In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the fog of war is extending to those who are trying to help the beleaguered Ukrainians.
With ports blocked and roads made treacherous by bombings, charities currently can’t send humanitarian aid into Ukraine through normal channels, though both countries agreed Thursday to create corridors to allow those donations to be delivered. The International Committee of the Red Cross has expressed worry that Russian attacks being carried out in densely populated areas are imperiling children, the sick and the elderly.
Yet the complexities of the conflict haven’t stopped aid from reaching Ukrainians. The United Nations says much of the humanitarian effort are now based in neighboring countries to support roughly 1.4 million Ukrainians who have fled the country, mostly to Poland, Hungary and Romania. But charities are also working to send aid to Ukraine itself.
The scale of need is enormous. On Tuesday, the United Nations issued an appeal for $1.7 billion to help with aid efforts, estimating that 12 million people in Ukraine and 4 million refugees could be in need of relief and protection in the coming months.
Filippo Grandi, chief of the UN refugee agency, said his agency had already received more than $40 million in private donations from individuals and companies.
Many corporations have committed to help. Amazon pledged $5 million to the UN’s refugee agency and other humanitarian organizations and plans to match up to $5 million more in donations made by its employees. Snapchat announced $15 million for humanitarian support. Airbnb offered free housing” to up to 100,000 refugees and is waiving its fees on the grassroots movement of people booking stays in Ukrainian homes, with no plans of using them, to get money quickly into the accounts of hosts. And Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has pledged $10 million toward aid.
Cryptocurrencies donations themselves have emerged as a leading form of aid. Samuel Bankman-Fried, CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX, said his company gave $25 to “each Ukrainian” on FTX.
“Do what you gotta do,” he wrote.
Elliptic, a company that tracks cryptocurrency transactions, said that as of Friday, $56.2 million in digital currencies had been donated to Ukraine’s government and to Come Back Alive, a Ukrainian organization that says it trains and supplies ammunition to Ukraine’s military.
Come Back Alive is set to receive support from a crypto fundraising campaign, Ukraine DAO, that was organized in part by the punk protest group Pussy Riot. The organizer tweeted Wednesday they had raised just over 2,258 ether, equivalent to about $6.7 million.
“This is the first time that we’re seeing sort of a public concerted effort to raise funds to finance an ongoing conflict through cryptocurrency,” said Chris DePow, a regulation and compliance expert at Elliptic.
Inevitably, scammers appear to be trying to profit off the crisis. Elliptic said in a blog post that it had identified crypto fundraising scams that solicited aid for Ukraine.
“If the funds are being raised directly by the government through a publicly announced appeal, or if the funds are being raised through a third-party reputable organization that’s known to be active in this space, that’s probably a safer bet,” DePow said.
As of Wednesday, Meta said, more than $20 million had been raised on its Facebook and Instagram platforms for nonprofits that support humanitarian aid.
Maria Genkin, a board member with the American nonprofit Razom, which was established to help Ukrainians after Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of Crimea, said her group has generated donations through their Facebook and Instagram fundraisers to send supplies to Poland.
The usual delivery trucks and other shipping methods, Genkin said, have either been halted or made more dangerous by the war. So supporters are building their own system.
“It’s a system of volunteers essentially crowdsourcing delivery,” she said. “There will be a lot of private cars bringing supplies from Warsaw to Lviv.”
Razom says it would prefer that people donate directly to the Ukrainian Armed Forces through an account opened by the National Bank of Ukraine. But Genkin said she recognizes that many nonprofits cannot give directly give to the military because of tax restrictions and that many donors may object to funding another country’s armed forces.
For that reason, Razom will continue to collect donations for humanitarian aid for Ukraine. It also plans to raise awareness for campaigns to create a no-fly zone over Ukraine and upcoming protests, including one Saturday in New York’s Times Square.
“We’re finding a lot of little things that we can do that add up to big things,” Genkin said.
