Rise in food prices bites Iraqis

Rise in food prices bites Iraqis
Iraqis demonstrate to denounce rising prices of basic food items in the center of Iraq’s city of Nasiriyah in the southern Dhi Qar province on Wednesday. (AFP)
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Updated 10 March 2022

Rise in food prices bites Iraqis

Rise in food prices bites Iraqis
  • Protesters gather in Nasiriyah, flashpoint of anti-corruption demos that gripped country in 2019

NASIRIYAH: Protests erupted on Wednesday in Iraq’s impoverished south over a rise in food prices that officials attributed to the conflict in Ukraine.

For about a week, the price of cooking oils and flour have skyrocketed in local markets as government officials have sought to address growing anger with various statements and measures.

More than 500 protesters gathered in a central square in the southern city of Nasiriyah — a flashpoint of anti-corruption protests that gripped the country in 2019.

“The rise in prices is strangling us, whether it is bread or other food products,” retired teacher Hassan Kazem said. “We can barely make ends meet.”

On Tuesday, the Iraqi government announced measures to confront the increase in international prices.

These included a monthly allowance of about $70 for pensioners whose income does not exceed 1 million dinars (almost $700), as well as civil servants earning less than 500,000 dinars.

The authorities also announced the suspension of customs duties on food products, basic consumer goods and construction materials for two months.

Trade Ministry spokesman Mohamed Hanoun attributed the rise in cooking oil prices to the conflict in Ukraine.

“There’s a major global crisis because Ukraine has a large share of (the world market in cooking) oils,” he said.

On Tuesday, a protester was seriously injured in a demonstration in the central province of Babil that was marred by violence, a security source said.

The Interior Ministry announced it had arrested 31 people accused of “raising the prices of food commodities and abusing citizens.”

A protester in Nasiriyah on Wednesday denounced the “greed of traders who manipulate prices.”

Both Russia and Ukraine are major producers of foodstuffs, including sunflower oil and wheat, and the Middle East is particularly dependent on imports from the two countries.

More than 600 people were killed and tens of thousands injured during the demonstrations.

Meanwhile, mosques, churches and century-old houses are being brought back to life in Mosul’s Old City, which the Daesh group seized as its stronghold before being pushed out in mid-2017.

“Al-Hadba is the icon of Mosul, the symbol of the city,” said Omar Taqa, a supervising engineer with UNESCO, the UN heritage body which has launched several projects to restore the city’s landmarks.

The minaret was featured on Iraqi 10,000-dinar banknotes before the jihadists flew their black flag from the top of its 45-meter spire.

Daesh chief Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi made his only confirmed public appearance in July 2014 at the Al-Nuri Mosque, where he declared the establishment of a “caliphate.”

Three years later Iraq’s army and a US-led international coalition had forced the jihadists out of Iraq’s second city.

The Al-Nuri Mosque, and the adjacent leaning minaret — nicknamed Al-Hadba or the “hunchback” — were destroyed in June 2017 during the battle to take back the city.

Iraqi authorities had accused Daesh of planting explosives there before their withdrawal. “We found 11 mines there, ready to be activated,” said Taqa. “Some were hidden inside walls.”

Only the central area of the mosque remains, its dome propped up on arches supported by wooden wedges. Atop the columns of grey marble, traces of blue enhance the adjoining capitals.


Crew of Lebanese Army boat rescued after vessel catches fire during security operation

Crew of Lebanese Army boat rescued after vessel catches fire during security operation
Updated 7 sec ago

Crew of Lebanese Army boat rescued after vessel catches fire during security operation

Crew of Lebanese Army boat rescued after vessel catches fire during security operation
  • Navy boats and Lebanese Civil Defense teams responded to assist the stricken vessel

BEIRUT: The crew of a Lebanese Army speed cruiser that was taking part in a security operation off Al-Saadiyat coast on Thursday had to be rescued after their vessel caught fire, according to a statement by the army.
Other navy boats and Lebanese Civil Defense teams responded to assist the stricken vessel and help put out the fire. No casualties were reported.


UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports
Updated 11 August 2022

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports

UAE to issue new-generation Emirati passports
  • Part of efforts to use technology in reinforcing identification of personal identity and eliminating forgery

DUBAI: The UAE will issue a new generation of Emirati passports from Sept. 1, authorities said on Thursday.

