Connect with us

News

132 Illegal Immigrants Rescued Off Libyan Coast – UNHCR

Published

on

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Tuesday said it rescued 132 illegal immigrants off the western Libyan coast.

The UNHCR tweeted that “132 refugees and migrants were intercepted/rescued on Tuesday and returned to Tripoli Naval Base. The team provided all survivors with assistance, food and water.’’

UNHCR said that the rescued migrants embarked on their journey on Sunday in two different boats from the western cities of Zawiya and Al Khums.

UNHCR has repeatedly stressed that Libya is not a safe port for disembarkation of rescued immigrants.

Libya has become a preferred departure point for illegal immigrants who attempt to cross the Mediterranean towards European shores.

This is due to the state of insecurity and chaos in the country following the 2011 fall of the late leader Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), more than 10,000 illegal immigrants have been rescued and returned to Libya so far in 2020.

Another 9,225 illegal immigrants were rescued and returned to Libya in 2019.

Thousands of illegal immigrants, who were either rescued at sea or arrested by the Libyan authorities, are detained in overcrowded reception centres in Libya.

However, reports have it that international calls have been repeatedly made to close those centres.

Business News

Kenya-UK Trade Pact Awaits Approval from EAC Council of Ministers

The virtual meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council of the Ministers of Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) will also discuss other regional matters such as EAC policies on trade, non-tariff barriers, customs, budgets, standards and quality, industrialisation and the tripartite agenda.

Published

on

This week, the East African Council of Ministers will hold their last meeting of the year with Kenya hoping to get approval to separately sign a trade agreement with the United Kingdom ahead of the December 31 deadline.

The virtual meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council of the Ministers of Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment (SCTIFI) will also discuss other regional matters such as EAC policies on trade, non-tariff barriers, customs, budgets, standards and quality, industrialisation and the tripartite agenda.

Kenya is pegging its hopes on Article 37 of the EAC Customs Union Protocol, which allows partner states to separately conclude or amend trade agreements with foreign countries provided the terms do not conflict with the provisions of the Protocol.

Under the Customs Union Protocol, the first pillar of regional integration, East African Community countries are required to negotiate matters related to trade with third parties as a bloc. However, a member may separately negotiate bilateral trade agreements, subject to notifying other members.

Earlier this month, Kenya and the British government reached a critical agreement on a new trade deal that grants Kenyan products duty-free quota-free access to the UK market after December 31.

Related: Kenya, UK, Secure Trade Deal

The deal, which includes clauses from the old Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) under the European Union, is expected to be formalised through signing of the agreed texts by the two countries.

The British government is adamant with its timeframe, but it is willing to apply the Principle of Variable Geometry under the EPAs to allow EAC member states that are ready to sign the agreement while others join later.

“With respect to other East African states, the UK is willing to proceed with those that are ready and allow others to join at a later date as per the current EPAs text,” said Kevit Desai, Kenya’s Principal Secretary in the State Department of EAC Affairs.

Kenya is racing against time to individually negotiate and sign a new trade agreement with the UK to avoid paying duty on its products destined to the British market starting January, 1 2021.

The UK formally exited the European Union on January 31 with an 11-month transition period to re-negotiate new trade agreements with its trading partners outside the 27-member bloc.

Related: East African Countries Amass $73b in External Debt

All existing trade agreements with the UK under the EU terms, which are not rolled over, will expire on December 31.

East African member countries, which run a common Customs Union, are required to negotiate and sign this agreement as a bloc. However, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi appear not to be keen on the deal, thereby calling for the extension of timelines for the negotiations by one year, citing country specific issues including election cycles.

But, with or without a new trade agreement these four countries, which are classified as less developed countries, have a window to continue enjoying duty-free quota-free access to the UK market beyond the December 31 deadline under the “Everything but Arms” initiative introduced in 2001 under the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences.

Kenya, on the other hand, is classified as a lower middle-income country.

The Kenya-UK agreement is expected to provide continuity for businesses, investors and supply chains besides setting foundations for further economic development.

Continue Reading

News

13 Percent of Libyans Need Mental Health Care – WHO

Published

on

The World Health Organisation in a new report says no fewer than one in 7 Libyans needs mental and psychological health care.

Citing the ongoing political and security crises in the country, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO stated that the coronavirus epidemic in Libya is the most serious in the North African region.

The WHO stated in its report of the epidemiological situation in Libya, that between the 12th and 26th of November 2020, Libya recorded a total of 161 deaths per 1 million people is “second only to Tunisia” in the North Africa region.

The report states that in the last two weeks, Libya has recorded a 13 percent increase in the number of COVID-19 infections, during the reporting period, new deaths increased by 16 percent, bringing the number to 1,125.

The WHO pointed out that the impact of the ongoing political and security crisis in Libya and the coronavirus epidemic have affected the mental health and standard of living of Libyans, migrants and refugees.

Libya now has 82,809 confirmed coronavirus infections, of which 27,808 are still active, 53,818 have been treated and 1,183 patients have died since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country in March.

The WHO also estimates that mental health problems more than doubled when populations are affected by conflict, adding that “it is likely that one in seven Libyans, nearly one million people, will require mental health care for conditions such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder”.

A survey conducted by the UN agency in 2019 showed that mental health services were available in only five cities — Tripoli, Benghazi, Sebha, Ajdabiya and Misrata.

It lamented that “even before the beginning of the conflict, six hospitals, one health clinic and four primary health care facilities were providing mental health services”.

After decades of neglect, it may take years to create services capable of responding to emerging needs, the WHO said, pointing out that “there is only one mental health specialist per 300,000 inhabitants in Libya, while “neighbouring Tunisia has one mental health specialist per 100,000 inhabitants”.

The WHO announced that it will soon launch a two-year project to strengthen mental health services throughout Libya.

Continue Reading

News

Botswana to Repatriate Elephants to Angola

Published

on

Botswana, the country with the largest number of elephants in the world, says it is sending thousands of the mammals back to neighbouring Angola to reduce overpopulation and conflict with farmers.

The southern African country has an estimated 130,000 elephants. However, tens of thousands are actually refugees from Angola’s civil war between 1975 and 2002. They are now expected to repopulate and recolonise their former habitat, in southeast Angola.

Botswana’s National Assembly opposition lawmaker, Kgoborego Nkawana, explains that elephants have a big home range that includes Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Angola.

“They have always stayed in those areas, but they had to move out of Angola because of the war. Part of the ranges in Angola have to be demined for them to move. I know Angola has been working with the United Nations to try and demine some of these areas,” he said.

“What you have to understand is that elephants do remember their past experiences and they will always try to avoid where there is danger…” he added.

Continue Reading

Trending