National Assembly passes resolution urging India to reverse illegal actions of August 5, 2019
BEIJING, May 18, 2022 (APP): The foreign ministers of BRICS countries will hold a meeting via video link on Thursday, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Wednesday. Addressing his regular press briefing here, he said, BRICS (acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) enjoys global influence as a cooperation mechanism of emerging markets and developing countries.
He said, in the face of once in a century pandemic and changes the BRICS mechanism has special significance for deepening cooperation on emerging markets and developing countries and promoting post COVID world economic recovery. The spokesperson said, under the strategic leadership of BRICS leaders, the foreign ministers meetings have played an important role in strengthening political mutual trust and deepening security cooperation among the five countries.
As the BRICS chair for 2022, he said, China looks forward to enhance communication and coordination with fellow BRICS partners on the new challenges on the international situation and major international and regional issues. We will send a clear message of BRICS countries working together in solidarity, upholding true multilateralism and staying united in fighting COVID-19 and promoting peace development, he added.
Wang Wenbin said, more importantly, the Chinese side will make good preparations for BRICS summit and added, on the sidelines of this year foreign ministers meeting, we will also hold BRICS plus dialogue where BRICS foreign ministers will exchange views with their counterparts of some emerging markets and developing countries on global governance.
Climate change indicators hit record highs in 2021: UN
Geneva, May 18, 2022 (AFP/APP): Four key climate change indicators all set new record highs in 2021, the United Nations said Wednesday, warning that the global energy system was driving humanity towards catastrophe. Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rise, ocean heat and ocean acidification all set new records last year, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said in its “State of the Global Climate in 2021” report.
The annual overview is “a dismal litany of humanity’s failure to tackle climate disruption”, UN chief Antonio Guterres said. “The global energy system is broken and bringing us ever closer to climate catastrophe. “We must end fossil fuel pollution and accelerate the renewable energy transition before we incinerate our only home.” The WMO said human activity was causing planetary-scale changes on land, in the ocean and in the atmosphere, with harmful and long-lasting ramifications for ecosystems.
The report confirmed that the past seven years were the top seven hottest years on record. Back-to-back La Nina events at the start and end of 2021 had a cooling effect on global temperatures last year. Even so, it was still one of the warmest years ever recorded, with the average global temperature in 2021 about 1.11 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level. The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change saw countries agree to cap global warming at “well below” 2C above average levels measured between 1850 and 1900 — and 1.5C if possible.
“Our climate is changing before our eyes,” said WMO chief Petteri Taalas. “The heat trapped by human-induced greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations to come. Sea level rise, ocean heat and acidification will continue for hundreds of years unless means to remove carbon from the atmosphere are invented.” Four key indicators of climate change “build a consistent picture of a warming world that touches all parts of the Earth system”, the report said.
Greenhouse gas concentrations reached a new global high in 2020, when the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 413.2 parts per million (ppm) globally, or 149 percent of the pre-industrial level. Data indicate that they continued to increase in 2021 and early 2022, with monthly average CO2 at Mona Loa in Hawaii reaching 416.45 ppm in April 2020, 419.05 ppm in April 2021, and 420.23 ppm in April 2022, the report said.
Global mean sea level reached a new record high in 2021, rising an average of 4.5 millimetres per year throughout 2013 to 2021, the report said. GMSL rose by 2.1 mm per year between 1993 and 2002, with the increase between the two time periods “mostly due to the accelerated loss of ice mass from the ice sheets”, it said. Ocean heat hit a record high last year, exceeding the 2020 value, the report said.
And it is expected that the upper 2,000 metres of the ocean will continue to warm in the future — “a change which is irreversible on centennial to millennial timescales”, said the WMO, adding that the warmth was penetrating to ever deeper levels. The ocean absorbs around 23 percent of the annual emissions of human-caused CO2 into the atmosphere. While this slows the rise of atmospheric CO2 concentrations, CO2 reacts with seawater and leads to ocean acidification.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded with “very high confidence” that open ocean surface acidity is at the highest “for at least 26,000 years”. Meanwhile the report said the Antarctic ozone hole reached an “unusually deep and large” maximum area of 24.8 million square kilometres in 2021, driven by a strong and stable polar vortex.
Guterres proposed five actions to jump-start the transition to renewable energy “before it’s too late”. Among them, he suggested ending fossil fuel subsidies, tripling investments in renewable energy and making renewable energy technologies, such as battery storage, freely-available global public goods. “If we act together, the renewable energy transformation can be the peace project of the 21st century,” Guterres said.
President approves reconstitution of CCI
ISLAMABAD, May 13, 2022 (APP): President Dr Arif Alvi Friday approved the reconstitution of the Council of Common Interests, on the advice of the prime minister. Approved by the president under Article 153 of the constitution, the CCI would be headed by the prime minister and would comprise the chief ministers of four provinces besides three federal ministers.
