Los Angeles: Indian actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who is married to pop singer Nick Jonas, has shared a photograph with Danielle Jonas and Sophie Turner, whom she called her “J sisters”. Sharing the image on Instagram on Friday, the three are seen posing for the camera. Priyanka captioned the photograph: “The ‘J sisters’ are finally together.” She tagged both Sophie and Danielle, Joe Jonas’ fiance and Kevin Jonas’ wife, respectively. The “Isn’t It Romantic” actress then shared a photograph with her husband Nick and captioned: “It’s the Jonai comin atchya!” While Priyanka, “Game of Thrones” actor Turner and Danielle appeared in the video of Jonas Brothers’ first comeback single – “Sucker”, the three are not part of the group’s latest number titled “Cool”. Priyanka and Nick got married on December 1 last year at Jodhpur’s Umaid Bhawan Palace hotel.
NEW DELHI: Gearing up for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday launched the second phase of its campaign with focus on one-to-one communications. Launched by the AAP Delhi convenor Gopal Rai in North East Delhi’s Babarpur in the presence of the Lok Sabha candidate from the area, Dilip Pandey, the mega public outreach programme will see party workers going from door-to-door urging people to support the demand of full statehood for the national capital. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderRai, along with Pandey, visited a number of houses and spoke to voters about the importance of statehood for Delhi. The leaders read out the letter written by party chief Arvind Kejriwal to the people of Delhi, in which he has listed the benefits the city will get after attaining full statehood. Speaking to the media, Rai said that in the first phase of the campaign, the party focused on public rallies and gatherings. “We saw a large number of people coming for the rallies. But a large portion of people were left out due to their busy working schedule. We will now approach each and every individual in the city, so as to explain them about the full statehood demand and its importance. We want to explain to them how their elected government is made to suffer by the Centre,” he said. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchings”Our party workers and representatives will go to people on a mass scale. Our aim is to reach out to about 35 lakh voters in the city.” He also said AAP’s 13,814 booth presidents will lead the campaign and over 70,000 ‘Vijay Pramukhs’ appointed by the party will also take part. Last month, CM Kejriwal wrote to the people of Delhi describing the issues the city has faced in the last four years due to lack of full statehood. “Our teams will read out the letter to the people and will also resolve their doubts related to the statehood demand,” Rai said. Along with CM Kejriwal’s letter, the party representatives also distributed a pamphlet in which CM Kejriwal describes the benefits the people of Delhi will get with full statehood. “The BJP and Congress have made promises of statehood for Delhi. But both the parties cheated the city and its people. AAP is your own party. If our MPs are elected they will get full statehood for Delhi,” CM Kejriwal wrote in the letter, urging people to vote for his party. Listing out the benefits, Kejriwal said law and order will improve and women will be provided more security if Delhi became a full state.
Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Sunday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of playing “dirty politics” after the PM claimed that the Congress leader skipped an official event marking the Jallianwala Bagh massacre’s centenary as he was busy in “Congress parivar’s bhakti”. Singh alleged that the central government had deliberately chosen to hold a “parallel event” instead of supporting the initiatives and programmes of the state government. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details The event was organised in Amritsar on Saturday by the Centre and it was attended by Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu. Singh claimed in a statement that he had personally approached the prime minister several times over the last two years to seek support for ensuring that the occasion is commemorated in a befitting manner but the Centre had failed to respond suitably. “Instead, the Modi government decided to hold its own event, quite evidently to score political brownie points in the backdrop of the Lok Sabha elections,” he alleged. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “This was truly shocking considering that the prime minister is the chairman of the Jallianwala Bagh Trust,” Singh said. Congress president Rahul Gandhi and the chief minister had on Saturday morning paid floral tributes at the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial in Amritsar. On Saturday afternoon, M Venkaiah Naidu visited Jallianwala Bagh and paid tributes to those killed in the massacre on April 13, 1919. The ceremony was organised by the Union Ministry of Culture. Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore and Punjab Cabinet Minister O P Soni were among others present at the function held in the afternoon. At a poll rally on Sunday in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua, a town located on Punjab’s border, Modi said Singh boycotted the function because he was busy in “Congress parivar’s bhakti (appeasing the Gandhi family)”. Modi, at the same time, said that he had known Singh for a long time and never questioned his patriotism, but understood the kind of pressure which must have been put on the Congress leader for the “Parivar Bhakti”. “Shocked at your remarks in Kathua on Jallianwala Bagh @narendramodi Ji. You used a sombre occasion to play dirty politics, conveniently ignoring your own government’s decision to hold a parallel event instead of extending support to my govt, which we’d been requesting for 2 yrs,” Singh tweeted. “Unlike the BJP, the Congress leadership does not believe in dictating terms to its state governments,” Singh said in his statement, countering Modi’s remark that he did not attend the Centre’s event under pressure from his party high command. “These things happen in the BJP, which you, Mr Modi, are running in your typical dictatorial style,” he alleged. Singh claimed it did not befit a prime minister of the country to stoop so low in order to woo voters and urged Modi to refrain from demeaning the high office. Singh also exhorted the prime minister not to exploit the martyrdom of victims of the massacre, or of the soldiers dying everyday at the borders or in ISI-backed terror attacks such as in Pulwama, for furthering his and his party’s political ambitions. He condemned Modi for allegedly trying to mislead the people with this “politically motivated falsehoods” and claimed the PM had insulted the martyrs of Jallianwala Bagh, “first by not being present at any of the commemorative events and then by choosing to politicise the occasion”. The Congress leader said that while Modi was busy in his usual, dirty political games, he was at the memorial for the state-level event marking the centenary. Singh said that after leading the state at the commemorative events in Amritsar, he immediately rushed to another event organised by The Tribune Trust in Chandigarh. A Cabinet Minister (O P Soni) was appointed to be present at the Central government’s function, which was attended by the vice president, he said, adding that all the necessary protocols were duly followed.
London: Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday said she was “deeply saddened” by the devastating fire that ripped through Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris in a message to French President Emmanuel Macron. “Prince Philip and I have been deeply saddened to see the images of the fire which has engulfed Notre-Dame Cathedral,” Queen Elizabeth said, adding: “My thoughts and prayers are with those who worship at the Cathedral and all of France at this difficult time”.
Liverpool: Manchester United’s hopes of Champions League football next season suffered another huge blow as Everton romped to a 4-0 win at Goodison Park on Sunday. A sixth defeat in eight games in all competitions for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men means they remain two points adrift of the top four in sixth. Everton, chasing seventh, which could provide a route into next season’s Europa League, made a flying start as Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson struck inside the first 28 minutes. Also Read – Puducherry on top after 8-wkt win over ChandigarhLucas Digne’s sweet strike and Theo Walcott’s goal completed Everton’s biggest win over United since 1984. United could easily fall five points off the Champions League places should Arsenal beat Crystal Palace at home later on Sunday and Chelsea win when they host Burnley on Monday. Solskjaer’s task in turning United’s fortunes around does not get any easier as title-chasing Manchester City visit Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Los Angeles: Singer Shawn Mendes says being honest about his anxiety battle was “one of the scariest” things he has ever done. The pop star, however, believes sharing his story with the world was the most important decision of his life. “Talking about the problem, putting it out there, was one of the scariest but most important things I’ve ever done,” Mendes told People magazine. He said he still struggles with anxiety at times but speaking out helped him realise that most people are dealing with stress in their lives. “Just doing that helped me the most. I still struggle with it but just remember every day that everyone deals with some level of anxiety or pressure; we’re all in it together,” he added. Mendes believes staying close to family and friends is the best way to get over anxiety. “I still go back to Toronto and hang with my friends from growing up, and my family has also been so supportive.”
Rabat- Moroccan football prodigy Hashim Mastour has allegedly decided to play for Morocco, according to Moroccan football new website Mountakhab.net.The same source quoted Mustapha Mdhoun who works in AC Milan, that “Hisham Mastour has decided to play for the Moroccan national team.Dubbed the next Messi and compared to Zinedine Zidane, AC Milan’s 16-year-old Moroccan-Italian Hachim Mastour made his debut in Serie A against Sassuolo on last May after he had been promoted to play in the first team. Before joining the Italian football giant, the Moroccan superstar played with Reggiana. AC Milan had to pay a reported €500,000 for Reggiana in the summer of 2012 to sign Mastour and to abort all attempts by other European teams like Inter, R.Madrid, Barcelona and Man City to snatch the skillful trequartista.
