Sri Lanka to enforce 9-hour curfew from 8 pm today

Colombo [Sri Lanka], May 16 (ANI): Sri Lankan federal government will enforce a curfew from 8 pm on Monday till 5 am Tuesday, local media reported on Monday.

This comes a day after Sri Lankan government  announced that more than 200 people were detained on different charges.

Srilankan Citizens continue to protest against the govt.

On Sunday, newly-appointed Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe stated he will certainly offer a complete description of the financial crisis faced by the island country on Monday.

Ranil was designated Head of state this week with a pledge to revitalize the debilitating Sri Lankan economic condition. He has actually invited opposition leader Sajith Premadasa as well as his party leaders to create a non-partisan federal government that exceeds conventional parliamentary politics and work for the country.

In a collection of tweets on Sunday, Wickremesinghe stated there is a great deal to be “done as well as undone” amidst the unprecedented recession in the country, which requires his federal government to focus on issues.
Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who has actually been implicated of mismanaging the nation’s economic climate, designated 4 ministers to the cabinet after United National Party leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was sworn in as country’s head of state on Thursday.

Ukraine Crisis: Japan bans exports of hi-tech goods to Russia

Tokyo [Japan: Japan has decided to ban the exports of high-tech goods – such as quantum computers, 3D printers and electron microscopes – to Russia, the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Friday.

“Amid the international situation around Ukraine, our country is making a contribution to the international efforts for ensuring peace in the whole world, for settling this issue, as well as imposes a ban on the exports of high-tech goods (quantum computers and 3D printers) to Russia in line with the government’s decision as of May 10. These measures enter into force on May 20,” the ministry said.
The list of the goods, banned for the exports to Russia, includes oil refining equipment, quantum computers and their components, electron microscopes, atomic force microscopes, 3D printers and their consumables, equipment for the production of organic light emitting diodes, equipment for the production of microelectromechanical circuits, equipment for the production of high-efficiency solar cells for hydrogen fuel and renewable energy, vacuum pumps, refrigeration equipment designed for extremely low temperatures, materials that make it difficult to detect electromagnetic waves, and other equipment.

Japan has joined the sanctions campaign against Russia after the latter launched the military operation in Ukraine on February 24.


Russia Invades Ukraine : UK to allocate additional USD 1.6 billion in aid to Ukraine

London [UK]- British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has confirmed an additional funding package for Kyiv in the amount of 1.3 billion pounds (USD 1.6 billion), The Sunday Times reports.

The funds will be taken from the Treasury’s emergency reserves and will come in addition to the United Kingdom’s existing 1.5 billion-pound support to Ukraine, the newspaper said on Sunday.
Sunak confirmed the additional aid following pressure from UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, The Sunday Times said.

Russia is hitting Ukrainian Cities with missiles

Russia launched its special military operation in Ukraine on February 24, after the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) appealed for help in defending themselves against Ukrainian provocations. Russia said that the aim of its special operation is to demilitarize and “denazify” Ukraine.

According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the goal is to protect the people of Donbas, “who have been subjected to abuse, genocide by the Kyiv regime for eight years.” In response to Russia’s operation, Western countries have rolled out a comprehensive sanctions campaign against Moscow and have been supplying weapons to Ukraine. (ANI/Sputnik)


Texas synagogue hostage crisis: Biden condemns anti-Semitism, extremism

Washington [US] (ANI): US President Joe Biden has condemned anti-Semitism after several people were taken hostage at a synagogue in the town of Colleyville, Dallas, and pledged to do everything to prevent “the rise of extremism” in the country.
“Let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate – we will stand against anti-Semitism and against the rise of extremism in this country. That is who we are, and tonight, the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud,” Biden said in a White House statement on Sunday. The US President also noted that law enforcement officers had acted cooperatively and fearlessly to rescue the hostages and thanked them for their “tireless work.”
At least four people were taken hostages by a man at a synagogue in the town of Colleyville for more than ten hours on Saturday.
A live stream of the Shabbat morning service at the synagogue on Facebook captured audio of a man talking loudly when the incident started. According to the law enforcement officials, the hostage-taker demanded the release of the Pakistani scientist Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted of trying to kill US military officers while in custody in Afghanistan. Siddiqui is currently being held at FMC Carswell, a federal prison in Fort Worth Texas.
However, the suspect who took hostages, demanding the release of a Pakistan scientist convicted of trying to kill US military officers while in custody in Afghanistan, has been killed.
“The suspect is deceased,” Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller said during a press conference on late Saturday (local time), explaining that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) rescue team had entered the synagogue in Colleyville and that all the three remaining hostages were rescued unharmed, Sputnik News Agency reported.

UK-based NGO expresses concern over humanitarian crisis affecting Afghan children

Kabul [Afghanistan] (ANI): UK-based international NGO “Save the Children” has expressed grave concern over the humanitarian crisis affecting Afghan children and said the cold weather has greatly increased problems for the young in the country.
Save the Children said that millions are hungry, out of school, displaced, and face the threat of cold weather. They need urgent humanitarian assistance, Tolo News reported citing the organisation’s statement. “Families at the moment are struggling to eat. Nearly five million children are one step away from famine, so it is absolutely critical that the international community continue to support Afghanistan,” said Kristiana Marton, an officer at Save the Children.
Ahmad Hussain, 11, is one of millions of Afghan children who is working to afford food for his 11-member family. He said that poverty forced him to leave school.
“I was in school, but I left it after my father lost his job. Every day, I earn about 50 to 60 afghani,” Ahmad Hussain told Tolo News. “I polish shoes to find the money to buy bread for my family; in these cold days, few people come,” said Kaihan.
Afghanistan has been in turmoil since the Taliban took control of the war-torn nation in mid-August.
Moreover, the humanitarian crisis has spiked since international aid has dried up. (Image source: Instagram)

Freedom is not crime, will pursue democracy against authoritarian China: Taiwan President

