LS polls AAP to launch second phase of campaigning on Apr 10

first_imgNEW DELHI: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will launch its second phase of campaigning for the upcoming general election on April 10 with an aim to reach out to 35 lakh people, including the working-class population, and tell them about the importance of full statehood to Delhi.Delhi minister and senior AAP leader Gopal Rai said the booth-level workers of the party would go to people, instead of calling them to jan sabhas. “In the first phase, we held jan sabhas with people, now we will go to the people, including the working class, and tell them about the importance of full statehood,” he said. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderRai added that the campaigning would be held in three phases and the second phase would start from April 10. “We will be engaging 13,814 booth heads and train them over the next two days to convey the message of the importance of full statehood to the people,” he said. The AAP leader said the third phase of campaigning would be launched after the candidates file their nominations. Rai claimed that his party’s first phase of campaigning had pushed the BJP on the “back foot”. “The BJP, which had thought it would have a walkover in Delhi, is now confused about which candidates should be fielded,” he said. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchingsMeanwhile, he also said if the Congress is confident of winning in Punjab without an alliance, his party is also capable of winning all the seats in Delhi on its own. Questioning Congress leader Randeep Surjewala’s statement where he said his party was not in talks with the AAP or any other party for an alliance in Haryana and Punjab, Rai asked whether the Congress has forgotten about its loss in the bypolls in Jind. “I do not understand why Congress is so self-obsessed. It appears that it is in a state of maha-confusion,” he said. Rai said AAP took the decision of contesting on 35 seats in different states, keeping in mind that “it can contribute in defeating the BJP. You can win in Punjab but what about Haryana. The Congress is ready to lose but not form an alliance in Haryana,” he said. “Even people in Haryana are saying that if JJP-AAP and Congress stand together then BJP cannot win and can lose all 10 seats,” he added.last_img read more

IAF shows radar images of Pak F16 encounter

first_imgNEW DELHI: Radar images of an air battle between Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Abhinandan Varthaman and a Pakistani jet during a February dogfight were shown by the air force Monday as “irrefutable proof” that a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet had been shot down by India. Last week, American news publication Foreign Policy had contradicted India quoting unnamed US defence officials as saying that Islamabad’s F-16s were counted and “none were missing.””The IAF has irrefutable evidence of not only use the fact that PAF used F-16 on 27 February but also that an IAF MiG21 Bison shot down a PAF F-16,” said Air Vice Marshal RGK Kapoor, the Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Operations and Space). Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c detailsThe government had said that in an aerial duel on February 27 – a day after India sent fighter jets to Pakistan’s Balakot to strike a terror training camp – pilot Abhinandan Varthaman had engaged with one of the Pakistani fighter jets that tried to target Indian military facilities, and shot it down before he was hit and forced to eject. Abhinandan Varthaman landed across the Line of Control and was in Pakistani custody for three days before he was returned to India amid attempts to de-escalate the crisis between the two sides. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from ThursdayThe Air Force Monday said Pakistani aircraft fired multiple AMRAAM missiles which were defeated. “In the aerial combat that followed one MiG 21 Bison of the IAF piloted by Wing Commander Abhinandan shot down one F-16 of PAF. As shown in radar image on the slide. The F-16 crashed and fell across the LOC. The IAF lost one MiG21 in the aerial engagement, and Abhinandan ejected safely but his parachute drifted across the Line of Control, and he was taken into custody by Pakistan Army,” said the Air Vice Marshal. The Air Force said two parachutes were visually sighted, which were corroborated by radio communication intercepts. Even Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had on camera indicated “more than one pilot”. These conclusively proved that two aircraft had gone down that day in the same area, separated by around 1 to 1.30 minutes. with pti inputslast_img read more

