Seychelles



Seychellois welcome new freedoms that come with relaxation of COVID measures

Seychellois citizens have welcomed the decision of the health authority to relax COVID-19 restriction measures this week. Some are happy to be able to get out and exercise more. Others are happy that more tourists are arriving in the island nation.  This w
Seychelles News Agency

Seychellois welcome new freedoms that come with relaxation of COVID measures

Seychellois citizens have welcomed the decision of the health authority to relax COVID-19 restriction measures this week. Some are happy to be able to get out and exercise more. Others are happy that more tourists are arriving in the island nation.  This week cinemas, casinos, and standalone bars that were closed due to COVID-19 were able to open. Family gatherings are again permitted, though caution around vulnerable members of Seychellois society is still being urged. Cindy Gonthier, a resident of the northern district Beau Vallon, said that it was long overdue for certain entertainment facilities to reopen. «We have stayed for so long under restriction. There was no nightlife or way to unwind after work. Some of us have put on extra weight with spending long hours indoors. Now we can go out, but in respecting the standard operating procedures of places that we are going to,» said Gonthier. Public gatherings such as AGM meetings, graduation ceremonies, receptions for weddings, and meetings among others can take place as long as they abide by the SOPs of the venue. A full-time wedding decorator and planner, Janina Edmond, said that it has been very hard to keep her business up and running. «I am very happy that the authorities have taken our business into consideration. With the reopening of the airport, I can start getting foreign clients again to come and say I do in Seychelles. As a wedding planner, I only have to incorporate the SOPs in my arrangements,» said Edmond. With regards to grocery stores that have been allowed to remain open until 8 pm, Valitino Mein of Belonie close to the capital Victoria said that this would largely work for the benefit of those finishing work a bit late. However, Mein added that «the restrictions on night movements remain in place between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. do not make sense and restriction on movement should be removed completely.» According to the figures released by the Ministry of Health on Tuesday, 66,250 people have received a first dose of either Covishield or Sinopharm vaccines which is 95 percent of the target population of 70,000. Family picnics on the beach will now be permitted for up to 10 adults, however, beach parties are prohibited while regular religious services such as mass and gatherings are being permitted based on the health department SOPs. A representative of the Plaisance Catholic Church, Patrice Bijoux, said that "we were already following health measures, but now we need to intensify on its implementation. More emphasis should be placed on hygiene and sitting arrangements to ensure social distancing is maintained.”

Islands Development Company lights up two more of Seychelles' outer islands with solar power

The Islands Development Company (IDC) is on track to having all the islands it manages in Seychelles running solely on green energy after the inauguration of solar farms on Astove and Farquhar islands. Comprising 342 glass solar panels, the photovoltaic powe
Seychelles News Agency

Islands Development Company lights up two more of Seychelles' outer islands with solar power

The Islands Development Company (IDC) is on track to having all the islands it manages in Seychelles running solely on green energy after the inauguration of solar farms on Astove and Farquhar islands. Comprising 342 glass solar panels, the photovoltaic power station on Astove can produce 150 KW of electricity, which will cover 93 percent of the island's electricity consumption. On Farquhar, the solar farm has 510 panels which give an output of 250 KW of electricity which means that 94 percent of the island's electricity needs will be produced by solar energy. The company, which is responsible for the sustainable development of the outer islands, manages 14 islands. The launching of the two stations means that at the moment IDC has three solar farms up and running. The first solar setup was inaugurated in November 2018 on Alphonse. IDC's chief executive, Glenny Savy, announced that a fourth, much bigger solar farm is under construction on Desroches. Expected to come online in June this year, the station will have a capacity of 2.5 megawatts. «Before June next year, most, if not all IDC-managed islands will be using solar energy, meaning we will be using 100 percent green energy,» said Savy. With the solar farms on Farquhar and Astove «means that we no longer need to transport diesel from Mahe. ... This will bring a huge saving for these two islands. As IDC we will save a lot of money and as a country, we will no longer be importing this fuel and as such will not need foreign exchange to import it,» added Savy. Savy announced that a fourth, much bigger solar farm is under construction on Desroches. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board) Photo License: CC-BY   Work on the two solar farms commenced last October and was completed in April. Money saved thanks to the solar power will go towards further infrastructure development on the islands. Savy added that other than allowing IDC to save money, pollution caused by the electricity-producing machinery will no longer take place. The solar systems also bring back tranquillity on the islands, which Savy called «really fantastic.» The inauguration of the two solar farms coincided with the visit of Seychelles' president and a delegation which included diplomats based in Seychelles to six outer islands - Assumption, Aldabra, Alphonse, Astove, Farquhar, and Desroches - from April 9 to April 12. The trip was organised as a symbolic gesture of appreciation for the continuous support foreign diplomats and their respective countries have extended to Seychelles. On his way back from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Aldabra, President Wavel Ramkalawan and his delegation stopped on Astove and Farquhar for the official launch of the solar farms. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, who also went on the trip, commended the work done by IDC on Monday. «IDC is doing a great job managing the islands and I commend them for the developments that they have carried out on these islands. Assumption is one that we see has untapped potentials,» said Radegonde.

UK to follow US pullout from Afghanistan: report

Britain is preparing to follow the United States in pulling its troops out of Afghanistan by September, according to a report Wednesday that was not denied by the government. «We are working closely with the US, NATO allies and partners to support a se
Seychelles News Agency

UK to follow US pullout from Afghanistan: report

Britain is preparing to follow the United States in pulling its troops out of Afghanistan by September, according to a report Wednesday that was not denied by the government. «We are working closely with the US, NATO allies and partners to support a secure and stable Afghanistan,» a government spokesman told AFP in response to the report by The Times newspaper. «Any change to our security presence will be made in agreement with allies and after consultation with our partners.» President Joe Biden plans to withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan before this year's 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, finally ending America's longest war despite mounting fears of a Taliban victory, according to US officials. The Times said that Britain would follow suit in withdrawing its roughly 750 troops, citing sources as saying «they would struggle without American support because of a reliance on US bases and infrastructure». At its peak, the UK troop deployment in Afghanistan numbered nearly 10,000, but is now largely confined to security duties in the capital Kabul. Britain has also drawn up plans to hand over control to the Afghan government of a military academy in Kabul dubbed «Sandhurst in the Sand», The Times said. © Agence France-Presse

Rise in Seychelles' currency should lead to drop in local prices, official says

The price of commodities in Seychelles is expected to drop as the rupee appreciates against the dollar, said a top finance official on Tuesday. The Seychelles' economy relies heavily on imports, therefore an appreciation of the domestic currency should trans
Seychelles News Agency

Rise in Seychelles' currency should lead to drop in local prices, official says

The price of commodities in Seychelles is expected to drop as the rupee appreciates against the dollar, said a top finance official on Tuesday. The Seychelles' economy relies heavily on imports, therefore an appreciation of the domestic currency should translate into lower inflationary impulses and therefore a reduction in prices of goods and services. According to CBS, on Monday a dollar on average was 19.43 and a Euro 22.77. Compared to April 6th that was a reduction of 6.59 percent on the dollar and 6.42 on the euro. The governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS), Caroline Abel, told a press conference that «for the year 2021, there has been more selling than buying of foreign currencies. To date, we have been able to accumulate $20.5 million. It has been there in the system. This is an indication that at a certain point, the foreign exchange rate would definitely have to decrease as there is a limit especially for banks to accumulate.» She said that Seychelles has a flexible exchange rate which means the market determines the price and if it is not functioning as it should as was the case last week it will collapse. Abel however noted a positive outlook in general as there is more supply of foreign exchange for the month of March compared to January. «When we look at the tourism sector when we opened for all visitors on the 25th March foreign exchange received was $8.6 million compared to January which was less than $2 million,» she said. Tourism which is the top pillar of the economy of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, was badly affected by the downturn in travel caused by the COVID--19 pandemic. On the issue of inflation, Abel said that statistics published last week shows that inflation has risen to 9.59 percent compared to the same period of last year. To date, the country's reserves stand at $540 million and the amount that can be used is $405 million. The calculation shows that this reserve will last the country for about 18 months.

Diplomats see climate change, security risks, business opportunities on trip to Seychelles' outer islands

The visit to some of Seychelles' outer islands by a group of foreign diplomats was a great opportunity to better demonstrate the challenges the island nation faces, especially in maritime security and climate change, Sylvestre Radegonde, the Minister for Fore
Seychelles News Agency

Diplomats see climate change, security risks, business opportunities on trip to Seychelles' outer islands

The visit to some of Seychelles' outer islands by a group of foreign diplomats was a great opportunity to better demonstrate the challenges the island nation faces, especially in maritime security and climate change, Sylvestre Radegonde, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, said Tuesday. Led by President Wavel Ramkalawan, the delegation visited six outer islands – Assumption, Aldabra, Alphonse, Astove, Farquhar, and Desroches from Friday to Monday. The visit started with a tour of a World Heritage Site -- Aldabra, home to the world’s largest population of giant land tortoises. Aldabra Atoll is also the second-largest coral atoll in the world. The visit then continued with brief stops to Alphonse, Assumption, Astove, Farquhar and Desroches islands. Members of the diplomatic corps included ambassadors and high commissioners, including Guo Wei from China, Francesca Alexandra Azais from the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Dalbir Singh Suhag from India, Artem Kozhin from Russia and Dominique Mas from France. Representatives from the British High Commission and the Japan and Sri Lanka embassies also took part. The visit was organised as a symbolic gesture of appreciation for the continuous support the respective countries have extended to Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The delegation visited the old settlement on Aldabra. (State House) Photo License: CC-BY   Though 11 foreign diplomatic bodies having a representative in Seychelles were invited to take part, the UAE, Libya and Cuba were unable to attend. The delegation also included the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Flavien Joubert, Naadir Hassan for finance and First Lady Linda Ramkalawan. «The trip was an opportunity for the diplomatic corps to know the real Seychelles. It also gave them the possibility to see the challenges that we face, especially when we say we have a problem when it comes to maritime security. When you see the extent of the ocean that needs to be protected, you see the risks that exist when there isn't a presence at sea,» said Radegonde. He added that the delegation also saw first hand the threats that climate change, in the form of coastal erosion, poses to the outer islands. «This has been a very fruitful voyage. It allowed them to better understand us when we ask the international community for help be it through the provision of materials or financial aids. I think that as a result of the visit, foreign ambassadors to Seychelles today have become ambassadors of Seychelles. I am convinced that they will become defenders of Seychelles' interest in the domains that I have talked about,» he continued. Radegonde said that through the trip, the delegation also saw business opportunities. «There are islands that have development potential. In my opinion, Assumption has the potential to become a staging post if anyone is interested in this possibility. When I spoke to the ambassadors, they saw the possibility to maybe have a hotel on Assumption that will be able to accommodate people before they go to Aldabra for day trips,» said Radegonde. He added that this discussion is yet to be done with the Islands Development Company (IDC), which manages the island. To reach Aldabra, a visitor first takes a plane to Assumption, and then boards a boat to the atoll. «We have talked about the possibility to open the island so as to allow more Seychellois to know and learn more, not only about Aldabra as an atoll, but also about the conservation efforts being undertaken on the island. It is now up to SIF to see how they can implement the desire that we have,» said Radegonde.

