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UN chief urges ‘maximum restraint’ as tension rises in gulf region

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UN Secretary General António Guterres has expressed concern over rising tensions in the gulf region, calling on all actors to exercise “maximum restraint”.

UN spokesperson, Mr Stéphane Dujarric, conveyed Guterres’ message while briefing correspondents in New York on Wednesday.

“The Secretary General is following with growing concern recent incidents and hardening rhetoric in the gulf region which threatens to further destabilise an already volatile situation.

“In particular, he condemns the recent attacks on commercial vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE)  and stresses the need for further investigation to determine the facts and hold accountable the perpetrators.

“He also condemns the drone attacks on oil facilities in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia for which the Houthis have claimed responsibility,” Dujarric said.

Tensions are high in the region following a decision by the U.S. to end exemptions from sanctions for major importers of Iranian oil, according to the BBC.

In April, Iran threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz if it was prevented from using the waterway, through which about a fifth of the oil consumed globally passes.

On Sunday, four commercial ships were attacked off the UAE in the gulf near Fujairah port, outside the Strait of Hormuz.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia said two Saudi oil tankers were affected in the incident, described by the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a “sabotage attack”

The U.S. has deployed warships to the region in recent days to counter what it called “clear indications” of threats from Iran to its forces and maritime traffic, the BBC reported.

Iran dismissed that allegation, calling for a full investigation into the attacks.

The drone attack in Saudi Arabia, which occurred on Tuesday, targeted the Aramco East-West pipeline that stretches across the country to the port and oil terminal at Yenbu.

The Ansar Allah fighting group, also known as the Houthis, claimed responsibilities for the attacks, which reportedly caused minor damage but rattled the international community.

Guterres recalled that recalls that attacks targeting civilians and infrastructure violate international humanitarian law.

“The Secretary General calls upon on all actors to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any escalation amid heightened tension,” the spokesman said.

Foreign

Zimbabwe police ban people from traveling into city center to curb spread of COVID-19

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The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) on Tuesday introduced a stricter COVID-19 enforcement regime where many people were barred from entering the city center, as positive cases spiked to 203 from 63 seven days earlier.

Most of the new cases are however imported and local transmissions have remained very low.

Many motorists and passengers using public transport were reportedly turned back home as the police insisted on particular “essential services”, despite some having documents showing that they were also covered under the COVID-19 Level 2 lockdown regulations.

In a message on Twitter, the police said members of the public should observe the regulations in view of the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

The ZRP urges members of the public to observe that the country is still under Level 2 national lockdown in order to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Only essential services, businesses in the formal commercial and industrial sectors were exempted to operate during this period,” it said.

“The rest of the public should stay at home in order for the nation to curtail the increase in new COVID-19 cases being recorded. Please note that it is not everyone who should be in the Central Business District. Let us all be security and health conscious in view of the increase of COVID-19 cases,” the police said.

Government spokesperson Nick Mangwana also reminded citizens that the country was still in lockdown.

“Government has not pronounced a change in lockdown regulations. We are still on Level 2 lockdown and permitted economic activity should go ahead. Police are only enforcing the pronounced and gazetted Level 2 conditions,” he said on Twitter.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa two weeks ago maintained a Level 2 lockdown for an indefinite period in a bid to cut the spread of the pandemic.

He allowed industry and commerce to reopen under strict health regulations while informal businesses bars and gymnasiums remained closed.

There is also a ban on inter-city and cross-border movement, except transportation of cargo.

(XINHUA)

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Health

COVID-19: Cititrust donates N1m for provision of PPE

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The Cititrust Holdings on Tuesday donated N1 million to Health Emergency Initiative (HEI) for the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to health workers at the frontline of the fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

Its Group Chief Executive, Mr Yemi Adefisan, presenting the cheque, said that the donation was the company’s contribution and support toward containing the spread of COVID-19.

Adefisan said that the company was operating in 13 African countries and still expanding its globe.

He said that the company had made donations in other Africans countries.

The group chief executive said that the company would continue to donate to the state governments for materials and PPE.

“Today is a cash donation to HEI for PPE for health workers, which is part of what we have planned to do,” Adefisan said.

He hoped that the equipment would get down to the right people to help support the vulnerable and those suffering from COVID-19.

Receiving the donation, Mr Paschal Achunine, Executive Director, HEI, said his NGO recognised that timely provision of PPE was critical to winning the war against COVID-19.

Achunine said: “If you checked across the globe, in most places where the pandemic killed lots of people, it happened because they don’t have enough PPE or not provided timely.”

He said that HEI had embarked on setting up of an emergency trust fund and had purchased and distributed materials and equipment to organisations in Nigeria.

“We have been working with hospitals in the last five years and we know their touch points, every Kobo committed to us get maximum value,” Achunine said.

He said that HEI had been consistent in 27 hospitals in Lagos, including Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba; Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), Ikeja and Isolation Disease Hospital (IDS), Yaba.

The executive director said that his NGO had been providing support and resuscitation for indigent patients and accident victims when taken to the hospitals.

