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UN chief stresses local communities in decolonisation process

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations, Feb 22 : UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stressed that the decolonisation process should be guided by the needs of the local communities and the world has the responsibility to amplify their voices.

Guterres made the remarks at the first meeting of the 2020 session of the Special Committee on Decolonisation, a subsidiary organ of the UN General Assembly.

The UN chief said currently, 17 territories are on the list of non-self-governing territories, and the world must not forget that the people in those territories are still waiting for the promise of self-government to be fulfilled, Xinhua news agency reported.

He said the decolonization agenda is moving ahead, albeit at a slow pace, and noted that in September, New Caledonia will hold its second referendum on independence, following a first referendum in 2018.

“Decolonisation is a process that has to be guided by the aspirations and needs of the communities living in the territories,” he said, adding their concerns are varied and “it is our collective responsibility to amplify their voices.”

In particular, he said the vast majority of the territories are small islands on the frontlines of climate change and many have faced devastating natural disasters, while others are struggling to build sustainable and self-sufficient economies.

Addressing the members of the committee, Guterres said, “We must continue to serve as a forum for meaningful dialogue between territories and administering powers to enable the peoples of the territories to make informed decisions about their future.”

He pledged to work with the committee as it makes another push to eradicate colonialism “once and for all.”

At the organisational meeting of the committee, Keisha McGuire, permanent representative of Grenada to the UN, was re-elected as its chair for the 2020 session.

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UK lockdown could be extended into May: Report

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UK lOCKDWON-

London, April 9 (IANS) Ministers were said to be preparing to extend the UK lockdown into May, with advisers insisting the coronavirus peak could still be 10 days away, a media report said on Thursday.

In Wednesday’s Downing Street briefing, Indian-origin Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to give any hints on if the restrictions would be eased, adding there would be a Cobra meeting to review the situation on Thursday, chaired by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is currently deputising for the coronavirus-stricken Prime Minister Boris Johnson, said the Metro newspaper report.

Johnson was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital on Sunday, on the advice of his doctor, after continuing to have a cough and high temperature 10 days after testing positive for the virus.

The Prime Minister was given oxygen before being taken to intensive care on Monday. He was currently “responding to treatment” and remained clinically stable.

The government has reportedly been told that the country’s deadliest day could be April 18, meaning that Britons will be told to stay inside until at least next month, according to the newspaper.

The news comes after the UK death toll jumped by 938 people in just one day, taking the total number of fatalities to 7.097, while the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased to 61,474.

In the press briefing on Wednesday, Sunak claimed that the government was currently focusing on the “here, the now and the present” rather than when the restrictions will end.

When pressed on the issue by journalists, he responded: “What really matters is that people stay at home.”

Also On Wednesday, the Downing Street said a review of lockdown rules would go ahead next week, but the public must “stick with” the measures at what was a “critical time”, the BBC reported.

A ban on public gatherings of more than two people and the closure of shops selling non-essential goods were among the series of restrictions announced by Johnson on March 23 to tackle the spread of coronavirus.

Downing Street said a relaxation of the rules would be considered “on or around” the three-week mark on April 13.

Speaking to the BBC, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “I think we’re nowhere near lifting the lockdown.

“We think the peak – which is the worst part of the virus – is still probably a week and a half away.”


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Islamic State launches rocket attack on Bagram air base in Kabul

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Katyusha rockets
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New Delhi/Kabul, April 9 (IANS) The Islamic State Khorasan Province launched yet another rocket attack on Bagram air base on Thursday, making it their third such assault this year in Afghanistan.

The ISKP claimed the responsibility for the early morning rocket attack on the base in Parwan, Afghanistan.

Sources said though four to five BM1 rockets were fired at the airfield using a vehicle parked in the village of Dasht-e-Ufian, no casualties were reported. The vehicle was blown up, either by the Islamic State or the Afghan forces in retaliation.

A rocket attack on the Bagram air base last month was the first on NATO forces since the signing of the US-Taliban peace deal.

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Over 800 people stranded in virus-hit Wuhan return to Beijing

More than 61,000 people who work or live in Beijing have returned from Hubei Province since March 25.

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Beijing, April 9 : The first batch of 866 people stranded in virus-hit Wuhan, capital of central China’s Hubei Province, has arrived in Beijing by a train after Wuhan lifted its outbound travel restrictions on the same day.

Beijing residents who were stranded in Wuhan are required to apply for a return through a mini-program on instant messaging app WeChat. Statistics showed that more than 11,000 people asked for a return to the national capital, said Chen Bei, deputy secretary-general of the Beijing municipal government, at a press conference on Wednesday, reported Xinhua news agency.

Starting Wednesday, around 1,000 stranded people are expected to return to Beijing from Wuhan each day via train or car. They should undergo nucleic acid testing (NAT) in Wuhan within seven days before departure, Chen said.

The transport of the people will be carried out in a well-organized and spot-to-spot way, and all returned personnel will be brought under closed-loop management, with a two-week mandatory quarantine, either at home or at a designated venue. Another round of NAT is required after the quarantine, Chen noted.

More than 61,000 people who work or live in Beijing have returned from Hubei Province since March 25.

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