People vote aginst divisive politics in Chandni Chowk

first_imgNEW DELHI: Chandni Chowk is one of the 7 Lok Sabha constituencies in Delhi. Voting for Lok Sabha election in Delhi was held in a single phase. Voting in Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency is in the sixth phase on May 12 and counting is on May 23.Voting recorded till 6 pm was 62.69 per cent and the figure may slightly go up as polling continued at several places way beyond the deadline. Polling also started late on some booths while there were reports of EVM malfunctioning in different parts of the city. While , in the 2014 election in Chandni Chowk, 76.15 per cent or 9,82,275 voters had exercised their franchise. Of the 25 contestants who were in the fray, 22 had lost their deposits. After the delimitation of parliamentary constituencies in 2008, Chandni Chowk parliamentary constituency was divided into ten Vidhan Sabha segments namely Adarsh Nagar, Shalimar Bagh, Shakur Basti, Tri Nagar, Wazirpur, Model Town, Sadar Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Matia Mahal and Ballimaran. In 2014 Lok Sabha election, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Dr Harsh Vardhan had won the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha constituency with a margin of 1,36,320 votes. Dr Harsh Vardhan had bagged 4,37,938 votes as against Aam Aadmi Party’s Ashutosh who bagged the second spot with 3,01,618 votes. Congress leader Kapil Sibal was pushed to the third spot with 1,76,206 votes. Ramzan, when Muslims observe a total fast, coincided with the polling in Delhi but did not seem to deter voters in the Chandni Chowk area of the old city, save in the early hours. However, as the day progressed, people came out to cast their votes and numbers started increasing in the evening. Around 20 per cent of people living in the area are Muslims. Chandni Chowk is one of the major markets in the city but it wore deserted look on Sunday, when it remains closed. As the polling day fell of a Sunday, this could also account for the lesser numbers, said Mohammad Asif, a trader in Meena Bazar near the Jama Masjid. Meena Jasotani, 47, a resident of Chandni Chowk, said she voted for the development by the Centre. Communal discord also weighed on the mind of several voters.last_img read more

California high school under fire over Arab mascot

first_imgAlex Dobuzinskis, ReutersA California high school’s decades-old use of an Arab mascot to promote its sports teams has drawn the ire of an Arab-American rights group that says the mascot is an offensive caricature, portraying Arabs with a large nose, beard and head-covering.Coachella Valley High School sports teams are dubbed the “Arabs,” which the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee complained in a letter to the school this month plays on harmful stereotypes.The group, whose leaders say they are not aware of another U.S. school with the nickname Arab, also cited as offensive the school’s logo of an Arab, which it said was displayed in the middle of the basketball court and elsewhere at the school. “It’s a very stereotypical logo of Arabs, it has the angry-looking Arab with the hook nose and the beard,” said Abed Ayoub, director of legal and policy affairs for the group.The controversy over the Arab mascot comes as the use of ethnic team names and mascots has gained new prominence with a campaign this year to pressure the National Football League’s Washington Redskins to change their name. American Indians and others have long pilloried the Redskins moniker as racist.At the Coachella school’s sporting events, a person in an oversized mask dances and entertains the crowd as the mascot.In its letter, the Anti-Discrimination Committee described YouTube videos of half-time shows at Coachella Valley High School sporting events that show the Arab mascot making an appearance while “a female dressed as a belly dancer entertains him.”A Web search by Reuters found a video of the school’s mascot dancing with a belly dancer on a basketball court, in the middle of a circle of cheerleaders.Ayoub said he understands that the school, which opened in 1910 and is located in the arid Coachella Valley town of Thermal, 125 miles southeast of Los Angeles, originally used the Arab mascot as a nod to the region’s date-growing industry, because the date palm is associated with the Middle East.“There is an appropriate way to recognize the ties with Arabs and the Arab community, but this was not it,” Ayoub said.Coachella Valley Unified School District Superintendent Darryl Adams is due to discuss the issue with the local school board later this month, Adams’s interim assistant, Marita Rango, said. Adams was not immediately available to comment.“He just hopes to resolve the issue there with the mascot,” Rango said. “He is working with (the ADC).”Ayoub, whose group was alerted to the existence of the mascot a few weeks ago by a member in New York, said Adams has been receptive to his group’s concerns.last_img read more