Japan to release treated Fukushima water into the sea

Japan will release more than a million tonnes of treated water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean, the government said Tuesday, triggering a furious regional reaction and fierce opposition from local fishing communities. The process is
Seychelles News Agency

Japan to release treated Fukushima water into the sea

Japan will release more than a million tonnes of treated water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean, the government said Tuesday, triggering a furious regional reaction and fierce opposition from local fishing communities. The process is not likely to begin for several years and could take decades to complete, but China quickly slammed the decision as «extremely irresponsible» and South Korea summoned the Japanese ambassador. Japan's government argues the release is safe because the water is processed to remove almost all radioactive elements and will be diluted. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has endorsed the release, which it says is similar to the disposal of wastewater at nuclear plants elsewhere. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a ministerial meeting that disposing of the water was an «inevitable task» in the decades-long process of decommissioning the nuclear plant. He said the release would happen only «after ensuring the safety levels of the water» and alongside measures to «prevent reputational damage». Around 1.25 million tonnes of water have accumulated in tanks at the nuclear plant, which was crippled after going into meltdown following the 2011 tsunami. It includes water used to cool the plant, as well as rain and groundwater that seeps in daily. An extensive pumping and filtration system extracts tonnes of newly contaminated water each day and filters out most radioactive elements. But local fishing communities fear releasing the water will undermine years of work to restore confidence in their seafood. «They told us that they wouldn't release the water into the sea without the support of fishermen,» Kanji Tachiya, who heads a local fisheries cooperative in Fukushima, told NHK ahead of the announcement. «We can't back this move to break that promise and release the water into the sea unilaterally.» Plant operator TEPCO will «take thorough measures to prevent bad rumours», said its president Tomoaki Kobayakawa. - 'Unique and complex' - China's foreign ministry slammed Japan's decision, saying it had been taken «without regard for domestic and foreign doubts and opposition». «This approach is extremely irresponsible and will seriously damage international public health and safety,» it said. South Korea's foreign ministry also called it «a risk to the maritime environment» and later announced it had summoned Japan's ambassador. The US State Department, however, said Japan had been «transparent about its decision, and appears to have adopted an approach in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards». Debate over how to handle the water has dragged on for years, as space to store it at the site runs out. A government panel earlier endorsed either diluting the treated water and releasing it into the ocean or releasing it as vapour, and the IAEA says either option is acceptable. «The Japanese government's decision is in line with practice globally, even though the large amount of water at the Fukushima plant makes it a unique and complex case,» IAEA director-general Rafael Mariano Grossi said on Tuesday, promising to work with Japan throughout the process. Anti-nuclear activist group Greenpeace hit out at Japan's government for having «once again failed the people of Fukushima». «The cabinet's decision failed to protect the environment and neglected the large-scale opposition and concerns of the local Fukushima residents, as well as the neighbouring citizens around Japan,» said climate and energy campaigner Kazue Suzuki. The filtration process removes most radioactive elements from the water, but some remains, including tritium. Government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said Tuesday that the water would be diluted to contain tritium at levels far below either domestic or WHO standards, with the IAEA monitoring the process. Experts say the element is only harmful to humans in large doses and with dilution the treated water poses no scientifically detectable risk. «There is consensus among scientists that the impact on health is minuscule,» Michiaki Kai, an expert on radiation risk assessment at Japan's Oita University of Nursing and Health Sciences, told AFP before the decision was announced. But local plaintiffs who have filed class-action lawsuits for damages against TEPCO and the government demanded the «immediate withdrawal» of the decision. «Releasing the water into the ocean will return to haunt us,» they said. © Agence France-Presse

G7 urges Russia to stop 'provocations,' de-escalate on Ukraine

The Group of Seven leading economic powers on Monday called on Russia to stop its «provocations» and «de-escalate tensions» following its troop build-up on the border with Ukraine. The G7 foreign ministers issued their joint appeal o
Seychelles News Agency

G7 urges Russia to stop 'provocations,' de-escalate on Ukraine

The Group of Seven leading economic powers on Monday called on Russia to stop its «provocations» and «de-escalate tensions» following its troop build-up on the border with Ukraine. The G7 foreign ministers issued their joint appeal on the eve of a NATO meeting in Brussels over concerns that the years-long conflict in eastern Ukraine could escalate sharply. The ministers, most of whose countries also belong to NATO, «are deeply concerned by the large ongoing build-up of Russian military forces on Ukraine's borders and in illegally-annexed Crimea,» they said in a statement. «These large-scale troop movements, without prior notification, represent threatening and destabilising activities,» the statement added. «We call on Russia to cease its provocations and to immediately de-escalate tensions in line with its international obligations.» The G7 -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Canada and non-NATO Japan -- also urged Russia to uphold international «principles and commitments that it has signed up to on transparency of military movements». In March, the G7 said it would not accept Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, in a statement marking seven years since the takeover. Shortly after the annexation, Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine began fighting a conflict against the Ukrainian army that has so far claimed more than 13,000 lives, according to the UN. The G7 reiterated its March statement by backing «the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders». And it backed what it called «Ukraine's posture of restraint». - US warns of 'consequences' - The G7 renewed calls for all parties to implement a 2015 peace deal known as Minsk II that banned tanks and other heavy weapons. Ukraine has accused Russia of amassing thousands of military personnel on its northern and eastern borders as well as on the annexed Crimean peninsula. The Kremlin has not denied the troop movements but has insisted that Moscow does not intend to threaten anyone. The White House this week said the number of Russian troops at the border with Ukraine was now greater than at any time since 2014 when the conflict erupted. Fighting subsided in 2020 as a ceasefire agreement took hold last July, but clashes have picked up again since the start of the year, with each side blaming the other. Ukraine's army said that a serviceman was killed on Saturday when separatist fighters opened fire with small arms, while another soldier was fatally shot and wounded on Monday. On Thursday Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the eastern frontline, speaking with soldiers in the trenches. Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is due to meet with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also heading to Brussels for talks. Blinken and Stoltenberg spoke by phone Monday ahead of his visit to discuss issues «including the immediate need for Russia to cease its aggressive military buildup along Ukraine's borders and in occupied Crimea,» the State Department said. Blinken warned in an interview on Sunday of «consequences» if Russia acts «aggressively» towards Ukraine. © Agence France-Presse

Former President of Seychelles joins group asking US to lift vaccine patent rules

Former President of Seychelles, James Michel, joined other former world leaders of the Club de Madrid in addressing a letter to U.S President Joe Biden to consider giving support for a temporary suspension on patent rules for COVID-19 vaccines. According to
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Former President of Seychelles joins group asking US to lift vaccine patent rules

Former President of Seychelles, James Michel, joined other former world leaders of the Club de Madrid in addressing a letter to U.S President Joe Biden to consider giving support for a temporary suspension on patent rules for COVID-19 vaccines. According to a press release from the office of the former president on Monday, the letter «urges the US President to back the proposal South Africa and India already presented to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to waive the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights rules (TRIPS) for the duration of the pandemic.» The letter which will be published this week outlines that «the support of the US Administration to a waiver of these rules would be vital to hastening an end to today's pandemic, by helping to overcome global manufacturing barriers resulting from current monopolies on vaccine patents.» The temporary waiver which is supported by Médecins Sans Frontières, an international humanitarian medical non-governmental organisation, would apply to certain intellectual property on COVID-19 medical tools and technologies until herd immunity is reached. The waiver was originally proposed by India and South Africa in October 2020 and is now backed by 58 sponsoring governments, with around 100 countries supporting the proposal overall.   The former President of Seychelles was admitted as a full member of the World Leadership Alliance Club de Madrid in April 2019, almost three years after he handed over the presidency to Danny Faure in October 2016. Michel had been at the helm of the government of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, since 2004, when the late President France Albert Rene, who had been in power for 27 years, handed over the presidency. The Club de Madrid is the world's largest forum of democratically elected former Presidents and Prime Ministers committed to sharing their experience in government and overcoming the challenges of leading and decision-making in contemporary politics worldwide. The club has members from more than 70 countries.

Seychelles sees first death of a health worker from COVID-19

Seychelles recorded its first fatality among health workers from COVID-19 after the death of Gerry Govinden on Monday. The Ministry of Health sent condolences to family and friends. Govinden, 42, died from COVID-19 complications in the early hours of Monday
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles sees first death of a health worker from COVID-19

Seychelles recorded its first fatality among health workers from COVID-19 after the death of Gerry Govinden on Monday. The Ministry of Health sent condolences to family and friends. Govinden, 42, died from COVID-19 complications in the early hours of Monday, the Ministry’s chief nursing officer, Guylian Mein said. Mein told SNA that Govinden “was one of our pillars in mental health and it is a great loss for the health community.” She said that Govinden had vast experience in acute psychiatric care dealing with patients with mental health and addiction. Mein described Govinden as a very reliable person in his work. «He was a jolly person and anytime you requested his help, he was always ready to help and assist during shortages of staff.» Seychelles, an island nation in the western Indian Ocean, has recorded 25 deaths from COVID-19 to date. Last month, Seychelles recorded the deaths of the first two foreign seafarers from COVID-19 -- a Malagasy and an Indonesian. The two were from the Belle Isle tuna fishing vessel belonging to Reunion-based Sapmer company, fishing in the island nation waters. This has pushed the health authorities in Seychelles to work with local shipping agencies to vaccinate foreign seafarers on vessels fishing in the island nation's waters.

