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Argentine rear admiral appointed head of UN Kashmir observer group

His wide experience also includes stints as Argentina’s military attache in Russia, Marines Infantry commander and Education Department Chief of the Navy Warfare School…reports Asian Lite News

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed Argentine Rear Admiral Guillermo Pablo Rios as the head of the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) which is charged with monitoring the shaky ceasefire in Kashmir.

The UN announced on Wednesday that Rios will take over from Major General Jose Eladio Alcain of Uruguay the leadership of the 111-member operation based in both the South Asian countries.

Rios was the Argentine Joint Staff’s General Director of Education, Training and Doctrine.

He has served in two peacekeeping operations, UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) and the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in the Middle East, and supervised UN demining operations in Angola.

His wide experience also includes stints as Argentina’s military attache in Russia, Marines Infantry commander and Education Department Chief of the Navy Warfare School.

The UNMOGIP began operations in 1949 to monitor the ceasefire in Kashmir following a Security Council resolution the previous year.

While India allows UNMOGIP to operate in the country in accordance with the Security Council mandate, it maintains that the operation is redundant because under the Shimla Agreement of 1972 between late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Pakistan’s then-President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto the Kashmir dispute is a bilateral issue with no role for third parties.

In 2014, India ordered the UNMOGIP out of the government building it was lent and it moved to a commercially leased facility.

The 111 personnel under Rios’s command include 43 military experts from ten countries and 68 civilians.

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-Top News China

India takes a dig at China in UN

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj on Tuesday said the practice of placing holds and blocks on listing requests without giving any justification must end…reports Asian Lite News

Taking a dig at China, India has told a UN Security Council meeting chaired by Beijing that it was “most regrettable” that genuine and evidence-based proposals to blacklist some of the world’s most notorious terrorists are being placed on hold, saying such “double standards” are rendering credibility of the Council’s sanctions regime at an “all-time low”.

In June, China, a permanent member of the UN and a close ally of Pakistan, had put a hold, at the last moment, on a joint proposal by India and the US to list Pakistan-based terrorist Abdul Rehman Makki under the 1267 Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj on Tuesday said the practice of placing holds and blocks on listing requests without giving any justification must end.

“An effective functioning of the Sanctions Committees requires them to become more transparent, accountable and objective. The practice of placing holds and blocks on listing requests without giving any justification must end,” she said.

Speaking at the UN Security Council meeting on ‘Threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts’ chaired by permanent-member and Council President for the month of China, Ms Kamboj said, “It is most regrettable that genuine and evidence-based listing proposals pertaining to some of the most notorious terrorists in the world are being placed on hold.”

“Double standards and continuing politicisation have rendered the credibility of the Sanctions Regime at an all-time low. We do hope that all members of the UNSC can pronounce together in one voice, sooner than later, when it comes to this collective fight against international terrorism,” she said.

Abdul Rehman Makki is a US-designated terrorist and brother-in-law of Lashkar-e-Taiba head and 26/11 Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

It was learnt that New Delhi and Washington had put a joint proposal to designate Abdul Rehman Makki as a global terrorist under the 1267 ISIS and Al Qaeda Sanctions Committee of the UN Security Council but Beijing placed a hold on this proposal at the last minute.

Earlier also, China, an all-weather friend of Islamabad, had placed holds and blocks on bids by India and its allies to list Pakistan-based terrorists.

In May 2019, India had won a huge diplomatic win at the UN when the global body designated Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a “global terrorist”, a decade after New Delhi had first approached the world body on the issue.

A veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, China was the sole hold-out in the 15-nation body on the bid to blacklist Masood Azhar, blocking attempts by placing a “technical hold”. All decisions of the committee are taken through consensus.

Stalemate in India-China talks

While India pushed for a comprehensive disengagement, China’s refusal to discuss Demchok and Depsang had stalled all further progress in talks

The stalemate in the talks between India and China to end the standoff in Eastern Ladakh continues with no breakthrough in the 16th round of Corps Commander talks held last month.

In the interim, the two sides agreed to maintain the “security and stability” on the ground in the Western Sector along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), a joint statement issued had said.

“The two sides agreed to stay in close contact and maintain dialogue through military and diplomatic channels and work out a mutually acceptable resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest,” the statement said. The talks were held at Chushul-Moldo border meeting point on the Indian side and lasted for over 12 hours.

