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New waterfront garden in Seychelles' capital a place for live entertainment, visual artists

The Seychelles’ capital Victoria has a new waterfront garden which will provide a place for live entertainment and a meeting place for locals and visitors.  Named ‘La Passerelle,’ the garden is an initiative of  Mayor David Andre to liven up the capi
Seychelles News Agency

New waterfront garden in Seychelles' capital a place for live entertainment, visual artists

The Seychelles’ capital Victoria has a new waterfront garden which will provide a place for live entertainment and a meeting place for locals and visitors.  Named ‘La Passerelle,’ the garden is an initiative of  Mayor David Andre to liven up the capital of the 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. It was officially opened on Saturday.  With gazebos, benches and picnic tables, a cafeteria, music and artisanal kiosks, the area which overlooks the sea provide a welcoming venue for both locals and visitors.  “This small but beautiful waterfront project fulfils a lot of the sustainable development objectives and will make a substantive contribution to improving the environment of Victoria often described as a charming creole capital," Andre said at the opening ceremony.  He added that ‘La Passerelle’ will add a lively and vibrant feel to Victoria.  “Musicians, visual artists, poets and dances can have an open air space to showcase their talents and provide us with healthy entertainment,” said Andre.  The name ‘La Passerelle’ is a French word which means gangplank or platform used to board or leave a large ship. Andre said he was inspired to come up with the concept by his childhood in Victoria, his instinct as an artist and his participation in international mayors’ forum on the development of sustainable green cities.  Apart from being a place where all segments of the population including visitors can mix and integrate, Andre said such places are also catalysts for economic activities and also a source of employment.  Already four of the five artisanal kiosks are being occupied by artisans who are selling various craftworks with a strong focus on local products.  ‘La Passerelle’ waterfront garden also provides a cultural space with its music kiosk called ‘Akoustik’ Cafe, sponsored by businessman Vijay Patel at a cost of $26,000 (SCR 350,000).  'La Passerelle' will be a meeting place for locals and visitors with an open space to showcase artistic talents. (Rassin Vannier)  Photo License: CC-BY The Mayor added that although Victoria has changed considerably over the years and continues to change, the challenge would be to not lose sight of what the capital represents.  “We should always make spaces for peaceful, tranquil oases in order to strengthen our emotional wellbeing and sense of belonging,” added Andre.  The waterfront garden also has an educational mission to raise awareness on the need to protect the environment. Andre said schoolchildren have used slippers/flip flops collected in the Clean Up campaign on Aldabra to create marine species which have been used to decorate the area. Another facility is a cafeteria -- ‘Waterfront Café’ -- which will focus on serving local dishes. Construction of the café was undertaken by private investors -- Jeremy and Jennifer Couch -- who are also leasing the place from the Mayor’s office. The project cost $109,000 (SCR 1.5 million). Speaking to SNA, Jennifer Couch said she was interested in the project as she felt that such facilities are missing in the island’s capital. “I came forward because I was interested in having a place which focuses on local dishes and great service for locals and foreigners alike,” she told SNA. Couch added that she has also partnered with the Seychelles Tourism Academy to employ two of their students. “Sometimes it is hard for those students to find employment when they leave school. I have decided to take at least two onboard for now so that they can learn the ropes from our chef here,” said Couch. The Mayor praised the public-private partnership which he said has enabled the project to become a reality and called on other private companies to bring their support towards such project. “My wish is that the waterfront garden contributes to a new way of looking at the quality of life of our citizens and that it will be a source of inspiration to many and be regarded as a model for the future developments of all seafront spaces in Victoria,” added Andre. 

Britain, EU enter make-or-break Brexit week

Britain and the European Union on Monday entered a pivotal week that will determine if they are still on course to reach amicable divorce terms -- and when Brexit might finally occur. Queen Elizabeth II is due to step into the fray by performing her ceremoni
Seychelles News Agency

Britain, EU enter make-or-break Brexit week

Britain and the European Union on Monday entered a pivotal week that will determine if they are still on course to reach amicable divorce terms -- and when Brexit might finally occur. Queen Elizabeth II is due to step into the fray by performing her ceremonial duty of informing parliament about the government's agenda for the coming year. But the odds of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's tenure lasting that long will depend largely on the outcome of hurried closed-door discussions in Brussels around the same time. EU leaders will then meet on Thursday and Friday for a summit held under the pressures of the October 31 Brexit deadline just two weeks away. Diplomats see little hope that the sides can achieve in a few days what they had failed to in the more than three years since Britons first voted to leave the bloc after nearly 50 years. «A lot of work remains to be done,» EU negotiator Michel Barnier said Sunday. Technical talks -- variously described as «intense» or «constructive» -- are continuing but few familiar with the process can point to progress on the decisive issue of British Northern Ireland's place in the EU customs zone. Johnson warned his ministers Sunday to brace for a cliff-hanger finish. The British leader said «a pathway to a deal could be seen but that there is still a significant amount of work to get there and we must remain prepared to leave on October 31». - Budget announcement - Johnson took over from his predecessor Theresa May in July on a promise not to extend Brexit for a third time this year -- even if only a few more weeks are needed to get a deal done. Breaking that pledge could come back to haunt him in an early general election that is widely expected in the coming months. Johnson is under parliamentary orders to seek an extension until January 31 of next year if no deal emerges by Saturday. He has insisted he will both follow the law and get Britain out by October 31 -- a contradiction that might end up being settled in court. Finance minister Sajid Javid said Monday he will announce a first post-Brexit budget on November 6 «to shape the economy for the future». The main opposition Labour party immediately poured scorn on the plan as «an electioneering stunt», given the Brexit-fueled uncertainty pervading British politics. Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon was also dismissive. «I'm not sure they'll still be in office on 6th November and it doesn't appear to be at all certain that we will leave the EU on the 31st October,» she told BBC radio. «There's a lot of water to flow under the bridge between now and then.» Outgoing EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker said British politics were getting more difficult to decipher than the riddle of an «Egyptian sphinx». «If the British ask for more time, which they probably will not, it would in my view be a historical nonsense to refuse them,» Juncker told Austria's Kurier newspaper. - 'The clock is ticking' - Something will have to give when the British parliament holds its first emergency Saturday meeting since the 1982 Falklands War. Johnson could theoretically then try to put up a fight and refuse to sign off on a Brexit extension request. His refusal would immediately be contested in court. The EU leaders could complicate matters further still by deciding to offer Britain extension terms that parliament cannot accept. But Brussels might want to push Brexit back further into next year so that it stops interfering with all the other European issues piling up. A long delay would be untenable for many eurosceptics ahead of a snap election that could come as early as December. But a short one of a few months might only come on the condition that it is the last. The last and seemingly least likely outcome would see parliament vote on an actual agreement reached in Brussels against all odds this week. Brussels insists that the ball is now in Johnson's court. «If the British government wants a solution, it must move quickly now,» a European diplomat told AFP. «The clock is ticking,» © Agence France-Presse

Barclays Bank Seychelles to begin blue-to-red transformation into Absa

Barclays Bank Seychelles will start to roll-out the new Absa brand design at its branches as of Monday, a top official said. The roll-out is part of the rebranding ahead of the bank’s full transformation which will include changing the name to Absa group
Seychelles News Agency

Barclays Bank Seychelles to begin blue-to-red transformation into Absa

Barclays Bank Seychelles will start to roll-out the new Absa brand design at its branches as of Monday, a top official said. The roll-out is part of the rebranding ahead of the bank’s full transformation which will include changing the name to Absa group by mid-2020. The bank’s representatives, led by the Managing Director Johan Van Schalkwyk, met with local media on Friday to give details about the transformation and the extensive media campaign to inform its customers about the change. Barclays Bank Seychelles said it is taking a sequenced approach to its change plans and some branches will start to reflect several elements of the new brand before others. “Even though our name has not yet changed from Barclays Bank Seychelles, we will begin to prepare for the change by introducing Absa’s warm, vibrant red colour palette in some of our assets, given the significant size of the rebranding task ahead. This will include bank branches and ATMs and will ensure we are fully ready by the time our legal name changes,” said Johan Van Schalkwyk. The first branch to undergo the physical change is the one located on Market Street in Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, an archipelago ion the western Indian Ocean. The Bank added that even though some branches will start to look like Absa, it will continue to operate and trade as Barclays Bank Seychelles until its name officially changes in June 2020. “All customer services will continue as usual throughout the brand change process, and customers will not be required to take any action during this period,” said Van Schalkwyk. Customers will not be asked additional information during this period and all bank records will remain the same before and after the transition. The rebrand is in line with Barclays Bank Seychelles’ parent company Absa Group’s 2018 decision to rebrand all operations across the continent to Absa. “While Barclays continues to have a significant stake in Absa Group at 14.9 percent stake, it is no longer our majority shareholder, and the Group has undergone an extensive managed separation process to detach its operations in Africa from those of Barclays PLC,” said the managing director. The rebranding exercise is being carried out in phases since last year and it includes the opening of new centres, new colour scheme, uniforms, Information Technology system and new product roll-outs. Absa Group Limited which is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in South Africa has its presence in 12 African countries.

Oil, Iran top agenda as Putin visits Saudi Arabia

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Saudi Arabia on Monday, where he is set to seal oil agreements as well as use his influence to defuse rising tensions in the Gulf. The meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes following a
Seychelles News Agency

Oil, Iran top agenda as Putin visits Saudi Arabia

Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit Saudi Arabia on Monday, where he is set to seal oil agreements as well as use his influence to defuse rising tensions in the Gulf. The meeting with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes following attacks on Saudi oil installations that Riyadh and the US have blamed on Iran, an ally of Moscow. Oil will be «the main topic of discussion» between the leaders, Russian political analyst Fydor Lukyanov said, as a deal between the 24 members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is due to expire next spring. Russia is not a member of OPEC, headed by Saudi Arabia, but it has worked closely with the group to limit supply and push up prices after a 2014 slump that badly hit the Russian economy. Moscow and Riyadh -- a traditional ally of Washington -- have made a striking rapprochement in recent years, marked in particular by King Salman's first visit to Russia in October 2017. A year later, when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was under fire after the assassination of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, Vladimir Putin went out of his way to shake his hand at a G20 summit, to much comment. In an interview with Arabic-language television channels ahead of his visit, Putin praised his good relations with the King and Crown Prince. «We will absolutely work with Saudi Arabia and our other partners and friends in the Arab world... to reduce to zero any attempt to destabilise the oil market,» he said in the interview broadcast Sunday. - 'Role of peacemaker' - Analyst Lukyanov said that Moscow -- with its older ties to Iran as new links with Saudi -- could «play the role of peacemaker» as tensions between Tehran and Riyadh continue to rise. These tensions spiked last month after the attacks on Saudi oil facilities that initially halved the kingdom's crude output and set oil markets alight. Yemen's Huthi rebels claimed responsibility, but US officials blamed Iran and said the rebels did not have the range or sophistication to target the facilities. Tehran has denied involvement and warned of «total war» in the event of any attack on its territory. Russia attempted to keep a foot in both camps -- proposing missiles to Riyadh to defend itself, while at the same time warning against «hasty conclusions» regarding Iranian involvement. Last week an Iranian tanker was hit by suspected missile strikes off the coast of Saudi Arabia, sparking fresh conflict fears. «As far as Russia is concerned, we will do everything possible to create the necessary conditions for a positive dynamic» aimed at easing tensions, Putin said in the interview broadcast Sunday. - Syria - Kremlin adviser Yuri Ushakov said the Syria conflict would also feature in the leaders' talks on Monday. Russia and Iran are allied with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, while the Saudis support the opposition. But «it is important for Russia that an Arab country participates in the political settlement in Syria,» said Lukyanov. So far «only three non-Arab countries» -- Turkey, Russia and Iran -- are hosting talks, he said. In terms of business, the visit is expected to result in around 30 agreements and contracts, according to Ushakov. Around a dozen of these -- in the advanced technology sectors, energy and infrastructure -- will be signed by the Russian Sovereign Fund and are worth around $2 billion. In October 2017, Russia and Saudi Arabia also signed a memorandum of understanding paving the way for Riyadh's purchase of Moscow's powerful S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems. The sale never materialised, however, as Saudi Arabia eventually opted to purchase a US system. After Saudi Arabia, Vladimir Putin will travel to the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday to meet the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. © Agence France-Presse

