Seychelles



Seychelles to host 2025 CJSOI Games

Seychelles will host the 13th edition of the Indian Ocean Youth and Sport Commission (CJSOI) Games in 2025, said a top government official. The announcement was made by the Minister for Sports, Marie-Celine Zialor, on Tuesday at the sending-off ceremony for

New South Korean ambassador to Seychelles to focus on promoting tourism

Promoting tourism between South Korea and Seychelles will be the focus of the newly accredited ambassador. Ambassador Kang Seokhee made the statement to reporters on Tuesday after he presented his credentials to Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan at Stat
Seychelles News Agency

New South Korean ambassador to Seychelles to focus on promoting tourism

Promoting tourism between South Korea and Seychelles will be the focus of the newly accredited ambassador. Ambassador Kang Seokhee made the statement to reporters on Tuesday after he presented his credentials to Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan at State House. «As you know because of the COVID-19 situation, there has been no contact at all during the last two years but it is now time to revitalise the contact and exchanges between the two people,» said Seokhee. He said that Koreans like to travel a lot and before the COVID pandemic around 1,500 Koreans travelled to Seychelles annually. «I am sure Koreans would like Seychelles as a tourism destination. So, I will do my best to facilitate this so that more Koreans can come and enjoy Seychelles,» added the new ambassador. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, established diplomatic relations with Korea on January 29, 1995. Seokhee said that the two countries have maintained a friendly and good relationship over the last two decades. «We have worked together in terms of bilateral cooperation, regional and global as well. As the new ambassador, I will do my best to further promote friendly cooperation between our two countries. I realise that there is great potential for Korea and Seychelles to work together to help each other achieve prosperity,» he added. The new ambassador said that already Korea and Seychelles are working together to respond to global challenges and the current government would like to increase its contribution to the international community. He added that «Korea is a unique country and we have great potential with innovative technology. There are several areas we can focus on such as trade, tourism, the IT sector, and on global issues in particular the climate change issue which Korea is doing its best to make contributions at the international level.» During his stay in Seychelles, Seokhee who will be based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will meet with other high level government officials. 

World's largest volcano erupts in Hawaii

The world's largest active volcano burst into life for the first time in 40 years, spewing lava and hot ash Monday in a spectacular display of nature's fury by Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Rivers of molten rock could be seen high up on the volcano, venting huge clou
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World's largest volcano erupts in Hawaii

The world's largest active volcano burst into life for the first time in 40 years, spewing lava and hot ash Monday in a spectacular display of nature's fury by Mauna Loa in Hawaii. Rivers of molten rock could be seen high up on the volcano, venting huge clouds of steam and smoke at the summit on Big Island, and sparking warnings the situation could change rapidly. Pressure has been building at Mauna Loa for years, according to the United States Geological Survey, which reported the eruption could be seen from 45 miles (72 kilometers) away, in the town of Kona the west coast of Hawaii's main island. The eruption, which began shortly before midnight Sunday, was initially contained within the caldera -- the concave area at the top of the volcano -- but vulcanologists said Monday lava was now escaping from cracks in its side. «The eruption of Mauna Loa has migrated from the summit to the Northeast Rift Zone where fissures are feeding several lava flows,» the USGS said on its website. The agency said there was currently no threat to people living below the eruption zone, but warned that the volcano was volatile. «Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa rift zone eruption can be very dynamic, and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.» Experts also cautioned that winds could carry volcanic gas and fine ash downslope, as well as Pele's Hair -- the name given to fine strands of volcanic glass formed when lava skeins cool quickly in the air. Named after Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, the strands can be very sharp and pose potential danger to skin and eyes. - 'Long Mountain' - Authorities in Hawaii have not issued any evacuation orders, although the summit area and several roads in the region were closed, and two shelters have been opened as a precaution. An ashfall advisory has been issued downwind of the volcano, with a light accumulation of ash expected on ships in ocean waters along the Big Island's southeast. Vulcanologist Robin George Andrews said the eruption had originally been contained, but was now spreading. «Oof. Lava is now erupting from fresh vents on the slopes along Mauna Loa's Northeast Rift Zone, or NERZ. That brings a new hazardous dimension to the eruption,» he wrote on Twitter. «The fact that it is a hazardous mountain that hasn't erupted since 1984 -- the longest eruptive pause in its recorded history -- is why we should all keep an eye on it.» But Andrews predicted that unless the lava flow rate picks up dramatically, the city of Hilo to the northeast, home to about 44,000 people, «will be okay.» The largest volcano on Earth by volume, Mauna Loa, whose name means «Long Mountain,» covers half of the Big Island and is larger than the rest of the Hawaiian islands combined. The volcano's submarine flanks stretch for miles to an ocean floor that is in turn depressed by Mauna Loa's great mass -- making its summit some 17 kilometers (10.5 miles) above its base, according to the USGS. One of six active volcanoes on the Hawaiian islands, Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times since 1843. Its most recent eruption, in 1984, lasted 22 days and produced lava flows which reached to within about seven kilometers (four miles) of Hilo. Kilauea, a volcano on the southeastern flank of Mauna Loa, erupted almost continuously between 1983 and 2019, and a minor eruption there has been ongoing for months. © Agence France-Presse

Macron heads to US for wide-ranging state visit

French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Washington Tuesday to discuss a slew of issues with US counterpart Joe Biden, ranging from aligning policy on Russia's invasion of Ukraine to easing trade spats. Macron, in a rare honour the first French leader to b
Seychelles News Agency

Macron heads to US for wide-ranging state visit

French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Washington Tuesday to discuss a slew of issues with US counterpart Joe Biden, ranging from aligning policy on Russia's invasion of Ukraine to easing trade spats. Macron, in a rare honour the first French leader to be invited for two US state visits, can look forward to another 21-gun salute and ostentatious White House dinner that ex-president Donald Trump provided in 2018. His travelling entourage of foreign, defence and finance ministers, as well as business leaders and astronauts, illustrates the range of transatlantic cooperation Paris hopes to push forward. But one senior American official told AFP that while there might be concrete «progress» in some fields, «this visit is about the personal relationship, the alliance relationship» with France. «There are enormous opportunities to cooperate between the Biden administration and the Macron government,» said Martin Quencez, deputy director of the Paris office of think-tank GMF. «But for various reasons, cooperation and coordination haven't gone as far as one might imagine». The tone between Paris and Washington has calmed since a year ago, when the United States snatched a lucrative contract to supply Australia with submarines from under French noses -- and launched a new US-UK-Australia alliance in the Pacific, dubbed AUKUS, that excluded France. This week's visit could be seen as the capstone of US efforts to placate a NATO ally which is one of the strongest voices calling for European «strategic autonomy», said Celia Belin, a researcher at the Brookings Institution. «The French aren't always easy to manage, but when the French and the Americans agree, that moves things forward a great deal.» - 'Not on the same page' - As things stand, however, «we are not allies on the same page,» one adviser to Macron told AFP, promising «challenging» talks with Biden. Despite his support for Kyiv, Macron's insistence on continuing to talk with Moscow throughout Russia's invasion of Ukraine has raised American hackles. Another adviser told reporters last week that Macron would speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin soon -- but not until after his US visit. The conversation comes just as some US officials including Pentagon chief Mark Milley have raised the possibility of a negotiated peace. Putin's war has also set France and the United States at odds on the economy, intensifying existing disagreements over issues like the green transition and competing with China. Massive US weapons deliveries to Ukraine -- far outstripping the combined efforts of the European Union -- have highlighted the country's pre-eminence as an arms producer, while Franco-German joint efforts flounder. That could be highlighted still further if a divided US Congress refuses to authorise the same level of aid to Kyiv from next year. And as the United States plans massive investments and subsidies under its Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Europeans fear distorting effects on competition with their own firms in sectors like electric cars, batteries and clean energy. Macron will tell Biden «there's a contradiction between an administration that constantly talks of alliances... and at the same time takes a decision like the IRA that will impact allies' economies and industry,» researcher Quencez said. A senior Biden administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, stressed that even with the disagreements, the transatlantic partnership remains strong. On divergences over the more hawkish US policy towards China, the official said European views are «not identical, but I think there is a strong view that we should be speaking from a common script in response to China.» As for US subsidies for domestic green technology companies, the official said they do not shut out EU competitors and that a «very constructive set of conversations» was underway on how to work together. - EU subsidies to come? - Nevertheless, «We won't stand idly by» while the United States engages in alleged protectionism, Macron's Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has said. A joint statement last week from finance ministers in Berlin and Paris underscored the «urgent need for investments in Europe» to reduce energy dependencies and tackle climate and digital transitions. The communique was read by some observers as potentially heralding a wave of EU subsidies. «China favours its own products: America favours its own products. It might be time for Europe to favour its own products,» French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told France 3 radio on Sunday. In the immediate term, Europeans are angered by the swingeing prices they must now pay for US exports of ship-borne liquefied natural gas -- replacing cheaper Russian pipeline gas cut off during the invasion of Ukraine. France in particular has suffered a double energy blow as much of its fleet of nuclear power plants is offline for maintenance or due to flaws uncovered in their cooling systems. With Luc Remont, the newly installed head of state-controlled energy firm EDF, on Macron's plane to Washington, some support for the civil nuclear industry could be on the cards. Macron is also expected to announce a fund to support French language teaching on a later leg of his visit that will take him to New Orleans. © Agence France-Presse

Airtel Seychelles launches TV app after local demand for FIFA World Cup

Airtel subscribers in Seychelles can now watch the FIFA World Cup competition live on their smartphones through the Airtel TV app platform and the streaming is free of charge until November 30. The brand and marketing communications manager of the company
Seychelles News Agency

Airtel Seychelles launches TV app after local demand for FIFA World Cup

Airtel subscribers in Seychelles can now watch the FIFA World Cup competition live on their smartphones through the Airtel TV app platform and the streaming is free of charge until November 30. The brand and marketing communications manager of the company, Jude Valmont, told reporters on Monday that the platform has been put in place due to demand from their local customers since the 2022 Football World Cup started. In a press statement from Airtel Seychelles, the managing director, Amadou Dina, said that «since the start of the FIFA World Cup, our customers have been contacting us to find out what Airtel has planned. So, we listened to our loyal customers and put in place the necessary measures to respond to their requests in record time. Considering our already very reliable data network coverage in Seychelles, Airtel TV will revolutionise TV on demand and streaming experience of live TV on smartphones.» Valmont told reporters that this was made possible after Airtel Africa and New World TV in Paris announced a landmark partnership earlier this month, in which Airtel TV subscribers can enjoy exclusive, live access to all FIFA World Cup 2022 matches.  Airtel subscribers can stream live for free until November 30 and as of December 1, they will have to purchase one of the four bundles which start at SCR37 ($3). Under the terms of the agreement between Airtel Africa and New World TV partnership, Airtel TV subscribers will be able to watch all UEFA national team competitions until 2028 and FIFA 2022 and 2023 competitions. The company's commercial director, Saadatou Chekou Kore, explained that Airtel TV is the one stop platform for live TV, music videos, news, sports, and a lot more. «The Airtel TV app, which is available on Android and iOS, is subscription-free meaning that you just purchase our very competitive dedicated data bundles and you're good to go!!! For this World Cup we are thrilled to deliver the excitement by offering our customers four data packages starting at SR 37, to deliver the best value and ensure that lovers of the beautiful game can conveniently follow the matches on the go,» he added. Kore said that this offering demonstrates Airtel Seychelles' commitment to transforming the lives of its customers by ensuring their convenience. «It is the reason we are continually investing in expanding our network and distribution network to deliver connectivity and our services closer to our customers. In Seychelles, for instance, one of our goals is to get closer to our customers and provide them with a top level of service. Indeed, we have the largest distribution network in the country, with over 20 own shops spread across the country,» he said. Airtel TV offers registered users unlimited access to the entire Airtel TV content library as well as enabling them to stream different content categories on the Airtel 4G network. Airtel Seychelles and Cable & Wireless Seychelles are the two main telecommunication service providers in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. 

Travellers to Seychelles no longer need vaccination certificate or negative PCR test as of December 1

Travellers coming to Seychelles will no longer need a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or negative PCR test as of December 1, said the Ministry of Health on Saturday.   According to the revised entry and stay conditions of November 26 for incoming traveller
Seychelles News Agency

Travellers to Seychelles no longer need vaccination certificate or negative PCR test as of December 1

Travellers coming to Seychelles will no longer need a COVID-19 vaccination certificate or negative PCR test as of December 1, said the Ministry of Health on Saturday.   According to the revised entry and stay conditions of November 26 for incoming travellers, Seychellois, visitors and holders of a gainful occupation permit (GOP) will still need to complete an online travel authorisation form on the Seychelles Electronic Border System.  This information includes the personal and travel information details of the passengers, which was previously provided on a paper form upon arrival at the airport but is now in digital form. Travellers also need to provide a scanned copy of their passport, which can be uploaded via the system's website or an app. Additionally, foreign visitors will need valid travel and health insurance to cover potential COVID-19-related costs and GOP holders will need relevant cover for potential health and COVID-19-related costs. The ministry is advising all individuals arriving in Seychelles «to report any symptoms they develop, that may be associated with COVID-19 to their nearest health centre, and may be subject to testing, isolation, care and/or quarantine, as indicated by national protocols in-effect.» Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, currently has 193 active cases of COVID-19 and no patient has been admitted with infection. Despite the decrease in COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Health is urging the public to remain vigilant and continue taking personal responsibility to prevent infection.

