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IAEA chief condemns ‘targeted’ strikes at Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant
by IAEA, news agencies
20 Nov. 2022
IAEA chief condemns ‘targeted’ strikes at Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant. (News agencies)
UN atomic watchdog chief Rafael Grossi has denounced the “targeted” strikes at Ukraine’s Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, calling for a “stop to this madness”.
Around a dozen strikes had targeted the plant, he said, and the situation was “very serious”, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told French broadcaster BFM TV.
It was an outrage that some people “consider a nuclear power plant to be a legitimate military target”, he said.
While he did not blame either Russia or Ukraine, Grossi said: “Whoever it is, stop this madness!”
“The people who are doing this know where they are hitting. It is absolutely deliberate, targeted.”
Earlier Sunday, Kyiv and Moscow blamed each other for shelling the site of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine.
The IAEA is to send a team of experts to the plant – the biggest nuclear facility in Europe – after the “powerful explosions” there on Saturday and Sunday.
“The plant is on the front line, there are military activities that are very difficult to identify, there are Russian troops and Ukrainian troops in operation,” Grossi said.
“There has been damage in some rather delicate places,” he added, though the nuclear reactors themselves have not been affected but “rather the area where the fresh and spent fuel is located”.
“We expect to be able to take stock of the situation very early tomorrow morning,” he added. But the inspectors had not been able to leave for the site on Sunday, as the situation was too dangerous, he said.
Russia, which launched an offensive on Ukraine in February, has been occupying the territory around the power station. Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed its annexation, along with four Ukrainian regions. Moscow and Kyiv have blamed each other for the repeating shelling of the site.
20 Nov. 2022 (IAEA News)
Repeated shelling at the site of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) yesterday evening and this morning damaged buildings, systems and equipment, with some of the explosions occurring near the reactors, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said today.
Director General Grossi described the shelling – one of the most intense such episodes in recent months – as another “close call” for Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, now located in the middle of a war zone.
Radiation levels at the site remained normal and there were no reports of casualties. The ZNPP’s external power supplies, which have been knocked out several times during the conflict, were also not affected.
The latest shelling began shortly before 6pm local time yesterday and, after a lull, resumed at 9:15am today with more than a dozen blasts within 40 minutes. After the morning shelling, the area was again quiet, the team of IAEA experts reported in the afternoon today.
According to the IAEA experts, site management reported damage in several places, including a radioactive waste and storage building, cooling pond sprinkler systems, an electrical cable to one of the reactors, condensate storage tanks, and to a bridge between another reactor and its auxiliary buildings.
“Once again, we were fortunate that a potentially serious nuclear incident did not happen. Next time, we may not be so lucky. We must do everything in our power to make sure there is no next time,” Director General Grossi said, reiterating his call for urgent measures to protect the ZNPP and prevent a nuclear accident during the current conflict in Ukraine.
The Director General said he has been in active consultations with world leaders today on the latest shelling at the ZNPP, and he is insisting that agreeing and implementing a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the ZNPP must happen now.
“Even though there was no direct impact on key nuclear safety and security systems at the plant, the shelling came dangerously close to them. We are talking metres, not kilometres. Whoever is shelling at the Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, is taking huge risks and gambling with many people’s lives,” Director General Grossi said.
11 Aug. 2022
UN chief appeals for immediate end to military activities at Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant. (UN News)
Military activities around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant in Ukraine must stop immediately, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday, warning of the potential danger to the area and beyond amid ongoing shelling.
Europe’s largest nuclear plant has been occupied by Russian forces since March, and last week the external power supply system was damaged in an attack.
“I am calling for all military activities in the immediate vicinity of the plant to cease immediately and not to target its facilities or surroundings,” Mr. Guterres said in a statement expressing his grave concern over the unfolding situation.
The Secretary-General recalled his appeal to all parties “to exercise common sense and reason” and not do anything that might endanger the plant’s physical integrity, safety or security.
“Regrettably, instead of de-escalation, over the past several days there have been reports of further deeply worrying incidents that could, if they continue, lead to disaster,” he said.
