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Once home to a princess, Malta remembers the queen

VALLETTA, Malta — A dilapidated villa outside Malta’s capital where a young Princess Elizabeth and her husband lived for a fondly recalled period before she became queen has become a focal point of Malta’s remembrance of the late monarch and her ties to the former British colony in the Mediterranean.

Flowers and wreaths have crowded the door of Villa Guardamangia, where Elizabeth and Prince Philip spent months at a time between 1949 and 1951, following the death of the woman who would go on to serve for 70 years as Queen Elizabeth II. Philip, a Royal Navy officer, was assigned to Malta in the early years of the couple’s marriage.

“Visiting Malta is always very special for me,” the queen said in Malta in 2015, when she visited the island nation for a Commonwealth meeting in what became her final visit. “I remember happy days here with Prince Phillip when we were first married.”

Unlike in some other former colonies, where the monarch’s death has conjured up memories of oppression or lasting economic disparities as a legacy of British rule, residents of Malta generally remember the monarch with respect.

The Maltese government in 2020 purchased Villa Guardamangia, which had fallen into disrepair, and is renovating the dwelling with the aim of turning it into a museum documenting the history of Malta’s relationship with the British monarchy.

“Obviously, Malta was a colony, too, so there are people who also remember that Britain had colonized us,” said former President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca. “But I don’t think people really mix the issue of being colonized and the queen. The queen carried a lot of respect.”

Malta’s current president, George Vella, plans to represent the country at the queen’s Monday funeral in London.

Malta’s colonial past saw political clashes and a few riots, but also some pushes for the country to become closer to the United Kingdom. After attempts by a major political party for integration with the U.K. failed in the 1950s, Malta steadied on a path towards self-determination and eventually gained its independence in 1964. Elizabeth remained Malta’s head of state until 1974, when Malta became a republic.

“Having lived here when she was still a princess, Malta is the only country that Queen Elizabeth II could call home outside of the United Kingdom,” said Noel Zarb, who helped handle communications for the Maltese president at the time of the monarch’s last visit.

The Commonwealth is a political association of 56 countries, most of them former British colonies like Malta. Zarb recalled that as recently as the 2015 meeting in Valletta, “everywhere the queen went, there was still that sentiment of warmth, hospitality and welcome.”

Coleiro Preca, who hosted the queen at San Anton Palace that year, said the queen remained interested in Malta and clearly had fond memories of her time there.

“She could remember a lot of details about Malta, especially about the time she spent in the country at the beginning of her marriage,” the former president said.

“She was also very interested in the goings on of the Maltese people. I remember taking her Maltese products and oranges from San Anton Garden, and her speaking to me about the food in Malta.”

Following the queen’s death, an online petition calling for a statue to be created in Elizabeth’s honor garnered some 1,400 signatures. The initiative also sparked online debate as to whether such a tribute was appropriate.

Among the Maltese with fond memories of the queen is Aldo Muscat, whose family has a long history of providing flowers for royal events starting when the princess lived in Malta and up through when the queen came back for visits.

Muscat proudly shows off letters of thanks from her staff thanking him, his father and grandfather, who all provided blooms.

“I know the queen liked flowers so much, and we always were thanked,” Muscat said.

Such personal touches helped cement an enduring relationship between Malta and the queen. Coleiro Preca recalled her daughter bumping into the queen in the San Anton Palace corridor in 2015.

“She stopped my daughter and started a conversation. She knew my daughter was studying in England and asked about her studies, what she intends to do in the future,” Coleiro Preca recalled. “I could see a mother behind the person of repute.”

———

Follow AP’s coverage of Queen Elizabeth II https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii

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Haiti reports cholera deaths for first time in 3 years

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s government on Sunday announced that at least eight people have died from cholera, raising concerns about another potentially catastrophic epidemic like the one that broke out a decade ago and killed nearly 10,000 people.

The cases – the first cholera deaths reported in three years – came in a community called Dekayet in southern Port-au-Prince and in the gang-controlled seaside slum of Cite de Soleil, where thousands of people live in cramped, unsanitary conditions.

“Cholera is something that can spread very, very quickly,” warned Laure Adrien, director general of Haiti’s health ministry.

Food or water contaminated with the cholera bacteria can lead to severe diarrhea and dehydration that can be deadly.

The United Nations said in a statement that it is working with Haiti’s government to “mount an emergency response to this potential outbreak,” stressing that health teams need to be guaranteed safe access to areas where cases have been reported.

The deaths come as a lack of fuel and ongoing protests shut down the availability of basic services across Haiti, including medical care and clean water, which is key to helping fight cholera and keep patients alive.

Haiti’s most powerful gang continues to control the entrance to a main fuel terminal in the capital of Port-au-Prince, leading to a lack of fuel amid soaring prices that have unleashed widespread protests that have paralyzed the country for more than two weeks.

The absence of fuel and increasing number of roadblocks have prevented water trucks from visiting neighborhoods to provide potable water to those who can afford it. It also has prompted some companies to temporarily shut down operations.

On Sunday, Caribbean Bottling Company said it could no longer produce or distribute potable water because its diesel reserves were “completely depleted,” adding that the lack of such a vital resource would affect “all sectors of society.”