Comoros ex-president Sambi jailed for life for 'high treason'

A court in the Comoros on Monday handed down a life sentence for high treason to ex-president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, who was convicted of selling passports to stateless people living in the Gulf. Sambi, 64, an arch rival of President Azali Assoumani, was sent
Seychelles News Agency

Comoros ex-president Sambi jailed for life for 'high treason'

A court in the Comoros on Monday handed down a life sentence for high treason to ex-president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, who was convicted of selling passports to stateless people living in the Gulf. Sambi, 64, an arch rival of President Azali Assoumani, was sentenced by the State Security Court, a special judicial body whose rulings cannot be appealed. «Sambi is sentenced to life imprisonment,» court president Omar Ben Ali said, reading out the verdict, which also stripped the former leader of the right to vote and hold public office. «The court orders his property and assets to be confiscated to the benefit of the public treasury.» Sambi was convicted in absentia after refusing to attend proceedings. He briefly appeared at the first hearing, where his lawyers unsuccessfully asked the judge to recuse himself as he had previously sat on the panel that indicted their defendant. «The composition of the court is illegal. I do not want to be tried by this court,» Sambi said before boycotting further sessions. «This sentence is entirely consistent with what we have seen so far, a judicial charade guided by members of the government which ended in life imprisonment for the biggest political opponent of the current regime», Sambi's daughter Tisslame Sambi told AFP. Sambi, who led the small Indian Ocean archipelago between 2006 and 2011, pushed through a law in 2008 allowing the sale of passports for high fees. The scheme aimed at the so-called bidoon -- an Arab minority numbering in the tens of thousands who cannot obtain citizenship. The former president was accused of embezzling millions of dollars under the scheme. «He betrayed the mission entrusted to him by the Comorans,» public prosecutor Ali Mohamed Djounaid told the court last week as he requested a life sentence. - 'Peanuts' - The prosecution said the loss to the public purse amounted to more than $1.8 billion -- more than the impoverished nation's GDP. «They gave thugs the right to sell Comoran nationality as if they were selling peanuts,» said Eric Emmanuel Sossa, a lawyer for civilian plaintiffs. But Sambi's French lawyer Jean-Gilles Halimi said «no evidence» of missing money or bank accounts had been put forward to suggest a crime. Sambi was originally prosecuted for corruption, but the charges were reclassified as high treason, a crime that «does not exist in Comoran law,» Halimi said. The former president had already spent four years behind bars before he faced trial, far exceeding the maximum eight months. He was originally placed under house arrest for disturbing public order. Another lawyer, Mahamoudou Ahmada, said the court went beyond prosecutors' requests in stripping his client of his civil rights. Government secretary general Daniel Ali Bandar said he was «satisfied» that the trial had gone ahead «peacefully» but was waiting to see what would happen in civil proceedings. «More than prison sentences, Comorans want to know what happened to the millions of euros that have been embezzled,» he said. Among other defendants, French Syrian businessman Bashar Kiwan, who had accused the government of seeking to pressure him into testifying against Sambi -- something denied by the presidency -- was sentenced to 10 years. Former vice president Mohamed Ali Soilihi, the runner-up in a disputed 2016 vote, was handed a 20-year jail term. Both men were convicted in absentia. The authorities issued international arrest warrants for both men. - Troubled nation - Sambi studied in Saudi Arabia, Sudan and in a theological school in Iran, and typically dressed in the traditional garb of Iranian clerics -- a style that gave him the nickname of «ayatollah.» A former French archipelago of three islands of some 900,000 people located northwest of Mozambique, the Comoros has endured years of political turmoil. Since independence in 1975, the country has endured more than 20 attempted coups, four of which were successful. Assoumani seized power in 1999 and was re-elected in 2016 in a vote marred by violence and allegations of irregularities. He was able to extend his term thanks to a controversial referendum in 2018 that changed the constitution. © Agence France-Presse

China censors rare, nationwide protests

China's censors were working Monday to extinguish signs of rare, social media-driven protests that flared across major cities over the weekend calling for political freedoms and an end to Covid lockdowns. Sunday saw people take to the streets in several majo
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China censors rare, nationwide protests

China's censors were working Monday to extinguish signs of rare, social media-driven protests that flared across major cities over the weekend calling for political freedoms and an end to Covid lockdowns. Sunday saw people take to the streets in several major cities across China to call for an end to lockdowns and greater political freedoms, in a wave of nationwide protests not seen since pro-democracy rallies in 1989 were crushed. A deadly fire last week in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang region, has become a catalyst for public anger, with many blaming Covid lockdowns for hampering rescue efforts. But they have also featured prominent calls for greater political freedoms -- with some even demanding the resignation of China's President Xi Jinping, recently re-appointed to an unprecedented third term as the country's leader. Large crowds gathered Sunday in the capital Beijing and Shanghai, where police clashed with protesters as they tried to stop groups from converging at Wulumuqi street, named after the Mandarin for Urumqi. Crowds that had gathered overnight -- some of whom chanted «Xi Jinping, step down! CCP, step down!» -- were dispersed by Sunday morning. But in the afternoon, hundreds rallied in the same area with blank sheets of paper and flowers to hold what appeared to be a silent protest, an eyewitness told AFP. In the capital, at least 400 people gathered on the banks of a river for several hours, with some shouting: «We are all Xinjiang people! Go Chinese people!» AFP reporters at the scene described the crowd singing the national anthem and listening to speeches, while on the other side of the canal bank, a line of police cars waited. An AFP journalist at the scene of the Shanghai protests Monday morning saw a substantial police presence, with blue fences in place along the pavements to stop further gatherings. State censors appeared to have scrubbed Chinese social media of any news about the rallies, with the search terms «Liangma River», «Urumqi Road» -- sites of protests in Beijing and Shanghai -- scrubbed of any references to the rallies on the Twitter-like Weibo platform. Videos including those showing university students singing in protest and rallies in other cities had also vanished from WeChat, replaced by notices saying the content was reported for «non-compliant or sensitive content.» The Weibo search for the hashtag #A4 -- a reference to the blank pieces of paper held up at rallies in a symbolic protest against censorship -- also appeared to have been manipulated, showing only a handful of posts from the past day. - 'Boiling point' - China's strict control of information and continued travel curbs tied to the zero-Covid policy make verifying numbers of protestors across the vast country challenging. But such widespread rallies are exceptionally rare, with authorities harshly clamping down on any and all opposition to the central government. Protests also occurred on Sunday in Wuhan, the central city where Covid-19 first emerged, while there were reports of demonstrations in Guangzhou, Chengdu and Hong Kong. Spreading through social media, they have been fuelled by frustration at the central government's zero-Covid policy, which sees authorities impose snap lockdowns, lengthy quarantines and mass testing campaigns over just a handful of cases. State-run newspaper the People's Daily published a commentary Monday morning warning against «paralysis» and «battle-weariness» in the fight against Covid -- but stopped far short of calling for an end to hardline policy. «People have now reached a boiling point because there has been no clear direction to path to end the zero-Covid policy,» Alfred Wu Muluan, a Chinese politics expert at the National University of Singapore, told AFP. «The party has underestimated the people's anger.» Investors were spooked by the weekend protests, with Asian stocks opening sharply lower on Monday morning. China reported 40,052 domestic Covid-19 cases Monday, a record high but tiny compared to caseloads in the West at the height of the pandemic. © Agence France-Presse

Elderly fishermen in Seychelles recognised for contribution to sector at presidential ceremony

Ten elderly artisanal fishermen who practiced fishing without the aid of technology, have been recognised for their role, effort and devotion in developing this sector of Seychelles' fisheries industry.  In a short ceremony at State House, Seychelles' Pre
Seychelles News Agency

Elderly fishermen in Seychelles recognised for contribution to sector at presidential ceremony

Ten elderly artisanal fishermen who practiced fishing without the aid of technology, have been recognised for their role, effort and devotion in developing this sector of Seychelles' fisheries industry.  In a short ceremony at State House, Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan, and the fisheries minister, Jean-Francois Ferrari, presented the fishers, most of whom have retired, or their representatives, with a token of recognition. This was a shield in the form of a miniature fish trap. The ceremony was also one of two activities planned to mark the end of the island nation's fisheries week, which was being celebrated from November 21 through to November 25. In his address to the press, Ferrari outlined that as the United Nations General Assembly has declared 2022 the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, it was only fitting to recognise the contribution of fishermen of yesteryears to the industry. «They are the ones who developed fisheries in Seychelles. We are talking about the time before tuna fishing or even industrial fishing. We are talking about fishing in a canoe, operated through the use of oars or sails. A lot of these men present today have worked all their lives in the fishing industry and have helped feed this nation,» said Ferrari. The fishermen were the ones who developed the fisheries in the past. (Gerard Larose) Photo License: CC-BY  One of the retired artisanal fishermen, Simon Gabriel, said that it is an honour to have received this recognition. «This has not happened before. The youth of today do not have the strength to do what we did as there are too many social ills affecting them. I didn't get a loan to achieve what I did - it was all done through my dedication and strength. We did not rely on the government to get things done - I bought old canoes, repaired and sold them,» said Gabriel. Gabriel, 78, started fishing at the young age of 13, without even completing his schooling.  He shared that making a livelihood was much harder during those times and he didn't have much choice but to go fishing. During that time a bundle of fish sold for 50 cents, whereas today, it is being sold for SCR150 ($12) or SCR200 ($15) depending on the monsoon. A younger member of the delegation to State House, Jimmy Port Louis, who was representing his grandfather, told SNA that the gesture is greatly welcomed, however, the youth should also be recognised. «As a youth, I really appreciate the fact that our elders have been recognised for the job they have done, but I would also like to see the youth in the field also recognised as there are some who are taking up this job. This will encourage more youth to join fisheries,» said Port-Louis. The minister encouraged the youth to join the profession despite the difficulties that come with the job adding that «one can make a great livelihood in fisheries and as Seychellois, we need to look at fishing as a job that has great value.» 

Italy declares state of emergency after deadly landslide

Italy's government declared a state of emergency on Sunday after a landslide on the southern island of Ischia killed at least one person and left a dozen missing. A wave of mud and debris hit the small town of Casamicciola Terme early Saturday morning, engul
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Italy declares state of emergency after deadly landslide

Italy's government declared a state of emergency on Sunday after a landslide on the southern island of Ischia killed at least one person and left a dozen missing. A wave of mud and debris hit the small town of Casamicciola Terme early Saturday morning, engulfing at least one house and sweeping cars down to the sea, local media and emergency services said. A first tranche of two million euros relief funds was released at the end of an emergency cabinet meeting which declared the state of emergency, said Minister for Civil Protection Nello Musumeci. More than 200 rescuers are still searching for a dozen missing people, while hundreds of volunteers, and others, up to their knees in mud, are busy cleaning the streets of the town. Wreckage of cars and buses crushed by the mudslide could be seen and boulders were scattered around as excavators sought to free up access to homes, cars and shops. Rescuers had recovered the body of a 31-year-old woman, according to Italian news agency AGI. «It's a situation that hurts us, if only for the people who disappeared under the mountain. Here it's an island and even if we don't really know everyone, it's almost that,» Salvatore Lorini, 45, told AFP. «The mountain came down, there was devastation of shops, cars, hotels and that was already happening nine years ago. Now I am cleaning my mother-in-law's shop,» he said. The landslide was caused by a lack of maintenance and prevention «because nature is nature, there was an earthquake, but a bit of prevention» could have saved lives, said Lorini. The peninsula, off Naples, is no stranger to states of emergency following earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or severe weather. Casamicciola Terme, a spa resort of 8,000 inhabitants in winter on the lush island of Ischia, near Capri, was hit by an earthquake in 2017 that killed two people. It was completely destroyed by a much more powerful earthquake at the end of the 19th century. © Agence France-Presse

D'Arros Experience: 2nd island school programme on nature reserve launched in Seychelles

Riding on the success of the first ever D'Arros Island school programme this year, the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF), which manages the SOSF D'Arros Research Centre (SOSF-DRC) on the island of D'Arros, has launched its second D'Arros Experience Competition
Seychelles News Agency

D'Arros Experience: 2nd island school programme on nature reserve launched in Seychelles

