Macedonian Police Fires Tear Gas At Migrants

Macedonian policeMacedonian police have fired tear gas and stun grenades as thousands of people try to enter Macedonia from Greece.

It came up a day after Macedonia declared a state of emergency in two border regions to cope with an influx of migrants, many from the Middle East.

The state of emergency was declared because of the number of people wanting to head north to Europe, leading to desperate scenes of crowds battling to board packed trains.

There were several attempts to charge officers by angry people among a crowd of 3,000 from the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

They had spent the night in the open in a no man’s land between the two countries after Macedonia sealed its southern border to migrants and refugees.

At least eight people were injured in the confrontation earlier and one youngster was seen bleeding.

Large numbers spent the night stuck on Macedonia’s southern frontier, and tried to charge police in the morning.

The Balkan nation has become a major transit point for migrants trying to reach northern EU members.

Some 44,000 people have reportedly travelled through Macedonia in the past two months.

An 18-year-old Syrian man told Reuters he was able to cross overnight into Macedonia, but others were caught and drove back.

“I ran fast and escaped,” he said. “They got my brother and most of the others and sent them back to Greece.”

Greece, particularly on the tourist hotspot islands, has been overwhelmed by the influx because some 160,000 had arrived in the country so far this year.

Others have walked to Bulgaria from Turkey before making their way through Macedonia or Serbia before heading north to the EU.

Some 39,000 migrants, mostly Syrians, have been registered as passing through Macedonia in the past month – twice as many as the previous month.

The situation at the border with Greece is not helped by Macedonia’s tense relationship with Athens.

The dispute originates over the Macedonia’s name after it declared independence from the then Yugoslavia in 1991.

Senate Tasks Agricultural Agencies On Standardization Of Products

SenateThe Nigerian Senate has tasked food and agricultural agencies in the country to embark on the standardization of food crops that have failed to meet export standards.

The Senate Deputy Whip, Francis Alimikhena, at Thursday’s legislative proceedings drew the attention of the Senate to the ban on some of Nigeria’s agricultural products by the European Union (EU).

The products banned by the EU till June 2016 are beans, sesame seeds, dried fish, dried meat, peanut chips and palm oil.

According to the Deputy Chief Whip, the ban was because the products contains high level of pesticides which is harmful when consumed.

He said: “In 2013, 24 agro-products of Nigerian origin exported‎ to the UK were rejected, while the figure increased to 42 in 2014.”

Mr Alimmikhena added that the beans were found to contain between 0.03mg kilograms to 4.6mg /kg of dichlorvos (pesticides) contrary to acceptable limits.

The ban on the agricultural exports by the EU suggests that Nigeria’s unfavourable balance of trade position with European countries will worsen, as Nigeria would be exporting fewer agricultural products.

Lawmakers also blamed food and agricultural agencies in Nigeria for failing to properly standardize food crops.

The Senate has however directed the National Agency for Food and Drug Administeration and Control (NAFDAC), the Ministry of Health and the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) to be alive in its regulatory duties over food and agricultural products.

Greek Parliament Set To Vote Reforms To Secure Bailout Deal

bailout deal-greekThe Greek parliament is set to vote on a set of reforms needed to secure its bailout deal. The vote is expected to pass with the support of opposition parties.

But Greece’s public sector union is planning to protest against the measures.

The bill lawmakers would vote on Wednesday to cover rules for dealing with failed banks and speeding up the justice system.

If MPs approve the financial and judicial reforms, Greece would be able to press ahead with negotiations for an 86 billion Euro bailout from its creditors.

The Greek Health Minister, Panagiotis Kouroumplis, said “We are making an effort to have fewer dissenters”.

He said there were doubts about whether the new measures could pull the recession-hit economy out of its impasse.

“But since we agreed, we must implement them.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), confirmed on Monday that Greece had cleared its overdue debt repayments of 2.05 billion Euro and was no longer in arrears.

The repayments, and another for 4.2 billion Euro to the European Central Bank due on Monday, were made possible by a short-term EU loan of 7 billion Euro.

John Kerry Says Iran Deal ‘Possible This Week’

John KerryUS Secretary of State, John Kerry, has said that an agreement on a deal with Iran on its disputed nuclear programme could be sealed this week.

