Extremists Extradited to Morocco Adhere to ISIS Interior Ministry

Rabat – Investigations led by the Central Bureau for Judiciary Investigations (BCIJ) with ISIS extremist supporters extradited to Morocco from France on August 28, 2016, revealed their complete adherence to ISIS’s strategy and terrorist ideology, the Interior Ministry said Thursday.One of those arrested was recruited by an ISIS’s leader on the Syrian-Iraqi scene, who called him to suspend his plan to join this hotbed of tension, in order to coordinate large-scale terrorist operations in France on behalf of the “Islamic state,” the ministry added in a statement.As part of this terror plot, this individual scouted out several public and sensitive sites in France, his country of residence, particularly those frequented by a lot of people during weekends, with a view to perpetrating attacks using firearms or vehicles with the intention of ramming into crowds or triggering fires to kill the biggest number of people possible. Moreover, the individual has joined ISIS’s broad campaign of incitement within ISIS supporters to carry out large-scale terrorist attacks in Morocco by targeting vital areas and elements of the various security services, in response to the fight led by these services against ISIS terror cells and ISIS-supporters at the national and the international levels.The two men will be brought to justice pending the completion of the probe led under the supervision of the competent public prosecutor’s office.With MAP read more

US Congress Turns Its Back to Saudi Arabia

By Hinna SheikhRabat- The US congress votes in favor of the controversial law to give families of 911 items to sue Saudi Arabian government.US Congress have taken the decision to override President Obama’s veto powers, to pass the 9/11 bill, which will allow US families to sue the Saudi Arabian government over the 9/11 bombings. The vote came earlier this morning, with both the Senate and the House of Representatives voting to pass the bill, which won an overwhelming majority. They voted to override the President’s veto of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA).The House of Representatives voted 348-77 against the veto after the Senate rejected it 97-1, meaning JASTA will come into place as law.Since the vote, the US President has come out and said the decision to override his veto is a mistake and could set a “dangerous precedent” that could put US interests at risk.Senators argued in favor of justice for the victims, whereas they feel that the White House is too concerned with diplomatic relations and US interests.The vote is a blow to one of the US’ oldest allies in the Arab world. The question now remains regarding US-Saudi relations.Families and senators alike have rejoiced over the bill, as they believe justice can now be sought for the victims of the horrific attack of 9/11.The majority of the attackers of the 2001 attacks were Saudi nationals. The victims’ families have been lobbying and campaigning for years lawmakers for the right to sue the Saudi government. Despite Saudi Arabia’s constant denial of any involvement in the attacks, victim’s families have pushed for the bill to be passed.The Saudi embassy in Washington is yet to comment of the bill. But the future of Saudi-US relations may be in jeopardy and the coming months will be most interesting to see how events will unfold. read more

2026 FIFA Task Force Arrives in Morocco

Rabat – Morocco’s 2026 World Cup Bid committee received the FIFA Task Force delegation and other representatives of the FIFA administration on Monday.The five-member task force will spend three days in several cities around the country in order to evaluate Morocco’s assets and capacity to host FIFA’s massive tournament.FIFA’s Task Force will visit stadiuims, training camps, fan sites, and media centers in four Moroccan cities: Marrakech (April 16-17), Agadir  (April 17-18), Tangier (April 18-19), and Casablanca (April 19), according to a press release published by FIFA on April 7. In a statement published by Maghreb Arab Press, Moroccan bid Chairman Moulay Hafid Elalamy announced, “Thanks to the Kingdom’s strategies, led by HM the King and embodied by a whole people, Morocco is ready to welcome the members of the FIFA Task Force to our land of football.”He added that the country will offer FIFA and the football fans a remarkable tournament, stating that the World Cup in Morocco “would be a source of pride” and a “formidable catalyst for development.”FIFA’s Task Force committee includes Chairman of the Audit and Compliance Committee Tomaž Vesel; Chairman of the Governance Committee Mukul Mudgal; Member of the Organising Committee for Competitions Ilcho Gjorgjioski; FIFA Deputy Secretary General (Administration) Marco Villiger; and FIFA Deputy Secretary General (Football) Zvonimir Boban.The Task Force visit followed Morocco’s recent letters addressed to FIFA, expressing the country’s concerns over the scoring system.Royal Football Federation addressed its first letter to FIFA on March 25, regarding Morocco’s concerns about the fairness and transparency of the procedure.“To my surprise, the scoring system was finally sent to us on March 14–24 hours before Morocco submitted its file and two days before the deadline for the submission of applications to FIFA,” wrote the FRMF president.Lekjaa explained that this system adds “several technical criteria that were not part of the original regulations,” adding that some principles “have never been transmitted to FRMF in the preparation process of the Moroccan bid.”On April 3, FIFA responded to convey that the aim of the Task Force is to “determine whether the bids meet the requirements in terms of infrastructure and revenue-cost criteria.”FIFA’s arguments, however, were not enough to convince Morocco’s FRMF.“We have taken note of your answers, but unfortunately they have not resolved these concerns and we are still convinced that the scoring system does not comply with the requirements of the bid rules,” reads the recent letter of President of FRMF Fouzi Lekjaa to FIFA.Lekjaa continued, saying that Morocco was surprised this measure surfaced only 48 hours before Morocco submitted its bid.“The late distribution of the scoring system cannot be justified merely by the fact that it was communicated as soon as possible to the candidates,” he added. read more

