Dozens of migrants rush border into Spain’s Melilla enclave

Dozens of migrants rush border into Spain’s Melilla enclave
Migrants at a temporary migrant center at Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla. Dozens of migrants scaled a fence and crossed the border from Morocco into Melilla on Monday. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 July 2021

Dozens of migrants rush border into Spain’s Melilla enclave

Dozens of migrants rush border into Spain’s Melilla enclave
  • Migrants routinely try to enter Melilla and Ceuta, Spanish territories near the Moroccan border
  • "A total of 119 people got in, all of them men," said a Spanish government's spokesman

MARDRID: Dozens of migrants scaled a fence and crossed the border from Morocco into the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Monday.
This comes just weeks after a similar crisis that saw thousands cross the frontier and clash with security.
Migrants routinely try to enter Melilla and Ceuta, Spanish territories near the Moroccan border — Europe’s only land crossing with Africa.
They swim along the coastline, climb border fences or hide in vehicles, in what can be dangerous or deadly attempts to make it to Europe.
“A total of 119 people got in, all of them men,” a spokesman for the Spanish government’s delegation in Melilla said about the latest incident.
Some 200 people had tried to make the crossing, and five officers from Spain’s Civil Guard police force and a migrant were slightly injured, he added.
Those who entered Spain were taken to a government-run center for migrants where they will be tested for the coronavirus.
Ceuta and Melilla have long been a magnet for migrants desperate to escape grinding poverty and hunger.
Last month, Spain was caught off guard when as many as 10,000 people, mainly youths, surged into Ceuta as Moroccan border guards looked the other way.
The incident occurred during a diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco over the presence of the ailing leader of Western Sahara’s independence movement at a Spanish hospital, with the border breach widely seen as a punitive move by Rabat.
Although the Polisario leader left Spain on June 2, diplomatic relations have remained tense.
Moroccan security forces “cooperated actively” during Monday’s rush on the border to prevent migrants from entering Melilla, according to the Spanish government’s delegation in the territory.


Countries agree to launch WHO pandemic treaty negotiations

Countries agree to launch WHO pandemic treaty negotiations
Updated 6 sec ago

Countries agree to launch WHO pandemic treaty negotiations

Countries agree to launch WHO pandemic treaty negotiations
GENEVA: World Health Organization member states reached a consensus Sunday on kick-starting the process toward creating a pandemic treaty setting out how to handle the next global health crisis.
Countries agreed to set up an intergovernmental body charged with drafting and negotiating a WHO accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
Nations are meeting in Geneva from Monday to Wednesday to discuss an international agreement setting out how to handle the next pandemic — which experts fear is only a matter of time.
Sunday’s draft decision should be formalized during the meeting.
The gathering comes with the planet still besieged by Covid-19, nearly two years on from the first recorded cases, and now shaken by Omicron, the new Covid variant of concern.
The economic turmoil and millions of lives lost in the pandemic triggered calls for new international defenses strong enough to prevent a repeat disaster.
The three-page draft decision was posted on the WHO’s website.
“WHO member states today informally agreed to start negotiations on a pandemic treaty. Now the resolution needs to be formally adopted tomorrow by world leaders,” the European Union’s diplomatic mission in Geneva said.
“The events of the last weeks demonstrate more than ever the need for global solidarity and leadership. We look forward to world leaders demonstrating their joint commitment tomorrow. The momentum is there — the planet must be better prepared.”
This week’s meeting of the World Health Assembly — the WHO’s decision-making body comprising all 194 member states — is an unprecedented special session on how to handle the next pandemic.
The final outcome — whether a treaty or another formulation — should be sealed in 2024.
The special session is going ahead, despite travel restrictions relating to the discovery of Omicron.
The World Trade Organization’s four-day ministerial conference in Geneva next week was postponed due to the new variant of concern.
A European diplomat told AFP that the emergence of Omicron had sharpened minds.
“It shows this is far from over, and we really need the world to get together on this,” he said.
“It shows how it important it is that we come up with legal obligations toward each other to share information.”
The draft decision says WHO member states agree to establish “an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB)... to draft and negotiate a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.”
The INB’s first meeting must be no later than March 1 next year to elect two co-chairs and four vice-chairs.
Under their facilitation, the INB will then start to “identify the substantive elements of the instrument,” and draw up a working draft by August 1.
A progress report will be presented at the regular World Health Assembly annual gathering in 2023, with the final outcome presented for consideration at the 2024 WHA.
The United States — uneasy about committing early to a treaty — was wrangling over the placing of commas and their implications for how the outcome might be adopted, but agreed to compromise.
British ambassador Simon Manley said the decision “may only be the end of the beginning, but the flexibility shown and the breadth of support is a good portent for the vital efforts to come.”
The text acknowledged the need to address the “development and distribution of, and unhindered, timely and equitable access to, medical countermeasures such as vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.”
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has regularly hit out at the chasm between rich and poor countries’ access to jabs, tests, treatments and protective equipment for tackling Covid-19.