Pope to elevate British convert Newman to sainthood

Pope Francis creates five new saints on Sunday, including Britain's Cardinal John Henry Newman -- one of the Catholic Church's most renowned converts -- and a nun dubbed the «Mother Teresa of Brazil». Heads of state from across the world are expe
Seychelles News Agency

Pope to elevate British convert Newman to sainthood

Pope Francis creates five new saints on Sunday, including Britain's Cardinal John Henry Newman -- one of the Catholic Church's most renowned converts -- and a nun dubbed the «Mother Teresa of Brazil». Heads of state from across the world are expected at the Vatican ceremony, which will also raise a Swiss laywoman, an Indian nun and an Italian nun to the highest position within the centuries-old institution. Prince Charles -- the future head of the Church of England -- will lead the British delegation in honouring Newman, a 19th-century Anglican theologian who went on to become one of the Catholic Church's leading thinkers. Born in 1801, Newman attempted to «renew» the Anglican Church, before becoming convinced that Catholicism was the only true faith and converting aged 44, rising through the hierarchy to become a cardinal. Despite now paying him the highest honour, the Catholic Church was accused in 2008 of defying Newman's dying wish by trying to move his body from a small English cemetery to the grand Oratory church in Birmingham. Newman, who died in 1890, had said he wished «with all my heart» to be buried alongside lifelong friend and fellow convert Ambrose St. John. The men had lived together for 32 years, though it is not clear whether their relationship was a sexually active one. The Church's bid to separate them failed when Newman's coffin was found empty, his body having decomposed. - 'Miracles' - Most new saints must have two «miracles» to their names -- usually scientifically inexplicable healings, attributed to prayers made to the late candidate. Newman is credited with curing an American man from Boston with a debilitating spinal disorder, who claimed in 2001 he could suddenly walk again after praying to the British cardinal. His second «miracle» -- the inexplicable healing of a woman with a «life-threatening pregnancy» -- was approved this year. Giant portraits of the new saints were hung from Saint Peter's Basilica for the ceremony, set to draw tens of thousands of pilgrims. Among them is Marguerite Bays, a laywoman from Switzerland known for bearing the stigmata -- wounds corresponding to the injuries Christ suffered on the cross -- on her hands, feet and chest. Born in 1815, the second of seven children, Buys showed an intense faith from very early on, often breaking off from playing with other village youngsters in order to pray quietly, according to the Vatican. - 'Mother of the poor' - Despite suggestions she should become a nun, she instead began an apprenticeship as a seamstress aged 15, before later becoming a professed member of the Secular Franciscan Order -- a lay person who spread the Catholic faith. Bays underwent surgery for bowel cancer in 1853, and prayed to the Virgin Mary to heal her, offering to swap her disease for the pains experienced by Jesus. The Church says she was cured, but given the stigmata in exchange. Every Friday at 3pm she would be immobilised in «ecstasy» as she relived the suffering in body and mind, it says. She will be canonised alongside Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, who was a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and considered a «mother of the poor». Born in 1914 into an upper middle-class family in Salvador, she started a health clinic for poor workers and opened a school, a hospital, and an orphanage, as well as care centres for the elderly and disabled. Sister Dulce, dubbed the «good angel of Bahia», was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1988. She was visited in hospital the year before her death by Pope John Paul II, who called her work «an example for humanity». Tens of thousands of people attended her funeral in 1992. © Agence France-Presse

25 artists exhibit work at International Conference Centre during fifth anniversary of Seychelles Arts

More than 25 artists in Seychelles came together to exhibit their work to celebrate the fifth anniversary of ‘Noular Sesel’ (Seychelles Arts) in an exhibition that opened last week. Coinciding with and kicking off the Creole Festival, the exhibition at t
Seychelles News Agency

25 artists exhibit work at International Conference Centre during fifth anniversary of Seychelles Arts

More than 25 artists in Seychelles came together to exhibit their work to celebrate the fifth anniversary of ‘Noular Sesel’ (Seychelles Arts) in an exhibition that opened last week. Coinciding with and kicking off the Creole Festival, the exhibition at the International Conference Centre is showcasing over 30 pieces from artists such as Nigel Henri, Allen Comettant, Frances Chang-Him, Leon Radegonde and Martin Kennedy. Some of the exhibit pieces are available for sale. The brainchild of Colbert Nourrice, ‘Noular Sesel’, is a local art agency that helps all Seychellois artists practising different art forms, to seek marketing and sales opportunities for their work locally and internationally. It was launched in October 2014. “During the past five years ‘Noular Sesel’ has not organised any major exhibition. I felt that it was important to put together an exhibition that would bring together artists dong different art forms,” said Nourrice, who is a visual arts artist, specialising in painting with acrylic on canvas. The exhibition at the International Conference Centre is opened until October 30. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY Nourrice explained that during the past five years, he is satisfied with the fact that he was able to bring together different artists who now have established confidence in the work that the agency does. The launch of the exhibition, which will be opened until October 30, included poem recitals and live music performance. Nourrice said he also wanted to integrate Creole books and the works of local singers into the exhibition. “I like the balance that there was in the opening of the exhibition -- a little bit of poetry to start the opening, then we went to the exhibition and which was followed by music to entertain the crowd,” said Doris Nourrice, who attended the launch. She added that it would have been “better if it had been done on a bigger scale where the member of the public could have come on the same platform and appreciate the work on the same day the opening was done.” Another invitee present at the opening, Mathilde Crochet, said: “The exhibition is quite interesting as it showcases a panorama of artwork from artists here in Seychelles.” The exhibition is showcasing over 30 pieces from artists such as Nigel Henri, Allen Comettant, Frances Chang-Him, Leon Radegonde and Martin Kennedy.(Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY “There are different styles and inspirations within the exhibition. I find it as a good initiative that Colbert Nourrice is celebrating the first five years of the existence of ‘Noular Sesel’ and it is in a way setting the wheels of the agency into motion again,” said Crochet.  “The past five years represents the foundation of the agency. We expect to see other artists, especially the younger ones, to come and give a helping hand to ‘Noular Sesel’. It would be great to have a management team as well, as for now, I am the one doing everything,” said the organiser. Talking about the future of ‘Noular Sesel’, Colbert Nourrice said that they are currently creating a website where artists will be able to sell their work online. He hopes that with the launch of the website, artists will also get international exposure, eventually creating the path for regional and international exhibitions. 

One dead as Typhoon Hagibis takes aim at Japan

Powerful Typhoon Hagibis on Saturday claimed its first victim even before making landfall, as potentially record-breaking rains and high winds sparked evacuation orders for more than 1.6 million people. Rated «large and very strong», the storm ha
Seychelles News Agency

One dead as Typhoon Hagibis takes aim at Japan

Powerful Typhoon Hagibis on Saturday claimed its first victim even before making landfall, as potentially record-breaking rains and high winds sparked evacuation orders for more than 1.6 million people. Rated «large and very strong», the storm has also forced the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches, disrupted the Japanese Grand Prix and grounded more than 1,600 flights. It is forecast to crash into land in central or eastern Japan early Saturday evening, packing maximum gusts of 216 kilometres per hour (134 miles per hour) Japan's Meteorological Agency (JMA) said. But hours before the worst of the storm arrived, its outer bands claimed a first casualty in Chiba, east of Tokyo, which was also badly hit by a powerful typhoon last month. «A 49-year-old man was found in a toppled mini truck. He was sent to hospital but confirmed dead,» Hiroki Yashiro, a spokesman at Ichihara Fire Department, in Chiba, told AFP. Hagibis is forecast to be the first storm rated «very strong» to hit the main island of Honshu since 1991, when the category system was introduced, local media said. By midday, 1.64 million people in the affected area were under non-mandatory evacuation orders, with authorities urging the elderly, disabled and those with children to leave early. Hagibis is an unusually large storm, expected to bring «brutal winds and violent seas» to large swathes of the country, the weather agency said. The expected rainfall, in particular, has sparked concern, with the JMA warning that high tides ahead of a full moon increase the risk of flooding. It has issued warnings for strong winds, high waves, landslides and serious flooding for large areas of Honshu. - Power outages - With the centre of the storm still hundreds of kilometres away in the Pacific, torrential rain was falling and tornado-like gusts of wind ripped into several homes in Chiba, destroying one. Five people including a three-year-old boy were sent to hospital, but none suffered serious injuries, the local fire department told AFP. The JMA has forecast half a metre of rain for the Tokyo area in the 24 hours to midday on Sunday, with more for the central Tokai region. Television footage showed gigantic waves smashing into coastal breakwaters and residents living near a river in Tokyo piling up sandbags in front of their houses. Others have nailed wooden boards to the frames of windows. By 9:00am local time (0000GMT) 11,600 households in Chiba had already lost power. The region was badly hit by another powerful typhoon in September. Automakers, including Toyota and Honda, have shut down their factories, and many supermarkets and convenience stores in the capital closed, a day after residents shopping for typhoon supplies emptied the shelves. - Rugby, F1 disrupted - The storm has also thrown two major sporting events into disarray, delaying Japanese Grand Prix qualifiers scheduled for Saturday and forcing the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches: England-France and New Zealand-Italy. The storm could also jeopardise a key match-up between Scotland and Japan on Sunday. Officials are not expected to make a final decision on that game until Sunday morning, after they have assessed any damage to the venue and transport links. Scotland face elimination if the match is axed and have warned they could take legal action if the game is cancelled. World Rugby called the threat «disappointing». The storm is also causing transport chaos over a long weekend in Japan. Japanese airlines have scrapped more than 1,660 domestic flights and some 260 international flights on Saturday, NHK said. Many bullet train lines from the capital are suspended, along with both overground and some subway lines serving the Tokyo area. The storm has also forced the first all-day typhoon closure of Tokyo's Disneyland and DisneySea theme parks, with doors shut from Saturday until at least noon on Sunday. Japan is hit by around 20 typhoons a year, though the capital is not usually badly affected. Hagibis is bearing down on the region just weeks after another powerful storm, Typhoon Faxai, hit the area with similar strength, killing two and causing major damage in Chiba. More than 36,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in Chiba, and the local government has urged those in affected buildings to take shelter elsewhere during the storm. © Agence France-Presse

Italian cruise ship to make port call in Seychelles on Oct. 20, first of 50 expected this season

The Italian cruise ship Costa Mediterranea will be the first vessel to call into Seychelles’ Port Victoria on October 20 as the cruise ships season opens. The vessel, with a maximum capacity of 2,680, is owned and operated by Costa Crociere and will b
Seychelles News Agency

Italian cruise ship to make port call in Seychelles on Oct. 20, first of 50 expected this season

The Italian cruise ship Costa Mediterranea will be the first vessel to call into Seychelles’ Port Victoria on October 20 as the cruise ships season opens. The vessel, with a maximum capacity of 2,680, is owned and operated by Costa Crociere and will be making the most frequent stops to the Seychelles islands, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. According to the Seychelles Port Authority, Port of Victoria is expecting 50 cruise calls this season, four more than last year. The cruise ship season lasts from October to April. The director of business development at the Authority, Vincent Didon, told SNA on Friday that year after year there is an increase in the number of cruise ships that want to berth at Port of Victoria. “This is good for the country not only because it is increasing the number of visitors, but it is also helping to boost economic growth,” said Didon. For the last cruise season, the Authority introduced a set of measures to avoid congestion at the port and Didon said that this will be maintained for this season. In the measures introduced, taxis, destination management companies (DMCs) and tour operators are granted access to the port where they will be collecting their clients. Didon said that the tour operators will only be allowed back into the port after three hours. “Only four taxi drivers will be allowed on the premises of the port in one go, others will have to queue up in a designated area outside the port,” he added. Seychelles came out as the top sought-after destination for cruise ships in the region, winning the Indian Ocean’s Leading Cruise Destination at the World Travel Awards 2019. The majority of cruise ships to Seychelles dock in Port Victoria -- the main port of the island nation, which opened in 1972.  Upon arrival visitors are greeted at a special reception area, accompanied by traditional music and dances of the island.                          