Lebanese PM calls on Italy to increase investment in Lebanon

BEIRUT — Lebanon’s Prime Minister has called on Italian companies to invest in his country as it seeks to address deepening economic challenges.Saad Hariri met with his Italian counterpart, Giuseppe Conte, in Beirut on Thursday and said that “the coming period in Lebanon is a period of work … with many investment opportunities.”Italy is a traditional trading partner of Lebanon, has invested in its gas and oil sector and also supports Lebanese military and security forces. Rome has over 1,000 peacekeepers in the U.N. force monitoring the cease-fire with Israel.Hariri’s government hopes to unlock around $11 billion in soft loans and grants pledged by international donors at a conference in Paris last year.Hariri said he’s “convinced that Lebanon can be a regional centre for the Italian private sector.”The Associated Press read more

Tangier Police Catch Luxury Product Smugglers Avoiding Import Duties

Rabat – Customs officers have dismantled four operations smuggling luxury products into Tangier.Customs officers seized 1,003 perfumes of various brands in a foreign car that was attempting to enter Morocco without a permit or paying import taxes. Officers also seized a €33,000 watch from a Moroccan citizen who they claimed attempted to illegally smuggle the watch into the country. A Moroccan living abroad also tried to bring in 13 smartphones and two electronic tablets illegally, but Tangier police officers stopped him. Read also: Tangier’s Cybercrimes Brigade Dismantles Criminal NetworkThe police also arrested a sub-Saharan migrant residing in Spain who attempted to enter Morocco with a car with falsified papers. An investigation is still underway. Tangier’s police and customs officers have been recently under a lot of pressure with the increase in undocumented migrations, drug trafficking, and criminal activities. Just last week, Tangier’s cybercrimes brigade dismantled a criminal network involved in fraud, counterfeit, and hacking. In early September, Tangier customs officers also seized 28 kilograms of cannabis. read more

Conflict Escalates Israeli Airstrikes Rain over Gaza

By Chase LacyRabat- Early this morning Israeli airstrikes struck 25 targets reportedly linked to Hamas in the Gaza Strip.Israel claims the strikes were in response to a barrage of 45 rockets and mortals fired into Israeli territory. The Israeli military reported that three of the Palestinian rockets prematurely landed in Gazan territory, and Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence system intercepted seven of the rockets. Three Palestinians were allegedly injured in the Israeli airstrikes, but no Israeli casualties from the mortars and rockets have been reported. The rocket fire came after the Israeli military announced it had targeted Hamas infrastructure in response to “arson balloons.” Palestinians over the past weeks have been lighting kites and balloons and flying them into Israeli territory aflame. The tactic, according to Israeli sources, has started 450 fires and caused damages of USD 2 million. In a statement, the Israeli military said, “the Hamas terror organization targeted Israeli civilians throughout the night with a severe rocket attack and is dragging the Gaza Strip and its civilians down a continually deteriorating path.” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said “bombing is met with bombing.” Continuing, he said, “It’s the Israeli occupation that started the escalation. The resistance has warned against continuing to target civilians.” He insisted that Israel must be held responsible for the consequences of their actions. Hamas, however, has not claimed responsibility for the rocket and mortar attacks on Israel. Israel has conducted air strikes over the past weeks, targeting Hamas. Palestinians have held frequent demonstrations since March 30 to protest Israeli occupation and to demand the right to return to the lands they were expelled from in 1948. Since the beginning of the protests, 127 Palestinians have been killed and over 13,000 injured. read more

