UN Security Council condemns position of Turkey’s Erdogan on Cyprus

Turkish soldiers take part in a parade in the northern part of Cyprus' divided capital Nicosia, in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on July 20, 2021. (AFP)
Turkish soldiers take part in a parade in the northern part of Cyprus' divided capital Nicosia, in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on July 20, 2021. (AFP)
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Updated 23 July 2021

UN Security Council condemns position of Turkey’s Erdogan on Cyprus

Turkish soldiers take part in a parade in the northern part of Cyprus' divided capital Nicosia, in the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on July 20, 2021. (AFP)
  • On a trip to the north of divided Nicosia on Tuesday, Erdogan declared that a half-century of UN efforts had failed

NEW YORK: The UN Security Council on Friday condemned Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's call for two states in Cyprus and a move to reopen a resort emptied of Greek Cypriots, calling for a “just” settlement with a united country under a “bizonal” federation, diplomats said.
“The Security Council condemns the announcement in Cyprus by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot leaders,” said the statement, obtained by AFP and which diplomats said was agreed upon and would be formally adopted later in the day.
“The Security Council expresses its deep regret regarding these unilateral actions that run contrary to its previous resolutions and statements.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded in response to an abortive coup engineered by the then military junta in Athens that aimed to unite the island with Greece.
The country, a European Union member now dominated by Greek Cypriots, and the United Nations both seek a “bizonal” federation of two regional administrations that are united as one nation.
On a trip to the north of divided Nicosia on Tuesday, Erdogan declared that a half-century of UN efforts had failed and that there should be “two peoples and two states with equal status.”
The United States voiced concern that his remarks would have a “chilling effect” on UN-led efforts for a solution in Cyprus.
In its statement, the UN Security Council reaffirmed its “commitment to an enduring, comprehensive and just settlement in accordance with the wishes of the Cypriot people, and based on a bicommunal, bizonal federation with political equality.”
Turkey alone recognizes the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Despite the lack of a solution, the island has been largely at peace.
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar, an Erdogan ally, also announced Tuesday a new step in opening up Varosha, once the Mediterranean island's top resort but whose Greek Cypriot population fled with the 1974 invasion.
Tatar said that an initial 3.5 percent of Varosha, whose abandoned high rises lie under Turkish military control, would be removed from its military status.
“The Security Council calls for the immediate reversal of this course of action and the reversal of all steps taken on Varosha since October 2020,” the statement said.
“The Security Council stresses the importance of full respect and implementation of its resolutions, including the transfer of Varosha to UN administration.”
The Council had been expected to adopt the statement on Wednesday, but it was delayed as diplomats debated hardening the condemnation of Erdogan, one UN source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The move was rare, as such statements are often softened to ensure they garner as much support as possible from the Council's 15 member states.


New Zealand’s Auckland COVID-19 restrictions eased slightly

New Zealand’s Auckland COVID-19 restrictions eased slightly
Updated 12 sec ago

New Zealand’s Auckland COVID-19 restrictions eased slightly

New Zealand’s Auckland COVID-19 restrictions eased slightly
  • The city will move to alert level 3 from alert level 4 starting midnight on Tuesday
WELLINGTON: Coronavirus restrictions in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland will be eased slightly from Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference.
The city, which is at the center of the latest Delta variant outbreak, will move to alert level 3 from alert level 4 starting midnight on Tuesday, Ardern said. Schools and offices will still remain closed at level 3 but businesses can operate contactless services.
The rest of the country will remain at alert level 2, she said.

Pyongyang derides Seoul’s submarine-launched missile as clumsy, rudimentary

Pyongyang derides Seoul’s submarine-launched missile as clumsy, rudimentary
Updated 4 min 19 sec ago

