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General elections called in Bermuda
Source:  Caribbean News Now! Daily Headlines
zondag 23 augustus 2020 10:08

The people of Bermuda will go to the polls on October 1st after the Premier called the general elections las Friday, almost two years ahead of the 2022 constitutional deadline.

Incumbent Premier and Progressive Labour Party (PLP) leader David Burt said he chose the option that saves Bermudian taxpayers money.

“In accordance with the Bermuda Constitution, the Governor has accepted my advice to hold a General Election on October 1st. The prospect of a series of bye-elections does not represent the best use of the public purse at this time but a General Election by which the people of Bermuda will safely cast their votes will allow us as a community to devote our efforts to the rebuilding of our economy and the creation of greater opportunity for Bermudians who have shown strength and commitment to each other during this challenging period.�


The last General Election was held in July 2017, with the PLP winning 24 of the 36 seats in the House of Assembly.

New constituency boundaries will be in effect and any voter who has a change of address needs to register at the Parliamentary Registry website

Deadline voter’s registration is on August 29th while September 10th is Nomination day.

Reactions to the upcoming polls

Political figures have mixed and opposing reactions to Burt’s announcement.

Craig Cannonier, the leader of the One Bermuda Alliance (OBA), claimed that a General Election could cost more than $1 million amid the global pandemic.

“We are wasting $1 Million just as the Premier has asked hard-working civil servants to take a pay cut and is threatening to make enforced cuts on workers who served this country on the COVID-19 front line. This [election] is not necessary now. With more than two years left before an election has to be called and a 25-11 majority – do the job you are meant to do, fix the economy.”

Cannonier added that Burt is acting out of his self-interest.

Meanwhile, Sir John Swan, a former premier in the old United Bermuda Party and the longest-serving, said that he thinks the Premier has made the right decision.

“Let’s get the election out of the way. Then we can focus on getting the country in a better economic condition. If David Burt can succeed at that as he has done with COVID-19, everyone will love him.

Swan added that if he too would have called elections if in the position.

Charles Jeffers, a political pundit and former leader of the National Liberal Party, predicts that PLP will again reign the elections.

The post General elections called in Bermuda appeared first on Caribbean News Now!.

WHO stresses the need for quick action amid reports of fresh COVID-19 outbreaks
Source:  Caribbean News Now! Daily Headlines
zaterdag 22 augustus 2020 09:00

With several countries experiencing fresh COVID-19 outbreaks after periods of little or no transmission, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday highlighted the need for authorities to be able to move quickly to prevent further spread of the disease. 

These nations provide a cautionary tale because they show how “progress does not mean victoryâ€�, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his latest update on the crisis. 

“That’s why it’s vital that countries are able to quickly identify and prevent clusters, to prevent community transmission and the possibility of new restrictions,â€� he told journalists. 

Cases top 22 million 

Globally, there are now more than 22 million cases of COVID-19, and 780,000 deaths. Meanwhile, the number of people requiring hospitalization remains high, the WHO chief reported. 

“No country can just ride this out until we have a vaccine,â€� he warned. 

“A vaccine will be a vital tool, and we hope that we will have one as soon as possible. But there’s no guarantee that we will, and even if we do have a vaccine, it won’t end the pandemic on its own.â€� 

Mr. Tedros underlined WHO’s commitment to countries as they work towards the safe re-opening of their economies, societies, schools and businesses. 

A tale of two pandemics   

The WHO chief also expressed hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will be defeated in under two years, or less time than it took to end the Spanish Flu pandemic, through global solidarity and the use of vaccines. 

Mr. Tedros was responding to a journalist’s question about similarities between the two crises. 

The 1918 influenza pandemic lasted from February 1918 to April 2020. 

Mr. Tedros pointed out that while the “disadvantageâ€� of globalization means the new coronavirus can spread faster, people today have the “advantageâ€� of technology and knowledge.  

“So, we hope to finish this pandemic before less than two years, especially if we can pool our efforts together, and with national unity, global solidarity – that’s really key – with utilizing the available tools to the maximum and hoping that we can have additional tools like vaccines, I think we can finish it in a shorter time than the 1918 flu,â€� he said. 

