Iraq scouts make comeback in ex-extremist bastion Mosul

Iraqi scout leaders parade with national flags during training at the "Al-Hadbaa" scout camp in the northern city of Mosul on February 25, 2018, with the participation of scout teams from various parts of Iraq. (AFP)
Updated 03 April 2018
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Iraq scouts make comeback in ex-extremist bastion Mosul

  • The scouts of Mosul and Iraq are back
  • Iraq was one of the first Arab countries to join the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1914
MOSUL: Scouts are making a symbolic comeback in Mosul after a three-year absence from the city that used to serve as Daesh’s capital in Iraq.
With white shirts and neckerchiefs, more than 200 male and female scout leaders from across Iraq recently converged on the city that was devastated by three years of extremists rule and nine months of heavy urban warfare.
It was “a message to Iraq and the world: The scouts of Mosul and Iraq are back,” Mohammed Ibrahim, head of scout activities in Mosul, told AFP.
The rally took place at Mosul’s scout camp set in the heart of a wooded area popular with locals for family outings on Fridays, the weekly day of rest in Iraq.
Iraq was one of the first Arab countries to join the World Organization of the Scout Movement in 1914 when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire.
But in 1999, the world scout body evicted the Iraqi chapter because it was allegedly being used by former dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime for military training.
But the Iraqi scouts kept operating.
In 2017, they were readmitted into the international scouting world and have since grown to 25,000 members across the country.
Loudspeakers blasted nationalist songs at full volume as children from local schools paraded in traditional Iraqi dress at the Mosul rally.
For Qassima Mohsen, a 42-year-old scout leader in the southern province of Zi Qar, the 800-kilometer (500-mile) trip to Mosul had both symbolic and personal value.
In the early 2000s, she used to come regularly to Mosul’s scout camp for gatherings.
More than 15 years later — after the US-led invasion, the fall of Saddam, years of sectarian violence, the jihadist occupation of nearly a third of the country and its subsequent recapture by Iraqi forces — she is back.
With the ouster of the extremists from Mosul last July, she has returned to the northern city to help build an activities center for young scouts in the area.
The rally also provided a space for leaders and organizers from across the country to network and discuss future projects.
“We will organize camps in Mosul to lend a hand with its reconstruction,” said Ali Latif, a 34-year-old scout leader from Kirkuk, a multi-ethnic northern province.


Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

Updated 23 April 2018
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Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases
  • The two countries have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwaiti police arrested two Filipinos for allegedly convincing housemaids to run away from their employers’ homes as the Philippines’ ambassador faced questions for comments about his embassy’s work in aiding abused workers, authorities said Sunday.
The arrests, reported by the state-run KUNA news agency, come as relations are tense between Kuwait and the Philippines, which sends many domestic laborers to the Gulf Arab emirate.
Already, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases, culminating in a February incident that saw a Filipino’s body discovered in a freezer at a Kuwait City apartment abandoned for more than a year.
KUNA said Sunday the two Filipinos acknowledged convincing the maids to leave. It wasn’t clear what law the two men were accused of breaking, though KUNA said the two “confessed to the crime in addition to other similar offenses that had been committed in various regions of the country.”
The arrests came after Kuwait summoned the Philippines ambassador over comments he made that were reported in local press about the embassy’s effort to rescue domestic workers who are abused by their employers. Ambassador Renato Villa was quoted as saying his embassy moves in to help the abused if Kuwaiti authorities fail to respond within 24 hours.
Villa’s office said he was unavailable for comment Sunday.
Duterte in January complained that cases of abuse reported by Filipino domestic workers “always” seem to be coming from Kuwait.
There have been prominent cases of abuse in the past, including an incident in December 2014 where a Kuwaiti’s pet lions fatally mauled a Filipino maid.
The Philippines banned workers entirely from Kuwait after the discovery of Joanna Demafelis’ body in a freeze in February. In late March, Lebanese officials said 40-year-old Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf confessed to killing the woman along with his Syrian wife, who remains at large. Authorities say Assaf faces a possible death sentence.
More than 260,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, many of them as housemaids. Kuwait and the Philippines have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there.
Philippine officials have demanded that housemaids be allowed to hold their passports and cellphones, which is normal for skilled workers like teachers and office workers. But many Kuwaiti employers seize their phones and passports.