Seychelles Tourism Board launches digital platform to increase visibility, support local tourism

The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) on Monday launched a digital tourism platform in an effort to increase the visibility of the island nation through the internet and support the local tourism industry with online and digital marketing. Called ParrAPI, the p
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles Tourism Board launches digital platform to increase visibility, support local tourism

The Seychelles Tourism Board (STB) on Monday launched a digital tourism platform in an effort to increase the visibility of the island nation through the internet and support the local tourism industry with online and digital marketing. Called ParrAPI, the platform will serve to collect, store and distribute digital tourism information. The first four letters – Parr - represents the endemic Seychelles black parrot, which is also the logo of the platform. API – which means Application Programming Interface – is the service through which the information is redistributed to other operators. Heading the project was STB's digital marketing team, which has been working on the platform since 2019. The digital marketing director, Chris Matombe, told the press that «with the introduction of ParrAPI, STB will be in a better position to support and assist the Seychelles tourism industry with its digital marketing.» «ParrAPI provides us with a more efficient approach to managing large amounts of listings and we can now feature more businesses on our customer platforms,» said Matombe. The chief executive of STB, Sherin Francis, said that in today's online travel market place where consumers expect to be able to research, plan, and book their holidays digitally, «the platform will revolutionise how we collect and manage tourism data.» Launched on Monday, the tourism platform will increase efforts to make Seychelles more visible through the internet. (Seychelles Tourism Board)Photo License: CC-BY   «One solution that we will get through the system is that we will have up to date and recent information all the time on all operators and activities within the industry,» said Francis. To make a listing, an operator needs to register its business or service on www.parrapi.com and upload all relevant information for free. Tourism services that will be able to benefit from ParrAPI are accommodations, attractions, events, operators, food and drink providers, general services, hires, tours and transports. Information uploaded will be available in four languages – English, French, German and Italian. Operators will also be able to upload photos and videos to better sell their listings. The only instances an operator will have to pay a small fee will be when they are making changes to their listing that requires a translation. Once an operator has uploaded all of its information on ParrAPI, STB will review the data to ensure that they meet set standards. Once approved the listing will go online. «Up until today, we were doing this for our website. All operators had to send us their information and we were the ones to upload it to our website. With ParrAPI, operators will upload their information themselves. Once it has been published it will be redistributed to any platform that is connected to the system,» said Francis. She outlined that to start, listings will be redistributed on all STB systems such as the board's website and digital app as they are connected to ParrAPI. Eventually, it will be redistributed by any operator who connects to the system. The number of distributors who can connect to the system to access the information and promote Seychelles' tourism products and services across the globe is not limited but will come at a cost. This could be a tour operator or someone who has created a booking platform. ParrAPI will place tourism industry players closer to their target audiences and tap into new markets through a substantial digital presence. Tourism is the top economic contributor of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

Seychelles' technology innovation institute develops solar-powered pesticide sprayer for farmers

The National Institute for Science Technology and Innovation (NISTI) in Seychelles is in the process of testing a solar-powered pesticide sprayer that it has developed for farmers. The prototype took four years to develop. It has been put through various sta
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' technology innovation institute develops solar-powered pesticide sprayer for farmers

The National Institute for Science Technology and Innovation (NISTI) in Seychelles is in the process of testing a solar-powered pesticide sprayer that it has developed for farmers. The prototype took four years to develop. It has been put through various stages of testing by technicians from the institute and is now being used on a farm. “Conventional sprayer causes user fatigue due to excessive bulky and heavy construction. This motivated us to design and fabricate a model that is a solar sprayer in our design. Here we can eliminate the back mounting of the sprayer ergonomically which is not good from a farmer’s health point of view during spraying. In this way here we can reduce the users' fatigue level,” explained Xavier Estico, the chief executive of NISTI. Estico who was peaking last week on the farm where the sprayer is being tested added that with the solar-powered sprayer there will be the elimination of the engine of fuel operated spray pumps resulting in a reduction in vibrations and noise. “The elimination of fuel will make our spraying system eco-friendly.” “At NISTI, we try to look at every sector where we can incorporate technology to make the life of the operator easier,” he said, adding “this invention can be used largely on bigger farms where we can implement the design and concept and turn all pesticide sprayers solar operated.” The system consists of a solar panel, charging unit, battery, pump and sprayer. The solar panel charges the battery which in turn operates a monitor through a nozzle thereby creating a spray. The chief executive explained that it takes under an hour to charge the battery using solar energy. However, in case of bad weather, the user can always charge it by electricity, which takes about four hours. The system consists of a solar panel, charging unit, battery, pump and sprayer. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  The design features a user-friendly low weight component to operate with longevity for desired product efficiency that provides less vibration than a fuel-powered sprayer. “This invention can be used largely on bigger farms where we can implement the design and concept and turn all pesticide sprayers solar operated,” said Estico. The CEO added that he wants Seychelles - 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - to move forward in the fourth industrial revolution by bringing innovation not only to the farms but in all sectors. For now, the solar-powered sprayer is only a prototype that NISTI will continue to improve on. It was demonstrated last week at MNL Farm, Montagne Posée where Nathaline Labrosse has been using the contraption on her farm for over three weeks. “The solar-powered sprayer is very useful because it does not require a person to pump it manually like we were doing before. It sprays longer distances as well,” explained the farmer. Labrosse added that it usually takes her close to an hour to spray her farm with the manual sprayer, but with the solar-powered one it takes her only 15 minutes. Labrosse explained that spending less time on spraying allows her to do other things on the farm as there is always a lot to do. Another farmer, Gabriel Prudence, told SNA that innovation and technology in agriculture are what is needed on the island nation for a sector that has not been well developed.

Seychelles' Island Conservation Society marks 20 years with postal covers

The Seychelles warbler and the Seychelles splendid palm are two endemic species that are being featured on a new commemorative postal cover launched on Saturday. The limited-edition cover was released to mark the 20th anniversary of the Island Conservation
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles' Island Conservation Society marks 20 years with postal covers

The Seychelles warbler and the Seychelles splendid palm are two endemic species that are being featured on a new commemorative postal cover launched on Saturday. The limited-edition cover was released to mark the 20th anniversary of the Island Conservation Society (ICS). The work is in collaboration with the Seychelles Postal Services.  In the world of philately - the collection and study of postage stamps -- a cover is an envelope that has passed through the mail, has been franked with either a postage stamp or meter stamp and appropriately cancelled. The newly released commemorative cover consists of the ICS logo, a map showing the five islands where ICS operates, as well as six postage stamps showing flora and fauna found in Seychelles. There is also an overprint - an additional layer of text added to the face of an existing postage stamp - on each postage stamp with the words 'ICS 2001-2021' and two round cancellation stamps with the words 'Island Conservation Society' on the top half and 'Seychelles' on the bottom half. The most famous varieties of overprints are commemorative issues. These can command significant interest in the field of philately the world over. The new commemorative cover is expected to be popular with collectors in Seychelles and overseas. With only 2,000 printed copied, the covers are available for sale at the Seychelles Post Office at a price of SCR100 ($5.3). Featured on the stamps are the Seychelles splendid palm, Seychelles anemonefish, Seychelles tree frog, Seychelles bronze gecko, and the Seychelles skink – all endemic to Seychelles.  The other is the green sea turtle. The world's largest population of this warbler breeds at Aride Island Nature Reserve, managed by ICS and important populations of green turtles breed at the other outer islands, where ICS has several conservation centres. The deputy chief executive of ICS, Shane Emelie, told SNA that he and his team chose these postage stamps as these are species that can be found on the islands where ICS operates. «We wanted to do something different other than having an exhibition. Our chairperson, Adrian Skerrett, is a person who has a personal interest in stamp collection. We wanted to honour our endemic species, and as they were already featured on a few postage stamps, we decided to make a commemorative cover that will mark the end of the celebration,» said Emelie. He added that by doing so, people will be able to keep a souvenir of the event. He went on to suggest that the commemorative cover can also be given to a loved one who loves conservation and biodiversity as a gift. The first commemorative overprint issue in Seychelles came in 1967 and was a set of four stamps overprinted 'Universal Adult Suffrage 1967'.

Power and water outages strike Saint Vincent after volcanic eruption

Massive power outages struck the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent before dawn on Sunday, as officials recorded more explosive activity at a long-dormant volcano that launched into a series of eruptions. After remaining quiet for nearly 42 years, La Soufrier
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Power and water outages strike Saint Vincent after volcanic eruption

Massive power outages struck the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent before dawn on Sunday, as officials recorded more explosive activity at a long-dormant volcano that launched into a series of eruptions. After remaining quiet for nearly 42 years, La Soufriere rumbled back into life Friday, blanketing the island in ash and permeating the air with the stench of sulphur. Ash buildup on some power lines was contributing to extensive electric outages. «The landscape of beautiful stvincent is shrouded in ash from overnight explosions and ashventing from lasoufriere volcano,» tweeted geologist Richard Robertson, who posted photos of grim-looking gray landscapes. He described new lava flows as «a moving mass of destruction.» The eruptions prompted thousands to flee for safety, with around 16,000 people living in areas under evacuation orders. The country's National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) noted «another explosive event» early Sunday morning with the «majority of the country out of power and covered in ash». «Day No. 3 and everything looks like a battle zone,» the NEMO account tweeted. The volcano's explosive phase is expected to last several days or even weeks, according to the Seismic Research Centre at the University of the West Indies (UWI), which advised residents to avoid inhaling the volcanic ash. The whitish powder caked roads, homes and buildings in Saint Vincent after the powerful blasts began Friday and continued into the night. «Saturday morning on the island of over 110,000 residents looked like a winter wonderland, albeit blanketed by ash,» the news portal news784.com said. Visibility in some areas was extremely limited. While the volcano lies on the island's northern end, in the capital Kingstown on the south end the ash caused a thin haze of dust, the portal said. The thick clouds of dust expelled by La Soufriere have affected neighboring islands as well, traveling over 110 miles (175 kilometers) east to Barbados. «Barbadians have been urged to stay indoors as thick plumes of volcanic ash move through the atmosphere,» the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency said. The initial blast from La Soufriere, the highest peak in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, sent plumes of hot ash and smoke 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) into the air Friday morning. Smaller eruptions took place Friday afternoon and Saturday, belching out further columns of ash, according to the UWI researchers. Vincentian Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said Saturday that water has been cut off in most areas and the country's air space is closed because of the ash. Around 3,000 people spent the night in shelters. «It's a huge operation that is facing us,» Gonsalves told NBC News. He said his government has been in contact with other countries that want to provide aid and that Guyana and Venezuela are sending ships with supplies. - Evacuation orders - The 4,052-foot La Soufriere -- French for «sulphur mine» -- had not erupted since 1979, and its largest blow-up happened over a century ago in 1902, killing more than 1,000 people. It had been rumbling for months before it finally blew. «We are trying to be ok. It's deathly quiet outside and the mood is pensive,» said Vynette Frederick, 44, a lawyer in Kingstown. Northwest of Kingstown on the 18-mile-long island, Zen Punnett said things had calmed down after the initial panic as evacuation orders came out Thursday night. «It's gotten hazier. We are staying inside,» she said. The emergency management agency posted photos of a Coast Guard ship evacuating residents of an area who had previously refused to leave. Standing on a dock, the air above the evacuees was a chalky gray. Most of the people in the red zone had been moved to safety by Friday, authorities said. Cruise ships were on the way to assist the evacuation effort. The Saint Vincent and Grenadines police on Saturday issued an appeal for troublemakers to stop making prank calls to emergency responders. «We are in the middle of a serious evacuation and security exercise, to safeguard and rescue persons who are affected by the eruption,» the agency said. «These irresponsible calls divert much-needed resources and personnel from the evacuation exercise.» © Agence France-Presse

Guelleh re-elected Djibouti president for fifth term

Djibouti's veteran ruler Ismail Omar Guelleh was overwhelmingly re-elected for a fifth term as president, according to final results announced this weekend, after the vote in the tiny but strategically important country was boycotted by the main opposition.
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Guelleh re-elected Djibouti president for fifth term

