UN Syria envoy alarmed by hostilities, civilian shortages

UN Syria envoy alarmed by hostilities, civilian shortages
The UN special envoy for Syria on Thursday voiced his growing concern at increased hostilities in the south of the country and warned of shortages faced by civilians. (File/AFP)
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Updated 12 August 2021

UN Syria envoy alarmed by hostilities, civilian shortages

UN Syria envoy alarmed by hostilities, civilian shortages
  • Pedersen reiterated his call for an immediate end to the violence and urged all parties to protect civilians
  • He stressed that immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access must be granted to all affected areas

GENEVA: The UN special envoy for Syria on Thursday voiced his growing concern at increased hostilities in the south of the country and warned of the alarming shortages faced by civilians.
Norwegian diplomat Geir Pedersen reiterated his call for an immediate end to the violence and urged all parties to uphold the principle of protecting civilians.
“Increased hostilities, which have included heavy shelling and intensified ground clashes, have resulted in civilian casualties, as well as damage to civilian infrastructures,” his office said in a statement.
“Thousands of civilians have been forced to flee Daraa Al-Balad. Civilians are suffering with acute shortages of fuel, cooking gas, water, and bread. Medical assistance is in short supply to treat the injured.
“The situation is alarming.”
At Thursday’s virtual meeting of the International Syria Support Group’s Humanitarian Task Force, Pedersen stressed that immediate, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access must be granted to all affected areas and communities, and that the near siege-like situation must end.
“There is the potential for increased confrontations and further deterioration unless there is an immediate calm and a political way forward,” Pedersen’s office said.
“The special envoy also continues to hear from people in Daraa, including civil society representatives on the ground, who have expressed grave fears for their safety.”
He also noted an escalation of violence in northwest Syria, and multiple water security challenges in the northeast.
Syria’s war has killed around half a million people since 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.


Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%

Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%
Updated 17 min 6 sec ago

Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%

Qatar approves its budget, expects to revenue to rise by 22.1%

Qatar has approved its budget for the 2022 fiscal year, the country’s Minister of Finance Ali Al Kuwari said in a press conference on Tuesday.

Revenues are expected to amount to 196 billion riyals ($53.8 billion), a 22.4 percent rise compared to last year’s budget estimates, Asharq reported. 

Estimates for the budget were made while assuming oil prices to be $55 per barrel during the year on the back of healthier global energy prices.

Additionally, expenditures are predicted to hit 204.3 billion riyals, growing by an annual rate of 4.9 percent.

This will lead to a budget deficit of 8.3 billion riyals. Al Kuwari added that this deficit will be addressed through current monetary balances and the issuance of local and foreign debt instruments if needed.

EU’s economy

Output in the EU expanded by a quarterly rate of 2.1 percent in this year’s third quarter, according to preliminary estimates by Eurostat. 

Austria experienced the highest rise in activity, recording an economic growth rate of 3.9 percent. France and Portugal came next, as their economies widened by 3 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

Household consumption mainly drove the production’s rise in the region, going up by 4 percent, accelerating from the previous quarter’s 3.7 percent expansion. 

Government final consumption expenditure climbed by 0.3 percent while gross fixed capital formation declined by 0.6 percent.

Meanwhile, employment growth reached 0.9 percent in the third quarter of 2021 when compared to the previous quarter.

In addition, the euro area’s Indicator of Economic Sentiment improved by 0.9 points in December to hit 26.8 points, Zew, a Germany economic policy institute, said. 

However, the outlook was different for Germany, as its sentiment indicator fell by 1.8 points to reach 29.9 points. Deteriorations caused by the pandemic, as well as supply chain disruptions, are dragging the German economy down, the Mannheim-based firm noted.

Economic expectations also fell, signalling that forecasts about healthy short-term growth are not gaining momentum.

Moreover, the country’s industrial production went up by a monthly rate of 2.8 percent in October, preliminary estimates by Germany’s Federal Statistics Office showed.

In particular, production of capital goods widened by 8.2 percent while output of intermediate goods dropped by 0.4 percent.

Japan’s household spending

Household spending in Japan continued to fall, on an annual basis, for the third month in a row. This was attributed to weak consumer sentiment that is still recovering from the pandemic.

Spending by the sector dropped by a yearly rate of 0.6 percent in October, compared to a 1.9 percent fall in the previous month.

The country’s government recently introduced a $490 billion stimulus package to boost the economy, unlike other countries that are starting to roll back on their spending programs, Reuters reported.

Australia’s monetary policy

Australia’s central bank maintained its monetary policy and interest rate unchanged. The decision was driven by concerns over omicron, the new coronavirus variant.

The country’s interest rate remained at 0.1 percent, according to Bloomberg. The bank noted that it will raise interest rates when inflation reaches its target of 2-3 percent.

The bank added that the labor market and economy are experiencing upturns.

China’s trade

Exports and imports in China grew annually by 22 percent and 32 percent in November when compared to a year earlier, reaching all-time records.

