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GCF funds $9.8 million boost to fight floods in KP

This project, funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), will be led by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with the Government of Pakistan

Published by Hussnain Bhutta



Islamabad: A major initiative worth $9.8 million has been greenlit to tackle extreme climate events in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province.

This project, funded by the Green Climate Fund (GCF), will be led by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in partnership with the Government of Pakistan.

The project aims to improve the public sector’s ability to forecast floods and take preemptive actions. It will provide rural households with tools to diversify their income sources and achieve financial stability.

The initiative also focuses on enhancing climate information services, helping communities prepare for flash floods with better risk information and local planning.

Over 1.6 million people in vulnerable areas will benefit from improved climate services and an early warning system. New automated weather and hydrometeorological stations will be set up in Buner and Shangla districts.

These stations will offer tailored crop management advice, help reduce harmful coping strategies during floods, and involve local entrepreneurs and the private sector.

WFP Pakistan’s Country Director, Coco Ushiyama, welcomed the GCF’s support, highlighting the importance of financing for accelerating climate action. She noted that climate change poses a severe threat but also calls for collective efforts to build a resilient and food-secure future.

This project will support ongoing climate resilience efforts in Pakistan by addressing gaps in early warning systems and community engagement. It includes strategies to support marginalized groups, especially women and persons with disabilities, ensuring they have access to climate resilience measures.

The project focuses on building institutional capacity, transferring knowledge, and ensuring long-term sustainability. It marks a significant step forward and could serve as a model for similar initiatives in other climate-vulnerable regions worldwide.

The GCF Board approved the project during its 39th meeting in Songdo, South Korea, on July 18.


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Bangladesh factories, banks reopen as curfew is eased after protests taper off

Rush-hour traffic returned to the capital Dhaka and broadband internet was largely restored

Published by Samiullah Farid



Dhaka: Factories, offices and banks reopened in Bangladesh on Wednesday after a nationwide curfew enforced by the army was eased and relative calm prevailed following days of deadly violence.

Rush-hour traffic returned to the capital Dhaka and broadband internet was largely restored, although social media continued to be suspended after student-led protests turned violent last week.

Almost 150 people were killed as security forces cracked down on gatherings against quotas in government jobs that were reinstated by a high court order last month during an unemployment crisis. The quotas included reservations for families of fighters in the 1971 independence war.

But students paused their protests on Sunday when the Supreme Court agreed to scrap most quotas and ruled that 93% of jobs should be open to competition.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government eased the curfew it had imposed four days ago to contain the violence that spread across the country.

"For now, all social media will remain shut," Zunaid Ahmed Palak, a junior technology minister, told reporters.

People may have to wait until Sunday or Monday to get mobile internet, he said.

As curfew eased, the garment and textiles industries, which supply to major Western brands, began reopening factories.

"All our factories are open today. Everything is going smoothly," said S.M. Mannan, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

The stock exchange opened too, as well as banks, after remaining shut the past two days.

Dhaka residents were out on the streets, some making their way to offices as buses also began running in some places.

News websites, which had stopped updating since Friday, were back online.

Data from hospitals showed at least 147 people have been killed and police said they have arrested nearly 3,000 for violence and arson.

The government said curfew restrictions would be relaxed for seven hours on Thursday too, and offices

Analysts say the student action has given fresh impetus to Hasina's critics - who accuse her of authoritarianism - months after she won a fourth-straight term in power in January in an election boycotted by the main opposition party.

"The informal federation of government critics appears deeper and wider than before the election, which presents a serious challenge to the ruling party," said Geoffrey Macdonald at the United States Institute of Peace.

Hasina, 76, is the daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, who led the country's movement for independence from Pakistan.

The earlier 56% job quotas included a 30% reservation for families of the independence fighters, which critics said favoured supporters of Hasina's Awami League.

Hasina's government had scrapped the quotas in 2018 but a high court ruling reinstated the them last month, which the government appealed in the Supreme Court.

The quotas left fewer than half of state jobs open on merit amid an unemployment crisis, particularly in the private sector, making government sector jobs with their regular wage hikes and perks especially prized.

Hasina has blamed her political opponents for the violence and her government said on Tuesday it would heed the Supreme Court ruling.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has denied any involvement in the violence and accused Hasina of cracking down on free speech and dissent, charges denied by her government.

Students have made four demands to the government with a deadline of Thursday, including the restoration of internet, withdrawal of police from campuses, lifting the curfew and reopening universities shut since Wednesday. Students groups have not said what they plan to do if the demands are not met.

(Curtsy Reuters)

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Nearly 50,000 Pakistani pilgrims go missing in Iraq: Minister

Senate committee discussed monitoring mechanisms and challenges faced by pilgrims 

Published by Samiullah Farid



Federal Minister for Religious Affairs, Chaudhry Salik Hussain, revealed that nearly 50,000 Pakistani pilgrims have gone missing in Iraq during pilgrimage.

During a Senate committee meeting, Hussain stated that while the Iraqi government issues free visas for pilgrims, tour operators charge $80-90. The committee discussed monitoring mechanisms and challenges faced by pilgrims, especially at the Taftan border, highlighting issues like long waits, lack of basic facilities, and high costs.

The meeting concluded with a decision to work with provincial governments to improve the situation and create a better policy for managing pilgrimages. The Additional Secretary of Religious Affairs mentioned a new policy for pilgrims to Iraq, Iran, and Syria, which is awaiting cabinet approval.

Senator Raja Nisar Abbas emphasized the long waiting periods and poor-quality food and drink. Hussain suggested involving provincial governments for significant improvements.

Committee Chairman Senator Attaur Rehman proposed a meeting with provincial governments to develop a report. Secretary Religious Affairs Zulfiqar Haider mentioned plans to create a directorate for pilgrims to Iraq and Iran, similar to the Hajj Directorate.

The Pakistan House project was removed due to land issues in Quetta. The committee decided to review the situation thoroughly and create a comprehensive policy for pilgrims.

Senator Bushra Anjum Butt stressed that any new policy should consider the needs of women and children. The Federal Minister stated that steps are being taken to prevent illegal travel to other countries.

The committee also discussed the printing of error-free copies of the Quran and promoting interfaith harmony. Senator Gurdeep Singh suggested recognizing Sikh religious celebrations at the state level. The committee reviewed issues related to Hajj 2024, noting improvements and addressing complaints from pilgrims.

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