Iranian TV station accused of peddling lies operates from old London car factory

Thomson Reuters Foundation staff take part in a march in London on Nov. 25, 2017 in support of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian mother who is in jail in Iran. (REUTERS/Peter Nicholls)
Updated 26 November 2017

Iranian TV station accused of peddling lies operates from old London car factory

LONDON: The Iranian state-owned TV station accused of peddling lies about Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the jailed British mother, is operating from a former car factory in west London, the Sunday Times reported.

The UK office of Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) is headed by a British resident, while other former staff members have settled in the UK after moving from Tehran.

The UK’s acceptance of these journalists contrasts with Iran’s hostility towards BBC staff and its incarceration of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a charity worker, whom IRIB has accused of being a British spy, a claim that Britain denies, the newspaper reported.

The station which has close ties with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has broadcast “distortions” and “elaborate lies” about the charity worker’s case, the Sunday Times said.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, a charity organization, is serving a five-year jail sentence following her conviction of plotting to overthrow Iran’s clerical establishment.

She was arrested in April 2016 at a Tehran airport, as she was about to return to Britain with her two-year-old daughter after a family visit.

Her family and the Thomson Reuters Foundation have both denied the charges against her.


Protests hinder Yemen’s efforts to combat coronavirus

Updated 7 min 11 sec ago

Protests hinder Yemen’s efforts to combat coronavirus

  • Amid complaints about the city’s poor health facilities, hospital staff and fearful residents began protesting

AL-MUKALLA: As workers in Yemen’s major port Aden began preparing a coronavirus quarantine facility at Al-Sadaqa Hospital, rumors swirled around the city claiming that if patients were locked inside the hospital, the disease would quickly spread through neighboring areas. 

Amid complaints about the city’s poor health facilities, hospital staff and fearful residents began protesting. People living nearby besieged the hospital, while health workers inside staged a sit-in, refusing to work unless the Health Ministry canceled plans to build the isolation room.

“They threatened to kill me,” Dr. Wafaa Dahbali, Al-Sadaqa Hospital manager, told Arab News.

The hospital’s administration was forced to ask the Health Ministry to move the facility to another location, she said.

“Now we cannot even bring in basic protective items such as masks or gloves since workers will think we still plan to build the quarantine room,” she added.

Yemen, which is gripped by a civil war that has killed thousands of people since late 2014, has intensified efforts to counter coronavirus. But due to crumbling heath services, lack of awareness among people and the influx of hundreds of African migrants via the southern coastline, health officials fear the virus could spread undetected across the country.

Yemen’s Ministry of Health in Aden on Wednesday said that Yemen is free of the disease and all Yemenis returning from China had tested negative. Health Minister Nasir Baoum opened a quarantine center at Seiyun Airport in the southeastern province of Hadramout on Sunday, and said that he had ordered all sea, land and air entry points to ramp up detection measures.

Financial constraints

Health officials across Yemen told Arab News this week that health facilities are working at full capacity to cope with the influx of war casualties, and cases of seasonal diseases such as cholera, dengue fever and H1N1.

The appearance of coronavirus in Yemen would increase the burden on the country’s crumbling and cash-strapped health facilities, they said.

Ibn Sina Hospital in Al-Mukalla provides health services to patients from the three southern provinces of Hadramout, Shabwa and Mahra in addition to treating victims of the conflict in Abyan and Jawf. 

Recently the Health Ministry decided to build a quarantine center at the hospital. Lacking sufficient space, a three-room kitchen was turned into an isolation facility.

However, Dr. Alabed Bamousa, the hospital’s director, told Arab News that the facility could not afford to furnish the unit with medical equipment and staff lacked proper know-how.

“We have nothing at the moment. We asked the ministry for the names of health workers who would be trained by the World Health Organization on dealing with coronavirus patients,” Bamousa said.

He said that workers are not being encouraged to wear masks and gloves in order to avoid triggering panic. 

“My viewpoint is that we shut up till we are ready,” Bamousa said.

Health officials at Al-Mukalla, one of Yemen’s busiest ports, have asked sailors to complete declarations showing their movements before docking.

Riyadh Al-Jariri, head of the Health Ministry’s Hadramout office, said that teams of six health workers in each district in the province are visiting Yemenis who have returned from China. 

In the streets, people say that they get information about the virus from social media rather than official channels or local media outlets.

Hassan, a shopkeeper, said that he learned about symptoms of coronavirus and protection measures from WhatsApp. 

“I know that the virus targets the lung and causes fever. We are advised to wash hands and wear marks,” he said.