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World in brief - February 25, 2021

ITALY: The organised crime unit says the mafia are exploiting the pandemic to take over failing businesses with the proceeds of drug-trafficking.
They are also poised to get access to billions in EU recovery funds, Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate chief Maurizio Vallone lamented.
Mobsters are buying up restaurants, cafes and small businesses and big players like the Neapolitan Camorra are expanding their reach north, he warned.

INDIA: The coastguard said today it had picked up a boat in the Andaman Sea carrying 82 surviving Rohingya refugees and eight who had died.
The boat left Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar on February 11. Its engine failed 10 days ago, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Anura Srivastava said.
Over a million Rohingya who fled an ethnic cleansing operation in their native Myanmar in 2017 are crowded into refugee camps in Bangladesh. Human traffickers work to lure them to south-east Asian countries with promises of work, where many end up enslaved.

ISRAEL: Defence Minister Benny Gantz has demanded an immediate halt to plans announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to share surplus vaccine doses with “friendly” countries.
Mr Netanyahu’s announcement this week caused outrage as Israel is accused of denying vaccine access to Palestinians living under its control in the occupied territories. No official list of recipient countries was published but Israeli media said vaccines were being made available to countries that had recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Mr Gantz said there had been no discussion of the policy in cabinet.

ARMENIA: Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan accused the army of planning a coup today after the General Staff told him to step down.
Huge protests have rocked the country since a truce was signed with Azerbaijan last November, ceding territory in the ethnic Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh enclave following an Azerbaijani assault backed by Turkey.

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