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Soualiga Newsday Focus (2166)

"Theo gives away 60.000 pencil cases"

PHILIPSBURG - Leader of the United People’s Party (UP) and Member of Parliament (MP) Theodore “Theo” Heyliger once again visited several elementary schools this week. MP Heyliger is giving away pencil cases to students who annually look forward to this kind gesture.

As customary a motto is printed on the pencil cases which serves as a motivation for the students. This year the motto was inspired by a close friend of the MP that has since passed away; "Theo says: Education is the key for living well.”

After 10 years of the annual give- away program, MP Heyliger has now given away 60,000 pencil cases in total to our students. 
This year it was decided to give away the pencil cases at the beginning of the second school term based on feedback received from teachers. The teacher’s stance was based on students normally being well equipped with school supplies at the beginning of the school year verses running out of school supplies midway during the school year.  

MP Heyliger and his team will continue visiting schools until Friday ensuring that all students and staff members of the various school receive a pencil case.  “Education and the general welfare of our child will always be held close to my heart,” MP Heyliger concluded. 
(UP Party)

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Nature Foundation Reminds Public That Only Registered Dive Vessels Are Allowed to Dive in the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area

COLE BAY - The Sint Maarten Nature Foundation would like to remind the public that only vessels which are registered at the Nature Foundation and who have purchased User Tags for the Marine Park are allowed entry into the Man of War Shoal Marine Protected Area.

During the past few weeks the Foundation has had to ask vessels, especially tenders belonging to visiting mega yachts, to leave the marine park because they did not have the required paperwork in place or fees paid.

“The Marine Park is a very sensitive area which can be damaged by people who are not accustomed to diving in our waters. It is also a requirement to pay the necessary fees and to register as a local vessel with the Nature Foundation before divers are allowed into the park.

“Therefore when we noticed especially these tenders from Mega yachts diving in the Marine Park we have to ask them to leave the area immediately. We understand that visitors to the island want to enjoy what we have to offer and that is why we suggest that they make use of our excellent local Dive Operators on the island,” commented Tadzio Bervoets, Marine Park Manager.

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Haiti: UN chief calls for delayed elections to be resolved as soon as possible

INTERNATIONAL – For the second time in two weeks United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has again voiced concern at political developments in Haiti over the ongoing electoral process, urging the authorities and all political actors to resolve outstanding issues as soon as possible.

Jovenel Moise from the governing party and former government executive Jude Celestin, the two top vote getters in the first round of presidential elections on 25 October, were set to face each other in a run-off on 27 December but that was postponed until further notice, according to media reports.

“The Secretary-General recalls that Parliament has not functioned since January 2015,” astatement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson said today. “He underlines the importance of inaugurating the new legislature within the constitutional time frame to ensure the renewal of democratic institutions and consolidate political stability in Haiti.”

He called for the electoral process to be “concluded as soon as possible in a transparent, inclusive and credible manner.”

Mr. Ban’s Special representative in Haiti, Sandra Honoré, and the so-called "Core Group" – Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, the United States, the European Union as well as the Organization of American States – yesterday called on State institutions and political actors to ensure a peaceful transfer of power to a newly elected president by the constitutionally mandated date of 7 February.

In his earlier statement, Mr. Ban took note of efforts by all stakeholders, including the establishment of an electoral evaluation commission to address the concerns of opposition parties and ensure the successful and timely conclusion of the presidential elections and stressed “the responsibility of all political actors to discourage violence and encourage a spirit of unity throughout the country.”

He reaffirmed the commitment of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the entire UN system to continue supporting the Haitian people in the fulfilment of their democratic aspirations.

The Mission, set up in 2004, has more than 4,500 troops and police deployed in Haiti with a mandate that has evolved over the years from supporting a transitional government to embracing earthquake recovery and facilitating the political process.

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Caribbean Tourism Organization Declares 2016 ‘The Year of Romance in the Caribbean’

SINT MAARTEN/CARIBBEAN - With the start of the New Year comes the launch of a new initiative by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) – 2016 The Year of Romance in the Caribbean – which celebrates everything romantic about the region. Through the campaign, CTO and its member countries and hotels will highlight the Caribbean as the leading choice for a romance vacation for consumers and travel planners selling the region.