French President Deems Moroccos Visit Successful in all Respects

Tangier – French President François Hollande on Sunday deemed his two-day official visit to Morocco, at the invitation of King Mohammed VI, as “successful in all respects.”The visit has been successful in all respects both for Morocco and France, especially as it comes after a difficult period, Holland said at a press conference following the visit of King Mohammed VI and French President to Tangier Med port complex.On this occasion, the French head of State expressed the hope that the two countries would cross new stages in bilateral partnership and reinforce their friendship. Economically, the French president said that French companies have reaffirmed their investment intentions in Morocco in new sectors, including aerospace, automotive, infrastructure, environment, sustainable cities, technologies, agriculture and food processing.Beyond the agreements signed between companies of both countries, many perspectives have emerged, he noted.This visit was an opportunity to review political issues, relating in particular to the situation in Africa to put the French-Moroccan relations in the service of the African continent, he said, adding that Moroccan and French companies are set to work together to boost exports and investment to promote the funding provided by the banking sector and the French Development Agency (AFD).The issues of security and terrorism were also at the menu of this visit, Holland said, voicing the willingness of both countries to further intensify their cooperation in this field.Tackling the French-Moroccan joint statement on cooperation in the field of training of imams, he stressed that this training should allow Islam teaching and show that France is “a country where the principles are laid and limits are set.”Stressing that this visit has once against highlighted the mutual trust between the two countries, he pointed out that “trust is demonstrated by the installation of French companies in Morocco where they develop more and more cooperation with their Moroccan peers. This is also demonstrated through the presence of a large French community of around 80,000 people who live in serenity and security in Morocco.”It also reflects through the possibility for Moroccans to live in France safely and in compliance with French rules and laws, he noted.“Moroccans should be proud of the development process in which the Kingdom is committed, which demonstrates that a country like Morocco can achieve growth, development and even set an example,” he noted.Hollande arrived, on Saturday in Tangiers, for a friendship and working visit to the Morocco at the invitation of King Mohammed VI. read more

RenaultNissan Group CEO Hails King Mohammed VIs Support to Their Projects

Rabat – CEO of Renault-Nissan Group, Carlos Ghosn, on Friday hailed the constant support of King Mohammed VI to group projects in the Kingdom.“I praise the constant support brought by HM King Mohammed VI to our group. Under His impulse, the government has always stood alongside our group and its partners to facilitate their implementation and to encourage their development”, Ghosn said in a video-testimony screened at the launch ceremony, held Friday under the chairmanship of HM King Mohammed VI, of the new project of the Renault group, “Renault Ecosystem”.On this occasion, Ghosn called upon Renault partners to write, with the constant support of the King and His government, the next chapter in the industrial and commercial adventure of the group in the Kingdom under the sign of leadership, confidence and competitiveness. The current challenge for the Renault group is building an ecosystem based on the effective contribution of all stakeholders, the CEO of Renault-Nissan said, noting that the conditions for the success of the “Renault ecosystem” are based on “continuing progress in quality made in recent years by our supplier partners, as well as improving their competitiveness”.The new project, worth 10 billion dirhams, consists of developing an international supply platform. It has an additional turnover of 20 billion dirhams yearly, thus increasing threefold the amount of manufactured parts purchased by Renault on the Moroccan territory.This ecosystem will treble the number of jobs created by Renault, generating 50,000 new permanent jobs.The training of new executives will be provided by proven mechanisms in the automobile sector.With MAP read more

MoroccanSpanish Relations are Excellent El Mundo

Madrid – Cooperation relations between Spain and Morocco, which cover several fields, are excellent, wrote Spanish newspaper “El Mundo” on Wednesday in an article on the visit of the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, on Tuesday to Morocco, to participate in COP22, which is being held in Marrakesh.The newspaper cited security and counterterrorism as an example of the good cooperation relations between Morocco and Spain, recalling that joint operations between the security services of the two countries have resulted in dismantling several terrorist cells over the past years.El Mundo also highlighted the excellent economic relations between the two kingdoms, stressing that Spain has become Morocco’s first trading partner. Migration is also one of the pressing issues in bilateral cooperation, the Spanish newspaper said, adding that the Spanish Prime Minister insisted on this issue at the press conference in Marrakesh after an audience granted to him by HM King Mohammed VI. read more

