Saudi aid agency chief meets Swedish envoy for Yemen

Saudi aid agency chief meets Swedish envoy for Yemen
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Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah meets Swedish special envoy for Yemen Peter Semneby in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi aid agency chief meets Swedish envoy for Yemen
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Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah meets Swedish special envoy for Yemen Peter Semneby in Riyadh. (SPA)
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Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi aid agency chief meets Swedish envoy for Yemen

Saudi aid agency chief meets Swedish envoy for Yemen
  • KSrelief distributed more than 27 tons of food baskets to displaced families in Yemen’s Marib governorate, benefiting 1,554 individuals

RIYADH: Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), met the Swedish special envoy for Yemen, Peter Semneby, at the headquarters of KSrelief in Riyadh on Sunday.
During the meeting, Al-Rabeeah reviewed the 590 projects that the Kingdom has implemented through KSrelief in Yemen so far.
They discussed matters of common interest related to humanitarian and relief affairs in Yemen, and the efforts made to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people.
Semneby praised the pioneering role provided by the Kingdom through KSrelief in support of countries in need, and the special attention given to the Yemeni people.
Meanwhile, KSrelief distributed more than 27 tons of food baskets to displaced families in Yemen’s Marib governorate, benefiting 1,554 individuals. The center also continued distributing Ramadan food baskets to Syrian and Palestinian refugees and Lebanese families in Lebanon. 


Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases
Updated 17 min 7 sec ago

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 13 COVID-19 deaths, 942 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 1,064 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 334

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 13 new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,072.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 942 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 426,384 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,572 remain active and 1,336 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 334, followed by Makkah with 286, the Eastern Province with 112, Asir recorded 50 and Madinah confirmed 40 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 1,064 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 409,740.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs said on Sunday it has prepared 3,156 mosques and chapels in the Makkah region to hold Eid Al-Fitr prayer this year, which will be held 15 minutes after sunrise.
It also announced it has completed preparing and equipping 1,074 in Madinah and its affiliated governorates for the Eid prayer.
The Ministry of Interior said 25,672 violations were committed against precautionary coronavirus measures in the Kingdom from May 2 — 8, with the capital, Riyadh, recording the highest with 8,909 violations, followed by Makkah with 4,556, and the Eastern Province with 3,805 violations.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 158 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.29 million.


Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 32 min 55 sec ago

Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performs Umrah at Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
  • Khan also visited and prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah
  • Khan arrived in the Kingdom on Friday on a two-day official visit

JEDDAH: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan performed the Umrah pilgrimage in Makkah on Sunday.
Upon his arrival at the Grand Mosque, Khan was received by a number of officials of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the special force for the security of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
Khan arrived in the Kingdom on Friday on a two-day official visit at the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Earlier on Sunday, Khan left Madinah headed for Jeddah, after he visited the Prophet’s Mosque and performed prayers there.
He was seen off from Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah by a number of senior, civilian and military officials.


After outcry, BJP denies setting up COVID-19 help desks for cows

After outcry, BJP denies setting up COVID-19 help desks for cows
Updated 34 min 18 sec ago

After outcry, BJP denies setting up COVID-19 help desks for cows

After outcry, BJP denies setting up COVID-19 help desks for cows
  • Last week, Uttar Pradesh announced the establishment of 700 help desks ‘for the welfare of cows’
  • Uttar Pradesh is one of the worst-affected states amid surge in virus cases

NEW DELHI: Facing a wave of criticism following an announcement to set up help desks to protect cows in the wake of a pandemic crisis, the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh was on Sunday forced to deny the plan.  

The chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Yogi Adityanath, known as a hardline Hindu politician of the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been promoting cow protection since the beginning of his term in 2017. The state already had 4,500 shelters and some 170 sanctuaries for the bovines, which are sacred in Hinduism.

With the country facing a drastic surge in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases and its hospitals enduring a shortage of beds and oxygen, many were shocked to read in a circular widely quoted by the Indian media last week that Adityanath’s administration had announced the establishment of 700 help desks “for the welfare of cows.” 

The centers, the notice said, would be equipped with “51 oximeters and 341 thermal scanners” in order to “ensure better animal care and testing.”

Following an outcry prompted by the cow help desk plan, Navneet Sehgal, the state’s additional chief secretary for information, told Arab News the reports were “false, slanderous and nonsense.”

The administration, however, has not denied issuing the circular.

