COP28 delegates urge greater action on climate-linked health risks

COP28 delegates urge greater action on climate-linked health risks
Participants walk past banners at the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai, UAE on December 3, 2023. (AFP)
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Updated 03 December 2023
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COP28 delegates urge greater action on climate-linked health risks

COP28 delegates urge greater action on climate-linked health risks
  • In September, Storm Daniel killed over 11,000 in Libya, floods in Pakistan last year fueled a 400% increase in malaria cases
  • Experts say countries will need to boost funding for healthcare amid heatwaves, diseases like malaria and cholera spreading

DUBAI: Physicians, activists and country representatives at this year's COP28 U.N. climate summit in Dubai have called for greater global efforts to protect people from the increasing health and safety risks posed by climate change. 

With global temperatures set to continue climbing for decades, experts say countries will need to boost funding for healthcare as heatwaves become more dangerous and diseases like malaria and cholera spread. 

Climate-related impacts "have become one of the greatest threats to human health in the 21st century", COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al-Jaber said in a statement. 

Late on Saturday, 123 of the nearly 200 countries gathered at COP28 signed a declaration acknowledging their responsibility to keep people safe. The declaration made no mention of fossil fuels, the main source of climate-warming emissions. 

Thanks to climate change, cases of malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress are already on the rise in some regions. 

A small group of physicians in white coats and climate activists held a small demonstration within the COP28 compound to raise awareness of the issue on Sunday. 

"We are in a lot of trouble," said Joseph Vipond, an emergency physician from Alberta, Canada. He recalled the case of a child dying from an asthma attack made worse by smoke inhalation from Western Canada's record wildfires this year. "This is having real world impacts." 

Climate change is also increasing the frequency of dangerous storms and more erratic rainfall. 

In September Storm Daniel killed more than 11,000 people in Libya, and last year's massive flooding in Pakistan fueled a 400% increase in malaria cases across the country, according to the World Health Organization. 

Governments and philanthropic bodies are expected later on Sunday to announce new financing for climate-related health issues. 

The World Bank on Sunday launched a new Climate and Health program to explore possible interventions and public health solutions for developing countries. 

Ten of the world's top development banks including the World Bank also said on Sunday they would work together to help countries track climate impacts, including public health risks, and to identify investment opportunities and priorities. 

In a statement, the banks said the window of opportunity to secure a liveable planet was "rapidly closing". 

Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates said scientists were working on new treatments for and prevention of mosquito-spread malaria as the rise in temperatures creates more hospitable habitat for the insects to breed. 

"We have new tools at the lab level that decimate mosquito populations," said Gates, whose foundation supports public health research and projects for the developing world. 

"These new innovations give us a chance, at a reasonable cost, to make progress." 

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also spoke on Sunday at COP28, urging reform to the world's insurance system as another key requirement to keep people safe. 

"Right now insurance companies are pulling out of so many places, they're not insuring homes, they're not insuring businesses," Clinton said, addressing a panel on women and climate resiliency 

"As the climate changes, as storms increase and drought and heat increase ... it's people everywhere who are going to be left out with no backup, no insurance for their business or their home," she said. 


Ex-PM Khan’s party demands return of ‘stolen mandate,’ protests nationwide against election outcome

Ex-PM Khan’s party demands return of ‘stolen mandate,’ protests nationwide against election outcome
Updated 8 sec ago
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Ex-PM Khan’s party demands return of ‘stolen mandate,’ protests nationwide against election outcome

Ex-PM Khan’s party demands return of ‘stolen mandate,’ protests nationwide against election outcome
  • PTI leaders took out protest rallies in all the major cities, including Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi, despite heavy rain
  • Khan’s party believes its mandate was compromised in the Feb. 8 national polls that were marred by delayed results

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party on Saturday demanded the return of its “stolen mandate” through a nationwide protest against the Feb. 8 general elections’ outcome, which it believes was altered to favor its political opponents.
Last month’s national polls in Pakistan were marred by a countrywide shutdown of cellphone networks and delayed results, leading to widespread speculation of election manipulation.
Several political parties, including the PTI of ex-PM Khan, who remains incarcerated on multiple charges since August, have held protest against alleged rigging in different parts of the country since the electoral contest.
Pakistan’s caretaker administration and election oversight body have consistently denied their allegations.
“We voted for Imran Khan and our [state] institutions want to make a man responsible for ruining the country during his 16 months in power the prime minister,” Asad Haider, a protester in Islamabad, told Arab News while referring to the previous tenure of Shehbaz Sharif.
Sharif took over Pakistan’s top political office after Khan was driven out of power in a parliamentary no-confidence vote in April 2022. He will once again contest for the post as the candidate of the country’s new coalition administration tomorrow.
“This is unfair since it amounts to plundering the right of the people [to choose their representatives],” Haider said, adding the situation was likely to lead to further political and economic instability in Pakistan.
PTI supporters gathered in different cities including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Chakwal, Lahore and Karachi following a protest call from Khan despite torrential rains and hailstorm at many places.
“Our vote is stolen ... We will come here [to protest] in the sun or rain until we get justice,” Mudassir Ahmed, another protester in Islamabad, told Arab News.
Heavy contingents of police and other law enforcement agencies were also deployed in the federal capital and other cities to prevent unrest. The police also arrested some PTI supporters and leaders in the eastern city of Lahore during the protest for blocking the roads and traffic.
Khan’s party condemned the police and state machinery for disrupting the “peaceful” protests.
“The public’s elected majority is turned into a minority by manipulating the clear mandate given to Imran Khan,” the PTI said in a statement.
The party vowed to continue its “peaceful struggle” until the restoration of its mandate.