Building on the progress made at the last meeting on March 11, 2022, the two sides continued discussions for the resolution of the relevant issues along the LAC in the Western Sector in a “constructive and forward looking manner.”

Stating that they had a frank and in-depth exchange of views in this regard, in keeping with the guidance provided by the State leaders to work for the resolution of the remaining issues at the earliest, the statement added: “The two sides reaffirmed that the resolution of remaining issues would help in restoration of peace and tranquility along the LAC in the Western Sector and enable progress in bilateral relations.”

While an agreement for disengagement from Patrolling Point-15 was close by in the last few rounds of talks, China’s refusal to discuss other friction areas, Demchok and Depsang, maintaining that they are not part of the current stand-off, has stalled any progress. India has been insisting on comprehensive disengagement and de-escalation to end the ongoing standoff in eastern Ladakh.

Since the stand-off began in May 2020, the two sides have so far held 15 rounds of senior military commander talks with disengagement undertaken from both sides of Pangong Tso in February 2021, and from PP 17 in the Gogra-Hot Springs area in August, in addition to Galwan in 2020 after the violent clash. The 15th round of Corps Commander talks took place on March 11, 2022.

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Africa News

Ethiopia’s plan to fill reservoir opposed by Egypt at UN

It is the affirmation of Egypt’s legitimate rights to defend its national interests, he said, adding: “I see that the tone has become more powerful than before.”…reports Asian Lite News

Egypt said it had protested to the UN Security Council on Friday against Ethiopian plans to fill the reservoir of a controversial Nile dam for a third year without agreement from downstream countries.

The multibillion-dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile is set to be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa but has been at the center of a dispute with Egypt and Sudan ever since work began in 2011.

Egypt “received a message from the Ethiopian side on July 26, stating that Ethiopia would continue filling the reservoir of the Renaissance Dam during the current flood season,” a Foreign Ministry statement said.

In response, Egypt wrote to the UN Security Council “to register its objection and complete rejection of Ethiopia’s continuation of filling the Renaissance Dam unilaterally without a deal.”

Mohamed Nasr Allam, Egypt’s former irrigation minister, told Arab News that the Egyptian move is a step on the right path. “We have moved from complaining to demanding that the UN Security Council play an active role in this case.”

It is the affirmation of Egypt’s legitimate rights to defend its national interests, he said, adding: “I see that the tone has become more powerful than before.”

Mohamed Mahmoud Mahran, a specialist in international river disputes and a member of the American Society of International Law, said if the UNSC sees a threat to international peace and security in connection with a conflict, it must intervene immediately to maintain security.

“The Renaissance Dam threatens the lives of over 150 million Sudanese and Egyptian citizens. If no agreement is reached and Ethiopia acts unilaterally, and if the UNSC doesn’t intervene, it could lead to unprecedented scenarios and spark a regional war.”

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UN commemorates Mandela

The best way to honour Mandela’s legacy is by taking action, the UN chief added…reports Asian Lite News

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described Nelson Mandela as a “moral compass,” calling for honouring the former South African President’s legacy by taking action.

“Nelson Mandela was a healer of communities and a mentor to generations,” Guterres said on Monday in his message to mark the Nelson Mandela International Day, which was observed on Monday.

“He remains a moral compass and reference to us all,” the UN chief said, adding that Mandela showed that “each and every one of us has the ability and responsibility to build a better future for all.”

“Our world today is marred by war; overwhelmed by emergencies; blighted by racism, discrimination, poverty, and inequalities; and threatened by climate disaster. Let us find hope in Nelson Mandela’s example and inspiration in his vision,” Guterres said.

The best way to honour Mandela’s legacy is by taking action, the UN chief added.

“By speaking out against hate and standing up for human rights. By embracing our common humanity — rich in diversity, equal in dignity, united in solidarity. And by together making our world more just, compassionate, prosperous, and sustainable for all,” he said.

Under the theme of taking action and inspiring change, the Nelson Mandela International Day was celebrated through an informal meeting of the General Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

At the special event, UN officials, representatives of member states, among others, delivered remarks in memory of Nelson Mandela, stressing the relevance of his legacy to the present time.

In his remark, Abdulla Shahid, President of the UN General Assembly, underscored that Mandela’s fight against apartheid was in fact a fight for a better world, in which the freedom, justice and dignity of all were respected.

