Germany grants €3million for climate protection project

The governments of the Maldives and Germany yesterday signed a climate protection agreement that will see the granting of €3million from the European partner.

Launching the scheme at the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Minister of State for Environment and Energy Abdul Matheen Mohamed expressed his gratitude to Ms. Randa Kourieh-Ranarivelo – Sri Lanka Country Director for German development firm GIZ – who signed the agreement on behalf of the German government.

GIZ – ‘Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit’ or the German Society for International Cooperation – is a corporation working in close alignment with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“The physical component under this project is to install photo voltaic (PV) systems in Raa atoll Ungoofaru island and Dhaalu atoll Kudahuvadhoo island,” a press release from the ministry explained.

“Under this project 119 kW of grid connected PV system will be installed in Ungoofaaru and 166 kW of grid connected PV system will be installed in Kudahuvadhoo.”

Whilst €800,000 is allocated for the solar panel project, the remaining allocation will go towards ‘soft components’ such as preparing a renewable energy investment guideline and developing low-carbon guidelines for resorts.

The ministry expects the physical component of the project to begin in February and for the work to be completed in 6 months.

The Maldives was pledged a further €4million from the European Union earlier this month to address climate change in the low-lying island nation.

In a recent report titled ‘Turn Down The Heat’, the World Bank reasserted the urgent need for concerted efforts to support the Maldives in adapting to climate change, due to a projected sea level rise of 115 centimetres by 2090.

In the document, a 4 degree Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) global temperature increase was predicted by the end of the 21st century unless concerted action is taken immediately.

Based on the report’s findings, the World Bank has highlighted the urgent need for concerted efforts to support the Maldives in adapting to climate change.

As one of the lowest-lying countries in the world, with an average elevation of 1.5 meters above sea level, the Maldives is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as sea level rise.

“The Maldives is one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change impacts and has set best practice examples in adapting to climate change consequences,” stated Ivan Rossignol, World Bank Acting Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

The current administration, under recently elected President Abdulla Yameen, is in the process of formulating a series of 100-day goals, though it has yet to set-out clear policies on the environment.

Climate change failed to feature in either Yameen’s, nor this main challenger Mohamed Nasheed’s election campaigns.

Former President Nasheed’s efforts to raise awareness of climate change – most notably at the 2009 Climate Change Forum in Copenhagen –  brought international acclaim and significant donor aid to the Maldives.


Dead body found between Villimale’ and Gulhi Falhu

A dead body has been found in the sea between Villimale’ and Gulhi Falhu today (February 13), local media has reported.

Authorities are currently searching for a German tourist who went missing on Sunday after jumping into the sea from an anchored yacht near Male’.

According to local media, police confirmed a body had been found in the sea but refused to disclose any further details.

Local newspaper Haveeru reported that the missing man jumped from the yacht MY Enok to conduct some repair work.


German tourist drowns while snorkelling

Haveeru have reported the drowning of a German tourist in Enboodhoo Village Resort in Kaafu Atoll.

Police said that the man died while snorkelling on Wednesday morning. His body was brought to Male’ at around 11.45am.

Police said the man was aged 63 and had been holidaying with his wife. Investigations are ongoing.


Maldives only South Asian country to record tourism decline in Jan-Feb: MATI

The Maldives was the sole South Asian country not have seen an increase in tourist arrivals in the first two months of the year, according to the Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI).

In a statement, MATI said that all other South Asian countries that published tourism statistics had recorded significant increases, with India at the top of the list with an increase of 40,000 tourists in Jan-Feb.

Sri Lanka experienced 27 percent growth in tourist arrivals. Tourist arrivals to the Maldives dropped by five percent during the same period.

According to Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) statistics, Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing tourist region in the world, with South East Asia showing the highest increases, closely followed by South Asia.

The Maldives’ number one tourism market – China – declined substantially in February and March after charter flights were cancelled due to political turmoil.

The market recovered in April with the restoration of these flights, with Chinese arrivals showing a 3.5 percent increase compared to the same period last year, after a massive 34.8 percent decline  in February. The Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation (MMPRC) has predicted substantial growth in June-July.

However the Italian and UK markets reported substantial declines in April, with arrivals plunging 27 percent and 20 percent respectively compared to April 2011.  These losses were partially offset by an increase in German, Swiss and Russian arrivals.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the PATA statistics applied to arrivals so far this year. The PATA figures were for the first two months of the year. Minivan News apologises for any confusion caused.


German medical student among those detained in police response to protest

Police arrested 10 people last night following a protest near the main Bank of Maldives (BML) branch, during which protesters tied their hands together with cable ties and demanded they be arrested.