He said that resources were limited and challenges were there, urging companies and individuals to key into the emergency trust fund.

Achunine appealed to the masses to take precautionary measures, stay alive and note that the landscape had changed.


Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Metro

Aviation stakeholders seek review, sustainability measures as airports reopen June 21

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Some aviation stakeholders have urged the Federal Government to ensure an effective review of the sector and its sustainability before reopening airports on June 21.

 

The stakeholders, under the aegis of Aviation Safety Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), said this in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Lagos.

 

They appealed to the government to ensure that the resumption of flights would be in compliance with approved protocols for safe operations by the airlines.

 

NAN reports that the Federal Government has approved June 21 for resumption of domestic flights, after shutting  down airports for three months, to curtail the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The President of ASRTI, Dr Gbenga Olowo, said that  the sector required more initiatives than just reopening the airports.

 

“Three weeks is good enough to do the needful by all stakeholders, because we never stopped strategising and talking all through the lockdown.  It’s time to walk the talk.

 

“It is expected that all states should open up their economies  and indeed all countries should open simultaneously their activities because aviation connects economies.

 

“So, while we continue to battle with the virus, our economic life line must not be destroyed. The two are directly related. Just as disease can kill, hunger can also kill and even kill faster.

 

“Hunger destroys the immune system and makes citizens susceptible to Covid and non Covid attack,” he said.

 

Olowo said that airlines had been advancing in technology prior to COVID-19 on social distancing through self service for online ticketing and payments, self service check in, self service security and passport controls,among others.

 

Olowo  said: “Face masks, handwashing and sanitisation will be a necessary and sufficient condition for travel.

 

“Health certificates valid for at least 14 days, scannable on phones just like boarding pass, should be a necessary condition for travel to avoid isolation at the destination.

 

“This is a challenge for port health.

 

“As we continue to advance in technology, the ease of doing business without or limited human contact will progress the industry further and challenge the skill set of employees,” he said.

 

Olowo said that on board, social distancing would be quite challenging except aircraft would be configured to all first class seating arrangements for economic operations.

 

According  to him,no airline can ever break even with less than 40 per cent load factor at the extremely low fares prevalent in the market, where pasengers pay less than 100 dollars per hour on jet engines.

 

“This was the level 30 years ago, precisely 1990.  Lagos to Abuja was N2, 200. Exchange rate was N22 per dollar.

 

“The dichotomy is, can the passengers afford higher levels of tariff ?

 

“This is where government’s intervention in airline economics is needed in Nigeria by deliberate application of subsidies on fuel, taxes, airport charges,VAT, five per cent  or lower interest rate on loans,  and quick foreign exchange (FX) availability in order to lower airlines’ cost of operations,” he said.

 

Also, the Secretary General, ASRTI, Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said that government’s non-fiscal monetary bailouts for aviation operators should only be given to airlines not indebted to the government’s service providers.

 

Ojikutu said that the industry was going through a hard time under the pandemic, adding that  the stakeholders needed to  make sacrificial efforts instead of insisting on financial bailouts from government.

 

He said: “We may come out worst of the present situation than we are now.

 

“Government on the other hand should give the operators  palliatives but it must not be monetary because previous financial interventions running to hundreds of billions of Maura giving  to the domestic airlines are yet to be recovered fully after almost 10 years.

 

“Government should make  airport landing and parking free,  free air navigational charges for not more than  three months  for domestic airlines only after  easing of lockdown on operations.

 

” Fifty  per cent Passengers Service Charge (PSC) discount for three months on all domestic passengers only should be considered.

 

“Gradual charges reversal and the incremental of all the service charges to 50 per cent of the normal  charges in the next three months  on all services provided by the government’s service providers should be considered .

 

“The next three months  will attract 75 per cent changes of the normal charges. The next three  months after  the first one will  attract 100 per cent revert to the full charges.

 

The Passenger Service Charge will also revert to 100 per cent  after the first three  months of  concession”.

 

Also,  Mr Olumide Ohunayo, a member of the association, said that the resumption of airlines was normal which should be subjected to  the directives and the guidelines  of the airports’ authority  for effective safety procedures.

 

Ohunayo said that social distancing and nose masks’ wearing should be enforced before boarding and while on board.

 

He added that serving of food should be stopped on board, while sanitisers should be given to passengers.

 

“The cabin crew should also put in place measures to ensure effective safety procedures within the three weeks’ window before reopening.

 

“Training and retraining of operational staff should be in compliance with government’s regulations,” he said.

 


Edited By: Folasade Adeniran/Peter Dada (NAN)

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Foreign

Namibia’s arts industry continues to be hampered by impact of COVID-19

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Namibia’s highly competitive art exhibition, the Bank Windhoek Triennial, which celebrates visual art in the country, has been shifted to next year due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the organizers announced Tuesday.

Staged every three years, the triennial showcases the quality and diversity of artwork produced by Namibian artists and is sponsored by Bank Windhoek and organized by the National Art Gallery of Namibia (NAGN).

