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UN humanitarian operations continue in Niger amid coup

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UN humanitarian operations continue in Niger amid coup

The United Nations and partners continue their humanitarian assistance in Niger regardless of Wednesday’s coup that ousted President Mohamed Bazoum, UN officials in Niger said on Friday.

“The United Nations in Niger … would like to confirm that humanitarian assistance and (the) development and peace program continue in the country,” said Nicole Kouassi, acting UN resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Niger.

UN humanitarian assistance flights, however, are suspended due to the closure of the Nigerian air space, she told reporters at the UN Headquarters in New York via a video link from Niamey, the Nigerian capital.

Humanitarian and development partners remain committed to supporting the vulnerable population who are affected by a combination of climate, economic and security shocks, she said.

Right before the coup, 4.3 million Nigerians needed humanitarian assistance.

Some 3.3 million people were in acute food insecurity, the majority of whom were women and children, she said.

Kouassi, who is also the representative of the UN Development Programme in Niger, called for more funds as the UN humanitarian response plan for Niger, which requires 583 million U.S. dollars, is only 32 per cent funded.

She said the situation in the country remains calm and the UN staff face no security threats, with all UN staff members accounted for and no accidents related to UN staff, vehicles or other resources.

According to Kouassi, the UN team in Niger is not in contact with the military as it does not have a political mandate.

Even if contact with the Nigerian military is required, no engagement is expected until after a summit of the Economic Community of West African States on Sunday and on the condition that the country team receives instructions from the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel.

Jean-Noel Gentile, the representative of the World Food Programme (WFP) in Niger, also confirmed that the programme’s humanitarian operations continued with cash and food assistance to Nigerians.

The closure of the Nigerian borders has temporarily affected logistical support to operations in neighboring Chad for Sudanese refugees, and the WFP is working on alternative routes to Chad, he told the same press briefing.

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Putin Registers As Candidate For Russia’s Next Presidential Election

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Russia on Monday officially recognised Vladimir Putin as a candidate for the presidential elections in March, a vote that he is all but certain to win.

The 71-year-old has led Russia since the turn of the century, winning four presidential ballots and briefly serving as prime minister in a system where opposition has become virtually non-existent.

The Central Election Commission said it had registered Putin, who nominated himself, as well as right-wing firebrand and Putin-loyalist Leonid Slutsky as candidates for the vote.

The election will be held over a three-day period from March 15 to 17, a move that Kremlin critics have argued makes guaranteeing transparency more difficult.

Following a controversial constitutional reform in 2020, Putin could stay in power until at least 2036.

Rights groups say that previous elections have been marred by irregularities and that independent observers are likely to be barred from monitoring the vote.

While Putin is not expected to face any real competition, liberal challenger Boris Nadezhdin has passed the threshold of signatures to be registered as a candidate.

However, it is still unclear if he will be allowed to run, and the Kremlin has said it does not consider him to be a serious rival.

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Hong Kong court grants Chinese real estate giant reorganisation postponement

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Hong Kong’s Supreme Court has once again granted the highly indebted Chinese real estate giant Evergrande a postponement for its reorganisation plan.

Judge Linda Chan surprisingly postponed the decision until Jan. 29, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday.

The property developer, which has liabilities estimated at more than 300 billion dollars, is threatened with liquidation.

However, creditors from abroad had taken the company to court because of its missing several payments.

Chan had already said at the previous hearing that this would be the last postponement and that she would very likely agree to liquidation if China Evergrande did not find a plan for restructuring with its creditors.

According to reports, however, the lawyers of the Hong Kong-listed group had now held out the prospect of being able to reach an agreement with the lenders in the coming weeks.

In the case of liquidation, an insolvency administrator would monetise the company and pay out the creditors.

Meanwhile, some experts were of the opinion that liquidation would return less money to creditors than a reorganisation, China Evergrande argued the same in court, according to reports.

The group had been trying to submit a restructuring plan since 2022, without success. Its founder and once China’s richest man, Hui Ka Yan, is being investigated by the Chinese authorities.

Like many other property groups, the company had been in a serious crisis for some time because it is earning significantly less on the slumping property market.

The company is finding it more difficult to obtain state support and is no longer able to service its loans.

“The Evergrande case also shows that the era of large private property developers in China is coming to an end,’’ says Max Zenglein from the Merics China Institute in Berlin.

If Chan decides to wind up China Evergrande, this could also have an impact on other companies.

“One challenge for the government will be to prevent domino effects in the economy caused by major bankruptcies,’’ says Zenglein.

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