UNHCR Chief cancels UAE visit due to UN deaths on Ethiopian plane crash 

The High Commissioner for the United Nations’ Refugee agency (UNHCR) has cancelled a scheduled visit to the UAE. (File/AFP)
Updated 11 March 2019

UNHCR Chief cancels UAE visit due to UN deaths on Ethiopian plane crash 

  • Filippo Grandi flew back to Geneva from Abu Dhabi after hearing that two staff members of the UNHCR were among the 157 who died
  • Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 had plummeted to the ground shortly after take-off

DUBAI: The High Commissioner for the United Nations’ Refugee agency (UNHCR) has cancelled a scheduled visit to the UAE, following the death of 19 UN staff members who were in the Ethiopian flight to Nairobi that crashed on Sunday. 
Filippo Grandi flew back to Geneva from Abu Dhabi on Sunday after hearing that two staff members of the UNHCR were among the 157 who died when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 plummeted to the ground shortly after take-off. 
“It is with great sadness and shock that I have learned today that UNHCR colleagues were among the passengers of the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 which crashed in Ethiopia this morning,” Grandi said in a statement. 
“UNHCR has suffered today a huge loss. Our deepest sympathies are with the families and loved ones of our colleagues and all others we have so tragically lost today,” he added. 
The UN high commissioner was scheduled to speak at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development (DIHAD) conference on Tuesday. 
The other 17 UN members that were killed were part of the other UN agencies including the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization.
The airline said the flight had passengers from at least 35 countries, some of whom were aid workers for other humanitarian organizations.
Although the cause of the crash is not yet known, Ethiopian Airlines has grounded its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet until further notice, the airline said on its Twitter account on Monday.


Philippine police say will arrest anyone flouting vaping ban

Updated 20 November 2019

Philippine police say will arrest anyone flouting vaping ban

  • The ban came days after Philippine health authorities reported the nation’s first vaping-related lung injury
  • The devices are already banned in several places such as Brazil, Singapore, Thailand and the US state of Massachusetts

MANILA: Philippine police were ordered Wednesday to arrest anyone caught vaping in public, just hours after Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced he would ban e-cigarettes.
The abrupt prohibition, revealed by Duterte late Tuesday adds to a growing global backlash against a product once promoted as less harmful than tobacco smoking.
Duterte, a former smoker, called the devices “toxic” and said vaping introduced “chemicals” into the user’s body.
He ordered the arrest of anyone vaping publicly in a country that already has some of Asia’s toughest anti-smoking rules.
No formal, written order has been made public that spells out the scope of the ban or penalties for violations.
Duterte is notorious internationally for his deadly anti-narcotics crackdown, but he has also targeted tobacco with a wide-ranging ban on smoking in public.
Citing “the order of the president,” on Wednesday a statement from the head of the Philippine police ordered “effective today, all police units nationwide to enforce the ban on use of vapes; ensure that all violators will be arrested.”
The ban came days after Philippine health authorities reported the nation’s first vaping-related lung injury, which resulted in a 16-year-old girl being hospitalized.
Vaping has taken off in the Philippines, with speciality shops and vapers puffing away in public a common sight.
E-cigarette users were caught off guard by the ban and questioned the utility of arresting people who, at worst, were hurting themselves.
“It’s inappropriate. In any case, we don’t hurt people, the environment or animals,” said 22-year-old student Alexis Martin.
“Why are vapers being targeted?”
E-cigarettes warm flavored liquid to produce vapor that is free of the estimated 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, but does contain a number of substances that could potentially be harmful.
Critics say that apart from being harmful in themselves, the multiple exotic flavors of e-cigarette liquids appeal particularly to youngsters and risk getting them addicted to nicotine.
The devices have become hugely popular in the past decade but a rash of vaping-linked deaths and illnesses in the United States is feeding caution about the product, already banned in some places.
In September 2019 India became the latest country to ban the import, sale, production and advertising of e-cigarettes, citing in particular concerns for its youth.
The devices are already banned in several places such as Brazil, Singapore, Thailand and the US state of Massachusetts.