Migrant arrivals to Europe lower but deaths remain high

Migrant arrivals to Europe lower but deaths remain high
Deaths on sea routes to Europe remain alarmingly high said a report released Friday by United Nations migration agency. (AP)
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Updated 26 March 2021

Migrant arrivals to Europe lower but deaths remain high

Migrant arrivals to Europe lower but deaths remain high
  • International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrants Project confirmed the death or disappearances of nearly 2,300 people in 2020, a number higher than that of 2,095 in 2019
  • At least three people died Friday after a crowded migrant boat capsized south of Tenerife meanwhile Spanish rescuers pulled 41 people from the water

BARCELONA — The number of migrants and asylum-seekers, who reached Europe in 2020 has been the lowest in the past decade, said a report by the United Nations migration agency on Friday.
Deaths and disappearances on sea routes remain alarmingly high with only a small fraction of bodies recovered and victims identified, added the report.
Of the 93,000 people who entered Europe irregularly last year, roughly 92% did so via the Western, Central and Eastern Mediterranean Sea, as well as through the Atlantic Ocean off West Africa to Spain’s Canary Islands, often on unseaworthy boats.
Considered part of the Schengen area, arrivals in the Canaries increased by 750% last year.
The numbers had already picked up before the pandemic following tougher border controls and interceptions on the Mediterranean by North African countries, but COVID-19 seems to have “acted as a multiplier of existing factors motivating migration on this route,” said the UN report.
It added that many migrants previously worked in sectors such as fishing and agriculture that have suffered greatly from the economic consequences of the pandemic.
The sea routes are lethal. The International Organization for Migration’s Missing Migrants Project has confirmed the death or disappearances of nearly 2,300 people last year. This number is higher than in 2019 when 2,095 victims were recorded and slightly lower than in 2018 which had 2,344.
The Central Mediterranean north of Libya saw 984 people perish in 2020. Meanwhile, on the Atlantic route to the Canary Islands, at least 849 victims were recorded — more than four times as many as in any previous year, according to the report, “Maritime Migration to Europe: Focus on the Overseas Route to the Canary Islands.”
The deaths of 300 more Europe-bound asylum-seekers and migrants on the two sea passages have already been documented this year, the IOM said.
In the latest incident in the Canaries, at least three people died Friday after a crowded migrant boat capsized south of the island of Tenerife. Spanish rescuers pulled 41 people from the water with the help of a nearby fishing vessel, and also recovered the bodies of two women and a man, a spokesman with Spain’s Maritime Rescue Service said.
The spokesman told The Associated Press that rescuers were looking for more survivors in the ocean.
The International Organization for Migration admits its data is incomplete. So-called “invisible shipwrecks,” when entire boats disappear and leave no survivors, are especially concerning.
Not included in the report’s death toll for last year are nine cases of invisible shipwrecks reported in the Atlantic and Mediterranean last year with hundreds of additional potential victims, according to IOM data requested by the AP.
“Such cases are extremely difficult to detect, let alone verify, and are yet another indication that the true number of deaths on maritime routes to Europe is far higher than indicated by the available data,” the report said.
The Associated Press has most recently come across an example of uncounted deaths after interviewing two survivors who reached the Canary Islands last November. According to them more than 20 people on their boat did not survive the two-week odyssey.
The group of approximately 180 people had departed the town of Joal-Fadiouth in Senegal but ran out of food, water and fuel after the eighth day.
“It was horrible,” said Babacar Mboup, a former fisherman who was among them. “I saw people dying by my side.” Their bodies were thrown overboard after they passed away, one by one.
Finally, a Spanish rescue helicopter found their boat drifting 33 miles from the island of El Hierro. When rescuers reached the 158 survivors, only one body remained on the boat. Fearing backlash, those alive did not tell authorities that another 20 people were in the ocean. And so only one death was recorded.
Mboup says he didn’t know most of those who died but had alerted the family of one of the deceased whom he did know. His name was Lamine, and he was 28 years old.