Morocco Welcomed Over 11000 Foreign Students in 2017

Rabat – In 2017, more than 11,000 foreign students have chosen Morocco to pursue their university studies. Morocco welcomed over 11,000 foreign students for the 2017-2018 school year, according to the latest figures of the Moroccan Agency for International Cooperation (AMCI).According to the AMCI, 85 percent of these students come from African and Sub-Saharan countries, with 9,000 students of the total number.The majority of these students come to Morocco to pursue their education thanks to scholarships given by the Kingdom as part of cooperation agreements between Morocco and African countries, both French and English-speaking. READ ALSO: Who Are the Foreigners Living in Morocco?In the same line, around 70 Ghanaian students, among the most deserving of the country, will be able to continue their higher studies in Morocco thanks to the scholarships granted by the country. These students, who are English-speaking, will benefit from French courses at the International Language Center in Rabat, after which they will be guided, in the academic year 2018-2019, to their chosen major. These scholarships, which increased by 55 percent over last year, cover all specialties, including medical and paramedical, applied sciences, management and business studies. read more

OxyContin maker Lawsuit distorts facts scapegoats company

OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma is asking a court to throw out a lawsuit filed by Massachusetts’ attorney general that accuses the company, its owners and top executives of deceiving patients and doctors about the risks of opioids.In its motion seeking dismissal, Purdue argues the lawsuit distorts facts, mischaracterizes internal company documents and makes oversimplified claims while attempting to cast the Connecticut-based firm as a scapegoat for the deadly opioid addiction crisis.A spokeswoman for Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey said Monday the state would fight Purdue’s bid to throw out the case. The state claims the company told doctors OxyContin had a low addiction risk and pushed prescribers to keep patients on the drug longer.More than 1,000 state and local governments have lawsuits pending against drugmakers, most naming multiple defendants.Bob Salsberg, The Associated Press read more

Trump names pick for FAA job as agency faces new scrutiny

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump is announcing the nomination of a permanent administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration as the agency faces new scrutiny over its oversight of industry in the wake of a pair of deadly crashes involving a new Boeing aircraft.The White House announced Trump has selected former Delta Air Lines pilot and executive Steve Dickson for the post, which has been filled in an acting capacity for 14 months by Daniel Elwell. Dickson must be confirmed by the Senate.The FAA is under pressure over its approval of the Boeing 737 Max jets after French aviation investigators concluded there were “clear similarities” in the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 last week and a Lion Air jet in October.The Associated Press read more

Rabat Hospital Denies Rumors on Premature Babies Deaths

Rabat – Following news about the death of 3 to 6 premature babies at the Rabat Souissi maternity ward, the Ibn Sina University Hospital issued Wednesday, April 9, a statement for clarification. The administration at the hospital denied yesterday’s news that the premature babies’ death had been a result of a power outage. It argued the outage occurred at 6:45 a.m. on Saturday, April 6, and could not have caused yesterday’s deaths.It stated, however, that there were only three deaths due to poor health conditions. The first baby, who weighed no more than 1.5 kilograms, died at 4 p.m., nine hours after the power blackout. The second and third babies, weighing less than 680 and 850 grams, respectively, died at 8 p.m., 13 hours after the blackout.Read also: Nurse Blames Power Outage for Premature Babies’ Deaths at Rabat HospitalThe administration also stated that the hospital did not witness a full power outage. It was only partial and affected just three socket outlets. The outage lasted for 7 minutes only, read the statement. The administration also stressed that the hospital is equipped with two standby power generators. Rabat’s hospital in ‘catastrophic’ stateA nurse at the hospital linked the deaths of several prematurely-born infants on Saturday, April 6, to a power outage.A member of the Moroccan Network for the Defense of Health Rights, Lehbib Kerroum, questioned the hospital’s director Said Tayer’s claim that the babies’ deaths was due to health issues. “How come four deaths happened at the same time?” asked Kerroum, describing the state of the hospital as “catastrophic.” Kerroum also said that a “black report’ had been issued last year on the conditions of the hospital but was not published. read more

