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South Africa grants landing permit to Air Peace — Mission

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 South African authorities have granted landing permit to Air Peace Flight B777 to enable it to evacuate some 320 Nigerians escaping from xenophobia in that country, a Nigerian consular officer has confirmed.

Nigeria’s  Consul- General in Johannesburg, Mr Godwin Adama, made the confirmation in a telephone interview with Nigeria News Agency on Tuesday.

Adama spoke against the background of a complaint by the Managing Director of Air Peace, Chief Allen Onyema.

Onyema had said  that the refusal of South Africa to grant the permit made it impossible for the flight to leave Lagos at 1a.m. for Johannesburg to convey the second batch of returnees.

But Adama said the permit had been granted the airline and that the flight would be late in the night of Tuesday.

Adama said, “They want Nigerians to arrive during the week, they are taking-off from here midnight.

“I do not know the exact time but they will be leaving (South Africa) midnight.

“I do not know why they were denied the landing permit. I think it is an airline operational issue. They did not get it yesterday but they told me that it came late yesterday (Monday).

“It was weekend and they were going to get it this morning; the airline did not tell me it was deliberate, but they explained to me that they have gotten it.

“Our manifest arrived last night towards the close of work and they were to take-off 1a.m. Nigerian time yesterday (Monday) but they did not because it was late.

“I have gotten it now so they will be able to make me know the time of their arrival here so that we can know when to take-off.”

Adama said buses provided to convey Nigerians wanting to return home were still at the mission premises and everyone was there.

“We are still really working on the number (320) to see how we can fill up the airline capacity with anyone that is readily available.

“We have more than enough, we are even trying to ensure that the aircraft is filled up that is why we are readily taking people who are on ground now.

“We have more than enough to fill the aircraft, the delay has also helped us because as we call names to board we see some people cleared at the last minute.

“The truth is they are people who have not been cleared, those who are ready to go are all here and we are trying to queue them up.

“We may not even be able to take all of them who are hopeful,” he added.

Adama  said that the next batch of evacuation would be based on the Federal Government’s  directives.
FEA/JCE

Edited by Chukwudi Ekezie

Foreign

4 soldiers killed, 17 wounded in clash with rebels in southern Philippines

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Four soldiers have been killed and 17 others wounded in a clash with about 40 suspected Abu Sayyaf rebels in a remote village in the Philippines’ Sulu province, a military spokesman said on Saturday.

Major Arvin Encinas of the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines said the 40-minute fighting broke out around 8:20 a.m. local time on Friday in a village near mountainous Patikul town, a known stronghold of the extremist group.

Encinas said two Abu Sayyaf bandits were also killed in the fighting.

The troops are maneuvering for an assault when they engaged with about 40 Abu Sayyaf terrorists, he added.

Abu Sayyaf is considered the smallest but one of the most violent extremist groups in the southern Philippines. The group, which has an estimated 400 fighters, is active in the impoverished island provinces of Sulu and Basilan.

The group is responsible for the series of kidnappings, deadly bombings, ambushes of security personnel, public beheadings, assassinations, and extortion in the Mindanao region.

The group, which has been terrorizing the Philippines’ southern region since the 1990s, preys on foreign tourists, businessmen and fishermen not only from the Philippines but also from Indonesia and Malaysia, hiding them in Philippine jungles or remote islands.

(XINHUA)

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Three killed in small plane crash in Southern California

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A small, single-engine airplane Friday afternoon crashed into a hillside in Mentone, 106 kilometers east of Los Angeles downtown, claiming three lives.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) spokesman Ian Gregor was quoted by the KTLA news channel as saying that the single-engine Cessna 172 plane crashed “under known circumstances,” and the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board have launched an investigation.

The incident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. local time, police told KTLA, adding that all three people who were believed to have been on board were killed.

Video clips posted online showed a largely intact plane lying on scrubby ground just below a ridgeline with body and wings broken.

There was no immediate word on the plane’s departure point or intended landing site.

(XINHUA)

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WHO warns of risks of COVID-19 explosion in South Asia’s densely-populated region

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World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that as COVID-19 cases keep growing in South Asia, there are risks of disease explosion in the densely-populated region.

Particularly in South Asia, not just in India, but in Bangladesh… and in Pakistan and other countries in South Asia with large dense populations, the disease has not exploded, but there is always the risk of that happening,” Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program, said during a press conference in Geneva.

“And as the disease generates and gets a foothold in communities, it can accelerate at anytime,” he added.

“The number of cases in India has been going up by an average of a third per week, so probably the doubling time of the epidemic in India is about three weeks at this stage. So the direction of travel of the epidemic is not exponential, but it is still growing,” he said.

Ryan said the measures taken in India “certainly had an impact in dampening transmission, and as India, as in other large countries open up and as people begin to move again, there’s always a risk of the disease bouncing back up.”

“I think the important thing is to really keep track of the the growth rate, the doubling time of the virus and make sure that that doesn’t get worse,” said WHO‘s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan.

