UK government admits mistakes over Afghan animal charity case

UK government admits mistakes over Afghan animal charity case
As Taliban forces approached Kabul last August, Nowzad charity chief organized an evacuation of dogs from the Afghan capital after appealing directly to the UK government. (Nowzad)
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Updated 30 July 2022

UK government admits mistakes over Afghan animal charity case

UK government admits mistakes over Afghan animal charity case
  • ‘Communication error’ sparked rumors of PM intervention, says Foreign Office
  • There was no “plausible alternative explanation”

LONDON: The UK government has acknowledged mistakes and admitted regrets over the evacuation of animal charity workers from Afghanistan.
As Taliban forces approached Kabul last August, Nowzad charity chief Pen Farthing organized an evacuation of dogs from the Afghan capital after appealing directly to the UK government.
The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office was questioned afterward over the role that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had played in the reallocation of evacuation resources. The government denied that he had personally ordered the case to be prioritized.
However, the Foreign Affairs Committee claimed earlier this year that several senior officials believed that Johnson intervened in the case to secure the evacuation, and that there was no “plausible alternative explanation.”
The FAC’s report said that despite failing to meet the official criteria for evacuation, Nowzad charity employees were granted aircraft seats “at the last minute after a mysterious intervention from elsewhere in government.” However, Nowzad staff eventually ended up traveling to Pakistan.
The FCDO admitted that internal communication mistakes caused some staff to believe that Johnson had intervened.
A spokesperson said: “The government acknowledges again that the way the decision to call forward Nowzad staff for evacuation was made was exceptional. It agrees that, in this particular case, more care should have been taken within the FCDO in how the decision was communicated to staff.
“It acknowledges again that an error in the way the decision was communicated internally left some FCDO staff believing that the prime minister had made the decision.
“The FCDO agrees with the committee on the importance of accurate record keeping, even in a complex, fast-moving crisis such as this.”


Myanmar junta leader not invited to ASEAN summit: Cambodia

Myanmar junta leader not invited to ASEAN summit: Cambodia
Updated 12 sec ago

Myanmar junta leader not invited to ASEAN summit: Cambodia

Myanmar junta leader not invited to ASEAN summit: Cambodia
  • ASEAN has led diplomatic efforts to resolve the turmoil that has gripped Myanmar since the military seized power last year

PHNOM PENH: Myanmar’s junta leader has not been invited to a regional summit next month, host Cambodia said Wednesday, in a fresh diplomatic snub for the isolated military regime.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has led diplomatic efforts to resolve the turmoil that has gripped Myanmar since the military seized power last year.
But there has been little progress on a “five-point consensus” agreed with the junta, and its leader and ministers have been shut out of recent meetings of the 10-member regional bloc.
Linking the invitation to “progress in the implementation of the Five-Point Consensus,” a Cambodian foreign ministry spokesman said the junta had been invited to “nominate a non-political representative for the upcoming ASEAN Summits.”
This means junta chief Min Aung Hlaing would not be allowed to attend, just as his top diplomat was barred from foreign ministers’ gatherings in Phnom Penh in February and August.
The five-point plan, agreed in April last year, calls for an immediate end to violence and dialogue between the military and the anti-coup movement.
There is growing dissatisfaction within ASEAN — sometimes criticized as a toothless talking shop — at the Myanmar generals’ stonewalling.
The junta’s execution of four prisoners in July, in defiance of widespread international calls for clemency, caused further anger.
August’s meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers ended with a rare condemnation from the bloc for the junta’s actions.
The ministers said they were “deeply disappointed by the limited progress in and lack of commitment of the Naypyidaw authorities to the timely and complete implementation of the five-point consensus.”
ASEAN’s own envoy tasked with brokering peace has admitted the scale of the task, saying “even Superman cannot solve” the crisis.
The regional bloc’s snub comes as Washington attempts to exert more pressure on the junta through the United Nations, following outrage over an air strike that killed 11 schoolchildren last month.
US State Department counsellor Derek Chollet held talks with other governments and with representatives of the self-declared National Unity Government — dominated by ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party — during the UN General Assembly earlier this month.
Myanmar is planning fresh elections in August next year, but Chollet warned there was “no chance” they could be free and fair.
The junta has justified its power grab pointing to alleged fraud in the 2020 elections, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party won easily.
A military crackdown on dissent in the wake of the coup has left more than 2,300 civilians dead, according to a local monitoring group.
The junta, meanwhile, says the uprising against its rule has left almost 3,900 of its supporters dead.


