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Iran’s ambassador to Yemen Hassan passed away on Tuesday after contracting the coronavirus.

Iran envoy passes away

Iran’s ambassador to Yemen’s National Salvation Government Hassan Irlou has passed away. Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh says Irlou passed away this morning due to complications from COVID-19. He says the envoy was transferred to Iran in poor health condition, because some countries delayed his flight out of Sana'a. Khatibzadeh did not name any specific country. But Saudi Arabia and its allies have kept Yemen under a blockade since 2015. Yemen's main airport in Sana'a has been closed for more than five years now. Irlou was transferred to a hospital in Tehran two days ago, and passed away on Tuesday morning. He became Iran’s ambassador to Yemen’s National Salvation Government in December, 2020. Irlou was a veteran of Iran-Iraq war and had long battled with complications from chemical attacks. Yemen’s Ansarullah movement has expressed condolences over his death. 

Afghanistan refugee crisis

Iran's foreign minister says his country does not have the capacity to provide additional services to incoming Afghan refugees. According to Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, more than 500,000 Afghan students are availing free education in Iran. He said authorities have been vaccinating Afghan refugees and Iranian nationals alike against the COVID-19. He noted that the United Nations’ aid for Afghan asylum seekers is too small compared to what Iran has provided for them. Iran's top diplomat made the comments in a meeting with the visiting UN High Commissioner for Refugees. He called on the international community to help improve humanitarian situation in Afghanistan in order to stem the flow of refugees. Thousands of Afghans have been crossing into Iran on a daily basis since the Taliban took over the country in August and the US froze the country's assets worth billions of dollars. 

Omicron scare

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is affecting the year-end holiday plans around the world. In the latest development, New Zealand says its borders will remain closed for longer than expected. The country was just about to ease some of its tough cross-border restrictions. But the plan has now been shelved until the end of February. Officials say the government still needs a precautionary measure against the most transmissible COVID-19 variant. Air New Zealand says the postponement of re-opening plans will affect more than 27,000 customers. So far, 22 people in the Pacific nation have been infected with Omicron. But there are no reports of community transmissions yet. New Zealand has one of the toughest COVID-related restrictions in the world. 

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