Three federal ministers would also be part of the Council as they were nominated by the prime minister. The federal ministers include Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal, Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar, and Railways and Aviation Minister Khawaja Saad Rafiq.
UN slams Taliban order directing Afghan women to cover faces in public
UNITED NATIONS, May 08, 2022 (APP):The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has criticized an announcement made by the Taliban ordering all women to cover their faces in public in the country.
“UNAMA is deeply concerned with today’s announcement by the Taliban de facto authorities that all women must cover their faces in public, that women should only leave their homes in cases of necessity, and that violations of this directive will lead to the punishment of their male relatives,” the Mission said in a statement. According to information received by UNAMA, this is a formal directive rather than a recommendation, any violations of which will lead to the punishment of male relatives.
“This decision contradicts numerous assurances regarding respect for and protection of all Afghans’ human rights, including those of women and girls, that had been provided to the international community by Taliban representatives during discussions and negotiations over the past decade,” UNAMA said. Following the Taliban takeover in August 2021, the Taliban assured that women would be afforded their rights, whether in work, education, or society at large.
News reports on the decree, which calls for women to only show their eyes and recommends they wear the head-to-toe burqas, say that this latest whittling of their rights in the country evokes similar restrictions from the Taliban’s previous rule between 1996 and 2001. It also follows the reneging on an earlier promise to appease their hardline rule at the expense of further alienating the international community, which has been eager for signs that the de facto authority is ready for positive relations with the wider world.
After seizing power, the Taliban confirmed in September that secondary schools were reopening, but that only boys would be returning to the classroom. Women teachers throughout the country were also unable to resume work. Six weeks ago, the de facto authority decided again to postpone secondary schooling for Afghan girls –drawing wide international, regional, and local condemnation.
This latest decision by the Taliban threatens to further strain engagement with the international community. “UNAMA will immediately request meetings with the Taliban de facto authorities to seek clarification on the status of this decision,” the statement continued, adding that UNAMA would also engage in consultations with members of the international community regarding the implications of this latest decree.
Intense push-back against the Taliban have led to nations cutting development aid and enforcing strict sanctions on the country’s banking system, pushing Afghanistan towards economic ruin, it was pointed out. On August 30, 2021, the Security Council passed a resolution calling on the Taliban to provide safe passage for all those seeking to leave the country. During a high-level meeting in Geneva the following month, the international community pledged more than $1.2 billion in humanitarian and development aid to the Afghan people.
Meanwhile, the nation is becoming the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with needs surpassing those in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen, leaving nearly 23 million people facing acute food insecurity. In January, the UN and partners launched a more than $5 billion funding appeal for Afghanistan, in the hope of shoring up collapsing basic services there.
Throughout, the UN has pledged to stay and continue to deliver lifesaving humanitarian aid to the Afghan people across the country.
Acute food insecurity in parts of world: UN
UNITED NATIONS, May 04, 2022 (APP):The number of people facing acute food insecurity and requiring life-saving food assistance is growing at an alarming rate, creating urgency for tackling the root causes of food crises rather than just responding after they occur, according to a joint UN report released Wednesday.
“Acute hunger is soaring to unprecedented levels and the global situation just keeps on getting worse,” David Beasley, Executive Director of the Rome-based World Food Programme (WFP), said in a statement. The annual report from the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) – an international alliance of the UN, European Union (EU), governmental and non-governmental agencies – shines a light on the urgency of tackling root causes rather than just responding to emergencies after the fact.
The report focuses on countries and territories where the severity of the food crisis is outstripping local resources and capacities. It reveals that some 193 million people in 53 countries or territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) in 2021, representing an increase of nearly 40 million people compared with 2020’s already record numbers.
Of those, 570,000 people in Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen, were classified in the most severe phase of acute food insecurity, “catastrophe” phase 5, and required urgent action to avert widespread collapse of livelihoods, starvation and death. When looking at the same 39 countries or territories featured in all editions of the report, the number of people facing Phase 3 levels or above, nearly doubled between 2016 and 2021, rising unabatedly each year since 2018.
“The results of this year’s Global Report further demonstrate the need to collectively address acute food insecurity at the global level across humanitarian, development and peace context,” QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said. From conflict to environmental and climate crises, and economic to health crises with poverty and inequality as underlying causes, these worrying trends are the result of multiple drivers feeding into one another.
Weather extremes have crippled over 23 million people in eight countries/territories, an increase from 15.7 million in 15 countries/territories. And economic shocks have affected over 30 million people in 21 countries/territories, down from over 40 million people in 17 countries/territories in 2020 – mainly due to the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, conflict remains the main driver of food insecurity, having pushed 139 million in 24 countries/territories into acute food insecurity – up from around 99 million in 23 countries/territories in in 2020. “Conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19 and surging food and fuel costs have created a perfect storm,” Beasley said.