Citing multiple challenges, including conflict, global pandemic and global food security crisis at the very moment, he said that it’s not the time for despair.

“No matter the challenges and obstacles, we must persevere with conviction, with determination, and with hope,” Shahid said, adding that this is what Mandela would have wanted and fought for.

Delivering the keynote address, Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, said the life and legacy of Mandela must be celebrated every day, particularly as younger generations may not be familiar with his leadership.

“Let’s talk with our children about what he stood for. Let’s seek out what we have in common, empower all people to reclaim our democracies, and harness the light of Mandela’s memory to illuminate the way forward,” he said.

Prince Harry attended the ceremony alongside his wife, Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex. 

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared on July 18, Mandela’s birthday, as Nelson Mandela International Day in recognition of the former South African President’s contributions to peace and freedom.

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-Top News Africa News

UN Lauds Burkina Faso

Why One African Country – Burkina Faso- Opted for Full Disclosure on Debt. As borrowing needs increased, the national debt management office started turning more to the domestic and regional capital markets, which come at higher costs and shorter maturity…reports Asian Lite News

For the past three years, the World Bank has been monitoring how transparent IDA countries are in their debt reporting practices through Among the 74 IDA (International Development Association) countries, one stands out by meeting the “full disclosure” rating for every single one of the nine categories on the debt transparency Heat Map: Burkina Faso.

This performance is even more remarkable considering that the country has been classified as fragile and conflict-affected (since late 2020) and has been fiscally squeezed by both the COVID-19 crisis and internal population displacement (almost 2 million since 2020).

Since 2015, Burkina Faso has been the target of terrorist attacks that resulted in population displacements and ever-increasing security costs. Between 2015 and 2020, the government’s gross financing needs tripled, followed by an increase in borrowing to close the gap. Until 2015, Burkina Faso’s debt portfolio mainly consisted of concessional financing from bilateral creditors and multilateral development institutions. However, as borrowing needs increased, the national debt management office started turning more to the domestic and regional capital markets, which come at higher costs and shorter maturity.

 “In a context of growing financing needs to meet development challenges and dwindling concessional resources, we had to explore other sources of financing, which were more available but more complex,” said Serge Toe, Head of the Public Debt Office in Burkina Faso’s Ministry of Finance.

Burkina Faso closed the gap in coverage and timeliness of disclosed information, meeting the “full disclosure” criteria in every single category

To expand its investors base to improve borrowing conditions, the debt management office started looking for ways to reduce information asymmetry between the country and its creditors. Global studies indicate that debt transparency directly contributes to higher credit ratings, lower borrowing costs, and foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows. Hence, the debt management office took the strategic stance to focus on debt transparency efforts and took several actions to improve public debt reporting and disclosure. 

The road ahead was challenging, as many steps needed to be taken. Although Burkina Faso was sporadically publishing a Statistical Debt Bulletin and an Annual Borrowing Plan, they were neither complete nor timely. For example, the Bulletin was missing critical information on some loans—including creditor category or loan amount. There were no statistics on fiscal risks related to the government’s contingent liabilities, such as guaranteed debt or the debt of state-owned enterprises. In addition, the Bulletin was not produced systematically and made available with a significant delay. 

To address these challenges, Burkina Faso decided to partner with the Debt Management Facility (DMF) with the objective of improving debt transparency under a broader World Bank Development Policy Operation. Over four months, from December 2020 to March 2021, the DMF helped Burkina Faso build the debt management office’s capacity for debt reporting. “The DMF experts virtually trained officers of the debt office, analyzed collegially with them data captured in the debt recording systems, and made recommendations for enhanced debt reporting,” said Daniel Pajank, Senior Economist for Burkina Faso at the World Bank.

The first part of the work focused on improving the quality of the debt database. The second focused on improving the quality of the quarterly Statistical Debt Bulletin. The WB-Government team jointly designed a roadmap of reforms for 2021, with step-by-step instructions to publish Bulletins in line with international sound practices.

In March 2021, Burkina Faso published its first comprehensive Statistical Debt Bulletin. The new Bulletin includes information about loan guarantees related to public enterprises and public-private partnership contracts. It includes loan information with detailed data on terms and conditions. The Bulletin was also published on time, allowing the dissemination of information within three months from the data cut-off date.