“The marchers, who had symbolically bound their hands together with cable ties, were making their way to police headquarters to present themselves for arrest. However, they were blocked near the President’s Office by riot police and army personnel, and the participants – whose actions had been entirely peaceful – were violently dispersed with salt-water cannons and pepper spray,” Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor said in a statement.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam said police only used water cannon to disperse the crowd, and that the 10 were arrested for breaching the police cordon near the Bank of Maldives, and going near the President’s Office.

“When police asked them to go back, they did not obey police orders,” Shiyam said.

A visiting German medical student taking photos of the protest, identified as Patrick Crilly, was also taken into police custody prior to the dispersal of the protesters. A video of the arrest showed a policeman in riot gear taking Crilly by the arm and marching him through the police barricade.

“I was told on my release form that the reason for my detention was ‘not following a police order’, but no order was issued for me to follow,” Crilly told Minivan News, following his four hour detention.

“It was very strange, I’m not sure why it happened. It was not something I had planned to experience in the Maldives,” he said.

Crilly said he was on a visa run from Sri Lanka, where he has spent the past three months working as a medical intern at Kalapitiya Hospital in Galle.

“I’m quite familiar with the Maldives – this is my sixth visit,” he said. “I have some good friends here, and I’m very attached to it. I’m not the kind of tourist to just sit on a resort beach sipping drinks. I’m of course interested in what’s going on, and trying to understand what happened. But I had no intention of getting arrested.”

Patrick Crilly

Crilly said he was walked along the road facing the sea near the BML building, and came across the crowd “of about 150 people, protesting loudly and asking the military forces why they were supporting the regime. I was interested to see what was happening, so I took pictures of the scene,” he said.

Initially the crowd had been blocked by defence personnel, he said. “But then a squad of police arrived and took over the scene, and the mood changed. I was in the second row from the front taking pictures, and within 3-4 minutes I was taken away. I don’t know if there was a order in Dhivehi, nobody was speaking any English,” he said.

“I didn’t have long to figure it out, because an officer grabbed my arm and took me away. I did not resist or struggle, but I was irritated. I stayed calm and kept asking the reason why I was being taken away. I must have asked 20 times, but he ignored me. I asked him if he understood English, and he nodded.

“He took me halfway down the road to the police station where another police officer took over, and continued to ignore me, saying only that I would find out at police headquarters. I asked him how the people at police headquarters would know, because they weren’t there, but he ignored me.

“I sat in the front room of the police building for several hours, until eventually I was questioned by two officers in civilian clothes. They said I was charged with disobeying police orders and resisting arrest. I said those allegations were not true, and that no order had been issued for me to disobey.

“He seemed to acknowledge that – they were not unreasonable. He went on to ask why I was in the Maldives.

“I was asked to sit and wait for two hours with no explanation as whether I’d been arrested. Eventually it turned out that they had been writing my release form in English – it took 2.5 hours.

“Eventually I got the paper – It only had my given name, not my surname, which they seemed to have missed from my passport. It said that I had been arrested near the bank for not following police orders, and was released four hours later. It also had the details of the arresting officer.

“While I was in there I saw a steady stream of other detainees brought in, some of them screaming and kicking. I can say I smelled fear – it’s the same smell I must have smelt at least 150 times working at the hospital in Sri Lanka.

‘People were agitated, worried, and an old man was crying. One person brought in by four officers seemed really agitated, and in pain. I did not see anyone physically hurt in the police station,” Crilly said.

Expecting police to be concerned about the contents of his camera, Crilly said he had taken out the chip and put it in his pocket. “They didn’t seem interested, and I didn’t have any pictures of police violence – I was arrested before that happened. Two of my friends were pepper sprayed and if I’d been there of course I would have taken pictures of it.”

Shiyam told Minivan News that Crilly had not been arrested, but confirmed he was taken to police headquarters “where the situation was explained to him in case he was new to the Maldives. For whatever reason he did not obey the order [to leave the cordoned area]. He was not detained long.”


Tourist dies while snorkelling at Embudhu Village Resort

A 69 year old German tourist died yesterday while snorkelling at Embudhu Village Resort in Kaafu Atoll, eight kilometres from Male’.

Police confirmed the case was reported at 4:45pm yesterday.

A senior staff member at Embudu village told Minivan News the man went snorkeling with his friend yesterday.

”His friend noticed that he had been floating in the water without movement for a while and went to help him,” the staff member said.

”When he shook him he did not move, so he knew that something was wrong. The sea was clam and there was low tide that time.”

He said the dead man’s friend shouted at a speed boat entering the resort and the man was recovered from the water.

”He was immediately taken Male’ to confirm his death.”

The man arrived at the resort on holiday with his wife on the 23 February and was supposed to have left on 9 February, the staff member said. The man’s son will arrive at the resort tomorrow.

Police seargant Abdul Muhsin said a forensic team were investigating the man’s body but had found no external injuries. ”He has been taken to mortuary now” he said.

Indira Gandi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) confirmed the death yesterday.