Ethiopia PM Abiy wins Nobel Peace Prize for mending ties with Eritrea

Hailed as a visionary and reformer, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to resolve the long-running conflict with neighbouring foe Eritrea. Abiy was honoured «for his efforts to achieve peace and inte
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Ethiopia PM Abiy wins Nobel Peace Prize for mending ties with Eritrea

Hailed as a visionary and reformer, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for his efforts to resolve the long-running conflict with neighbouring foe Eritrea. Abiy was honoured «for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea,» the Nobel Committee said. The award is seen as a welcome boost for Abiy as he faces worrying inter-community violence ahead of his country's upcoming parliamentary elections in May 2020. «We are proud as a nation,» his office wrote on Twitter, praising the award as a «timeless testimony to the... ideals of unity, cooperation and mutual co-existence that the Prime Minister has been consistently championing.» Since taking office in April 2018, the 43-year-old has aggressively pursued policies that have the potential to upend his country's society and reshape dynamics beyond its borders, after years of civil unrest. On July 9, 2018, following a historic meeting in Eritrea's capital Asmara, Abiy and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki formally ended a 20-year-old stalemate between the countries in the wake of the 1998-2000 border conflict. Abiy swiftly released dissidents from jail, apologised for state brutality, and welcomed home exiled armed groups. - 'Winds of hope' - Africa's youngest leader has instilled a certain optimism in a region of Africa marred by violence. «I have said often that winds of hope are blowing ever stronger across Africa. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is one of the main reasons why,» UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said upon learning of the Nobel Committee's decision. The peace agreement with Eritrea has «opened up new opportunities for the region to enjoy security and stability, and Prime Minister Ahmed's leadership has set a wonderful example for others in and beyond Africa looking to overcome resistance from the past and put people first.» The Nobel jury stressed that the Peace Prize was «also meant to recognise all the stakeholders working for peace and reconciliation in Ethiopia and in the East and Northeast African regions.» It singled out Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki for praise, noting that «peace does not arise from the actions of one party alone.» «When Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed reached out his hand, President Afwerki grabbed it, and helped to formalise the peace process between the two countries.» Amnesty International also welcomed the Nobel pick, but said the honour should spur Abiy to enhance reforms on human rights. «This award should push and motivate him to tackle the outstanding human rights challenges that threaten to reverse the gains made so far,» the group said, pointing to «ongoing ethnic tensions that threaten instability and further human rights abuses». Ethnic violence has been on the rise in recent years, causing Ethiopia to record more internally displaced people last year than any other country. And last June, Abiy faced the greatest threat yet to his hold on power when gunmen assassinated high-ranking officials including a prominent regional president and the army chief. - 'Encouragement' - Recognising that some would consider the prize premature, the Nobel Committee stressed much was left to be done and said the award should also serve as encouragement. «The Norwegian Nobel Committee believes it is now that Abiy Ahmed's efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement,» it said. The committee had to choose from more than 300 nominations this year. Online betting sites had put Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg -- who has already received Amnesty International's top honour and the Right Livelihood Award, sometimes dubbed the «alternative Nobel» -- as the name to beat. Last year, the honour went to Congolese doctor Denis Mukwege and Yazidi campaigner Nadia Murad, for their work in fighting sexual violence in conflicts around the world. This year's prize will be presented at a ceremony in Oslo on December 10, the anniversary of the 1896 death of prize creator Alfred Nobel, a Swedish philanthropist and scientist. The award consists of a gold medal, a diploma, and nine million Swedish kronor (around $912,000 or 828,000 euro). On Thursday, the Swedish Academy in Stockholm awarded the 2018 Nobel Literature Prize, which it had postponed in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal, to Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk. The 2019 prize was awarded to Austrian novelist Peter Handke, a choice that has sparked outrage because of his vocal support of Serbs during the bloody collapse of the former Yugoslavia. Achievements in Medicine, Physics and Chemistry have already been honoured and the Economics Prize will wrap up the 2019 Nobel prize season on October 14. © Agence France-Presse

When last place is an honour: World traveller chooses Seychelles as global tour's final stop

Seychelles is the 195th and last country to be visited by a U.N. employee-turned-travel blogger on her world record-setting journey which started in 2017. Born in the U.S. city of Detroit to Ugandan parents, Jessica Nabongo, a travel influencer -- became th
Seychelles News Agency

When last place is an honour: World traveller chooses Seychelles as global tour's final stop

Seychelles is the 195th and last country to be visited by a U.N. employee-turned-travel blogger on her world record-setting journey which started in 2017. Born in the U.S. city of Detroit to Ugandan parents, Jessica Nabongo, a travel influencer -- became the first documented black woman to visit every UN member countries when she landed in Seychelles on Sunday. The 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean was the last country on Nabongo’s list. According to a press release from the Seychelles Tourism Board on Friday, Nabongo told Today -- a local newspaper -- that she considers Seychelles to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Accompanied by over 50 friends and family members, Nabongo has been visiting several of the islands and will end her trip on Sunday at Four Seasons on the private island of Desroches. The deputy chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board, Jennifer Sinon, said that “the presence of the celebrity traveller in the calibre of Jessica Nabongo on our shores reflects the reach of the destination’s visibility around the world. Ms Nabongo’s choice to close finish her mission in Seychelles is indeed an honour.” Nabongo who holds two passports set out to become the first documented black woman to visit all the 195 UN member countries and two non-member observer states in February 2017 after she had already been to 60 countries.  Her planned mission was to initially end by May 15 on her 35th birthday but was changed to October 6, in honour of her late father’s birthday. Nabongo also wanted the last country on her list to be in Africa in order to embrace her love for the continent. To support her travel, Nabongo set up the Jet Black a company that promotes tourism to a number of countries in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. She is also a keen environmentalist who uses her social media platform to raise awareness on significant causes like the harmful effect of plastic and endangered spices. She encourages her followers to try their best to limit the negative impact on the planet, sharing tips on how to make small changes in their daily actions. After having completed her quest, Nabongo plans to keep fighting against plastic pollution.

New policy for foreign workers in Seychelles shared with National Assembly

A new policy concerning the recruitment and employment of foreigners in Seychelles is expected to come into force next year, a response to a number of issues the island nation saw concerning foreign workers in the construction and tourism sectors in particula
Seychelles News Agency

New policy for foreign workers in Seychelles shared with National Assembly

A new policy concerning the recruitment and employment of foreigners in Seychelles is expected to come into force next year, a response to a number of issues the island nation saw concerning foreign workers in the construction and tourism sectors in particular. Details of the new policy were given by the employment ministry in a session with Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) this week. Myriam Telemaque, the Minister for Employment, Immigration and Civil Status, told the Members on Wednesday that a proper structure is needed as demand is continuously increasing. “As our country continues to grow so does the demand for more workers and what is most important is that we have structures in place which will manage this fact well, so that expatriate workers are recruited only when there is a lack so that we preserve the constitutional rights of our people to have a decent job,” she said. Telemaque gave the latest figures in relation to demand of foreign workers in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. In 2018, there was a demand for 12,835 and this included new applications as well as renewal of contracts. Demand was the highest in the construction sector which was 5,562, followed by the tourism sector with 1,357. Third-highest was in production services at 1,042, followed by commerce 987 and agriculture 769. “We have also observed that there are particular posts that were occupied by Seychellois before that we are now seeing an increase in demand for foreign workers and these are security workers, drivers, domestic, and waste removal personnel,” she added. The labour and migration policy has been developed with the help of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) following a study to identify issues which needed to be addressed.  “The country was depending on existing laws and policies such as employment law, immigration decree for guidance on the subject of foreign workers. In 2014, we introduced a guide and the quota system which cover only recruitment and not other aspects. We found it necessary in our development to have a new policy because demands continue to increase,” said the Minister. The policy is modelled on countries with good practices and has been adapted to fit the Seychelles' context. It focuses on the governance of migrant workers, protecting the rights of workers, development of human resource and recruitment that is fair and effective. A new element in the policy is that organisations with 25 or more employees have to employ a human resource officer as well as draw up salary structures that are in line with ILO’s concept of ‘equal pay for work of equal value.’ Under the new policy, it is mandatory for employers recruiting foreign workers to register in the Skills Development and My First Job programmes. Foreign workers will not be allowed to change employment unless they are victims of human trafficking. Changes will also be in the quota system for the construction sector which will now be a fixed number instead.  The setting up of a new policy has been triggered by various issues regarding the recruitment and employment of foreign workers. A moratorium is in place since October last year for the recruitment of Bangladeshi nationals to work in Seychelles after six Bangladeshi employees of a security firm approached media houses to express their frustration as their employers had failed to pay them their wages. After the Minister’s presentation, the MNA for the western district Mahe of Grand Anse, Waven William, said “I feel that the amount of information that the minister has given today, is we want to make justice with the subject, this assembly should postpone the debate and get the document so we can have a better debate.” The speaker of the National Assembly, Nicholas Prea, support this move and confirmed that the debate is postponed until all Members have a chance to look at the documents and that another date is set for the debate.

EU removes Switzerland, UAE from tax-haven list

The EU removed Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates from its list of tax havens on Thursday, giving two global hubs for multinational tax schemes the all clear. «Albania, Costa Rica, Mauritius, Serbia and Switzerland have implemented ahead of thei
Seychelles News Agency

EU removes Switzerland, UAE from tax-haven list

The EU removed Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates from its list of tax havens on Thursday, giving two global hubs for multinational tax schemes the all clear. «Albania, Costa Rica, Mauritius, Serbia and Switzerland have implemented ahead of their deadline all necessary reforms to comply with EU tax good governance principles,» the bloc's 28 finance ministers said. The EU's grey list has included Switzerland since its launch in December 2017 as the country was deemed as having inadequate tax rules, although it had expressed commitment to reform them. «If Switzerland is off this list, it is a success for me. The best list is the shortest,» said Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic Affairs, at a press conference in Luxembourg. Switzerland had approved a tax reform in October 2018, but its entry into force had been delayed due to a referendum. The United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, was also given a clean bill of health, lifted out directly from the blacklist after rushing through reforms. «Today, the EU has whitewashed two of the world's most harmful tax havens,» said Chiara Putaturo, Oxfam's EU Policy Advisor on Tax. «Despite recent reforms, both countries will continue to offer sweet treats to tax-dodging companies, like very low tax rates, accelerating the race to the bottom on corporate taxation.» The move leaves only nine countries or territories considered to be uncooperative on the list: American Samoa, Belize, Fiji, Guam, Oman, Samoa, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States Virgin Islands and Vanuatu. The 28 EU finance ministers drew up the lists -- that followed several scandals including Panama Papers and LuxLeaks -- in the hopes of «naming and shaming» countries into better combating tax evasion by multinationals and wealthy individuals. Blacklisted countries face only limited sanctions, consisting of freezing them out of European aid or development funding. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles’ L’Union Estate on La Digue to host Creole Festival’s fashion show for the first time

Seychelles' third most important island – La Digue – will for the first time this year host the prestigious fashion event, showcasing uprising Seychellois fashion designers during the annual Creole Festival.   The announcement was made by the Creative
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles’ L’Union Estate on La Digue to host Creole Festival’s fashion show for the first time