Djibouti's veteran ruler Ismail Omar Guelleh was overwhelmingly re-elected for a fifth term as president, according to final results announced this weekend, after the vote in the tiny but strategically important country was boycotted by the main opposition. Around 215,000 citizens were registered to vote in the ballot pitting Guelleh, 73, against a little-known businessman widely seen as posing scant threat to the strongman, who has been in power since 1999. Alexis Mohamed, special adviser to the president, said Guelleh received 167,536 votes compared to 4,408 for his challenger in the Horn of Africa nation, which overlooks one of the world's busiest trade routes at the crossroads between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The interior ministry confirmed those figures. Officials said the incumbent tallied 97.44 percent of the vote, with turnout at around 82 percent, up from 68 percent in 2016. Mohamed said the constitutional court has three days to confirm the results, if there is no challenge. Benedikt Kamski, an analyst based in Addis Ababa for Germany's Arnold Bergstraesser Institute, said «it was not a real election, it was more like a confirmation and the opposition candidate who was running was not very known.» Friday night, after voting in the capital where most of Djibouti's one million people reside, Guelleh praised the trouble-free conduct of the election. - 'My vote is useless' - Guelleh was the handpicked successor to his relative Hassan Gouled Aptidon, the country's first president after independence from France in 1977. He faced just one challenger -- political newcomer Zakaria Ismail Farah -- after Djibouti's main opposition parties boycotted the election. Farah, a 56-year-old cleaning products importer, had cast doubt on the transparency of the voting process, saying his delegates were not present at polling stations. «My vote is of no use, nor are the votes of 80 percent of the Djiboutian people,» the opposition candidate told AFP in a text message. Ahmed Tidiane Souare, the head of an African Union (AU) observer mission, said all candidates were free to send their officials to any polling station. Farah, who had styled himself as the «flag bearer of poor Djiboutians», had alleged unfair treatment during the election campaign, including that he was not provided security at his rallies. Guelleh, and his extended family, have controlled Djibouti with an iron fist since he was handed power. A rare wave of opposition protests in 2020 were brutally suppressed. His fifth term is to be his last, under a 2010 constitutional reform that scrapped term limits while introducing an age limit of 75, which would lock him out of future elections. Guelleh has clinched at least 75 percent of the vote in every presidential election he has contested. The vote proceeded despite a surge in Covid-19 cases and infection rates, and few wore face masks as they cheered Guelleh at a crowded final rally this week. - Stable and strategic - Under Guelleh, the country has exploited its geographical advantage, investing heavily in ports and logistics infrastructure. In 2018, seeking to become a trade and logistics hub, the country launched the first phase of what will be Africa's biggest free-trade zone, financed by China. Flanked by Somalia and opposite Yemen, Djibouti has remained stable in a volatile neighbourhood, drawing foreign military powers such as former colonial ruler France, the United States and China to establish bases there. But the country has also seen an erosion of press freedom and a crackdown on dissent as it has courted foreign interest. The country's economy shrank by one percent in 2020, but is expected to grow seven percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. Djibouti's GDP per capita income is about $3,500, higher than much of sub-Saharan Africa, but around 20 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty and 26 percent are unemployed, according to the World Bank. For Kamski, the analyst, Guelleh's new term will focus more on economic development than on democratisation and he will look to a successor close to him. © Agence France-Presse

What happens next? Plans for Prince Philip's funeral

As a senior royal, Prince Philip's death would normally have triggered a well-rehearsed protocol honed to precision over decades, involving pomp and pageantry before a ceremonial send-off. But coronavirus restrictions banning large public gatherings have for
Seychelles News Agency

What happens next? Plans for Prince Philip's funeral

As a senior royal, Prince Philip's death would normally have triggered a well-rehearsed protocol honed to precision over decades, involving pomp and pageantry before a ceremonial send-off. But coronavirus restrictions banning large public gatherings have forced royal officials to hastily revise the plans for his funeral, codenamed «Operation Forth Bridge». A day after the Duke of Edinburgh's death, aged 99, Buckingham Palace said Saturday the ceremony would take place at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, at 1400 GMT on Saturday, April 17. It will be preceded by a national minute's silence. Public elements of the funeral have been taken out, and the whole service will be televised from behind the castle walls to prevent large crowds assembling. St George's Chapel in the sprawling royal residence west of London last made global headlines as the venue for the marriage of the duke's grandson, Prince Harry, to Meghan Markle, in 2018. A more sombre mood will prevail as Harry returns from the United States, where he and Meghan moved last year and from where they have launched a series of stunning broadsides against the royals. All eyes will be on Harry for signs of tensions with his family, whom he and his mixed-race wife accused in a recent interview of racism, and neglecting her mental health. Meghan, who is pregnant with the couple's second child, has been advised against travelling on medical grounds. In all, just 30 people will attend as guests at the funeral, in line with government coronavirus guidelines. Alongside the Queen, now 94, they are expected to be the couple's four children -- Charles, 72, Anne, 70, Andrew, 61, and Edward, 57 -- grandchildren and other close family. All will have to wear facemasks and observe social distancing rules. «Operation Forth Bridge» had been intended to have some 800 people at the funeral of the duke -- Britain's longest-serving consort, who was known for his aversion to «fuss». - 'Significant adaptations' - The duke's coffin is currently at the private chapel of Windsor Castle but will be moved on the morning of the funeral in a small ceremonial procession to St George's Chapel. It will be transported in a specially modified Land Rover that he helped to design, followed on foot by Charles and other senior royals. The coffin will be draped with the duke's personal standard, and decorated with a wreath of flowers, as well as his Naval cap and sword. There will be a strong military presence at the funeral, reflecting his life in and association with the armed forces, including representative detachments in the castle grounds. The route of the procession will be lined by members of the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and several British Army units. Military guns from the castle's east lawn will be fired during the procession, as a mourning bell tolls. A military guard of honour and band will receive the coffin, and «God Save the Queen» -- the national anthem -- will be played as the coffin nears the chapel. Royal Marine pall bearers will carry the coffin up the steps and pause for the minute's silence before it is received by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Windsor. A period of national mourning began on Friday and will run until the day of the funeral. The royal family will observe two weeks' mourning. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: «The Covid-19 pandemic has of course required us to make significant adaptations to the original arrangements for His Royal Highness's funeral. »However, we are certain that the occasion will be no less fitting a farewell to His Royal Highness, marking his significant duty and service to the nation and the Commonwealth.« He added: »Despite these necessary changes, they still very much reflect the personal wishes of the duke. «Although the ceremonial arrangements are reduced, the occasion will still celebrate and recognise the duke's life and his more than 70 years of service to the Queen, the UK and the Commonwealth.» © Agence France-Presse

Return of a Princess: Seychelles’ first car to be restored to former glory

Once the pride of Seychelles, the island nation’s oldest known car – Princess - is expected to be restored to its former glory. Built in 1950, Princess was once the official state vehicle but now sits in desperate need of repair. A recent communique fro
Seychelles News Agency

Return of a Princess: Seychelles’ first car to be restored to former glory

Once the pride of Seychelles, the island nation’s oldest known car – Princess - is expected to be restored to its former glory. Built in 1950, Princess was once the official state vehicle but now sits in desperate need of repair. A recent communique from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Tourism said there is renewed interest in Princess and in the possibility of having her restored to her younger self. This possibility arises from a visit by Minister Sylvestre Radegonde and the British High Commissioner Patrick Lynch at State House - where Princess is based. “I am indeed very keen and interested to have the car repaired as Princess has so much potential,” Minister Radegonde told SNA on Tuesday, adding that the car is part of the island nation's rich heritage. Built in 1950, Princess now sits in desperate need of repair a possibility now after a visit by Minister Sylvestre Radegonde and the British High Commissioner Patrick Lynch at State House. (Miniastry of Foreign Affairs)  Photo License: CC-BY  For islanders, Princess is part of the nation's history, with many in the older generations recalling her as the once prestigious official state vehicle. It has both historical and sentimental values for Seychelles. Built by the British Motors Corporation, ‘Princess’ was brought to Seychelles during the later period of the British colonial era. She was used by the last two governors - Bruce Greatbatch and Collin Hamilton - Allan - of the island nation and during Queen Elisabeth’s visit to Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean - in the early 1970s. The car was later transferred to the culture department before being managed by the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) as a special hired vehicle for weddings and in national events such as the Creole Festival. In 2005 after being put on display at the Eco Musee and later left without attention for several years, Seychelles’ former honorary consul in Italy, Graziano Luigi Triboldi, offered to restore the car. Triboldi took the car to Italy, where a reputed collection car restoration firm, Carrozzerai Ravani Collection Car of Soresina, with four different mechanics, invested 400 hours of repair work on the old girl. Triboldi noted back then that the original spare parts for Princess’s restoration were scarce and had to be ordered from the United Kingdom and this may be the reason why the UK High Commissioner was invited to the visit. Local historian Tony Mathiot said that for the oldest car in the country it is sad that very little historical information about Princess is available. “Despite this, I think it is wonderful to have this beautiful classic car repaired and up and running again,” said Mathiot, adding that once on the road, Princess will definitely be an eye-catcher and can once again find her rightful space in the Seychellois society.

10 years in the making, Seychelles' new Olympic House almost complete

Seychelles expects to have its first-ever Olympic House once construction is completed on the project, the president of the local Olympic Committee said. Antonio Gopal, president of the  Seychelles Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association, told SNA that t
Seychelles News Agency

10 years in the making, Seychelles' new Olympic House almost complete

Seychelles expects to have its first-ever Olympic House once construction is completed on the project, the president of the local Olympic Committee said. Antonio Gopal, president of the  Seychelles Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association, told SNA that the Olympic House project started a year ago and was to be completed in October last year. “The contractor gave us October as the date for the completion of the project but with the COVID-19 situation, this has not been possible. It is now expected to finish this month but judging from what we’ve seen so far it might be longer, maybe in another month or so,” said Gopal. Once completed the Olympic House will be the headquarters of the Seychelles Olympic and Commonwealth Games Association (SOCGA). Gopal said that this is the norm in member countries of the International Olympic Committee whereby each member has its own headquarters. “In it there will be offices for our staff and other offices that can be used by other federations that might need them for their meetings. We will also have a research centre where will have all of our memorabilia and anything connected with the Olympics,” said Gopal. The Olympic House is located in the central Mahe district of Roche Caiman between the Stad Linite medical centre and Nature Seychelles headquarters. The facility once completed will have offices for staff and a large hall. (Rassin Vannier, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY  The facility will also have a large hall that can hold around 60 persons and Gopal said this will be ideal for SOCGA. “In the past we had to rent places to hold our general assembly. Since it will be an Olympic headquarters, all federations in Seychelles can also use the facility free of charge." Gopal said the project has been 10 years in the making as SOCGA had to raise sufficient funds for its construction. “We got $100,000 from the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Committee Association. The rest we raised ourselves. Every year we receive $20,000 and we have saved part of that money to build the Olympic House and it has taken us 10 years. The building cost SCR5.4 million ($267,000),” Gopal told SNA. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1979. The island nation has participated in the Olympic Games since 1980, missing only the 1988 edition. The nation has not yet won an Olympic medal. Two Seychellois athletes, sailor Rodney Govinden and swimmer Felicity Passon, have qualified for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. In the last Olympic Games in 2016, Seychelles had 10 athletes participating in six events: athletics, boxing, judo, swimming, sailing and weightlifting.