As India is a “heterogeneous and huge country with very densely populated cities,” Swaminathan said it’s important to wear face coverings.

(XINHUA)

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Roundup: Experts root for deepening South-South cooperation in fight against COVID-19

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Developing countries in Africa and beyond should strengthen partnership and solidarity under the South-South Cooperation modality to jointly address common socio-economic impacts imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, experts argued.

Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic advisor to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told Xinhua on Friday that the South-South cooperation platform as a viable way to deepen technical and financial cooperation among developing countries in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The South-South cooperation refers to the technical cooperation among developing countries in the Global South. It is a tool used by the states, international organisations, academics, civil society and the private sector to collaborate and share knowledge, skills and successful initiatives in specific areas,” the scholar said.

Noting Africa in particular accounting for a small fraction of the infections globally, Costantinos stressed that “African countries have taken a disproportionate hit due to plummeting oil and commodity prices and weaker currencies, which ramp-up external debt servicing costs.”

As the COVID-19 hits countries under the global south, the South-South cooperation platform can help collaborate and share knowledge, skills and successful initiatives in specific areas such as agricultural development, human rights, urbanization, health, and climate change,” Costantinos said.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, Antonio Pedro, Director of the UNECA’s Sub-regional Office for Central Africa, also stressed that the global community, mainly countries in the developing world, should strengthen solidarity in order to effectively contend the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe as well as to build back better after the coronavirus pandemic.

Pedro mainly underscored the South-South collaboration scheme as an important global partnership platform in addressing the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular emphasis given to addressing the negative impacts of the pandemic on the socioeconomic and healthcare aspects of the African continent.

The South-South collaboration, as part of the global partnership, is important to address this pandemic, especially in the context of Africa because of the vulnerabilities exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis,” Pedro said.

The ECA director also stressed that the global solidarity against the COVID-19 “goes beyond the short term imperative of curing people that have been affected and ensuring that people don’t infected, but also building back better.”

Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, mainly singled out China as an important player in propelling global partnership and solidarity under the South-South cooperation platform, as he emphasized the Chinese engagement in propelling the development of countries in the Global South.

China is at a historical crossroads today when it comes to the economic recovery and global health with the United States withdrawing from most global development and security initiatives,” Costantinos told Xinhua.

The scholar emphasized China‘s role in in improving economic governance and curtailing corruption in the Global South and addressing the impact of climate change adaptation in the global south, among others.

Pedro, who emphasized the crucial imperative of deepening global solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, also singled out China as a major player in propelling the much-needed global partnership and collaboration towards combating the virus.

“We see the Chinese engagement and the support that it is providing to African governments and to the African Union in terms of access to medical supplies, masks and other things as part of the global solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ECA Director told Xinhua.

“We very much look forward to see more and more countries to emulate the Chinese example because it’s only through global partnerships, with collaboration, and with supporting each other that we will be able to combat this virus,” he affirmed.

According to a recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report entitled “South-South Cooperation at the time of COVID-19: Building Solidarity Among Developing Countries,” for many developing countries, where up to 90 percent of the workforce engages in informal activity and lockdown is a difficult proposition, the first effects of the crisis came through economic contagion before the health shock.

(XINHUA)

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COVID-19 cases continue surging in South Asia as India reports highest daily spike of new cases

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The number of COVID-19 cases are rising fast in South Asia as India reports its highest daily spike of cases on Friday and confirmed cases topped 60,000 in Bangladesh.

India’s federal health ministry said on Friday morning that 273 new deaths due to COVID-19, besides fresh 9,851 positive cases, were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 6,348 and total cases to 226,770.

This is the highest daily spike in terms of fresh cases and deaths.

Bangladesh reported 2,828 more COVID-19 cases, bringing the total in the country to over 60,000.

“A total of 30 deaths including 23 men and seven women were reported in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 811,” Nasima Sultana, a senior health ministry official, told an online media briefing in Dhaka.

“The number of confirmed infections in the country totaled 60,391 on Friday,” she said.

Afghanistan reported 915 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, taking the country’s total to 18,969, the country’s Ministry of Public Health said.

Within the past 24 hours, 1,570 tests were conducted, and 915 were positive cases, the ministry said in a statement.

Up to 309 deaths have been recorded since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country in February, an increase of nine within the past 24 hours.

The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 703 within one day to 29,521, and the death toll increased by 49 to 1,770, Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official, said at a press conference on Friday.

According to him, 551 more people have been discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 9,443.

The pandemic has spread to all the 34 provinces in the archipelagic country. However, no more positive cases were found in six provinces as of 12:00 p.m. local time on Friday.

The number of coronavirus cases in the Philippines rose to 20,626 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 244 more infections on Friday.

The DOH said in a daily bulletin that the number of recoveries further climbed to 4,330 after 82 more patients recovered.

The death toll also increased to 987 after three more patients died from the virus, the DOH added.

