Finland co-hosts major Afghanistan development conference
Finland’s foreign policy soft power takes centre stage today at the United Nations in Geneva, as the Nordic nation co-hosts an international development conference on Afghanistan. The two-day even brings together donor countries and representatives from Afghanistan to take stock of the current situation and future funding needs. It comes at a crucial moment for the country, with ongoing peace talks involving the government and Taliban in Qatar, and as the US says it will cut its troop numbers in half by mid-January. Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto warns that the continued security of the country is at risk if hasty decisions are made – and says security is the key to a more stable and prosperous future. “Everybody understands that if we now abandon Afghanistan, if we now think that it’s irrelevant, we will find it in front of us later” says the veteran diplomat. Read more from the interview with Haavisto about Afghanistan, in our original story here.
Coronavirus: Capital region restrictions begin today
A new set of restrictions comes into force today in the capital city region, as public health authorities try to curb the spread of coronavirus. The number of cases has spiked over the last few weeks, particularly in Helsinki, which has prompted officials to consider the new rules. From today there’s a three week ban on public events like concerts, theatres and sports matches with spectators. In addition, hobby team sports, and contact sports for people aged over 20 in indoor facilities managed by the cities are suspended. In high schools there’s also a new recommendation for students to wear face masks.
Police investigate Vantaa fire that left one person dead
Police in Eastern Uusimaa are investigating an overnight fire in Vantaa that left one person dead. Rescue crews received a call-out to the apartment building near Jumbo shopping centre around 01:00 in the early hours of Monday morning. When they got to the scene they had to evacuate some other residents of the building as a precaution while they tackled the blaze. The cause of death of the victim, who was reportedly found in the bathroom of the apartment, is still to be confirmed, although in addition to rescue crews, armed police also showed up at the scene of the fire overnight. The police and fire investigation continues this morning.
ICYMI: Across Our Region
Catch up on the biggest stories from the last seven days in the Nordic and Baltic countries, and Russia, in our round-up of the top headlines and some other news we think you might like. This week: new restrictions for arriving passengers in Estonia; government under pressure over coronavirus cull in Denmark; tough measures being introduced to curb Covid-19 in Sweden, and video of a dramatic rescue in Russia. Read more news from Across Our Region here.
Monday morning weather
It’s an overcast start to the week across the country with plenty of precipitation in the forecast across Lapland – where it falls as wet snow, and scattered showers too for parts of the west coast and eastern border. Temperatures on Monday morning range from -4° in Kilpisjärvi to +2°C in Oulu, +5°C in Vaasa, +3°C in Jyväskylä, +5°C for Turku, and +5°C for the capital city region.