Daily Archives: April 8, 2019

Cyclone Idai’s Death Toll Stands at 847, Cholera Cases Rise

BEIRA, MOZAMBIQUE Hundreds of thousands of people are in need of food, water and shelter after Cyclone Idai battered Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

As of Monday, at least 847 people had been reported killed by the storm, the flooding it caused and heavy rains before it hit. Following is an outline of the disaster, according to government and United Nations officials.


Cyclone Idai landed on the night of March 14 near the port city of Beira, bringing heavy winds and rains. Two major rivers, the Buzi and the Pungue, burst their banks, submerging entire villages and leaving bodies floating in the water.

People killed: 602

People injured: 1,641

Houses damaged or destroyed: 239,682

Crops damaged: 715,378 hectares

People affected: 1.85 million

Confirmed cholera cases: 2,772

Confirmed cholera deaths: 5


On March 16 the storm hit eastern Zimbabwe, where it flattened homes and flooded communities in the Chimanimani and Chipinge districts.

People killed: 185, according to government; the U.N. migration agency puts the death toll at 259

People injured: 200

People displaced: 16,000 households

People affected: 250,000


Before it arrived, the storm brought heavy rains and flooding to the lower Shire River districts of Chikwawa and Nsanje in Malawi’s south. The rains continued after the storm hit, compounding the misery of tens of thousands of people.

People killed: 60

People injured: 672

People displaced: 19,328 households

People affected: 868,895

Source: Voice of America

Ugandan Forces Free Kidnapped American Tourist, Driver

Ugandan police deny a ransom was paid to free an American tourist and her driver, who were kidnapped in a national park last week.

Ugandan forces say they rescued Kimberly Sue Endicott and her Ugandan driver, Jean Paul Mirenge, in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Gunmen seized the two last Tuesday in Queen Elizabeth National Park, which borders the DRC.

Ugandan police spokesman Fred Enanga gave few details about how Endicott and Mirenge were freed.

“This was a high-risk operation and we had identified the hideout,” Enanga said. “The pressure was there of a last resort move in, that there was an implicit threat of the use of force by our elite teams that we had on ground. But as the police and the government of Uganda, we don’t do ransom.”

Endicott and Mirenge were not hurt and Endicott was handed over to the U.S. ambassador in Uganda on Monday.

U.S. defense officials said the Pentagon was not asked for assistance but, nonetheless, provided drones for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support.

It is unclear if the United States or anyone else paid any kind of ransom despite Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying the U.S. government does not.

The suspected kidnappers remain at large and U.S. President Donald Trump says he wants them captured.

“Uganda must find the kidnappers of the American tourist and guide before people will feel safe in going there. Bring them to justice openly and quickly,” he tweeted.

Ugandan police spokesman Enanga is warning other would-be kidnappers to think twice before trying to nab anyone.

“The successful recovery of the captives serves as a reminder to those enemies who want to harm our own people, including visitors, that we will do everything possible within our means to defend them,” Enanga said.

Tourism minister: ‘An isolated case’

Ugandan tourism minister Ephraim Kamuntu tells VOA that Americans shouldn’t be dissuaded from visiting the East African country.

“What happened was an isolated case,” he said. The incident shouldn’t “be taken as a trend. Uganda is secure, Uganda is peaceful, Uganda is stable, and it has been so for the last three decades.”

He emphasized safety for tourists, saying, “We have a whole Uganda Wildlife Authority with almost 5,000 rangers guarding national parks.”

After a brief meeting with security officials Monday morning, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni tweeted that the country would deal with these “isolated pockets” of criminals.

He also promised that security would be improved in the parks.

This was the first kidnapping of any foreign tourists in Uganda in 20 years. In 1999, armed Hutu fighters from Congo entered Bwindi Park and killed eight tourists and four Ugandans.

Source: Voice of America

Meeting on the establishment of an International Team of Experts provided for by the Prespa Agreement on the issue of commercial names (Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 08 April 2019)

A meeting on the establishment of an International Team of Experts, as provided for by the Prespa Agreement (article 1, par. 3) on the issue of commercial names, trademarks, and brandnames was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday, 8 April.

Representatives from the co-competent Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Economy and Development, and Agricultural Development and Food participated, as well as representatives from the Hellenic Industrial Property Organisation, the Hellenic Copyright Organisation, the Hellenic Food Authority EFET, and the Hellenic Agricultural Organisation-Dimitra.

Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs Sia Anagnostopoulou requested that the International Team of Experts be mobilised as soon as possible, by mid-May at the latest. Experts on issues of International Commercial Law, Trademarks, and Commercial Names will participate on this team.

At the same time, as provided for by article 1, paragraph 3, subparagraph 9, the business communities of Greece and North Macedonia are encouraged to legislate and begin an honest and structured dialogue in a spirit of understanding, always within the framework of the European acquis.

In the immediate future, detailed briefing notes will be produced, which will cover the entire range of issues pertaining to commercial names, trademarks, and brandnames.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic

President Cyril Ramaphosa visits PRASA Modernisation Programme, 9 Apr

President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Tuesday, 9 April 2019, undertake a visit to the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) in Cape Town where the President will be briefed on PRASA’s efforts to improve commuter services and to stimulate economic activity and industrialisation through its modernisation programme. The President will also observe the testing of new train sets.

The President’s visit follows his recent personal experience of commuter frustration and technical problems with rolling stock between Mabopane and Bosman stations in Pretoria. During an engagement with commuters, the train on which the President was travelling broke down, turning a 45-minute journey into a three-hour delay

In Cape Town PRASA will take the President through elements of the passenger rail sector’s 20-year modernisation programme.

This programme aims to revitalise the rail industry through local manufacturing of parts, maintenance, the establishment of training facilities, the achievement of 65 percent local content, and training and skills development for PRASA employees and young people interested in the rail industry.

Government’s commitment to providing safe and sufficient passenger rail services that will benefit commuters and the economy is reflected in its investment of more than R170 billion to ensure that passenger rail services offer:

Modern, safe and reliable trains for commuters

Faster trains which will increase capacity of the network

Improved overall safety of trains and reduced energy costs and

Improved, predictable and reliable services to passengers.

During his visit to Cape Town’s central railway station, President Ramaphosa will view two new trains that were manufactured locally and which will be deployed on upgraded infrastructure, as part of PRASA’s Rolling Stock Fleet Renewal Programme that will see the manufacturing of more than 7 000 new trains over a period of 20 years – or close to 30 per month.

Source: Government of South Africa


Telecommunications Minister, Mohammed Choucair, culminated his visit to Moscow by meeting with the Special Representative of the Russian President for Middle East and Africa, Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, in the presence of Lebanese Ambassador to Russia Shawki Bou Nassar.

The meeting was also attended by Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Advisor for Russian Affairs, George Shaaban, the President of the Lebanese-Russian Business Cuncil Jacques Sarraf and the President of the Russian-Lebanese Business Council Alexander Gogolev.

Talks reportedly touched on means of strengthening the bilateral economic relations between the two countries.

Minister Choucair described the meeting as “important and positive” paving the way in front of a new promising phase in the bilateral economic relations between the two countries.

Source: National News Agency