As a result of the impact of COVID-19, the new deadline for artists to submit their artwork is Nov. 6, 2020, and judging of the artworks will take place in early February 2021, while the official opening of the Bank Windhoek Triennial is in April 2021, they said.

The duration of the exhibition is scheduled to start from April 9 until July 3, 2021.

“The pandemic has severely affected the visual arts industry. Thus, prompting the decision to allow visual artists more time to work on their submissions to ensure they submit quality artwork,” said Bank Windhoek’s Head of Corporate Social Investments, Sponsorship, and Events, Bronwyn Moody.

Despite the setback, NAGN’s Chief Executive, Snobia Kaputu said they look forward to innovative works of art, and therefore encourage all artists who meet the qualifying criteria to enter the competition.

The triennial aims to celebrate visual art in Namibia, while providing a continued platform for the development and promotion of the visual art industry. The first event took place in 2008.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Portraits of May 2020

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Portraits of May 2020″ src=”https://nnn.com.ng/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/139108774_15911053216511n.jpg” sourcename=”本地文件” sourcedescription=”网上抓取的文件”>

Portraits of May 2020″ src=”https://nnn.com.ng/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/139108774_15911053216511n.jpg” sourcename=”本地文件” sourcedescription=”网上抓取的文件”>

A COVID-19 patient shakes hands with a nurse as he is moved out of an ICU ward of a hospital in Barcelona, Spain, on May 7, 2020. (Photo by Francisco Avia/Xinhua)

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Foreign

596 new COVID19 cases reported in UAE, 35,788 in total

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Tuesday announced 596 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total confirmed cases in the country to 35,788.

The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention said in a statement the new cases, of many nationalities, are in a stable condition and receiving medical treatment.

Meanwhile, 388 more patients have made full recovery from the virus, taking the tally of the UAE‘s recoveries to 18,726, according to the Ministry.

The Ministry also confirmed three more death, pushing the country’s death toll to 269.

The UAE was the first among the Gulf countries to report COVID-19 cases.

(XINHUA)

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Environment

Environmentalist raises concern about effects of climate change

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An Environmentalist, Mr Gafar Odubote, has called for urgency in tackling the effects of climate change in Nigeria.

Odubote, a climate change enthusiast, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Lagos on Tuesday.

He appealed to government at all levels to treat the issue of climate change with utmost urgency and not with lip service.

“When we checked efforts in combating the effects of climate change in the country, we observed that government had embarked on a lot of advocacy efforts.

“Nothing is really being done to combat the growing effects of climate change. Government needs to view effects of climate change with an urgent necessity.

“The efforts government put and is putting to combat COVID-19 pandemic, should equally be put in addressing climate change. It should not wait till people start dying,” he said.

Odubote also called for a time-based action plan aimed at mitigating the effects of climate change in Nigeria as done in other African countries.

“We should not just stop at advocacy but we need to act. Government knows likely areas of greenhouse gas emissions and should provide a time plan to curb it.

“The cars release a lot of carbon into the atmosphere, while the industries that generate a lot of gas should be looked into.

“We need a sustainable plan to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we generate as a country to tackle climate change effects,” Odubote said.

The environmentalist called on other stakeholders to collaborate with government to educate Nigerians on the adverse effects of climate change on their health. NAN)


Edited By: Chidi Opara/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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Foreign

2 Turkish journalists injured in United States police raids on protests

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Two journalists from Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT World were injured in police raids during the protests in the United States over the death of George Floyd, semi-official Anadolu Agency reported Tuesday.

Sally Ayhan, a Washington-based correspondent of TRT World, was injured in the chest and the leg by plastic bullets during live coverage, Anadolu said.

Another correspondent Lionel Donovan, along with the cameraman Barbaros Sayilgan, “came under attack” in Minneapolis, and Donovan was injured when a bullet targeted his groin, it added.

“Press freedom is the backbone of democracy. I will raise this issue with the relevant U.S. officials without delay,” tweeted Fahrettin Altun, Turkey‘s presidential communications director.

Demonstrations and riots have spread to cities across the United States after a video went viral of George Floyd being suffocated to death by a white police officer in the midwestern United States state of Minnesota a week ago.

(XINHUA)

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Foreign

Namibian gov’t condemns brutal killing of African-American citizen in United States

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Namibia has expressed deep outrage and condemned the brutal killing of George Floyd by U.S. police that took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the United States.

Namibia’s Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation in a statement issued Tuesday said it has been following with great concern the events surrounding the death of George Floyd.

The Namibian government has since expressed its solidarity with the African-American sisters and brothers and has called on all to exercise restraint in venting their legitimate and justified anger.

“Racism is a crime against humanity and should have no place in any society anywhere in the world,” Namibia’s deputy Prime Minister and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah said in the statement.

Nandi-Ndaitwah meanwhile called on the government of the United States to deploy all efforts at ensuring that the rights and human dignity of all its citizens, including in particular the African-Americans and all other minorities are upheld, respected and protected under law.

(XINHUA)

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