Tag Archives: UK

US-UK diplomatic efforts in Libya

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke with UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt  need of peace and stability in Libya as “global priority“. Both top diplomats reaffirmed their commitment to continued diplomatic efforts in Libya aiming at return to political process.

Burundi crack down on Western media

Burundi will ban broadcasts from two international media organizations and expand restrictions on their operations, the government announced on March 29.

.”We are alarmed that reporters in Burundi are now forbidden to communicate with VOA and believe these continuing threats to our journalists undermine press freedom in the country,” VOA Director Amanda Bennett said. “We stand with the people of Burundi against those who are restricting their access to accurate and reliable news and information.”

The BBC condemned the decision, calling it “a serious blow against media freedom.”

At a meeting in Bujumbura, the president of the National Council of Communication, Nestor Bankumukunzi, said the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC). and the Voice of America (VoA) are banned with an immediate effect. The ban is indefinite and extends to journalists, both foreign and domestic, who provide information to either broadcaster

Nigerian warns West against election meddling

Mallam Nasir El-Rufai – a poweful ally of Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari warned “people from overseas” who sought to intervene in the country’s election to be held in little over a week would go back in “body bags“.

We are waiting for the persons who will come and intervene. They will go back in body bags because nobody will come to Nigeria and tell us how to run our country,” said El-Rufai.

The governor of the northern state of Kaduna, Nasir El-Rufai made the comments during a discussion programme on the Nigerian Television Authority when the subject of the international community’s role in elections was raised. It followed after an international reaction in support of a suspended Nigeria’s top judge.

We have got that independence and we are trying to run our country as decently as possible,El-Rufai added.

The talk about the role of foreign countries in elections was raised on the programme in which reference was made to concerns expressed by the European Union, the United States and the United Kingdom over the suspension of Walter Onnoghen over allegedly breaching asset-declaration rules.

Elephant language of survival

Nowadays Researchers believe that migration is just one survival mechanism elephants have developed in response to poaching, conflict, urbanization, agriculture, and other pressures in Africa.

In 2016, one elephant made a treacherous 209 km journey over three weeks from the relative safety of Kenya to conflict-ridden Somalia, all under the cloak of darkness. Morgan, as the researchers called him, remained in Somalia for just a day and a half before turning back.

“We don’t know the precise reason for his migration into Somalia,” says Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants (STE), a UK charity headquartered in Nairobi that conducts research on elephant behavior and ecology, “but we suspect it was to mate.”

“Moving by night was an extreme form of survival in a region where elephants are under threat from poaching,” adds Douglas-Hamilton. “He was the first elephant on record to visit in Somalia in 20 years.”

Inspired by the elephant’s journey, researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands worked with Save the Elephants to conduct a study last September on African elephant migratory patterns. They found that some elephants in sub-Saharan Africa have started travelling at night to avoid the threat of poaching that usually occurs during the day.

Elephants also have developed sophisticated gestures, sounds, infrasound, and chemical secretions  to relay messages to one another for survival purposes. “Through various means, elephants can suggest that the group moves on, that they sense danger, or that they are in distress,” says Douglas-Hamilton.

Ethiopia reopens debate on repatriation of artefacts

The UK  must permanently return all artifacts from Ethiopia held by the Victoria and Albert Museum and Addis Ababa will not accept them on loan, an Ethiopian government official said. The statement comes after the museum, one of London’s most emblematic tourist attractions, put Ethiopian treasures plundered by British forces in 1868 on display.

Well, it would be exciting if the items held at the V&A could be part of a long-term loan with a cultural institution in Ethiopia,” museum director Tristram Hunt said.

These items have never been on a long-term loan in Ethiopia, but as we look to the future I think what we’re interested in are partnerships around conservation, interpretation, heritage management, and these need to be supported by government assistance so that institutions like the V&A can support sister institutions in Ethiopia.”

Among the items on display are sacred manuscripts and gold taken from the Battle of Maqdala 150 years ago, when British troops ransacked the fortress of Emperor Tewodros II. The offer of a loan did not go far enough for Ethiopia.

 

“What we have asked (for) was the restitution of our heritage, our Maqdala heritage, looted from Maqdala 150 years ago. We presented our request in 2007 and we are waiting for it,” government minister Hirut Woldemariam said.

 “It is clearly known where these treasures came from and whom they belong to. Our main demand has never been to borrow them. Ethiopia’s demand has always been the restoration of those illegally looted treasures. Not to borrow them” – Ephrem Amare, Ethiopian National Museum director, added.

The V&A said the proposal of a long-term loan had come up as it discussed its Maqdala exhibition with Ethiopian authorities. “The   V&A  is committed to continuing this important and wide-ranging dialogue with colleagues at the Ethiopian Embassy in London,” it added in a statement.

