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Seychelles' top official recognised with award at global climate change conference

Seychellois Wills Agricole has won one of the first-ever Green Champion awards launched by the Green Climate Fund, the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change said. Agricole, who is the Seychelles' principal secretary for Energy and Climate Change
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' top official recognised with award at global climate change conference

Seychellois Wills Agricole has won one of the first-ever Green Champion awards launched by the Green Climate Fund, the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change said. Agricole, who is the Seychelles' principal secretary for Energy and Climate Change, received his Transformational Country Green champion award on Friday in Spain.The principal secretary is part of the island nation's delegation attending the United Nations climate change conference (COP25) from December 2-13 in Madrid.   When receiving the award, Agricole expressed pride in the Seychelles' climate action thus far. The award recognises dedication towards effective coordination of climate action from a small island developing state and Agricole said that it «stands as a pillar of my life's work and denotes Seychelles' sustainability credentials fulfilled so far and spotlights the urgent need to find solutions to the climate emergency.» He added that he would like «to be remembered for contributing to climate solutions during a crisis period and in driving climate transformation in Seychelles and the world.» The first Green Champions awards recognise and promote the most noteworthy and successful efforts to combat climate change. Recognition is also given to outstanding individuals and organisations driving climate transformation. Six awards were given overall. The awards promote initiatives that stand as examples of environmental, social and business-led commitments of climate action. This includes activities limiting or reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage adaptation to climate impacts. The principal secretary said he is committed to pushing for a robust outcome at COP 25 for enhanced and ambitious climate action that is acceptable to all, in light of the climate emergency. Agricole's areas of expertise are meteorology and climate change mitigation, adaptation and international climate change negotiations. He became  the principal secretary of environment and energy in 2012 till 2015 when he was appointed as principal secretary for energy and climate change. In February, Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, officially launch it's National Climate Change Policy Framework to meet the country’s climate change challenges. The policy is aimed at providing a blueprint to build climate change resilience in Seychelles in collaboration with regional and global partners The other five categories in the award were Climate Youth Champion; Climate Gender Champion; Climate Community Champion; Climate Entrepreneur Champion and Climate Lifetime achievement Champion. 

Creole singer Sonny Morgan, who infused Seychelles into his music, is living life at his own pace

Creole music infused with reggae vibes was a la une at this year's Creole festival as a Seychellois artist with international hits – Sonny Morgan – enthralled fans. Morgan performed at the festival which was held the last week of October. Through his mus
Seychelles News Agency

Creole singer Sonny Morgan, who infused Seychelles into his music, is living life at his own pace

Creole music infused with reggae vibes was a la une at this year's Creole festival as a Seychellois artist with international hits – Sonny Morgan – enthralled fans. Morgan performed at the festival which was held the last week of October. Through his music Morgan has demonstrated how the traditional Indian Ocean «Sega» music of the island nation can be blended with more modern influences to create a potent sound. Morgan is renowned for his unique style, and originality is very important to him. Although founded on a Reggae/Sega beat, the artist continues to experiment with integrating different musical styles such as the Blues into his music. SNA spoke to the artist whose songwriting talent has been recognised internationally – he won first prize in the prestigious «Unisong» international songwriting contest in America and has also won similar awards in Australia.   SNA: Tell us a bit about yourself your background and childhood. SM: I was born on La Digue. I left Seychelles as a minor with my parents who went to Australia. By the age of 14, I could not carry on with my education and at the same time, my mother came back to Seychelles. I was left in a foster home and at 14 years old after seeking permission I started to work so that I could pay my way.   SNA: Music-wise when and how did it all start? SM: Music was always there. I started at a very young age and did my first gig on La Digue at the age of 12 and got paid 15 rupees ($1). And things got more serious when I returned to Australia and where in the early seventies I formed a group where we played at the Seychelles club and weddings.   SNA: Describe your life as a Seychellois artist in such a huge country as Australia. SM: In 1973, I went to Perth and started to take my music to another level and played with people who had more experiences in the music industry. I then joined the Islanders band and by 1974 I started to work as a professional doing up to 13 gigs a week, working in hotels and night clubs as well. So then I went back to Melbourne and started playing with different players mainly rock-orientated music. By 1982 I got tired of doing covers and went to the recording studio for the first time. A year later, I recorded my first single with Martin Clark who owned Clarion Records. This was followed by my first cassette album entitled Coco de Mer. One year later I had another cassette out called La Digue.   Morgan is renowned for his unique style, and originality is very important to him. (Sonny Morgan) Photo License: All Rights Reserved    SNA: What are the highlights of your musical career? SM: In 1989 Martin Clarke told me: let's have a crack at the UK and European market. By then the album Coco de Mer was recorded and had tracks in reggae styles. A record deal was negotiated and I got my first record contract. The album was released in early 1990 and I was the first Seychellois to get a record contract and the first to release on a CD. Well, the rest is history, signed by a German label for two albums: Island People and Sega Nights in 1994. I then moved to Gotham Records and released This World is For Everyone in 2002, Tropical Experience in 2004 and Ras Digwa 2007 amongst others. In all, I have 13 albums along 126 registered songs with Apra Gemma and SACS. I have also won several awards at Unisongs contest including Wammi Australian Award for World Music in 2000. Sadly Seychelles is the only place that I haven't had any recognition yet but as the saying goes _plus tot tard que jamais!_   SNA:  How do you describe yourself and the progress made over the years? SM:  Long term listeners to my music can hear the evolution of my music over the last 20 years. Whilst I have kept to my original Sega roots, my music has taken on a 21st-century beat. My music is no longer only appreciated in the Indian Ocean, but is succeeding in the US and European markets with haunting songs like «War War War» and the reflections of a coming of age modern businessman with «Clean Cut» - not forgetting «Rasta Man» with guest vocals from the charismatic 'Aswon' and a fantastic video to accompany it.   SNA: And your plans for the future? SM: Now I am semiretired and my days are spent here - on Praslin, my adopted island, and Australia. I have the luxury of time to write songs for what I believe in. I am not under pressure from producers or record companies to come up with crappy hit songs, Radio Gaga songs, etc. (laughs). I'm not with any labels, so everything is calm, am enjoying my gardening and I do not like noisy neighbours with loud music.   SNA: And what do you think of the musical scene here? SM: I hope the real music doesn't disappear and what is left is only manufactured laptop music which everyone can produce. 

Indian Ocean island Mayotte lifts cyclone red alert

Officials on the small Indian Ocean island of Mayotte said Sunday they had lifted the red alert in place for Cyclone Belna, after it brushed past the French territory.Officials had told islanders to keep off the roads and stay indoors earlier as they declare
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Indian Ocean island Mayotte lifts cyclone red alert

Officials on the small Indian Ocean island of Mayotte said Sunday they had lifted the red alert in place for Cyclone Belna, after it brushed past the French territory.Officials had told islanders to keep off the roads and stay indoors earlier as they declared a red alert in the expectation that the cyclone would hit the island.Island officials have not yet said how much damage the storm caused on Mayotte, which is home to a quarter of a million people. While early forecasts had suggested the cyclone would hit the island full-on, the latest prediction from France-Meteo -- that it would veer further south and miss the island -- proved more accurate, Mayotte's governor Jean-Francois Colombet said.The cyclone is now 100 kilometres (60 miles) away from the island, but officials still advised islanders to be careful.Many schools were to be closed Monday because some were being used as emergency shelters for between 10,000 and 15,000 of the islanders most vulnerable to possible damage caused by Belna.But island officials said that barges linking the different islands would resume Monday. In the run-up to the arrival of the cyclone, most people had heeded the official advice to stay indoors and off the streets, Colombet told a local newspaper. The island's 256,000 inhabitants had also been advised to stock up on drinking water.After Mayotte, the cyclone was forecast on Monday to hit the neighbouring Comoros archipelago then the island of Madagascar. They issued orange and yellow alerts respectively.Mayotte's airport has been closed, and the island's roads declared off-limits from Sunday afternoon.This will be the third cyclone to hit the island in 50 years, Colombet said.The Comoros government announced an orange alert for the island of Anjouan, while the archipelago's other two islands were placed on a lesser yellow alert.The authorities called on the population to take the usual precautions: shutter windows and doors, stock up on provisions and prepare to take refuge in mosques, schools or others homes if necessary.The archipelago was struck by Cyclone Kenneth in April, killing at least three people before it continued on to Mozambique, where it caused widespread damage.Cyclone Belna is expected to land on Madagascar's northwest coastal region of Boeny on Monday afternoon.Madagascar's northern tourism island of Nosy Be was also expected to be affected.The country's transport ministry called on fishermen not to take to the sea because of fierce winds.© Agence France-Presse

Australia braces for heatwave as more than 100 fires burn

Out of control bushfires forced residents in eastern Australia to flee their homes on Saturday, as other parts of the country braced for a heatwave due next week. Bushfires are common in the country but scientists say this year's season has come earlier and
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Australia braces for heatwave as more than 100 fires burn

Out of control bushfires forced residents in eastern Australia to flee their homes on Saturday, as other parts of the country braced for a heatwave due next week. Bushfires are common in the country but scientists say this year's season has come earlier and with more intensity due to a prolonged drought and climatic conditions fuelled by global warming. Scorching temperatures have tipped above 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) close to where a fire was burning on the outskirts of Brisbane in Queensland state, with residents in three suburbs told to «leave immediately». «Conditions are now very dangerous and firefighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire advancing,» the Queensland Fire Authorities warned. «The fire may pose a threat to all lives directly in its path.» A shipping container full of fireworks exploded as the fire raged, authorities said. There were no immediate reports of injuries from the explosion. More than 100 fires were burning across Australia's east Saturday, including a «mega fire» burning north of Sydney. After combining with other bushfires Friday the huge blaze is now under control but continued to burn across 250,000 hectares within an hour's drive of Australia's largest city. Sydney has been engulfed in toxic smoke for weeks and occasionally sprinkled with snow-like embers. The pilot of a helicopter supporting the fire efforts was lucky to escape with just minor injuries after crashing about 200 kilometres north of the city Saturday. Easing conditions overnight provided brief respite in New South Wales state and allowed for controlled burning to prevent future damage during the anticipated heatwave. But firefighters remained on high alert as blustery winds threatened to fan unpredictable flames. Authorities Saturday were bracing for more dire conditions next week when temperatures in parts of the state are expected to tip over 40 degrees Celsius. «So a lot of work ahead over the coming days, particularly in anticipation of what is expected to be another heatwave coming into Tuesday,» state fire service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons told national broadcaster ABC. A drought has left much of eastern Australia tinder-dry and spot fires have raged every day for the past three months. More than 600 homes have been destroyed and six people have died since the crisis began in September. That is many fewer than Australia's deadliest recent fire season in 2009 when almost 200 people died, but 2019's toll so far belies the scale of devastation. An estimated two million hectares have burned -- the size of some small countries -- across a region spanning hundreds of kilometres (miles). © Agence France-Presse

Review: Four Seasons new spa is perfect for a pamper session

Many people choose to start the weekend by meeting up with friends and grabbing a drink. As much as this helps unwind after a long week of work, for me, nothing beats a relaxing massage session on a Friday afternoon. I was offered this surprising treat by t
Seychelles News Agency

Review: Four Seasons new spa is perfect for a pamper session

Many people choose to start the weekend by meeting up with friends and grabbing a drink. As much as this helps unwind after a long week of work, for me, nothing beats a relaxing massage session on a Friday afternoon. I was offered this surprising treat by the ‘Le Syel Spa’ of the Four Seasons Resort Seychelles as the team prepared for the spa concept launch on November 14. Located at Baie Lazare, in western Mahe, the spa is situated at the top of the hill, hence the name ‘Hilltop Spa’. The staff at the spa are very welcoming, greeting their clients with a warm smile that puts one at ease. After being shown to the waiting area, the staff brings out a health assessment form to be filled by the client. Kept strictly confidential, the information collected is used to enhance the experience and make sure that one is in good health to engage in any particular treatment. After the formal part is covered, the client goes back to admiring the view of the bay offered from the waiting area through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls and windows. The experience is already a relief -- just sitting there, sipping on some iced tea and watching the stunning Petite Anse bay, with its blue calming waters lapping the shore. The clients get to admire the view of the bay offered from the waiting area. (Four Seasons Resort Seychelles) Photo License: All Rights Reserved After my initial welcoming, my therapist was ready, so we walked down to the spa area. The walking distance is quite short but my therapist Elirose and I got to chit chat. Reaching the room, I was shown to the changing area which also comprises of a bath and shower area, all overlooking the sea. After changing into the robe and flip-flops provided by the spa, I walked down into the massage area. From there, Elirose explained what was included in the one-hour full body signature massage I was getting while starting the massage with a feet wash. The ‘Heavenly Fusion Massage’ applies a combination of European and Asian massage techniques. Depending on the length of the session, this massage cost between $194 and $227. Clients get to choose from three oils – cinnamon, coconut and lemongrass – crafted by Globarom, a locally based essential oil distiller. As I suffer from eczema, I was reluctant to use any scented oil on my body and chose to go with coconut oil. Being someone who uses coconut oil on a regular basis, I thought that I would definitely need a shower after the massage so as to remove the strong-smelling and heavy oil off my skin. I was pleasantly surprised by the end of the massage, that the smell wasn’t as strong nor was my skin greasy. After a massage one can soak in a bath with a beautiful view of the outdoors.  (Four Seasons Resort Seychelles) Photo License: All Rights Reserved   Whilst I laid face down on the massage bed, my therapist cupped her hands in front of me and I deeply inhaled the scent of the soothing lemongrass oil. Rinsing off her hands, she started the experience by massaging my back, an area I wanted her to focus on. Applying firm pressure as per my request, Elirose worked her way along with the tight muscles around my neck, shoulders, and upper back. The treatment itself was a mix of long, firm strokes and my therapist knew exactly where I needed a little extra manipulation to unknot those muscles. The session was so relaxing, I dozed off. I woke up feeling a lot lighter and less sore thanks to the magical hands Elirose coupled with the relaxing atmosphere within the room. Though there is no special rates offered to locals and appointment need to be made well in advance, I am definitely going to save up and book a massage session at Le Syel. The beautiful setting in which the spa is located, together with the professionalism of the staff, makes the perfect combination for a pamper session. Other than the ‘Heavenly Fusion Massage’, Le Syel Spa offers ‘The Miracle of Coco de Mer’ as a second option as part of their signature experiences. They are but two of 11 types of massages on offer at the spa. On the menu are different facials, body, hair and nail treatments, as well as yoga and meditation. These spa treatments are offered in the 67 villas and suites within the resort.

