Seychelles



North Korea fires 'missile', insists on right to weapons tests

Nuclear-armed North Korea fired what appeared to be a short-range missile into the sea on Tuesday, the South's military said, as Pyongyang's UN ambassador insisted it had an undeniable right to test its weapons. The projectile was fired from the northern pro
Seychelles News Agency

North Korea fires 'missile', insists on right to weapons tests

Nuclear-armed North Korea fired what appeared to be a short-range missile into the sea on Tuesday, the South's military said, as Pyongyang's UN ambassador insisted it had an undeniable right to test its weapons. The projectile was fired from the northern province of Jagang into waters off the east coast, according to the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff, and a Japanese defence ministry spokesman told AFP it «appears to be a ballistic missile». Less than an hour later, Pyongyang's United Nations ambassador Kim Song told the UN General Assembly in New York: «Nobody can deny the right to self-defence for the DPRK», the North's official name. It is the latest in a series of mixed messages from Pyongyang, coming days after leader Kim Jong Un's influential sister Kim Yo Jong, a key adviser to her brother, dangled the prospect of an inter-Korean summit. But she insisted that «impartiality» and mutual respect would be required, calling for the South to «stop spouting an impudent remark». She condemned as «double standards» South Korean and US criticism of the North's military developments, while the allies build up their own capacities. Washington condemned the North's latest launch, calling it a «threat» to Pyongyang's neighbours and the international community. «This launch is in violation of multiple UN Security Council Resolutions,» the US State Department said in a statement, adding: «Our commitment to the defence of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad.» In recent days, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has only months left in office, reiterated at the UN General Assembly his longstanding calls for a formal declaration of an end to the Korean War. The North invaded the South in 1950 and hostilities ceased three years later with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, leaving them technically still in a state of conflict. Pyongyang is under multiple sets of international sanctions over its banned programmes to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. In his own General Assembly speech, ambassador Kim Song said North Korea had a right to «develop, test, manufacture and possess» weapons systems equivalent to those of the South and its US ally. «We are just building up our national defence in order to defend ourselves and reliably safeguard the security and peace of the country,» he said. - 'Heinous human rights abuser' - Pyongyang has already carried out several missile launches this month, one involving long-range cruise missiles and another that the South's military said was of short-range ballistic missiles. Seoul also successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile for the first time, making it one of a handful of nations with the advanced technology. Talks between Pyongyang and Washington have been largely at a standstill since a 2019 summit in Hanoi between leader Kim and then-president Donald Trump collapsed over sanctions relief and what the North would be willing to give up in return. The North has since then repeatedly excoriated the South and its president Moon, and blown up a liaison office on its side of the border that Seoul had built. After an emergency meeting, the South's National Security Committee issued a statement Tuesday saying it «expressed regret for the launch at a time when political stability on the Korean Peninsula is very critical». Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, told AFP: «It looks like North Korea wants to see how genuine Seoul is when it comes to its willingness to improve inter-Korean ties -- and to officially end the Korean War.» «Pyongyang will monitor and study Moon's reaction after today's launch and decide on what they want to do on things such as restoring the inter-Korean hotline,» he added. Washington stations around 28,500 troops in the South to defend it against its neighbour and protect US interests in northeast Asia. The administration of US President Joe Biden has repeatedly said that it is willing to meet North Korean officials anywhere, at any time, without preconditions, in its efforts to seek denuclearisation. But the North has not shown any willingness to give up its arsenal, which it says it needs to defend itself against a US invasion. On Monday, the North's official Korean Central News Agency carried an article calling the United States «the most heinous human rights abuser in the world» for its sanctions policies on various countries. The North was also due to open a session of its rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly, on Tuesday. © Agence France-Presse

Training seeks to lower cases of gender-based violence in Seychelles

Seychelles recorded 38 cases of gender-based violence from April to September, a crime statistic that a government ministry and U.S. Embassy are seeking to lower through a three-day training. The training, which is being organised by the Family Department i
Seychelles News Agency

Training seeks to lower cases of gender-based violence in Seychelles

Seychelles recorded 38 cases of gender-based violence from April to September, a crime statistic that a government ministry and U.S. Embassy are seeking to lower through a three-day training. The training, which is being organised by the Family Department in the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Family in collaboration with the Embassy of the United States, started on Monday at Eden Bleu. In her address at the opening of the session, the Minister for Youth, Sports and Family, Marie-Celine Zialor said, «It is disheartening to acknowledge that we still have to address this topic. You would think that given all the progress that we have made in our history as human beings, that we would know better by now and that we would do better by now.»   Zialor said that «this workshop will equip the participants with the ideal knowledge and skills in order to help perpetrators as well as the victims to bounce back. We have to co-exist in society.» During the sessions, the participants will learn about behaviour change and empathy, evidence-based trauma and informed care. Behaviours of youth will also be covered as well the finalisation of targeted needs assessments. A gender-based violence study in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, in 2016 revealed that both men and women are victims. The study showed over 58 percent of women and 43 percent of men have experienced some form of gender-based violence. «As we strategise on ways to mitigate the situation, we are enthusiastic about bringing hope to our families,» said the minister. With the aim to reinforce the awareness and seek the support of various partners to achieve concrete actions, the participants of the training include representatives from the Seychellois society. Also attending are police officers, the legal department as well as spiritual leaders. Seychelles took a step forward to better protect victims of domestic violence in May last year when the National Assembly voted for the Domestic Violence Act which was subsequently assented to by the then president Danny Faure. The Act prohibits violence in the domestic context, whether caused through emotional, verbal, physical, sexual, economic, or psychological abuse as defined by law. It also provides for the protection of victims of domestic violence and for penalties for the perpetrators. Since 2012, Seychelles has joined the rest of the world to commemorate Orange Day and 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence from November 25 to December 10. The campaign initiated by the United Nations seeks to mobilise civil society, activists, government as well as the public in general.

Corruption alert: Seychellois man who left country despite tax issues raises questions

A failure to stop a Seychellois man who had unresolved tax issues from leaving the country suggests that there could be an element of corruption present in government operations, said a top official on Monday. The Minister for Internal Affairs, Errol Fonseka
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Corruption alert: Seychellois man who left country despite tax issues raises questions

A failure to stop a Seychellois man who had unresolved tax issues from leaving the country suggests that there could be an element of corruption present in government operations, said a top official on Monday. The Minister for Internal Affairs, Errol Fonseka, was answering questions brought forth by Ralph Volcere, editor of the Seychelles Independent newspaper. In his letter to the minister, Volcere requested a press interview in regards to the owner of a construction company whom he said «fled to Kenya to avoid complying with court rulings and there was a warrant out for his arrest.» Volcere said the Seychellois man «was allowed to enter the country just a few weeks ago and allowed out again without the intervention of the law enforcement agencies, which includes both the police and the immigration, which (are) two agencies directly under your portfolio.» «When the person in question was leaving the country, there was an alert, related to an employment issue, which was picked up by the immigration officer. The man was subsequently held by the immigration officers until his lawyer provided evidence that the matter had already been resolved and he was then allowed to leave,» said Fonseka. The minister said that after the departure of the Seychellois male, his department dug further and new information has shown that there was another case from 2018 that should have alerted the immigration officers, but somehow this was missed. «This case from 2018 is for a serious matter relating to unresolved tax arrears and the alert should have been picked up by the officer. How it was not picked up remains unclear, but I will be sending the case to the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS), to investigate,» added Fonseka. The Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles is a body created to investigate and prosecute matters relating to corruption in the island nation in the western Indian Ocean.   The minister shared his concerns that these alerts should have also been picked up upon the man's arrival in the country and this is a matter he will have to deal with. Fonseka said his investigations have shown that there were no warrants issued for the man's arrest. «What we know now is that the man is out of the country at the moment and he has a court date scheduled for October 6, and if he does not show up and the court gives a warrant for his arrest, then we will take it up and deal with the matter,» he said.

Germany heads into unknown as rivals scramble to lead next government

Germany headed into a period of unpredictability Monday after a tight election saw both main parties claim the right to lead Europe's biggest economy, leaving the question of who will succeed Angela Merkel wide open. Preliminary results showed that the centr
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Germany heads into unknown as rivals scramble to lead next government

Germany headed into a period of unpredictability Monday after a tight election saw both main parties claim the right to lead Europe's biggest economy, leaving the question of who will succeed Angela Merkel wide open. Preliminary results showed that the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) had won the largest share of the vote at 25.7 percent, according to figures on the election commission's website. Chancellor Merkel's centre-right CDU-CSU bloc garnered 24.1 percent, its worst showing in its seven-decade history. The Green party came third with 14.8 percent. An official announcement from the Federal Returning Officer is expected shortly. The SPD's chancellor candidate, Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Armin Laschet from Merkel's conservatives have each claimed a mandate to govern, setting off a scramble for potential coalition partners. For a country used to political stability after 16 years of Merkel's steady leadership, the coming weeks and months promise to be a rocky ride. Western allies are watching closely, aware that domestic preoccupations could blunt Germany's role on the international stage and create a leadership vacuum in Europe. Laschet, 60, and Scholz, 63, both said their goal was to have a new government in place before Christmas. Citizens «want a change in government,» said Scholz, who ran an error-free campaign that cast him as a safe pair of hands, contrasting sharply with Laschet's series of gaffes. - Poker game - «Scholz wants to be in power, so does Laschet. The poker game begins: who holds the better cards?» asked the best-selling Bild newspaper. In the fractured political landscape of the post-Merkel era, the most likely outcome will be a three-way alliance, ending the post-war tradition of two-party coalition governments. Scholz and Laschet will be looking to the Greens and the liberal, pro-business FDP party (11.5 percent) to make up the numbers needed for a parliamentary majority. The kingmakers however are not natural bedfellows, diverging strongly on issues like tax hikes and public investment in climate protection. Green chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock -- whose party hoped to do better with the climate crisis a top voter concern this year -- stayed vague about her preferred tie-up, saying only it was time for «a fresh start» in Germany. FDP leader Christian Lindner suggested sitting down with the Greens first before starting exploratory talks with the two bigger parties to speed up the process. «Europe is waiting for Germany to have a new government,» he said on Sunday evening. Lindner has signalled a preference for a «Jamaica» coalition with the CDU-CSU and the Greens -- named after those parties' black, green and yellow colours -- but has not ruled out a «traffic light» constellation with the SPD and the Greens. - Options - Laschet also evoked a sense of urgency on Sunday, saying Germany's stint as president of the G7 club of rich nations next year meant the country needed to have a government in place capable of taking action. «The new government must come into office soon,» he said, «definitely before Christmas». Neither the SPD nor the CDU-CSU want a repeat of the left-right «grand coalition» that has featured in three of Merkel's four governments. And no party will team up with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), whose score fell to 10.3 percent from nearly 13 percent at the last election in 2017 as its pet topic, immigration, fell off the agenda. The far-left Linke party also lost support and was on track to only narrowly reach the five-percent threshold needed to enter parliament. Until the complex negotiations are settled, Merkel will remain in her role in a caretaker capacity. Should the talks last beyond December 17, Merkel will overtake Helmut Kohl's record as Germany's longest-serving chancellor. - 'Hurts a lot' - Merkel is still Germany's most popular politician, whose voluntary departure marks a watershed moment for the country of 83 million people. Her legacy risks being tarnished however by the CDU-CSU's poor showing in Sunday's election, which saw the bloc fall below 30 percent for the first time in its history. In a painful illustration of the CDU's downfall, Merkel's own Baltic coast constituency -- which she had held since 1990 -- was taken by the Social Democrats. At the CDU's headquarters on Sunday, Alfons Thesing, 84, put his finger on the problem. «It hurts a lot that Merkel is no longer there,» he told AFP. Merkel, 67, will be likely be missed beyond Germany's borders too, having helped steer the European Union through years of turbulence that included a financial crisis, a migrant influx, Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic. While all Germany's main parties are pro-EU, none of her would-be successors can match her political gravitas. © Agence France-Presse 

