EU, UNHCR discuss options to manage migration

BRUSSELS, March 16 (KUNA) — Charles Michel, President of de European Council, met in Brussels Thursday Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and discussed migration issues.”In EU, we are working on real solutions to manage migration. This …

BRUSSELS, March 16 (KUNA) — Charles Michel, President of de European Council, met in Brussels Thursday Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and discussed migration issues.

“In EU, we are working on real solutions to manage migration. This includes reinforcing cooperation with third countries and UNHCR,” Michel said on his Twitter message after the meeting.

“We discussed the best way to take our common work forward. UNHCR is a key EU partner,” he added. (end) nk.ibi

Source: Kuwait News Agency

UNODC: Cocaine trafficking diversifying, global supply at record levels

VIENNA, March 16 (KUNA) – Global production of cocaine has jumped dramatically over the past two years following an initial slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report released Thursday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and …

VIENNA, March 16 (KUNA) – Global production of cocaine has jumped dramatically over the past two years following an initial slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report released Thursday by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The Global Report on Cocaine 2023 indicated that coca cultivation soared 35 percent from 2020 to 2021, a record high and the sharpest year-to-year increase since 2016.

The rise is a result of both an expansion in coca bush cultivation and improvements in the process of converting coca bush to cocaine hydrochloride.

“The surge in the global cocaine supply should put all of us on high alert,” stated UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly in reacting to these findings.

“The potential for the cocaine market to expand in Africa and Asia is a dangerous reality. I urge governments and others to closely examine the report’s findings to determine how this transnational threat can be met with transnational responses based on awareness raising, prevention, and international and regional cooperation.” The steep growth in supply has been matched by a similar swelling in demand, with many regions showing a steady rise in cocaine users over the past decade. While the cocaine market remains quite concentrated in the Americas and parts of Europe, the report warns that there is a strong potential for a large expansion in Africa and Asia.

Nevertheless, interceptions of cocaine shipments by law enforcement around the world have also risen sharply, with seizures reaching a record high of nearly 2,000 tons in 2021.

The report examines the emergence of new hubs for cocaine trafficking, noting that countries in Southeastern Europe and Africa – particularly those in West and Central Africa – are increasingly being used as key transit zones for the drug.

Ports on the North Sea like Antwerp, Rotterdam, and Hamburg, meanwhile, have eclipsed traditional entry points in Spain and Portugal for cocaine arriving in Western Europe.

Traffickers are also diversifying their routes in Central America by sending more and more cocaine to Europe, in addition to North America.

The modalities of cocaine traffickers are also examined in the report, with findings showing that the criminal landscape is fragmenting into a myriad of trafficking networks.

The demobilization of fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) – who had previously controlled many of Colombia’s coca-growing regions – created an opening for others to step in, such as new, local actors; ex-FARC guerillas; or even foreign groups from Mexico and Europe.

Additionally, the report reveals that so-called “service providers”, i.e., specialized groups that lend their services at all stages of the supply chain for a fee, have proliferated.

“With its latest knowledge and trends on the routes, modalities, and networks employed by criminal actors,” noted Angela Me, chief of the Research and Analysis Branch at UNODC.

“It is my hope that the report will support evidence-based strategies which stay ahead of future developments in cocaine production, trafficking, and use.” (end) amg.ibi

Source: Kuwait News Agency

EU expects constructive approach from Kosovo, Serbia at Saturday’s meeting

BRUSSELS, March 16 (KUNA) – European Union High Representative Union Josep Borrell Thursday said that he expects a constructive approach from Prime Minister Albin Kurti of Kosovo and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at Saturday’s meeting in Ohrid, No…

BRUSSELS, March 16 (KUNA) – European Union High Representative Union Josep Borrell Thursday said that he expects a constructive approach from Prime Minister Albin Kurti of Kosovo and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at Saturday’s meeting in Ohrid, North Macedonia.

“Certainly, I hope that, on Saturday both parties will come with a constructive approach, with the will to engage, to agree,” he told a press conference during a visit to Tirana, Albania today.

“I insist: not on the agreement itself, which has already been agreed, but on the implementation modalities and timelines. If this happens, then I think that the Western Balkans will celebrate a big step forward towards the European Union path for all the Western Balkans,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Albania and the EU met for the 12th Stabilisation and Association Council on Thursday. The meeting took place for the first time in the region in Tirana, Albania.

The Council reviewed relations between the EU and Albania under the Stabilisation and Association Process, noted a joint EU-Albania press statement.

There was also an exchange of views on recent developments in the Western Balkans.

Given the new geopolitical reality following Russia’s war against Ukraine, the EU strongly underlined the importance of further deepening the cooperation on foreign and security policy issues with Albania, it said.

The EU also recalled the importance of the Energy Support Package of 1 billion euro (USD 1.6 billion) for the Western Balkans (500 million in grants and 500 million in soft loans and guarantees), of which EUR 80 million (USD 84 million) for Albania aims to protect the most vulnerable groups affected by the energy crises. (end) nk.ibi

Source: Kuwait News Agency

US, UK, France, Germany call for political solution to Syrian conflict

WASHINGTON, March 16 (KUNA) – The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany have renewed calls for a political solution to end the 12-year conflict in Syria.”We continue to stand with the Syrian people and strongly support efforts to advanc…

WASHINGTON, March 16 (KUNA) – The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany have renewed calls for a political solution to end the 12-year conflict in Syria.

“We continue to stand with the Syrian people and strongly support efforts to advance an enduring political solution, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254,” the three countries said Thursday in a joint statement on the occasion of the 12th Anniversary of the Syrian Uprising.

They urged all sides to help improve the situation on the ground for millions of Syrians, including the situation of internally displaced persons and refugees.

They lamented that this year’s anniversary comes on the heels of a series of devastating earthquakes that claimed the lives of nearly 10,000 Syrians inside the country and across the border in Turkiye many of whom sought refuge there after fleeing the Assad regime.

“In light of this catastrophe, we renew our call on all parties in Syria to observe their commitments under ceasefire agreements, work towards a sustained calm, permit unhindered humanitarian access and the unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid through all modalities, including the continued authorization of the cross-border mechanism by the UN Security Council, and address the increasing need for assistance after over a decade of war and abuse,” they added.

They reiterated commitment to supporting Syrian civil society. (end) rsr.ibi

Source: Kuwait News Agency