“With over 30 destinations to choose from, the Caribbean region provides the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway highlighted by pristine beaches, secluded accommodations, an abundance  of land and water activities, top-notch spa services and personalized attention that meets the needs of the most discerning traveler,” said Hugh Riley, secretary general of CTO.

The Year of Romance in the Caribbeanwill spotlight the romantic features of our region beyond the traditional times of year such as Valentine’s Day. A romantic theme is easily embraced by all of our member destinations 365 days a year,” Riley noted.

Throughout the year, CTO in cooperation with its private sector partner the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association; will assist member countries with an assortment of ideas which can be implemented around the theme of romance to appeal to consumers, travel agents and tour operators. Innovative ideas will be developed around:

First-time or second-time marriages and the renewal of vows

The most romantic locations to “pop the question” or to say “I do”

Inviting celebrity couples to get married in the Caribbean

Revisits by couples who were married or honeymooned in the Caribbean

Couples celebrating milestone anniversaries

Gift registries of romantic vacations in the Caribbean

“We anticipate that in addition to the ideas we provide our members, the countries and hotels will develop their own plan of action for promoting romance in their individual destinations,” said Riley adding: “The theme is inclusive of our partners, both public- and private-sector.

Caribbean hotels, travel agents and tour operators are urged to create their own romantic ideas or adopt ones being embraced by the destinations. We envision airline partners getting involved with their own ‘love is in the air’ offers and recognizing bridal parties on board who are heading to a destination wedding in the Caribbean. We think video bloggers too will get involved in featuring the winners of the most romantic ideas.”

CTO envisions 2016 The Year of Romance in the Caribbean as a catalyst for sellers and promoters of weddings and honeymoons, bridal publications and websites as well as wedding planners and service providers at the destination end.         

2016 The Year of Romance in the Caribbean will be promoted through social media and traditional media channels and will create opportunities for travellers and vacation planners to share their experiences and ideas of a romantic Caribbean vacation throughout 2016.

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Refugees and migrants fleeing to Europe in 2015 top unprecedented one million – UN

INTERNATIONAL – The number of refugees and migrants fleeing to Europe in 2015 has topped an unprecedented one million – at least 3,600 died or went missing in the crossings – the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) reported today, calling for much more to be done to receive and aid those uprooted by persecution, conflict and poverty.

“As anti-foreigner sentiments escalate in some quarters, it is important to recognize the positive contributions that refugees and migrants make to the societies in which they live and also honour core European values: protecting lives, upholding human rights and promoting tolerance and diversity,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, whose agency compiled the latest figures together with the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The number of people displaced by war and conflict is the highest seen in Western and Central Europe since the 1990s, when several conflicts broke out in the former Yugoslavia. One in every two of those crossing the Mediterranean this year – half a million people – were Syrians escaping war. Afghans accounted for 20 per cent and Iraqis for seven per cent.

According to UNHCR figures, as of 21 December, some 972,500 people had crossed the Mediterranean Sea, while IOM estimates that over 34,000 have crossed from Turkey into Bulgaria and Greece by land, for a total of more than 1,006,500.

Over 800,000 refugees and migrants came via the Aegean Sea from Turkey into Greece, accounting for 80 per cent of those arriving irregularly in Europe by sea, while the number of those crossing from North Africa into Italy dropped slightly, from 170,000 in 2014 to around 150,000 in 2015.

Over the year the number of people crossing the Mediterranean increased steadily from around 5,500 in January to a monthly peak in October of over 221,000.

After an initial chaotic reaction which resulted in tens of thousands of people moving from Greece through the Western Balkans and northwards, and finding themselves blocked at various borders, a more coordinated European response is beginning to take shape.

UNHCR launched an emergency response to complement European efforts, with over 600 emergency staff and resources deployed to 20 different locations to provide life-saving aid and protection, advocating for human rights and access to asylum, particularly for refugees with specific needs, such as unaccompanied children and women-headed households.

