Two Indonesian hostages freed in Philippines

This photo taken on Jan. 19, 2018 shows two Indonesian men (names unavailable) who were freed after being held hostage for more than a year, in the town of Jolo, Sulu province on the southern island of Mindanao.(AFP)
Updated 20 January 2018
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Two Indonesian hostages freed in Philippines

JOLO: Two Indonesian fishermen have been released by extremists after more than a year in captivity in the southern Philippines, police said Saturday.
There were no official comments on the physical condition of the two who were snatched from their fishing vessel in the waters between the southern Philippines and Malaysia in November 2016, a police statement said.
The two were reportedly turned over by a "concerned citizen" late Thursday to a former governor on the southern island of Jolo, a longtime haunt of the Abu Sayyaf extremist group, some of whose members have pledged allegiance to Daesh, the statement added.
The ex-governor called the police who picked up the two. Officials would not say if ransom, a frequent motive for such abductions, was paid in this case.
The Abu Sayyaf is a loose network of militants formed in the 1990s with seed money from Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, and has earned millions of dollars from banditry and kidnappings-for-ransom, often targetting foreigners.
The group is based in the strife-torn southern islands like Jolo but its members have sometimes crossed the southern maritime borders to carry out attacks in Malaysia.
This has prompted Malaysia and Indonesia to join forces with the Philippines in boosting its sea patrols in the area.
Indonesian embassy officials could not be contacted for comment.
Abu Sayyaf members were among the Muslim armed groups who rampaged through the southern city of Marawi in May, resulting in a five-month long battle that left more than a thousand dead.
In another incident in the southern Philippines, about 10 extremists clashed with soldiers before dawn Saturday, the military said.
There was no confirmation of casualties on either side but troops later recovered grenades, rockets and a black Daesh flag.


Migrants need better access to health care in Europe: WHO

Updated 36 min 31 sec ago
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Migrants need better access to health care in Europe: WHO

  • In WHO’s Europe region, which covers 53 countries, migrants represent almost 10% of the population, or 90.7 million of 920 million inhabitants
  • In 15 European countries, such as Austria, Turkey and Britain, asylum seekers have access to the same care as the local population

COPENHAGEN: Europe must guarantee migrants better access to health care, the World Health Organization urged Monday in its first report on the health of new arrivals to the old continent, where accessibility varies broadly.
“The most important is the access to health services. To improve their health, it is important to fill the gap for access to basic care,” Santino Severoni, the head of the WHO’s Migration and Health Programme, told AFP.
In WHO’s Europe region, which covers 53 countries, migrants represent almost 10 percent of the population, or 90.7 million of 920 million inhabitants.
But the proportion of migrants varies widely from country to country, accounting for 45 percent of Malta’s population to just two percent in Albania.
Depending on the country and migrant status, they may enjoy full access to the health care system or none at all.
In 15 European countries, such as Austria, Turkey and Britain, asylum seekers have access to the same care as the local population, whereas in Germany and Hungary they are only entitled to emergency care.
“People, and some governments, have been reacting emotionally when it comes to newcomers because of the lack of information and data,” Severoni said.
Contrary to what some may believe, “there is a very low risk ... of transmitting communicable disease from the refugee and migrant population to the host population,” he said.
For example, a large share of HIV-positive migrants contract the disease after arriving in Europe.
In addition, new arrivals are more likely to develop chronic illnesses as a result of their new lifestyle — such as less physical activity and too much fast food — and the poverty conditions some encounter.
While they are at lower risk of developing cancer than local populations — with the exception of cervical cancer — cancer tends to be diagnosed at a later stage, which makes the prognosis less certain.
Migrants’ children are meanwhile at greater risk of being overweight and having psychological problems than children in their host country, the report noted.