CHINA, INDIA MISS UN DEADLINE TO UPDATE EMISSIONS TARGETS

NNA – China and India have missed a United Nations deadline to submit fresh targets for cutting their greenhouse gas emissions, officials said Saturday.

The world’s two most populous countries are among dozens that ignored the deadline of July 30 set by the U.N. climate change agency to provide an update on their plans for curbing the release of planet-warming gases.

China is the country with the world’s highest emissions, while India is third. The United States, which submitted its new target in April, is the second-biggest global emitter.

U.N. climate chief Patricia Espinosa welcomed that 110 signatories of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change had met the cut-off date, which was extended from the end of 2020 due to the pandemic.

But she said it was “far from satisfactory” that only 58% had submitted their new targets in time.

Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Syria and 82 other nations also failed to update their nationally determined contributions, or NDCs, for the U.N. to include in a report it is preparing for an international climate change conference in November.

Espinosa noted that a previous report found countries were doing too little to meet the goal of keeping global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) by the end of the century compared with pre-industrial times. The more ambitious target of capping warming at 1.5C (2.7F) is far out of reach.

“Recent extreme heat waves, droughts and floods across the globe are a dire warning that much more needs to be done, and much more quickly, to change our current pathway,” said Espinosa. “This can only be achieved through more ambitious NDCs.” — AP

 

Source: National News Agency

Tunisia’s Turmoil is Being Watched Warily Around the Globe

TUNIS, TUNISIA – Days of political turmoil in Tunisia over a crippled economy and surging coronavirus infections have unnerved allies in Europe and the United States, while garnering the support of key Mideast partners watching to see if Islamists and Tunisia’s fragile democracy will survive.

European countries -– most notably nearby Italy — worry about a flood of migrants should Tunisia slide further into chaos.

Autocratic leaders from Egypt to Saudi Arabia hope this week’s power grab by Tunisian President Kais Saied spells doom for the region’s Islamists. But they also fear a reignited Arab Spring, like the region-wide uprisings kindled by Tunisia a decade ago.

And around the world, pro-democracy campaigners wonder if a country they held up as a beacon is losing its promise of democratic rule, as other nations roiled by Arab Spring protests have.

“The ball is now in the people’s court,” said Egyptian activist el-Ghazaly Harb in a Facebook post. “They are able to correct the path without abandoning the peaceful democratic model that we all hope they can see to the end,” he said. “The answer will always be Tunisia.”

Tunisia, with only 12 million of Africa’s 1.3 billion people, holds outsized symbolism as a nation that designed a democracy from scratch and earned a Nobel Peace Prize after its largely bloodless revolution.

Next steps unclear

Without warning on Sunday, Saied froze the nation’s parliament, fired top ministers and took over executive powers and supervision of public prosecution, saying he had to save the country, which is suffering from its worst outbreak of the virus to date and a failing economy. While many Tunisians welcomed his move, critics called it a coup. Media and human rights groups expressed alarm at the closure of the Al-Jazeera news bureau in Tunis.

In recent days, Saied has moved against allegedly corrupt lawmakers and tycoons and strengthened military oversight of the nation’s response to the coronavirus. He and his aides held a flurry of meetings with foreign allies, promising that his power grab is temporary.

But his next steps are unclear.

The main victim of his decision -– the Islamist party Ennahdha -– promises to resist, peacefully.

Tunisian analysts don’t expect an army-driven takeover like that seen in Egypt, or a return to the autocratic past, thanks in part to a population that’s no longer afraid to speak out. But the situation is volatile, and new protests may occur Saturday.

Pro-government voices in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are celebrating the moves as a victory over political Islam, which they see as a threat to their governing systems — notably in Gulf states where political parties are banned.

Egypt is watching carefully; It was the first to follow Tunisia in an outburst of mass protests in 2011. In the aftermath, the highly organized Muslim Brotherhood rose to power but was ousted in 2013 amid a military-backed popular uprising led by Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, who was supported by Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

El-Sissi has embarked on economic reforms and brought some political stability to the Arab world’s most populous country, but his tenure has been marred by the jailing of tens of thousands of people.

Leading Brotherhood figures now face death sentences or life in prison. The group has been outlawed and branded a “terrorist group” in Egypt and the UAE, which itself has detained dozens of Emirati Islamist figures.

Some activists worry Tunisia could head down a similar path, despite Saied’s credentials as an independent technocrat.

“Coups are not only started by the military; they can be started by a civilian and completed by officers,” said Shady Lewis Boutros, an Egyptian novelist and writer who lives in the U.K., in a Facebook post.

