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Ukrainians face winter in damaged homes, under threat of air raids
Millions of civilians in Ukraine are facing an increasingly uncertain and dangerous future as winter conditions set in, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) has warned.
"Once-thriving communities are at risk of disintegrating under an increasingly protracted conflict" that has lasted more than 600 days, it added.
The NGO said "an unyielding barrage of shelling" had left an estimated 1.4 million homes in ruin or disrepair across east and south Ukraine.
Thousands of families have been forced to flee or left to shelter in damaged buildings lacking basic services, it continued.
As temperatures drop and public services come under increasing pressure, NRC estimated that at least 2.5 million people need vital humanitarian assistance to support them through winter. It said millions remain out of reach of aid in Russian-controlled areas.
“Millions of families are facing a growing winter nightmare here,” explained Jan Egeland, NRC Secretary General, on a visit to Ukraine this week. “The physical impact of aerial bombardment can be seen right across the towns and cities I have visited. And the mental impact on those who remain under this ever-present threat is just as striking. People have told me about the horror of watching their communities transformed into sites of destruction or battlegrounds.
“While glimpses of stability emerge in pockets of the country, the humanitarian landscape in the east and south remains bleak and is defined by relentless hostilities and fighting along the frontlines. We are deeply concerned for the future of those millions who are already dependent on support, given that winter has barely begun.”
Heavy fighting around Avdiivka, says Ukraine
The ruined eastern Ukrainian city Avdiivka was experiencing intense fighting as Moscow tried to press its forces forward, Ukraine's army said on Monday.
Russia has suffered heavy losses around the city and is ramping up its air bombardment, they added.
Ukrainian forces repelled Russian attacks in other areas of the 1,000km front line, Ukraine's army also claimed.
With Ukraine making only incremental gains in the east and south, Moscow launched an assault on Avdiivka - some 20 km from Russian-occupied Donetsk - in October.
Earlier this month, the Institute for the Study of War said Russian forces are likely preparing for another wave of highly attritional infantry-led ground assaults on Ukrainian positions in the area.
Russian UN envoys shoot back at Western criticism of Ukraine war
Western countries on Monday repeatedly called on Moscow to end its war in Ukraine and domestic repression of dissident voices, as Russia came under a regular review at the UN's top rights body.
A delegation from Moscow, led by State Secretary and Deputy Justice Minister Andrei Loginov, defended Russia's “special military operation” in Ukraine, saying it had “no relation to the subject matter" at issue in the review.
He also said Russia had a right to ensure law and order by restricting some forms of protest or voices that might threaten domestic security.
Monday's hearing in Geneva was part of an exercise known as the universal periodic review (UPR), which all UN member states face around every five years with the Human Rights Council.
Western countries during Monday's session denounced the deportation of Ukrainian children, Russia's crackdown on civil society and the arrest of rights defenders, including Alexei Navalny and Vladimir Kara-Murza. They also condemned Russia for curbing the rights of LGBTQI people and those protesting against the war.
“Where does one start? Since the last UPR, Russia’s repression at home has intensified, enabling its oppression overseas — not least the continuing atrocities in Ukraine," said Britain's ambassador in Geneva.
Ukrainian pilots trained on F-16s next year
The Ukrainian army will be able to train its pilots to operate F-16 fighter jets from early 2024 in Romania, where a training centre was inaugurated on Monday.
The programme will "most likely" begin at the beginning of next year, according to a spokesperson for the Dutch army, which is supplying the planes.
Ukraine - desperately wanting to use the jets on the front against Russia - welcomed the opening of the centre in its neighbour.
“This is a concrete and significant contribution to the air coalition,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy commented on X.
According to an agreement between NATO allies the Netherlands and Romania, the first five planes arrived last week. In total, 12 to 18 F-16s will be delivered.
With the support of the United States - which makes the military jet - Denmark and the Netherlands vowed in August to provide up to 61 aircraft once Ukrainian pilots were trained.
Romanian pilots will also be trained at the facility, with US defence giant Lockheed Martin supporting training and plane maintenance.
Amid almost daily Russian strikes across its entire territory, Kyiv has asked Western allies for several months to strengthen its air defences.
Posted on 14 Nov 2023 09:59 link