“The situation in Mali remains highly fragile,” said John Ging, Operations Director for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a press release issued after a briefing for reporters at UN Headquarters in New York. “Although humanitarian assistance cannot provide the solution to this crisis, which goes back more than 50 years, it can provide a critical contribution by ensuring that human suffering is alleviated and people’s resilience is rebuilt, while the political process continues,” he added. Mr. Ging, who made the trip along with UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Emergency Director, Afshan Khan, and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Emergency Director, Mabingue Ngom, travelled to the regions of Gao and Kidal where they met with representatives of armed groups, government officials, humanitarian partners and women’s groups. In Bamako, the country’s capital, they also met with the Prime Minister and Minister of Solidarity. Despite initial security improvements in 2013, the situation in Northern Mali has deteriorated since the beginning of this year. An increase in incidents involving improvised explosive devices, mostly targeting Malian and international security forces, has impeded the return to normalcy and resumption of economic and development activities.The first phase of the inter-Malian negotiation process, which was held from 16 to 24 July in Algiers, aimed at achieving a comprehensive peace agreement which would end the crisis. It concluded with the adoption of a roadmap by all parties.Announcement of the resumption of the talks comes in the wake of a series of deadly attacks against the UN Mission in the country, including a bomb attack and an ambush that killed nine Nigerien MINUSMA peacekeepers in Mali’s Gao region, bringing the total number of fatalities suffered by the mission to 31 peacekeepers killed and 91 wounded since it first deployed on 1 July 2013.In the press release, Mr. Ging pointed out that the 2014 humanitarian appeal for Mali was less than 50 per cent funded, directly impacting the UN’s presence on the ground and its ability to provide aid to those in need. “The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) has had to halve its fleet, reducing access to remote locations at a critical moment in the response; roaming surgical teams have had to halt their activities; and we can’t deliver basic school supplies, like backpacks and books,” he continued. Meanwhile, UNICEF’s Afshan Khan underscored the need for restoring basic services across the country, noting that an estimated 500,000 children across Mali will suffer from Global Acute Malnutrition by the end of the year.“Despite the challenges, we must strengthen health systems especially in response to the nutrition crisis in Mali,” he said, adding that it was “also imperative to get schools back up and running.” “Some children in northern Mali have gone three years without education. This is unacceptable.”For his part, UNFPA Emergency Director, Mabingue Ngom, stated that the impact of the Malian crisis on women and importance of women’s involvement in the recovery remained a constant theme during the course of the visit. “Women in Gao had a simple message for us,” Mr. Ngom said. “They asked to have legal remedies for the horrendous violence and suffering they have endured, to be given the skills and means to earn their own livelihoods, and to be actively involved in peace talks and national reconciliation.”At the same time, as Mali addresses the confirmation of its first death from Ebola, the three officials urged all actors to take “immediate action” drawing on best practices from the region, including Nigeria, to rapidly contain the virus.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Adrian Beltre went into this off-season pretty sure he had played his last game after 21 big league seasons. While he will miss baseball, Beltre says he is happy about his decision to retire.Beltre, who spent the last eight seasons of his Hall of Fame-caliber career with the Texas Rangers, said goodbye Friday in a laugh-filled news conference at the ballpark where the four-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove third baseman joined the 3,000-hit club in 2017.There were no tears from the 39-year-old Beltre, who 10 days earlier had announced his decision.The room was filled with current and former teammates, including Elvis Andrus, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland and Ian Kinsler. Beltre’s wife and three children sat on the front row.___More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_SportsStephen Hawkins, The Associated Press
Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)RelatedCabinet approves Islamic Development Bank loan agreementOctober 19, 2018In “latest news”The debt ceiling was surreptitiously altered- JagdeoMay 16, 2018In “Business”Guyana receives US$900M from Islamic Development BankApril 5, 2018In “Business” Finance Minister Winston Jordan and IsDB Vice President of Sector Operations, Mansur Muhtar exchange a handshake after signing the agreement. Also, looking on is Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Paterson [extreme right] and other IsDB officials.Minister of Finance Winston Jordan and the Islamic Development Bank’s (IsDB) Vice President of Sector Operations Mansur Muhtar, on Wednesday in Jeddah signed a US$20M agreement for a loan that is expected to go towards the improvement of the country’s power supply through the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL Inc.).It was outlined that the $4.2B loan is part of the utility company’s Upgrade Programme, a component of its development and Expansion Programme for 2014 to 2021.Describing the historic occasion as a celebration of the first loan to be granted, Finance Minister Winston Jordan posited that “It cemented our growing relationship and the proactive use of the indicative resource envelope for Guyana… [the loan agreement] incorporates necessary reforms and upgrades to reduce losses, and improve the quality and reliability of electricity supply and will, at the same time help to transform Guyana’s infrastructural landscape, boost our manufacturing sector and improve the quality of life of our citizens.”Adding that the agreement could not have come at a more opportune time, the Finance Minister said “This was especially since, Guyana is on the cusp of a historic transformation with the recent discovery of over 4B barrels of oil.”He further disclosed that the International Monetary Fund described Guyana’s medium-term economic prospects as “very favourable” and predicted GDP will grow by 29.1 per cent in 2020.“The IMF has commended us on our “prudence and restraint towards borrowing in anticipation of future oil revenues”. As such, our public debt stood at a highly sustainable 52.2 per cent of GDP at the end-2017” said Jordan.During the period 27-29 November 2017, the Islamic Development Bank’s (IsDB) mounted a mission to Guyana to develop a medium-term work plan for the period 2018-2022. That plan outlines a pipeline of projects that the bank can support over the next five years. The IsDB has a resource envelope of over $188B (US$900M) that is potentially available from which the government can source.The potential areas of collaboration between the IsDB and the Government of Guyana cover several development sectors including agriculture, banking and finance, human development, energy and rural development.Observers have contended however, that since the incumbent Administration came into power in 2015 the public debt has ballooned.In fact, former President and Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo had dubbed the revelation that Government had singled its intention to possibly borrow approximately 220 billion Guyana dollars (GuySuCo’s $30B bond and the Islamic Development Bank loan of $US 900M) as ‘shocking and cause for worry.’Jagdeo and economist by profession had said that “this failed approach to national economic management was tried in the past. It led to a bankrupt country and resulted in devastating consequences for our people. I am sure everyone would recall that the external debt was over 900 per cent of GDP in 1992, which was reduced to 36 per cent of GDP in 2015.”Moreover, he predicted that “this Government would go this route since the massive growth in the size of the national budgets, primarily on consumption, could not be financed by the hefty increase in taxation.”