Taipei [Taiwan]: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday underlined the challenge that the island is facing to uphold its freedom and democracy amid constantly increasing military and diplomatic pressure from China.
In her New Year’s Day address, President Tsai said, “The pursuit of democracy and freedom is not a crime, and Taiwan’s position in support of Hong Kong will not change. Aside from showing our concern, we will cherish our own hard-earned freedom and democracy even more deeply.” “We will make Taiwan even better and show the world that democratic Taiwan has the courage to step out from the shadow of authoritarian China, and that we will not bow to pressure,” Tsai said.
China continues to consider Taiwan a breakaway province even after decades of separate governance. Taipei has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, even as Beijing continues to threaten that “Taiwan’s independence” by means of war.
Amid the constantly increasing military and diplomatic pressure from China, Taiwan President noted the challenge to uphold its freedom, democracy, and consensus to connect with the world.
“Continuing our global engagement, maintaining our economic momentum, strengthening our social security network, and safeguarding our nation’s sovereignty are the four pillars of our plan for stable governance in 2022,” she was quoted as saying by Taiwan Focus.
China on Thursday, in a belligerent tone, had said it sent more than 940 fighters planes for routine drills which are more than what Taiwanese authorities have said.
“The PLA dispatched more warplanes to routine drills near Taiwan than the DPP authorities revealed, Chinese Defense Ministry said in response to DPP’s recent claims that the mainland conducted 940 warplane sorties near the Taiwan island this year,” state media outlet Global Times reported.
Taiwan witnessed 950 intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) military planes into its Air Defence Identification Zone in 2021 so far, a 60 per cent increase from the previous year.
Moreover, Taiwanese media reported that the island is anticipating a further rise in the number of intrusions as China has ramped up sorties over the past few years.
The number of flights is expected to increase further as tensions rise over major political events on two sides of the Taiwan Strait in 2022, Taiwan News reported.

UK foreign minister warns Russia against ‘any action’ against Ukraine ahead of NATO talks

London [UK] : The United Kingdom will use all economic and diplomatic means at its disposal to prevent the Russian incursion into Ukraine, and such move by Moscow would be strategically wrong, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Tuesday.
“We will support Ukraine and stability in the Western Balkans, to safeguard their security and build their economic resilience … Any action by Russia to undermine the freedom and democracy that our partners enjoy would be a strategic mistake,” Truss said in a statement issued by her office ahead of NATO foreign ministers meeting in Latvia scheduled from Tuesday through Wednesday. In response, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that London out-shadows Moscow in terms of strategic failures.
The event meeting should further unite NATO allies in the face of “continued destabilizing actions by Russia and Belarus,” the statement added.
“We do not encroach on strategic mistakes – this is the historical prerogative of Britain,” she wrote on her Telegram channel.
The alliance is set to gather top diplomats of its countries in Riga to discuss the alleged amassing of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine, Belarus-Poland border migration crisis, Afghanistan, as well as “the situation in the region with NATO’s close partners Georgia and Ukraine.”
Ahead of the meeting, Truss visited the UK troops stationed in Estonia within the framework of NATO enhanced presence in the Baltic region, including Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland.

Russia to deliver humanitarian aid to Kabul

Moscow [Russia] : Russia will deliver humanitarian aid to Kabul on Wednesday and organize another return flight, Special Presidential Representative for Afghanistan Zamir Kabulov told Sputnik.
“Yes,” Kabul said when asked if Moscow plans to deliver aid to Kabul on December 1, and confirmed that another return flight will be organized, Sputnik reported. The Taliban entered Kabul on August 15, causing the US-backed government to step down. Later in September, the outfit announced the composition of the new interim government of Afghanistan.
The country is currently battered by the deepening economic, humanitarian, and security crisis following the Taliban takeover. The international community, from governments to non-governmental organizations, has been providing various assistance to the Afghan people.
As the economic crisis is looming on the Taliban-ruled country, the US has also frozen nearly USD 9.5 billion in assets belonging to the Afghan central bank and stopped shipments of cash to the nation.
In response, the Taliban have been urging the international community to unfreeze the assets.

Pakistan agrees to provide life-saving drugs to Afghanistan

Islamabad [Pakistan] : Pakistan has agreed to provide life-saving drugs to Afghanistan, which is witnessing a severe humanitarian crisis under the Taliban.
A delegation of the Afghan health ministry visited Pakistan, requesting the country’s government to provide the country with life-saving drugs on an emergency footing. Afghanistan’s Minister for Public Health Dr Qalandar Jihad, along with a delegation, met government and non-government figures during a recently concluded trip to Pakistan, sources told Geo News.
The Taliban delegation made a request for an immediate provision of life-saving medicines, as well as described the conditions of hospitals in Afghanistan, which have been rendered dysfunctional amid the recent political turmoil in the country.
Responding to the request, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) promised the Afghan government multiple containers of life-saving drugs.
The United Nations, in September, said Afghanistan’s health system is on the brink of collapse,
“Allowing Afghanistan’s healthcare delivery system to fall apart would be disastrous,” said the head of the World Health Organisation Martin Griffiths. “People across the country would be denied access to primary healthcare such as emergency caesarean sections and trauma care.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said that international funding cuts had forced health providers to decide “who to save and who to let die”.
Tedros explained that a lack of financial support for the country’s largest health project, Sehetmandi, had left thousands of facilities unable to buy medical supplies and pay salaries.