Kenyatta Hill and Busy Signal planning to wow reggae fans in Seychelles on Sunday

Two of Jamaica’s top reggae artists will perform in Seychelles on Sunday and have promised fans an electrifying show. Kenyatta Hill and Busy Signal arrived in the country Thursday for the musical performance at the Mini Stadium in Victoria, the capital. T
Seychelles News Agency

Kenyatta Hill and Busy Signal planning to wow reggae fans in Seychelles on Sunday

Two of Jamaica’s top reggae artists will perform in Seychelles on Sunday and have promised fans an electrifying show. Kenyatta Hill and Busy Signal arrived in the country Thursday for the musical performance at the Mini Stadium in Victoria, the capital. The show organised by Veuve Entertainment and K-Radio will kick off at 9 p.m. and tickets are on sale at SCR250 ($18) for early birds and SCR300 ($22) at the entrance. Kenyatta Hill – the son of the late Joseph Hill – founder and frontman of the reggae group Culture – is performing in Seychelles for the third time. His first show in Seychelles with the group Culture was in 2016. Kenyatta returned in 2017 for the Sons of Legends Show alongside Andrew Tosh -- the son of Peter Tosh who passed away in 1987. Kenyatta Hill (middle) and busy signal are expecting to see all of their fans and said that their fans can expect to get reggae music at its highest level (www.culturereggaeband.com) Photo License: All Rights Reserved This time around Hill is accompanied by local musicians. He said he is looking forward to wow the Seychelles public once more. “I’ll be performing a little of my dad’s songs and some of my tracks which are still straight roots reality, culture. Busy Signal is going to keep you busy while I’m going to keep the fans rooted and grounded,” said the 40-year-old who took over as Culture’s lead singer in 2006 after his father passed away while on tour in Germany. For Busy Signal, this is his second time performing in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. The first time was in 2013. The reggae dancehall artist is known for his rendition of the popular country song by Kenny Rogers, The Gambler, and Commodores’ Night Shift. The artist’s new album -- Parts of the Puzzle -- hit the market in October and entered straight at No. 2 on the Billboard Reggae Albums. He has promised the fans a performance that will leave everybody entertained and fired up throughout the evening “It’s just entertainment you know. Reggae music, dancehall with a little bit of fusion in between. We just want to keep it busy, musically, literally, physically,” said Busy Signal. Both Busy Signal and Kenyatta urges that Seychelles has a special place in their hearts (Wikipedia) Photo License: CC BY 3.0 Both artists say their repertoire will be a mixture of old songs and new ones. Busy Signal and Kenyatta Hill say it is a privilege and honour to be representing their country and their music, on an island on the other side of the word, where their music is loved and appreciated. They say Seychelles have a special place in both their hearts. “The love we get here, we cannot compare that to anywhere. The ambience, the whole hospitality, the vibe, the people, the joy. It is like we are at home”, said Busy Signal. The sentiment was echoed by Hill. “Seychelles has treated me well every time. Well received, the love and the energy that they give to us every time we come here, it’s unspeakable” said Hill. They have called on their fans to come out in droves to spend an electrifying evening together. “Come out and as we say, we’re going to keep it busy, and we are going to keep it roots to the culture. We are expecting to see all our fans and they can expect to get reggae music at its highest level”, said Hill. “Whenever I go I give the people a hundred percent. We want to do great and better than we did the last time”, said Busy Signal. Described as the biggest show of the year, the two artists will each perform for ninety minutes, following an opening act by local reggae and dancehall singer Champion. Reggae music is very popular in the island nation and bands like UB40, Steel Pulse, O’Yaba and Lucky Dube have performed for the Seychellois fans.

UK judge throws out torture case against Charles Taylor's ex-wife

A British judge on Friday dismissed torture charges against the ex-wife of the former Liberian president Charles Taylor, relating to the west African country's bitter civil war. Agnes Taylor, 54, had denied accusations of being involved in the torture of a c
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UK judge throws out torture case against Charles Taylor's ex-wife

A British judge on Friday dismissed torture charges against the ex-wife of the former Liberian president Charles Taylor, relating to the west African country's bitter civil war. Agnes Taylor, 54, had denied accusations of being involved in the torture of a child and conspiring to use rape to torture women during the conflict in the 1990s. Prosecutors alleged that all seven offences were committed when she was «a public official or person acting in an official capacity», and were linked to her «official duties». Taylor, a former lecturer at Coventry University in central England and whose address was given as Dagenham, east London, had been due to go on trial in January next year. But judge Nigel Sweeney, sitting at the Old Bailey Central Criminal Court in London, threw out the case following legal argument. The prosecution indicated it would not appeal. The judge did not read out his ruling in open court. But he said she could not be charged with torture as a crime against humanity or a war crime because the alleged offences took place before relevant legislation was introduced. Taylor, who left Liberia in 1992 and divorced her husband four years later, followed proceedings via video-link from prison, where she has been held on remand. Her ex-husband was Liberian president from 1997 to 2003. He is currently serving 50 years in a British jail for his role in fueling civil conflict in neighbouring Sierra Leone. Taylor was the first former head of state to be jailed by an international court since the Nazi trials at Nuremberg in Germany after World War II. He was convicted in 2012 on 11 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity over acts committed by Sierra Leone rebels he aided and abetted during the war. He was transferred to Britain in 2013. His ex-wife was accused of acting in a de facto official capacity for the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), which the president is said to have set up. Judge Sweeney said the key issue in the case was whether at the time of the alleged offences, the NPFL was actually in charge of the relevant areas and exercising «official or quasi-official functions or powers which a government or governmental organisation would exercise». He rejected prosecution assertions that the group, in rounding up, detaining, torturing and killing civilians, was carrying out the functions of a government. © Agence France-Presse

At least 265 dead in floods, landslides as rains batter East Africa

Two months of relentless rains have submergedvillages and farms and sent rivers of mud crashing into houses across East Africa, with at least 265 killed, according to an AFP tally, as meteorologists warn of more to come. The extreme downpours have affected c
Seychelles News Agency

At least 265 dead in floods, landslides as rains batter East Africa

Two months of relentless rains have submergedvillages and farms and sent rivers of mud crashing into houses across East Africa, with at least 265 killed, according to an AFP tally, as meteorologists warn of more to come. The extreme downpours have affected close to two million people and washed away tens of thousands of livestock in Kenya, Somalia, Burundi, Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, Djibouti and Ethiopia. With a tropical storm headed for Somalia and more rain forecast across the region in the coming weeks, fears are rising over waterborne diseases and the prospect of hunger as crops are destroyed. In Burundi, 38 people died on Wednesday night after heavy rains triggered landslides that swept through hillside communities in the northwest of the country, according to a provisional police toll on Thursday. «It happened in the night, when everyone was at home, and landslides hit three very steep hills and buried everything in their path,» a witness told AFP. «Whole families were buried alive in their homes or in the fields. It was terrifying.» Kenya has been hard hit with 132 killed and 17,000 displaced, schools, roads, and health centres flooded, and water systems clogged across the country, government spokesman Cyrus Oguna said in a statement on Tuesday. The «weather forecast has indicated that the current rains are not expected to cease until the end of December 2019,» the statement said. In South Sudan, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said nearly a million people have been affected by floodwaters which submerged whole towns, compounding an already dire humanitarian situation after six years of war. Flooding has also affected 570,000 people in Somalia, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The European humanitarian agency ECHO meanwhile warned of a tropical storm due to hit northeastern Somalia on Friday, bringing the threat of more flash floods. -'Multiple landslides'- In Tanzania, 55 people have died, according to an AFP tally of police figures, including 30 in flash floods in the northeast in October, 15 whose car was swept away by floodwaters in the town of Tanga, and 10 who drowned last month in northern Mwanza. In Uganda, eight people have died and over 80,000 have been displaced by flooding and mudslides this week, Disaster Preparedness Minister Musa Ecweru said in a statement. Days of heavy rainfall on Mount Elgon on Tuesday caused «multiple landslides in... Bududa district killing four people, injuring five and displacing over 6,000 people». In Sironko district, also on Mount Elgon, «two adults and two children were killed» and over 4,000 people affected. «The risk of more flooding and landslides is real,» the minister warned. Ethiopia has also been affected,with 22 people dying in a landslidein the south of the country in October. Djibouti has also experienced unusually heavy rains, with a joint government and United Nations press statement reporting that some areas received «the equivalent of 2 years of rainfall occurred in one day» in heavy downpours two weeks ago. «Some 10 people (7 children) have reportedly been killed,» said the statement, adding that 250,000 were affected countrywide. - Warm Indian Ocean waters to blame - The extreme weather is blamed on the Indian Ocean Dipole -- a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between the western and eastern areas of the ocean. At the moment, the ocean around East Africa is far warmer than usual, resulting in higher evaporation and moist air flowing inwards over the continent as rain: the hallmarks of a «positive» dipole. Scientists say the strength of this dipole is of a magnitude not seen in years, perhaps even decades. These waters around East Africa have been about two degrees warmer than those of the eastern Indian Ocean near Australia -- an imbalance well beyond the norm. The heavy rains have also wrought destruction in central Africa, with scores killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including 41 in the capital Kinshasa last week. In the Central African Republic, OCHA says around 100,000 people have been displaced. © Agence France-Presse

2 Sri Lankan-registered boats intercepted in Seychelles' waters; suspected of illegal fishing

Two Sri Lankan-registered fishing boats have been intercepted in the Seychelles’ waters on suspicion of fishing illegally by the Seychelles Coast Guard. According to a joint press communique from the Coast Guard and the Seychelles People’s Defence Force
Seychelles News Agency

2 Sri Lankan-registered boats intercepted in Seychelles' waters; suspected of illegal fishing

Two Sri Lankan-registered fishing boats have been intercepted in the Seychelles’ waters on suspicion of fishing illegally by the Seychelles Coast Guard. According to a joint press communique from the Coast Guard and the Seychelles People’s Defence Forces on Friday, both vessels were intercepted by local patrol vessel -- La Fleche. The communique said that “one of the boats named Speed Bird with five crew was first spotted and confronted by a local fishing vessel operating south of Mahe on Thursday December 05, 2019. Seychelles Coast Guard Patrol Boat La Fleche that was on patrol was diverted to intervene.” The other vessel named Maduka was spotted by the Dornier patrol aircraft of the Seychelles Air Force (SAF) and intercepted again by La Fleche. Upon inspections carried out by the Coast Guard boarding team on both vessels indicated that they may have been involved in illegal fishing activities within Seychelles' waters. The communique added that after further “consultation with the Seychelles Fishing Authority, the two boats were escorted to Port Victoria by patrol boat La Fleche and Topaz for further investigation.” The two boats arrived in Port Victoria in the early hours of Friday and have subsequently been handed over to Seychelles Fishing Authority and the police. This brings the cases of suspected illegal fishing in the Seychelles waters to seven since the start of 2019. Four out of the seven cases resulted in successful prosecution in the Supreme Court of Seychelles. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres which presents a challenge when it comes to the monitoring of illegal activities in its waters.  