Unrelenting rains and snowfall claim 17 lives in Pakistan’s northwest, injure 23

Unrelenting rains and snowfall claim 17 lives in Pakistan’s northwest, injure 23
Updated 5 min 23 sec ago
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Unrelenting rains and snowfall claim 17 lives in Pakistan’s northwest, injure 23

Unrelenting rains and snowfall claim 17 lives in Pakistan’s northwest, injure 23
  • Pakistan is highly vulnerable to climate change and has witnessed extreme weather events like floods in the past
  • Provincial Disaster Management Authority says it is in contact with district authorities to deal with any contingency

DERA ISMAIL KHAN: At least 17 people, including women and children, have died and 23 wounded due to unrelenting rains and heavy snowfall in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the last 24 hours, a Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) official said on Saturday.
Pakistan ranks among the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Despite its minimal contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions, its geographical location exposes it to significant climate change risks, including glacial melt, sea-level rise, heatwaves and extreme weather events such as the devastating monsoon floods in 2022.
The PDMA official, speaking to Arab News, noted that his department had issued an advisory last month, urging district administrations to devise contingency plans to tackle the potential challenges and emergencies posed by the expected rains, snowfall and floods.
“We have reports of 17 people who lost their lives and 23 others who were wounded across the province due to the incessant rains in the last 24 hours,” Taimur Ali, the PDMA spokesperson in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told Arab News. “In addition to that, at least 21 houses were fully destroyed and 14 others were partially damaged amid the downpour.”
“We have adopted all possible measures to minimize the scale of disaster, keeping in view the rough weather system,” he continued.
Ali said efforts were underway to reopen roads that were hit by snowfall and landslides in the hilly areas of the province, adding that six tourists had also been rescued after being trapped for hours in Malam Jabba located in the Swat region.
He informed the PDMA was in close liaison with different departments to meet emergency situations and facilitate aid to people.
According to the Met Office, the westerly weather system prevailing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was likely to persist for another two days.
Ali said all relevant departments had been put on high alert since rains and snowfall were likely to trigger further landslides.
Bilal Faizi, the provincial spokesperson for Rescue 1122, told Arab News his department had directed the staff to stay vigilant and help address any emergencies or carry out relief operations.
“Our department has performed during major disasters in the past and we are prepared to help people in the face of natural disasters like this,” he continued.
Faizi said most of the deaths had occurred in different parts of the province due to the collapse of rooftops, especially in remote areas.
He informed that most fatalities occurred in Bajaur, Dir and Peshawar districts, adding that numerous livestock were also reportedly buried under the rubble of damaged houses in far-flung areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


Rain delays Peshawar Zalmi vs Lahore Qalandars PSL match in Rawalpindi

Rain delays Peshawar Zalmi vs Lahore Qalandars PSL match in Rawalpindi
Updated 02 March 2024
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Rain delays Peshawar Zalmi vs Lahore Qalandars PSL match in Rawalpindi

Rain delays Peshawar Zalmi vs Lahore Qalandars PSL match in Rawalpindi
  • Peshawar have secured three wins from five matches and are positioned at number 3 on points table
  • Lahore, on the other hand, are at the bottom after having lost all of their six games played this season

ISLAMABAD: Intermittent rain on Saturday delayed toss for a match between Peshawar Zalmi and Lahore Qalandars at the Pindi Cricket Stadium as part of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) 9th edition.

Peshawar have secured three wins from their five matches this season and are currently positioned at number 3 on the points table.

Lahore, on the other hand, are at the bottom after having lost all of their six games played so far.

“The toss has been delayed at the Pindi Cricket Stadium due to wet out field,” read a post on the PSL’s official account on X.

“Stay tuned for further updates.”

By 230pm Pakistan time, the rain had stopped and groundmen were working hard to fix the patches at the earliest, according to updates shared on the PSL website.

There was another inspection scheduled at 3pm.


Zardari’s nomination filed as coalition candidate for Pakistan president, Khan-backed SIC supports Achakzai

Zardari’s nomination filed as coalition candidate for Pakistan president, Khan-backed SIC supports Achakzai
Updated 02 March 2024
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Zardari’s nomination filed as coalition candidate for Pakistan president, Khan-backed SIC supports Achakzai

Zardari’s nomination filed as coalition candidate for Pakistan president, Khan-backed SIC supports Achakzai
  • Zardari has the backing of a coalition of major political parties, including ex-PM Sharif’s PML-N
  • The development comes months after Arif Alvi’s tenure ended as the 13th president of Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Saturday filed nomination papers of its co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for the presidential election on March 9, with former prime minister Imran Khan-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) party naming Mahmood Khan Achakzai as its candidate for the top post.