“I urge the withdrawal of any military personnel and equipment from the plant and the avoidance of any further deployment of forces or equipment to the site. The facility must not be used as part of any military operation. Instead, urgent agreement is needed at a technical level on a safe perimeter of demilitarization to ensure the safety of the area.”
The Secretary-General underlined the UN’s support for the critical work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and its efforts towards ensuring safe operations at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant.
“We must be clear that any potential damage to Zaporizhzhia or any other nuclear facilities in Ukraine, or anywhere else, could lead to catastrophic consequences not only for the immediate vicinity, but for the region and beyond. This is wholly unacceptable.”

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Ethiopia: Immediately scale up humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need
by OHCHR, UN News, agencies
2 Nov. 2022
Ethiopia's Tigray conflict: Truce agreement announced. (Agencies)
The parties in the conflict in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray have agreed on a “permanent cessation of hostilities”, the African Union mediator reported after a week of formal peace talks in South Africa.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo said that Ethiopia’s government and Tigrayan authorities have agreed on “orderly, smooth and coordinated disarmament” along with “restoration of law and order,” “restoration of services” and “unhindered access to humanitarian supplies”.
The week-long talks marked the first formal dialogue for ending a war that has killed hundreds of thousands and unleashed a humanitarian crisis.
Sadly, this is not the first ceasefire in the conflict - a previous one was breached in August, just months after both sides committed to it.
The war, which broke out in November 2020, has pitted regional forces from Tigray against Ethiopia’s federal army and its allies, which include forces from other regions and from neighbouring Eritrea.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed hailed the deal and said it would be implemented. “The commitment to peace remains steadfast. And our commitment to collaborating for the implementation of the agreement is equally strong,” he said in a statement.
Tigray’s rebels hailed the deal. “We are ready to implement and expedite this agreement,” said the head of their delegation, Getachew Reda. “In order to address the pains of our people, we have made concessions because we have to build trust.
“Ultimately, the fact that we have reached a point where we have now signed an agreement speaks volumes about the readiness on the part of the two sides to lay the past behind them to chart a new path of peace,” said Reda.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed the truce agreement.
“It is very much a welcome first step, which we hope can start to bring some solace to the millions of Ethiopian civilians that have really suffered during this conflict,” the spokesperson for the secretary-general, Stephane Dujarric told reporters.
He said the Agreement is a critical first step towards ending the devastating two-year old conflict in which the lives and livelihoods of so many Ethiopians have been lost.
"The Secretary General urges all Ethiopians and the international community to support the important step taken by the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the Tigrayan leadership.. He urges them to continue with negotiations on the outstanding issues in a spirit of reconciliation in order to reach a lasting political settlement, silence the guns and put the country back on the path to peace and stability".
There are at least 5.2 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Tigray, and it has been two months since the last humanitarian aid reached the region. Almost 90% of people in the northern Tigray region need food aid, the World Health Organization says. With a third of the region's children suffering from malnutrition.
Stephane Dujarric said the Secretary-General appeals to all stakeholders to seize the opportunity that the cessation of hostilities provides to immediately scale up humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need and to restore the desperately needed public services.
Neither Eritrea nor regional forces allied with the Ethiopian army took part in the talks in South Africa and it was unclear whether they would abide by the agreement reached. Forces from Ethiopia’s neighbouring Amhara region have been fighting Tigray troops, and were not represented at the peace talks.
Eritrean forces have been blamed for some of the conflict’s worst abuses, including gang-rapes, and witnesses have described killings and looting by Eritrean forces even during the peace talks. Both sides to the conflict have been accused of atrocities.
A critical question is how soon aid can return to Tigray, where communications and transport links have been largely severed since the conflict began. Doctors have described running out of basic medicines like vaccines, insulin and therapeutic food while people die of easily preventable diseases and starvation.
United Nations human rights investigators have said the Ethiopian government was using “starvation of civilians” as a weapon of war during the conflict.
