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61 Migrants Lost at Sea, Presumed Dead due to High Waves in Libya

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Libya

Around 61 migrants are missing and presumed dead after their boat sank off the coast of Libya, marking another tragic incident in the perilous journey for migrants off North Africa.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported the loss, attributing it to high waves that overwhelmed the vessel after it departed from Zuwara on Libya’s northwest coast. Survivor accounts suggest that approximately 86 migrants were on board, with most victims, including women and children, hailing from Nigeria, Gambia, and other African nations. The IOM’s Libya office stated that 25 people were rescued and taken to a Libyan detention center, where they received medical support and are reportedly in good condition.

This unfortunate event underscores the ongoing crisis faced by migrants seeking to reach Europe, often departing from Libya and Tunisia. The Mediterranean route has proven deadly, with more than 2,250 deaths reported this year alone, highlighting the urgent need for enhanced efforts to save lives at sea, as expressed by Flavio Di Giacomo, an IOM spokesperson. The situation is compounded by the broader challenges posed by human traffickers in the region, taking advantage of the instability in Libya since the overthrow of dictator Moamer Kadhafi over a decade ago.

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US Advocates for Palestinian Access to Al-Aqsa

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Al-Aqsa

On Wednesday, the United States called on Israel to permit Muslims to worship at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem during Ramadan. This plea comes in response to a proposal by a far-right minister suggesting the exclusion of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank from praying at the site.

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller addressed reporters, stating, “As it pertains to Al-Aqsa, we continue to urge Israel to facilitate access to Temple Mount for peaceful worshippers during Ramadan consistent with past practice.” The statement emphasizes the importance of maintaining historical practices that have allowed peaceful worship during the holy month of Ramadan at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, also known as the Temple Mount.

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Economy

Bangladesh Delegation Eyes WTO MC13 to Safeguard Developing Nations’ Interests

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WTO World trade organization

The 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) is scheduled to take place from February 26 to 29, 2024, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Ministers from around the world will gather to assess the performance of the multilateral trading system and address the future agenda of the WTO. A delegation from Bangladesh, led by State Minister for Commerce Ahsanul Islam Titu, comprising eight members, will participate in the conference.

This edition of the ministerial conference holds particular significance for Bangladesh as the country is set to transition from a Least Developed Country (LDC) to a developing nation by 2026. Typically held every two years, the conference will focus on critical global issues, including subsidies in agriculture and fisheries, intellectual property rights, e-commerce, and global food security.

Senior Secretary of the Commerce Ministry, Tapan Kanti Ghosh, expressed Bangladesh’s commitment to safeguarding the interests of LDCs and other developing nations. While not highlighting specific issues for Bangladesh, he emphasized the country’s desire to maintain duty-free market access, intellectual property rights, and other trade facilities during the post-LDC graduation period.

Tapan highlighted Bangladesh’s advocacy for the continuation of technical facilities, such as training programs for officials and dispute settlement mechanisms, even beyond the LDC graduation. He affirmed that Bangladesh would play a robust role in these discussions. Additionally, he underscored Bangladesh’s priority on providing subsidies in the fisheries sector during the post-LDC graduation period.

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Saudi Imposes Tk15 lakh Fine for Unauthorized Hajj Performances

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Saudi Arabia

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia has declared a fine of SR50,000 (equivalent to Tk15 lakh) for individuals, whether tourists or local residents, who perform Hajj without official permission. According to Gulf News, the ministry emphasized the illegality of undertaking Hajj without the necessary approvals. Additionally, hefty fines of up to Tk15 lakh will be imposed on those found transporting Hajj pilgrims without the required documents.

Furthermore, the ministry outlined severe consequences for foreigners involved in such violations, including a six-month imprisonment and subsequent deportation from Saudi Arabia. Those deported will also face a 10-year ban on reentering the country. This stringent announcement aims to ensure the proper implementation of the Hajj process and deter any potential breaches of laws and regulations.

The penalties will be enforced through collaboration between the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Passports.

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