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UN Security Council endorses roadmap for Syria peace process

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The UN Security Council on Friday adopted a resolution endorsing an international roadmap for a Syrian-led political transition in order to end the country’s conflict, which calls for Syria peace talks to begin in early January.

The unanimously-adopted resolution also calls for a nationwide ceasefire in Syria to come into effect “as soon as the representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition have begun initial steps towards a political transition under UN auspices”, Xinhua reported.

The 15-nation council expressed its support for statements agreed during previous talks in Geneva, Switzerland, and Vienna, Austria, while stressing that “the Syrian people will decide the future of Syria”.

“The only sustainable solution to the current crisis in Syria is through an inclusive and Syrian-led political process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people,” it said.

Friday’s Security Council meeting was chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry, as the US holds the council’s rotating presidency for the month of December.

Kerry said after the vote that the resolution has sent a clear message that “the time is now to stop the killing in Syria”.

The resolution has requested UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to convene representatives of the Syrian government and the opposition for peace talks “on an urgent basis,” and also to determine the requirements and modalities of a ceasefire, which are also stated in Geneva and Vienna documents.

At the meeting, UN Secretary General Ban pledged that “the United Nations stands ready to undertake these important tasks”. He noted that “the Syrian conflict began with peaceful popular demands for political change, but it soon became defined by internal, regional and international divisions — including in this very Council.”

The conflict in Syria erupted in March 2011. The nearly-five-year war has claimed more than a quarter million lives.

Ban urged the Syrian parties to immediately stop the use of indiscriminate weapons against civilians and to halt attacks on medical and educational facilities.

He also asked the Syrian parties to allow unconditional and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid convoys to help tens of thousands of people in need.

According to UN humanitarian agency, some 6.5 million Syrians are internally displaced. About 4.5 million people continue to live in areas that are hard to reach for the humanitarian community, while almost 400,000 of those are besieged.

Disaster

Israel reports 16,757 COVID-19 cases, 281 deaths

Earlier in the day, the Israeli transport ministry announced the full resumption of the state’s railway system on June 8.

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israel coronavirus

Jerusalem, May 26 : The Israeli health ministry has reported 17 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total number in the country to 16,757.

After four consecutive days without death cases, the ministry on Monday reported two new fatalities, bringing the death toll from the COVID-19 to 281, Xinhua reported.

The number of patients in serious condition decreased from 44 to 41, out of 115 patients currently hospitalized, the lowest number of hospitalized patients since March 12.

The number of recoveries increased by 154 to 14,457, while the active cases decreased to 2,019.

Earlier in the day, the Israeli transport ministry announced the full resumption of the state’s railway system on June 8.

China and Israel have cooperated on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. On February 11, the Tel Aviv Municipality Hall, a landmark in the Israeli city, was illuminated with the colours of China’s national flag, showing solidarity with China in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

On March 19 and April 1, two video conferences were held between Chinese doctors and Israeli counterparts to share experience in containing the virus’ spread and treatment of the infected patients.

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Politics

UK PM’s approval rating drops by 20 pts after aide scandal

At a press conference on Monday, Johnson admitted he regrets the “confusion and pain” the scandal has caused the British public.

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Boris Johnson

London, May 26 : UK Prime Minister Boris Johnsons approval rating has dropped 20 points to -1 per cent after he refused to sack his chief aide, Dominic Cummings for allegedly breaking coronavirus lockdown rules, it was reported on Tuesday.

According to Savanta, a coronavirus data tracker which looks at how the UK population is responding to the pandemic, the Prime Minister’s rating was previously +19 per cent just four days ago, the Metro newspaper reported.

It stated that the overall government approval rate is now at -2 per cent, having dropped 16 points in a day.

Johnson’s approval rating is now also the lowest of all the individuals examined, with Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s the second lowest at 4 per cent.

Cummings’ rating has not been tracked.

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s approval rating also lifted to 12 per cent on Monday, while Chancellor Rishi Sunak dropped from 35 per cent four days ago to 20 per cent.

Cummings has been accused of breaking lockdown rules he helped make after it emerged he travelled from London to his parents home in Durham when his wife fell ill with suspected coronavirus in March, reports the Metro newspaper.

The Prime Minister’s chief adviser has refused to step down over the allegations, admitting he never considered resigning and he doesn’t regret his actions.

At a press conference on Monday, Johnson admitted he regrets the “confusion and pain” the scandal has caused the British public.

But he said that he believed Cummings acted “legally” and “with integrity”.

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Blog

445 people died from Australia bushfires smoke: Experts

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

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Arogya Setu App

Canberra, May 26 : Smoke from Australia’s devastating 2019-20 bushfires killed at least 445 people, health experts revealed on Tuesday.

Fay Johnston, a public health expert from the Menzies Institute for Medical Research at the University of Tasmania, told the bushfire royal commission on Tuesday that her team estimated that 445 people died as a result of the smoke that blanketed much of the nation’s east coast, reports Xinhua news agency.

It takes the total death toll from the 2019-2020 bushfire season, which has been dubbed the “Black Summer”, to nearly 480 after 34 people lost their lives directly.

According to modelling produced by Johnston and her colleagues, 80 per cent of Australians were affected by the smoke at some point, including 3,340 people who were hospitalized with heart and lung problems.

“We were able to work out a yearly cost of bushfire smoke for each summer season and… our estimates for the last season were A$2 billion in health costs,” Johnston said.

“There’s fluctuation year to year, of course, but that was a major departure from anything we had seen in the previous 20 years.”

Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra all had periods where they had the worst air quality in the world as a result of the smoke.

Commissioners also heard on Tuesday that the increasing frequency of significant bushfire events in Australia meant that survivors no longer feel safe during the recovery phase.

“Disasters are no longer perceived as rare events, they are often seen as climate change, and they’re part of our new reality,” Lisa Gibbs, a child welfare expert from the University of Melbourne, said.

“We don’t know how that is going to affect recovery because the seeds of hope are a really important part of people’s ability to deal with what has happened and to get back on track.”

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