Zainab CalcuttawalaRabat – Every year, hundreds of local movie theaters in the United States replay the 1942 timeless romance Casablanca on Valentine’s Day, but do real Casablancans and other Moroccans celebrate the holiday?In terms of festivities, Iraqi singer and judge for The Voice, Kazem Al Saher, will be amongst other artists performing special shows throughout Morocco on February 14 filled with romantic hits. Though no official statistics or studies have tracked Valentine’s Day spending in Morocco in recent years, hundreds of Moroccan men can be seen in coffee shops doing last minute preparation for the holiday on February 13. The responses by residents of Meknes interviewed showcase the variety of opinions about the holiday that exist in Morocco.Some Moroccans have taken to celebrating the event, maintaining that it makes their loved ones happy, even if in an overly sentimental way.“I can’t wait to see how my wife reacts to the flowers I picked out for her,” Omar Belizi, a Meknesi pharmacist, told Morocco World News while sipping an espresso. “We don’t usually celebrate, but I want to surprise her this year.”Still, others insist that the holiday’s Western origins conflict with Moroccan culture and lead to needless spending.“Most Moroccans do not celebrate the event; all they do is blindly imitate the West,” said Meryem, a Moroccan English teacher. “Celebrating this sort of event is against our conservative traditions.”Older Moroccan couples tend not to participate in festivities because they are traditional and feel the holiday is unnecessary, according to many of those surveyed.“After 10, 15, 20 years together, how many older people really need to prove their love for each other with cards or gifts?” asked 24-year-old Ahmed Sultan. “My parents’ generation eats together, prays together, stays together, so these celebrations are more important for couples that aren’t married yet or will get married soon.”Yusuf Obaidi, a 19-year-old BAC student, said he was nervous to present chocolates to the girl he likes for the first time.“She’s a childhood friend and I’ve been meaning to tell her about my feelings for a while now,” Obaidi said. “After my friends insisted, I decided to go for it this year. It’s been too long.”
Rabat – A video recently uploaded on YouTube, shows a thief snatching a bag from a woman’s shoulder in broad daylight in the city of Tangier.The nearly one-minute video shows the woman tried to follow the thief, but to no avail.
LONDON — The Latest on Britain’s exit from the European Union (all times local):11:20 a.m.Britain’s senior counter-terrorism police officer is warning of the dangers of leaving the European Union without a withdrawal deal in place.Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said Wednesday that a “no-deal” Brexit that cut off Britain’s access to shared data and intelligence systems would leave both Britain and the EU in a “very bad place.”Basu said the security threat would increase if Britain is not able to exchange data or biometrics on suspected criminals and terrorists as it currently does with EU nations.Britain is scheduled to leave the EU bloc on March 29. A “no-deal” Brexit is possible because the British Parliament has rejected the arrangement the government negotiated with EU leaders.Basu says a police team is working on contingency plans to handle a “no-deal” departure.___10:45 a.m.A senior British Cabinet minister says businesses need to prepare for the possibility the U.K. will leave the European Union in March without an exit deal, as a growing number of British firms say they are stockpiling goods or shifting operations overseas.Last week British lawmakers threw out Prime Minister Theresa May’s EU divorce deal, and attempts to find a replacement are gridlocked. International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said Wednesday that “no deal is a possibility.”Many business groups say a “no-deal” Brexit will cause economic chaos by imposing tariffs, customs checks and other barriers between the U.K. and the EU, its biggest trading partner.Carolyn Fairbairn of the Confederation of British Industry says politicians must rule out a no-deal Brexit “to halt irreversible damage and restore business confidence.”The Associated Press
Rabat – As the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region is progressively becoming a large tourist attraction, its president, Yanja El-Khattat, announced on Saturday the introduction of a regional development plan worth MAD 17.7 billion. The plan has been put in place to take advantage of the potential for economic growth in the southern region.The development plan seeks to strengthen infrastructure, develop new projects, stimulate the economy, expand on human resources, and promote agricultural growth. Of the MAD 17.7 billion allocated for the plan, 6.6 billion will be covered by the State.“The region enjoys an undeniable geostrategic position, giving it the status of the kingdom’s gateway to Africa,” said El-Khattat. Adopted in 2017, the plan is currently at 30% completion, as reported by the daily newspaper Aujourd’hui le Maroc in its February edition.By 2022, El-Khattat expects the plan to reach 62.8% completion, and to have created 29,750 new jobs, reported the newspaper,—adding that by 2025 a grand total of 45,150 jobs are expected.The development plan of the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region aims to launch seven programs, two of which include the construction of the Dakhla Atlantic port (for which the amount of investment amounted to MAD 6 billion) and the construction of a seawater desalination plant for agricultural purposes (with a capacity of 100,000 m3 per day, and with the purpose of connecting the city of Dakhla to the national network of electricity).During a two-day meeting with the Spanish press to promote the region, El-Khattat indicated that Dakhla, in particular, is constantly developing its fishing sector.Dakhla’s coastal wealth makes it an important asset for both the local and international markets. “With its fishery resources, the Dakhla-Oued Eddahab region offers 600,000 tons of fish a year, with a profit of 6 MAD billion. The importance of this sector is also reflected in the creation of 35,000 direct and indirect jobs,” the region’s president said.The region is also seeking to enhance its touristic appeal. A partnership agreement was signed between the North-South Action Association, the Regional Tourism Council, and the Spanish Radio Turismo when was this signed? for the first time. The goal is to promote f the city of Dakhla in Spain.The Regional Director of Tourism, Daïf Allah Endour explained that, “We welcome a lot of tourists from Northern and Central Europe who come in big numbers to practice water sports,” and that the city is also capitalizing on the sports to attract more tourists.