Algerian Court Summons Politician Louisa Hanoune for Testimony on Said Bouteflikas

Rabat – Algerian Military Court has summoned the leader of the Worker Party, Louisa Hanoune.Algerian news agency APS reported that Hanoune is summoned as part of an investigation into the arrest of  Said Bouteflika, younger brother of former Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, and two former army generals.Algerian police arrested Said Bouteflika along with General Mohamed Mediene, known as Toufik, and ex-intelligence coordinator Athmane Tartag last week. They were arrested  for alleged “conspiracy” against the anti-government protests. Algerian news outlets said that Hanoune is arrested for testimony in the case.The summoning of Hanoune comes a few days after the politician stood against  a statement from military chief Gaid Salah, who called for a dialogue to solve the political crisis in Algeria.The politician also accused Salah of interfering in political affairs, which is against the constitution.Algeria has been hit by waves of anti-government protests since February.  Initiated to oppose a re-election bid from former President Bouteflika, the protests have morphed into demands of radical leadership overhaul. In recent weeks, protesters  have persistently called for the immediate departure of the political establishment..Friday, May 10, will mark the 12th week of protests. Amid the continuous crisis, the government announced that the  election would be held on July 4. Many protesters, however, are threatening to boycott the election. read more

Longshore union stalls fullscale strike begins overtime ban at Vancouver port

VANCOUVER — Two major container terminals at the Port of Vancouver will not be behind picket lines today although longshore workers are in a legal strike position.A 72-hour strike notice issued by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada has expired at Global Container Terminals operations in Delta and Vancouver.A news release issued on Sunday by union president Robert Ashton says the roughly 2,000 affected members of Locals 500 and 502 will not stage a full-scale strike, but will begin “limited and targeted” job action.Jeff Scott, chairman of the B.C. Maritime Employers Association, which bargains for more than 30 member companies at B.C. ports, says the job action relates to overtime.Ashton’s statement says the union remains optimistic that a fair deal can be achieved, while Scott says more talks are expected, although he isn’t aware of any firm dates following near round-the-clock sessions on the weekend.About 6,000 Vancouver-area longshore workers at several employers have been without a contract since March 2018, and 98.4 per cent of those who voted earlier this month supported a strike. Scott says the employers association is committed to continuing talks and is hopeful, given the union’s decision to take job action.“It’s significantly different than, obviously, a strike or a walkout so that is positive,” he said in a telephone interview.“We’ll have a better idea by about noon today of how things are playing out.”Ashton’s statement says the union’s focus relates to “concerns over automation of the workplace and the potential devastation to our communities.”A recent Port of Vancouver analysis found a labour disruption could lead to losses of as much as $540 million a day. (The Canadian Press, CTV)The Canadian Press read more