The efforts to improve debt transparency and full disclosure of public debt are showing the first positive signs. Over the past two years, the country’s borrowing costs have gradually decreased for all debt instruments. The debt management office was also able to extend the maturity of bonds from five to ten years to mitigate liquidity risks and continued to produce high-quality Statistical Debt Bulletins on time. As of June 2022, Burkina Faso’s access to the regional capital markets remains strong, and its funding costs, particularly for shorter-term borrowing, are among the lowest in the region.

The World Bank’s Debt Reporting Heat Map shows that Burkina Faso closed the gap in coverage and timeliness of disclosed information, meeting the “full disclosure” criteria in every single category.

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-Top News Afghanistan Asia News

UN wants Afghan schools to open ‘in practice’

Alakbarov also said that the Afghan humanitarian crisis will never end unless steps are taken to create a sustainable situation in the country…reports Asian Lite News

Ramiz Alakbarov, officer-in-charge of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), said that he wants to see the promises of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate regime over schooling implemented “in practice”.

Speaking to TOLO News, Alakbarov said: “All the time I am hearing is while I am having this dialogue. What they (Taliban) are telling us is that in 12 provinces the schools are opened and other provinces will be reopened soon. There is some technicalities, there is no policy against it.

“I keep hearing that education for all is something that they are offering to stand for. I want to see this in practice because I want to see girls back to school.”

Alakbarov also said that the Afghan humanitarian crisis will never end unless steps are taken to create a sustainable situation in the country.

“Honestly, as I look at the situation in Afghanistan, this humanitarian crisis will never be over unless we start creating a more sustainable situation for people to go back to work, earn money and start addressing the problems,” he told TOLO News.

Schools for girls beyond class 6 have remained closed since the Taliban took control of the country last August.

Growing protests

A group of women activists under the name of ‘Kabul School of Critics’ staged a protest demanding the Taliban to reopen schools for women without further delay, local media reported.

The women protestors said that instead of addressing the status of the people who are in dire need of food, the Taliban is engaged in issuing warnings, killing people and taking revenge.

A member of KSC, Ramzia Saeedi said, “Afghan women and girls have been deprived of their basic rights in different periods,” adding that the closure of girls’ schools above the sixth grade and the exclusion of women from society show that their rights have been dealt with politically.

She stressed that the Taliban must not use the education of girls as a political abuse, an Afghanistani radio publication Salam Watandar reported.

“The continuation of this situation will put female students in a dark future and harm the development of society,” said another protestor Aaey Noor.

She asked the Taliban to provide a convincing reason to restrict women’s rights in the state, including education and said that it should reopen schools for girls immediately if it fails to give a valid reason.

In Herat city, a group of girl artists has started a campaign against the Taliban’s restrictions on women.

Demanding the Taliban government to ease the restriction on women, they said that they will not allow the voices of women and girls to be silenced.

These artists depict the capabilities and challenges of women and girls in their paintings.

A local media reported that an Afghan women social worker, Huda Khamosh, who is in exile in Norway said that the Taliban remain an illegitimate ruler.

“The statements of loyalty to the Taliban are not acceptable at any gathering without the presence of women. Despite thousands of Ulema announcing their support for their hardline government, the Taliban remain an illegitimate ruler,” she said.

“After a three-day meeting, the Ulema pledged allegiance to the Taliban and its prominent leader. The meeting failed to address thorny issues such as the right of teenage girls to attend school,” she added.

This comes after the Taliban debarred women from attending the first-ever ‘Loya Jirga’ or grand assembly of religious scholars and elders. (IANS/ANI)

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-Top News USA World News

UN human rights chief blasts US abortion ruling

According to the UN, more than 50 countries with previously restrictive laws have liberalized their abortion legislation over the past 25 years…reports Asian Lite News

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has denounced the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade that established a constitutional right to abortion, saying that it was a huge blow to women’s human rights and gender equality.

“Access to safe, legal and effective abortion is firmly rooted in international human right law and is at the core of women and girls’ autonomy and ability to make their own choices about their bodies and lives, free of discrimination, violence and coercion,” Bachelet said in a statement late Friday night.

“This decision strips such autonomy from millions of women in the US, in particular those with low incomes and those belonging to racial and ethnic minorities, to the detriment of their fundamental rights,” she added.

According to the UN, more than 50 countries with previously restrictive laws have liberalized their abortion legislation over the past 25 years.

“With today’s ruling, the US is regrettably moving away from this progressive trend,” the UN rights chief stressed.

