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The Fire Brigades Union has written to the government to demand it rethinks its decision to reject a key Grenfell Tower Inquiry recommendation, on the evacuation of disabled residents of high-rise buildings.

The inquiry recommended that “that the owner and manager of every high-rise residential building be required by law to prepare personal emergency evacuation plans (PEEPs)” for all disabled residents.

But last month the government rejected the recommendation and revealed downgraded plans, which have been roundly criticised including by Grenfell campaigners and disability rights campaigners.

The government had promised to implement the Grenfell Tower Inquiry phase one recommendations “in full”, of which this is one.

In a letter to Lord Greenhalgh dated 6 June 2022, Minister of State for Building Safety, Fire and Communities, Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary wrote [abridged]:

“The FBU was disappointed with the Westminster government’s decision to downgrade work towards ensuring residents with disabilities are provided with Personal Emergency Evacuation Plans (PEEPs)

“The [government] statement claims that implementation would involve significant issues with practicality, proportionality and safety. The FBU argues that resident safety is paramount, so there is a greater safety issue in declining to implement PEEPs. As for proportionality, the Inquiry has found the introduction of PEEPs to be a proportionate strategy, and the FBU agrees.

“Some reasons given for the refusal seem poorly evidenced, for example stating that if a PEEP advised the purchase of an evacuation chair, there would be an “impact on the good relations between disabled residents and non-disabled residents if disproportionate costs were passed on to the latter. Building owners should carry the costs.”

“The government’s decision is a negative, backward step, and the FBU stands with disability campaigners, the Grenfell campaign groups and the LGA in asking you to reconsider.”

15 out of 37 disabled Grenfell Tower residents lost their lives in the fire.

The union represents the vast majority of the hundreds of firefighters and fire control staff who were involved in the Grenfell response.

 

DAR ES SALAAM, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian wildlife conservation authorities have decided to temporarily lift a ban on exports of live wild animals they imposed in March 2016 after the government observed irregularities in the business.

The state-run Tanzania Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) said in a statement late Friday that the lifting of the ban involved business people who had captured wild animals for exports before the March 2016 ban was imposed.

The statement said business people who captured and raised wild animals before March 2016 will be allowed to export the animals within six months from June 6, 2022, to Dec. 5, 2022. They, however, should submit their valid documents to TAWA offices in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania.

Also, the live wild animals should be exported through the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam or the Kilimanjaro International Airport, said the statement.

The government banned the transportation of all live animals outside the country in March 2016 until proper procedures were made to ensure only approved animals are transported.

The decision sparked anger from exporters who complained that the ban was a surprise decision to them as it was made just a month after they were given licenses for exporting the animals. - Xinhua

 

Rwandan President Paul Kagame held phone conversations Monday with his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi along with African Union chairman Macky Sall aimed at easing tensions between Kigali and Kinshasa. 

The talks came on the back of days of tensions over allegations that Rwanda is backing M23 rebels of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in renewed fighting in eastern North Kivu province.

Rwanda has denied the allegations.

“I thank Presidents Felix Tshisekedi and Paul Kagame for our telephone talks yesterday and today [Monday] in the quest for a peaceful solution to the dispute between the DRC and Rwanda,” Sall, who is also Senegal's president, said in a tweet.

Sall also confirmed that further discussions will take place within the framework of the regional International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

Over the past few days, raging fighting between the DR Congo army and M23 rebels in North Kivu displaced more than 72,000 people, according to the UN refugee agency.

Sall has called for “calm and dialogue” between Rwanda and DR Congo.

Last Saturday, DR Congo suspended flights by Rwanda’s national carrier RwandAir to the country amid the escalating tensions.

The Rwandan army said two of its soldiers were recently kidnapped while on patrol and accused DR Congo armed forces of shelling in the border district.

But the DR Congo army claimed the soldiers were captured in a botched attack on its military detachment in the east. - James Tasamba, Anadolu Agency

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