“Millions of people in dozens of countries are being driven to the edge of starvation,” he added appealing for “urgently need emergency funding to pull them back from the brink and turn this global crisis around before it’s too late”. While the analysis predates Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the report finds that the war has already exposed the interconnected nature and fragility of global food systems, with serious consequences for global food and nutrition security.
Countries already coping with high levels of acute hunger are particularly vulnerable to the risks created by the war in Eastern Europe, notably due to their high dependency on imports of food and agricultural inputs and vulnerability to global food price shocks, notes the report. “The tragic link between conflict and food insecurity is once again evident and alarming,” QU said.
“While the international community has courageously stepped up to the calls for urgent famine prevention and mitigation action, resource mobilization to efficiently tackle the root causes of food crises due to, among others, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, global hotspots and the war in Ukraine, still struggles to match the growing needs”.
The report’s findings demonstrate the need for a greater prioritization of smallholder agriculture as a frontline humanitarian response. Furthermore, it advocates for promoting structural changes to current external financing, to reduce humanitarian assistance over time through longer-term development investments, which can help tackle the root causes of hunger.
In parallel, humanitarian assistance must be provided more efficiently and sustainably. “The situation calls out for at-scale action to move towards integrated approaches to prevention, anticipation, and better targeting to sustainably address the root causes of food crises, including structural rural poverty, marginalization, population growth and fragile food systems,” the Global Network founding members said in a joint statement with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank.
PM Shehbazphones political bigwigs to extend Eid greetings
ISLAMABAD, May 4, 2022 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday telephoned President Dr Arif Alvi, chief ministers of different provinces, leaders of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, and senior political leaders to extend Eid greetings to them. A day after his similar telephonic conversations with the Muslim world leaders, the prime minister communicated with the local leadership and exchanged Eid greetings besides discussing the country’s political situation. The prime minister telephoned Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Tanvir Ilyas and conveyed greetings to the people of the territory.
Moreover, he also condemned the ban on Eid prayer congregations in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated Pakistan’s resolve to continue extending political, moral and diplomatic support till the Kashmiri people got their right to self-determination. He also interacted with the chief ministers of Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan as well as the acting governor of Balochistan. However, he could not converse with the Balochistan chief minister as he was abroad.
The prime minister telephoned ex-President Asif Ali Zardari and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and extended Eid greeting. They thanked the prime minister for the telephone and reciprocated the Eid greetings. Prime Minister Sharif also phoned the PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman who congratulated him on his successful visits of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. In his conversation with Jamat-e-Islami leader Sirajul Haq, the prime minister exchanged Eid greetings and discussed the country’s political situation.
Shehbaz Sharif also telephonically interacted with Communications Minister Maulana Asad Mahmood, Mohsin Dawar, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Sardar Akhtar Mengal, Allama Sajid Mir, Khalid Magsi, Mahmood Khan Achakzai, Ali Nawaz Shah, Shahzain Bugti, Aslam Bhotani and Chaudhry Salik Hussain. The prime minister inquired from Chaudhry Salik about the health condition of Chaudhry Shujat Hussain and expressed good wishes for his early recovery.
US begins training Ukrainian forces in Germany
WASHINGTON: The US has begun training Ukrainian forces on new military systems at American military installations in Germany, the Pentagon announced on Friday. Ukrainian forces are being trained on howitzer artillery, radar systems and armoured vehicles the US is supplying to Kyiv amid its effort to defend against an over two-month long Russian offensive.
Defence Department spokesman John Kirby thanked Germany for its support, and said the training in Germany and elsewhere "is in direct support of recent US security assistance packages that are designed to help Ukraine win their battles today, and build strength for tomorrow." "These new systems, and the associated training will strengthen Ukraine's ability to counter Russia's renewed offensive in eastern Ukraine," he told reporters.
About 160 members of the Florida National Guard are carrying out the training. It comes on the heels of US President Joe Biden announcing over $1.6 billion in military assistance for Ukraine over the past three weeks. He requested Congress provide an additional $20.4 billion in new military and other security assistance as existing funding is running dry.
The US has provided Kyiv with droves of armaments to aid its battle, include drones, anti-tank and anti-air munitions and heavy artillery. The package Biden requested on Thursday includes additional artillery, armoured vehicles, anti-armour and anti-air capabilities, as well as what the US says are "accelerated cyber capabilities and advanced air defence systems." It has not specified the systems.
According to UN estimates, at least 2,899 civilians have been killed and 3,235 injured in Ukraine since Russia launched a war on Ukraine on Feb. 24, with the actual figure feared to be much higher. According to the UN refugee agency, more than 8.3 million Ukrainians have fled to neighbouring countries.