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Russia Confirms Readiness For Dialogue With Ukraine

President Putin noted that Moscow is in favour of resuming negotiations, but such talks must not be aimed at “imposing any schemes that have nothing to do with reality”, reports Asian Lite News

Russian President Vladimir Putin has confirmed his readiness for dialogue with Ukraine, and that an aborted 2022 peace deal could serve as the basis for resuming the negotiation, Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

In a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday, Putin noted that Moscow is in favour of resuming negotiations, but such talks must not be aimed at “imposing any schemes that have nothing to do with reality”.

Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in the Kremlin.

Peskov on Friday added that the “Istanbul agreements,” a draft peace pact reached in March 2022 between Russia and Ukraine, could serve as the basis for resuming talks, despite that there have been many changes since then, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said the Kremlin does not feel the Ukrainian side is ready for negotiations with Russia.

ALSO READ: Zelensky slams allies as Russia intensifies attacks

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Kristalina Georgieva To Serve As IMF Chief For Second Term

The IMF Board commended Georgieva’s “strong and agile leadership during her term, navigating a series of major global shocks.”

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Friday selected Kristalina Georgieva to serve as IMF Managing Director for a second five-year term starting on October 1, 2024.

The board’s decision was taken by consensus, according to a statement by the coordinators of the Executive Board, Afonso S. Bevilaqua and Abdullah F. BinZarah.

The decision was made nearly a week after the coordinators announced that Georgieva, the IMF’s current Managing Director, is the only candidate for the position, Xinhua news agency reported.

“In taking this decision, the Board commended Georgieva’s strong and agile leadership during her term, navigating a series of major global shocks,” the statement said.

Georgieva led the IMF’s unprecedented response to these shocks, including the approval of more than $360 billion in new financing since the start of the pandemic for 97 countries, debt service relief to the Fund’s poorest, most vulnerable members, and a historic Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation equivalent to $650 billion, the statement noted.

Under her leadership, the Fund introduced innovative new financing facilities, including the Resilience and Sustainability Facility and the Food Shock Window.

It also secured a 50 per cent quota increase to bolster the Fund’s permanent resources and agreed to add a third Sub-Saharan African chair to the IMF Board.

“Looking ahead, the Board welcomes Georgieva’s ongoing emphasis on issues of macroeconomic and financial stability, while also ensuring that the Fund continues to adapt and evolve to meet the needs of its entire membership,” the statement said.

Georgieva, a national of Bulgaria, has been the IMF’s Managing Director since October 1, 2019.

Before joining the Fund, Georgieva was Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank from January 2017 to September 2019, during which time she also served as interim President of the World Bank Group for three months.

She previously served at the European Commission as Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, and as Vice-President for Budget and Human Resources.

ALSO READ: ADB Ups India’s Growth Forecast

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UN panel considers Palestinian bid for full membership

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had initially submitted a UN membership application in 2011, though it wasn’t deliberated upon by the Security Council…reports Asian Lite News

The President of the United Nations Security Council, on Monday, forwarded an application by the Palestinian Authority seeking full membership of the UN to its membership committee for consideration. Vanessa Frazier, Malta’s Permanent Representative to the UN, disclosed that the 15-member committee is slated to deliberate on Palestine’s status and make a decision by the end of the month. Frazier emphasized the importance of adherence to the council’s procedural norms, highlighting that any council member can present a resolution for membership voting at any time.

The membership committee convened on Monday afternoon to initiate the evaluation process. Its task involves scrutinizing the application’s merits before determining whether to advance it to the Security Council for a vote. For approval, the application necessitates at least nine affirmative votes, devoid of any vetoes from the council’s five permanent members: the US, Russia, China, France, and the UK.

The urgency of granting full UN membership to the State of Palestine was underscored by the Arab group of nations at the UN, who articulated it as pivotal for advancing conflict resolution efforts in the region based on a two-state solution. Abdulaziz Al-Wasil, Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative to the UN and current President of the Arab Group, expressed hope for requisite support in this endeavor.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had initially submitted a UN membership application in 2011, though it wasn’t deliberated upon by the Security Council. However, the subsequent year, the General Assembly accorded the “State of Palestine” the status of a non-member observer state.

Despite the recent submission of a letter by the Palestinian Authority to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urging reconsideration of the membership application, current US legislation poses a significant hurdle. Granting full UN recognition to a Palestinian state would necessitate the cessation of funding to the UN and its agencies by the US, in compliance with existing laws.

