Young activists rallied for climate action on Friday, staging protests from New Zealand and Japan to Germany and the Democratic Republic of Congo to demand that rich countries pay for the damage global warming is inflicting upon the poor. The protests take place six weeks before this year’s UN climate summit, known as COP27, where vulnerable countries will push for compensation for climate-related destruction to homes, infrastructure and livelihoods. In New York, at least 2,000 people gathered Friday afternoon for the march, chanting slogans such as, “the people united, shall never be defeated,” as they went from Foley Square to lower Manhattan. Shortly before 3pm (1800 GMT), the crowd started gathering in Wall Streets’ financial district in front of the famous bull statue, which has come to symbolize the stock market and big business. Citing the catastrophic flooding in Pakistan that displaced millions of people this year, one speaker told the crowd, “The rains came from the sky but the floods came from the greed in America and your leaders addiction to oil.” Nemonte Nenquimo, an indigenous leader from the Pastaza region in Ecuador’s Amazon, spoke to the crowd, “I am here to make visible our battle throughout the Amazon … We (have given) our lives to protect the planet.” Demonstrations were planned in around 450 locations worldwide by youth movement Fridays for Future. They are timed to coincide with global leaders meeting in New York City at the UN General Assembly this week. “One day, it could be my house that gets flooded,” said 15-year-old Park Chae-yun, one of around 200 people protesting in Seoul, South Korea. “I’m living with a sense of crisis, so I think it is more important to deliver my concerns to the government to take preventive measures rather than going to school.” A protester who gave their name as Meta had the same worry in Indonesia: “If Jakarta is flooded, everyone who has money can leave. Where do I go? I will drown here in Jakarta.” Around 400 young activists gathered in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa, chanting slogans such as “Act for Africa, protect our planet” and carrying cardboard signs reading “Climate Justice” and “Climate SOS” while walking on the shoulder of a busy thoroughfare. Devastating consequences Irreparable damage caused by climate change has heightened developing countries’ demands for “Loss & Damage” compensation at COP27 in Egypt in November. Leaders from these countries note the world is already facing climate-fuelled disasters, including deadly floods engulfing large parts of Pakistan, wildfires ravaging Morocco and Canada and record-breaking heatwaves in Britain and India. “The Least Developed Countries are bearing the brunt of the devastating consequences of climate change,” Senegal’s environment minister Abdou Karim Sall told a meeting in Dakar last week. “The fundamental priority is to ensure new and additional funding to deal with it,” he said. The United States and 27-country European Union have historically resisted steps that could require rich nations to pay compensation for causing climate change. But pressure is mounting on global institutions to stop funding fossil fuel industries. A top climate adviser to US President Joe Biden on Friday said the head of the World Bank should “not mince words” on the scientific consensus on climate change after its president, David Malpass, this week tried to dodge a question about whether fossil fuels were dangerously warming the planet. Malpass later clarified he was not a climate change denier, after facing a flurry of calls to resign. The COP27 meeting in Sharm El Sheikh is not expected to yield a landmark deal like the one struck at the COP26 summit last November in Glasgow, which asked countries to do much more to curb planet-warming carbon emissions. But it will be a litmus test for countries’ willingness to cooperate on climate action, despite the fractious geopolitical backdrop, as many governments scramble to tame soaring inflation and grapple with the upheaval in energy markets caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
An engine fire sparked a rush to evacuate an Air India Express plane that was preparing to take off from Oman, leaving some passengers with light injuries, officials said on Wednesday. Footage aired by Omani TV showed smoke billowing from the plane, which had been taxiing for departure for Kochi in India’s south, as passengers streamed across the tarmac. Some of the 141 passengers received “minor bruises”, the airline said, adding there was no fire warning in the cockpit and the smoke was spotted by another aircraft. “While it was on the taxiway, another aircraft reported observing fumes from one of the engines. However, there was no fire warning indication in the cockpit,” a statement said. “As a matter of abundant precaution … the crew stopped on the taxiway and activated the onboard engine fire extinguishers.” A relief flight will take the passengers to Kochi later on Wednesday, Air India Express added. Arun Kumar, head of the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation, told AFP that “appropriate action” would be taken over the incident. “All passengers were safely evacuated after smoke was detected in engine number two … We will investigate the incident and also take appropriate action,” Kumar said. Oman’s workforce includes many people from South Asia as do those of other countries in the resource-rich Gulf.
