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Zelensky Vows to Rebuild Bombed Children’s Hospital in Kiev

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed to rebuild the children’s hospital in Kiev which was badly damaged in a Russian missile attack earlier this week.

Some 100 million hryvnia (about 2.45 million dollars) had already been allocated to support the hospital, and a further 300 million hryvnia would follow, Zelensky said in a video message.

He promised help to all families whose relatives were killed or injured in the attack.

The strike on the hospital was part of a wave of missile attacks that left more than 40 people killed and well over 100 injured across the country on Monday.

The shelling of the children’s hospital and surrounding area, which left several people dead, provoked international outrage, including at the level of the UN Security Council.

Moscow dismissed the Ukrainian response as kind of a Public Relations (PR) stunt.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov blamed a stray missile from Ukraine’s own air defences for the damage to the hospital.

Kiev was trying to exploit the tragedy to coincide with Zelensky’s participation in the NATO summit in Washington, he said.

He noted that at the summit on Tuesday, NATO countries announced that more air defence systems would be delivered to Ukraine.

Zelensky, who is also attending, said the air defence systems would help ward off the kind of brutal attack that hit the paediatric hospital in Kiev. (dpa/NAN)

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ECOWAS Court Nullifies ECOWAS Commission Staff’s Dismissal

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The ECOWAS Court of Justice has nullified the dismissal of Mr Momodu Cham, a former staff of the Commission, saying it breached Article 69 of the ECOWAS staff regulations.

Cham had filed the suit following his dismissal from his position as a Procurement Officer with the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (GIABA), a specialised ECOWAS agency.

The applicant, a community citizen residing in Banjul, Gambia, had joined the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) and its President, as first and second Respondents, respectively, in the suit challenging his sack.

Delivering judgment, Justice Dupe Atoki, the Judge Rapporteur, held that the cessation of Cham’s salary by the Commission before the exhaustion of the appeal process was arbitrary, unlawful, null, and void.

According to Justice Atoki, the action of the Commission is contrary to Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

The Court, therefore, ordered the Respondents to pay Cham his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021 to June 2021, as compensation.

It further ordered the Commission to pay Mr Cham’s salaries and emoluments from July to December 2021 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal.

“Requesting an on-the-spot response to charges without prior notice or an opportunity to prepare a defense violates procedural safeguards outlined in the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

“The regulations are designed to ensure an Applicant’s rights are fully maintained until the Council’s final decision.

“Consequently, the summary dismissal of the Applicant by the 2nd Respondent breached Article 69 of the regulation.

“Therefore, the cessation of the Applicant’s salary and other emoluments after invoking the right of appeal is a violation of Article 73(b) of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations,” Justice Atoki held.

The Court, however, declined to grant any orders for mandatory injunctions against the Commission and reinstatement of the applicant .

The Applicant had contended at the trial that he was suspended on July 11, 2019, following a forensic audit report by Ernst and Young UK, which implicated him in irregularities related to the purchase of IT equipment for GIABA.

He said that on Jan. 26, 2021, he was summarily dismissed, and his salaries and emoluments were withheld in violation of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.

Cham had prayed the court to grant him several reliefs, including a declaration that his dismissal was arbitrary, null, and void.

He also sought an order setting aside his dismissal and the immediate payment of his salary arrears and other entitlements from January 2021.

The applicant had also prayed for his reinstatement to his position as a Procurement Officer and compensation for costs incurred in prosecuting the suit.

The Respondents, in their defense, had however, maintained that the applicant was properly suspended and later dismissed following a forensic audit report and a subsequent query.

They had also argued that the dismissal was appropriate due to the allegations of gross misconduct, embezzlement, theft, fraud, and abuse of trust.

The three-member panel also had Justices Gberi-bè Ouattara, presiding, and  Sengu Mohamed Koroma, as a member.(NAN)

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UN Warns Against Israeli Evacuation Orders in Gaza

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UN humanitarians on Wednesday warned against Israeli evacuation orders in Gaza City, noting that it will only fuel mass further suffering for Palestinians.

The directive, issued by the Israeli military, follows evacuation orders affecting several parts of the city in recent days.

“These civilians must be protected – and their essential needs must be met, whether they flee or stay,” UN reliet coordinator office (OCHA) said in a statement.

“This is what we mean when we say that all parties must respect international humanitarian law, at all times.

The situation is unfolding as a new round of negotiations towards a ceasefire in Gaza resumed in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday.

OCHA noted, however that the evacuation orders “are also forcing the humanitarian community to reset their aid operations over and over again.”

“Aid workers are responding, but what they can deliver falls far short of needs,” UN Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Muhannad Hadi, said on Wednesday in a post  on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

He stressed that “more funding is urgently needed – as is a safe, enabling environment inside Gaza.”

Mr. Hadi visited Deir Al-Balah on Tuesday, where he witnessed firsthand the consequences of the breakdown in public order and safety as he entered and exited the Kerem Shalom crossing, OCHA reported.

“He saw groups of men with sticks waiting for trucks to leave the Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza. All trucks he passed were badly damaged, with broken windshields, mirrors and hoods,” the agency added.

The Humanitarian Coordinator also observed bags of fortified flour from the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN agency assisting Palestine refugees (UNRWA) scattered alongside the road coming out of Kerem Shalom.

The top official “also saw that the city of Khan Younis has largely been reduced to sand and rubble, without a single structure left untouched.”

While in Gaza, Hadi met with women’s groups who told him about the harrowing conditions at sites for displaced people.

Many women have cut off their hair due to lice, difficulties in accessing shampoo and other personal hygiene products, and the lack of privacy, for example.

Others voiced despair over the inability to provide for their families, especially for relatives living with disabilities and those who are sick.

Women also reported on how extreme overcrowding in displacement sites can lead to tensions within communities.

They also said that overcrowding, despair and the breakdown in public order and safety are fueling an increase in sexual and gender-based violence.

Hadi also visited the IMC Field Hospital in Deir Al-Balah, together with the Regional Director of the World Health Organiwation (WHO), Hanan Balkhy.

Hadi said he was humbled to see how doctors and nurses provided trauma care for hundreds of patients with severe wounds, despite nearly impossible operational conditions, including the inability to get basic medical supplies such as gauze,” the agency said.

OCHA also reported on Wednesday that it had documented more than 1,000 Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank since October, leading to casualties and damage to property, trees, and saplings.

Nearly 1,400 people, including 660 children, in more than two dozen Bedouin and herding communities have been displaced during the same period due to settler violence and access restrictions.

OCHA added that Israeli forces in the West Bank killed 14 Palestinians between July 2 and 8, the vast majority during two operations in the Jenin and Tulkarm cities and their adjacent refugee camps. (NAN)

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Saudi Leaders Congratulate Iran’s Pezeshkian on Election Victory

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Saudi Arabia’s leaders have congratulated Iranian reformist Masoud Pezeshkian on winning the presidential election and expressed interest in the growth of ties with his country.

In 2023, Saudi Arabia and its regional rival Iran, who supported opposing sides of the conflicts in Yemen and Syria, agreed in a China-brokered deal to restore ties after a rupture of seven years.

The Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Saturday that King Salman had said in a congratulatory cable to Pezeshkian that he looks forward to “continued development of relations” between the two countries and coordination to “enhance regional and international security and peace.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the oil-wealthy monarchy’s de-facto ruler, sent similar congratulations, according to SPA.

(dpa/NAN)

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