Pyongyang derides Seoul’s submarine-launched missile as clumsy, rudimentary

Pyongyang derides Seoul’s submarine-launched missile as clumsy, rudimentary
  • Both Korean neighbors developing increasingly sophisticated weapons amid stalled efforts to ease tension on the peninsula
SEOUL: A North Korean military think tank on Monday dismissed South Korea’s recently tested submarine-launched ballistic missile as clumsy and rudimentary but warned its development would rekindle cross-border tension.
Both South and North Korea, which have been developing increasingly sophisticated weapons amid stalled efforts to ease tension on the peninsula, tested ballistic missiles on Wednesday.
Jang Chang Ha, chief of the Academy of the National Defense Science, a North Korean state-run weapons development and procurement center, said in a commentary on the official KCNA news agency that media photographs of the latest South Korean missile showed a “sloppy” weapon that did not even have the shape of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
The missile seemed to be a version of the South’s Hyunmoo surface-to-surface ballistic missiles with the warhead part an imitation of India’s K-15 SLBM, Jang said.
The photographs of the test indicated that South Korea had yet to achieve key technologies for the underwater launch including complicated fluid flow analysis, he said.
“In a word, it should be called some clumsy work,” Jang said. “If it’s indeed an SLBM, it would only be in its rudimentary, infant stage.”
South Korea’s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jang said the weapon had not reached a phase where it had strategic and tactical value and would thus pose a threat to the North but questioned the intent of the South’s ongoing missile development.
“The South’s enthusiastic efforts to improve submarine weapons systems clearly presage intensified military tension on the Korean peninsula,” Jang said. “And at the same time, it awakens us again and makes us sure of what we ought to do.”
Jang’s comments came days after Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, derided the South for criticizing the North for what she said were “routine defensive measures” while developing its own missiles.
North Korea has been steadily developing its weapons systems, raising the stakes for talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in return for US sanctions relief.
The negotiations, initiated between Kim Jong Un and former US President Donald Trump in 2018, have stalled since 2019.

US launches mass expulsion of Haitian migrants from Texas

US launches mass expulsion of Haitian migrants from Texas
Updated 20 September 2021

US launches mass expulsion of Haitian migrants from Texas

US launches mass expulsion of Haitian migrants from Texas
  • More 12,000 migrants, mostly Haitians, had camped around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico

DEL RIO, Texas: The US flew Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland Sunday and tried blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico in a massive show of force that signaled the beginning of what could be one of America’s swiftest, large-scale expulsions of migrants or refugees in decades.
More than 320 migrants arrived in Port-au-Prince on three flights, and Haiti said six flights were expected Tuesday. In all, US authorities moved to expel many of the more 12,000 migrants camped around a bridge in Del Rio, Texas, after crossing from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico.
The US plans to begin seven expulsion flights daily on Wednesday, four to Port-au-Prince and three to Cap-Haitien, according to a US official who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. Flights will continue to depart from San Antonio but authorities may add El Paso, the official said.
The only obvious parallel for such an expulsion without an opportunity to seek asylum was in 1992 when the Coast Guard intercepted Haitian refugees at sea, said Yael Schacher, senior US advocate at Refugees International whose doctoral studies focused on the history of US asylum law.
Similarly large numbers of Mexicans have been sent home during peak years of immigration but over land and not so suddenly.
Central Americans have also crossed the border in comparable numbers without being subject to mass expulsion, although Mexico has agreed to accept them from the US under pandemic-related authority in effect since March 2020. Mexico does not accept expelled Haitians or people of other nationalities outside of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
When the border was closed Sunday, the migrants initially found other ways to cross nearby until they were confronted by federal and state law enforcement. An Associated Press reporter saw Haitian immigrants still crossing the river into the US about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) east of the previous spot, but they were eventually stopped by Border Patrol agents on horseback and Texas law enforcement officials.
As they crossed, some Haitians carried boxes on their heads filled with food. Some removed their pants before getting into the river and carried them. Others were unconcerned about getting wet.
Agents yelled at the migrants who were crossing in the waist-deep river to get out of the water. The several hundred who had successfully crossed and were sitting along the river bank on the US side were ordered to the Del Rio camp. “Go now,” agents yelled. Mexican authorities in an airboat told others trying to cross to go back into Mexico.
Migrant Charlie Jean had crossed back into Ciudad Acuña from the camps to get food for his wife and three daughters, ages 2, 5 and 12. He was waiting on the Mexican side for a restaurant to bring him an order of rice.
“We need food for every day. I can go without, but my kids can’t,” said Jean, who had been living in Chile for five years before beginning the trek north to the US It was unknown if he made it back across and to the camp.
Mexico said Sunday it would also begin deporting Haitians to their homeland. A government official said the flights would be from towns near the US border and the border with Guatemala, where the largest group remains.
Haitians have been migrating to the US in large numbers from South America for several years, many having left their Caribbean nation after a devastating 2010 earthquake. After jobs dried up from the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, many made the dangerous trek by foot, bus and car to the US border, including through the infamous Darien Gap, a Panamanian jungle.
Some of the migrants at the Del Rio camp said the recent devastating earthquake in Haiti and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse make them afraid to return to a country that seems more unstable than when they left.
“In Haiti, there is no security,” said Fabricio Jean, a 38-year-old Haitian who arrived in Texas with his wife and two daughters. “The country is in a political crisis.”
Since Friday, 3,300 migrants have already been removed from the Del Rio camp to planes or detention centers, Border Patrol Chief Raul L. Ortiz said Sunday. He expected to have 3,000 of the approximately 12,600 remaining migrants moved within a day, and aimed for the rest to be gone within the week.
“We are working around the clock to expeditiously move migrants out of the heat, elements and from underneath this bridge to our processing facilities in order to quickly process and remove individuals from the United States consistent with our laws and our policies,” Ortiz said at news conference at the Del Rio bridge. The Texas city of about 35,000 people sits roughly 145 miles (230 kilometers) west of San Antonio.
Six flights were scheduled in Haiti on Tuesday — three in Port-au-Prince and three in the northern city of Cap-Haitien, said Jean Négot Bonheur Delva, Haiti’s migration director.
The rapid expulsions were made possible by a pandemic-related authority adopted by former President Donald Trump in March 2020 that allows for migrants to be immediately removed from the country without an opportunity to seek asylum. President Joe Biden exempted unaccompanied children from the order but let the rest stand.
Any Haitians not expelled are subject to immigration laws, which include rights to seek asylum and other forms of humanitarian protection. Families are quickly released in the US because the government cannot generally hold children.
Some people arriving on the first flight covered their heads as they walked into a large bus parked next to the plane. Dozens lined up to receive a plate of rice, beans, chicken and plantains as they wondered where they would sleep and how they would make money to support their families.
All were given $100 and tested for COVID-19, though authorities were not planning to put them into quarantine, said Marie-Lourde Jean-Charles with the Office of National Migration.
Gary Monplaisir, 26, said his parents and sister live in Port-au-Prince, but he wasn’t sure if he would stay with them because to reach their house he, his wife and their 5-year-old daughter would cross a gang-controlled area called Martissant where killings are routine.
“I’m scared,” he said. “I don’t have a plan.”
He moved to Chile in 2017, just as he was about to earn an accounting degree, to work as a tow truck driver. He later paid for his wife and daughter to join him. They tried to reach the US because he thought he could get a better-paying job and help his family in Haiti.
“We’re always looking for better opportunities,” he said.
Some migrants said they were planning to leave Haiti again as soon as possible. Valeria Ternission, 29, said she and her husband want to travel with their 4-year-old son back to Chile, where she worked as a bakery’s cashier.
“I am truly worried, especially for the child,” she said. “I can’t do anything here.”
 


Lava pours out of volcano on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands

Lava pours out of volcano on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands
Updated 20 September 2021

Lava pours out of volcano on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands

Lava pours out of volcano on La Palma in Spain’s Canary Islands
  • Video footage shared on social media, which Reuters has been unable to verify, showed the lava entering a house