France braced for second day of stoppages as strike bites

France was on Friday preparing for a second day of travel cancellations and school closures as unions warned there would be no let-up in the strike called to protest planned pension reforms. The first day of a strike, seen as a major test for President Emman
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France braced for second day of stoppages as strike bites

France was on Friday preparing for a second day of travel cancellations and school closures as unions warned there would be no let-up in the strike called to protest planned pension reforms. The first day of a strike, seen as a major test for President Emmanuel Macron's ambitious vision of reforming France, saw giant rallies across the country coupled with walkouts that paralysed transport and closed schools. Friday was set to follow a similar pattern, with almost all high-speed train services cancelled, most of the Paris metro system shut down and hundreds of flights set to be axed. Yves Veyrier, head of the hardline FO union, warned the strike could last at least until Monday if the government did not take the right action. «The strike is not going to stop tonight,» added Philippe Martinez, secretary general of the CGT union, late on Thursday. But it remains far from certain the protests will match the magnitude of the 1995 strikes when France was paralysed for three weeks from November to December in an action that forced the then government into concessions. - Possible fuel shortages - As on Thursday, national train operator SNCF has axed 90 percent of the high-speed TGVs on Friday and just 30 percent of regional trains will run. On the Paris metro, 10 lines will remain totally shut, four will work at a much reduced capacity and only two -- the driverless 1 and 14 -- will work normally. Flag carrier Air France is again axing 30 percent of domestic flights. There will also be severe disruptions on the Eurostar, with some two dozen trains cancelled on the cross-Channel route. A weekend of travel misery is also expected. National newspapers were unable to publish their print editions, and the CGT union said workers had blocked seven of the country's eight oil refineries, raising the prospect of fuel shortages if the strike continues. Bike paths were packed as commuters turned to bicycles and electric scooters while ride-hailing companies were offering special strike promotions. Macron's government has yet to set out its plans in full but is pushing for a single pension scheme which critics say would require everyone to work longer. A pre-school teacher demonstrating in the eastern city of Belfort, Anne Audier-L'Epingle, said she was striking because «I don't know what I will be able to offer two-year-old children when I'm 65.» The minimum pension age in France is 62, one of the lowest among developed countries. But railway workers, opera employees and a host of other workers have more advantageous schemes, with train drivers for example generally retiring in their early fifties. - 'Calm and determined' - Police fired teargas to disperse small groups of rioters in Paris as well as in the southeastern city of Lyon and western city of Nantes. But the dozens of demonstrations held nationwide were mainly peaceful. More than half a million people protested across France, according to a tally of official figures, even excluding a protest that unions said gathered around a quarter of a million in Paris. Macron has faced a wave of opposition this year, from the «yellow vest» movement demanding improved living standards to more recent protests from police, firefighters, teachers, hospital workers and lawyers. So far the former investment banker has largely succeeded in pushing through a series of controversial reforms, including loosening labour laws and tightening access to unemployment benefits. But this is the first time the various disgruntled groups have come together in protest. Macron has sought to rise above the strikes and has chosen to make no official comment in the days leading up to the stoppages. A presidential official, who asked not to be named, said he was «calm» and «determined to carry out this reform» in a mood of «listening and consultation». © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' President will not sign public salary bill; pension fund acquisition on hold

President Danny Faure of Seychelles said Thursday in his final presidential press conference of 2019 that he will not sign the public salary bill.  Instead, the president said he would proceed with a supplemental allowance, and as of next year raise the pa
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' President will not sign public salary bill; pension fund acquisition on hold

President Danny Faure of Seychelles said Thursday in his final presidential press conference of 2019 that he will not sign the public salary bill.  Instead, the president said he would proceed with a supplemental allowance, and as of next year raise the pay of an employee making below $440 per month to $454. SNA presents a summary of some of the points raised at the news conference   Pension fund acquisition of shares in telecommunications company Cable and Wireless Faure admitted that the fund lacks oversight as it is governed by a board of directors which has the power to independently take and make decisions. «Together, in the last cabinet of ministers meeting we agreed on a policy and we have made an amendment to the Pension Fund Act which has already been gazetted and is now at the National Assembly. We said that the Pension Fund before making any investment above $10 million must have the approval from the ministry. »Therefore the transaction between the Pension Fund and Cable and Wireless is on hold, whilst the law is passed and approved so that the legal process is done. And that the people of Seychelles especially the members of Pension Fund gets the assurance that their money is being well looked at and that an authority in government gives the final sanction.« Department of Information Communications and Technology's 2020 budget not approved by National Assembly »I think it was very irresponsible for the National Assembly to vote against the department's budget. And they did not only vote against a portion of the budget but they voted against the heading, in other words, there is no budget. As a result, staff do not have a salary for January. They took this decision not thinking of DICT's role. «DICT takes care of the electronic, technology system for the whole of the government, the whole email system of the government. Question I ask myself is if they want to paralyze the government? »The department should get a formal apology and at an appropriate time as President I will resolve this problem.« Land Tribunal – no legal structure for compensations »I have been made aware by the chair of the tribunal that as they have started the work they realized that the tribunal needs a proper legal structure. Our position is that we are examining the case and if we see that this is founded, the government will do the necessary, send the law to National Assembly so that we can attend to these cases.« Seychelles on France' Blacklist Earlier this week it was announced that France has added Seychelles to its blacklist of tax havens because the island nation did not provide adequate information about some French offshore entities operating in their jurisdiction. »When this information came out, we called an urgent meeting with all key personals, so that I could get a report. And the information received is very clear. France sent its demand to the Seychelles Revenue Commission. And at the commission we have a problem with internal capacity and this has been build up and reinforced. But the question that France is asking Seychelles, Seychelles cannot provide this information because the law does not allow us to give out this information. And if Seychelles gives out such information then the law must change. We have agreed to change these laws but that does not mean we were withholding and hiding information.« Amendment to the bill: 5 percent increase in public sector salary »Tonight I want to put this issue in context. When the minister of Finance presented the budget to the National Assembly he said that this includes the five percent salary increase for the public sector and that was approved by the National Assembly. «This afternoon, I was informed that my office has received the newly amended bill and tonight I want to let all Seychellois know that I will not assent the bill. Instead we are proceeding with the supplementation allowance previously announced which will be backdated to April this year.  And no tax will be deducted from the allowance. And I have also decided this morning that as of January next year, all workers in the government with a basic salary less than $440 will be progressed to $454. The next presidential election »When I say I will finish my mandate, I will finish my mandate.  And it is up to the electoral commission in consultation with the law to decide on the date of the next presidential election and not me. «In line with the interpretation of the constitution, the election should take place between August 20 and November 20, 2020. All I ask is for respect for the commission.» 

In nations rich and poor, climate-related disasters on the uptick

Japan, the Philippines and Germany top a list of countries worst hit by climate-enhanced extreme weather last year, with Madagascar and India close behind, researchers said Wednesday. Flood-inducing rains, two deadly heatwaves, and the worst typhoon to hit J
Seychelles News Agency

In nations rich and poor, climate-related disasters on the uptick

Japan, the Philippines and Germany top a list of countries worst hit by climate-enhanced extreme weather last year, with Madagascar and India close behind, researchers said Wednesday. Flood-inducing rains, two deadly heatwaves, and the worst typhoon to hit Japan in a quarter century -- all in 2018 -- left hundreds dead, thousands homeless and more than $35 billion (31.5 billion euros) in damage nationwide, according to a report from environmental thinktank Germanwatch. Category 5 Typhoon Manghut -- the most powerful tropical storm of the year -- ripped through northern Philippines in September, displacing a quarter of a million people and unleashing lethal landslides, according to the group's updated Global Climate Risk Index. In Germany, meanwhile, a sustained summer heatwave and drought along with average temperatures nearly three degrees Celsius (5.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal over a four-month stretch resulted in 1,250 premature deaths and losses of $5 billion, mostly in agriculture. 2018's top weather disasters showed that even the world's most advanced and resilient economies can find themselves at the mercy of meteorological events amplified by global warming. «Recent science has confirmed the long established link between climate change, on one side, and the frequency and severity of extreme heat, on the other,» said Germanwatch researcher Laura Schafer. «In Europe, for example, extreme heat spells are now 100 times more likely than a century ago.» A sustained heatwave in 2003 claimed 70,000 lives across western Europe, mostly in France. India was also ravaged by crippling heat in 2018, along with the worst flooding in over 100 years and a pair of cyclones. Total damages: nearly $38 billion. Across the last 20 years, it is still the poorest regions that have suffered the most, the report found. Puerto Rico, Myanmar and Haiti were hit hardest, mostly due to tropical storms that have grown more destructive due to sea-level rise. - From once-a-century to all the time - A single cyclone, Nargis, claimed some 140,000 lives and destroyed the property of 2.4 million people along coastal areas in Myanmar in 2008. The new report came a day after the UN's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) confirmed that the last decade is the hottest on record, and up to 22 million people will have been displaced by extreme weather this year alone. «Once again, in 2019 weather and climate-related risks hit hard,» WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said. «Heatwaves and floods which used to be 'once in a century' events are becoming more regular occurrences.» While it is hard calculate how much climate change contributes in each case, its signature fingerprint has become unmistakable with barely 1C (1.8F) warming above preindustrial levels. On current trends, the planet is on track to heat up an additional three degrees, and even if the world's nations -- gathered this week in Madrid for UN climate talks -- honour carbon cutting pledges under the Paris climate treaty, Earth will see it's surface warm another 2C. «We are not even adapted to 1.1 degree of warming,» noted Friederike Otto, Deputy Director of the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. In their 25th year, the UN climate talks have so far failed to secure the commitments needed to drawdown the greenhouse gases fuelling global warming. «It’s shocking how much climate change in 2019 has already led to lives lost, poor health, food insecurity and displaced populations,» commented Joanna House, a reader in environmental science and policy at the University of Bristol. «What is more shocking is how long very little has been done about this.» The index -- based on deaths and economic damages --focuses on extreme weather events but does not take into account slow-onset processes such as rising sea-levels, glacier melting or more acidic and warmer seas. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles signs 4 more legal acts designed to prevent maritime pollution by ships

Seychelles has shown its commitment to protecting the island nation's marine environment after signing for four more legal acts of an international convention for the prevention of maritime pollution (MARPOL), a top government official said Thursday. The pri
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles signs 4 more legal acts designed to prevent maritime pollution by ships

Seychelles has shown its commitment to protecting the island nation's marine environment after signing for four more legal acts of an international convention for the prevention of maritime pollution (MARPOL), a top government official said Thursday. The principal secretary for civil aviation, ports and marine, Alan Renaud, presented the instruments to the Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), Kitack Lim, at the IMO headquarters in London last week. «Seychelles' accession to these Annexes proves our commitment, as a responsible Flag Nation, to reduce pollution from ships -- protecting not only our own marine environments, but everyone else's too.  Ocean waters have no passports,» said Didier Dogley, Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine. Seychelles originally became a party to MARPOL 73/78, and its mandatory two annexes I and II, in November 1990. The island nation has now acceded to the annexes for the prevention of pollution by harmful substances carried by sea in packaged form; prevention of pollution by sewage from ships; prevention of pollution by garbage from ships; and prevention of air pollution from ships. The International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. An accession is an act where a State seeks to become a party to a treaty already negotiated and signed by other states, usually after it has entered into force.  It has the same legal effect as ratification. Renaud said that as an island nation, «shipping will always be an indispensable part of our economy, but so too is our natural capital, and we hold it fair and just that shipping operations in our waters be carried out in a manner that keeps them clean and safe.» He added that «if we are ineffectual at implementing globally agreed standards to prevent marine pollution, we risk making our seas a haven for sub-standard shipping.  And without the necessary legislation, we cannot even enforce the standards, which is why our next action will be to domesticate the Annexes into Seychelles Law, to give power to our new Maritime Safety Authority to deal with bad actors, few we hope they may be.» Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres which makes the health of the ocean fundamental to its economy. Minister Dogley said, «The beaches of our precious jewel, Aldabra, and UNESCO World Heritage Site, are festooned with the flip flops, fishing gear, and also the plastic bottles of seafarers and shippers plying their trades thousands of miles away; the ocean litter prevents turtles to nest and entangles seabirds... the battle to keep our sparkling islands clean is not one we can win by ourselves alone, instead only in concert and shared community with the world.» In accordance with IMO regulations, the instruments will become effective for Seychelles on February 29, 2020.

