TIME South Sudan

South Sudan Militant Group to Release 3,000 Child Soldiers

UNICEF Child soldiers at Cobra camp in Gumuruk, South Sudan go to a demobilization ceremony.

UNICEF calls it "one of the largest ever demobilizations of children."

Nearly three hundred children between ages 11 and 17 laid down their arms Tuesday, in the first step of an ambitious program to reintegrate some 3,000 child soldiers in South Sudan, according to UNICEF.

The children are members of the South Sudan Democratic Army Cobra Faction, a militant group in eastern Sudan whose leader, David Yau Yau, signed a peace agreement with the government last year amid ongoing violence in the country.

UNICEF, which helped broker the children’s release, said it would mark one of the largest demobilization of children soldiers ever. It expects the full handover to take weeks.

“These children have been forced to do and see things no child should ever experience,” UNICEF South Sudan Representative Jonathan Veitch said in a statement.

Since fighting broke out between President Salva Kiir and supporters of Vice President Riek Machar in December 2013, the country—which broke off from Sudan, its northern neighbor, in 2011—has been embroiled in a conflict between the government and rebel groups that has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced some 1.5 million others.

But the conflict has taken a disproportionate toll on children, forcing some 400,000 students out of school and prompting a surge in the number of child soldiers, according to Ettie Higgins, the deputy representative for UNICEF in South Sudan. Since the fighting began, an estimated 12,000 children have been recruited to fight with armed groups on both sides.

Now UNICEF and other organizations, in conjunction with the government, are aiming to return those children to their families.

“They’re happy to give their gun up and they just want to go to school,” Higgins said in a telephone interview from South Sudan after the first group of 280 children were released. “That’s been the key message we’re getting.”

UNICEF and its partner organizations said they will provide counseling and health care to the children as they attempt to reunite them with their families. The aid groups are also working with local communities, which have agreed to welcome back the children recruited by the Cobra Faction, to prevent discrimination and limit the chances that the children are again recruited.

But UN officials stress that the program risks stalling if funding dries up. UNICEF, which is appealing for $10 million in funding, says the process of reintigrating the children costs roughly $2,330 a child over two years.

“At the risk of sounding like other conflict zones, we don’t want to lose another generation here,” Higgins said. “These children, despite everything they’ve gone through, they’re still looking to the future. We mustn’t let them down.”

TIME Aviation

Search for AirAsia Wreckage Ends

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Adek Berry—AFP/Getty Images An Indonesian rescue helicopter flies over the Crest Onyx ship as divers (R in rubber boats) conduct operations to lift the tail of AirAsia QZ8501 in the Java Sea on January 9, 2015.

Searchers have found 70 of the 162 bodies

Indonesia’s military suspended a search effort for a downed AirAsia flight in the Java Sea on Tuesday, drawing to a close a 30-day effort to retrieve bodies from the wreckage.

“We apologize to the families of the victims,” Rear Adm. Widodo said, according to Reuters. “We tried our best to look for the missing victims.”

Divers with the Indonesian military have struggled against strong currents and murky water conditions to retrieve bodies from the wreckage site, submerged some 100 feet below sea level. Officials said they had retrieved 70 bodies to date from the wreckage site, and no bodies were known to remain in the fuselage, the New York Times reports.

The plane had 162 people on board when it crashed last month.

TIME U.K.

Putin’s ‘Mafia State’ Under Examination in U.K. Inquest Into Spy’s Radioactive Death

BRITAIN-RUSSIA-BRITAIN-POLITICS-SPY-CRIME-FILES
Martin Hayhow—AFP/Getty Images Former Russian intelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko is seen on Sept. 14, 2004.

The High Court in London opens a 10-week hearing into the 2006 death of the former Russian intelligence officer and MI6 informant Alexander Litvinenko

It took Alexander Litvinenko 23 painful days to die. It has taken another agonizing 2,987 days for the British government to open a public inquiry into his murder, a process that cannot deliver justice to the victim, his widow Marina or son Anatoly, but may at least provide an official account of events leading up to his death. As he lay dying after ingesting radioactive polonium-210, Litvinenko blamed the Kremlin. The Kremlin rejected blame. Britain for eight years dragged its heels, reluctant to push for answers that might complicate its relations with Russia.