The discourse surrounding Palestine’s UN membership evoked strong reactions, with Israel’s UN Ambassador, Gilad Erdan, vehemently opposing it, labeling it as rewarding criminal acts. This sentiment was echoed by Russia’s Permanent Representative, Vasily Nebenzia, who questioned the credibility of objections from parties rejecting the two-state solution. Meanwhile, Palestine’s Permanent Observer at the UN, Riyad Mansour, reiterated the imperative of recognition and membership for ending the occupation, emphasizing the need for global solidarity to achieve peace.

ALSO READ-Haiti reaches deal to form transitional council

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At 75, it’s time for NATO to grow up

The message at the 75th anniversary bash was that NATO can do no wrong, including in Ukraine, writes Prof. Madhav Das Nalapat

Fighting the last war while enmeshed in a new conflict has been accepted as a disaster, and yet that is what NATO geared itself to doing once the USSR was replaced by the Russian Federation and a collection of newly independent states by the close of 1991. The US did play a role in the downfall of the USSR, first by increasing its own defence spending to a level impossible for the much weaker Soviet economy to match.

Next, by dangling the carrots of insubstantial concessions before the Soviet leadership in the 1980s so as to get concessions, such as to dismantle the security grid maintaining the hold of the CPSU over a country whose people had tired of the Party. Public disillusionment was kept aflame by sustained infowar from the US, in particular about the benefits of the free i.e., capitalist way of life and economy. Cramped accommodation, lack of essentials (leave alone luxuries) in shops and queues everywhere convinced those under 40 in particular that their only hope was the downfall of the CPSU.

Public disillusion had begun in 1956, once CPSU General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev gave a secret speech against Stalin that soon became known to the public through the then-effective infowar system of the US. The speech was printed and disseminated in multiple languages across the world, including in India, where the memoir written by Khrushchev, titled “Khrushchev Remembers” by publishing houses, was sold at a throwaway price in several languages. The book was an indictment of Joseph Stalin, but what Khrushchev did not realise was that it was also an indictment of the Soviet leadership led by him. His account showed that they were cowards and opportunists who fawned on Stalin and joined in his misdeeds despite fearing and privately disliking him.

Fed until then on a diet that extolled the CPSU leadership, the Soviet people began to distrust and despise their leaders from that time, a mood that remained unchanged during the long tenure of Leonid Brezhnev, who presided over a bureaucratic, inflexible governance mechanism that systematically drove the Soviet economy to the ground. At the same time, Brezhnev was terrified of the Atlantic Alliance, believing the numerous fanciful (often planted) reports that the “warmongers and anti-communists” in key NATO member states were itching to attack the USSR. In fact, fear of such a conflict was even greater on the other side than was the case with the Soviets.

As a consequence, apart from battering Serbia on behalf of Bosnia, and detaching Kosovo from that state without any interference from a compliant Boris Yeltsin (who outdid Gorbachev in selling out the interests of the country he was in charge of), NATO did not enter into a single conflict in Europe until the alliance decided to knacker the Russian Federation through using Ukraine as a proxy. By 2014, this policy came into public view with the Maidan coup that installed a Russophobic government in Kiev. This move led President Putin into taking steps to prevent the newly hostile state from endangering Russian security in the manner that Ukraine and Belarus could do, where the land borders of the Russian Federation were concerned.

The Russian Federation had zero appetite for entering into a war with NATO. However, the alliance took for itself the credit for “keeping a hostile Russia at bay” in order to justify the vast sums that were being expended on an alliance that ought to have been replaced by a construct in tune with 21st century reality. Wars in Asia and in North Africa showed NATO to be an alliance that could not overcome the numerous asymmetric threats that had sprung up. In every Conflict of Choice that NATO in whole or in part entered into since 1999, the alliance in effect often won the battle but inevitably went on to lose the war.

In the process, NATO action has devastated countries such as Iraq, Libya and Syria, while in Afghanistan the Taliban emerged the victor in 2021 in a conflict that dated back to 2001. In the methods used by the alliance partners, no regard was paid to civilian life or to infrastructure in the target countries, which is why it is odd to witness countries within NATO scolding Israel for employing precisely the tactics that have become standard for NATO in countries belonging to the Global South. In Syria, more than a half-million were killed by the civil war that was ignited in 2011 by efforts at regime change in Damascus.

