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Saudi Arabia, UAE win membership in IMO Council for 2022-2023

Saudi Arabia has become a member of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council for 2022-2023 after member states voted in elections held in London, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported Friday.

IMO is a UN specialized agency whose mission is promoting safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation of the state members and has a regulatory authority and its resolutions are binding on all state members.

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“This membership is a culmination of the efforts of our wise leadership in the development of the maritime transportation sector and the various initiatives announced by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to protect and maintain the maritime environment,” SPA cited the President of Saudi Arabia’s Transport General Authority Rumaih Mohammed al-Rumaih, as saying.

He added that this membership will allow Saudi Arabia to continue supporting IMO’s efforts and initiatives and contribute to the development of international laws and regulations that would develop global trade, transport and international shipping.

“Through its effective role in IMO, Saudi Arabia will achieve Vision 2030 and become one of the leading countries in maritime by consolidating its strong position,” SPA reported.

Al-Rumaih said that by 2030, the Kingdom will handle 41 million containers annually, facilitate the procedures of goods clearance and handling to be completed in less than two hours, develop the marine tourism sector in order to serve 19 million passengers annually through cruise ships and coastal transportation to benefit from Saudi Arabia’s strategic location as a center point between the East and West and a passing route for 13 percent of world trade through the Red Sea.

He added that 70 percent of the energy supplies that go through the Arabian Gulf, which in turn enhance the position of Saudi Arabia’s Navy, “which is ranked number 1 regionally and 20 globally in terms of tons load,” according to SPA.

UAE

The United Arab Emirates has also been re-elected to the IMO Council in the Category B membership for the third time, following comprehensive efforts and an intensive election campaign leading up to the elections, the official Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

“Through its landmark initiatives, the country continues playing an active role in strengthening the national maritime sector, while contributing to the growth of the global maritime and logistics industry,” WAM said.

The results of the election were announced during the 32nd session of the IMO Assembly in London, which will conclude on December 15, according to the press agency.

“The UAE has reaffirmed its leading status as a vital maritime center in the world with this achievement,” UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Suhail bin Mohammed al-Mazrouei, said.

“Our re-election to the Council of IMO for the third consecutive time has further strengthened our active role in developing the sector and enhancing maritime safety standards, as well as protecting the marine environment globally,” he added.

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US: Bodies of two of three missing kids found in Minnesota lake

The bodies of two young children have been recovered from a Minnesota lake, and searchers are still looking for a third they fear may have been intentionally drowned.

Meanwhile, the father of the children died at a different location hours earlier, and their mother is missing. Names have not been released.

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The chain of events began Friday morning when the father was found dead at a mobile home park in the town of Maplewood, near Minneapolis. Police determined that the woman had left with the children, and a search began.

Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner said the woman’s car was found near Vadnais Lake around 4 p.m. Friday. The shoes of the children were found on the shore.

A search of the lake found one child’s body Friday evening. A second body was found overnight. Searchers from several organizations were busy Saturday looking for the third, as well as the mother.

Authorities believe all three children were under the age of 5.

“There’s nothing more tragic than the loss of young children,” Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher said at a news conference on Friday. He called the deaths a “likely triple homicide.”

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

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Foreign firefighters arrive in Greece for summer wildfire season

Several dozen Romanian and Bulgarian firefighters took up their posts in Greece on Saturday, the first members of a European force being deployed to the country to provide backup in case of major wildfires during the summer.

More than 200 firefighters and equipment from Bulgaria, France, Germany, Romania, Norway and Finland will be on standby during the hottest months of July and August in Greece, where a spate of wildfires caused devastation last summer.

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A group of 28 Romanian firefighters with eight vehicles, and 16 firefighters from Bulgaria with four vehicles, were the first to arrive for the two-month mission, financed and coordinated under the European Union’s civil protection mechanism.

“We thank you very much for coming to help us during a difficult summer for our country, and for proving that European solidarity is not just theoretical, it’s real,” Greek Civil Protection Minister Christos Stylianides said on Saturday as he welcomed the members of the Romanian mission in Athens.

“When things get tough, you will be side by side with our Greek firefighters so we can save lives and property.”

The Bulgarian firefighters have been stationed in Larissa, in central Greece.

Last summer’s wildfires ravaged about 300,000 acres (121,000 hectares) of forest and bushland in different parts of Greece as the country experienced its worst heatwave in 30 years.

Following sharp criticism of its response to the fires, the Greek government set up a new civil protection ministry and promised to boost firefighting capacities.

In Greece’s worst wildfire disaster, 102 people were killed when a blaze tore through the seaside town of Mati and nearby areas close to Athens during the summer of 2018.

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One killed, six injured in shootout between migrant groups in Serbia

One migrant was killed and at least six others, including a teenage girl, were injured Saturday in a shootout between migrant groups in Serbia near the Hungarian border, the state-run RTS television reported.

The 16-year-old girl sustained life threatening injuries in the incident that occurred in a forest in the outskirts of Subotica, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Belgrade, where the injured were hospitalized, RTS reported.

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Police, who made no immediate comment, blocked access to the forest where the incident took place, only around a kilometer from the Hungarian border.

Interior Minister Aleksandar Vulin rushed to the scene.

The injured, aged between 20 and 30, have no documents, Subotica mayor Stevan Bakic told local media.

It is not known what triggered the incident, he added.

Local media reported that the shootout occurred between Afghan and Pakistani migrants most likely over human trafficking from the area to European Union member Hungary.

Serbia lies on the so-called Balkans route used by migrants heading towards Western Europe as they flee war and poverty in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Although the route is nowhere as busy as it was during Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, tens of thousands of illegal migrants still cross the region annually.

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