Adrien said health officials were trying to visit communities where cholera has been reported, but that his agency, too, has been affected by a lack of fuel as he called on people blocking the gas terminal and organizing protests to “have a conscience.”

“This is a real problem,” he said of how the country has virtually been paralyzed. “We’re hoping this will not spread.”

Adrien noted that all those who died were unable to reach a hospital in time.

Haiti Health Minister Alex Larsen said people have a right to protest but asked Haitians to allow potable water supplies into neighborhoods that have been cut off by roadblocks and protests.

“Water has not been in these areas for a long time, and people are not drinking treated water,” he said, adding that cholera cases could spike again. “We ask people who can afford it to add a little chlorine to the water.”

Haiti’s last cholera epidemic sickened more than 850,000 people in a country of more than 11 million, marking one of the world’s worst outbreaks of the preventable disease in recent history.

United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal were blamed for introducing cholera into Haiti’s largest river in October 2010 by sewage. The U.N. has since acknowledged it played a role in the epidemic and that is has not done enough to help fight it, but it has not specifically said it introduced the disease.

Haiti would have been declared cholera-free by the World Health Organization only after reaching three consecutive years with no new cases.

———

Associated Press writer Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed.

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‘Dilemma for the Russians’ after surrendering key Ukraine city | Russia-Ukraine war News

The recapture of Lyman city in the east – in territory recently annexed by Moscow – raises questions about how Russia can hold surrounding areas with supply routes severed.

Questions about Russia’s faltering military operation in Ukraine continue to be raised as Kyiv announced it was in full control of the key eastern city of Lyman after Moscow’s troops pulled back.

It is Kyiv’s most significant battlefield gain in weeks, providing a potential staging post for increased attacks to the east while heaping further pressure on the Kremlin.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Sunday that his forces had taken over Lyman after encircling it the day before.

“As of 12:30pm (09:30 GMT) Lyman is cleared fully. Thank you to our militaries, our warriors,” he said in a video address.

Russia’s military did not comment on Lyman on Sunday after announcing the previous day it was withdrawing its forces there to move to “more favourable positions”.

‘Sort of a dilemma’

The loss of Lyman is a significant blow to Russian forces, who have used the city for months as a crucial logistics and rail hub in the Donetsk region to move military equipment, troops, and other necessary supplies.

“Without those routes, it will be more difficult so it presents a sort of a dilemma for the Russians going forward,” US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said.

Lyman, which Ukraine recaptured by encircling Russian troops, is in the Donetsk region near the border with the Luhansk region. These are two of the four regions or oblasts that Russia annexed on Friday after people there voted in referendums, which Ukraine and the West called illegitimate.

The Institute for the Study of War, a United States-based think-tank, said the fall of Lyman suggested Russia was “deprioritizing defending Luhansk” to hold occupied territory in southern Ukraine. 

“Ukrainian and Russian sources consistently indicate that Russian forces continued to reinforce Russian positions in Kherson and Zaporizhia oblasts, despite the recent collapse of the Kharkiv-Izyum front and even as the Russian positions around Lyman collapsed,” it said

‘Courage, bravery, skills’

In a daily intelligence briefing on Sunday, the United Kingdom’s military described the recapture of Lyman as a “significant political setback” for Moscow. Taking the city paves the way for Ukrainian troops to potentially push farther into Russian-occupied territory.

Ukraine’s capture of a city within territory of President Vladimir Putin’s declared annexation demonstrates that Ukrainians are able to push back Russian forces, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday.

“We have seen that they have been able to take a new town, Lyman, and that demonstrates that the Ukrainians are making progress, are able to push back the Russian forces because of the courage, because of their bravery, their skills, but of course also because of the advanced weapons that the United States and other allies are providing,” Stoltenberg said in an interview with American broadcaster NBC.

Ukrainian forces have retaken swaths of territory, notably in the northeast around Kharkiv, in a counteroffensive in recent weeks that has embarrassed the Kremlin and prompted rare domestic criticism of Putin’s war.

A pomp-filled Kremlin annexation ceremony on Friday has failed to stem a wave of criticism within Russia of how its “special military operation” is being handled.

Putin ally Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of Russia’s southern Chechnya region, on Saturday called for a change of strategy “right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons”.

Other hawkish Russian figures criticised Russian generals and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on social media for overseeing the setbacks, but stopped short of attacking Putin.

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Will Israel and Lebanon resolve their maritime border dispute? | Oil and Gas

Video Duration 25 minutes 00 seconds

A long-running dispute between Israel and Lebanon may soon be resolved.

Both countries lay claim to the same stretch of ocean in the eastern Mediterranean that could contain lucrative gas deposits.

A US mediator has sent a written proposal to both nations to demarcate their border.

Lebanon’s government and Hezbollah have welcomed the offer. Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid also supports the deal, but former leader Benjamin Netanyahu has labelled it an “illegal hijacking” of Israeli territory.

So what is at stake?

Presenter: Folly Bah Thibault

Guests:

Laury Haytayan – Oil and gas analyst and political activist

Russell Shalev – Researcher, Kohelet Policy Forum

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