Babies saved from Libya clashes in airlift to Rome

The UNHCR airlifted 149 African migrants, including 65 minors and 13 infants (similar to the child pictured in a detention centre in April 2019) from Libya to Rome for safety. (File/AFP)
Updated 30 May 2019
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Babies saved from Libya clashes in airlift to Rome

ROME: Nearly 150 migrants from East Africa, including 65 minors and 13 babies under one, were rescued from conflict-torn Libya and airlifted to Rome on Thursday by the UN refugee agency.
“Due to the violent clashes and deteriorating security conditions in Tripoli, 149 refugees and vulnerable asylum seekers were evacuated and transferred to Rome,” the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said.
Those airlifted to safety — including a two-month-old infant — came from Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia, it said.
“After months spent in desperate conditions in detention centers,” and trapped by renewed fighting in the North African country, many were suffering from malnutrition or needed medical attention, UNHCR said.
“Other evacuation operations are needed,” the UNHCR mission head in Libya, Jean-Paul Cavalieri, was quoted as saying.
“These operations represent a lifeline for refugees, for whom the only way to escape is to entrust their lives to unscrupulous traffickers in order to cross the Mediterranean,” he said.
Earlier this week, 62 people from Syria, Sudan and Somalia were evacuated from Tripoli to the UNHCR Emergency Transit Center in Timisoara, Romania, where they were to receive medical care before going on to Norway.
The UN agency said it was grateful to states that have offered evacuation opportunities, but warned that “at present the number of new detainees is increasing much faster than the number of those being evacuated.”
Nearly 1,000 people have been evacuated from Libya or resettled so far in 2019, while in May alone more than 1,200 people were returned by the Libyan coast guard after being intercepted trying to cross the Mediterranean, it said.
Clashes between rival forces in Libya and heavy bombardments have forced more than 83,000 Libyans to flee their homes since the start of April, according to the UN.
More than 2,400 have also been wounded, while 100,000 people are feared trapped by the clashes raging on the outskirts of Tripoli, according to the World Health Organization.


India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

Updated 22 September 2019

India seizes one ton of ketamine on boat, arrests six Myanmar crew

  • India’s coast guard seized $42 million worth of ketamine

NEW DELHI: India’s coast guard has arrested six Myanmar men and seized $42 million worth of ketamine after spotting a suspicious vessel in the Indian Ocean near the Nicobar Islands.
The 1,160-kilogram drug haul came after coast guard aircraft spotted the boat, which had its lights off, on Wednesday in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the defense ministry said in a statement.
The boat’s crew did not respond to radio calls and the coast guard eventually boarded it, with officials finding “57 gunny bundles of suspicious substance” on Friday.
“Preliminary analysis ... revealed that the suspicious substance was ketamine and there were 1,160 packets of 1kg each onboard the vessel,” the ministry added.
The six Myanmar men and cargo were taken to Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, where they were questioned by investigators.
They claimed they left Myanmar on September 14 and were due to rendezvous with another boat “operating near the Thailand-Malaysia maritime border line” on Saturday, the statement said.
The Nicobar Islands are located near Southeast Asia, off Myanmar’s coast.
Parts of Myanmar, Laos and Thailand are in the lawless “Golden Triangle” zone, the world’s second-largest drug-producing region after Latin America.
Large amounts drugs such as heroin and methamphetamine are churned out in remote jungle labs each year and smuggled across Asia and beyond.