Seychelles' third most important island – La Digue – will for the first time this year host the prestigious fashion event, showcasing uprising Seychellois fashion designers during the annual Creole Festival.   The announcement was made by the Creative Industries and National Events Agency (CINEA) during a press conference on Tuesday called to unveil details of the 34th edition of the Festival Kreol (Creole Festival).   The festival, from October 25-31, is an annual celebration of the island nation’s culture and tradition.   “New on the programme this year is the fact that the fashion show of locally made attires - Fon Lanmal - will be held on La Digue. We thank L’Union Estate which has agreed to host this activity,” said the chief executive of CINEA, Gaelen Bresson.   The festival, from October 25-31, is an annual celebration of the island nation’s culture and tradition. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   The fashion event is one where aspiring fashion designers, especially students, can participate. This year a fashion designer from Trinidad and Tobacco will also attend.   The second-most important island, Praslin, will also host a major event in the form of a musical show by Seychellois artist Sonny Morgan, who currently resides in Australia.   “Sonny Morgan is very popular here but he is doing extremely well overseas, where he is selling many albums. Morgan’s show will officially launch the Creole Festival on Praslin,” explained Bresson.   The chief executive explained that this year for the first time CINEA is pushing the brand of the festival.   “We have in the past used the logo ‘fyer nou lidantite’ (proud of our identity) and for this year we are pushing this as the festival’s brand, with different products which will be on sale throughout this month,” explained Bresson.   Bresson said that the song “lasezon kreol in refleri” by local artist Joe Samy has also been adopted as the official hymn of the festival.    The Creole Festival will open officially on Friday, October 25 at the conference center, an event which the organisers promised to be in a traditional setting which in days gone by was created to host important events such as weddings.   During the conference, young aspiring artist Dion Payet was announced as this year’s winner of the Creole Festival poster competition.  Payet, 16, is a resident of Praslin.  (Jennifer Payet) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   As it has been the case every year, other Creole nations including those from the region Mauritius and Reunion will participate. South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana, India, and Korea will also be represented.   'Laserenad' (Serenade), a very important activity on the programme, will take place on Saturday, October 26 starting at the Stadium Carpark in Victoria and ending at the sports complex at Roche Caiman.   All guest countries will be taking part in this parade where the best float will win a prize.   The activities on the programme include the national traditional dance competition, Creole Mass, Creole Sunday on the beach - which this year will be held at Roche Caiman, Creole ball, school creativity show, and Creole quiz.   During the conference, young aspiring artist Dion Payet was announced as this year’s winner of the Creole Festival poster competition.  Payet, 16, is a resident of Praslin.    “I was not expecting to win but very happy I did. Like the logo says an eye on the past, an eye on the future, my poster illustrates just that. I have also incorporated some key landmarks including the clock tower, the bicentennial monument – which shows the continents which our people came from,” explained Payet.   The young student also included the black parrot, the coco de mer and the giant land tortoise – all endemics to Seychelles, 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - in his creation. For his poster, Payet won $1,100.    

Macron presses donors for $14bn to help end AIDS, TB, malaria

French President Emmanuel Macron urged donor nations Thursday to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, warning that gains made in rolling back the killer diseases risked being reversed due to donor fatigue. The UN objective of en
Seychelles News Agency

Macron presses donors for $14bn to help end AIDS, TB, malaria

French President Emmanuel Macron urged donor nations Thursday to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, warning that gains made in rolling back the killer diseases risked being reversed due to donor fatigue. The UN objective of ending epidemics of the three ailments by 2030 remained within reach, he told a two-day donor meeting in the city of Lyon, if countries stepped up to the plate with a sum of $14-billion. But with the conference due to wind up Thursday afternoon, the French president indicated there was a race against the clock to reach the target. Based on pledges so far «we are not there», Macron told delegates. «The funds that are being asked of us are not... charity. It is a decision to invest against injustice,» said the president, highlighting the disproportionate rate of infection and deaths from AIDS, TB and malaria in poor countries, and among women and girls. «What we want to do is to make AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria disappear from the face of the Earth,» he added to applause, and announced that France, the fund's number-two donor, will boost its own contribution by 15 percent. «The multilateral system is tired,» Macron lamented. He complained that resolve has weakened in many rich donor countries given that fewer people there are dying of the three diseases and that treatment, particularly for HIV, was readily available. But they remained rampant in the developing world. «There is a risk of slackening,» he said. The Fund says $14 billion would help save 16 million lives and avert 234 million new infections. According to the UN's World Health Organization, 770,000 people died of HIV-related causes last year. Tuberculosis, a high risk for HIV-positive people, claimed some 1.7 million lives in 2017, and malaria more than 430,000. - 'Step up or slip back?' - The meeting is the sixth to replenish the fund since it was set up in 2002, with prominent supporters including Microsoft founder Bill Gates and U2 lead singer Bono in attendance alongside a number of African heads of state. But officials said collecting such a large sum could prove challenging, especially as global attention moves from AIDS towards fighting climate change. Anything more than the $12.2 billion pledged at the fund's last meeting three years ago in Montreal «will be considered a success», said an official in the French presidency. Macron, however, insisted Thursday that $14 billion «is the minimum», and warned: «I will not allow anyone to leave this room, nor Lyon, until the $14 billion has been obtained.» NGOs insist even more is needed -- as much as $18 billion. Peter Sands, executive director of the Fund, warned delegates on Wednesday that the world was at a crossroads: «Do we step up or do we slip back against adversaries as formidable as HIV, TB and malaria? There is no middle ground. We're either winning or losing.» - 'Less not acceptable' - The US is the number one donor with a $4.68 billion contribution to this replenishment voted by Congress. The Fund is seeking $1 billion of the total from the business world. «No amount less than $14 billion will be acceptable,» the AIDES and Coalition PLUS NGOs said in a statement, which had urged France to ramp up its contribution by a quarter. «We are here to remember that behind this financial bargaining there are human lives,» said AIDES president Aurelien Beaucamp. The Global Fund groups states, NGOs and private firms to support public health programmes around the world, investing about $4 billion every year. It says it has helped save 32 million lives and provided prevention, treatment and care services to hundreds of millions of people, while the yearly number of deaths caused by AIDS, TB and malaria has been slashed by 40 percent since 2002 in countries where the Fund invests. © Agence France-Presse

8 buildings that have changed the face of Seychelles’ capital, Victoria

Victoria is the capital and only city of Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, located on the north-eastern side of the main island of Mahe.  The area that would become Victoria was originally settled in 1778 by the French colonists afte
Seychelles News Agency

8 buildings that have changed the face of Seychelles’ capital, Victoria

Victoria is the capital and only city of Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, located on the north-eastern side of the main island of Mahe.  The area that would become Victoria was originally settled in 1778 by the French colonists after they claimed the island in 1756. The town was called L'Etablissement until 1841 when it was renamed Victoria by the British, who had taken over the islands, after Queen Victoria. Through the last 241 years, the city has seen and gone through many changes, including the rise of new and modern buildings. This week’s Buzz brings you eight buildings which have been built in Victoria during the last decade.   Unity House Unity House was constructed by the Seychelles Pension Fund as part of its investment programme. Covering an area of 9,540 square metres of office and business premises, the building has three floors and a total of 44 shops and 88 offices. Unity House stands in the area of the old Unity House which was built in the 1970s. It was demolished in February 2007 in order to make way for the new building complex.   (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   Maison Collet In January 2016, the first multi-storey car park in Seychelles was opened at the Maison Collet in Victoria. The building which also features office was built to provide for increased demand for parking in Victoria. Maison Collet was named after Charles Evariste Collet who in 1947 became Attorney-General and transformed Seychelles by introducing modern laws reforming the tax system and improving the living conditions of Seychellois.   (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   Quadrant building Operational as of July 2016, Quadrant building located at Huteau lane is owned by local company Hunt Deltel and houses its headquarters. Quadrant houses the Department of Transport and Road Transport Commission, Air Seychelles as well as several businesses including the South African jewellery shop - Jouel. Luxury apartments occupy the fourth floor and all guests and tenants can enjoy underground parking – a luxury in itself as the lack of parking in the capital city is a real issue.   (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   Kanna Mall The Kanna Mall is owned by the Pillay R Group whose chairperson is Ramu Pillay. Opened in September 2017, the mall is located on Albert Street opposite the ex-Seychelles Trading Company (STC) supermarket. The shopping complex comprises 20 shops took around three years to complete. According to the owners of the mall – the fourth mall in Victoria – the building will allow more opportunity for people to do business.   (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   Capital City Capital City is a privately owned building in the heart of Victoria, at the Independence Avenue, steps from the clock tower – the main landmark of the capital city. The ground plus two-level building currently houses offices and shops. Barclays Asba premier and business banking branches share the ground floor of the building along with shops, money exchanger and the cable television provider Intelvision. Offices such lawyer chamber, offshore service provider, Qatar Airways as well as the Sri Lankan embassy occupies the other floors of Capital City.   (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   Independent House Annex   The Independence House Annex building was opened in June 2016 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Seychelles’ Independence and the start of a new era for private and public partnerships in Seychelles. Construction of the annex block which was undertaken by Green Island Construction Company (GICC) started in November 2014 and under the PPP arrangement, the government provided the land while Green Tree Investment raised financing for the building. The multi-story annex block completes this hub with other investment-related services and houses government ministries and departments.  (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY   Nouvobanq Bank  The new Nouvobanq Bank building adjacent to the Stad Popiler car park was officially opened on May 2017. The building is seen as a landmark achievement for the bank since it opened its doors in 1991. Nouvobanq is the only Seychellois bank that has its own building. Experienced internationally, Nouvobanq is officially known as the Seychelles Merchantile Bank.   (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   Maison Esplanade The building is owned by Laxion Holdings Seychelles and was constructed by Laxambhai & Company. The new building is described as an added value in the capital city. It is a commercial centre and houses the Al Salam Bank Seychelles originating from Bahrain, the newly established Japanese embassy and Indian High Commission along with other offices such as local insurance company SACOS.   (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY  

Seychelles’ Fregate Island makes CNN Travel's Top 10 most beautiful islands

Seychelles' Fregate Island has made CNN Travel's list of the Top Ten most beautiful islands in the world. CNN Travel described the privately-owned island as “lapped by the Indian Ocean in a dozen hues, Fregate is a taste of Seychelles at their dreami
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles’ Fregate Island makes CNN Travel's Top 10 most beautiful islands

Seychelles' Fregate Island has made CNN Travel's list of the Top Ten most beautiful islands in the world. CNN Travel described the privately-owned island as “lapped by the Indian Ocean in a dozen hues, Fregate is a taste of Seychelles at their dreamiest.” Fregate is the easternmost of Seychelles' granitic Inner Islands, located 55 km east of the main island of Mahé. “Wild landscapes still thrive on the private island, which is a haven from Seychelles' more developed shores. Giant Aldabra tortoises saunter through the understory here, while two species of sea turtles crawl ashore to lay their eggs,” said the article. “Wild landscapes still thrive on the private island, which is a haven from Seychelles' more developed shores. (Fregate Island Private) Photo License: All Rights Reserved The feature also highlighted the island’s unique and beautiful beaches. “Granite cliffs swerve for the breakers, giving way to powdery beaches: one, Anse Macquereau, can be turned into a perfectly private getaway. A «beach occupied» sign dangles from a nearby palm tree, inviting visitors to reserve the picture-perfect cove for themselves.” Granite cliffs swerve for the breakers, giving way to powdery beaches: one, Anse Macquereau, can be turned into a perfectly private getaway. (Fregate Island Private) Photo License: All Rights Reserved CNN Travel is CNN International’s travel website. It delivers up-to-the-minute travel news, destination insights, inspirational travel ideas, original observation and thoroughly researched city and country insider guides with directions to the world’s hottest restaurants, bars, hotels, and activities. The islands from Norway's Arctic to the sunny reefs of Palawan, which also made the list, are described as “beautiful islands span latitudes, climates, and cultures.” They are Milos (Greece), Bartolomé (Ecuador, St. Lucia (Lesser Antilles), Jura (Scotland), Komodo Island (Indonesia), Senja Island (Norway), Mo'orea (French Polynesia), Palawan, Philippines, and Kaua'i (United States). Hilton Grant Hastings, managing director of Fregate Island Private, told SNA via email that he is very honoured that the island has been chosen among the 10 most beautiful. “We are dedicated to restoring our natural habitat and pay assiduous attention to sustainability. Around 80% of our food comes from our bountiful island. Guests are always invited to participate in the conservation projects or also can choose to do absolutely nothing in one of the world’s most stunning settings with our seven fairytale beaches – one of them, Anse Victorin, numerously named the world’s most beautiful beach,” concluded Hastings. Hastings said the establishment is dedicated to restoring the natural habitat and pay assiduous attention to sustainability and around 80 percent of its food comes from the island. (Fregate Island Private) Photo License: All Rights Reserved Chief executive of the Seychelles Tourism Board Sherin Francis added, “The list features some amazing destinations and to have Frégate mentioned amongst those destinations undeniably add to the prestige of our beautiful country.” According to Francis “this is the best kind of publicity, any company or organisation might dream of having. As a tourism board, one of our strong marketing points is the Island hopping aspect of our destination - where visitors get to have a feel of various Islands in one holiday.” Francis added that “as part of our marketing duties, we have collaborated with media outlets including BBC, National Geographic and CNN.”

