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Ethnic minorities in UK, US pay hefty price in Covid-19 crisis

Issued on: 15/05/2020 – 16:53Modified: 15/05/2020 – 16:53

Ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom ..

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Ethnic minorities in the United Kingdom and the United States face a far greater risk of dying from Covid-19 than their white peers, several recent studies suggest, with researchers pointing to a number of socio-economic inequalities as the possible culprits.

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Does ethnicity play a role in the risk of dying from Covid-19? According to studies from both the UK and the US – where the collection of ethnicity-related data is legal – it does. But instead of being attributed to genetic denominators, researchers believe wider social injustices in the two countries may be to blame.

In a study published by Britains National Health Service (NHS) on May 7, statistics showed that Covid-19 patients with an African or Caribbean background were four times more likely to die from the illness after being admitted to hospital than their white counterparts. Similar findings were made among Brits of Asian descent, albeit to a somewhat lesser degree.

Another study, published by the University of Glasgow on April 30, showed that aside from demonstrating a higher Covid-19 mortality rate, ethnic minorities in the UK also face an increased risk of contracting the coronavirus.

In the US, the infection rate has been three times higher in counties where people with African-American origin account for the majority of the population, an article published in the American Medical Associations journal Jama stated in mid-April.

Need more indicators

“I was very surprised to see how much more dangerous the virus seems to be for ethnic minorities, which has turned out to be a very little studied and poorly understood aspect of this epidemic,” Neeraj Bhala, a physician at the UK's Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham and co-author of an article on the topic published in The Lancet medical journal, told FRANCE 24.

Bhala dismissed genetic denominators as possible risk factors, noting that if that had been the case, Africa, for example, would have seen a much higher Covid-19 infection and mortality rate than it has.

The Glasgow study, however, showed that even those who had a similar social standing as their white British peers – in terms of both educational and income level – ran a higher risk of dying from Covid-19, indicating that the underlying reasons may be more complex than just a question of rich versus poor.

“What this shows us, above all, is that the usual indicators we look at are insufficient to understand this phenomenon, and that we need to have a clearer view of all the inequalities that ethnic minorities suffer,” Charles Agyemang, a professor of Global Migration, Ethnicity & Health at the Amsterdam Medical Centre and co-author of the Lancet article, said.

Risky jobs

The NHS pointed to one possible explanation for the high death toll among ethnic minorities, noting that that they are heavily overrepresented in jobs that particularly expose people to the coronavirus, including as paramedics, nurses, and street maintenance workers. These are jobs that cannot be carried out at a distance from their homes, and many of the people working in these sectors have no choice but to use public transport which increases their risks of contamination even more.

The researchers FRANCE 24 spoke to also said that ethnic groups in the UK and the US may be more susceptible to the virus because of their living conditions. “More often, these populations live in small apartments in more densely populated areas than whites do, and this makes social distancing more difficult,” Agyemang explained.

Bhala also pointed to cultural differences, saying that some ethnic minorities are more likely to live in large households, gathering the whole family under the one and same roof, and thereby facing a higher infection risk.

Another factor could be an unequal access to healthcare, “especially in countries like the United States where health insurance is private", Agyemang said, adding that health insurances was expensive, and often Read More – Source

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Europe

Kosovo highest court rules new government can be formed without snap elections

Issued on: 29/05/2020 – 03:25Modified: 29/05/2020 – 03:29

Kosovo's Constitutional Court ruled..

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Kosovo's Constitutional Court ruled late on Thursday that a new government can be formed without holding a snap election, a decision opposed by the caretaker prime minister's party, which has vowed street protests.

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Albin Kurti's government was dismissed on March 25 after less than two months in office, following disagreements with its main partner, the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic and removal of tariffs on Serbian goods.

"The biggest political party does not have the exclusivity to propose the candidate of the prime minister to form the government," the court said in its verdict.

Kurti backed a snap election after seeing that other parties rallied together with his former coalition partner the LDK to form a new government. His party said it will organise protests in coming days.

