Zelensky: Crimea Must Be Restored to Ukraine

This handout photo taken and received by the Ukrainian presidential press service on April 7, 2023, shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R-C) attending an Iftar fast-breaking meal with Muslim Ukrainian servicemen, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Kyiv, amid Russia's military invasion on Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / AFP)
This handout photo taken and received by the Ukrainian presidential press service on April 7, 2023, shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R-C) attending an Iftar fast-breaking meal with Muslim Ukrainian servicemen, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Kyiv, amid Russia's military invasion on Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / AFP)
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Zelensky: Crimea Must Be Restored to Ukraine

This handout photo taken and received by the Ukrainian presidential press service on April 7, 2023, shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R-C) attending an Iftar fast-breaking meal with Muslim Ukrainian servicemen, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Kyiv, amid Russia's military invasion on Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / AFP)
This handout photo taken and received by the Ukrainian presidential press service on April 7, 2023, shows Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R-C) attending an Iftar fast-breaking meal with Muslim Ukrainian servicemen, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in Kyiv, amid Russia's military invasion on Ukraine. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service / AFP)

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed on Friday to recapture the Kremlin-controlled Crimea peninsula from Russia.

During a first official state iftar, he said: “There is no alternative for Ukraine, or for the world, other than the de-occupation of Crimea. We will return to Crimea.”

Zelensky, speaking at a mosque outside the center of the capital, Kyiv, announced that Ukraine was beginning a new tradition of hosting an official iftar, the meal breaking the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

"Ukraine is grateful to the Muslims of our country and to everyone in the Muslim community of the world who, like us, longs for peace and protection from evil," he added.

Zelensky then handed out awards to several Muslim Ukrainian servicemen.

Russia wrested control of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and pushed through a referendum on the annexation that was condemned as fraudulent and illegitimate by Ukraine and its Western allies.

The Muslim Tatar community, which accounted for 12-15 percent of the two million Crimea residents, largely boycotted the 2014 vote.

Moscow then banned the Mejlis -- the traditional assembly of the Tatar Muslims in Crimea -- declaring it an extremist organization and has jailed members of the community since, citing security concerns.



Drive to End Global Hunger Has Stalled, United Nations Warns

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
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Drive to End Global Hunger Has Stalled, United Nations Warns

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)
A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve today -(Reuters)

A goal to eliminate global hunger by 2030 looks increasingly impossible to achieve, with the number of people suffering chronic hunger barely changed over the past year, a UN report said on Wednesday.

The annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report said around 733 million people faced hunger in 2023 -- one in 11 people globally and one in five in Africa -- as conflict, climate change and economic crises take their toll.

David Laborde, director of the division within the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which helps prepare the survey, said that although progress had been made in some regions, the situation had deteriorated at a global level.

"We are in a worse situation today than nine years ago when we launched this goal to eradicate hunger by 2030," he told Reuters, saying challenges such as climate change and regional wars had grown more severe than envisaged even a decade ago.

If current trends continue, about 582 million people will be chronically undernourished at the end of the decade, half of them in Africa, the report warned.

A broader objective to ensure regular access to adequate food has also stalled over the past three years, with 29% of the global population, or 2.33 billion people, experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity in 2023.

Underscoring stark inequalities, some 71.5% of people in low-income countries could not afford a healthy diet last year, against 6.3% in high-income countries.

While famines are easy to spot, poor nutrition is more insidious but can nonetheless scar people for life, stunting both the physical and mental development of babies and children, and leaving adults more vulnerable to infections and illnesses.

Laborde said international aid linked to food security and nutrition amounted to $76 billion a year, or 0.07% of the world's total annual economic output.

"I think we can do better to deliver this promise about living on a planet where no one is hungry," he said.

Regional trends varied significantly, with hunger continuing to rise in Africa, where growing populations, myriad wars and climate upheaval weighed heavily. By contrast, Asia has seen little change and Latin America has improved.

"South America has very developed social protection programs that allows them to target interventions so they can effectively move out of hunger in a very fast way," said FAO's chief economist Maximo Torero.

"In the case of Africa, we have not observed that."

The United Nations said the way the anti-hunger drive was financed had to change, with greater flexibility needed to ensure the countries most in need got help.

"We need to change how we do things to be better coordinated, to accept that not everyone should try to do everything but really be much more focused on what we are doing and where," said Laborde.

The report is compiled by the Rome-based FAO, the UN's International Fund for Agricultural Development, its Children's Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization and World Food Program.