Afghan Students in Wuhan Grow Despondent

More than 60 Afghan students are among foreigners stranded in Wuhan, China. Their families in Afghanistan say these students are hurting psychologically since the city has been on lockdown. Food and supplies are running out, and they are losing hope of leaving the city. Today, the Afghan government asked China to keep the students in Wuhan and not send them back to Afghanistan. Their desperate families are asking the Afghan and Chinese governments to help these students. Sayed Hasib Mawdoodi in Kabul met with families, and students who returned from Wuhan 10 days ago.  

Some Students, Ex-Pats Remain in Wuhan With Little Help

Nations around the world are evacuating their students and other citizens from coronavirus-stricken China, while other countries are choosing to leave their citizens in Wuhan, the university city where the virus reportedly started.

Around 500 Bangladeshi students are among the stranded in Wuhan. They have called for help on social media, while the Chinese and Bangladesh governments negotiate a strategy. 

“Through the social [media] site WeChat, students got informed of the mystery infectious virus that was spreading fast,” Mazharul Islam, a freshman in the School of Electrical Engineering at Wuhan University, told VOA. “However, we were told that there is nothing to get worried about and the virus is under control. Later through WeChat we were advised to use masks when stepping out of the dormitory.”

Islam said there were 30 Bangladeshi students on his campus. Through Chinese social media WeChat, he said, he and others learned there were 500 Bangladeshi students in Wuhan. He said the Bangladesh Embassy in Beijing “would notify us if there were any emergency evacuation taking place.” He said they have been provided with masks and preventive medicines from the university.

Masudur Rahman, the deputy chief of mission at the Bangladesh Embassy in Beijing, said of the 3,000 Bangladeshis in China, most are students and teachers. 

“We, from the Bangladesh Embassy in Beijing, are in contact with the Chinese authorities and are trying to find a possible solution in the present situation,” Rahman said. Evacuation would “have to take place through a bilateral arrangement.”    

Meanwhile, other countries are arranging flights out of China for their citizens. France – where three cases of the coronavirus have been reported — said it will operate several direct flights under the supervision of medical experts out of China midweek for French citizens who want to leave, AFP reported. The number could “range from a few dozen to a few hundred” of its 800 citizens in China, said Health Minister Agnes Buzyn.

Evacuees will “stay in a holding area for 14 days,” the duration it takes for the virus to incubate, when they land in France, AFP reported.

Morocco ordered the repatriation of 100 Moroccan nationals – mostly students – from the Wuhan area on Monday, according to Reuters. Other countries arranging to have their citizens and students flow out include Japan, Spain, Britain and Netherlands. Canada, which has about 167 nationals in the Wuhan area, has not planned evacuations but has not ruled them out, Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said Monday. Each consular request would be evaluated on a “case by case basis,” he told Reuters.

The epidemic, which originated in Wuhan city, has claimed 81 lives in China and infected more than 2,800 people globally, most of them in China.

📌 CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

DEATHS

🇨🇳 China 81

CONFIRMED CASES

🇨🇳 China 2700
🇺🇸 US 5
🇦🇺Australia 5
🇫🇷 France 3
🇳🇵Nepal 1
🇯🇵 Japan 4
🇸🇬 Singapore 4
🇰🇷 South Korea 4
🇹🇼 Taiwan 5
🇹🇭 Thailand 8
🇻🇳 Vietnam 2
🇲🇾Malaysia 4
🇰🇭 Cambodia 1

(Source: VOA/ AFP)

— The Voice of America (@VOANews) January 27, 2020

The Chinese government has locked down Wuhan and neighboring cities to keep the virus from spreading. Tens of millions of people, including foreigners and students, are among them. Many students left the Wuhan area for Lunar New Year’s holiday and winter break, but others stayed behind.

More than 60 Afghan students are among foreigners stranded in Wuhan. The Afghan government has asked China to keep the students in Wuhan and not send them back to Afghanistan, much to the disappointment of their families in Afghanistan.

“Universities are locked-down, and students are stranded at their rooms and are not allowed to leave their campuses,” said Ahmad Jawed Beheshti, an Afghan student at Sichuan University in China. “Just yesterday, they closed off our university.”

Javed Ahmad Qaem, Afghan ambassador to China, told VOA the students have not been forgotten.

“They are nervous, but Chinese authorities are acting responsibly,” he said. “They have a focal point for each embassy. If and when relocation is allowed inside China or outside China, we will also be at the forefront. So far relocation is not allowed. They are isolated and we are monitoring the situation closely.”

The president of the Indonesian Student Association (PPI) of Chinape, Nur Musyafak, in Wuhan said Indonesian citizens — including students — want to get out of the city. Foreign Ministry data show there are 428 Indonesian citizens studying in Wuhan. Most of those students returned to Indonesia for winter break.