Yet the evidence expected to unfold at the High Court in London over the next 10 weeks is likely to reveal not only an intricate web of relationships between spies and diplomats, Kremlin loyalists and dissidents, but also a startlingly simple truth. Russia, in the era of Vladimir Putin, has rarely proven susceptible to diplomacy.

That realization may finally have helped to sway Britain’s Home Secretary Theresa May from her 2013 refusal to hold a public inquiry. An inquest into Litvinenko’s death had already been abandoned apparently for fear of causing a breach with Moscow. In a letter explaining her decision to block the inquiry the coroner had recommended in its place, May cited concerns over the potential impact on “international relations.” Last summer, however, May revealed a change of heart. Her announcement of a public inquiry came less than a week after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, an act Ukraine (and much of the rest of the world) attributed to pro-Russian separatists. Russia accused Ukraine. Whitehall sources told the BBC that the timing of the May’s announcement was “a coincidence.” That may be true, but Britain has substantially toughened its stance toward Russia since then, as have other Western countries including the U.S. where on Monday an alleged Russian spy was arrested in New York.

Litvinenko’s strange tale speaks to a world in which the public handshakes between country leaders count for little. In 1998 he broke ranks with his then employer, Russia’s spy service the FSB, alleging a state-sanctioned plot to assassinate the Kremlin-insider-turned-critic Boris Berezovsky (whose eventual death, last March, raised questions, attracting an open verdict). Litvinenko sought asylum in the U.K. in 2000 and forged close links with Berezovsky and other figures unpopular with the Kremlin, including the investigative journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, slain just weeks before Litvinenko. But he also retained friendships with some of his former colleagues and during a meeting at a London hotel with two such men, Andrei Lugovoi and Dmitry Kovtun, allegedly drank tea spiked with polonium-210. Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service named the pair as suspects in the killing, respectively in 2007 and 2012. Both men deny involvement and Russia has continued to refuse their extradition.

The polonium apparently left traces that enabled the Metropolitan Police to trace its progress around London. On the first morning of the public inquiry, Robin Tam QC, counsel to the inquiry, revealed that there may have been an earlier attempt to poison Litvinenko in October 2006 that failed. The inquiry will seek to reveal many other hitherto invisible trails and connections but key parts of the evidence will also be heard in secret. Britain may be more willing to risk Kremlin anger than it used to be, but details of Litvinenko’s later work as an informant to the British foreign intelligence service MI6 will not be publicly aired, and other matters deemed diplomatically sensitive will also be considered in private.

Despite these strictures, Litvinenko’s widow Marina, who campaigned for the inquiry, told broadcaster Sky News that she hopes the process will lead to the truth. The inquiry will weigh alternative theories: might Litvinenko have died at the hand of agencies other than the Russian state, such as organized criminals, Chechen separatists, Berezovsky’s associates, the British secret services or even by his own hand? Ben Emmerson, the counsel representing Marina Litvinenko, gave an opening speech to the inquiry forcefully rejecting these scenarios. “The startling truth, which is going to be revealed in public by the evidence in this inquiry,” he said, “is that a significant part of Russian organized crime is organized directly from the offices of the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin’s Russia is a mafia state.” Marina Litvinenko told Sky News a key part of the truth is already clear: “I know my husband was killed, I saw how it happened. It was a torture. He died a long 23 days in front of me, in front of his son, in front of his friends.”

TIME Middle East

ISIS Still Strong Despite Major Defeat in Kobani

Kurdish people hold a picture of a fighter during a celebration rally near the Turkish-Syrian border at Suruc, Turkey on Jan. 27, 2015. The fighter was killed in battle with Islamic state militants in Kobani.
Bulent Kilic—AFP/Getty Images People hold a picture of a Kurdish fighter—killed during a battle with ISIS—during a celebration rally near the Turkish-Syrian border in Suruc, Turkey, on Jan. 27, 2015.

ISIS boasted about their control of Kobani last year but despite being expelled from the town they still hold land and resources

Kurdish fighters may have declared victory in a 134-day battle for Kobani and described it as the beginning of the end for the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) but the group continues to hold large parts of both countries and the countryside that surrounds Kobani.

