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Morocco positions Western Sahara town as pivot to Africa

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Dakhla
Photo Source, Google

Dakhla (Morocco)

This quiet town, situated at the tip of a narrow peninsula abutting the Atlantic Ocean and part of the Western Sahara, is buzzing with sudden activity with over 1,000 delegates from across the world descending on it for a forum to deliberate on development in Africa and South-South cooperation.

With the blue expanse of the Atlantic as a perfect backdrop, Dakhla, known as a destination for kitsurfing and windsurfing, is witnessing a gathering of ministers and senior government officials from several African countries and from Small Island Developing States (SIDS), besides delegates from Asian and other regions for the five-day Crans Montana Forum (CMF).

The March 16-21 event is being held for the third time in a row in Dakhla, which has a population of just over 100,000 spread out on the flat expanse of the Western Sahara in the Maghreb region of northern Africa.

Hosted by Moroccan King Mohammed VI, the theme of the event is “Towards a New Africa for the 21st Century – Stability, Cohesion and Solidarity for a Sustainable Development”.

With Morocco joining the African Union in January this year and the kingdom eager to play a leadership role in the continent, the forum has the underlying theme of “The Structuring Role of Morocco in Africa”.

The formal inauguration on Friday of the event, held in a large convention hall, saw a message by the King read out by the President of the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region, Ynja Khattat.

Referring to his country’s return to the African Union, more than three decades after it quit over the issue of Western Sahara, whose separatist movement was once supported by many African countries, including Algeria, the King said Morocco will be at the forefront of contributing to serving Africa’s interests and “consolidating its peoples’ unity and cohesion”.

But, he added: “Morocco will not, however, give up defending its lofty interests, particularly its national unity and territorial integrity.”

He said “The Moroccan Sahara region, and Dakhla in particular”, play a special role and “as a historic platform connecting Morocco to Africa” and of his country’s push to turn it into a hub to promote communication with other African states.

US civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, addressing the inauguration, was critical of the “tendency towards isolationism” in the world and referred to the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa — forum as an example of cooperation between countries.

The Forum, over the next few days, will discuss food security and sustainable agriculture, public health, renewable energies, migration to Europe, and women’s participation in the economic and political spheres.

The Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region is one of the 12 regions of Morocco and Dakhla is considered by Morocco to be the “pearl” of the southern provinces.

With Morocco’s re-admission, the African Union now comprises all 55 countries of the continent.

Morocco has launched a number of infrastructure projects in the Western Sahara — whose sovereignty is disputed by neighbour Algeria which supports the region’s independence or autonomy — part of an $8 billion development plan designed to “make the Moroccan Sahara a hub for communication and exchange with sub-Saharan African countries”. The projects include new ports, fish markets, desalinisation and fertiliser plants, and road infrastructure improvements.

By Ranjana Narayan 

(IANS)

(Ranjana Narayan is in Dakhla on the invitation of the Crans Montana Forum on Africa and South-South Cooperation. She can be reached at [email protected])

Lifestyle

How active holidays can develop children’s all-round skills

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children school study education

Children used to spend their childhood in the playground – while playing with their friends, enjoying the rides or climbing trees. Thanks to the emergence of the television and video games and the digital media, along with increased school pressure, children today don’t engage themselves in too much outdoor play. However, it is important to realize that active vacations are essential for a child’s overall development, which includes studies. Let us see how –

Akash Korgaonkar, Founder of Ruggedian Lifestyle lists out many factors, such as  Increases their physical health.

Usually, children remain with their books and their muscles remain underdeveloped. Enrolling them in competitive sports will develop their endurance and flexibility, cause movement of large muscle groups, cause them to sweat and develop a healthy heart and lungs. Apart from this, a physical activity regulates blood pressure, strengthens the lungs, reduces blood sugar, reduces obesity, strengthens bones and improves energy levels in children,Korgaonkar said.

Try out – martial arts, skateboarding, roller-skating, dancing, swimming, jogging, skipping, basketball, etc.

Korgaonkar said , ” Develops social interaction with friends :Most urban parents now want their children to concentrate on their studies and extracurricular activities, forgetting that outside play is necessary as well. This way, the child will concentrate only on indoor activities which can make them unsocial and weaken their immune system. Encourage your children to engage in team-based or individual-based sports to increase motivation, commitment and discipline and team spirit.”

Try out – football, basketball, volleyball, kabaddi, kho-kho, tennis, badminton, playing tag, etc.

Korgaonkar said , ” Maintains a healthy body and strengthens their immune system-Today, it is difficult to get children off the screens and send them out to play. On the other hand, we must realise that physical activities maintain a healthy body weight due to the constant exercise and increase appetite in children. As a result, they do not spend their free time watching television and eat junk food but follow a balanced diet. Sports improve blood circulation, releases tension and improve their immune system.”