Save Our Seas holding student competition to win an educational trip to Seychelles' D'Arros island

Sixteen adolescents in Seychelles have the opportunity to visit one of the country's outer islands through a competition offering a one-week environmental education camp on D'Arros. The competition, dubbed the D'Arros Experience, is open for residents of Sey
Seychelles News Agency

Save Our Seas holding student competition to win an educational trip to Seychelles' D'Arros island

Sixteen adolescents in Seychelles have the opportunity to visit one of the country's outer islands through a competition offering a one-week environmental education camp on D'Arros. The competition, dubbed the D'Arros Experience, is open for residents of Seychelles between 11 and 14 years and is being organised by the Save Our Seas Foundation. The Foundation seeks to educate young Seychellois on the importance of the ecosystems that form part of their national heritage while providing practical, hands-on field experience in a globally important ecological hotspot. Active since 2012, the Save Our Seas Foundation's D'Arros Research Centre has hosted researchers from around the world. The centre currently supports six long-term projects, including one of Seychelles' longest-running turtle-monitoring projects. The camp coordinator for the D'Arros Experience, Sheena Talma, said that «the competition winners will experience a varied research and education programme involving terrestrial surveys and expeditions to mangroves and sea-grass beds.» «The idea is to provide the students with a clear understanding of how all ecosystems, from the coast to the deeper ocean, are connected. D'Arros island is the perfect place to demonstrate that,» she added. A scientist who has been involved in numerous local and international research programmes, Talma is working with the Foundation's ambassador, Terence Vel from the University of Seychelles, to organise the D'Arros Experience in collaboration with the D'Arros Research centre's management team. The Foundation seeks to educate young Seychellois on the importance of the ecosystems that form part of their national heritage. (Save Our Seas Foundation) Photo License: CC-BY Interested participants need to submit an original story or poster that describes the powers that a superhero of their own invention would need to solve some of the world's biggest environmental challenges, such as climate change or marine pollution. To apply, a student needs to download the competition guidelines and read the rules and regulations and fill out an application that can be found on the foundation's website. Participants must send their submission to competition@saveourseas.com with the subject line «SOSF D'Arros Experience Competition 2021» with their names and surnames. Entries are open until October 3, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the camps will likely be held next year. «We are collaborating with the Ministries for Health and Education to proceed in a way that is safe for everyone involved. The actual timing of the camp will not only depend on the COVID-19 situation but will also coincide with school holidays. And we will take into account the season and favourable wind patterns, which are essential to operating safely in the Outer Islands,» said Talma. This is not the first time that Seychellois students have been given the chance to visit D'Arros. The competition was last organised in 2014 and is seen as an important component of the foundation's worldwide mission to promote environmental education and outreach. The founder of Save Our Seas, Abdulmohsen Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh, said in a press release that «we are passionate about inspiring the next generation of ocean stewards to ensure that the future of our blue planet is protected.» «We are delighted to offer the D'Arros Experience so that students can learn first-hand about the wonders of our seas. It is humbling to see previous attendees going on to carve out careers in marine conservation in Seychelles,» he added.

10 of Seychelles' tourism pioneers recognised for leadership, growth in industry

The recognition of tourism pioneers in Seychelles should serve as encouragement for the island nation's youth so that they know that at the end of the journey there is a reward, the tourism minister said on Monday. Minister Sylvestre Radegonde spoke during
Seychelles News Agency

10 of Seychelles' tourism pioneers recognised for leadership, growth in industry

The recognition of tourism pioneers in Seychelles should serve as encouragement for the island nation's youth so that they know that at the end of the journey there is a reward, the tourism minister said on Monday. Minister Sylvestre Radegonde spoke during a short ceremony to unveil the names of 10 people who have contributed to the progress the tourism industry of Seychelles has made so far. The pioneers recognised in this year's edition of the tourism festival were Doris Callais, Mary and Albert Geers, Gemma Jessie, Jeanne Legg, Lars-Eric Linblad, Kathy and Mike Mason, Joseph Monchouguy, Moulinie Guy, Jenny Pommeroy, and Marcel and Marie-France Savy. The names of the sixth batch of tourism pioneers were engraved on ceramic tiles displayed on concrete pillars at the Seychelles Tourism Pioneer Park, located at the entrance of the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA) at La Misere. The unveiling of the plaques coincided with World Tourism Day, which is celebrated on September 27 each year. The Park was opened in 2015 by former President James Michel to honour Seychellois who have dedicated their lives to the country's tourism industry. The location is also significant as it is where young people interested in the field are trained. Radegonde outlined that it is important for Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, to recognise people who have contributed to the industry, as it is the main economic pillar of the country. He went on to add that Monday's ceremony is the first time since the tradition started where the people who are being honoured are still alive.  «In the past, we recognised people who had already passed away. We believe that we need to give people recognition when they are alive. It is good that they know that their contribution is greatly appreciated,» said Redegonde. «The people we recognised today have been in the industry for many years, and people who know them saw how they started out - really small - and how, through hard work, they have been able to make it to where they are today,» he continued. Talking to the press after having received her award, Gemma Jessie, a former tour guide, said that she hadn't expected to be recognised today. «I feel really happy and proud. I poured my heart into my job. The recognition is a reward in itself. My advice to others is to never give up. Make sure that you know what you are doing and always put a smile on your face. If you do not know something, don't say just anything - research the topic and let your client know that you will get back to them. Nowadays, clients coming to Seychelles most probably know more than we do, as they do their research first. As such, we need to be well versed in what we are doing. As a guide, your greatest tool is information and the correct one at that,» said Jessie. Also addressing the youth, another pioneer, Mary Geers, said that nothing is really easy, but if you put your heart and everything that you have into it, you will go a long way. «This is what happened to me. When I was offered a job at the start of tourism, looking back today, I was then doing the job of five persons. Don't look at what you have to do, just do it with all your heart and energy,» she said.

Ahead of UN climate conference, Seychelles pledges to protect all mangroves, seagrass by 2030

Seychelles has pledged to protect 100 percent of its mangroves and seagrass ecosystem and reduce greenhouse gas emission by 24 percent by 2030 in its climate action plan submitted ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in Nov
Seychelles News Agency

Ahead of UN climate conference, Seychelles pledges to protect all mangroves, seagrass by 2030

Seychelles has pledged to protect 100 percent of its mangroves and seagrass ecosystem and reduce greenhouse gas emission by 24 percent by 2030 in its climate action plan submitted ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November. The climate change and environment ministry said in a press statement on Wednesday that Seychelles submitted its updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in July. The NDCs are national climate plans highlighting climate actions and targets by governments to respond to climate change. They work on a five-year cycle. The first round of submissions was in 2015 where 184 countries made their pledges. The second round was due last year, but most countries faced delays partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The ideal situation is for all countries to submit their commitments before the start of COP26 on November 1st where world leaders will come together to debate on climate change. In the chapter dedicated to the ocean and blue carbon in the Seychelles climate change plan, the island nation will protect at least 50 percent of its seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2025, and 100 percent by 2030. A long-term monitoring programme for seagrass and mangrove ecosystems by 2025 will be set up and it includes the greenhouse gas sink of the blue carbon ecosystems within the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory by 2025. Seychelles also commits to the implementation of its adopted Marine Spatial Plan and the effective management of the 30 percent marine protected areas within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.4 million square kilometres. In a virtual conference on climate change development in Africa last week, the Minister for Environment, Flavien Joubert said that «Seychelles needs solutions such as an economy that functions in a sustainable way, the creation of green jobs, energy-efficient buildings, cars with alternative driving technologies and simple measures such as planting trees.» Seychelles is set to achieve a decarbonised economy by boosting electricity generation from renewable energies. (Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Cange and Environment) Photo License :CC-BY  «The government of Seychelles is embarking on green investments built around renewable energy, sustainable transport solutions and nature-based rehabilitation which could deliver a significant number of additional jobs and increase in percentage of more value-added in the economy,» he added. In the long-term commitment in the climate change plan, the Seychelles' government is set to achieve a decarbonised economy by 2050. This will be done by boosting electricity generation from renewable energies, shift progressively to low carbon transport, use renewable energy for water supply mobilisation and secure a sustainable and resilient water management system. Seychelles will also give high priority to adaptation in its new plan in the hope that it improves its resilience to the impacts posed by climate change. The key contributions to adaptation will include appropriate coastal planning and management and the use of Nature-based Solutions for climate resilience. The Paris Agreement of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), aims to accelerate efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to limit the global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels while pursuing further efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees. Article 4 in the Paris Agreement makes a requirement that all parties shall prepare, communicate and maintain successive nationally determined contributions (NDCs) that it intends to achieve. The NDCs are national climate plans highlighting climate actions, and targets by governments to respond to climate change and they work on a five-year cycle.

South Asia eyes tourism revival with eased restrictions

Nepal has restarted visas on arrival for vaccinated tourists as South Asian nations attempt to revive tourism businesses devastated after 18 months of the pandemic. A near travel shutdown has been in place in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka fo
Seychelles News Agency

South Asia eyes tourism revival with eased restrictions

Nepal has restarted visas on arrival for vaccinated tourists as South Asian nations attempt to revive tourism businesses devastated after 18 months of the pandemic. A near travel shutdown has been in place in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka for more than a year as successive waves of coronavirus took a deadly toll. Nepal reopened to tourists and scrapped quarantine requirements for vaccinated foreigners on Thursday and its neighbours are expected to quickly follow as they seek to bolster linchpin industries in their economies. «The resumption of on-arrival visas is aimed at reopening the tourism sector which is one of the mainstays of Nepal's economy,» Tourism Ministry spokesman Tara Nath Adhikari told AFP. All visitors must still take a pandemic test on arrival and unvaccinated travellers have to quarantine for 10 days. The decision came just as monsoon clouds cleared for the autumn trekking season, and many are hopeful it will help drive up the arrivals. «So many have lost jobs and livelihoods. This decision is crucial for all of us and we are hopeful that at least some visitors will return,» said Nabin Trital of the Trekking Agencies Association of Nepal. Neighbouring India is soon to announce that it will give away 500,000 free tourist visas as it also starts to reopen after more than a year, officials told AFP. The country had more than 12.5 million tourists in 2019 but lost hundreds of millions of dollars after the shutters came down in March last year. New Delhi is negotiating with international airlines to get scheduled flights resumed from main markets in North America and Europe, the officials said. Bhutan recently let in its first foreign tourist, an American who spent three weeks in quarantine. The country has imposed draconian restrictions to minimise the impact of the pandemic, recording only three coronavirus deaths in the population of 700,000. Vaccinated tourists began entering Sri Lanka in July, without having to quarantine if they test negative for Covid-19 on arrival. South Asia is highly dependent on tourism, which accounted for some 47 million jobs in 2019, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. But the pandemic left beaches and mountains deserted, from Everest to the Indian Ocean, and the fall in tourism played a major role in recessions seen by most of the countries last year. © Agence France-Presse

Myriam St. Ange: Seychellois hotelier laid to rest at age 74

A Seychellois hotelier is being remembered for her contributions to the hospitality industry and for retaining the colonial era characteristics of her family-owned hotel. Myriam St. Ange, the owner of the Chateau St. Cloud on the third most populated island
Seychelles News Agency

Myriam St. Ange: Seychellois hotelier laid to rest at age 74

A Seychellois hotelier is being remembered for her contributions to the hospitality industry and for retaining the colonial era characteristics of her family-owned hotel. Myriam St. Ange, the owner of the Chateau St. Cloud on the third most populated island of La Digue, passed away last weekend. Aged 74, she was laid to rest on her native island of La Digue on Thursday. The hotelier is survived by her two sons and brothers. Myriam, who ran the hotel along with her sons - Carl and Sydney Mills – converted the once family house of the St.Ange family into a four-star establishment. She was involved in the tourism and hospitality industry all her life. Her brother, Alain, told SNA that Myriam died in the presence of her loved ones. «This is a privilege afforded to very few in these COVID times, and we are grateful to have been there with our Mimi. She was fiercely loyal and protective of her family. She was there for you during the good times, and the hard times, expecting nothing in return but love.» Myriam St. Ange was the owner of the Chateau St. Cloud on La Digue island. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY The former tourism minister described his sister as a pioneer of the industry with a successful career. «Myriam became a pillar in the island's tourism industry. She has been involved very soon after the opening of tourism proper and has remained in that vital industry all her life,» explained Alain. Alain added that his sister entered the hospitality industry in Durban in South Africa. «She was the executive housekeeper for many years at the Royal and Edward Hotels on Durban's beachfront.» Upon her return to Seychelles, Myriam worked with her father Karl St. Ange at the family's Cabanes Des Anges Hotel. The establishment was the first hotel to be built on La Digue, in the late 1970s, until the property was acquired by the government. After the property was returned to the family, Myriam moved back to the island where with her sons, converted the St. Ange family home into the Chateau St. Cloud hotel. Myriam is credited with having done a superb job of renovating and extending the Chateau, retaining the colonial era characteristics of the iconic building – a unique feature and monument of La Digue – one of the 115 islands archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. Myriam is the daughter of Karl St Ange and Germaine Lablache. Her father was a politician and served as minister in the second republic. He was also one of the top vanilla growers on the island. She was the only daughter and had five brothers. The St. Ange family is renowned for owning and running several businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector.

