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BREAKING: Israel agrees to 4-hour military ‘ceasefire’ in Gaza – White House

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Just a month after the start of a fierce conflict between the Israeli military and Hamas militants, Israel has agreed to institute daily four-hour ceasefires in the northern Gaza Strip, as confirmed by the White House. White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby mentioned that the announcement of these pauses will be made three hours in advance. He stated, “According to information from the Israelis, there will be no military operations in these areas during the ceasefire, and this process begins today.”

It’s worth noting that an armed conflict between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip escalated on October 7, 2023, following a multi-pronged invasion by the latter into Southern Israel. Since October 7, there have been reports of at least 10,812 Palestinian casualties in the Gaza Strip.

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NATO chief tells Turkey ‘time has come’ to let Sweden join

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg urged Turkey on Monday to expedite the approval of Sweden’s pending membership, stating that it should be done “as soon as possible.” Stoltenberg emphasized that Sweden has fulfilled its commitments, and now it is crucial for Turkey to conclude the accession process.

As of now, Turkey and Hungary are the only NATO member states that have not ratified Sweden’s bid for membership, despite Sweden applying for it over 18 months ago. The Turkish parliament initiated discussions on Sweden’s membership earlier this month, following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s initiation of the process after a NATO summit agreement in July.

While the other 29 NATO allies had hoped to officially welcome Sweden into the alliance during a foreign ministers’ meeting in Brussels this week, the process is currently in the committee stage in the Turkish parliament.

Expressing his desire for a swifter ratification process, Stoltenberg remarked, “I would have liked to see more speed in the ratification process, that’s no secret. I would like them to finalize that, and that’s exactly what I have communicated many times.”

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US hiring slows to 150,000, dragged down by auto strike

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In October, there was a slowdown in job growth in the United States, as reported by government data released on Friday. This deceleration was, in part, attributed to a strike by auto workers.

The largest economy in the world added 150,000 jobs last month, falling short of analysts’ expectations and down from the revised figure of 297,000 in September, as reported by the Labor Department. The report also noted a slight increase in the unemployment rate, bringing it to 3.9 percent.

From a policymaker’s perspective, this development is likely to be viewed positively, as there were concerns that an excessively strong labor market could sustain elevated inflation. Over the past year, the job market has shown unexpected resilience, even as the central bank raised interest rates rapidly to combat inflation. Such rate hikes typically result in a slowdown in hiring and a rise in unemployment.

However, the strong growth in jobs and wages has enabled consumers to continue spending, even as inflation has decreased, thus supporting economic growth. This has raised optimism that the United States may avoid a recession despite the presence of higher interest rates.

Labor Department data for October showed that average hourly earnings inched up by 0.2 percent, a slight decrease from the previous month. The department explained, “Employment in the manufacturing sector declined by 35,000 in October, primarily due to a drop of 33,000 in motor vehicles and parts, largely stemming from strike activity.”

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AFDB Pledges $1b For Climate Financing

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President, African Development Bank, Akinwumi Adesina has announced a new $1b fund to accelerate climate financing for Africa’s youth businesses.

Adesina made the $1 billion announcement during a High-Level Intergenerational Dialogue: Africa Driving Climate Adaptation Solutions and Jobs, held at the Wangari Maathai Institute of Peace and Environment on the outskirts of Nairobi. The institute, funded by the African Development Bank, was officially opened in 2022.

Adesina was joined by the 8th Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, Graça Machel, Chair of the board of trustees of the Graça Machel Trust and the African Child Policy Forum, GCA’s CEO Patrick Verkooijen, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, the Arts and Sports  Ababu Namwamba, Anne Beathe Tvinnereim, Norway’s Minister of International Development, Kerrie Simmonds, Minister of Foreign Affairs for Barbados, as well as other dignitaries.

Announcing the $1 billion-dollar additional funding, the Bank chief said African youths didn’t want “little things being doled out to them”. “We have no option but to invest in our youths,” Adesina said.

Over the past two years, YouthAdapt has provided more than $1.5 million to 33 young entrepreneurs across 19 African countries. Some have gone on to raise their profits by 200%.  

“Africa’s youth are the present. It is their views and perspectives that are going to change the continent,” Adesina said. “Failing to invest in the youth will hurt Africa, failure is not an option.”

In his remarks, Ban told the youths that, as global citizens, they should not be held back by national boundaries. He urged them to hold their leaders accountable for the promises they make. “Challenge your leaders today. Use your voting power to ensure climate adaptation and finance are a priority.”

Namwamba highlighted some of the initiatives the Kenyan government has launched to drive climate adaptation. “We are recruiting a one million youth Green Army as Climate Action Warriors to support President William Ruto’s ambitious plan to plant 15 billion trees in 10 years.” This, he said, would increase the country’s forest cover from 12% to 30%.

He noted Kenya was the first country to ratify the Sports for Climate Action Initiative under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Under the initiative, sports organisations will be able to pursue climate action in a consistent and mutually supportive fashion through disseminating good practices, lessons learned and collaboration.

The GCA’s Verkooijen said that the choice before Africa was a stark one. “Adapt or die.” Still, he said that the need for adaptation offers opportunity. “We know that if we provide you with the right tools, the right finance, and give voice to the voiceless, you will be unstoppable.”   

The event also featured the presentation of the Youth4Adaptation Communiqué, which urges global leaders to make room for the youth in decision making on climate adaptation and action. The communique, reflecting the climate adaptation aspirations of young people from 135 countries worldwide, also urges a scaling up of finance for adaptation with a target of doubling it by 2025. 

Adesina and the other dignitaries each planted a tree on the grounds of the Wangari Maathai Institute, named for the renowned environmentalist and Nobel laureate, the late Professor Wangari Maathai. She founded the Green Belt Movement and pursued a community-based approach to environmental conservation – working with young people and particularly women to plant trees.  

They expressed admiration at the late Professor Wangari Maathai’s strong legacy of environmental conservation and social justice. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of African Development Bank Group (AfDB).
 

Contact:
Olufemi Terry
Communication and External Relations Department
African Development Bank
email: o.terry@afdb.org

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