In Iraq, the post-2003 toll of civilian dead in “collateral damage” was at least double the tally in Syria, almost all of it as a consequence of the mishandling of the post-Saddam situation by the Bush administration. Not to mention the tally of civilians dead in Afghanistan and Libya as a consequence of NATO intervention. Of course, sometimes it is the losers who write the history, and in the case of Cambodia for example, almost the entirety of the terrible toll on human lives in that country with its ancient civilization was attributed by western writers to the Khmer Rouge.

In the history of the 1970s Cambodian war as written by the US side, the blanketing of forests and villages with Agent Orange and bombs dropped by B-52 combat aircraft in Cambodia through Nixon’s decision to bomb that country and Laos to smithereens caused very little, if any, casualties. In their accounts, it was implied that practically all the deaths were because of Pol Pot.

Given the record of civilian fatalities caused by wars conducted by member states of NATO in the Global South, it sounds somewhat hypocritical for some players in NATO to be accusing Israel of doing in Gaza what NATO has repeatedly done in its wars in Asia and in North Africa. The message at the 75th anniversary bash was that NATO can do no wrong, including in Ukraine. President Zelenskyy plunged his country into hell because he believed NATO’s promise that it was going to ensure that Kiev was assisted sufficiently to push Russian forces back even from lands populated by citizens who loathed the Kiev regime and who considered themselves Russian.

Watching visuals of the 75th anniversary celebrations of an alliance that has never won an actual war except against Serbia, it is difficult to believe that such a level of self-delusion exists within the alliance. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg claimed that with the help of the alliance, Ukraine “had won back half of the land it had lost since 2014”. In reality, the country has witnessed half of its entire territory getting converted into something approaching a wasteland.

Whether serving or retired, those in uniform serving in NATO appear to be locked into a time warp, where they are still fighting a Cold War that died together with the USSR in the closing days of 1991. Given the number of “experts” who believe—and act—as though it were Russia that was Enemy Number One rather than China, the fear amongst those in the Global South opposed to CCP expansionism is whether NATO with its Eurocentric, Russophobic outlook will help or be indifferent to their efforts at ensuring that such expansionism gets countered through a global concert of nations.

ALSO READ: Foreign ministers mark 75 years of NATO

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WHO lauds SE Asia in advancing right to health

WHO South-East Asia Director highlights region’s strides in promoting ‘My Health, My Right’ theme for World Health Day….reports Asian Lite News

Echoing with the sentiments of this year’s World Health Day’s theme – “My Health, My Right” – Regional Director of WHO South-East Asia Region, Saima Wazed, on Saturday, said that South-East Asia Region has made “notable progress” in advancing right to health.

“Our South-East Asia Region has made notable progress in advancing this right to health.

From enhancements in healthcare coverage to declines in maternal and child mortality rates, there are achievements to be celebrated,” Wazed said on the eve of World Health Organisation’s founding anniversary.

She also highlighted pressing issues in the region’s healthcare landscape, saying that there is not enough health service coverage and that the government’s expenditure to improve the services is also too low.

Addressing the dire situation where nearly 40 per cent of the population lacks essential health services coverage, the director underscored the urgency for increased government expenditure and improved access to quality healthcare.

Despite strides in healthcare coverage and reductions in maternal and child mortality rates, financial barriers persist, exacerbating the plight of vulnerable groups. The director emphasised the rise in “out-of-pocket expenses” due to inadequate government funding, hindering access to basic healthcare services.

“Challenges remain. Nearly 40 per cent of our regions population still lacks essential health services coverage. Current government expenditure remains unacceptably low, leading to high expenses for many,” said Wazed on the eve of World Health Organisation’s founding anniversary.

According to Wazed, under the theme ‘My Health, My Right,’ this year’s World Health Day serves as a poignant reminder of the fundamental human right to quality health services, education, and information.

“This year’s theme was chosen to champion the right of everyone everywhere to have access to quality health services, education and information. It tells us of the right to safe drinking water, clean air and good nutrition. It reminds us that quality housing, decent working and environmental conditions, and freedom from discrimination should be enjoyed by everyone,” she also said.

In light of these challenges, the director articulated a vision for Southeast Asia, characterised by “holistic approach to health and well being and are physically and mentally empowered to achieve their full potential”.

Emphasising health as a basic human right, the WHO Regional Director said, “We want a region where this right is enjoyed by everyone starting from before birth, including the most vulnerable, and covering every community.”