Seychelles hosting prestigious golf tournament for second year in a row

The Seychelles is for the second year in a row hosting a prestigious regional golf competition, the MCB Tour Championship, which starts Thursday. According to the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), 48 players are expected to tee off on Praslin island's Constanc
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles hosting prestigious golf tournament for second year in a row

The Seychelles is for the second year in a row hosting a prestigious regional golf competition, the MCB Tour Championship, which starts Thursday. According to the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), 48 players are expected to tee off on Praslin island's Constance Lemuria golf course for three days of competition. Among the internationally known golfers are Roger Chapman of Britain, the defending champion, Clark Dennis of the United States and Paul McGinley of Ireland. Praslin, the second-most populated island and home to the iconic coco-de-mer, will be featured as the second leg of a three-destination competition of the regional MCB Tour Championship. The STB's chief executive, Sherin Francis, has expressed her satisfaction that the event has contributed considerably in providing visibility to the destination, especially Praslin. «Since we opened our shores to the MCB Tour Championship last year, it is clear that the visibility received by the destination was worldwide. Our partnership in the event is even more justified today as we see the increase in the number of players for the event, implying that the interest for our destination has also increased. We are looking forward to a successful event in Seychelles,» she said. Francis added that being part of the event is one of STB's marketing strategies to increase the destination's visibility and promoting Seychelles as a sports destination. Bernard Jackson, managing director of MCB, one of the sponsors of the tour, said, «For the second year running, Seychelles is thrilled to host the pro golfers competing in the European Senior Tour. We celebrate our renewed international visibility on the golfing scene and are delighted that this year Madagascar also gets its share of the limelight with its inclusion in the tour alongside Mauritius and Seychelles. I thank the Seychelles Tourism Board and all the contributing partners for making this event a resounding success.» Golfers warmed up in the pro-am competition in which professionals teamed up with Seychellois residents. (Vanessa Lucas, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY In a warm-up competition on Wednesday, the professional golfers teamed up with Seychellois residents for the pro-am competition. This year the Tour Championship was extended to three tournaments with an extra tournament at International Golf Club Du Rova near Antananarivo, Madagascar. The first tournament started on Friday November 29 to Sunday December 1, in Antananarivo. The tournament in Seychelles will end on Saturday December 7 and the season finale will take place at Constance Belle Mare Plage in Mauritius from Friday December 13 to Sunday December 15. The MCB Tour Championship is a men's senior (over 50) professional golf tournament on the European Senior Tour. It has been held every year in December since 2009.

Sunshine, sand and water: 6 beaches in Seychelles on Africa's Top 50 list

Have you ever dreamt of being on a beach....not just any beach but one of the best, enjoying crystal clear sea, white powdery sand, a pristine green environment and an abundance of sunshine?  That's easy to find in Seychelles. SNA presents six beaches in th
Seychelles News Agency

Sunshine, sand and water: 6 beaches in Seychelles on Africa's Top 50 list

Have you ever dreamt of being on a beach....not just any beach but one of the best, enjoying crystal clear sea, white powdery sand, a pristine green environment and an abundance of sunshine?  That's easy to find in Seychelles. SNA presents six beaches in the island nation that made Africa's Top 50 Beaches.   Ranked 1:  Anse Source D'Argent Anse Source D'Agent is located in the southwest of La Digue – the third most populated island of Seychelles. The Anse Source D'Agent is inside the l'Union Estate, a national park that charges an entrance fee of 100 rupees, ensuring the beach is always in pristine condition. Pack an extra memory card, people – there's a reason Anse Source D'Argent in Seychelles is the world's most photographed beach. Capture boulder-adorned shores, ribbons of shimmering sand and aquamarine water. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY   Ranked 3: Anse Lazio Anse Lazio is located on the northwest coast of Praslin Island, the second most important island of Seychelles. The beach may feel like it's quite removed from the world but is easily accessible by foot, car or boat. Snorkelling and diving are popular around Anse Lazio, and rightly so. The magnificent stretch of white-sand coastline along Praslin Island is surrounded by crystal clear water averaging 27°C. Healthy reefs and vivid coral gardens give divers access to a striking environment and if you're slipping on fins for the first time, there are sites for all levels. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY   Ranked 15: Anse Victorin Fregate is the easternmost of Seychelles' granitic Inner Islands, located 55 km east of the main island of Mahe. Privately owned it is accessible by boat, aircraft, and helicopter. Take in the view from atop towering granite cliffs that line the postcard beach of Anse Victorin. One of the most exotic locations in the Seychelles archipelago, Anse Victorin is seemingly untouched by the outside world and very intimate. Surrounded by huge palms sheltering portions of the beach from the nearby resort you can relax in near-solitude on the shore or enjoy snorkelling in clear waters. Visit between November and January and watch baby turtle hatch and shuffle across the sand to the ocean. (Jlexa, Wikipedia) Photo License: CC-BY 3.0    Ranked 17: Tropical Beach Silhouette is the third largest granitic island of the Seychelles. Tropical Beach on the Island is the perfect location for your next getaway and is accessible by a 40-minute ride by boat or a 15-minute transfer by helicopter. The misty-blue water laps against the immaculate white sand, creating an inviting environment for visitors. This beach is hidden away from the noise and congestion of major cities and is an ideal location for snorkelling, scuba diving and reconnecting with nature.  (Fabio Achilli, Wikipedia) Photo License: CC-BY 2.0   Ranked 21: Anse Intendance Located in the south of the main island of Mahe, Anse Intendance is a secluded, remote but at the same time well-frequented beach by visitors. Getting to Anse Intendance can be a challenge — travellers must endure a hot, rugged forest trail along sea cliffs to reach it. Yet people make the walk every day to reach the wild beach. Abundant with powder-fine sand, clear blue-green waters and a lush mountain backdrop, Anse Intendance is a photographer's dream. Since there's no coral reef to protect the bay from the ocean, the water can get deep making it a great place to surf. (Jean-Marie Hullot/Flickr) Photo License: CC-BY 2.0   Ranked 47: Curieuse beach Curieuse is a granitic island off Praslin. Reachable only by boat the island is a national park, with its seas also protected as a marine park. The island is rich in history and was once used as a leper's colony. The house of the doctor who treated the lepers is today a museum. Curieuse Island is a bio-reserve managed by ​Seychelles National Parks Authority and is the epitome of untouched beauty as it does not have any restaurants or hotels. Popular island locals include Aldabra tortoises, hawksbill, green sea turtles, and giant hump-head parrotfish. Many of these creatures can be seen on walking trails that wind through lush mangrove forests and Takamaka trees. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY

'Brain dead' NATO's summit dominated by leaders' feuds

The leaders of the world's most powerful military alliance clashed over personality and policy on Wednesday as NATO's summit ended with an effort to paper over their sharp divisions. Meeting outside London to mark the 70th year of the Atlantic alliance, the
Seychelles News Agency

'Brain dead' NATO's summit dominated by leaders' feuds

The leaders of the world's most powerful military alliance clashed over personality and policy on Wednesday as NATO's summit ended with an effort to paper over their sharp divisions. Meeting outside London to mark the 70th year of the Atlantic alliance, the members vowed to stick together against threats from Russia and terrorism and recognised the challenge of a rising China. But the bad blood continued to the end of the two-day get together, with US President Donald Trump branding Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau «two-faced» after a group of allied leaders were caught on video at a Buckingham Palace reception mocking the US leaders' rambling press appearances. Trump cancelled his planned final news conference to fly directly back to Washington and into a political storm as opposition Democrat lawmakers issued a report calling for his impeachment. Despite his anger, he appeared content with the result of the summit, boasting of having convinced his European allies to boost defence spending and Turkey to drop its objections to the adoption of an updated defence plan for the Baltic states and Poland. The second day of the get together began with the release of a video showing Trudeau, France's President Emmanuel Macron, Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Netherlands' Mark Rutte joking together about how Trump had delayed the previous days meetings. Trump was furious, and criticised the Canadian leader for not meeting NATO members' target of spending two percent of GDP on defence. - 'Brain dead' furore - The run-up to the summit had been marked by Macron branding the alliance «brain dead» and demanding a new strategy, reopening a dialogue with Russia and refocusing on the fight against Islamist terrorism. Afterwards Macron stood by his incendiary language, declaring: «I am happy to have launched the debate, it seemed to me indispensable.» Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew a threat to block the updated Baltic defence plan unless his allies agreed to brand the Kurdish militias of northeastern Syria that helped defeat the Islamic State group «terrorists». Macron rejected Ankara's call, saying that while he was sensitive to Turkish concerns about terror, he would not conflate «different political and military groups». Despite the rancour, the 29 managed to agree a «London Declaration» and Erdogan withdrew his objections after an unscheduled side meeting with Trump. «In challenging times, we are stronger as an alliance, and our people safer,» the declaration said. «Our bond and mutual commitment have guaranteed our freedoms, our values, and our security for 70 years.» The statement was the first from NATO to acknowledge the growing strategic challenge posed by China, and also stressed the need for a stronger coordinated response against terrorism. It held out the possibility of «a constructive relationship with Russia when Russia's actions make that possible» but stressed the threat posed by Moscow's deployment of intermediate range nuclear missiles. And, in a nod to French and German concerns about NATO's strategic direction, the members asked Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to consult experts to strengthen the alliance's «political dimension». - 'Very nasty' - In recent weeks Macron tried to shake up the agenda by demanding a review of alliance strategy, but Trump hit back. «I think that's very insulting,» Trump said of Macron's assertion last month that NATO is experiencing «brain death». «Nobody needs NATO more than France,» he warned. «It's a very dangerous statement for them to make.» Macron also turned his fire on Turkey, noting that its forces have attacked the Kurdish militia that backed the allies against the Islamic State in Syria -- and he accused Ankara of working with «ISIS proxies». Trump has defended Stoltenberg's record of pushing allies for increased defence spending, but he reiterated his own long-standing complaints. Only nine of NATO's 29 members have reached the target agreed at its 2014 summit to spend two percent of their GDP on defence before 2024. Trump, who cited in particular Germany as falling short for spending only 1.2 percent of GDP, held lunch talks with the so-called «two percenters». © Agence France-Presse

Unvaccinated to show red flags as Samoa battles measles epidemic

Authorities in Samoa asked unvaccinated families to display a red flag outside their homes on Wednesday to help a mass immunisation drive aimed at halting a measles epidemic that has killed dozens of children. The tiny Pacific nation of 200,000 will grind t
Seychelles News Agency

Unvaccinated to show red flags as Samoa battles measles epidemic

Authorities in Samoa asked unvaccinated families to display a red flag outside their homes on Wednesday to help a mass immunisation drive aimed at halting a measles epidemic that has killed dozens of children. The tiny Pacific nation of 200,000 will grind to a halt on Thursday and Friday as non-essential government services close so public servants can help the vaccination campaign. Over the two-day period, teams will go door-to-door administering vaccines in a desperate bid to raise the low immunity levels in Samoa that have fuelled the epidemic. Immunisation is compulsory under a state of emergency imposed last month and officials asked unvaccinated families to identify themselves. «The public is hereby advised to tie a red cloth or red flag in front of their houses and near the road to indicate that family members have not been vaccinated,» a public advisory said. «The red mark makes it easier for the teams to identify households for vaccinations.» Official data released Wednesday put the death toll from the outbreak at 60, up five on the previous day. Most of the dead are children, with 52 aged four or under. Infection rates continued to climb, with 171 new cases in 24 hours, bringing the national total to 4,052. Vaccination efforts in recent weeks have concentrated on children but the government has now broadened its programme to include the entire population. Samoa has received aid to combat the crisis from Australia, New Zealand, France, Britain, China, Norway, Japan, the United States and the UN. © Agence France-Presse

Indian Ocean Commission agrees on new platform to facilitate business, trade of agro-food products

Members of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) have agreed to set up a platform to facilitate business and trade of agricultural products between its member states. Representatives of IOC's member states and its partners, including the Food and Agriculture Org
Seychelles News Agency

Indian Ocean Commission agrees on new platform to facilitate business, trade of agro-food products

Members of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) have agreed to set up a platform to facilitate business and trade of agricultural products between its member states. Representatives of IOC's member states and its partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the International Fund for Food Agricultural Development (IFAD), met on Tuesday to discuss the progress of PRESAN. PRESAN - the Indian Ocean Commission Regional Programme for Food Security and Nutrition, supported by the FAO - was launched in Seychelles in March this year. Apart from the commercial aspect of the platform, it will also be used to mobilise resources in terms of donor support as well as projects to sustain the agriculture sector in the Indian Ocean. Antoine Moustache, the principal secretary for agriculture and focal point for the PRESAN initiative in Seychelles, said that the platform will further help PRESAN in achieving its objectives. «That is to satisfy the food and nutritional needs of the region, with that, promote healthy habits around food consumption, reduce the negative environmental and economic impacts of long-distance imports as well as creating awareness and better understanding food security issues in the Indian ocean,» explained Moustache. Moustache said that the platform will be based in Madagascar, where there is an office that acts as a central point for PRESAN. «Our aspiration is to see all our products coming from our region, as we know the Indian Ocean have the potential,» explained Moustache, adding «for instance in the context  of Seychelles, we can see onions and potatoes coming from Madagascar instead of India, and that will be closer and cheaper.» But Moustache admitted that ahead lays many challenges: «There are no vessels for offering cargo service for that purpose in the region, not yet anyway.» Also some IOC members are not totally a par to basic and international standards relating to health and biosecurity regulations for the exportation of food products. The IOC Secretary General, Hamada Madi, highlighted in his opening address at the meeting that the region has a lot of potentials, especially Madagascar – a big island with a lot of fertile areas. Madi (first left) said that the Indian Ocean region has a lot of potentials. (Joena Meme, Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  Madi added that «PRESAN offers a framework of cooperation adapted to achieve the goal of sustainable development number two» zero hunger «which aims not only to eradicate hunger but also to improve access to healthy food. IOC and its partners, FAO and IFAD are supporting member states to regain food sovereignty. » Madi further explained that «our islands, particularly Seychelles, are net importers of food and agriculture, often from distant lands. This dependence on imports results in sometimes high food costs, vulnerability to world prices and also, a significant carbon footprint,» Madi concluded by adding «and yet, the Indian Ocean is able to produce enough quality food to feed the people. » The meeting was attended by representatives from Mauritius, Reunion – a French department of the Indian Ocean, Comoros, Madagascar, and Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. Seychelles currently holds the presidency of the Indian Ocean Commission.