A group of UN human rights experts on Friday also issued a joint statement, describing the decision as a shocking and dangerous rollback of human rights that will jeopardize women’s health and lives.

“What has happened in the United States today is a monumental setback for the rule of law and for gender equality,” the experts, including members of the UN Working Group on discrimination against women and girls and a number of UN Special Rapporteurs, said in the joint statement.

“The intimidation and stigma that will be faced by pregnant women and girls in need of safe abortion services and abortion providers will create a nightmare scenario for those dealing with the uncertainty and trauma of an unplanned pregnancy,” they stated.

Friday’s ruling came after the Supreme Court had considered an appeal case involving a Mississippi law banning all abortions over 15 weeks gestational age except in certain circumstances.

With the ruling, more than two dozen states in the US, primarily in the south and midwest, are expected to tighten abortion access.

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-Top News India News Technology

Ex-Indian diplomat appointed UN chief’s Envoy on Technology

Amandeep Singh Gill was India’s permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, reports Arul Louis

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday appointed former Indian diplomat Amandeep Singh Gill as his envoy on technology to coordinate programmes for international digital cooperation.

Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric announced the appointment calling Gill a “thought leader on digital technology”.

In other high-level appointments from South Asia at the UN, Pakistani diplomat Navid Hanif was named the assistant secretary-general for economic development, while Bangladesh’s permanent representative to UN, Rabab Fatima, was appointed as the high representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).

Gill, who joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1992, has been India’s permanent representative to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.

He is now the chief executive officer of the International Digital Health and Artificial Intelligence Research Collaborative (I-DAIR) project at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

He has also served at the UN as the executive director and co-lead of the Secretary-General’s high-level panel on digital cooperation.

Dujarric said that Gill “helped secure high-impact international consensus recommendations on regulating artificial intelligence (Al) in lethal autonomous weapon systems in 2017 and 2018, the draft Al ethics recommendation of UNESCO in 2020, and a new international platform on digital health and Al”.

“He brings to the position a deep knowledge of digital technologies coupled with a solid understanding of how to leverage the digital transformation responsibly and inclusively for progress on the Sustainable Development Goals,” Dujarric added.

Gill, who graduated from the Panjab University in Chandigarh in BTech in electronics, has a doctorate in nuclear learning in multilateral forums from the King’s College in London.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

According to the UN, the envoy on technology “coordinates the implementation of the Secretary-General’s roadmap on digital cooperation and will advance work towards the global digital compact proposed in the common agenda, in close consultation with the member states, technology industry, private companies, civil society, and other stakeholders”.

Hanif, who has served at Pakistan’s UN mission, is a veteran official of the UN. He is now the director of the Financing for Sustainable Development Office.

He has worked as the director of the Office of ECOSOC Support and Coordination and as the head of the Strategic Planning Unit and did a stint in the executive office of the Secretary-General as a member of the team for the 2005 World Summit.

He succeeds Elliot Harris of Trinidad and Tobago.

A former director-general of the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry, Fatima has been the ambassador to Japan and served in diplomatic missions in Kolkata, Geneva, New York and Beijing.

She has been the head of human rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat in London and the regional advisor for climate change and migration at the International Organisation for Migration.

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UN warning on single men hosting Ukrainian refugee women

That report and others came as James Jamieson, the chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), warned of the possibility that Ukrainian refugees could become homeless…reports Asian Lite News

The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has called on the United Kingdom to review its Homes for Ukraine scheme, following reports that some refugee women felt at risk from their sponsors.

The initiative allows anyone in the country with a spare room to open their homes to Ukrainians as long as they can offer accommodation for at least six months.

But there are growing concerns that women are being put at risk via the programme, which more than 150,000 people signed up to as hosts in the days leading up to its launch on March 18.

Last week, an undercover investigation by The Times newspaper revealed how some single British men were proposing sharing beds and sending inappropriate and sexually suggestive messages to women fleeing war.

That report and others came as James Jamieson, the chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), warned of the possibility that Ukrainian refugees could become homeless.

He told the PA Media news agency that there had been a “concerning increase” in the number of Ukrainian refugees leaving hosts after the relationship broke down, including in instances where refugees had arrived via a separate family scheme and “the families’ accommodation is not suitable”.

In a statement on Wednesday, the UNHCR said the British government needed to develop a “more appropriate matching process” to ensure women, including those with children, are put in touch with families or couples, rather than single men.