The loss of Kobani is certainly a setback for the jihadists, who first targeted the strategic crossing point between Syria and Turkey last year, long before the town took on symbolic status as a focus of resistance against the seemingly unstoppable insurgents.

With the support of air strikes by the U.S. and its allies, and the backing of Iraqi Kurdish armored troops who joined the fight in November, the Syrian Kurds gnawed away at ISIS positions to secure the last occupied pockets of a shattered town whose civilian population mostly fled months ago.

The victory, like the four-month battle that preceded it, is more symbolic than strategic. That was reflected in a statement from the local Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) militia. “The battle for Kobani was not only a fight between the YPG and Daesh [ISIS],” they declared. “It was a battle between humanity and barbarity, a battle between freedom and tyranny, it was a battle between all human values and the enemies of humanity.”

As much as it was a symbolic victory for the Kurds and their allies, it was a symbolic defeat for ISIS, which has depended on the “propaganda of the deed” — a combination of lightning military victories and brutal terrorism — to rally recruits and to cow both its enemies and the civilian populations that have fallen under its sway.

In October, ISIS posted a video report from Kobani featuring John Cantlie, the British journalist being held by hostage by ISIS. The video boasts of ISIS’ control over Kobani and the failure of any of their opponents to dislodge them. On Tuesday, after the fall of Kobani, rather than boast about controlling a town, ISIS was reduced to threatening to kill a Jordanian pilot and a Japanese journalist that it holds.

It is debatable, however, whether the loss of Kobani marks the beginning of the end for the jihadists, who still hold wide swathes of territory and major cities in both Syria and neighboring Iraq.

“ISIS is still well-entrenched in the areas it controls and still has access to human and other resources,” says Dlawer Ala’aldeen, president of the Middle East Research Institute in Erbil. “It’s not the beginning of the end in any schematic way.”

The positive news from the frontlines in Iraq is that ISIS has been contained and is no longer making territorial gains. Indeed it has lost ground to Kurdish and other Iraqi forces in marginal areas. “But ISIS is by no means reduced enough to retake the big cities,” Ala’aldeen tells TIME in a telephone interview from the Iraqi Kurdistan capital.

In the case of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city that was captured by ISIS last June, “I don’t believe there is an imminent plan to liberate it because the Iraqis in general are not ready to organize the support of the local population,” he says.

There was also little prospect of Kurdish forces going it alone against ISIS in Mosul without first winning over the local Sunni Arab population. “It would be extremely difficult to recapture Mosul and, above all, to retain it,” Ala’aldeen says.

Until ISIS thrust itself into the international consciousness with the capture of Mosul, the declaration of a caliphate, and the widely diffused photos and videos of its beheadings, the threat it posed was largely overlooked.

When shortly afterwards ISIS began an offensive in northern Syria, the autonomous Kurdish administration in northeastern Syria sought vainly for outside support to save Kobani, which was virtually unknown and marked on most maps under its Arabic name of Ain al-Arab.

Turkish and Western governments were suspicious of the nature of the local Kurdish regime, headed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and linked to Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which is designated a terrorist organisation by the U.S. State Department.

By October, the game was almost up for Kobani’s embattled defenders when an 11th-hour intervention by the U.S. and its allies saw the first of a campaign of air strikes that helped slowly turn the tide against ISIS. Washington and its partners decided that the risks of intervention outweighed the prospect of another ISIS propaganda coup.

The PYD and its militia, along with other Kurdish groups, launched a massive and effective propaganda campaign that mirrored and contrasted with that of ISIS. The Kurds promoted their struggle as one of freedom and democracy and specifically highlighted the role of unveiled women fighters as a symbol of egalitarian secularity in the face of the jihadists’ perceived misogyny. “Save Kobani” became an internationally popularized slogan in the anti-ISIS struggle and dozens of Western volunteers traveled to join the Kurds.

It was not just about symbols. ISIS lost close on 1,000 fighters, having been forced to draft in reinforcements to try to avert defeat. The Kurds lost more than 300, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an organisation that monitors events in Syria.