UK ‘must try to engage’ with ‘Islamic Emirate’ in Afghanistan

London [UK] : Amid the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that Britain must engage with the current Taliban government to tackle the existing crisis in the country.
Johnson made the remarks in response to a question UK lawmaker in the parliament, TOLOnews reported. Stating that Afghanistan looks like ‘hell on earth’, Labor Party member Sarah Champion asked Johnson “how and when” will aid that has been pledged by the UK be provided to the people of Afghanistan.
Johnson explained that the UK had no other choice but to engage with the current Afghan government to assist the overcoming of crisis in the troubled nation.
“There is no point in the UK just standing on the sidelines and failing to engage with the Taliban,” he said.
“They may not speak for all Afghans, far from it, but they are some kind of authority – even if a very imperfect authority. The UK must try to engage, for the sake of the people that you’re talking about,” Johnson said.
The “Islamic Emirate” welcomed Britain prime minister’s statement, TOLOnews reported.
“We welcome the remarks of the British Prime Minister. The official engagement will definitely make Afghanistan’s relations better with the world. The gates of understanding and negotiations are opened by the Islamic Emirate. If there is any challenge, it can be solved via this path,” said Inamullah Samangani, deputy spokesperson for the “Islamic Emirate” of Afghanistan.
This comes as experts in the region believe that the world’s engagement with Afghanistan will help overcome the existing crisis in the country.

Afghanistan state firm vows to pay electricity debts to central Asian countries

Kabul [Afghanistan] : Amid the economic and power crisis in the country, Afghanistan state electricity company has promised that it will soon pay the electricity debts owed to Central Asian countries.
“Breshna Sherkat is going to pay the electricity debts very soon to the neighbouring countries,” said Hekmatullah Noorzai, a spokesperson for officials of De Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), as quoted by TOLOnews. Afghan Chamber of Industries and Mines said factories will stop operating if electricity is cut off by the neighbouring countries.
“Productive factories rely on electricity, if there is no electricity, the problems will significantly increase,” said Mohammad Karim Azimi, CEO of Chamber of Industries and Mines.
Last week, Afghanistan decided to import 100 megawatts of electricity from Iran due to the shortage of electricity and the approaching winter months when demand for power increases.
DABS said they have signed an agreement with Iran to import 100 megawatts of electricity to Afghanistan, TOLOnews reported. The company said that it is buying electricity to address the shortage in provinces in the west.
Afghanistan’s capital city Kabul could dive into darkness due to the non-payment of dues of central Asian electricity suppliers by new Taliban rulers.
Electricity imports from neighbouring countries like Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan account for 80 per cent of the country’s power consumption.
Taliban took over Kabul in August and assumed control of the state energy utility, inheriting its debts. But it has so far failed to make payments to the creditors.

Pakistan responsible for humanitarian crisis

Kabul [Afghanistan] : Pakistan, the creator, organizer and mentor to the Taliban is responsible for the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, according to an Arabic media outlet.
According to a news piece published in Al Arabiya Post, Pakistan is using the recognition card as a tool to leverage aid to the Afghan people. Taliban which controls the country has been unable to provide care for Afghan people. The United Nations had warned that almost half of the population of Afghanistan will face a hunger crisis between the present time and March next year, Al Arabiya Post reported.
It further said that things are getting worse on the humanitarian front.
The latest report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Afghanistan shows concern about “conditional humanitarianism” or attempts to “leverage” humanitarian assistance for political purposes.
Apart from it, protection and safety risks to people including women, children and people with a disability, also reaching record highs.
Violence perpetrated by the Taliban over the years has been recognised by the Afghan people and small pockets of popular resistance have cropped up. This is a natural outcome of the twenty years of change that Afghanistan witnessed since 2001.
Meanwhile, IFFRAS data shows that more than 95 per cent of Afghans do not have enough food to eat.
For Pakistan, which nurtured, organised and supported the Taliban right from its inception, there is a big responsibility towards the Afghan people.
According to Al Arabiya Post, if Pakistan is serious about helping the Afghan people, it must allow passage of humanitarian aid across its territory from India. India has proposed to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat via the land route.
Violence perpetrated by the Taliban over the years has been recognised by the Afghan people and small pockets of popular resistance have cropped up. This is a natural outcome of the twenty years of change that Afghanistan witnessed since 2001, Al Arabiya Post reported further.

Muslims in China: Under a cloud of hardship

By Kshvid News Desk with inputs from agencies

From the beginning of civilization, a man had the urge to oppose minorities. Those who had power were always used to oppress others who were weak. But with the passage of time, minorities started to make groups and communities and fought for their rights. There is a complete history of a man fighting for his rights and fighting hard for the survival of his kind. And he succeeded in most of the cases. But the suffering for humanity never ended. in almost all regions of the world, minorities are suffering in one way or another.  The most recent and most heartbreaking conditions are for the Muslims of China. Even though China has good relations with almost all Muslim countries, its Muslim population isn’t in good shape or condition.

Uyghur, Chinese, also written Uygur or Uighur, are an interior Asian Turkic-speaking people. The majority of Uyghurs live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China; a small minority also live in Central Asian countries. Around 10,000,000 Uyghurs lived in China in the early twenty-first century, with at least 300,000 in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. Xinjiang has had brief periods of freedom and control, with the Chinese imperial powers having complete control for only around 425 years. Since the third century BC, the region has been referred to as “western regions.” At various times, Han Chinese, Uygurs, Mongolians, and other peoples made alliances or battled against each other to rule the region, with the Qing dynasty reasserting Beijing’s influence in the 18th century. After being captured by the Qing emperors in the eighteenth century, Xinjiang was integrated as a new province of the Chinese Empire in 1878. Xinjiang was an independent state administered by the East Turkestan Republic at the time of the 1949 Revolution, with a violent past and disruptive tendencies.

Shih Chien-yu, a lecturer on Central Asian affairs at Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University, believes tribal groups in Xinjiang’s diverse locations, like as Kashgar and Hotan, may not have historically ascribed to a collective Uygur identity. The term “Uygur” initially originated in the fourth century, and its origins may be traced back to a group of Toquz Oghuz Turks. When the region came under the power of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, it was adopted for official usage, and the term “Uygur” was used to identify the people.

After the Communist Party won the civil war in 1949 and assumed control of the western region, it continued to use the title Uygurs. It established the Xinjiang Uygur independent state in 1955, following the Soviet model of giving ethnic minorities sovereignty over their own affairs, at least in theory.