That’s Nova Ukraine’s plan as well. The American nonprofit, which provides humanitarian aid and raises awareness of Ukrainian issues in the United States, initially planned to collect clothing and other aid and ship it to the country. However, with Ukraine’s ports cut off by Russian forces, that is no longer an option. Igor Markov, one of Nova Ukraine’s directors, said the group will work to send what they have collected to Ukrainian refugee camps in neighboring countries, as well as prepare for ongoing refugee support.
Elsewhere in the US, the Jewish organization UJA-Federation of New York spent the past month preparing for different scenarios with its Ukrainian partners, some of whom had been storing two to three months’ worth of food as a precaution. Once the invasion occurred, said Deborah Joselow, the group’s chief planning officer, the federation managed to quickly deploy $3 million in emergency grants to provide humanitarian support and other aid to roughly 200,000 Jews living in Ukraine.
The initial grants are slated to help their partners — at least 15, with many more affiliates — provide food and medicine for the elderly, Holocaust survivors, people with disabilities and other vulnerable populations. The organization said it’s been receiving inquiries from community activists and others who have taken shelter in bunkers in Odessa and in metro stations across Ukraine.
“They’re scared,” Joselow said. “They’re really, really scared.”
Charities struggle to deliver humanitarian aid into Ukraine
Charities struggle to deliver humanitarian aid into Ukraine
- With ports blocked and roads made treacherous by bombings, charities currently can’t send humanitarian aid into Ukraine through normal channels
In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the fog of war is extending to those who are trying to help the beleaguered Ukrainians.
UN lifts arms embargo on Somali forces
- “The lifting of the arms embargo enables us to confront security threats, including those posed by Al-Shabab,” he said
UNITED NATIONS, United States: The UN Security Council on Friday completely lifted an arms embargo on Somali government forces, but continued to maintain sanctions against the Al-Shabab jihadist group.
The UN implemented a general arms embargo on Somalia in 1992, but has since largely eased it in regards to Somali forces.
The embargo did not apply to deliveries of weapons for the development of Somali security forces, although the UN committee overseeing the sanctions had to be notified and could object to certain heavy weapons.
A first resolution adopted unanimously Friday lifted the general embargo, removing the last restrictions on the Somali government.
A second resolution reimposed the arms embargo on Al-Shabab, maintaining the ban on delivery of weapons, ammunition and military equipment to the Islamist group and “other actors intent on undermining peace and security in Somalia.”
Somali ambassador Abukar Dahir Osman welcomed the moves.
“The lifting of the arms embargo enables us to confront security threats, including those posed by Al-Shabab,” he said.
“It also allows us to bolster the capacity of the Somali security forces by accessing lethal arms and equipment to adequately safeguard our citizens and our nation.”
After making significant progress, Somalia’s offensive against Al-Shabab has stalled for months, raising concerns about the government’s capacity to crush the 16-year insurgency led by the Al-Qaeda-linked militants.
The Somali army, in alliance with clan militias, has been supported by troops from the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) in recapturing vast areas of the territory.
UN resolutions call for the ATMIS force to be reduced to zero by the end of next year, handing over security to the Somali army and police.
However, the government requested in September a three-month “technical pause” in the pullout of 3,000 troops.
The drawdown of those troops “will conclude as scheduled on December 31 of 2023,” the Somali envoy said, adding that the government was committed to the country’s forces taking over security responsibilities “within the agreed timelines.”
Sanchez says Israel is a ‘friend’ of Spain
- “I reaffirmed that Spain considers the death of civilians in Gaza unbearable and that Israel must respect international humanitarian law,” Sanchez added
MADRID: Israel is “a friend of Spain,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Friday, a day after Israel recalled its envoy to Madrid over “outrageous remarks” he made regarding the country’s military campaign in Gaza.
The Socialist premier, one of the most critical voices within the European Union regarding Israel, at the same time stood by his position regarding Israel’s campaign, which has sparked tension between Madrid and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in recent days.
In a message posted on X, formerly Twitter, Sanchez said he had “reiterated that Israel is a partner and friend of Spain” in a telephone conversation with Israeli former defense minister and current war cabinet member, Benny Gantz.