“We’re back to 18th-century surgery,” a surgeon at the region’s flagship hospital, Fasika Amdeslasie, told health experts at an event on Wednesday. “It’s like an open-air prison.”
A humanitarian source said their organisation could resume operations almost immediately, if unfettered aid access to Tigray were granted.
“It entirely depends on what the government agrees to … If they genuinely give us access, we can start moving very quickly, in hours, not weeks,” said the source, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly.
18 Oct. 2022
The latest alarming airstrikes on the Tigray region risk seriously exacerbating the already devastating impact of hostilities on civilians, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk warned today.
“Since 31 August we have received numerous reports of civilian casualties and destruction of civilian objects due to airstrikes and artillery strikes in Tigray – disruptions to communication make it particularly difficult to verify reports, but it is clear that the toll on civilians is utterly staggering,” Türk said.
Among those killed in recent incidents was a staff member of the NGO International Rescue Committee, who was part of a team delivering humanitarian assistance to women and children.
“In the midst of a grim humanitarian situation, this is completely unacceptable,” High Commissioner Türk said.
“I am also deeply troubled by the significant risk of escalation in light of continued mass mobilisation of soldiers and fighters by various parties to the conflict.”
The High Commissioner appealed to all parties to the conflict to immediately cease all hostilities and work towards a peaceful and lasting solution.
Parties to the conflict must respect international human rights law and international humanitarian law by, among other actions, taking all feasible measures to protect civilians and civilian objects, and allowing humanitarian assistance to reach all those in need.
“Under international law, indiscriminate attacks or attacks deliberately targeting civilians or civilian objects amount to war crimes,” Türk added.
The High Commissioner stressed the need to support all efforts towards ensuring accountability for gross violations and abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law committed during the conflict.
17 Oct. 2022
Ethiopia's Tigray conflict: Civilian bloodbath warning as offensive escalates, by Mary Harper - Africa editor, BBC World Service News
Diplomats are warning of a civilian bloodbath in Ethiopia's northern region of Tigray if rebels are pushed out of towns by Ethiopian and Eritrean troops.
Tigray residents say food and medical supplies are running out as a massive offensive on the region intensifies.
Cities are being carpet bombed, says Tedros Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organization chief, who is from Tigray. Civilians are being killed and those wounded cannot be saved because of a siege, he says.
Tigray has been under a blockade for 17 months and fighting has surged since a five-month humanitarian truce collapsed in August. An estimated one million people are at risk of starvation.
The African Union (AU) has joined the chorus of international voices calling for an end to hostilities and a recommitment to peace talks.
On Friday, an aid worker from the International Rescue Committee was killed while delivering emergency food to women and children in the town of Shire, which has come under ferocious bombardment.
The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell expressed horror at the violence in Shire, often directed at civilians.
Camps for the millions of people displaced by the fighting are also coming under attack, according to Samantha Power, the head of the US's development agency.
If Ethiopian and Eritrean troops took control of them during the current offensive there was "significant risk of further assaults and killings being perpetrated against civilians", the US Aid chief said.
"The staggering human cost of this conflict should shock the world's conscience," she added.
A resident of Tigray's main city of Mekelle told the BBC there was almost no food in the city. He said small amounts of the staple grain, teff, were being sold - at more than three times last year's price. Drones are flying overhead constantly, terrifying the population.
Kjetil Tronvoll, a professor in conflict studies at the Oslo New University College in Norway, says World War One tactics are being used by Ethiopia's and Eritrea's infantry forces who are pushing "massive human waves" on Tigrayan defensive lines. The analyst said that in his opinion the world's biggest ongoing armed conflict was currently not Russia's attack on Ukraine, but the Ethiopian and Eritrean operation against Tigray.
He suggested that up to one million soldiers were engaged in the offensive. "The carnage is horrendous. Likely as many as 100,000 have been slaughtered over the last weeks," he noted. Ethiopia and Eritrea blame Tigray's TPLF group for starting the conflict in November 2020.
