St. Kitts dissolves Parliament, fires several top officials

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico—The prime minister of the eastern Caribbean island of St. Kitts and Nevis has had the royal governor-general dissolve its Parliament and has fired several top officials including the deputy prime minister. The announcement May 10 by Prime Minister Timothy Harris came as he was facing a no-confidence motion from a coalition that includes his own party.

Mr. Harris said he expects to soon announce a date for new elections. The island normally holds general elections every five years, with the last one held in June 2020. Mr. Harris accused those removed from their jobs of showing “a disinterest in their positions.”

Rival Libya PM to set up govt. in Sirte after Tripoli clashes


CAIRO—One of Libya’s rival prime ministers said he would seat his government in the central city of Sirte, after clashes forced him to abort his attempt the previous day to bring his Cabinet to the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

Prime Minister Fathi Bashagha announced May 18 that he has chosen the city of Sirte, along Libya’s Mediterranean coast and half way between the country’s East and West, serving as a link between them.

Oil-rich Libya has been wrecked by conflict since the NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime leader Muammar Gadhafi in 2011 and has for years since been split between rival administrations in the East and West, each supported by different militias and foreign governments.

Mr. Bashagha, a former interior minister, was named prime minister by the country’s East-based parliament in February. But his rival, Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, based in Tripoli, in the country’s West, has refused to step down, insisting he will hand over power only to an elected government.

Mr. Dbeibah was appointed last year in an UN-led process, mired in allegations of corruption and bribery, to lead the country through elections in December that never took place.

Mr. Bashagha attempted May 17 to seat his government Tripoli, in a move that resulted in clashes with militias allied with Mr. Dbeibah just hours after Bashagha and his Cabinet ministers entered the Libyan capital. At least one man was killed and five others wounded in the clashes, authorities said.

Both prime ministers blamed each other for provoking the violence, which raised fears that the country could once again return to civil war after more than a year of tense calm. Sirte is also the gateway to the country’s major oil fields and export terminals. The crucial and strategic city is controlled by East-based forces of military commander Khalifa Hifter, an ally of Mr. Bashagha.

Global pollution kills 9 million people a year, study finds

A new study blames pollution of all types for nine million deaths a year globally, with the death toll attributed to dirty air from cars, trucks and industry rising 55 percent since 2000.

That increase is offset by fewer pollution deaths from primitive indoor stoves and water contaminated with human and animal waste, so overall pollution deaths in 2019 are about the same as 2015.

The United States is the only fully industrialized country in the top 10 nations for total pollution deaths, ranking seventh with 142,883 deaths blamed on pollution in 2019, sandwiched between Bangladesh and Ethiopia, according to a new study in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health. The pre-pandemic study is based on calculations derived from the Global Burden of Disease database and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Seattle. India and China lead the world in pollution deaths with nearly 2.4 million and almost 2.2 million deaths a year, but the two nations also have the world’s largest populations.

When deaths are put on a per population rate, the United States ranks 31st from the bottom at 43.6 pollution deaths per 100,000. Chad and the Central African Republic rank the highest with rates about 300 pollution deaths per 100,000, more than half of them due to tainted water, while Brunei, Qatar and Iceland have the lowest pollution death rates ranging from 15 to 23. The global average is 117 pollution deaths per 100,000 people.

Pollution kills about the same number of people a year around the world as cigarette smoking and second-hand smoke combined, the study said. “Nine million deaths is a lot of deaths,” said Philip Landrigan, director of the Global Public Health Program and Global Pollution Observatory at Boston College. “The bad news is that it’s not decreasing,” Mr. Landrigan said. “We’re making gains in the easy stuff and we’re seeing the more difficult stuff, which is the ambient (outdoor industrial) air pollution and the chemical pollution, still going up.”

“They are preventable deaths. Each and every one of them is a death that is unnecessary,” said Dr. Lynn Goldman, dean of the George Washington University School of Public Health, who wasn’t part of the study.

In 2000, industrial air pollution killed about 2.9 million people a year globally. By 2015 it was up to 4.2 million and in 2019 it was 4.5 million, the study said. Toss in household air pollution, mostly from inefficient primitive stoves, and air pollution killed 6.7 million people in 2019, the study found.

Lead pollution—some from lead additives which has been banned from gasoline in every country in the world and also from old paint, recycling batteries and other manufacturing—kills 900,000 people a year, while water pollution is responsible for 1.4 million deaths a year. Occupational health pollution adds another 870,000 deaths, the study said.

In the United States, about 20,000 people a year die from lead pollution-induced hypertension, heart disease and kidney disease, mostly as occupational hazards, Mr. Landrigan said. Lead and asbestos are America’s big chemical occupational hazards, and they kill about 65,000 people a year from pollution, he said. The study said the number of air pollution deaths in the United States in 2019 was 60,229, far more than deaths on American roads, which hit a 16-year peak of nearly 43,000 last year.

The study authors came up with eight recommendations to reduce pollution deaths, highlighting the need for better monitoring, better reporting and stronger government systems regulating industry and cars.

Europe accused of ‘double standard’ on treatment of Ukrainian refugees

UNITED NATIONS—The quick acceptance of Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s aggression puts a spotlight on Europe’s “double standard” for migrants, standing against its nonwelcome for people fleeing violence in Africa, the Mideast and elsewhere, the head of the world’s largest humanitarian network said.

Francesco Rocca, president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said May 16 he doesn’t think “there is any difference” between someone fleeing eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region and someone escaping the Boko Haram extremist group in Nigeria.

“Those who are fleeing violence, those who are seeking protection, should be treated equally,” said Mr. Rocca, whose organization operates in more than 192 countries with almost 15 million volunteers.

Speaking at a news conference, he said there is “a moral imperative” to help people escaping violence and upheavals, and “the political, public and humanitarian response to the Ukraine crisis has shown what is possible when humanity and dignity comes first, when there is global solidarity.”

“We hoped that the Ukrainian crisis would have been a turning point in the European migration policies,” Mr. Rocca said. “But unfortunately, this was not the case.”

He said the 27-member European Union still has different approaches to migration at its eastern border from Ukraine and its southern border on the Mediterranean.

The war, which Russia insists on calling a “special military operation,” has prompted one of the worst humanitarian crises in Europe since World War II.

Since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, more than six million people have fled Ukraine, with Poland absorbing more than 3.3 million and over 900,000 going to Romania, 605,000 to Hungary, 463,000 to Moldova and 421,000 to Slovakia, according to the UN refugee agency.

By contrast, Mr. Rocca said, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers trying to get to Europe are still dying, facing abuse and struggling to access essential services.

Over 48,000 migrants have died or disappeared since 2014 while traveling at sea, and the deadliest route is that taken by migrants across the central Mediterranean to Europe, with at least 19,000 such deaths, he said.

Those who arrive, mainly in Italy, Greece and Spain, are often put in camps and face long waits for their asylum claims to be heard.

“In Europe there is a big heart and soul, because the community in Europe were able to open their arms, receiving millions in a few days of Ukrainians,” Mr. Rocca said. “So, they lie about the threat that is coming from the Mediterranean Sea, when it comes about a few thousands of people.”

He said that “ethnicity and nationality should not be a deciding factor to saving life. “There is a double standard,” Mr. Rocca said. “This is evident. It is in our eyes, and we cannot deny it when it comes about seeking protection.”

Mr. Rocca was at UN headquarters for the first review of the 2018 compact to promote safe and orderly migration and reduce human smuggling and trafficking. It was the first global document to tackle the migration issue and was signed by more than 190 nations.

(Compiled from Associated Press reports.)