The world has never been in a better position to end the Covid-19 pandemic, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Wednesday, urging nations to keep up their efforts against the virus that has killed over six million people. “We are not there yet. But the end is in sight,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters at a virtual press conference. The comment was the most optimistic from the UN agency since it declared Covid-19 an international emergency and started describing the virus as a pandemic in March 2020. The virus, which emerged in China in late 2019, has killed nearly 6.5m people and infected 606m, roiling global economies and overwhelming healthcare systems. The rollout of vaccines and therapies has helped to stem the severity of the disease. Deaths from Covid-19 last week were the lowest since March 2020, the UN agency reported. Still, countries need to take a hard look at their policies and strengthen them against Covid-19 and future viruses, Tedros said. He also urged nations to vaccinate 100 per cent of their high-risk groups and keep testing for the virus. The WHO warned of the possibility of future waves of the virus and said countries need to maintain adequate supplies of medical equipment and healthcare workers. “We expect there to be future waves of infections, potentially at different time points throughout the world caused by different subvariants of Omicron or even different variants of concern,” said WHO’s senior epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove. Monkeypox cases, too, were on a downtrend but Tedros urged countries to keep up the fight. WHO officials said last month that it is possible to eliminate the monkeypox outbreak in Europe by stepping up vaccination and testing. “As with Covid-19, this is not the time to relax or let down our guard.”
NEW DELHI: A massive protest gathering organized by Indian opposition party at Ramlila Maidaan in New Delhi urged the government to end price rise, hatred and anger in the country. Former President of Indian National Congress Rahul Gandhi told thousands of party supporters that hatred and anger has been increasing in the country ever since the BJP government came to power. “There is pressure on institutions such as media, judiciary, Election Commission, and the government is attacking all of them,” he said, noting that hatred is rising in the country as there is an increasing fear of inflation and unemployment. Congress party supporters shout anti-government slogans during a rally in New Delhi, India on Sept 4. Thousands of people rallied on Sunday under key opposition Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi who made a scathing attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government for soaring unemployment and food and fuel prices in the country. Gandhi claimed that two industrialists namely Gautam Adani and Mukesh Ambani are benefiting from the hatred and fear and the ruling party is working for their benefit. “Be it airport, port, roads everything is being taken over by these two people,” he said, adding Modi’s ideology dictates that this two people should benefit while “our ideology says everyone should benefit from the country’s progress.” The opposition leader also alleged that the policies of Modi government has weakened the country. “Narendra Modi is taking the country backwards, he is spreading hatred. Pakistan and China are benefiting from this. PM Modi has weakened India in the last eight years,” he said. He also accused the government of stifling the voices of opposition saying the government has resisted every attempt to bring into discussion the plight of people due to price rise and unemployment. “Common people are in great difficulty. Opposition is not allowed to raise these issues in parliament, be it tensions with China, inflation, or unemployment,” he said. The rally witnessed massive participation as the government authorities put in place a strong security arrangement. Several senior Congress leaders also addressed the audience. Today’s rally is part of a nationwide drive of the opposition party to bring the impact of Modi government’s policies on common people. The Congress party has planed to organize a massive campaign against the government policies starting from Kanyakumari, in southern most part of India to Kashmir in the northern most part of the country starting September 7 and covering around 3500 kilometres. Gandhi is expected to interact with common people across the country highlighting the issues of price rise and unemployment in what is termed as the biggest ever mass contact programme of the party. “With this yatra, we intend to meet the common people and tell them about the lies spread by the government. This country does not belong to two people, but to farmers, labourers, and unemployed youth as well,” Gandhi said (KUNA)
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia called on all parties and political forces in Iraq to stand united in order to preserve the rights and gains of the people. In a statement on Tuesday, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it is following with great concern the developments of the situation in Iraq, expressing regret over the recent clashes that resulted in several deaths and injuries. Relatives attend the funeral of a man killed during clashes with security in Baghdad during his funeral in Najaf, Iraq, Aug. 30, 2022. An influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced Monday that he will resign from Iraqi politics, and hundreds of his angry followers responded by storming the government palace. The move sparked violent clashes with security forces in which at least 15 protesters were killed. (AP) Saudi Arabia supports all efforts aimed at sparing Iraq and its people the scourge of division and internal conflict, it mentioned. The Kingdom urged all parties and political forces in Iraq to resort to peaceful solutions to address the demands of the Iraqi people in a way that guarantees security, stability and prosperity for the country and its people. (KUNA)