However, amidst commendable progress, disparities persist, with gender disparities in non-communicable disease diagnosis and treatment, and the prevalence of poor-quality care impacting health outcomes.

“From enhancements in health coverage to declines in maternal and child mortality rates, there are achievements to be celebrated. Financial hardships in accessing basic health care are unfortunately on the rise. Vulnerable groups encounter disproportionate obstacles in accessing health care. Gender disparities persist in the diagnosis and treatment of non communicable diseases,” she also said in a video message.

“Poor quality care takes a heavier toll on health outcomes than mere lack of access to care. However, amidst these challenges, we remain steadfast in our commitment to a rights based approach to health, we must ensure equality, participation, and accountability in healthcare decision making processes,” she added.

The director also urged governments to prioritise health investments and strengthen healthcare systems, while emphasising the obligation of duty bearers, including governments and the WHO, to uphold the right to health for all individuals.

“Let us renew our resolve to make the right to health a reality for all. Let us set course towards a future where health is not a privilege, but a promise–a promise to safeguard the dignity and well being of everyone everywhere,” she concluded.

WHO’s Constitution came into force on April 7, 1948, a date now celebrated every year as World Health Day. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Afghanistan seeks resolution on migrants

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Zelensky warns of dwindling air defense missiles

The Ukrainian leader’s starkest warning to date of the deteriorating situation faced by his country’s air defenses follows weeks of Russian strikes…reports Asian Lite News

Ukraine could run out of air defense missiles if Russia keeps up its intense long-range bombing campaign, President Volodymyr Zelensky warned in remarks aired on Saturday.

The Ukrainian leader’s starkest warning to date of the deteriorating situation faced by his country’s air defenses follows weeks of Russian strikes on the energy system, towns and cities using a broad arsenal of missiles and drones.

“If they keep hitting (Ukraine) every day the way they have for the last month, we might run out of missiles, and the partners know it,” he said in an interview that aired on Ukrainian television.

Zelensky, who has been appealing to allies for weeks to rush in more air defenses, said that Ukraine had enough stockpiles to cope for the moment, but that it was already having to make difficult choices about what to protect.

He singled out in particular the need for Patriot air defense systems and said Ukraine needed 25 of them. The sophisticated US air defense system has been vital during Russian attacks with ballistic and hypersonic missiles which can hit targets within a matter of minutes.

His remarks followed a fresh spate of attacks that Ukrainian officials said killed civilians.

Two Russian missile and drone strikes, one in the early hours of Saturday and a second in the afternoon, killed eight people and wounded at least 10 more people in northeastern Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city.

In the eastern region of Donetsk, artillery shelling killed four people in the village of Kurakhivka including a 38-year-old woman and her 16-year-old daughter, and a 25-year-old man in the village of Krasnohorivka was killed, while in Odesa in the south, a missile strike killed one civilian.

Ukraine’s largest private power company DTEK says the strikes had hit 80 percent of its generating capacity and the grid has introduced rolling blackouts to stabilize the system.

The battlefield momentum has moved against Ukraine in recent months as Kyiv grappled with a slowdown in military assistance from the West and in particular from the United States.

“The situation is difficult, but nevertheless stabilized. The enemy does not advance: when it takes steps forward, ours repel (them), and it retreats. On the contrary, our guys are taking some steps forward,” he said.

Zelensky said he still believed that a major aid package would be approved by Congress where it has been stuck in deliberations since late last year facing determined Republican opposition.

“I still believe that we can get a positive vote in the United States Congress,” he said.

Asked by the interviewer about the possibility of Ukraine receiving the package in the form of a loan, he said: “We will agree to any options.”

He added that some artillery shells were being supplied to Ukraine under foreign initiatives that he did not name and that they were being used for defensive operations.

“We don’t have shells for counteroffensive actions, as for the defense — there are several initiatives, and we’re receiving weapons,” he said.

The interview was recorded next to a military fortification in northeastern Chernihiv region, which borders Russia.

It was not clear exactly which day the interview was recorded, but Zelensky met with a bipartisan group of members of Congress in the region on Friday.

ALSO READ: France denies Russian claim of discussion on Ukraine

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‘Don’t need UN to lecture us on fair polls’

Jaishankar’s comments came in response to a query regarding a spokesperson for UN Secretary General statement that they “hope” that in India, people’s “political and civil rights” were protected…reports Asian Lite News

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Thursday dismissed a senior UN official’s recent remark on elections in India, saying that he does not need the global body to tell that the elections in the country should be “free and fair”.

