LONDON: The family of a woman in the UK who disappeared seven years ago has issued a renewed appeal for information, The Metro has reported.
The last known location of Fatima Mohamed-Ali, who was 52 in 2016, was in her Sussex neighborhood, with CCTV footage showing the woman leaving her home to walk down a nearby street close to 8 a.m.
Ahead of her 60th birthday, Mohamed-Ali’s family, led by husband Mohamed, is working with charity Missing People to boost search efforts.
The family of the mother-of-three has believed since the disappearance that Mohamed-Ali will be found, with a possible sighting in 2018 offering hope.
Based on the description — 5 feet 2 inches, slim, brown eyes, and likely to be wearing traditional Indian dress — an anonymous woman who was captured on CCTV running after a bus in nearby Brighton in 2018 appeared to match Mohamed-Ali.
However, the potential sighting led to no further developments in the case.
Husband Mohamed two years ago took part in a podcast to discuss his wife’s case, including the potential for suicide, which he described as unlikely due to it being “out of character” for Mohamed-Ali.
But he said: “If that is what is, then I’ll have to accept it.”
Following the renewed appeal for information, he said: “If you’ve seen Fatima or know where Fatima is… we lost a good wife, a mother and a grandmother. If anyone is out there, please help us.”
He also shared a direct message to his wife, saying: “We miss you and wish you a happy 60th birthday wherever [you] are.”
Ndella Senghore, Missing People publicity officer, said: “If anyone has any information about Fatima’s disappearance, they can contact Missing People’s helpline.
“Fatima, if you are reading this, please get in touch. You can call us on 116 000 or email [email protected].”
Philippines builds new coast guard station on island in South China Sea
Updated 11 sec ago
THITU ISLAND: The Philippines inaugurated a new coast guard monitoring base Friday on an island occupied by Filipino forces in the disputed South China Sea and plans to expand joint patrols with the US and Australia to counter China’s “pure bullying” in the strategic waterway, a Philippine security official said.
High-seas faceoffs between Chinese and Philippine ships have intensified this year in the contested waters, fueling fears of a larger conflict that could involve the US. The US has repeatedly warned that it’s obligated to defend the Philippines, its oldest treaty ally in Asia, if Filipino forces come under an armed attack, including in the South China Sea.
China has accused the US of meddling in an Asian dispute and sowing discord in the region.
National Security Adviser Eduardo Ano and other Philippine officials flew to Thitu Island on an air force plane on Friday and led a ceremony to open the newly constructed, two-story center that will have radar, ship-tracking and other monitoring equipment to monitor China’s actions in the hotly disputed waters and other problems, including sea accidents.
“It’s no longer gray zone. It’s pure bullying,” Ano told reporters after the seaside ceremony, describing the actions of Chinese ships as openly flouting international law.
Dwarfed by China’s military might, the Philippines decided this year to allow an expansion of the US military presence in its local camps under a 2014 defense pact.
It also recently launched joint sea and air patrols with the United States and Australia in a new deterrence strategy that puts the two allied powers on a collision course with Beijing.
Ano said the separate joint patrols involving the US and Australia would continue and could expand to include other nations like Japan once a security agreement being negotiated by Tokyo and Manila was concluded.
“We’re open to like-minded countries to join as observers or participants,” Ano said.
How does climate change affect farming and food security?
As fossil fuel emissions heat the planet, they are driving extreme weather from heavy rains and droughts to heatwaves
Such events can affect crops, ruin farmland and make it harder for farmers to work, threatening everyone’s access to food
Updated 18 min 49 sec ago
LONDON: As impacts from prolonged droughts to extreme heat worsen, climate change is threatening the world’s ability to produce enough nutritious food and ensure everyone has access to it.
At COP28 in Dubai, more than 130 country leaders on Friday called for global and national food systems to be rethought to address climate change — the first such official recognition at a UN climate summit of growing worries about food security and planet-heating emissions from agriculture.
Here’s how global food systems and climate change affect each other, and what might be done about rising risks:
How is climate change threatening food security?
As fossil fuel emissions heat the planet, they are driving more extreme weather — from heavy rains and droughts to heatwaves — as well as gradual sea level rise. All can affect crops, ruin farmland and make it harder for farmers to work.
A warming climate also is bringing crop diseases and pests into new locations or making infestations more severe, ruining more harvests and reducing yields.
Such problems, combined with other pressures on food systems — from growing conflict to crop export restrictions by food-producing countries and speculation in markets — mean food is becoming less affordable and more people are going hungry.
The UN World Food Programme estimates that 333 million people face “acute” food insecurity in 2023 in the 78 countries where it works — a huge boost from about 200 million prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crop failures are not a new phenomenon, with surpluses in some regions long making up for shortfalls in others, but scientists fear stronger climate impacts could drive simultaneous failures across major global “breadbaskets,” resulting in a swift rise in global hunger.