According to reports, the Chinese government has imprisoned over a million Muslims in rehabilitation facilities. The majority of those arbitrarily jailed are Uyghur. Human rights organizations, UN officials, and a number of foreign nations are pressing China to put an end to the acts, which the US has labeled genocide. However, Chinese officials contend that what they refer to as vocational training institutes do not violate Uyghurs’ human rights. They have refused to release details on the detention facilities and have barred media and foreign investigators from inspecting them. However, internal Chinese government documents leaked in late 2019 revealed critical data on how authorities established and maintained the prison facilities.

In 2016, the China Communist Party (CCP) moved Chen Quanguo, a leader famous for his anti-minorities’ actions in Tibet, to Xinjiang as the province’s secretary. Within a year, Chen had implemented his securitization strategy. Since 2017, Beijing has invested $700 million to build 1,200 prison centers in Xinjiang. Muslims are detained for “crimes” such as “wearing a veil,” growing “a lengthy beard,” and breaking the government’s family planning policy. Beijing has also heightened monitoring through technical intelligence analysis and has used DNA profiling, blood sample, fingerprinting, and voice sampling.

Through state-sponsored efforts, Uyghur women are subjected to forced sterilizations, abortions, and contraceptive device implantation. Xinjiang accounts for only 1.8 percent of the Chinese population, yet Uyghur women received 80 percent of fertility drugs implanted in 2018. As a result, the natural population growth rate in Khotan and Kashgar cities in southern Xinjiang plummeted by 84 percent between 2015 and 2018, from 1.6 percent to 0.26 percent. The suppression of Muslim population growth has been so severe that the 2020 Xinjiang yearbook did not include the region’s official demographic numbers for the first time in history. Furthermore, female prisoners are hungry and receive only 200 grammes of drinking water each day. Some are paraded in front of shaved-head male police officers.

Mass rapes, harsh interrogation torture, and criminal organ harvesting are believed to be common in prison camps, and captives are also made to work. During the COVID-19 pandemic, imprisoned were assigned to labor in manufacturing units around the country. Reports suggested that the CCP used a “kill-on-demand” method to extract the organs of Uyghur imprisoned as an emergency solution meet heightened organ demand on the mainland.

Uyghur Muslims working in government departments, particularly teachers, are required to swear that neither they nor their families will perform five prayers, wear a headscarf, or wear religious clothing, and to teach their students’ guardians to refrain from performing prayers and other religious activities. Since 2017, conducting prayers has been labelled an illegal religious activity, and Uyghurs have been punished for doing so.

China has dismissed Western countries’ charges of genocide, and US and European measures have had a little noticeable impact on Beijing’s activities in the region. Because access to the region is restricted, it isn’t easy to verify claims. Aside from state-sponsored visits, where authorities escort diplomats and journalists, independent organizations or media that have been allowed to enter Xinjiang have reported being closely monitored and trailed by security personnel. Activists claim they are unable to obtain visas, travel freely, or assure the safety of those they speak within Xinjiang.

Despite China’s massive breaches of Uyghur Muslims’ human rights, economically disadvantaged Muslim countries have embraced Beijing’s political Islam agenda, turning a blind eye to the crimes in Xinjiang. BRI investments and loans have been utilized to oppress the Uyghur exile in Muslim countries, with numerous states pushed into signing extradition treaties and deporting Uyghur exiles to China’s mainland. China has used energy diplomacy to guarantee these countries’ silence on the Uyghur issue, signing long-term oil investments and exploiting domestic political uncertainty in these countries. China’s strategy in the Muslim world is not based on alliances. Its strategic relationships have created a wise and practical case-by-case system for each country based on non-intervention, territorial integrity, and sovereignty. China has made significant inroads into the Muslim world, and it has even persuaded certain neighboring countries in South and Central Asia to adopt the Xinjiang model to varying degrees. But Uyghur Muslims condition in china is becoming worst day by day. Lets hope for the better world for all in which all humans will be treated with the same dignity.

#uyghur #muslims #china #crisis #explained

Russia ready to help resolve crisis on Polish-Belarusian border: Putin

Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy [Russia] : Russia is ready to help resolve the crisis on the Belarusian-Polish border, where migrants are trying to cross over into the EU territory, President Vladimir Putin said.
“We are ready to do everything possible to help [resolve the crisis], if, of course, there is something that depends on us,” Putin said, as aired on Rossiya 1 broadcaster.

Pakistan oppn lashes out at Imran Khan govt over piling up of loans, energy crisis

Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan opposition has slammed Imran Khan-led government over piling up of massive loans, unprecedented devaluation of rupee and deepening energy crisis in the country.
The News International reported that Senator Sherry has said that the Pakistan government continues to maintain its indefensible position on mismanagement of the gas sector and its iniquitous distribution in the country, yet shows us no plan for overcoming the crisis as a harsh winter looms ahead. “None has answered the basic question as to why the government could not manage the purchase of LNG in the summer at 1/3 the rates. The price of gas today is also naturally related to the LNG fiasco and its shortage. Currently, Pakistan is facing an estimated shortfall of 2,200mmcfd while the prices have become unaffordable for people,” she said, reported Pakistani newspaper.
Senator Sherry noted that the rupee has dropped to a historic low of Rs 176 against the USD. The government doesn’t seem to have a plan to tackle this crisis as it has taken an ad hoc approach that has led the power sector into terrible paralysis.
“The government purchased LNG cargoes at the historic high price of $30.6 per million British thermal units (mmbtu) now when it was being sold at $13 per mmbtu in the summer. They did not purchase or book cargoes when all other countries were doing it in the summer at much lower rates. Even in October, they purchased LNG cargoes at a record price of $20.29 per mmbtu,” she said.
Pakistan is on the verge of a massive shortage of gas and rationing due to depleting local gas reserves and the failure of the Imran Khan government to procure a sufficient quantity of LNG.
On November 1, energy minister Hammad Azhar had informed that the government has arranged 11 LNG cargoes for the month of November, The News International reported.
LNG trading companies have backed out of an agreement made with PLL to provide two cargoes for November for mammoth monetary gains of up to 200 per cent profit in the international spot market, according to the publication.
Pakistan’s cost of energy production has increased following an increase in fuel prices.
Almost two-thirds of the country’s electricity generation is based on fossil fuels, as per The Tribune.
The rise in crude oil prices have hit the highest in the last three years – USD 86 per barrel, the newspaper reported. The energy crisis is worsening due to the rising cost of the LNG.

