The number of people, who have died in the devastating flooding in western Germany continues to rise.
This is as the death toll reaching more than 130 after police announced 90 fatalities in the Ahrweiler district on Saturday.
Saturday’s figure brings the total number of deaths in Germany’s western regions to 133, with 43 confirmed in North Rhine Westphalia late on Friday.
Rescue work continued across Europe where more than 150 people have died in the flooding after heavy rainfall hit parts of Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
In Germany, the Police said on Saturday they feared more deaths would be confirmed in the Ahrweiler district, the focus of the crisis in the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
The Police there said they had received reports of 618 people injured.
In the Ahr valley area, where bridges are damaged and roads blocked, the Police asked the public to avoid the area where possible to keep routes clear for rescue vehicles.
Many are still missing more than two days after massive flooding hit the region and search and rescue efforts are ongoing.
Images of devastation have shocked the nation.
Over 19,000 emergency forces are working in rescue operations in the state of North Rhine Westphalia, according to the regional government.
Some 700 residents of Ophoven were evacuated from their homes on Friday evening after a dam broke in the Heinsberg district in the western state.
The situation remained tense early on Saturday morning, according to a statement issued by the town that is close to the Dutch border.
It was unclear how much damage had been caused by the dam breaking on the Rur River, which flows from Germany through the Netherlands and Belgium.
Later on Saturday, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is due to visit North Rhine Westphalia.
He is expected in the Rhein-Erft district and is then due to join state premier, Armin Laschet, in a visit to Erftstadt, where numerous houses and cars were washed away in recent days.
In Erftstadt-Blessem several buildings and parts of a historic castle, were destroyed due to a sink hole and major landslides.
State Interior Minister, Herbert Reul, said on Friday evening it was assumed several people in Erftstadt had died but the situation was not yet clear.
Emergency workers are still searching for those missing there.
Water levels have dropped in other parts of the area, a district spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Bundeswehr troops have begun clearing cars stuck in the floods on a nearby main road using light wheeled tanks.
So far no one has been found in the cars and lorries the Erftstadt fire brigade said on Saturday.
This is after there had been fears that some might not have escaped in time when numerous vehicles were flooded on a motorway.
Steinmeier plans to gain an overview of the situation and speak to emergency services.
Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged support for those affected by flooding during a Friday video conference with Laschet, who is also the frontrunner to succeed Merkel at the September election.
Merkel also plans to travel soon to hard-hit parts of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Thousands of emergency workers are in the Eifel region, where the deluge devastated entire towns on Thursday night.
More than two days later, people are still missing.
Damaged power and telephone lines and interruptions to mobile phone services made it harder to locate people.
Initial forecasts for Rhineland-Palatinate showed the danger of flooding had fallen, although warnings remained in place around the Ahr River and the tributaries of the lower Sauer.
The Green Party candidate, Annalena Baerbock, also travelled to the region on Friday after ending her holidays early.
She praised the way people were supporting each other and taking in those affected, in a tweet.
Germany’s Agriculture Minister, Julia Kloeckner, told the Neuen Osnabruecker Zeitung newspaper’s Saturday edition that climate protection efforts needed to be ramped up, both in Germany and worldwide, since such “extreme weather events” would only occur more often in the future. (dpa/NAN)
Okonjo-Iweala ‘Less Optimistic’ About World Trade In 2024
The World Trade Organization’s chief Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on Wednesday said she was “less optimistic” about world trade in 2024, pointing to tensions in the Red Sea.She said weaker global economic growth, “worsening geopolitical tensions, the new disruptions we see in the Red Sea, on the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal” meant “we are less optimistic”.
Okonjo-Iweala was speaking to journalists at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos where political and economic elites are meeting to discuss global challenges.
Before the massive Hamas attack on Israel in October and the subsequent outbreak of war in Gaza, the WTO had predicted trade would grow by 0.8 per cent in 2023 and projected growth of 3.3 per cent this year.
But Okonjo-Iweala warned the figure for 2024 would now be lower in future forecasts.
“We think there are a lot of downside risks to the forecasts we had made last year of 3.3 percent of growth of merchandise volumes this year. So we expect weaker performance,” she said.
“We will be revising estimates for this year, but they won’t be ready for another month or so,” Okonjo-Iweala added.
A spate of attacks by Yemeni rebels on Red Sea shipping has disrupted the vital trade route while the worst drought in decades to hit the Panama Canal has forced authorities to slow transits.