Kobani may not be the Kurdish Stalingrad, as some suggested at the height of the conflict. ISIS still hold the Kobani hinterland and the liberation of the town is not a strategic turning-point. But symbols are important in a war that will depend largely on undermining an image of ISIS invincibility which is popular among some of the local population and foreign sympathizers.

TIME europe

Auschwitz Survivors Mark 70th Anniversary of Camp’s Liberation

World leaders joined about 300 survivors at the infamous Nazi camp

Correction appended

Hundreds of survivors returned to the Holocaust’s most infamous concentration camp, Auschwitz, to mark the 70th anniversary of the camp’s liberation for what’s expected to be the last time.

World leaders, including the presidents of Germany and France, joined about 300 survivors at a commemorative event at the Polish site on Tuesday, the BBC reports. About 1,500 survivors returned in 2005; many of the remaining survivors, now elderly, were children and teens when they were held in Auschwitz.

French President Francois Hollande’s presence at the event comes in the wake of terror attacks in Paris, including an attack at a Jewish supermarket. Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend Tuesday’s commemoration, though the Soviet army was responsible for liberating the camp in 1945.

The site opened as a museum just two years later, in 1947.

[BBC]

Correction: The original version of this story has been updated to clarify the location of the Auschwitz Nazi concentration camp

TIME Spain

Spanish Anti-Austerity Party Hopes to Emulate Greek Election Victors

Pablo Iglesias
Paul White—AP Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the leftist Podemos (We Can) party, speaks during a news conference in Madrid on May 30, 2014.

The one-year old Podemos party are already equal to the Popular and Socialist parties according to some polls

If there is one country in Europe where the fallout of the Sunday’s election result in Greece is felt most keenly, it is Spain.

Like in Athens, the government in Madrid has relied on a European bailout to support the economy and it has suffered from high unemployment, a large budget deficit and deteriorating living conditions.

What worries the administration of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy most, is, like in Greece, the presence of a start-up political party whose aim is to take on the establishment and upset four decades of political homogeneity.

Podemos, which translates as “We Can,” was formed almost a year ago, and in some polls is already equal with the centre-right governing Popular Party and the opposition Socialists. Rajoy was so concerned that a victory for Podemos’s ‘sister party’ Syriza in Greece would provide a boost for Podemos in Spain that he travelled to Athens to support the then Greek prime minister, Antonio Samaras, before last Sunday’s poll. The Podemos leader, Pablo Iglesias, responded in kind by making an appearance at Syriza’s last election rally, alongside Alexis Tsipras.

“Many things unite the Greek and Spanish people to lead a new European project,” Iglesias told a rally in Valencia on Sunday. “They’ve wanted to look down on us as ‘Mediterraneans.’ They’ve called us ‘PIGS [an acronym for Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain].’ They’ve wanted to turn us into a periphery. They want us to be countries of cheap labour forces. They want our young people to be the servants of rich tourists. Today we say that we are proud to be from the South, and that from the South we are going to return to Europe and to all its peoples the dignity that they deserve.”

Podemos currently has few policies in its manifesto although it promises to prepare a program for government before the elections. Last year it announced plans to lift wages, pensions and public investment and re-negotiate Spain’s debt. In 2015, the government proposes to sell $305 billion of bonds and bills to cover its spending.

Since the vote in Athens, Rajoy has sought to play down the implications for Spain of Syriza’s victory in Greece. He has warned Spaniards ahead of elections later this year that Podemos represents a huge risk and a return to uncertainty as the Spanish economy slowly improves. “Spain cannot afford to go back in time or leap into the void. We cannot throw overboard the sacrifices made by so many Spaniards,” he said.

On the surface, Podemos and Syriza seem similar but there are key differences. Podemos’s rise cannot be about economics alone. According to Spain’s National Statistics Institute, unemployment in the fourth quarter of last year stood at 23.7%, stubbornly above the average since the end of the Franco-era dictatorship. But it is gradually falling and growth has returned. In the fourth quarter of last year, growth was 0.5%, but it is positive and is forecast to improve throughout the year.

The message from Podemos is broader and not just about attacking the financial constraints imposed by Brussels. Spain received just a fraction of the bailout money taken by Athens to prop up its banking system via a mechanism it has now left. The Spanish government has not had to wear the fiscal straitjacket imposed on the Greek governments of recent years.

