision to cut decades-old fuel subsidies, combined with tax and labour reforms have led to street protests led largely by indigenous activists. With police firing tear gas at the crowds, and protesters fighting back, at least five have been killed, and hundreds of others wounded, according to media reports.
On Thursday the United Nations confirmed the Organisation has received a request from the Government of Ecuador to facilitate a dialogue with different civil society actors to deescalate tensions: “The United Nations stands ready to consider a role in support of dialogue if its engagement is accepted by all the relevant parties”, said the UN chief’s statement.
After declaring a state of national emergency last week, President Moreno has relocated the Government away from the capital Quito, to the country’s coastal city of Guayaqiuil. On Thursday, he reportedly refused protestors demands to reverse his reform measures.
Mr. Guterres reaffirmed that the UN system and the Episcopal Conference are supporting preliminary talks with the authorities and different civil society sectors.
On Thursday, the UN rights office in the region (ACNUDH), called for swift and independent investigations into the deaths of victims reported thus far, aiming to prevent any further fatalities – reaffirming an appeal made on Sunday for protesters’ rights to demonstrate peacefully to be upheld.
“The violent acts or crimes of some should not be attributed to others whose behaviour is peaceful,” the statement read. Authorities must “guard the rights to freedom of expression, opinion, and peaceful assembly and participation in public affairs.”
In a message on social media, the UN office in Ecuador has called on the country to maintain, “now more than ever, its attitude of peace, solidarity and respect”.