UN official urges reform measures amid crisis in Lebanon

Beirut [Lebanon]: A senior UN official on Friday warned that Lebanon may turn into a “failing state” if the government does not succeed in implementing quick and serious reform measures amid the current unprecedented financial crisis.
“The prime minister should exercise his authority and move the country forward. There is no time to waste,” said Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, during a press conference held at the end of his mission in the capital Beirut. He also noted that with a highly regressive tax system, Lebanon is “among the most unequal countries on the planet whereby 10 percent of the wealthiest people earn 70 percent of the total wealth.”
De Schutter pointed out that Lebanon is facing four main crises, including the presence of a big number of Syrian refugees, the devaluation of the Lebanese pound amid the rising inflation, the COVID-19 outbreak which increased school drop-out among Lebanese students, and the impact of the Beirut port blasts which left thousands of people homeless and hundreds of thousands others jobless.
“Behind all of these crises, there is a crisis of trust,” De Schutter added.
De Schutter emphasized the need for the political system to recover its integrity, especially when it comes to the banking sector responsible for the downfall of the Lebanese pound and the impoverishment of people.
He noted that one of the inconveniences facing the banking sector is the fact that 18 out of 20 banks have major shareholders linked to the political elites.
“We need to prevent the conflict of interests between the business sector and politicians, otherwise Lebanon will become a state that is captured by economic interests,” he said.

UN Security Council appeals for end to violence in Myanmar

New York [US]: The UN Security Council has called for an immediate cessation of violence across Myanmar, and efforts to ensure the safety of civilians, following reports of more clashes between the armed forces and militant groups.
In a statement issued on Wednesday evening, the Council expressed deep concern over the violence, noting that “recent developments pose particular serious challenges for the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees and internally displaced persons.” The UN continues to monitor developments in Myanmar, where the army seized power in February. Subsequent pro-democracy protests were met with brutal crackdowns.
This week, international media reported that the army has begun to amass heavy weapons and troops in Chin state, located in the northwest of the country, suggesting an imminent attack against militia groups that have surfaced since the coup.
UN Security Council members also underlined the importance of steps to improve the health and humanitarian situation in Myanmar, including the need to facilitate unhindered delivery and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
They reiterated their full support for the “positive and constructive role” played by regional bloc ASEAN in facilitating a peaceful solution and underscored support for its Special Envoy.
“The Members of the Security Council reaffirmed their support for the people of Myanmar and the country’s democratic transition, and their strong commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and unity of Myanmar,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Myanmar is deteriorating, UN relief chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement earlier in the week.
Rising conflict and insecurity, along with the pandemic and a failing economy, have left some three million people in need of assistance, while violence since the military takeover has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes.
Griffiths added that the situation in the northwest has become “extremely concerning” in recent weeks.
This follows an escalation in hostilities between the armed forces and the Chinland Defence Force in Chin state, and with the People’s Defence Forces in Magway and Sagaing regions.
Although humanitarians are providing assistance to people across the country, and are ready to do more, they remain hampered by lack of access and funding, he said.
Griffiths urged the international community to fully support a USD 385 million humanitarian plan for Myanmar, which so far is less than half funded.

US special representative to Afghanistan to meet Taliban FM in Pakistan

Kabul [Afghanistan] : Thomas West, US special representative to Afghanistan, and Amir Khan Motaqi, one of the top leaders of the Taliban are intended to meet each other in Islamabad, where they are scheduled to attend Troika Plus meeting, reported Khaama Press.
Motaqi, Foreign Minister in the Taliban government, leading a high-level delegation arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday evening. Pakistan will host senior diplomats from the US, China and Russia in Islamabad to discuss the situation in Afghanistan on Thursday.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and its National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf will chair the ‘Troika Plus’ meeting.
The representative of the four countries will also meet Afghanistan’s acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, Dawn reported. Muttaqi also arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday. It is the first visit to Pakistan by an Afghan minister since the Taliban seized control of Kabul in August.
Pakistani officials have said that the primary aim of Troika Plus will be finding ways to avert the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and to establish an inclusive government.
The US special representative for Afghanistan who is on his first Asian and European tour will also be visiting India and Russia, according to Khaama Press.

Afghanistan facing humanitarian crisis, its social, economic situation deteriorating

New Delhi [India] : Expressing concerns over the prevailing situation in Afghanistan, Karim Massimov, Chairman of Kazakhstan National Security Committee, on Wednesday said the social and economic situation of Afghans is deteriorating and the country is facing a humanitarian crisis.
Speaking at a regional security dialogue on Afghanistan hosted by India, Massimov said there is a need to increase humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. “We are concerned about the prevailing situation in Afghanistan. The social and economic situation of Afghans is deteriorating and the country is facing a humanitarian crisis; necessary to increase humanitarian assistance,” he said.
Massimov said that the stabilization of Afghanistan demands the efforts of the whole international community.
“With the Taliban movement coming into power the situation inside the country remains complicated. There are many obstacles to forming an effective government. The terrorist organisations are intensifying activities,” he noted.
“Stabilization of Afghanistan demands the efforts of the whole international community. It is highly important to begin concrete action,” he added.
The meeting was chaired by Indian National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. National Security Advisers of five central Asian countries – Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan besides Russia and Iran – are attending the meet.
In his remarks, Ajit Doval called for greater cooperation and interaction and coordination amongst the regional countries over the issue of Afghanistan.
“We are meeting today to discuss the matters relating to Afghanistan. We all have been keenly watching the developments in that country. These have important implications not only for the people of Afghanistan but also for its neighbours and the region,” Doval said.
“This is a time for close consultation amongst us greater cooperation and interaction and coordination amongst the regional countries. I am confident that our deliberations will be productive useful and will contribute to helping the people of Afghanistan and will enhance our collective security,” he said.
Iran had hosted dialogues in a similar format previously.
It is a continuation of the format started by Tehran in 2018 and 2019, however, this time dialogue will see the highest participation of seven nations.
Speaking at the meet, Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council of Russia, said that multilateral meetings of secretaries of the security council on the Afghan issue is an important format and helps us to discuss the whole package of issues linked to the developing situation in Afghanistan on the highest level.
“It also helps to elaborate practical measures to counter challenges and threat emanation from Afghan territory,” he said.
Patrushev noted the increased activity of international and regional stakeholders in the Afghan dimension and the creation of new formats.

