Ukraine begins all-for-all prisoner swap with separatists

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Pro-Russian rebels, above, before a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists near the Mayorsk checkpoint on December 29, 2019. (AFP)
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Ukrainian servicemen man their posts at Odradivka near the Mayorsk checkpoint prior to a prisoner exchange between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels on December 29, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 29 December 2019

Ukraine begins all-for-all prisoner swap with separatists

  • Agreement was concluded by Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Paris in December
  • Swap taking place at a check point near the industrial town of Horlivka in the Donetsk region

KIEV/MOSCOW: Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have started an all-for-all prisoner swap, after which all remaining prisoners of the five-year conflict should return home, the office of Ukraine’s president said on Sunday.
The agreement was concluded by Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Paris in December.
The swap is taking place at a check point near the industrial town of Horlivka in the Donetsk region.
Russia’s RIA news agency, citing a local official from the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, said Kiev would hand over 87 separatists, while Donetsk would return 55 pro-central government fighters.
Kiev’s forces have been battling separatists in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine since 2014 in a conflict that has claimed more than 13,000 lives. Sporadic fighting continues despite a cease-fire agreement.
There have been several prisoner exchanges between Kiev and rebels. In the last swap, conducted in December 2017, Ukraine handed over about 300 captives to pro-Russian separatists and took back around 70.


Son of UK’s first surgeon coronavirus victim calls on UK to protect health workers

Updated 01 April 2020

Son of UK’s first surgeon coronavirus victim calls on UK to protect health workers

  • Family of Adil El-Tayar ask why NHS is not testing doctors on a regular basis
  • UK government under fire for not providing enough protective equipment for health workers

LONDON: The family of a Sudanese surgeon who died from coronavirus has called for the British government to do more to protect hospital staff.

Adil El-Tayar, an organ transplant consultant in London, who had also worked in Sudan and Saudi Arabia, was the first National Health Service (NHS) surgeon to die in the UK as a result of COVID-19. The 63-year-old passed away last Wednesday.

“Our view is that the NHS needs to do much more to protect the frontline workers (and) it’s unacceptable that in 2020 in the UK, there is even a question about whether the frontline workers are well protected and they should have been testing frontline staff from the very beginning,” Othman El-Tayar told Arab News.

He questioned why the NHS is not testing their doctors on a regular basis, let alone testing potential COVID-19 patients.

“They tell us just to stay at home for a week and they tell you not to come to hospital unless you become short of breath, at which point it’s too late. So don’t come to the hospital unless you’re coming to die. I mean, it’s absolutely unbelievable,” he said.

Othman said that his “father helped so many people throughout his life, not just through medicine, just as a person as well.” 

He said he hoped his father’s legacy will live on.

“People need to be aware that this isn’t just a virus and just numbers on the television screen, this is now very real.”

The UK government came under renewed pressure Tuesday over the shortage of protective equipment for health workers and the lack of coronavirus testing available for doctors and nurses.

Dr Jenny Harries, the deputy chief medical officer for England, apologised for the delay in getting personal protective equipment to NHS staff.

El-Tayar was volunteering on the front lines against the outbreak in a hospital in central England. 

His cousin, the British-Sudanese broadcast journalist Zeinab Badawi, paid tribute to the surgeon.

“He wanted to be deployed where he would be most useful in the crisis,” she said on the BBC.

On Monday, health workers paid tribute to another Sudanese-born health worker who died from coronavirus in the UK.

Amged El-Hawrani, 55, an ear, nose and throat consultant, died in Leicester on Saturday.