Tuesday, 24 August 2021: US to complete evacuation mission in Afghanistan by end of August, Poland to build Belarus border fence against migrants, Covid vaccines produced in Africa are being exported to Europe


US to complete evacuation mission in Afghanistan by end of August: The US Department of Defence still plans to withdraw all American troops from Kabul airport by the end of August. President Joe Biden had previously said he may consider extending the departure date past 31 August but has yet to do so. A Taliban spokesman told Sky News that the group will not accept such an extension. The UK has urged the US to extend the evacuation deadline. UK Armed Forces Minister James Heappey said Monday that evacuations had been made possible by the presence of US troops and Taliban co-operation. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Germany is in contact with the US, Turkey and the Taliban about how to keep Kabul airport in operation. Maas said the airport can only be kept open beyond 31 August if security can be guaranteed. The Council of the EU will assess the situation in Afghanistan at a special meeting on Thursday.
cnbc.com, reuters.com, politico.eu, dw.com, tagesspiegel.de

Security officer killed at Kabul airport: A deadly firefight brought renewed chaos on Monday to Kabul airport. One Afghan soldier was killed and three others were injured in the fight between Afghan security forces and unknown attackers at the north gate of the airport, the German military said in a tweet. It said American and German forces were also involved, adding that no German soldiers were hurt. The non-governmental organisation Emergency, which operates a hospital in Kabul, wrote on Twitter that at least six people were injured and hospitalised with gunshot wounds. UK armed forces minister James Heappey said British forces and nationals were not involved and the clash happened in an area of the airport where they are not located.
nbcnews.com, zdf.de, news.sky.com

Poland to build Belarus border fence against migrants: Poland on Monday announced plans for a barbed-wire fence along its border with Belarus following an influx of migrants across the border. Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak also said the contingent of Polish soldiers currently deployed to help border guards would be doubled to 2,000. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko assailed Polish authorities on Monday for reportedly using force to push migrants back to Belarus. Poland and the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania earlier on Monday urged the United Nations to take action against Belarus. The prime ministers of the four countries said it was clear that the ongoing crisis had been planned and systemically organised by Lukashenko. „It is high time to bring the issue of abusing migrants on the Belarussian territory to the attention of the UN, including the United Nations Security Council,“ the four premiers wrote.
france24.com, apnews.com, dw.com

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Crimea summit in Kyiv: At a conference on the future of the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia, representatives of about 50 countries once again condemned Moscow’s actions. In a joint statement, summit participants called on Russia to respect human rights in Crimea. They also said the Russian government should allow observer missions from the United Nations and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to enter the peninsula. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had transformed Crimea from a vacation region into an ecologically vulnerable military stronghold over the past seven years. He said there were already more than 100 political prisoners on Crimea, and added that he would “do everything possible to return Crimea, so that Crimea, together with Ukraine, becomes part of Europe.” EU Council President Charles Michel relayed messages of support for Ukraine. „I am here to reaffirm the EU’s unwavering stance: we do not and will not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia,“ Michel said. Russia criticised the summit in Kyiv, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov calling it a „witches‘ sabbath.“
tagesschau.de, zeit.de, apnews.com, euronews.com

Covid vaccines produced in Africa are being exported to Europe: South Africa is still waiting to receive the overwhelming majority of the 31 million COVID-19 vaccine doses it ordered from Johnson & Johnson. It has administered only about two million Johnson & Johnson shots. That is a key reason that fewer than 7% of South Africans are fully vaccinated — and that the country was devastated by the Delta variant. At the same time, Johnson & Johnson has been exporting millions of doses that were bottled and packaged in South Africa for distribution in Europe, according to executives at Johnson & Johnson and the South African manufacturer, Aspen Pharmacare, as well as South African government export records reviewed by The New York Times. „Global allocation of vaccines is currently not being made by public health officials but instead by a handful of company officials, who consistently prioritise Europeans and North Americans over Africans,“ said Matthew Kavanagh of the Health Law Institute at Georgetown University in the US. „This vaccine apartheid situation is unnecessarily prolonging the crisis, and it plants the seeds for future social unrest,“ said the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on the right to health, Tlaleng Mofokeng.
nytimes.com, dw.com, rfi.fr

