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Brutal cold intensifies desperation for rising numbers of displaced in north-west Syria

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Geneva – Sub-zero temperatures and increased snowfall are further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in northwest Syria where more than a quarter of a million people have been displaced in the past four days. Over 830,000 people have been displaced in the region in the last two months and more than 1.2 million since April 2019, according to the United Nations.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is extremely concerned about this rapid and ongoing rise in displacement which continues to rise in the tens of thousands every day, particularly as conflict spreads northward to highly populated urban areas.

“Over 80,000 people forced to flee violence in the last few months are sleeping under trees or in open areas in the snow,” said Joseph Ashmore, IOMs Global Shelter Coordinator.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are suffering and many more may die as extreme winter conditions take hold, provoking one of the most severe shelter crises the humanitarian system has faced in the last decade,” he added.

The majority of the uprooted are staying with host families, in camps or unfinished buildings. As displacement rises, there are less places to house people seeking refuge.

IOM has been assisting partners on the ground to reach nearly 300,000 people with humanitarian aid since mid-December 2019. In the past weeks, IOMs partners have delivered emergency items – including blankets, hygiene kits and other goods – as well as shelter materials to 129,000 people in need.

However, insecurity has impeded access of some partners – compromising the ability for affected populations to receive the most basic services.

Health centres, schools, markets and camps have been targeted by violence with increased civilian casualties reported every day.

The Organization is seeking increased funding from the international community to adequately respond to rapidly rising needs. IOM also reiterates the UN Secretary Generals call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and attacks of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The Syrian conflict, approaching its tenth year, has displaced more than six million people within the country and provoked more than 5.5 million people to flee to neighbouring countries in the region.

Qatar sues UAE, Saudi, Luxembourg banks over riyal ‘manipulation’

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Doha has accused the banks of currency manipulation in the months following the start of a blockade against Qatar.

Qatar has filed lawsuits in London and New York against three banks for allegedly plotting to undermine its currency and bonds.

The cases named the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), Saudi Arabia’s Samba Bank and Luxembourg-based Banque Havilland, a statement from Qatar’s government communications office said on Monday.

FAB is the largest lender in the UAE and Samba is one of the leading banks of Saudi Arabia.

Qatar said Banque Havilland tried to weaken its currency, the riyal, by submitting what the statement called fraudulent quotes to foreign-exchange platforms in New York allegedly intended to disrupt indices and markets where significant Qatari assets and investors are located.

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The government statement did not go into details about the accusations against FAB and Samba Bank, saying only that they were “engaged in financial market manipulation”.

Later on Monday, Banque Havilland denied Qatar’s accusations, saying it had launched “an independent forensic investigation on the matter led by external legal counsel”.

“The investigation has established that the Bank did not engage in any transaction contemplated in the related articles published at the time,” the statement said.

FAB and Samba Bank are yet to comment. The extent of the damages being sought by Qatar is not clear.

Ongoing blockade

Qatar has been facing an economic and diplomatic blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt since 2017.

Fate of humanity weighing heavy on ministerial shoulders at UN Climate Change Conference

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Ministers arriving in Katowice, Poland, will need extreme courage and conviction to make life-saving decisions if humanity is to be saved from the worst impacts of climate change, Oxfam and CARE International said today.

Despite it forming the key scientific input to this years UN Climate Change Conference, COP24, a handful of countries blocked inclusion of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), leaving it to ministers to ensure the report is put back into the heart of conference outcomes.

Sven Harmeling, CAREs Global Policy Lead on Climate Change and Resilience, said: “The landmark science report on 1.5°C has shown that we need immediate action to reduce emissions now, not in the future. This week, we expect ministers to no longer hide behind the inaction of the United States and Saudi Arabia, to no longer stay silent, but to speak up for both agreed rules on implementing the Paris Agreement and enhanced national action plans. This is essential to lead us towards roughly halving emissions by 2030 compared to today.”

Kristen Hite, Oxfam Climate Change Policy Lead, said: “Its unacceptable that despite the clear findings of the IPCC governments are still refusing to see the writing on the wall: preventing a world warmer than 1.5 degrees must be the benchmark for all decision making this week. There is real energy and leadership amongst from states, but how many more people need to die from drought-induced hunger or thirst before everyone agrees to limit global warming? How many more communities should burn, or drown?”