Half of Seychelles' adolescents receive COVID-19 dose; 3rd shot available for the vulnerable

The Seychelles’ health ministry has vaccinated over half of the island nation's estimated 7,000 adolescents aged 12-17 in a COVID-19 vaccination campaign that started September 10, a top official said on Friday. Officials also announced that some islander
Seychelles News Agency

Half of Seychelles' adolescents receive COVID-19 dose; 3rd shot available for the vulnerable

The Seychelles’ health ministry has vaccinated over half of the island nation's estimated 7,000 adolescents aged 12-17 in a COVID-19 vaccination campaign that started September 10, a top official said on Friday. Officials also announced that some islanders -- those with advanced health issues and older residents at the North East Point complex-- are eligible to receive a third dose of the vaccine. Sanjeev Pugazhendhi, principal policy analyst at the Ministry of Health, told a news conference that officials are satisifed with the roll-out of the campaign for adolescents, and she said vaccinating over half of Seychelles' youth «is a very good uptake.» Around 4,800 young people from 12 to 17 have received the first doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was a donation from the U.S government under the COVAX programme. Pugazhendhi said, “We will continue to offer the vaccine to adolescents who have not yet had the chance through their educational institutions, or those who are not enrolled in any educational institutions.” He added that as of next week, the health authorities will also be offering anyone aged 12 and above the chance to take the Pfizer vaccine through regional vaccination centres that will be open specifically for that purpose. The centres will be in Anse Royale, Beoliere and Beau Vallon, as well as one situated at the Mont Fleuri Community Centre for people on the main island of Mahe. The facilities will be open from 8 am and will register patients until 3.30pm from Monday to Thursday. The islands of Praslin and La Digue, the second and third most populated islands respectively, will also have their own centres that will only be operational on specific dates. Praslin residents will have one based at Grand Anse Health Centre on September 28 for those taking the first dose of Pfizer whereas on September 29, the facility will be open to those who are due to take their second dose of Sinopharm. The vaccination centre on La Digue will be open on October 1st from 8 am to 3pm. The health ministry in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, announced that people who have not yet received any COVID vaccines can take their first dose of the Pfizer shot as of next week. Pugazhendhi added that “based on our assessment of evidence to date based on local and international research, we’ve made a decision to offer third doses to certain vulnerable population groups, namely dialysis patients and oncology patients as well as residents of the North East Point complex.” The North East Point complex is one that includes a hospice, hospital and home for the elderly based in the north of Mahe. Further priority groups will be announced next week although as of October 4 the health teams will be redeployed to schools again to administer the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Seychelles has recorded 21,257 positive COVID-19 cases among which 485 are still active. The island nation has recorded 115 COVID-related deaths.

Seychelles' President tells UN General Assembly: Leave no one behind

The President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, highlighted in a virtual address on Thursday the need for leaders attending the 76th United Nations General Assembly to reflect on how to address pressing issues amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. Ramkalawan li
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Seychelles' President tells UN General Assembly: Leave no one behind

The President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, highlighted in a virtual address on Thursday the need for leaders attending the 76th United Nations General Assembly to reflect on how to address pressing issues amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. Ramkalawan listed the pressing issues as effective and equitable access to health care, glaring inequalities, climate change and environmental degradation, the arms race, endless conflicts, and the plight of refugees. «As we enter the second year of the UN decade of action, it is imperative that we, as a community of nations, take deliberate, collaborative and decisive actions to guarantee a future that leaves no one behind,» he said. «In recalling our commitments to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related treaties, let us remind ourselves that the most vulnerable people -- those living in dire conditions and facing seemingly insurmountable crises -- require special attention and help,» Ramkalawan added. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramkalawan was among some of the other heads of states and government who provided pre-recorded statements for the General Assembly being held at the United Nations headquarters in New York.  The theme for the 76th session is «Building Resilience through hope to recover from COVID-19, rebuild sustainably, respond to the needs of the planet, respect the rights of people, and revitalise the United Nations.»   President of Seychelles address in the general debate. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY Ramkalawan called for urgent attention to be given to the most vulnerable countries in the midst of the global pandemic with particular reference to the Small Island Developing State (SIDS). He said that «while the pandemic has brought about untold suffering, devastated global health systems, severely impacted the world economy and impoverished entire communities, the crisis at hand presents an opportunity to reinvigorate our collective will to bring about positive changes, with emphasis on equitable, sustainable, and inclusive governance,» Ramkalawan took the opportunity to talk about how Seychelles has also been affected by the pandemic, especially the tourism industry. He appealed to member states to take into consideration the plights of those facing threats of an existential nature, most notably small islands. «Our vulnerabilities are well known and they need not be expounded on here. What needs to be stressed, however, is that a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to debt relief and concessionary financial flows is certainly not the most appropriate for us. An approach and a strategy which take into account our vulnerabilities and characteristics would bolster our own efforts to weather the present crisis and to strengthen our capabilities to recover and rebound from the economic fallout caused by the pandemic,» he added. The head of state also highlighted the impact of climate change and called on world leaders to take decisive action to protect the planet for future generations. «Never have we, as a community of nations, been beset with challenges of the present magnitude. But there is hope, hope that we can overcome them. There is hope that we can overcome the challenges that we face through collective action, global solidarity and with political will,» he concluded.

US envoy to Haiti resigns, slams migrant deportations

The US special envoy to Haiti resigned Thursday two months after his appointment, denouncing the Biden administration's deportation of Haitian migrants from the US-Mexico border back to their poverty-stricken homeland. The stunning resignation came as tensio
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US envoy to Haiti resigns, slams migrant deportations

The US special envoy to Haiti resigned Thursday two months after his appointment, denouncing the Biden administration's deportation of Haitian migrants from the US-Mexico border back to their poverty-stricken homeland. The stunning resignation came as tensions built up after Mexican police showed up in force at a Haitian migrant camp in Ciudad Acuna, where thousands of migrants are stuck, unable to cross into the United States. In Washington, President Joe Biden's administration remained on the defensive, as tens of thousands more people from Haiti and elsewhere who were traveling to the United States massed in Colombia and in Tapachula on Mexico's southern border. «I will not be associated with the United States' inhumane, counterproductive decision to deport thousands of Haitian refugees and illegal immigrants to Haiti,» State Department envoy Daniel Foote said in a scathing letter of resignation. Foote described Haiti as a place where US diplomats «are confined to secure compounds because of the danger posed by armed gangs in control of daily life.» «Mired in poverty, hostage to the terror,» Foote wrote, the Haitian population «simply cannot support the forced infusion of thousands of returned migrants lacking food, shelter, and money without additional, avoidable human tragedy.» «More refugees will fuel further desperation and crime,» he wrote. - Deportation fears - The resignation came after the Biden administration had already flown 1,400 Haitians back to Haiti on 12 flights. Many if not most of them had been living in South America for years before making the trek to the US border, hoping to gain asylum. Unicef said two-thirds of those flown back were women and children. «When children and families are sent back without adequate protection, they find themselves even more vulnerable to violence, poverty and displacement -- factors that drove them to migrate in the first place,» the group said. Six more flights were expected to land Thursday in Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien, according to an official with the International Organization for Migration. The crisis has built since some 15,000 migrants, the largest part of them Haitian, flowed into Del Rio, Texas from Ciudad Acuna, Mexico in recent weeks. Footage of the migrants, many of them families, massing under a highway bridge and moving back and forth to Mexico for food, have shocked America and sparked a fresh crisis over migrant policy. Many Haitian migrants are still in Ciudad Acuna, where they also risk being deported. On Thursday, scores of Mexican police officers arrived at their camp, ratcheting up tensions. «I have nothing in my country. What am I going to do?» said a Haitian woman who gave her name as Sonia. 'Ignored and dismissed' - Foote condemned the repatriations in his resignation letter and said the Biden administration was not supporting a return to democracy in Haiti after the July 7 assassination of president Jovenel Moise. He complained that the administration «ignored and dismissed» his policy recommendations. US officials rejected his narrative. Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced respect for Foote but said he quit because of policy disagreements. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, in an interview with the McClatchy news group, said Foote had proposed sending the US military into Haiti, a move that she said would not «solve the terrible situation» in the country. Blinken said the underlying problem was Haitians falsely believing they can stay in the United States due to protections announced by Biden which only apply to those already in the United States. «That misinformation is very, very unfortunate because it's causing people to make very hazardous journeys and to put themselves in danger,» Blinken told reporters. - Horse patrols ended - The administration continued to struggle to find a solution to the migrants who have already crossed the border. On Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said he was in talks with Brazil, Chile and other South American countries to send the migrants back to them. Also on Thursday, the Homeland Security Department said it had halted the use of mounted Border Patrol officers in Del Rio after AFP photographs and other media video footage showed the horsemen appearing to use their mounts and reins to menace Haitian migrants. «We'll prioritize other methods for identifying individuals who might be in medical distress,» a spokesperson said. Mayorkas said that the images of the mounted officers «do not reflect who we are as a country, nor do they reflect who the United States Customs and Border Protection is.» © Agence France-Presse

Merkel rivals plead for stronger Europe in final election debate

The two candidates running neck-and-neck to replace Angela Merkel as German chancellor called for a stronger European Union on Thursday, in a final TV debate that did little to shake up a race expected to end in lengthy coalition negotiations. With days to g
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Merkel rivals plead for stronger Europe in final election debate