Vatican calling on Europe to take responsibility for refugees on Polish-Belarusian border

Vatican City [Vatican] : Top Vatican diplomat Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher called on the European authorities on Tuesday to take responsibility for migrants and refugees in connection with the crisis on Belarus’ border with Poland and Lithuania.
“The immediate crisis is taking place on the borders between Belarus and Poland”, Gallagher said at a press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “The Holy See encourages authorities throughout the whole of Europe to assume the responsibility with regard to migrants and to refugees … We would encourage all those in this project to assume responsibilities and to address what is obviously a very serious humanitarian crisis,” the archbishop added.

Turkish president steps back from expulsion of 10 Western ambassadors

Ankara [Turkey] : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday stepped back from the threat to declare 10 Western ambassadors as “persona non grata” over their joint call for the release of a jailed activist businessman.
Speaking after a cabinet meeting, Erdogan welcomed a new statement by several Western embassies in Ankara, which noted that they abide by a diplomatic convention that stipulates not to interfere in a host country’s internal affairs. “Our intention is never to cause a crisis but to protect our honour, our pride, our sovereign rights. The new statement shows they have taken a step back from the slander against our country. They will be more careful now,” the Turkish president said.
“It is the duty of the head of state to give the necessary response to this disrespect towards our judicial members,” he stated.
The United States and several other embassies on Monday issued similar statements, while some of them retweeted a US embassy tweet, saying they respected a UN convention that required diplomats not to interfere in the host country’s domestic affairs.
The diplomatic crises erupted last week after the embassies of the United States, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden in Ankara made a joint statement on October 18 for the release of Osman Kavala.
Erdogan on October 21 threatened to expel the ambassadors of these 10 countries on the grounds that they interfere with Turkey’s judiciary.
Kavala was acquitted in 2020 of charges related to nationwide Gezi protests in 2013. But his ruling was overturned and was combined with a probe into a coup attempt in 2016 on the accusation of spying.

Myanmar military junta ‘extremely disappointed’ over Min Aung Hlaing exclusion from ASEAN summit

Naypyitaw [Myanmar]: Myanmar’s military junta on Saturday said that it was ‘extremely disappointed’ over its leader Min Aung Hlaing’s exclusion from the upcoming ASEAN summit.
The decision to exclude Hlaing from an upcoming October 26-28 summit was taken during an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) emergency meeting late on Friday, according to a statement from the current chair of the group Brunei, reported CNN. Brunei said in the statement a non-political figure from Myanmar would be invited to the summit after no consensus was reached for a political representative to attend.
Brunei’s Foreign Minister also said there had been “insufficient progress” on a roadmap to restore peace in Myanmar that the junta had agreed to with ASEAN in April, as well as “concerns” over the junta’s commitment to establishing constructive dialogue among all concerned parties, reported CNN.
“Some ASEAN member states recommended that ASEAN give space to Myanmar to restore its internal affairs and return to normalcy,” the statement said.
In response, Myanmar’s military-controlled foreign ministry said it was “extremely disappointed and strongly objected” to being excluded from the summit.
“The discussions and decision on Myanmar’s representation issue were done without consensus and was against the objectives of ASEAN,” the foreign ministry said.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s foreign ministry said Saturday it supported the exclusion of Myanmar’s junta, saying that it was a “difficult but necessary decision” to uphold ASEAN’s credibility, reported CNN.
“Singapore urges the Myanmar military authorities to cooperate with the special envoy to swiftly and fully implement the five-point consensus,” the ministry said in a statement.
The decision by ASEAN to exclude Myanmar’s junta marks a rare bold step for the consensus-driven bloc, which has traditionally favoured a policy of engagement and non-interference, reported CNN.
Min Aung Hlaing is the one who led a coup against an elected civilian government in February and detained the country’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi over alleged election irregularities.
In August, Min Aung Hlaing declared himself Prime Minister of a newly formed caretaker government. During an address to the nation on August 1, he repeated a pledge to hold elections by 2023.
More than 1,000 civilians have been killed by Myanmar security forces with thousands of others arrested, according to the United Nations, amid a crackdown on strikes and protests which has derailed the country’s tentative democracy and prompted international condemnation.

Japan’s new Prime Minister visits Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Tokyo [Japan] : Japan’s newly elected Prime Minister Fumio Kishida travelled on Sunday to the defunct Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the country’s quake-and-tsunami-hit northeast.
This is the former foreign minister’s first trip to the crisis area since he was sworn in as Japan’s 100th prime minister in early October. He arrived in the area on Saturday. “The power plant’s complete decommissioning is a must if we want to rebuild the region, so I want to see you building a confidential relationship with the locals as you carry on with the work,” Kishida told the Fukushima operator TEPCO.
The prime minister laid flowers at a shrine honouring victims of the 2011 disaster in the town of Namie, not far from the crippled nuclear plant. The catastrophe killed more than 15,000 people, displaced thousands more and caused a meltdown at the power plant.