Health officials in Seychelles launch 'Contak' tracing app to help map COVID links

The Public Health Authority in Seychelles has launched an app that it says will revolutionize the way COVID-19 contact tracing is done in the island nation. The newly approved ‘Contak’ mobile application was developed by local company Space-95 in partner
Seychelles News Agency

Health officials in Seychelles launch 'Contak' tracing app to help map COVID links

The Public Health Authority in Seychelles has launched an app that it says will revolutionize the way COVID-19 contact tracing is done in the island nation. The newly approved ‘Contak’ mobile application was developed by local company Space-95 in partnership with the Department of Information Communication Technology (DICT) and Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) to facilitate contact-tracing activities, keep track of and control the COVID-19 situation. The QR code-based tracing application is free of charge and allows a user to register places they have been, facilitating the work of contact tracers at the Public Health Authority. Public Health Commissioner Jude Gedeon launched ‘Contak’ in a short ceremony at the Sheikh Khalifa Diagnostic Center of the Seychelles Hospital on Friday. The app can be downloaded by both individuals and organisations. It is a secure way to store information about persons with whom an individual has close contact, and places visited for contact-tracing purposes when needed. The QR code-based tracing application is free of charge and allows a user to register places they have been, facilitating the work of contact tracers at the Public Health Authority. (Joena Meme, Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC BY After downloading the application, one can simply register, and use the app to scan the QR code found on posters displayed at different venues, to save a log to the diary on the application. If ever the individual tests positive, the diary is consulted, making the contact-tracing process much easier for the surveillance team. The Chief Operations Officer of Space 95, Andy Noel, said that scanning QR codes at all venues a person accesses are important. «If you are found to be positive with COVID-19, one simply needs to go to the app and upload the diary to the health agency using Wi-Fi or internet data. This information is uploaded to a server at DICT (Department of Information, Technology and Communication), allowing the relevant authority to access the information. Someone who has scanned the same poster the same time as you will receive an alert, letting them know that they are potential contacts,» said Noel. Noel explained during a presentation that there are three ways to use the app – scanning QR codes at the entrance of a venue, having the attendant scan your app-generated QR code or the scanning of a friend's or colleagues that you meet or come into contact with regularly.   Noel explained during a presentation that there are three ways to use the app (Space 95) Photo License: CC BY The company which has donated the app to the Ministry of Health said that 'Contak' is Space 95’ gift to Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. According to its Chief Executive Officer, Bernard Moutia, SPACE 95 reached an important milestone – it turned 25 - in 2020 but due to the pandemic, all celebrations had to be cancelled. “We nevertheless thought that we needed to show solidarity to the people of Seychelles during this difficult year, so we came with the idea to help the health authority, help the workers and make their lives easier and to use technology to do this,” explained Moutia. While launching the app, Gedeon said that the app will work as the vaccine "with more people being vaccinated it becomes more effective. The app is also like this, the more people who use this, who download it and uses it, the more our contact tracing will become more efficient. We are asking people, not to hesitate, to download it and each place they go, scan the QR code and improve our contact tracing.”

Britain mourns death of Prince Philip

Prince Philip, the longest serving royal consort in British history who was a constant presence at Queen Elizabeth II's side for decades, died on Friday aged 99, Buckingham Palace announced. The death of the Duke of Edinburgh is a profound loss for the 94-ye
Seychelles News Agency

Britain mourns death of Prince Philip

Prince Philip, the longest serving royal consort in British history who was a constant presence at Queen Elizabeth II's side for decades, died on Friday aged 99, Buckingham Palace announced. The death of the Duke of Edinburgh is a profound loss for the 94-year-old monarch, who once described him as her «strength and stay all these years». The Queen announced the death «with deep sorrow... of her beloved husband» in a short statement, which said he passed away peacefully in the morning at Windsor Castle, west of London. «The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss,» it added. The announcement triggered an official period of national mourning before his funeral, the date of which has yet to be announced but had been planned to be within eight days. Flags were lowered to half-mast on public buildings as part of a well-rehearsed protocol that included the pealing of bells, planned gun salutes on Saturday and the recall of parliament on Monday. As a mark of respect, political campaigning for May local elections was suspended. An image of the prince was projected in lights at London's Piccadilly Circus landmark. In pre-recorded comments aired in a special BBC programme on Friday, Philip's children reminisced about their father, his long life and achievements. «Well you know he didn't suffer fools. So if you said anything that was in any way ambiguous - he'd say 'make up your mind!'» his eldest son, and the Queen's heir, Prince Charles, said. His sister, Princess Anne, said «there was a huge amount of encouragement to do things and quite a lot of leeway of pushing your own boundaries, which is probably not given to many nowadays.» - 'Extraordinary life and work' - Philip, an outspoken former navy commander, devoted much of his life as the Queen's husband to charity work. Famed at one point for gaffes, some caused offence but supporters said they were simply ice breakers when meeting people in awkward situations. He was admitted to hospital on February 16, and went home after a month during which he was treated for a pre-existing heart condition and an infection. Announcing his death, BBC television played the national anthem over a picture of Philip in his prime, dressed in military dress uniform. «We give thanks, as a nation and a kingdom, for the extraordinary life and work of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,» Prime Minister Boris Johnson, dressed in mourning black, said outside 10 Downing Street. Johnson said Philip had «earned the affection of generations» at home, in the Commonwealth and across the world after first serving in the Royal Navy and then over nearly eight decades beside the Queen. Tributes poured in from political and faith leaders in Britain, and from the United States, Europe and Commonwealth countries including Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and Pakistan. Philip is expected to be buried at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, according to the royal College of Arms, at a date to be determined. But restrictions for the coronavirus pandemic have seen the palace urge the public to stay away, although that did not prevent a sea of floral tributes and messages being left at royal residences. Government regulations are being eased from Monday to allow up to 30 people to attend a funeral, ruling out the attendance of foreign dignitaries. Philip's grandson, Prince Harry, is likely to make his first return to Britain since his shock move to the United States last year, British media reported. He and his American wife, Meghan, wrote on the website of their Archewell charitable foundation: «Thank you for your service... you will be greatly missed.» - 'Farewell, my beloved' - Britain's front pages on Saturday paid tribute to Philip, expressing support for the Queen. «We're all weeping with you Ma'am,» said The Sun tabloid on top of photographs of the prince and the Queen. The Daily Mail splashed a picture of the Queen looking at her husband along with the headline «Farewell, my beloved» on the front page of its 144-page souvenir edition. Throughout the day, a steady stream of mourners paid tribute at the Queen's London home and her residence at Windsor, leaving flowers, cards and Union Jack flags. «It was really a shock this morning, and it made our hearts ache for the Queen,» said Karen Llewellyn, a Frenchwoman married to a Welshman, who came to the castle with daughter, Emilie. «We all have this thought for the Queen who will be alone without her pillar,» she added, while daughter Emilie said she «made a little prayer» after hearing the news. However, police at the palace and other royal sites discouraged well-wishers from lingering, owing to Britain's Covid restrictions on mass gatherings. Philip retired from public duties in 2017 at the age of 96 and died just before his 100th birthday in June -- a milestone that for Britons is typically marked with a congratulatory message from the queen, who is Britain's longest-serving monarch. - Few public appearances - The couple, who celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in November, had been living largely in isolation at Windsor Castle, because their age put them at heightened risk from Covid-19. Philip was no stranger to health issues. He was previously fitted with a stent in 2011 after suffering from a blocked artery. The prince then spent four nights in hospital in December that year, receiving treatment for what was described as a «pre-existing condition». He was last seen at a staged appearance at a military ceremony at Windsor Castle last July, days after attending the wedding ceremony of his granddaughter Princess Beatrice. The Queen had four children with Philip -- heir to the throne Charles, Anne, Andrew and Edward -- eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. - Shelved ambitions - Philip was born on the island of Corfu with Danish and Greek royal titles. He fled the country when he was just 18 months old with his parents and four sisters, after his uncle, king Constantine of Greece, was forced to abdicate. The family initially settled in France. Philip was formally introduced to the then Princess Elizabeth, in July 1939 and they kept in touch during the war, meeting on several occasions. The pair married in Westminster Abbey in London in 1947. A rising star in the British navy, Philip had reached the rank of commander by the time Elizabeth ascended to the throne in 1952. He eventually shelved his personal ambitions to support his wife in the role. Over the ensuing decades he was involved in numerous charities, including the World Wide Fund For Nature and the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme for young people. © Agence France-Presse

Olympic athlete from Seychelles to swim between islands to raise money, attention for mental health needs

One of Seychelles’ top athletes, swimmer Felicity Passon, is embarking on a 15km swimming challenge to raise funds that will go towards the promotion of mental health in the country. The challenge -- ‘Mind Over Matter’ -- which is being organised in pa
Seychelles News Agency

Olympic athlete from Seychelles to swim between islands to raise money, attention for mental health needs

One of Seychelles’ top athletes, swimmer Felicity Passon, is embarking on a 15km swimming challenge to raise funds that will go towards the promotion of mental health in the country. The challenge -- ‘Mind Over Matter’ -- which is being organised in partnership with the Ministry of Family, Youth, and Sports, will take place on Saturday, April 24. Passon will swim from La Digue to Praslin - the third- and second-most populated islands -- and back starting at 6.30 am. The Indian Ocean and African Champion of 2019 says she expects to complete the challenge in between four and five hours but this will depend on the weather conditions on the day. She told the press that she has never done such a challenge before and swimming such a long distance is not something that she usually does. Passon said that her priority remains the Olympic Games that will be taking place in July and as such is not making a lot of alterations to her training. She has added two extra sessions during the week, where she swims in the sea so as to get used to the different current and wind conditions. “I want to push myself both physically and mentally so as to achieve this. At the same time, the fact that I am doing this for a good cause gives me the motivation that I need to finish the challenge. It will be difficult and a challenge and hence why I called it Mind over Matter, as it is really important that we become stronger than all the forms of limitations and problems that we encounter in our lives,” said Passon. Though the public will not be able to come to support her on the day of the challenge due to the pandemic and safety measures at sea, a person can show their support by contributing to a bank account specially set up for the challenge. Interested persons can make their contributions to the ‘Felicity Swim Challenge’ MCB account. The account number is 00000736047. “This challenge is bigger than me. Mental health is something that many of us battle with, and with the pandemic, many have suffered even more through sickness, loss of a dear one, job insecurity, confinement, financial constraints, stress etc among others. With all these pressures, this project has the potential to have a meaningful impact on people’s lives,” said Passon. Passon told the press that she has never done such a challenge before and swimming such a long distance is not something that she usually does. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  She hopes that the challenge will inspire other athletes and the youth to play their role in society and give back to the community. An officer from the Quality of Life Division of the ministry, Beryl Naiken, said in a press conference that the fund raised during the challenge will go towards an e-counselling service. “The idea behind this service came when COVID-19 first hit Seychelles. At that time there wasn't any community transmission, but schools were closed and people were at home, and we saw a sudden rise in the need to give counselling. The fact that everyone was at home, we were unable to provide the service and this is how the idea came about,” said Naiken. E-counselling will be an extension of the counselling service being provided by the ministry. Naiken said that having such a service in place will allow the ministry to provide counselling, even if only virtually, to the public should the country undergo another lockdown. The chief executive of the National Sports Council, Jean Larue, said that the council fully supports Passon and encourages other athletes to engage in such activities. “I would like to congratulate Felicity on the project which we find really satisfying and commendable. We are encouraging other athletes to come forward. What she is doing is a challenge, it's a first and we find it really important at this point due to the fact that she is doing it together with the Quality of Life Division,” said Larue. He explained that as the council undergoes certain restructuring, a 'Sports Science and Technology' centre has been set up, under which the NSC expects to get a full-time phycologist who will work with athletes.