The two candidates running neck-and-neck to replace Angela Merkel as German chancellor called for a stronger European Union on Thursday, in a final TV debate that did little to shake up a race expected to end in lengthy coalition negotiations. With days to go before the general election on Sunday that will see Merkel step aside after 16 years in power, her conservative CDU-CSU alliance is playing catch-up with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) in the polls, narrowing the gap to just two percent. The vote is being closely watched by Western allies, wary of an uncertain outcome that could blunt the participation of Europe's biggest power on the international scene for weeks, if not months. Foreign policy has featured little during the tight campaign, but in their final joint TV appearance, the two main contenders for Merkel's job -- Finance Minister and Vice-Chancellor Olaf Scholz from the SPD and Armin Laschet from Merkel's conservative bloc each called for a strong, sovereign Europe. «We need more Europe, we need to speak with one voice,» said Laschet, who is also the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state. «So we can act even when the US pulls back,» he said, in a nod to America's chaotic exit from Afghanistan. Scholz said the EU needed to stick together to stay relevant on the global stage, and stressed the importance of cooperation with the United States and NATO. Annalena Baerbock, the Green party's candidate for chancellor, called for a joint EU policy on China «so we're not played off against each other», advocating a combination of «dialogue» and «toughness» with Beijing. On domestic issues, the candidates repeated their usual talking points, likely doing little to sway undecided voters and leaving media commentators exasperated. «Desperately seeking a winner!» the top-selling Bild wrote. - 'Climate crisis' - Latest opinion polls put Scholz's SPD in front at 25 percent, followed by the CDU-CSU at 23 percent, within the margin of error. The Greens are in third place at around 16 percent support, giving them a realistic chance of becoming a junior coalition partner in the next government. If the surveys prove right, Merkel's conservatives are headed for their worst score in post-war German history, potentially tarnishing Merkel's own legacy. Their pick for chancellor, the affable but gaffe-prone Laschet, 60, saw his popularity decline after he was caught chuckling during a tribute to victims of deadly floods in July. Often described as capable but boring, his centre-left rival Scholz came from behind to take the lead, casting himself as a safe pair of hands and the true Merkel heir. Climate change has emerged as a top concern among the 60.4 million people eligible to vote, including about 2.8 million able to do so for the first time. Baerbock, 40, has warned that the next government «will be the last that can still actively influence the climate crisis». Huge crowds are set to take to the streets on Friday as part of a global climate demo, with Fridays for Future founder Greta Thunberg coming to march in Berlin. - Differences on taxes - After steering Germany safely through crises such as the 2009-10 eurozone financial crunch, a massive influx of refugees in 2015 and the coronavirus pandemic, Merkel leaves behind an economic powerhouse in relatively robust health. But critics say years of under-investment in infrastructure and education have left the EU's most populous country of 83 million people unprepared for a greener and more digital future, while social inequality has worsened. Scholz and Baerbock have vowed more public investment to help the economy adapt, and higher taxes for top earners. Laschet has argued that tax hikes could stifle the pandemic rebound and has pledged to cut red tape for businesses. - Coalition wrangling - The unpredictable election is expected to yield a number of coalition options. Laschet has already said that even if he comes second, he will try to cobble together an alliance with the Greens and the pro-business FDP. The Greens have signalled they are more comfortable governing with the SPD. Should they require a third partner for a parliamentary majority, the far-left Linke could step in, but their anti-NATO stance makes them a controversial choice. A three-way marriage between the SPD, Greens and FDP is also possible. None of the parties will partner with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD). Coalition talks are likely to drag on for weeks, possibly months, keeping Merkel in office for a little longer. © Agence France-Presse

Outgoing Cuban ambassador highlights medical work in Seychelles during last State House visit

The outgoing ambassador of Cuba expressed satisfaction on Thursday with the collaboration between his nation and Seychelles, particularly in the field of health, a critical profession made even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Juan Humberto Mac
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Outgoing Cuban ambassador highlights medical work in Seychelles during last State House visit

The outgoing ambassador of Cuba expressed satisfaction on Thursday with the collaboration between his nation and Seychelles, particularly in the field of health, a critical profession made even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Juan Humberto Macias Pino paid a farewell visit to President Wavel Ramkalawan at State House on Thursday. Pino has been ambassador since December 2016. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, established diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1978. Since then Seychelles has received assistance in various fields, mainly agriculture, health and education. «I am satisfied with the work that I have accomplished over the last five years,» said Pino, who added that «we have good collaboration in health and medicine.» There are presently over 60 Cuban professionals working in the Seychelles' health sector, while in the field of education, many Seychellois nationals have followed graduate and post graduate studies in various fields in Cuba. The two countries have also developed cooperation in the fields of sports Pino said that he has «enjoyed the hospitality in this very nice country with very nice people. It was an honour to work in such a beautiful country as the Seychelles.» He leaves the country on Monday while his successor is expected to present his letter of accreditation to the President on October 28.

Macron, Biden have 'friendly' talk to defuse submarine row

US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron had a «friendly» phone call Wednesday to defuse a deep row over submarine sales to Australia, promising to meet in person to repair the transatlantic relationship. The call, which
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Macron, Biden have 'friendly' talk to defuse submarine row

US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron had a «friendly» phone call Wednesday to defuse a deep row over submarine sales to Australia, promising to meet in person to repair the transatlantic relationship. The call, which the White House said lasted about 30 minutes, was the first between Biden and Macron since France recalled its ambassador over the surprise US announcement of a deal to build nuclear submarines for Australia -- scuppering a previous French deal to sell conventional submarines. Paris called the US-Australian plan, which was launched as part of a new Indo-Pacific security group along with Britain, a stab in the back and also pulled its ambassador from Australia. In a joint statement after the call, the two leaders vowed to launch «in-depth consultations... for ensuring confidence» and to meet in Europe at the end of October. The statement also said Macron would order France's ambassador back to Washington next week. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters the talk «was friendly» and Biden was «hopeful this was a step in returning to normal.» The statement said the US recognized the need for stronger European defense to complement the NATO military alliance, a key idea repeatedly floated by the French leader. In what amounted to an acknowledgement of French anger, the English-language version of the statement issued by the White House said that the management of the dueling submarine deals «would have benefited from open consultations among allies.» The French-language version issued by the Elysee Palace was even more explicit, saying consultations «would have avoided this situation.» There was no word about where the October meeting will be but Biden will already be in Rome and Glasgow at that time for the G20 and COP26 climate summits. At the annual United Nations summit, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, after giving the cold shoulder for days, spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of a meeting and the two expected to meet again Thursday, a US official said. - 'Good messages' - France's Naval Group said it will send a detailed invoice in the coming weeks to Australia for cancelling the contract originally worth Aus$50 billion ($36.5 billion, 31 billion euros). As well as a huge commercial setback, the loss of the deal was also a blow to France's security strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, where it has a presence through overseas territories. The submarine row plunged Franco-US ties into what some analysts viewed as the most acute crisis since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which Paris opposed. After four years of tumultuous relations with ex-president Donald Trump, the spat also dashed hopes of a complete reset under Biden, who took office in January aiming to rebuild frazzled ties with Europe. Wednesday's call sought at least to settle the mood, with the White House soon after releasing a photo of Biden smiling while speaking to Macron. «The messages from the call are good. It was recognized that communication should have been better,» said Benjamin Haddad, director of the Europe Center at the Atlantic Council, a think tank. «The US understood that the main shock in Paris did not come so much from the commercial aspect as from the breakdown in confidence,» he said. In another welcome step for Paris, the joint statement added that the US committed «to reinforcing its support to counter-terrorism operations» in the Sahel region of Africa, where French forces are deployed to fight jihadists. - 'Non-existent dialogue' - Observers and some of France's European partners had begun wondering how and when Macron would call an end to the face-off, which is playing out just seven months ahead of French presidential elections. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson showed he was out of patience, using a French-English mix to say it was «time for some of our dearest friends around the world to 'prenez un grip' (get a grip).» There is still no indication of France making up with Australia, which says its decision to opt for far more capable nuclear-powered submarines is part of a long-term strategy to contain China's rising presence in the Indo-Pacific. An Elysee official, who asked not to be named, said no decision has been made on the French ambassador's return to Canberra while no call has been scheduled with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles examines ways for visitors to minimise carbon footprint at 'green' symposium

Seychelles on Thursday examined ways to help visitors minimise their carbon footprint when staying in the island nation during a «Green Recovery of Tourism» symposium. The symposium was organised by the British High Commission in partnership wit
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles examines ways for visitors to minimise carbon footprint at 'green' symposium

Seychelles on Thursday examined ways to help visitors minimise their carbon footprint when staying in the island nation during a «Green Recovery of Tourism» symposium. The symposium was organised by the British High Commission in partnership with the local ministries of tourism and environment and included the participation of the tourism sector.   The principal secretary of tourism, Sherin Francis, said that «the symposium comes at an important time in our tourism recovery stage, as we think of how to get our industry to recover from the effects of COVID-19.» «At the same time, we need to realise that there are bigger challenges that the country will face in the future if they are not addressed, and these are the effects of climate change.  Through the symposium, we have brought together many actors from the tourism industry together so as to talk about what more we can do, which commitments we need to start taking today and know the commitments that the country has made on an international level in terms of reducing the amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere,» said Francis. «We hope that by the end of the day, we can come out with more knowledge on the issue, so as to share these with our partners,» she added.  The symposium was organised by the British High Commission in partnership with the local ministries of tourism and environment. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY On his side, Sylvestre Radegonde, the Minister of Tourism, said that with the visitor arrival numbers more than doubling in the past two decades, the island nation's tourism industry has gotten too comfortable. «Events of the last two years have shown us how rapidly our world is changing and how vulnerable tourism is to external factors. In 2020, Seychelles lost over 60 percent of its tourism revenues due to the COVID pandemic. A full recovery demands that we adapt yet more long-term measures that will address not just the effects of the ongoing pandemic, and increasing competition from similar destinations, but also measures that address our vulnerability to the effects of climate change and global warming,» said Radegonde. Through presentations, participants highlighted the economic and climate urgency of implementing and promoting an inclusive nature-based and climate-minded tourism industry, as well as raising awareness on tourism's commitments and tourism-focused key findings in the revised Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) for Seychelles. Examples of good climate mitigation and adaptation practices, such as the Seychelles Sustainable Tourism Label (SSTL) and the Green Footprint Seychelles campaign, were also showcased so as to inspire other tourism establishments to replicate these efforts. «Visitors who want to reduce their carbon footprint are on the increase. Visitors who want to achieve this might want to stay in a hotel that is SSTL certified, and we want to ensure that these establishments are well marketed so that visitors know they exist. At the moment, only establishments are being certified under this label, however, it is in our plan to involve all the remaining operators in the industry,» said Francis. At the end of the symposium, participants signed an outcome document to capture their willingness to link conservation and tourism more inclusively and work towards a nature-based tourism recovery.

Johnson says Glasgow climate talks 'turning point for humanity'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday cast UN climate talks in Glasgow in November as a last chance for humanity as he made a passionate appeal for the world to slash carbon emissions. In a characteristically colorful speech before the United Nat
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Johnson says Glasgow climate talks 'turning point for humanity'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday cast UN climate talks in Glasgow in November as a last chance for humanity as he made a passionate appeal for the world to slash carbon emissions. In a characteristically colorful speech before the United Nations as he seeks success in Glasgow, Johnson urged humanity not to treat the planet as an «indestructible toy» and warned of irreversible damage from climate change. «We will have made this beautiful planet effectively uninhabitable -- not just for us but for many other species,» he told the General Assembly. «And that is why the Glasgow COP26 summit is the turning point for humanity,» he said, using the official name for the meeting of the UN climate body's Conference of Parties. Johnson backed a goal of the developed world phasing out coal, one of the dirtiest forms of energy, by 2030 and the developing world doing so a decade later. Pointing to Britain's own track record at reducing emissions while preserving growth, the Conservative leader rejected conspiracy theories often voiced on the political right about the intentions behind climate plans. «I am not one of those environmentalists who takes a moral pleasure in excoriating humanity for its excess,» Johnson said. «I don't see the green movement as a pretext for a wholesale assault on capitalism.» - 'Everything to gain' - Johnson hailed a pledge made a day earlier by Chinese President Xi Jinping to end coal financing overseas and urged the world's largest emitter also to end its own growing use of coal. The 2015 Paris accord set a goal of reducing global warming by two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels with an aspiration to go further and limit the rise to 1.5 Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit). But each nation chose its own way to make efforts and UN scientists say the planet is well off track on the 1.5 goal, the threshold at which the planet is seen as avoiding the worst ravages of climate change including intensifying droughts, worsening storms and widening flooding. Johnson voiced hope that all countries would emulate Britain’s goals, among the world's most ambitious, to cut carbon emissions by 68 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels. «We have nothing to fear and everything to gain from this green industrial revolution,» he said. «When Kermit the Frog sang, 'It's Not Easy Bein' Green,' I want you to know he was wrong -- and he was also unnecessarily rude to Miss Piggy.» © Agence France-Presse