Riding on the success of the first ever D'Arros Island school programme this year, the Save Our Seas Foundation (SOSF), which manages the SOSF D'Arros Research Centre (SOSF-DRC) on the island of D'Arros, has launched its second D'Arros Experience Competition for school children.  In a press release, the foundation explained that the programme seeks to promote understanding and respect for the marine environment in Seychelles through children's education.   «By combining a team of enthusiastic educators and scientists, together with a range of in-water field experiences, the programme offers a unique and hands-on learning experience that aims to help encourage a sense of ocean ownership in young Seychellois,» said Aurélie Grospiron, communications strategist of the foundation. Grospiron added that the competition for these spaces is open to all Seychellois primary and secondary school students aged 10 to 14 years old: «Two consecutive one-week D'Arros Experience camps will take place during school holidays and up to eight spaces may be awarded per week.» .  The programme seeks to promote understanding and respect for the marine environment in Seychelles through children's education. (Dillys Poupouneau) Photo License: All Rights Reserved    D'Arros is part of the Amirantes group of Outer Islands of the Seychelles archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.   The D'Arros Experience engages 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 The programme is an important component of the foundation's worldwide mission to promote environmental education and outreach. The idea is to provide students with a clear understanding of how ecosystems, from the coast to the deeper ocean, are connected.  Students of all schools of the main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue can take part in the competition where they have to come up with an original awareness campaign that teaches an audience about one of the iconic but critically endangered species found in Seychelles and provide ideas on how we can help those species' populations onto the road of recovery.  According to Grospiron, the candidate must clearly show: «Why is this species important? What has led to the species being threatened? And what can we do now in Seychelles to help its populations?»  The awareness campaigns must focus on one of the four listed species from the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. These are the hawksbill turtle, the sheath-tailed bat, the Seychelles white-eye and the bottlenose wedgefish. The campaign must be realistic, and can be a video, a story, a poster, a collage of images, an audio recording, and should be in English, Creole or French. The deadline for these submissions is January 6, 2023. First Island School on D'Arros - best place to educate students A first island school was held in August this year and was designed to inspire a new generation of Seychellois ocean champions.   Terence Vel said D'Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll are a living laboratory for naturalists. (Dillys Poupouneau) Photo License: All Rights Reserved    «Education is something we focus on at the research centre because research should translate into action. Part of that action is for current and future generations in Seychelles to understand their marine heritage. Seychelles is investing in the building of local capacity so that researchers, conservationists and policy-makers can be sourced from within the country. Children have an important role to play as they will be part of this national pool of human resources that will work for the blue future of this country,» explained Henriette Grimmel, programme director at the research centre.  Speaking about his vision for the future, student Tuvia says, «I really want to be a marine biologist. I think the ocean is doing pretty well, but there are a lot of negative impacts and I don't think it will do so well in the future unless there are more people who study the ocean and find out how to help it.»  «An unforgettable trip as D'Arros is a very beautiful island and people can only dream of visiting it,» Antorico Suzette from Praslin Secondary School told SNA. Another student, Rylie Panagary, described the trip as very interesting, with lots to learn, adding that staff at the research centre as being very kind.  One of the two teachers who participated in the experience who spoke to SNA was Sandrine Valentin from Mont Fleuri Secondary School, who described the D'Arros Experience as «mind blowing, unforgettable. It is the best place to educate students about the ecosystem; mainly life on land, life below sea and in the air. Even as a teacher I gained additional knowledge that I can't wait to share with my eco-students.»   Terence Vel, who works at the University of Seychelles and represents Island School Seychelles, explained that the intention behind the island school programme is to inspire children to become «wise custodians of the marine world and ambassadors for the natural realm of Seychelles. D'Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll are a living laboratory for naturalists. It is a privilege for young people to have such a special place to experience marine and terrestrial ecosystems.»  

16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign kicks off in Seychelles

Seychelles joined the rest of the world on Friday to start the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign from November 25 to December 10. The 16 Days Campaign is a strategy that calls for the elimination of all forms of gender-based v
Seychelles News Agency

16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign kicks off in Seychelles

Seychelles joined the rest of the world on Friday to start the global 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence campaign from November 25 to December 10. The 16 Days Campaign is a strategy that calls for the elimination of all forms of gender-based violence by individuals and groups throughout the world. As part of local activities, government officials joined various partners in civil society as well as others concerned with gender-based violence on Friday to brainstorm on ways to tackle the issue of violence against women and children. The Minister for Family, Marie-Celine Zialor, explained in her address at the dialogue that once the root of the cause of violence has been identified through the research carried out the necessary policies and actions will be put in place to bring peace and harmony in the families. “Once you bring peace in one family, this means the community is peaceful and once this is done this peace will trickle into the country as a whole,« she added. Seychelles has been carrying out research on the issue of gender-based violence with the Commonwealth since 2017 to determine how violence against women and girls also affects the country's economy. The results of the study that concluded in 2019 also addressed the cost of violence against women and girls and a Domestic Violence Act passed in the National Assembly is expected to come into force soon. Zialor said that Seychelles “should not wait for international organisations to come in and do the work for us, but we should instead unite here locally and start doing things for ourselves.” She urged those attending to reach out to other partners who were not present as »sometimes we tend to think that gender and gender-based violence only concerns the institutions present. We should bring peace to reverse the effects of the existing violence.” Every year, the UNITE Campaign focuses on a specific theme. This year’s theme is “UNITE! Activism to end violence against women and girls” and invites everyone to play their role in ending violence against women and girls, show support and solidarity to women’s rights activists and resist the rollback on women’s rights. The local dialogue was held under the theme “Addressing Gender-Based Violence from Institutional & Socio-Cultural Perspectives.« Zialor concluded by saying that »we should sow seeds of peace on November 25 and continue watering them during the year" to effectively tackle the issue. During the 16-day campaign, the Seychelles Gender Secretariat within the aegis of the Family Department will intensify its public education, campaigns and advocacy on gender-based violence.

Seychelles opposition holds peaceful protest in capital

Hundreds of opposition demonstrators marched peacefully through the streets of Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, to protest against the cost of living on Saturday. This is the first time that the United Seychelles (US) party has organised such a gatherin
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles opposition holds peaceful protest in capital

Hundreds of opposition demonstrators marched peacefully through the streets of Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, to protest against the cost of living on Saturday. This is the first time that the United Seychelles (US) party has organised such a gathering in the capital. «The objective of this demonstration is to say that some decisions that are taken by the LDS government are not good for the Seychellois people, we see more and more capitalist and liberal decisions where those who are rich, are getting richer, and those who are poor, are getting poorer,» Dr Patrick Hermine, president of the United Seychelles party told SNA. The Seychelles opposition, which lost the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections for the first time, is planning to hold further demonstrations next year to protest against the constitutional amendments that the government would like to put in place. All of the party's leaders were present at the march. Hundreds of opposition demonstrators marched peacefully through the streets of Victoria, the capital of Seychelles, to protest against the cost of living. (Rassin Vannier Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY  United Seychelles is also planning to mobilise its supporters on the islands of Praslin and La Digue. «Since I took over the leadership of the party, many thought that the party would collapse, but this is not the case,» said Dr Hermine, adding that the party has managed to remobilise. «The government is using the media to paint a rosy picture of Seychelles and that is not the case,» Dr Herminie said. «We see a large segment of our population deteriorating and a minority who have businesses in agriculture and construction getting by, we see a growing gap between rich and poor and that is what we are fighting against,» said Herminie. The next presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for 2025.  

Five key decisions at global wildlife summit

A global wildlife summit that ends Friday passed resolutions to protect hundreds of threatened species, including sharks, reptiles, turtles as well as trees. Here are some highlights of the two-week meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endange
Seychelles News Agency

Five key decisions at global wildlife summit

A global wildlife summit that ends Friday passed resolutions to protect hundreds of threatened species, including sharks, reptiles, turtles as well as trees. Here are some highlights of the two-week meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Panama. 1) Sharks steal the show No longer just the villains of the deep, these ancient predators were the stars of the summit. Delegates from more than 180 countries agreed to regulate the trade in 54 species of the requiem shark and hammerhead shark families. These species are the most hunted for their shark fins -- seen as a delicacy in some Asian countries -- and their numbers have been decimated, putting the entire marine ecosystem at risk. Only Japan grumbled over the resolution, arguing restrictions on the trade of the blue shark would be a blow to the livelihoods of its fishermen. CITES also voted to restrict the trade of guitarfish rays and several other freshwater ray species. 2) See-through glass frogs The skin of these nocturnal amphibians can be lime green or so translucent their organs are visible through their skin. This has made them sought-after pets, and intense trafficking has placed the species in critical danger. CITES also placed more than 160 species of glass frog, found in several rainforests in Central and South America, on its Appendix II, which places trade restrictions on threatened species. The European Union and Canada withdrew early reservations about the resolution, which was adopted unanimously. 3) Weird and wonderful turtles CITES approved varying levels of protection for around 20 turtle species from America and Asia. These include the striking matamata turtles, with their prehistoric, beetle-like appearance, which have also become sought-after pets and are hunted for their meat and eggs. They live in the Amazon and Orinoco basins, but scientists do not know how many there are. Freshwater turtles are among the most-trafficked species in the world. The unusual-looking North American Alligator Snapping Turtle was also granted trade protection. 4) Crocodile bans lifted Brazil and the Philippines now will be able to export farm-raised crocodiles, after a total trade ban was lifted. Delegates also allowed the export of skin and meat of the broad-snouted caiman -- found in the wild in the Brazilian Amazon and Pantanal as well as wetlands, rivers, and lakes of neighboring countries. «The population of these animals is very big. There has been a great reproductive success,» said researcher Miryam Venegas-Anaya, a crocodile expert with the University of Panama. In the Philippines, a trade restriction was lifted on the saltwater crocodile that lives mainly on the islands of Mindanao and Palawan. However, Thailand's efforts to lift a ban on its Siamese crocodile was rejected. 5) Ivory ban stays, no luck for hippos Zimbabwe and its southern African neighbors have seen their elephant populations soar in recent years, and pushed a drive to re-open the ivory trade which has been banned since 1989. One-off sales were allowed in 1999 and 2008 despite fierce opposition. However, in the rest of the continent poaching for ivory is still decimating elephant populations and the request was rejected. Delegates also rejected a request by Botswana, Namibia and Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), to allow the sale of southern white rhino horn. Meanwhile, after a fierce debate, a request by ten west African nations to ban the trade in hippopotamus, was rejected by delegates. Illegal trade in the surly semi-aquatic mammal -- for its meat, ivory tusks, teeth, and skull -- rose after elephant ivory was banned. © Agence France-Presse

Indian government to fund access roads in 3 districts of Seychelles

The Indian government will fund three community projects in Seychelles which are expected to benefit over 50 families by the end of 2023 after the signing of an agreement on Friday. The memorandum of understanding was signed by the respective Seychelles mini
Seychelles News Agency

Indian government to fund access roads in 3 districts of Seychelles

The Indian government will fund three community projects in Seychelles which are expected to benefit over 50 families by the end of 2023 after the signing of an agreement on Friday. The memorandum of understanding was signed by the respective Seychelles ministers and the Indian High Commissioner in a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The three projects will be the building of access roads in three districts in the east of Mahe, the main island, where families are using steps or footpaths.   In his address, the Minister for Housing, Billy Rangasamy, said, «Today is a great day as we have been looking at this project for quite a while. Now it will finally be realised thanks to the government of India, as part of its high impact community projects.» The Minister for Local Government and Community Affairs, Rosemary Hoareau, signed the MoU for the construction of two access roads at the Adela Road in the Pointe Larue district and the other at Bodamier in the district of Anse Aux Pins. «I want to sincerely thank the Indian government for its generosity, which will bring a better quality of life to a number of families in Seychelles, and look forward to more such projects being done in the future,» said Hoareau. The Adela road will be an extension to the existing one, adding a further 127 metres of the road to the residents, while at Bodamier, a new 330 metre road will be created. The Indian High Commissioner, Karthik Pande, who signed the agreement on behalf of his government, said that India will continue to look at ways to help Seychelles and finance such projects which will benefit the local community. All these projects will now go through the tendering process and the works are expected to start early next year and be completed towards the third quarter of 2023.  

Opening up to Kazakhstan market: Air Seychelles to launch flight to Almaty in December

The Seychelles national carrier, Air Seychelles, will launch a new route starting December 26 to Almaty, Kazakhstan, the airline said on Thursday. According to a press release, the twice-weekly seasonal service will operate until March 27, 2023, to the larg
Seychelles News Agency

Opening up to Kazakhstan market: Air Seychelles to launch flight to Almaty in December

The Seychelles national carrier, Air Seychelles, will launch a new route starting December 26 to Almaty, Kazakhstan, the airline said on Thursday. According to a press release, the twice-weekly seasonal service will operate until March 27, 2023, to the largest city in Kazakhstan, a country of almost 20 million people. The Almaty service will be operated on a two-class Airbus A320 Neo leaving on December 26 and arriving at the Seychelles international airport of Pointe Larue on December 27 at 7 a.m. Flights both to and from Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, will have a technical stop in Abu Dhabi. Sandy Benoiton, acting chief executive of Air Seychelles, said, «After studying Kazakhstan and the Central Asian region for many years, we're thrilled to be able to launch our initial service into Almaty on a seasonal basis.» He added that «Kazakhs have discovered Maldives in the last few years and now are eager to explore other parts of the Indian Ocean region. We look forward to welcoming the first flight during the festive season and will be constantly evaluating the performance so we can increase flights based on demand.» The Minister for Transport, Antony Derjacques said Seychelles is proud to see its flagship airline bring its award-winning services to Kazakhstan, adding one more powerful tourism market to its growing network. «Our national airline is delivering on its mandate to be a key economic enabler, boosting tourism and trade, and creating jobs. The new service strengthens the warm relations that have developed between Seychelles and the Republic of Kazakhstan, and we look with eagerness to seeing visitors from Kazakhstan enjoying our splendid beaches for their next holiday,» he said. Air Seychelles, which is wholly owned by the government, has been flying for over 45 years. It operates flights from Mahe, the main island, to Tel Aviv, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Mauritius, and Maldives with state-of-the-art Airbus A320NEOs. Recently, Air Seychelles retained the most coveted title of Indian Ocean's Leading Airline at the 29th edition of the World Travel Awards as well as, Indian Ocean's Leading Airline Business Class, Indian Ocean's Leading Cabin Crew and Indian Ocean's Leading Airline Lounge. 

