Tunisian group accuses authorities of mass expulsions of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa

Tunisian group accuses authorities of mass expulsions of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa
Migrants hold placards reading "Black Lives Matter", left, in French, during a gathering in Sfax, Tunisia's eastern coast, on July 7, 2023. (AP)
Updated 01 March 2024
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Tunisian group accuses authorities of mass expulsions of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa

Tunisian group accuses authorities of mass expulsions of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa

TUNIS: Migration activists are sounding the alarm this week about mass expulsions and arbitrary arrests in Tunisia, where authorities are seeing more migrants arrive for attempted Mediterranean crossings from the North African nation to Europe.
The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights on Monday accused the government of waging a campaign of repression against migrants at the expense of humanitarian concerns, “to satisfy European blackmail and ensure a steady stream of financial and logistical support.”
It said in a statement that witness accounts indicated the situation had become particularly dire around Tunisia’s borders with Libya and Algeria as well as around the country’s second most populous city, Sfax, a common stopover point for migrants aiming to cross the Mediterranean.
The nongovernmental organization said that migrants in Sfax, which is 117 miles (188 kilometers) from the Italian Island of Lampedusa, regularly experience arbitrary arrests and violence. Many have their property destroyed.
Such treatment hasn’t been limited to migrants who enter Tunisia without authorization and has extended to refugees, students, and workers, the group said.
It said it had received frequent reports of mass expulsions across the Algerian and Libyan borders. In Algeria, that has included migrants being deported into the desert regardless of weather conditions. In war-torn Libya, deportations often lead to migrants ending up in detention centers run by armed groups.
Tunisian officials have said small groups of migrants have been pushed back across the country’s desert borders but disputed reports of systemic abuse and expulsions.
The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights implored the government to end the deportations, provide migrants safe haven and update laws to allow those without papers to obtain some sort of legal status.
“Sovereignty is not achieved by intimidating vulnerable groups and resorting to outdated laws and discriminatory circulars, but rather by initiating national policies that guarantee dignity, rights and freedoms for all humans,” it said.
Tunisia faces increased scrutiny over how it deals with migrants. More than 97,000 people crossed the Mediterranean from Tunisia to Italy in 2023, according to UNHCR. Tunisian migration groups estimate there are between 20,000 and 50,000 sub-Saharan migrants in the country.
Tunisian authorities receive financial assistance from Europe to help police borders. The country brokered a $1 billion euro ($1.1 billion) aid agreement in July that included a pledge of 105 million euros ($110 million) earmarked for migration.
Despite the aid, President Kais Saied has insisted that Tunisia will not become Europe’s “border guard” or accept migrants that European politicians, including ascendant right-wing leaders, don’t want.
Saied last year faced allegations of racism after calling the presence of sub-Saharan African migrants part of a “criminal plan to change the demographic makeup of the country.”


Arab League chief voices Gaza fears in talks with UN official

Arab League chief voices Gaza fears in talks with UN official
Updated 3 min 31 sec ago
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Arab League chief voices Gaza fears in talks with UN official

Arab League chief voices Gaza fears in talks with UN official
  • Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit met with the UN’s Maj. Gen. Patrick Gauchat
  • UNTSO chief briefed the secretary-general on conflicts in several areas monitored by the UN

CAIRO: Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit has told a senior UN official that he fears the conflict in Gaza could spiral out control and threaten regional security.

In a meeting in Cairo with Maj. Gen. Patrick Gauchat, head of mission and chief of staff of the UN Truce Supervision Organization, Aboul Gheit highlighted the need to implement the UN Security Council’s ceasefire resolution, and provide urgent humanitarian aid to the famine-stricken population in Gaza.

Gamal Roshdy, a spokesperson for the Arab League chief, said that the meeting discussed the regional situation, with Aboul Gheit saying that Israel’s war on Gaza violated international law and humanitarian principles.

The UNTSO chief briefed the secretary-general on conflicts in several areas monitored by the UN, including the Blue Line, which delineates the truce between Lebanon and Israel.

Aboul Gheit said that political resolutions remain the most effective means to ensure security for all parties.

However, achieving such resolutions remains challenging while Israel pursue its objectives through military force and by targeting civilians, he said.

According to the UNTSO website, the Security Council, in Resolution 50 (1948), called for a cessation of hostilities in Palestine on May 29, 1948, and decided that the UN Mediator should supervise the truce with the assistance of a group of military observers.

The first group of military observers, established in 1949 to supervise the implementation of the Israel-Arab Armistice Agreements, became known as the UN Truce Supervision Organization.

UNTSO observers in the Middle East to monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements, prevent isolated incidents from escalating, and assist other UN peacekeeping operations in the region.