Implementation of Seychelles' Marine Protected Areas to begin in 2022, official says

The implementation phase of the Marine Protected Areas in Seychelles is expected to start in 2022, said the project manager of the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan initiative. Seychelles reached its target of 30 percent ocean protection around some of its oute
Seychelles News Agency

Implementation of Seychelles' Marine Protected Areas to begin in 2022, official says

The implementation phase of the Marine Protected Areas in Seychelles is expected to start in 2022, said the project manager of the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan initiative. Seychelles reached its target of 30 percent ocean protection around some of its outer islands after 13 new areas were gazetted in March last year. The establishment of these Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) means that Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has exceeded its 10 percent protection of its Exclusive Economic Zone by 2020 commitment under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.5. While these new MPAs have been officially gazetted and the zoning phase completed, the implementation phase has not yet begun, Helena Sims told SNA. «With the pandemic, we have had delays in the implementation of these MPAs. We still need to formalise the regulations and management plan, but we are hoping to begin phased implementation during the year 2022,» said Sims. The implementation phases will involve all partners in the marine sector for coordination, monitoring, enforcement and compliance. The process will include a wide range of activities such as review of regulations, management plans, frameworks, capacity building as well as costing and financing. She said that there is also the need to have discussions with the partners and that also has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. «These discussions include various authorities concerned with MPA's as well as members of the public,» said Sims. The 30 percent or 410,000 squares kilometres of the island nation Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million squares kilometres will now be fully safeguarded to encourage sustainable development and to adapt to the effects of climate change. The Seychelles' achievement was highlighted by UNEP and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) in its outlook on marine protected areas released in July. The marine protected areas outlook indicates that these MPAs document how they have increased the resilience of its crucial fisheries and tourism sectors and preserved the country's natural beauty for the enjoyment and use by its citizens. Moreover, they have created safe havens for more than 2,600 documented species, some of which are endangered. Allen Cedras, CEO of the Seychelles National Parks Authority, said that «a well-managed MPA can bring significant economic, social, and environmental benefits to a country. They can increase food security by preventing the overexploitation of fish stocks; create and protect jobs in the tourism and fisheries sectors; build resilience to climate change; and protect species and habitats, just to name a few benefits.» The outlook documents the progress made by nine countries in the Western Indian Ocean region in increasing MPA coverage. It highlights best practices and challenges faced by governments in managing MPAs and provides recommendations for how to make the impact of MPAs even greater. Key recommendations from the outlook include the need for dedicated budgets for MPA management, adopting proactive law enforcement and compliance strategies to ensure MPA rules are being respected; incorporating research and monitoring programs on biodiversity and ecosystems into decision-making in MPAs, and more.

Desolate villages face famine in Madagascar drought

Nothing to eat, nothing to plant. The last rain in Ifotaka fell in May, for two hours. Across Madagascar's vast southern tip, drought has transformed fields into dust bowls. More than one million people face famine. Across tens of thousands of acres, the co
Seychelles News Agency

Desolate villages face famine in Madagascar drought

Nothing to eat, nothing to plant. The last rain in Ifotaka fell in May, for two hours. Across Madagascar's vast southern tip, drought has transformed fields into dust bowls. More than one million people face famine. Across tens of thousands of acres, the countryside is desolate. Harvest season begins in October, leaving long, lean weeks before the meagre crops come in. Some villages are abandoned. In others, people should be working the fields, but instead are languishing at home. There's nothing to reap. Hunger weighs people down, both in mind and body. They move slowly, and struggle to follow conversation. «I feel sick, and worried. Every day I wonder what we're going to eat,» says Helmine Sija, 60 and a mother of six, in a village called Atoby. - Eating cactus and weeds - A petite woman with grey hair and a hardened face, Sija tends a boiling pot of cactus in front of her home. She chopped the pricks off with a machete to prepare them for cooking. It can't really be called food. The concoction has little nutritional value, but it's a popular appetite suppressant, even though it causes stomach aches. Her three oldest children have left home to look for work in other towns. She's caring for the young ones. «I want to move somewhere more fertile, where I can farm. But I don't have enough money to leave,» she says. Arzel Jonarson, 47, a former cassava farm worker, now gathers firewood to sell, earning about a 25 US cents a week. Enough to buy one bowl of rice. In Ankilidoga, an elderly couple and their daughter are making a meal of wild herbs, which they season with salt to cut the bitterness. In better times, these were cast off as weeds. But their crops of corn, cassava and sweet potato have failed. Their village does have a reservoir to collect rain water. No one can remember the last time it was full. «I haven't received any aid for two months,» said Kazy Zorotane, a 30-year-old single mother of four. «That last time, in June, the government gave me some money.» About $26 (22 euros). - Climate crisis - Malnutrition afflicts southern Madagascar regularly. But the current drought is the worst in 40 years, according to the United Nations, which blames climate change for the crisis. Around the town of Ifotaka, people said the government had brought some rice, beans and oil. But that was in August. Of 500 people designated for financial aid, about 90 received the $26. Doctors Without Borders has dispatched a mobile clinic to travel from village to village. Children clutch at packets of «plumpy», a peanut butter-flavoured paste designed to help the severely malnourished. Through the waiting crowds, nurses and aides spot the most urgent cases, guiding them to the front of the line. Small children are weighed in a blue bucket. Measuring tapes are wrapped around their tiny arms, to get an indication of just how acutely malnourished they are. In Befeno, another village, nine-year-old Zapedisoa came with his grandmother. He's sluggish, his eyes look vacant. At 20 kilos (44 pounds), he's showing alarming symptoms, and is given medicine and food supplements. Satinompeo, a five-year-old with short hair, weighs only 11 kilos. She's severely malnourished, but she's terrified of the doctors. She hangs onto her father's yellow shorts and cries. Families are sent home with a two-week food supply, based on the number of children in the house. In Fenoaivo, two sisters and a brother, all retirees, share a home. «It's been a long time since we grew anything. On good, days, the three of us share a bowl of rice,» said Tsafaharie, 69. At another home in this town, a 45-year-old man holds watch over his father's body. While it is hard to determine an accurate death toll from hunger, that is why he died in in June, his family say. «We don't have enough money to buy a (cow) to feed mourners, so we can't have a funeral,» Tsihorogne Monja said. The corpse is in a separate hut, partially covered by a cloth. «My father was very hungry. He ate too much cactus and tuber bark. That's what killed him. It's like he was poisoned.» © Agence France-Presse

US Embassy grant to help group restore Tea Tavern Trail on Seychelles' main island

Restoration work on the Tea Tavern Trail located at Sans Soucis on Seychelles' main island of Mahe can fully resume after the Plant Conservation Action group (PCA) received a $5,000 Regional Environment Officers grant from the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday. The gr
Seychelles News Agency

US Embassy grant to help group restore Tea Tavern Trail on Seychelles' main island

Restoration work on the Tea Tavern Trail located at Sans Soucis on Seychelles' main island of Mahe can fully resume after the Plant Conservation Action group (PCA) received a $5,000 Regional Environment Officers grant from the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday. The grant will provide the Plant Conservation Action group with the necessary funds to remove invasive vegetation and replace them with native species. The Plant Conservation Action group is a not-for-profit organisation in Seychelles dedicated to the conservation of plants in the island nation, in particular the native flora. The chief executive of the action group - Lindsay Chong-Seng – said that he and his team «are working with the local communities like the Port Glaud community, the Seven Days Adventist church and SNGA to maintain the trails. However, due to challenges brought about by COVID-19, it has been extremely difficult to continue and we are very grateful to be receiving the grant.» «Generally, when there is an invasive species in an ecosystem like it is the case in Seychelles, native plants suffer as they grow slowly and produce bigger seeds with the coco de mer being a good example. Invasive plants like albisia, cinnamon and Chinese guava have a more effective mechanism when it comes to their propagation, and as such, they dominate the ecosystem,» said Chong-Seng. He explained that this restoration project is the continuation of one that started eleven years ago. «In 2010, Christopher Kaiser Bunbury chose five sites in Seychelles located on glacis - a boulder field with limited soil which tend to be refuges for native species - to start removing invasive plant species. Through this we learned three lessons - it is amazingly effective, there is collateral damage on non-targeted species and within two years the pollination network of native species increased by about 20 percent,» said Chong-Seng. The Plant Conservation Action group is expected to complete the activities by December next year after which the communities involved will take over on a voluntary basis. This project is in line with the Ministry of Environment's national programme to eradicate invasive plant species in Seychelles. Chong-Seng outlined that his team will be focusing on one site, the Casse Dent trail, as it is a unique site with precipices on three sides and the home to a large population of pitcher plants. The site also provides a fantastic view of the western and south-western coast of Mahé. The US Embassy Chargee d'Affaires for Mauritius and Seychelles, Judes DeBaere, outlined that the embassy is thrilled to be partnering with the Plant Conservation Action group. «The US Embassy and PCA have a shared goal of advancing the conservation, resilience, and sustainable management of ecosystems in Seychelles. We also share the objective to protect the environment by promoting effective governance and strengthening institutional capacity,» said DeBaere. The project has been made possible by the US Department of State's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs. Over the past five years, the programme has provided over $1 million through over 100 grant awards to projects that address environmental and public health issues within an affected community while advancing environment, science, technology and health strategic priorities

Rare Australia earthquake triggers panic in Melbourne

A rare quake rattled southeastern Australia early Wednesday, shaking buildings, knocking down walls and sending panicked Melbourne residents running into the streets. The shallow tremor hit east of the country's second-largest city just after 9:00am local ti
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Rare Australia earthquake triggers panic in Melbourne

A rare quake rattled southeastern Australia early Wednesday, shaking buildings, knocking down walls and sending panicked Melbourne residents running into the streets. The shallow tremor hit east of the country's second-largest city just after 9:00am local time (2300 GMT) and was felt hundreds of kilometres (miles) away. The US Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 5.8, later revised up to 5.9, and said it struck at a depth of 10 kilometres (six miles). With Melbourne beginning its eighth week of pandemic lockdown and bracing for a third straight day of violent anti-vaccine protests, most residents were at home when the quake struck. Zume Phim, 33, owner of Melbourne's Oppen cafe, said he rushed onto the street when the temblor hit. «The whole building was shaking. All the windows, the glass, was shaking -- like a wave of shaking,» he told AFP. «I have never experienced that before. It was a little bit scary.» In a popular shopping area around Melbourne's Chapel Street, masonry debris tumbled from buildings and littered the roads. Bricks and rubble surrounded Betty's Burgers and large sheets of metal hung off the restaurant awning. «We were fortunate that nobody was in the restaurant at the time,» the restaurant said in a Facebook post. Sizable earthquakes are unusual in Australia. «It was quite violent but everyone was kind of in shock,» Melbourne cafe worker Parker Mayo, 30, told AFP. - 'Very disturbing event' - At magnitude 5.9, this was «the biggest event in southeast Australia for a long time» Mike Sandiford, a geologist at the University of Melbourne told AFP. «We had some very big ones at magnitude six in the late 1800s, though precise magnitudes are not well known.» A quake of this size is expected every «10-20 years in southeast Australia, the last was Thorpdale in 2012» he said. «This is significantly bigger.» Geoscience Australia reported the initial quake was followed by a series of four smaller ones, ranging from magnitude 2.5 to 4.1. Sandiford said Australians should expect «many hundreds of aftershocks, most below human sensitivity threshold, but probably a dozen or more that will be felt at least nearby». The quake «would have caused many billions of dollars in damage had it been under Melbourne», he added. The mayor of Mansfield, near the quake epicentre, said there was no damage in the small town but it had taken residents by surprise. «I was sitting down at work at my desk and I needed to run outside. It took me a while to work out what it was,» Mark Holcombe told public broadcaster ABC. «We don't have earthquakes that I am aware of -- none of the locals I spoke to this morning had that experience with earthquakes here before -- so it is one right out of left field.» Emergency services said they had received calls for help as far away as Dubbo, about 700 kilometres (435 miles) from the quake epicentre, with fire and rescue crews dispatched to help. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, speaking from New York, said there were no initial reports of injuries. «It can be a very, very disturbing event for an earthquake of this nature,» he said. «They are very rare events in Australia.» Recovery efforts may be complicated by the ongoing pandemic lockdown and ongoing protests. Hundreds of demonstrators wearing work boots and hi-visibility jackets again rampaged through central Melbourne Wednesday in protest against vaccine requirements for construction workers. Police on Tuesday fired pepper spray, foam baton rounds and rubber ball grenades to disperse the crowd and warned further protests would «not be tolerated». © Agence France-Presse