His comments came in response to a query regarding a spokesperson for UN Secretary General statement that they “hope” that in India, people’s “political and civil rights” were protected and everyone is able to vote in a “free and fair” atmosphere.

Jaishankar, who was in Thiruvananthapuram to campaign for his ministerial colleague and BJP candidate Rajeev Chandrasekhar in the Lok Sabha polls, also said that the UN official made the comment on the Indian elections last week in response to a “very loaded question” during a press briefing at the UN.

“I don’t need the United Nations to tell me our elections should be free & fair. I have the people of India. The people of India will ensure that elections are free & fair. So, don’t worry about it,” the minister told reporters during an interaction here.

Last week, spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric was asked about the “political unrest” in India ahead of the upcoming national elections in the wake of the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and the freezing of the opposition Congress Party’s bank accounts.

“What we very much hope that in India, as in any country that is having elections, that everyone’s rights are protected, including political and civil rights, and everyone is able to vote in an atmosphere that is free and fair,” Dujarric had said.

Earlier, Mathew Miller, the US department of state spokesperson, was put on the spot during a press briefing on Wednesday when a journalist questioned him on the country taking a stand on the arrest of Indian opposition leader Arvind Kejriwal but not doing the same on arrests of Pakistani opposition leaders.

At a press briefing, the journalist said the US department of state issued daily statements on the arrest of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and the freezing of assets of the Congress party. He questioned why the US has such a strong stance for Indian opposition, but maintained its silence on the political prisoners in Pakistan.

Mathew Miller refused to categorise both cases into one and said that the US wanted to see everyone in Pakistan treated with consistent rule of law and human rights.

Miller said, “I would not agree with that characterisation. We have made clear on a number of occasions that we want to see everyone in Pakistan treated consistent with the rule of law, treated with respect for human rights, as is our position with respect to any country in the world.”

Arvind Kejriwal was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on March 21 in connection with the Delhi excise policy case. He is currently lodged in Tihar Jail, his judicial custody is expected to end on April 15.

On Tuesday, responding to the US, Germany and the UN remarks over Indian politics, after Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest, external affairs minister S Jaishankar used the word “Maryada”, saying that “we are sovereign countries and should not be interfering in each other’s internal affairs”.

“These are old habits. These are bad habits…The word I use is ‘Maryada’ among countries, we are sovereign countries. We should not be interfering in each other’s internal affairs. We should not be passing comments about each other’s politics,” Jaishankar said at a press conference.

Stating that other countries don’t hold a right to comment on India’s politics, the external affairs minister said, “Because once, if this becomes a rule, where do you stop? So we have been, in the cases where it has happened, we have told the diplomats of that country very clearly that we take very strong objection to it.”

New Delhi had earlier lodged a strong protest against Washington’s “closely monitoring” remark on the arrest of Kejriwal.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had summoned the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission Gloria Berbena to its office in South Block in Delhi. The meeting lasted for more than 30 minutes.

The MEA later in a statement said, “We take strong objection to the remarks of the Spokesperson of the US State Department about certain legal proceedings in India.”

“In diplomacy, states are expected to be respectful of the sovereignty and internal affairs of others. This responsibility is even more so in the case of fellow democracies. It could otherwise end up setting unhealthy precedents,” the statement said.

India’s legal processes are based on “an independent judiciary which is committed to objective and timely outcomes,” the MEA said while underlining that “casting aspersions on that was unwarranted”.

India on Saturday (March 23) summoned the German deputy chief of mission in Delhi and lodged a strong protest against that country’s foreign ministry’s remarks on the arrest of Kejriwal.

The Enforcement Directorate has arrested Kejriwal in a money laundering case linked to the now scrapped liquor policy case.

ALSO READ- UAE partners with UN Climate Security Mechanism

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DP World contributes AED10 million to Mothers’ Endowment

This contribution by DP World Foundation is part of a community wide response to the campaign by individuals, businesses and institutions…reports Asian Lite News

DP World’s charity and humanitarian arm, the DP World Foundation, has joined a growing list of contributors to the Mothers’ Endowment campaign, launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to honour mothers by establishing a AED 1 billion endowment fund that supports the education of millions around the world. DP World Foundation announced a contribution of AED 10 million to the campaign.