India recorded over 400,000 new COVID-19 infections on Sunday and 4,000 related deaths. With Uttar Pradesh suffering as one of the worst-affected states with more than 26,500 new cases and 300 deaths in the past 24 hours, the focus on cows has dumbfounded the state’s residents.

“I feel very angry as a resident of Uttar Pradesh with the way we are being treated and our lives are being compromised,” Kulsum Mustafa, a journalist and activist based in the state’s capital of Lucknow, told Arab News.

“India is asking for support to tide over the crisis posed by COVID-19 ... People are dying without hospital beds and oxygen and our focus is different,” Mustafa said.

Lucknow-based former bureaucrat and political analyst Surya Pratap Singh said the cow help desk plan was a “political tactic to divert the attention from COVID-19 mismanagement.”

He described the situation in the state as “terrible, with people dying in large numbers in villages which are not being reflected in the official figure. Cremation grounds are full.”

Ram Dutt Tripathi, another political analyst in Lucknow, said: “Maybe the government’s feedback channel is choked, and their communication is only one way. The BJP regime is not connected with the grassroot sentiments.”

He added that the move might be related to next year’s elections in Uttar Pradesh — the country’s most-populous state — where winning the vote traditionally spells victory in national polls.

“The BJP thinks that communal polarization will work again and again,” he said, adding: “That’s why they are not focusing on governance and people are suffering.”


Air Arabia eyes further cost cuts after first quarter profits falls by half

Air Arabia eyes further cost cuts after first quarter profits falls by half
Updated 50 min 56 sec ago

Air Arabia eyes further cost cuts after first quarter profits falls by half

Air Arabia eyes further cost cuts after first quarter profits falls by half

DUBAI: Air Arabia said it would adopt further cost control measures after reporting a 52 percent fall in first quarter net profit to 34 million dirhams ($9.25 million)
Revenues fell by more than a third to 572 million dirhams, compared to a year earlier, as the pandemic continued to weigh on regional air travel, the airline said in a statement on Sunday.
“The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the global aviation industry remains material and of a changing nature, nonetheless, we have full confidence in the fundamentals and the strength of the aviation industry worldwide as well as the crucial role air travel will play in supporting regional and global economic recovery,” said Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohamed Al-Thani, chairman of Air Arabia. “While we remain hopeful that air travel restrictions will ease with the increasing rate of vaccination drives across key markets, Air Arabia remains focused on adopting further measures to control costs and support business continuity during this period while we continue to resume operations where possible.”
Regional carriers have struggled to boost passengers numbers amid continuing travel restrictions and a resurgence of the virus in countries such as India which has traditionally strong air travel links with the Gulf.
More than 1.3 million passengers flew with Air Arabia between January and March 2021 across the carrier’s five hubs while the airline’s average seat load factor – or passengers carried as a percentage of available seats – during the first three months of 2021 stood at 77 percent.


Boats carrying hundreds of migrants arrive in Italy’s Lampedusa

Boats carrying hundreds of migrants arrive in Italy’s Lampedusa
Updated 09 May 2021

Boats carrying hundreds of migrants arrive in Italy’s Lampedusa

Boats carrying hundreds of migrants arrive in Italy’s Lampedusa
  • About 400 migrants of various nationalities got off one of the boats, a drifting fishing vessel
  • Another boat carrying 325 people was intercepted eight miles off Lampedusa

MILAN: Seven boats packed with hundreds of migrants arrived on the southern Italian island of Lampedusa on Sunday, and officials said more people were expected as the weather improved.
More than 1,000 people got off the vessels at Lampedusa, one of the main landing points for people trying to get across the Mediterranean into Europe, ANSA news agency said.
“Migrants arrivals are resuming alongside good weather,” Lampedusa’s mayor Toto Martello told state broadcaster RAI. “We need to restart discussions about the immigration issue.”
Numbers in recent years have been down from 2015-2017, when Europe took in hundreds of thousands of migrants, many of them fleeing poverty and conflict across Africa and the Middle East.
But the issue still sharply divides European governments and has fueled anti-immigration sentiment and parties across the continent.
Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s far-right League party, called on Prime Minister Mario Draghi to tackle the issue.
“With millions of Italians facing difficulties, we cannot care for thousands of illegal migrants,” he wrote on Twitter.
Some of the boats were intercepted off the coast of the Mediterranean island by the Italian tax police, who deal with financial crime and smuggling, ANSA said.
About 400 migrants of various nationalities got off one of the boats, a drifting fishing vessel, the agency reported.
Another boat carrying 325 people was intercepted eight miles off Lampedusa, the agency added.