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Air Namibia introduces austerity measures

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Air Namibia on Wednesday announced that it would introduce austerity measures on its regional routes, beginning Friday after the finance minister denied the national airline a state bailout in October.

The national flag carrier said in a statement by its Interim Chief Executive Officer Xavier Masule that it would be re-aligning its economy class onboard meal and beverage offerings on all flights of 2.5 hours.

The new service offering in economy class will include a dry snack option with juice, still or sparkling water that will be offered in place of hot meals previously served.

This applies to all flights with a duration of 2.5 hours and less irrespective of the time of departure or aircraft type.

Alcoholic beverages such as beer, wines, and spirits, as well as hot beverages such as tea and coffee, will no longer be on offer.

The interim executive officer added that the service offering on the airline’s international route would remain unchanged.

Masule said that the austerity measures constituted one of the many initiatives Air Namibia was in the process of implementing to enhance revenue and to cut costs.

“As a trendsetter in the region, the move is geared toward making our business operations more financially sustainable and to re-align with today’s realities,’’ he added.

The move came as the Finance Minister Calle Schlettwein, in October  denied the financially struggling national flag carrier a 2 billion Namibian dollars (135 million U.S. dollars) cash injection.

Speaking at a midterm budget review breakfast in the capital in October Schlettwein said no money has been made available to bail out the national airline.

The national airline which has received 8.3 billion Namibian dollars from the state between 1999 and 2019. (Xinhua /NAN)

(Edited by Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

Foreign

U.S. adds 266,000 jobs, unemployment rate lowers to 3.5%

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 The U.S. said it added some 266,000 jobs in the month of November, lowering the unemployment rate in the country to 3.5 per cent for the month.

This is according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released on Friday.

Part of the boost came from the manufacturing sector after the end of a month-long auto-workers strike.

Stock futures jumped on the jobs data, which beat expectations.

The real number of unemployed people was little changed at 5.8 million people.

In October, the unemployment rate was 3.6 per cent.

YEE

Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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Over 1,300 IS fighters, loyalists surrender in eastern Afghan province

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Officials said on Friday that a total of 1,301 fighters and families of the Islamic State (IS) outfit laid down arms and surrendered to security authorities in eastern Afghan province.

Nangarhar’s Governor, Shah Mahmoud Miakhil contended that a total of 1,301 IS elements including 413 armed men, some of them foreigners and 888 women and children have surrendered to security authorities, mostly in Achin district.

Miakhil said, mounting military pressures have forced the militants to surrender, adding that the military crackdown would continue until peace and security return to the area.

Meanwhile, a statement of Nangarhar provincial government stated that the government wants all anti-state elements to follow the suit and give up fighting.

Backing the ongoing military pressure, a tribal elder Malik Usman Shinwari said at the press briefing that exerting pressure on the insurgent groups should continue.

Nangarhar police chief Aimal Niazi, according to the statement of the provincial administration, has vowed to spare no efforts in stabilizing peace and security in the troubled province.

The hardliner IS outfit which emerged in parts of Nangarhar in early 2015 has yet to make comment on the situation.

Edited & Vetted By: Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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EU bans harmful pesticide chlorpyrifos

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 European Union (EU) member states decided on Friday to ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide deemed harmful to human health.

The ban is due to take effect in January, when the current approval for the insecticide expires.

In August, the European Food Safety Authority identified concerns about “possible genotoxic effects as well as neurological effects during development,” supported by data indicating effects in children.

Chlorpyrifos is used by farmers to prevent insects from damaging their produce.

Traces are often found on imported fruit such as oranges or mandarins in countries such as Germany, where the substance has been taken off the market.

The decision was taken by a committee of experts representing EU member states.

They also decided to ban the related variety chlorpyrifos-Methyl, a European Commission spokeswoman said.

YEE

Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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Death toll in migrant boat sinking off Mauritania rises to 63

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Five more bodies have been recovered after a boat carrying migrants sank off the coast of Mauritania this week, raising the death toll to 63, a security official said on Friday.

The boat bound for Spain capsized on Wednesday with up to 180 people aboard.

The search was still ongoing for missing people off the Mauritanian city of Nouadhibou, the source told Mauritania’s state news agency AMI.

At least 20 people are thought to be unaccounted for.

Initially, authorities in the West African country said at least 58 people had died in the incident and 85 survived.

The boat had set off on the journey to Spain from Gambia.

Fifty-two Gambians died in the incident, while 80 survived, the office of Gambian President Adama Barrow said on Thursday.

It added that the Gambian government will “dispatch a delegation to Mauritania at the earliest possible time to investigate and gather more information on the accident.”

Despite its population of less than 2 million people, Gambia is among the African countries with the highest number of people leaving the continent in search of a better life in Europe.

However, when former president Yahya Jammeh was forced to cede power in January 2017 after ruling for more than two decades, some Gambians started to voluntarily return to their homes.

Barrow succeeded Jammeh.

YEE

Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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Hundreds in Algiers protest elections amid crackdown by authorities

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Hundreds of people gathered in central Algiers on Friday in what could be a last large-scale attempt to pressure the country’s authorities to cancel the upcoming elections, amid a crackdown by authorities.

Anti-government rallies have been held every Friday and Tuesday since mid-February and the protests forced long-time ruler Abdelaziz Bouteflika to resign in April.

Since then, demonstrators have been demanding for key Bouteflika-era officials to depart, and for an overhaul of the country’s political system, before a presidential election is held.

On Friday, protesters were shouting “the people want independence” and “the people want to overthrow the regime”.

On Thursday, Amnesty International warned that Algeria’s authorities have escalated their crackdown on protesters in recent weeks, making arbitrary arrests, prosecuting and imprisoning dozens of activists and forcibly dispersing demonstrations.

The London-based group said that a wave of arrests targeting protesters had intensified since the campaign for the presidential elections began on Nov. 17.

Citing Algerian rights lawyers and activists, Amnesty International said that at least 300 people had been arrested between Nov. 17 and Nov. 24.

Algeria’s authorities have defended plans to hold the election on Dec. 12, saying it was necessary to end the long-running stand-off in the country.

Five contenders are vying to replace Bouteflika, who has ruled energy-rich Algeria for two decades, an era that was dominated by cronyism and mismanagement.

YEE

Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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World Food Programme launches emergency operation to feed 700,000 in Haiti

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 The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched an appeal for 62 million dollars to provide emergency food assistance to 700,000 people in Haiti, the agency said in a statement on Friday.

The WFP wrote that 3.7 million people, one in three Haitians, need urgent food assistance and of these, 1 million are suffering from severe hunger, according to a national study carried out by the National Coordination for Food Security (CNSA) in August.

Rising prices, a weak local currency and a drop in agricultural production are all affecting Haitians.

These problems are compounded by social and civil unrest, making many main roads impassable and hindering the distribution of food to poorer households, the WFP said.

The UN-backed agency noted that it has extended the reach of its emergency food assistance and is providing more cash and vouchers to areas affected by food insecurity.

Distribution will be expanded when the security situation allows, the WFP said, adding that in late November, it had chartered a helicopter to reach areas impossible to access by road.

In October, Haiti was roiled by anti-government protests against corruption, fuel shortages and an inflation rate of over 17 per cent.

The country is regarded as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

It is largely dependent on foreign aid, and suffers from high levels of corruption and crime.

YEE

Edited & Vetted By: Emmanuel Yashim
(NAN)

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