IAEA warns against intimidation after Iran incident

The new head of the UN nuclear watchdog warned Tuesday against intimidating its inspectors after one of them had their accreditation revoked by Iran over an incident at a nuclear facility. «We don't want to make something out of proportion but this is
Seychelles News Agency

IAEA warns against intimidation after Iran incident

The new head of the UN nuclear watchdog warned Tuesday against intimidating its inspectors after one of them had their accreditation revoked by Iran over an incident at a nuclear facility. «We don't want to make something out of proportion but this is a serious matter,» Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said. «I stand by my inspectors and (they) have a very important work to do, they shouldn't be intimidated... in any way,» he told AFP. Last month, Iran confirmed it had revoked an IAEA inspector's accreditation in October after she allegedly triggered a security check -- used to detect explosives -- at the entrance gate to the Natanz enrichment plant. She was temporarily prevented from leaving Iran, which the Vienna-based IAEA described as «unacceptable». The agency has said there was «no indication that would confirm» the allegation that she was carrying explosive material. Grossi said the IAEA and Iran «haven't come to a common understanding» over the facts of what happened in the incident. The agency's inspectors monitor the implementation of the 2015 deal on Iran's nuclear programme -- known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) -- which seems in danger of imminent collapse. Grossi -- who began work as director-general on Tuesday -- said: «Countries must not interfere with the work of our inspectors and this is the message we have conveyed to our Iranian colleagues». He said it was important for inspectors to know that from the point of view of the agency, they «will always be backed up and never left alone otherwise the whole edifice of international inspectors would crumble and fall». Grossi said that Iran's nuclear programme was one of the priorities he would tackle «immediately» and added he may meet Iranian officials who will be in Vienna later this week for a meeting of remaining JCPOA participants. - Nuclear climate solution? - On Sunday, the speaker of Iran's parliament Ali Larijani warned Tehran would be «forced to seriously reconsider some of its commitments» to the IAEA if the European parties to the JCPOA were to trigger a dispute mechanism that could lead to sanctions. Grossi said while the IAEA «paid attention» to such statements, «it doesn't mean that it affects in a direct manner what we're doing» and that no such communication had been received directly from Iran. Grossi added that such comments were «part of a political discussion between Iran and other countries, not us». For several months, the IAEA has also been asking Iran to explain the presence of uranium particles at an undeclared site, thought to be a location in the Turquzabad district of Tehran where Israel has alleged secret atomic activity in the past. Grossi said the IAEA was yet to receive «a satisfactory explanation», adding that while the agency had not set any deadlines, «anybody taking this seriously would never allow it to go on and on». Next week, he will attend the UN's COP25 climate change summit in Madrid to discuss how nuclear energy can contribute towards solving the climate crisis. Many environmentalists see nuclear power as polluting and unsafe. While Grossi said he was prepared to engage in debate, he insisted that «it's a scientific fact that nuclear energy has a very low degree of emissions» and that it could be «part of the solution». «If industrial countries, relying heavily on nuclear energy... stopped using nuclear energy, the environmental situation with emissions would be catastrophic.» © Agence France-Presse

La Cocofesse: Brandy made from world's largest nut debuts in Seychelles

A new brandy made from the Seychelles' unique coco de mer, the world's biggest nut, is now available in Victoria, the capital, at a newly opened restaurant.   'La Cocofesse' is the brainchild of Seychellois businessman Wilson Nancy. It was officially launch
Seychelles News Agency

La Cocofesse: Brandy made from world's largest nut debuts in Seychelles

A new brandy made from the Seychelles' unique coco de mer, the world's biggest nut, is now available in Victoria, the capital, at a newly opened restaurant.   'La Cocofesse' is the brainchild of Seychellois businessman Wilson Nancy. It was officially launched recently at the Hilton Seychelles Labriz jetty in the northern Mahe district of Belombre. The brandy will be sold exclusively at the Rendez Vous restaurant in Victoria at Quincy Street and the Duty-Free shop at the Seychelles International airport. The price has not been decided yet. The brandy is the brainchild of Seychellois businessman Wilson Nancy. (Rassin Vannier) Photo License: CC-BY  Like the mysterious coco de mer, the brandy's taste remains a mystery and will vary by experience. «The most important part of the liquor is the taste and how it can be savoured,» said Nancy. The key ingredient that makes 'La Cocofesse' brandy unique is, of course, the coco de mer, which «further makes the drink exotic and deserving of high-class recognition,» added Nancy.    The Lodoicea, commonly known as coco de mer, is the world's biggest nut and is endemic to Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. The idea for the brandy, which is processed locally by Willow Ventures, was part of an obligation within the business plan of the company tendered last year with the authorities. The production of the brandy of the Willow Ventures business plan. (Rassin Vannier) Photo License: CC-BY  «As part of the plan the company had to produce other products with the coco de mer aside from using the nut to sell to tourists. The kernel was also being exported to mostly Asian countries,» said Nancy. The production of the liquor, which contains 40 percent alcohol, comes after the Seychelles' government approved the exportation of the coco de mer kernel as a value-added product. ​ Willow Ventures is one of the three local companies chosen to process the kernel. Neesha Kumar, who tasted the newly launched 'La Cocofesse' brandy told SNA that the liquor is very refined and tasteful. «It does not really taste like coco de mer, but rather like vanilla. It will be the best product to represent our country internationally. Now that Christmas is around the corner, it can also serve as a nice gift,» said Kumar. As most of the authentic products in Seychelles, there is a story about how it all began. «At first we wanted to produce the drink following the process of fermentation just like producing rum. After one year of experimenting with the method, we saw that the outcome was not stable as it kept on fermenting. We couldn't put a product in a bottle that we did not have control over,» said Nancy. Special attention was placed on the packaging and branding of the product with all items being sourced from Seychelles. (Rassin Vannier) Photo License: CC-BY  The producer had no other choice but to seek the help of South African experts Kobus Gelderblom to turn the product to one of the best liquors in the island nation. «When Nancy first approached me with the idea, I knew nothing about Seychelles and even so the great coco de mer. After learning about it all, I realised that we would make a great product out of it – and we made just that by coming up with a refined brandy,» said Gelderblom. Special attention was placed on the packaging and branding of the product with all items being sourced from Seychelles. The next project for Willow Ventures is an ice-cream made out of coco de mer. 

Anger, hope and pleas for action at UN climate meet

Confronted with a climate crisis threatening civilisation itself, humanity must choose between hope and surrender, UN chief Antonio Guterres told the opening plenary of a UN climate conference Monday. «One is the path of surrender, where we have sleep-
Seychelles News Agency

Anger, hope and pleas for action at UN climate meet

Confronted with a climate crisis threatening civilisation itself, humanity must choose between hope and surrender, UN chief Antonio Guterres told the opening plenary of a UN climate conference Monday. «One is the path of surrender, where we have sleep-walked past the point of no return, jeopardising the health and safety of everyone on this planet,» Guterres said. «Do we really want to be remembered as the generation that buried its head in the sand, that fiddled while the planet burned?» Some 40 presidents and prime ministers took turns working that theme as the 12-day talks began, with Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen at one point holding up a plush polar bear. «All of you, just like me, are so-called decision-makers, and probably have children or grandchildren who you love,» he said in a scolding tone. «Think about those children when you take a decision on behalf of your country.» But it was no coincidence, perhaps, that Van der Bellen's position is largely ceremonial, and that few heads of state from the world's major carbon polluters turned up. Notably absent were the leaders of China, the United States, India, Russia and Japan, which together account for 60 percent of global CO2 emissions. «What is still lacking is political will -- to put a price on carbon, to stop subsidies on fossil fuels, to stop building coal power plants,» said Guterres, who earlier excoriated the efforts of the world's biggest economies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as «utterly inadequate». Only the European Union has stepped into the breach, with its new leader aiming for the bloc to reduce emissions to «net zero» by mid-century. It has long be clear, in any case, that COP25 would not deliver greater climate ambition, with all eyes turned toward next year's meet in Glasgow -- the last before the 2015 Paris Agreement becomes operational. The Madrid conference did get a boost Monday from US Congressional leader Nancy Pelosi, who came from Washington to ensure the world that the United States was still serious about taming climate change despite President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the Paris deal. - 'Forcing our country to die' - «We're here to say to all of you, on behalf of the House of Representatives and the Congress of the United States, we're still in, we're still in,» Pelosi said to applause at a forum of heads of state from climate-vulnerable nations. Trump has dismissed global warming as a hoax, and dismantled many of the climate and environmental protection policies set in place by his predecessor Barack Obama. Last month Trump gave formal notice of the US withdrawal from the 196-nation Paris climate treaty, which calls for capping global warming at well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and 1.5C if possible. In his impassioned appeal, Guterres cited new findings from the World Meterological Organisation (WMO) confirming that the last five years have been the hottest ever recorded. Concentration of planet-warming CO2 in the atmosphere has also reached levels not seen in three to five million years. «The last time there was a comparable concentration,» Guterres said, «the temperature was two to three degrees Celsius warmer, and sea levels were 10 to 20 metres (32 to 66 feet) higher than today.» A major UN science report last year reset the Paris accord's threshold for a climate-safe world from 2C to 1.5C, concluding that the global economy must be «carbon neutral» by 2050 to stay under that threshold. - 'Leaders cannot flee' - «The best available science, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), tells us today that going beyond that (1.5C) would lead us to catastrophic disaster,» Guterres said. President Hilda Heine of the Marshall Islands warned that going beyond the 1.5C barrier would spell the end of her water-bound homeland. «The most vulnerable atoll nations like my country already face death row due to rising seas and devastating storm surges,» she said via a remote video link-up. Governments that fail to come forward with strong carbon-cutting commitments over the next year are effectively «passing sentence on our future, forcing our country to die.» The Madrid talks are focused on finalising rules for global carbon markets, and setting up a fund to help countries already reeling from heatwaves, droughts, floods and storms made worse by rising seas blamed on climate change. But outside the conference hall in Madrid, this narrow agenda is provoking a rising tide of anger and anxiety. A climate action group steeped in civil disobedience plans to descend on the Spanish capital. «Extinction Rebellion calls on Rebels Without Borders to come to Madrid,» the group said in a tweet, using the hashtag #UltimatumCOP25. «Extinction Rebellion reminds leaders they cannot flee the climate and ecological emergency,» the group said separately in a press release. © Agence France-Presse

France adds Seychelles to tax-haven blacklist; high-level maneuvers follow 'hostile, disappointing' decision

France has added Seychelles to its blacklist of tax havens because the island nation did not provide adequate information about some French offshore entities operating in their jurisdiction, a top French official said. Seychelles' Minister of Finance call
Seychelles News Agency

France adds Seychelles to tax-haven blacklist; high-level maneuvers follow 'hostile, disappointing' decision

France has added Seychelles to its blacklist of tax havens because the island nation did not provide adequate information about some French offshore entities operating in their jurisdiction, a top French official said. Seychelles' Minister of Finance called the decision “hostile, regrettable and disappointing,” and noted that it would have a negative effect on Seychelles' economy, amid indications of high-level communications between the government and ambassador over the issue. Speaking to SNA on Tuesday, the French Ambassador to Seychelles, Dominique Mas, said, “Seychelles, like the other countries which have also been blacklisted, were slow in providing the information requested by the French authority and the information provided was deemed not adequate.” He explained the blacklist is specifically about Seychelles’ cooperation with regards to exchange of information between the two countries. The island nation was added on the list in the report on the fight against fraud tax released on Monday, alongside Anguilla, the Virgin Island and the Bahamas. The French Minister of Action and Public Accounts, Gerald Darmanin, was cited by AFP as saying the islands “are not cooperative enough in financial transparency.” France has been carrying out investigations into 500 offshore companies following the Panama Papers scandal three years ago which exposed illegal practices in the offshore finance industry. According to an article published in August in the French newspaper Les Echos, 15 percent of the 500 cases were registered in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. This information was confirmed by the Seychelles Revenue Commission in an interview with SNA in September, where the Commission said it has received to date 66 requests for information on French offshore entities incorporated in Seychelles. The requests were made under the Multilateral Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters Convention for Seychelles. The agreement came into force on October 1st 2015. The action of France sparked disbelief in Seychelles and on Monday in meeting with the press, the Minister for Finance, Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, described the action as “hostile, regrettable and disappointing.” Minister Loustau-Lalanne (middle) with Fanny (left) and Payet during the press conference on Monday. (Joena Meme, Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY “This action affects our economy and has a direct impact on our relationship with the French banking sector,” said Loustau-Lalanne. He said Seychelles was informed through a letter on November 24 that the French government required additional information about some of the offshore entities on the list requested. Loustau-Lalanne said he had informed the French Ambassador to Seychelles that he will have a response by Monday 2 December to show what Seychelles has done since 2015. However, the list closed on Friday 29 November and the report was released on Monday. “We have to date provided information about 55 companies registered in Seychelles out of 76 requested, which represents 70 percent. It is unfortunate that this happened now,” said Loustau-Lalanne. For his part, the chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, which registers offshore companies, Steve Fanny explained that information was not provided about some of the offshore entities because they have been dissolved or no longer operate in Seychelles. “When companies dissolve there is no provision in the law which states that we have to keep their information for such a period of time. So we get rid of this information and it is in those instances that we have not been able to comply,” he explained. The finance minister said the immediate reaction now will be to relook at some of Seychelles' laws and amend them as soon as possible so they comply with international norms. “For example our laws today do not make provision for us to provide audited financial statements. And if it’s this they require then we have to amend our laws,” he explained. Loustau-Lalanne added that he is writing a letter of protest to the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to convey Seychelles’ disappointment. “We will protest because I feel this is a hostile action. We need to get out of this situation and we need to work with the French authorities to remedy this situation as quickly as possible,” he said. The French Ambassador, Mas, said he will include the matter on his agenda during his next trip to Paris next week to resolve the matter quickly. “I will discuss the matter with my colleagues at the French Revenue Authorities services to ask specifically how Seychelles can be taken off the list," Mas said.

