Ukraine: UN aid reaches Soledar region as IAEA tightens security measures at nuclear sites

Ukraine: UN aid reaches Soledar region as IAEA tightens security measures at nuclear sites

Jens Laerke of the United Nations Aid Coordination Office, OCHAsaid three trucks had been allowed access to areas under Ukrainian government control just a few kilometers from the hotly contested city in the Donbass region, which has been an intense battlefield, as Russian forces seek to advance on the strategically important town of Bakhmut.

He told reporters at Friday’s briefing in Geneva that the convoy was made up of fFood, water, hygiene kits, medicine and other medical suppliesprovided by United Nations agencies.

“It is for 800 people who remain in this area,” he said, “which has seen its share of hostilities and massive destruction. So, people urgently need help therewe are therefore happy that this convoy has actually reached (its destination).

More convoys are expected in the coming days and OCHA spokesman Laerke said the UN and partners are working to increase inter-agency relief operations in areas near the lines. front in Ukraine, where the needs are acute.

IAEA ‘expands and intensifies’ nuclear safety efforts

On another key front and cause for international concern over the battle for Ukraine, the head of the UN-backed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, briefed President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Thursday on “the expansion and intensification of the agency’s activities…to help Ukraine ensure nuclear safety and the safety of its nuclear installations”.

He told the The Ukrainian leader said several permanent IAEA expert missions had been established across the country this week, according to a press release issued on Friday.

They also continued discussions on the creation of a nuclear security and safety protection zone around the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant (ZNPP), the largest in Europe, which was the the target of repeated gunfire in recent months, triggering growing nuclear safety and security concerns.

Mr. Grossi pointed out that the area was essential to prevent a serious nuclear accident and said he would continue his efforts to achieve this.

“Everyone agrees that the factory – located on the front line in an area of ​​active combat – must be protected, but these are very complex negotiations. I won’t stop until the area we so desperately need is a reality. I will continue my intensive consultations with Ukraine and the Russian Federation in the days and weeks ahead,” he said.

The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

The Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

“Daily Dangers” in Zaporizhzhya

“This major nuclear power plant continues to face daily dangers. Our team continues to hear explosions near the site, including two on Thursday,” he added.

“Across Ukraine – from north to south – this week has seen a major expansion in IAEA field support to the country’s efforts to prevent a serious nuclear accident during the war. At Ukraine’s request, the IAEA flag now flies over these important nuclear facilities.

For the first time, our best experts will be permanently present in all Ukrainian nuclear power plants as well as the Chernobyl site. Their vital work will help reduce the very real nuclear dangers facing the country,” Director General Grossi said.

In the coming days, a team of IAEA experts will also be stationed at the Khmelnitsky plant, west of the capital Kyiv.

The IAEA, “here to stay”

With IAEA teams permanently present at all Ukrainian nuclear power plants and at the Chernobyl site, the Agency will have at least 11 nuclear safety and security experts simultaneously in the country, an unprecedented commitment by the organization.

“We are determined to do everything in our power to reduce the risk of a nuclear disaster during this tragic war,” said the head of the IAEA. “This week has been an important milestone in our efforts in this regard. But the work is far from over. The IAEA is here to stay, as long as we are needed”.

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