Get tough Pot industry wants LA crackdown on rogue shops

LOS ANGELES — The legal marijuana industry urged Los Angeles City Hall on Monday to get tougher with illegal shops that are gouging their businesses in open sight.Illegal pot shops are widespread throughout Los Angeles and typically look like the real thing. And they’re thriving — they sell cheaper products than their legal rivals because they don’t charge hefty state and local taxes.In a letter Monday, the industry group Southern California Coalition recommended the city consider seizing cannabis inventory and cash from illegal shops that are found to be selling tainted products.In the legal market, marijuana, concentrates, cookies and other products must be tested by independent labs for consumer safety — a requirement that illegal shops can ignore.The group said that the failure to seize cash and pot products from illegal shops after raids allows the business to quickly reopen.With no testing safeguards in place in the illegal market “there’s a high probability the … cannabis products in these shops are contaminated,” the group wrote.They urged the city “in the strongest possible terms to continue testing cannabis … in unlicensed shops.”California’s effort to transform its longstanding illegal and medicinal marijuana markets into a unified, multibillion-dollar industry kicked off last year. But the transition has been uneven and it’s likely to take years for the legal market to find its footing.Many communities ban marijuana sales and growing, leaving residents in those places without access to legal shops. Businesses complain about hefty tax rates that can approach 50 per cent in some communities, which they say drive consumers into the tax-free illicit market. There’s on ongoing fight over home deliveries, and a promised tax windfall never arrived.There have been problems in other states with legal marijuana. In Nevada, a court fight is underway after some businesses charged that the state system for awarding licenses is unfair. In Oregon last year, an excess of marijuana in the supply chain prompted regulators to suspend processing new applications for marijuana business licenses.In Los Angeles, the industry group said that many legal shops are being driven toward bankruptcy because they are surrounded by rogue shops undercutting them.Because of taxes and heavy regulatory fees, legal operators “cannot compete with illicit operators,” the group said.The group also recommended ticketing employees at rogue shops to discourage them from returning, and having building inspectors always accompany police on raids to close down unsafe structures. They also suggested the city consider placing tax liens on illegal shops.Michael R. Blood, The Associated Press read more

San Francisco weighs 1st US city ban on ecigarette sales

San Francisco supervisors are considering whether to move the city toward becoming the first in the United States to ban all sales of electronic cigarettes.It’s part of an effort to crack down on youth vaping.The supervisors will vote Tuesday on measures to ban the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes in San Francisco until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completes a public health review of the devices. The plan would also ban manufacturing e-cigarettes on city property.If supervisors approve the ban Tuesday, the measures will require a subsequent vote before they become law.Supporters say the measures will limit young people’s access to e-cigarettes and would compel the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to study the products.Critics say the measures could reduce access to a smoking alternative and would harm small businesses.Samantha Maldonado, The Associated Press read more

UN agreement on Afghan returnees from Pakistan extended for three more years

The agreement was signed yesterday by UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees Judy Cheng-Hopkins and representatives of the Afghan and Pakistani Governments, UNHCR said in a press release from Islamabad.About 2.05 million registered Afghans remain in Pakistan, and those that return to Afghanistan in the next three years will be covered under the tripartite deal, which provides for the legal and operational framework for the repatriations.Ms. Cheng-Hopkins said she was delighted by the spirit of cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan that had allowed the agreement to be established and now extended.“By doing so, they have again recognized and have demonstrated their ongoing commitment to the principles of voluntary, gradual and sustainable returns that are enshrined in the agreement,” she said.Under the deal, a tripartite commission meets three times a year to discuss issues related to the repatriations and to those Afghans still living in Pakistan.At least four million Afghans have returned home since the Taliban fell at the end of 2001, mostly from Pakistan but also from Iran. Returning refugees receive a reintegration package from UNHCR.Ms. Cheng-Hopkins noted that conditions for returning Afghans remain difficult in their homeland after decades of war and misrule.“These things take a long, long time. As we all know, development is not a miracle that happens overnight. It takes long investments [and] long, dedicated periods of time. But I am hopeful we are seeing the beginning of it.” 3 August 2007The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has extended by another three years its agreement with Pakistan and Afghanistan that has already regulated the voluntary repatriation of more than 3 million Afghans to their homeland since the fall of the Taliban. read more