“Once again, I condemned the Hamas terrorist attacks of October 7,” he said, before adding “Israel has the right to defend itself.”
“But I reaffirmed that Spain considers the death of civilians in Gaza unbearable and that Israel must respect international humanitarian law,” Sanchez added.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Thursday he was recalling the country’s envoy to Spain for consultations in Jerusalem “because of the outrageous remarks by the Spanish prime minister, who again repeated baseless claims.”
Speaking to Spanish public television on Thursday, Sanchez said he had “serious doubts” that Israel is complying with international humanitarian law in its military campaign in Gaza given the “images we are seeing and the growing number of people dying, especially boys and girls.”
Israel has also recalled its ambassadors from Turkiye and South Africa following remarks by those countries’ leaders over the war in Gaza.
Hamas broke through Gaza’s militarised border with Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and seizing around 240 Israeli and foreign hostages, according to Israeli officials.
Israel has vowed to “crush” Hamas in response and unleashed a withering military campaign that Gaza’s Hamas government says has killed more than 15,000 people in the coastal territory.
Protester in Atlanta sets self on fire outside Israeli consulate
- The United States has seen an uptick in Anti-Semitic, anti-Arab and Islamophobic threats and violence since the start of Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza in October
WASHINGTON: A protester outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta was in critical condition Friday after setting themself on fire, in what police said was likely an “extreme” political statement.
“A Palestinian flag was reported at the location and was part of the protest,” said Darin Schierbaum, police chief of the southern US city.
He said the incident was “likely an extreme act of political protest.”
A security guard was also injured after trying to stop the protester, according to emergency first responders.
“Both individuals sustained burns,” Atlanta Fire Chief Roderick Smith told journalists.
He did not specify the age or gender of the protester.
“The security guard noticed that the individual was attempting to set themselves afire” shortly after the protester arrived outside the consulate building around noon (1700 GMT), Smith said.
The guard “immediately attempted but failed to stop the individual.”
The guard was burned on his wrist and leg, Smith said, while the protester was in critical condition with “full thickness” burns to their body. Both were taken to the hospital, he added.
“We actually have dedicated patrols that are occurring at this location and other Jewish and Muslim communities in the city,” Schierbaum added.
The United States has seen an uptick in Anti-Semitic, anti-Arab and Islamophobic threats and violence since the start of Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza in October.
Earlier this week a US man was charged with attempted murder over the shooting of three men of Palestinian descent in Vermont, and a six-year-old Palestinian-American boy was stabbed to death in Illinois in October.
Philippines builds new coast guard station on island in South China Sea
THITU ISLAND: The Philippines inaugurated a new coast guard monitoring base Friday on an island occupied by Filipino forces in the disputed South China Sea and plans to expand joint patrols with the US and Australia to counter China’s “pure bullying” in the strategic waterway, a Philippine security official said.
High-seas faceoffs between Chinese and Philippine ships have intensified this year in the contested waters, fueling fears of a larger conflict that could involve the US. The US has repeatedly warned that it’s obligated to defend the Philippines, its oldest treaty ally in Asia, if Filipino forces come under an armed attack, including in the South China Sea.
China has accused the US of meddling in an Asian dispute and sowing discord in the region.
National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano and other Philippine officials flew to Thitu Island on an air force plane on Friday and led a ceremony to open the newly constructed, two-story center that will have radar, ship-tracking and other monitoring equipment to monitor China’s actions in the hotly disputed waters and other problems, including sea accidents.
“It’s no longer gray zone. It’s pure bullying,” Ano told reporters after the seaside ceremony, describing the actions of Chinese ships as openly flouting international law.
Dwarfed by China’s military might, the Philippines decided this year to allow an expansion of the US military presence in its local camps under a 2014 defense pact.
It also recently launched joint sea and air patrols with the United States and Australia in a new deterrence strategy that puts the two allied powers on a collision course with Beijing.