Ontario energy minister on Hydro One CEO pay This is not a

TORONTO — Ontario’s energy minister is asking Hydro One to come up with a revised executive compensation framework that slashes proposed CEO pay, warning that the government is not going to negotiate on the issue.The partially privatized utility submitted a framework last week that sets maximum CEO compensation at nearly $2.8 million.But the Progressive Conservative government has said it will not approve the proposed executive pay if the CEO salary and incentives exceed $1.5 million.Under legislation the government passed last year, Ontario can issue a formal, legal directive to the utility on pay.For the time being, Energy Minister Greg Rickford says he’s simply asking Hydro One to come back with a framework within the government’s parameters.In response today, Hydro One says it continues to seek approval for its compensation framework.Rickford is also asking that the compensation of other executives not exceed 75 per cent of the CEO’s pay and that board member compensation not exceed $80,000.When the Progressive Conservatives came to power last spring, one of the government’s first acts was to force the resignation of former Hydro One CEO Mayo Schmidt, whom Premier Doug Ford had dubbed “the six-million-dollar man.”That move was followed by the resignation of the utility’s entire board, as well as downgrades and lower values of Hydro One shares.Last month, Hydro One and American utility Avista Corp. announced they were cancelling a planned merger, after regulators in Washington state said the deal would not sufficiently safeguard customers from the whims of the Ontario government.The Canadian Press read more

China seizes 15 billion in online lending crackdown

BEIJING — China’s policy ministry says it investigated 380 online lenders and froze $1.5 billion in assets in a crackdown following an avalanche of scandals in the huge but lightly regulated industry.The ministry said Monday it launched the investigation in June because the industry was increasingly risky and rife with complaints about fraud, mismanagement and waste.Regulators have steadily tightened control over Chinese online lenders following a string of failures and fraud cases that prompted protests and complaints of official indifference to small investors.The police ministry gave no details of arrests but said more than 100 executives were being sought by investigators and some had fled abroad.The operator of one lender was sentenced to life in prison in 2017 on charges he defrauded investors of $7.7 billion.The Associated Press read more

Fez to Host ArabGerman Symposium on Womens Empowerment

Rabat – The Arab-German Young Academy of Sciences and Humanities is hosting an international conference dedicated to women’s empowerment and gender equality November 30 to December 1 in Fez.The conference, titled “Gender Equality in the Arab World and Germany: Challenges and Prospects” and organized in partnership with the NGO ISIS Centre for Women and Development, will tackle several issues women face in their daily lives. Topics vary from challenges in the workplace or job market, such as in male-dominated fields and the role of universities to raise awareness on gender equality to transnational networking and women migrants.Read Also: 3,388 Moroccan Women Die of Cervical Cancer Each Year: ReportEffecting change, promoting gender equality, and Arab-German dialogue are the main drivers behind the symposiums. The event’s program will also explore the role of women throughout the history and cultural heritage of Fez, Morocco’s cultural capital.The event is taking place at the International Institute for Languages and Culture in Fez and will welcome “high-profile academics and experts” from six Arab countries with the participation of other academics from Germany, the ISIS Centre said in a press release. read more

German leader clarifies stance on student climate protests

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel is making clear she supports students protesting around the world against global warming, following widespread criticism of comments seeming to suggest the demonstrations may have been fomented by Russian online agitation.Merkel last month was talking about Russian cyberwarfare at the Munich Security Conference when she brought up the student protests, saying “that suddenly after years all German children suddenly come up with the idea you have to protest, without any external influence, is hard to imagine.”Her office says the comment was misunderstood, and Merkel was talking about how easy it was to mobilize a campaign on the internet.Merkel clarified her stance in her weekly podcast Saturday, saying she “really welcomed” the student protests and that “I think it is a very good initiative.”The Associated Press read more