But much more needs to be done to reinforce required reception capacity at points of entry and allow for the humane and effective accommodation, aid, registration and screening to identify those in need of protection, those to be relocated to other countries within the European Union, and those who do not qualify for refugee protection for whom dignified return mechanisms have to be put in place.

At the same time, UNHCR continues to call for safe, regular ways for refugees to find safety through more resettlement and humanitarian admission programmes, more flexible visa arrangements, more private sponsorship programmes and other possibilities.

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Ban, concerned over political uncertainty in Haiti, urges transfer of power through polls

INTERNATIONAL – United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his concern today over growing political uncertainty in Haiti and urged the two candidates in the presidential run-off there to help the electoral process move forward while preserving the country’s democratic gains.

“The Secretary-General is concerned over the growing political uncertainty in Haiti, following the publication of the results of the 25 October elections,” which included the first round of presidential polls, read a statement issued through his spokesperson.

While taking note of the efforts by all stakeholders, including the establishment of an electoral evaluation commission on 16 December to address the concerns of opposition parties and ensure the successful and timely conclusion of the presidential elections, Mr. Ban in his statement stressed “the responsibility of all political actors to discourage violence and encourage a spirit of unity throughout the country.”

According to the statement, the UN chief “calls for the urgent intensification of dialogue to ensure the transfer of power through elections, within the constitutional timeframe, maintain stability and preserve the country’s democratic gains.”

“The Secretary-General urges the two candidates in the presidential run-off to engage in good faith with the relevant institutions to identify and implement measures to help the process move forward,” the statement said.

According to press reports, the run-off had been set for 27 December between Jovenel Moise from the governing party and former government executive Jude Celestin, but the election has been postponed until further notice.

In his statement, Mr. Ban reaffirmed the commitment of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the entire UN system to continue supporting the Haitian people in the fulfilment of their democratic aspirations.

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On Migrants Day, UN remembers thousands who lost their lives this year trying to reach safe harbour

INTERNATIONAL – Global candlelight vigils marked the International Day of Migrants today -December 18- to remember that the more than 5,000 women, men and children who lost their lives in arduous journeys in search of protection and a better life as, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 2015 will be remembered as a year of human suffering and migrant tragedies.

“On International Migrants Day, let us commit to coherent, comprehensive and human rights-based responses guided by international law and standards and a shared resolve to leave no one behind,” Mr. Ban said in his message for the Day, which falls on 18 December, the day that in 1990, the UN General Assembly adopted the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families.

The Secretary-General urged all countries to sign and ratify the Convention as only one-fourth of UN Member States have done so. He also appealed for the expansion of safe channels for regular migration, including for family reunification, labour mobility at all skill levels, greater resettlement opportunities, and education opportunities for children and adults.

“Over the past 12 months, more than 5,000 women, men and children lost their lives in search of protection and a better life,” Mr. Ban said. In addition, “tens of thousands more have been exploited and abused by human traffickers. And millions have been made into scapegoats and become the targets of xenophobic policies and alarmist rhetoric,” he underscored.

On a more positive note, Mr. Ban also drew attention to the fact that 2015 was also a year in which the global community underscored the important contribution of migrants to sustainable development.

“With the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, world leaders vowed to protect the labour rights of migrant workers, combat transnational criminal human trafficking networks, and promote well-regulated migration and mobility,” he said.

“The world urgently needs to build upon these efforts with a new global compact on human mobility based on better cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination, with enhanced responsibility sharing, and full respect of the human rights of migrants, regardless of their status,” the UN chief stressed.

In his remarks, UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft said migration is not a new phenomenon and for centuries, migrants have made critical contributions to social and economic development in countries of origin, transit and destination.

“Yet regrettably, today, we witness unprecedented levels of human suffering associated with migration, particularly due to forced displacement. Furthermore, many migrants are subject to discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance,” he said.

Echoing the Secretary-General, he urged the international community, national governments and leaders from all parts of society to give effect to the commitments made in the 2030 Agenda. “They must address the root causes of forced displacement including by ending conflict. And they must speak out in support of the rights of migrants and against all forms of discrimination,” he added.

“On this important day, I encourage all leaders to embrace migration as a key enabler of sustainable development and to renew their commitment to open and diverse societies,” said Mr. Lykketoft.

