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HEALTH – Australian doctor released after 7 years in captivity

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On the night of 18-19 May, the Australian government announced the release of Dr.Kenneth Elliott who was kidnapped alongside his wife on 15 January 2016 in Burkina Faso by the jihadist group Ansar Dine, linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. His wife Jocelyn was released the following month, following a mediation in Niger.

The surgeon who had been running the only medical clinic in Djibo, a city near the border with Mali, since 1972, returned to Australia on Thursday evening. He was reunited with his wife and children in Perth, the great coastal town of the mainland’s southwest.

A great relief….
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said she was “very pleased” when she announced the release to the press this Friday morning, local time. His relatives and the government worked “tirelessly” to secure this release, the head of Australian diplomacy added.

Doctor Elliott’s family said they were relieved. We wish to thank God and all those who continued to pray for us, she said in a statement. At 88 years old, and after many years away from home, Dr.Elliot now needs time and privacy to rest and recover. We thank you for your understanding and sympathy.”

Before his abduction, the Australian couple, in addition to running a medical clinic, was conducting humanitarian actions in Mali and Niger. His family wrote regularly to the Australian and Burkinabe authorities. But everything was done in a discreet manner. “There was no ransom,” says Australian public television ABC.

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MEDIUM AND NEAR EAST

DUBAI – Opening of COP28: An old complaint from developing countries satisfied?

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The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, the 8th since the agreement, opened this Thursday, December 12 (on the vast campus of Expo City, decorated with trees and foliage, located on the outskirts of Dubai), under the vibrant recommendations of Emirati Sultan al-Jaber, President of COP28 to find a way to include fossil fuels responsibility for the consequences of climate change in the final agreement.” In his opening speech, he stressed the role of fossil fuels, which are highly emitting greenhouse gases. As the head of the national oil company Adnoc, he referred in particular to companies such as his, “I am grateful that they have accelerated the pace. But I have to say it’s not enough. And I know they can do so much more.”

the Egyptian Sameh Choukri, President of Cop 27’ is also expressed at the opening ceremony that took place late Thursday morning, before passing the torch to Sultan al-Jaber. “Let’s never lose sight of our North Star, the 1.5°C,” he said, applauded by the hearing. Other speakers included Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Jim Skea, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A crucial transition to limit warming to 1.5°C from the pre-industrial era and the objective of the Paris agreement were on the agenda. Finance was also a thorny issue, while expert groups estimate that the world must invest more than $3 trillion a year (about €2,737 billion) by 2030 to achieve the climate goals. So far, developed countries are far from it, whether it is investments for the energy transition or adaptation to the consequences of climate change.

At the same time, and at the same time, a press briefing was held by a climate justice organization, better known as PACJA, the Pan-African Alliance for Climate Justice. PACJA in its press briefing finds it inconsistent and unfair that Africa, which contributes very little to global greenhouse gas emissions, continues to suffer the harmful effects of climate change with impunity.” With this in mind, it calls for immediate and substantial action to address the glaring lack of adequate adaptation measures for the continent. The Alliance delegates were firm in their statements, advocating recognition and beyond, immediate and unconditional correction of the historical injustice facing African nations.

Everything will be decided in the next 15 days with more than 70,000 participants around the negotiating tables, a number to which must be added the multiple actors (companies, observers, activists, etc.) The 28th UN Conference of the Parties on Climate is expected to break the record for attendance at a COP, but also, as a result, the event’s carbon footprint, that is, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by the organization.

The leaders’ summit on 1 and 2 December remains decisive for the future. Will be expected for a speech, Emmanuel Macron, Charles Michel, President of the European Council and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley. Initially expected, Pope Francis finally cancelled his trip for health reasons.

Still, “Today’s news on loss and damage is a good start for this UN climate conference. All governments and negotiators must use this momentum to achieve ambitious results here in Dubai,” said UN Climate Chief Simon Stiell at a press conference where the announcement was made.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the decision to operationalize the new Loss and Damage Fund. According to him, it is an “essential tool for ensuring climate justice.” “I call on leaders to make generous contributions and get the Fund and Climate Conference off to a solid start,” he said.