King Mohammed VI Calls for Regional Solidarity as IsDB Meets in

Rabat – King Mohammed VI called for collective action in remarks he sent to the annual meeting of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) in Marrakech, which opened officially on April 5. The King’s message explained that IsDB member countries face a multitude of challenges and must collaborate to surmount them. “The aim is to serve our nations and contribute to economic development and to our peoples’ social advancement,” the King  said.Read Also: Islamic Development Bank to Hold Annual Meeting in MarrakechEach year, IsDB’s annual meeting gathers politicians, development specialists, and bank staff to deliberate on the latest matters of development. This year’s theme, “Transformation in a changing world,” is a reference to IsDB’s call for a new development strategy—one that intersects with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). IsDB is based in Saudi Arabia and has 57 member countries, though it works with Muslim communities worldwide. On April 3, it announced it would create a Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund for Children with UNICEF, in another sign of increased collaboration with the UN.The announcement that its 2019 meeting would take place in Marrakech cemented Morocco’s status as one of the bank’s strongest partners. Last year, the bank launched a multimillion dollar fund in Rabat for science and technology, and has since promised to increase its financial assistance to the kingdom over the next three years.While the IsDB has done much to promote solidarity and development in the Islamic world, the King said in a message his advisor Omar Kabbaj read to attendees, it must do more to push collaboration.“We believe that our progress and our development cannot be envisaged without the advancement of sister nations on the African continent,” he said. read more

Morocco Calls For SDG Implementation Support in Africa

Rabat – Addressing the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, held on September 25 in New York, El Othmani stressed the importance of providing African countries with adequate support.The Head of Government highlighted Morocco’s willingness and commitment to share its expertise in sustainable development with other African nations.El Othmani emphasized that achieving the SDGs very much depends on the commitment and solidarity of all actors.  The SDGs provide a blueprint for solving social, economic, environmental, and governance challenges worldwide. Ultimately, the SDGs aim for “a better and more sustainable future for all.”El Othmani also noted that Morocco took a significant step in coordinating joint international efforts by adopting the SDGs, also known as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in 2015.Speaking of the limited achievements to date by some African countries, El Othmani called for a new collaborative vision for through 2030 to accelerate the agenda’s implementation.In this regard, he indicated that Morocco has recently implemented major reforms.El Othmani mentioned examples of Morocco’s progress. The National Strategy for Sustainable Development aligns with the SDGs, and the third phase of the National Initiative for Human Development began in 2018.He also cited the Renewable Energy Program, which aims to source 52% of Morocco’s power generation capacity from renewables by 2030.El Othmani concluded by noting that King Mohammed VI called for the renewal of the national development model with the aim of “promoting progress and development, investing in human capital, and reducing social and spatial disparities.” read more

Vote counting begins in India Modi expected to hold power

NEW DELHI — Indian election officials have begun counting votes that were cast in the country’s mammoth general elections.The count began Thursday morning and was expected to conclude by the evening. Voters cast ballots on some 40 million electronic voting machines.Half a dozen exit polls showed Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party remaining in power for another five years.In the world’s largest democratic exercise, some 900 million people were registered to cast ballots for 542 seats in India’s lower house of Parliament in seven phases of polling staggered over six weeks.The election has been seen as a referendum on Modi, whose economic reforms broadly haven’t succeeded but whose popularity as a social underdog in India’s highly stratified society has endured.The Associated Press read more

The Latest Trump tamps down expectations of USJapan deal

TOKYO — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s trip to Japan (all times local):8:15 a.m.President Donald Trump is tamping down expectations that he’ll make significant headway on trade talks during his trip to Japan.Fox News White House Correspondent John Roberts tweets that Trump called him Sunday morning in Tokyo and told him that, while he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be discussing trade during meetings Sunday and Monday, Trump intends to wait until after Japan’s July elections to push for a deal.Trump had told business leaders after arriving in Tokyo Saturday evening that the U.S. and Japan are “hard at work” negotiating a new bilateral trade agreement that he said would benefit both countries.Trump said that he hopes the new deal will address a trade imbalance, remove barriers to U.S. exports, and ensure fairness and reciprocity in the relationship.___8:08 a.m.President Donald Trump is downplaying recent North Korean missile tests, tweeting from Tokyo that they’re not a concern for him — even though they are for Japan.Trump says, “North Korea fired off some small weapons, which disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me.” That message appears to contradict Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, who told reporters Saturday the short-range missile tests are a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.Trump says “he has confidence” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “will keep his promise to me.” He’s also embracing Kim’s attack on a Democratic rival, former Vice-President Joe Biden.Trump tweeted early Sunday before joining Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for a game of golf and attending a sumo wrestling match.The Associated Press read more