“There are evident differences [between Podemos and Syriza]. In Spain, like in much of southern Europe, there is a general dissatisfaction with political establishment. The economic situation [compared to Greece] is not as bad,” says Antonio Barroso, of the think-tank Teneo Intelligence. “Podemos has sought to exploit the gap that has been created by a desire for change among the Spanish electorate.”

As much as Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor and Mario Draghi, the head of the European Central Bank attract Iglesias’s ire, under most scrutiny is what he describes as ‘La Casta’ — the political establishment. And while it is trying to usurp the Socialists on the left, Podemos is also at pains to highlight a corruption scandal engulfing the governing Popular Party. The party’s former treasurer, himself on bail awaiting trial, now accuses Mr Rojoy directly of knowing about the presence of slush funds that benefitted the party and its leaders, an allegation Rajoy denies.

At the same time, the King’s sister, Princess Christina, is due to stand trial on charges of tax fraud, becoming the first Spanish royal to face criminal prosecution. It all adds up, Podemos claims, to a political system that is corrupt and ripe for change.

“It is difficult to know exactly what they want, beyond power,” says Barroso of Teneo Intelligence. “Podemos is not competing in many of this year’s municipal elections because it does not want to show its hand. It saw an opportunity in terms of the dissatisfaction with the political system and took advantage of that juncture. Indeed, most people still see it as a left-wing party, but slowly it is moving from the extreme left to something that looks more like a social democratic party.”

Podemos, a coalition of leftists, the poor, intellectuals and the disaffected middle classes, is due to hold a rally in Madrid on Saturday, the start of the countdown to change, it says. Iglesias likes using the imagery of ticking clock, “tick, tock, tick, tock,” he says in interviews. The message is clear. His time is coming, and that of the Spanish establishment is running out.

TIME India

Obama Pledges $4 Billion of Investment in India

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a toast as he attends an Official State Dinner at the Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi
Jim Bourg—REUTERS U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a toast as he attends an Official State Dinner with India's President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Rashtrapati Bhavan presidential palace in New Delhi January 25, 2015.

Half that amount will be set aside for India's renewable energy efforts

U.S. President Barack Obama pledged $4 billion in investment and loans to India on Monday, soon after attending the South Asian nation’s 66th annual Republic Day celebrations as the guest of honor earlier in the afternoon.

Obama told a gathering of business leaders from India and the U.S. that both countries have “got to do better” in furthering an economic relationship “defined by so much untapped potential,” Reuters reports.

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency will commit $2 billion towards India’s renewable energy efforts, Obama said, while $1 billion each will be pledged to finance “Made-in-America” exports and Indian rural businesses respectively.

[Reuters]

TIME India

Obama Stresses Religious Tolerance, Women’s Safety in Final Speech in India

U.S. President Obama delivers a speech at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi
Jim Bourg—Reuters U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a speech at Siri Fort Auditorium in New Delhi on Jan. 27, 2015

Obama is the first U.S. President to visit India twice while in office

“We may have different histories and speak different languages,” said U.S. President Barack Obama at New Delhi’s Siri Fort Auditorium on Tuesday morning, “but when we look at each other, we see a reflection of ourselves.”

Addressing a crowd of about 2,000 people in his last public event before flying to Saudi Arabia later that afternoon, Obama spoke at length about the historic and contemporary similarities between the U.S. and India. He linked Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., Indian thinker Swami Vivekananda and Obama’s hometown of Chicago, and, of course, in keeping with the close personal equation the two leaders made evident during his three-day visit, himself and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“We live in countries where a grandson of a cook can become President and son of a tea seller can become Prime Minister,” he said, referring to their respective backgrounds.

Obama also used his address to touch on the importance of defending religious diversity. Although the majority of India’s 1.27 billion-strong population is Hindu, about a fifth of its people belong to other religions like Islam, Christianity and Sikhism, with diversity a growing subject of concern among opponents of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party that Modi chairs.

“In India and America, our diversity is our strength,” he said. “India will succeed so long as it is not splintered along the lines of religious faith.”

