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Alleged Mariupol Chemical Attack, 4 Million Displaced Children

Woman walking in ruins in Ukraine.

The aftermath of Russian bombings on Chernihiv, north of Kyiv, which endured a brutal siege for a month before Russian troops pulled out in early April.

Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Khulumkha!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where reports have surfaced of a possible Russian chemical weapons attack in the besieged city of Mariupol, at least 25 die in a tropical storm in the Philippines, and a British woman breaks an exhausting world record. Meanwhile, Spanish independent magazine La Marea zooms in on BioTexCom, a Kyiv-based surrogacy clinic that continues to function in the middle of the war.

[*Kokborok - India and Bangladesh]


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Russia-Ukraine updates: U.S. and UK authorities are investigating a possible chemical attack in the city of Mariupol, as the surrounding eastern Donbas region braces for a major Russian assault. Since the invasion of Ukraine, nearly two-thirds of Ukrainian children, or some 4 million, have been displaced, according to a new UN report.

U.S. orders consulate staff to leave Shanghai: The U.S. State Department has required all non-emergency diplomatic staff and their families to depart Shanghai amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. The city of 26 million people has been on lockdown for three weeks and it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain food supplies and medical care. This is China’s worst outbreak since the beginning of the pandemic.

Indonesia adopts landmark sexual violence bill:Indonesia’s Parliament passed a bill on sexual violence following a surge in complaints during the COVID-19 pandemic, overcoming the conservative opposition after six years of debate.

Mexican truck drivers block border bridge: Mexican truckers block Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge at the U.S.-Mexico border to protest against Texas’ governor order to inspect every vehicle crossing the border.

Philippines deadly tropical storm:At least 25 people have died in floodings and landslides as the central and southern coast of the Philippines is hit by tropical storm Megi. More than 13,000 people fled to emergency shelters.

Britney Spears pregnant with third child: U.S. singer Britney Spears announced in an Instagram post that she is expecting her third child, her first with fiancé Sam Asghari. She was reportedly forbidden to “get married and have a baby” under her father’s conservatorship, which ended last November.

100 marathons in 100 days: Derbyshire-based Kate Jayden has broken the world record for completing 100 marathons in 100 days, running 26.2 miles (42,16km) every day since January 1.


Mexican daily Milenio reports on the results of a referendum to determine whether President Andrés Manuel López Obrador should step down or complete his six-year term, which saw more than 90% of voters backing the leftist leader to stay in office. But turnout was low at less than 19%. Mexico’s first so-called recall referendum was promised by López Obrador when he was sworn in as president in 2018.


קבר יוסף

Joseph’s Tomb (in Hebrew קבר יוסף, “Qever Yosef”) is at the center of renewed tensions between Palestinians and Israelis. The funerary monument where the biblical figure is said to have been buried, located on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Nablus, was vandalized on Saturday by Palestinian rioters. Yesterday morning, two ultra-Orthodox Jewish men were shot dead by Israeli forces while trying to reach Joseph’s Tomb. The monument is revered by Christians, Jews and Muslims and is known for being a flashpoint of violence.


Ukraine hopes these surrogate babies will stir the conscience of the West

BioTexCom is responsible for more than half of the 2,500 surrogate babies born annually in Ukraine. This is how, in the middle of the war, the surrogacy company continues to function, reports Patricia Simón in Spanish independent magazine La Marea.

🏥👶 Dr. Ihor Pechenoga has been working since 2018 as a spokesperson for the surrogacy company BioTexCom, which is responsible for more than half of the 2,500 babies born annually in Ukraine through this procedure. When the Russian invasion began, he was appointed with the responsibility of protecting the clinic, located very close to the Kyiv front line. For days now, he has been tirelessly dedicated to showing journalists from all over the planet the shelter that BioTexCom has set up for the thirty babies that could not be delivered to their clients.

👪 Nobody knows when they will be able to be picked up by the foreign couples who will register the babies in their names — and in their countries. Outside the basement, the sound of shelling crashes through the walls of the building. A column of smoke is visible behind the buildings. And the doctor insists that they are preparing the logistics to send the babies to the Polish border or to the Ukrainian city Lviv, where they will be picked up by their clients.

⚠️ After a month of war, Ukrainian institutions are aware that the Russian invasion has dropped a level on international media and that interest is beginning to deflate. So at the same time the government creates more and more bureaucratic obstacles for journalists to access the scene of the events, they strive to show — in a controlled manner — the ravages that, in their point of view, will mobilize more indignation from the West.

➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com


If you're asking me whether I am optimistic or pessimistic, I'm rather pessimistic.

— Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer offered a grim report to journalists after his visit in Moscow with Vladimir Putin, in the Russian President’s first face-to-face meeting with a Western leader since the invasion of Ukraine began. Nehammer said he wanted to confront the Russian leader with “the horrors of war and the war crimes in Bucha” but that Russia had “little interest” in a direct meeting between Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

✍️ Newsletter by Lila Paulou, Lisa Berdet, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

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France And North Africa: The Whiff Of Neo-Colonialism Has Returned

Whether it’s in Tunis, Algiers or Rabat, France is faced with the near-impossible task of finding its diplomatic footing in countries that were under its colonial rule last century.

photo of a protester from behind with an Algerian flag

A file photo of an Algerian protest


PARIS — It went relatively unnoticed this week, but Algeria has recalled its ambassador to Paris. It's the language of international diplomacy to express a nation's discontent.

The matter at hand is not necessarily grave, and may be resolved quickly, but it shows just how challenging it has been for Franco-Algerian relations to find any semblance of stability, despite constant efforts from both sides.

And it is a reminder that the same problem is shared by the three main countries in northern Africa, albeit for different reasons.

The spark behind this latest Algerian tension is the fate of a woman, Amira Bouraoui, a figure of the Hirak, the democratic movement in Algeria. This gynecologist and activist fled illegally from Algeria to Tunisia, fearing she would be arrested again.

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