PPE-related corruption is ‘murder’ 

Corruption that deprives frontline health workers of personal protective equipment (PPE) is “murderâ€�, Dr. Tedros unequivocally stated on Friday. 

He was responding to a journalist’s question about health professionals in some nations going on strike because they lack appropriate PPE, amid reports of government corruption related to COVID-19 funds. 

“Any level of corruption is unacceptable, or any type of corruption is unacceptable. However, corruption related to PPE, lifesaving, for me it’s actually murder,â€� he said.   

“Because if health workers work without PPE, we are risking their lives. And that also risks the lives of the people they serve. So, it’s criminal, and it’s a murder, and it has to stop if it is happening anywhere.â€� 

Speaking earlier in the briefing, WHO’s Dr. Michael Ryan highlighted how the pandemic has shown both the best and worst of humanity. 

“Certainly, corruption is something that is not new to this world. And at this point, it’s really, really, important that governments govern and that we see very clear, transparent action by governments,â€� he said. 

While authorities must ensure that health workers are properly equipped and receive their salaries, protests should not occur at the expense of the health and wellbeing of patients, said Dr. Ryan, Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme.

Upcoming guidance on masks for children 

WHO and the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, are set to issue guidance on the use of masks by children. 

The UN agencies will provide advice for public health officials, child health professionals, educators and others about making the decision on where and when masks should be worn. 

Dr. Maria van Kerkhove, an epidemiologist and WHO lead on COVID-19, said research continues into how the disease affects children as understanding about virus transmission among this population is limited. 

Although children of all ages can be infected, the majority tend to develop mild disease. However, children have developed severe disease, and some have died. 

DRC Ebola outbreak ‘concerning’ 

WHO is urging support for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where the Government is seeking $40 million to fight an Ebola outbreak which emerged in Equateur province in early June. 

Ebola has spread to 11 of the 17 health zones of the province, located in the west of the country.  As of Thursday, there were 100 cases and 43 deaths. 

“With 100 Ebola cases in less than 100 days, the outbreak in Equateur Province is evolving in a concerning way,â€� said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.  

“The virus is spreading across a wide and rugged terrain which requires costly interventions and with COVID-19 draining resources and attention, it is hard to scale-up operations.â€� 

WHO said a strike by health workers has further complicated the situation, as it has affected vaccinations, safe burials and other activities. 

The UN agency and its partners continue to support the DRC Government, including by helping to screen more than 640,000 people for the disease. 

The post WHO stresses the need for quick action amid reports of fresh COVID-19 outbreaks appeared first on Caribbean News Now!.

Tropical Depression 13 is now Tropical Storm Laura
Source:  Caribbean News Now! Daily Headlines
vrijdag 21 augustus 2020 11:50

Caribbean braces for another possible tropical storm with TD 14

In the latest advisory of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), tropical depression 13 has strengthened and is now officially Tropical Storm Laura. 

With maximum sustained winds of around 45 mph (75 km/h), Laura was centered about 305 miles (490 kilometers) east of the northern Leeward Islands on Friday morning.

Earlier, a tropical storm watch was initially in effect on a number of Cariibbean islands, including the countries of Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Anguilla.

A tropical storm watch is placed when ideal conditions of a tropical storm are possible within an area, generally within 48 hours.

Today, these nations are under tropical storm warning, which means the tropical storm could now be felt in their areas anytime, within 12 to 24 hours.

Along with the aforementioned Caribbean islands, Puerto Rico, Vieques and Culebra, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, and St. Martin and St. Barthelemy have all been given the same warning.

The NHC has also advised the governments of Dominican Republic, Haiti, the Bahamas, and Cuba to monitor the progress of Laura.

Forecasters said tropical Storm Laura poses a potential hurricane threat to Florida and the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Tropical Depression 14 looms

Farther west of the Caribbean, tropical Depression 14 is expected to become a tropical storm, according to the latest forecast of the NHC.