UK-based Horn of Africa analyst Abdurahman Sayed estimates that between 700,000 and 800,000 people have already lost their lives in almost two years of fighting. "This is the most brutal war in the history of Ethiopia," he said.
Oct. 2022
Ethiopia: UN chief ‘gravely concerned’ by escalation in fighting across Tigray. (UN News)
The UN Secretary-General has issued a statement expressing grave concern over the escalation of fighting in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, where Government troops and separatist forces have been locked in conflict since November 2020.
The latest surge in violence began in August, after a fragile five-month humanitarian truce, which has halted aid deliveries into the northern Ethiopian region, where at least five million civilians are in need of aid.
Aid distribution continues to be hampered by a lack of fuel, and a communications shutdown across Tigray, while Tigrayan commanders have claimed that Eritrea has launched an offensive in support of Ethiopian Government forces, according to news reports.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in the statement issued by his Spokeperson, that the upsurge in fighting was having “a devastating impact on civilians in what is already a dire humanitarian situation”.
He is calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities. “The Secretary-General reiterates his full support to an African Union led mediation process and reaffirms the United Nations readiness to support the urgent resumption of talks in order to reach a lasting political settlement to this catastrophic conflict.”
Just last month, African Union-mediated talks were due to take place in South Africa, but were postponed.
Hundreds of thousands have been displaced in Tigray as well as neighbouring northern regions of Amhara and Afar, while tens of thousands are believed to have been killed. Millions of lives are being impacted by the conflict.
In a humanitarian update on 4 October, UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric, said the situation in the northern parts of the country remains fluid, continuing to endanger and displace people. It is estimated that the fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children in parts of Tigray, Afar and Amhara regions, and is impacting the lives and livelihoods of millions living in conflict-affected areas.
Our humanitarian colleagues are telling us that large parts of Tigray region and several areas in Amhara and Afar are still inaccessible due to the reported ongoing fighting, which is hindering humanitarian access to people in need, including many thousands of displaced people.
Despite security concerns, access restrictions and lack of resources, our humanitarian partners continue to respond in areas they can access in the three regions.
Aug. 2022 (Reuters, agencies)
The nearly two-year conflict in Northern Ethiopia has left almost half the population of the Tigray region without adequate food, as aid groups struggle to reach rural areas because of insufficient fuel supplies, the World Food Programme (WFP) says.
Even though the delivery of aid resumed after the federal government declared a unilateral ceasefire in March, malnutrition rates have "skyrocketed" and are expected to worsen, the United Nations agency said in an assessment.
Services such as banking and telecommunications were cut in Tigray, home to about 5.5 million people, days after the national army and allied forces pulled out a year ago. They are yet to be restored, hampering the ability of people to buy food, the WFP said.
"Hunger has deepened, rates of malnutrition have skyrocketed, and the situation is set to worsen as people enter peak hunger season until this year's harvest in October," the WFP report said.
Half of pregnant or lactating women in Tigray are malnourished, as well as a third of children under five, leading to stunting and maternal death, the report found.
Across Tigray and the neighbouring regions of Afar and Amhara, also affected by the war, an estimated 13 million people need food aid, a 44 per cent increase from the previous WFP report released in January.
The United Nations said that since April 1 only 1,750,000 litres of fuel had entered Tigray, less than 20 per cent of the monthly humanitarian needs in the region. Last week, EU and US envoys urged the Ethiopian government to swiftly resume services and lift restrictions on fuel essential for aid distribution. Banking services and all communications have been cut off to the state by the Ethiopian administration since last year, with 6 million people denied access to their own money.
Hopes for imminent peace talks between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's government and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), the party that controls Tigray, are fading, as both parties accuse the other of not wanting to come to the negotiating table. The Ethiopian prime minister has been accused of imposing a de facto blockade on Tigray and preventing aid from getting through.
In March, the Ethiopian government declared a “humanitarian truce” after months of international pressure. Thousands of people have died since war broke out in November 2020, between Ethiopia’s federal government and the TPFL, the ruling forces in Tigray, and millions need food assistance.