LA PALMA, Spain: A volcano erupted on the Spanish Canary Island of La Palma on Sunday, sending lava shooting into the air and streaming in rivers toward houses in two villages from the Cumbre Vieja national park in the south of the island.
Authorities had begun evacuating the infirm and some farm animals from nearby villages before the eruption at 3:15 p.m. (1415 GMT) on a wooded slope in the sparsely populated Cabeza de Vaca area, according to the islands’ government.
Two hours later, with lava edging down the hillside from five fissures torn into the hillside, the municipality ordered the evacuation of four villages, including El Paso and Los Llanos de Aridane.
After nightfall, video footage showed fountains of lava shooting hundreds of meters into the sky, and at least three incandescent orange rivers of molten rock pouring down the hill, tearing gashes into woods and farmland, and spreading as they reached lower ground.
One stream, several hundred meters long and tens of meters wide, crossed a road and began engulfing scattered houses in El Paso. Video footage shared on social media, which Reuters has been unable to verify, showed the lava entering a house.
“When the volcano erupted today, I was scared. For journalists it is something spectacular, for us it is a tragedy. I think the lava has reached some relatives’ houses,” local resident Isabel Fuentes, 55, told Spanish television TVE.
“I was 5 years old when the volcano last erupted (in 1971). You never get over a volcanic eruption,” added Fuentes, who said she had moved to another house on Sunday for her safety.

’STAY IN YOUR HOUSES’
Canary Islands President Angel Victor Torres told a press conference on Sunday night that 5,000 people had been evacuated and no injuries had been reported so far.
“It is not foreseeable that anyone else will have to be evacuated. The lava is moving toward the coast and the damage will be material. According to experts there are about 17-20 million cubic meters of lava,” he said.
Flights to and from the Canaries were continuing as normal, the airport operator Aena said.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez arrived in La Palma, the most northwesterly island of the archipelago, late on Sunday for talks with the islands’ government on managing the eruption.
“We have all the resources (to deal with the eruption) and all the troops, the citizens can rest easy,” he said.
Stavros Meletlidis, a doctor of volcanology at the Spanish Geographical Institute, said the eruption had torn five holes in the hillside and that he could not be sure how long it would last.
“We have to measure the lava every day and that will help us to work it out.”
King Felipe spoke with Torres and was following the developments, the royal household said.
La Palma had been on high alert after more than 22,000 tremors were reported in the space of a week in Cumbre Vieja, a chain of volcanoes that last had a major eruption in 1971 and is one of the most active volcanic regions in the Canaries.
In 1971, one man was killed as he was taking photographs near the lava flows, but no property was damaged.
The earliest recorded eruption in La Palma was in 1430, according to the Spanish National Geographical Institute (ING).


Can concerted global action mitigate climate change’s worst impacts?

Can concerted global action mitigate climate change’s worst impacts?
Updated 20 September 2021

Can concerted global action mitigate climate change’s worst impacts?

Can concerted global action mitigate climate change’s worst impacts?
  • Experts warn rich and poor countries alike will experience mass internal migration as a result of climate change
  • World Bank report predicts global warming-linked disasters will displace millions of people by 2050

LONDON: World leaders will gather on Monday at the UN’s New York headquarters for a closed-door session on climate change hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. 

Johnson, who is scheduled to host world leaders in Glasgow in November for the COP26 climate summit, is expected to press delegates to pledge to reduce carbon emissions, with a particular emphasis on ending the use of coal.

It is hoped that world leaders will be free to speak frankly during the closed-door session rather than simply trotting out feel-good bromides or reverting to established positions. 

Johnson is likely to find a ready ear. Last week, Abdulla Shahid, the new president of the UN General Assembly and Maldives foreign minister, told Arab News that climate change will be among the most critical issues of his presidency.

The Maldives’ Abdulla Shahid is making climate change a critical part of his UN General Assembly presidency. (AFP)

And so it should be. The Maldives, an island nation in the heart of the Indian Ocean, is the lowest-lying country in the world, with an average elevation of just 1.5 meters. Rising sea levels caused by global warming pose an immediate existential threat to its future.

The focus on mitigating the effects of climate change cannot come soon enough for the hundreds of millions of people that the World Bank believes will be displaced as a result of global warming. 

A bombshell World Bank report published earlier this month predicted that without decisive action some 216 million people will be displaced by climate change by 2050 — more than 20 times as many people as were displaced by the Syrian civil war.

In a worst-case scenario, the World Bank’s Groundswell II report said that North Africa alone could lose more than 19 million people to climate migration — more than the entire population of Tunisia.

These people, the World Bank said, will be uprooted from their homes by a combination of rising sea levels, declining freshwater access and other issues, which threaten to undo decades of progress on poverty reduction, child mortality, development and education.