It is expected to pass by the Atlantic coast of Honduras, and then make its way north to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula possibly at hurricane

Tropical Depression 14 was centered about 30 miles (45 kilometers) north-northeast of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Honduras-Nicaragua border, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph (55 kph). It was headed west-northwest at 12 mph (19 kph).

Meanwhile, weakening to a tropical storm early this week, Genevieve, which had been a powerful Category 4 hurricane with winds of 130 mph (215 kph), moved northwestward in the Pacific off Mexico’s Los Cabos tourist zone.

The hurricane center said the storm is expected to become a tropical depression by Friday evening, according to a report by the Associated Press.

Genevieve took out a large part of Los Cabos’ power and phone service, flooding streets in low-income neighborhoods and knocked down palms in their tourist zone.

The post Tropical Depression 13 is now Tropical Storm Laura appeared first on Caribbean News Now!.

Rowley sworn into second term as Prime Minister
Source:  Caribbean News Now! Daily Headlines
donderdag 20 augustus 2020 16:31

Keith Rowley sworn into office for his second consecutive term as Prime Minister, leading the 22-member Cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago.

Rowley, who led the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM) to victory in the August 10 general elections over the main opposition United National Congress (UNC), unveiled a cabinet consisting of young and experienced politicians.

In his speech, he asked the new Cabinet members that it is best count their term in office in months, rather than years, to avoid “falling asleep”.

“Rest assured that nobody in this government will be allowed to fall asleep because performance will be reviewed on an ongoing basis (and) as Prime Minister I assume full responsibility and I want to thank the national community for giving me another opportunity to continue in public service.”

The swearing-in ceremony was given a green light after the United National Congress (UNC) has conceded defeat. Official results show that PNM won 22 out of the 41 electoral seats while the UNC won 19 seats.

“After some days of reflection and monitoring of the progress of the election recount process, I am satisfied that the people have spoken and that Dr. Rowley and his party shall form the new government of Trinidad and Tobago,� UNC political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said in a video address.

The new Cabinet Ministers led by Rowley:

Faris Al-Rawi – Attorney General

Clarence Rambharat – Minister of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries

Dr. Nyan Gadsby-Dolly – Minister of Education

Franklin Khan – Minister of Energy and Energy Industries

Colm Imbert – Minister of Finance

Dr. Amery Browne – Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs

Terrence Deyalsingh – Minister of Health

Penelope Beckles – Minister of Housing and Urban Development

Steve Mc Clashie – Minister of Labour

Kazim Imtiaz Hosein – Minister of Local Government and Rural Development

Stuart Richard Young – Minister of National Security

Camille Robinson-Regis – Minister of Planning and Development

Ms. Allyson West – Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation

Marvin  Gonzales – Minister of Public Utilities

Donna Cox – Minister of Social Development and Family Services

Shamfa Cudjoe – Minister of Sport and Community Development

Randall Mitchell – Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts

Paula Gopee-Scoon – Minister of Trade and Industry and Enterprise Development

Rohan Sinanan – Minister of Works and Transport

Fitzgerald Ethelbert Hinds – Minister of Youth Development and National Service

Avinash Singh – Minister in the Ministry of Agriculture, Land and Fisheries

Lisa Morris-Julian – Minister in the Ministry of Education

Brian Manning – Minister in the Ministry of Finance

Adrian Leonce – Minister in the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development

Renuka Sagramsingh-Sooklal – Minister in the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs

Ayanna Webster-Roy – Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister

Stuart Richard Young – Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister

Symon de Nobriga – Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister

Hassell Bacchus – Minister in the Ministry of Public Administration and Digital Transformation

Foster Cummings – Minister in the Ministry of Works and Transport

The post Rowley sworn into second term as Prime Minister appeared first on Caribbean News Now!.

Storm watch for TD 13 in effect for Antigua and Barbuda, St. Maarten, and St. Kitts and Nevis
Source:  Caribbean News Now! Daily Headlines
donderdag 20 augustus 2020 12:15

TD 13 expected to develop into Tropical Storm Laura

A tropical storm watch is in effect for Tropical Depression 13 (TD 13) on some Caribbean islands, according to the latest advisory of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

These are the countries of Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Anguilla.

