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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Ukraine in Crisis: Zelenskyy Urges Assistance Following Dam Breach

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has expressed deep concern over the lack of support following the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam. Tragically, the breach of the dam in the Russian-occupied area of southern Ukraine has resulted in the first reported deaths.

Zelenskyy highlighted the dire situation in the occupied parts of the Kherson region, describing it as catastrophic. He expressed dismay over the abandonment of people in appalling conditions, with no assistance, water shortage, and communities submerged with individuals left stranded on rooftops.

The flooding caused by the dam breach spans over 600 square kilometers, affecting both the Ukrainian-held right bank of the Dnieper River and the Russian-held left bank. The governor of the Kherson region, Oleksandr Prokudin, revealed that the average flooding level stands at 5.61 meters, submerging a significant portion of the Kherson region.

According to reports from the Russian state-owned news agency Tass, emergency services have estimated that approximately 14,000 homes have been flooded, leading to the evacuation of nearly 4,300 people in Russian areas. In Ukraine, the state emergency service reported that 1,995 individuals, including 103 children, have been evacuated from flooded regions.

The cause of the dam’s collapse remains uncertain, with Ukraine blaming Russia for deliberate destruction, while experts suggest potential damage from wartime or neglect. The World Bank has initiated a rapid assessment of the damage and requirements, as announced by Anna Bjerde, the managing director for operations, via Twitter.

In addition to the current situation, Anna Bjerde, the managing director for operations at the World Bank, stated that the new damage assessment would incorporate the bank’s previous analysis of the destruction inflicted upon Ukraine’s infrastructure and buildings.

The previous assessment had estimated that the reconstruction of Ukraine’s economy after Russia’s invasion would require a staggering $411 billion.

This context underscores the immense scale of the challenges faced by Ukraine and the urgent need for support in rebuilding and revitalizing the country’s economy and infrastructure.

Russia welcomes African peace mission — South Africa’s Ramaphosa

The Kremlin has welcomed an African initiative to send a peace delegation to Russia and Ukraine, according to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office.

“(Russian President Vladimir Putin) has welcomed the initiative by African Heads of State and expressed his desire to receive the peace mission,” the South African presidency said after a phone call between the two heads of state.

The delegation, made up of a number of leaders from African countries, is expected to visit Ukraine and Russia in June.

Putin and Ramaphosa also discussed the Russia-Africa summit that is scheduled to be held in St. Petersburg in late July, Pretoria said.

also read: Ukraine Accuses Russia of Dam Destruction

EU Agency calls for the long-term integration of Ukrainian refugees

European Union governments should prepare to integrate refugees from Ukraine permanently, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has said.

The agency said in its annual report in Vienna that current aid measures should focus on women and children, who make up the majority of refugees.

Some 8.3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in early 2022, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. Of those, 5.1 million have temporary protection under special arrangements without them having to apply for asylum in the EU, Norway, and Switzerland.

The FRA lauded some EU countries, including Germany, where the accommodation of refugees is centrally regulated by the state or distributed in a balanced way within the country.

“Still, the capacity and suitability of public accommodation is limited by insufficient funding and lack of long-term solutions,” it said.

The report called for language training, integration of Ukrainian children into schools and kindergartens, and help to their mothers to find work.

Special assistance is required for women who have experienced sexual violence or exploitation, the report noted.

Replacement plane for Air India flights leaves Russia

A replacement plane for an Air India flight that was diverted to Russia because of an engine problem has left for San Francisco with all passengers and crew.

The Boeing 777 left New Delhi carrying 216 passengers and 16 crew members for the US. It was diverted to land at Magadan airport in Siberia on Tuesday because the plane developed a technical issue with one of its engines, Air India said.

The replacement plane is expected to arrive in San Francisco at 12:15 am Thursday local time.

US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said that fewer than 50 American citizens were on the flight and the department was not aware of any of them reaching out to the US Embassy in Russia.

“The Russian soldiers, the Russian police, the authorities, everyone working in the hostel has been treating us extremely well,” said passenger Girvaan Singh Kahma, 16, adding that they were barred from leaving the hostel in Magadan and were unable to use their credit cards because of sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

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