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GOOD MORNING

The 9 at 9 Protests in Afghanistan, refugees in Ireland and wildfires on the French Riviera.

LAST UPDATE | Aug 20th 2021, 8:53 AM

GOOD MORNING.

Here’s all the news that you need to know as you start your day.

Refugees in Ireland

1. Our lead story this morning is a look at the challenges Afghan refugees might face when they get to Ireland, on the back of mass evacuations from the country.

Ireland has committed to taking 200 Afghan refugees, in a week when the Taliban swept back into power in the country, leaving a terrified population trying to flee to safety.

Here, Rónán Duffy meets Syrian mother-of-two Chahira Bourhan who has been living in Ireland for two years after being displaced by civil war. She says she feels “really, really sorry for them. It is so hard to see your country destroyed in front of your eyes. And the same for your dreams, your life”.

What now for Afghanistan?

2. Security analyst Tom Clonan completes a set of three opinion pieces this week, looking at the chaos and trauma in Afghanistan, as the Taliban completed a swift and unexpected takeover of the capital, Kabul.

This morning, in a comprehensive Voices piece for The Journal, Tom looks at the geopolitical questions around what just happened in Afghanistan. How did the embattled state get here, what next and what of the role of Russia and China in the latest developments?

Multiple deaths in Galway crash

3. Gardaí and emergency services attended the scene of a major crash in Co Galway last night, where four people have died. Three vehicles were involved in the crash, which happened after 7 pm at Junction 15 of the M6 motorway near Ballinasloe.

The road between Junction 14 and 16 on the M6 is closed in both directions to allow an examination of the scene.

Gardaí are advising motorists to avoid the area and use alternative routes.

Circular economy

4. Almost half a million euro in funding is to be given to businesses under a new scheme to promote a circular economy in Ireland. The announcement was made today by the Minister of State with special responsibility for the Circular Economy and Communications, Ossian Smyth TD.

He announced the funding of €490,000 for 10 projects across Ireland under the first Circular Economy Innovation Grant Scheme (CEIGS).He noted that creating a ‘circular economy’ is part of the move towards a more sustainable future. It has a focus on reducing and eliminating waste and keeping resources in use for as long as possible, and the CEIGS scheme is to help communities to make this transition.

The Taliban 

5. Afghan protesters have defied the Taliban for a second day, waving their national flag in scattered demonstrations, and the fighters again responded violently as they faced down growing challenges to their rule.

A UN official warned of dire food shortages and experts said the country was severely in need of cash while noting that the Taliban are unlikely to enjoy the generous international aid that the civilian government they dethroned did.

In light of these challenges, the Taliban have moved quickly to suppress any dissent, despite their promises that they have become more moderate since they last ruled Afghanistan with draconian laws.

Wildfires

6. Fires are continuing to burn near the French Riviera with new pockets of flames foiling the best efforts of crews to douse them.

Despite calmer winds and cooler weather, the fire that has forced thousands to flee and ravaged woodlands raged for a fourth day on Thursday, defying some 1,200 firefighters struggling to bring it under control.

The blaze, which has killed two people and injured 26, is the latest among numerous large wildfires to have scorched the Mediterranean region this summer.

Insurance

7. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has secured legally binding commitments from six car insurance companies that were under investigation for anti-competitive practices. 

AIG Europe S.A., Allianz PLC, AXA Insurance DAC, Aviva Insurance Ireland DAC, FBD Insurance PLC and AA Ireland Limited have all agreed to reform their internal competition law compliance programmes following the investigation.

However, Brokers Ireland, formerly the Irish Brokers Association (IBA) and the Professional Insurance Brokers Association (PIBA), declined to enter into legally binding commitments, Jane Moore reports. 

Zaki Anwari

8. An Afghan footballer who played for the national youth team fell to his death after trying to cling to a US plane airlifting people out of Taliban-controlled Kabul, a sports federation has said. 

The General Directorate of Physical Education and Sports of Afghanistan, a government institution that worked with sporting groups, confirmed the death of Zaki Anwari in the mayhem that erupted at the airport in the capital this week.

“Anwari, like thousands of Afghan youths, wanted to leave the country but fell off a US plane and died,” the group said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Latest cases

9. Public health officials confirmed 1,818 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland last night. 

The Department of Health said that 244 patients are in hospital with Covid-19, with a total of 52 patients in intensive care units. 

Dr Tony Holohan said the nation is experiencing a rapid rise in the incidence of the disease across the country, with 12,348 cases reported in the last seven days. This means that the virus is now circulating widely in our communities, he said.   

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