In launching the Maqdala 1868 exhibition of what Hunt called “stunning pieces with a complex history” this month, he said the display had been organized in consultation with the Ethiopian community in London.

 “As custodians of these Ethiopian treasures, we have a responsibility to celebrate the beauty of their craftsmanship, shine a light on their cultural and religious significance and reflect on their living meaning, while being open about how they came to Britain,” he said in a blog on the museum website.

UK suggests Zimbabwe return to Commonwealth

The UK would strongly support Zimbabwe’s re-entry to the Commonwealth and praised President Emmerson Mnangagwa for impressive progress since Robert Mugabe was toppled in a military coup.

The UK would strongly support Zimbabwe’s re-entry and a new Zimbabwe that is committed to political and economic reform that works for all its people,” the Foreign Office said in a statement issued after the meeting.

Zimbabwe exited the Commonwealth network of 53 mostly former territories of the British Empire in 2003 after Robert Mugabe, who had ruled Zimbabwe continuously from its independence (1980), was heavily criticised over disputed elections and land seizures from white farmers.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met his Zimbabwean counterpart Sibusiso Moyo and ministers from other nations over breakfast on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London.

Ramaphosa sends mixed signals on land grabs

Contradictory information comes from South African leader Cyril Ramaphosa, who delivers different narratives to different players. Previously Ramaphosa said he intended to organise land summit in April, but the event did not take place. However during his visit  to London he reassured Queen Elizabeth there won’t be such expropriation without compensation.

During his first official visit to Britain as South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa met Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Theresa May. At present Ramaphosa is in London for the Commonwealth summit starting on Thursday, April 19.

The President is using his visit to Britain to launch his plan for attracting a trillion in foreign direct investments to South Africa.

 

.

South Africa joins sugary drinks tax

South Africa has joined the international trend of taxing sugary drinks to reduce high rates of diabetes, hypertension and obesity. But the long-anticipated measure recommended by the WHO was fraught with controversy.

South Africa and the UK are the latest in a string of countries around the world to impose a soda surcharge, together with Ireland, Canada and the Philippines among those expected to follow in due course.

Efforts to raise the tax on sugary drinks — by up to 50% in some countries — have sparked standoffs between the beverage industry and the health lobby.  It was no different in South Africa.

The protracted debate in the run-up to the new law saw Coca Cola executives suggest taxes don’t work in solving obesity.

However, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the 11% surcharge levied on a can of soda since April 1 was long overdue.

“We are not banning sugar. We are just saying take them in moderate amounts. Every life minute of our existence we are being fed with these substances. It’s an overload on the human body,” Motsoaledi said.

The government said it was acting in the interests of the public in a country with a diabetes epidemic fueled by sugar and an overburdened health system.

Neglected lions saved from Razgrad zoo

The lions of the Razgrad zoo, aged between 3 months and 12 years, will soon have a life free from suffering. The international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has saved the animals from particularly adverse conditions in an urgent rescue mission which took place over two days. Thus far, the big cats, who come from a three-generation-long inbred line, vegetated for years without any medical care in tiny enclosures.

“To see the animals like that was shocking. Never in their lifetime have these lions been examined by a veterinarian. This is fatal, especially in the light of the systematic inbreeding of the big cats. Here, the descendants of siblings have procreated uncontrolled due to lack of care,” reports FOUR PAWS big cat expert Barbara van Genne. In the past, the bred lions were sold to other zoos, circuses and private persons.

The introduction of a stricter legislation in Bulgaria in 2008, however, led to a reduced demand. Hence, the big cats remained in the Razgrad Zoo.

Since the city owns the zoo, FOUR PAWS convinced the mayor of Razgrad to intervene. The international team of veterinarians provided medical care to all lions and additionally sterilised two adult males. Due to the lack of physical exercise, the older lions already suffer from severe issues with their spines. It is likely that the younger ones will face the same health problems soon.

 

A 3-year-old lion whose condition was particularly critical has already been brought to Sofia for comprehensive examinations. The veterinarians found sand in his bladder and diagnosed fibrosis in the kidneys. The upcoming results of a CT scan will provide more details about his health. As soon as he is fit enough, FOUR PAWS will transfer the lion to one of its own sanctuaries.

UK to ban ivory items

The sale and export of almost all ivory items would be banned in the UK under plans set out by the government.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove has announced a consultation to end the trade in ivory of all ages – previous attempts at a ban would have excluded antique ivory produced before 1947.

The government says there will be some exemptions, for musical instruments and items of cultural importance.

Conservation groups have given a guarded welcome to the plan.

« Older Entries