Global Review – 13th May

UN to deepen Ukraine war crimes inquiry

The UN Human Rights Council voted Thursday to deepen an investigation into alleged rights abuses by Russian forces near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and other regions of the country. Last March, the council established an international commission of inquiry to probe all human rights violations during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The vote on Thursday, at a special session of the council, passed a resolution urging the commission’s investigators to focus their efforts on incidents near Kyiv, as well as the regions of Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Sumy, all of which were occupied by Russian forces in late February and March. The measure passed with 33 votes in favour and only two countries – China and Eritrea – voting against. Russia was suspended from the council last month and has denied that its troops targeted civilians for abuse. In a video message to the council ahead of the vote, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet told member states, “The scale of unlawful killings, including indicia of summary executions in areas to the north of Kyiv, is shocking, The killings of civilians often appeared to be intentional, carried out by snipers and soldiers.” Turning to Mariupol, Bachelet said they estimate the civilian death toll there to lie in the thousands, but only time will tell the true scale of atrocities, casualties and damage. On Thursday the UN reported that there hadbeen at 7,326 civilian casualties with 3,541 killed and 3,785 injured across Ukraine.  But the top inter-governmental body has repeatedly warned these figures are likely significantly higher.

Russians destroyed 570 health facilities Zelensky

“Since the start of the war, Russian troops have destroyed 570 health facilities and completely destroyed 101 hospitals, Ukrainian President Zelensky said yesterday in his evening message to the nation. Zelensky also reported attacks on schools. However, he vowed that “all hospitals destroyed by the occupiers, all the schools, all the universities they bombed, all the houses, the bridges, the businesses… we will rebuild everything!”

Keep sanctions until Russia leaves Ukraine – UK

International sanctions against Russia should only be lifted when all of its troops have left Ukraine, the UK’s foreign secretary has said. Liz Truss told a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Germany that Russian President Vladimir Putin must face a defeat that prevents further aggression. “Putin is humiliating himself on the world stage,” she said, adding that he must be denied any benefit from his invasion of Ukraine. She also called for Ukraine to have increased access to Nato military equipment. G7 foreign ministers will meet again today with their Ukrainian and Moldovan counterparts.

‘Cluster and phosphorus bombs over Dnipropetrovsk’

Russian troops bombed the Kryvyi Rih district in the Dnipropetrovsk region in southeastern Ukraine all night, also using prohibited phosphorus and cluster munitions. The head of the military administration of Kryvyi Rih, Oleksandr Vilkul, reports  the Russians “bombed all night”. There was also a morning attack on Zelenodolsk, also in the Dnipropetrovsk oblast, with multiple rocket systems. Vilkul said one civilian was killed and another was wounded.

EU plan to get wheat from Ukraine to the world

The European Commission proposed helping Ukraine export its wheat and other grains by rail, road and river to get around a Russian blockade of Black Sea ports, which is preventing those critical supplies from reaching parts of the world at risk of food insecurity. EU commissioner for transport Adina Valean said the plan aims to establish alternative routes and ease congestion between borders that also should facilitate getting humanitarian aid and other goods into the war-torn country. The head of the European Investment Bank said this week that Ukraine was “sitting on €8 billion worth of wheat” it can’t export. In addition to the port blockade, Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has accused Russia of stealing grain and trying to sell some on global markets.

Russia threatens to stop gas in Finland

Following the announcement of the possible entry of Finland into NATO, Russia has informed Helsinki authorities it could cut gas supplies starting today. Finland’s entry into NATO would “certainly” be a threat to Russia, according to the Kremlin. Russia’s response to Finland’s entry into NATO “will depend on the proximity of the Alliance’s infrastructure to the Russian borders”, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS. Moscow, however, “will take the necessary measures to guarantee its own security”.

From 2035, ban on the sale of diesel and petrol engines

With 46 votes in favour and 40 against, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament has given the first OK to the proposal that from 2035 bans the sale of cars and trucks powered by petrol, diesel and LPG. The purpose of the project, the text of which will now be examined by Parliament’s plenary in June,is to favour the market for zero-emission vehicles. The project is part of the “Fit for 55” package which aims to cut CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by 55%.

Over two million COVID deaths in Europe

The death toll caused by the coronavirus in Europe has exceeded the two million mark, according tp the World Health Organization. Worst off is Russia, followed by the UK, Italy, France and Germany. Meanwhile, the White House announced that deaths from COVID-19 in the United States have exceeded the one million mark. President Joe Biden said in a statement: “We must remain vigilant and do everything we can to save as many lives as possible.”

Thousands infected in N. Korea COVID outbreak

North Korea says six people have died amid ‘explosive’ spread of fever – a day after acknowledging COVID-19 outbreak. The official Korean Central News Agency said 187,800 people were being “isolated and treated” for fever and was moving into “maximum emergency epidemic prevention system”. North Korea does not have any vaccines as it had refused to join global vaccine-sharing initiatives. The other is Eritrea.

Spain plans menstrual leave

Spain is planning to introduce medical leave for women who suffer from severe period pain. A draft bill says women could have three days of leave a month – extended to five in some circumstances. If passed, it would be the first such legal entitlement in Europe as only a handful of countries around the world have such legislation in place. The Spanish legislation is part of a much wider reproductive health reform which will include changes to the abortion laws.

Baby formula shortage gives Biden new headache

The White House vowed Thursday to take action to boost supplies of baby formula as President Biden was slammed by Republicans for crippling shortages nationwide. Last week the average out-  of-stock rate for baby formula was 43 percent. The administration, already under fire over the highest inflation rate in decades, said it was considering increasing imports, as the United States relies on domestic producers for 98 percent of the infant formula it consumes. Biden has asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into abuses linked to the shortage, including the resale of infant milk online at prices far above normal.

11 dead in USA migrant boat wrecks

The New York Times reports at least 11 people died and 31 were others rescued after the shipwreck off Puerto Rico of a boat that the US authorities suspect was carrying illegal migrants. The incident occurred about 16 km away from Desecheo Island, in Puerto Rican territory, the US Coast Guard reported. It was a border police plane that spotted the capsized boat and the occupants at sea, apparently without life jackets.

Israel approves 4,000 homes in Jewish settlements

Israel has approved more than 4,000 accommodations for Israelis residing in the West Bank. ‘Haaretz’ the status of three small Jewish outposts was also formalised, in one of which a hotel with 180 rooms will be built.

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