Russia: Latest Zircon hypersonic missile test successful

Russia: Latest Zircon hypersonic missile test successful
Updated 47 min 52 sec ago

Russia: Latest Zircon hypersonic missile test successful

Russia: Latest Zircon hypersonic missile test successful
  • Russia, the United States, France and China have all been experimenting with so-called hypersonic glide vehicles
MOSCOW: Russia said Monday it had carried out another successful test of its Zircon hypersonic cruise missile, as world powers race to develop the advanced weaponry.
Russia, the United States, France and China have all been experimenting with so-called hypersonic glide vehicles — defined as reaching speeds of at least Mach 5.
As part of “the completion of tests” of Russia’s hypersonic missile weapons, the Admiral Gorshkov warship launched a Zircon missile at a target in the Barents Sea at a range of 400 kilometers, the defense ministry said.
“The target was hit,” the ministry said, describing the test as successful.
The missile has undergone a number of recent tests, with Russia planning to equip both warships and submarines with the Zircon.
Putin revealed the development of the new weapon in a state of the nation address in February 2019, saying it could hit targets at sea and on land with a range of 1,000 kilometers and a speed of Mach 9.
Russia’s latest Zircon test came after Western reports that a Chinese hypersonic glider test flight in July culminated in the mid-flight firing of a missile at more than five times the speed of sound over the South China Sea.
Up until the test, none of the top powers had displayed comparable mastery of a mid-flight missile launch.
China denied the report, saying it was a routine test of a reusable space vehicle.
Russia has boasted of developing several weapons that circumvent existing defense systems, including the Sarmat intercontinental missiles and Burevestnik cruise missiles.
Western experts have linked a deadly blast at a test site in northern Russia in 2019 — which caused a sharp spike in local radiation levels — to the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile.

Couple caught fleeing Dutch COVID-19 quarantine moved to ‘forced isolation’

Couple caught fleeing Dutch COVID-19 quarantine moved to ‘forced isolation’
Updated 29 November 2021

Couple caught fleeing Dutch COVID-19 quarantine moved to ‘forced isolation’

Couple caught fleeing Dutch COVID-19 quarantine moved to ‘forced isolation’
  • Pair left the hotel where travelers who tested positive for the virus were staying after arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport from South Africa

