Two Libya shipwrecks in a day cost almost 100 lives

Two Libya shipwrecks in a day cost almost 100 lives
Refugees and migrants are rescued by members of the Spanish NGO Proactiva Open Arms, after leaving Libya trying to reach European soil aboard an overcrowded rubber boat in the Mediterranean sea, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 14 November 2020

Two Libya shipwrecks in a day cost almost 100 lives

Two Libya shipwrecks in a day cost almost 100 lives
  • It said 47 survivors had been brought back to shore and 31 bodies retrieved, adding that the boat was reported to be carrying more than 120 people

TRIPOLI: Twenty migrants have died in a shipwreck off the Libyan coast, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said, raising to almost 100 the death toll from two such Mediterranean tragedies the same day.
MSF teams in the northwestern city of Sorman “assisted three women as the lone survivors of another shipwreck (Thursday) where 20 people drowned,” the group said on Twitter.
“Rescued by local fishermen, they were in shock and terrified; they saw loved ones disappear beneath the waves, dying in front of their eyes,” MSF said.
Earlier, the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported “a devastating shipwreck which claimed the lives of at least 74 migrants today off the coast of Khoms,” a port city 120 km east of the Libyan capital Tripoli.
It said 47 survivors had been brought back to shore and 31 bodies retrieved, adding that the boat was reported to be carrying more than 120 people.
Bodies from that shipwreck were lined up grimly along the beach on Thursday, some still wearing life jackets.
Traumatized survivors sat in shock on the shore, while others huddled under blankets as aid workers distributed food parcels.
The US Embassy in Tripoli said the shipwrecks amounted to “another horrific migrant tragedy — another reminder of the need for a settlement to the #Libya conflict now in order to focus on the prevention of tragedies like this.”

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The boat was reported to be carrying more than 120 people. Bodies from that shipwreck were lined up grimly along the beach on Thursday, some still wearing life jackets.

European Ambassador Jose Sabadell said: “We need to work together to prevent these horrific events from happening again.”
The IOM said on Friday that “many women and children” were aboard the two boats, adding that the body of a toddler was among those retrieved.
“Staff in the region reported that more bodies continued to wash ashore overnight,” IOM added.
So far this year, more than 900 people have drowned in the Mediterranean trying to reach European shores, it said.
More than 11,000 others have been returned to Libya, it added, “putting them at risk of facing human rights violations.”
Human traffickers have taken advantage of persistent violence in Libya since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi, turning the country into a key corridor for migrants fleeing war and poverty in desperate bids to reach Europe.
While many have drowned at sea, thousands have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard, which has been backed by Italy and the EU, and returned to Libya.
They mostly end up in detention, often in horrific conditions.
The IOM called for “a change of approach to Libya and the most dangerous maritime route on earth that ends the return of migrants to the country” and establishes “predictable safe disembarkation mechanisms.”


Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic

Updated 05 December 2020

Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic

Kuwait parliamentary race kicks off under shadow of pandemic
  • More than 567,000 voters will be eligible to choose among the 326 candidates contesting the vote
  • Kuwait has a lively political life with a parliament elected for four-year terms

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait is holding parliamentary elections Saturday under the shadow of Covid-19, with facilities laid on for citizens infected with the disease to vote in special polling stations.
The oil-rich country has enforced some of the strictest regulations in the Gulf to combat the spread of the coronavirus, imposing a months-long nationwide lockdown earlier this year.
But while some curbs have eased, over-the-top election events that traditionally draw thousands for lavish banquets are out, masks remain mandatory and temperature checks are routine when venturing outdoors.
Infected people or those under mandatory quarantine are usually confined to home, with electronic wristbands monitoring their movements.
But in an effort to include all constituents, authorities have designated five schools — one in each electoral district — where they can vote, among the 102 polling stations across the country.
Election officials are expected to be in full personal protective equipment.
Kuwait has a lively political life with a parliament elected for four-year terms that enjoys wide legislative powers.
Political disputes are often fought out in the open.
Parties are neither banned nor recognized, but many groups — including Islamists — operate freely as de facto parties.
But with more than 143,917 coronavirus cases to date, including 886 deaths, the election campaign has been toned down this year.

A worker cleans desks at a polling station ahead of parliamentary elections in Abdullah Salem, Kuwait, on December 3, 2020. (REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee)

The polls, which open at 8:00 a.m. (0500 GMT), will be the first since the new emir, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, took office in September following the death of his half-brother, 91-year-old Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.
But with the opposition weakened in recent years, no major political shifts are expected.
A few electoral banners dotted through the streets have been the only reminder of the nation’s political calendar.
Instead, this year’s campaign has mainly been fought on social networks and in the media.
More than 567,000 Kuwaiti voters will be eligible to choose among the 326 candidates contesting the vote, including 29 women.
Ahmad Deyain, secretary general of the opposition group Kuwaiti Progressive Movement, said he expected a lower voter turnout than previous years after the dulled-down campaign.
The usual themes are a constant though, from promises to fight corruption and plans to address youth employment, to freedom of expression, housing, education and the thorny issue of the “bidoon,” Kuwait’s stateless minority.
From 2009 to 2013, and especially after the Arab Spring revolts of 2011, the country went through a period of political turmoil, with parliament and cabinets dissolved several times after disputes between lawmakers and the ruling family-led government.
“Kuwait is still undergoing a political crisis since 2011, and that page has not yet turned,” Deyain told AFP.
“There are still disputes over the electoral system and mismanagement of state funds.
Deyain said he expected some parliamentarians in the new National Assembly to be “more dynamic” in trying to resolve some issues.
Kuwait was the first Gulf Arab state to adopt a parliamentary system in 1962, and women in 2005 won the right to vote and to stand for election.