LONDON — With 50 days to go until Britain leaves the European Union, the Bank of England is awaiting clarity over Brexit before deciding what to do next on interest rates.On Thursday, the bank is expected to announce that its nine-member rate-setting body has kept its main interest rate unchanged at 0.75 per cent.Whether the next move is up or down hinges on Brexit.Should the country crash out of the bloc with no deal on future relations, many economists think the bank could slash its main rate to zero as it deals with the economic fallout.By contrast, a smooth Brexit could see the bank raise interest rates as it responds to rising wages.The views of Governor Mark Carney will be of interest after the rate decision.The Associated Press
Rabat – While Algeria remains silent, Spain has backed the King’s offer to Algeria of a “frank and direct” dialogue to solve regional issues, including the Western Sahara conflict.In a November 8 tweet, Spanish foreign minister Josep Borrell described King Mohammed VI’s offer as a “great news.” He said that the King’s proposal will “strengthen the relationship and regional integration between two very important countries, which are neighbors, friends and strategic partners of Spain.” On Tuesday, King Mohammed VI said that diplomatic ties between Morocco and Algeria are “not normal” and “much less than acceptable.” He said the situation requires frank dialogue to move towards unity in the Maghreb.According to the UN Secretary-General’s spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, Guterres “has always been very supportive of increased dialogue between Algeria and Morocco.” The League of Arab States Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit also supported the King’s speech and his offer to Algeria.Gheit said in a statement on Thursday that King Mohammed VI’s offer will “enable the opening of a new horizon in the relations between the two countries and open the door to improve the amposphere at the level of the Arab Maghreb Union.”He added that the offer will strengthen cooperation in both North Africa and the Sahel-Saharan region, especially to address terrorism and organized crime.Gran noticia el ofrecimiento del Rey Mohamed VI de #Marruecos a #Argelia de establecer mecanismo político de consultas y cooperación para fortalecer la relación y la integración regional entre dos países tan relevantes, que son vecinos, amigos y socios estratégicos de #España.— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) November 8, 2018In the absence of an official response from the Algerian government, an Algerian diplomat speaking anonymously said that Algeria will accept King Mohammed VI’s offer for enhanced dialogue based on certain conditions.Read Also: http://Algerian Diplomat: Algeria to Accept King’s Dialogue Offer With ConditionsThe demands would include: the “end of diplomatic and media propaganda campaigns between the two countries; the end of the flow of drugs into Algeria; good neighborliness and a comprehensive settlement through dialogue; and neutralizing the conflict of Western Sahara and keeping it within the context of the auspices of the United Nations.”Algerian media, including TSA, also wrote positively about the King’s speech and his offer to Algeria.It remains to be seen whether Bouteflika’s government will officially respond to the royal speech.