Drug rehab centre to be built in Bon Espoir to tackle drug programme, Seychelles' government says

Tackling the drug problem in Seychelles is a top priority of the government, which views the country's methadone programme as a cost-effective method to deal with the threat, top officials said on Monday. The National Drug Control Master Plan 2019-2023 was i
Seychelles News Agency

Drug rehab centre to be built in Bon Espoir to tackle drug programme, Seychelles' government says

Tackling the drug problem in Seychelles is a top priority of the government, which views the country's methadone programme as a cost-effective method to deal with the threat, top officials said on Monday. The National Drug Control Master Plan 2019-2023 was inaugurated Monday by President Danny Faure. The master plan is an operational planning tool that provides a framework for comprehensive national drug control in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The plan incorporates new approaches in line with the international drug control conventions and national legislation. The overall aim is to improve the wellbeing and safety of the individuals and the population at large. Faure said that tackling this issue is the government's top priority. «The most important thing we can do is reduce the demand for drugs. The only way to reduce demand is if we are providing treatment and thinking about this as a public health problem and not just a criminal problem. Ours should be a simple mantra - no to drugs and a bigger no to drug dealers and traffickers,» said Faure. The President also announced that in line with plans to rehabilitate addicts, a modern rehabilitation centre initially to be built at Cap Ternay will now be built at Bon Espoir, Montagne Posee. The centre will be financed by the United Arab Emirates government at a cost of $3.6 million. The five-year plan was prepared by the Agency for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation (APDAR), its partners and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The launching of the plan was done on Monday at Eden Bleu. (State House/Facebook) Photo License: CC-BY The secretary of state for Prevention of Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation, Patrick Herminie, said that the methadone programme remains within the master plan as statistics show that it costs the country less to have such a programme as opposed to having the addicts end up in prison. Another element in the plan is that the right of drug addicts will be better protected. «We do not believe that it is fair for addicts to stand in front of a bus during heavy rainfall, thunder and lightning just to be given some methadone. Why is it that someone who is taking diabetes treatment has the comfort to enter a clinic which is sheltered? This is why we started the clinic at English River and we have the intention to build these in other districts so that these people are treated as human beings,» said Herminie. The Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Wavel Ramkalawan, said there is a need to put politics aside and come together as one to help the youths who are the future of the country. The National Assembly's Leader of Government Business, Charles De Comarmond, commended APDAR for the work that it is doing through the methadone programme to eliminate problems associated with drugs. 

Mauritius installs ex-culture minister as president

Lawmakers in Mauritius on Monday picked former arts and culture minister Pritivirajsing Roopun as president of the island nation, a largely ceremonial post. His predecessor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim resigned in March 2018 after being embroiled in a scandal over he
Seychelles News Agency

Mauritius installs ex-culture minister as president

Lawmakers in Mauritius on Monday picked former arts and culture minister Pritivirajsing Roopun as president of the island nation, a largely ceremonial post. His predecessor Ameenah Gurib-Fakim resigned in March 2018 after being embroiled in a scandal over her use of a credit card to buy luxury personal items. She denied wrongdoing. In Mauritius, the prime minister is head of the government and holds most political power while the president is head of state but has no executive role and is considered the guardian of the constitution. Roopun, 61, is a lawyer who was first elected to the National Assembly in 2000 and has been minister of regional administration, social integration, and arts and culture. In November, Mauritius held elections which saw incumbent Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth win a new five-year term. Since attaining independence from Britain in 1968, Mauritius has become one of the most stable democracies in Africa. It developed from a poor, agriculture-based economy into a prosperous economy striving to reach high-income status by 2025. Driven by tourism -- the islands boast pristine beaches and coral reefs -- a textile industry and booming financial sector, the economy expanded at close to four percent in 2018. But it is not without its troubles. Youth unemployment and inequality are growing problems, with joblessness at a stubborn 22 percent for young Mauritians. The gap between rich and poor is also seen to be rising. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles’ Anse Source D’Argent and Anse Lazio ranked near top on 50 best beaches list

Anse Source D’Argent and Anse Lazio of Seychelles' third- and second-most populated islands of La Digue and Praslin have been voted eighth and fifteen on the World’s Top 50 best beaches. Shipwreck beach of Zakynthos in Greece and Whitehaven beach in Aust
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles’ Anse Source D’Argent and Anse Lazio ranked near top on 50 best beaches list

Anse Source D’Argent and Anse Lazio of Seychelles' third- and second-most populated islands of La Digue and Praslin have been voted eighth and fifteen on the World’s Top 50 best beaches. Shipwreck beach of Zakynthos in Greece and Whitehaven beach in Australia were ranked first and second on the list. To create the World’s 50 Best Beaches, FlightNetwork consulted with over 1,200 journalists, editors, bloggers and agencies from around the world, who eat, sleep, and breathe travel. “Through this ultimate collaboration, we were able to craft a catalogue of beaches that is so thorough you’ll never run out of stunning locations to explore. This list will help you choose the beaches that are sure to fill your vacation with natural wonders, vibrant cultures, and the optima of relaxing vibes,” said its website. According to the network: “Our world is filled with seemingly endless beaches, which can make it challenging to decide where to invest your time. To simplify this travel conundrum, we have created an extensive and heavily researched list of the top 100 beaches in the world.”  The beaches were judged for their sheer untouched beauty, remoteness, sand and water quality, annual days of sunshine as well as average annual temperature. Anse Source D’Argent was scored 10 out of 10 for beauty, 9 out of 10 for remoteness, and 10 out of 10 for quality. “I am still dreaming of this beach twenty-five years after spending a day in the shade of the coconut palms on this private stretch of white sand lapped by the baby’s bath-warm waters of the Indian Ocean,” said Alexander Lobrano. “Pack an extra memory card, people – there’s a reason Anse Source D’Argent in the Seychelles is the world’s most photographed beach. Capture boulder-adorned shores, ribbons of shimmering sand and aquamarine water,” the website said.   Anse Lazio was ranked 15 on the World’s Top 50 best beaches. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY The network described Anse Lazio as “the magnificent stretch of white-sand coastline along Praslin Island is surrounded by crystal clear water averaging 27°C. Healthy reefs and vivid coral gardens give divers access to a striking environment and if you’re slipping on fins for the first time, there are sites for all levels.” “Bring your flippers and snorkel gear, the bustling reef just offshore at Anse Lazio beach will bring you up close and personal with hundreds of rainbow-coloured fish. Whether it is your first time or you’re a snorkel pro, you’ll find water and reefs at your comfort level” wrote travel writer Ana M. Both beaches are not new to these rankings as they also feature on another list by the network, Africa’s Top 50 Beaches. On that list, Anse Source D’argent is ranked as the number one in Africa. Anse Lazio and four other beaches on Fregate, Curieuse, Silhouette and Mahe – inner islands which makes up the archipelago of Seychelles – made the list. Eco-warriors Nathalia and Alvania Lawen are very involved in organizing and leading beach clean-ups on a large scale, both said Seychelles' beaches deserve such rankings. Alvania is the national coordinator of PARLEY for the Oceans.  “It is an honour seeing Seychelles' beaches ranking first, third and many other ranks on the list. I'd like to take this opportunity to make people aware of the state of our beaches however if we do not stop littering we will no longer have the privilege of holding these ranks in the future.” “I find it vital that we keep our oceans clean and healthy which is why I make it a habit to clean the beaches in Seychelles,” said Nathalia who is involved with The ocean project Seychelles. The environment enthusiasts are appealing for more islanders to “join beach cleanups to ensure current rubbish is intercepted, stop littering and limit plastic product use to ensure a better future for our beaches and ultimately our oceans.” 

To help fight against cancer, Seychelles’ second island ‘braves the shave’

The Cancer Concern Association on Praslin, Seychelles’ second-largest island, organised a fund-raising activity to finance a hospice for individuals needing palliative care. ‘Brave the Shave’ which took place on Mahe, the main island, in October, was r
Seychelles News Agency

To help fight against cancer, Seychelles’ second island ‘braves the shave’

The Cancer Concern Association on Praslin, Seychelles’ second-largest island, organised a fund-raising activity to finance a hospice for individuals needing palliative care. ‘Brave the Shave’ which took place on Mahe, the main island, in October, was repeated on Praslin on Saturday. ‘Brave the Shave’ is an international fundraising activity whose proceeds go to cancer victims and their families. The chairperson of the association, Tasianna Bossy, told SNA that there is great demand from the community for such a facility on Praslin. Brave the Shave is raising funds to finance a hospice for those needing palliative care.  (Romano Laurence) Photo License: CC-BY “We carry out a lot of visits to the hospital and homes and we have seen the demand for extra care and privacy. When a person is going through the last stage of life, they won't always get access to a private room which costs. There is a need for the person to have more comfort, care and privacy,” said Bossy. She said that the hospice project is “still in the preliminary stage.” “We are working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Health. It is the health ministry that will provide us with the place, whether it is a new piece of land or a building belonging to the ministry. We are getting the assistance of businessmen where we will fund the hospice,” said Bossy. Despite the persistent rain on Saturday, a large number of individuals attended the activity and contributed generously. Other than paying for shaving the hair, participants could donate blood, do rapid HIV tests, do a prostate or breast cancer test and check their blood pressure. The public also had the chance to buy a space on a ‘wall’ to be placed in the future hospice. A piece of plywood had been designed into a wall with pink bricks, each costing SCR 250 ($18). One of the many individuals who braved the shave on Praslin. (Romano Laurence) Photo License: CC-BY At the moment the exact figure raised is not known, but the chairperson mentioned that the Association is getting the support of many businesses from both Mahe and Praslin. Peter Pomeroy, a participant, said he took part in ‘Brave the Shave’ because “it is for a very good cause.” “Members of my own family have been affected by cancer over the years and we all know what a terrible disease this is and any small thing I can do to make the situation of families better on Praslin, then I will do so. I have pledged SCR10,000 ($730) for my shave and my children gave SCR2,500 ($183) for the bricks,” said Pomeroy. Though the act cannot compare to a cancer patient losing their hair, many of the participants and people present said that ‘Brave the Shave’ is a great way to raise fund and awareness about the disease, supporting victims in the process. “My mother died with cancer and I’m concerned and wanted to help make things better for others,” said another participant, Roddy Moustache.