Climate change is already forcing people from their land and homes. During the first week of COP24 governments adopted landmark recommendations on displacement, complementing the broader Compact on Migration which was adopted in Marrakech today. In a recent report, Oxfam found the vulnerability to extreme weather of small-scale farmers and pastoralists in the Sahel region made 24 million people reliant on humanitarian assistance this year alone.

Harmeling comments: “We welcome that governments and UN agencies now have a clear framework on how to protect the rights of people at risk of displacement from the climate crisis and ensure communities have full ownership over decisions on relocation. However, this week it is essential that developed countries also agree to commit to financing loss and damage in the Paris Rulebook, to help vulnerable people cope with the unavoidable impacts of climate change.”

Oxfam and CARE are also calling on governments to agree on strict accounting rules which ensure that only dedicated funding for real climate action gets counted towards the $100 bn per year which developing countries have been promised.

“Theres been some really important discussions to agree a set of crucial rules that everyone should stick to when tackling climate change, but emission cuts are the high-stakes poker chips that governments are betting our lives on. This week the world will be watching to see if Ministers can bring true ambition to the table to win a more prosperous future for everyone,” Hite said.

Join CARE Internationals call to action tomorrow, December 11, at 8:30 AM near COP24 sign:

https://careclimatechange.org/fate-of-1-5c-temperature-limit-weighing-on-ministerial-shoulders-at-cop24/

Russian and Lankan officials to meet regarding tea ban today

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A special meeting will be held between a Sri Lankan team of officials and officials from the Russian Plant Quarantine institute in Moscow today (December 25).

The main focus of the meeting is to hold comprehensive discussions on the temporary ban that Russia recently imposed on Sri Lankan tea. A team of nine members consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Plantation and Ceylon Tea Board left for Russia last morning, in a bid to negotiate the relaxation of the ban.

Russia imposed temporary restrictions on Sri Lankan tea on Dec. 18 after an insect was found in the packaging of one consignment of tea.

A special meeting will be held between a Sri Lankan team of officials and officials from the Russian Plant Quarantine institute in Moscow today (December 25).

The main focus of the meeting is to hold comprehensive discussions on the temporary ban that Russia recently imposed on Sri Lankan tea. A team of nine members consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Plantation and Ceylon Tea Board left for Russia last morning, in a bid to negotiate the relaxation of the ban.

Russia imposed temporary restrictions on Sri Lankan tea on Dec. 18 after an insect was found in the packaging of one consignment of tea.

A special meeting will be held between a Sri Lankan team of officials and officials from the Russian Plant Quarantine institute in Moscow today (December 25).

The main focus of the meeting is to hold comprehensive discussions on the temporary ban that Russia recently imposed on Sri Lankan tea. A team of nine members consisting of representatives from the Ministry of Plantation and Ceylon Tea Board left for Russia last morning, in a bid to negotiate the relaxation of the ban.

Russia imposed temporary restrictions on Sri Lankan tea on Dec. 18 after an insect was found in the packaging of one consignment of tea.

The post Russian and Lankan officials to meet regarding tea ban today appeared first on News Wire Now.

Gaza: Israeli Army Killed 52 Palestinians and Injured more than 2410

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Palestine Chronicle – The Ministry of Heath in Gaza said 52 Palestinians were killed on Monday in Gaza and more than 2410 others wounded as the Israeli army fired live ammunition, tear gas and firebombs at protesters assembled along several points near the fence with Israel.

Gaza-based photojournalist Abdallah Aljamal contributed these photos to the Palestine Chronicle from todays, Monday, May 14, protests.

For Further Details and Photos Click here.

Qatari, French cultures ‘a perfect blend’ to create memorable experiences

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The popularity of French brands in Qatar rests in the richness of two cultures that “perfectly blends” to create memorable experiences, Alwadi Hotel Doha general manager Dominic Arel has said.

“There are a lot of things coming from the French sense of hospitality, and when combined with the Qatar heritage, it pleases many people,” he told Gulf Times.

Arel cited the continuously growing interest of Qataris, as well as expatriates, in French brands, including the “first-ever” 5 star- French boutique hotel in the country – MGallerys Alwadi Doha, located in Msheireb Downtown Doha (MDD).