Refugees: Could the EU use an old, obscure law to manage a new refugee influx from Afghanistan? euronews.com
Planned antibiotics restrictions: Veterinarians are worried about pets rnd.de
Dignified life: Parliament’s action for fair minimum wages in the EU europarl.europa.eu
Euro zone business activity remains robust in August as jobs boom cnbc.com


The need for humanitarian aid is increasing with recent developments. If we look at the number of internally displaced people, it is the highest with almost 3.7 million people. And 80% of them are women, girls and children.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on humanitarian aid for Afghanistan.


Germany removes incidence of 50/100,000/week from law: The Covid cabinet of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and specialist ministers has agreed that Covid restrictions will no longer apply at an incidence of 50 new infections per 100,000 people within seven days. Instead, the spotlight will be put on hospital admissions, with the burden in hospitals being introduced as a new benchmark in the Infection Protection Act. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the COVID-19 pandemic was increasingly turning into a pandemic of the unvaccinated. In Denmark, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke announced Monday that the plan is for all Danes to receive a third vaccine injection. However, it was not decided when the booster shot would be given. The United States Food and Drug Administration has formally approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The Pentagon is now preparing to issue updated guidance to require all US service personnel to be vaccinated.
tagesschau.de, tagesspiegel.de, faz.net (Germany); abcnews.go.com (Denmark); npr.org, reuters.com (US)

New wildfire hits Evia island: Greece’s fire department sent firefighters and aircraft to respond to a blaze that broke out on the country’s second-largest island, Evia, early Monday. A new forest fire also started in the area of Vilia, 60 kilometres northwest of Athens, nearby where a six-day blaze was finally controlled on Saturday. Greek and Romanian firefighters struggled to control the flames with the help of six helicopters and five water-dumping planes. Greece was scorched by several wildfires earlier this month amid its most severe heat wave in decades.

Cyprus sends migrants back to Lebanon: Cyprus on Monday sent 88 Syrian migrants back to Lebanon after they tried to reach the eastern Mediterranean island nation on two boats. Interior Minister Nicos Nouris told The Associated Press that rescue crews continue to search for one of five men who jumped overboard after police vessels intercepted their boat off Cyprus’ eastern coast. Nouris said police picked up four men, but the fifth managed to swim away. One pregnant woman and another man who was ill were airlifted to hospital. Cyprus signed an agreement with Lebanon last year to take back anyone trying to reach the island by boat.

Czech President Zeman says he is being shadowed by his own secret service: The Czech Republic’s president Milos Zeman suspects he is being targeted by his own secret service because apparently some of his closest aides are being monitored. „When I talk to these employees on the phone, I am also being bugged,“ the 76-year-old told the newspaper „Blesk.“ He said Prime Minister Andrej Babis had promised him that this surveillance would stop, but it was continuing. Zeman said he had learned about the surveillance from a source in the domestic intelligence service BIS.

Germany: Rail strike threatens new bottlenecks for business dw.com
Austria: Did former FPÖ leader Strache allow himself to be bought by clinic owner? faz.net
North Macedonia calls on population to vaccinate tagesschau.de


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Italian student goes viral after getting tattoo of Covid certificate on his arm: A 22-year-old student in Italy has become an unexpected internet sensation after tattooing the bar code of his COVID-19 certificate on his arm. Andrea Colonnetta said he had not given it much thought before getting his latest tattoo, but decided on the topical – and practical – choice after talking with tattoo artist Gabriele Pellerone. The Italian green pass gives proof of coronavirus status – that you are vaccinated, have recovered from the virus or tested negative in the last 48 hours.


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