Yemen’s Huthi rebels say their strikes are in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.
The attacks have, however, also caused shipping companies to avoid the Suez Canal.
The Hamas attack on October 7 resulted in the death of around 1,140 people in Israel, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
More than 24,400 Palestinians, around 70 percent of them women, young children and adolescents, have been killed in the Gaza Strip in Israeli bombardments and ground offensive since October 7, according to the Hamas government’s Ministry of Health.
Your Investments Are Safe In Nigeria, Tinubu Assures Saudi Investors
President Bola Tinubu on Friday assured potential investors that their investments are safe in Nigeria.
Speaking at the Saudi-Africa Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, President Tinubu said Nigeria is ready for business while assuring investors of some of the world’s highest returns on investment.
“I also wish to assure all potential Saudi investors of the safety of their investments based on the sanctity of the rule of law and good returns on their investments in the largest economy in Africa,” the President was quoted in a statement by his media aide, Ajuri Ngelale.
“In this regard, the benefit attached to the early inauguration of the Nigeria-Saudi Business Council can not be over-emphasized. Nigeria, like the Kingdom, is diversifying its economy away from oil dependence to promote sustainable development.
“My administration has undertaken bold economic reforms by removing wasteful subsidies on petroleum and the merging of our foreign exchange market, among other incentives aimed at improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria.”
Tinubu stated that Nigeria is desirous of enhancing collaboration with Saudi Arabia on combating terrorist organisations such as Boko Haram, ISWAP, and other violent extremist groups which have been terrorising the Lake Chad and Sahel regions.
He said, “Nigeria and Saudi Arabia have always enjoyed a special relationship at both the bilateral and multilateral levels. Within the past six decades, our bilateral cooperation, which was initially hajj-centric, has witnessed diversification to cover a number of areas of common interest.
“It is delightful to note the presence in this great Kingdom of a large number of our compatriots and professionals, including highly skilled medical practitioners and professional football players.
“As members of several international organizations including the UN, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the International Energy Forum, the G77, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Digital Cooperation Organization among others, our two nations have effectively used these and other platforms to enhance close interaction and coordination.”
The President expressed confidence that the countries’ joint positive disposition within those platforms would continue to be demonstrated “as we seek to advance our mutual interests”.
Further, he thanked the Middle-East nation for the various humanitarian interventions in Nigeria through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre.
Speaking on climate change and how it affects Africa, President Tinubu said climate change had led to an expedited rate of desertification and incessant flooding in Nigeria and many other countries of Africa.
He commended the efforts of the Kingdom for its various initiatives to fight the effects of climate change, adding that Nigeria is also working on a number of initiatives to fight the effects of climate change and energy poverty.
Niger coup pressures food markets in West Africa – World Bank
The World Bank says the coup d’état in Niger may put additional pressure on Nigeria and other West African nations’ food markets.
According to the global bank, “The Nigerien coup d’état puts an additional seven million people at risk of falling into severe food insecurity in the region against a backdrop of soaring commodity and staple food prices, and severe food insecurity already affecting 3.3 million people during the lean season.”
In its September ‘Food Security Update’, the bank stated that the coup d’état in Niger might put additional pressure on West African food markets.
The Washington-based bank stated that food prices increased by up to 21 per cent in August in Niger owing to the economic and financial sanctions the Economic Community of West African States and the West African Economic and Monetary Union imposed on the country.
It noted that as a result, it limited poor households’ access to food and their ability to meet their dietary needs.
It stated that with the government’s limited financial capacity to implement its food assistance programme, continued provision of food aid by the World Food Programme remains essential, as access restrictions are hindering delivery of aid.
The report observed that FAO expects that shortages of seeds and feed and high fertilizer costs would affect the next agriculture season, exacerbating food insecurity, which is expected to persist beyond the lean season.
According to the Bank, Western and Central Africa were facing persistent food crises, with the number of people in need of food and nutritional assistance in the region rising from around 10.7 million in 2019, 29 million in 2021, to more than 40 million in 2022 and 2023.
The Bank said that between June and August 2023, 42.5 million people in Nigeria and other West African countries were in a food crisis or worse.
It added that the main factors affecting food security are civil insecurity and conflict, which have led to forced displacement, climatic shocks, political instability, adding that the war in Ukraine have increased the volatility of prices for foodstuffs and other commodities and caused widespread inflation as current food prices remain higher than during the same period last year.
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