Gang violence grips French Indian Ocean territory Mayotte

On the French Indian Ocean territory of Mayotte, clashes between machete-wielding gangs have left at least one dead, highlighting chronic crime problems that have rung alarm bells in Paris. In the densely populated main city of Mamoudzou, street battles hav
Seychelles News Agency

Gang violence grips French Indian Ocean territory Mayotte

On the French Indian Ocean territory of Mayotte, clashes between machete-wielding gangs have left at least one dead, highlighting chronic crime problems that have rung alarm bells in Paris. In the densely populated main city of Mamoudzou, street battles have struck fear into residents and led the mainland government to send a contingent of elite anti-terror police on Tuesday to help restore order. A 20-year-old was stabbed to death on November 12 in the northern slum-fringed suburb of Kaweni, and a school bus was attacked in the same area last week. In the southern district of Mtsapere, lines of burned-out cars point to reprisals, with gangs of several hundred men and boys, some as young as 12, responsible for the daily unrest that includes roadblocks and attacks on motorists. «What additional act of barbarism do we need so that the republic reacts?» local MP Estelle Youssouffa asked in the national assembly on Tuesday, imploring the government to tackle the unrest. The outbreak of violence underscores declining living standards in Mayotte and has brought to the fore longstanding accusations of neglect by the Paris government, which are often heard in other overseas French territories in the Caribbean and Pacific. Mayotte was paralysed for six weeks by strikes and blockades in 2018, and the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe both erupted in violent protests last year. «Now it's on the front pages but our paradise has been a hell for some years now,» Youssouffa, a former journalist and community organiser, told France 24 television on Wednesday. Administered as a fully fledged French «departement», Mayotte has an unemployment level of 30 percent and by far the country's lowest per capita annual income -- around 3,000 euros ($3,100) compared with a national average of nearly 22,000 euros. - Unusual history - The territory is composed of two islands that voted to stay part of France in 1973, while the others in the surrounding Muslim-majority archipelago sought independence, becoming the Comoros Islands. After decades of coups and corruption, the Comoros Islands is one of the poorest countries in the world, leading to mass emigration to the French territory just 70 kilometres (44 mile) away by boat. Like many in Mayotte, where public services such as schools and hospitals are under severe pressure, Youssouffa considers illegal immigration to be «the root» of the current gang violence. According to official statistics, Mayotte's population was 256,000 in 2017 -- an increase of 60 percent in 15 years -- but Youssouffa estimates it could be as high as 500,000 when uncounted Comorians are taken into account. Across the political spectrum in France, the influx is blamed for the unrest. «It takes two hours in a boat to reach Mayotte and it's true that many Comorians travel to Mayotte, and that creates dreadful tensions with these unjustified clashes,» Communist Party leader Fabien Roussel told the BFM news channel on Wednesday. He called on the government to reach an agreement to stem the flow of people from the Comoros Islands, which claims Mayotte as part of its territory and has several UN resolutions condemning France in its favour. Relations between Paris and the Comoros Islands have often been tense, most recently in 2018 when the Comoros began refusing to take back its people. On the streets of Mamoudzou on Wednesday, young people said they expected the tit-for-tat attacks and unrest between gangs from the north and south of the city to continue. «With them, it's a world war,» a young person who gave his name as «De Baco» told AFP in the northern Kaweni area, referring to rivals in the south. © Agence France-Presse

In key east DR Congo city, life continues despite rebel push

Armed rebels have advanced to just a few dozen kilometres away, but in eastern DR Congo's main city of Goma, people are crowding bars and haggling in the market as usual. In recent weeks, the M23 rebels have seized swathes of territory across North Kivu prov
Seychelles News Agency

In key east DR Congo city, life continues despite rebel push

Armed rebels have advanced to just a few dozen kilometres away, but in eastern DR Congo's main city of Goma, people are crowding bars and haggling in the market as usual. In recent weeks, the M23 rebels have seized swathes of territory across North Kivu province, displacing tens of thousands of people and pushing closer to Goma, a commercial hub of more than a million people. Despite the threat, many Goma residents are unfazed. «The war is there of course, but that doesn't prevent you from having a beer in the evening,» said Alain Zoeto, a 35-year-old hairdresser, attending a concert held at a bar in the city. «The government has a duty to protect us and we have this freedom,» he added, over the sound of Congolese rumba classics. Machozi Binego, who was dancing at the same bar with a group of friends, was similarly cheerful. «The people of Goma are still alive,» he said. The largely Congolese Tutsi M23 took up arms in late 2021 after years of dormancy, claiming the DRC had failed to honour a pledge to integrate its fighters into the army, among other grievances. The fighting has sent relations between the DRC and Rwanda into a nosedive, with Kinshasa accusing its smaller neighbour of backing the M23 -- something UN experts and US officials have also said in recent months. Goma lies on the border with Rwanda. But tensions haven't stopped revellers packing the bars at night, with motorbike-taxis shuttling them around. «I keep working because I know the M23 won't come to Goma,» said Dani, a motorbike driver, near a popular watering hole. Over the weekend, football fans crowded the well-known Pili Pili bar to follow the World Cup opening match on the big screen. «I'm not afraid, it's not the first time,» said Amos, 19, referring to Goma's history of rebellions. - 'Not think too much' - Over 120 armed groups are active across eastern Congo, many of which are a legacy of regional wars that flared at the turn of the century. Goma was at the centre of those wars, and has been subject to several rebel uprisings too. The M23 captured Goma in 2012 before being driven out and going to ground. The forces of nature mean that the city's people are no strangers to fear and hardship. The city has seen two eruptions from Mount Nyiragongo, one of the world's most notorious volcanoes -- one in 2002 and another just last year. Joseph Katwaza, a 60-year-old exercising at a roundabout at the heart of Goma, said people «want to continue with life», rebels or not. «Sport also helps me not think too much about the security situation,» he added. Chantal Manyure, a 20-year-old who was also exercising in the spot popular with runners and rollerbladers, said «sport helps us to prepare ourselves psychologically». But she was also stoic about the prospect of a rebel attack on the city. «It's not the first time,» she said. Elsewhere in Goma, life has continued in relative normality. Markets continue to do business, although consumers complain that prices are rising due to rebel-caused supply problems. Many nonetheless have an eye out for trouble. Rumours of a rebel push sent people in a displaced persons' camp fleeing last week, for example. And residents are alert to loud bangs in the night -- worrying they might be the opening salvo of an attack. © Agence France-Presse

Favourites Brazil kick off World Cup bid as Ronaldo and Portugal enter fray

Favourites Brazil begin their bid to win a sixth World Cup on Thursday when they take on Serbia, while Cristiano Ronaldo will hope to put his acrimonious departure from Manchester United behind him as Portugal enter the fray against Ghana. Brazil will be war
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Favourites Brazil kick off World Cup bid as Ronaldo and Portugal enter fray

Favourites Brazil begin their bid to win a sixth World Cup on Thursday when they take on Serbia, while Cristiano Ronaldo will hope to put his acrimonious departure from Manchester United behind him as Portugal enter the fray against Ghana. Brazil will be wary of a dangerous Serbian side when the teams meet at Lusail Stadium, especially after seeing Argentina suffer a shock defeat against Saudi Arabia on Tuesday at the same venue and Germany lose to Japan on Wednesday. The Brazilians have arrived in Qatar hoping for a repeat of what happened at the last World Cup held in Asia two decades ago, when they won their fifth title in Japan. Tite's side can rely on a Neymar who has been in ominous form for Paris Saint-Germain, but the world's most expensive player is surrounded by other outstanding attackers ready to share the burden, such as Real Madrid duo Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo. «In my opinion these players will help Neymar because they can divide up the responsibility and create space for him,» said veteran Brazil skipper Thiago Silva. «The atmosphere in the squad is super healthy. The mixture of young players and more experienced ones creates a great connection,» he added. However, Serbia appear a more dangerous proposition than four years ago, when they also faced Brazil in the group stage but lost 2-0 and went home in the first round. «We are afraid of nobody in the world, not even Brazil,» insisted Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic, who was hopeful that prolific Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic would be fit for the Group G opener. - Portugal 'absolutely focused' - Switzerland and Cameroon kick off Thursday's action in the same section at Al Janoub Stadium at 1:00 PM (1000 GMT). Swiss skipper Granit Xhaka indicated his side would not copy Germany's mouth-covering protest against FIFA's stance on rainbow-themed armbands. The Swiss were one of the seven European teams whose captains were to wear the armband in support of LGBTQ people at the tournament in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal. Germany made the gesture as they lined up for their team photo before their shock 2-1 defeat to Japan after they abandoned plans for skipper Manuel Neuer to wear the armband following threats of on-field disciplinary action by FIFA. «I don't think we need to do anything as the Swiss team. We need to respect the rules and concentrate on our football, that's all I intend to do,» Xhaka said on Wednesday. Ronaldo's preparation for what is surely his last World Cup has been overshadowed by his bitter departure from Old Trafford. It was announced late on Tuesday that the 37-year-old would leave United with «immediate effect» in the wake of an outspoken interview with a British broadcaster in which he said he felt «betrayed» by the club and had no respect for manager Erik ten Hag. His club form this season has been poor but he is still hoping for a final shot at World Cup glory and Portugal will be expected to start with a victory at Stadium 974 by Doha's waterfront against a Ghana side who sit 61st in the FIFA rankings. Portugal coach Fernando Santos claimed that Ronaldo's split from United had not been discussed by the players. «The players are absolutely focused, with a great spirit, convinced about what they have to do, what their objectives are and realistic about the challenges they are facing,» Santos said. «Winning a competition of this magnitude is difficult.» - Son to play for Korea - Portugal and Ghana are in Group H with Uruguay and South Korea, who meet in Thursday's other match. Son Heung-min will be able to play for South Korea despite wearing a mask after facial surgery. The Tottenham Hotspur attacker and Korean skipper had surgery earlier this month after suffering a fracture around his left eye during a UEFA Champions League game. «Son can play and will be able to play,» said coach Paulo Bento. Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored as Japan came from behind to beat Germany in Group E, while Spain started their campaign with a 7-0 demolition of Costa Rica with Ferran Torres scoring twice for the 2010 World Cup winners. Belgium also started in winning fashion in Wednesday's late match as Michy Batshuayi's goal gave them a 1-0 victory over Canada, for whom Alphonso Davies had a penalty saved. Group F rivals Morocco drew 0-0 with 2018 beaten finalists Croatia. © Agence France-Presse 

«Excellent, commendable but challenging»: Seychelles' move to protect 100% of mangroves and seagrass

Scientists and researchers in Seychelles have commended and described as excellent the move for 100 percent protection of the island nation's mangroves and seagrass. This move to be achieved by next year is however being seen as one with challenges, which wil
Seychelles News Agency

«Excellent, commendable but challenging»: Seychelles' move to protect 100% of mangroves and seagrass

Scientists and researchers in Seychelles have commended and described as excellent the move for 100 percent protection of the island nation's mangroves and seagrass. This move to be achieved by next year is however being seen as one with challenges, which will require full commitment from the government.   President Wavel Ramkalawan made the statement at the high-level segment for heads of state and government in the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.  «It is an honour to announce that in 2023, Seychelles will further contribute in mitigation by moving to 100 percent protection of all its mangroves and seagrass meadows, adding to the already 32 percent protection of our oceans and 50 percent of our forests,» said Ramkalawan.   According to the head of state, «this will be added to the 32 percent of protecting our oceans, our bans on single use plastics and our steps we are taking in industrial fishing; all these show that Seychelles is a serious partner in environmental conservation.»   Whilst this move is being welcomed and seen as the right way to go for Seychelles, an island nation often referred to as a world leader and champion of environment issues, a local environmentalist feels that this commitment is not without its challenges.   «It is our actions that should do the talking.» We must show actions, actions that will need to be taken for us to be able to protect and conserve our mangroves and seagrass,« Elvina Henriette, a conservation biologist told SNA.   In 2023, Seychelles will further contribute in mitigation by moving to 100 percent protection of all its mangroves and seagrass meadows. (Charlene Albert, SeyCCAT) Photo License: CC-BY  Henriette is also the programme manager of the Terrestrial Restoration Action Society of Seychelles (TRASS), a non-government organisation based on Praslin - the second most populated island of Seychelles.   Over the past 13 years, TRASS has been involved in rehabilitating mangrove forests and ensuring the conservation of the wetlands of Praslin and the neighboring national park of Curieuse.   Henriette added that she is concerned with some decisions that show that the government is not 100 percent committed to its commitment. She gave examples of when big developers are given permission to dredge the sea bed destroying the seagrass and when there is no action from the ministry concerned when mangroves and endemic plants are cut or tampered with.   The availability of resources, transparency in how it is being used and how it can trickle down to groups working at community levels is something that Henriette said should be looked at to ensure that the government is supported in achieving its achievement.   American-Seychellois conservationist Jeanne Mortimer, who in 2021 was involved in the first ever seagrass mapping exercise as part of a project to collect data on their carbon uptake capacity, described the news to fully protect the seagrass as wonderful news for Seychelles and for the planet.   »Seagrass and mangrove ecosystems are heavy weapons in our fight against climate change. They collect and store carbon and keep it away from the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Good for the planet!« Mortimer told SNA.  Mortimer added that seagrass directly benefits Seychelles »by protecting our coastlines from erosion, providing food and habitat for commercially important fisheries and endangered species, and enhancing the health of coral reefs by balancing water chemistry, adding oxygen and removing carbon dioxide. The commitment of our President to protecting these important ecosystems makes him a hero in my eyes,« she said.  Maria Brioche, who has for many years been involved in many community-based projects with children, said that Seychelles' pledge to seagrass and mangrove is a plus for the islands. »I know the local authority will put in place what is needed to make this happen, in terms of resources. I know the kids as custodians of our islands will definitely play their part in ensuring that the same is achieved." 