BERLIN — Germany’s financial market regulator has issued a two-month ban on short-selling shares in Wirecard AG, whose stock has swung sharply in recent months.The regulator said Monday that short-selling in Wirecard’s stock could cause uncertainty over its share price, with potential knock-on effects for the wider market.In short-selling, traders sell shares they do not own, but only borrowed, with the possibility to buy them back. It’s often used to bet on a share’s drop.Munich-based Wirecard specializes in handling transactions and providing banking cards for other financial institutions.Its share price hit 199 euros ($224) last year before declining, and recently dropped sharply following media reports of possible irregularities. The bank has denied wrongdoing.On Monday, its shares were up 13.1 per cent in Frankfurt at 113 euros ($127.24).The Associated Press
Companies in this story: (TSX:ECA) The Canadian Press CALGARY — Encana Corp. reported a fourth-quarter profit of US$1.03 billion compared with a loss a year ago as production increased 20 per cent.The Calgary-based energy company, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, says the profit amounted to $1.08 per share for the quarter ended Dec. 31. That compared with a loss of $229 million or 24 cents per share in the last three months of 2017.Operating earnings for the quarter amounted to $305 million or 32 cents per share, up from an operating profit of $114 million or 12 cents per share a year earlier.Revenue for the quarter totalled $2.38 billion, up from $1.21 billion.Total production in the fourth quarter of 2018 was 403,400 barrels of oil equivalent per day, up from 335,200 a year ago.In its outlook for 2019, Encana says its capital budget for the year will be the range of $2.7 billion to $2.9 billion.
Rabat – Far-right Finish politician Marco De Wit ripped up a copy of the Quran in public on Sunday, according to Turkish press agency Anadolu.De Wit, who is the leader of a small far-right party which has no seats in parliament, tore up the Quran in full view of police officers in Helsinki’s center. Yakup Yilmaz, a member of the World Turkish Business Council’s European Committee, witnessed the provocative act. “I told the police officers that he was committing a hate crime and they should stop him. The officers did nothing,” Yilmaz told Anadolu Agency. He added that De Wit was also insulting the Prophet Muhammad as he ripped up the Quran.“By ripping up the Quran, De Wit is committing a hate crime, but the police didn’t say a word,” Yilmaz said.The incendiary act coincided with European polls taking place in Finland on Sunday, in what one Twitter user dubbed a blatant attempt to gain Islamophobic votes. #MarcodeWit , leader of #Finnish People First — a small anti-immigrant party, tried to stoke the Islamophobic vote by publicly ripping up a copy of the Quran. pic.twitter.com/8C8nGa7HFD— Crackdown Chronicles (@CrackdownReport) May 27, 2019This is not the first time De Wit has ripped up a Quran while campaigning for the elections, as well as having ripped up a Jewish Torah. according to Anadolu.Read also: How One Muslim Woman’s Instagram Post Combats Islamophobia
NICOSIA, Cyprus — A senior U.S. Treasury Department official says Cyprus has done “outstanding” work to curtail money laundering.Treasury Department Assistant Secretary Marshall Billingslea says Cyprus has made “enormous progress and improvements” in its legal framework as well as in law enforcement.Billingslea said after talks with Cyprus Finance Minister Harris Georgiades that the U.S. values its close partnership with Cypriot authorities and looks forward to strengthening those ties.Georgiades said Cyprus and the U.S. will work to expand collaboration on fighting terrorist financing and money laundering which are major concerns for both countries as well as the European Union.Georgiades said Friday’s talks were his second meeting with the Treasury official this year.The Associated Press
The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines says his airline might never fly the Boeing 737 Max again after a deadly crash in March, and if it does, it will wait until other carriers use the plane first.Tewolde Gebremariam told NBC News that Ethiopian won’t use the plane unless the airline, its pilots and the travelling public are convinced that it’s safe.Nearly 400 Max jets operated by dozens of airlines remain grounded around the world while Boeing works to fix flight-control software implicated in two accidents that killed 346 people, including 157 on Ethiopian.Gebremariam says of Max jets, “If we fly them again, we will be the last airline to fly them again.”A Boeing spokesman did not comment immediately on the CEO’s remarks.The Associated Press
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer says he wants to end Canadian imports of foreign oil by 2030, a move experts say would mostly affect purchases from the United States and could endanger deep trade relationships.Scheer raised the idea in a recent speech, stating Canada shouldn’t buy oil from “rogue states” with poor human-rights and environmental records, like Iran, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.In dollar terms, the vast majority of Canadian oil imports — about 64 per cent — came from the U.S. last year, while 18 per cent came from Saudi Arabia, six per cent from Azerbaijan and three per cent from Norway. Nigeria, the United Kingdom and Algeria were also sources of imports last year into Canada.Canada hasn’t imported any crude from Iran or Venezuela in recent years.Meanwhile, virtually all the millions of barrels of crude oil Canada exports each day are sold to the United States.Pedro Antunes, chief economist for The Conference Board of Canada, said outright oil independence is not a big economic issue for the country. Alleviating transportation and logistical pressures on Alberta’s oilsands is far more important, he said.