“Improves their self-esteem and encourages body positivity:Intense sports activities have been proved to deal with issues like depression, obesity reduces insulin resistance and helps in anger management. Children start to feel a sense of personal achievement, autonomy and independence in them which gives way to confidence and self-esteem. It has been reported that children who were engaged in sports were well-adjusted in society, were healthier in general and were much happier in lives. When winning a sports competition, our brain releases beta-endorphins which give us the general feeling of being happy,” he said.

· Makes lifelong memories

Holidays are perfect for parent and child to catch up and make great memories. If you’re the active parent and want your children to follow, sign up for physical activity courses together while on vacation. Your children will definitely learn something new by the end.

Try out – canoeing, hiking, trekking, rock climbing, diving, extreme sports

· Develops sportsmanship

First things first, playing sports comes with defeat and winning – you cannot win every time. Sports teach your child sportsmanship, a respect for rules and the ability to accept defeat at times – and bounce right back into action.

· Promotes team spirit and acceptance

Your child needs to learn team spirit to build a harmonious environment with his friends and co-workers in later life. They learn to accept everyone with their own strengths and weaknesses and plan the best way to reach their goal and win the game. Working together is an important quality that they will need in life.

· Encourages them to try out new things

With children, all they need is some confidence in them. Active vacations help them de-stress and explore new places with curiosity. They bring out warm, loving feelings in children to help them bond with their parents over a happy memory. Trust me, you’ll find their love worth everything in the end.

Try out – adventure camps, wildlife safari, rope challenges, cave exploration trips

· Pushes them to challenge themselves

All of us are afraid of something – the heights, the water, insects, the darkness… adventure holidays are great to kick them out. Sign up for a physical activity about something that they fear the most and inspire them to break their fear. Though it takes time and patience, your child will come out as a much braver and confident person.

Try out – rock-climbing, snorkelling, races

It is wise to choose an active holiday plan that both of you will enjoy and treasure for a lifetime. Pack your bags, book a holiday and set out with a water bottle – making some amazing memories along the way.

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Cities

Train services partially resume in Amritsar; protesters booked

The people were watching the proceedings from the railway tracks when the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU (diesel multiple unit) train crushed them.

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Joda Phatak

Amritsar, Oct 21 : Amid tension and tight security, train services were partially restored on the Amritsar-Jalandhar railway section as the Punjab Police booked unidentified protesters on Sunday who clashed with the police at the spot where 59 people were crushed by a speeding train on Friday.

A near-empty passenger train was plied on the railway section amid tight security measures on Sunday evening.

Railway services on the track on this section had been suspended following the train disaster.

Punjab Police personnel stood guard on both sides of the railway tracks near Joda Phatak (railway gate) area of Amritsar to prevent any protesters from getting near the tracks.

Earlier in the day, railway authorities plied a cargo train on the same section. The cargo train also had empty bogies.

The police booked unidentified protesters who clashed with them on Sunday morning as the police began clearing the railway tracks in the area. The protesters were booked for rioting and attempt to murder.

The protesters indulged in stone-pelting, leaving at least half-a-dozen policemen injured. The police resorted to cane-charge and even arrested one person.

Protests staged by residents against the Punjab government and the railways turned violent on Sunday. Police had to rush reinforcements to the area.

The injured policemen, including a Punjab Police commandos, were rushed to a government hospital. Residents of the area threw stones at the police when the latter tried to remove them from the railway tracks where the tragedy occurred.

The protesters were demanding action against organisers of the Dusshera function near Joda Phatak for which hundreds of people had gathered to see the burning of the Ravan effigy.

The people were watching the proceedings from the railway tracks when the Jalandhar-Amritsar DMU (diesel multiple unit) train crushed them.

Family members of the train tragedy victims said Punjab cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu and his wife Navjot Kaur, who was the chief guest at the Dusshera function on Friday, had not even bothered to meet them despite their loss.

The Punjab government headed by Amarinder Singh on Saturday ordered a magisterial probe into the train tragedy. The probe will cover if mandatory permissions for holding the function were given.

The railways said it was not responsible for the incident.

Opposition Shiromani Akali Dal demanded that a case of murder be registered against the organisers, who were mostly ruling Congress leaders.

IANS

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Cities

Hyderabad Airport terminal to open on Oct 23

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Hyderabad Airport terminal

Hyderabad, Oct 21 : The Interim International Departure Terminal at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport here will be made operational on October 23.

According to GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited (GHIAL), the airport operator, all international departure flights will operate from this terminal with effect from 10:30 a.m. on October 23.

It has advised the passengers to check with their respective airlines before leaving for the airport. Passengers who are booked on Air India International flights AI 127, AI 952, AI 978, AI 988, AI 966 & AI 051 and travelling to domestic destinations are also advised to report at the Interim International Terminal (IIDT) as per their scheduled departure times, GHIAL said in a statement.

IIDT, which has been built to facilitate airport’s expansion, is located adjacent to the Haj Terminal and can be accessed from both Shamshabad and Srisailam sides of the airport’s main approach road via Rotary 1 (Cargo rotary).

A dedicated free shuttle service has been arranged between the existing terminal and IIDT for the convenience of passengers. This shuttle service will be available at the Arrivals Ramp and will operate at regular intervals.

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