As a reminder, this fund is a long-standing demand from developing countries, which are at the forefront of climate change and are facing the cost of the ravages caused by ever-increasing extreme weather events, such as drought, flooding, coastal erosion, and so on.

After several years of intense negotiations at annual UN climate meetings, developed countries expressed support for the need to create this fund last year at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Sultan al-Jaber, president of the COP28 climate conference, reportedly said his country, the United Arab Emirates, would commit $100 million to the fund.

Germany would also have pledged a contribution of $100 million to the fund. The United States and Japan also announced their contribution to the fund.

This 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which began on Thursday 1st, will take place until Tuesday 12 December 2023.

Source: Senepress

 

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MEDIUM AND NEAR EAST

ISRAEL-HAMAS WAR – “Real” risk of Islamist attacks in Germany

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German internal intelligence warned Wednesday, November 28, 2023, against the “real” and “long-standing” risk of Islamist attacks in the country due to the war between Israel and Hamas.

 “We see calls in the jihadist movement for attacks and for al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS) to join the Middle East conflict,” said the director of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Thomas Haldenwang, in a statement.

This public warning – rare from this body in Germany – demonstrates the concern of the authorities, who fear potential “projects (attacks) against the security of Jews, Israeli institutions, but also major public events” in the country.

 “The danger is real and has not been so high for a long time,” said Mr. Haldenwang.

 The German authorities are concerned about the import of the conflict into their country since the beginning of the war, triggered by the bloody attack of the Palestinian Islamist movement on October 7 on Israeli soil from the Gaza Strip.

According to Israel, 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the attack, in which about 240 people were abducted and taken to the Gaza Strip.

In retaliation, Israel, which vowed to “annihilate” Hamas, relentlessly bombed the Gaza Strip until a truce came into effect on Friday. Nearly 15,000 people were killed by these Israeli strikes, according to the Hamas government.

On 2 November, Germany banned activities on its soil related to Hamas, in particular those of the Samidoun association.

This network claims to support the Palestinian prisoners and had distributed pastries in Berlin to celebrate the “victory of the resistance” after the attack of October 7.

Intelligence also points to other dangers, such as “Palestinian extremists, Turkish right-wing extremists, and German and Turkish left-wing extremists,” which “spread hatred, unrest, propaganda, or fake news on social media.” on the conflict.

At the same time, “German right-wing extremists are taking advantage of the current situation to agitate against Muslims and migrants,” Intelligence said.

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MEDIUM AND NEAR EAST

GAZA – Exchange of hostages for prisoners should take place on Saturday

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Twenty hostages held in the Gaza Strip, including 13 Israelis, will be released Saturday, November 25, 2023 in exchange for 39 Palestinian prisoners, Qatar announced after several hours of blockade, on the second day of the truce between Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas.

This truce, the result of an agreement under the auspices of Doha, offered a new day of respite to the inhabitants of the besieged territory after seven weeks of war, triggered by an unprecedented Hamas attack on Israeli soil on October 7.

“After a delay, the obstacles to release the prisoners were overcome through Qatari-Egyptian contacts with both sides, and 39 Palestinian civilians will be released tonight, while 13 Israeli hostages will leave Gaza with seven foreigners”said Qatari foreign ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari on X.

Hamas confirmed that it would release the hostages before midnight, after announcing in the afternoon that it was delaying the expected release of this second group of hostages, after a first Friday.

In Beirut, Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official, had mentioned, to explain the delay, “shooting at our people, the number of humanitarian aid trucks for the northern Gaza Strip and failure to meet the selection criteria for the release of women and child prisoners” Palestinians.

The Israeli army considers the northern third of the Gaza Strip to be an area of fighting that it believes houses the Hamas infrastructure center, which took power in 2007. It ordered the people out and prevented anyone from returning.

