UN official praises G8 leaders commitment to boosting food security

“Countries themselves know they are going to be held to account over that pledge” made at the G8 summit earlier this month in L’Aquila, Italy, David Nabarro, Coordinator of the High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis, told reporters in New York.“We are really pleased that food security is now back and central on the international agenda,” he said.But the official cautioned that a jump in spending should not come at the expense of other priorities, such as health and education.Addressing the same press conference today, Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning, stressed that the outcome from the G8 gathering is “a first step, and there’s much more to be done.”Mr. Nabarro noted that in spite of the progress made in L’Aquila, the funding gap currently faced by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), which he described as “the world’s anti-famine mechanism.”The agency had a record income of $5 billion last year, but at present is two-thirds short of the resources needed to respond to food demands worldwide, he said.On influenza A(H1N1), Mr. Nabarro, who serves as Senior UN System Coordinator for Avian and Human Influenza, said that the work done on avian influenza has laid the groundwork to address the current pandemic.While in relatively prosperous countries, the A(H1N1) pandemic has not been very serious, he said.But evidence shows, Mr. Nabarro said, that in communities where resources are not dedicated to health care at the same level as very wealthy nations that “they are going to face greater problems,” with the UN now focusing on building stronger relationships with poorer nations, especially the least developed ones, to ensure that “they have some chance of being able to access the particular things that they need in order to be able to deal with these problems.” 16 July 2009The recent pledge made by leaders of the so-called Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries to mobilize $20 billion to boost food security is a “substantive” commitment, a senior United Nations official said today. read more

Japan tightens entry requirements for Sri Lankan students

Japan has decided to tighten its entrance requirements for overseas students from five countries including Sri Lanka, as part of its efforts to prevent illegal immigration, the Global Times reported.According to Japanese newspaper Nishinippon Shimbun, Japan’s Immigration Bureau notified nearly half of the country’s Japanese language schools in February, in which at least 10 students were either expelled or dropped off in 2015, to adopt stricter policies for overseas students from five countries, namely, China, Vietnam, Nepal, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka. The newspaper said that the Japanese public is questioning why these countries are chosen for the tighter entry requirement.“Students who wish to study in Japanese universities normally will study Japanese language for at least half a year in a language school. They could get a visa after their application materials were approved by the Ministry of Justice,” Li Dan, 32, an employee of a Japanese enterprise in Beijing who has studied in Japan for four years, told the Global Times.According to Li, some Chinese people may use the student visa as a cover to stay in Japan to earn a lot of money. After the visa expires, they would usually continue to work in the country illegally. The bureau stressed that the change is part of a policy rather than punishment.However, statistics from the bureau showed most of the illegal immigrants in Japan in 2015 were South Koreans, reaching 13,000, followed by those from the Chinese mainland, about 8,700 people. Vietnam ranked the fifth while Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka were not among the top 10. “Most overseas students in Japan come from the five countries and there is an increase in illegal immigration, and previous reports suggested that some overseas students work in Japan illegally,” the newspaper quoted an official from the bureau as saying. The new policy will be implemented from mid-March and have already affected some applications. These schools are required to ask students to present assets certificates including their bank card records and copies of deposit books at the time of application. Otherwise, they are not allowed to enter Japan. According to The Japan Student Services Organization, about 94,000 Chinese people pursued their studies in Japan in 2015, accounting for 45 percent of the total number of overseas students. (Colombo Gazette) read more