Saudi FM receives Montenegrin counterpart in Riyadh

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with his Montenegrin counterpart Filip Ivanovic in Riyadh on Thursday. SPA
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with his Montenegrin counterpart Filip Ivanovic in Riyadh on Thursday. SPA
Updated 4 min 39 sec ago
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Saudi FM receives Montenegrin counterpart in Riyadh

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with his Montenegrin counterpart Filip Ivanovic in Riyadh on Thursday. SPA
  • During the meeting, the two officials reviewed cooperation between their countries and ways to enhance and develop it in various fields

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received his Montenegrin counterpart Filip Ivanovic in Riyadh on Thursday.

During the meeting, the two officials reviewed cooperation between their countries and ways to enhance and develop it in various fields.

They also discussed regional and international developments and efforts made in this regard.


US says Pakistan’s prosperity and security remains a ‘top priority’

US says Pakistan’s prosperity and security remains a ‘top priority’
Updated 22 min 45 sec ago
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US says Pakistan’s prosperity and security remains a ‘top priority’

US says Pakistan’s prosperity and security remains a ‘top priority’
  • Blome’s comments come amid a spike in militant attacks in Pakistan
  • Pakistani finance chief has launched negotiations for a new IMF bailout 

ISLAMABAD: US Ambassador Donald Blome met Pakistani Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday and said the South Asian nation’s prosperity and security remained a ‘top priority’ for Washington.
Blome’s comments come amid a spike in militant attacks in Pakistan and while its finance chief is in discussions with the International Monetary Fund in Washington on a potential follow-up program to its nine-month, $3 billion stand-by arrangement.
“US Ambassador Donald Blome met today with Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar to discuss recent events in the region,” Acting US Mission Spokesperson Thomas Montgomery said. 
“Ambassador Blome conveyed the United States’ commitment to working with the government and people of Pakistan, underscoring that prosperity and security for Pakistan remains a top priority for the United States.”
Pakistan went to the polls on February 8 in a vote marred by a mobile Internet shutdown on election day, arrests and violence in its build-up and unusually delayed results, leading to accusations that the vote was rigged. 
However, the US has repeatedly said it will work with the new government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, though it has expressed concerns about reported election irregularities and urged a probe.
Although defense and key foreign policy decisions are largely influenced by Pakistan’s powerful military, Sharif will have to juggle relations with the US and China.
Islamabad has close economic ties to both the nations, which has put it in a tricky position as the two countries have embarked upon a costly trade war.
“From our perspective it has to be an and-and discussion,” finance minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said in an interview this week when asked how the Sharif government plans to conduct its trading relationships with the world’s two largest economies.
“US is our largest trading partner, and it has always supported us, always helped us in terms of the investments,” he said. “So that is always going to be a very, very critical relationship for Pakistan.”
“On the other side, a lot of investment, especially in infrastructure, came through CPEC,” he said, referring to the roughly 1,860-mile-long China-Pakistan Economic Corridor designed to give China access to the Arabian Sea.
Aurangzeb said there was a “very good opportunity” for Pakistan to play a similar role in the trade war as countries like Vietnam, which has been able to dramatically boost its exports to the US following the imposition of tariffs on some Chinese goods.
“We have already a few examples of that already working,” he said. “But what we need to do is to really scale it up.”
Militancy has also spiked in recent months, creating a major challenge for the new government, with religiously motivated groups like the Pakistani Taliban as well as ethnic separatists showing an enhanced ability to hit high-value targets.
In an attack last month that has so far been unclaimed, a suicide bomber rammed a vehicle into a convoy of Chinese engineers working on a hydropower project at Dasu in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver. 
The Mar. 26 assault was the third major attack in little over a week on China’s interests in the South Asian nation, where Beijing has invested more than $65 billion in infrastructure projects as part of its wider Belt and Road initiative.


ACWA Power, IRENA join hands to accelerate global renewable energy transition

ACWA Power, IRENA join hands to accelerate global renewable energy transition
Updated 42 min 17 sec ago
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ACWA Power, IRENA join hands to accelerate global renewable energy transition

ACWA Power, IRENA join hands to accelerate global renewable energy transition

RIYADH: In a bid to add impetus to the adoption of clean energy sources worldwide, Saudi utility firm ACWA Power has signed a deal with the International Renewable Energy Agency, said a press release issued on Thursday.

The Saudi-listed firm said that the partnership aligns with its mission to provide sustainable energy solutions and seeks to accelerate the adoption and sustainable use of renewable energy across the globe. 

ACWA Power will work closely with IRENA to share crucial insights on infrastructure investment in renewable energy, green hydrogen advancement, solar energy, smart grids, and the intersection of energy and water, the press release said. 

The Saudi-listed company also announced its participation in various IRENA initiatives, such as Green Hydrogen, Collaborative Frameworks, Project Facilitation, the Alliance for Industry Decarbonization, the Utilities for Net-Zero Alliance, and the Coalition for Action.

