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UN in Ukraine ‘appalled and saddened’ at deadly airstrikes and attacks

According to news reports, Russian airstrikes targeted the capital Kyiv for the third time in four days, following on from what Russian authorities said was an assassination attempt by drone strike, on President Vladimir Putin, earlier on Wednesday.

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Ukrainian authorities, who deny any involvement in the drone incident in Moscow, said Thursday morning’s large-scale attack on Kyiv was repulsed by the city’s air defences without casualties. There were drone explosions in the southern coastal city of Odesa, news reports said.

“We are extremely concerned for the plight of civilians after almost a week of nightly airstrikes and attacks which have killed and injured dozens of people”, Humanitarian Coordinator Matthew Hollingworth said.

Critical infrastructure has also been destroyed, compounding the dire humanitarian situation, he added.

Carnage in Kherson

Mr. Hollingworth said it was “particularly alarming to see how dozens were killed or injured in Kherson, when a train station and a supermarket where people buy their groceries, were hit during the busiest hours of the day.”

More than 20 were killed due to Russian shelling nearly the southern Ukrainian city, according to news reports, with over 45 people injured. Those who died included three engineers who were trying to repair damage inflicted by earlier attacks.

“We share the grief of families who have lost loved ones and wish a quick recovery to those injured”, said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator.

Ukrainian troops recaptured the city of Kherson last November, following some eight months of Russian occupation, but shelling continues from across the Dnipro River.

Briefing journalists in New York on Thursday, UN Deputy Spokesperson, Farhan Haq, said that in eastern Ukraine, a power plant was reportedly hit close to the front line of the fighting, cutting energy supplies for around 100,000, according to the Ukrainian Government.

‘Humanitarian crisis’ in Marinka

“Our colleagues on the ground also warn about the humanitarian crisis in the area surrounding Marinka, in the Donetsk region. Here, some 5,000 civilians – according to the colleagues – are enduring heavy ground fighting and hostilities that have escalated over the past two months”, Mr Haq continued.

The UN humanitarian coordination office, OCHA, issued a flash update warning that the crisis was “rapidly unfolding”, across the contested area, where heavy ground fighting has “dramatically escalated over the past two months.”

OCHA said the neighbouring communities of Kurakhove and Vuhledar, home to a further 24,000 civilians – were also impacted, both due to the violence and pressure over limited services and resources, with people taking refuge there from other parts of Donetsk.

So far, the UN and partners have provided 13 truckloads of humanitarian aid for the three communities, targeting around 15,000 in need.

Deminers try to clear a previously occupied area near the front line between Mykolaiv and Kherson, in Ukraine.
© UNOCHA/Oleksandr Ratushniak

Deminers try to clear a previously occupied area near the front line between Mykolaiv and Kherson, in Ukraine.

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