2 Apr. 2022
A convoy of aid trucks has entered Tigrayan-controlled Ethiopian territory for the first time in over three months, reports the World Food Program. (DW,agencies)
Aid trucks entered Tigrayan-held territory in Ethiopia on Friday, the World Food Program (WFP) announced. The UN food agency said it was the first time since December 15 that its convoys had been able to enter areas controlled by Tigrayan forces.
WFP's dedicated Ethiopia account noted: "Just arrived in Erepti and will soon cross into Tigray, bringing in over 500 mt [metric tons] of urgently needed WFP/partner food and nutrition supplies for communities on edge of starvation.. We expect to be in Mekelle soon. Another convoy with over 1,000mt of food is arriving into Northern Afar this afternoon to deliver to communities in dire need," according to the WFP. Mekelle is the Tigray region's capital, and Erepti is one of the six districts of the neighboring Afar region.
Malnutrition and food insecurity are at alarming levels in northern Ethiopia, according to the WFP. An estimated 9 million people in Tigray, Amhara and the Afar regions require food assistance due to the country's civil war.
Supplies of food in Tigray are "minimal," according to a recent report by the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The main road between Afar's regional capital, Semera, and Tigray has been blocked since the middle of December.
Government officials deny the accusations. The UN repeatedly called on the national Government to get aid into the north of the country and has called food shortages there "man-made."
In November 2020, war broke out in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The central government in Addis Ababa has been fighting rebels aligned with the political party in control of the Tigray region, the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) for the last 17 months. In the past week, Addis Ababa has declared an immediate unilateral truce to permit aid into the Tigray region, though matters of enforcement remained unclear.
1/4/2022 OCHA: Ethiopia.
This is the first time that the UN and partners have been able to move aid into Tigray by road since mid-December. Teams have also reached communities in Afar region with desperately needed food assistance.
It is critical that we now see sustained deliveries of relief supplies, fuel and cash into Tigray, and the continued expansion of the response in conflict-affected areas in Afar and Amhara.
Shortages of supplies, fuel and cash have severely undermined the ability of humanitarian organizations to respond to the increasingly acute situation in Tigray. Only about 1.2 million people have received food assistance in the past 5-and-a-half months, while more than 5 million should be assisted every 6 weeks.
During the past week, some 27,000 people received humanitarian health services though close to 4 million are in need of such support.
Lack of fuel also limits our ability to get these supplies from Mekelle to where they are needed. During the past week, the UN and NGOs were able to bring in limited amounts of cash into Tigray to support operations, after more than two weeks without clearance to get cash in. With banking services still suspended – along with other services like telecommunications and electricity – it is extremely challenging to pay local staff and procure items locally.
In Afar, insecurity continues to constrain access to many people displaced by recent fighting. Assistance is continuing in accessible areas, with the UN and partners providing food support to some 62,000 people during the past week. Since late February, close to 30 percent of the 630,000 people targeted have received food assistance. In Amhara, the UN and NGO partners distributed food to more than 726,000 people during the past week.
ICRC resumes aid convoys to Tigray after six months
An International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) convoy carrying medical assistance, food and water treatment supplies arrived in the Tigray region on Saturday, 2nd April 2022, through Afar. This is the first ICRC convoy reaching the region by road since September 2021.
"Many people affected by the conflict in Tigray live in extremely challenging conditions, unable to access healthcare, sufficient food supplies, and basic goods and services," said Nicolas Von Arx, the head of the ICRC delegation in Ethiopia. "In addition, a lack of medication and medical equipment has placed enormous strain on the region's health-care system and medical staff."
"The ICRC welcomes the current ceasefire and the willingness of the parties to the conflict to facilitate passage of much-needed humanitarian aid into Tigray," he added. "It is vital that the assistance keeps reaching the region on a regular basis."
The ICRC convoy carried medicines, medical equipment, emergency food, water pumps and water treatment chemicals, along with essential household items.


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