Lord Tariq Ahmad, Minister for the Commonwealth, the UN and South Asia and Christopher Pincher, Minister for Europe and the Americas
#TCI Office of the Governor – January 29, 2020 — “As the United Kingdom Government’s Ministers of State responsible for our Overseas Territories (OTs), a priority for us, and for the entire Government, has been to work closely with Territory leaders to identify the opportunities and concerns in each OT associated with Brexit.
You will be aware of the recent General Election in the United Kingdom, the resulting new dynamics in the United Kingdom’s Parliament and the decisive action of the Prime Minister to press ahead with Brexit. The United Kingdom is set to leave the EU on 31 January with a deal – the Prime Minister’s newly negotiated Withdrawal Agreement. The Withdrawal Agreement provides for an implementation period lasting until 31 December 2020, a time-limited period of transition before Brexit-related changes take place. We want to take this opportunity to set out what this means for people and businesses in the OTs.
To summarise – during the implementation period, your rights and those of your family members will not change, and neither will the relationship OT companies and NGOs have with the EU.
Many of you may be thinking about how Brexit could affect your ability to travel or live abroad. Firstly, we would like to make clear that eligibility criteria for British passports of all types will not be affected by our departure from the EU. Secondly, the rules on travelling to the EU will remain the same throughout the implementation period.This means British Citizen passport holders will be able to continue to live, work and study in the EU as they do now. The rights of British Overseas Territory Citizen (BOTC) passport holders – including 90-day visa-free access to the Schengen area in any 180 days – will also not change, either during the implementation period or afterwards.
We fully understand the importance of EU funding for a number of organisations in the Territories. That is why the United Kingdom Government had agreed to cover EU-funded projects in the OTs under EDF, BEST, Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ if the EU were to cease payments. As part of the Prime Minister’s deal, there is no longer any risk of this: projects in the OTs under these funding streams will continue to be covered by the EU for their duration.
Businesses in the OTs exporting goods to the EU27 will continue to be able to export tariff and quota-free for the duration of the implementation period. Tariff and quota-free access to the United Kingdom market for OT goods will continue indefinitely. While post-2020 access to the EU27 market is a matter for the upcoming negotiations on the Future Partnership, the United Kingdom Government is absolutely committed to seeking the best possible access for OT goods as part of our future relationship with the EU. During these negotiations the United Kingdom Government will also work to ensure that any post-2020 mobility arrangements agreed with the EU consider the specific needs and requirements of the OTs.
We want to both assure you and to leave you in no doubt that the United Kingdom is absolutely committed to the safety and prosperity of each of our British OTs. Brexit is no exception to this. As we head into the next phase of the negotiations and take up the opportunities afforded by our departure from the EU, including the ability to negotiate our own trade agreements around the world, the continuing priority for the United Kingdom Government is to ensure that the voices of our OTs are heard. And that your priorities inform our approach to the negotiations every step of the way.
The Governor, His Excellency Nigel Dakin, added: “The Governor and Premier’s Office have been in close touch with the UK Government, and in particular Lord Ahmad, over the last year ensuring TCI’s voice has been heard. While this statement should reassure citizens about the impact of Brexit, the more interesting opportunity is how the United Kingdom now refocuses her attention towards a more global outlook. I anticipate far greater positive engagement with the Caribbean in general, and the Overseas Territories in particular, from 2020 onwards. As a result, I look forward to a visit by Lord Ahmad in the near future. His programme will be designed to ensure he meets, as well as the Premier and Leader of the Opposition, those involved in national security, serious crime and criminal justice as well as seeing the recovery the Islands have experienced since his last post-hurricane visit.”
Update:Thousands feared dead in North Africa
#Africa, September 19, 2023 – Over 15,000 people are reported dead or missing and the count is expected to rise following two natural disasters in Northern Africa early September. Libya and Morocco are the affected countries.
More than 3,900 people have been confirmed dead and thousands more are missing in Eastern Libya, after the country was hit by a severe Storm (Daniel) on September 10th. Libya was inundated with floodwater and the situation was exacerbated by the collapse of several dams. Photos of the devastation showed collapsed highrises and smaller villages completely covered.
“Entire villages have been overwhelmed by the floods and the death toll continues to rise. Many families have lost all their belongings, and search and rescue workers are looking for people missing. Tens of thousands of people are displaced with no prospect of going back home,” the Norwegian Refugee Council explained.
Thousands have been swept away in the floods and officials say many are feared dead. Around 9,000 people are unaccounted for according to the UN. It’s the worst flooding incident in Africa in over a century.