US to send delegation to Southeast Asia to discuss Myanmar crisis

Washington [US]: The United States said it will send a delegation to Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia next week as part of efforts to address the crisis in Myanmar triggered by a military coup in February.
The delegation led by State Department Counselor Derek Chollet, who serves as a policy adviser to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, will also make a stop in Japan on its way home to discuss Myanmar and challenges related to the Indo-Pacific, Kyodo News reported. During the trip to Southeast Asia, the officials will seek to expand cooperation with US allies and partners as well as to reinforce the role that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plays in regional stability, the State Department said in a press release.
On the situation in Myanmar, they will reiterate the U.S. commitment to the people there and underscore that the international community, including neighboring countries, has an “urgent responsibility” to pressure the military regime to cease violence, release political prisoners and restore Myanmar to the path of democracy, it said.
In Thailand, Chollet and the team will also discuss cooperation on cross-border humanitarian aid for Myanmar.
The military seized power in Myanmar on February 1, imprisoning the nation’s de facto ruler Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint and prompting mass protests demanding a return to civilian rule.

RK Singh dismisses reports of coal crisis

New Delhi [India]: Dismissing the media reports of coal shortage in the country, Union Power Minister RK Singh on Tuesday asserted that there is no coal crisis in India like China and the country is in a position to meet the increasing demand of coal.
Emphasising that the rise in demand for electricity is a positive indication for the country’s economy, Singh said, “The demand for coal has increased and we are fulfilling this demand. We are in a position to meet the further rise in the demands.” In an exclusive interview with ANI, Singh said, “Sharp surge in energy demand is a good sign of recovery of our economy. This shows that our economy is growing and this should be taken in that way. We have also added around 2.83 crore new consumers in the system. Most of them are from lower-middle-class and poor sections, so they are buying fans, lights and television sets this is also the reason for the increase in demand.”
Underscoring the fact that coal demand is rising but the country is able to meet the demand and supply situation the union minister said, “If the demand increases further we are able to meet that also as we have enough arrangements. If we see today’s stock, we have coal stock of 4 days. Coal rakes are coming daily. We have a committee headed by Power Secretary having top officials from Railway and Coal Ministry that is daily reviewing the situation and is keeping a close eye on the demand and supply situation. This committee ensures that no power plant is facing a shortage of coal.”
When asked about the neighbouring country China which is facing energy crises that are disrupting global supply chains and sending prices soaring and if there is any fear factor involved or a worrying situation for India, the Power Minister categorically said, “Not at all. There is no coal crisis in India and whatever the demand is, we are able to meet the demand.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Coal on Monday set a target of one billion tonne coal production by 2024.
The Ministry of Coal finalized an Agenda Document for the year 2021-22 which broadly focuses on the four areas including coal sector reforms, coal transition and sustainability, institution building and futuristic agenda.
The Agenda covers the entire gamut of areas for steering the coal sector into new technologies while focussing on the core competence of ensuring set production targets including the one billion tonne by 2024.

Myanmar faces humanitarian crisis with about 3 million people requiring assistance: UN

New York [US]: Myanmar is facing a humanitarian crisis with about 3 million people requiring assistance, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement on Monday.
OCHA said that Myanmar is facing a humanitarian crisis, exacerbated by the ongoing consequences of COVID-19 and events following February 1. “About 3 million people require humanitarian assistance, including an additional 2 million people identified since 1 February this year. The most vulnerable remain families living in urban and peri-urban areas, mainly in Yangon and Mandalay, as well as people affected by conflict in south-eastern and western Myanmar,” the statement said.
It further said that more than 220,000 people have been internally displaced due to armed clashes as well as overall insecurity since 1 February. The areas most affected include Kachin, Shan, Chin, Kayah and Kayin states and adjacent townships in Sagaing and Magway.
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the coup on February 1, when the Myanmar military led by Senior General Ming Aung Hlaing overthrew the civilian government and declared a year-long state of emergency. The coup triggered mass protests and was met by deadly violence.
OCHA in a statement said that the COVID-19 pandemic remains deeply concerning. As of 24 September, more than 455,000 cases and 17,000 deaths have been reported. It is likely that the numbers are higher due to low testing capacity in-country.
The UN and its humanitarian partners have been working to respond to the impacts of the ongoing displacement, growing food insecurity and COVID-19. However, continued challenges in accessing people in need remains a fundamental challenge due to ongoing insecurity, bureaucratic impediments and disruptions to the banking systems/cash liquidity issues, the statement said.
It further stated that despite the challenges, the humanitarian response continues. For example, since May, the World Food Programme has supported more than 800,000 vulnerable people in its large-scale urban food response in Yangon peri-urban areas.
Myanmar’s 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan, which requires USD 276.5 million to help more than 3 million people, is 47 per cent funded, leaving a deficit of USD 146 million, the statement added.

Serbia extends gratitude to India for assistance during COVID-19 crisis

New Delhi [India]: Serbian Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic extended gratitude to India for providing assistance during the COVID-19 crisis and also said that both the countries possess similar characteristics.
Selakovic’s remarks came during a keynote speech on India-Serbia relations at the Indian Council of World Affairs, he was joined by Director-General of the organisation, Vijay Thakur Singh. “I thank and express our gratitude to the Indian government, PM [Narendra Modi], and your Minister [EAM Jaishankar] for the help given to our country during COVID-19, including the vaccines,” he said.
During his address to the house, Selakovic also informed that India and Serbia share strong relations and the Serbian government respects India’s positions in the fight against terrorism.
“We have been sharing many common interests in the field of politics, trade, economy and culture. Serbia is keeping and preserving its position as a military-neutral country. It is not willing to become a member of NATO,” Serbian Foreign Minister added during his keynote speech.
Meanwhile, Serbian Charge d’Affaires to India Sinisa Pavic was also present in the meeting.
Serbian Foreign Minister also expressed that both countries have to go together and have to cooperate more in the future.
Serbian Foreign Minister is in New Delhi for a two-day visit.