The Federal Authority for Identity, Citizenship, Customs and Port Security (ICP) said the new passports, equipped with the latest technologies, will have advanced security features.

 

 

The new-generation passports are part of efforts to use technology in reinforcing identification of personal identity and eliminating forgery or fraud, according to Ali Muhammad Al-Shamsi, Chairman of ICP, in a report from state news agency WAM.

The complex security specifications feature a polycarbonate introduction page, laser technologies and “three-dimensional tangible elements.”

Authorities said holders of the current passports can still use their travel document until expiry.


Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam
Updated 11 August 2022

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam

Egypt warns of cracks in Ethiopian dam
  • Cairo, Khartoum fear it will reduce their share of Nile waters
  • Egypt says it will take all necessary measures to protect national security

CAIRO: In a letter to the UN Security Council, Egypt has warned of cracks in the concrete facade of the sub-dam linked to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Cairo said this is particularly alarming due to Ethiopia’s failure to comply with its duty to conduct the required environmental and socioeconomic impact studies.

The letter, sent to the UNSC president, said Egypt’s Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Mohamed Abdel-Aty had received a message about Ethiopia’s intention to unilaterally resume filling the GERD during the current rainy season.

Abdel-Aty said Ethiopia’s decision comes in the absence of an agreement between it and Egypt and Sudan on the rules governing the filling and operation of the dam, constituting a violation of the 2015 Declaration of Principles signed by the three countries.

He stressed that Cairo holds Ethiopia fully responsible for any significant harm that may be caused to Egypt by these repeated violations.

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the country reserves its right guaranteed in the UN Charter to take all necessary measures to ensure and protect its national security, including against any harm that Ethiopia’s unilateral measures may cause.

The GERD has raised tensions between Ethiopia on one hand and Egypt and Sudan on the other.

The latter two countries are demanding a legally binding agreement on the filling and operation of the dam, which they fear will reduce their share of the Nile’s waters.

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UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey
Updated 11 August 2022

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey

UK police seek urgent help locating boy last seen in Turkey
  • 4-year-old George Jack Temperley-Wells visited Antalya with his mother to see his father

LONDON: Police in the UK have asked for help to locate a 4-year-old boy who is thought to be missing after traveling to Turkey.

George Jack Temperley-Wells is believed to have gone to visit his father Scott Nigel Wells in the city of Antalya on June 29 with his mother Brogan Elizabeth Temperley. Antalya is a popular summer holiday destination for Britons.

Durham Police said anyone in contact with Temperley should notify authorities in Turkey or the UK immediately with information on her whereabouts, adding that they have serious concerns for the welfare of her son.

The police said the boy has red hair, a pale complexion and dark eyes, while his mother is described as being slim with long dark hair and dark eyes.

The force released two images of the trio dining in the area at a restaurant recently, where they were seen smiling together.

People in Turkey with information should visit their nearest police station or call 112/115. Anyone in the UK with information should contact Durham Constabulary on 101, and quote the incident number 325 for June 30.


UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs
Updated 11 August 2022

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs

UN, Italian agency sign deal to rebuild damaged Beirut suburbs
  • Italian Embassy: Project will improve housing for vulnerable people affected by port blast

LONDON: The Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and the UN Program for Human Settlements have signed an agreement in Beirut to finance the rehabilitation of the public park of the Mar Mikhael train station in the Lebanese capital.

The program will also restore some of the housing damaged by the Beirut port explosion on Aug. 4, 2020.

The Italian Embassy in Beirut reported the signing, hosting a ceremony at the Italian diplomatic headquarters in Baabda. It was attended by Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Nicoletta Bombardiere.

The project, titled “Ensuring safe public spaces and adequate housing for all within the city of Beirut,” is being funded by the agency and will be implemented by the UN program alongside Lebanese authorities.

The embassy said the project will improve “housing conditions for vulnerable populations affected by the explosion of the port of Beirut, in particular in the vicinity of the old Mar Mikhael railway station.”

It added that the project intends to increase “access to safe and inclusive public spaces within the railway station, also revitalizing the urban fabric of the city.”

Bombardiere said: “This project will allow the citizens of Beirut to rediscover the old Mar Mikhael railway station and its historical relevance.

“At the same time, we continue our commitment to respond to basic needs, such as social housing, restoring the cultural and social fabric of the districts most affected.”