A tropical storm watch is placed when ideal conditions of a tropical storm are possible within an area, generally within 48 hours.

The Virgin Islands, as well as Puerto Rico are also advised to monitor the track of TD 13 in the coming days.

TD 13 expected to develop into Tropical Storm Laura during the day Thursday. It is also expected to move along a fairly quick west-northwest track over the next several days, approaching the southeastern Bahamas during the weekend.

“Regardless of development, gusty wind conditions and heavy rainfall are expected over parts of the local area from late Friday,” the Meteorological Department of St. Maarten said in its latest forecast.

The NHC has also issued an advisory on Tropical Depression 14 this morning, which is over the central Caribbean and moving west.

In light of this, the government of Honduras has issued a tropical storm watch from the Honduras/Nicaragua border westward to Punta Castilla and for the Bay Ilslands of Honduras.

It will be a race to see which tropical depression may reach tropical storm strength first with 39 mph winds. The next names on the 2020 hurricane list are Laura, Marco and Nana.

Record-breaker storm for 2020?

In a report by Palm Beach Post, should the weather system turn into Tropical Storm Laura in the next few days, “it would likely break another record for the 2020 hurricane season.”

“The current record holder is major Hurricane Luis, which formed on Aug. 29, 1995. If Laura beats out Luis, it would be the ninth storm this season to break a record for earliest formation,” the report said.

In a separate report of Sun Sentinel, hurricane experts at Colorado State University said in their latest forecast that they expect 24 named storms, 12 hurricanes, and five major hurricanes for 2020. “That’s up from its July 8 forecast, in which they predicted 19 to 20 named storms,” it stated.

If accurate, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will be the second-busiest on record, trailing behind the 2005 season, which hold spawned 28 storms in total, including Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.

The post Storm watch for TD 13 in effect for Antigua and Barbuda, St. Maarten, and St. Kitts and Nevis appeared first on Caribbean News Now!.

Is there a me-too moment for racial economic equity and justice in the Caribbean?
Source:  Caribbean News Now! Daily Headlines
donderdag 20 augustus 2020 05:55

Soon after George Floyd, an African American was killed during an encounter with members of the Minneapolis, Minnesota, police department; a global social consciousness emerged with immense demonstration some of which turned violent calling for a broad reversal of laws and practices that many deemed socially and economically devastated local communities of colour for decades.

This global reckoning on race relations and deep nationalized discriminatory business practices have seen sea changes despite previous resistance. Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s Rice and Mrs Butterworth brand decided to change its logo from 130 years that many argued were a racial stereotype of blacks.  The domino effect has also seen other businesses once benefited from discriminatory practices dated back to the slave ships have accepted symbolic gestures to confront its past.

Though the Caribbean islands received its hints from the international media and struck courage, it was a step in the precise direction. However, it is more complex than good feeling to eradicate 400-years of the colonial chain, laws and mental debris for equity that has been hitting these disadvantaged communities like a destructive hurricane recklessly causing administrative, economic, and social barriers to upward mobility.

Based on historians; the Caribbean islands fell under the ruling of a European nation; British, Dutch, and French. Additionally, Denmark, Portugal, and Sweden formerly occupied territories in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean tragic colonial history that has apprised us today, cannot be eradicated with a rope, stones, or fire as seen elsewhere pulling down historic generals or former slave owners statues; or call for the resignation of local managers who typically operate businesses in the region once benefited from these ships with tweets, high anger, and low action.

Economic and social transformation and as it sits now, me too moment is an uphill to climb for the region. Sadly, some leaders cannot even decide if or where to hold a protest, whom, what structure to move to steer this vessel for critical change.

Me-too is not resettlement, re-distribution of land to the poor owned by elected officials, or the top one percent of the rich, removal of colonial images from a local church window, lower interest rates on predatory loans, reduction in violent crimes or political alliance. Simply put, any reconciliation is not going to be based on skin colour, it is how much pie one can keep for his social class.