China slaps sanctions on US over Hong Kong unrest

China suspended US warship visits and sanctioned American NGOs on Monday in retaliation for the passage of a bill backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The financial hub has been rocked by nearly six months of increasingly violent unrest demanding g
Seychelles News Agency

China slaps sanctions on US over Hong Kong unrest

China suspended US warship visits and sanctioned American NGOs on Monday in retaliation for the passage of a bill backing pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The financial hub has been rocked by nearly six months of increasingly violent unrest demanding greater autonomy, which Beijing has frequently blamed on foreign influence. Last week US President Donald Trump signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which requires the president to annually review the city's favourable trade status and threatens to revoke it if the semi-autonomous territory's freedoms are quashed. The move came as the world's two biggest economies have been striving to finalise a «phase one» deal in their protracted trade war. «In response to the unreasonable behaviour of the US side, the Chinese government has decided to suspend reviewing the applications for US warships to go to Hong Kong for (rest and) recuperation as of today,» foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a regular press briefing. China had already denied requests for two US Navy ships to dock in Hong Kong in August, without specifying a reason why. - Behaving 'badly' - Hua said they would also apply sanctions to a number of US-based NGOs, although failed to give any specifics over the form sanctions would take. Sanctions will apply to NGOs that had acted «badly» over the recent unrest in Hong Kong, she said, including the National Endowment for Democracy, Human Rights Watch and Freedom House. There was «already a large amount of facts and evidence that make it clear that these non-governmental organisations support anti-China» forces and «incite separatist activities for Hong Kong independence», Hua added. She accused them of having «great responsibility for the chaotic situation in Hong Kong». Protesters in Hong Kong are pushing for greater democratic freedoms and police accountability, but the city's pro-Beijing leadership has refused any major political concessions. The increasingly violent rallies have hammered the retail and tourism sectors, with mainland Chinese visitors abandoning the city in droves. The city's finance chief warned Monday that Hong Kong is set to record its first budget deficit in 15 years. © Agence France-Presse

White House says will refuse to take part in impeachment hearing

US President Donald Trump's attorney said on Sunday that the White House will not participate in congressional hearings set for Wednesday that will consider passing impeachment articles against the president. «We cannot fairly be expected to participat
Seychelles News Agency

White House says will refuse to take part in impeachment hearing

US President Donald Trump's attorney said on Sunday that the White House will not participate in congressional hearings set for Wednesday that will consider passing impeachment articles against the president. «We cannot fairly be expected to participate in a hearing while the witnesses are yet to be named and while it remains unclear whether the Judiciary Committee will afford the President a fair process through additional hearings,» White House counsel Pat Cipollone wrote in a letter to Jerry Nadler, the Democratic chairman of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives. «Accordingly, under the current circumstances, we do not intend to participate in your Wednesday hearing,» Cipollone wrote. Trump is facing allegations in the House of Representatives investigation that he illegally sought help from Ukraine to obtain dirt on his domestic political rivals, including possible 2020 challenger Joe Biden. The House Judiciary Committee will begin meeting on Wednesday to determine whether the evidence compiled in the investigative phase of the process meets the constitutional impeachment standard of «treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.» The committee is expected to consider at least four counts, or articles of impeachment, including abuse of power, bribery, contempt of Congress and obstruction of justice. Cipollone however did not rule out White House participation in all of the hearings, instead requesting further details from Nadler on how the inquiry will be conducted and saying he will give him an answer by next Friday. © Agence France-Presse

After 7 year journey, new plant means yogurts will be locally made in Seychelles

A newly established dairy producer -- Maurilait Seychelles -- launched its production plant in the island nation last week and is offering consumers a variety of locally produced yoghurts. The Minister of Health, Jean-Paul Adam, said it is a great achievemen
Seychelles News Agency

After 7 year journey, new plant means yogurts will be locally made in Seychelles

A newly established dairy producer -- Maurilait Seychelles -- launched its production plant in the island nation last week and is offering consumers a variety of locally produced yoghurts. The Minister of Health, Jean-Paul Adam, said it is a great achievement to have a production like this established in Seychelles. «It adds value in our economy and also brings a product which is healthy to the market, giving a wider choice to Seychellois consumers,» he said. Adam added that this is something that is very positive. «All of us Seychellois, when we see this product, we are happy to see written on it 'Proudly made in Seychelles'. We feel that it is something very positive in our society,» said Adam. Requiring an initial startup cost of over $2.7 million (SCR37 million), the company has modern equipment specifically designed for the production of fresh yoghurt and yoghurt drinks. Maurilait Seychelles which is located in the industrial area of Providence on Mahe, operates under the international franchise Yoplait. Maurilait Production Ltée, is a company established in Mauritius since 1976 and member of the Eclosia Group. The group partnered with two Seychellois brothers Andre and Bertrand Rassool to set up Maurilait Seychelles Ltd. Maurilait based in Phoenix, Mauritius. The Yoplait yoghurt is in 125g pots. (Maurilait Seychelles Ltd) Photo License: CC-BY Procedures to bring Maurilait products to Seychelles started in 2012 and after seven years the project has become a reality. The construction of the factory at Providence started last year and the first products were put on the shelves on September 2. «We met once in Mauritius with some Mauritian friends who are part of the Eclosia group. At the time, they were already exporting Yoplait to Seychelles in large quantities, and we thought why not produce it locally instead of just importing it. We carried out a market study and we found out that it would be good to introduce the business here,» said Andre Rassool.  He added that the products are already popular in Europe and other islands in the Indian Ocean. «When you compare Yoplait with other brands already on the Seychelles' market, Yoplait is at the very top. There are other projects in the pipeline that we will announce later,» said Rassool. Employing 19 workers, the plant produces yoghurt -- plain, sweetened, vanilla, strawberry, litchi and mixed fruits -- in 125g pots. The yoghurt drinks, 'Yop', come in four flavours -- fruits and cereals, strawberry, mango and vanilla - in 250-millilitre bottles. Contrary to long-life dairy products, the new locally-made Yoplait yoghurts contain live and active cultures, which constitute a fresh yoghurt recommended for good digestion and immune function. The yoghurt drinks come in four flavours in 250-millilitre bottles. (Maurilait Seychelles Ltd) Photo License: CC-BY The general manager of Maurilait Production, Caroline Rault, told reporters that ingredients come from the same providers as that of the factory in Mauritius. «The milk powder comes from Europe and New Zealand and as for the fruits, they mainly come from South Africa. We are trying to develop all that we can on a national level,» said Rault. The factory is equipped with a laboratory where analysis and quality control are carried out on a day-to-day basis. To ensure sanitary safety, Maurilait Seychelles provides a traceability system from the supplier to the customers. As for any fresh product, the storage and usage instructions are clearly stated on each pot.

Iraqis keep up anti-regime demos despite PM's vow to quit

Iraqis kept up angry anti-government protests in Baghdad and the south on Saturday to demand a broad overhaul of a system seen as corrupt and under the sway of foreign powers, a day after the premier vowed to quit. Protesters have hit the streets since earl
Seychelles News Agency

Iraqis keep up anti-regime demos despite PM's vow to quit

Iraqis kept up angry anti-government protests in Baghdad and the south on Saturday to demand a broad overhaul of a system seen as corrupt and under the sway of foreign powers, a day after the premier vowed to quit. Protesters have hit the streets since early October in the largest grassroots movement Iraq has seen in decades, sparked by fury at poor public services, lack of jobs and widespread government graft. Security forces and armed groups responded with violence to demonstrations, killing more than 420 people and wounding 15,000, according to an AFP tally compiled from medics and an Iraqi rights commission. The toll spiked dramatically this week as a crackdown killed dozens in Baghdad, the Shiite shrine city of Najaf -- where another protester was killed Saturday -- and the southern hotspot of Nasiriyah. Facing pressure from the street and the country's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi announced on Friday that he would submit his resignation to parliament, due to meet Sunday. But demonstrations have not subsided, with crowds in Baghdad and across the Shiite-majority south sticking to their weeks-long demands for complete regime change. «We'll keep up this movement,» said one protester in the southern city of Diwaniyah, where thousands turned out on Saturday. «Abdel Mahdi's resignation is only the first step, and now all corrupt figures must be removed and judged.» - Wounded in capital, south - In Baghdad, teenage protesters threw rocks at security forces behind concrete barriers, protecting government buildings. They responded with rubber bullets and tear gas, wounding 10 demonstrators, a medical source told AFP. «We won't leave our barricades until the regime falls, until we get jobs, water, electricity,» one protester said. More than two dozen protesters were wounded in Nasiriyah when security forces fired live ammunition at anti-government rallies, medics said. The units dispersed a sit-in on one bridge in the city but protesters held two more, according to AFP's correspondent. Iraq's second holy city Karbala was rocked by overnight clashes between young protesters and security forces exchanging firebombs. Authorities have declared a day off on Sunday -- the first day of the working week -- for civil servants in Najaf, Karbala and Nasiriyah and the surrounding provinces. This week's surge in violence started when protesters stormed and burned the Iranian consulate in Najaf late Wednesday, accusing Iraq's neighbour of propping up the Baghdad government. Tehran demanded Iraq take decisive action against the protesters and hours later Abdel Mahdi ordered military chiefs to «impose security and restore order». Over three days, 42 people have been shot dead in Nasiriyah -- Abdel Mahdi's birthplace -- as well as 23 in Najaf and three in Baghdad. The rising death toll sparked a dramatic intervention from Sistani, the 89-year-old spiritual leader of many of Iraq's Shiites. In his Friday sermon, Sistani urged parliament to stop supporting the government, and hours later, Abdel Mahdi announced he would submit his resignation. - Fears of 'civil war' - Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council on Saturday said it had formed a committee to probe the unrest, pledging to «punish those who attacked protesters». Accountability for those killed has become a key demand of protesters in Iraq, where tribal traditions -- including revenge for murder -- remain widespread. «Every victim has a mother, a father, a tribe who won't stay quiet,» said a Baghdad protester. «Otherwise there could be civil war.» Even cities that have been relatively peaceful, including Hilla, held mourning marches for those killed in recent days. Within minutes of Abdel Mahdi's Friday announcement, leading factions called for a no-confidence vote -- including key government backer the Saeroon parliamentary bloc, led by firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr. Abdel Mahdi's other main backer, the Fatah bloc, called for «necessary changes in the interests of Iraq» in a departure from its usual statements supporting him. Since promising to submit his resignation, Abdel Mahdi has continued to hold meetings, including with cabinet and the United Nation's top representative on Saturday. Iraq's constitution does not include a provision for the resignation of a premier, so submitting a letter to parliament would trigger a motion of no-confidence. If parliament meets on Sunday and passes such a motion, the cabinet would stay on in a caretaker role until the president names a new premier. Chief justice Faeq Zeidan is one of several names being circulated as a possible replacement. © Agence France-Presse

HIV/AIDS cases more common among men in Seychelles because of drug use, sex

HIV/AIDS cases in Seychelles are more common among men, a fact attributed to factors such as intravenous drug use and men having sex with men, said a top health official.  From January to September 2019, Seychelles recorded 77 new HIV/AIDS cases among whic
Seychelles News Agency

HIV/AIDS cases more common among men in Seychelles because of drug use, sex

HIV/AIDS cases in Seychelles are more common among men, a fact attributed to factors such as intravenous drug use and men having sex with men, said a top health official.  From January to September 2019, Seychelles recorded 77 new HIV/AIDS cases among which 49 were men and 28 were women. In 2018, there were 120 newly diagnosed cases out of which 79 were men and 41 were women. «Every year I am asked the same question about why HIV is more common among men. ... This might be attributed to the number of men injecting drugs through their veins,» said Anne Gabriel, the chief executive of the National AIDS Council. Gabriel said that another factor is «related to men having sex with other men. When we also look at figures gathered on inmates in the prison, it reveals the same pattern.» With the increasing number of drug users in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, the fight against HIV/AIDS is becoming even more complicated. A study called the 'Seychelles Biological and Behavioural Surveillance of Heroin Users of 2017' showed that 5.6 percent of the population aged 15 years and above are heroin users. In a presentation in October last year, the secretary of state for the prevention of drug abuse and rehabilitation, Patrick Herminie, said that the drug situation in Seychelles is clearly a menace to the country. «More than 10 percent of our working force is not able to work as they are abusing drugs and many of them are also being affected by other diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis C, and other complications,» said Herminie. The National AIDS Council is working in partnership with a newly set up drug reduction agency to offer more tests and treatments. «We are getting them tested and started on HIV treatment, train peer educators to support those on treatment and advocate for Hepatitis treatment for all those who are infected,» she told SNA. She added that the Council has «introduced better testing services for prison, improved the availability of harm reduction services such as Methadone and needle exchange, and we are now able to better access people who inject drugs.» HIV -- human immunodeficiency virus -- attacks the body's natural defence system and as a result, the body cannot fight infection and disease. AIDS, which stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is the final stage of infection with HIV. Not everyone with HIV develops AIDS. The chair of the HIV AIDS Support Organisation (HASO) Justin Freminot told SNA that the organisation is providing counselling services to people living with AIDS and those who are HIV positive. The organisation has joined other groups in a bid to remove legal barriers through discussions including the members of the National Assembly. To date, Seychelles with a population of 95,000 has 843 people living with HIV and AIDS. Seychelles is also putting more emphasis on the prevention of pregnant mother passing on the infection to their child. This year there were seven HIV positive mothers but only one child was born with the virus. «We encourage all woman when planning to get pregnant to know their status. However, if a mother is HIV positive, the baby is always at risk if the mother is not taking its treatment accordingly,» said Gabriel. Seychelles will also be introducing the HIV/AIDS self-test system next year. On Sunday December 1 in commemoration of World AIDS Day various activities to raise awareness will be organised at the Mercy Square opposite the Holy Spirit Church at Perseverance, a man-made island.