7 convicted of drive-by shooting that killed Lebanese law student in UK

7 convicted of drive-by shooting that killed Lebanese law student in UK
Updated 04 August 2021

7 convicted of drive-by shooting that killed Lebanese law student in UK

7 convicted of drive-by shooting that killed Lebanese law student in UK
  • Aya Hachem was ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’ amid dispute between businesses
  • Family: ‘Words can’t describe the pain we’ve had to go through’

LONDON: Seven men have been convicted of murdering a Lebanese law student in Britain after she was shot in a drive-by shooting amid a dispute between rival tyre firms.

Aya Hachem, 19, was shot dead from a car in Blackburn, northern England, on May 17 last year while walking to collect groceries. 

The court heard that she was “in the wrong place at the wrong time” when Feroz Suleman, 40, was orchestrating an attempt to assassinate a rival businessman.

Law student Aya Hachem, 19, was hit by a bullet fired from a vehicle near her home in May 2020 in Blackburn, a town in northern England. (Lancashire Police)

Suleman was captured on CCTV cameras loitering outside RI Tyres to watch the shooting of Pachah Khan, who headed the neighboring Quickshine Tyres business.

Anthony Ennis, 31, drove past Khan’s premises three times with 33-year-old gunman Zamir Raja.

Their Toyota passed Quickshine Tyres for a fourth time at 3 p.m. when Raja opened fire at Khan, missing his first shot — which struck the window behind him — before firing a second round that hit Hachem.

The jury at Preston Crown Court found Suleman guilty of her murder and of the attempted murder of Khan. 

Raja and Ennis were also convicted of murder and attempted murder, alongside their accomplices Kashif Manzoor, 26, Ayaz Hussain, 35, Abubakr Satia, 32, and his brother Uthman Satia, 29.

The jury found 26-year-old Judy Chapman, Uthman’s girlfriend, guilty of manslaughter, but not guilty of Khan’s attempted murder.

 

Hachem had recently finished her second-year law exams at the University of Salford when she was murdered. She had planned to train as a barrister after completing her studies.

Her father Ismail emigrated to Britain 10 years ago. Hachem was one of four children, and was described by her parents as “the most loyal, devoted daughter.”

Her older brother Ibrahim said her death felt like “a piece of your soul that got taken away” as he heard of the court’s decisions. 

“After nearly a year and a half, they’ve got what they deserve,” he said. “They can’t hurt anyone any more. But my sister isn’t coming back. Words can’t describe the pain we’ve had to go through.”

A statement from the family welcoming the verdict said: “To our dear beautiful angel in heaven, we know you are in a better and more beautiful place.”

Hachem’s murderers will be sentenced on Thursday. Chapman is expected to be sentenced in October.


WHO calls for moratorium on Covid vaccine booster shots

WHO calls for moratorium on Covid vaccine booster shots
Updated 04 August 2021

WHO calls for moratorium on Covid vaccine booster shots

WHO calls for moratorium on Covid vaccine booster shots
  • WHO chief called on countries and companies controlling the supply of doses to change gear and ensure more vaccines to less wealthy states.
  • More than 4.25 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have now been administered globally

GENEVA: The WHO on Wednesday called for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine booster shots until at least the end of September to address the drastic inequity in dose distribution between rich and poor nations.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on the countries and companies controlling the supply of doses to change gear and ensure more vaccines to less wealthy states.
“I understand the concern of all governments to protect their people from the Delta variant. But we cannot accept countries that have already used most of the global supply of vaccines using even more of it, while the world’s most vulnerable people remain unprotected,” Tedros told a press conference.
“We need an urgent reversal, from the majority of vaccines going to high-income countries, to the majority going to low-income countries.”
More than 4.25 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have now been administered globally, according to an AFP count.
In countries categorized as high income by the World Bank, 101 doses per 100 people have been injected — with the 100 doses mark having been surpassed this week.
That figure drops to 1.7 doses per 100 people in the 29 lowest-income countries.
“Accordingly, WHO is calling for a moratorium on boosters until at least the end of September, to enable at least 10 percent of the population of every country to be vaccinated,” said Tedros.
“To make that happen, we need everyone’s cooperation, especially the handful of countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines.”
Tedros said the G20 group of nations had a vital leadership role to play because those countries are the biggest producers, consumers and donors of Covid-19 jabs.
“It’s no understatement to say that the course of the Covid-19 pandemic depends on the leadership of the G20,” he said.