Furthermore, if many of today’s buildings, contracts, ports, and manufacturing have long been sold to foreign investors, which will sit at the table me-too may not represent the downtrodden.

Though these islands remain a place to forget your overdue bills and any other issues merely temporarily, the reality is that; some share the identical point of origin, bear a resemblance to you, but until now have the bourgeoisie conscious colonial mentality. And conveniently will yield power, overlook poverty once able to slightly move their necks economically, and considered a success.

Essentially, several wealthy islanders who have obtained an academic opportunity can now pay their way into that upper crowd will feast, dance, have business dealings still struggles to address an institutionalized class and racial system.

Subsequently, where does the Caribbean start for social and economic justice for Afro-Caribbean and ethnic minorities? The lack of a protest does not mean that there is not one brewing internal each day.

The region’s shorelines forever roar with a dark cloud after Europeans decided that they wanted to establish their economy and Africa was the place they went and eagerly snatched people of colour, filled several ships without reservation. And since innocent people of colour did not have a personal reservation, stringent rules and penal laws were created that transcends into systematic institutional racism today.

Today’s global racial equity call is not like recent women’s me-too when they came forward and spoke up about their experience of improper and inappropriate widespread sexual advances, harassment, and rape by powerful men and action was quick.

Colonial occupation has established a legacy where only a new economic reconciliation path for all will establish the first step. Some argued perhaps eliminating several debts for may Caribbean islands, but a mental rehabilitation from slavery despite independence remains a drain.

The debt burden undoubtedly remains a national debate to develop a new economic road map, but can they all afford to protest earnestly for fundamental change; and how do you bite off the nervous hands that are merely sustaining you?

If the Caribbean me too solution is “possible reparation� or a unilateral economic package for better schools, education, adequate healthcare, infrastructure, and new manufacturing.

This approach is an excellent wave, but if local reports still highlighting ongoing corruption even mismanagement of COVID-19 funds, where not everyone can agree on if it is going to rain, generates more questions on how to manage any potential reparation. I scarcely believe will amount a self-governing gesture on paper like the independence doctrine.

And how does one support the casting of a new fishing net, when you have a judiciary system with holes on basic democracy and cultural tolerance for all? One must step back and rigorously evaluate that, “Out of Many One People.�

Recently the Jamaican Supreme Court ruled that a student could not attend classes if she didn’t cut her dreadlocks and the school did not infringe on the child’s constitutional rights. This ruling confirms that Rastafarianism, typically remains a social outcast based old colonial ideal, and this culture should only be practised behind closed doors.

Undoubtedly, the Caribbean continues to anxiously search for its soul, and if one’s hair was no longer acceptable in the local school, what next, Rasta only bathroom, bus, dining area, etc. The styling of one’s culture may explain the abundance of bleaching cream being bought in the region for acceptance by many.

The ruling describes a considerably complex broader story emerged recently of British insignia, a medal that is worn by the heads of state, the governor-general of Jamaica that depicted a Caucasian person on the neck of a black person. Though dehumanizing, how do you draw a balance if laws carry similar weight on its people?

History has gently told us, between 1788 and 1838 workhouses in Jamaica the most significant British West Indian colony was marginalized in conditions encountered by most of its population that impacted local industries, like finance and manufacturing.

The Caribbean may have passed its hostility tone since those cultural prohibitions of black settlement in some areas to interracial sex, part of the rampant racial discrimination known as the colour bar that has severely constrained its unique culture and economic growth, but it still reverberates today globally.

Today, dark-skinned experience faces steeper mobility locally subsequently carries forward even in more recent free migration elsewhere.

Slavery divided the region on different plantations that established a protectionist and competitive system subconsciously or not. Today, islanders are free from the sugar canes and coffee fields to travel between islands, but by all accounts, some continue to traditionally see other islands as you over there, and if some could erect a wall they would.

