Fundraising runner targets $70,000 in donations for Palestine

Haroon Mota plans to run four marathons in just three weeks, a total of 105 miles, to raise awareness and funding to help Palestinians. (Supplied)
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Haroon Mota plans to run four marathons in just three weeks, a total of 105 miles, to raise awareness and funding to help Palestinians. (Supplied)
Haroon Mota has carried out various fundraising drives in the past for Penny Appeal, including running in the Palestine Marathon. (Supplied)
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Haroon Mota has carried out various fundraising drives in the past for Penny Appeal, including running in the Palestine Marathon. (Supplied)
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Updated 22 May 2021

Fundraising runner targets $70,000 in donations for Palestine

Haroon Mota has carried out various fundraising drives in the past for Penny Appeal, including running in the Palestine Marathon. (Supplied)
  • Haroon Mota, a fundraising manager at Islamic Charity Penny Appeal, raised thousands of dollars for charity during Ramadan
  • He plans to run the Berlin, Chicago, London and New York Marathons later this year

LONDON: An athlete who raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity during Ramadan has started a new campaign with the goal of raising $70,000 to donate toward emergency humanitarian relief for Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Haroon Mota plans to run four marathons in around four weeks, a total of 105 miles, to raise awareness and funding to help Palestinians deal with the humanitarian crisis spurred by a devastating campaign of airstrikes and artillery bombardments conducted against militants and civilians in Gaza.

More than 200 people were killed and 1,300 injured by Israeli strikes during 12 days of fighting in Gaza — exasperating an already dire economic and humanitarian situation for the tiny territory’s 2 million inhabitants.

“It was hard for me to ignore the plight of the Palestinian people,” Mota told Arab News. “For me as a fundraiser and humanitarian it is the one thing we do best: trying to respond to not just natural disasters but the consequences of war and conflict.”

As a Muslim, he said, he has strong feelings for Palestine and the Palestinian people.

“It hurts when you see so much suffering,” said Mota, who is the fundraising manager at Islamic Charity Penny Appeal.

“I am hoping to raise $70,000 to fund humanitarian relief projects in Palestine. A lot of that will be spent in Gaza where the biggest humanitarian crisis exists — it is very much a catastrophe.”

Mota continued: “It is important not just to raise funds for the Palestinian cause, but also to raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians. 

“While people are debating politics during conflict and war, it is easy to forget these are real people and real lives that are being affected. I am running for them, these people who know nothing but war and who struggle on a daily basis.”

Mota has carried out various fundraising drives in the past for Penny Appeal, but he said the humanitarian crisis in Gaza means this new drive is the most ambitious yet.

“I run because I have a choice. I put on my running shoes and go outside to run. In comparison, people are having to run from bombs; they do not have a choice,” he said.

“It is these people I have in mind. I hope I can inspire people to give and contribute, but also consider different ways to support from a humanitarian perspective.”

Mota will train for the next few months before the final stage of his challenge begins with the Berlin Marathon in late September. The London, Chicago and New York Marathons will follow shortly after.

Mota said: “I am encouraging people to get behind me and follow my journey on social media. If anybody wishes to follow in my footsteps and run for the Palestinian cause, now is a great time to make that commitment.”


Norway stabbing suspect married to one of the victims: Police

Norway stabbing suspect married to one of the victims: Police
The attacker was initially suspected of having chosen victims at random. (Shutterstock)
Updated 35 min 53 sec ago

Norway stabbing suspect married to one of the victims: Police

Norway stabbing suspect married to one of the victims: Police
  • At least three people were stabbed with a sharp object, leaving one critically injured
  • Police at first said the attack in the village of Nore as random

A suspect was arrested in Norway after at least three people were stabbed with a sharp object, leaving one critically injured Friday, police said.
Police at first said the attack in the village of Nore as random, but later clarified that there was “a family relationship” between the assailant and at least one of the victims.
“This is a family from Syria, and the perpetrator and one of the injured are married,” police inspector Odd Skei Kostveit said in a statement.
Police said the suspect was a man who had received a restraining order in December following an investigation of domestic violence.
The suspect, who also was injured, was held on suspicion of “grievous bodily harm,” police said.
Two people were flown to a nearby hospital by helicopter, police said.
Nore, a village in the Numedal valley, is located 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of Oslo, Norway’s capital.
It was not immediately clear where in the village the attack took place. Norwegian media said a bus driver and students from a local school overpowered the suspect.
The school confirmed the incident on its website and said that its crisis management team was assisting the police and following up with the school’s students and staff.
Police spokesman Tor Richard Jansen confirmed that civilians overpowered the alleged assailant and “handed him over to firefighters” who arrived before the police.
William Scott, who was in the area delivering goods, told the VG newspaper he saw an injured woman lying on the ground.
“At first I thought it was a collision because there was a large pool of blood on the ground,” he said.
Norwegian broadcaster TV2 cited a witness saying bleeding victims came running from behind a convenience store. Pools of blood were seen on the asphalt, TV2 said.
“Such acts of violence are serious and despairing,” Norwegian Justice Minister Emilie Enger Mehl said in a statement.
The village which is surrounded by mountains, sits 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Kongsberg, where five people were fatally stabbed and four wounded in October when Espen Andersen Bråthen attacked strangers with a bow and arrows and knives.
Andersen Bråthen pleaded guilty at the start of his trial Wednesday. He also faces 11 counts of attempted murder for the attack in Kongsberg, a former mining town of 26,000 people.