Meanwhile, speaking about the U.S.-India relationship on Tuesday, President Obama called it “one of the defining partnerships of the century,” and advocated a greater role for India in the Asia-Pacific, seemingly a tacit acknowledgement of China’s growing regional influence.

He also touched upon empowering women, an issue that Modi made one of the major themes of Obama’s visit and Monday’s Republic Day celebrations. “Indian women have shown that they can succeed in every field,” he said before advocating equal opportunity and safety for women. “Every woman should be able to go about her day and be safe and be treated with the respect and dignity that she deserves.”

Obama also mentioned several key issues and agreements from his visit — including a civilian nuclear deal between the two countries and climate change — before concluding with a reiteration of the new, elevated U.S.-India relations the two leaders have forged.

“I’m the first American President to come to your country twice,” he said, “but I predict I will not be the last.”

TIME France

French Catholics Bought a Gay Bar So They Could Turn It Into a ‘Pub of Mercy’

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Getty Images The harbor of Toulon

The Missionaries of Divine Mercy, whose church is next door to the bar, said the purchase was part of an effort to evangelize the area

A gay bar in Toulon is set to be turned into a religious meeting venue, after a group of Christian missionaries in the French city bought it in a recent auction.

The group known as Missionaries of Divine Mercy, whose church is located next door to the Texas Bar, said in a statement that their purchase, which follows the bar’s bankruptcy, is part of an effort to evangelize the neighborhood.

“The bar of Sodom will become the pub of mercy,” they said.

But they might need “a whole bunch of exorcists to get rid of everything that’s happened in there,” one of the leaders of the city’s gay community told the Local.

The president of the Gay Power Toulon association, 41-year-old Titi, said he “would have preferred if someone else got it, but they’ve wanted the place for years.”

TIME Ukraine

Moscow and NATO Trade Barbs as Fighting Intensifies in Ukraine

UKRAINE-RUSSIA-CRISIS-MARIUPOL
Oleksandr Stashevskiy —AFP/Getty Images Azif Alikberov recovers in a hospital after being wounded as fighting erupted in Mariupol, Ukraine on Jan. 26, 2014.

Putin continues to blame a "NATO foreign legion" for the war in Ukraine, while the alliance says Russia is responsible for the resumed fighting

Clashes continued to escalate in Ukraine’s war-torn Donbas region Monday after a weekend of fierce fighting and shelling in the country’s southeast rendered a five-month-old peace accord all but dead.

On Monday, pro-Russian insurgents encircled a government garrison in the town of Debaltseve that lies along a main road and rail route between two vital rebel strongholds in Donetsk and Luhansk, according to Reuters.

The Ukrainian government has declared the imposition of emergency rule in the embattled Donetsk and Luhansk regions and placed the entire country on “full readiness,” according to President Petro Poroshenko’s office.

Moscow continued to saddle Poroshenko’s office with responsibility for the conflict this week, and chided his administration for refusing to engineer a political settlement with Kremlin-aligned forces that have effectively seceded from the state.

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Kiev of relying on a “foreign legion” to wage war against separatist militias.

“Essentially, this is not an army but is a foreign legion, in this particular case, a NATO foreign legion, which is not pursuing Ukraine’s national interests of course,” Putin told students at St. Petersburg’s Mining University.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg later dismissed Putin’s accusation as “nonsense” following an emergency meeting with the alliance’s ambassadors and Ukrainian diplomats in Brussels — the first such session in six months.

At a brief press conference following the meeting, Stoltenberg lambasted the Kremlin for allegedly providing insurgent forces in southeast Ukraine with advanced heavy artillery, tanks, armored vehicles and manpower in recent weeks.

“We call on Russia to stop its support for the separatists immediately,” he told reporters.

Over the weekend, Human Rights Watch accused Russian-backed forces of launching a “salvo of unguided Grad rockets” that struck the government-held port of Mariupol and resulted in dozens of deaths. The organization described the assault as one of the most lethal attacks on civilians since the pro-Russian uprising first erupted in southeastern Ukraine last April.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs claims that more than 5,000 people have been killed and at least 900,000 displaced since fighting first flared. An additional 600,000 people are believed to have fled the country.

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