Afghanistan crisis hits Ludhiana’s sewing machine industry

Ludhiana (Punjab) [India], September 8: The sewing machine industry in Ludhiana is fearing heavy losses due to the ongoing Afghanistan crisis and regime change.
While speaking to ANI on Wednesday, Jagjit Singh Sokhi, the president of Sewing Machines Industries, Ludhiana, expressed fears of impending losses due to the Afghanistan crisis. He said that every year, 1.5 lakh sewing machines, 5-6 lakhs spare parts were sent to Afghanistan and Rs. 150-200 crores were earned annually from the business. But now, the industry was set to lose out due to the change in regime.

“The Afghanistan crisis is a huge blow to us, especially after Covid. Afghanistan takes a lot of our machines, they are supplied in bulk to Afghanistan. We expect a 40 per cent downfall in our trade. This is done either through Pakistan, Dubai or directly to Afghanistan. The crisis in Afghanistan has further hit the industry,” Sokhi said.
He pointed out that the sewing machine industry started in Ludhiana in 1942.
“Machines produced here are famous for their quality. Besides being sold domestically, they are exported to the Middle East, several Islamic countries too because embroidery is really popular in these countries. There are 6000 units, both big and small in Ludhiana and the turnover is around Rs. 1200-1500 crores,” he said.
Samandeep Singh, another industrialist said, “Our family has been in this industry for the past 50 years. 70 per cent of our exports go to Afghanistan. But this power crisis has impacted our business. Exports have stopped for the past two months. Our existing orders, payments have stopped. Production has been reduced by 50 per cent. Future does not look good.”

“It is a labour-oriented job. We will have to stop our work. Labour will be unemployed. Government must think about this,” Samandeep said. 

UN humanitarian funds allocate $10M for fuel crisis response in Lebanon

Beirut [Lebanon]: The United Nations said its humanitarian funds have allocated USD 10 million to respond to the fuel crisis in Lebanon and help avert the deterioration of the country’s humanitarian situation.
The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, on Wednesday allocated USD 4 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to respond to the fuel crisis in Lebanon. The allocation will help 2.3 million people across Lebanon by making sure there is enough fuel to keep water stations functioning.
The CERF allocation goes alongside a USD 6 million allocation from the Lebanon Humanitarian Fund to help 65 hospitals in Lebanon, as well as primary health-care centres, dispensaries and medical cold chain storage.
The fuel shortage, a result of the ongoing socioeconomic and political crises, is jeopardizing the availability of health care and drinking water for nearly everyone in Lebanon.
“Fuel and electricity shortages are threatening essential health and water services across Lebanon, putting thousands of families at risk of a humanitarian crisis,” Martin Griffiths, said from the capital city of Beirut, where he is meeting with senior government officials and representatives of humanitarian and donor communities as part of a weeklong visit to Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.
“Many hospitals in Lebanon have already been forced to reduce their operations because of fuel shortages and electricity outages. The public water supply and wastewater treatment systems, which rely heavily on fuel, have been drastically cut across the country, leaving millions of people without access to water in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Griffiths added.
As part of the CERF allocation, the World Food Programme (WFP) will help supply fuel to hospitals, health-care centres, dispensaries and water stations. The funds will also support four water supply areas in Beirut – Bekaa, Mt. Lebanon, North and South – which serve more than two thirds of Lebanon’s population.
Families in Lebanon have been increasingly relying on private water trucking, which is becoming unaffordable and unsafe. They are also at risk from contaminated water, which some suppliers have been distributing.
Lebanon has been grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Syria crisis, and the aftermath of the Beirut Port explosions in August 2020. Increasing poverty, economic contraction and inflation have compounded needs among people living across Lebanon, including refugee communities.
Since October 2019, the Lebanese pound has lost more than 90 per cent of its value, leading to a year-on-year inflation of 120 per cent between May 2020 and May 2021. Food prices increased 400 per cent between January and December 2020.
Established by the UN General Assembly in 2005, CERF enables humanitarian responders to deliver life-saving assistance whenever and wherever crises strike.
The Lebanon Humanitarian Fund is a Country-based Pooled Fund led by the Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon and managed by OCHA. Initiated in 2014, the Fund supports the strategic delivery of timely, accountable and effective humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable people in Lebanon.

Delhi water crisis: Ruckus outside Satyendra Jain’s house as BJP protests against AAP govt

Scores of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) workers on Monday protested against the Delhi government over the water crisis. The BJP workers were protesting outside the residence of state Health Minister Satyendra Jain in the Civil Lines area. The Delhi Police had to resort to water cannons to disperse the BJP workers. Jain is the chairman of the Delhi Jal Board (DJB).

BJP’s Delhi unit president Adesh Gupta blamed the AAP government for the crisis. He said that the government has failed to deliver on its promises and that tanker mafias have flourished under Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.

“People in Delhi are craving for each drop of water. The ministers of the Kejriwal government will realise the problems being faced by the people when their water supply is cut off,” he said.

BJP workers also tried to cut the water connection to Jain’s house. The protesters also threatened to cut off the water supply to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s residence if the issue is not resolved within the next two days.

The protest came a day after Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) workers allegedly damaged the water connection to Delhi BJP chief Adesh Gupta’s residence in Patel Nagar during a protest against the Haryana government for allegedly not providing the capital with its share of water.

BJP leaders and workers gathered outside the DJB’s zonal office in the Civil Lines area on Monday. They alleged that people in the city were facing a crisis due to the poor water supply.

On Saturday, DJB vice-chairman Raghav Chadha alleged that Haryana was withholding part of Delhi’s share of water. He said the DJB had moved the Supreme Court seeking directions to Haryana to release the capital’s legitimate share of water.

The DJB has been supplying 945 million gallons of water a day (MGD) to city residents this summer against the demand of 1,150 MGD. At present, Delhi has been receiving 479 MGD against 609 MGD from Haryana. Besides, Delhi draws 90 MGD groundwater and receives 250 MGD from the Upper Ganga Canal, he had said.

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