Ukraine update, Friday 11 March
This morning’s updated figures from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) show that more than 2.5m people have now fled the war in Ukraine. Over 1.5m of those have crossed the border into Poland. To give you an idea of how many people that is, the population of Birmingham, the UK’s second-biggest city, is 1.16m.
The world of sport was again sucked into the war, when the UK Government placed sanctions (financial restrictions) on Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club. Chelsea are the current Club World Cup and Champions League holders, and one of the biggest and wealthiest clubs in the world. The sanctions mean that none of Chelsea’s teams (men’s, women’s and youth) can buy or sell players, and can’t even sell tickets for matches. It also means that Abramovich can’t sell the club as he planned to. The point of the sanctions is to try to put financial pressure on Russia and its citizens, in the hope that Putin will stop the war.
Abramovich is one of seven Russians who were sanctioned by the UK yesterday. The UK Government said it was due to their close business links with Russian President Vladimir Putin. “The blood of the Ukrainian people is on their hands,” said Foreign Secretary Liz Truss. “They should hang their heads in shame.”
There are fears that Ukraine’s capital city, Kyiv, could soon be completely surrounded by Putin’s forces and cut off. But Ukrainian soldiers and citizens are preparing to make a stand. Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said that the city “has been transformed into a fortress”. Members of the public have been pitching in to dig trenches and build barricades (pictured). And if you’re going to put up a fight, Klitschko is a good man to have on your side, as he’s a former world heavyweight boxing champion. So is his brother, Wladimir, and both have vowed to protect their country.
The war is also starting to have more knock-on effects around the world. As well as causing fuel prices to rise, it is also affecting food supplies, leading to more price increases. Russia and Ukraine together provide about 30% of the wheat that is sold around the world. The Red Cross has warned that this is only making conditions worse in the civil war in Yemen, where 16.2m people are already struggling to get enough to eat. “Over the past year, food prices have skyrocketed across Yemen, leaving more than half of the country in need of food assistance,” the Red Cross said. It also said that things are being made worse in Yemen because the world’s attention has moved on to other things, such as the war in Ukraine.
Picture credit: Getty