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Ramadan a challenge for migrants trapped in Greece

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SCHISTO, GREECE — Expecting twins in a couple of months, Shahnaz Sadat is not obliged to fast for Ramadan — but stuck in a migrant camp in Greece, she’d be hard put to even if she wanted to.

“Every night, every time the food is potato. But we can’t eat it,” said the 22-year-old, who is four months pregnant.

“How can we follow the Ramadan with this food? Food is not good. Especially for women, for children, for pregnant women, for all of them,” she told AFP at the army-run camp of Schisto near Athens.

And for drinking water, they have to queue at the bathroom sink, she said.

Previously a disused army base in Athens’ industrial zone, Schisto houses 1,700 people of all ages, the vast majority from Afghanistan.

Around 700 have expressed an interest in fasting, according to authorities here.

No figures are currently available for the other camps housing over 45,000 people who became trapped in Greece when Balkan nations began shutting their borders to migrants in February.

Greek officials say those fasting are given their sundown meal together with the pre-dawn meal, which they can pack away and eat at their discretion.

“There is a concerted effort to deal with a situation whose scale is unprecedented in Greece,” a government source said.

An official menu provided to AFP includes beans, pasta, rice, chicken, chickpeas, peas, eggs, boiled potato and fruit.

“We checked this with migrant communities and with religion experts from the education ministry,” the government official said.

“Clear instructions have been sent to camp overseers on the topic…we are providing high nutrition value food that can also be kept out of the fridge,” the official added.

Schisto’s civilian supervisor Panagiotis Karakatsanis says that “things are slower” during the day as many of those who fast trying to conserve energy until dusk.

But in the warm summer sun, the tents become so hot that it is difficult to rest, says Shahnaz.

“The tent becomes so warm, so hot,” she said.

To commemorate the divine revelation received by the Prophet Mohammed, during Ramadan, faithful Muslims abstain during daylight hours from eating, drinking, smoking and having sex.

At sunset they break the fast with a meal known as iftar and before dawn have a second opportunity to eat and drink during suhur.

AFP

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NAC aims to bring more tourists

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KATHMANDU — Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) — the national flag carrier which bought two wide-body aircrafts — is exploring new destinations in Europe, North America and South East Asia to bring in more tourists to the country.

The NAC, with the new destinations, expects to increase its business and carry 400,000 tourists on board the NAC planes to Nepal every year.

The NAC’s move is expected to serve largely for the government’s announcement to mark 2020 as Nepal Visit Year.

The NAC is also planning to procure narrow-body planes that would make regional flights while the wide-body planes would fly to the new international destinations.

For the new destinations, the NAC has appointed issue manager.

With the agreement, the NAC planes would make flights to 14 destinations in a week. If things go as planned, the NAC planes would fly to Narita and Tokyo in Japan, easing the tourists visiting Nepal from there.

After getting approval from Japan and South Korea for flights, the inclusion in the significant safety concern list by the EU to Nepal would remove automatically while the flights to South Korea shall open up the golden door for Nepal Airlines.

South Korea is regarded as the safest country in the world in terms of civil aviation. Likewise, the ICAO has already removed Nepal from its blacklist.

Furthermore, the NAC is preparing to operate flights to bring in tourists from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Similarly, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari has directed the NAC for announcing new business plans by targeting the Indian and Chinese tourists, realizing the crucial role of the national flag carrier to make the Nepal Visit Year 2020 a success.

“Top priority has been given to the NAC as it is the major basis to bring in tourists,” Minister Adhikari shared.

Likewise, Minister Adhikari shared that expansion of services and facilities of the Tribhuvan International Airport has been prioritized.

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