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World News in Brief: Shipwreck tragedy off Djibouti coast, drone attacks continue at Ukraine nuclear plant, Madagascar cyclone update

The incident took place at around 4 AM local time on Monday, about 200 meters offshore near the coastal town of Obock. 

Twenty-two people were rescued by local fishermen and are being given treatment and support by IOM, agency spokesperson Yvonne Ndege told UN News in an exclusive interview.

At least six others are missing and presumed dead. Around 66 migrants in total were onboard travelling across the Gulf of Aden, from Yemen to Djibouti.

Well-travelled route

Every year thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa, especially Ethiopia and Somalia, leave their homes in a bid to reach Gulf countries for work, travelling through Djibouti and across the Gulf of Aden.

But many find themselves stranded in Yemen, facing severe hardships amidst the ongoing war and economic crisis there. 

They are also at risk of abuse by smugglers and traffickers and have to contend with perilous sea journeys on their way back. 

“With reference to this latest tragedy these were migrants from the Horn of Africa predominantly from Ethiopia who were traveling back to Djibouti,” Ms. Ndege said.

Further drone attack on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant an ‘ominous development’

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A further drone attack on Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia marks an “ominous development” and a major worsening of safety and security, the head of the UN atomic watchdog, the IAEA, said on Tuesday.

Director General Rafael Grossi said the agency’s team of experts stationed at the plant – who verified the impact of several such attacks on the Russian-occupied plant on Sunday – reported hearing bursts of rifle fire followed by a loud explosion at 11:05am local time.

This was the same time that the plant later said an incoming drone had detonated on the roof of the facility’s training centre.

The incident adds to deepening concern over the already highly precarious nuclear safety and security situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the ZNPP, which has been shelled several times since the conflict started in February 2022 and lost all off-site power eight times.

The training centre is located just outside the site perimeter, around half a kilometre from reactor unit 1, and the incident did not pose any threat to nuclear safety and security at the ZNPP, whose six reactors have all been shut down for the past 20 months.

‘Playing with fire’

However, there are ZNPP staff routinely present there. The IAEA team requested immediate access to the building to assess the possible impact but was informed that the military security situation did not allow it. 

“Today’s reported incident – although outside the site perimeter – is an ominous development as it indicates an apparent readiness to continue these attacks, despite the grave dangers they pose to nuclear safety and security and our repeated calls for military restraint”, said Mr. Grossi.

“Whoever is behind them, they are playing with fire. Attacking a nuclear power plant is extremely irresponsible and dangerous, and it must stop,” he added. 

Over 200,000 need humanitarian aid following Madagascar cyclone

An estimated 220,000 people require immediate humanitarian assistance due to the catastrophic impact of Tuesday’s tropical cyclone Gamane in northeast Madagascar.

The storm made landfall on March 27 in the northeast of Madagascar, wreaking havoc in the regions of Analanjirofo, Diana, Atsinanana, and Sava. 

“The cyclone exacerbates the hardships of populations already burdened by multiple crises,” said Roger Charles Evina, IOM Chief of Mission in Madagascar. 

“El Nino conditions resulted in erratic rainfalls in the past months, with populations in the Grand Sud bracing for a severe drought, while Tropical Storm Alvaro in January and excessive rainfall in February have resulted in major flooding in the north and southwestern regions, affecting close to 52,000 people.”  

In response to the devastation caused, IOM participated in a joint aerial assessment conducted on 30 March by humanitarian partners and the National Office for Risks and Disaster Management.

Initial reports indicate that over 535,000 people have been affected across 33 flooded communes, with 18 people killed and 22,000 persons displaced. 

Close to 19,000 homes were flooded and extensive damage are reported on roads and essential infrastructures, including 22 health centres and 135 schools.

More than 2,200 hectares of rice fields face the risk of being silted, jeopardising livelihoods of populations across the affected areas. 

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