TAIPEI: Taipei and Beijing have traded barbs over a recent string of drone sorties from the Chinese mainland to an outlying Taiwanese island, as Taiwan’s president on Tuesday vowed “strong countermeasures” against such incursions. Photos and video taken by Chinese drones of the Kinmen islands have been circulating on both Taiwanese and Chinese social media, with one video showing Taiwanese soldiers hurling rocks at one to drive it off. While visiting air force facilities in offshore Penghu islands, President Tsai Ing-wen said China had used “greyzone” tactics such as drone intrusion to continue its “military intimidation” against Taiwan. “I want to tell everyone that the more provocative the enemy is, the more calm we need to be... we will not provoke a war and we will restrain ourselves, but that does not mean that we will not take countermoves,” she told the troops stationed in the archipelago in the Taiwan Strait. Tsai added that she had ordered the defence ministry “to take necessary and strong countermeasures at an appropriate time to defend the security of our airspace”. Asked to comment on the videos, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the incursions were not “anything worth making a fuss about” as the drones were “flying around Chinese territory”. But that response triggered an angry riposte from Taipei, which compared the drone harassment to the acts of a “thief”. “Those who come uninvited are called thieves, whether they are breaking through the door or peeping from the air, the people of Taiwan do not welcome such thieves,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “The authoritarian expansionist government of the Chinese Communist Party has always made harassing other countries a daily routine, and therefore its title of a ‘regional troublemaker’ is well deserved.” Taiwan lives under constant threat of invasion by China, which claims the self-ruled democratic island as part of its territory to be seized one day — by force if necessary. Drone incursions over Kinmen have increased at the same time Beijing embarked on a show of force in retaliation for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this month. For a week after Pelosi’s visit, China sent warships, missiles and fighter jets into the waters and skies around Taiwan, its largest and most aggressive exercises since the mid-1990s. It is not clear who is flying the drones from the Chinese mainland. Kinmen lies just a few kilometres off China’s coast, meaning a civilian could feasibly fly a commercial drone that distance. However China has also stepped up so-called “greyzone” tactics against Taiwan in recent years to pressure the island. “Greyzone” is a term used by military analysts to describe aggressive actions by a state that stop short of open warfare and can use civilians. Civilian Chinese fishing and sand dredging vessels, for example, have increasingly entered waters around Taiwanese outlying islands in recent years. China has also ramped up incursions by warplanes into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, an area it previously tended to avoid. Taiwan’s defence ministry has so far only fired flares to warn off the drones but it has said it will take “necessary countermeasures”, including shooting down the drones if needed.
Floods and landslides triggered by intense monsoon rains killed at least 50 people in northern and eastern India over the last three days, officials said on Sunday. The rains overwhelmed hundreds of villages, sweeping away houses and leaving residents stranded as rescue crews have been racing to evacuate survivors. Earlier this month, the federal weather office had predicted that India was likely to receive an average amount of rain in August and September, pointing to overall good crop yields in Asia’s third-biggest economy that relies on farming to boost growth and generate jobs. Farming contributes around 15 per cent to India’s $2.7 trillion economy while sustaining more than half the population of 1.3 billion. Heavy showers followed by landslides and flooding in the Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh over the past three days killed at least 36 people, a state government official told Reuters. In the neighbouring mountainous state of Uttarakhand, an official government release said that four were dead and 13 were missing due to continuous rainfall. “We have deployed choppers to rescue people who are stuck in remote areas due to rain related incidents. The rescue operation is happening on full swing,” said Ranjit Kumar Sinha, an official in Uttarakhand’s disaster management department. In the eastern state of Odisha, at least six people were dead amid ongoing torrential rains, a state official said. Floods have affected nearly 800,000 people and displaced thousands from their homes in Odisha, with rains disrupting electricity and water supply, and damaging road infrastructure. The state has evacuated 120,000 people so far from the affected areas. Authorities in the Ramgarh district of the eastern state of Jharkhand said five people had been swept away by the waters of the swollen Nalkari river on Saturday. Four bodies have been recovered so far, said Madhvi Mishra, a district official in Ramgarh.