This contribution by DP World Foundation is part of a community wide response to the campaign by individuals, businesses and institutions, racing to support its aims of honouring mothers by enabling contributions to be made in their name, and highlighting their role in nurturing families and supporting the education of their children.

The campaign, launched under the umbrella of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, aims to support underprivileged individuals through education, which offers them a chance to improve their lives in a sustainable way and prepares them for the job market. The campaign also promotes the values of honouring parents, kindness, compassion and solidarity.

Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, Chairman and CEO of DP World, expressed the profound significance of the Mothers’ Endowment campaign launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. “The campaign aligns with the vision of our wise leadership, fostering community engagement from individuals to institutions in charitable endeavours, thus ensuring their enduring impact on disadvantaged communities. These initiatives pave the way for a future marked by stability and sustainable development”, he said.

“We are deeply honoured to participate in a campaign celebrating the invaluable role of mothers and champions global education. Our contribution underscores our steadfast dedication to social responsibility and bolstering the UAE’s pivotal humanitarian efforts around the world,” bin Sulayem.

Aiming to revive the culture of endowment as a development tool, the Mothers’ Endowment campaign focuses on empowering underprivileged individuals and communities through education, thus contributing to the global effort towards realizing the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Mothers’ Endowment campaign continues to welcome donations and contributions to the endowment fund from institutions and individuals across six main channels including the campaign’s website (Mothersfund.ae), as well as a dedicated call center via the toll-free number (800 9999). Donations are also possible via bank transfers in the UAE dirham to the campaign bank account number with Emirates Islamic Bank (AE790340003708472909201). Donations via SMS are possible by sending the word “Mother” to the following numbers (1034, 1035, 1036, 1038) for Etisalat by e& users. Other possible platforms for donating to the campaign are the DubaiNow app by clicking the “Donations” tab, and Dubai’s community contributions platform Jood. (ANI/WAM)

ALSO READ: Labour losing members over Gaza stance

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WHO chief says 9,000 Gaza patients in need of urgent evacuation

The WHO chief said more than 3,400 people have already been evacuated, and many more were awaiting Israeli approval to leave…reports Asian Lite News

Amid the continuing Israeli onslaught on Gaza in retaliation to the Hamas terror attacks on October 7, last year, and fears of a new front opening up in Rafah amid the ongoing war, World Health Organisation Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Saturday said approximately 9,000 patients trapped in the Strip were in urgent need of evacuation abroad, CNN reported.

With healthcare infrastructure ‘all but collapsed’ in Gaza, thousands need treatment for cancer and kidney dialysis, as well as for injuries sustained during the conflict, Tedros posted on X.

The WHO chief said more than 3,400 people have already been evacuated, and many more were awaiting Israeli approval to leave, according to CNN.

“We urge Israel to speed up approvals for evacuations, so that critical patients can be treated,” Tedros said, adding, “Every moment matters.”

According to CNN, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated on Friday that Gaza’s partially functional hospitals can only provide ‘limited services’ and are overwhelmed with patients. They are also facing “critical shortages of fuel, medicines, medical supplies, and health personnel.”

According to the UN, more than 400 attacks on healthcare infrastructure in the Gaza Strip had been documented by the WHO as of March 12, affecting some 100 ambulances and nearly 100 health facilities.

Israel has repeatedly blamed Hamas for hiding behind civilians in Gaza’s hospitals and other medical facilities, accusations the militant group denies.

Meanwhile, nearly 400 tonnes of food aid are expected to arrive in Gaza by ship in the coming days, according to the non-governmental organisation arranging the deliveries, CNN reported.

Juan Camilo, a community outreach manager with World Central Kitchen, stated that the aid would be distributed to residents in the northern part of the Strip.

He mentioned that The Open Arms, a rescue vessel that recently delivered aid to Gaza, was towing a barge, while another cargo vessel, ‘Jennifer’, was also transporting aid.

World Central Kitchen mentioned that the vessels are equipped with machinery to expedite the off-loading process. Additionally, they noted that the aid includes dates provided by the United Arab Emirates for Palestinians observing Ramadan.

Earlier this month, World Central Kitchen said almost 200 tons of aid were delivered by ship in an operation conducted with the Emirati government and Open Arms, with support from Cyprus.

Truce talks between Israel and Hamas to resume

Truce talks between Israel and Hamas will resume on Sunday in Cairo, the latest attempt to bring about a pause after nearly six months of war in the Gaza Strip, Egypt’s Al Qahera News TV reported on Saturday, citing a security source.

