25 Ethiopian migrants missing off Yemen, forced into the sea

File photo showing African migrants at sea
Updated 09 February 2018
0

25 Ethiopian migrants missing off Yemen, forced into the sea

JOHANNESBURG: Twenty-five Ethiopian migrants are missing off war-torn Yemen after being forced into the sea, the United Nations migration agency said Friday, highlighting the dangers of a well-traveled route from the Horn of Africa to rich Gulf nations.
Director of operations and emergencies Mohammed Abdiker said in a Twitter post that people in the last of four boats carrying migrants were forced to swim to shore Thursday as they approached Yemen’s Shabwa province from Somalia.
No bodies have been found.
About 600 Ethiopian migrants, men and women, were aboard the boats, spokesman Joel Millman said — an unusually large number of migrants to arrive off Shabwa at one time.
International Organization for Migration figures show that some 87,000 people sought to reach Yemen from the Horn of Africa by boat in 2017.
UN agencies have attempted to discourage migrants from countries such as Ethiopia and Somalia from embarking on the perilous trip. But many are drawn to attempt the journey to rich Gulf countries beyond Yemen to find work, and there is no central authority to prevent them from traveling through the impoverished country where civil war has raged since early 2015.
Last month, a boat capsized off Yemen and killed at least 30 Africans. The IOM blamed “unscrupulous smugglers” who tried “to extort more money” from the migrants. Survivors reported gunfire as the boat capsized.
The UN agencies have blamed the prolonged Yemeni conflict for subjecting refugees and migrants to the risk of human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest, detention, trafficking and deportation.


Thailand to ban imports of high-tech trash, plastic waste

Updated 16 August 2018
0

Thailand to ban imports of high-tech trash, plastic waste

  • The Thai ban covers 432 types of electronic refuse — from electronic circuit boards to old television and radio parts — and will take effect within six months
  • Thailand’s e-waste ban follows a series of raids that began in May on factories accused of illegally importing and processing electronic waste

BANGKOK: Thailand will ban imports of 432 types of scrap electronics within six months, an environment ministry official said on Thursday, the latest country to respond to China’s crackdown on imports of high-tech trash this year.
Southeast Asia nations fear they are the new dumping ground for the world’s trash after China banned the entry of several types of waste as part of a campaign against “foreign garbage.”
Thailand’s ban comes weeks after regional neighbor Vietnam said it would stop issuing new licenses for waste imports and crack down on illegal shipments of paper, plastic and metal.
The Thai ban covers 432 types of electronic refuse — from electronic circuit boards to old television and radio parts — and will take effect within six months, a senior environment ministry official told Reuters on Thursday.
He said the ban was agreed at a meeting on Wednesday chaired by Surasak Kanchanarat, the environment minister.
“The meeting yesterday passed a resolution to stop importing 432 kinds of electronic waste and to ensure...that this is enforced within six months,” said the official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Mongukol Pruekwatana, director general of the department of industrial works, told Reuters a full list of banned items would be announced soon.
E-waste — commonly defined as any device with an electric cord or battery — can be mined for valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper. However, it can also include hazardous material such as lead, mercury and cadmium.
Surasak told Thai media on Wednesday that imports of some electronic appliances and second-hand devices would be allowed if these items can be repaired and reused.
Scrap metal, including aluminum, copper and steel, can still be imported for industrial use, but must be separated at the country of origin and cleaned, he said.
Thailand’s e-waste ban follows a series of raids that began in May on factories accused of illegally importing and processing electronic waste.
Environmentalists say waste once destined for China is being re-routed to Southeast Asia, and new laws are needed or existing laws better enforced to prevent illegal imports.
Vietnam’s central bank said on Wednesday it has asked banks to tighten lending to projects deemed environmentally unfriendly. It said banks must have strategies for environmental risk management by 2025.
Thailand also planned to ban imports of plastic waste in the next two years, the environment ministry official said, but he gave no details of the program.
The death of a pilot whale in June found with some 80 pieces of plastic rubbish in its stomach focused attention on what environmentalists call Thailand’s “addiction” to plastic bags and packaging.
Thailand’s military government has said improving the country’s waste management infrastructure is a priority and set goals for 2021.
They included cutting the use of plastic bags and bottles in government agencies and businesses, and plastic bans in tourist destinations. A tax on plastic bags has also been mentioned, along with a target to recycle up to 60 percent of plastic by 2021.