North African states, in particular, rely heavily on their agricultural industries to fuel economic growth and to feed their rapidly growing populations. Climate change threatens to devastate these industries, forcing millions from their homes.

Despite the doom and gloom of the report, Ferzina Banaji, communications lead for climate change at the World Bank, told Arab News: “There is a window of opportunity to act now but it is shrinking rapidly.

“Immediate and concerted action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and support green, inclusive and resilient development could reduce the scale of internal climate migration by as much as 80 percent from as much as 216 million people to 44 million people across the six regions covered in the report,” Banaji said.

“In North Africa, where water stress will amplify already scarce water resources, it is critical to step up action on these fronts, building on the already strong efforts of the countries in the region.”

The diversification of livelihoods in the North African region away from agriculture could also improve its resilience to climate change. Although the World Bank report did not directly cover the Middle East, Banaji said that the “region already faces climate change impacts, particularly extreme heat and water stress, which are both expected to worsen in the coming decades.”

Even in a best-case scenario, tens of millions of people globally will undoubtedly be uprooted by climate change by 2050. And the future for these displaced people — disproportionately vulnerable and from lower and middle-income countries — is bleak.

Troels Hedegaard, an associate professor studying migration at Denmark’s Aalborg University, told Arab News that his research indicates that people look even less kindly on climate migrants than they do on those fleeing war and persecution.

“My research indicates that populations in Northern Europe view climate migrants less favorably compared to migrants fleeing because of personal persecution or civil war,” Hedegaard said. 

“They are, however, more welcome than migrants leaving because of economic reasons. I believe this is because this category of migrants is generally unknown to most people in Northern Europe.”

INNUMBERS

216 million - Estimated number of internal climate migrants worldwide by 2050.

19 million - Predicted number of North African internal climate migrants by mid-century.

80 percent - Possible reduction in scale of climate migration if action is taken to reduce emissions. (Source: World Bank)

(Source: World Bank)

In Northern Europe, one of the world’s most climate-resilient regions, Hedegaard cautioned that despite the relative safety, “it would be very difficult to gather public support behind granting climate migrants residency or any other kind of permanent stay.”

This difference in attitude, he said, could be related to long-standing global norms derived from supranational bodies, such as the UN, which have defined what it means to be a refugee — or not — for decades, and this could result in institutional barriers to external migration.

“Even though the terms climate refugees or environmental refugees are sometimes used to describe people displaced by climate events, they are not included in the United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the status to seek protection, and therefore they cannot seek asylum,” Hedegaard said.

Immediate global action on climate change could reduce impending large-scale climate migration by up to 80 percent, the World Bank has said, amid warnings over the future stability of North Africa. (AFP)

But according to Dr. Alex de Sherbinin, an associate director at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, the vast majority of future climate migrants are likely to be internally displaced — and while the emphasis, in general, is on poorer countries in the global south, rich countries such as the US are not exempt from these issues.

The US regularly experiences deadly wildfires, hurricanes, droughts and other such environmental catastrophes that scientists predict will only get worse. Now the US has adopted a strategy of “managed retreat,” de Sherbinen said. 

“The idea of ‘managed retreat’ is to implement a package of interventions such as home buyouts and re-zoning. In some cases managed retreat maeqeey not actually be a retreat — the place may be so valuable that you build flood barriers around it, for example, or take other measures to keep people in place.

The US regularly experiences deadly wildfires, hurricanes, droughts and other such environmental catastrophes that scientists predict will only get worse. Now the US has adopted a strategy of “managed retreat,” de Sherbinen said. 

“Places like the Netherlands have done that successfully for decades,” he said. “It’s not completely inconceivable. But in some cases, it may not be economically viable to protect the area.”

But while these efforts are continuing, de Sherbinin believes that they will never create a true safe haven for people within the US or elsewhere to completely protect them from the impacts of climate change.

“Climate change is with us to stay. The notion that we are going to find an ideal safe space where everyone can be perpetually safe from climate disasters is not going to be part of our 21st-century existence — or into the 22nd.

“We poked the beast, and it’s not going to stop affecting us.”

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Twitter: @CHamillStewart