First ever Indian-American to head World Bank
Former Mastercard boss Ajay Banga has been elected to lead the World Bank as it strives to help low-income countries overcome debt and combat climate change.
Mr Banga, nominated by President Joe Biden for the post, is the first-ever Indian American to head the bank.
He will replace David Malpass, who had sparked outcry by appearing to question the role of humans in climate change.
He begins his five-year term on 2 June.
Now a US citizen, Mr Banga started his career in his native India, where his father was an officer in the army. He worked at Nestle and Citigroup before joining Mastercard where he stayed for more than a decade.
US President Joe Biden called him “a transformative leader” who had the experience to run the World Bank.
“He will help steer the institution as it evolves and expands to address global challenges that directly affect its core mission of poverty reduction — including climate change,” Mr Biden said.
In announcing Mr Banga’s confirmation, the bank’s executive directors said in a statement that they looked forward to working with him “on all the World Bank Group’s ambitions and efforts aimed at tackling the toughest development challenges facing developing countries.”
The US, the World Bank’s biggest shareholder, has traditionally been in charge of selecting the person to lead the institution, which lends billions of dollars to countries each year.
Developing countries have in the past complained about this, but Mr Banga was the only candidate for president.
“Ajay was elected with resounding approval from the executive directors, and will start his mandate with incredibly strong support from the membership of the World Bank,” a senior US official said about the vote.
Mr Banga’s appointment comes at a consequential moment for the development organisation.
The US and other wealthy nations have been pushing the bank to increase its lending to fight climate change. The bank’s $100bn (£80bn) per year or so of loans to help developing countries cope with climate change falls far short of the $1tn they say is needed.
Many developing nations are worried the focus on climate change will divert attention away from its anti-poverty efforts.
Developing countries have been hard hit by the pandemic, rises in food and in energy prices, and unsustainable levels of debt.
As president of the World Bank, Mr Banga will have to address these issues – all without any clear additional money on the table.
In an interview with the BBC in in March, when Mr Banga was on a listening tour in Africa, he said he wanted the bank to be a “catalyst” and “thought leader” for action,
“We also need to bring in the private sector to be able to reach these ambitious targets that we all have,” he said.
Children critically injured in France knife attack
Children are in a critical condition following a knife attack in the alpine town of Annecy, south-eastern France, according to reports.
AFP reports that a total of five people are injured including four children. French media report that the injured children are around the age of three and two of them, and one man, are in a critical condition.
The attack was carried out in a park by a Syrian man, 45, who was seeking refugee status, police say.
French President Emmanuel Macron has said “the nation is in shock” following the attack.
The city’s mayor has denounced the “appalling attack” and said a press conference will be held later.
Pope Francis to have abdominal surgery
Pope Francis will have surgery on his abdomen on Wednesday afternoon at Rome’s Gemelli hospital.
He is expected to stay in hospital for “several days” to recover from the hernia operation, the Vatican said.
The hernia is “causing recurrent, painful and worsening” symptoms, added Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni.
The 86-year-old has faced a series of health issues in recent years, and uses a cane and a wheelchair due to a persistent knee ailment.
In a statement, the Vatican said the pontiff’s medical team had decided in recent days that surgery was needed.
“In the early afternoon he will undergo a laparotomy and abdominal wall surgery… under general anaesthesia,” said Mr Bruni.
He added: “The stay at the health facility will last several days to allow the normal post-operative course and full functional recovery.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Pope Francis carried out his weekly audience as normal and didn’t mention his planned operation.
The day before, the Pope was at the same Rome hospital for a scheduled check-up, months after he was taken to hospital with bronchitis.
He spent three days in hospital in March to treat a lung infection, in the same month that he marked the 10th anniversary of his pontificate.
In 2021, Pope Francis spent 10 days in hospital after having a part of his colon removed, in a bid to address a painful bowel condition. He recently revealed that the complaint had returned.
Last month, Phe pulled out of his Friday audiences due to a fever.
But while his predecessor Benedict XVI quit in 2013, the Pope has dismissed the possibility of leaving office too.
“You don’t run the Church with a knee but with a head,” he is said to have told an aide last year.
The Pope is considered to have been in general good health during his decade leading the Catholic Church
He continues to maintain a busy schedule, and is due to visit Portugal and Mongolia from August.
Russia destroys 11 tanks in Ukraine
Eight German Leopard tanks and three French AMX tanks have been destroyed by Russian attacks in Ukraine, foreign media reported.
Russian Defence Ministry Spokesman Igor Konashenkov said that Russia retaliated against a large-scale attack by Ukrainian forces in the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia Provinces of Ukraine.
On the previous day, it was reported that 250 Ukrainian soldiers were killed by Russian attacks.
Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Maliar said that Ukrainian attacks have been launched in the eastern part of Bakhmut.
It has not been confirmed whether the large-scale counterattack, which is to be launched by Ukraine, has been launched yet.
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