Air Seychelles to resume flights to South Africa this week

The Seychelles’ national carrier, Air Seychelles, plans to resume flights to Johannesburg, South Africa as of September 24, the airline announced on Tuesday. The return of Air Seychelles to South Africa comes after the local Ministry of Health lifted trave
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Air Seychelles to resume flights to South Africa this week

The Seychelles’ national carrier, Air Seychelles, plans to resume flights to Johannesburg, South Africa as of September 24, the airline announced on Tuesday. The return of Air Seychelles to South Africa comes after the local Ministry of Health lifted travel restrictions between the two countries. Commercial flights had been suspended for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sandy Benoiton, acting chief executive of Air Seychelles, told SNA that "we are very pleased that as part of our airline's recovery and network restoration, Air Seychelles from this September will be resuming its services to Johannesburg.” The twice-weekly flights will depart the Seychelles International Airport on Fridays and Sundays. Two late evening services departing from Johannesburg on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons to Seychelles have also been added to the schedule. “Despite the unprecedented environment, so far we are satisfied with the interest being built on this route and we remain committed to meeting market demands so as to provide travellers more choice and convenience when planning their travel,” said Benoiton. All travellers to South Africa must produce a negative PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours, must download the COVID Alert South Africa app in addition to completing the Entry Screening Traveller Health Questionnaire available at www.airports.co.za before departure from Seychelles. Travellers from Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, must provide proof of accommodation and their addresses in South Africa including their COVID-19 travel insurance. For inbound travel, besides the negative PCR test, the completed Health Travel Authorisation approval submitted at the seychelles.govtas.com must also be presented upon check-in prior to departure from Johannesburg. During their stay in Seychelles, as is the case for other visitors, travellers from South Africa will have to reside in a certified tourism establishment with no minimum length of stay in the first establishment. At the moment visitors from Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Nepal and Pakistan remain on the restricted list for entry into Seychelles. Visitors from those countries can only travel to Seychelles if they have spent 14 days in another country. Air Seychelles is also expected to resume flights to neighbouring Mauritius as of October 3.

Seychelles, Mauritania to work together in fisheries sector, new ambassador says

Seychelles and Mauritania will work together in the fisheries industry as both countries have major interests in the sector, said the newly accredited ambassador. The new ambassador of Mauritania to Seychelles, Jarr Ould Inalla, presented his credentials to
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Seychelles, Mauritania to work together in fisheries sector, new ambassador says

Seychelles and Mauritania will work together in the fisheries industry as both countries have major interests in the sector, said the newly accredited ambassador. The new ambassador of Mauritania to Seychelles, Jarr Ould Inalla, presented his credentials to President Wavel Ramkalawan on Tuesday morning. Inalla expressed «immense pleasure at being able to serve my country in such a beautiful location. We will continue building on bilateral agreements for the mutual benefit of our two countries.» The new ambassador said discussions with the President focused on the existing relationship between the two countries, and as both have major interests in the fisheries sectors, this is an area that will be explored so that they can work together. Currently, Seychelles' Port Victoria is a major player in the global tuna industry while fisheries exports from Mauritania on the other hand are now estimated at over $1 billion per year. «I would like to remind you that the Seychelles and Mauritania are the only two countries to have handed in their reports to Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI),» said Inalla. FiTI is a global partnership aimed at increasing transparency and participation in fisheries. Those involved also aim to support the sector's long-term contribution to respective national economies all the while keeping a healthy marine environment. Although the two countries are far apart, Mauritania and Seychelles share a common understanding of the critical importance of transparency in marine fisheries. Both countries submitted their reports to FiTi in April. Mauritania has also expressed the will to also work with Seychelles in the domain of fighting terrorism and its financing as well as other challenges faced globally. Inalla will be based in South Africa

Justin Trudeau Liberals set to win third term in Canada election

Canadians returned Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to power Monday in hotly contested elections against a rookie conservative leader, according to projections by television networks. But with polls likely to still be reporting results into the next mor
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Justin Trudeau Liberals set to win third term in Canada election

Canadians returned Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to power Monday in hotly contested elections against a rookie conservative leader, according to projections by television networks. But with polls likely to still be reporting results into the next morning, it wasn't yet clear if his party managed to secure an absolute majority of seats in parliament that would allow him to pass his agenda without opposition support. Trudeau called the snap election last month, hoping to parlay a smooth Covid-19 vaccine rollout -- among the best in the world -- into a new mandate to steer the nation's pandemic exit. But the contest, after a bumpy five weeks of campaigning, appeared set for a repeat of the close 2019 general election that resulted in the one-time golden boy of Canadian politics clinging to power yet losing his majority in parliament. A sudden surge in Covid-19 cases led by the Delta variant late in the campaign -- after the lifting of most public health measures this summer -- had also muddied the waters. Trudeau said earlier he felt «serene» after casting a ballot in Montreal. «We worked very hard during this campaign, and Canadians are making an important choice,» he told AFP, flanked by his wife Sophie Gregoire and their children. At 49, Trudeau has faced tougher political bouts and still come out unscathed. But after six years in power, his administration was showing signs of fatigue, and it was an uphill battle for him to convince Canadians to stick with his Liberals after falling short of high expectations set in his 2015 landslide win. - Trudeau 'lied to us' - Long lineups outside polling stations were observed by AFP journalists in several major cities. Elections Canada tweeted that anyone in queues after stations closed would still be permitted to vote. Douglas O'Hara, 73, casting a ballot in Trudeau's Montreal electoral district of Papineau, had said he was «very disappointed» with the prime minister. Although he believes Trudeau «did a half-decent job» managing the pandemic, he recalled that the leader had pledged not to go to the polls until the outbreak had subsided. «Then as soon as he gets a chance (when) he thinks he's going to get a majority, he calls an election,» O'Hara said. «I really believe he lied to us.» In Ottawa, Kai Anderson, 25, said Canada's pandemic response was her «number one» issue. «I think the prime minister did a good job managing the pandemic,» she said. Liz Maier, 72, of Vancouver said she too hoped for a Trudeau win for «consistency in leadership» during the public health crisis. Entering the final stretch of the contest, the two main political parties that have ruled Canada since its 1867 confederation were virtually tied, with about 31 percent support each in public opinion polls, and four smaller factions nipping at their heels. Pollster Tim Powers predicted a Liberal minority win. «But is that a win for him?» he said, noting that Trudeau had hoped for more than just a plurality of seats. - 'Anti-vaxxer mobs,' China 'counterstrikes' - The campaign saw the contenders spar over climate actions, indigenous reconciliation, affordable housing, mandatory Covid-19 inoculations and vaccine passports. At rallies, Trudeau was dogged by what he described as «anti-vaxxer mobs,» including one that threw stones at him. The 48-year-old Conservative leader Erin O'Toole, meanwhile, was knocked for his backing of Alberta and two other Tory-led provinces' loosening of public health restrictions too soon, with Covid outbreaks now forcing their overwhelmed hospitals to fly patients across Canada for care. He also fumbled over gun control and was warned by Beijing, according to Chinese state media, that his proposed hard line on China -- Canada's second-largest trading partner, with whom relations have soured over its detention of two Canadians -- would «invite counterstrikes.» Overall, commented Max Cameron, a politics professor at the University of British Columbia, «this hasn't been a polarizing election. There's actually a lot of clustering around the middle.» O'Toole, a relative unknown who became Tory leader only last year, tracked his party to the political center, forcing the Liberals to compete for votes on the left with the New Democrats and Greens, as well as the separatist Bloc Quebecois. The Conservatives, however, also saw their support clawed by former foreign minister Maxime Bernier's far-right People's Party. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles’ Tourism Festival to focus on the future, integrate children’s interviews

Seychelles’ Tourism Festival this year will take place from September 27 until October 3 under a theme focusing on the future of the industry, a top official said Monday. The festival will be held under the theme ‘Shaping our Future’ and the principal
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Seychelles’ Tourism Festival to focus on the future, integrate children’s interviews

Seychelles’ Tourism Festival this year will take place from September 27 until October 3 under a theme focusing on the future of the industry, a top official said Monday. The festival will be held under the theme ‘Shaping our Future’ and the principal secretary for tourism, Sherin Francis, said that it was chosen because “we have been through a very tough period with the COVID-19 and it’s opportune for us to look at new ways for doing things.” The Tourism Festival will coincide with the World Tourism Day on September 27 this year which will be held under the theme ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth.’ Normally, several activities are organised to commemorate the event but due to the current COVID-19 restrictions in place on large gatherings, many events planned will be done virtually. The week-long event will start with the unveiling of the Tourism Pioneers. Eight individuals who are making significant contributions to the tourism industry will have their names engraved on ceramic tiles and displayed at the Pioneers Park at the Seychelles Tourism Academy (STA). Francis said that due to the restrictions on the gathering of large groups congregating, for a tree planting activity “we have asked our stakeholders as well as the public in general to plant a tree, take a photo and then upload it up to our #Seychellestreeplanters.”  The week-long event will start with the unveiling of the Tourism Pioneers. (Tourism Seychelles)  Photo License: CC-BY  New on the programme will be children’s interviews of local personalities in the tourism industry – as a means of getting the younger generation interested in the field at a young age. The ensuing interviews will be aired on the official channel of the Seychelles Islands. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, relies heavily on tourism, the top contributor to the country’s economy. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing closure of borders worldwide has forced the tourism department to review the way it marketed Seychelles as a destination and the type of visitors it welcomed to its shores. “At the Tourism Department we have re-looked at our strategy and on the products side we have been looking at ways to diversify what we offer,” she said of her department’s aim to guarantee the industry’s future. At the moment Seychelles, like many other countries dependent on tourism is well known for a sun, sea and sand destination, something the department is working on changing now that it is looking into cultural as well as community tourism. “We are looking into bringing our visitors into the community, we’ve started doing audits in various districts to identify interesting personalities that we can lead our visitors to create interesting experiences,” said Francis.

Al Habib bank will wind up operations in Seychelles by end of November, Central Bank says

The Pakistani multi-national bank Al Habib will wind up its operations in Seychelles by November 30, the Central Bank announced on Monday. Al Habib, which began operating in Seychelles in 2014, made an application to the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) in J
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Al Habib bank will wind up operations in Seychelles by end of November, Central Bank says

The Pakistani multi-national bank Al Habib will wind up its operations in Seychelles by November 30, the Central Bank announced on Monday. Al Habib, which began operating in Seychelles in 2014, made an application to the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) in July to halt its services. «When they came to us this year asking to stop their operations, they said that unfortunately, the business model they wanted to implement in Seychelles has not materialised,» Caroline Abel, the Governor of the CBS, told reporters. One of the main reasons why the operations of the Bank Al-Habib were not working was the challenges posed by de-risking. De-risking refers to the decision taken by financial institutions to exit relationships and close the accounts of clients considered as high risk. «When banks in Seychelles receive foreign currency or making payments overseas for any amount, there has to bank a bank in the middle, to process the payment before it gets to the final destination. With the threats posed by money-laundering, local banks, especially Bank Al Habib, have been severely affected as the trust of foreign banks in Seychelles was low, due to the country being seen as a high risk,» said Abel. Following CBS's approval, the bank Al Habib has already ceased operations but remains open only to undertake the necessary processes for winding up. This includes repaying all depositors and other creditors from its operations in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. The Central Bank of Seychelles said that Al Habib will be able to repay all its depositors and that they are working closely with the bank to ensure that its closure will have minimal impact on its clients. The head of the financial surveillance division, Aaron Leong-Pon, said that CBS has already appointed a supervising agent to oversee the winding-up of the bank. «ACM & Associates, the supervising agent will assist both bank Al Habib and CBS to ensure that the interests of its customers and the public are safeguarded,» said Leong-Pon. He added that the bank currently has 10 clients and has not issued any loans and that the operations of other banks in the country are financially sound and stable. The Central Bank has also announced that anyone who has complaints or inquiries can contact Bank Al Habib directly on the telephone number (248) 4410040 or CBS on (248) 4282000. Bank Al Habib currently employs three expatriate staff and CBS has been informed that they will all be transferred to the bank's head office in Pakistan. Dawood Habib Group, the sponsor of Bank AL Habib Limited, has a history in the banking sector dating back to the 1920s and is one of the founding members of the Habib Bank Limited. The branch of Habib Bank Limited closed in Seychelles ceased its operations in February 2019.