But those remaining in China need a recommendation letter from the Indonesian Republic Embassy if they want to leave.

“We’re gathering all the passport numbers of these 98” Indonesians who remain in Wuhan. “Once we have the data, we will request a letter from the Indonesian Embassy,” Nur told VOA.

The dorm is 20 kilometers from the Huanan Seafood Market, where the coronavirus is suspected of emanating. Campuses in Wuhan have distributed masks, liquid soap, and free thermometers to students, Nur said. The universities have instructed students not to leave their room too often.

Authorities in Myanmar said they had cancelled a planned evacuation of 60 students from Mandalay who were studying in Wuhan. Kyaw Yin Myint, a spokesman for the Mandalay municipal government, told Reuters that a “final decision” had been made to send them back after 14 days, once the virus’ incubation period had passed.

In Russia, direct flights from Wuhan to Moscow were suspended last week. At least 140 Russians, 75 of them students, are known to be in Wuhan and Hubei, the Russian embassy in China said on Monday, Reuters reported from the TASS news agency.

The United States said it would evacuate personnel and citizens in China, several news outlets reported. The U.S. State Department said it will evacuate personnel from its Wuhan consulate to the United States and offer a limited number of seats to private U.S. citizens on a flight. Some private citizens will be able to board the “single flight” leaving Wuhan on Jan. 28 for San Francisco, it said.

Sayed Hasib Mawdoodi of VOA’s Afghan Service in Kabul, Sanjana Feroz and KabirUddin Sarkar of the Bangla Service in Washington, and Rio Tuasikal of the Indonesian Service in Bandung, Indonesia, contributed to this report.

As US Eyes Drawdown, Violence Rattles Sahel Region

Last year was the deadliest in recent history for extremist violence in the Sahel region of Africa. The trend appears to be continuing in 2020 and experts warn more must be done to avoid a crisis in the region.

Last week, suspected Islamic extremists carried out attacks on two villages in Burkina Faso, killing at least 32 civilians.

In neighboring Niger, terror attacks claimed by extremist fighters killed 89 people this month and 71 soldiers in December.

In both countries and elsewhere in the Sahel region, insurgent and Islamist groups with links to al-Qaida and the Islamic State (IS) terror groups in recent months have increased their attacks against civilian and military targets.

Rise in casualties

U.N. officials say the number of casualties in the region has increased five times since 2016 with more than 4,000 victims in 2019.“

The region has experienced a devastating surge in terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets,” Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the U.N. Special Representative and Head of the U.N. Office for West Africa and the Sahel, told the U.N. Security Council earlier this month.

“Most significantly, the geographic focus of terrorist attacks has shifted eastwards from Mali to Burkina Faso and is increasingly threatening West African coastal states,” he added.

FILE – Burkina Faso soldiers patrol on a road in the Sahel area of Burkina Faso, March 3, 2019.

The Sahel is a semi-arid region that stretches from Sudan in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west. It includes countries such as Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. These nations are known as the G5 Sahel countries.

Economic grievances

Experts say porous borders, poor governance and unstable economies in these countries have allowed Islamist militants to thrive in the impoverished region.“

It is generally presumed that militant groups in the Sahel region benefit from the black market and trafficking economies that rely on illicit trade transiting the Sahara,” said Alice Hunt Friend, an Africa expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.

“But given the weakness of regional states and their security services, militant coffers are not as important to the balance of power as their boldness and organization,” she told VOA.

Increased cooperation with France

The surge of violence carried out by terror groups in the Sahel region has forced West African nations to reconsider their strategy and build new security partnerships.

Last week, leaders of the G5 Sahel countries convened in France, where they agreed to put aside their differences with France in order to combat terrorism more effectively in the region.

France, a former colonial power in the Sahel region, has agreed to deploy an additional 220 troops to the Sahel in an attempt to prevent the rise in terrorist violence in the region.

France already has about 4,500 troops stationed in Sahel, who have been instrumental in fighting an Islamist insurgency in Mali since 2013.

But with recent terror threats throughout the region, France says its forces would extend military assistance to other countries in the region.“

French troops are in the Sahel to enable West African leaders to fully assume their sovereignty,” French President Emmanuel Macron told G5 Sahel leaders during last week’s summit.

“The priority is Islamic State in the Greater Sahara,” Macron added.

FILE – Soldiers from the French Army set up a Temporary Operative Advanced Base during the Bourgou IV operation in the area of the three borders between Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, Nov. 9,2019.

The Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, an IS affiliate, is active in the Sahel region. Other extremist groups including Ansar al-Islam in Burkina Faso and the Macina Liberation Front in Mali and other IS and al-Qaida-linked groups also have carried out terrorist attacks in the region in recent years.