New leader charts plans to rejuvenate UN Economic and Social Council

18 January 2007The newly-elected President of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) today proposed ways to revitalize that body by involving a wider variety of people in its work, from government ministers to activists to academics to business executives, as it reaches for a more prominent role in 2007. “We have,” Dalius Cekuolis of Lithuania said in a press briefing at UN headquarters in New York, “a very interesting and challenging year ahead.”This year, ECOSOC will be tasked with two new functions aimed to strengthen the body. Firstly, the Annual Ministerial Review will assess the progress, or lack thereof, that ECOSOC has made in reaching objectives such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight targets for tackling poverty, hunger and other social ills by 2015.The second, the Development Cooperation Forum, aims to have the voices of people at different levels – governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academia and the private sector, among others – heard in discussions on international development and aid cooperation.ECOSOC, comprised of 54 members elected by the General Assembly, is a UN body which meets yearly to further economic and social cooperation and development. Its mandate was enhanced during the UN 2005 World Summit to improve the effectiveness of aid and monitor the implementation of targets, such as the MDGs, agreed upon by Member States.When asked by a journalist to cut through the jargon in explaining ECOSOC’s work, Mr. Cekuolis pointed to the Annual Ministerial Review and the Development Cooperation Forum as the body’s means to “coordinate the international community’s effort for the development agenda… and there for to maybe make it stronger and [increase] its authority on those issues.”Referring in particular to the Review, set to take place this July, Mr. Cekuolis stated that he hopes it will “soberly assess the progress of implementation, see the gaps, lacks of progress and therefore make recommendations.” Earlier this week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told ECOSOC that its work for development is an integral part of the UN’s mission. “Together with security and human rights, it represents our core aspirations for a peace and better world,” he stated. read more

Iraq UN calls on world community to help Palestinians facing attacks intimidation

24 January 2007The United Nations refugee agency today called on the international community to aid Palestinians living in Iraq after 90 panic-stricken men, women and children fled Baghdad, reportedly headed on two rented buses towards the Syrian border, following an increasing spate of attacks and harassment. “Of all the groups being targeted in Iraq, the Palestinians are the most vulnerable as they literally have nowhere else to flee, and in many cases have been denied travel documents,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) senior Iraq operations manager Andrew Harper said in Geneva. “The international community must act now to help these people. A safe haven needs to be found immediately, outside Iraq.”Over the past year UNHCR has voiced mounting alarm for the Palestinians, who fled to Iraq following the creation of Israel in 1948. Some received preferential treatment under ousted President Saddam Hussein, and they have become targets for attack since his overthrow in 2003. Nearly 20,000 of them have already fled the country but there are still an estimated 15,000 remaining. The agency has taken up the latest developments with the Iraqi authorities. Today’s flight followed two incidents yesterday when 30 Palestinian men, 17 of them sheltered in a Baghdad apartment building rented by UNHCR, were taken away by men dressed in Iraqi security force uniforms and driving security vehicles.They were later released but by today all Palestinians living in the apartment building had abandoned their homes, some fleeing to other parts of the city, while others joined the group headed toward Syria.“What happened to the men during their abduction remains unclear. But the men and their families were clearly traumatised by the ordeal and afraid to provide any details,” UNHCR said. “The abductions caused great panic among the Palestinian community. “Some Palestinians told UNHCR they feared attack by militias at any time. Many other Palestinians told UNHCR that they wanted to leave as well, but couldn’t because they lacked proper documents, or because they still have family members in Baghdad who cannot go,” the agency added. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), with UNHCR support, is preparing to deliver relief items, including tents, blankets, mattresses, lanterns, kitchen sets, stoves and plastic sheets, to the Syrian-Iraqi border in preparation for the new arrivals. Water, kerosene and food are already available.Last April, Syria allowed a group of 287 Palestinians into the country, but has since turned back more than 500 other Palestinians who fled Baghdad because of harassment and attacks, or after relatives had been killed. Those who try to leave cannot get proper documents.Despite assistance from UNHCR, ICRC and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the Palestinians have been living in extremely difficult conditions at the border sites. UNHCR has tried, to no avail, to secure them entry into Jordan and Syria, return them to the Palestinian territory with Israel’s permission, help in relocation to other Arab States or assist in resettlement outside the region. read more