Russian troops likely to redeploy from Mariupol: Britain

Russian troops likely to redeploy from Mariupol: Britain
More than 1,700 defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have surrendered since Monday. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 May 2022

Russian troops likely to redeploy from Mariupol: Britain

Russian troops likely to redeploy from Mariupol: Britain
  • Russia will likely use troops from the city to reinforce operations elsewhere in the eastern industrial Donbas region, Britain’s Defense Ministry said

KYIV: With the number of defenders left holed up in a Mariupol steel factory dwindling, Russian commanders will be coming under increasing pressure to reallocate troops from the strategic southern port city to bolster their offensive in eastern Ukraine, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Friday.
More than 1,700 defenders of the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol have surrendered since Monday, Russian authorities said, in what appeared to be the final stage in the nearly three-month siege of the now-pulverized port city.
An unknown number of defenders remain in the sprawling complex, which is the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in the city — a target from the start of the invasion that has been under effective Russian control for some time.
If the factory falls, Russia will likely use troops from the city to reinforce operations elsewhere in the eastern industrial Donbas region, but the duration of the stiff resistance will complicate or prolong that maneuver, Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in a daily intelligence report.
“Staunch Ukrainian resistance in Mariupol since the start of the war means Russian forces in the area must be re-equipped and refurbished before they can be redeployed effectively,” the ministry wrote on Twitter.
“Russian commanders, however, are under pressure to demonstrably achieve operational objectives. That means that Russia will probably redistribute their forces swiftly without adequate preparation, which risks further force attrition.”
Analysts have said it is likely that most of the Russian forces that were tied down by the battle there have already left.
How long the remaining troops in the Azovstal factory can still hold out, however, is not clear.
In a brief video message Thursday, the deputy commander of the Azov Regiment, which led the defense of the steel mill, said he and other fighters were still inside.
“An operation is underway, the details of which I will not announce,” Svyatoslav Palamar said.
Ukrainian troops, bolstered by Western weapons, thwarted Russia’s initial goal of storming the capital, Kyiv, and have put up stiff resistance against Moscow’s forces in the Donbas, which President Vladimir Putin now has set his sights on capturing.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that it had gathered personal information from hundreds of the soldiers who had surrendered — name, date of birth, closest relative — and registered them as prisoners as part of its role in ensuring the humane treatment of POWs under the Geneva Conventions.
Amnesty International said in a tweet that the POW status means that the soldiers “must not be subjected to any form of torture or ill-treatment.”
At least some of the fighters were taken by the Russians to a former penal colony in territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists. Others were hospitalized, according to a separatist official.
While Ukraine expressed hope for a prisoner exchange, Russian authorities have threatened to investigate some of the Azovstal fighters for war crimes and put them on trial, branding them “Nazis” and criminals.
The Azov Regiment’s far-right origins have been seized on by the Kremlin as part of an effort to cast Russia’s invasion as a battle against Nazi influence in Ukraine.


Police: 1 dead, 4 wounded in Chicago shooting

Police: 1 dead, 4 wounded in Chicago shooting
Updated 20 May 2022

Police: 1 dead, 4 wounded in Chicago shooting

Police: 1 dead, 4 wounded in Chicago shooting
  • An investigation is ongoing

CHICAGO: One person was killed and another four people were shot in Chicago on Thursday, authorities said.
Police spokesperson Tom Ahern said the shooting occurred at about 10:40 p.m. on the Near North Side.
One person died and the other four were taken to local hospitals in conditions ranging from serious to critical, Chicago Sun-Times reported. Police did not release their names or ages.
No additional details about the circumstances behind the shooting or any suspects has been released. An investigation is ongoing.