“If you’re really just trying to target all of our oil imports, then yeah I think that might cause some difficulties,” Antunes said. “We have some very open trade relations with some of the countries that are oil importers into Canada.”Scheer also said he no longer wants to depend on oil from the United States, which he called Canada’s “biggest economic competitor.” He argued that “an energy-independent Canada would be a Canada firing on all cylinders.”Part of Scheer’s plan includes the creation of a cross-Canada utilities corridor to ease pipeline construction and to open up new domestic markets for oilsands bitumen.Like the Conservatives, the Greens have also made a pre-election pledge — for different reasons — to end Canada’s reliance on foreign oil imports.Green party Leader Elizabeth May, whose ultimate objective is to wean Canada completely off oil by 2050, has promised to end foreign crude imports as soon as possible. Since May opposes new pipelines, she envisions moving more raw bitumen by rail, with help from investments to improve train services, until Canada stops consuming oil.Talk of any determined push towards Canadian crude independence appears to be a message crafted to appeal to some voters.A number of experts, however, worry an absolute target of oil independence could also send unwelcome protectionist signals to the world and mean resisting market forces. Instead, the country should be focused on loosening bottlenecks that are preventing Albertan oil from getting to new markets.“I think there is a concern of protectionism whenever you’re limiting imports,” said Grant Bishop, an associate director of research at the C.D. Howe Institute think-tank.“You have to have a good economic or security reason for doing so. I’m not sure that there is one here for crude-oil production.”Martha Hall Findlay, CEO of the Canada West Foundation think-tank, said exploring the viability of a utilities corridor is “fantastic.” But the pursuit of oil independence sounds “extremely protectionist,” said Findlay, a former federal Liberal MP.“We’re heavily dependent on trade, so why would a trading country start talking about protectionism and independence? It doesn’t make sense for an economy such as ours,” Findlay said.“I really think that this idea of independence and protectionism is politics — but economics would say we’re crazy not to buy our own.”Mike Moffatt, an assistant professor of economics at Western University, said he’s concerned whenever he hears politicians say their goal is to get completely off foreign oil.“That’s a decision that should be left to companies,” said Moffatt, who was an adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau between 2013 and 2015. “It does seem to be a shift in messaging from a traditional, free-market Conservative positioning to one that’s sort of more nationalistic.”—Follow @AndyBlatchford on TwitterAndy Blatchford, The Canadian Press
The United Nations food agency in Nepal will extend its aid operations to three drought-affected districts of the eastern Terai – an area seized with political violence over the last month – while continuing assistance until the end of June to drought victims in the mid- and far-western regions, efforts that will directly benefit around 400,000 people. The move follows a request for additional support from the Government based on findings from a recently completed crop and food supply assessment mission, supported by the UN World Food Progame (WFP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These extended operations will double the number of people reached in the first phase of assistance, as the report warns of nearly 190,000 metric tonnes of food grain shortages. Since June last year, WFP has provided emergency aid to nearly 200,000 drought-affected people in eight districts in mid- and far-western Nepal, the first emergency operation of its kind in the agency’s 40-year history of working in the Himalayan country. Many of these recipients lived in extremely isolated and remote areas. “During the first phase of the operation, the pilots and our NGO (non-governmental organization) partners did a heroic job overcoming major obstacles such as bad weather, transportation strikes and extremely remote and mountainous terrain to get the food out,” said Richard Ragan, WFP Representative in Nepal. “We learned a great deal about how to operate in such a difficult environment and are now much better prepared to start the second-phase of food aid relief for drought-affected families in the mid- and far-west at the end of the month.” Communities in Saptari, Siraha, and Udayapur districts within the Terai will also receive WFP food aid. Last month, WFP appealed to all parties in the Terai region to allow safe passage for food convoys, warning that transport strikes and violence have severely disrupted aid deliveries and threaten the health of hundreds of thousands of people, including children. In Nepal, nearly 1.5 million people receive WFP food assistance to support their basic food needs. The agency’s programmes include supplemental nutritional support to 64,000 breastfeeding women and their young children, hot mid-day meals to 450,000 school going children, vegetable ghee rations for girls’ families, daily rations to over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees, and supplemental rice rations through food-for-work programmes to over 800,000 people facing food shortages. 9 February 2007The United Nations food agency in Nepal will extend its aid operations to three drought-affected districts of the eastern Terai – an area seized with political violence over the last month – while continuing assistance until the end of June to drought victims in the mid- and far-western regions, efforts that will directly benefit around 400,000 people.