June 10, 2021
The European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to hold interest rates at low record and to leave its emergency monetary stimulus plan unchanged on Thursday.
This happened in spite of the signs of post-pandemic economic recovery taking shape and a jump inflation.
However, many analysts see ECB chief Christine Lagarde as signalling at her press conference later on Thursday that the bank planned to start considering winding back its 1.85-trillion-euro (2.25-trillion-dollar) Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP).
This week’s ECB meeting also comes ahead of a weekend summit of Group of Seven (G7) leaders in Britain where the world’s richest nations also plan to talk about global efforts to shore up the post-coronavirus crisis economic recovery as well as steps to avoid future pandemics.
New economic growth and inflation projections would be unveiled by Lagarde during the news conference, she would be expected to confirm that the 19-member eurozone economy would steam ahead this year as Coronavirus vaccinations increase and new infections drop.
Originally introduced in March 2020 as the pandemic engulfed the eurozone, the PEPP was aimed at shoring up the currency bloc’s economy in the face of one of the worst crises in a generation as well as heading off the threat of meagre inflation rates.
The data released this week showed annual eurozone inflation hitting a two-and-half-year high of 2 per cent in May, overshooting the bank’s annual inflation target of just below 2 per cent.
The sharp increase in inflation was likely to force the ECB to lift its short-term projections for inflation, which former ECB chief Jean-Claude Trichet once described as the needle in the bank’s compass.
Ethiopia’s govt. condemns probe into Tigray human rights abuses
June 17, 2021
An African Union investigation into possible human rights abuses in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region was met with condemnation by the government in Addis Ababa on Thursday.
The investigation, which was a unilateral announcement by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, is unhelpful and has no legal basis, according to Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry.
The inquiry should be halted immediately, it added in the statement.
Ethiopia’s government forces had been repeatedly accused of using violence and rape against the population in Tigray, which prompted the African Union to announce that investigations into the allegations would be undertaken by a commission of inquiry.
Ethiopia launched a military offensive on its northern region of Tigray in November to diminish the power of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which rules the region and has been critical of the central government.
The hostilities in northern Ethiopia soon escalated into a complex conflict involving neighbouring Eritrea.
Hundreds of thousands of people have already fled the fighting, which has caused widespread destruction.
According to the UN, similarly high numbers of people in Tigray were facing the threat of starvation.
3.2 bn people under threat of desertification, drought, says UN chief
June 16, 2021
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned that a combination of land degradation from climate change and the expansion of agriculture, cities and infrastructures, are undermining the well-being of 3.2 billion people across the globe.
Guterres said this in his message on Wednesday, to mark World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought, globally celebrated on June 17.
Its purpose is to raise awareness on desertification and drought, highlighting methods of preventing desertification and recovering from drought
“Humanity is waging a relentless, self-destructive war on nature. Biodiversity is declining, greenhouse gas concentrations are rising and our pollution can be found from the remotest islands to the highest peaks.
“We must make peace with nature,” he said.
The top UN official said that while “land can be our greatest ally”, currently it’s “suffering”. Land degradation is harming biodiversity and enabling infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, to emerge.
“Restoring degraded land would remove carbon from the atmosphere, help vulnerable communities adapt to climate change and generate an extra 1.4 trillion dollars in agricultural production each year.’’
And best of all, land restoration is “simple, inexpensive and accessible to all”, he added, calling it “one of the most democratic and pro-poor ways of accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”.
“To meet an ever-growing demand for food, raw materials, roads and homes, humans have altered nearly three quarters of the earth’s surface, beyond land that is permanently frozen.
“Avoiding, slowing and reversing the loss of productive land and natural ecosystems now is both urgent and important for a swift recovery from the pandemic and for guaranteeing the long-term survival of people and the planet.
“Restoring degraded land brings economic resilience, creates jobs, raises incomes and increases food security,’’ according to the UN chief.
Moreover, it helps biodiversity to recover and locks away carbon, while lessening the impacts of climate change and underpinning a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year marks the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration”, Guterres noted, while calling on everyone to “make healthy land central to all our planning”.
Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) pointed to the “dramatic impact” that desertification was having on “our common environmental heritages”, posing a “considerable threat” to the health of communities, global peace and sustainable development.
Having contributed to the collapse of biodiversity and promoting zoonoses, she called desertification “another reminder” that human health and that of the environment, were “deeply intertwined”.
Desertification and drought also increase water scarcity, at a time when two billion people still lacked access to safe drinking water, said Azoulay, adding that “over three billion may have to confront a similar situation by 2050”.
Quoting the Secretariat of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, she said that by 2030, the phenomenon would likely cause 135 million people to migrate worldwide.
“These migrations and deprivations are in turn a source of conflict and instability, demonstrating that desertification is also a fundamental challenge to peace,” she stressed.
Underscoring that “working together is crucial,’’ the UNESCO chief maintained that sustainable progress cannot be achieved without the participation of everyone, especially the youth.
“Together, let us build a sustainable future so that the fertile lands of the past do not become deserts emptied of their populations and their biodiversity,” she added.
UN to provide meals to over 530,000 South Sudanese children
June 15, 2021
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Tuesday signed an agreement with South Sudan to provide meals to more than 530,000 children in the country.
The meals will be provided in 1,100 schools across the ten states for a period of 19 months.
Adeyinka Badejo, WFP Deputy Country Director for South Sudan, said the MoU signed with the Ministry of General Education and Instruction was aimed at increasing enrollment and encourage parents to keep children in school.
“We will be focusing on schools which are in more vulnerable areas where the level of food insecurity is high and where participation in education is low and where nutrition rates are concerning,’’ Badejo told journalists in Juba.
Kuyok Abol Kuyok, Undersecretary in the Ministry of General Education and Instruction, Sudan, said that the project would enable them to provide school meals to over half a million children in school across the country.
“This programme is one of the strategies we have to improve education in South Sudan and we are very grateful to the World Food Programme and donors,’’ said Kuyok.
The school feeding program was introduced in the then Southern Sudan in 2003 prior to independence from Sudan in 2011, with the aim of enhancing access to food.
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