EU leaders call for ‘humanitarian pauses’

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Friday, 27th October 2023

During their summit in Brussels, European Union leaders on Thursday called for “humanitarian corridors and pauses” to ensure aid reaches the besieged Gaza Strip. Euronews reports that following five hours of debate, the 27 leaders expressed their “gravest concern for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza” and called “for continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need through all necessary measures including humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs”. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told reporters in the early hours of Friday morning: “The aid needs to reach Gaza, unhindered and quickly,” She announced that the bloc would send two more flights of humanitarian cargo to the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing on Friday and sign a €40 million contract with UN agencies as part of its tripling of humanitarian aid.

Photo credit: European Union

UN to vote on ceasefire resolution

Jordan will put to vote a UN General Assembly resolution later today largely condemning the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Deutsche Welle says the draft text calls for an “immediate ceasefire” and “unhindered humanitarian access” to the Gaza Strip. However, it makes no mention of Hamas’ attacks of the 7th October on Israeli soil, according to the Israeli UN Ambassador. Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi accused Israel of “making Gaza perpetual hell on earth” at an emergency session of the General Assembly convened on Thursday. The foreign minister spoke on behalf of 22 Arab nations at the General Assembly on Thursday. General Assembly resolutions are not binding and carry mainly symbolic weight at the UN.

Photo credit: MENAFN – Jordan News Agency

Israelis raid Gaza as Arabs condemn bombardment

Meanwhile, Israeli forces carried out their biggest Gaza ground attack overnight in their 20-day-old war with Hamas as anger grew in the Arab world over Israel’s relentless bombardment of the besieged Palestinian territory. Israeli army radio said the military had overnight staged its biggest incursion into northern Gaza of the current war. Armoured vehicles crossed the fortified border and blew up buildings, a military video showed. “Tanks and infantry struck numerous terrorist cells, infrastructure and anti-tank missile launch posts,” it said.

Photo credit: IDF / AFP

Missile strikes Egyptian border town of Taba, injuring 6

A missile struck a medical facility in the Egyptian town of Taba, near the Israeli border, Egypt’s state-affiliated Al Qahera News reported. The blast injured six people, it said. The Israeli military said it was aware about reports of a blast. It said the situation was one “outside of our border,” according to Reuters.

Photo credit: Times of Israel

US military strikes targets in Eastern Syria

The US military says it has struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps and militia it backs. The Washington Post quotes a senior US defence official saying the sites were chosen because Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps stores the types of munitions there that were used in the strikes against US bases and personnel in the region that began early last week. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the operation was separate and distinct from Israel’s war against Hamas.

Photo caption: Getty

Police enter Maine shooting suspect’s home

Fox News reports law enforcement officers have entered the home of Robert Card, the Maine suspect of the mass shooting in Lewiston which left at least 18 people dead. Card, 40, a US army reservist and firearms instructor, was described by the police as “armed and dangerous”. President Biden has called on Republicans to abandon their opposition to a ban on assault weapons after the deadliest mass shooting in the US this year.

Photo credit: AFP

Former Chinese premier dies at 68

Li Keqiang, who was China’s premier until March this year and was once a rival to Xi Jinping for the top leadership job, died of a heart attack on Friday in Shanghai, according to state broadcaster CCTV. He was 68. In a short report, state media said Li died just after midnight on Friday after all efforts to save him failed. Li’s sudden death comes seven months after he stepped down from serving as premier under Xi, a position he held for a decade until he was replaced by a Xi loyalist earlier this year.

Photo caption: Heng Sinith/AP

Brussels sounds alarm about EU’s rapidly ageing population

The European Union’s rapidly ageing population threatens to undermine the bloc’s competitiveness, exacerbate labour shortages, inflate public budgets and deepen regional inequalities. These are some of the disquieting findings from a new report on demographic change released by the European Commission, which paints an alarming picture of the profound societal and economic transformation triggered by a shrinking workforce. In short, the EU is getting too old too fast. According to the report, the EU’s population, which was slightly over 448 million people earlier this year, is projected to reach its peak around 2026 and then gradually decrease, losing 57.4 million working-age people by 2100. More worryingly, the bloc’s dependency ratio – the ratio of the number of elderly people compared to the number of people of working age – will surge from 33 per cent today to 60 per cent by the end of the century.

Photo credit: Matthias Zomer

Main photo credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

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