Turkey launches ground offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria

Turkey has launched a broad assault on Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria, with intensive bombardment followed by a ground offensive made possible by the withdrawal of US troops. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday the start of th
Seychelles News Agency

Turkey launches ground offensive against Kurdish forces in Syria

Turkey has launched a broad assault on Kurdish-controlled areas in northeastern Syria, with intensive bombardment followed by a ground offensive made possible by the withdrawal of US troops. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced Wednesday the start of the attack on Twitter and soon after jets and artillery targeted Kurdish positions along the full width of the border, sending thousands of civilians fleeing their homes. That was followed late in the evening by the beginning of a ground operation, the Turkish defence ministry said. US President Donald Trump warned that if the Turkish operation was not conducted «in as humane a way as possible», he would «wipe out» the country's economy«. The assault had seemed inevitable since he announced on Sunday a military pullback from the border, but the attack triggered international condemnation and an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council was set for Thursday. The Arab League said it was convening an emergency meeting in Cairo on October 12. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said 16 members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia were killed in the early hours of the Turkish offensive. Both the SOHR and SDF reported heavy clashes near the city of Tel Abad. Turkey's defence ministry said on twitter that its forces had struck 181 Kurdish »terror group« targets so far. The spokesman for one of the pro-Turkish Syrian militant groups told AFP the land phase of the operation began in Tal Abad, and Turkish media reported special forces and armoured vehicles had entered at several points along the border. - 'Operation Peace Spring' - The US withdrawal smashed its alliance with the Kurdish forces who spearheaded five years of ground battles against the Islamic State group in Syria. Defending his decision, Trump said the Kurds did not »help us in Normandy«. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged Turkey to show »restraint« in its operation against Kurdish forces in Syria, warning that the fight against the Islamic State group should not be put at risk. The SDF called on the international community to impose a no-fly zone to protect against »an imminent humanitarian crisis«. Erdogan, who dubbed the attack »Operation Peace Spring«, says the offensive is necessary to curb the power of the SDF due to its ties with Kurdish insurgents inside Turkey. He also wants a »safe zone« on the Syrian side of the border where Turkey could send back some of the 3.6 million refugees it hosts from the eight-year civil war. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said »the Turks have a legitimate security concern«. »They have a terrorist threat to their south,« he told PBS. - 'General mobilisation' - In the face of the onslaught, Kurdish authorities announced a general mobilisation, urging all civilians to »head to the border with Turkey... to resist during this delicate historical moment«. Kurdish leaders said they would hold their erstwhile US ally and the whole international community responsible for any »humanitarian catastrophe«. In Ras al-Ain, Kurdish-led security forces set up checkpoints and stockpiled tyres to set alight to blur the vision of Turkish military pilots, an AFP correspondent reported. Ras al-Ain was one of the places from which US troops withdrew on Monday. »We will not leave this land,« said Kaws Seem, a 32-year-old Ras al-Ain resident. »War has been chasing us for years, and everyday Erdogan threatens us with a new attack,« he added. - 'Massive opposition' - The Kurdish-led SDF say they lost 11,000 personnel in years of operations against IS that climaxed in March with a battle against the final bastion of the jihadists' caliphate in Baghouz. Trump has faced a barrage of criticism, including from close allies in Washington, for appearing to leave US allies to their fate. Senior Republican senator Lindsey Graham argued the US administration had »shamelessly abandoned« the Kurds. There has also been a chorus of international concern, including from France and Britain -- the top US partners in the anti-IS coalition -- and Russia, now even more firmly the main foreign player in Syria. Since 2015, Russia has been the main military backer of the Syrian government, which has seized on the policy shift from Trump to try to persuade the Kurds to accept the restoration of central government control. Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia also condemned the offensive, arguing it would have »negative repercussions on the security and stability of the region«. The Kurds have warned that a Turkish offensive would reverse the military gains achieved against IS and allow the jihadist group's surviving leaders to come out of hiding. Two jihadists reported to be Britons part of a group dubbed »The Beatles" -- accused of abducting and decapitating hostages including American journalist James Foley -- were taken into US custody and moved out of the country, a defence official said. © Agence France-Presse

European, Japanese experts studying how Seychelles can improve waste management practices

Seychelles' waste-management practices are being studied by European and Japanese experts in order to find areas in which to improve. The experts presented their preliminary findings with all partners on Wednesday. The ongoing studies are looking at how Se
Seychelles News Agency

European, Japanese experts studying how Seychelles can improve waste management practices

Seychelles' waste-management practices are being studied by European and Japanese experts in order to find areas in which to improve. The experts presented their preliminary findings with all partners on Wednesday. The ongoing studies are looking at how Seychelles is managing waste and the plan that should be adopted for the way forward. The studies also are looking at laws in place and how these can be improved for sustainable waste management and the different equipment and facilities that are in place for recycling. Challenges such as a lack of land, limited public awareness and access to financing were also looked at. Speaking at the presentation, the principal secretary for environment, Alain Decommarmond, said that “The waste produced annually in Seychelles and disposed at the landfill continues to increase and a master plan on waste management will help to find a solution.” Preliminary findings were presented by the experts with partners on Wednesday. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY Decommarmond added that the studies come at a critical period for Seychelles and that the master plan will outline priority actions and areas that the island nation needs to focus on. The first study on coastal waste management is being financed by the European Union and carried out by COWI, an international consulting group specialising in engineering, environmental science and economics based in Lyngby, Denmark. One of the experts from COWI, Andrick Mols, told SNA that the plan is being worked on “for us to rethink how waste management is being done in Seychelles.” He added that “despite the challenges observed during the study, Seychelles already has a favourable environment to better manage waste. Seychelles is a small country and can easily control imports. On top of that, it has a small population.” A Japanese company, Nippon Koei, is conducting the study on the development of the waste master plan financed by the World Bank. Fredrick Kinloch, the director of waste management, told SNA that the outcome of the study will provide the ministry “with a pathway to implement their policies and will give direction on how to better manage waste in the country.”   The studies are also looking at how Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is engaged in waste management and how waste can be sorted out properly. He added that “waste generation and its eventual management is the responsibility of everybody from the importer that brings commodities in the country and the consumers.” Both studies were supposed to be completed after six months but have now been extended for one year. Seychelles has adopted several measures to manage its waste, including that government, institutions and entities are obliged to have a contract for waste collection with an approved contractor. According to the Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy (2012-2020), the 95,000 inhabitants of the island nation generates about 48,000 tonnes of waste per year.

US official: Seychelles must improve off-shore banking to deter terrorist, drug money

Seychelles need to raise awareness on the risks associated with off-shore banking and set up legislation to fix loopholes within financial regulatory systems, said a top American official on Tuesday. The United States’ Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Fi
Seychelles News Agency

US official: Seychelles must improve off-shore banking to deter terrorist, drug money

Seychelles need to raise awareness on the risks associated with off-shore banking and set up legislation to fix loopholes within financial regulatory systems, said a top American official on Tuesday. The United States’ Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing at the Department of Treasury, Marshall Billingslea, told reporters that awareness needs to be raised in particular on “establishment of off-shore shell companies without an effective beneficial ownership registry.” According to smartasset, “a shell company is a business that’s created to hold funds and manage another entity’s financial transactions. Unlike traditional companies, shell corporations don’t have employees and aren’t traded on exchanges. Shell companies neither make money nor provide customers with products or services.” The assistant secretary has held a series of meetings with representatives from the Central Bank of Seychelles, Ministry of Finance, Auditor General, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and governmental leaders. The meetings allowed the US team to understand the strength of the banking sector, the importance of the correspondent banking, ties with United State banks and as well as critical progress that needs to be made in the Anti-Money Laundering space. “The lack of beneficial ownership registry makes it very hard on the central bank in its supervisory roles and private banks to do effective due diligence,” said Billingslea. The assistant secretary (left) with the Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles at the press conference. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY He said Seychelles need to introduce new legislation to fix the enormous loophole in the current laws.   “We are also concerned about ensuring that there are no loopholes in the regulatory system that allow criminals, terrorist groups or narcotics trafficking organisations to gain access to the financial system here and thereby also gaining access to our financial system,” said Billingslea. The lack of a beneficial ownership registry which enables the governor and her team, and the Financial Investigation Unit to immediately understand who really is behind this company, is highly problematic, he added. The Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles, Caroline Abel, said that discussions looked at what Seychelles is doing to enhance its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) framework. “The US Treasury department has skills and knowledge that can assist us in developing our framework further in due that we are on this roadmap now to enhance our AML/CFT. This conversation has been how we can cooperate with the US Treasury as the regulator of banks and other institutions under our umbrella in making sure that Seychelles has a solid system that we do not harbour criminals in our system,” said Abel. The team from the central bank expects the new legislation to be approved by the end of this year. Consultation with relevant partners will start in the third week of October. “We are planning that by next week we will be circulating the draft bill for comments followed by sittings for engagement with the National Committee making sure that all views have been expressed,” said Abel.

Nigeria's Buhari unveils record budget

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday unveiled a record budget plan to lawmakers, ramping up ambitious spending goals for his second term in charge. The draft budget increased more than 13 percent from last year at 10.33 trillion naira -- around $33
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Nigeria's Buhari unveils record budget

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday unveiled a record budget plan to lawmakers, ramping up ambitious spending goals for his second term in charge. The draft budget increased more than 13 percent from last year at 10.33 trillion naira -- around $33.8 billion (30.8 billion euros) at an official exchange rate of 305 naira to the dollar. It was based on a projected price for crude oil of $57 per barrel and output of 2.18 million barrels a day in Africa's leading producer. Nigeria is one of Africa's biggest economies but it has struggled to improve growth after emerging from its deepest recession in decades in 2017. The government put the growth rate at just over 2 percent for the first half of 2019 and predicted it would rise to 2.93 percent in 2020. Buhari was elected for a final four-year term in February on pledges to boost the economy and create jobs for Nigeria's young and rapidly expanding population. But the government has consistently failed to fulfil its ambitious spending targets in previous years. The focus for 2020 remained on infrastructure spending with housing, power and transport receiving major chunks of the budget. The authorities are trying to increase revenues as they look to wean Nigeria off oil and aim to increase value-added tax from 5 to 7.5 percent. The budget -- which has to be approved by lawmakers -- put estimated federal government revenue at 8.16 trillion naira for next year, leaving a deficit of some 2.18 trillion naira. Debt servicing was predicted to gobble up 2.45 trillion naira of expenditures in 2020. © Agence France-Presse

Ecuador protesters break into Congress

Ecuadoran protesters broke into the country's Congress building on Monday as demonstrations over a fuel hike introduced by President Lenin Moreno's government intensified. Demonstrators, many of them indigenous men armed with sticks and whips, surged throug
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Ecuador protesters break into Congress