Germany detains man for grenade attack on civilians in Syria

Germany detains man for grenade attack on civilians in Syria
Updated 04 August 2021

Germany detains man for grenade attack on civilians in Syria

Germany detains man for grenade attack on civilians in Syria
  • At least seven people were killed in the attack and three were injured

BERLIN: German police have detained a Syrian man accused of war crimes for firing a rocket-propelled grenade into a group of civilians in Damascus in 2014, officials said Wednesday.

The suspect, identified only as Mouafak Al D. in line with German privacy laws, was detained in Berlin on Wednesday.

German federal prosecutors said he is suspected of firing an RPG at a group of people lining up for food aid in the Yarmouk district of Damascus, home to a large population of Palestinian refugees.

At least seven people were killed in the attack and three were injured, including a 6-year-old child.

The suspect is alleged to have been a member of the Free Palestine Movement, and previously of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Palestine General Command. Between July 2013 and April 2015 the groups exerted control of the Yarmouk refugee camp on behalf of the Syrian government.

Prosecutors said that in addition to war crimes, the suspect faces being charged with seven counts of murder and three counts of serious bodily harm.

A federal judge is expected to determine Wednesday whether the man shall remain under arrest for the duration of the pre-trial investigation.


Taliban claim Kabul attack targeting defence minister: insurgent spokesman

Taliban claim Kabul attack targeting defence minister: insurgent spokesman
Updated 04 August 2021

Taliban claim Kabul attack targeting defence minister: insurgent spokesman

Taliban claim Kabul attack targeting defence minister: insurgent spokesman

KABUL: Taliban claim Kabul attack targeting defence minister: insurgent spokesman


Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin refuses to resign, delays vote by a month

Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin refuses to resign, delays vote by a month
Updated 04 August 2021

Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin refuses to resign, delays vote by a month

Malaysian PM Muhyiddin Yassin refuses to resign, delays vote by a month
  • Muhyiddin took power in March 2020 after initiating the collapse of the former reformist government that won 2018 elections

KUALA LUMPUR: Embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin refused to resign Wednesday after a key ally pulled support for him, but said he will seek a vote of confidence in Parliament next month to prove his legitimacy to govern.
Shortly after a meeting with King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at the palace, Muhyiddin said in a national broadcast that he had been informed by the monarch that eight lawmakers from a key party in his ruling alliance had withdrawn support for him.
The party, the United Malays National Organization, is the largest in the alliance with 38 lawmakers, but it is split with some not backing the premier. UMNO’s president declared Tuesday that Muhyiddin had lost the right to govern with the withdrawal of support from some party lawmakers and after an UMNO minister resigned.
Muhyiddin said he told the king that he has received sufficient declarations of support from lawmakers that “convinced me that I still have the majority support” in Parliament. He didn’t give any numbers.
“Therefore, the issue of my resignation ... doesn’t arise,” he said.
Muhyiddin took power in March 2020 after initiating the collapse of the former reformist government that won 2018 elections. His party joined hands with UMNO and several others to form a new government but with a razor-thin majority.
But since January he had been ruling by ordinance without legislative approval thanks the suspension of Parliament in a state of emergency declared because of the pandemic. Critics say he was using the emergency, which expired Aug. 1, to avoid a vote in Parliament that would show he had lost a majority of support.
Because of persistent questions over his legitimacy, Muhyiddin said Wednesday that a motion of vote of confidence in his leadership will be tabled for a vote when Parliament resumes next month.
“In this way, my position as prime minister and the Alliance National as the ruling government can be determined in accordance with the law and the constitution,” he said.
His government has been seeking to avoid a vote ever since the state of emergency expired, and a five-day session of Parliament last week in which no motions were allowed was suspended after virus cases were found among staff members. Parliament is next due to sit in September.