The task to form the government is now given to LDK nominee Avdullah Hoti, former deputy prime minister and a past finance minister.

Hoti has promised he will return to negotiations with Serbia to normalise ties under EU and United States mediation. Such talks were halted in 2018 when a previous government introduced a 100% tariffs on goods produced in Serbia.

The move has angered the European Union and the United States, which backed Read More – Source

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The ICC says ex-Ivory Coast president Gbagbo can leave Belgium under conditions

Issued on: 28/05/2020 – 22:03Modified: 28/05/2020 – 22:03

The International Criminal Court on Thur..

Issued on: 28/05/2020 – 22:03Modified: 28/05/2020 – 22:03

The International Criminal Court on Thursday said former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo can leave Belgium under certain conditions following his acquittal last year over post-electoral violence that killed 3,000 people.

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Gbagbo and his deputy Charles Ble Goude were both cleared of crimes against humanity a year ago, eight years after the former West African strongmans arrest and transfer to the Hague-based court.

Belgium agreed to host Gbagbo, 73, after he was released in February under strict conditions including that he would return to court for a prosecution appeal against his acquittal.

However, Gbagbo and Ble Goude cannot “travel beyond the territorial limits of the municipality of the receiving State without the explicit and prior authorisation of the Court,” an ICC statement said Thursday.

Ble Goude, who lives in The Hague, was released under similar conditions as Gbagbo.

Gbagbos lawyers had in February appealed for his unRead More – Source

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Nissan to shut factory in Barcelona, thousands of workers affected

Issued on: 28/05/2020 – 21:53Modified: 28/05/2020 – 21:56

Japanese carmaker Nissan has decided to ..

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Japanese carmaker Nissan has decided to shut its factory in Barcelona where 3,000 people are employed after four decades of operations, the Spanish government said on Thursday.

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The decision came despite government efforts to keep the plant open, Foreign Minister Arancha Gonzalez Laya told the national radio station.

“We regret this decision by Nissan to leave not just Spain but Europe… to concentrate its business in Asia, despite the enormous efforts by the government to keep the business going,” she said.

Spain is one of the countries worst hit by the coronavirus fallout, a context that particularly stoked anger among workers at the Barcelona plant.

Shameful

“Its shameful that a multinational company like this one would drop us in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said 54-year old Jordi Carbonell who has been with Nissan for 32 years.

Carbonell said he had felt “cheated” by management in recent years. “No production site is profitable without a sufficient production volume and here they just let it die,” he said.

Spains car industry is the European Unions second-biggest after that of Germany, accounting for 10 percent of the countrys gross domestic product.

With Brexit, the Barcelona site became Nissans main one in the European Union. The Japanese company runs a bigger production facility in Sunderland in Britain.

In addition to 3,000 direct jobs, some 22,000 more depend indirectly on the site, according to unions.

The industry ministry confirmed to AFP that Nissans chief executive had informed it of plans to stop operations at the Barcelona site, which groups several production facilities.

Safeguard employment

Production there had already ground to a halt at the start of the month when some staff went on strike demanding an investment strategy for the site after plans were announced to cut 20 percent of the workforce.

Foreign Minister Gonzalez Laya said “all kinds of help” had been proposed to Nissan in the run-up to Thursdays decision and that the government would “not throw in the towel”.

The head of Nissans European operations, Gianluca de Ficchy, said “all that support was taken into account in order to have an overall economic equation going forward”.

Nevertheless, “weve reached the conclusion that the overall economic equation for the plant was not sustainable going forward,” he added.

But Gonzalez Laya said Spain would “explore all solutions, because our concern is to safeguard employment”.

She did not rule out the possibility of finding a buyer for the plant.

Economy Minister Nadia Calvino meanwhile said the government had invited Nissan to start talks “to see how this process could be managed”, to no avail.

The Madrid government has argued that the cost of closing Nissans Barcelona operation, which it put at more than one billion euros ($1.1 billion), was higher than the investmRead More – Source

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