Iran is negotiating with the US and five other world powers in Vienna.

Mr Kerry also warned that the two sides are not where they need to be on several of the most difficult issues.

With negotiators facing a July 7 deadline, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, said a deal had never been closer.

He believes that if hard choices are made in the next couple of days and made quickly, then an agreement is possible this week.

He added that over the last few years, genuine progress has been made.

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, agreed that the atmosphere at the talks was constructive and positive.

“We are very close,” she said.

EU Leaders Agree To Relocate 40,000 Migrants

eu on migrantsEuropean Union (EU) leaders have agreed to relocate tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in Italy and Greece.

At a late-night meeting in Brussels, the summit Chairman, Donald Tusk, said 40,000 migrants will be relocated to other EU states over the next two years.

However, there will be no mandatory quotas for each country.

New figures from the United Nations (UN) refugee agency, UNHCR, show that 63,000 migrants have arrived in Greece by sea this year and 62,000 in Italy.

The summit Chairman had earlier called on EU member states to share the burden of the loads of illegal migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean.

Media reports says that leaders have agreed to resettle another 20,000 refugees who are currently outside the EU.

It is also reported that French President, Francois Hollande, said he expected most of the refugees to be Syrians and Iraqis.

Meanwhile, details of where the refugees will go is yet to be decided.

Greece Debt Crisis: EU Leaders Gather For Critical Summit

greeceEuropean leaders are gathering for an emergency summit in Brussels that could break the deadlock around the debt crisis facing Greece.

On Sunday, the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, set out new proposals to try and prevent a default on a €1.6bn (£1.1bn) International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan.

The proposals, according to an European official, held plenty of promise.

Greece risks crashing out of the single currency and possibly the European Union (EU) if it fails to repay the loan by the end of June

Talks have been in deadlock for five months. The European Commission, the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB) are not willing to unlock the final €7.2bn tranche of bailout funds until Greece agrees to economic reforms.

The three creditors must agree to the deal offered by Greece, to ensure Monday’s talks have a clear focus.

Further findings revealed that if deposit withdrawals continue at the current pace, Greek banks will soon exhaust eligible assets they can pledge to the Bank of Greece for cash under the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) scheme.

Before then, the ECB could turn off the ELA drip feed because it is forbidden to allow the Bank of Greece to lend to insolvent banks.

EU To Back Smuggler’s Boat Destruction In Mediterranean

euThe European Union (EU) Foreign and Defence Ministers are expected to approve a mission to destroy the boats used by people-smugglers operating in Libya.

At a meeting in Brussels, the Ministers will also discuss the mission’s command-and-control structure and headquarters.

This is part of the EU’s response to the vast number of illegal migrants from Africa and the Middle East crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe.

Report suggests that more than 1,800 migrants have died in the Mediterranean in 2015. This is a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.

On arrival for the meeting, EU Foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini, said: “Today the main point will be taking the decision to establish the operation, the EU operation at sea to dismantle the criminal networks that are smuggling people in the Mediterranean”.

“We are looking for partnership with the Libyan authorities, with all the relevant Libyan authorities,” she said.

 

‘Dozens Die’ As Migrant Boat Sinks In Mediterranean

MediterraneanDespite EU efforts to prevent another tragedy in the Mediterranean, aid group, ‘Save The Children’ says dozens of migrants have drowned after a boat sank south of Sicily.

The group says survivors reported that many people fell into the sea as a rescue vessel was approaching.

The survivors have today arrived in the city of Catania.

At least 1,750 people have died this year trying to cross the Mediterranean, a 20-fold increase on the same period in 2014.

Save The Children’s representative in Catania, Giovanna Di Benedetto, said that the latest sinking is thought to have happened on Sunday, but the exact toll is not known.

North-east Insurgency: Kano Enrols Affected Children In Special Schools

special education programmeAbout 100 children from Borno State, whose parents were either killed or displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in the north-east have been enrolled into the Kano State Special Education Programme.

Under the programme, Kano State will take care of their education from primary to tertiary level.

During a special guidance and counselling held for the children at the state government house, Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso urged wealthy individuals in the state to help cater for the needs of the kids.

For over eight years, the Boko Haram terrorists have killed thousands of people in the north-east region of Africa’s most populous nation and some other states in northern Nigeria. The attacks have left thousands of children displaced and their parents are no where to be found.

