West links Afghan humanitarian aid to human rights

by Pierre-Henry DESHAYES and Viken KANTARCI Agence France-Presse OSLO, Norway (AFP) – Western diplomats Tuesday linked humanitarian aid to Afghanistan to an improvement in human rights after meeting a Taliban delegation on a landmark visit to Europe. On the final day of the Taliban’s first official trip to Europe since returning to power in August, the fundamentalists held talks behind closed doors with several Western diplomats. The Taliban are seeking international recognition and financial aid. […]

WHO board nominates chief Tedros for May re-election

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is all but guaranteed a second term after a procedural vote Tuesday made him the sole nominee ahead of a leadership vote in May. “I’d like to congratulate Dr Tedros for your nomination as the DG (director-general) for an additional period of five years, as from 16th August 2022,” Patrick Amoth, head of the WHO’s 34-member executive board, said after a secret-ballot nomination vote. […]

German student kills one, wounds three in campus shooting

by Sebastien ASH with Michelle FITZPATRICK in Frankfurt HEIDELBERG, Germany (AFP) — An 18-year-old student opened fire in a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany on Monday, killing a young woman and injuring three others before fleeing the scene and turning the weapon on himself. The gunman fired shots “wildly” around the amphitheatre, a police spokesman told AFP. The shooting took place during an organic chemistry class for bioscience students, a course the […]

Several wounded in German lecture hall shooting, gunman dead: police

FRANKFURT, Germany (AFP) — A gunman injured several people in a shooting inside a lecture hall at Heidelberg University in southwestern Germany on Monday, police said, adding that the perpetrator was now dead. “A lone perpetrator injured several people in a lecture hall with a long gun. The perpetrator is dead,” Mannheim police said in a statement. A major police operation was under way at the university’s Neuenheimer Feld campus, they added on Twitter, urging […]

Snowfall blankets much of Greece

ATHENS, Greece (AFP) — Snowfall blanketed much of Greece on Monday, closing schools, vaccination centres and parliament in Athens, causing blackouts in mountain villages and falling as far south as the island of Crete. Temperatures plummeted to -14 degrees Celsius (6.8 Fahrenheit) overnight as the front dubbed ‘Elpis’ (the Greek word for hope) brought the first snow of the winter to central Athens. Parliament was suspended, schools were shut down across the greater Athens area […]

Europe could be headed for pandemic ‘endgame’: WHO

  COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AFP) — The Omicron variant has moved the Covid-19 pandemic into a new phase and could bring it to an end in Europe, the WHO Europe director said Sunday. “It’s plausible that the region is moving towards a kind of pandemic endgame,” Hans Kluge told AFP in an interview, adding that Omicron could infect 60 percent of Europeans by March. Once the current surge of Omicron currently sweeping across Europe subsides, “there […]

Taliban, Western officials meet for talks in Oslo

by Pierre-Henry DESHAYES Agence France-Presse OSLO, Norway (AFP) – Taliban and Western diplomats meet in Oslo on Monday for talks on Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis and human rights, especially those of women whose freedoms have been curbed by the hardline Islamists. In their first visit to Europe since returning to power in August, the Taliban will meet representatives of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the European Union and Norway. The Taliban delegation is headed […]

UK accuses Moscow of trying to install pro-Russia leader in Ukraine

by James PHEBY Britain on Saturday alleged that it had information that Moscow was “looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv” as fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine grow. Tensions have soared in recent weeks as tens of thousands of Russian troops mass on Ukraine’s border, along with an arsenal of tanks, fighting vehicles, artillery and missiles. London said it had seen evidence that several former Ukrainian politicians had maintained links with Russian […]

Austria makes Covid vaccination mandatory in EU first

by Julia ZAPPEI / Jastinder KHERA VIENNA, Austria (AFP) — Austria’s parliament on Thursday approved making Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for adults from next month, becoming the first European country to do so despite a wave of protests opposing the measure. Tens of thousands have demonstrated against mandatory vaccination in regular weekend rallies since the measure was announced in November in a bid to drive up the country’s vaccination rate. All parties, except the far-right, supported […]

Five dead in fire at Spain retirement home

MADRID, Spain (AFP) — Five people have died and several were injured after a fire early Wednesday morning at a retirement home in eastern Spain, emergency services said. The fire broke out around midnight Tuesday at the facility in Moncada in Valencia, with six fire engines deployed, the region’s firefighters tweeted. They said “five people are dead”, while 11 people were taken to hospital because of smoke inhalation. Firefighters had to rescue 25 people from […]

France posts daily record 464,000 Covid cases

PARIS, France (AFP) — France’s daily reported new coronavirus cases broke a new record on Tuesday with an average of over 300,000 a day in the past week, with the headline figure approaching half a million. The latest data issued by Public Health France showed that there were 464,769 new cases in the last 24-hour period as the Omicron variant of Covid-19 spread unabated. A day earlier, 102,144 people had tested positive for the virus. […]

North Macedonia gets new prime minister

SKOPJE, Republic of North Macedonia (AFP) — The North Macedonia’s parliament late Sunday elected Social Democrat technocrat Dimitar Kovacevski as prime minister after more than two months of political turmoil in the country. Kovacevski, a former deputy finance minister, succeeds Zoran Zaev who stepped down last month following his party’s heavy defeat in municipal elections. The new coalition cabinet, led by Kovacevski’s Social Democrats (SDSM), was backed by 62 MPs of those present in the […]