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Rescued Thai cave boys get grooming to become Buddhist monks

The odyssey of a youth soccer team rescued from a Thai cave continued Tuesday when 11 of the boys attended a solemn ceremony and had their heads shaved before being ordained as Buddhist novices

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The odyssey of a youth soccer team rescued from a Thai cave continued Tuesday when 11 of the boys attended a solemn ceremony and had their heads shaved before being ordained as Buddhist novices.

The families of the boys had pledged to have the boys ordained as a show of gratitude for their rescue from the partially flooded Tham Luang cave in Chiang Rai.

Video from the ceremony shows the boys, dressed in white, lined up before a table covered with lit candles and food. The boys prayed, bowed and took seats. A group of monks and others in the audience then took part in clipping their hair and shaving their heads.

The boys, ages 11-17, will be formally ordained Wednesday and spend nine days living in Wat Pha That Doi Wao temple near their homes in northern Thailand. That’s about how long they were trapped before the first team of rescue divers reached them, 2.5 miles from the cave’s entrance.

Read Also: Revealed: Thai cave boys tried to dig their way out

“This temple will be where they will reside after the ordination. I hope they will find peace, strength and wisdom from practicing Buddha’s teaching,” said the temple’s acting abbot, Phra Khru Prayutjetiyanukarn.

The assistant coach who was trapped with the boys, Ekapol Chanthawong, previously lived as a Buddhist novice for more than eight years and will be ordained as a monk. A 12th team member who was with the group, Adul Sam-on, is not Buddhist and is not participating in the ceremonies.

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Musings From Abroad

Kenya, UAE seal economic relations deal

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Thani Al Zeyoudi, the United Arab Emirate’s minister of foreign trade, has announced that his country and Kenya have reached an agreement for a comprehensive economic partnership (Cepa).

According to a social media post by Al Zeyoudi, non-oil commerce between the Gulf State and Kenya reached $3.1 billion in 2023, up 26.4% from 2022.

As part of a plan to diversify its oil-based economy, the UAE initiated bilateral trade talks with many African nations in 2022, including Kenya, the largest economy in East Africa.

“We will now look to expand across sectors, from food production and mining to technology and logistics,” he said of the agreement.

Kenya’s Trade Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Miano was quoted by the UAE state news agency WAM as saying that the agreement would be crucial in making it possible for Kenyan exports to reach significant markets in Asia and the Middle East as well as “in stimulating investment inflows that will further develop our national capabilities.”

The UAE has inked other Cepas, including agreements with Asia’s superpowers, India and Indonesia, as well as longtime adversaries, Israel and Turkey. 2023 saw the Gulf State sign its first CEPA with two African countries, the Republic of Congo-Brazzaville and the island of Mauritius.

With over €2 million in total trade, Kenya ranked the UAE as its fourth-biggest trading partner, and it was also the largest trading partner and export destination in the Middle East.

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Musings From Abroad

UN sanctions six Congolese rebels over crisis in its eastern region

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Six members of five armed organisations in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council as violence between the Congolese army and M23 Tutsi-led rebels, who are backed by Rwanda, has escalated.

 

The fighting in this decades-long battle has made it more likely that Rwanda and Congo could go to war, which might draw in armies from nearby countries like South Africa, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, and Malawi.

 

The Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Robert Wood, told a meeting of the 15-member Security Council that “The United States firmly supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the DRC and lasting peace for all Congolese people. Rwanda and the DRC must walk back from the brink of war.”

A travel ban, asset freeze, and arms embargo were placed on two leaders of the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), one commander of the Twirwaneho armed organisation, and one leader of the National People’s Coalition for the Sovereignty of Congo (CNPSC) rebels by the Security Council’s DRC sanctions committee.

The military spokesman for the M23 Tutsi-led rebels, allegedly backed by Rwanda, and a leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an organisation started by Hutus who left Rwanda after participating in the 1994 genocide that killed over 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus, were also placed on the UN list.

“These individuals are responsible for numerous abuses,” Wood said of the six sanctioned individuals.

After replacing a previous U.N. operation in 2010 to aid in reducing insecurity in the country’s east, Congo has been home to a UN peacekeeping force known as MONUSCO for more than 13 years.

Felix Tshisekedi, the president of the Congo, requested in September that the peacekeepers’ withdrawal be expedited, and the UN Security Council granted his request, allowing the deployment to terminate in December.

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