Three Ukrainian soldiers killed in clashes with rebels

Ukrainian soldiers take part in a training exercise. (AFP)
Updated 27 May 2018
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Three Ukrainian soldiers killed in clashes with rebels

KIEV: Three Ukrainian servicemen were killed in fighting with pro-Russian rebels in the east of the country as fighting intensified in the region, Kiev said on Sunday.
Ukraine’s defense ministry said one soldier was killed in fighting late on Saturday. The country’s security service (SBU) later on Sunday confirmed two other servicemen were killed in shelling in the Luhansk region.
“In addition, four of our servicemen were injured in varying degrees of severity,” Dmytro Gutsulyak, spokesman for the Ukrainian defense ministry, said.
The situation in eastern Ukraine has seen an uptick in violence in recent weeks.
Two Ukrainian soldiers and four civilians — including a 13-year-old boy — were killed in fighting last week.
The chief monitor of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) special mission to Ukraine Alexander Hug temporarily left the conflict zone last week due to a “serious deterioration of the security situation,” the organization said.
More than 10,000 people have been killed since the Moscow-backed insurgency broke out in April 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of funnelling troops and arms across the border to fan the flames of the conflict.
Moscow has denied the allegations despite overwhelming evidence that it has been involved in the fighting and its explicit political support for the rebels.


On World Refugee Day, Afghans in Pakistan fear deportation

Updated 22 min 22 sec ago
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On World Refugee Day, Afghans in Pakistan fear deportation

  • Islamabad has set June 30 as the deadline for Afghan refugees to return to their country
  • Nearly 4.2 million Afghans have been repatriated to their native country since 2002, according to the UN refugee agency

PESHAWAR: Rasool Khan, 40, and his four siblings were born in Pakistan, his family having moved there immediately after the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1978.
Both his grandfather and father were merchants and frequently visited Pakistan. “My father used to visit Pakistan for business, but in the 1970s he permanently moved there because of the war in Afghanistan,” Khan said.
But Pakistan has set June 30 as the deadline for Afghan refugees to leave the country. Khan, a representative of Afghan traders in the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, said there should be a separate policy for students, businesspeople and Afghans married to Pakistani women.
“It’s not fair to deal with all Afghans under the same policy of deportation and repatriation,” he added.
With World Refugee Day being observed on June 20, Afghans living in Pakistan hope that the deadline will be extended.
Abdul Hameed, director of the Afghan Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations, said Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) province hosts 1.1 million Afghan refugees.
Based in KP’s capital Peshawar, he expressed hope that Pakistan’s caretaker government will extend the stay of Afghan refugees.
“Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are improving, and both sides are in touch on the refugee issue,” he told Arab News.
The director general of the Commissionerate for Afghan Refugees in KP, Waqar Maroof, said Islamabad is considering adopting a separate policy for Afghan students, traders and those married to Pakistani women.
“Once KP’s Interior Ministry gives the go-ahead, we’ll implement the plan,” he told Arab News.
Qaiser Khan Afridi, spokesman in Pakistan for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said 4.2 million Afghans have been repatriated to their native country since 2002.
“Pakistan is the second-largest refugee host country (in the world), and it is hosting around 1.4 million Afghan registered refugees at the moment,” he added.
Islamabad says there are more than 1 million Afghans living in Pakistan without proper documentation.
“We want Afghan refugees to stay in Pakistan with legal and valid documents,” said Maroof. “Afghans who were repatriated to their native country want to come to Pakistan on a valid visa and passport so they can stay here legally.”
Khan fears losing the business he and his father built over the last four decades if he is forced to go to Afghanistan.
His friend Masham Khan moved there a few months ago, but returned to Pakistan after getting a visa because “there isn’t enough business activity” in Afghanistan.