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UK Accused Of Ignoring Plight Of Green Activists In Afghanistan

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UK accused of ignoring plight of green activists in Afghanistan

Environmental campaigners who worked with UK officials fear for their lives after receiving death threats

The UK government has been accused of ignoring the plight of three environmental activists from Afghanistan who worked with British officials to mitigate the damaging impact of climate change on their country before the Taliban takeover.

The campaigners, who have received credible threats to their lives, do not know the fate of one of their colleagues who was detained by the Taliban.

The three were employed via Oxford Policy Management, an international development consulting firm, to carry out work for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office on climate change. They are now in hiding.

Repeated letters and emails to the FCDO have gone unanswered along with applications to the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy scheme (Arap).

One of the climate activists, Mohammed, who spoke from his hiding place in Kabul, said he feared the Taliban were closing in.

“Sometimes I think I’ll just go and surrender to the Taliban so they can kill me and it will all be over,” he said. “It is hard to explain to my young son why I cannot take him to the park. We have begged the UK government to rescue us but so far our pleas have been ignored.”

Greta Thunberg tweeted an appeal to help environmental activists from Fridays for Future get out of Afghanistan.

Abdul Qahar Balkhi, of the Taliban’s cultural commission, pledged to work with the global community to fight issues such as climate change in an interview with Newsweek. However, Mohammed said he did not believe the Taliban were committed to tackling the climate emergency.

“So far the Taliban has not appointed a minister for the environment. They believe the climate crisis is all arranged by Allah and humans should not intervene,” he said.

While the Taliban have previously made pro-environment statements such as one in 2017 urging people to go out and plant trees to beautify the planet, the group has also been implicated in illegal logging, planting landmines in pomegranate orchards and taxing opium poppy farmers.

While Afghanistan is responsible for only 0.03% of global emissions, the country is severely affected by climate change.

The economy is heavily dependent on farming with up to 85% of Afghans engaged in agriculture, growing crops such as wheat, potatoes and various fruits. The country has been badly affected by drought, flash floods and deforestation. Opium poppies are favoured by some farmers because they are drought-resistant and generate reliable income.

Afghanistan has many minerals that could assist with tackling climate change. Along with copper, iron, gold and cobalt, it has lithium that is needed to manufacture batteries for use in electric cars and other technology that uses renewable energy. However, extracting these minerals is challenging and unlikely to happen imminently.

The environmental activists say that as each hour passes the risk of the Taliban finding where they are hiding increases.

“The Taliban are too brutal,” said Mohammed. “They are lying to the media when they say they have changed for the better. They are even more brutal than before. One of our colleagues was contacted by the Taliban before they took over Kabul. He was told: ‘We have a list of all your colleagues who worked with the infidels. We will look for you and we will find you.’ Then he started naming our colleagues.”

In a letter dated 1 September to Dominic Raab, who was then foreign secretary, Oxford Policy Management wrote that the three climate change campaigners who had worked with the FCDO “are at imminent threat having already received several threats on their lives”. To date, no reply has been received.

A Home Office spokesperson said: “The UK’s evacuation operation helped over 15,000 people to safety including British nationals, Afghan interpreters and other vulnerable people. The Afghan citizens’ resettlement scheme will provide protection for people at risk and identified as in need. It is one of the UK’s most ambitious resettlement schemes ever and will welcome 5,000 Afghans in the first year and 20,000 over the coming years.”

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Environment

Flood Kills 7, Displaces 2,800 In Kwara

Flooding in different parts of Kwara in 2022 has caused about 7 deaths.

This was disclosed by the managing Director, Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission, HYPPADEC, Abubakar Yelwa, on Sunday, September 25, in Patigi, Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara State.

He identified riverine communities in Patigi as the worst hit by the disaster.

Abubakar said 1,300 households and 2,800 persons were affected by the flood disaster.

He further revealed that large hectares of farmlands and houses were also submerged in Patigi.

