Scientists urge EU to do more to protect European rivers and lakes

The scientists call on the European Union to intensify its efforts to ensure freshwater diversity. (Shutterstock)
Updated 06 December 2019

Scientists urge EU to do more to protect European rivers and lakes

  • Nearly two thirds of freshwater bodies across the continent are unhealthy

BRUSSELS: More than 5,500 scientists have signed an open letter saying that Europe is facing a severe threat to its freshwater biodiversity and must do more to protect its rivers and lakes.
The letter follows the release of a report by the EU’s own environment agency, EEA, which said that nearly two thirds of freshwater bodies across the continent are unhealthy.
The scientists call on the European Union to intensify its efforts to ensure freshwater diversity.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, more than 1 million species worldwide are at risk of extinction due to humans’ pursuit of economic growth. Freshwater species are especially at risk. Worldwide populations have crashed 83 percent in the past decades.
Water is also at risk of becoming an increasingly scarce resource as climate change exacerbates pressures on the water sources of half a billion Europeans who depend on it.
The EEA has said nearly half of all habitants in the countries around the Mediterranean experienced some form of drought in the past summers.
The EU policy protecting the bloc’s waterways, the Water Framework Directive, was introduced in 2000. Since its inception, implementation has been lacklustre.
The new head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has committed to fighting biodiversity loss as part of her European Green Deal, an ambitious plan which would make Europe the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050.
The scientists wrote: “There cannot be an effective European Green Deal without healthy water ecosystems at the heart of it.”


Pakistani Umrah pilgrims affected by temporary ban to be compensated

Updated 28 February 2020

Pakistani Umrah pilgrims affected by temporary ban to be compensated

  • “Passengers who have Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) tickets will be able to get full refund from the PIA offices or their travel agents,” the airline’s spokesperson said
  • Saudi Arabia on Thursday placed a temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims to prevent the spread of coronavirus

ISLAMABAD: All Pakistani Umrah pilgrims affected by the temporary travel ban to the Kingdom due to the threat of coronavirus will be compensated, the Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki said on Friday.
“Pakistani Umrah pilgrims who had to travel to Saudi Arabia during the dates of suspension will be compensated in the best possible way,” Al-Malki told Arab News on Friday. “They will be able to travel on the same visa or will be issued a fresh one free of charge.”
Saudi Arabia on Thursday placed a temporary ban on Umrah pilgrims to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“Passengers who have Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) tickets will be able to get full refund from the PIA offices or their travel agents,” the airline’s spokesperson Abdullah Hafeez Khan told Arab News, adding that it was up to the passengers if they wanted to avail the refund option or get their seats readjusted after the ban.
Meanwhile, Saudi airlines also announced full refund of tickets through a circular which is available through Arab News.
“The Pakistani mission in Saudi Arabia is in touch with the Saudi authorities on this issue and will take all possible measures to facilitate Pakistani pilgrims,” Arshad Munir, spokesperson for the Pakistani Embassy in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News.
Faizan Akhtar, a member of Pakistan’s Umrah Travel Agents’ Association, said that the situation would become clear in the next few days, but all the passengers would get refunds or manage to travel on the same Umrah package after the ban.
“There was a previous incident of flight suspension during the Pakistani-Indian standoff last year which disturbed Umrah pilgrims. They were compensated by the Saudi authorities, who extended their visas without extra charges and airlines adjusted their seats accordingly. We haven’t received any official communication on this so far, but the situation will become clear in the next few days,” Akhtar said.