Official send-off cheers for Team Seychelles heading to CJSOI Games in Mauritius

Team Seychelles for the 12th Indian Ocean Youth and Sport Commission (CJSOI) Games was given an official send-off on Tuesday at a ceremony at the International Conference Centre in the capital of Victoria. Seychellois swimmer Khema Elizabeth and sprinter
Seychelles News Agency

Official send-off cheers for Team Seychelles heading to CJSOI Games in Mauritius

Team Seychelles for the 12th Indian Ocean Youth and Sport Commission (CJSOI) Games was given an official send-off on Tuesday at a ceremony at the International Conference Centre in the capital of Victoria. Seychellois swimmer Khema Elizabeth and sprinter Gael Barreau were revealed as the two flag bearers for Seychelles. The two athletes received the Seychelles flag from Jean-Francois Ferrari, the Designated Minister, that they will carry during the opening and closing ceremony of the games. «I am very proud to have been chosen, as it is not every day that you get the chance to carry your country's flag in a major competition,» said Barreau. A team of 200 athletes, coaches and officials will travel to Mauritius to represent Seychelles at the games that will take place December 4-11.   One of the highlights of the event was the traditional parading of the athletes dressed in the uniforms they will wear at the games. Sportsmen show the uniforms they are going to use at the games. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY   The games will have a total of 11 sports disciplines, which are athletics, boxing, beach handball, boxing, futsal, tennis, table tennis, petanque, sailing, weightlifting, swimming and e-sports. Addressing the delegation at the ceremony, sports minister Marie-Celine Zialor shared her pride that aside from hosts Mauritius, Seychelles boasts the largest delegation heading to the games. «These games will allow the young athletes to test themselves against others in the region, where they will know what areas they need to improve, as the nation continues its work towards getting a first ever Olympic Games medal,» she said. For the youth component, Seychelles will participate in musical shows, youth assemblies and two young entrepreneurs will also get the chance to showcase their businesses in Mauritius. Zialor urged those who will be representing Seychelles on the cultural stage to learn as much as possible from the experience so that they will be able to bring new ideas back to Seychelles. «My expectation is that this team will be able to bring back more medals than they did from the previous games and I am confident that you can do it,» added the minister. A team of 200 athletes, coaches and officials will travel to Mauritius to represent Seychelles at the games that will take place December 4-11. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY    Discipline was also a point the minister stressed, where she urged both the young athletes and the adults to show impeccable levels of discipline during the games. The delegation, which will leave in three groups - on November 28, December 1 and December 3 - will be headed by Alain Alcindor, who said that he is confident that Seychelles will be able to perform well. The CJSOI (Commission de la Jeunesse et des Sports de l'Océan Indien) Games bring together athletes aged between 14-17 years of age from the Indian Ocean region, namely Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion - a French overseas Department - Comoros, Djibouti, Mayotte and Madagascar. It is an event geared towards competition, as well as cultural exchanges between nations. 

Art crossover: Seychelles' George Camille and Luxembourg's 'Sumo' push boundaries of art

An ongoing art exhibition in Seychelles' capital city of Victoria is aiming to explore the way of life, sights and sounds as well as the culture of the islands through foreign eyes, encouraging a local and a foreign artist to forge a partnership. The event a
Seychelles News Agency

Art crossover: Seychelles' George Camille and Luxembourg's 'Sumo' push boundaries of art

An ongoing art exhibition in Seychelles' capital city of Victoria is aiming to explore the way of life, sights and sounds as well as the culture of the islands through foreign eyes, encouraging a local and a foreign artist to forge a partnership. The event at the Kaz Zanana Art Gallery is showcasing the work of renowned Seychellois artist Georges Camille and Christian Pearson – also known by his street name Sumo – from Luxembourg.  Held under the theme 'Ansanm' or 'Zesummen', which means together in each of the artists' languages, the exhibition is showcasing the union of two distinct and artistic endeavours, pushing the boundaries of their artwork.   The exhibition is being held under the theme Ansanm' or 'Zesummen', which means together. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY   «A simple world reflects the nature of the work in two languages and also symbolises the friendship between the two nations. Being the most renowned and representational artist figures in their respective countries, George and Sumo tapped into the trend for art crossover creating interactive and conversational art pieces with their symbolic features,» Shirley Yu from the art gallery told SNA.   Yu added that: «This pioneering 'art crossover' programme was conducted during Sumo's stay in Seychelles for the last three weeks and his first-time visit to the island nation.»  According to Yu, the idea to have a joint exhibition was initiated by the honorary consul of Seychelles in Luxembourg, Butz Welter. The two artists had never met before their collaboration in Seychelles but both are friends with Welter.  Pearson's colourful paintings with regressive tones are savoured like delicious multicoloured candies that cannot leave one indifferent. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY   Christian Pearson, is a key figure of contemporary art in Luxembourg. «His colourful paintings with regressive tones are savoured like delicious multicoloured candies that cannot leave one indifferent. For twenty years, without respite, Sumo has been painting as he breathes, refining his artistic concept from the wall to the canvas,» explained Yu.  Yu, who is also associated with the Seychelles Arts Foundation which also facilitated this joint exhibition, added that the artist from Luxembourg «tends to create his pictorial field in the inexorable march of time. He documents it with a plethora of dots, patterns and shapes representing a moment. Sumo's paintings can be understood as a visual diary, dynamic, full of musicality, positive energy and colours.»  Camille said this collaboration should be undertaken more. (Jude Morel) Photo License: CC-BY   Camille, who is one of the most renowned fine art artists in Seychelles, said that such initiative «should be undertaken more, whereby local artists team up with foreign artists not only to build partnerships and share experiences but to also get them to interpret Seychelles through their art.»  He added that there are plans, though not yet finalised, to have a retrospective exhibition in Luxembourg in 2023.  The contemporary and collaborative art exhibition is open until November 25. 

Comoros ex-leader refuses to attend high treason trial

Comoros' former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi did not attend the second day of his high treason trial on Tuesday, as lawyers said there were no guarantees he would be judged fairly. Sambi, 64, the main opponent to current president Azali Assoumani, is facin
Seychelles News Agency

Comoros ex-leader refuses to attend high treason trial

Comoros' former president Ahmed Abdallah Sambi did not attend the second day of his high treason trial on Tuesday, as lawyers said there were no guarantees he would be judged fairly. Sambi, 64, the main opponent to current president Azali Assoumani, is facing charges related to the alleged sale of Comorian passports. «We left the hearing because we did not have guarantees of a fair trial,» Mahamoudou Ahamada, one of the ex-president's lawyers told a press conference. Jan Fermon, another lawyer added Sambi, who appeared in frail health at the first hearing in the capital Moroni on Monday, would no longer attend the proceedings, which are expected to end this week. The defence team has argued that the president of the security court trying Sambi should recuse himself having previously sat on the panel that decided to indict the former leader. But their request was denied, with the judge saying he had no knowledge of the merit of the case. Ali Mohamed Djounaid, who serves as prosecutor in the proceedings told AFP a verdict was to be announced before Thursday, regardless of whether the former president attended court or not. Sambi, who led the small Indian Ocean archipelago between 2006 and 2011, has already spent four years behind bars, despite the law limiting pre-trial detention to a maximum of eight months. «I do not want to be tried by this court,» Sambi, with a trimmed white beard said as he appeared before the judges on Monday, calling the court «illegal». Sambi was originally placed under house arrest for disturbing public order. - 'Amicable settlement' - Three months later he was put under pre-trial detention for embezzlement, corruption and forgery, in a scandal involving the sale of Comorian passports to stateless people living in Gulf nations. He was then charged with high treason. His lawyers also accused government officials of seeking to pressure a co-defendant, French Syrian businessman Bashar Kiwan, into testifying against the former president in exchange for a pardon. Kiwan told AFP he met the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dhoihir Dhoulkamal, three times, with the last encounter only a few weeks ago in a chic Paris hotel, to «find an amicable settlement». He also claimed to have been in touch with six other government representatives «The exchanges were courteous at first but quickly became threatening,» he said. The foreign affairs minister confirmed to AFP the meetings took place but disputed the version of events provided by Kiwan, adding it was the businessman who had initiated the encounters. The Comoros islands -- Anjouan, Grande Comore and Moheli -- have endured years of grinding poverty and political turmoil, including about 20 coups or attempted coups, since independence from France in 1975. © Agence France-Presse 

COP27: Deal for loss and damage fund is great but keep 1.5C pledge alive, says Seychelles

The deal for a 'loss and damage' fund established at COP27 is a great achievement for small islands and vulnerable nations but not enough is being done to mitigate global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, a Seychelles' top government official said on Tues
Seychelles News Agency

COP27: Deal for loss and damage fund is great but keep 1.5C pledge alive, says Seychelles

The deal for a 'loss and damage' fund established at COP27 is a great achievement for small islands and vulnerable nations but not enough is being done to mitigate global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, a Seychelles' top government official said on Tuesday. The breakthrough agreement to provide 'loss and damage' funding was made on November 20, the last day of the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27). The funding will go to vulnerable countries being affected the worst by climate change. In an interview with SNA, the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Flavien Joubert, said that the agreement is something positive, however, other issues have not made any significant progress, especially when it comes to mitigation. «One of the campaigns Seychelles is supporting as a small island nation is keeping the 1.5 degrees commitment alive. We are not making progress when it comes to this. Even if there is the 'loss and damage' fund, the world is not doing enough mitigation to stay within the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit and this is a major concern for us as a country. It will be beyond our control should things continue as is,» said Joubert. During COP21 in 2015, the Paris Agreement - a legally binding international treaty on climate change - was adopted with the aim of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. One of Seychelles' COP27 delegates, Wills Agricole, outlined that the aim was to make the Paris Agreement more ambitious, however, this is not what is happening. «We, as the small island nation, will continue the fight for the Paris Agreement. With current emissions, it will peak in 2025 which is not far, and the fact that developed and industrialised countries are not showing ambition to make the Paris Agreement a reality, even if we are fighting for 'loss and damage', we will always be getting flooding, hurricanes, and droughts. This is simply due to the fact that our ambition to reduce climate change by reducing emissions is not here,» said Agricole. Talking about the 'loss and damage' fund, he outlined that it is expected to become operational next year. «This is the biggest achievement since Paris. The 'loss and damage' fund was one of our priorities as the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS). A transitional committee of around 35 members now needs to be placed together - 15 members of the committee will come from developed countries and 20 from developing countries. We will continue to stand behind it,» said Agricole. In an interview with France24, Seychelles' President Wavel Ramkalawan, who was also the country's delegation leader, said that «the 'loss and damage' fund together with the multi-vulnerability index are two pillars about which Small Island Developing States are talking to the world and saying that something needs to be done.» «I just hope that this good news is translated into reality immediately because the world doesn't have the time to wait. When I talk about Seychelles, I talk about islands that have lost their shapes, and sand dunes that are being destroyed. I have seen our granitic islands losing beaches and we now have more rock armouring instead of beaches. I just hope that the world takes that seriously and that the fund is established and disbursed immediately,» said Ramkalwan. Aside from taking part in the main plenaries events at COP27, Seychelles' 15-member delegation also took part in various side events that were held between November 6 to November 20. The next COP is expected to take place in the United Arab Emirates late next year. 

S. Africa's Ramaphosa demands climate aid from rich world in UK state visit

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday urged rich nations to help save vulnerable ones from climate change, as he made the first state visit of King Charles III's reign. Gun salutes were fired across London as Charles and Queen Consort Camilla we
Seychelles News Agency

S. Africa's Ramaphosa demands climate aid from rich world in UK state visit

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday urged rich nations to help save vulnerable ones from climate change, as he made the first state visit of King Charles III's reign. Gun salutes were fired across London as Charles and Queen Consort Camilla were joined by heir to the throne Prince William and his wife Catherine to greet Ramaphosa for a ceremonial welcome at Horse Guards Parade. The monarch and Ramaphosa, both dressed in dark overcoats against the November chill, inspected the guard of honour together. In a carriage procession escorted by mounted soldiers from the Household Cavalry, the parties then travelled to Buckingham Palace. The two-day visit sees Charles finally presiding over proceedings after decades playing a supporting role to his mother, Elizabeth II, who died in September. For Ramaphosa, a protege of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, however, it comes amid political difficulties and a threat of impeachment at home. Addressing UK parliamentarians in the ornate Royal Gallery of the Palace of Westminster, Ramaphosa nodded at the corruption endemic in his country -- including, for his critics, in the presidency itself. He said his government was striving «to rebuild our economy in the wake of the pandemic and the era of state capture», as he urged the UK government to let in more South African students ahead of talks Wednesday with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Following the recent COP27 climate meeting in Egypt, Ramaphosa said an agreement to create a fund for poor and developing nations needed to be turned into cash. «This should not be seen as charity,» he said. «It is compensation for the harm done -- and the harm yet to be done -- to people in developing economies as a consequence of the industrialisation that wealthy countries have had over many years.» The king, long known for his advocacy on issues relating to the climate, said «we must find and implement practical solutions to the twin, existential threats of climate change and biodiversity loss». Ahead of the speech in parliament, Ramaphosa toured nearby Westminster Abbey including a memorial stone for Mandela, who served as president of South Africa between 1994 and 1999. Afterwards, he went on to a state banquet hosted by Charles at Buckingham Palace. Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the choice of Ramaphosa for Charles's first state visit was a sign of the UK's «enduring commitment» to Africa, even as it eyes new partners in Asia post-Brexit. - 'Turbocharge growth' - At the start of the visit, the UK and South African governments announced the launch of the next phase of the «UK-South Africa Infrastructure Partnership». «South Africa is already the UK's biggest trading partner on the continent, and we have ambitious plans to turbocharge infrastructure investment and economic growth together,» Sunak said. Trade with South Africa, the continent's second-biggest economy, is worth £10.7 billion ($12.7 billion) a year. But political problems in South Africa threatened to cast a shadow over the ceremonial pomp and splendour of the state visit. Ramaphosa is at risk of impeachment for allegedly covering up a crime, accused of concealing a multimillion-dollar cash theft. He faces an accusation that he failed to report a heist at his luxury cattle farmhouse in which robbers took four million dollars in cash, and instead organised for the robbers to be kidnapped and bribed into silence. He has faced calls to resign and the deeply divided ruling African National Congress (ANC) is due to hold a vote on its leadership in December. The president has acknowledged a burglary but denies kidnapping and bribery, saying he reported the break-in to the police. South African lawmakers will discuss next month the findings of a special panel tasked with establishing whether Ramaphosa should face impeachment. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles Fishing Authority records boost in interest in aquaculture