UN rights chief calls on Afghanistan to reinstate moratorium on executions

“I am deeply troubled by this sudden resort to execution after three years of refraining from carrying out the death penalty,” she said in a statement issued today. Saying the circumstances of the executions may constitute a breach of Afghanistan’s obligations under international law, the High Commissioner called on the Government “to reinstate a moratorium on the carrying out of any further executions.”In a statement issued yesterday, the top UN envoy to Afghanistan also expressed his concern at the use of the death penalty in the war-torn nation. Tom Koenigs called for Afghanistan to “continue working towards attaining highest human rights standards and ensuring that due process of law and the rights of all citizens are respected.”Meanwhile, Ms. Arbour will begin a four-day visit to Sri Lanka tomorrow, at the invitation of the Government.The visit to the South Asian nation, which has been embroiled in a decades-long conflict between Government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), is part of the High Commissioner’s efforts to engage with Member States in the promotion and protection of human rights. While in Colombo, Ms. Arbour will be meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, senior Government officials, and representatives of political parties, UN agencies, the diplomatic community and civil society, Yvon Edoumou of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) told reporters in Geneva.The High Commissioner will also meet with members of the Tamil movement, including Members of Parliament representing the Tamil National Alliance, with whom she will raise issues concerning human rights, Mr. Edoumou added. 9 October 2007United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour has urged Afghanistan to reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty following the execution of 15 convicted prisoners in Kabul on Sunday. read more

Palestinian farmers to benefit from UN projects in Gaza West Bank

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is helping Palestinian farmers, shepherds and fishermen in Gaza and the West Bank whose livelihoods have been severely affected by ongoing difficulties in getting essential products into those areas.FAO currently has 14 projects – amounting to $10 million – in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, focusing on areas such as horticulture and greenhouse and irrigation rehabilitation. There has been serious concern over the humanitarian situation in Gaza, given that agriculture and fisheries have been severely impacted by lack of inputs, constraints on farm exports and restrictions on fishing areas. While some agricultural inputs can be purchased locally, those procured abroad are more difficult to import, including plastic sheeting for greenhouses which is currently awaiting clearance by Israeli authorities. During a visit to region last month, FAO Emergency Operations Senior Planning Officer Suzanne Raswant said she was “impressed at the energy and commitment of the FAO Gaza team which is working hard to deliver services and assistance under very difficult conditions.” In addition to the current projects, FAO is seeking an additional $7.3 million this year to help restore livelihoods for farmers, those raising livestock and fishermen, as well as to improve food security. FAO is also working to help Gazans detect and respond to bird flu outbreaks, including through training and the provision of essential testing equipment. Earlier this week, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs highlighted the worsening conditions in Gaza and the West Bank resulting from closures and restrictions on the movement of goods and people during his recent visit to the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel.“After eight months of very serious restrictions on the movement of goods, the political and security crisis in and around Gaza has increasingly severe humanitarian consequences,” said John Holmes, who also serves as UN Emergency Relief Coordinator.He called for the lifting of the regime of closure and restrictions – which has seriously affected the daily lives and economy activities of those living in the West Bank – in a way that would not jeopardize Israel’s legitimate security concerns. 21 February 2008The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is helping Palestinian farmers, shepherds and fishermen in Gaza and the West Bank whose livelihoods have been severely affected by ongoing difficulties in getting essential products into those areas. read more

UNAfrican Union police begin patrols in North Darfur

“The safety of the citizens of Darfur is a priority for UNAMID,” said UNAMID Police Commissioner Michael Fryer, in announcing activities in the domain of the rebel group, which is a faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA). “But curbing crime also involves the full cooperation of the entire community,” he added, explaining that the patrols aimed to strengthen cooperation and trust between the UN and the population and local police. Fighting between rebels, the Government and allied militias has caused the deaths of over 200,000 and the displacement of more than two million people in Darfur over the past five years.There are currently over 1,600 police officers, including 252 female officers, from 32 different countries serving with UNAMID, which took over from an African Union force at the beginning of the year.The UN refugee agency, meanwhile, says it is continuing to provide emergency aid to small groups of Sudanese refugees from West Darfur who are still arriving on a daily basis in eastern Chad, fleeing a wave of aerial and ground attacks that began on 8 February.Over the weekend, teams from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) distributed emergency kits to some of the refugees in the border area, which now number some 13,000. The kits include blankets, as most of the new arrivals have been sheltering under trees for the past three weeks. 4 March 2008Police units of the new United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) conducted their first “confidence-building” patrols in areas controlled by the Minni Minawi-led rebel group in the violence-torn region of Sudan, the mission said today. read more