To mark this year’s International Migrants Day, candlelight vigils were held around the world in response to a call from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to remember the refugees and migrants who have tragically lost their lives this year.

“Each person has a name, a story and left their homelands seeking better opportunities and safety for themselves and in many cases for their families – aspirations that all of us strive for,” said IOM Director General William Lacy Swing in his message.

“The candlelight vigil is a renewed opportunity to increase awareness on drivers of migration, and most importantly, shift the narrative of migration towards a positive recognition of the many ways migrants contribute to host societies,” Mr. Swing said.

Ahead of the Day, a group of UN experts on the rights of migrants called on governments across the world to guarantee access to services for all migrants, regardless of their migratory status.

The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, François Crépeau, and the Chair of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, Francisco Carrión Mena, urged States to separate immigration enforcement from access to public services through the implementation of ‘firewalls,’ while stressing that large-scale migration is unavoidable and that human rights are for all.

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Global wood production in 2014 shows biggest jump since economic crisis, says UN agency

INTERNATIONAL – Worldwide major wood production has undergone a revival over the past year as it has seen the greatest leap since the global economic downturn of 2008-2009, according to the latest data released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

“We are seeing now the highest growth of the global wood industries in the last five years, which is important to national economies and the wellbeing and livelihoods of millions of forest-dependant people worldwide," said said Thais Linhares-Juvenal, head of the FAO’s Forest Economics and Statistics Team, while recognizing that “wood industries were among the hardest hit by the recent global economic downturn in 2008-2009.”

The new statistics showed that in 2014, major wood products, such as industrial roundwood, sawnwood, wood-based panels and pulp and paper, have increased from one to five per cent, surpassing the pre-recession levels of 2007. It is also noteworthy that the Asia-Pacific, region, and Latin America and Caribbean have the fastest growth in production.

Production of wood pellets, mainly used as fuel, increased dramatically in recent years, setting a new record in 2014 and growing by 16 per cent over the previous year, reaching 26 million metric tonnes. Europe and North America accounted for most global production and consumption, while the situation in Asia more than doubled in 2014 over the previous year, said the data.

The study also noted that in 2014, paper production stagnated in Europe and declined in North America, due to the prevailing use of social media. China, however, is by far the largest producer and consumer of paper and wood-based panels. Its paper production and consumption resumed growth in 2014, after a pause in 2013, driving the overall growing trend in the Asia-Pacific region.

Turing to wood-based panels and sawnwood, the study noted there has been a worldwide strong gain in both production and consumption, with wood-based panels surged most in production by six per cent, according to the report, revealed the report.

South America, attributed for 30 per cent of worldwide exports of wood pulp, has gradually emerged as a new ‘big player’ in the global market, with new mills being built in Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay.

The Statistical Yearbook of Forest Products, published by FAO annually, aims to provide countries with informative tools to assess the forest products to global and national economies and sustainable development, and to improve their forest management and forestry policies.

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Sundial Interact Club hosts seniors in Domino & Checkers Knock Out. To become an annual event

PHILIPSBURG - On Saturday, 5 December 2015, the Sundial Interact Club in cooperation with the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise, held a domino and checkers knock out "chill day" for the elderly/senior men, and a spa / pampering day for the elderly/senior ladies.

The ladies were pampered by the 3rd form Care and Wellness students of the Sundial School. There were snacks and drinks available free of cost. Lunch was also provided.

There were no complaints, everyone enjoyed it and some didn't want to leave.

This project will be an annual event hosted by the Sundial Interact Club.

Many thanks go out to Ms. Marcellia Henry (President of the Rotary Club of St. Martin Sunrise), Ms. Jackie Morris (Care and Wellness teacher at the Sundial School), Ms. Elsa, the NIPA students and everyone else who helped make this project a success. We also have to thank Mrs. Peterson - Regales (Sundial School Principal) for allowing us to use the School premises to host this event.