Seychelles surpasses the 100,000 visitor mark as moutya drums serenade the new arrivals

Visitor arrivals to Seychelles in 2021 surpassed the 100,000 mark on Sunday, an important milestone showing that efforts made by the government and tourism partners are bearing fruit, a high tourism official said. To celebrate the moment, passengers arrivin
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles surpasses the 100,000 visitor mark as moutya drums serenade the new arrivals

Visitor arrivals to Seychelles in 2021 surpassed the 100,000 mark on Sunday, an important milestone showing that efforts made by the government and tourism partners are bearing fruit, a high tourism official said. To celebrate the moment, passengers arriving in the island nation from Tel Aviv, Israel on board El Al's flight LY055 were treated to a taste of the island's Creole hospitality. The visitors disembarked to the joyous beats of the local moutya drums and to the sight of traditional dancers. Speaking from the Seychelles International Airport, the director general for destination marketing, Bernadette Willemin, said that this milestone marks the beginning of an important chapter in the recovery of Seychelles' tourism industry. «Seychelles is on the right path to meet the forecast made by the tourism department in January 2021. Recording over 100,000 visitors this weekend reassures us of the good work all partners are doing to help with the recovery. I applaud the resilience of our industry partners and the other organisations who have contributed to the success of this day,» said Willemin. Visitors received a token from the Department of Tourism.  (Vanessa Lucas, Tourism Seychelles) Photo License: CC-BY  Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, was one of the first destinations to reopen its borders to tourism irrespective of visitors' vaccination status amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The country achieved this feat through a robust nationwide vaccination campaign, training of tourism industry operators in health and safety protocols and opening up to alternative source markets. The return of small cruise ships in October and the relaxation of measures around the world are expected to boost tourism arrivals further. In his mid-year budget review delivered on September 7 to the National Assembly, the finance minister, Naadir Hassan, said that since the reopening of the island naiton's borders in March, «we have seen that the tourism sector is doing better than we had predicted at the start of the year.» «We had foreseen a gross domestic growth of 2.08 percent for the year 2021, however, with new developments in the tourism sector, we have revised our projections and our gross domestic growth is now expected to reach 6.72 percent. Our initial indicators are showing us that we might get a 32.5 percent increase in the number of visitors' arrivals when compared to 2020,» said Hassan. By the end of last year, Seychelles welcomed 114,229 visitors to it shores. With a projected increase of 32.5 percent, Seychelles is expected to see the arrival of over 150,000 visitors this year. Seychelles set its visitor arrivals record in 2019, when over 428,000 set foot in the island nation. Hassan outlined that the growth in the tourism sector brings about favourable effects in other related sectors. Other sectors that are continuously seeing growth are the information and telecommunication sector, as well as the food production sector.

Amid French fury, UK defends 'hard-headed' security deal

Britain's Foreign Secretary on Sunday defended the country's new security relationship with Australia and the United States as showing «readiness to be hard-headed in defending our interests,» despite more furious reaction from France. As part o
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Amid French fury, UK defends 'hard-headed' security deal

Britain's Foreign Secretary on Sunday defended the country's new security relationship with Australia and the United States as showing «readiness to be hard-headed in defending our interests,» despite more furious reaction from France. As part of the alliance, Australia tore up a deal for French submarines in favour of American nuclear-powered vessels, sparking outrage in Paris which recalled France's ambassadors to Canberra and Washington in an unprecedented move. Liz Truss wrote in the Sunday Telegraph that the pact, announced this week, «shows our commitment to security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region» and demonstrated the government's ambition to build a «Global Britain» following its departure form the European Union. «Our new security pact will not just make us safer at home, it could also create hundreds of new and high-skilled jobs,» she wrote. «By positioning the UK at the heart of a network of economic, diplomatic and security partnerships... we are making our country safer and more competitive, standing up for our values.» Truss, who was promoted to the role on Wednesday, said the move highlighted Prime Minister Boris Johnson's «vision for Global Britain». But her French counterpart on Saturday said Britain was a «third wheel» in the deal as he accused Sydney and Washington of lying over the ruptured Australian contract to buy French submarines, warning a grave crisis was underway between the allies. Speaking to France 2 television, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian gave no indication Paris was prepared to let the crisis die down, using distinctly undiplomatic language towards Australia, the US and Britain. «There has been lying, duplicity, a major breach of trust and contempt,» Le Drian said. «This will not do.» Le Drian also issued a stinging response to a question over why France had not recalled its ambassador to Britain. «We have recalled our ambassadors to (Canberra and Washington) to re-evaluate the situation. With Britain, there is no need. We know their constant opportunism. So there is no need to bring our ambassador back to explain,» he said. Of London's role in the pact under Johnson, he added with derision: «Britain in this whole thing is a bit like the third wheel.» US President Joe Biden announced the new Australia-US-Britain defence alliance on Wednesday, in a pact widely seen as aimed at countering the rise of China. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' environment ministry implements recycling, efficient energy practices

The Seychelles' environment ministry started implementing two green initiatives with the aim of promoting recycling and efficient energy use practices in public sector offices as part of this year's Clean Up the World campaign. The senior public relations
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Seychelles' environment ministry implements recycling, efficient energy practices

The Seychelles' environment ministry started implementing two green initiatives with the aim of promoting recycling and efficient energy use practices in public sector offices as part of this year's Clean Up the World campaign. The senior public relations officer, Linne Dubignon, told SNA that the initiatives were expected to be launched at the National Assembly, where the staff members were already partially implementing best practices. «It should be noted that the National Assembly has PV panels installed on the roof; they do not print and do not use plastic water bottles. They do not, however, segregate their waste because when waste is collected, all the trash is placed in the same vehicle,» said Dubignon. The PV panel on the National Assembly building was made possible through a grant from the Indian government in collaboration with the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC). She outlined that coloured bins have been provided to the National Assembly for waste segregation and the assembly has been put in touch with businesses dealing with recycling for waste collection. In Seychelles, there are four main types of waste being recycled – PET bottles, cans, paper and green waste, and it was outlined that some offices in the public sector produce a lot of paper waste. As the launch of the initiative did not take place at the National Assembly due to unforeseen reasons, the ministry is still moving forward. «We are going to go to the judiciary first and then to the different government ministries. The project is one that the ministry will be implementing as of this year to ensure a reduction in the amount of waste going to the landfill,» said Dubignon. On the promotion of efficient energy use, Dubignon outlined that this will help tackle high utility bills in the public sector. «We have seen that during the night, at a time when there is no one working, some offices keep on their air-conditioning and lights. This is when we started looking into a project to educate staff on the efficient use of electricity and water. We are liaising with PR and communication officers to educate their peers on how to reduce the amount of water and electricity being used. They will need to ensure that there is compliance,» said Dubignon. Through the initiative, employees will need to make sure that all the devices are switched off when they finish work. o help educate staff members, stickers promoting efficient energy use will be placed strategically in the offices. Dubignon said that many offices will not be able to change their appliances – refrigerators, microwaves and water dispensers – for energy-efficient ones due to the ongoing pandemic. «They will have to optimise the way they use them in an appropriate manner. For example, don't open the fridge when you do not need anything or have nothing in the fridge. When heating food, two people can put in their bowls in one go. This will eventually reduce the electricity bill,» she explained. To ensure that there is compliance within the public sector when it comes to the initiatives, the Cabinet of Ministers was briefed on both matters on Wednesday.  «Having the ministers on board will help us in getting more people to implement the initiatives and practices. It will take people some time to adapt to this, but slowly we will get there,» Dubignon said.

SpaceX all-civilian orbital crew completes historic mission

Four SpaceX tourists returned to Earth safely on Saturday after spending three days in space, successfully concluding the first orbital mission in history with no professional astronauts on board. The SpaceX Dragon capsule, whose heat shield allowed it to wi
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SpaceX all-civilian orbital crew completes historic mission

Four SpaceX tourists returned to Earth safely on Saturday after spending three days in space, successfully concluding the first orbital mission in history with no professional astronauts on board. The SpaceX Dragon capsule, whose heat shield allowed it to withstand descent, was slowed down by four large parachutes before splashing into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida at 7:06 pm (2306 GMT), according to a video feed by the company. «That was a heck of a ride for us, and we're just getting started,» billionaire captain Jared Isaacman, who financed the trip with a goal of making space a bit more accessible, said shortly after landing. A SpaceX boat immediately retrieved the capsule, before its hatch was opened and the space tourists, smiling broadly and waving their arms in the air, exited one by one. They were next headed for the Kennedy Space Center, where their mission had begun on Wednesday. The stated goal of the mission, called Inspiration4, was to encourage the democratization of space by proving that the cosmos are accessible to crews that have neither been handpicked nor in training for years. «Congratulations @Inspiration4x !!!» SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted after the landing. The four space novices -- Isaacman and three other Americans -- spent three days orbiting Earth, traveling farther than the International Space Station (ISS), at an orbit of about 575 kilometers (357 miles) high, and circling the globe more than 15 times each day. Isaacman, who paid SpaceX tens of millions of dollars, offered the other three seats to strangers: Hayley Arceneaux, a 29-year-old nurse; Sian Proctor, a 51-year-old professor; and Chris Sembroski, 42, a US Air Force veteran. However, the exact price that the 38-year-old founder of Shift4 Payments and seasoned pilot shelled out for the mission has not been revealed. The Inspiration4 crew bonded over the course of six months' training, compared with years for professional astronauts. During the flight, the members' vital signs, including heart rate, sleep, blood oxygen levels and cognitive abilities, were monitored to study the effects of space on complete novices. But they also enjoyed the view through a brand new observation dome fitted onto the capsule, spoke with actor Tom Cruise from the vessel, ate pizza and listened to music. - 'Second space age' - «Welcome to the second space age,» mission director Todd Ericson said at a press conference after the landing. With its completion, «space travel becomes much more accessible to average men and women.» There was only one minor issue during the flight, with the capsule's toilet system, but a solution was quickly found, Ericson said, without giving further details. «Best ride of my life!» Proctor tweeted after disembarking from the capsule. The mission served as a huge fundraiser for St Jude's Children's Research Hospital, a leading facility in Tennessee. Arceneaux received treatment there as a child, and now works there. The crew took with them various objects -- including a ukulele, which Sembroski briefly played live from the vessel on Friday -- that will now be auctioned off with proceeds going to the hospital. The landing marked the third time that Musk's company has taken humans to space and back, after the return of two NASA missions, one in August 2020 and another in May of this year. Both were bringing astronauts back from a stay at the ISS. Unlike NASA astronauts, the members of the Inspiration4 mission did not go to the ISS but remained in orbit around the Earth. The space adventure comes after a summer marked by the battle of the billionaires Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos to reach the final frontier. However their separate suborbital flights only offered a few minutes in zero gravity. SpaceX is already planning further space tourism flights. In fact, «the amount of people who are approaching us through our sales and marketing portals have actually increased significantly,» said Benji Reed, SpaceX's director of human spaceflight programs. The next trip is scheduled for January 2022, with three businessmen on board. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles earns top regional destination ranking from Travel + Leisure reader poll