Niagale Bagayoko, African Security Sector Network Chair, said although the focus may be on one group, the range of threats in the region is extremely complex.“

“It is becoming evident that the issue at stake is much more complicated. Because you have a very complex mix of different actors. You have rebel groups that mainly want to have autonomy or if not independence. You have also criminal groups. You have also local self-defense militias. And also, of course, you have jihadist groups. But even all those jihadist groups are very different,” she told VOA.

US involvement

Last month, The New York Times reported that the United States was considering a reduction or even a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from West Africa.

The U.S. has between 6,000 and 7,000 troops in Africa, mainly stationed in West Africa.

The possible reduction of U.S. troops in Africa is reportedly part of a worldwide review by U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who is looking for ways to tighten the focus on China and Russia.

While some experts fear that any such withdrawal would end U.S. support for French military efforts in African countries such as Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso in their war against jihadist fighters, others believe ongoing efforts have not been enough to tackle the issue of extremism in the Sahel.

“The U.S. presence likely limits terrorist activity in the Sahel but has not eliminated it, and neither France nor other Europeans nor governments in the region will standstill in the face of U.S. withdrawal,” analyst Friend of CSIS said.

“The question of whether the French can sustain operations without U.S. support is an open one, although France likely could choose to do so but that would require more resources and domestic political capital,” she added.

On Monday, French Defense Minister Florence Parly visited the Pentagon and met with her U.S. counterpart Defense Secretary Mark Esper. She urged the U.S. to continue supporting the security efforts in the region.

But U.S. officials have expressed concerns about the deteriorating situation in the Sahel region.

“I think [the Sahel] is the most difficult and challenging situation we have now in the continent,” Tibor Nagy, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, said in November  during a press briefing.

“The threat of terrorism and violent extremism is expanding. It’s not anymore in north Mali only. It is going down to Burkina Faso and countries like Ghana, Togo, Benin are all on alert,” he said.

 

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“Слуга народу” протягла адвоката Януковича на нову посаду під час свят

“Слуга народу” протягла адвоката Януковича на нову посаду під час свят.

Вони це зробили: версія ДБР. Або як провести конкурс на посаду, коли хочеться просто призначити “своїх” людей? Т.в.о. Директора ДБР Ірина Венедіктова знає, як. У новорічно-різдвяний період вона оголосила ледь не “таємний” конкурс, на проходження котрого, було 2 робочі дні. І в результаті “протягнула” на посаду свого першого заступника колишнього адвоката Віктора Януковича. На посаду заступника теж потрапила людина, повязана з фірмою, де Венедіктова була радницею
 

 
 
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Туроператор Join UP! повертає своїх туристів із Китаю

Український туроператор Join UP! повертає своїх туристів із Хайнаню (провінція на півдні Китаю, розташована на однойменному острові). Як йдеться в повідомленні на сайті туроператора, туристи повернуться додому рейсами 29 січня і 1 лютого.

«Від самого початку ми уважно стежимо за розвитком ситуації з коронавірусом, що спалахнув у Китаї. Незважаючи на те, що Всесвітня організація здоров’я на даний момент не розцінює цей спалах як надзвичайну ситуацію світового масштабу, а Міністерство здоров’я України і Державіаслужба не рекомендують припиняти сполучення між країнами, ми ухвалили рішення призупинити польотну програму до Китаю на період з 3 лютого по 28 березня», – йдеться в повідомленні.

Туристи, які вже придбали й оплатили тури на острів Хайнань на найближчі тижні, мають право на повернення вартості туру або можуть обрати альтернативний варіант для мандрівки, заявляє туроператор.

 

До ранку понеділка число загиблих від пневмонії, викликаної новим коронавірусом у Китаї, перевищило 80. Всього в країні ним заражені близько трьох тисяч людей, 460 перебувають у тяжкому стані.

Новим вірусом можна заразитися під час його інкубаційного періоду, який триває до 14 днів. Знання про новий коронавірус поки обмежені. Крім того, експерти не мають чіткого розуміння, які ризики для людини може викликати його мутація.

Влада Китаю розширює заходи боротьби з поширенням інфекції. З 26 січня заборонена торгівля дикими тваринами, а на всі скотарські ферми накладено карантин. Парки розваг «Діснейленд» у Шанхаї і Гонконзі припинили роботу.

 

У Пекіні та інших містах заборонені масові заходи. Крім того, понад 56 мільйонів людей у 18 містах провінції Хубей фактично перебувають під карантином.

Випадки зараження підтверджено більш як у 10 країнах, але від пневмонії померли тільки хворі в Китаї. В Україні поки що жодного підтвердженого випадку зараження немає.