What is being done to address these threats?
Around the world, many farmers are adapting to climate extremes in a variety of ways, from digging irrigation ponds to trap floodwater and store it for dry times, to adopting new climate-smart seeds and bringing back hardy traditional crops.
But some challenges — such as more frequent and extreme heatwaves that can make it difficult for farmers to work outside — are harder to counter.
Money to help small-scale farmers — who supply about a third of the world’s food — adapt to climate risks is also falling dramatically short.
In 2021, they received only about $2 billion, or 0.3 percent of total international climate finance from public and private sources, according to Amsterdam-based think-tank Climate Focus.
With little outside help available, many such farmers — who have contributed little to the emissions heating up the planet — are paying the costs of climate adaptation themselves.
The Climate Focus survey of 13 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America found nearly 440 million small-scale farmer households now spend about $368 billion annually on adaptation costs, or about $838 each per year.
Analysts say efforts to shore up global food security also need to reach well beyond farms, to try to rein in speculators in food markets, discourage export clampdowns and revamp increasingly overwhelmed humanitarian aid systems.
Can we find ways to grow more food to make up for the losses?
Expanding the amount of land being farmed — or boosting the use of fossil-fuel-based fertilizers and developing new crop varieties — have long been accepted ways to grow more food.
But agricultural land expansion often comes at the expense of forests and other natural ecosystems that are critical to conserve because their vegetation absorbs and stores climate-heating carbon dioxide emissions in order to grow, helping to curb climate change.
For example nearly 20 percent of the vast Amazon rainforest has now been lost, largely to soybean farming and cattle ranching.
Scientists fear additional deforestation could over time turn the forest into a dry savanna, imperiling rainfall for agriculture across South America — and sabotaging the world’s climate and biodiversity protection goals.
Efforts to intensify the amount of food grown on a set land area have shown some success but often require large amounts of expensive fossil fuel-based fertilizers.
In recent years, however, more environmentally friendly farming methods are gaining new adherents, from the United States to India.
But food analysts say the best way to increase global supplies is not to grow more but to reduce the huge amount of food wasted each year.
While the world produces enough food for everyone, about a third of it is lost or wasted along the supply chain from field to fork, according to the United Nations, which says the average person wastes 74 kg (163 lb) of food each year.
“We continue to work with Israel, Egypt, and Qatar on efforts to extend the humanitarian pause in Gaza,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson said
President Joe Biden and his national security team “will continue to remain deeply engaged as we look to free the remaining hostages"
Updated 01 December 2023
WASHINGTON: The United States will continue to press for extending a truce in Gaza, the White House said Friday, as intense fighting erupted once again in the Israel-Hamas war.
“We continue to work with Israel, Egypt, and Qatar on efforts to extend the humanitarian pause in Gaza,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson said.
Under the truce which lasted a week, Hamas militants released 80 Israeli hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. More humanitarian aid was also delivered into war-devastated Gaza.
But the prospects of reestablishing a truce were being stymied because “Hamas has so far failed to produce a list of hostages that would enable a further extension of the pause,” the NSC spokesperson said.
President Joe Biden and his national security team “will continue to remain deeply engaged as we look to free the remaining hostages,” the NSC spokesperson said.
On Thursday, Washington’s top diplomat, Antony Blinken, also called for a truce extension while meeting Israeli and Palestinian officials during a visit to the region.
The fighting began on October 7 when Hamas militants broke through Gaza’s militarized border into Israel.
During the unprecedented attack, Hamas killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped around 240, according to Israeli authorities.
In response, Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas and unleashed an air and ground military campaign in Gaza that the Hamas authorities who run Gaza say has killed almost 15,000 people, also mostly civilians.
UK operation underway to relocate Afghans from Pakistan
Around 1,500 have been flown to Britain from Islamabad since start of Operation Lazurite in October
At least 4,000 eligible people still in Pakistan or trapped in Afghanistan; UK aims to conclude operation by end-2023
Updated 01 December 2023
LONDON: The UK has begun a mission to bring thousands of Afghans who worked with British forces to Britain from Pakistan.
Armed Forces Minister James Heappey told The Independent that the UK owed the 1,500 Afghans already relocated as part of the mission “an enormous debt,” and that it was “great” to have brought them to the country “at last.”
Operation Lazurite began in early October when the government decided to relocate all Afghans in Pakistan eligible to come to the UK, after The Independent found 3,000 such people stranded in hotels in Islamabad at British taxpayers’ expense.
This happened after the UK stopped funding hotels in Britain for Afghans coming to Britain in November 2022, and instead required them to find somewhere in the country to live themselves before they could be relocated.
On Sept. 26, then-Foreign Secretary James Cleverly laid the ground for the start of the operation after meeting Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-Ul-Haq Kakar in London, during which he praised “Pakistan’s support in hosting and facilitating (the) exit of Afghan nationals.”