A notable example: since COVID-19 and its impact on sustainable tourism, it only exposes the Caribbean lack of collaboration as these island stances regarding which one has a firmer grip on the pandemic for the next terrorist dollar.  Quite frankly, in my humble option, it will come down to who tells the truth on the number infected, fatality and the actual cause, rather than who, essentially delivered it there.

Most importantly if me-too-fails, the ability to travel to other islands for accurate diagnosis and critical medical care rather than waiting eagerly for weeks on a piece of equipment for surgery or test results that could have saved lives.

And if the arid region conveniently overlooks this pivotal moment for upward mobility and though I maybe sometimes critical of violent crime and local leadership, I am genuinely terrified they all are naturally wearing the official insignia, and me-too represent just a thought.

About the author

R.D. Miller has been a member of the criminal justice field for over 15 years. He holds an MBA and a M.S. in criminal justice and leadership.

Editorial Disclaimer

The Caribbean News Now welcomes op-ed articles of 600 words or less. Articles may be edited for clarity, legal ramifications, length or general taste at the editor’s discretion. We also reserve the right to refuse to publish submitted opinions for the same reasons. All articles must be signed. Any views or opinions are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, or individual.

Opinion published do not necessarily reflect the views of The Caribbean News Now, its Publisher, its staff or its advertisers.

The post Is there a me-too moment for racial economic equity and justice in the Caribbean? appeared first on Caribbean News Now!.

UN salutes real-life heroes commemorating World Humanitarian Day
Source:  Caribbean News Now! Daily Headlines
woensdag 19 augustus 2020 07:56

UN News – Marking World Humanitarian Day, top UN officials are honouring humanitarian workers who are overcoming “huge challengesâ€� to save and improve the lives of millions of women, men and children, hit hard by crises and the COVID-19 pandemic. 

UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged everyone to applaud and support the humanitarians, health workers and first responders working selflessly amid unprecedented need, in a message on World Humanitarian Day

“These real-life heroes are doing extraordinary things in extraordinary times to help women, men and children whose lives are upended by crises,� said the UN chief. 

‘Unsung heroes’ of the pandemic response 

“They are responding to the global crisis of COVID-19, and with it the massive increase in humanitarian needs from the fallout of the pandemic,â€� Mr. Guterres continued, adding that the loss of jobs, education, food, water and safety is pushing millions more to the brink. 

Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, communities, civil society and local organizations are having to take the responsibilities of the first responders as movement restrictions and lockdowns are imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus

People who are often in need themselves – like refugees helping host communities or local health workers caring for the sick – are supporting others. 

“They are the unsung heroes of the pandemic response – and they all too often risk their own lives to save the lives of others,â€� highlighted the Secretary-General. 

“Today, join me in renewing our appreciation and support for the brave humanitarians, health workers and first responders who show solidarity and humanity in this time of unprecedented need,� he concluded. 

Sacrifice on the front line

Marked annually on 19 August, the day commemorates humanitarians killed and injured in the course of their work, and honours all aid and health workers who, despite the odds, continue to provide life-saving support and protection to people most in need. 

It was designated in memory of the 19 August 2003 bomb attack on the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, Iraq, killing 22 people, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello. In 2009, the UN General Assembly formalized the day as World Humanitarian Day. 

Photo Gallery: Humanitarian ‘heroes’ on front line of COVID pandemic

‘The first to respond and the last to leave’ 

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the President of the UN General Assembly, drew attention to the hurdles humanitarian workers face as they bring support to vulnerable populations. 

“They are ‘the first to respond and the last to leave’ accepting the risks of being threatened, injured, kidnapped and killed,â€� he said in a separate message, noting also that limited resources are adding to the list of challenges. 

“In 2020, despite the largest-ever funding shortfall, humanitarian workers have contended with COVID-19, as well as a massive spike in humanitarian needs in 63 countries,â€� added the Assembly President. 

The recent tragedy in Lebanon is an example of the ever-increasing need for humanitarian assistance and support, especially to the most vulnerable. The horrific images from Beirut are a constant reminder that humanitarian assistance must remain at the core of our global response mechanisms, said Mr. Muhammad-Bande. 