Strategic importance to Europe

Abdelrahman al-Rashed, who runs a Saudi-owned media group and is close to the royal court, said Saied is saving the country from returning to the chaos sparked by the Arab Spring. In a column for the Arabic Ashraq al-Awsat newspaper, he wrote that political turmoil in Tunisia marks the “death of the Muslim Brotherhood’s authority.”

Ennahdha itself has distanced itself from more militant Islamists, and its leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, told The Associated Press this week that its critics are using it as a scapegoat for Tunisia’s problems. He noted that his party has played a major role in parliament in the decade since the revolution, which opened the way for his return from 22 years of exile in London, and won the most seats in the last legislative elections.

Some question whether the Gulf states had a role in Tunisia’s current tensions. But others argue that Tunisians are more focused on day-to-day concerns than the discourse around the Muslim Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, Tunisia’s strategic importance to the European Union cannot be overstated.

From 2014 to 2020, the bloc invested 1.6 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in Tunisia to build democracy and provide social and economic aid. It has given $392 million to help the country recover from the impact of coronavirus restrictions. Another $712 million in EU macro-financial assistance was agreed to in May.

Most significantly, Tunisia is a key partner in limiting the flow of migrants from Africa to the EU. The 27 member states are hopelessly divided over how to manage the arrivals of those seeking a better life in Europe, so the bloc has resorted to outsourcing the challenge to other countries.

However, Tunisians now make up one of the largest groups of people seeking asylum in Europe. And the “Tunisia corridor” is a growing concern for the EU’s border and coast guard agency Frontex.

From 2019 to 2020, the number of people reaching Italy from Tunisia grew by almost 400%, to more than 13,000, according to some nongovernmental organizations. That includes a period when COVID-19 restrictions significantly reduced migrant movements.

Saied had a “frank discussion on irregular migration” in Brussels last month with top EU officials, and they agreed to work more closely against smugglers and on border management. The latest turmoil adds to concern in Europe that things might get worse.

Risk of new mass unrest

On Tuesday, the EU’s top diplomat called for Tunisia’s constitutional order to be restored, without directly apportioning any blame.

The U.S. government also is watching closely. In addition to supporting its democracy, the U.S. has helped fund Tunisia’s efforts to tamp down violent Islamic extremism.

Just hours after Saied’s announcement, he spoke with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who urged him to “adhere to the principles of democracy and human rights” and “maintain open dialogue with all political actors and the Tunisian people.”

Tunisians themselves want jobs and opportunity, which have remained elusive since their revolution, and many support the president — at least for now.

While there is a risk of new mass unrest, Tunisian political scientist Mohamed-Dhia Hammami said “there are strong political actors in Tunisia who can play the role of counterbalance,” including labor unions. And unlike in Egypt, Tunisia’s military has little control over the economy.

Omar Oudherni, a retired Tunisian army brigadier and security expert, said the Tunisian people “will not be silent on any tyrant.”

“Doing what is good will receive support, and if (Saied) wants dictatorship, the people will sweep him up, as they swept others,” he added.

 

Source: Voice of America

South Africa sends 1,500 troops to Mozambique to fight jihadists

South Africa is sending 1,495 troops to Mozambique to help its neighbour battle jihadists wreaking havoc in the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province north of the country. Soldiers will be a part of a growing multinational force there.

In a statement, the parliament said President Cyril Ramaphosa had authorised the deployment to support Mozambique in its fight against “acts of terrorism and violent extremists”.

Attacks have escalated in northern Mozambique over the past year, fuelling fears the violence could spill over into neighbouring countries.

Since 2017, the Cabo Delgado region has been battered by a bloody jihadist insurgency that has killed more than 3,100 people, according to conflict data tracker ACLED, and displaced more than 800,000 people.

The three-month mission for South Africa’s force — from July 15 to October 15 — is part of a deal agreed in June by the 16 nations of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The operation is expected to cost the country more than 984 million rand, said the parliamentary statement.

South Africa is the latest country in the region to despatch troops to Mozambique after Botswana which sent its soldiers on Monday. Earlier this month, Rwanda sent in a 1,000-strong force.

On Tuesday the Angolan National Assembly approved the deployment, from Aug 6, of 20 military personnel as part of the SADC mission.

The SADC approved the deployment of its “Standby Force” late last month to help smoke out the Daesh-linked militants that have been terrorising its gas-rich north for nearly four years.

In a televised address on Sunday Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, who had long been seen as resisting foreign intervention, lauded the military mobilisation by African countries.

Foreign forces will “help Mozambican forces restore peace and stability,” he said, adding “we should be afraid of being alone in fighting terrorism”.

The attacks by the jihadists escalated from last year, culminating on March 24 with coordinated raids on the port town of Palma in which dozens of people were killed, some decapitated, and tens of thousands displaced.

