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EU fears the worst for Ukraine, agrees to host refugees for two years

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The European Union has agreed to adopt a novel directive to grant temporary protection for Ukrainians seeking asylum in neighbouring European countries after Russian military aggression.

The military offensive in Ukraine has caused destruction of civilian infrastructure and civilian casualties and has forced people to flee their homes seeking safety, protection and assistance. In the first week, more than a million refugees from Ukraine crossed borders into neighbouring countries, and many more are on the move both inside and outside the country.

Russia, on February 24, 2022 launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea. The attack is the biggest by one state against another in Europe since World War II.

The vast majority of these exiled people have arrived in EU countries with Poland registering over half a million Ukrainian refugees and Hungary seeing more than 130,000 arrivals.

image from data2.unhcr.org

To cope with the large number of migrants which is the greatest human exodus in Europe since the end of World War II, the 27 member states have embraced a 2001 EU directive that had never been used before.

The European Union came about the Temporary Protection Directive in 2001 in the quest for solidarity between EU States after events in the 1990s, where conflicts in the former Yugoslavia, in Kosovo and elsewhere demonstrated the need for special procedures to deal with mass influxes of displaced persons.

The Temporary Protection Directive is an extraordinary scheme that grants immediate and temporary protection to displaced people coming from non-EU countries

The EU adoption of the Directive was reached in a meeting in Brussels on Thursday, where national ministers reached a unanimous agreement to move ahead and activate the Temporary Protection Directive. The law will enter into force once the proposal is formally adopted by the Council, a step expected to take place in the coming days.

Ylva Johansson, European Commissioner for home affairs, described the EU move as “historic” and a “great day”

“I’m proud of being European, I’m proud of the solidarity that individual citizens are showing” towards Ukraine, Johansson said at the end of the ministerial meeting.

Ukrainian refugees will be given residence permits to stay inside the bloc for at least one year, a period that will be automatically extended for a further year. Member states can then decide to prolong the exceptional measure by one more year if the war continues to ravage the country.

Musings From Abroad

CLIMATE CHANGE: Germany to sign climate protection contracts with industries

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As the cry towards a green environment intensifies amidst the increasing effects of climate change, Germany is taking a lead in the climate renewal agenda as it is set to sign climate protection contracts with industrial companies next year.

The Economy Minister, Robert Habeck revealed on Sunday that the agreement will support a transition towards cleaner production and a switch to hydrogen.

Habeck was quoted as saying by Funke media group that  “the aim is to efficiently develop a green industry along the value chain that becomes marketable.”

Reports emerged during the week that Germany was planning to award companies in energy-intensive industries including chemicals and steel 15-year subsidy arrangements that he called climate protection contracts, in return for reducing carbon emissions in their production.

Recall that several world leaders last month, converged in Cairo, the capital of Egypt for the United Nations COP27 Climate Summit, over talks on the “need to deepen cuts in emissions and financially back developing countries already devastated by the effects of rising temperatures.”

According to UNFCCC, the most recent seven years, from 2015 to 2021 were the warmest on record. The 2018–2022 global mean temperature average is estimated to be 1.17 ± 0.13 °C above the 1850–1900 average.

Africa seems to be feeling the heat more as countries across the continent’s East and West have suffered devasting drought and floods beyond what used to be the usual climate pattern.

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Musings From Abroad

Swiss firm, ABB, gets $4.3 million fine over bribery case in South Africa

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Judicial authority in Switzerland has fined engineering and technology group ABB, the sum of 4 million Swiss francs ($4.3 million) in connection with a bribery case in South Africa.

According to the country’s Attorney General, the fine on ABB is for “not having taken all necessary and reasonable organisational provisions in order to prevent bribery payments to foreign officials in South Africa”.

The group was found guilty of improper payments and other compliance issues at the Kusile power station after a wide-scale investigation into state corruption concluded in June 2022.

Earlier in the week, ABB and South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) agreed that the company will pay reparations for its involvement in state corruption.

According to a statement by the NPA, the company agreed to pay 2.5 billion rands ($144.51 million) in punitive reparations to South Africa within 60 days from the first day of December.

The reparation is in addition to 1.6 billion rand ($92.48 million)the company paid back to South African state power utility Eskom in 2020.

The Central Europe country has been fingered in lots of corruption cases involving African countries.

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