Protecting humanitarians ‘paramount’ 

Thanking humanitarian workers everywhere for their important and courageous work, Mark Lowcock, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, affirmed that the best way to pay tribute to them is by funding their work and ensuring their safety. 

“You are saving lives every day, and as new challenges and crises are piling on to existing ones, your perseverance is an inspiration,â€� he told humanitarians. 

“Your protection is paramount to making sure we can deliver to people most in need,� stressed Mr. Lowcock. 

Deadly attacks against humanitarians 

This comes against the backdrop of rising violence against aid and health workers around the globe. In recent weeks, relief workers lost their lives in attacks in Niger and Cameroon, and since the onset of the pandemic, scores of health workers have come under attack across the world, said the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in a news release on Wednesday. 

Major attacks against relief workers in 2019 surpassed all previous years on record. A total of 483 relief workers were attacked, 125 killed, 234 wounded and 124 kidnapped in 277 separate incidents, according to the Aid Worker Security Database. This was an 18 per cent increase in the number of victims compared to 2018.

Most attacks occurred in Syria, followed by South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Afghanistan and the Central African Republic. 

In addition, a surge in attacks against health workers was recorded in 2019, including strikes against medics in Syria and shootings of Ebola workers in the DRC. According to the UN World Health Organization (WHO), there were 1,009 attacks against health-care workers and facilities, which claimed 199 lives and left another 628 wounded.   

The post UN salutes real-life heroes commemorating World Humanitarian Day appeared first on Caribbean News Now!.

UN weather agency: Death Valley temperature likely highest since 1931
Source:  Caribbean News Now! Daily Headlines
woensdag 19 augustus 2020 03:59

UN News – “All indicationsâ€� suggest that the extreme temperature reading of 54.4 degrees Celsius recorded in California’s Death Valley on Sunday, is legitimate, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Tuesday.

“The weather station at Furnace Creek in Death Valley, California, reported a temperature of 54.4C, which is 130F, on Sunday 16 August,� said Clare Nullis, WMO spokesperson. “If validated, it would be the highest temperature on Earth since 1931, and the third-hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet.�

Experts on the case

Speaking in Geneva, Ms. Nullis told journalists that WMO had tasked a panel of international experts to verify the reading by examining the observation, the equipment used, how it was calibrated and how it compared to data gathered at surrounding stations.

According to WMO’s Weather and Climate Extremes archive, the hottest temperature ever recorded was in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, California, reaching 56.7C (134.06F) on 10 July 1913. The next highest temperature was set in July 1931 in Kebili, Tunisia, reaching 55C (131F).

Other high temperature records include 54C (129.2F) in Mitribah, Kuwait, on 21 July 2016.

Preliminary findings indicate that the equipment at Furnace Creek meteorological station was in proper working condition at the time of Sunday’s observation, Ms. Nullis noted.

A ‘legitimate observation’

Although the full verification process will likely take many months, she said that the UN agency’s weather and climate extremes rapporteur, Randall Cerveny, had already said “all the indications so far are that this is a legitimate observation�.

The scorching conditions have coincided with a heatwave on the U.S. west coast. The US National Weather Service has issued numerous heat warnings indicating that the intense and extreme temperatures will continue this week.

“The National Weather Service in Las Vegas which covers the Death Valley area tweeted, ‘we are in the midst of a long-duration extreme heat event. Another run at 130F-plus temperatures in Death Valley remains possible,’� Ms. Nullis added.

The development follows repeated warnings from the UN weather agency about extreme high temperatures which are having an impact on sea ice melt, also causing extensive wildfires in places such as the Arctic.

Western and Central Europe witnessed another heatwave last week, Ms. Nullis explained, with a number of new weather station records being set. 

Arctic alarm

On 17 August, Japan registered 41.1C (105.98F) at Hamamatsu, tying its national record. 

Siberia, meanwhile, has experienced a prolonged heatwave, with a recorded temperature of 38C (100.4F) on 20 June in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk.

WMO is now examining this reading, which if verified, would be the highest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic Circle.  