The commission was in the area to assist the victims with relief materials.

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Environment

Tropical Storm Ian strengthens into a hurricane, heads toward Cuba, Florida

Tropical Storm Ian strengthens into a hurricane, heads toward Cuba, Florida

Forecasters say Tropical Storm Ian has strengthened into a hurricane as it moves closer to Cuba on a track expected to take it to Florida in the coming days.

Ian was forecast to intensify rapidly and become a major hurricane as soon as late Monday.

Authorities in Cuba suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and said they will begin evacuations Monday as Ian was forecast to strengthen before reaching the western part of the island on its way to Florida.

A hurricane warning was in effect for Grand Cayman and the Cuban provinces of Isla de Juventud, Pinar del Rio and Artemisa. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Ian should reach the far-western part of Cuba late Monday or early Tuesday, hitting near the country’s most famed tobacco fields. It could become a major hurricane before a likely landfall in Florida around the middle of the week, possibly the state’s western coast or Panhandle.

Cuba state media outlet Granma said authorities would begin evacuating people from vulnerable areas early Monday in the far-western province of Pinar del Rio. Classes there have been suspended.

At 5 a.m. EDT on Monday, Ian was moving northwest at 13 mph (20 kph), about 90 miles (150 kilometers) southwest of Grand Cayman, according to the center. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph).

Meanwhile, residents in Florida were keeping a cautious eye on Ian as it rumbled ominously through the Caribbean on a path toward the state.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has declared a state of emergency throughout Florida and urged residents to prepare for the storm to lash large swaths of the state with heavy rains, high winds and rising seas.

Forecasters are still unsure of exactly where Ian could make landfall, with current models plotting it toward Florida’s west coast or panhandle regions, he said.

“We’re going to keep monitoring the track of this storm. But it really is important to stress the degree of uncertainty that still exists,” DeSantis said at a news conference Sunday, cautioning that “even if you’re not necessarily right in the eye of the path of the storm, there’s going to be pretty broad impacts throughout the state.”

Flash and urban flooding is possible in the Florida Keys and Florida peninsula through midweek, and then heavy rainfall was possible for north Florida, the Florida panhandle and the southeast United States later this week.

The agency placed a tropical storm watch over the lower Florida Keys on Sunday evening and has advised Floridians to have hurricane plans in place and monitor updates of the storm’s evolving path.

President Joe Biden also declared an emergency, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to coordinate disaster relief and provide assistance to protect lives and property. The president postponed a scheduled Sept. 27 trip to Florida because of the storm.

John Cangialosi, a senior hurricane specialist at the Miami-based center, said in an interview Sunday that it is not clear exactly where Ian will hit hardest in Florida. Residents should begin preparations, including gathering supplies for potential power outages, he said.

“It’s a hard thing to say stay tuned, but that’s the right message right now,” Cangialosi said “But for those in Florida, it’s still time to prepare. I’m not telling you to put up your shutters yet or do anything like that, but it’s still time to get your supplies.”

Local media in Florida have reported a consumer rush on water, generators and other supplies in some areas where residents moved to stock up on goods ahead of the storm.

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Environment

134 Dead, 76,887 Houses Destroyed As Flooding Hits Jigawa

Heavy flooding in Jigawa State has resulted in the death of 134 persons and destroyed 76,887 houses.

The deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Umar Namadi disclosed this when he hosted the United Nations Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) official, Rahman Rihub Mahmud Fara on Saturday.

He said the state lost property worth more than N1.5 trillion to the floods.

A total of 22 roads and 11 bridges were completely washed away by the floods, he said.

The deputy governor said an entire village was also completely destroyed.

He said the flood affected 272,189 people, out of which 76,887 lost their houses.Mr Namadi said Kirikasamma and Birniwa local government areas are greatly affected.

UNICEF chief field officer in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa, Mr Fara, said they came to assess the situation and see what could be done to alleviate the suffering of the communities affected by flood in the state.

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