European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a speech during a debate on "The State of the European Union" as part of a plenary session in Strasbourg on September 15, 2021. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday said the bloc will increase its humanitarian aid for Afghanistan by extra 100 million euros to avert the humanitarian disaster in the country.

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A picture taken on September 3, 2021, shows cracked soil after a drought at Sel Kapani Dam Lake in the Golbasi district of Ankara. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

The Middle East is warming at twice the global average and this summer several countries like Kuwait, Oman, Iran, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia recorded temperatures exceeding 50 degrees Celsius, as forests burn, and severe droughts become more and more frequent. There is compelling evidence that it will be the Middle East region that climate change will hit hardest.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres unveiled a report titled “Our Common Agenda” which outlines plans for strengthening international collaboration and the future of the United Nations (UN). The document includes suggestions to renew the social contract between citizens and institutions, considered by Guterres to be indispensable to address global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.

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Afghan women take part in a gathering at a hall in Kabul on August 2, 2021 against the claimed human rights violations on women by the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

“Women's political participation is a fundamental prerequisite for gender equality and genuine democracy. Women’s participation in all walks of life is essential for an inclusive, strong and prosperous society in Afghanistan, both to meet the many challenges the country faces today and to succeed tomorrow. It is therefore critical that political decision-making processes are participatory, responsive, equitable and inclusive,” stated Pramila Patten.



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LEHTIKUVA / AFP

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on August 30 listed the Mu Covid-19 variant as a 'variant of interest'.

The WHO on Aug 30 added the Mu variant-- known by scientists as B1621-- to the list of "variants of interest" because of preliminary evidence that it can evade antibodies, reported The Straits Times.

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Taliban fighters stand on an armoured vehicle parade along a road to celebrate after the US pulled all its troops out of Afghanistan, in Kandahar on September 1, 2021 following the Taliban's military takeover of the country. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

The European Union is in no hurry to recognise the Taliban nor to establishing official relations with the group, said Gunnar Wiegand, the European Commission's managing director for Asia and the Pacific on Wednesday.

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The European Union on Tuesday said that it will continue to coordinate with the UN and its agencies on the stabilisation of Afghanistan, ensure that humanitarian aid reaches vulnerable populations and for this purpose, will also step up financial support.

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A tourist shows his EU digital Covid certificate as he waits to enter the Ancient Colosseum in central Rome on August 6, 2021, as Italy made the Green Pass, which is an extension of the EU's digital Covid certificate, required from today to enter cinemas, museums and indoor sports venues, or eat indoors at restaurants. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

The European Union has achieved its first goal of mass vaccination against coronavirus, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced today.

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A shipment of vaccines provided for Sudan by the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) is received by local officials at Khartoum International Airport. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

The global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is progressing at "two alarmingly different speeds", UN agency leaders said.

In a statement on Friday, several UN agencies noted that less than two percent of adults are fully vaccinated in most low-income countries compared to almost 50 percent in high-income.

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