World News in Brief: May 15

The United Nations has launched an investigation into an unidentified strike on a U.N. car in Rafah on Monday that killed its first international staff in Gaza since Oct. 7, a spokesperson for the U.N. Secretary General said.
Malaysia's population in the first quarter of this year was estimated at 34 million, an increase of 2.3 percent as compared to 33.2 million a year ago, official data showed Tuesday.
Malaysia's population in the first quarter of this year was estimated at 34 million, an increase of 2.3 percent as compared to 33.2 million a year ago, official data showed Tuesday.

* China on Wednesday enforced a policy allowing visa-free entry of foreign tourist groups aboard cruise ships via all cruise ship ports along the country's coastline.

* On the eve of his two-day state visit to China, which starts on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in a written interview with Xinhua that Russia and China are promoting the prosperity of both nations through expanded equal and mutually beneficial cooperation in economic and cultural fields.

* Regarding China's efforts towards the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis, Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed positive views on China's position.

* Speaking at a news briefing on Wednesday in Moscow, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that its forces would destroy all U.S. military equipment supplied to Ukraine.

* The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has approved more than 5,000 local and international observers to monitor the upcoming general elections later this month, the electoral body announced on Tuesday.

* Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez on Tuesday denounced the unilateral sanctions imposed by the United States and other countries as "new mechanisms of neocolonialism."

* The top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) stressed the imperative to faithfully carry out military production plans for war preparations during his inspections of weapons and military equipment manufacturers over the past few days, the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Wednesday.

* U.S. President Joe Biden would veto a bill on Israel security assistance in Congress if it passes, the White House said on Tuesday.

* Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has cancelled a visit to Spain and Portugal, authorities said on Wednesday, with CNN Portugal and other media reporting it was because of renewed fighting in his country.

* French President Emmanuel Macron has canceled a planned visit to Normandy to chair a defence and national security meeting on the New Caledonia crisis on Wednesday morning, the French Presidency said.

* Three people have been killed in unrest in New Caledonia, an official said, as rioting continued and stores and schools remained shut on Wednesday after France's National Assembly approved changes to voting rules in the Pacific island.

* The European Union (EU) on Tuesday adopted a new set of rules aimed at easing the burden of member states on the frontline of migration.

* Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Tuesday that "Poland will not accept any migrants" under the newly adopted European Union's (EU) pact on migration and asylum.

* Ukraine's state-run energy company Ukrenergo said on Tuesday that it will introduce power supply restrictions to industrial and household consumers across the country.

* Warplanes of the U.S.-British naval coalition on Tuesday launched four airstrikes on the airport of Yemen's Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, which is under Houthi control, Houthi-run al-Masirah TV reported.

* A commander of the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah commander was killed and his assistant wounded Tuesday night in an Israeli airstrike targeting their civilian car in southwest Lebanon, according to Lebanese military sources.

* Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Tuesday that Israel is solely responsible for the "humanitarian catastrophe" that the Palestinians are currently facing in the Gaza Strip.

* The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced on Tuesday the opening of a field hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip with a capacity of 60 beds.

* Dozens of Syrian families, previously displaced and residing in Lebanon, returned to Syria on Tuesday, reported the state news agency SANA.

* A South Sudanese expert said on Tuesday that the ongoing high-level mediation talks for South Sudan, taking place in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, will add impetus to the upcoming electoral process in the country.

* The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced on Tuesday that it will uphold its earlier forecasts for global oil demand and economic growth in 2024 and 2025.

* NASA and Boeing are now targeting no earlier than Tuesday, May 21, for launch of the first crewed mission of the Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS), the agency said on Tuesday.

* Japan welcomed more than 3 million visitors for a second straight month in April, official data showed on Wednesday, setting the stage for a potential record year for tourism.

* More than 1.1 million foreign tourists visited Laos in the first three months of 2024, an increase of 36 percent compared to the figures for the same period in 2023.

* Sri Lanka's cabinet has approved the initial draft of a bill to facilitate the economic reform process in the South Asian country, a statement from the government's information department said on Tuesday.

* Argentina's central bank cut the benchmark interest rate on Tuesday after inflation slowed for the fourth straight month and the annual rate crested just shy of 300% amid a tough austerity drive by libertarian President Javier Milei.

* Cambodia exported 85,428 tons of dry rubber in the first four months of 2024, an increase of 3.7 percent from 82,359 tons in the same period last year, said a General Directorate of Rubber report on Tuesday.

* South Africa's unemployment rate rose to 32.9 percent in the first quarter of 2024, official data showed Tuesday.

* New Zealanders have been urged to strengthen their pandemic preparedness efforts in response to the evolving threat posed by the H5N1 virus, or bird flu.

* The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday that 39 people have died from measles since January in South Sudan, with a case fatality rate of 1.7 percent.

* More than 7 million of the estimated 11 million population of South Sudan are likely to suffer high levels of food insecurity through July, said UN humanitarians on Tuesday.

* The search for 35 people who are still missing from flash floods and mud slides in Indonesia's West Sumatra province continued on Wednesday, authorities said, as the death toll from the weekend disaster rose to 58.

* Up to 6,600 residents have been evacuated in Canada's western province of Alberta due to a raging wildfire, local media reported on Tuesday.

* Rescue and recovery operations continued into the second week following a building collapse in South Africa, with the death toll climbing to 33 as of Tuesday.