Simultaneously, Morocco is dealing with aftershocks from the September 08th earthquake that took over 2800 lives; more than 25 have been felt so far. The 6.8 magnitude quake hit the mountain regions at around 70 km from the country’s fourth largest city, Marrakesh, around 10 p.m. The location of mountainous villages made rescue efforts difficult for volunteers.
Buildings suffered severe damage following the quake and residents are reported to be sleeping on the streets. UN representatives are calling for donations of blood to help victims.
Photos and videos of the aftermath show entire buildings reduced to rubble while others have been cleaved open.
The UN and other rescue groups are on the ground currently and are requesting donations to help the two countries which are separated by Algeria.
Update on Gabon Military Coup
#Africa, September 19, 2023 – Gabon has become the most recent African country to fall victim to a military coup, following a swift takeover on Wednesday August 30th.
The coup came after elections on August 26th where Ali Bongo, incumbent president was declared winner, to cries of fraud from the opposition.
Gabon, a West African country bordered by the Atlantic Ocean, has only been independent since 1960 and the Bongo family has occupied the presidential palace for the majority of that time.
Between Ali’s father Omar Bongo, who became President in 1967 and remained so for 42 years, and Ali’s subsequent victory in 2009, the family has controlled the oil-rich African nation for over five decades.
Following the coup, Bongo has been placed under house arrest, and Brice Nguem, a senior Military leader installed as the new president of the country.
The United Nations has condemned the coup but acknowledged that there were doubts about the legality of Bongo’s election win. Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, reportedly noted the announcement of the win with “deep concern” ‘given reports of serious irregularities at the polls.’
Press conferences have already been held and international media are reporting that Nguem has promised that the military role is only temporary until fresh and fair elections can be held.
No date has been given for those elections and the new leader is rumored to have been a close friend and possible relative of the Bongo family.
Albert Ondo Ossa, the opposition candidate, told Al Jazeera he thought the coup was a ploy to keep power in the family.
“Basically, I think the Bongo family got rid of one of its members who was weighing on the family, and they wanted Bongo power to continue… It was a palace revolution, not a coup d’etat. This is a family affair, where one brother replaces another,” he is quoted as saying.
It follows a coup in Niger in July 2023, which at the time of the coup in Gabon, had still not been resolved. The African nations of Mali (2020) Guinea, Chad and Sudan (2021) and Burkina Faso (2022), have all experienced military coups in quick succession.
Two More 9/11 Victims Identified as the United States marks a solemn occasion
#USA, September 11, 2023 – Two more victims of the 9/11 attacks have been identified, the first in two years. Each year, on the eleventh day of September, we are reminded that nearly 3,000 people were killed on during a four-part attack carried out by Al-Qaeda against the Unites States and 22 years later more than 40 percent of victims
On September 8th, Eric Adams, New York Mayor and Dr. Jason Graham, Chief Medical Examiner released a joint statement via the official New York City website announcing that a man and woman were the latest to be identified.
“The man and woman, whose names are being withheld at the request of their families, are the 1,648th and 1,649th persons to be identified by the Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) using advanced DNA testing of remains recovered from the attack that took the lives of 2,753 people.” The statement indicated.
The terrorist attack involved the hijacking of four commercial aircraft which were then purposely crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, and another into the Pentagon, the final missed its target, likely the White House or Capitol Hill.
The U.S. is still working to identify over a thousand unnamed victims from the attack. Of those that are identified, over 100 are said to be from the Caribbean.
According to records collated by News Americas Now and the Jamaica Gleaner, the Caribbean diaspora death toll includes but is not limited to: 47 people from the Dominican Republic; 22 Puerto Ricans; 21 Guyanese citizens; 19 Jamaicans; 14 Trinidadians; 7 Haitians; 3 Antiguans; 3 Barbadians; 3 Bermudans; 2 Dominicans; 2 Saint Lucians, 1 Islander from the British Virgin Islands; 1 Grenadian; and 1 Vincentian.
The attack sparked widespread anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. and an Iraqi invasion by the U.S. and its allies.
As for those recently identified, the names are being withheld at the request of their families and officials have said they were identified using advanced DNA technology.
Today, U.S. officials commemorated the 22nd anniversary of the attack from all around the country Monday. President Joe Biden joined in on that service in Anchorage, Alaska; as Vice President Kamala Harris was part of the ceremony in New York and first lady Jill Biden is laying a wreath at the 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon. Second gentleman Doug Emhoff is also expected at a wreath-laying ceremony in Shanksville at the Flight 93 National Memorial.
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