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Ethiopians describe hunger and rape in Amhara

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The pictures on her phone are all that Ethiopian mother Habtam Akele has left of her three-year-old daughter Saba

Three-year-old Saba died from malnutrition in Ethiopia’s Amhara last month. Conflict in neighboring Amhara has spread to the region, forcing thousands to flee their homes – carrying with them stories of hunger and brutality. David Doyle has more.

Saba was just three years old when she died of malnutrition.

That was last month, as her mother tried to flee violence that has spread from Ethiopia’s Tigray into neighboring Amhara.

Pictures on her phone are all Habtam Akele has left of her daughter, having pleaded with doctors to save her child.

“They told me she was severely affected by malnutrition and they could not help. Then they gave me some syrup and tablets. She passed away exactly a week later on a Sunday.”

Saba is just one victim of the hunger and violence that has swept through northern Ethiopia since war broke out between the federal military and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front nearly a year ago.

In July, having taken back much of Tigray, the TPLF pushed into Amhara – whose forces have been fighting alongside federal troops

The Tigrayan advance sent around 250,000 people fleeing their homes, the United Nations says.

Habtam is among thousands who arrived in the town of Dessie, escaping bloodshed further north.

She says there was little food in areas under Tigrayan control and that Tigrayan forces took scarce medicine from local pharmacies.

Getachew Reda, spokesperson for the TPLF, denied Tigrayan forces had looted local pharmacies.

He said they’d set up a generator to alleviate water shortages in Habtam’s area.

Reuters was not able to independently verify Habtam’s account as her home is in an area off-limits to journalists and phone connections are down.

But people don’t just have hunger to fear.

At a camp in Dessie, Saada says she was raped.

That attack was carried out at her home by an armed man in plain clothes speaking the Tigrayan language, she says, in an area under Tigrayan control.

“After, he yelled at me ‘get dressed now!’. I was so afraid at this point that I was going to lose my life and quickly said ok. Then he grabbed his gun and left my house as I was getting dressed.”

She provided as evidence a card showing she had visited a hospital in Dessie for treatment.

When asked about the rape, the TPLF’s Getachew said any reported incident would be investigated and that the actions of one man should not implicate the Tigrayan forces in general.

Both sides in the conflict have accused the other of committing atrocities and each side denies allegations against them.

The TPLF says the Ethiopian military recently launched an offensive to dislodge the Tigrayans from Amhara.

The military and government have not answered calls seeking information.

But diplomats are worried the renewed fighting will further destabilize Ethiopia – and for Tigray and its surrounding areas, deepen the crisis of hunger and violence.

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Hurricane Ian makes landfall in southwestern Florida as Category 4 storm

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Officials say it’s one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the U.S.

Hurricane Ian has made landfall in southwest Florida with winds of 155 mph. Hitting the mainland U.S. as a Category 4 storm— officials say it’s one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the nation.

Moving at a crawling pace— Hurricane Ian is prompting major concerns about flooding and delayed rescues for those who decided to ride out the storm.

Forecasters say the storm’s relatively slow surge could lead to even greater rainfall than expected.

After slamming Florida’s southwest coast with Category 4 force Wednesday afternoon, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told residents that Ian brought powerful conditions including relentless rainfall and life-threatening winds that are “incredibly dangerous.”

He said, “there will be debris in the air and flooding powerful enough to move cars around so please do not be outside during the storm. If you’re in those Southwest Florida counties that you need to be sheltering in place. Don’t forget that Ian will produce hurricane strength winds and massive flooding—not just where it makes the initial landfall—but throughout the state of Florida so central Northeast Florida will also feel impacts.”

The entire Sunshine state is under a state of emergency.

Several airports in Florida are closed with thousands of flights cancelled.

More than 50 of the state’s 76 school districts have already canceled classes, with many public schools be turned into evacuation shelters.

Meanwhile, FEMA has already deployed 700 personnel to Florida and the governor has activated 5,000 state national guard with another 2,000-guard coming in from other states.

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Nord Stream pipe attack “acts of sabotage”

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The US State Department has described recent leaks in the Nord Stream gas pipelines as “apparent acts of sabotage”

U.S State Department spokesperson Ned Price says they have more questions than answers at this point.

Adding Secretary of State Antony Blinken will begin discussing the issue with European counterparts as soon as Wednesday.

Price confirmed the leak “impacts Europe’s broader energy security and energy resilience”.

When was pressed on whether sabotage would rise to the level of a breach of NATO Article 5, he declined to speculate.

But noted the investigation could take some time.

It comes as European countries ramp up their military presence at oil and gas facilities, following the Nord Stream incident.

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Russia is about to annex Ukraine, so what happens next?

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Moscow is about to annex a swath of Ukraine, releasing what it called vote tallies showing support in four partially occupied provinces to join Russia.

It looks like Russia is poised to annex a large chunk of Ukraine.

This comes after so-called referendums were held in four occupied provinces, which showed overwhelming support for joining Russia.

Of course, these referendums were anything but legitimate. They were held at gunpoint and were widely denounced by Kyiv and the West as sham votes.

“They can announce anything they want. Nobody voted in the referendum except a few people who switched sides. They went from house to house but nobody came out,” said Lyubomir Boyko, 43, from Golo Pristan, a village in Russian-occupied Kherson province.

People attend a rally and a concert in support of annexation referendums in Russian-held regions of Ukraine, in Saint Petersburg on September 23, 2022. 

Moscow takes charge

Nevertheless, it looks like Moscow is moving ahead with its plans to absorb these Ukrainian regions. A tribune has been set up on Red Square, with giant video screens proclaiming “Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson – Russia!”

The Russian-installed administrations of the four Ukrainian provinces on Wednesday formally asked Putin to incorporate them into Russia, which Russian officials have suggested is a formality.

“The results are clear. Welcome home, to Russia!,” Dmitry Medvedev, a former president who serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, said on Telegram.

It’s expected that President Vladimir Putin will give a speech within days confirming the annexation. This would mean that, in just over a week, Putin has gone from endorsing the sham referendums to formalizing the annexation of Ukrainian territory.

This latest development is sure to increase tensions between Russia and the West. It also further diminishes the chances of a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine.

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