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News in Brief 9 March 2023

News in Brief 9 March 2023

This is the News in Brief from the United Nations.

Stricken Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant latest: IAEA

Amid the biggest reported missile attack on Ukraine in weeks, the UN’s atomic energy agency, IAEA, said on Thursday that Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant had to switch to backup generators once again, after losing all power.

This is the first time the site has lost all power since November 2022 – but the sixth time that all off-site power has been cut since the Russian invasion last February - IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said.

He added that “there is enough diesel on site for 15 days’” to supply the plant’s “essential” needs but that the situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power station remains critical.

In an appeal for action to resolve the conflict and guarantee the safety of Ukraine’s nuclear infrastructure, Mr. Grossi said that he was astonished “by the complacency” of the international community.

“Each time we are rolling a dice. And if we allow this to continue time after time then one day our luck will run out,” he told the agency’s governors.

Cannabis mainstreaming fails to address health risks: UN-backed drugs control board

Moves by a small number of governments to legalize the non-medical use of cannabis have led to increased consumption, without explaining the potentially serious health dangers that drug users face, a UN-backed narcotics watchdog said on Thursday.

Issuing the warning, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) said that the trend for legalization was linked to an eightfold increase in global medical admissions related to cannabis dependence and withdrawal.

At the same time, admissions for cannabis-related psychotic disorders quadrupled worldwide, the drugs control panel said.

Other worrying trends identified by the INCB include a surge in cocaine production and trafficking in 2022, and in the distribution of chemical “precursors” that are required to make drugs, including heroin, cocaine and amphetamines.

And in a call for global action to tackle the opioid “overdose epidemic”, the INCB warned that trafficking in fentanyl and other dangerous opioids “is expanding” to Oceania.

Vanuatu emergency: UN supports aid effort after cyclones, earthquake

UN humanitarian coordinators have deployed to Vanuatu to help with the aid response, a week since back-to-back tropical cyclones and a 6.5 magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific island nation.

According to the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office, more than 250,000 people have been affected, which is almost 80 per cent of the country’s population.

Less than a week after Cyclone Judy forced residents to evacuate from the capital Port Vila, they were then hit by Cyclone Kevin, a category four storm that brought heavy rain and winds measured at over 230 kilometres an hour, or 142 miles per hour.

Vanuatu’s 13 islands were then hit by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake that struck 90 kilometres from the second largest city, Luganville.

A state of emergency was declared on 3 March.

Initial reports indicate that homes, livelihoods and power lines have been damaged, but impact assessments have been hindered by connectivity problems linked to the emergency.

The UN’s intervention comes at the request of the authorities in Vanuatu, confirmed aid coordination office, OCHA, which said on Thursday that eight staff have deployed to the capital, Port Vila, to support the government-led response.

Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News.

  • Stricken Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant latest: IAEA
  • Vanuatu emergency: UN aid team deploys after cyclones, earthquake
  • Cannabis legalization fails to address health risks: UN-backed drugs control board
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Dominika Tomaszewska-Mortimer, UN News - Geneva
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