Ecuadoran protesters broke into the country's Congress building on Monday as demonstrations over a fuel hike introduced by President Lenin Moreno's government intensified. Demonstrators, many of them indigenous men armed with sticks and whips, surged through a security cordon. They rushed into the meeting room and occupied the podium, but were soon evicted by security forces. Moreno subsequently ordered an overnight curfew to protect public buildings. Clashes between security forces and protesters outside Congress erupted as thousands of demonstrators converge on the capital Quito to protest soaring fuel prices at a mass demonstration planned for Wednesday. Demonstrators made a previous attempt to storm the building on Monday. Moreno, who declared a state of emergency over the nationwide protests last week, has moved government headquarters to the coastal city of Guayaquil. Several days of protests against the fuel price hike have slashed the South American country's oil output by a third. Oil production fell 31 percent after the seizure of three oil facilities in the Amazon, the energy ministry said Tuesday. Production losses at the state-owned Petroamazonas «will reach 165,000 barrels per day,» the ministry said in a statement. Ecuador, which exited the OPEC international oil cartel last week citing economic constraints, normally produces 531,000 barrels per day. Moreno's declaration of a state of emergency failed to deter the advance of indigenous protesters who have repeatedly clashed with security forces on their journey to the capital from around the country. The president on Tuesday tried to head off Wednesday's planned protest by offering to hold talks with «the indigenous brothers.» He added that income from the elimination of fuel subsidies would be spent «on the poorest.» The United Nations and the Catholic Church have offered to mediate in the crisis, Interior Minister Maria Paula Romo said. Moreno had accused his predecessor and ex-ally Rafael Correa along with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro of an «attempted coup d'etat.» He said they were using «indigenous groups, taking advantage of their mobilization to plunder and destroy.» Maduro hit back on Tuesday, saying that Moreno's accusations were absurd. But Moreno's accusation drew support from seven Latin American countries, rejecting any effort by Maduro and his allies to «destabilize» Ecuador. «The governments of Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru and Paraguay, express their resounding rejection of any destabilizing attempt of legitimately constituted democratic regimes and express their strong support for the actions undertaken» by Moreno, according to a joint statement. All seven countries have right-wing governments that see Moreno's moderate socialist administration as an important regional ally against Venezuela. - Call for early election - Correa meanwhile called for early elections, citing «serious social upheaval,» while denying Moreno's accusations that he was fomenting a coup. «There's no coup here. Conflicts in democracy are resolved at the polls,» the Belgium-based Correa said in a video published on social media. Correa, who was president of the Andean nation from 2007-17, is wanted in his homeland on suspicion of ordering the kidnapping of a political opponent while he was president. Some 20,000 protesters were due to arrive in the capital by Wednesday, according to indigenous umbrella organization CONAIE. Thousands have already reached the capital and camped in parks or occupied buildings. The country has been rocked by demonstrations after increases of up to 120 percent in fuel prices came into force on October 3. They have so far left one civilian dead and 77 people injured, the majority of them security forces, the government said. A total of 477 people have been detained. Moreno scrapped fuel subsidies as part of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to obtain loans despite Ecuador's high public debt. The subsidies were costing the government $1.3 billion a year. The IMF agreement, signed in March, allowed Ecuador to borrow $4.2 billion. © Agence France-Presse

New French ambassador lauds relations with Seychelles just as Air France is set to launch flights

France will continue to support Seychelles in the fight against the impact of climate change, piracy and drug trafficking, said the newly accredited French Ambassador. Dominique Mas presented his credentials to President Danny Faure at State House, on Tues
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New French ambassador lauds relations with Seychelles just as Air France is set to launch flights

France will continue to support Seychelles in the fight against the impact of climate change, piracy and drug trafficking, said the newly accredited French Ambassador. Dominique Mas presented his credentials to President Danny Faure at State House, on Tuesday at State House in Victoria. Mas told reporters said that the relations between the two countries were excellent and rich and that he would work to strengthen them further. The areas of cooperation “will reinforce the closeness between Seychelles and France and as I assume my responsibilities it is my desire, my ambition, to become the coordinator of the cooperation networks so that it becomes more efficient,” he said. Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, established diplomatic relations with France on June 29, 1976. Mas said that “Seychelles and France are very close not only because we share maritime borders through neighbouring countries Reunion and Mayotte, but we are also very close because we share common ideas and objectives such as our fight against climate change and protection of the environment.” According to State House, Faure considers “the competence and the human qualities of the new diplomat as the opening a new era of friendship and enhanced cooperation. A friendship built around the democratic and human values that the two countries share.” Cooperation between the two countries is expected to pick up when the French national airline -- Air France -- starts direct flights from Paris to Seychelles as of November. France is currently the second-leading market for visitors to Seychelles. Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics show that up to the middle of September, just shy of 30,000 French nationals have visited the island nation. 

Sri Lanka faces costliest election, longest ballot paper

A record number of candidates for Sri Lanka's presidential poll next month has led to the longest-ever ballot paper and the most expensive vote in the country's history, the Election Commission said Tuesday. Thirty five candidates are running in the Novembe
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Sri Lanka faces costliest election, longest ballot paper

A record number of candidates for Sri Lanka's presidential poll next month has led to the longest-ever ballot paper and the most expensive vote in the country's history, the Election Commission said Tuesday. Thirty five candidates are running in the November 16 poll, the highest number in any single ballot, Elections Commission chief Mahinda Deshapriya told reporters in Colombo. «The ballot paper will be the longest-ever we have had,» he said. «It will be 26 inches (65 centimetres) long. »With the increase in the size of the ballot paper, we will have to import plastic ballot boxes because the wooden boxes we have with us will not be big enough." The cost of the election was originally estimated at some $22 million, but it is now thought that will rise to $28 million, officials said. Sri Lanka does not have electronic voting machines and ballots are counted manually, with the results expected the day after the polls. The authorities allow each candidate to have two polling agents at each of the 11,000 voting booths across the nation. The minimum voting age is 18 and 16 million people are eligible to vote. There are two Buddhist monks and just one woman among the 35 people running for president of the nation of 21 million people. Former president Mahinda Rajapakse's younger brother Gotabhaya, 70, is the frontrunner while his main challenger is 52-year-old Housing Minister Sajith Premadasa. © Agence France-Presse

New EU Ambassador to Seychelles talks climate change, fisheries with President

The European Union (EU) hopes to further its relationship with Seychelles through financing and supporting the implementation of various projects of common interest, said the newly-accredited Ambassador. Vincent Degert presented his credential as the new E
Seychelles News Agency

New EU Ambassador to Seychelles talks climate change, fisheries with President

The European Union (EU) hopes to further its relationship with Seychelles through financing and supporting the implementation of various projects of common interest, said the newly-accredited Ambassador. Vincent Degert presented his credential as the new EU ambassador to Seychelles to President Danny Faure on Tuesday at State House in the capital, Victoria. “We have moved from development issues to a high-income country as Seychelles is today. It doesn’t mean that the relationship is not more intense, we have international challenges that we need to confront together. We want to discuss that and to see how this partnership which is extremely solid can continue on the international scene as well as regionally,” said Degert.  The relationship between Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, and the EU dates back to 1977. Degert told reporters that his meeting with Faure was an opportunity to discuss current and new avenues of cooperation between the two sides. Sustainable fisheries management, maritime security, trade and investment, climate change and piracy are some of the areas of common interest that were highlighted. On the issue of climate change, Degert said that it is affecting Seychelles and the surrounding islands and the EU wants to tackle these issues. As for concrete action, the EU needs to educate the masses and work towards lowering our carbon emission and the temperature, he said.  The EU Ambassador and Faure discussed how to further develop trade and investment. Degert said that “more and more we are seeing conflicting trade relationships but we want peaceful relationships with all our partners. This is why have signed a trade agreement 10 years ago.  Seychelles has been a key benefiter from this.” In June last year, Seychelles received around $12 million to improve trade facilitation and enhance the capacity of the public and private sectors under a signed economic partnership agreement with the EU. The economic partnership agreement is expected to boost Seychelles’ exports by encouraging economic diversification, the production of higher-value products and the exploitation of niche markets. Currently, 58 percent of Seychellois exports go to European markets. The EU ambassador added that “we are discussing on our new fishery agreement that I hope we would be able to announce very soon.” Seychelles and the EU are currently holding the third round of negotiations for a new ‘Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol. The current agreement between the EU and Seychelles entered into force in 2007 and lasts until November. Fisheries is the second top pillar of the Seychelles’ economy.    Degert will be serving a four-year mandate as the EU Ambassador and head of delegation to Seychelles. He is also EU’s representative to Mauritius, Comoros and the Indian Ocean Commission. 

Seychelles to open diplomatic mission in neighbouring Mauritius for first time

Seychelles will set up a first diplomatic mission based in Mauritius with the aim of elevating the relationship between the two countries, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday. The governments of the two island nations believe that a Seychelloi
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles to open diplomatic mission in neighbouring Mauritius for first time

Seychelles will set up a first diplomatic mission based in Mauritius with the aim of elevating the relationship between the two countries, the Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday. The governments of the two island nations believe that a Seychellois diplomatic mission in Mauritius will bring the existing relationship to “new heights and widen their scope of cooperation for mutual benefit.” Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, and Mauritius established bilateral relations on June 17, 1988. The mission will be an important milestone in the history of bilateral relations between the two countries linked by historical ties, insular affinities and strong bonds of friendship. The Department said that a Seychellois diplomatic mission based in Mauritius “will allow the two countries to regularly partake in political dialogue regarding pressing regional and international issues, especially those of shared interest.” No further details were given on when the mission will be set up. The announcement comes almost two years after the Seychelles’ President Danny Faure visited Mauritius. After a working session with Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Faure said, “The relation between our two countries is one which is holistic, covering a wide array of areas: diplomacy, culture, trade and commerce, education among others.” During his visit in October 2017, Faure signed four agreements. The agreements included cooperation in the field of Management of Operations and staff training between the Seychelles Prison Service and the Mauritius Prison Service, a twinning relationship between the Island of Rodrigues and the Island of La Digue and recruitment of teachers and other specialists in the education sector from Mauritius. In more recent developments between the two countries, since July this year, Air Mauritius is flying to Seychelles twice weekly -- Tuesdays and Saturdays at 11.10 a.m. and 1.10 a.m. In August, the State Bank of Mauritius opened in Seychelles focusing on digital banking services. 

Seychelles' Anti-Narcotics Bureau concerned by amount of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy trafficked in region

The Seychelles’ Anti-Narcotics Bureau (ANB) and its regional partners have expressed concerns over the amount of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis being imported and trafficked within the Indian Ocean region. ANB stressed “the dangers and seriousne
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' Anti-Narcotics Bureau concerned by amount of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy trafficked in region

The Seychelles’ Anti-Narcotics Bureau (ANB) and its regional partners have expressed concerns over the amount of heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis being imported and trafficked within the Indian Ocean region. ANB stressed “the dangers and seriousness which the importation and trafficking of controlled drugs carry, especially heroin and cocaine, both of which are Class A controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 2016.” Heroin and cocaine are being mixed and pushed by traffickers through cannabis rollups and these drugs are considered to be among the strongest and highest-ranking dangerous drugs worldwide, the Bureau said in a weekend statement. ANB added that in collaboration with local customs officers since January 2019 to date, the Bureau has seized in total 2.36 kg of cocaine in several cases at the Seychelles International Airport. The cocaine seizures were made in July, August and September. This included 1.94 kg from a Brazilian national, 252.4 grammes from a Kenyan woman with both foreigners arriving on Ethiopian Airlines, and 167.9 grammes from a Seychellois arriving onboard Air Seychelles. The amount seized in 2018 was 244.4 grammes. The Bureau said it has seized 5.6 kg of heroin in 2019. An amount of 8.82 kg was seized in 2018.   As for ecstasy (methylenedioxymethamphetamine pills), the seizures for 2019 amounted to 780.3 grammes compared to the 552.7 grammes for the whole of 2018. Seizures for cannabis in 2019 to date is 12.3 kg while for 2018 was 18.63 kg. ANB said it is reemphasising Seychelles' zero-tolerance policy towards narco-trafficking. The Bureau, together with its regional partners, is conducting international investigation and operations to disrupt local and international drug networks. “More efforts are being placed on those persons who participate in the financing of drug transactions and on the irregular money transactions to countries of interest for drug trafficking origin,” the Bureau added. In Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, the trafficking and importation of these drugs carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. 