South Korea reported 39 more cases of the COVID-19 compared to 24 hours ago as of 0:00 a.m. Friday local time, raising the total number of infections to 11,668.

The daily caseload stayed above 30 for five straight days due to small cluster infections from religious gatherings in the metropolitan area.

Malaysia reported 19 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the national total to 8,266, the health ministry said.

Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said at a press briefing that of the new cases, seven are imported while among the 12 local transmissions, nine are Malaysian and three are foreign nationals.

One more death was reported, the first since May 22, with the victim having suffered from health conditions before becoming infected, pushing the total deaths to 16.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Maldives has risen to 1,872, local media reported.

Among all the cases, 1,215 are active cases and two are foreigners being treated abroad. So far, 648 patients have recovered and seven deaths have been reported, according to the Health Protection Agency.

Fiji is now free of COVID-19 as the remaining three COVID-19 patients were cleared on Friday, said a Fijian minister.

Fiji’s health minister Ifereimi Waqainabete said Friday that they will continue to prepare and work as hard as they can to avoid any other waves of the deadly virus.

(XINHUA)

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Gas station fire kills 1, injures 2 in southern Vietnam

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A fire at a gas station killed one person and injured two others in Vietnam’s southern An Giang province on Friday, the Vietnam News Agency reported.

After a tank truck carrying petroleum arrived at the gas station in Tri Ton District at around 11:30 a.m. local time, a fire ball with a loud bang burned down the truck and spread to the gas station area, according to the report.

The fire killed the truck driver and left owners of the gas station, a 54-year-old man and his 50-year-old wife, seriously burned.

The fire was extinguished by the firefighters after an hour while local authorities are investigating the cause.

A total of 1,259 fires and explosions happened in Vietnam in the first five months of this year, killing 41 people and injuring 93 others, according to the Fire Prevention and Fight Department.

(XINHUA)

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Curfew lifted in Los Angeles County as peaceful protests continue across Southern California

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A countywide curfew will not be enforced Thursday night in Los Angeles County of the United States, as largely peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd, an African American man, in police custody continue across the area.

“Based upon current situational awareness and the recent pattern of peaceful actions by protesters, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will no longer enforce a curfew,” tweeted Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva Thursday morning, adding that other jurisdictions are free to make their own decisions.

A countywide curfew has been in effect for four nights in a row in the most populous U.S. county, with a population of over 10 million, since Sunday after days of protests which sometimes descended into chaos.

“I agree with this decision — it gives the peaceful protesters more time to speak out on our streets without fear of arrest,” tweeted Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn.

Hahn reminded local residents that cities may impose their own curfews.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that he will not impose a citywide curfew in the City of Los Angeles.

Thousands of peaceful protesters packed streets in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday as smaller demonstrations spread across the area. Multiple protests over the death of Floyd are taking place or expected to be held in cities across Southern California on Thursday, including one in Diamond Bar, a city with a huge Chinese American community.

(XINHUA)

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South Sudan denies offering Egyptian military base bordering Ethiopia

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South Sudan on Thursday denied recent allegations that Juba agreed to offer the Egyptian military base in the Pagak area of northern Upper Nile bordering Ethiopia.

“The ministry of foreign affairs and international cooperation hereby denies in the strongest terms possible, the information which has been circulated in the social media that the government of South Sudan has agreed to Egyptian request to build a military base in Pagak,” it said in a statement issued in Juba.

This came in the wake of media reports on Tuesday alleging that Juba will host the Egyptian military in Pagak area, which used to be the headquarters of the then rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in opposition (SPLA-IO) led by Riek Machar, who is now First Vice President in the transitional unity government.

“There is nothing of that kind, no agreement has been reached whatsoever to allocate a piece of land for Egyptian military base in the territory of the Republic of South Sudan,”

Egypt and Ethiopia are in dispute over Addis Ababa’s construction of the 6,000-MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Cairo fears that the GERD’s construction on the Blue Nile in northern Ethiopian highlands will disrupt Egypt’s share of the Nile‘s water.

(XINHUA)

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Heavy rains, floods leave 10 killed in southeastern Yemen: official

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At least 10 people were killed and several others injured during heavy seasonal rains and floods that hit Yemen’s southeastern province during the past 24 hours, a government official told Xinhua on Thursday.

According to the local government official who preferred to remain anonymous, “the heavy seasonal rain began late Wednesday and caused flash floodings that killed at least seven people in Hadramout and three others in the neighboring province of Shabwa.”

“Dozens of houses and civilian vehicles were flooded and livestock were washed away during the heavy seasonal rains continued throughout Thursday morning,” the source said.

He pointed out that “military helicopters of the government forces intervened to rescue several families trapped in their villages by the flooding.”

Yemen’s National Meteorological Center issued a statement on Wednesday expecting the continuation of heavy seasonal rains and thunderstorms during the upcoming hours and warned citizens to stay away from flood ducts.

The center also asked the Yemeni citizens living in mud houses in Hadramout to take necessary precautions in order to ensure their safety.

(XINHUA)

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