Ano said the separate joint patrols involving the US and Australia would continue and could expand to include other nations like Japan once a security agreement being negotiated by Tokyo and Manila was concluded.
“We’re open to like-minded countries to join as observers or participants,” Ano said.
How does climate change affect farming and food security?
- As fossil fuel emissions heat the planet, they are driving extreme weather from heavy rains and droughts to heatwaves
- Such events can affect crops, ruin farmland and make it harder for farmers to work, threatening everyone’s access to food
LONDON: As impacts from prolonged droughts to extreme heat worsen, climate change is threatening the world’s ability to produce enough nutritious food and ensure everyone has access to it.
At COP28 in Dubai, more than 130 country leaders on Friday called for global and national food systems to be rethought to address climate change — the first such official recognition at a UN climate summit of growing worries about food security and planet-heating emissions from agriculture.
Here’s how global food systems and climate change affect each other, and what might be done about rising risks:
How is climate change threatening food security?
As fossil fuel emissions heat the planet, they are driving more extreme weather — from heavy rains and droughts to heatwaves — as well as gradual sea level rise. All can affect crops, ruin farmland and make it harder for farmers to work.
A warming climate also is bringing crop diseases and pests into new locations or making infestations more severe, ruining more harvests and reducing yields.
Such problems, combined with other pressures on food systems — from growing conflict to crop export restrictions by food-producing countries and speculation in markets — mean food is becoming less affordable and more people are going hungry.
The UN World Food Programme estimates that 333 million people face “acute” food insecurity in 2023 in the 78 countries where it works — a huge boost from about 200 million prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crop failures are not a new phenomenon, with surpluses in some regions long making up for shortfalls in others, but scientists fear stronger climate impacts could drive simultaneous failures across major global “breadbaskets,” resulting in a swift rise in global hunger.
What is being done to address these threats?
Around the world, many farmers are adapting to climate extremes in a variety of ways, from digging irrigation ponds to trap floodwater and store it for dry times, to adopting new climate-smart seeds and bringing back hardy traditional crops.
But some challenges — such as more frequent and extreme heatwaves that can make it difficult for farmers to work outside — are harder to counter.
Money to help small-scale farmers — who supply about a third of the world’s food — adapt to climate risks is also falling dramatically short.
In 2021, they received only about $2 billion, or 0.3 percent of total international climate finance from public and private sources, according to Amsterdam-based think-tank Climate Focus.
With little outside help available, many such farmers — who have contributed little to the emissions heating up the planet — are paying the costs of climate adaptation themselves.
The Climate Focus survey of 13 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America found nearly 440 million small-scale farmer households now spend about $368 billion annually on adaptation costs, or about $838 each per year.
Analysts say efforts to shore up global food security also need to reach well beyond farms, to try to rein in speculators in food markets, discourage export clampdowns and revamp increasingly overwhelmed humanitarian aid systems.
Can we find ways to grow more food to make up for the losses?
Expanding the amount of land being farmed — or boosting the use of fossil-fuel-based fertilizers and developing new crop varieties — have long been accepted ways to grow more food.
But agricultural land expansion often comes at the expense of forests and other natural ecosystems that are critical to conserve because their vegetation absorbs and stores climate-heating carbon dioxide emissions in order to grow, helping to curb climate change.
For example nearly 20 percent of the vast Amazon rainforest has now been lost, largely to soybean farming and cattle ranching.
Scientists fear additional deforestation could over time turn the forest into a dry savanna, imperiling rainfall for agriculture across South America — and sabotaging the world’s climate and biodiversity protection goals.
Efforts to intensify the amount of food grown on a set land area have shown some success but often require large amounts of expensive fossil fuel-based fertilizers.
In recent years, however, more environmentally friendly farming methods are gaining new adherents, from the United States to India.
But food analysts say the best way to increase global supplies is not to grow more but to reduce the huge amount of food wasted each year.
While the world produces enough food for everyone, about a third of it is lost or wasted along the supply chain from field to fork, according to the United Nations, which says the average person wastes 74 kg (163 lb) of food each year.