The aquaculture sector in Seychelles is showing pleasing progress as more people understand the concept, said a top official of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) on Monday. The sector was officially launched in October last year with a call for applicat
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles Fishing Authority records boost in interest in aquaculture

The aquaculture sector in Seychelles is showing pleasing progress as more people understand the concept, said a top official of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) on Monday. The sector was officially launched in October last year with a call for applications for a licence.   “When we first started, people really did not fully understand the concept, but with time, they have begun to see its potential and showing much more interest in it,” said Veronica Alphonse-Uzice, the assistant manager of aquaculture at the Seychelles Fishing Authority. Aquaculture is a new industry in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The industry is targeting new and existing local entrepreneurs and business owners who want to venture into the new sector to diversify their business portfolios. Industrial aquaculture got the first boost in October 2019, when SFA opened a broodstock, acclimation and quarantine facility at the Providence Fishing Port. The facility – the first of its kind on the islands - was funded by the European Union under the fisheries sectoral fund. Alphonse-Uzice said she is very pleased with the number of applications SFA is receiving. “People are not only looking at fish but also to other species as well, such as coral farming, seaweed, prawns, and others, with many approaching us about investing in such businesses,” she explained and added that fish is not really a species that many people are looking towards. Alphonse-Uzice said investors are targeting not only fish but other species. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY   Aquaculture is part of a mariculture master plan for Seychelles that started in 2007 and the government made a decision to develop the plan in 2011 as part of its plan to diversify the economy of the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The plan is to help reduce pressure on the fisheries sector, the second top contributor to the Seychelles' economy after tourism. According to Alphonse-Uzice, 14 applicants have submitted their applications, but she believes there could be more in the coming months. The SFA is already preparing to issue licence to seven successful applicants during the week. “The effect of the sector on the country will be a positive one, where of course it will provide another source of income to the country, as well as enlarge our seafood basket, allowing people to have more choices and give a more diverse range of seafood for export,” added Alphonse-Uzice. While the private sector is expected to be the main investor in the sector, SFA will continue to provide support, with testing and experimentation, which will allow those involved to get the most out of their stocks. 

Saudi Arabia stun Messi's Argentina at World Cup

Saudi Arabia stunned Lionel Messi's Argentina on Tuesday, beating the two-time winners 2-1 in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. Salem Al-Dawsari hit a stunning winner to sink the red-hot favourites, bringing the South American side's 36-match u
Seychelles News Agency

Saudi Arabia stun Messi's Argentina at World Cup

Saudi Arabia stunned Lionel Messi's Argentina on Tuesday, beating the two-time winners 2-1 in one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history. Salem Al-Dawsari hit a stunning winner to sink the red-hot favourites, bringing the South American side's 36-match unbeaten run to a shuddering halt. The win was fully deserved after Saudi Arabia came from behind after Saleh Al-Shehri cancelled out an early Lionel Messi penalty, Playing a risky high defensive line, the athletic Saudis rode their luck in the first half when three times Argentina had the ball in the net only to be denied by an offside call. But in a chaotic start to the second half, the Saudis swarmed all over Lionel Scaloni's team and scored twice as the Arab nation beat the South Americans for the first time in five attempts. In a first half dominated by Argentina, it seemed only a matter of time before Saudi Arabia's risky defensive tactics would cost them. That condensed the game into a sliver of green turf around the halfway line as the Asian side happily allowed Argentina's back four to pass the ball among themselves. It seemed Saudi Arabia were facing a long afternoon after VAR intervened to award a penalty when Saud Abdulhamid wrestled Leandro Paredes to the ground in the box at a corner. Messi waited for goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais to dive to his left before cooly rolling the ball into the opposite corner. But if the Saudis felt aggrieved at the technology, it would later help keep them in the game. Three times Argentina had the ball in the net only to be denied by razor-tight offside calls, the first given by VAR. There was no controversy about the equaliser three minutes into the second half, though, as Al-Shehri ran onto a touch from Feras Al-Brikan, beat Cristian Romero on the outside and slotted the ball back across goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez and into the far corner. The sizeable Saudi contingent in the Lusail stadium -- where the World Cup final will be held -- exploded in joy. Suddenly the Argentines were rattled and five minutes later the turnaround was complete. Al-Dawsari's clever turn in the box beat two defenders before he shifted the ball past a third and rifled an unstoppable shot into the top far corner. The crowd was going wild and Hassan Al-Tambakti punched the air in delight after his desperate sliding tackle denied Messi a clear shot at goal. Every Al-Owais save, including a point-blank block from Nicolas Tagliafico's close-range prod, was greeted with rapturous cheers. There was late drama after Al-Owais collided with Yasser Al-Shahrani and seemed to knock him out as his knee struck the defender's head. © Agence France-Presse

New fish recipes: FishBites app launched by Seychelles Fisheries Authority

The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) is promoting the use of less-commercially popular fishes of the island nation in the kitchen with the introduction of a mobile app providing recipes on how they can be cooked. Dubbed 'FishBites', the app was launched t
Seychelles News Agency

New fish recipes: FishBites app launched by Seychelles Fisheries Authority

The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) is promoting the use of less-commercially popular fishes of the island nation in the kitchen with the introduction of a mobile app providing recipes on how they can be cooked. Dubbed 'FishBites', the app was launched to coincide with World Fisheries Day, which is celebrated on November 21 each year, as well as to kick off activities planned for the island nation's Fisheries Week. The chairman of the Fisheries Week Committee, Darrel Antat, said that the introduction of the app is in line with one of SFA's mandates, which is to ensure that fisheries are undertaken in a sustainable manner. «We have recently seen the coming into force of the Mahe Plateau Trap and Line Co-Management Plan. As such we were looking for different ways to encourage the public to not only consume fish that needs to be managed due to their popularity in the kitchen but rather to enjoy other types of fish,» said Antat. The Mahe Plateau supports a demersal artisanal fishery that provides food and economic activity for Seychelles. The main species targeted by the handline fishery are snappers, groupers, and emperors, whereas the trap fishery targets rabbitfish, parrotfish, and emperors.  The Mahe Plateau Trap and Line Co-Management Plan, which seeks to take a co-management approach to fisheries management, proposes a set of measures to regulate fisheries for licensed fishers and recreational and sports fishers. These include a size limit for emperor red snapper and green jobfish, two of the most commercially important species. 'FishBites' provides users with a range of fish-based recipes for different cooking levels - from beginners to experts.  Using local ingredients, the recipes can be followed through video instructions. Currently, the app features 25 recipes that have been developed in-house by SFA. The team expects to put out additional recipes every three months, ensuring a larger variety of recipes for locals and tourists to experience. In his speech at the opening of Fisheries Week, the interim chief executive of SFA, Phillip Michaud, said that the app will allow everyone to learn how to use and consume the many fish that inhabit the waters of Seychelles.  The app also allows users to explore and locate fish markets on the main islands of Seychelles, as well as read about the research on fisheries and sea life around Seychelles and its rich environment. The fisheries minister, Jean Francois Ferrari, outlined that «World Fisheries Day is a time when we celebrate an aspect of our life that is very important and that is our relationship with the ocean, its environment, and sea life.» «The ministry is doing its best to properly manage this industry. Today we take actions that are not necessarily understood or welcomed by some people, especially when it comes to the management of fish stocks. These are difficult decisions but actions need to be taken early,» said Ferrari. «One of the things that I learned through the management of the sea cucumber is that conservative measures need to be taken before a stock is under pressure from overexploitation,» he continued. The Fisheries Week will run from November 21 through to November 25 with a variety of activities such as aquaculture familiarisation visits, an exhibition on the evolution of artisanal fishing in Seychelles and a seafood fiesta roadshow among others.

European teams won't wear 'OneLove' World Cup armbands

England, Germany and five other European teams at the World Cup on Monday abandoned plans to wear rainbow-themed armbands in support of LGBTQ rights because of the threat of FIFA disciplinary action. Belgium, one of the teams, also said that football's gover
Seychelles News Agency

European teams won't wear 'OneLove' World Cup armbands

England, Germany and five other European teams at the World Cup on Monday abandoned plans to wear rainbow-themed armbands in support of LGBTQ rights because of the threat of FIFA disciplinary action. Belgium, one of the teams, also said that football's governing body will not allow them to use their rainbow-tinged second kit with the word «Love» on the collar. The armbands had widely been viewed as a symbolic protest against laws in World Cup host Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal. «FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play,» the seven teams said in a joint statement. German Football Association president Bernd Neuendorf called FIFA's stance «an unprecedented event in World Cup history» and «a show of force» from the world governing body. Under its rules, players wearing kit that is not authorised by FIFA could be shown a yellow card. If that player was then shown a second yellow card, they would be sent off. The «OneLove» armband due to be worn by the likes of England captain Harry Kane and Germany's Manuel Neuer was designed as part of a campaign to promote inclusivity. «As national federations we can't put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games,» the federations of England, Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland said. It came just hours before England kicked off their World Cup campaign against Iran and the Netherlands opened their tournament against Senegal. Wales played later Monday against the United States. When the «OneLove» initiative was announced in September, Kane said he was «honoured» to join fellow World Cup captains in donning the armband. Speaking after England's 6-2 thumping of Iran, coach Gareth Southgate said the issue had become a distraction. «I actually understand FIFA's point. If you don't draw a line it sets a precedent,» he said, before adding: «People know what we stand for.» Netherlands manager Louis van Gaal, whose side beat Senegal 2-0, said: «Actually I no longer want to answer political questions. »This is the time to talk only about football, but one thing is clear: we are not going to wear the armband if we are going to get a yellow card.« - 'Red card to tolerance' - Qatar's laws against homosexuality have been a long-running controversy in the build-up to the World Cup. Former Qatari international and World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman sparked outrage earlier this month after calling homosexuality »damage in the mind« in an interview with German television. FIFA president Gianni Infantino has repeatedly insisted however that all fans and visitors to the finals would be welcome, regardless of sexual orientation. But LGBTQ rights campaigners and fan groups on Monday accused FIFA of »bullying« teams into deciding not to wear the armbands. »The OneLove armband was the tiniest of gestures,« said prominent LGBTQ activist Peter Tatchell in a statement. »It was a weak campaign, but even that was too much for FIFA, who have bullied the England team to not wear it.« The Football Supporters' Association, which represents fans in England and Wales, said: »Today we feel betrayed. Today we feel contempt for an organisation that has shown its true values by giving the yellow card to players and the red card to tolerance. «It's astonishing that on the morning of England's World Cup opener, FIFA are censoring players... who wish to share a positive message.» However France captain Hugo Lloris -- who last week revealed he would not wear the armband -- said: «FIFA organises the competition and so they set out the rules. »Us players just ask to play football and represent our countries on the field. «I prefer to stay within those boundaries and focus on being a player and a competitor.» © Agence France-Presse

Male coco de mer tree population at Fond Ferdinand is stable, says Seychelles Islands Foundation

A recent marking exercise of male coco de mer trees by the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) at the Fond Ferdinand reserve on Praslin has shown that its population is stable. The SIF, which manages the reserve, made the announcement recently following th
Seychelles News Agency

Male coco de mer tree population at Fond Ferdinand is stable, says Seychelles Islands Foundation

A recent marking exercise of male coco de mer trees by the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF) at the Fond Ferdinand reserve on Praslin has shown that its population is stable. The SIF, which manages the reserve, made the announcement recently following the completion of the exercise which began in October 2021 and ended in September this year. The exercise was a precursor to a census the Foundation plans to hold later this year. The coco de mer, the world's biggest nut, is endemic to Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. It grows naturally only on two of Seychelles' islands, Praslin and Curieuse. On Praslin, it is found at the Vallee de Mai special reserve, which is one of the island nation's UNESCO World Heritage sites, and at the Fond Ferdinand reserve. The nut is listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The officer in charge of the project at SIF, Dr Annabel Constance, told SNA that the Foundation «is researching the two natural populations of coco de mer to update information on the population, reproductive biology, and distribution of the threatened trees.» During the marking exercise, the SIF research team marked unidentified male coco de mer trees and re-marked those known from previous surveys, the last held in 2004. Travelling through difficult terrains, the officers involved went around in sections to locate unidentified trees efficiently by walking in a straight line in predetermined sections and assigning consecutive numbers to trees as well as identifying if male or female through paint. In addition to being allocated a number, their GPS positions were also recorded. In total, the research team marked 45 new male trees and 901 were re-marked, although no dead trees were found during the survey. In September 2020, SIF, which manages the Vallee de Mai, assumed the responsibility for Fond Ferdinand and extended its conservation mandate to one of Praslin's and Seychelles' most cherished protected areas. The Fond Ferdinand reserve located at Grand Anse Praslin was opened in 2013. It covers 122 hectares of land and is six times larger than the Vallee de Mai. Now that the marking exercise has been completed, SIF will go ahead with the census in October, as part of SIF's Franklinia Foundation-sponsored project which is «Increasing the resilience of Seychelles' flagship tree species coco de mer Lodoicea maldivica.» It will cover all reproductive male and female immature plants as well as trees with trunks but no flowers in Vallee de Mai and Fond Ferdinand. Constance also explained that «the results will show what is the size and height on average for trees within and across the different populations, where it is distributed, where it is densest, which areas might be struggling and whether the total population is increasing, stable or in decline thereby providing critical information for management and conservation.»

