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China Takes Over Ugandan Airport, Other Country’s Assets Over $207million Loan Deal

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This came despite reports that President Yoweri Museveni had sent a delegation to Beijing for a renegotiation with the Chinese government over toxic clauses that exposed the East African country.

The Museveni-led Ugandan government had on Tuesday, 17 November 2015, signed an agreement with Exim Bank to borrow $207 million at two per cent upon disbursement.

The loan had a maturity period of 20 years including a seven-year grace period, but it had now appeared that the transaction signed with the Chinese lenders practically means Uganda “surrendered” its most prominent and only international airport.

The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) revealed some provisions in the Financing Agreement with China that exposed Entebbe International Airport and other Ugandan assets to be attached and taken over by Chinese lenders upon negotiation in Beijing.

Uganda, however, sought to renegotiate the deal but the latest visits and pleas to alter the original terms with Chinese authorities were declined.

According to the Daily Monitor, the Ugandan government waived international immunity in the agreement it signed to secure the loans, exposing Entebbe International Airport to take over without international protection.

In desperation, Uganda in March 2021 sent a delegation to Beijing hoping to renegotiate the toxic clauses of the deal but the officials came back empty-handed as China would not allow the terms of the original deal to be varied.

Last week, Uganda’s Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija, apologised to parliament for the “mishandling of the $207 million loan” from the China Exim Bank to expand Entebbe International Airport.

Progress of works at the airport, built in 1972, has reached 75.2 per cent, with two runways having reached overall completion of 100 per cent.

Entebbe International Airport is Uganda’s only international airport and handles over 1.9 million passengers per year. Its seizure by China would greatly dent the legacy of the 77-year-old Museveni, who came to power on the back of an armed uprising in 1986, and expose him to election defeat.Naija360

Foreign News

February Ends with Extreme Heat – WMO

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The UN weather agency, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), says February saw more extreme heat and unusually high temperatures in both hemispheres.

Summarising the state of the climate, it said the month ended with extreme heat in the southern hemisphere where it is summer, while high temperatures atypical of the northern hemisphere winter prevailed.

Parts of North and South America, northwest and southeast Africa, southeast and far eastern Asia, western Australia and Europe all saw record-breaking temperatures, either on a daily basis or for all of February.

“The anomalous heat is consistent with the persisting warming observed since June 2023, with seven consecutive new global monthly temperature records, including January 2024,” Alvaro Silva, a climatologist working with the WMO, said in a statement.

Global sea surface temperatures were record high. While the El Niño weather pattern “has stoked temperatures in some parts of the world, human induced climate change is the long-term major contributing factor,” he added.

Conversely, a large part of northwestern Canada, central Asia – and from southern central Siberia to southeastern China – witnessed exceptional cold during the last week of the month.

The meteorological winter in the northern hemisphere and summer in the southern hemisphere finished officially at the end of February.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) raised increasing concern on Friday that more refugees would cross into Chad from Darfur in the coming weeks amid a worrying lack of food and other essentials.

Almost a year since the start of the civil war between rival militaries in Sudan, neighbouring Chad urgently needs more humanitarian aid and significant development investment, the agency reported, especially in its eastern areas which are hosting the refugee influx.

This investment will allow the country to continue its generous open-door stance towards refugees.

“Chadian officials are concerned that many more hungry Sudanese families will come in the next weeks,” said Kelly Clements, UNHCR’s Deputy High Commissioner, who is in the country to review the relief operation.

“The country is committed to keeping its borders open, despite the fragility of this region.

“But, doing so will put even more strain on Chad, which has so graciously been hosting refugees from Sudan’s war – now raging almost a year – and other refugees still here from earlier emergencies.” (NAN)

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More Than 30,000 Killed in Gaza Strip War – UN Officials

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More than 30,000 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since Israel launched its military offensive in October, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Thursday.

Volker Türk quoted the number during a meeting of the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The head of the UN’s World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, also used the figure in a post on X, formerly twitter.

“The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 30,000 a large majority women and children.

Over 70,000 Palestinians have been injured,” he wrote.

“This horrific violence and suffering must end.

Ceasefire.”

Neither Türk nor Tedros quoted a source.

An official confirmation from the health authorities in Gaza, who usually post the figures daily, is expected later.

Israel launched its assault on the Gaza Strip in response to Palestinian militants from Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organisations killing of more than 1,200 people inside the Jewish state on October 7. (dpa/NAN)

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Saudi Arabia places Orders for 120 Helicopters with Airbus

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Saudi Arabia’s The Helicopter Co. (THC) has ordered up to 120 Airbus helicopters.

Also, the German helicopter emergency medical services operator, DRF Luftrettung, placed orders for up to 10 Airbus H145 helicopters.

The airline manufacturer made the disclosure on Wednesday.

The companies signed the deals at the HAI Heli-Expo currently taking place at Anaheim Convention Centre in southern California, according to Airbus.

Airbus’s framework agreement with THC, a premier provider of commercial helicopter services and fully owned by the Public Investment Fund, will include up to 120 Airbus helicopters of various types.

These will be delivered over the next five years to seven years.

The deal included a firm order for eight H125s along with 10 H145s that were converted options from an earlier contract.

This brought THC’s total Airbus helicopter fleet to 60. Twenty-five of the 60  are already in service.

The new H125 helicopters would support the delivery of THC’s range of services in areas including aerial work and tourism.

Furthermore, DRF Luftrettung’s orders for up to 10 H145 helicopters include seven firm orders and three options. (dpa/NAN)

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