Thursday February 21, 2019
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India reiterates its pledge to climate change agreement

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United Nation: Speaking at the General Assembly on Thursday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said “India has always been and is a willing partner in global efforts towards the goal of limiting greenhouse gases”.

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“We will play our due role in reaching a meaningful, equitable and effective agreement in Paris,” she added.

India is expected to release on Friday its much anticipated commitments on combating climate change known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). The document was due on Thursday, but India got an extension so it can be released on Gandhi Jayanti, that falls on October 2.

“Our future must rest on building a sustainable planet for our children and our children’s children,” she said.

“As we prepare to meet in two months time in Paris, the world expects us to deliver an ambitious and credible agreement on climate change. We have a duty for common action but in doing so we must keep in mind the larger historical contribution of some and the differentiated responsibility of others.”

Stressing India’s emphasis on equity in climate change negotiations, she said: “If today Mahatma Gandhi was among us, he would ask if we have used the resources of the planet for our needs or for our greed?”

“Also, if adapting our lifestyle choices and reducing extravagant consumption would help us correct the course. For this reason, the agreement in Paris needs to be comprehensive and equitable, while delivering concrete action.”

She said developed nations should provide developing countries finance, technology transfer and capacity building support for dealing with climate change.

“India’s reverence for the environment is based on our traditions that have always held nature as sacred,” she said.

“The health of the planet is tied to our own well-being and it is this holistic approach that guided us in our call for the First International Day of Yoga, celebrated with much fervor in 192 countries of the world — indeed in this very hallowed institution.”

For global development Swaraj invoked girl power: “As a woman and an elected Member of Parliament, it has been my firm conviction that there is a shortcut to real social change – empowering the girl child.”

“Our Government’s policy of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ (Educate the Girl Child, Empower

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her) was conceived with this vision,” she said.

She further said in her speech that as a nuclear weapon state, India is aware of its responsibility and its support for global, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament has not diminished.

India remains committed to continue supporting the UN Peacekeeping Operations and enhance contributions, as announced by Modi at the Peace Keeping Operations Summit. India calls for the Security Council to formulate its peacekeeping mandates in consultation with troop-providing countries.

Since Prime Minister Modi’s election, India has undergone a renewal that has enabled it to “play its rightful role in international affairs while also becoming the fastest growing major economy in the world”.

Noting that the world has eradicated small pox and, nearly, polio and curbed HIV/AIDS and Ebola she said “we are proud that India played its due part in these efforts. But we must … redouble our efforts at eradicating other health crises, whether it be tuberculosis or malaria.”

Mentioning India’s speedy response to humanitarian crises in its neighborhood she further said, “whether it was (earthquake in) Nepal or (civil war in) Yemen, India has emerged as a net security provider, assisting not only our nationals but those of other countries that sought our help”.

India has reached out to its extended neighborhood as well. The Act East policy has replaced the Look East one, “with more vigorous and proactive engagement with an economically vibrant region”. Recently, India held a Summit with 14 Pacific Island nations. This complements the Link West engagement, Swaraj mentioned.

Expressing India’s commitment to the Middle East Peace Process she said, “curbing the terrorism is the key to prevent further radicalization of the region”.

Later this month, India will host the 3rd India Africa Forum Summit, the first time that the leaders of all 54 countries of the continent have been invited.

(Arul Louis, IANS)

 

 

 

 

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Thousands Displaced as SDF Targeting Civilians Advances on Last IS Territory in Syria

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

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A U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter stands atop a hill in the desert outside the village of Baghuz, Syria, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

Islamic State (IS) fighters are targeting civilians who are trying to flee the last territory held by the terror group in eastern Syria, U.S.-backed forces told VOA on Thursday.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed Kurdish-led alliance, said that IS militants hit a road used by civilians to escape violence as the battle to free the town of Baghuz in Syria’s Deir el-Zour province enters its sixth day.

“IS has blocked that road to prevent civilians from coming to the SDF,” SDF fighter Ali Ahmed said. “They have targeted civilians there, but we have responded to their attacks against civilians.”

Ahmed said that some families of IS fighters are among the fleeing civilians.

Located near the Iraqi border, Baghuz is the last stronghold held by IS extremists in Syria. With the help of the U.S.-led coalition, SDF fighters have pushed out IS from all territories it once held since 2014.

Fierce fighting between IS militants and the U.S.-backed fighters continues as the latter try to gain ground on Baghuz on several fronts.

“We have two main obstacles as we advance on Baghuz,” Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesperson, told VOA. “The first one is that [IS] terrorists are holding on to a number of civilians to use them as a bargain chip for their exit.”

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

IS controls about 5 square kilometers of territory inside the Syrian town, local military officials said.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview. VOA

Ivan Hasib, a Syrian reporter covering the battle, told VOA that he witnessed an unusual movement by U.S. military vehicles in the area.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview.

He said the remaining IS fighters in Baghuz are hoping to exchange hostages for a safe exit into the Iraqi desert.

Also Read: Islamic State Using Women, Children as Human Shields to Postpone Defeat

“There must be some sort of negotiations between IS and SDF about the hostages, because even [U.S.-led] coalition airstrikes have stopped since Tuesday night,” Hasib said, adding that SDF fighters were forced to pause their military operations on the northeastern front in Baghuz.

“We can’t start marching toward it from this side because of civilians. Many civilians are using this road to this side. So we’re here to protect them,” Mezlum Kobani, an SDF commander, told VOA.

According to SDF officials, more than 5,000 civilians have been rescued from IS in Baghuz. (VOA)