UN puts brakes on peacekeepers’ pullout from Sudan’s Darfur

The UN Security Council agrees on a four-month pause in the drawdown of a peacekeeping mission from Sudan's Darfur region. (AFP)
Updated 28 June 2019

UN puts brakes on peacekeepers’ pullout from Sudan’s Darfur

  • The target for ending the mission is June 30, 2020

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council voted unanimously Thursday to put the brakes on the withdrawal of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan’s vast western Darfur region as the country deals with a political crisis.
The council approved a resolution to extend the current mandate of the force, known as UNAMID, for four months until October 31.
It asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to provide an update in 60 days on the situation on the ground — and it asks the UN and AU to make recommendations by Sept. 30 on what the council should do about continuing the withdrawal.
Last July, the Security Council voted to dramatically cut the UNAMID force in response to reduced fighting and improved security conditions. The target for ending the mission is June 30, 2020.
Britain’s UN deputy ambassador Jonathan Allen, whose country co-sponsored the resolution with Germany, said the council made “the responsible decision to pause the withdrawal,” which he said aligns with the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council.
“Moreover, it recognizes that Darfur is affected by wider instability in Sudan and that there is a need for continued protection of civilians in Darfur,” he said.


Iran’s deputy health minister says he has coronavirus

Updated 25 February 2020

Iran’s deputy health minister says he has coronavirus

  • There is currently an outbreak of the disease in the Islamic republic
  • Iran confirmed three more deaths and 34 new infections on Tuesday

TEHRAN: Iran’s deputy health minister confirmed on Tuesday that he has tested positive for the new coronavirus, amid a major outbreak in the Islamic republic.
Iraj Harirchi coughed occasionally and appeared to be sweating during a press conference in Tehran on Monday with government spokesman Ali Rabiei.
At the time he denied a lawmaker’s claim that 50 people had died from the virus in the Shiite shrine city of Qom, saying he would resign if the number proved to be true.
In a video broadcast on state television, the deputy minister put on a brave face as he admitted he was infected.
“I too have been infected with coronavirus,” Harirchi said in the video apparently shot by himself.
“I had a fever as of last night and my preliminary test was positive around midnight,” he said.
“I’ve isolated myself in a place since. A few minutes ago, I was told that my final test was final, and now I am starting medication.
“I wanted to tell you that... we will definitely be victorious against this virus in the next few weeks,” Harirchi declared.
But he warned Iranians to be careful as the “virus does not discriminate” and infects anyone, regardless of standing.
Following news of his infection, government spokesman Rabiei, who stood by his side on Monday, appeared at another press conference with the country’s industries minister on Tuesday as well as other officials.
Iran confirmed three more deaths and 34 new infections on Tuesday, taking the country’s overall death toll to 15 and infection tally to 95.
The Islamic republic has been hit by the deadliest coronavirus outbreak by far outside China.
According to the health ministry, most of the deaths and infections outside Qom are among people who have recently visited the holy city.
The ministry’s spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour said 16 of the new cases were confirmed in Qom, while nine were in Tehran, and two each in Alborz, Gilan and Mazandaran.
The virus appeared to be spreading to new parts of Iran, as one new case was also reported in each of the provinces of Fars and Khorasan Razavi, as well as Qeshm island.
Despite being Iran’s epicenter of the outbreak, Qom has yet to be quarantined.
Health minister Saeed Namaki defended the decision on Tuesday and said that quarantine is an “old method.”
“We still do not agree with quarantining cities since we believe the people are cultured enough to refrain from traveling from infected cities to other places,” semi-official news agency ISNA quoted him as saying.