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Gargash heads UAE delegation participating in 3rd Government Forum in Saudi Arabia

ABU DHABI, 29th November, 2021 (WAM) — Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Diplomatic Advisor to the UAE President and Chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, chaired the UAE’s delegation participating in the 3rd Government Forum hosted by Saudi Arabia, which discussed the challenges in combatting human trafficking in the Middle East.

In his speech at the event, Gargash highlighted the importance of similar regional and international forums that focus on the keenness of countries working together to eliminate this crime.

He also thanked Saudi Arabia for hosting the forum, as well as Bahrain for performing the duties of its standing secretariat-general. He affirmed the UAE’s commitment to assist in the efforts to ease the suffering of victims of human trafficking, ensure their rights, and end this crime, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals 2030.

"The UAE’s hosting of Expo 2020 Dubai is a key opportunity to implement the programmes that will support the global efforts aimed at protecting human rights, most notably combatting human trafficking," he added.

He lauded the country’s programmes implemented in cooperation with United Nations (UN) agencies, such as the regional workshop on combatting human trafficking through international airports, in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Gargash then pointed out countries in the region, including the UAE, have accepted domestic and international obligations to help combat human trafficking and protect potential victims.

"The UAE has been keen to enhance its cooperation with many countries to combat this crime and protect victims. Under this framework, the country signed eight bilateral Memorandums of Understanding (MoU). Moreover, the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation signed over 15 MoUs and protocols with countries that export workers, to organise the employment process according to policies aimed at protecting them from fraud," he said.

The UAE, represented by the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, released its annual report that highlights all national efforts to combat human trafficking, he added. He stresses that the country organised several training courses in 2020 benefitting over 2,560 specialists in judiciary, police and border control departments, in addition to raising the awareness of nearly 1.6 million people representing various segments of the community.

The world is going through unprecedented conditions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the UAE has taken all possible procedures to protect the community from its spread, including human trafficking victims, Gargash stressed. He noted that the UAE launched initiatives that include providing monthly financial aid in shelter centres, and performing COVID-19 tests and offering vaccines.

The UAE hosted the second edition of the Government Forum in October 2020. Saudi Arabia is now hosting the third edition on 29th and 30th November, 2021, via video conferencing, with the participation of Jordan and Egypt. It is attended by the Ambassador-at-Large of the United States to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

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Marcos says new military bases with US to be ‘scattered’ around the Philippines

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Wednesday that four new military bases under a defense agreement with the US would be located in various parts of the Philippines, including in a province facing the South China Sea.

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Last month, Marcos granted the US access to four sites, on top of five existing locations under the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), which comes amid China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea and towards Taiwan.

“There are four extra sites scattered around the Philippines – there are some in the north, there are some around Palawan, there are some further south,” Marcos told reporters at the sidelines of the Philippine army’s founding anniversary.

The EDCA allows US access to Philippine bases for joint training, pre-positioning of equipment and building of facilities such as runways, fuel storage and military housing, but it is not a permanent presence.

The Philippines and the US would announce the locations of the bases soon, Marcos said, adding the sites would boost the country’s ability to defend the “eastern side” of its largest island, Luzon. Luzon is the closest main Philippine island to self-ruled Taiwan that China claims as its own.

China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday reiterated its stance that the US side was increasing tensions by strengthening its military deployments in the region, adding countries should be “vigilant” and avoid being used by the US.

“We generally believe that defense cooperation between countries should be conducive to regional peace and stability, and should not be aimed at third parties or harm the interests of third parties,” spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters at a regular news briefing.

A former Philippine military chief has publicly said the US had asked for access to bases in Isabela, Zambales, and Cagayan, all on the island of Luzon, facing north towards Taiwan, and on Palawan in the southwest, near the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Some leaders of local governments at the potential EDCA sites have opposed Marcos’ decision, worried they would be dragged into a conflict if one arose between the US and China over Taiwan.

But Marcos said his government has discussed with them the importance of the expanded US access and “why it will actually be good for their provinces”.

Washington has committed $80 million worth of infrastructure investments at the five existing sites – the Antonio Bautista Air Base in Palawan, Basa Air Base in Pampanga, Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija, Benito Ebuen Air Base in Cebu and Lumbia Air Base in Mindanao.

Speaking before Philippine troops, Marcos told them to be vigilant as the external threat to security was becoming more “complex” and “unpredictable”.

“Be vigilant against elements that will undermine our hard earned peace, our hard earned stability, continue to improve relations with your counterparts overseas,” Marcos said.

Without giving specifics, Marcos said he was aware of an “emerging threat” to his country’s territory, which he said would require “adjustments in our strategy”.

“The external security environment is becoming more complex. It is becoming more unpredictable,” Marcos said.

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Afghan Taliban raid in Kabul kills 3 ISIS members

An overnight raid by Taliban forces in Afghanistan’s capital killed three members of ISIS, a Taliban spokesman said on Wednesday.

For the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

The regional affiliate of ISIS — known as ISIS-K— has been the key rival of the Taliban since their takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021. The militant group has increased its attacks, targeting both Taliban patrols and members of Afghanistan’s Shia minority.

According to Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban government spokesman, the operation on Tuesday targeted an ISIS hideout in Kabul and killed three prominent members of the militant group who were plotting attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which starts Thursday.

“The IS members used the hideout to carry out attacks in Kabul city and planned to target religious places and civilians during the upcoming month of Ramadan,” Mujahid said. The Taliban swept across Afghanistan in mid-August 2021, seizing power as US and NATO forces were withdrawing from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.

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Top Afghan Taliban leader issues decree against nepotism

India offers Taliban officials a course in economics and leadership

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In election setback for Erdogan, Turkey’s pro-Kurdish HDP will not field candidate

Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and allies will not field a presidential candidate in May 14 elections, co-leader Pervin Buldan said on Wednesday, in a potential setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s re-election bid.

Speaking at a news conference, Buldan did not openly say whether their alliance will support opposition candidate Kemal Kilicdaroglu, after they had met at the weekend.

The HDP is the third-biggest party in parliament and has more than 10 percent support nationwide and is seen playing a decisive role in the presidential elections.


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