Authorities do not even know their names, hence, one of them was named after the Kano State governor, Musa Kwankwanso.

According to governor Kwankwanso, the children are the responsibility of any responsible democratic government.

It is expected that the Kano government under the Special Education Programme, will feed, cloth and shelter the kids. It will also cater for their health care needs.

However, if the parents or kinsmen of the children are found and fit to take full responsibility of their children, they would be allowed to leave. But the governor stressed that the decision would be that of the child to make.

Meanwhile, Governor Kwankwanso said the government would soon resume the search for other children whose parents were either killed or displaced, to add to the school which was not named for security reasons.

The EU had earlier on Friday announced a grant of $325 million, to support children who have been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State.

Borno Insurgency: EU Grants $325mln To Support Affected Children

Internally_displaced_persons_2The European Union (EU) has announced a grant of $325 million, to support children who have been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in Borno State.

Announcing the grant at a meeting in Abuja on Friday, the Head of the European Delegation in Nigeria, Mr Michel Arrion, said the one year support would provide psychological first aid services to 45,000 children in the state.

Mr Arrion observed that the psychological needs of the children was a vital component of the EU humanitarian support.

Several children in the nation’s north-east have been affected by the over five years’ insurgency that has claimed over 13,000 lives. While some have lost their parents to bomb blasts and attacks by members of the Boko Haram terrorist group others have been deprived access to education, after their schools were razed by the dissident group.

The Nigerian government had established a Safe School Initiative to provide a safe studying environment for children with adequate protection from terrorists’ attacks.

The EU’s grant would further deepen the government’s efforts to cater for children in the region that that has witnessed less cases of terror attacks in the last two months.

Counter-terrorism efforts have increased against the Boko Haram sect after the oil-rich nation postponed its general elections on February 7. Nigerian troops, aided by troops from Chad, Niger and Cameroon, have reclaimed Yobe and Adamawa States from the terrorists and are making efforts to chase the dissidents out of their strong hold, Borno State.

Mediterranean Migrants Crisis: EU Pledge Triple Fund For Rescue

EU-on-Mediterranean MigrantsEuropean Union (EU) leaders have pledged to triple fund for search and rescue operations aimed at migrant boats in the Mediterranean sea, following the crisis that claimed more than 750 lives.

The member states at the emergency summit convened in Brussels on Thursday, agreed to triple funding to $9.7 million a month for the EU’s border operation that patrols the Mediterranean Sea.

Leaders from the 28 nation bloc also said that they were discussing laying the ground for military action against traffickers.

Germany and France pledged two ships while Britain committed three to move into the Mediterranean, and other member states also lined up more vessels and helicopters that could be used to rescue migrants.

French President, Francois Hollande, said that he would seek a United Nations (UN) resolution to support the destruction of traffickers’ boats.

The summit came after more than 750 people died on a boat crossing from Libya on Sunday.

Earlier, funerals for 24 of the victims were held in Malta.

The number of people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa has risen sharply in recent months.

More than 35,000 are thought to have crossed from Africa to Europe this year and some 1,750 have died while attempting the journey. The estimated toll from Sunday’s capsizing was the worst on record.

Migrants Boat Capsize: Captain Charged

The captain of the migrants boat that capsized has been arrested and chargedThe Tunisian captain of a boat that capsized off Libya on Sunday, killing hundreds of migrants, has been arrested and charged with reckless multiple homicide, Italian officials say.

According to BBC, the Captain has been charged alongside a member of the crew with favouring illegal immigration.

The charges came after the European Union (EU) set out a package of measures to ease the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean.

Search and rescue operations will be stepped up, and there will be a campaign to destroy traffickers’ boats.

A homicide investigation has been opened into the disaster, he added.

After speaking to the survivors, the United Nations (UN) refugee agency said about 800 people died in the disaster. Meanwhile, earlier accounts had put the death toll at about 700.

“There were a little over 800 people on board, including children aged between 10 and 12,” said Carlotta Sami, of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Italy.

“There were Syrians, about 150 Eritreans, Somalians… They had left Tripoli at about 8:00am on Saturday.”

It was earlier reported that the ship was in distress in the Mediterranean and sent out an SOS.