Seychelles was voted the top island destination in Africa and the Middle East and amongst the 25 World's Best Islands for 2021 in two lists published last week by Travel + Leisure. The island nation reclaimed its World's Best Award in Africa and the Middle E
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles earns top regional destination ranking from Travel + Leisure reader poll

Seychelles was voted the top island destination in Africa and the Middle East and amongst the 25 World's Best Islands for 2021 in two lists published last week by Travel + Leisure. The island nation reclaimed its World's Best Award in Africa and the Middle East, which it had won in 2019, making it the fourth time bringing home the award. It also ranked 24th in a list of 25 World Best Islands.  The director general for marketing of Tourism Seychelles, Bernadette Willemin, said in a news release that receiving such significant recognition is an honour for the destination. «Being named the 2021 World's Best Island in Africa and the Middle East once again is a delight for our small destination. It is reassuring for the industry at large to know that our visitors do not only recognize the natural beauty of our islands but also the entire experience that makes us unique and definitely 'Another World',» said Willemin. Two other African countries, Zanzibar and Mauritius, came out in second and third position on the list, which was voted on by readers. Seychelles, 115 islands archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, was labeled «the eighth wonder of the world,» by one Travel + Leisure reader, who praised it for its «exquisiteness.» According to the magazine, another enthralled reader dreams of «going back and cruising among the islands,» no doubt to take in Seychelles' six national marine parks and two UNESCO World Heritage sites.  «As tourism grows in Seychelles, so does its luxury footprint. This summer, Hilton portfolio LXR debuted the 41-room Mango House on Mahé's Anse aux Poules Bleue beach. Whether you venture to Seychelles as a honeymooner following in celebrity footsteps, or as a nature-seeker in search of wildlife in Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve's verdant tropical forest, you're guaranteed to find »breathtaking experiences," as one reader put it, said the magazine. Travel + Leisure said this year's standouts are as far-flung as ever. The magazine said this when announcing the results of the survey which allows readers to reflect on their travel experiences and suggest a renewed appreciation for places that offer unparalleled natural beauty and in many places, fewer crowds. The island nation's nomination results from the annual survey conducted by Travel + Leisure, which allows readers of the New York-based travel magazine to rate their travel experiences around the globe.  Readers weigh in on top hotels, islands, cities, airlines, cruise lines, spas, and more, rating islands on the following characteristics: natural attractions and beaches, activities and sights, restaurants and food, people and friendliness, and overall value. Travel + Leisure is a travel magazine which publishes 12 times a year, it has 4.8 million readers. 

60-bed field hospital from Qatar opens; a back-up facility for COVID cases

A new 60-bed field hospital that will be used if Seychelles' current facilities become overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients was officially opened on Saturday. The hospital, which is located at the Seychelles Coast Guard base at Perseverance -- a man-made island
Seychelles News Agency

60-bed field hospital from Qatar opens; a back-up facility for COVID cases

A new 60-bed field hospital that will be used if Seychelles' current facilities become overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients was officially opened on Saturday. The hospital, which is located at the Seychelles Coast Guard base at Perseverance -- a man-made island -- was donated by the government of Qatar and assembled by a group of Qatari military personnel. The new fully air-conditioned facility has 30 ventilators, backup generators, an intensive care unit (ICU) and a pharmacy, already fully functional.   «This facility will be kept as a backup should other hospitals become overwhelmed with patients suffering from the effects of COVID-19,» said the Minister for Health, Peggy Vidot. The hospital is located at the Seychelles Coast Guard base at Perseverance. (Sedrick Nicette, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY  She added that «we hope we will not have to ever use this facility but it be very essential should the pandemic worsen.» Yousef Al-Mulla, the humanitarian researcher at the Qatar Fund for Development, and Vidot officially opened the new facility in the presence of the Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan.    During his speech to mark the occasion, Al-Mulla said, that he «appreciates the relationship between the two countries where the hope is that Qatar and Seychelles can continue working together.» A field hospital is a temporary hospital or mobile medical unit that takes care of casualties on-site before they can be safely transported to more permanent facilities. Such a facility will surely require additional human resources in order to effectively care for the patients. «Human resource is a concern, but while we hope that this facility will not be needed, we will be taking into account the human resources needed at the facility and if the time comes, we will ensure that we have the required staff,» said Vidot. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has 584 active cases of COVID-19 and has recorded 114 COVID-related deaths.

Seychelles Football Federation league play to start November 20; spectator issue being debated

The Seychelles Football Federation has confirmed that the 2021/22 league season will start on November 20 after a revision of COVID-19 restrictions which allow for competitive team sports to take place without spectators. «We are happy that this decisi
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles Football Federation league play to start November 20; spectator issue being debated

The Seychelles Football Federation has confirmed that the 2021/22 league season will start on November 20 after a revision of COVID-19 restrictions which allow for competitive team sports to take place without spectators. «We are happy that this decision has been taken as it will allow us to bring football back after such a long wait,» the chief executive of the Federation, Georges Bibi, told SNA on Monday. He said that while a start date has been agreed, the Federation is still working on the schedule. The league season normally starts with the President's Cup, with a match pitching the winner of the Premier League versus the Knock-out Cup winner. But no decision has yet been taken for this year.  Bibi also confirmed that the Federation is still discussing with the authorities to let fans attend matches, as there is a lot of potential for social distancing at the main 10,000-person-capacity Unity stadium. «The stadium is never full during any football matches so there could be a way to let fans watch the games while maintaining social distancing, as it is only through ticket sales that most teams are able to raise funds,» Bibi added. In the meantime, the Federation is working to improve the level of football in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. Recently, a developmental squad represented Seychelles in friendly games. Seychelles, led by the newly appointed technical advisor Osama Haroun, lost both matches – against Comoros 7-1 and Burundi 8-1.   «We want to give younger players the experience of playing competitively and so the results were not of importance to us. As part of our development plan, we want to start working with the players at a young age and gradually integrate them into the senior squad,» said Bibi. Meanwhile, the senior national team will compete in a friendly tournament in November that will include Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Currently ranked 199th out of 210 nations, Seychelles has begun preparations for the tournament, with former St Michel United coach, Vivian Bothe, appointed as head coach. The public health authority's announcement will come as a great boost to coach Bothe, as depending on when the season starts, he could have a group of match-fit players to pick from. The senior squad's last outing was back in the 2020 Bangabandhu Cup, hosted by Bangladesh, a six-team friendly tournament where Seychelles lost 1-0 to Palestine in the semi-final.

Divers clean marine park in Seychelles as part of global clean-up campaign

Seychelles kicked off the Clean Up the World campaign on Friday with a dive-clean held in the Ste Anne marine park. A team of four divers removed debris in the Providence area situated in the Ste Anne Marine park about 5km from the main island of Mahe. The
Seychelles News Agency

Divers clean marine park in Seychelles as part of global clean-up campaign

Seychelles kicked off the Clean Up the World campaign on Friday with a dive-clean held in the Ste Anne marine park. A team of four divers removed debris in the Providence area situated in the Ste Anne Marine park about 5km from the main island of Mahe. The Marine National Park, a favourite snorkelling spot, comprises six islands: Ste Anne, Moyenne, Round, Longue, Cachee and Cerf. It was the first such park to be established in the Indian Ocean in March 1973. This is the second dive clean up organised by the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) to mark the Clean Up the World Campaign. The first was held last year with the help of the Whitetip Divers dive centre. The Minister for Environment, Flavien Joubert, told reporters after the dive that «we want to adopt a new approach with the campaign of not only cleaning the communities but also clean our sea as the sea also requires attention.» Joubert added that «the impression we get is that there are many fishing activities that take place in that area, leaving behind a lot of debris associated with it.» Among the waste the group was able to collect were some old ropes, fishnets as well as an old anchor. The waste collected in the dive clean up. (Seychelles National Parks Authority) Photo License: CC-BY The crew said that closer to the shore, they found many empty PET bottles and other litter associated with people visiting the area. «This shows that we have not yet changed our behaviour. We are not yet conscious that we cannot litter a place, but we should instead take our rubbish and take them with us and not throw them in the sea,» said Joubert. One of the divers on the clean-up expedition, Dominic Thelermont, said «as long as we have the resources we plan to continue with the work we have started». In addition to the dive clean-up, other activities have been planned for this weekend to mark the annual global event, and the added incentive of letting people dump their household and community waste at the Providence landfill for free from 8 am to 4 pm on Saturday. «We feel encouraged that despite the current situation, people are actually taking part in the cleaning exercises being held in the various districts as well as some other selected spots,» said Joubert.

US threatens new sanctions over northern Ethiopia war

US President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order allowing for sanctions against the warring parties in northern Ethiopia if they fail to commit to a negotiated settlement. In a statement, Biden called the 10-month-old war in the Tigray region a tra
Seychelles News Agency

US threatens new sanctions over northern Ethiopia war

US President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order allowing for sanctions against the warring parties in northern Ethiopia if they fail to commit to a negotiated settlement. In a statement, Biden called the 10-month-old war in the Tigray region a tragedy and said: «I am appalled by the reports of mass murder, rape, and other sexual violence to terrorize civilian populations.» The executive order establishes a «sanctions regime to increase pressure on the parties fuelling this conflict to sit down at the negotiating table and, in the case of Eritrea, withdraw forces,» a senior administration official said. The United States is not imposing sanctions now but is giving itself the authority to do so if necessary, the official said. The order gives the Treasury Department «the necessary authority» to sanction the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), among other parties, the statement said. Unless these parties take «concrete steps» to resolve the crisis the United States is prepared to impose sanctions against a wide range of individuals and entities in coming weeks, the administration official said without specifying who or what organizations might be targeted. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed sent troops into Tigray last November to topple the TPLF, which at the time was the ruling party in Tigray. The 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner said the move came in response to TPLF attacks on federal army camps. The conflict has killed thousands and left hundreds of thousands of others living in conditions bordering on famine, the United Nations says. Eritrea has provided military support to Ethiopia by sending troops to Tigray, which lies along Eritrea's southern border. In August the United States imposed sanctions against Eritrea's army chief over human rights abuses in Tigray. - 'Double standards' - Though Abiy promised a quick victory, fighting dragged on in Tigray until June when, in a stunning turnabout, the TPLF retook much of the region including its capital Mekele. The TPLF then launched incursions into neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions, where subsequent fighting has displaced hundreds of thousands and killed an untold number of civilians. Abiy has long accused Western powers including the US of overlooking crimes committed by the TPLF, which lawmakers officially designated a terrorist group in May. He reiterated that point Friday in a three-page open letter to Biden responding to the executive order. «Unfortunately, while the entire world has turned its eyes onto Ethiopia and the Government for all the wrong reasons, it has failed to openly and sternly reprimand the terrorist group in the same manner it has been chastising my Government,» he wrote. Later he added: «This unwarranted pressure, characterized by double standards, has been rooted in an orchestrated distortion of events and facts on the ground as it pertains to Ethiopia's rule of law operations in the Tigray region.» The back-and-forth between Washington and Addis Ababa came as the UN sounded the alarm about hundreds of aid trucks it said had «not returned» from Tigray, hampering the humanitarian response. The Ethiopian authorities and Tigrayan rebels have blamed each other for obstructing humanitarian convoys trying to reach Tigray. A government Twitter account on Thursday referred to «suspicions that TPLF (is) seizing trucks for own logistics». But TPLF spokesman Getachew Reda cited obstacles drivers faced while entering Tigray from neighbouring Afar region, adding they have «nothing to do» with Tigrayan officials. © Agence France-Presse

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