IAEA head Rafael Grossi may visit Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again

IAEA head Rafael Grossi may visit Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again
Updated 29 min 56 sec ago

IAEA head Rafael Grossi may visit Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again

IAEA head Rafael Grossi may visit Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again
  • Rafael Grossi would continue discussing the creation of a ‘safety zone’ around the facility

MOSCOW: International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi said on Wednesday that he may visit Ukraine’s Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant again, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported.
TASS reported Grossi, who headed an IAEA delegation to the plant last month, as saying that he would continue discussing the creation of a “safety zone” around the facility.


Ethiopian government accepts African Union invitation to peace talks

Ethiopian government accepts African Union invitation to peace talks
Updated 05 October 2022

Ethiopian government accepts African Union invitation to peace talks

Ethiopian government accepts African Union invitation to peace talks
  • Senior official: African Union invitation consistent with the ‘need to have talks without preconditions’

NAIROBI: The Ethiopian government on Wednesday accepted an invitation by the African Union to hold peace talks in South Africa this weekend with rival Tigray forces, the national security adviser said.
Redwan Hussein, the national security adviser to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, said on Twitter that the AU invitation was consistent with the “need to have talks without preconditions.”


Indonesian president Joko Widodo to order stadium audit to find ‘root’ of disaster

Indonesian president Joko Widodo to order stadium audit to find ‘root’ of disaster
Updated 05 October 2022

Indonesian president Joko Widodo to order stadium audit to find ‘root’ of disaster

Indonesian president Joko Widodo to order stadium audit to find ‘root’ of disaster
  • Joko Widodo: ‘I will order the public works minister to audit all stadiums used for the (football) league’

MALANG, Indonesia: Indonesian President Joko Widodo said Wednesday that he would order an audit of all football stadiums, vowing to find the “root” cause of one of the deadliest disasters in the sport’s history.
“I want to know the root of the problem that caused this tragedy so that we can get the best solution. I will order the public works minister to audit all stadiums used for the (football) league,” he said outside a hospital during a visit to the city where a stadium stampede killed at least 131 people Saturday.
Widodo said that football’s world governing body FIFA may help address management of the sport in Indonesia, having discussed the issue with FIFA President Gianni Infantino after the deadly stampede.


Vladimir Putin signs laws annexing four Ukrainian regions

Vladimir Putin signs laws annexing four Ukrainian regions
Updated 05 October 2022

Vladimir Putin signs laws annexing four Ukrainian regions

Vladimir Putin signs laws annexing four Ukrainian regions
  • Documents were published on a Russian government website on Wednesday morning
  • Move finalizes the annexation carried out in defiance of international law

KYIV: Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed laws absorbing four Ukrainian regions into Russia, a move that finalizes the annexation carried out in defiance of international law.

The documents were published on a Russian government website on Wednesday morning.

Earlier this week, both houses of the Russian parliament ratified treaties making the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions part of Russia. The formalities followed Kremlin-orchestrated “referendums” in the four regions that Ukraine and the West have rejected as a sham.

The move comes as Moscow’s war in Ukraine has entered a new, more dangerous phase. Russia faces mounting setbacks on the battlefield, with Ukrainian forces retaking more and more land in the east and in the south — the very regions Moscow has pushed to annex.

The borders of the territories Russia is claiming still remain unclear, but the Kremlin has vowed to defend Russia’s territory — the newly absorbed regions, too — with any means at its disposal, including nuclear weapons.

Ukrainain President Volodymyr Zelensky responded to the annexation by announcing a fast-track application to join NATO and formally ruling out talks with Russia. Zelensky’s decree, released Tuesday, declares that holding negotiations with Putin has become impossible after his decision to take over the four regions of Ukraine.

On the battlefield on Wednesday morning, multiple explosions rocked Bila Tserkva, setting off fires at what were described as infrastructure facilities in the city to the south of the capital Kyiv, regional leader Oleksiy Kuleba said on Telegram.

Early indications are that the city was attacked by so-called “kamikaze” or suicide drones, he said.

Bila Tserkva is about 80 kilometers south of Kyiv.

Russia has increasingly been using suicide drones in recent weeks, posing a new challenge to Ukrainian defenses. The unmanned vehicles can stay aloft for long periods of time before diving into their targets and detonating their payload at the last moment.

Many of the earlier attacks by the Iranian-made drones happened in the south of the country and not near the capital, which hasn’t been targeted for weeks.

In a later post, Kuleba said that a total of six Shahed-136 drones struck the city, one of the largest in the region after Kyiv itself. One person was injured in the attacks.

Dozens of rescue workers were on the scene and still working to extinguish the fires hours after the attacks were reported, he said.

Ukrainian forces, in the meantime, continued to make gains in the south. Kyiv’s military said Wednesday they have recaptured more villages in the Kherson region as a part of their massive counteroffensive effort.

Operational Command South said that the Ukrainian flag has been raised above Liubymivka, Khreschenivka, Zolota Balka, Biliaivka, Ukrainka, Velyka and Mala Oleksandrivka villages.