Student released by North Korea now at hospital

Student released by North Korea now at hospital.(AFP)
Updated 14 June 2017
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Student released by North Korea now at hospital

WASHINGTON: The Latest on the release of an American college student from a North Korean prison
An American college student who was released from a North Korean prison has been taken to an Ohio hospital for treatment.
Otto Warmbier (WORM’-bir), whose parents say is in a coma, arrived at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center late Tuesday night.
Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor in North Korea for alleged anti-state acts.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the State Department secured the 22-year-old’s release at President Donald Trump’s direction. A plane carrying Warmbier arrived at a Cincinnati airport around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday.
Warmbier was sentenced in March 2016 after a televised tearful public confession to trying to steal a propaganda banner.
An American college student has arrived in Ohio after being released by North Korea, where he was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts.
A plane carrying Otto Warmbier (WORM’-bir) arrived around 10:20 p.m. Tuesday at an airport in Cincinnati where he was to be taken to a hospital. His parents say he has been in a coma and was medically evacuated. The 22-year-old student from suburban Cincinnati was supposed to graduate from the University of Virginia in May.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Warmbier’s release Tuesday and said he’d be reunited with his family.
Tillerson says the State Department secured Warmbier’s release at President Donald Trump’s direction.
He was sentenced in March 2016 after a televised tearful public confession to trying to steal a propaganda banner.
The White House says securing the release of an American college student from a North Korean prison “was a big priority” for President Donald Trump.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday the Republican president worked “very hard and very closely” with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
She says it’s an “extremely sad” situation that student Otto Warmbier (WORM’-bir) is in a coma. She says Trump’s “thoughts and prayers” are with the 22-year-old college student’s family.
Warmbier had been serving a 15-year prison term. He was freed Tuesday. His parents say he’s on a Medivac flight on his way home.
Warmbier is from the Cincinnati suburb Wyoming. Resident Amy Mayer says news of his release has sent waves of shock and joy through the neighborhood.
The State Department says former NBA star Dennis Rodman, who is visiting North Korea, had nothing to do with the release of a detained American college student.
Otto Warmbier (WORM’-bir), who had been serving a 15-year prison term, was freed and evacuated from North Korea on Tuesday, as Rodman arrived in the reclusive country.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert has declined to provide details on the circumstance of Warmbier’s release or comment on his health condition. His parents say he’s in a coma.
But Nauert is firm in stating “Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with the release of Mr. Warmbier.”
She tells reporters, “we are grateful and thankful” for Warmbier’s release, but says it is “too soon” to talk about dialogue between the US and North Korea.
The White House says a US envoy met with North Korean foreign ministry representatives in Norway last month as part of efforts to win freedom for Americans held by Pyongyang.
Such direct consultations between the two governments are rare.
North Korea on Tuesday freed one of the detainees, Otto Warmbier. His family says he is in a coma.
A White House official says the May meeting in Oslo was attended by Joseph Yun, the US envoy to North Korea. At the meeting, North Korea agreed that Swedish diplomats could visit all four American detainees.
Yun then met last week with the North Korean ambassador at the UN in New York. And Yun was dispatched to North Korea and visited Warmbier with two doctors on Monday, and demanded his release. He was evacuated on Tuesday.
-AP reporter Ken Thomas.
The president of an American university where a student attended before being imprisoned by North Korea says the school is “deeply concerned and saddened” to learn that he is in a coma.
Otto Warmbier (WORM’-bir) was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts. Warmbier’s parents said in a statement Tuesday that he had been freed by the Communist state but had to be medically evacuated because he was in a coma.
Warmbier was supposed to graduate from the University of Virginia in May.
University President Teresa Sullivan said in a statement that the school is relieved to hear Warmbier was released, but is concerned about his condition.
Sullivan says the university community has Warmbier’s family in its thoughts and prayers as he returns home.
Two Ohio senators are denouncing North Korea after a resident of their state was said to be in a coma after being released from a prison in that country.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced Tuesday the release of Otto Warmbier (WORM’-bir), a University of Virginia student.
Warmbier was serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts. Warmbier’s family said in a statement that he is in a coma and on his way home.
Republican Sen. Rob Portman says North Korea should be “universally condemned for its abhorrent behavior.” Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Cleveland said the country’s “despicable actions ... must be condemned.”
The parents of the 22-year old American college student freed by North Korea say he is in a coma.
They say that Otto Warmbier is on a Medivac flight on his way home. He had been serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts.
Fred and Cindy Warmbier said in a statement to The Associated Press that they have been told their son has been in a coma since March 2016, and they had learned of this only one week ago.
They said: “We want the world to know how we and our son have been brutalized and terrorized by the pariah regime” in North Korea.
They also said they are grateful he “will finally be with people who love him.”
The State Department announced Warmbier’s release earlier Tuesday but gave no details on his condition.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says that North Korea has released Otto Warmbier, an American serving a 15-year prison term with hard labor for alleged anti-state acts.
Tillerson says that Warmbier is on his way back to the US to be re-united with his family. He says in a statement that the State Department secured Warmbier’s release at the direction of President Donald Trump. Tillerson says the State Department continues discussing three other detained Americans with North Korea.
The announcement comes as former NBA player Dennis Rodman is paying a return visit to North Korea.
Warmbier is a University of Virginia student from suburban Cincinnati. He was sentenced in March after a televised tearful public confession to trying to steal a propaganda banner.