– “Get them out of hell” –
According to Hamas’ Ministry of Health, seven people were injured by Israeli fire as several thousand displaced Gazans took advantage of the pause in the fighting to head north to return home.

The agreement, also concluded with the support of the United States and Egypt and entered into force on Friday, provides for four days of truce that should allow the release of 50 hostages and 150 Palestinian prisoners. This renewable break, which seemed respected on Saturday, also includes the entry of humanitarian aid and fuel into Gaza.

The Israeli bombings, which have continued since the October 7 attack and the military offensive on northern Gaza, have come to an end, as has the rocket fire from the Islamist movement on Israel.

On Friday, 13 first Israeli hostages, women and children, were handed over to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and returned to Israel via Egypt to reunite with their families. Hamas also released ten Thais and one Filipino, who were not part of the agreement.

In return, Israel released 39 Palestinians, women and youth under the age of 19.

In Israel, relatives of the hostages still held in Gaza were anxiously awaiting a way out of a nightmare that has lasted for seven weeks.

In Tel Aviv, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in the evening in Hostage Square to demand their release. Get them out of hell,” they read on a banner.

– “Tremendous pressure” –
“Today, we are happy to see ours return but we must not forget all those who have not yet returned,” said Yael Adar, the stepdaughter of Yaffa Adar, 85 and the oldest of the ex-hostages, on the Ynet news site.

Yael Adar’s son Tamir, a 38-year-old father of two young children, is still being held hostage after being abducted as his grandmother in the kibbutz of Nir Oz in southern Israel.

According to the Israeli authorities, 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed on 7 October, and 240 people were taken hostage.

In retaliation, Israel promised to “eliminate” Hamas, classified as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union and Israel, relentlessly bombing the Palestinian territory and launching a ground offensive on October 27, until the truce.

In the Gaza Strip, 14,854 people, including 6,150 children and youth under the age of 18, were killed by Israeli strikes, according to the Hamas government.

The Israeli army chief of staff, General Herzi Halevi, warned that the war was not over. We will resume attacking Gaza as soon as the truce is over (…) to dismantle Hamas and create enormous pressure to bring back as soon as possible as many hostages as possible, until the last of them,’ he said.

– Overcrowded hospitals –
In the occupied West Bank, scenes of jubilation, amidst fireworks, Palestinian flags and various movements including the green Hamas banner, accompanied the return of the released prisoners on Friday evening.

In East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since 1967, demonstrations of joy were prohibited.

“I was waiting for the day when I would be released from prison and could hug my mother,” Rawan Nafez Mohammad Abou Matar, who returned home to Beitlo near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, told AFP on Saturday.

“I haven’t touched or hugged her in this way for years,” says the young woman, who was sentenced in 2015 when she was 21, to nine years in prison for attempted murder on an Israeli border guard.

The truce offers a moment of respite to the thousands of displaced people inside Gaza who left hospitals and schools in the southern part of the territory where they had taken refuge to return home.

In hospitals in the southern Gaza Strip, ambulance convoys carrying wounded people from the north continue to arrive. But, says Ashraf al-Qidreh, spokesman for Hamas’ health ministry, “they no longer have the capacity or equipment” to cope.

“It feels good” –
More than half of the territory’s housing has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN, and 1.7 million people have been displaced, out of 2.4 million inhabitants. “The truce feels good, we hope it will last. It’s good when it’s quiet. People want to live,” Mohammed Dheir, who took refuge with his family in Rafah, southern Gaza, told AFP. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from northern Gaza have gathered in this part of the territory since the beginning of the war to try to escape the bombing. The truce has accelerated the arrival of humanitarian aid to Gaza, which has been under Israel’s total siege since October 7. These shipments, whose entry from Egypt is subject to the Israeli green light, have been arriving in recent weeks in dribs and drabs. Dozens of trucks crossed the Rafah border on Saturday for the second day in a row, according to footage shot by AFP.

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