As part of the MGallery collection, the brand new five-star boutique hotel “tells a unique story” and excellently combines modern design with local history and heritage – a growing demand from a large number of travellers.

“The interest we got for the property is quite unique, already we like to say that we are the talk of the city since its opening,” Arel said.


Dominic Arel. PICTURE: Ram Chand

Alwadi Hotel Doha has 213 rooms and suites, each with thoughtful amenities, inspiring patterns and a vibrant colour scheme to bring a touch of heritage to its contemporary design.

“I believe that everybody will clearly understand and agree with me that we have, from a French brand, the knowhow and this is going to be translated in the way we welcome our guests,” Arel said. Gastronomy, is going to be a key element for this property with the restaurants and bars, having this French flair and Art de Recevoir is going to be a key differentiator.”

Apart from having direct connection to Souq Waqif, the property is located just 15 minutes from Hamad International Airport and 10 minutes from West Bay, meeting the needs of both business and leisure travellers.

Looking at the citys history, Arel said the hotel is part of the Msheireb Downtown Doha project, which works hard “to bring back centrally everything to the heart of Doha.”

Number of people training to become England early years teachers plummets

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LONDON, November 29—There has been a steep decline in the number of people training to become early years teachers, new government figures show. Data released on Thursday shows that only 365 people are embarking on the course – a drop of a third since last year, and a decrease of 84% since 2013/14.

At the same time, new government figures show two in five (43%) children in poverty in England were unable to speak in full sentences, follow basic instructions and express themselves in their first year of primary school.

Official figures reveal a dramatic and persistent gulf between rich and poor. One in four (26%) better-off children are struggling with basic skills at the age of five, meaning there is a 17-percentage point gap between poorer children and their peers across England. This gap has widened slightly since last year (by 0.3%) for the first time in four years.

One of the key ways to help children catch up is high-quality childcare. Yet the number of people obtaining a key qualification that could help narrow this gap between rich and poor has fallen for the fourth year running.

Save the Children has previously identified that there are 11,000nurseries across England that do not employ an early years teacher. In the most disadvantaged areas, where the need is most urgent, 2,000 early years teachers are needed.

To create an enriching and nurturing environment that supports childrens development, nurseries and other childcare settings need a workforce with a mixture of skills, experience and backgrounds, all with key roles to play.

As part of the right mix of skills and expertise, evidence shows that childcare settings led by a graduate early years teacher are able to provide higher-quality care and education. Early years teachers are trained to support childrens early development, and to identify and support those who are struggling. This includes providing parents with help to support their childrens development at home. Evidence shows early years teachers benefit disadvantaged children the most.

Secretary of State for Education Damian Hinds recently pledged to halve the number of pupils starting school behind in talking and reading skills by 2028, but earlier this year the government axed a key commitment to address the early years teacher shortage – a decision criticised by charities, schools and nursery leaders.

Save the Childrens Director of UK Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns, Steven McIntosh, said:

“This steep decline in early years teacher trainees represents a crisis in the childcare workforce. Highly qualified early years teachers play a crucial role in helping children catch up, and are especially needed now with recent figures showing that poorer children are still so much more likely to fall behind by the time they start primary school.

CRS BRACES FOR CYCLONE FANI IN INDIA AND BANGLADESH

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As Cyclone Fani barrels toward India and Bangladesh, CRS prepares its response

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND, May 2, 2019 – Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is preparing for Cyclone Fani to make landfall with teams in India and Bangladesh ready to respond to emergency needs in the storms immediate aftermath.

“Given the size and strength of this storm, it has the potential to leave a wake of devastation in its path. Our teams on the ground are making last-minute preparations so we can respond as soon as the storm moves on,” said Caroline Brennan, the director of communications for CRS humanitarian response team. “We are working closely with our Church partners in both India and Bangladesh who are best placed to assess the damage and respond quickly.”

In India, more than 800,000 people have been evacuated from Odisha state, which is located on Indias northeastern coast along the Bay of Bengal and where the storm is expected to make immediate landfall. In Bangladesh, CRS has already started distributing shelter supplies in the Coxs Bazaar refugee camp in the south-eastern part of the country, where nearly a million Rohingya refugees are living.