Yet, exports growth slowed down due to a thinning demand and a rise in costs.


Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured

Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured
Updated 18 min 49 sec ago

Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured

Yemeni rial bounces back as central bank restructured

AL-MUKALLA: The Yemeni rial recovered on Tuesday by roughly 30 percent hours after the Yemeni president reshuffled the country’s central bank board in a bid to rein in the rapid currency devaluation. 

Local moneychangers told Arab News that the Yemeni rial began bouncing back on Monday night when President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi dismissed the governor of the Aden-based central bank and his deputy. 

By Tuesday morning, the Yemeni currency rose from 1,700 to 1,100 against the dollar before dropping again to 1,250 in the afternoon. 

The rial has rapidly tumbled during the past couple of weeks, reaching a historic record low of 1,750 this week, compared to 215 in early 2015. 

Yemen’s president appointed Ahmed bin Ahmed Ghaleb as the new governor and head of the central bank’s administrative board. Mohammed Omer Banaja was appointed his deputy. 

The official news agency reported that the president authorized the Central Agency for Control and Accountability to monitor the bank’s current and previous financial activities. 

Four previous central bank chiefs, all appointed Hadi, failed to prevent the rial’s plunge despite their expertise and strong educational backgrounds.

The central bank had closed dozens of exchange firms and shops that violated the bank’s monetary rules and were involved in speculative activities on foreign currency. The central bank also ordered banks in the Houthi-controlled areas to move offices and operations to Aden, or face punitive measures and provided fuel and food importers with dollars. The rial continued losing value against the dollar, as several blacklisted firms and banks continued operations  in the Houthi-controlled Sanaa.

Mustafa Nasr, director of the Economic Media Center, has urged local and international support to the bank’s new administration to succeed in putting into place economic policies and also demanded resuming the flow of oil and gas exports and reviving money-generating state bodies. “

Richard Oppenheim, British ambassador to Yemen, said the reshuffle of the bank’s administrative board would help the Yemeni government carry out vital reforms to steady the economy.


Egypt will strive to help Africa recover from COVID-19: FM

Egypt will strive to help Africa recover from COVID-19: FM
Updated 27 min 52 sec ago

Egypt will strive to help Africa recover from COVID-19: FM

Egypt will strive to help Africa recover from COVID-19: FM
  • Egypt has started locally producing China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for exporting surpluses to African countries
  • FM Shoukry handed a letter to Senegalese President Macky Sall from his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi that discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties

CAIRO: Egypt will spare no effort to help African states recover from the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said at the seventh session of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in Africa.

Egypt has started locally producing China’s Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in preparation for exporting surpluses to African countries.

Shoukry said the pandemic has impeded efforts to achieve peace and stability on the continent, and has exacerbated humanitarian crises.

It has become impossible to deal with the pandemic solely as a global health crisis, as it has affected all aspects of life, he added. 

Shoukry highlighted issues that Africa should prioritize, including developing a common vision to address shortcomings in the continent’s medical infrastructure, such as dependence on foreign medicines and vaccines.

He also noted the importance of addressing the root causes of terrorism and armed conflicts in Africa by rebuilding societies that have suffered from the scourge of war and conflict.

He praised the selection of Senegal for the African Union presidency from February 2022, and expressed Cairo’s readiness to provide all forms of support to the country in light of Egypt’s experience as president of the bloc in 2019.

Shoukry handed a letter to Senegalese President Macky Sall from his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah El-Sisi that discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties, as well as issues of common concern.


Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 

Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 
Updated 41 min 14 sec ago

Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 

Bezos donates $443m to fight climate change 

JEDDAH: Jeff Bezos has handed over $443 million to climate organizations as part of his $10 billion commitment to tackle global warming.

About $130 million is allocated to help the Justice40 initiative, an environmentally focused effort by President Joe Biden’s administration, according to Bloomberg.

Another $261 million will fund a plan to protect 30 percent of land and sea by 2030, concentrating on the Congo Basin and tropical Andes. 

The world’s second-richest person gave out $791 million to 16 organizations last year, promising to distribute the full $10 billion amount by 2030, Bloomberg reported.


UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 

UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 
Updated 53 min 5 sec ago

UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 

UAE’s Chimera invests $100m in Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris’ Gemini 

RIYADH: Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris has announced a $100 million deal with Abu Dhabi’s Chimera for investment in Egypt’s real estate.

Through its subsidiary, Chimera subscribed to a capital increase in Egypt’s Gemini Global Development in return for acquiring a minority stake in the company, Asharq reported.

This capital increase aims to develop and expand the real estate activities of Gemini Global Development Egypt through Ora Developers.

Naguib Sawiris said Ora Developers has always aimed to search for opportunities that expand their offerings to a larger base of customers in various markets, while partnering with global investors, contractors and retailers. 

“Through this partnership, Chimera continues to grow and further enhance its global portfolio by investing in a prominent player operating in a high growth sector in Egypt,” Chimera Chairman Syed Basar Shueb said.