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Male Afghan UN workers stay home in solidarity after Taliban bans female staff

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Afghan men working for the United Nations in Kabul will stay home in solidarity with their female colleagues after the Taliban prohibited Afghan women from working for the global organization, according to a senior UN official.

Ramiz Alakbarov, the UN Deputy Special Representative, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, called the Taliban’s decision an “unparalleled violation of human rights.”

“The lives of Afghanistan women are at stake,” he said, adding, “It is not possible to reach women without women.”

International UN staff in Afghanistan will stay at their posts, he added.

The UN said on Wednesday that it had been notified by the Taliban that Afghan women were no longer permitted to work for the UN in Afghanistan and that the measure would be actively enforced.

In a statement, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanded Afghanistan’s rulers immediately revoke the order, saying it was discriminatory and breached international human rights law.

The Taliban have increasingly restricted women’s freedoms since seizing power in 2021.

There was no immediate word from their government on why the order had been issued. Foreign female UN workers are exempt.

The UN has been working to bring humanitarian aid to 23 million people in Afghanistan, which is reeling from a severe economic and humanitarian crisis. Female workers play a vital role in on-the-ground aid operations, particularly in identifying other women in need.

“Female staff members are essential for the United Nations operations, including in the delivery of life-saving assistance,” Secretary General Mr Guterres said in a statement.

“The enforcement of this decision will harm the Afghan people, millions of whom are in need of this assistance.

(Agencies)

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The G7 Summit begins today

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Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries are meeting for a three-day summit, starting today (13 June) to discuss global affairs in the southern region of Puglia (Apulia), Italy.  

Heads of state of the seven members – the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom – as well as the chiefs of the European Council and the European Commission will be present at the event.

Italy, the host of this year’s event, has extended an invitation to more than 10 other countries for sideline discussions. These include UAE’s Mohamed bin Zayed, Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Notable absentees are Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who it  is reported, had been invited.

Support for Ukraine is top of the agenda. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to arrive on the summit’s first day for two sessions dedicated to the war-torn country. The G7’s most anticipated outcome is an agreement over a $50bn loan for Ukraine backed by profits accrued on Russian assets frozen in the West. 

The war on Gaza is also expected to dominate talks. 

Pope Francis will also be among the guests – the first time a pontiff has been invited to the summit – for a session dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI). Other specific sessions will be on migration, financial issues and the situation in the Asia Pacific. 

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Heat forces shut down of Acropolis during afternoon hours

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The Acropolis in Athens will be closed during the afternoon today (14 June) for a second consecutive day, as Greece swelters under unseasonably high temperatures.

The Culture Ministry said the hilltop citadel, which is Greece’s most popular ancient site, would be closed from midday to 5 p.m. 

All other archaeological sites in the Greek capital will be closed during the same hours. 

Temperatures are expected to exceed 40 C (104 F) today in much of central and southern Greece, including greater Athens, the Cyclades islands and Crete.

The weather is expected to cool Friday and Saturday. 

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University Impact Rankings 2024

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The Times Higher Education (THE) announced the University Impact Rankings for 2024 yesterday (12 June), identifying and celebrating universities that excel across multiple United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

These institutions stand out by demonstrating comprehensive excellence in contributing to global sustainable development. They also showcase their commitment to addressing the world’s most pressing challenges, including environmental sustainability, social inclusion, economic growth and partnerships.

THE evaluated 2,152 universities from 125 countries/regions to produce the overall Impact Ranking for 2024.

Australia’s Western Sydney University tops the list for the third consecutive year. The UK’s University of Manchester and Australia’s University of Tasmania follow in joint second place. Denmark’s Aalborg University is in fourth. Overall, the top 10 includes five countries across three continents.

The top newcomer in 2024 is France’s Institut Agro at joint 21st.

India is the most-represented country in the overall table, with 96 institutions.

Meanwhile, the Rajarata University of Sri Lanka has been ranked in 4th place among the Sri Lankan Universities and ranked between 801-1000 among the world Universities in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2024.

The University scored high marks for Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 4: Quality Education. The University joined the ranking in 2023.

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