Aid rules have not hit re­lief bid – John­son

The Press and Journal (Aberdeenshire) - - WORLD NEWS -

The UK gov­ern­ment is seek­ing a way of en­sur­ing that the UK can use aid cash to help vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Irma, For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son has said.

Down­ing Street has made clear that Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May is “frus­trated” with rules set by the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment which are stop­ping aid money be­ing used for dis­as­ter re­lief in the Bri­tish over­seas ter­ri­to­ries hit by the dev­as­tat­ing storm.

Mr John­son, who re­turned yes­ter­day from a two-day visit to view the re­cov­ery, said it was “nat­u­ral” that the money should be used to help those af­fected in An­guilla, Turks and Caicos and the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands and min­is­ters in­clud­ing In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Sec­re­tary Priti Pa­tel were seek­ing a means of do­ing so.

“I think any­body with an ounce of com­pas­sion would like to see spend­ing by our gov­ern­ment help­ing th­ese peo­ple get back on their feet,” he said.

Down­ing Street in­sisted the UK’s as­sis­tance ef­fort has not been ham­pered by the rules which ex­clude An­guilla, Turks and Caicos and the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands from sup­port from the aid bud­get be­cause their in­comes are too high.

US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump mean­while met fed­eral and state lead­ers in Florida as he sur­veyed dam­age from Irma.

“We have been very, very fast and we had to be,” Mr Trump said at an air­port hangar where he was joined by Vice-Pres­i­dent Mike Pence.

The pres­i­dent said his ad­min­is­tra­tion is “try­ing to keep them as happy as we can un­der the cir­cum­stances. In many cases, they’ve lost their homes.”

Eight peo­ple died in a swel­ter­ing home that lost its air con­di­tion­ing in the storm. The deaths in the Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre in Hol­ly­wood Hills, Florida, shocked the state’s lead­ers.

“Un­fath­omable,” gover­nor Rick Scott said. “In­ex­cus­able,” was se­na­tor Bill Nel­son’s ver­dict. The snow leop­ard, long con­sid­ered an en­dan­gered species, has been up­graded to “vul­ner­a­ble”.

How­ever, ex­perts warned that the new clas­si­fi­ca­tion does not mean the an­i­mals are safe.

Snow leop­ards still face threats in­clud­ing poach­ing and loss of prey in their high Hi­malayan habi­tat. “The species still faces ‘a high risk of ex­tinc­tion in the wild’ and is likely still de­clin­ing – just not at the rate pre­vi­ously thought,” said Tom McCarthy, of the big cat con­ser­va­tion group Pan­thera.

Re­as­sur­ances on war games

Mil­i­tary of­fi­cials in Be­larus have sought to calm Western fears about ma­jor war games with Rus­sia in­volv­ing thou­sands of troops, tanks and air­craft.

Some mem­bers of Nato, in­clud­ing the Baltic States and Poland, have crit­i­cised a lack of trans­parency and queried Moscow’s in­ten­tions.

Bee­tle threat to ash trees

North Amer­i­can ash trees face ex­tinc­tion due to an in­va­sive bee­tle which is de­stroy­ing their pop­u­la­tions, con­ser­va­tion ex­perts have warned.

More than eight bil­lion ash trees could be wiped out as the emer­ald ash borer bee­tle, which ar­rived in Michigan from Asia in the late 1990s via in­fested ship­ping pal­lets. Cat­alo­nia’s pres­i­dent Car­les Puigde­mont was yes­ter­day pre­par­ing to open the “yes” cam­paign for an in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum from Spain, planned for Oc­to­ber 1.

Spain’s gov­ern­ment in­sists the vote is il­le­gal and courts have sus­pended it pend­ing a for­mal de­ci­sion by judges.

Span­ish po­lice have or­ders to pre­vent prepa­ra­tions for the bal­lot.

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