“With reports that this storm will be the strongest to hit India in nearly five years, were taking every precaution necessary to make sure that those in the storms direct path have as much support as possible to cope with what could be major devastation,” Brennan said.

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Euro-Med and HUMENA: Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes in Jerusalem amounts to ethnic cleansing

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Geneva – The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and HUMENA for Human Rights and Civil Participation said in a statement that the systematic destruction of Palestinian homes and property in occupied East Jerusalem is approved by the US administration, which legalized these crimes by declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel amid international silence that amounts to complicity.
In a report that monitored human rights violations in Jerusalem during July 2019, the Euro-Med and HUMENA said that Israeli authorities have stepped up their arbitrary violations against Palestinians living in occupied East Jerusalem. Last month witnessed the largest mass destruction in a single day since 1967 as Israeli authorities demolished 11 residential buildings (72 apartments) in a crime amounting to ethnic cleansing.

The report, entitled “Wadi al-Hummus in Jerusalem; facing Israeli ethnic cleansing,” said that the destruction of Palestinian buildings resulted in the displacement of 22 people, including (14) children, and deprived more than (70) families from their apartments, most of which were still under construction.

The report added that since the beginning of 2019, Israeli authorities destroyed more than 59 houses in East Jerusalem until mid-2019. While 2018 witnessed 215 demolitions.

In addition to Wadi al- Hummus neighborhood, Israeli occupation forces destroyed a car park, a garage, a warehouse, a car wash and five shops in the last month.

The Euro-Med and HUMENA monitored five complex violations as part of crimes of settlement expansion and Judaization of the occupied city, most notably the seizure of a Palestinian house and a building evacuation by force in order to hand both over to Israeli settlers. Moreover, at the same time of the demolition of Palestinian homes, Israeli occupation authorities approved the establishment of 216 new housing units in the Gilo settlement.

Several parties, including the Israeli government, municipal authorities of Jerusalem or judicial authorities, collude to carry out systematic demolitions aimed to forcefully displace Palestinians. Which falls within the occupation’s efforts to change the demographic reality in the occupied city.

This systematic policy pursued by Israel takes place without any regards to the principles of international law, which reflects Israels pursuit of demographic change in East Jerusalem by employing all its government, political and security arms.

On the other hand, the two organizations documented two incidents that signify the Israeli occupation’s disregard for Palestinian childhood; such as the summoning of 4-year-old Mohammed Rabi ‘Alayyan, and the 6-year-old Qais Firas Obeid, under the pretext of throwing stones at their forces.

The report also documented 43 Israeli raids on different towns and neighborhoods in occupied East Jerusalem; which entailed the arrest of 102 civilians, including 19 children, a woman, a girl and a female journalist.

For instance, in five raids that included shooting and direct assault in the neighborhoods of occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces injured seven civilians, including a child, a journalist and an elderly.

USA: Immediately revoke COVID-19 suspension of environmental protections

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Responding to the US Environmental Protection Agencys (EPA) announcement it would indefinitely suspend enforcement of environmental laws due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Richard Pearshouse, Amnesty Internationals Head of Crisis and the Environment, said:

“The Trump administration is cynically abusing this crisis to achieve its pre-COVID-19 goal of gutting US environmental regulations.

The Trump administration is cynically abusing this crisis to achieve its pre-COVID-19 goal of gutting US environmental regulations. Its difficult to overstate the risk. The decision to indefinitely suspend the protections afforded by environmental laws will kill or compromise the health of large numbers of people.[contfnewc] Richard Pearshouse, Head of Crisis and the Environment at Amnesty International

“Its difficult to overstate the risk. The decision to indefinitely suspend the protections afforded by environmental laws will kill or compromise the health of large numbers of people. These impacts will be felt by everyone in the USA, but particularly by people already facing marginalization and discrimination, including those who live in areas surrounded by heavily polluting industrial facilities.

“EPA enforcement of environmental laws saves hundreds of thousands of people from premature death each year, and millions more from unnecessary illnesses and sicknesses. This decision should be immediately revoked.

“This could have a devastating knock-on effect on human rights globally if other state authorities follow suit and abdicate their responsibility to protect their populations from pollutants in the air, water and ground.”

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