UN agency rushes aid to pregnant women in cyclonehit parts of Bangladesh

With some 30,000 babies expected to be born in the coming months in cyclone-hit parts of Bangladesh, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today announced plans to help pregnant women there avoid life-threatening delivery complications.Out of the 6.7 million people affected by the storm which hit in mid-November, 30,000 women are carrying third-trimester pregnancies, the agency said in a news release, warning that almost 4,500 of them “are likely to experience potentially life-threatening complications.”In response, UNFPA is sending reproductive health kits equipped with intravenous fluids and drip sets, antibiotics, pain killers, syringes, sterile gloves and a small sterilizing machine, all to help prevent maternal deaths and disabilities. The agency is also providing other safe motherhood services to women who come to designated facilities for delivery. 4 December 2007With some 30,000 babies expected to be born in the coming months in cyclone-hit parts of Bangladesh, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today announced plans to help pregnant women there avoid life-threatening delivery complications. read more

Moldova UN agencies maintain emergency assistance in wake of drought

Enough seed corn is being distributed so that more than 30,000 farming households can start their spring season planting in the coming months, while some 9,000 tons of livestock fodder has already been delivered to over 20,000 households, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) said in a press release issued today.Kaarina Immonen, the UN Resident Coordinator in Moldova, told reporters that the provision of livestock fodder and corn is only the latest phase of a multi-step programme to help Moldovans get back on their feet after the drought. So far, more than 135,000 people have received assistance.The relief and recovery programmes are being organized by UNDP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Food Programme (WFP), who responded to an appeal for help by the Moldovan Government last July.Rainfall was so sparse last year that some regions of the small Eastern European nation experienced no rain for four consecutive months, and the overall totals for the year were 50 to 75 per cent below average.The drought – considered the worst since 1946 – hit Moldova particularly hard because its economy is so dependent on agriculture, which provides a livelihood for two-thirds of the population of roughly 4.5 million. About 84 per cent of arable land was affected.Ms. Immonen said a study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that the agricultural sector lost 100,000 jobs, while inflation caused the price of many basic goods and services – including gas and petrol – to soar. 27 February 2008United Nations humanitarian agencies are continuing to provide emergency assistance to families in Europe’s poorest country, Moldova, which last year experienced its worst drought in six decades. read more

UN aids flood victims in Kazakhstan as heavy snows melt

12 March 2008United Nations units are coming to aid of flood victims in southern Kazakhstan, where heavy rains and rapidly melting snow have displaced more than 13,000 people following Central Asia’s harshest winter in decades. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has provided an emergency grant of $40,000 to the UN Resident Coordinator in Kazakhstan for nearly 2000 hygiene kits. At the same time, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has made $50,000 available for water purification tablets, water reservoirs, filters, disinfectants and other sanitation needs. The overall flooding situation remains a matter of concern for the immediate future, according to an OCHA report, since there is a possibility of further flooding along the Syr-Darya river basin. That occurrence could affect over 250,000 people living in the country’s South Kazakhstan and Kzylorda provinces, it said. read more

UN court rules in maritime dispute between Singapore and Malaysia

Singapore has won sovereignty over a disputed island and Malaysia has been awarded control over a series of permanently above-water rocks in a ruling issued today by the United Nations principal judicial organ in a maritime dispute between the Asian neighbours.The International Court of Justice (ICJ) said it had found by 12 votes to four that Pedra Blanca/Pulau Batu Puteh, a granite island in the Straits of Singapore on which a lighthouse stands, belongs to Singapore and has done so since at least 1980, when the dispute between the two countries crystallized.In the case of Middle Rocks, which consist of a group of rocks that are permanently above water, the ICJ – which sits in The Hague in the Netherlands – ruled 15 to one that it belongs to Malaysia.The court also noted that South Ledge, a nearby low-tide elevation, falls within the apparently overlapping territorial waters generated by Pedra Blanca/Pulau Batu Puteh and by Middle Rocks. Given that the two countries have not asked the court to draw the line of delimitation, the judges said, by 15 to one, that sovereignty belongs to the State in the territorial waters of which it is located.Also known as the World Court, the ICJ hears disputes between States and its decisions are binding and without appeal. 23 May 2008Singapore has won sovereignty over a disputed island and Malaysia has been awarded control over a series of permanently above-water rocks in a ruling issued today by the United Nations principal judicial organ in a maritime dispute between the Asian neighbours. read more