Celebs seek UN action to end plight of refugees

Updated 15 May 2014

Celebs seek UN action to end plight of refugees

LONDON: Some 30 celebrities have petitioned the UN demanding they take action to protect civilians, notably Palestinian refugees, caught up in the Syria conflict as it entered its fourth year on Saturday.
Stars including Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Sting, Roger Waters and Tracey Emin were among those calling on the United Nations Security Council and presidents of the General Assembly to create safe spaces and local cease-fires to allow emergency supplies to reach besieged people.
The letter — signed chiefly by British figures from the world of film, literature, acting, music and visual arts — is endorsed by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, and the HOPING charity which supports Palestinian refugee children.
Nearly 500,000 Palestinians were registered as refugees in Syria before the civil war. UNRWA has said the majority of them are displaced from their normal homes.
Most of the 170,000 residents in the Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus residents have fled, but nearly 40,000 remain trapped inside, living in abject conditions.
The celebrities asked the UN bodies “to tell us how they will create safe spaces and local cease-fires with immediate effect.
“People and relief must be let through. We want our voices to carry, on behalf of those now suffering in Syria, in order to prevent any more tragedy.”
Among the celebrity signatories were musicians Bryan Adams, Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox; artists Tracey Emin, Carsten Hoeller and Jeremy Deller.
They also included film directors Alfonso Cuaron, Ken Loach and Stephen Frears; and writer Hanif Kureishi.
UNRWA spokesman Chris Gunness said: “It is now exactly two weeks since our last delivery of humanitarian aid to Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus. The situation there is desperate, so this appeal is timely and urgent.
“The people of Yarmouk and civilians across Syria urgently need these UN bodies to heed the call of these celebrities.
“We are getting continued reports of widespread malnutrition, particularly among children, of women dying in childbirth for lack of medical care and people reduced to eating animal feed.”
Syria’s civil war enters a fourth year on Saturday, with at least 146,000 people dead, millions more homeless, cities and historical treasures in ruins, the economy devastated and no end in sight.


Iranian tanker no longer has Turkey destination

Updated 27 min 19 sec ago

Iranian tanker no longer has Turkey destination

  • The tanker was previously heading to Greece’s Kalamata
  • It was supposed to dock at Turkey’s Mersin port

ISTANBUL: An Iranian tanker at the center of a confrontation between Washington and Tehran is no longer recorded as heading for Turkey, Refinitiv Eikon shipping data showed on Monday, having switched to a Turkish destination at the weekend.
The vessel, fully laden with oil, had previously been heading to the port of Kalamata in southern Greece but Greece had said it would not offer any facilities to the tanker.
Shipping data on Saturday had then indicated the vessel was to dock at the southern Turkish port of Mersin on Aug. 31.
On Monday, Refinitiv Eikon data did not specify any destination for the Adrian Darya. Its location is currently south of mainland Greece, west of the island of Crete.
The Adrian Darya, formerly called Grace 1, was released in mid-August from detention off Gibraltar after a five-week standoff over whether it was carrying Iranian oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.
The United States, which says the tanker is controlled by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, deemed a terrorist group by Washington, has told countries in the region not to assist it.