EGIS Emirates appointed to review 30-year airport master plan for Seychelles

EGIS Emirates has been appointed for the review and preparation of an updated 30-year airport master plan for the Seychelles International Airport, the Ministry of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) announced on Monday. A major upgrade for th
Seychelles News Agency

EGIS Emirates appointed to review 30-year airport master plan for Seychelles

EGIS Emirates has been appointed for the review and preparation of an updated 30-year airport master plan for the Seychelles International Airport, the Ministry of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) announced on Monday. A major upgrade for the Seychelles International Airport to cater to the increase in traffic was unveiled in February by Garry Albert, SCAA's chief executive. According to a press release from the Ministry of Transport, the Minister of Transport, Antony Derjacques, said that with all the changes in tourism over the past decade, the 2009 airport master plan has long been overdue for a review. «However, this time will be different. We will not only quantify anticipated passenger and cargo traffic trends but create a long-term vision for the airport with a holistic view of the Seychelles tourism sector and its commercial developments, including all of Zone 21.  And we will include alongside the new concept the business model and transactions to pay for its implementation,» he said. The selection of EGIS Emirates, a global consulting, construction engineering and operating firm was completed through a request for proposal through a memorandum of understanding. The MoU was signed between Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), SCAA and the Ministry of Transport in July 2022.  Albert said that ADAC satisfied the Seychelles evaluation team for its professionalism and support towards our specific airport, aviation and tourism needs. «We couldn't have asked for a better partner than ADAC in this process, who have themselves recently completed their own new world-class and ground-breaking airport. That experience and knowledge was on full display during the RFP and we are delighted with the final result,» he added. SCAA's chief executive said that the EGIS proposal best reflected the  Seychelles vision and encompassed the environmental and financial sustainability goals of the country. It also catered to the operational efficiency of the airport. When he presented the plan in February, Alan Renaud, the principal secretary for transport said that the tourism arrivals that were predicted for 2019 were around 280,000 people, but actual figures show during that year, the pre-pandemic era, there were over 460,000 arrivals at the international airport. «The new master plan will now have to take into account these new figures, development and technologies to create an airport that can carry Seychelles' progress into the next 50 years,» he said. Seychelles International Airport was opened on March 20, 1972, by Queen Elizabeth II during the British colonial era. Throughout the years, several developments were completed to keep up with international standards and cater to the increasing number of airlines and visitors entering the archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

Fifty-six dead as quake shakes Indonesia's Java island

A shallow 5.6-magnitude earthquake killed at least 56 people and injured hundreds when it damaged buildings and triggered landslides on Indonesia's main island of Java on Monday, officials said. Doctors treated patients outdoors after the quake -- felt as fa
Seychelles News Agency

Fifty-six dead as quake shakes Indonesia's Java island

A shallow 5.6-magnitude earthquake killed at least 56 people and injured hundreds when it damaged buildings and triggered landslides on Indonesia's main island of Java on Monday, officials said. Doctors treated patients outdoors after the quake -- felt as far away as the capital Jakarta -- left hospitals without power for several hours. «You can see it yourself, some got their heads, feet sewn outdoors. Some got stressed and started crying,» West Java governor Ridwan Kamil told a press conference broadcast on Kompas TV. He added that power had been partially restored by the evening, without specifying if through a generator or connection to a power grid. The afternoon quake was centred in the Cianjur region of West Java, according to the United States Geological Survey, with local authorities saying 56 people had been killed and over 700 wounded. «Because there are still a lot of people trapped on the scene, we assume injuries and fatalities will increase over time,» said Kamil as ambulance sirens blared throughout his press conference. The majority of deaths were counted in one hospital, head of Cianjur's local administration Herman Suherman said earlier, with most of the victims killed in the ruins of collapsed buildings. He told local media the town's Sayang hospital had no power after the quake, leaving doctors unable to immediately operate on victims. More health workers were urgently needed due to the overwhelming number of patients, he added. Locals rushed victims to the hospital on pickup trucks and motorbikes, according to footage obtained by AFP. They were placed in front of the facility as residents spread a tarpaulin on the road for the bodies. Kamil, the governor, said multiple landslides had cut off road access to some areas and bulldozers were being used to open them up. - 'Emergency state' - Thousands of houses could have been damaged in the quake, Adam, a spokesperson for the administration who, like many Indonesians, goes by one name, told AFP. Shops, a hospital and an Islamic boarding school in the town were severely damaged, according to Indonesian media. Broadcasters showed several buildings in Cianjur with their roofs collapsed and debris lining the streets. Relatives of victims congregated at the hospital while at another facility, Cimacan hospital, green tents were erected outside for makeshift treatment, according to an AFP reporter at the scene. «We are currently handling people who are in an emergency state in this hospital. The ambulances keep on coming from the villages to the hospital,» Suherman said. «There are many families in villages that have not been evacuated.» Indonesia's disaster chief Suharyanto, who also goes by one name, said information was «still developing». Cianjur police chief Doni Hermawan told Metro TV authorities had rescued a woman and a baby from a landslide but a third person they found had died of their injuries. - Jakarta rattled - French President Emmanuel Macron was the first world leader to offer his condolences. «Indonesia was hit this morning by an earthquake of destructive and deadly force. Thoughts for all the victims,» he wrote. Indonesian President Joko Widodo is yet to respond to the quake. Indonesia's meteorological agency warned residents near the epicentre to watch out for more tremors. Indonesia's meteorological agency said it recorded 25 aftershocks in Cianjur after the quake. They ranged from magnitudes 1.8 to 4 on the Richter scale. But there were no reports of casualties or major damage in Jakarta. Mayadita Waluyo, a 22-year-old lawyer, described how panicked workers ran to building exits in Jakarta as the quake struck. «I was working when the floor under me was shaking. I could feel the tremor clearly. I tried to do nothing to process what it was but it became even stronger and lasted for some time,» she said. «I feel a bit dizzy now and my legs are also a bit cramped because I had to walk downstairs from the 14th floor.» Hundreds of people were waiting outdoors after the quake, including some wearing hard hats to protect themselves from falling debris, an AFP reporter there said. Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific «Ring of Fire», where tectonic plates collide. A 6.2-magnitude quake that shook Sulawesi island in January 2021 killed more than 100 people and left thousands homeless. © Agence France-Presse

World Cup kicks off with hosts Qatar defeated

Qatar became the first World Cup hosts in history to lose their opening match, going down 2-0 to Ecuador on Sunday as football's showpiece got under way after 12 years of turbulent preparations. Qatar has spent $200 billion on a remarkable construction proje
Seychelles News Agency

World Cup kicks off with hosts Qatar defeated

Qatar became the first World Cup hosts in history to lose their opening match, going down 2-0 to Ecuador on Sunday as football's showpiece got under way after 12 years of turbulent preparations. Qatar has spent $200 billion on a remarkable construction project to host the World Cup after the tiny Gulf state shocked the football world by winning the right to host the tournament in 2010. A crowd of 67,372 packed into the impressive Al Bayt Stadium, modelled on a traditional Bedouin tent, for the opening ceremony. South Korean K-pop star Jung Kook headlined the 30-minute spectacle that featured Hollywood star Morgan Freeman giving a message of diversity. Ghanim Al-Muftah, a Qatari activist for the disabled, born with the rare Caudal Regression Syndrome, appeared with Freeman and stated to the crowd: «Everyone is welcome». With FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman watching, Qatar's Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani told the crowd: «We will follow with the whole world, God willing, the great football festival in this open space for human and civilized communication.» Once the action began, reigning Asian champions Qatar were easily beaten. Ecuador thought they had made a dream start within three minutes when they silenced the home fans as Enner Valencia headed in, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for offside in the build-up. Thirteen minutes later, Ecuador did take the lead after Valencia dribbled round Qatari goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb who grabbed his shin and the referee pointed to the spot. Valencia coolly rolled home the penalty. Valencia added a second goal to seal Ecuador's 2-0 win. - 'We are sorry' - Qatar coach Felix Sanchez said: «The atmosphere was one of great expectation. We are sorry that we could not be part of the party, but we knew that this scenario could happen... We will try to learn.» The Al-Bayt venue is one of an array of new stadiums built for the most expensive World Cup in history. Excitement has been slow to build but on Sunday police had to close the World Cup fan zone in Doha for a second consecutive night when it became overcrowded, witnesses said. The FIFA Fan Festival, near the Doha seafront, has a 40,000 capacity and gates were closed with thousands waiting outside. AFP correspondents saw police pleading with revellers in the dark to move back from the gates but no injuries were reported. Police on horse back were brought out to control crowds. A Qatar organising committee official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP: «When it's full it's full. We would be criticised if we did not close when it reaches capacity.» Qatar has predicted that more than one million fans will come to the Gulf state for the month-long tournament that ends December 18. - Preparations overshadowed - World Cup organisers hope the start of the football will quell the controversies that have overshadowed preparations. Qatar's treatment of migrant workers and the Gulf state's human rights record have dominated the pre-tournament headlines. On Saturday, Infantino went on the offensive in an aggressive rebuttal of the criticism aimed at the event. «This moral lesson-giving -- one-sided -- is just hypocrisy,» Infantino said. «I don't want to give you any lessons of life, but what is going on here is profoundly, profoundly unjust.» Controversies look certain to rumble on well into the tournament. Several European nations taking part -- including England, Germany and Denmark -- have said their players will wear rainbow-coloured «OneLove» armbands in a gesture of solidarity with the LGBTQ community. Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. The move raises the prospect of disciplinary action from FIFA, which has unveiled plans to make its own alternative armbands available to teams. Infantino insisted that all World Cup visitors would be welcome regardless of sexual orientation. «I've been speaking about this topic with the highest leadership,» he said. «They can confirm that I can confirm that everyone is welcome.» - Benzema out - Defending champions France suffered another injury blow as star striker and Ballon D'Or winner Karim Benzema was forced out of the tournament. The Real Madrid star limped out of a training session on Saturday with a left thigh injury. The French federation later confirmed the 34-year-old would play no part in the competition. «I am extremely sad for Karim, for whom this World Cup was a major objective,» said France coach Didier Deschamps, who has decided not to replace the forward. © Agence France-Presse

COP27 summit strikes historic deal to fund climate damages

A fraught UN climate summit wrapped up Sunday with a landmark deal on funding to help vulnerable countries cope with devastating impacts of global warming -- but also anger over a failure to push further ambition on cutting emissions. The two-week talks in E
Seychelles News Agency

COP27 summit strikes historic deal to fund climate damages

A fraught UN climate summit wrapped up Sunday with a landmark deal on funding to help vulnerable countries cope with devastating impacts of global warming -- but also anger over a failure to push further ambition on cutting emissions. The two-week talks in Egypt's Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, which at times appeared to teeter on the brink of collapse, delivered a major breakthrough on a fund for climate «loss and damage». Pakistani climate minister Sherry Rehman said COP27 «responded to the voices of the vulnerable, the damaged and the lost of the whole world». «We have struggled for 30 years on this path, and today in Sharm el-Sheikh this journey has achieved its first positive milestone,» she told the summit. Tired delegates applauded when the loss and damage fund was adopted as the sun came up Sunday following almost two extra days of negotiations that went round-the-clock. But jubilation over that achievement was countered by stern warnings. UN chief Antonio Guterres said the UN climate talks had «taken an important step towards justice» with the loss and damage fund, but fell short in pushing for the urgent carbon-cutting needed to tackle global warming. «Our planet is still in the emergency room,» Guterres said. «We need to drastically reduce emissions now and this is an issue this COP did not address.» - 'Stonewalled by emitters' - A final COP27 statement covering the broad array of the world's efforts to grapple with a warming planet held the line on the aspirational goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels. It also included language on renewable energy for the first time, while reiterating previous calls to accelerate «efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies». But that failed to go much further than a similar decision from last year's COP26 meeting in Glasgow on key issues around cutting planet-heating pollution. European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said the EU was «disappointed», adding that more than 80 nations had backed a stronger emissions pledge. «What we have in front of us is not enough of a step forward for people and planet,» he said. «It doesn't bring enough added efforts from major emitters to increase and accelerate their emission cuts,» said Timmermans, who 24 hours earlier had threatened to walk out of the talks rather than getting a «bad result». Britain's Alok Sharma, who chaired COP26 in Glasgow, said a passage on energy had been «weakened, in the final minutes». Germany Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said she was frustrated that the emissions cut and fossil fuel phase-out were «stonewalled by a number of large emitters and oil producers». Criticised by some delegations for a lack of transparency during negotiations, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the COP27 chair, said any missteps were «certainly not intentional». «I believe I succeeded in avoiding that any of the parties were to backslide,» he said. - 'Loss and damage' - The deal on loss and damage -- which had only barely made it onto the negotiation agenda -- gathered critical momentum during the talks. Developing nations relentlessly pushed for the fund, finally succeeding in getting the backing of wealthy polluters long fearful of open-ended liability. A statement from the Alliance of Small Island States, comprised of islands whose very existence is threatened by sea level rise, said the loss and damage deal was «historic». «The agreements made at COP27 are a win for our entire world,» said Molwyn Joseph, of Antigua and Barbuda and chair of AOSIS. «We have shown those who have felt neglected that we hear you, we see you, and we are giving you the respect and care you deserve.» With around 1.2C of warming so far, the world has seen a cascade of climate-driven extremes, shining a spotlight on the plight of developing countries faced with escalating disasters, as well as an energy and food price crisis and ballooning debt. The World Bank estimated that devastating floods in Pakistan this year caused $30 billion in damage and economic loss. The fund will be geared towards developing nations «that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change» -- language that had been requested by the EU. - 'On the brink' - The Europeans had also wanted to broaden the funder base to cough up cash -- code for China and other better-off emerging countries. The final loss and damage text left many of the thornier questions to be dealt with by a transitional committee, which will report to next year's climate meeting in Dubai to get the funding operational. Scientists say limiting warming to 1.5C is a far safer guardrail against catastrophic climate impacts, with the world currently way off track and heading for around 2.5C under current commitments and plans. «The historic outcome on loss and damage at COP27 shows international cooperation is possible,» said Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and Chair of The Elders. «Equally, the renewed commitment on the 1.5C global warming limit was a source of relief. However, none of this changes the fact that the world remains on the brink of climate catastrophe.» © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' education minister: I want to see more movement, excitement and energy in schools