Sri Lanka arrests 'Mrs World' over assault

Colombo police on Thursday arrested the current «Mrs World» on charges of assault over an on-stage fracas in which she pulled the crown off the head of the new «Mrs Sri Lanka». Caroline Jurie yanked the crown off Pushpika de Silva min
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Sri Lanka arrests 'Mrs World' over assault

Colombo police on Thursday arrested the current «Mrs World» on charges of assault over an on-stage fracas in which she pulled the crown off the head of the new «Mrs Sri Lanka». Caroline Jurie yanked the crown off Pushpika de Silva minutes after she was declared «Mrs Sri Lanka 2020» in a Sunday gala at Colombo's Nelum Pokuna theatre. Jurie was the previous year's «Mrs Sri Lanka» and had gone on to win the «Mrs World» competition organised by a California-based company. De Silva needed hospital treatment after the incident, seen by stunned spectators in a packed venue as well as a live social media audience. «We have arrested Jurie and (her associate) Chula Manamendra in connection with a charge of assault and causing damage to Nelum Pokuna (theatre),» senior police official Ajith Rohana said. De Silva told reporters outside a police station in Colombo Thursday that she was ready to drop the charges if Jurie made a public apology, but she had refused. «I tried to end this out of court, but she has refused,» de Silva said. «I can forgive, but not forget.» Police said a court hearing was fixed for April 19 and Jurie and her associate who crashed the stage on Sunday were released on bail Thursday. Neither of them nor their lawyers spoke to reporters outside the police station. Towards the end of Sunday's ceremony, Jurie had claimed that de Silva was divorced and therefore ineligible for the prize. Her surprise announcement sparked unruly scenes minutes after the chief guest, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa's wife Shiranthi, had left the theatre. To qualify for the title, contestants must be married. De Silva is estranged from her husband, but they are still legally married. The local franchise holder for the pageant, Chandimal Jayasinghe, said they were «deeply disturbed and sincerely regret» the behaviour of Jurie. Jayasinghe said they were claiming compensation from Jurie for damages to the stage and backstage dressing rooms where several mirrors had been smashed. The rumpus also meant the event dragged on two hours longer and theatre management demanded an additional fee of half a million rupees ($2,500), Jayasinghe added. Jurie has also been accused by organisers of bringing disrepute to the event. Social media calls have been mounting to strip Jurie of her «Mrs World» title, with one meme calling for her to be rebranded as «Mrs Under World». © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles' Supreme Court says Coetivy Island ownership issue to be settled May 8

The Supreme Court of Seychelles has set May 8 as the date for a final judgment on the claim for the return of Coetivy Island to its former owner. The claim by Alain Hoareau, an adopted son of the late Andre Delhomme, one among the former owners of Coetivy Is
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Seychelles' Supreme Court says Coetivy Island ownership issue to be settled May 8

The Supreme Court of Seychelles has set May 8 as the date for a final judgment on the claim for the return of Coetivy Island to its former owner. The claim by Alain Hoareau, an adopted son of the late Andre Delhomme, one among the former owners of Coetivy Island, was filed in August last year. The case is being heard before Justice Ellen Carolus. The deal to purchase the island located 290 kilometres from Mahe, Seychelles' main island, was made in 1979 by the government at the time and the owners under an acquisition agreement. The lawyer of the Delhomme family told the press after a court sitting on Friday that the «government did not fully honour the contract after the transaction was made to purchase the island in 1979.» Elisabeth said that the Delhomme's family is petitioning to cancel the sales between the two parties as there is an outstanding balance not paid. «We asked the court to rule that the property be returned to the Delhomme family. Secondly, if this is not possible, we are requesting for the outstanding balance to be paid. Hoareau, the adoptive son of Delhomme, who has got power of attorney over the case, said that they want the island returned to them. »My father was forced to sell the island under the regime of Rene. The offer was 4 million rupees and my dad had no other choice but to accept. The government made a deposit of 2.5 million only. In the claws of the contract it was stipulated that if the government defaults on three payments, the island should return back to the Delhomme family,« he said. He added that after coming back to the island nation after living abroad for some years, he found out that documents from the Registrar's office show that the rest of the balance of 1.5 million was never paid. »We want justice to be served. We want the island back as we also can develop it and create employment for Seychellois. Investors would be also welcomed," said Hoareau. An official of the Attorney General’s Office who SNA contacted said at the Defence will not be making any comment at this point in time. Seychellois whose land was taken by the government from 1977 to 1993 had until June last year to lodge their claims with a Land Compensation tribunal, which was set up in August 2017. The establishment of the Tribunal was in line with a Court of Appeal ruling of December 7, 2012, in which the government was invited to set up a Tribunal, to deal with compensation cases as opposed to taking cases to Court. Meanwhile, Coetivy is being used for a rehabilitation programme for up to 30 inmates under an agreement between the Islands Development Company (IDC) which manages the island and the Prison Services. A prawn farm on Coetivy is also expected to be relaunched and will be managed by a Seychellois team.

President of Seychelles offers condolences to Queen Elizabeth II after passing of Prince Philip at age 99

President Wavel Ramkalawan of Seychelles sent a message of condolence to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II after the passing of her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday. «His Royal Highness Prince Phili
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President of Seychelles offers condolences to Queen Elizabeth II after passing of Prince Philip at age 99

President Wavel Ramkalawan of Seychelles sent a message of condolence to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II after the passing of her husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Friday. «His Royal Highness Prince Philip was a dedicated public servant, committed to numerous causes which he served with passion and integrity and a steadfast companion and support to Your Majesty and to the Royal Family,» said Ramkalawan. The head of state of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, said that for over six decades, Prince Philip served the Crown, the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth with great dignity, distinction and honour. «We in Seychelles treasure memories of His Royal Highness' and Your Majesty's joint visit to our Country in 1972, which we remember with much warmth and fondness. His Royal Highness shall be deeply missed but his legacy lives on and will continue to inspire us, as will his numerous achievements.» He concluded by saying that «on behalf of the government and people of Seychelles, and on my own behalf, I offer my deep and heartfelt condolences to Your Majesty, to the Royal Family and to the government and people of the United Kingdom.» According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) news service «Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II's husband, has died aged 99, Buckingham Palace has announced. A statement issued by the palace just after midday spoke of the Queen's »deep sorrow« following his death at Windsor Castle on Friday morning.» «The Duke of Edinburgh, who was the longest-serving consort in British history, had returned to Windsor on 16 March after a month in hospital,» added BBC. 

Belfast in turmoil as Brexit stokes tensions in Northern Ireland

Rioters waged a running battle with police in Belfast on Thursday night -- tossing petrol bombs, setting fires and dodging jets from water cannon as a week of unrest showed no sign of letting up. Hundreds of boys and young men gathered from early evening in
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Belfast in turmoil as Brexit stokes tensions in Northern Ireland

Rioters waged a running battle with police in Belfast on Thursday night -- tossing petrol bombs, setting fires and dodging jets from water cannon as a week of unrest showed no sign of letting up. Hundreds of boys and young men gathered from early evening in a western neighbourhood in the Northern Ireland capital, which has been riven by violence over Brexit and domestic politics. Masked and in hooded tops, they hurled rocks, bricks and glass bottles at police barricades where riot officers formed ranks with armoured Land Rovers. Petrol bombs burst into flames in the street and fireworks were aimed into police formations, exploding and smothering their lines in thick smoke. Behind riot shields and with batons drawn, police drove back the surging crowds late into Thursday night, as locals peered out of their windows to witness the spectacle. When one group tried to push a vandalised car into the police barricades, a lumbering water cannon forced them away with powerful spraying jets. A police loudhailer warned crowds to disperse or face arrest. «Force may be used,» the female voice rang out. Northern Ireland was the site of «The Troubles» sectarian conflict, which wound down in 1998 -- but Brexit has been partially blamed for igniting old tensions. The unrest started last week in the pro-UK unionist community, where tensions are high because of new post-Brexit rules some feel are dividing the region from Britain. But the pro-Ireland nationalist community has begun to respond in scenes like those of Thursday night. Nationalist and unionist communities in Belfast are often separated by towering «peace walls» to guard against projectiles. On Wednesday there were ugly scenes when warring groups from unionist and nationalist communities faced off at a gate in the peace wall between their neighbourhoods. The doors are etched with a slogan reading: «There was never a good war or a bad peace.» But the gates were pried open and rioters traded missiles in vicious confrontations. - Spiralling situation - «It's deep rooted, it's not just about Brexit although Brexit has done something as well obviously,» Belfast native Fiona McMahon told AFP earlier on Thursday. «We have been scuppered big time,» she said, voicing the sense of exasperation many here feel over Britain's split from the EU. The rising unrest has caused a political crisis in Northern Ireland, with the regional assembly recalled to address the violence on Thursday. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin and US President Joe Biden have all called for calm. Meanwhile police have pleaded to those with «influence» in the community to hold back the crowds from participating in riots. On Thursday dozens of older men and women stood at the gates where violence had flared the previous night and refused to let rioters approach. A small number of men dismantled a fire being started and blocked others approaching the gate with projectiles. Two amongst the crowd told AFP they were concerned figures from the surrounding community -- a sign that those who still remember «The Troubles» are unwilling to let the region slide back into its dark past. © Agence France-Presse

India gives Seychelles new judiciary building, solar project, patrol boat

Several projects including a fast patrol vessel funded by the Indian government were handed over officially to Seychelles on Thursday in a virtual inaugural ceremony. The inauguration was attended by the President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, Indian Prim
Seychelles News Agency

India gives Seychelles new judiciary building, solar project, patrol boat

Several projects including a fast patrol vessel funded by the Indian government were handed over officially to Seychelles on Thursday in a virtual inaugural ceremony. The inauguration was attended by the President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other high level government and diplomatic officials. The projects include the completion of the Magistrates Court, installation of a one megawatt solar plant on Romainville Island and 10 high impact community development projects. In his address, President Ramkalawan said that the inauguration of the Magistrates Court is a significant accomplishment for the Judiciary in Seychelles. «The construction of this court has been funded thanks to an Indian grant of $3.4 million. It provides for greater security and comfort in the daily operations of the Magistrates courts, allowing for a more conducive environment and greater efficiency for the administration of justice,» he said. On his side, Modi said that a «good judicial system is vital for every democracy. We are happy to have contributed to the realisation of the Magistrate court. I am sure it will be a symbol of our deep and abided friendship.» Ramkalawan also expressed his gratitude to India for its unfailing support and solidarity with Seychelles. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY  The Seychelles' president welcomed the donation of the patrol vessel «Zoroaster» which he said «comes at an opportune moment, reinforcing our efforts to combat and deter maritime crimes, with specific emphasis on counter-narcotic operations within the vast expanse of our maritime zones. » He said that the state-of-the-art vessel will enable the Seychelles Coast Guard to fulfil its principal mission of defending our territory, thus contributing to regional stability and security. India has also funded a one megawatt solar plant on man-made Romainville Island which is expected to produce enough electricity to meet the consumption of about 400 households. The two leaders also witnessed the inauguration of 10 completed projects under the High Impact Community Development Projects funded by the Indian government. The projects were undertaken on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, the three main islands of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The Indian Prime Minister said that «India has always believed in a human centric approach to development cooperation. The philosophy is reflected in the 10 high community development project being inaugurated today.» Ramkalawan also expressed his gratitude to India for its unfailing support and solidarity with Seychelles.  «What better example of Indian solidarity than your spontaneous donation of 50,000 doses of the COVISHIELD vaccine to Seychelles in January 2021. If we are nearing our target of achieving 70 percent of herd immunity by end of April 2021 and have re-opened our country to business, it is, in large part, due to this precious donation,» said Ramkalawan. Modi said that India is honoured to have played the role of a strong partner of Seychelles in its fight against the pandemic and pledge continuous commitment to support the island nation in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery.