First 'Brave the Shave' event in Seychelles raising funds for cancer centre

Some ten ladies courageously shaved off their hair on Saturday, as a sign of solidarity for cancer patients and victims, during the first of its kind event in Seychelles. ‘Brave the Shave’ is an international fundraising activity, with the proceeds goin
Seychelles News Agency

First 'Brave the Shave' event in Seychelles raising funds for cancer centre

Some ten ladies courageously shaved off their hair on Saturday, as a sign of solidarity for cancer patients and victims, during the first of its kind event in Seychelles. ‘Brave the Shave’ is an international fundraising activity, with the proceeds going to cancer victims and their family. The initiator of this activity in Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - Sylvie Ah-Time, said that funds raised will go to the local Cancer Concern Association. “Each participant braving the shave is being sponsored. This money will be given to Cancer Concern Association and they will be building a centre that will provide support to cancer patients and survivors as well as the family who have lost loved ones,” said Ah-Time. A crowd of locals and visitors gathered in front of the post office in Seychelles’ capital, Victoria, to encourage the women who were shaving their hair for charity. A few men were also sponsored to either shave their hair, beard or colour-spray their hair or beard. The public also had the option to show their support. For those who didn’t want to shave off their hair completely, there was the option of doing side-shaves or have coloured extensions braided in. People who did not want to shave off their hair had other options. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY  Ah-Time explained that after her dad was diagnosed with cancer five years ago, she didn’t shave her hair in solidarity with him, and has had regrets ever since. She said that “shaving one’s hair off is challenging whether you choose to do so or is going through chemotherapy and losing hair.” “My mom lost her best friend, and I have a friend living with cancer right now. I wanted to do this for everyone, especially the ladies,” added Ah-Time. “Hair for a woman is important and when a woman loses or shaves off her hair, she is vulnerable as she does not know how society will look at her. Are you ready as an individual to look at yourself in the mirror without your hair?” concluded Ah-Time. The island nation Vice President -- Vincent Meriton, the health minister -- Jean-Paul Adam, and some members of the National Assembly also joined in the charity act. Prices for shaving, colouring or braiding varied from $4 to $7. T-Shirts and books were also on sale as part of the fundraising activity. Though the act is not close to comparable to a cancer patient losing their hair, many of the participants and people present said that ‘Brave the Shave’ is a great way to raise fund and awareness about cancer, supporting victims in the process. «I am very satisfied and my shave turned out really good. It was a decision I took this morning as I have family members who have died from breast cancer and I also know people who are suffering from cancer, and this is my way of supporting them. To all the ladies out there, there is no need to fear making a change in your appearance,» said Stephanie Wong, one of the ladies who shaved off her hair. Another partaker in the event, Elke Talma, said that “it is a bit stressful as there are a lot of people looking at you but the shave feels nice.” “Hair grows back but right now, I’ll be saving some money on hair products and plus, if I like the look, I might keep it,” added Talma. ‘Brave the Shave’ is the first of a series of activities that will be carried out in the island nation throughout October as part of the cancer awareness month.   SNA presents a series of pictures of the 'Brave and Shave' fundraising event. (Salifa Karapetyan) Photo License: CC-BY    

Seychelles' Truth and Reconciliation commission opens second session; will hear 23 cases

The Seychelles’ Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission opened its second session on Monday. The Commission is expected to meet for 10 days and hear 23 cases, twice the number heard in the first session last month. Among the witnesses giving t
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' Truth and Reconciliation commission opens second session; will hear 23 cases

The Seychelles’ Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission opened its second session on Monday. The Commission is expected to meet for 10 days and hear 23 cases, twice the number heard in the first session last month. Among the witnesses giving testimony will be a former army personnel and a former chief of police. Meanwhile, the Commission has confirmed that former President James Michel has declined its invitation to appear as a witness. Speaking to SNA, the Commission’s chairperson, Gabrielle McIntyre, said three requests were made to former President Michel to appear before the commission in relation to the June 5, 1977 coup d’etat. McIntyre said the commission wanted to get Michel’s side of the events, specifically in the death of Davidson Chang-Him, who was shot dead at the police headquarters in Victoria. The letter was sent on August 12. "We wanted to have him to appear as a witness in the shooting. He declined the invitation on the basis that he was not an eyewitness to the shooting of Davidson Chang Him,” she said. McIntyre added that in two subsequent letters the Commission invited Michel to give evidence about circumstances that led to the shooting and the coup d’etat in general. “As he was a participant, we thought he would be a perfect person to give us evidence about that. The third letter urged him to come as we thought it was important to the country and to the people that he gives evidence on the coup d’etat and the regime of the day,” added McIntyre. She told SNA that both letters went unanswered. The chairperson explained that so far the Commission has not summoned Michel and in the event that it does, he has the right to come but not to answer if he fears whatever he says might incriminate him. “So we didn’t see much point in forcing him to come. We wanted to say you have a responsibility to come and by not coming you are laying everything at the feet of those people that supported you and that’s unfair,” added McIntyre. “You were the leader, you should come you should answer and put your side to the story,” she further added. The Commission says other than the Chang-Him’s case, Michel’s name came up in another case as he was the one who signed the detention orders. Michel’s lawyer was not available for comment. The Commission says it is setting up a Skype system for Seychellois who are living abroad for them to be able to testify before the commission. It says that in the event that Michel, who presently resides outside Seychelles, decides to come forward, he can also give his testimony via Skype. Meanwhile, the Commission has confirmed that one of its commissioners - Pierre Rosario Domingue – has resigned. McIntyre says this does not affect the composition of the commission. “As long as we are four people, we are properly constituted for a hearing. As a commission, a person can resign and we can still be properly constituted. Under the Act it doesn’t matter if we are one foreigner short,” said McIntyre. The commission will be filing complaints for six months, a process that started in August. To date over 100 cases have been lodged to the commissioners.  The truth and reconciliation process leading towards national unity will be implemented in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, over a three-year period. 

UK completes Thomas Cook repatriation of passengers

Britain's government on Monday completed the country's biggest peacetime repatriation that returned 140,000 UK-based Thomas Cook customers stranded abroad after the collapse of the holiday operator. The final flight arrived at 8.31 am (0731 GMT), touching do
Seychelles News Agency

UK completes Thomas Cook repatriation of passengers

Britain's government on Monday completed the country's biggest peacetime repatriation that returned 140,000 UK-based Thomas Cook customers stranded abroad after the collapse of the holiday operator. The final flight arrived at 8.31 am (0731 GMT), touching down at Manchester airport in northern England from Orlando, Florida, said a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The flight, with 392 passengers onboard, marks the end of two-week-long Operation Matterhorn -- Britain's biggest repatriation since World War II. Matterhorn, which involved 150 aircraft from 50 partners worldwide, «required an extraordinary effort from all involved,» CAA chief executive Richard Moriarty said in a statement. Moriarty paid tribute «to the many amazing former Thomas Cook employees» who helped to make the operation successful. «It needed an unprecedented team effort from our commercial partners, our friends across government and my colleagues at the CAA,» he added. The regulator on Monday said it would now launch its largest ever customer reimbursement programme under the Air Travel Organiser's Licence (ATOL) scheme. The scheme is a safety net, based on an EU directive and managed by the CAA, which covers tourists who have bought all-inclusive trips with flights and hotels. «We know that customers are devastated by the cancellation of their holidays,» Moriarty said. «Those who bought a Thomas Cook ATOL-protected holiday are entitled to a full refund of all the money they have paid towards the cost of their holiday. »In addition to this, ATOL protected passengers that were abroad when the company went into liquidation might be able to claim for out of pocket expenses." Debt-plagued Thomas Cook, which struggled against fierce online competition for years and blamed Brexit uncertainty for a drop in bookings, declared bankruptcy on September 23 after failing to secure fresh funds. © Agence France-Presse

Iraqi PM pledges reforms to calm angry protests

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi's cabinet issued a series of reforms early Sunday after an «extraordinary» session overnight in response to sweeping anti-government rallies that have left nearly 100 dead. Iraqis have gathered in Baghdad an
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Iraqi PM pledges reforms to calm angry protests

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi's cabinet issued a series of reforms early Sunday after an «extraordinary» session overnight in response to sweeping anti-government rallies that have left nearly 100 dead. Iraqis have gathered in Baghdad and across the south since Tuesday to demand widespread government reforms, which Abdel Mahdi had promised to tackle when he came into power just under a year ago. Early Sunday, his cabinet issued a decree including more than a dozen planned reforms, including land distributions, military enlistment and increased welfare stipends for needy families. In response to staggering youth unemployment, which has reached around 25 percent according to the World Bank, the government said it would create large market complexes and boost benefits for those without work. In the southern city of Kut last month, a young Iraqi man died after he set himself alight in despair after authorities seized his mobile kiosk. The public sector remains the largest employer in Iraq, a country of 40 million people, but it has struggled to absorb new university graduates in recent years. Local authorities also recently cleared housing units built without proper permits, which a total of three million Iraqis live in across the country. Starting Tuesday, protesters gathered in Baghdad and spread to the country's Shiite-majority south, defying an internet blackout, tear gas and even live rounds. The mainly male, young crowds say they are not backed by any political or religious establishment and have attacked a broad range of political party offices. The Iraqi Human Rights Commission said Saturday that 99 people have died and nearly 4,000 have been wounded since protests kicked off. The government has officially designated those killed as «martyrs,» granting their families a special set of benefits. Parliament speaker Mohammed al-Halbusi also pledged a range of reforms in a meeting with lawmakers on Saturday, but did not hold his planned legislative session as the body failed to reach quorum. © Agence France-Presse

Fresher, more flowery scent to be unveiled by Seychellois perfume maker

To celebrate 30 years of productions, a local perfumery in Seychelles -- North East Point Enterprises -- is getting ready to launch a new perfume under its 'Kreolfleurage' brand, which will surely leave buyers smelling fresh. Expected to appear on the marke
Seychelles News Agency

Fresher, more flowery scent to be unveiled by Seychellois perfume maker

To celebrate 30 years of productions, a local perfumery in Seychelles -- North East Point Enterprises -- is getting ready to launch a new perfume under its 'Kreolfleurage' brand, which will surely leave buyers smelling fresh. Expected to appear on the market in time for the festive seasons, the new perfume has been created by the mother-son duo Dagmar Ehlert and Daniel Hugelmann, who own and run the small company. “Right now, we do not want to reveal the name of the perfume but what we can say is that it will have a fresh and flowery scent,” said Hugelmann. Based along the coastal road of North East Point in the north of Seychelles’ main island of Mahe, the perfumery employs only two Seychellois. With the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore mere meters away, the small home-based business attracts quite a lot of tourists. New perfume has been created by the mother-son duo Dagmar Ehlert and Daniel Hugelmann, who own and run the small company. (Kreolfleurage) Photo License: All Rights Reserved Since the conception of the company, the targeted market of ‘Kreolfleurage’ were visitors to the island nation.  “Sales are seasonal depending on the number of tourists and this has, until now, been the main market that we target. Now we would like to branch out more on the local market and to achieve this, we have been doing more advertising on Facebook and Instagram, and we are also trying to be present in more local shops,” said Hugelmann. Founded in 1988, the company released the first two fragrances a year later and gradually introduced two others before the early 2000s. All the scents created are inspired by the multitude of aromatic plants and woods of the region, and each perfume is based on a finely balanced mixture of essential oils. ‘Bwanwar’ and ‘Bambou’ contain a blend of ylang-ylang, nutmeg, and vetiver essential oils, among others, giving them an oriental-exotic and flowery scent respectively. The scent of ‘Ambre Vert’ is described as spicy and ‘Takamaka’ – a discontinued perfume – was crafted for men. Bwanwar and Ambre Vert perfume of the Kreolfleurage brand. (Kreolfleurage) Photo License: All Rights Reserved “Perfume is something very personal as it smells different on every skin. ‘Bwanwar’ and ‘Ambre Vert’ are very popular with both men and women. ‘Bamboo’ has a more feminine scent but we have had men buy it for themselves,” explained Hugelmann. It is part of the brand’s philosophy to remain a small and exclusive perfumery with a limited collection of fragrances. Hugelmann added that at any giving point in time, the company does not want to have more than four perfumes in its portfolio “because otherwise, our clients will be overwhelmed when they smell our selection, as the human nose will «shut down» and require some time to recover after smelling just a few intense scents.” The bottle holders, handcrafted from selected local wood such as bois noir, calice du pape, and santol, give each flacon an individual and original touch. The company produces pure perfume and Eau de parfum which costs $36 and $29 respectively. Aside from the perfumery, the ‘Kreolfleurage’ products can be purchased at the Seychelles International Airport Duty-Free, Pineapple Studios at Barbarons and Baie Lazare, the Banyan Tree Resort at Takamaka and Tanny's Boutique in Victoria. The owners have introduced a line of assorted souvenirs, gifts and home décor items under the brand name of ‘Monsoon Collection’. (Kreolfleurage) Photo License: All Rights Reserved Apart from Mahe, these are also sold at Otantik de Zil and Kokosye on La Digue, the third most populated island of the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. Hugelmann explained that perfume making starts with a recipe. The first batch is made by mixing the essential oils as per the recipe, which then needs to ripen for about 10 to 12 days. Following this, the alcohol is mixed in and the fragrance is left to mature for several weeks. The perfume then goes to a series of filtration and bottled. “Perfume making requires meticulous work. When designing a perfume, you have to make the first batch and it is only then that you will know if you need to add or remove something which brings you to the second batch. This process continues until you get the product that you want, and hence why designing a perfume can take up to two years,” said Hugelmann. To complement the perfumery, the owners have introduced a line of assorted souvenirs, gifts, and home décor items, which they sell under the brand name of ‘Monsoon Collection’. ‘Kreolfleurage’ and ‘Monsoon Collection’ are part of the ‘North East Point Enterprises’. 