Seychelles' education system is ranked first on the African continent according to Business Africa magazine published earlier this year. The island nation is recognised worldwide for its free education policy and over the years, this sector got the bigges
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' education minister: I want to see more movement, excitement and energy in schools

Seychelles' education system is ranked first on the African continent according to Business Africa magazine published earlier this year. The island nation is recognised worldwide for its free education policy and over the years, this sector got the biggest portion of the national budget allocation.    SNA met with the Minister for Education, Justin Valentin, to learn more about his achievements in the two years he has headed the ministry and his future plans.      SNA: What would you say were your achievements since you took office two years ago? JV: When you come in on day one, you come in with a vision of what you want to do in the ministry. But then on the second and third day, you analyse the extent to which the vision you came up with can be positioned in the place you have come to. The fact that you strongly believe in the vision you came up with; you try to see how adjusting the system to make room for your vision. I had no choice but to spend a lot of energy building trust between the schools and the headquarters, the schools and parents and then between parents to headquarters. These are the three key elements that were the areas that I believed we had to build trust. Then of course there are stakeholders that we had to also build trust and build the relationship as there were relationships that had broken down. I had to spend energy to make people see that my aim was to ensure that the schools were the centre for learning and since the children are at school then any issues arising should be dealt with at the schools themselves first. Headquarters will only intervene when all the avenues and resources at the school have been exhausted.   SNA: What has happened to the plan to make the school autonomous? JV: Schools will never be autonomous because an entity can only be autonomous when it has financial power and it can choose what it does and what it buys; this is not the case with schools. The question is what kind of autonomy are we talking about? We are saying there are certain responsibilities that do not need to be taken at the ministry level. To take a group of children from one school to visit the Botanical Gardens is not something that needs the approval of the ministry. The head teachers at school level have to be able to approve such trips. However, schools cannot say today that they will not teach maths at all this term because they feel their students do not need it. These are the types of decisions they will not be able to play with, as they concern policies and these policies are only changed at the headquarters level.   SNA: How are you aiming to scale up the process? JV: We are working on a framework so people know what responsibility concerns the schools and what should be that of the headquarters. Everyone is always willing to say they are autonomous, but once you explain that this comes with responsibilities then they are reticent. This is even the case in professional centres. Last year, the directors of the Seychelles Business Studies Academy and The Guy Morel Institute (TGMI) came to see me regarding their willingness to move on with the autonomy agenda.  TGMI is already autonomous and it wanted to transmit its model to other professional centres. I created a think tank to make sure this happens, fully supporting the idea and after the fourth meeting some of the institutions involved started to back out. So, we have now taken another model. Education is very different from the other ministries. There are many advancements that we have to bring in as a project or as systematic research.  We now have a group of people working on a project to actually show the schools what it means to be autonomous. Eleven schools have been chosen for this project and as we work with them, there are things that the other schools can do. We will give a series of activities and decisions that they will be able to take at school level. We hope that by the third trimester of next year, the schools will have a better understanding of the situation and we will be able to scale up the process.   Valentin said that the Ministry is working on a framework so people know what responsibility concerns the schools. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY     SNA: Have you made strides in modernising learning in Seychelles? JV:  Sadly, we became the government at a time when there was no money. Bringing technology to schools requires a lot of money. Before introducing technology, the respective rooms must have proper and secured doors and windows. These are the challenges that we have to deal with where we had to take time to fix the schools' infrastructures. Meanwhile, we are sensitising teachers to move to find existing resources online. For me, the internet is the best friend a school can have. However, when I came into the office we were at a time when teachers were told that they cannot look for already designed lesson plans. You have to design your own, my philosophy is that the lesson plans online or Online Educational Resources (OER) have been made by experts and they are put there for teachers to use. These are gifts that the experts have given their colleagues and should therefore be used. I want to change all of this so that classrooms and schools become learning sites.   SNA: Tell us briefly about the education convention you held recently. JV: I am a bit disappointed as there are many things that we talk about with head teachers and leaders and not all of them take the messages to their schools. This is why sometimes when you have interactions with teachers and ask for their opinions on certain things brought forward, they give us blank looks. However, there are schools that pass on the messages really well. I am bringing in a whole other culture. I believe that head teachers have a great responsibility to run their schools so there are many decisions that they will have to make themselves. The schools also have a community providing them with support, the structure has been designed for that community. For example, there is a school council, the school has its own managers, there is the Parent-Teacher Association. So why is it that some do not want to use these existing structures? Teachers at the schools are the older sisters and parents in communities and they must all think about the welfare of the child and these structures, therefore, must be used in the decision-making process. I have also talked a lot about curriculum leadership and the existing model is one that I believe is ineffective. Most of the time the person responsible for the subject keeps saying they are reviewing the curriculum but it never gets to the schools. There are many teachers and they are the ones who team up to become the curriculum leaders in their schools. They are the implementers when the curriculum is drafted and they should be able to adjust and drive the curriculum agendas in their schools- these are all new ways to do things.     SNA: What were the highlights of the convention? JV: The main highlight was to inform teachers of my agenda for the coming two years, which is to take a closer look at the classrooms where teachers and students operate and make changes there. The first thing that I talked about was the teachers as researchers. Secondly, I spoke about professional development where we have to create opportunities for teachers to develop themselves professionally. Thirdly, we decided to also take a look at the existing timetables, we should look at how we deliver where the timetable is concerned, how we structure it and how we teach the subjects in school. All this will help remove some of the pressure on the teachers. Participants in the convention in which the main highlight was to inform teachers of the Minister's agenda for the coming two years. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY     SNA: Will there be changes in the timetables in the coming two years? JV: There will be many changes, firstly we want to increase the length of the periods. Normally a period for a lesson is 40 minutes, through my own experience and that of teachers I have spoken to, we see that 10 minutes are lost in changing classrooms or teachers and settling the students. This means only 30 minutes are spent teaching - before you have the chance to speak the 30 minutes are up which does not leave time for consolidation activities for the students or even give students with different needs the additional time they may require. This is why sometimes you see students struggling. For those who say that the students will be bored during that time, it must be said that most teachers have double periods for their lessons so that means one lesson is 80 minutes.   SNA: Will this mean that school hours will also be longer? JV: No, we will not be playing with school hours, we will simply re-adjust ourselves and this will mean we will have fewer periods during the day. Instead of seven or eight, there will now only be five. During Covid, we asked children to come to school on alternative weeks and this brought in many advantages in schools. Teachers said that they saw fewer fights, there was more concentration on school work and they could spend more time with a group of students. This has inspired me to come up with another model in schools that will also deal with the lack of teachers. We should start grouping our subjects, this means that we teach a subject on alternate weeks we have what we call contact time with the students. This does not mean that we are excluding a subject for a week, the teachers will prepare lessons for students to do on the said subject on the week that it is not being taught. The philosophy is since we did not have to do it in class, we get homework in that subject. After that, we will correct the lessons together and move on to the next topic. This will bring us to a different way of thinking and remove the responsibility from the teachers and get the students more involved and responsible for their own learning. For instance, in our context, French is not a key subject like Maths and English and some believe that French is being neglected, which is not the case. French does not only happen in the classroom but it could be incorporated into plays, arts and projects. Teachers will simply have to move away from the traditional way of doing things.   SNA: Where do you see education and learning in the country heading under your leadership? JV: For the coming two years I want to see more movement, excitement and energy in the schools. I want to see schools network more and bounce ideas off each other. Today, we see everyone running a race with the aim of getting an A in the IGCSEs, while very few manage to do that and many children are left behind when that child could have developed in other aspects of other competencies. We should try to develop all the aspects of a student so that those who are not gifted for academic work can shine in other areas. Today we have many people saying state schools are underachieving. It is true they may not be achieved in academic subjects but they are doing well in other areas such as sports and non-recreational activities. Right now, students are making great achievements in the field of environment. Seychellois school children have played a major role in stopping people from eating turtle meat. School is not only about academic work and we need to change this conversation.   SNA: Does that mean that you are still having the conversation about establishing a vocational school? JV: To start construction of a vocational school building right now means it will not be built within 18 months, so we have to look for another model in the meantime - which is what we are doing. We are looking at ways to adjust the curriculum so that even if the building is not there physically the students will be functioning under the concept of vocational education.   SNA: What are your plans for students with special needs? I have included it in inclusive education and I have actually created a working group in August to work on that. I want the working group's agenda of converting two schools - a primary and a secondary- for next year into inclusive schools. Au Cap and Plaisance Secondary School are the two chosen. Plaisance Secondary is chosen because it already welcomes students with some challenging needs and secondly because they are very receptive and are willing to join this journey. Special needs have our attention and 16 counsellors will begin a distance learning course in psychology with counselling at Arden University. We are also looking at how to train teachers to work in environments where students have different challenges. There is also some equipment to use with children with special needs that will be available. We want to see in the future the possibility of a deaf child becoming a teacher or a blind person becoming a lawyer. We will also change the name Exceptional School and we can then call it Roche Caiman or Les Mamelles school because schools in the country are usually named after the district they are located in. This will help remove the stigma attached to it, we want to integrate those children into schools. We are also looking for experts to help us in the area of diagnosing dyslexia and other learning needs. After my visit to Cyprus to see how they could assist us, the inclusive education team is developing a plan on how we can address this as well.

FIFA chief blasts 'hypocrisy' of Western nations on eve of World Cup

FIFA president Gianni Infantino blasted the «hypocrisy» of Western critics of Qatar's human rights record on Saturday, making a passionate defence of the World Cup in the Gulf state on the eve of the kick-off. The build-up to the tournament has b
Seychelles News Agency

FIFA chief blasts 'hypocrisy' of Western nations on eve of World Cup

FIFA president Gianni Infantino blasted the «hypocrisy» of Western critics of Qatar's human rights record on Saturday, making a passionate defence of the World Cup in the Gulf state on the eve of the kick-off. The build-up to the tournament has been dominated by concerns over Qatar's treatment of migrant workers, women and the LGBTQ community, to the visible annoyance of organisers. Qatar officials say their country has been the target of «racism» and «double standards» and they point to the reforms on working conditions and safety that have been hailed as groundbreaking in the region. Football itself again took a back seat on Saturday, with the focus firmly on off-field politics just 24 hours before hosts Qatar were due open the tournament against Ecuador. Infantino, speaking at his opening press conference of the tournament in Doha, had harsh words for critics of Qatar. «This moral lesson-giving -- one-sided -- is just hypocrisy,» said the Swiss. «I don't want to give you any lessons of life, but what is going on here is profoundly, profoundly unjust.» He added: «For what we Europeans have been doing for the last 3,000 years we should apologise for the next 3,000 years before starting giving moral lessons to people.» Infantino also expressed his support for marginalised communities. «Today I feel Qatari, today I feel Arab, today I feel African, today I feel gay, today I feel disabled, today I feel a migrant worker,» he said. Another issue that has dominated the build-up to the tournament is the sale of beer in the Islamic state, which severely restricts alcohol consumption. Organisers on Friday performed a dramatic U-turn, banning beer sales around stadiums just 48 hours before kickoff. World governing body FIFA gave no reason for the surprise decision but media reports said there had been an intervention by Qatar's ruling family. Dozens of Budweiser beer tents had already been set up at grounds ahead of the first game. Infantino made light of the ruling on the last-minute change on Saturday. «I think personally if for three hours a day you cannot drink a beer, you will survive,» he said. «The same applies in France, Spain, Scotland.» - Ronaldo arrives - Cristiano Ronaldo jetted into Qatar late on Friday, desperate to focus on football after an explosive tirade against his club, Manchester United. The Portugal forward, who has dominated global football for the past 15 years alongside Argentina's Lionel Messi, will be playing in his fifth and likely final World Cup. The 37-year-old, who has a world-record 117 international goals, is aiming to become the first man to score in five World Cups. Ronaldo appears to be headed for the exit door at Old Trafford but earlier this week pledged «total and absolute focus on the work of the national team» in a social media post. Almost all of the football's heavyweight teams have now arrived in Qatar, with the notable exception of five-time winners Brazil, who are due to land late on Saturday. Brazil, boasting a star-studded forward line led by Neymar, are favourites to win the tournament for the first time since 2002, with Messi's Argentina and France also heavily fancied. Croatia, surprise World Cup finalists in Russia in 2018, warned they have what it takes to go deep in the tournament again. Led by inspirational captain Luka Modric, Croatia reached the final four years ago in Russia before losing 4-2 to France. «I think we have a really good chance to repeat something similar to what we did in Russia,» said forward Marko Livaja. © Agence France-Presse 

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