UK suspends funding for Oxfam after DR Congo sex claims

The British government said Thursday it had suspended funding for Oxfam after the aid charity suspended two staff members in the Democratic Republic of Congo over claims of sexual misconduct and bullying. «All organisations bidding for UK aid must mee
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UK suspends funding for Oxfam after DR Congo sex claims

The British government said Thursday it had suspended funding for Oxfam after the aid charity suspended two staff members in the Democratic Republic of Congo over claims of sexual misconduct and bullying. «All organisations bidding for UK aid must meet the high standards of safeguarding required to keep the people they work with safe,» a Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement. «Given the most recent reports which call into question Oxfam's ability to meet those standards, we will not consider any new funding to Oxfam until the issues have been resolved.» The charity, which works in 67 countries, said on Friday that it had suspended the two staff members as part of an external investigation that began in November. It said this was over «allegations of abuses of power, including bullying and sexual misconduct». Oxfam said it had reported this to the Foreign Office and Charity Commission, a government department that regulates charities. In response to the suspension of UK funding, an Oxfam spokesperson said «we will continue to keep them informed as the investigation concludes its work». The Times newspaper reported Friday that whistleblowers at Oxfam had been raising concerns about alleged misconduct in the aid mission to DR Congo since 2015. The anti-poverty charity was hit by a major scandal in 2018 over the way it handled staff in Haiti who admitted using prostitutes. Its chief executive quit after it emerged that several of the aid workers in Haiti deployed following a 2010 earthquake were allowed to quit, including the then country director. In March, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab allowed Oxfam to re-apply for government funds for the first time in three years after the Charity Commission said it had made «significant strides» in safeguarding since the Haiti scandal. Oxfam had been receiving some £30 million (35 million euros, $41 million) in state funds annually. Oxfam announced in 2020 that it was closing 18 offices and cutting nearly 1,500 jobs due a drop in funding linked to the coronavirus pandemic. Oxfam says its work in the DR Congo includes providing clean water and education on preventing Ebola transmission. © Agence France-Presse

A return to normal next week: Cinemas, casinos, bars to reopen; sports and family gatherings permitted again

After months of restrictions, closed shops, missed family time and diminished nightlife, Seychelles may finally be entering the last phase of the COVID-19 lockdown nightmare. The Public Health Commissioner, Jude Gedeon, said Thursday that the government wil
Seychelles News Agency

A return to normal next week: Cinemas, casinos, bars to reopen; sports and family gatherings permitted again

After months of restrictions, closed shops, missed family time and diminished nightlife, Seychelles may finally be entering the last phase of the COVID-19 lockdown nightmare. The Public Health Commissioner, Jude Gedeon, said Thursday that the government will relax restriction measures as of Monday, April 12 since the island nation's «vaccination coverage is improving and going well, and we have registered a drop in the numbers of admissions to the hospital linked to COVID-19.» Severe cases of COVID-19 are diminishing, he noted, and that means that starting Monday, social and business life can begin a slow return to normal. «Cinemas, casinos, and standalone bars that were closed are now getting permission to open. Gatherings among family members are now permitted, however it is necessary that they practice restraints, control, and take into account vulnerable people in the households, especially if they have not been vaccinated,» said Gedeon. Grocery stores that were previously allowed to operate until 6 pm will as of next Monday be able to remain open until 8 pm. Gedeon stressed that all grocery stores need to apply for certification by April 15 and a failure to do so will result in the closure of these shop. The same applies to shops not respecting Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in place. Family picnics on the beach will now be permitted for up to 10 adults, however, beach parties are prohibited. «For funerals, there is currently a limitation on the number of people who can attend. The committee that works with the faith-based organisation has been asked to review SOPs relating to funerals so that they can be carried out in a safe manner. Wedding services and regular religious services such as mass and gatherings are being permitted based on their SOPs,» explained Gedeon. Public gatherings such as AGM meetings, graduation ceremonies, receptions for weddings, and meetings among others can take place as long as they abide by the SOPs of the venue. For sporting activities, individual sports such as tennis and golf are being permitted. Team sports, including training, competitions, sporting events with and without spectators are allowed to be held based on the established SOP of each venue or respective federation. Seated indoor public shows are permitted but gatherings where people will be standing, both indoors and outdoors, are not permitted. Procession, marches, outdoor rallies, festivals, and fairs are also prohibited. Restrictions on night movements remain in place between 11 pm and 4 am. The changes in the public order are being drafted by the attorney general. Gedeon said it is really important that the public assumes their personal responsibilities and continue wearing face masks, practice social distancing and good hand hygiene. The same applies for businesses as going forward «we would like to see a functioning society without having to go back to the restrictions that were in place,» said Gedeon. Meanwhile, Seychelles also kicked off a vaccination programme for seafarers and new Gainful Occupation Permit (GOP) holders on Thursday. «As of today, a vaccination programme has started among seafarers and we are expected that this will go on for the coming days. These seafarers are working in Seychelles for a long period of time and they go back and forth to sea. It is to our advantage that they get vaccinated during the time that they are working in the country,» said Gedeon. Last Friday, the tourism minister, Sylvestre Radegonde, said that Seychelles has enough vaccine doses in the country to start vaccinating foreign citizens working in the island nation and its waters. The statement coincided with the reception of 1,000 doses of Sputnik vaccines from Russia. Seychelles is currently using Sinopharm and COVIESHILED in its vaccination programme. In the vaccination programme that started January 10, 93 percent of the targeted population of 70,000 has received their first dose, while 58 percent of people have received both doses. Among the total population, 66 percent have received the first dose and 41 pecent both doses. Currently, there are 281 active cases in the country and 24 deaths have been registered. A total of 4,395 positive cases have been confirmed in Seychelles since the outbreak started.

Former president of Seychelles marries overseas, news report says

The Seychelles' former president, Danny Faure, got married last weekend in a foreign country, according to the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Faure got married to Seychellois Shermin Rudie Bastienne in a private ceremony during the Easter weeken
Seychelles News Agency

Former president of Seychelles marries overseas, news report says

The Seychelles' former president, Danny Faure, got married last weekend in a foreign country, according to the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Faure got married to Seychellois Shermin Rudie Bastienne in a private ceremony during the Easter weekend. The country where the wedding took place was not specified but Faure told SBC that he and his wife are very happy. Shermin Rudie Faure told SNA via Facebook on Thursday that «we got married abroad in privacy over the Easter weekend. We are very happy and are enjoying our honeymoon.» The newly married couple received congratulatory messages on Facebook from over 1,000 people from Seychelles and other parts of the world. Faure, 58, was the president of Seychelles from October 16, 2016, until October 26, 2020 when he lost the presidential election.    

Myanmar UK ambassador says military attache has 'occupied' embassy

Myanmar's ambassador in Britain on Wednesday said a Yangon military-linked figure had «occupied» the embassy in London and barred him from accessing the building. Asked who was inside the embassy, ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn replied «defence
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Myanmar UK ambassador says military attache has 'occupied' embassy

Myanmar's ambassador in Britain on Wednesday said a Yangon military-linked figure had «occupied» the embassy in London and barred him from accessing the building. Asked who was inside the embassy, ambassador Kyaw Zwar Minn replied «defence attache, they occupy my embassy», confirming earlier media reports. The Myanmar military junta recalled the ambassador last month after he issued a statement urging them to release ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint. «Diplomacy is the only response and answer to the current impasse,» Kyaw Zwar Minn said in the statement that was tweeted by British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. Protesters gathered outside the Myanmar embassy in London on Wednesday as reports emerged that the ambassador had been locked out and barred from entering the building. Kyaw Zwar Minn told the Daily Telegraph that «when I left the embassy, they stormed inside the embassy and took it. »They said they received instruction from the capital, so they are not going to let me in,« he added, calling on the British government to intervene. Britain's Foreign Office said it was »seeking further information following an incident at Myanmar's embassy in London.« Britain has been a strong critic of the Myanmar military since it seized power there in February, and last week ramped up sanctions against business conglomerates wholly or partially overseen by the generals. The ambassador told AFP that he would stay outside the building »all night«, explaining »this is my building«. Metropolitan Police said that they were »aware of a protest" outside the building in the Mayfair neighbourhood, and that public order officers were in attendance. © Agence France-Presse

AstraZeneca UK vaccine trial in children paused as clot link probed

A British trial of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on children has been paused, Oxford University said Tuesday, as global regulators rush to assess its possible link to rare blood clots in adults. The university, which helped develop the embattled vaccin
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AstraZeneca UK vaccine trial in children paused as clot link probed

A British trial of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on children has been paused, Oxford University said Tuesday, as global regulators rush to assess its possible link to rare blood clots in adults. The university, which helped develop the embattled vaccine, said in a statement that there were «no safety concerns» in the trial, but acknowledged fears over a potential link to clots by saying that it was awaiting additional data from Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before restarting the study. «Parents and children should continue to attend all scheduled visits and can contact the trial sites if they have any questions,» it added. It is the latest drama to hit AstraZeneca, which has been embroiled in controversy over its failure to deliver promised doses to the European Union, and over the jab's efficacy and safety profile. The MHRA is one of many bodies across the globe analysing real world data from the AstraZeneca rollout to see if there is a definitive link between the jab and a rare form of blood clot, after cases were initially reported in Norway and continental Europe. The MHRA reported over the weekend that there had been 30 blood clotting cases, seven fatal, out of the 18 million doses administered in Britain. The European Medicines Agency said Tuesday it «has not yet reached a conclusion and the review is currently ongoing». EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides later said that the agency was expected to make its decision «late Wednesday», adding that she was in «close contact» with the EMA. The statement came after the EMA's head of vaccine strategy Marco Cavaleri was quoted in Italian media as saying that there was a «clear» connection and that the agency would announce it within hours. «In my opinion, we can say it now, it is clear there is a link with the vaccine,» Cavaleri told Italy's Il Messaggero newspaper in an interview. «But we still do not know what causes this reaction.» Germany and France have both restricted use of the vaccine to older people over fears that younger recipients are potentially more at risk from clots. Britain and the vaccine's developers had until now resisted any restrictions in its use, saying that there was no proof of any link. Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at Britain's University of Bristol, said that the benefits continued to outweigh the risks. «We need to know more about the people affected and we need to understand exactly how the illnesses came about,» he said. «If you are currently being offered a dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, your chances of remaining alive and well will go up if you take the vaccine and will go down if you don't,» he added. © Agence France-Presse

