United Nations (United States) (AFP) The UN Security Council on Wednesday told the peace envoy for Western Sahara to press on with talks on relaunching negotiations to settle the dispute over the North African territory. Horst Koehler met with the council behind closed doors to report on his meetings with representatives from Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania as well as the Polisario Front seeking independence for Western Sahara. Council members expressed “their full support” for Koehler’s diplomatic efforts to “relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit,” saidRead More
Paris (AFP) President Emmanuel Macron, whose mastery of English is unprecedented among French leaders, will on Tuesday unveil his strategy to promote his native language, aiming to make it the first language in Africa, “maybe even the world”. France’s youthful president has impressed foreign audiences by giving speeches and interviews in near-flawless English, a language viewed with hostility by predecessors like Jacques Chirac, who once walked out of an EU meeting after a Frenchman began speaking English. And yet while making clear he has no beef with English, Macron isRead More
Madrid (AFP) A Spanish police union has filed a complaint against politicians they say falsely accused them of involvement in the death of a Senegalese street vendor that sparked violent clashes in Madrid last week. The controversy has taken centre stage in the Spanish capital, with the ruling conservatives accusing the left-wing politicians, one of them a Madrid councillor, of stirring up discord while street vendors insist Mame Mbaye Ndiaye died after a police chase. Mbaye, in his mid-thirties, collapsed in the central district of Lavapies on Thursday and emergencyRead More
Paris (AFP) Governments should focus on “greener” policies to improve the supply and quality of water as climate change and a growing global population threaten the water security of billions, the United Nations said on Monday. In its 2018 World Water Development Report, the UN calculated that an estimated 3.6 billion people — nearly half the global population — live in areas where water can be scarce at least one month per year. And this number could rise to 5.7 billion by 2050, the report warned. “If we do nothing,Read More
Paris (AFP) A month-long campaign of strikes and protests on the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte has shone a light on the simmering resentment in some of France’s tropical outposts over perceived neglect by the state. Supplies of fuel, drugs and other essentials are running dangerously low on the island of 250,000 people off southeast Africa as protesters dig in for more funding — and empathy — from Paris. The spice island in the Comoros archipelago, which has been governed by France since the mid-1800s, is the fourth overseasRead More
Paris (AFP) The only UN-approved financial mechanism to curb deforestation, a key driver of global warming, has bulldozed the rights of forest-dwelling peoples on three continents and needs to be fixed, experts say. The latest sign that these schemes — which pay to restore tropical forests rather than cut them down — are falling short comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where 20 pilot projects in Mai-Ndombe province have upended indigenous communities, according to a detailed report from the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), a Washington DC-based researchRead More
Mamoudzou (AFP) Protests over illegal immigration gripping the French island of Mayotte off Africa’s coast have an unexpected epicentre: a maternity ward packed to bursting point. The main hospital in Mayotte, wedged between Madagascar and the southeast African mainland, is now home to the busiest maternity ward in France — mostly serving migrant mothers. So great is the influx of mothers from the neighbouring Comoros islands — which are much poorer and not part of France — that the government is now considering the drastic step of declaring the hospitalRead More
Sydney (AFP) Australia’s conservative government is considering fast-tracking visas for white South African farmers so they can flee their “horrific circumstances” for a “civilised country”. The offer was swiftly rebuffed by South Africa, with a government spokesman saying that no section of the country’s population was in any danger. Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, who oversees immigration and has drawn international criticism for heading a tough crackdown on asylum-seekers from Asia and the Middle East, said the South Africans deserve “special attention” for acceptance on refugee or humanitarian grounds.Read More
Paris (AFP) Global warming could place 25 to 50 percent of species in the Amazon, Madagascar and other biodiverse areas at risk of localised extinction within decades, a report said Wednesday. The lower projection is based on a mercury rise of two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels — the warming ceiling the world’s nations agreed on in 2015. The highest is for out-of-control warming of 4.5 C. “Global biodiversity will suffer terribly over the next century unless we do everything we can,” said conservation group WWF,Read More
New York (AFP) Pop superstar Madonna on Tuesday announced that she will direct a biopic about Michaela DePrince, a war orphan from Sierra Leone who overcame overwhelming odds to become a successful ballerina. “Taking Flight,” taken from the name of DePrince’s 2014 autobiography, will be the musical icon’s third time as a feature film director after “Filth and Wisdom” in 2008 and “W.E.” in 2011. DePrince, abandoned by her uncle during the West African nation’s brutal civil war, was neglected in an orphanage as she suffered from the skin disorderRead More