An Israeli official told Reuters that Israel will send a delegation to Cairo on Sunday. A Hamas official however told Reuters the group would wait to hear from Cairo mediators on the outcome of their talks with Israel first.

The warring sides have stepped up negotiations, mediated by Qatar and Egypt, on a six-week suspension of Israel’s offensive in return for the proposed release of 40 of the 130 hostages still held by the Palestinian militant group in Gaza.

Hamas has sought to parlay any deal into an end to the fighting and withdrawal of Israeli forces. Israel has ruled this out, saying it would eventually resume efforts to dismantle the governance and military capabilities of Hamas.

Hamas also wants hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who fled Gaza City and surrounding areas southward during the first stage of the war to be allowed back north. One Israeli official said his country was open to discussing allowing back only “some” of the displaced.

More than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, according to health authorities in the territory.

The war erupted after Hamas militants broke through the border and rampaged through communities in southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and abducting 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel kept up its aerial and ground bombardment of the Gaza Strip on Friday, killing 82 Palestinians in the past 24 hours, the territory’s health ministry said as fighting raged around Gaza City’s main Al Shifa hospital.

The ministry added that Israeli forces in control of the hospital had blockaded 107 patients in the human resources department without water, electricity, or medication for several days, refusing all calls to evacuate them.

Armed wings of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad said their fighters continued to battle Israeli forces around the medical facility, the Gaza Strip’s biggest hospital before the war, which had been one of the few health care facilities even partially operational in north Gaza before the latest fighting.

The Israeli military said forces operating in Al Shifa killed three armed Hamas commanders inside two buildings of the medical facility. Forces located sniper rifles, AK-47s, magazines, and grenades during the activity, the military said.

Israel said it killed and detained hundreds of Hamas and Islamic Jihad gunmen at Al Shifa during its raid there. Hamas and medical staffers deny any armed presence inside medical facilities, accusing Israel of killing and arresting civilians.

ALSO READ: Labour losing members over Gaza stance

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Kremlin reveals Putin’s inner turmoil post-Moscow terror attack

Law enforcement has apprehended all four assailants, with suspicions of assistance from five others, as per investigators….reports Asian Lite News

Russian President Vladimir Putin puts up a tough exterior, but he’s deeply disturbed by recent events in the nation, including the deadly terrorist attack on Crocus City Hall, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov disclosed to VGTRK, TASS reported.

“The head of state takes these tragedies to heart. And believe me, just because you don’t see tears on his face does not mean that he is not hurt. And I doubt if anyone, including you and me, knows about his inner turmoil,” the Russian presidential spokesman said.

On the fateful evening of March 22, terrorists struck the music venue in Krasnogorsk, Moscow Region, just beyond the city’s borders. The latest figures report 144 fatalities.

Law enforcement has apprehended all four assailants, with suspicions of assistance from five others, as per investigators. The Russian Investigative Committee asserted that the attackers have ties to Ukrainian nationalists.

Furthermore, the Russian Emergencies Ministry’s department in the Moscow Region has updated the count of those injured in the terrorist onslaught on Crocus City Hall to 551.

“At the time of 6:00 a.m. Moscow time on March 30, 2024, the toll from the terrorist attack stood at 695 casualties, with 144 fatalities, including five children,” the ministry disclosed in an official statement.

Health officials informed TASS that the majority of those injured in the attack have been receiving outpatient care.

Last Sunday, Russia declared its first nationwide mourning since 2018.

A solemn minute of silence was observed in memory of the victims of the Crocus City Hall attack before the commencement of a charity concert near the makeshift memorial erected at the scene of the attack.

Candles, arranged to resemble cranes, adorned the stage; many attendees held candles in their hands. During the minute of silence, footage depicting cranes soaring into the sky was projected onto the facade of Crocus City Hall, followed by images of those who lost their lives in the tragedy.

The minute of silence commenced at 19:52 Moscow time, approximately the time when the tragic events unfolded on March 22. Following the poignant tribute, a musical ensemble led by director Valery Gergiyev took the stage. Several survivors also joined the performance, sharing their harrowing experiences of surviving the attack.

Throughout the day, people continued to bring flowers in honour of the victims. Security measures were heightened, with the crowd being divided into multiple streams, and metal detectors were installed to ensure safety, TASS reported. (ANI)

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