Health authorities in Seychelles to vaccinate foreign seafarers against COVID-19 following 2 deaths

Health authorities in Seychelles are working with local shipping agencies to vaccinate foreign seafarers on vessels fishing in the island nation's waters, said a top official. The decision came after two seafarers, a Malagasy and an Indonesian, died from COV
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Health authorities in Seychelles to vaccinate foreign seafarers against COVID-19 following 2 deaths

Health authorities in Seychelles are working with local shipping agencies to vaccinate foreign seafarers on vessels fishing in the island nation's waters, said a top official. The decision came after two seafarers, a Malagasy and an Indonesian, died from COVID-19 last month. The two were from the Belle Isle tuna fishing vessel belonging to Reunion-based Sapmer company. The deaths of the seafarers in late March were the first among foreign crew members fishing in the waters of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. According to the Reunion la 1ere news service on Monday, the two sailors “felt the first symptoms of the disease while on board the tuna purse seiner. They were then transferred last week to an intensive care unit at Mahe hospital. Unfortunately, however, the two men did not survive. The 35 other sailors on board the Belle Isle have all tested positive for Covid-19. They were therefore placed in solitary confinement.” The chief executive of the Seychelles Health Care Agency, Danny Louange, told SNA on Wednesday that local health authorities are working on a plan to vaccinate the seafarers. The general manager of shipping and logistics of the Hunt Deltel company, Ronny Matatiken, told SNA that all local companies have been working closely with the Ministry of Health to ensure that all foreign seafarers based in Seychelles are vaccinated. “Fisheries is the one industry that is supporting the economy right now so we need to ensure that this is maintained and it is fitting that the crew who are based in Seychelles are in good health,” he said. “There is no point in vaccinating stevedores and workers of all the respective agencies and then seafarers are not vaccinated,” added Matatiken. He confirmed that all the local shipping agencies have been affected by the pandemic and have seafarers who have been quarantined. In June last year, more than 120 seafarers mostly from five West African countries -- Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Ghana — tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Seychelles for a crew change for 26 Spanish tuna fishing vessels in June. In the last update given by the health authorities in a press conference last week, Seychelles had recorded 4,259 cases and 24 deaths.

African Development Bank working on economic recovery support plan for Seychelles

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is working on a financial facility to support Seychelles in its COVID-19 recovery programme, said a top official of the bank. The executive director of AfDB, Cheptoo Amos Kipronoh, made this statement after a courtesy cal
Seychelles News Agency

African Development Bank working on economic recovery support plan for Seychelles

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is working on a financial facility to support Seychelles in its COVID-19 recovery programme, said a top official of the bank. The executive director of AfDB, Cheptoo Amos Kipronoh, made this statement after a courtesy call on President Wavel Ramkalawan at State House on Wednesday. «The facility will try and help Seychelles fully in the recuperation of its economy. I am seeing that the recovery process is going very well and the country has been able to vaccinate 60 percent of its population,» said Amos Kipronoh. «We are also seeing that the hotel businesses are also recovering and the bed occupancy is now very high. So we are working closely with the government to ensure a strong recovery process so that the economy becomes more resilient,» he added. Tourism which is the top pillar of Seychelles’ economy has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as a drop in tourists arrival halted the operations of many businesses. Amos Kipronoh’s meeting with President Ramkalawan was also organised to give an update on the current relationship between AfDB and Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. «I have had extensive discussions with the Ministry of Finance and it has given assurance that the relationship between the bank and Seychelles is very strong and would remain that way,» added the AfDB executive director. Last year, Seychelles received a loan of $10 million from (AfDB) to support the government's COVID-19 response programme. The loan is being used for macroeconomic stabilisation, strengthening the national health responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as safeguarding livelihoods and social safety nets of the island nation. The crisis response programme is aligned with ADB's 10-year strategy and its five areas of high priorities, specifically to improve the quality of life of people in Africa. As part of his mission in Seychelles, Amos Kipronoh will also visit projects that have been funded by the bank and ministries that have benefited from resources and other forms of support from the bank. In April and May last year, Seychelles was also assisted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in the form of a line of credit and emergency assistance totalling $38 million.

India imposes new curbs as Covid-19 cases hit record

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home region Gujarat became the latest to tighten coronavirus curbs on Wednesday as the country's infections surged to a record of almost 116,000 new cases in 24 hours. Experts blame the country's fresh wave on people ign
Seychelles News Agency

India imposes new curbs as Covid-19 cases hit record

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home region Gujarat became the latest to tighten coronavirus curbs on Wednesday as the country's infections surged to a record of almost 116,000 new cases in 24 hours. Experts blame the country's fresh wave on people ignoring guidelines and attending huge religious and political events, as well as weddings and cricket matches. India has now recorded 12.8 million cases, the third-highest behind the United States and Brazil, although those nations have much smaller populations. More than 166,000 Indians have died. Maharashtra, the worst-hit state and home to megacity Mumbai, has imposed a night curfew and weekend lockdowns are due to begin on Friday evening. New Delhi imposed night curfews from Tuesday, and on Wednesday, Gujarat in western India extended after-dark restrictions to 20 cities and banned large social and political gatherings. «We have also extended the timing of night curfew from 8 pm to 6 am... This will be in force until April 30,» Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani said in a video message. Press reports say that hospitals are starting to suffer, particularly in Maharashtra. One Pune clinic is reportedly giving oxygen support to patients in a makeshift waiting area. The All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), one of Delhi's biggest government hospitals, will from Thursday end walk-in consultations to minimise infections, reports said. The government has so far shied away from reimposing a nationwide lockdown after a shutdown in March 2020 -- one of the world's toughest -- caused widespread human and economic misery. Many Indians lowered their guard after infections slowed sharply in late 2020, with huge crowds thronging religious festivals such as the Kumbh Mela which on one day last month saw three million attendees. Spectators were also allowed at cricket matches between India and England in Gujarat, while political rallies for state elections have drawn huge crowds, including an estimated 800,000 at one event hosted by Modi. India has so far administered almost 90 million vaccine shots but experts say that the government's target of inoculating 300 million people by August risks being missed with many scared to get the injections or complacent about the virus. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles is first in Africa to implement new civil aviation requirement for enhanced security

Seychelles is the first African country to meet the new International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requirement of enhanced border security after the island nation introduced an advanced information system for passengers travelling in and out of the coun
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles is first in Africa to implement new civil aviation requirement for enhanced security

Seychelles is the first African country to meet the new International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) requirement of enhanced border security after the island nation introduced an advanced information system for passengers travelling in and out of the country before the set deadline, an official said. The electronic border management system, currently deployed in the Seychelles by Travizory, was broadened in November 2020 to include Advanced Passenger Information (API) and Passenger Name Record (PNR) collection and analysis. It also includes customer and immigration qiestions. By doing so the Travizory became a full Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) system for individual travellers, including customs and police. The Principal Secretary for Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine, Alan Renaud, told SNA that «after 9/11 the governments of the world had started imposing new security requirements on states, and in 2018 it became mandatory for example for all governments to ask for Advanced Passenger Information (API) from airlines for security purposes.»  An ETA is an entry requirement for visa-exempt foreign nationals travelling to or transiting to a country. It allows the destination or transit country to screen travellers before they arrive, to ensure they meet minimum requirements, such as having appropriate bookings for accommodation and return tickets, to enter the country thereby increasing visibility and security. Renaud said he is incredibly proud that Seychelles is the first country in Africa to have implemented ETA, API and PNR capability simultaneously and ahead of deadlines. Prior to this, Travizory was being used mainly as a visitor management platform, enabling the health ministry to run rapid and efficient vetting procedures on information provided by incoming travellers in a bid to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The implementation of this system provides Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, with tools to efficiently fight drug trafficking and related money movements as well as other transnational crimes. It also provides actionable business intelligence for efficient policy-making, tourism promotion efforts and development of international air and maritime travel routes. Renaud explained that «the new information comes from the airlines themselves, and for travellers, they are not seeing any difference for themselves because they still fill in the forms online and come.» «We have engaged with the airlines and set up systems for them to submit these API and PNR which is mandatory under international laws. An airline gets your API data when you check-in either online or physically. It is only when you actually check-in for your flight that we have information about who is on board the flight,» said Renaud. He added that the reason states ask for such information in advance is that they do not want to wait until a person is in the country to find out that the person is on a watchlist, such as INTERPOL. There is no time then to prepare for such threats properly before arrival and states sometimes prefer to deny boarding in the first place. «PNR comes from a different part of the airline system. It comes from the reservation system. These are more personal information and all airlines have them. That information is also necessary as we use it for risk assessments. We get to know a person's itinerary as well as other information,» said Renaud.

Hungary could help Seychelles increase fresh milk supply, ambassador says

Seychelles and Hungary are reviewing bilateral cooperation and will focus on fisheries and agriculture and possible partnerships in the two sectors, including increasing the island nation's milk supply, said the newly accredited ambassador. The Ambassador f
Seychelles News Agency

Hungary could help Seychelles increase fresh milk supply, ambassador says

Seychelles and Hungary are reviewing bilateral cooperation and will focus on fisheries and agriculture and possible partnerships in the two sectors, including increasing the island nation's milk supply, said the newly accredited ambassador. The Ambassador for Hungary to Seychelles, Zsolt Mészáros, presented his letter of accreditation to President Wavel Ramkalawan at State House on Tuesday. «We are in the process of reviewing our bilateral relations. We have just started a scholarship programme with Seychelles whereby we have offered fully paid scholarships to 10 Seychellois to study in Hungary in any field,» said the new ambassador. Mészáros said that he has «noticed that there is a lack of fresh milk on the islands. However, back home, we have amazing technologies for farming where the cattle do not need a lot of space to move around. In the case of Seychelles, these technologies will become very handy given insufficient space for farming.» «We have also discussed the possibility of strengthening the freshwater fish farming industry to cultivate fish like tilapia which is in great demand in Hungary,» he added.  Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, is already involved in fish farming with the opening of the broodstock, acclimation and quarantine facility in 2019, at the Providence Fishing Port. Mészáros added that «we are also going to work together to develop Information and Communication Technology preferably in cybersecurity.» The new ambassador will serve a mandate of four years and will be based in Kenya, Nairobi.

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