Around 1,300 Afghans eligible to come to the UK remain in Islamabad, and around 2,700 more remain trapped in Afghanistan or are staying in other parts of Pakistan. The British Ministry of Defence plans to conclude the operation by the end of 2023.
Heappey told The Independent that the UK “know(s) who worked for us, therefore we know who is eligible. There are very, very few eligibility decisions left really to be taken. We know who we’ve got to bring out, both from Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
He added: “We are working at the best speed we can to get people here. We are really grateful to councils and communities across the country who are assisting us in that and to the Pakistan government for their continued support.
“We owe these people an enormous debt. They are not here illegally, quite the reverse. They are here because they did great work for and with the British Armed Forces during their time in Afghanistan. It’s great at last to be able to welcome them to their new permanent homes in the UK.”
So far, 1,100 of the Afghans relocated to the UK are at the Garats Hay army base near Loughborough, which is only intended to house people for a few days.
Several have now been there for a number of weeks. Other bases across the UK have also taken in Afghans on the scheme.
Around 700 houses have been earmarked for longer-term settlement, with 500 of those to be guaranteed for families for up to three years. The MoD is also working with local councils and private landlords.
Heappey said: “The properties offered are taken from stock that is not currently being used by service families, to avoid impact on our (MoD) people.
“Where there is not suitable service family accommodation to fit the needs of ARAP (Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy) families, alternative accommodation will be procured.”
Singaporean businesses look to benefit from exchange of expertise with Saudi Arabia
Countries agreed to strengthen cooperation during Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong’s visit in October
Big delegation accompanying the PM showed ‘high level of interest’ in Saudi Arabia, envoy says
Updated 01 December 2023
SINGAPORE: Singaporean businesses are looking to benefit from increasing cooperation with Saudi Arabia following a series of new agreements under their recently forged strategic partnership.
The two countries agreed to strengthen relations in October, during an official visit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to Riyadh and his meetings with Saudi leadership.
Coinciding with Lee’s trip was the arrival of a delegation of ministers and business leaders in the Kingdom for a meeting of the Saudi-Singapore Joint Committee
“The large number of ministers and officials as well as the accompanying business delegation by the Singapore Business Federation showed the high level of interest and engagement by Singapore with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Abdullah Mohammed Al-Madhi, the Saudi ambassador to Singapore, told Arab News earlier this week.
“We were very honored to be able to welcome and show them many sectors of the Saudi economy. A very special program was prepared for Prime Minister Lee and his delegation. They included several non-traditional stops outside Riyadh that can also present business opportunities, such as Tabuk, Dammam and NEOM.”
During the trip, the Singaporean premier and his top-level delegation — comprising Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng, and Social and Family Development Minister Masagos Zulkifli — made a historic trip to Madinah.
It was Lee’s first visit to the second-holiest city in Islam after Makkah.
“Prime Minister Lee was also able to share in our culture and heritage by visiting the culturally important sites around the city of Madinah to view the Prophet’s Mosque and Quba Mosque — thought to be the first mosque in the world. Then the delegation went on to AlUla for many other heritage sites,” Al-Madhi said.
With Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Singaporean prime minister agreeing to upgrade relations to a strategic partnership, Singaporean businesses see opportunities likely to come from the move.
“This allows for the deepening and expansion of mutually beneficial relations in all fields, enhancing investment, trade and economic cooperation,” Shamsher Zaman, chairman of the Middle East Business Group at the Singapore Business Federation, told Arab News.
“Both countries stand to benefit from the exchange of opportunities and expertise between Singapore and Saudi Arabian companies in areas highlighted such as trade and investment, green energy, digital economy, and public sector development.”
The Singapore Business Federation led a group of 32 business leaders to witness the developments and opportunities in Saudi Arabia first-hand.
“The vibrant transformation we witness in Saudi Arabia today is driven by the nation’s young agents of change, with 63 percent of its population under the age of 30 years old. The rapid pace of development can be seen and experienced throughout Saudi Arabia, as the country is rapidly building towards Vision 2030,” Zaman said.
“The transformation is predicated on developing its social and education sectors, and Singapore is a key partner in working together towards developing the human capital and its education sector, built upon Singapore’s experience and expertise in these fields. We are increasingly seeing Singaporean companies in education and human capital development, which are keen to bring expertise to Saudi Arabia and be a part of this transformation.”
Seven memoranda of understanding were signed to facilitate investment opportunities during the Saudi-Singapore Joint Committee’s Oct. 17 meeting, reflecting the “continuous commitment of both countries, paving the way for more future collaborations to come,” Zaman said.
“The recent, third, SSJC meeting reaffirms the strong bilateral relations between both countries and underscores the benefits of working together in areas of mutual interests in connectivity, digital economy and innovation, as well as energy and industry,” he added.