Seychelles Fashion Week allows local models to gain experience, confidence

Seychelles Fashion Week is a great way to gain confidence on the catwalk and get more international exposure through foreign designers, media houses and instructors, a local model said. Fifty Seychellois models alongside 10 of their international counterpart
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles Fashion Week allows local models to gain experience, confidence

Seychelles Fashion Week is a great way to gain confidence on the catwalk and get more international exposure through foreign designers, media houses and instructors, a local model said. Fifty Seychellois models alongside 10 of their international counterparts are participating in the second edition of the Seychelles Fashion Week, which kicked off November 25. The models are showing off the designs of 26 designers from Seychelles, the United States, Indonesia, Nigeria, Qatar, Malawi, Guyana, South Africa, India, Congo, Senegal, Namibia and Botswana, all with different levels of accomplishment in the fashion industry. One of the local models, Jade Jules, said that the event «gave models like myself great training from internationals instructors as well as exposure on an international level through the media houses, designers and trainers present.» Jules on the catwalk during the fashion show on Friday. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY     «The fashion show was really exciting with a great variety of collections and quite a good representation of both genders,» Jules told SNA on Friday night during the first day of the fashion show. As a model taking part in the Seychelles Fashion Week for the second time, he added that great progress has been made compared to last year, particularly with the organisation of the event. «We as models, we feel much more comfortable. On the designers' part, there are new ones as well as those who are taking part for the second time, all coming with unique collections,» added Jade. The seven-day event started with three days of workshops, boot camp training and business forum for models, make-up artists and the public. This was followed by fittings and catwalk training on the fourth day. On Friday, the first group of designers showcased their attires at the Eden Bleu Hotel, hosted by local radio presenter, Sylvie Ah-time, and television host and model, Bettinah Tianah. The African print of designer Romeo Paul. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY    Qatar-based designer Romeo Paul opened the first day of the fashion show with his mixed collection of formal and casual wear with some touches of African print and some contemporary attires. «My collections are mixed because it is not concentrated on a particular group of people. It is something that everybody, every culture, and religion can identify to them. In some, I added a flavour of the African print because the African print is going universal right now and I am trying to send a message out there, that the African print, being universal, can be used for whatever design no matter your culture, religion, race or colour,» said Paul. «I am trying to unite the world and Africa through fashion,» he added. A spectator at the event, Julia Gedeon, said that «the fashion show was excellent as in all the designers who showcased their work today brought their own creativity and they all did a great job, especially the local designers.» Gedeon was particularly impressed by the collection of two local designers - Aniella Chetty and Johanna Didon. Chetty is a young budding designer, age 16, with Johanna being a much more established designer having taken part in international fashion weeks with her brand 'Katiti'. Aniello's Fashion the brand of Aniella Chetty was one of the collections that impressed Gedeon. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY    «As a person who follows fashion, it was about time that Seychelles has its own fashion week; it was a great initiative,» said Gedeon. Another attendee at the fashion show, Mursianne Ahkong, said that the event was well organised. «The event was really well organised and I look forward to the second day. I came to support my boyfriend with his brand 'Cedarwear'. I hadn't seen his collection yet and having seen it on the catwalk, I was amazed,» said Ahkong.  SNA presents a selection of pictures of Friday's fashion show. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY   

India offers funds to Sri Lanka in bid to outdo China

India, anxious to counter China's influence in the region, on Friday offered hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Sri Lanka as the island's new president made his maiden overseas trip in New Delhi. Gotabaya Rajapaksa's visit to India just 12 days after
Seychelles News Agency

India offers funds to Sri Lanka in bid to outdo China

India, anxious to counter China's influence in the region, on Friday offered hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Sri Lanka as the island's new president made his maiden overseas trip in New Delhi. Gotabaya Rajapaksa's visit to India just 12 days after he became president is being intensely watched as New Delhi and Beijing compete to control the Indian Ocean and its strategic sea routes. Sri Lanka has been traditionally been allied to India but China invested and loaned billions of dollars to the island nation during the decade-long reign of Rajapaksa's elder brother Mahinda Rajapaksa. After talks with the new leader, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country would give $400 million in credit to Sri Lanka to improve its economy and infrastructure. He offered another $50 million to boost Sri Lanka's security and intelligence gathering -- notably after the April 21 attacks by Muslim radicals that killed 258 people. «A strong and prosperous Sri Lanka is not just in India's interest but the entire Indian Ocean region,» Modi said as he welcomed Rajapaksa for the three-day visit. «The security and development of our two countries are interlinked. Therefore it is only natural that we remain mindful of each other's security and sensitivities,» he added. Rajapaksa swept the November 16 election on promises of bolstering the economy and security -- but is a controversial figure for his role in Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war against Tamil separatists. The separatists' defeat in 2009 was followed by allegations of widespread human rights abuses towards Tamil minorities by government forces. International condemnation brought the Colombo government closer to Beijing, which launched huge infrastructure projects on the Island nation, including the Hambantota port. In his inauguration speech however, the new president said he wanted a «neutral» foreign policy and friendly relations with all countries. «India's cooperation is multi-faceted. We will continue to work closely with India to ensure that the Indian Ocean remains a zone of peace,» he said as he invited Modi to visit Sri Lanka. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles at 250: Island nation’s hospital the foundation of its health

The Victoria hospital as it was known back then was opened on Sunday, November 30, 1924. Today 95 years later, the Seychelles Hospital has expanded, modernized and is seen as the cradle of the island nation’s health. Walking down memory lane to that day, t
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles at 250: Island nation’s hospital the foundation of its health

The Victoria hospital as it was known back then was opened on Sunday, November 30, 1924. Today 95 years later, the Seychelles Hospital has expanded, modernized and is seen as the cradle of the island nation’s health. Walking down memory lane to that day, the inauguration was seen as a very important event in the colony and one which was improving the health care system for all. SNA is looking back at Seychelles’ history ahead of its 250th anniversary in August next year. This new facility was opened by Governor Joseph Aloysius Byrne and the chief medical officer John Thomas Bradley. Addressing the gathering, which comprised of mostly medical staff, Byrne, who was also a Brigadier General said: “I imagine you will feel proud in possessing a hospital which I submit is second to none considering the size, the resources and the isolation of this small colony.”  According to the historian Tony Mathiot, the governor was referring to the fact that “the accomplishment of an audacious undertaking that had tested his predecessor’s perseverance and symbolising the hope of a small nation of some 25,800 inhabitants.”   This new facility was opened by Governor Joseph Aloysius Byrne and the chief medical officer John Thomas Bradley  (Seychelles National Archives) Photo License: All Rights Reserved Mathiot explained that the decision to build a new hospital originated in the aftermath of the First World War. “It was a sudden inspiration and it was proposed that a memorial tablet of those who had died during the war should be erected somewhere in Victoria,” said the historian. Of the 791 young Seychellois volunteers who had joined the Commonwealth forces in East Africa, 335 men lost their lives. But by, January 1920, it was decided that the memorial should take the form of a hospital.  It was governor Eustace Edward Twistleton- Wykeham Fiennes, who put the idea forward. Fiennes had assumed the administration of Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - on July 6, 1918. Shortly after his arrival, his concern for the welfare of the inhabitants became evident when he initiated the construction of the Fiennes Institute, an old People’s home at Plaisance – an eastern district on the main island of Mahe. His idea that a memorial hospital, a medical establishment that would cater to the needs of all the inhabitants be erected, met with hearty agreement. Money for this project was raised through subscriptions, the contribution from all districts. Even churches and chapels were asked to make special collections during mass.   By January 1920, it was decided that the memorial should take the form of a hospital, an idea put forward by governor Eustace Edward Twistleton- Wykeham Fiennes. (Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY  The inhabitants were aware that a new hospital was urgently needed. A small hospital named the St. John of God Hospital which had been built in 1866 and stood on the slope where the National House is now located. All got together to raise funds for the project, from those working in plantations who could contribute only a few cents, to the Indian and Chinese immigrants to residents of the inner islands of Silhouette, Praslin and La Digue. With limited funds being raised locally, Fiennes sought support from abroad. The British Red Cross Society, the British India Steam Navigation Company, the Eastern South African Telegraph Company and Mauritius, of which Seychelles had been a dependency until 1903, all responded generously. The site chosen to build the hospital was at Hermitage, on the outskirts of the capital city of Victoria. In March of 1920, work commended and on June 12, governor Fiennes laid the cornerstone. But funds continued to be a challenge and again and again, work had to stop and the governor had to seek assistance. At the time, the colony was plagued by hookworm epidemic, tuberculosis, and leprosy and most inhabitants did not have access to medical facilities. The grim probability that the islands would not have its modern hospital gradually became more likely. Slowly but surely, the hospital was completed - a huge and magnificent building in true colonial style became the object of admiration. A splendid creation with large verandas, the ironwork pattern of the balcony, the wafer-white masonry walls and the arched doorways.  It consisted of a resident surgeon’s quarters, maternity section, four wards, and a modern theatre.   The medical staff included five hospital nurses who were sisters of the Order of St Joseph de Cluny, assisted by five trainee nurses. (Seychelles National Archives) Photo License: All Rights Reserved The grounds of the hospital was well-manicured, where shrubs, flowers, and palm trees were planted. In the first years, the wards in the hospital were lit with Coleman lamps. Later a Lancashire generating plant was installed to provide power and in 1929 an X-Ray and electro-therapeutic department started to function. The medical staff included five hospital nurses. They were sisters of the Order of St Joseph de Cluny, assisted by five trainee nurses. There were also four male attendants, two ward maids, one midwife, one dispenser and a chief clerk. The first person to be born in the new hospital was a baby girl, Francoise Alcide on December 7, 1924 and the first person to die there was a 46-year-old labourer, Victor Rachel. During its first year, Victoria hospital – named after Queen Victoria – dealt with 731 cases and 29 deaths. And a first in the history of the islands was the birth of quadruplets to Louise Marie on October 15, 1953. Rachel, Therese, William and Jessie were offered a free supply of Cow & Gate milk food by the Cow & Gate Company Ltd of London, the United Kingdom which also published postcards of the Seychellois Quadruplets. The quads are all alive and reside in the southern district of Anse Royale. SNA spoke to Therese Marie who said they heard many stories around their birth, including how they were kept in boxes full of cotton. “There is also our photo in the hospital, in the building where we were born and now used as an administrative block” Marie explained. Since its opening all matrons were foreigners and sisters from the religious order until September 1966 when the first Seychellois matron was appointed. She was Nella Marie Thérèse Mathiot. Over the years the hospital expanded, to include a tuberculosis ward, a children’s ward with 22 cots a new storeroom and laundry. In 1955, a hand-operated lift was installed and by 1966 the out-patient clinic was completed. Ninety five years ago the Seychelles Hospital was a marvelous infrastructure, and today it’s still is. The only difference is that now it offers healthcare, rapid diagnosis, specialized treatments, with the latest state of the art equipment – free for all Seychellois. 

Talks on gov't salary increase in Seychelles to re-open after top court quashes president’s suit

The Seychelles Constitutional Court on Friday dismissed the petition brought by President Danny Faure against the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nicholas Prea. The petition was in relation to the annulment by the National Assembly of a regulation which m
Seychelles News Agency

Talks on gov't salary increase in Seychelles to re-open after top court quashes president’s suit

The Seychelles Constitutional Court on Friday dismissed the petition brought by President Danny Faure against the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nicholas Prea. The petition was in relation to the annulment by the National Assembly of a regulation which makes provision for a five percent increase across the board for government employees, meaning higher-paid employees would receive more money in their 5 percent raise. Prea welcomed the ruling and said he will now call on the National Assembly to engage in more discussions with the government on the Public Service Salary Amendment Bill 2019. «The National Assembly and the executive need to sit down and discuss the matter further in order to reach a consensus which is acceptable to both parties,» said Prea. In the unanimous judgment delivered on Friday morning, the Court comprising of Justices Ronny Govinden, Laura Pillay and Gustave Dodin said, «The National Assembly acted within the ambit of the law and their action was constitutionally valid and permissible.» Faure's lawyer, Alexandria Madeleine, had argued in her submissions that the National Assembly interfered with Faure's constitutional rights when it annulled SI 18 2019. On his part, Prea's counsel, Joel Camille, told the court that the National Assembly acted within the law when quashing the SI and that it had «unfettered power to do so.» Both parties made their submissions to the court on October 22. On March 19, the government presented the Public Service Salary Amendment Bill 2019 to the National Assembly seeking approval for a five percent increase across the board for government workers. This meant that higher-paid workers would get a bigger increase. The opposition members in the National Assembly objected and said the budgeted amount should be shared equally with employees who qualify to get the same amount of increase. With no consensus reached by the due date of April 1st, the government said it will implement the increase through a regulation which was the Statutory Instrument (S.I) 18 of 2019. The S.I. which is a form of delegated legislation allowing the government to bypass the parliament, was quashed by the opposition members in a special sitting of the National Assembly. Speaking after the unanimous decision, Speaker Prea said he was glad that the court has ruled in his favour as he always believed the National Assembly's action was legal. «I always maintained that the National Assembly acted in accordance with the Constitution. We follow procedures and the Standing Orders that we use are in line with the constitution,» he said. Prea added that since there were two documents before the National which were asking the same thing – a Bill and an S.I. – it was agreed that the SI had to go. Faure's counsel was not available for comments. The President had initially filed two petitions against the National Assembly's decision. The court on September 17 dismissed the first petition which was requesting that the Supreme Court exercise supervisory jurisdiction in relation to the National Assembly's quashing of the Statutory Instrument. In the second petition, the Constitutional Court ruled the case had merits and dismissed all five objections presented by Prea's lawyer who was given until October 22 to make his submissions. It is the first time in the history of the third republic of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, that a Speaker was being held accountable for the decision taken by the National Assembly. 

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