Fri 20/08/2010 15:33 Dear All, Please find attached this week’s News Summary. The weekly summary is intended to provide background information to topical news stories and issues that may resonate in communities. The weekly summary also includes links to interesting news articles that people may wish to circulate further. This week’s summary includes coverage of:
  Floods in Pakistan Afghanistan elections

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Naomi Line Strategic Communications Advisor RICU (Research, Information and Communications Unit) Office for Security and Counter Terrorism Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF Tel: 0207 035 0236

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Weekly News Summary
Friday 20th August 2010 Key Issues
Continued devastation from floods in Pakistan This week Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell and Minister without Portfolio Baroness Warsi visited Pakistan to see how UK aid is helping those affected by the flooding. The ministers travelled to the village of Pir Sabak, destroyed by the floods – which at their peak were five metres high and visited a displaced persons camp where many villagers are now living. A fifth of the country is now underwater, with more heavy rains expected. Andrew Mitchell has announced that the UK intends to double its aid contribution for the floods in Pakistan, but will only release money to partners, such as NGO’s and UN agencies, who are able to show they can deliver the right results for the people of Pakistan. Speaking from New York on August 19th, Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell, said: "I've come to New York directly from Pakistan, where I saw the dire need for more help. Yesterday I saw the sheer and shocking magnitude of this catastrophe. It is clear that unless more aid is delivered now, many more people will die from disease and malnutrition. It is deeply depressing that the international community is only now waking up to the true scale of this disaster. The UK is already helping more than three million people in flood-affected areas. This doubling of our aid should now provide water and sanitation to 500,000 people; shelter to 170,000 people; help meet the nutritional needs of 380,000 people and provide enough health services to cover a population of 2.4 million people. This additional support will help millions more secure the aid they need not only to survive, but to begin rebuilding their lives. I am in New York to urge the rest of the world to follow the example of those countries that have increased their support in recent days. The wealthiest nations - especially those in the G8 - have a duty to step up their response dramatically." Key Points: These are the most severe monsoon rains Pakistan has ever seen in its history: the area affected is greater than the size of England. Ten million people critically affected and nearly 900,000 houses destroyed or damaged. The UK was one of first countries to respond; life-saving assistance to at least one and a half million people, providing safe drinking water, toilets, health care, emergency shelter, and other essential items. UK aid announced so far has provided help for around one and half million people in Pakistan affected by the floods, including provide vital shelter for more than 62,000 people. The UN Pakistan appeal launched last week. Immediately the UK government announced four further plane loads of aid and help for half a million malnourished children and pregnant/breastfeeding women. The UK Government has earmarked up to £31million in response to the UN Pakistan appeal, with £16.25million so far allocated. The UK Government has also accelerated a £10million project to provide new bridges to replace some of those washed away by the floods; our engineers are on the ground already identifying priorities sites. As well as the UK Government response, British people have donated about £24million directly out of their pockets. The UK Government is ready to continue helping the people of Pakistan in any way it can.

Associated articles:
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DFID - Information on Britain’s response to the Pakistan floods Charity commission - people who want to donate should check the charity is registered. BBC - Baroness Warsi shocked by Pakistan floods

Final list of Afghanistan polling stations announced for upcoming election
On August 18th, the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in Afghanistan held a press conference and announced the final list of polling centres for next month’s parliamentary election. The final list consists of 5897 polling centres and in 9 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces all polling centres will open. Voter registration officially closed on 12th August. In total 376,081 voters have been registered in this year's top-up exercise. 152,147 of them were female and 16,920 Kuchis (Afghan Pashtun nomads). The IEC has proved that it is running an efficient and courageous operation. However electoral officials in Afghanistan have also decided not to open nearly 900 polling stations in the most violent districts in an attempt to prevent the level of fraud that occurred in last year’s elections. Afghan security chiefs and Nato commanders announced that parts of the country are too dangerous for voting to take place. The decision was taken after President Hamid Karzai and General David Petraeus, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, reviewed the proposed list of polling stations which led to an additional 100 stations that the security forces had said were safe. Key Points The process of holding the first Parliamentary elections to be run by Afghans since the 1960s is a mark of significant progress in the country’s path towards taking a lead in its own affairs, as outlined at the Kabul Conference in July. Improvements have been made to the process and institutions since Presidential elections last year, including: the barring of six thousand individuals suspected of or found to have engaged in fraud in last year’s elections, the rotation of provincial-level officials to prevent undue influence; improvements to ballot papers and materials to enhance security; improvements to the procedures for running the ballot, polling stations and polling centres, the tracking of ballot papers during transfer and the tally process, to prevent fraud and tampering; and increased levels of observation by observer groups and candidate agents, at different stages of the election/polling process. Associated articles: - The main problem for these elections is security The Guardian – Polling stations shut after security fears

Other News Stories from this Week
The following are interesting news items that we think people may want to circulate further: President Obama defends Mosque near Ground Zero - President Barack Obama has come under fire over his defence of a developer's right to build a mosque blocks from Ground Zero in New York. At a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan on Friday, Mr Obama vigorously defended the developers' right to put the mosque there "in accordance with local laws and ordinances". Muslims "have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country", the president said. On Saturday, Mr Obama said he was backing the rights of the developers, not the "wisdom" of the project. Final American Combat Troops Leave Iraq - The last US combat troops in Iraq have left the country seven years after the invasion. In January 2009. His administration is on target to reduce troop levels to 50,000 by August 31, ending the combat mission and leaving those who remain to train Iraqi armed forces and police units. ‘Not in My Game’ takes a stand against terrorist attacks on sports. As part of the campaign a number of community cricket matches are being organised to ensure cricket continues to be played wherever and whenever possible. The first match took place in Birmingham earlier this month and was covered by BBC Asian Network, Birmingham Mail, Sunraise Radio, Daily Jang, Asian Today and The Sun.

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