The recent violence disrupted major gas exploration projects and raised fears it could spread to neighbouring countries — placing pressure on Nyusi to accept foreign help.

The total force size of the SADC deployment is not yet known.

The European Union on July 12 formally established a military mission for Mozambique to help train its armed forces battling the jihadists.

Former colonial ruler Portugal is already providing training for Mozambican troops, with Lisbon’s military instructors expected to make up some half of the new EU mission. — NNN-AFRICANEWS

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Covid-19: Africa’s cases surpass 6.63 mln – Africa CDC

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Africa reached 6,635,522 as of Friday afternoon, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.

The Africa CDC, the specialized healthcare agency of the African Union, said the death toll from the pandemic stands at 168,478 while 5,813,540 patients across the continent have recovered from the disease.

South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Ethiopia are the countries with the most cases in the continent, according to the Africa CDC.

In terms of the caseload, southern Africa is the most affected region, followed by the northern and eastern parts of the continent, while central Africa is the least affected region in the continent, according to the Africa CDC. — NNN-XINHUA

 

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

WHO Chief: ‘Pandemic Will End When World Chooses’

“The pandemic will end when the world chooses to end it,” World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday in Geneva about the global COVID-19 outbreak that is now being driven by the delta variant of the coronavirus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and that infections in vaccinated people may be as transmissible as those in the unvaccinated.

“WHO’s goal remains to support every country to vaccinate at least 10% of its population by the end of September, at least 40% by the end of this year, and 70% by the middle of next year,” the WHO chief said, but added that the realization of the goals is “a long way off.”

“So far, just over half of countries have fully vaccinated 10% of their population, less than a quarter of countries have vaccinated 40%, and only three countries have vaccinated 70%,” Tedros said.

He recalled that WHO had earlier “warned of the risk that the world’s poor would be trampled in the stampede for vaccines” and that “the world was on the verge of a catastrophic moral failure” because of vaccine inequity.

“And yet the global distribution of vaccines remains unjust,” Tedros said. “All regions are at risk, but none more so than Africa.”

“Many African countries have prepared well to roll out vaccines, but the vaccines have not arrived,” he said. “Less than 2% of all doses administered globally have been in Africa,” with only 1.5% of the continent’s population fully vaccinated.

The WHO chief said his organization was “issuing an urgent call” for $7.7 billion for the launching of the Rapid ACT-Accelerator Delta Response, or RADAR, a response to the delta surge that would provide tests, treatments and vaccines.

He also said COVAX; which provides vaccines to lower-income countries, needs additional funding.

“The question is not whether the world can afford to make these investments,” Tedros said, “it’s whether it can afford not to.”

U.S. President Joe Biden announced Thursday that civilian federal government employees must be vaccinated or submit to regular testing and wear masks.

On Friday, a reporter asked Biden as he was leaving the White House whether Americans should expect more guidelines and restrictions related to the coronavirus. “In all probability,” he said.

“The pandemic will end when the world chooses to end it,” World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday in Geneva about the global COVID-19 outbreak that is now being driven by the delta variant of the coronavirus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the delta variant is as contagious as chickenpox and that infections in vaccinated people may be as transmissible as those in the unvaccinated.

“WHO’s goal remains to support every country to vaccinate at least 10% of its population by the end of September, at least 40% by the end of this year, and 70% by the middle of next year,” the WHO chief said, but added that the realization of the goals is “a long way off.”

“So far, just over half of countries have fully vaccinated 10% of their population, less than a quarter of countries have vaccinated 40%, and only three countries have vaccinated 70%,” Tedros said.

He recalled that WHO had earlier “warned of the risk that the world’s poor would be trampled in the stampede for vaccines” and that “the world was on the verge of a catastrophic moral failure” because of vaccine inequity.

“And yet the global distribution of vaccines remains unjust,” Tedros said. “All regions are at risk, but none more so than Africa.”

“Many African countries have prepared well to roll out vaccines, but the vaccines have not arrived,” he said. “Less than 2% of all doses administered globally have been in Africa,” with only 1.5% of the continent’s population fully vaccinated.

The WHO chief said his organization was “issuing an urgent call” for $7.7 billion for the launching of the Rapid ACT-Accelerator Delta Response, or RADAR, a response to the delta surge that would provide tests, treatments and vaccines.

He also said COVAX; which provides vaccines to lower-income countries, needs additional funding.

“The question is not whether the world can afford to make these investments,” Tedros said, “it’s whether it can afford not to.”

U.S. President Joe Biden announced Thursday that civilian federal government employees must be vaccinated or submit to regular testing and wear masks.

On Friday, a reporter asked Biden as he was leaving the White House whether Americans should expect more guidelines and restrictions related to the coronavirus. “In all probability,” he said.

 

Source: Voice of America