Libya’s coast guard rescues 235 migrants off western coast

A handout photo released on September 24, 2018 by SOS Mediterranee shows migrants rest after being rescued by the Aquarius rescue ship run by non-governmental organizations (NGO) “SOS Mediterranee” and “Medecins Sans Frontieres” (Doctors without Borders) in the search and rescue zone off the coast of Libya, in the Mediterranean Sea, on September 24. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2018
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Libya’s coast guard rescues 235 migrants off western coast

  • Libya is the main departure point for Europe-bound migrants fleeing poverty and conflict
  • The coast guard rescued 190 migrants on board two inflatable boats off the port of Khoms

TRIPOLI: Libya’s coast guard rescued 235 migrants in three separate operations on Sunday night off its western coast, a naval forces spokesman said.
Western Libya is the main departure point for Europe-bound migrants fleeing poverty and conflict, although many drown in the attempt.
The coast guard rescued 190 migrants on board two inflatable boats off the port of Khoms, Naval forces spokesman Ayoub Qassem told Reuters. A group of 45 others were picked up on board a wooden boat about 50 miles (80 kms) off Zuwarah.
They included 20 women and two children, the source said.
The number of crossings has sharply dropped since July 2017 when an armed group expelled human traffickers from a smuggling hub after an Italy-backed deal.
Aquarius 2, the one charity rescue vessel still operating in the central Mediterranean, has had its registration revoked by the Panama Maritime Authority in a move that means there will be no charity rescue ships off the Libyan coast in the near future unless the vessel can find a new flag to sail under.
Tripoli and western Libya are run by a UN-backed government mainly supported by armed groups, while eastern Libya is controlled by a rival administration. The country has been riven by conflict since Muammar Qaddafi was toppled in 2011.


South Korea refuses refugee status for nearly 400 Yemenis

Updated 34 min 55 sec ago
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South Korea refuses refugee status for nearly 400 Yemenis

  • About 500 people from Yemen arrived on Jeju earlier this year
  • A recent opinion poll showed about half of South Koreans opposed accepting the Yemeni asylum-seekers

SEOUL: Nearly 400 Yemenis were denied refugee status by South Korea on Wednesday, months after their arrival on the resort island of Jeju triggered a populist outcry.
Ethnically-homogenous South Korea grants refugee status to only a tiny fraction of those who apply, despite having been ravaged by war itself within living memory.
About 500 people from the conflict-plagued Middle Eastern state arrived on Jeju earlier this year, taking advantage of the visa-free access the southern island offers to encourage tourism.
Their arrivals triggered a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment in the South, where only around four percent of the population are foreigners, mostly from China and Southeast Asia, and discrimination against migrant workers is widespread.
Many opponents cited the Yemenis’ Muslim religion and nearly 700,000 people — a record — signed a petition on the presidential website urging tightening of what are already some of the world’s toughest refugee laws.
The Jeju visa exemption rules were rapidly changed to exclude Yemenis.
A total of 481 Yemenis formally applied for asylum. Of those, 34 were rejected outright on Wednesday, the justice ministry said, and 339 were given humanitarian stay permits, allowing them to remain in the country for a year. Those whose claims were rejected outright may appeal.
Decisions were deferred on 85 others. Last month an initial 23, mostly families with children or pregnant women, were given the stay permits, which need to be renewed every 12 months and can be refused if the security situation in Yemen is deemed to have improved.
None of the applications for refugee status have so far been successful.
Since 1994 South Korea has approved just 4.1 percent of applications, official figures show. The rules do not apply to North Koreans, who are automatically considered citizens of the South.
A recent opinion poll showed about half of South Koreans opposed accepting the Yemeni asylum-seekers, with 39 percent in favor and 12 percent undecided.