“Matching done without the appropriate oversight may lead to increasing the risks women may face, in addition to the trauma of displacement, family separation and violence already experienced,” it said.

As it stands, the government does not match hosts with refugees under the scheme.

Instead, potential sponsors directly contact Ukrainians, with many using unregulated Facebook groups and other social media platforms, a process experts warned was unsafe.

“We are terrified the free-for-all matching process is wide open to be exploited by people traffickers and other people happy to prey on vulnerable refugees,” Louise Calvey, head of services and safeguarding at UK charity Refugee Action, told Al Jazeera.

“Ministers must step in and properly regulate sponsor matching to make sure that vulnerable people who have come here for protection are safe.”

But they defended the scheme’s existing safeguards as “robust”, saying the Home Office was carrying out security and background checks on all sponsors.

“Councils must make at least one in-person visit to a sponsor’s property and they have a duty to make sure the guest is safe and well once they’ve arrived,” the spokesperson said.

By Wednesday, 25,100 visas had been granted under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

But by Monday, only 3,200 Ukrainians had actually arrived in the UK via the programme, which has seen refugees face lengthy waits for their visa approval and been criticised as overly bureaucratic.

A further 13,200 Ukrainians had meanwhile arrived under the separate visa scheme for those with a family member in the UK.

In total, more than 4.7 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its offensive on February 24, according to the UNHCR.

The majority – about 2.7 million – have sought refuge in neighbouring Poland. Romania, Hungary, Moldova and Slovakia have also welcomed hundreds of thousands each.

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Nepali peacekeeper killed in Congo

The Nepali’s death came during an attack on peacekeepers by a local militia on Tuesday in Congo, which hosts one of the deadliest UN peacekeeping operations….reports Arul Louis

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council have condemned the killing of a Nepali UN peacekeeper in Congo a week after six Pakistani peacekeepers in the UN force died there.

The Nepali’s death came during an attack on peacekeepers by a local militia on Tuesday in Congo, which hosts one of the deadliest UN peacekeeping operations.

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns today’s attack against peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Organisation Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” Guterres’s Spokesperson Farhan Haq said.

The mission is known by its French acronym MONUSCO has 963 peacekeepers from Nepal.

Just after an acrimonious meeting on Ukraine, the 15 members of the Security Council spoke in one voice issuing a joint statement condemning “in the strongest terms all attacks and provocations against MONUSCO” and “called on the Congolese authorities to swiftly investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice”.

The Security Council said it was important to strengthen MONUSCO by giving it “the necessary capacities to fulfil its mandate and promote, including by taking additional measures as appropriate, the safety and security of the United Nations peacekeepers and its operations”.

Haq added that the attack was carried out in Bali in the Djugu territory of Ituri province by “suspected members” of the Cooperative pour le developpement du Congo (CODECO) militia when the peacekeepers were carrying out operations in the area.

The peacekeeper, who is the eighth to die in the UN’s Congo operations, has not been identified.

“The Secretary-General recalls that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime. He calls on the Congolese authorities to investigate this incident and swiftly bring those responsible to justice,” UN Secretary General Spokesperson said.

On Tuesday last week, the helicopter operated by Pakistani peacekeepers crashed down.

In addition to the Pakistanis, a Russian and a Serbian in the helicopter also died.

The UN said the crash of the helicopter that was on a reconnaissance mission in the area of Tshanzu, south-east of Rutshuru in North Kivu was under investigation.

The area has witnessed clashes there between the M23 rebel group and Congolese, according to the UN, which did not assign blame for the attack.

Media reports have quoted the Congolese armed forces as saying that the helicopter was shot down.

The CODECO, which is suspected in the killing of the Nepali peacekeeper, was originally an agricultural cooperative that turned into an armed group fighting Congo and the MONUSCO.

It is made up of the Lendu ethnic group and is sometimes described as a cult.

South Asian peacekeepers dominate the 14,000-strong military segment of the MONUSCO operation with 1,974 from Pakistan, 1,888 from India and 1,634 from Bangladesh in addition to the Nepalis.

The peacekeeping operations in Congo — the current MONUSCO and its previous version known as MONUC — have had at least 400 deaths.

Thirty Indian peacekeepers have died in the operations, as have 33 from Pakistan and 31 from Bangladesh in addition to the eight from Nepal.

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