AMSTERDAM: A couple caught trying to escape from COVID-19 quarantine in the Netherlands after testing positive for the coronavirus have been transferred to a hospital where they were being held in isolation, an official said on Monday.
The pair, a Spanish man and Portuguese woman, left the hotel where travelers who tested positive for the virus were staying after arriving at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport from South Africa.
“They have now been transferred to a hospital elsewhere in the Netherlands to ensure they are in isolation. They are now in so-called forced isolation,” said Petra Faber, spokesperson for Haarlemmermeer municipality, where Schiphol is located just outside of the capital.
“We don’t know who tested positive for the new variant and we wouldn’t say because of privacy,” Faber said.
The couple fled the hotel on Sunday and had boarded a plane to Spain when they were detained by military police at the airport, said Faber. They were among 61 out of the more than 600 passengers who arrived on two flights from Johannesburg and Cape Town on Friday and tested positive for COVID-19.
At least 13 of those infected have the newly identified omicron variant of the virus, Dutch health authorities said on Sunday.
Security at the hotel has in the meantime been increased to ensure the quarantined guests stay in their rooms. It is being guarded by regular police and military police.
The discovery of omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, has sparked worries around the world that it could resist vaccinations and prolong the nearly two-year-old COVID-19 pandemic.
Dutch authorities are also seeking to contact and test some 5,000 other passengers who have traveled from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia or Zimbabwe.
In the Netherlands, tougher COVID-19 measures went into effect on Sunday to curb record daily infection rates of more than 20,000 and ease pressure on hospitals.


India’s parliament passes bill to repeal controversial farm laws

India’s parliament passes bill to repeal controversial farm laws
Updated 29 November 2021

India’s parliament passes bill to repeal controversial farm laws

India’s parliament passes bill to repeal controversial farm laws
  • Narendra Modi said this month his government would repeal the laws in the new session of parliament

NEW DELHI: India’s parliament on Monday passed a bill to repeal three laws aiming at deregulating agricultural markets, bowing to pressure from farmers who have protested for over a year to demand that the laws be rolled back.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s administration introduced the farm bills last year through an executive order, traditionally reserved for emergency legislation, triggering India’s longest-running farmers’ protest. Parliament then passed the legislation via a voice vote, drawing widespread criticism that it had rushed through the laws without proper debate.
In a bid to end the protests ahead of the state assembly election in India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state early next year, Modi said this month his government would repeal the laws in the new session of parliament.
As parliament reconvened for its winter session on Monday, both the lower and upper houses passed the bill to withdraw the laws meant to deregulate and open up agricultural markets to companies. Farmers have said the laws would leave them with scant bargaining power against big private purchasers.
The controversial laws saw tens of thousands of people, including many elderly growers and women farmers, brave extreme weather and a severe second wave of coronavirus infections to camp out on the outskirts of New Delhi over the past year.
In addition to their repeal demand, protesting farmers are also asking that Modi’s administration introduce a law to secure government prices for produces beyond just rice and wheat.
The government currently buys rice and wheat at state-set Minimum Support Prices (MSPs), but the subsidies only benefit about 6 percent of India’s millions of farmers.
Protesters are demanding MSPs for all crops – a move that has galvanized growers across the country and taken the protest beyond India’s grain-growing states of Punjab and Haryana.
The government has not yet made any comment on the protesters’ demand for MSPs.
Farmers celebrated the development but said the protest would only be called off when the government promised legislation on MSPs for all produce.


Greeks urged to evacuate Ethiopia

Greeks urged to evacuate Ethiopia
Updated 29 November 2021

Greeks urged to evacuate Ethiopia

Greeks urged to evacuate Ethiopia
  • Greeks who chose to remain should limit their movements, stock up on food, water and fuel, and stay in contact with the Greek embassy in Addis Ababa
  • The US, Canada and other nations have also told their citizens to leave the country amid fears that Tigrayan rebels could march on the capital

ATHENS: Greece’s foreign ministry on Monday urged Greek nationals to leave Ethiopia, warning that conditions in the war-torn country were becoming “increasingly unpredictable.”
“It is recommended to Greek nationals living in Ethiopia that they leave the country on available commercial flights as soon as possible,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said safety conditions in Ethiopia were “particularly fragile.”
It said Greeks who chose to remain should limit their movements, stock up on food, water and fuel, and stay in contact with the Greek embassy in Addis Ababa and the ministry’s crisis management team.
The US, Canada and other nations have also told their citizens to leave the country amid fears that Tigrayan rebels could march on the capital.
The war erupted in November 2020 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, sent troops into the Tigray region to topple its ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The civil war has left thousands dead and displaced more than two million people.