“July was the hottest July on record for the northern hemisphere and the Arctic sea ice was the lowest on record,â€� Ms. Nullis said. “The January to July period – the seven-month period – was the second-warmest such period on record.â€�

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Caribbean artist reminds the world: “We’ll get through this”
Source:  Caribbean News Now! Daily Headlines
woensdag 19 augustus 2020 02:12

Caribbean gospel artist, Wilburne, brings another song of hope, reminding the world that we will get through this current pandemic.

Wilburne, who hails from the island of St. Lucia, has not let the pandemic put a damper on his dreams of singing.

After COVID-19 left him jobless, Wilburne has dedicated his time to give people hope by doing covers of different gospel songs every Saturday afternoons via Facebook live. He has featured and collaborated other gospel artists from different Caribbean islands such as local singer Kelvin Cassius, Joshua Joe of Guyana, Marvin Finn and Horenzo Chambers both of Jamaica.

On July 24 2020, Wilburne took things a step further by teaming up with his decade-long friend, J.None of Florida. The two wrote a hit song entitled “Get Through This� inspired by the current state of the world due to COVID-19.

The beat was created by local artiste/producer, Kelly Indigo of Psyc Soundz Studio.

The song “Get Through This� reminds us not to lose hope even if the picture may sometimes seem grim and, also encourages to show love to one another.

This message of love is also directed towards those on the front line in all parts of the world putting their lives at stake day by day so that we may have a fighting chance at survival.

J.None and Wilburne decided to donate half of the proceeds of their song towards the front liners in the battle against the deadly virus and also to the Black Lives Matter Movement.

To support this cause, download or stream the song which is available on all digital platforms or via this link.

For Wilburne’s covers and more, visit

For J.None’s music, visit

Earlier in May, various music talents and artists from 14 islands in the Caribbean collaborated in a heartwarming song, spreading a message of hope, unity, and resilience in the time of the pandemic.

The post Caribbean artist reminds the world: “We’ll get through this” appeared first on Caribbean News Now!.

OECS to collaborate with UNICEF-ITU for Giga
Source:  Caribbean News Now! Daily Headlines
dinsdag 18 augustus 2020 11:01

The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have signed an agreement to collaborate on Giga, a UNICEF-ITU global initiative to connect every school to the Internet and every young person to information, opportunity, and choice. 

“The OECS Commission is pleased to partner with UNICEF and ITU to deliver this timely digital transformation programme. The COVID-19 pandemic has made Giga even more relevant as we seek to bridge the digital divide and empower teachers, students and families to use technology to enhance the delivery of education and continuity of teaching and learning,” said Director-General of the OECS Commission Dr Didacus Jules

Jules added that the successful delivery of Giga will be a major milestone for the youth of the OECS.

Launched in 2019, Giga sets the goal of providing connectivity to every school in the world.

As a first step, Giga is working with the OECS to map every school in the region, and to provide real-time monitoring data on the quality of internet connectivity. 

UNICEF Eastern Caribbean Dr. Aloys Kamuragiye said that eight countries in the OECS have completed mapping of their school connectivity and a Giga Regional Centre and team will soon be established.

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU), UN’s specialised agency for information and communication technologies, noted that improved connectivity will ensure that young people will be well equipped with the digital skills that they need to shape their future in this Internet age.

The Giga initiative

By using schools to identify demand for connectivity, Giga serves as a platform to create the necessary infrastructure to provide digital connectivity to an entire country, for every community and citizen.

The Giga initiative consists of four pillars: 

  • map connectivity of every school in partnership with governments, advise on building affordable and sustainable country-specific
  • models for finance and delivery
  • determine the best possible technical solutions to connect every school to the Internet, and 
  • empower young people with digital skills for the future.

Giga is aligned with the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation’s Recommendations 1A and 1B, which state, respectively, that “by 2030, every adult should have affordable access to digital networks and have a broad, multi-stakeholder alliance, involving the UN, to create a platform to share digital public goods.â€�

The post OECS to collaborate with UNICEF-ITU for Giga appeared first on Caribbean News Now!.

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