Boko Haram displaced feel forgotten amid Nigeria election fever

Updated 2 min 33 sec ago
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Boko Haram displaced feel forgotten amid Nigeria election fever

  • More than 27,000 people died and 1.8 million displaced since the start of Boko Haram conflict in 2009
  • Malkohi residents say they will support President Muhammadu Buhari because he helped curtail the extremists’ power
MALKOHI, Nigeria: Idriss Abdullahi was once a successful businessman and a husband to four wives, until the day he fled his home when Boko Haram insurgents advanced across northeastern Nigeria.
Five years on he lives beside dull farmland in a tented camp in Malkohi village, near the Adamawa state capital Yola, and tries to make a living selling firewood.
But the earnings are so meager he has had to divorce one of his wives.
“Even an animal lives better than me,” he told AFP in the camp he shares with 2,800 of his neighbors from the Borno state town of Gwoza, which the insurgents sacked in 2014.
More than 27,000 people have been killed since the Boko Haram conflict began in 2009 and some 1.8 million others are still displaced.
President Muhammadu Buhari came to power in 2015 on a pledge to end the insurgency, which at its peak saw the extremists control an area the size of Belgium.
In Abdullahi’s hometown, the wild-eyed leader of the extremists, Abubakar Shekau, declared an Islamic caliphate.
An offensive involving Nigerian troops and foreign mercenaries pushed them back. But in recent months there have been signs of resurgence.
Despite that, residents of Malkohi say they’re ready to support Buhari at Saturday’s rescheduled vote — even if they can’t return to Gwoza to do so.
“It’s not that we actually love him,” Abdullahi said of the president. “It’s that he saved our lives from Boko Haram.”
Shortly after taking office, Buhari declared Boko Haram “technically defeated,” apparently fulfilling the promise that was seen as a key to his victory.
But in February last year, the group seized 110 schoolgirls from Dapchi, in an echo of the 2014 abduction of more than 200 from Chibok that brought world attention to the conflict.
Malkohi itself hasn’t been spared; the group in 2015 bombed a government-organized camp across the road from the informal settlement where the former Gwoza residents stay.
An Islamic State-allied faction has in recent months overrun military bases, seizing equipment and weapons, and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee for their lives.
Nigeria’s election commission has been forced to set up special measures for them to vote: in Borno, some 400,000 displaced people will vote at 10 centers.
Several others have been created in Adamawa.
The main opposition candidate, Atiku Abubakar, has seized on the insecurity and claimed Buhari has failed in his core duty of keeping Nigerians safe.
But from their homes in Adamawa — Abubakar’s home state — Malkohi residents say they feel more forgotten than under attack.
“Up to now, hospitals have not been provided. Before, [aid groups] gave us drugs, but now we don’t receive any,” said Fanta Ali, a housewife at the camp.
The Malkohi camp today is made up of rows of shacks separated by dirt paths, on which barefoot children and turkeys strut.
The makeshift homes are constructed from tarpaulin donated by aid agencies who also built a water tower for the settlement.
Many Malkohi residents were prosperous in Gwoza but without money to start businesses they now rely on manual labor to get by.
“Seriously, I’m suffering,” said Abdulrahman Hassen, once a merchant and chair of a professional association who now farms for a living.
Returning to Gwoza, where Boko Haram remains strong, is still a distant prospect. Helping people go home will be on the next president’s to-do list.
The displaced say they’re made to feel like outsiders in Adamawa, and local residents call them thieves for farming the land around the camp.
Gwoza was badly damaged when it was retaken in 2015, and cellphone reception is so weak residents climb trees to get a signal, said Yunussa Takda, a youth leader in Malkohi.
Meanwhile, the town’s outlying villages are still unsafe.
“Under Buhari, we’ve seen that a lot of our villages that have been taken by Boko Haram haven’t been recovered,” he said. “Maybe if he’s given a second chance, we can go home.”
Umaru Ibrahim Bakare lost track of his pregnant wife and then three-year-old daughter in the chaos of Boko Haram’s initial attack on the town, and has been looking for them ever since.
He made an unsuccessful trip to the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, aiming to find his family.
He remains hopeful after the Red Cross connected a friend with three children he’d lost when fleeing Boko Haram.
“We must vote Muhammadu Buhari to finish what he’s started and defeat the insurgency,” he said.