As per the deal, ACWA Power and IRENA will investigate avenues to mobilize finance and investment for renewable energy projects, while also supporting infrastructure for the development, storage, distribution, transmission, and consumption of renewables. 

Moreover, collaborative workshops and seminars will be arranged to exchange best practices, enhance skills, and promote awareness of the energy transition among youth, professionals, and the public using IRENA’s platforms and programs. 

ACWA Power CEO Marco Arcelli said the partnership with IRENA marks a significant milestone in his company’s journey toward a sustainable energy future.

“By combining our strengths and resources, we are prepared to drive meaningful change and accelerate the transition to renewable energy on a global scale,” he said.

The CEO added that through collaborative partnerships and innovative solutions, ACWA Power remains committed to advancing the widespread adoption and sustainable use of renewable energy, shaping a brighter and more sustainable future for generations to come.

IRENA Director General Francesco La Camera commented: “We have less than a decade left to secure a fighting chance for a 1.5°C world. Accelerating the renewable-based energy transition needs industry leaders and this deal between IRENA and ACWA Power stands for the growing commitment of global industry to act on decarbonization.”

He added: “We need to act together to accelerate the sustainable use of renewables and green hydrogen across the globe.”


King of Bahrain, Egyptian president highlight need for unified Arab response to Gaza crisis

King of Bahrain, Egyptian president highlight need for unified Arab response to Gaza crisis
Updated 35 min 55 sec ago
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King of Bahrain, Egyptian president highlight need for unified Arab response to Gaza crisis

King of Bahrain, Egyptian president highlight need for unified Arab response to Gaza crisis
  • Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and King Hamad pledge joint action to address the escalating crisis in Gaza
  • King Hamad and El-Sisi also discussed the agenda for the 33rd Arab Summit, which Bahrain will host next month

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and King Hamad of Bahrain have pledged joint action to address the escalating crisis in Gaza and its effects on the region.

El-Sisi received King Hamad in Cairo on Wednesday, where the leaders expressed hope that peace efforts would lead to a new path for the region, offering a future in which they work together toward prosperity.

King Hamad told a joint press conference that the president and he also discussed the agenda for the 33rd Arab Summit, which Bahrain will host next month.

The leaders emphasized the need for clear policies to promote peace, security and stability in the Middle East.

The king said he discussed several issues with El-Sisi to enhance Arab cooperation.

El-Sisi said he and King Hamad deliberated “on our countries’ efforts and joint Arab action to address this untenable situation, bring it to an end, and, above all, prevent its recurrence.”

The Egyptian leader added: “For this to happen, the international community shall stand united to enforce an immediate, urgent, and lasting ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, end any attempts of coerced displacement, starvation, or collective punishment of the brotherly Palestinian people, and ensure the full-fledged, unfettered and sustainable flow of sufficient quantities of desperately needed humanitarian aid and relief to the sector.

“In parallel, the parties shall immediately embark, in earnest, on tracks conducive to a just and enduring political solution to the Palestinian cause, based on the two-state solution and the establishment of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state, along the June 4, 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, enjoying both international acknowledgment and full membership of the UN.”

El-Sisi said Egypt had repeatedly warned of the dire consequences likely to result from the ongoing war in occupied Palestine, where the conflict leads to calls for escalation and retribution, creating a cycle of violence that destroys any chance for peace and stability in the region.

“Indeed, over the past few months, the region has been experiencing the devastating consequences of the ongoing war as its flames spiraled outward, creating the current intensely fraught and perilous state in the region that gravely jeopardizes the security, stability, and future of our people,” he added.

El-Sisi said that the leaders “thoroughly discussed these troubling regional developments and our visions for addressing them, driven by our shared belief in the crucial importance of safeguarding the security and stability of the region and its peoples against multiple threats and of not abandoning their fate to the will of warmongers. This commitment is grounded in the principle of prioritizing common Arab security, which we consider as indivisible.”

El-Sisi said that the two leaders agreed on the need to exert and encourage immediate and intensive efforts toward de-escalation in the Palestinian territories and at regional level.

“We also discussed the importance of urging the parties to adopt a rational approach, embrace political solutions, and abandon military solutions and notions of dominance and hegemony,” the president said.

El-Sisi said: “Today, we are gathering at a time of great peril as a result of the bloody Israeli war on the Gaza Strip and the inexorable loss of thousands of helpless and innocent civilians in scenes of untold horror.

“They have done nothing more than live in their land, clinging to their homes and homeland, and yearning for a life with dignity, pride, and humanity.

“It is unequivocally a watershed moment that will endure in the annals of history, given the outrageous use of military force to terrorize, starve, and inflict unimaginable suffering on innocent civilians, collectively and indiscriminately, to terrify them into abandoning their homes and forcibly displace them from their land.

“All this unfolds while the international community stands by idly, with its ability or will to uphold justice and enforce international law, international humanitarian law, or even the basic tenets of humanity, utterly crippled,” El-Sisi said.