African diaspora cheer on Doha athletics championships

Dozens of African running fans lined Doha's seafront to glimpse their countrymen vie for gold in the World Athletics Championships men's marathon, singing loudly and brandishing national flags. At the halfway point, all six of the leaders were from Africa, a
Seychelles News Agency

African diaspora cheer on Doha athletics championships

Dozens of African running fans lined Doha's seafront to glimpse their countrymen vie for gold in the World Athletics Championships men's marathon, singing loudly and brandishing national flags. At the halfway point, all six of the leaders were from Africa, and Ethiopians were first and second across the line while a Kenyan picked up bronze following the midnight event. «We just came here to celebrate our athletes, from Laban Korir on, they're our Kenyans! We want to make them feel at home,» said Cornelius Bor ahead of the race which finished in the early hours of Sunday. Bor's friend Elliot Kirwa, a runner turned security officer, said «we are supposed to sleep, we are supposed to go to work -- but we had to come and cheer them». «My duty is 4:00 a.m. but I will first finish watching them, then I will go there -- and I'm so happy, so proud of them,» added Bor who then chanted «one, two, three Kenya!». «(On Sunday) we have 10,000m, Julius Yego in the javelin. He will clear Khalifa stadium!» Nearby another group of men chanted and danced in unison, draping the Kenyan colours over an advertising hoarding. Kenya's Amos Kipruto, who won bronze, told AFP his countrymen «gave me morale». «This medal I dedicate to all my fans in Doha,» he said. «When I win, Kenyans win.» Many other migrant workers turned out in force to support runners from their native countries at the event which saw Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa win gold in two hours 10 minutes 40 seconds. - 'We feel at home' - Kenyans make up roughly 30,000 of Qatar's 2.6 million population and are often employed as security guards while Ethiopians number around 25,000 according to official statistics. Kenyans were among a number of nations whose embassies in Doha handed out free tickets to their citizens following dismal crowds in the championships' opening days. «We feel at home,» said Bor, a security officer. Even more African supporters would have been able to attend if not for the tournament's late start times, often after 10:00 p.m. (1900 GMT) for finals, according to some diaspora members. «They put it at night and guys are working. At night time I don't think they made it. A few people (did), but not too much,» said Wilson Mwenji, a former runner from Nairobi resident in Doha for four years, as he prepared to watch the women's marathon on September 27. But Mercy, another Kenyan living in Qatar, said the championships had been «very well organised» as she walked past the main track venue, Doha's Khalifa stadium. «I love the fact that it is in the city and security is very amazing too. Kenya have been doing great, we got a gold medal for the men's 3,000m steeplechase,» she told AFP. «It's been great.» International Association of Athletics Federations president Sebastian Coe has said he wants to ensure athletics are «not just rooted in a handful of European capitals» -- but the flagship event has never been staged in Africa. Athletics and road races in particular are hugely popular on the continent and have fewer barriers to entry compared to other sports. © Agence France-Presse

Commonwealth targets climate change with regeneration projects

The Commonwealth on Friday launched an ideas-sharing network to tackle the effects of climate change through replicable regeneration projects. The 53-country bloc held a two-day brainstorming of indigenous groups, environmentalists, scientists and climate ch
Seychelles News Agency

Commonwealth targets climate change with regeneration projects

The Commonwealth on Friday launched an ideas-sharing network to tackle the effects of climate change through replicable regeneration projects. The 53-country bloc held a two-day brainstorming of indigenous groups, environmentalists, scientists and climate change experts at its headquarters in London. The Common Earth initiative will be a network of projects that can be copied and adapted to suit communities around the world. While the Commonwealth contains G20 industrial powers like Britain, Canada and Australia and emerging forces like India and Nigeria, many of its members are developing island microstates which feel exceptionally vulnerable to climate change. Ideas that can hold sway in the diverse Commonwealth tend to be taken up more widely, such as its climate change accords which were instrumental in the Paris COP21 UN climate conference deal in 2015. «This about looking at practical, existing strategies to clean streams, restore forests and damaged ecosystems, protect marine health, educate our populations and challenge the economic and development approaches that led to the decline of our planet,» said Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland. - Planning for hurricanes - Nichie Abo, a farmer from the indigenous Kalinago territory in Dominica who grows mangos and avocados, said 95 percent of the homes in his community were destroyed by Hurricane Maria in September 2017. The electricity network -- all above ground on poles -- was vulnerable to hurricanes and the area was left without power for more than a year. The community wants to make its electricity network independent of the national grid, with each home having its own power source such as solar panels or a wind turbine. They also want to construct a central building that can withstand hurricanes for use during emergencies and act as a community centre at other times. «We're looking for funding,» Abo told AFP. «It is going to happen again, so we need to be prepared. »This idea could be replicated across the Caribbean,« he added, citing the Bahamas, hit last month by the devastating Hurricane Dorian. The gathering also heard from contributors on developing more sustainable economic models. »We're in a time of crisis. Emergencies, historically, are a time of great innovation and often bring out the best in us,« said Stuart Cowan, regenerative development director at Capital Institute, a US-based finance think-tank. »We need to start from scratch. We need to design economies that allow people to flourish within the limits of a finite planet," he told AFP. With a eye on funding, Secretary-General Scotland is to take forward the meeting's initiatives to upcoming summits of Commonwealth trade and finance ministers. © Agence France-Presse

First in Seychelles: Female ship officer sets sights on making captain

Marie-Jeanne Pathon is the first Seychellois woman working as First Officer with the Inter-Island Boats Ltd, the mother company of ‘Cat Cocos’, one of leading fast ferry operators in Seychelles. Pathon, who has her sights set on becoming a captain, said
Seychelles News Agency

First in Seychelles: Female ship officer sets sights on making captain

Marie-Jeanne Pathon is the first Seychellois woman working as First Officer with the Inter-Island Boats Ltd, the mother company of ‘Cat Cocos’, one of leading fast ferry operators in Seychelles. Pathon, who has her sights set on becoming a captain, said that she is proud of her achievement and wants to see more women take up careers in navigation. “Navigation is not only for men. There are many women who are commanding big vessels as captains in the world and we have the possibility to do it in Seychelles. This is what I am aspiring to be in the future. I want to be a captain,” said Pathon – a resident of the southern district of Baie Lazare on the main island of Mahe. As the First Officer, Pathon has many responsibilities but safety always comes first. “All safety equipment onboard falls under my responsibility. As I am responsible for the safety of passengers and crew, I have to make sure that the crew has the proper gear and other materials needed for them to perform their duties. Safety is the number one priority onboard. The safety of our passengers comes first,” added the First Officer. The 36-year-old started her career in 2008 following her studies at the Seychelles Maritime School. During that time Pathon acquired experiences working on both small boats and big vessels – locally and internationally. Her career as a seafarer began in 2008 with the then Seychelles Marketing Board fleet of vessels. Four years later she joined Seychelles Petroleum Company (SEYPEC) to work on its fleet of tankers. Working on the tankers were times of trial for Pathon but it also allowed her to discover almost all of the European coasts as well as the western coast of Africa. “When I was working on the SEYPEC tankers abroad, I did encounter bad weather with very rough seas and scary high waves but I stayed focus and I did what I had to do. By staying focused it helps you overcome the fright you may have inside,” recalled Pathon. After four years, Pathon came back to Seychelles – a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – and took up skipper jobs travelling around the islands including outer ones such as the Aldabra Atoll. Marie Jeanne on Aldabra (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY As First Officer, Pathon works on all four vessels of Inter-Island Boats Ltd -- Isle of Mahe, Isle of Praslin, Isle of La Digue and Isle of La Digue Star -- which provides fast ferry service connecting the three main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. The sea offers many opportunities for careers but navigation and fisheries have remained male-dominated. But slowly this is changing with women taking the lead. Isabella Houareau, who is involved in the fisheries and maritime sector, said “this is a fast-growing industry and one which brings many challenges and opportunities for growth. The industry controls the economic health of our country and the participation of women in maritime activity is critical in harnessing the full potential of the blue economy.” As for First Officer Pathon, the sea is where her future lies.  “I want to be a captain. Nothing is impossible in life if you put your mind and passion into it and if you show that you are interested in something, people will help you. And this is also how I got started, by showing I was interested and people believed in me.” 

High-speed patrol boats among items Seychelles will receive from $ 7 million grant from Japan

Projects aimed at improving maritime security and the capacity of the police force in Seychelles will be funded through a $7 million grant from the Japanese government. The agreement for the Japan-Seychelles maritime security grant was signed on Thursday b
Seychelles News Agency

High-speed patrol boats among items Seychelles will receive from $ 7 million grant from Japan

Projects aimed at improving maritime security and the capacity of the police force in Seychelles will be funded through a $7 million grant from the Japanese government. The agreement for the Japan-Seychelles maritime security grant was signed on Thursday by Japanese Ambassador Tominaga Makoto and Seychelles’ Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon. The grant will cover the reconstruction of the Anti-Narcotics Bureau headquarters at Perseverance, a man-made island, and equip the maritime police unit with specialised equipment and high-speed patrol boats. The construction of a facility for the storage of marine vessels confiscated as exhibits during operations also falls under the grant. The police force will also benefit from workshops and capacity building. “Training and capacity building will help our officers become more efficient in carrying out duties related to the threats and risks that we are facing in our waters,” said Mondon. The Designated Minister and the Japanese Ambassador both agreed that maritime security is of crucial importance for both island nations. The agreement for the grant was signed on Thursday by Japanese Ambassador Tominaga Makoto and Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY “It is true that piracy has decreased but it remains a threat for all of us in the region. We appreciate that your government has accepted to support the Seychelles police and the anti-narcotics bureau when it comes to maritime security,” she said. On his part, Makoto said that though “the number of pirate activities has decreased drastically, crimes such as drug smuggling, smuggling of small weapons and Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing have increased.” The deputy commissioner for operation in the police force, Romano Songor, said that “the grant will help us greatly as we currently have a lack of resources, manpower and infrastructure that inhibits us from carrying out our operations to the fullest.” The foundation for the grant was laid during a bilateral discussion between Seychelles’ President Danny Faure and Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzō Abe while the two diplomats were attending the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) held in Yokohama, Japan, in August. During that meeting, the two leaders also discussed the possibility of attracting Japanese companies in oil and gas exploration and exploitation in Seychelles. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Seychelles and Japan in 1976, the 115-island archipelago of the western Indian Ocean has benefitted with support given by Japan in fields such as environment, disaster risk management, education and fisheries.

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