Protests in Brussels ahead of Iran nuclear meeting

Protests against the Iranian government are held in Brussels ahead of a meeting between European powers and Iran on the nuclear deal. (AFP)
Updated 10 January 2018
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Protests in Brussels ahead of Iran nuclear meeting

BRUSSELS: Protests against the Iranian government were held in Brussels on Wednesday ahead of a meeting between European powers and Iran on the nuclear deal.
The meeting on Thursday with Iran foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif comes on the eve of a deadline for the US president to decide whether to reimpose oil sanctions lifted under the agreement.
Iran, Britain, France, and Germany are expected to reaffirm their support for the deal that Donald Trump has rejected, EU diplomats told Reuters.
The deal aimed to curb Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons in return for an end to some sanctions placed upon it.
Donald Trump has sworn to tear up the deal in a tougher stance against Iran than his predecessor. He also strongly supported recent anti-government protests held across Iran that were sparked by economic hardship and corruption but spiralled into calls for the downfall of the clerical leadership.
Members of the Iranian community in Belgium, supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) protested in Brussels against Mr.Zarif’s visit.
The protest was held outside the European Commission and European Council buildings, where the meetings will take place.
The protesters called on the European Union to cancel the meeting and for the EU to support the ongoing protests and regime change in Iran and condemn the killings of demonstrators.
During the meeting convened by the EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini, the European powers that helped negotiate the 2015 accord will reassure Tehran they remain committed to it, the diplomats said.
They will also urge Iran to continue to comply with international inspectors.
“The aim is to send a message to Washington that Iran is complying and that it is better to have the nuclear agreement than to isolate Tehran,” one diplomat said.
A spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency said on Wednesday that a reimposition of sanctions by the United States would be a violation of the nuclear deal and added that the Islamic Republic had the capacity to greatly increase its enrichment of uranium.
In October Trump decided not to certify that Tehran is meeting the terms of the pact.
The US president must decide by mid-January whether to continue waiving US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports under the terms of the deal. The State Department said on Tuesday the Trump administration was expected to decide on Friday.


Thousands of British families homeless despite being in work

Updated 53 min 30 sec ago
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Thousands of British families homeless despite being in work

  • More than 33,000 working families do not have a stable place to live, a 73 percent rise from 2013
  • Overall, homelessness has risen in England for more than six years, with 80,000 families in temporary accommodation including more than 120,000 children

LONDON: More than half of homeless families in Britain now have at least one adult in work after a sharp rise in the number of employed people unable to afford a secure home, a leading homelessness charity said on Monday.

More than 33,000 working families do not have a stable place to live, a 73 percent rise from 2013, according to a study by Shelter’s social housing commission that blamed rising private rents, a freeze on benefits and a shortage of social housing.

“It’s disgraceful that even when families are working every hour they can, they’re still forced to live through the grim reality of homelessness,” said Shelter CEO Polly Neate in a statement.

“In many cases, these are parents who work all day or night before returning to a cramped hostel or B&B (bed and breakfast) where their whole family is forced to share a room.

“A room with no space for normal family life like cooking, playing or doing homework.”

Mary Smith, 47, works full time in retail and lives in a hostel near London with her three sons after she was evicted by her landlord and became unable to afford private rent.

“I was brought up by a very proud Irish woman, and taught that you don’t discuss things like your finances - so letting my colleagues at work know what’s happening is very hard,” said Smith in a statement.

“I’m not hopeful for our future. I think it’s going to be this constant, vicious circle of moving from temporary place to temporary place, when all my family want is to settle down.”

Overall, homelessness has risen in England for more than six years, with 80,000 families in temporary accommodation including more than 120,000 children, government data shows.

Losing a tenancy is now the single biggest cause of homelessness in Britain, accounting for 27 percent of all households accepted as homeless in the last year, said Shelter.

The proportion of working homeless families, from security guards to hotel workers, has increased at different rates across Britain, with the East Midlands and North West England faring the worst, the report found.

It defines working families as those where at least one adult is in work.

Despite this, homeless charity Crisis said last month that Britain could end homelessness within a decade if it invested more in social housing and welfare benefits.

Britain’s parliament last year passed the Homelessness Reduction Act, which was designed to ensure that local councils increased obligations towards homeless people.

The government has also set an ambitious target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.