Zardari, who previously served as the president from 2008 till 2013, has the backing of a coalition of major political parties, including three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that is likely to form the government at center.

Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, who was flanked by a large of lawmakers from the southern Sindh province, submitted Zardari’s nomination papers as a proposer, while Sindh Assembly lawmaker Nasir Shah acted as a seconder.

“Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah submitted the nomination papers to Sindh High Court Chief Justice Aqeel Abbasi,” a spokesperson for the Sindh CM’s office said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Khan-backed SIC party named Achakzai, who heads the Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP), as its candidate for the presidency in Islamabad.

After being barred from contesting Feb. 8 national election for breaching electoral laws, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had fielded its members as independent candidates, who later joined the minority SIC party to claim reserved seats in assemblies.

“PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council has nominated Mahmood Khan Achakzai [as] presidential candidate,” Khan’s party said in a statement on Saturday.

In Pakistan, a president is elected by members of an electoral college, which comprises both upper and lower houses of parliament as well as provincial assemblies.

On Friday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced a schedule for the presidential election on March 9, months after the end of Arif Alvi’s term as the 13th president of Pakistan.

It said nominations for the post could be filed by Saturday and a returning officer, appointed by the ECP, will scrutinize the documents by March 4.

President Alvi’s five-year term ended in September last year, but in Pakistan, a president may continue to stay in office constitutionally until his successor is elected to the presidency.

The tenure of Alvi, who took oath on Sept. 9, 2018 after Khan’s PTI came to power in election held the same year, was marked by political instability and civil-military tensions, and saw the ouster of Khan in a parliamentary no-trust vote in April 2022, followed by the departure of PM Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition government in August.

Besides political instability, an economic crisis gripped Pakistan during this period, with the South Asian country barely averting a default in June last year by securing a $3 billion bailout deal from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).


Pakistan’s national airline to seek help from Canadian authorities after two more cabin crew slip away

Pakistan’s national airline to seek help from Canadian authorities after two more cabin crew slip away
Updated 02 March 2024
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Pakistan’s national airline to seek help from Canadian authorities after two more cabin crew slip away

Pakistan’s national airline to seek help from Canadian authorities after two more cabin crew slip away
  • Steward Jibran Baloch, Airhostess Maryam Raza flew to Toronto this week but did not show up for return flights
  • At least 10 PIA crew have slipped in Canada in last two years due to ‘easy access to asylum’ there, the airline says

KARACHI: The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) is planning to seek the help from the country’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and Canadian immigration authorities after two attendants on its flights to Toronto slipped away in Canada this week, a PIA spokesperson said on Saturday, adding the latest incident marked the 10th such case in a span of two years.

The development comes amid a noticeable surge in the number of Pakistani nationals attempting to reach developed countries in Europe and North America through irregular means in recent years, driven by their desire to escape challenging economic conditions at home.

In June last year, a weathered trawler carrying more than 750 irregular migrants, including 350 from Pakistan, sank near Greece, prompting Pakistani officials to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Greek authorities to enhance cooperation against human traffickers and avert similar tragedies in future.

The recent disappearance of two PIA employees, Flight Steward Jibran Baloch and Airhostess Maryam Raza, in Canada suggests the emergence of a similar trend among white-collar workers in the country. Baloch, who was aboard the Toronto-bound PK-782 flight on Feb. 29, failed to report back, while Raza, who flew to Toronto, did not show up for the return flight PK-784 to Karachi.

Confirming both incidents, PIA spokesperson Abdullah Khan said the airline, after implementing several measures, had decided to seek assistance from the FIA and Canadian immigration authorities to locate and bring back the missing cabin crew.

“Now we are planning some action through the FIA and Canadian immigration authorities,” Khan told Arab News. “Approaching them both.”

The development comes more than a month after Airhostess Faiza Mukhtar, assigned to PIA flight PK-781, disappeared in Canada in January.

With three such cases this year, Khan said, the number of airline crew who “vanished” in the North American country had now reached 10 over the last two years, a trend he attributed to “easy access to asylum and general trend of people trying to flee the country.”

Khan said the airline had implemented various measures, including profiling and restricting crew to those aged 50 and above as well as retaining passports with the station manager upon arrival at foreign destinations, but none had proven effective in preventing the crew members from slipping away.

“A lot of things have been tried so far from profiling to sending only 50+ crew to retaining passports with the station manager upon arrival,” he said. “Nothing has worked.”

Pakistan has witnessed an economic meltdown over the last more than a year, with inflation hitting record highs, local currency devaluing and costs of living rising to unprecedented levels.

The situation has forced many young Pakistanis to leave the country, some even risking their lives, in search of greener pastures abroad.