Rohingya crisis among worst modern tragedies: Turkish diplomat

ANKARA – The Rohingya crisis is among the gravest tragedies in modern times, a senior Turkish diplomat said Tuesday.

In a ministerial committee meeting on the persecuted Muslim group held by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Deputy Foreign Minister Yavuz Selim Kiran underlined that the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the matter had recorded incidents in Myanmar involving “genocidal intentions.”

Noting that Turkey has been maintaining efforts to keep up awareness of the issue in the international community, Kiran said via video link that Ankara would never abandon the Rohingya.

He asserted that the group should be allowed to return to their homeland, adding that if this is not possible, they should at least be allowed to go somewhere they prefer.

Stressing the importance of the OIC’s role, he said the body should continue its international efforts to keep Myanmar under pressure for a peaceful solution to the problem.

Kiran added that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had given special importance to the matter, calling on OIC members to stand for the search for justice and prove to the world that Rohingya Muslims are not alone.

He also called on member states to increase their financial contributions for the case on the Rohingya genocide, which is currently being heard at the International Court of Justice (ICT) while maintaining relations with Myanmar to sustain relief efforts for the Muslim group.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world’s most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women, and children fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million. (Anadolu) 

184 countries, economies have joined COVAX: WHO chief

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Xinhua photo)

GENEVA – A total of 184 countries and economies have now joined COVAX, an international initiative co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to ensure effective and equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines, the WHO chief announced on Monday.

“COVAX represents the largest portfolio of potential Covid-19 vaccines and the most effective way to share safe and effective vaccines equitably across the world,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference.

“Equitably sharing vaccines is the fastest way to safeguard high-risk communities, stabilize health systems and drive a truly global economic recovery,” he added.

As one of the leading countries in vaccine development, China has officially joined COVAX, a move described by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson as an important step to uphold the concept of a shared community of health for all and to honor its commitment to turning Covid-19 vaccines into a global public good.

At Monday’s virtual press conference, Tedros also mentioned “the worrying phase” that the Covid-19 pandemic has entered.

With the coming of winter in the northern hemisphere and sharp acceleration in the number of new Covid-19 cases, Tedros warned that the next few months will be tough, particularly in Europe and North America.

“So it’s important that all governments focus on the fundamentals that help to break the chains of transmission and save both lives and livelihoods,” Tedros said.

As the world is struggling to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, countries across the globe are racing to find a vaccine. According to the website of WHO, as of Oct. 19, there were 198 Covid-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 44 of them were in clinical trials. (Xinhua)

China-Asean education exhibit embraces technological innovation

NANNING – The China-Asean education exhibition held in Nanning, capital of south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, has witnessed a growing demand for smart educational equipment, local authorities said.

The event, which concluded on Sunday, set up seven galleries showcasing a great variety of educational equipment covering all ages, as well as providing educational training and consultant services.

Zhang Shan, president of the Guangxi Educational Equipment Industry Association, said this year’s fair witnessed a significant increase in innovative enterprises, as well as artificial intelligence and intelligent teaching equipment.

The three-day fair, sponsored by the Nanning city government and the Guangxi branch of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, drew some 300 enterprises from across the country, including many from Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, and Guangdong.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. (Xinhua)

UN arms embargo against Iran ends

ANKARA – An arms embargo imposed since 2007 by the UN Security Council (UNSC) ended Sunday, according to Iran’s foreign ministry.

All restrictions on the transfer of arms, related activities and financial services to and from Iran, and all prohibitions regarding the entry into or transit through territories of the UN member states previously imposed on a number of Iranian citizens and military officials, are automatically terminated, the ministry said on its website.

“As of today, the Islamic Republic of Iran may procure any necessary arms and equipment from any source without any legal restrictions and solely based on its defensive needs, and may also export defensive armaments based on its own policies,” it said.

“Today is a momentous day for the international community, which in defiance of the US regime’s efforts, has protected UN Security Council Resolution 2231 and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),” it added, referring to the landmark nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers.

The US upped the ante against Iran since withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear agreement in 2018, by reinstalling sanctions.

However, since the beginning of 2020, tensions have escalated alarmingly with the Trump administration announcing a “maximum pressure” campaign to choke Iran’s financial channels.

Last month, after the demand for an extension of the arms embargo was rejected by the Security Council, the US announced the reinstatement of all UN sanctions against Iran. (Anadolu)

PH joins Asean Covid-19 response, recovery meeting

COLLECTIVE RESPONSE. Initiatives in sustainable response and recovery figured prominently in discussions on Covid-19 response within and beyond the auspices of the Asean, held via videoconference on Oct. 14, 2020. The Philippines partners with other Asean member states and external partners for a consolidated regional response to growing challenges brought by the pandemic. (Photo by DFA)

MANILA – Assistant Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) Office of Asean Affairs, Junever M. Mahilum-West, led the Philippine delegation to the 4th Meeting of the Asean Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies (ACCWG-PHE), and the East Asia Summit (EAS) Experts’ Meeting on Covid-19, held consecutively by videoconference on October 14.

The meetings provided the Philippines with a forum to exchange knowledge and best practices in pandemic control, response, and recovery with other Asean member states and other external partners through Asean-led mechanisms, the DFA said in a news release Saturday.

The ACCWG-PHE is tasked to coordinate the Asean’s collective response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) and is responsible for cross-cutting initiatives that bridge existing strategies across the Asean.

The meeting discussed the Asean Comprehensive Recovery Framework, which is expected to be adopted at the 37th Asean Summit scheduled next month.

It also discussed progress in other key Asean initiatives, such as the Standard Operating Procedures on Public Health Emergencies, the operationalization of the Covid-19 Asean Response Fund and the Asean Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies (RRMS) for Public Health Emergencies, and the creation of an Asean Travel Corridor Arrangement.

The Asean pandemic recovery efforts are directed at jumpstarting economic and social recovery in the region through free trade, the gradual reopening of tourism and travel activities, and the strengthening of preparedness for future pandemics.

The EAS Experts’ Meeting, an initiative by Indonesia and Vietnam and co-sponsored by Russia and China, expanded the discussion on key Asean initiatives in the Covid-19 response beyond the 10 Asean member states, including EAS participating countries – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, the United States, and Russia.

The experts discussed ongoing vaccine research and development, with some countries briefing the meeting on vaccine candidates that are at the final phases of testing and health standards evaluation.

Mahilum-West reiterated the Philippines’ appeal for the vaccine to be offered as a global public good in the interest of ensuring the health safety of all countries as reopening plans are afoot.

Other Philippine priorities in Asean recovery initiatives are green recovery, supply chain resilience, the enhanced role of women in recovery, digitization, education, sustainable development, and the integration of data science in planning to eliminate zoonotic disease. (PR)

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