Biden leaves for Asia under Ukraine, N.Korea nuclear shadows

Biden leaves for Asia under Ukraine, N.Korea nuclear shadows
Updated 20 May 2022

Biden leaves for Asia under Ukraine, N.Korea nuclear shadows

Biden leaves for Asia under Ukraine, N.Korea nuclear shadows

ABOARD AIR FORCE ONE: President Joe Biden left Thursday for South Korea and Japan to cement US leadership in Asia at a time when the White House’s attention has been pulled back to Russia and Europe — and amid fears of a North Korean nuclear test during his trip.
Biden wants the trip to build on recent moves accelerating a years-long US pivot to Asia, where rising Chinese commercial and military power is undercutting Washington’s dominance.
But highlighting competing demands from Europe, Biden met right before his departure with the leaders of Finland and Sweden to celebrate their applications for joining NATO — a seismic development sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In another sign of growing US involvement in the conflict, the White House said Biden would put his signature while in Asia on a massive, $40 billion Ukraine weapons and aid package passed Thursday by Congress.
Signing the bill “expeditiously” will ensure no gap in the funding flow, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Seoul.
A separate crisis awaits Biden on arrival, however — jitters that North Korea’s unpredictable leadership will choose his trip as the moment to test a nuclear capable missile or even a test nuclear explosion.
Despite a spiraling Covid outbreak, Pyongyang’s “preparations for a nuclear test have been completed and they are only looking for the right time,” South Korean lawmaker Ha Tae-keung said after being briefed by Seoul’s spy agency.
Sullivan said there was “real risk of some kind of provocation while we’re in the region, whether in South Korea or Japan.”
“We know what we will do to respond to them. We have communicated with not just our allies, but also with China,” he said.
Biden heads to Japan from South Korea on Sunday. He will hold talks with the leaders of both countries, as well as joining a regional summit of the Quad — a grouping of Australia, India, Japan and the United States — while in Tokyo.
During the first leg, he will visit US and South Korean troops, but will not make the traditional presidential trek to the fortified frontier known as the DMZ between South and North Korea, the White House said.
Hours ahead of Biden arriving, South Korea’s newly elected, strongly pro-US President Yoon Suk-yeol signaled a warm welcome, tweeting: “A mountain shows its way to the summit to those who seek it. I am confident the ROK-US alliance that seeks to uphold the values of democracy and human rights shall only elevate in the future.”

'Wind at our back'

Sullivan said ahead of the trip that Biden is bound for Asia with “the wind at our back” after successful US leadership in the Western response to President Vladimir Putin’s now almost three-month-long invasion of Ukraine.
The high military, diplomatic and economic cost imposed on Russia is seen in Washington as a cautionary tale for China, given Beijing’s stated ambitions to gain control over democratic-ruled Taiwan, even if that means going to war.
Earlier this month, CIA Director William Burns said Beijing is watching “carefully.”
“I think they’ve been struck by the way in which particularly the transatlantic alliance has come together to impose economic costs on Russia as a result of that aggression,” he said.
Sullivan said the administration wants not so much to confront China on the trip as to use Biden’s diplomacy to show that the West and its Asian partners will not be divided and weakened.
He pointed to cooperation from South Korea and Japan, among others, in the sanctions regime against Russia led by European powers and the United States. He also referred to Britain’s role in the recently created security partnership AUKUS.
This “powerful message” will be “heard in Beijing,” Sullivan said, “but it’s not a negative message and it’s not targeted at any one country.”

Sullivan said the United States is braced for North Korea to again defy UN sanctions by conducting a nuclear test.
If that happens, the US response will be coordinated with South Korea and Japan, Sullivan said, adding that Washington had been in touch with Beijing as well.
This could include trigger “adjustments to the way that our military is postured in the region,” Sullivan said.
But he denied that a North Korean nuclear test would be seen as a setback for Biden’s diplomacy.
“It would underscore one of the main messages that we are sending on this trip, which is that the United States is here for our allies and partners.”
 


Crisis-hit Sri Lanka runs out of fuel

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka runs out of fuel
Updated 19 May 2022

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka runs out of fuel

Crisis-hit Sri Lanka runs out of fuel
  • Island nation defaults on foreign debt after missing Wednesday repayment deadline
  • Budget deficit soars to $6.8bn, or 13 percent of national GDP, as financial woes worsen

COLOMBO: Most Colombo residents stayed home on Thursday, unable to reach work or drive their children to school, as crisis-hit Sri Lanka ran out of fuel.  

The island nation of 22 million people has defaulted on its debt as it struggles with its worst financial crisis in more than 70 years. The country’s grace period to repay $78 million of unpaid interest payments expired on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who took office last week, said on Monday that Sri Lanka’s foreign reserves had fallen to almost nothing and the country urgently needed $75 million in foreign exchange to pay for essential imports.

With no money coming, fuel ships remained anchored offshore, their cargoes out of reach.

Gas pumps have since gone dry, leaving many queuing in the hope of refueling their vehicles.

“When you have no choice, what to do?” said Chamin Tilakkumara, whose three-wheeler has been parked in a queue on Flower Road in an affluent part of Colombo for two days.  

“I have six mouths to feed back at home, so if I don’t do this how will we manage?”

Milani Perera, another Colombo resident, told Arab News that she struggled to return home after much of the city’s public transport came to a halt.

“I stood for over an hour in the rain with two small children and no way to go home,” she said. “I was weeping when a complete stranger decided to give us a ride near my home. I was so thankful, but I don’t want to go out again.”

Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera told Parliament on Thursday that fuel will not be available for at least another few days.

The Education Ministry has since suspended schools.

Sri Lanka is facing a shortage not only of fuel, but also food and medicines, as its budget deficit climbs to $6.8 billion, or 13 percent of gross domestic product.

The crisis has triggered widespread demonstrations across the country since March, with protesters demanding the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his family.

Mahinda Rajapaksa, the president’s elder brother, quit as prime minister last week, after clashes between government supporters and protesters left nine people dead and almost 300 injured.