Written by Sundial Interact Public Relations Officer Akiya Rogers and School Advisor Mrs. Tadimoeljo

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ILO: 1.7 million people joined the ranks of the unemployed in Latin America and the Caribbean

CARIBBEAN - The ILO’s 2015 Labour Overview indicates that the economic slowdown has caused a rise in unemployment, particularly among women and young people, and there are signs of increased informality. The situation is worrying and poses policy challenges to the countries of the region. Unemployment could rise again in 2016.

In 2015, the unemployment rate in Latin America and the Caribbean increased for the first time in five years to 6.7 per cent, causing at least 1.7 million people to join the ranks of the unemployed, according to the ILO's annual report released today, in which the impact of the slowdown on economic growth in the labour market is recorded.

The 2015 Labour Overview of Latin America and the Caribbean warned of a "turnaround" in the employment indicators, with a deterioration in the employment situation of women and youth, and indications of rising informality through "increased generation of lower quality jobs."

"The cumulative effects of the economic downturn that began three or four years ago and deepened during 2015, can be described as a crisis in slow motion," said ILO Regional Director, Jose Manuel Salazar, introducing the report on Thursday in the Peruvian capital. "This situation is worrying and poses numerous policy challenges for the countries in the region."

Because of slow growth forecasts for the region remain in the coming years, the ILO estimated that in 2016 the average unemployment rate for Latin America and the Caribbean could increase further to 6.9 per cent.

Salazar said that in 2015, similar to the economic slowdown, the reduced employment generation has been seen at different rates across the countries in the region. In some countries the unemployment rate has even reduced. But at the regional level there are countries such as Brazil, which significantly contribute to an increase in the average rate.

Thus, the main rise in unemployment occurred in South America where it increased from 6.8 per cent to 7.6 per cent, and the Caribbean increased from 8.2 per cent to 8.5 per cent. However, a fall was recorded in Central America and Mexico, from 5.2 per cent to 4.8 per cent.

The average unemployment rate for the region rose from 6.2 per cent in 2014 to 6.7 per cent in 2015. From this we estimate that regionally, unemployment increased by 1.7 million and therefore "the total number of people affected by a lack of jobs in Latin American and Caribbean is around 19 million," said Salazar.

The Regional Director also commented on the quality of jobs. There are indications of a slowdown in wage growth and a reduction in the generation of wage and salaried work, with an increase in self-employment, which can be associated with poor working conditions.

"These are signs that there may be increasing informality, which according to the latest available data has reached 130 million workers," he added.

More than half of those newly unemployed are women. The unemployment rate of women has increased from 7.7 per cent in 2014 to 8.2 per cent in 2015, according to the ILO’s Labour Overview, equivalent to 1.4 times the rate of men.

The regional report explains that the rate of labour participation of women resumed an upward trend, but the employment rate was more moderate. "The unemployment rate can be attributed to the greater influx of women into the labour market," says the document.

Youth unemployment also increased, following several years of a decreasing rate, meaning that "the trend has changed" for this group as well. As is the case with the general employment rate, the youth unemployment rate varied between countries and an improvement has been observed in about half of the countries in the region. The average for Latin America and the Caribbean saw a rise from 14.5 per cent to 15.3 per cent.

"Unless policies are put in place to boost the quantity and quality of youth employment, the emerging economic situation could further aggravate this situation," warns the report.

The ILO’s Labour Overview states that in the short term, the situation of higher unemployment and informality should be managed with social and labour market policies specifically aimed at protecting jobs and incomes.

The Regional Director of the ILO warned however that there must also be measures to "address long-standing structural problems." He stated that "the slowdown is evidence once again that the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean continue to depend excessively on the dynamics of the global economy, and therefore still need to develop sources of economic growth from within the region."

"In the medium and longer term it is necessary to design and implement productive development policies to diversify production structures, promote increased productivity and business growth, creating more and better jobs to generate inclusive growth" said Jose Manuel Salazar.

He stressed that to achieve progress in this direction, it will be essential to promote social dialogue between governments, employers and workers in different countries. "Dialogued answers that are the product of a shared vision are needed," says the ILO’s 2015 Labour Overview.

In 2015, the Labour Overview, based on official sources from each country, now includes unemployment rates at the national level, which are available for most countries up until the third quarter of this year. Until last year, the available indicators were urban, mainly from the larger cities.

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