More than 600 Egyptians and Moroccans land on island of Lampedusa

Migrants from north Africa are examined on board an Italian coast guard patrol boat last year. (AFP/File Photo)
Migrants from north Africa are examined on board an Italian coast guard patrol boat last year. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 28 August 2021

More than 600 Egyptians and Moroccans land on island of Lampedusa

Migrants from north Africa are examined on board an Italian coast guard patrol boat last year. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Italian Coast Guard says 400 were aboard one vessel

ROME: More than 600 people from Egypt and Morocco landed on Lampedusa on Saturday, according to the Italian Coast Guard, many with wounds and signs of beatings.

Such landings in the most southern part of Italy have increased over the past few days, as good weather holds in the Channel of Sicily, with most of them arriving on dinghies from Tunisia.

The Italian Coast Guard said that 400 were aboard a single vessel, which had departed from the shores near Libya. The boat was spotted Saturday morning by the Italian Guardia di Finanza and escorted to Lampedusa.

“This is one of the largest landings in recent days on the island,” a Guardia di Finanza spokesman told Arab News. “The migrants were completely overcrowded on the fishing boat. The situation of the boat was so worrying that, fearing it would capsize, we had to transfer them to several other boats to take them safely to the island’s dock.”

“Many of those on board show signs of violence and beatings they have suffered during their stay in Libya,” Alida Serrachieri, MSF medical director in Lampedusa, told the Italian news agency ANSA.

The latest arrivals have increased pressure on the island’s reception center, which now hosts nearly 1,300 people despite it only having room for about 250.

“Once again Lampedusa is preparing to carry the burden of humanitarian reception alone,” Lampedusa Mayor Salvatore Martello told Arab News. “I am the first to say that we must support, at every level, the commitment of the international community in the face of the tragedy in Afghanistan. But it is also fair to remember that there are other territories and countries from where people are fleeing and trying to reach Europe through Lampedusa and Italy. We need to guarantee humanitarian corridors, managed by international institutions, for those populations too.”

He said the situation at the facility was becoming “more difficult” every day.

On Thursday, around 40 boats made it to Lampedusa in a 24-hour period and all those who were aboard were taken to the center which was “already more than full,” Martello added.

From the beginning of this year until last Monday, 35,593 people had landed in Italy, compared to 17,500 in 2020. 

According to an August bulletin from the International Organization for Migration, 392 people had drowned since the beginning of the year and 632 had gone missing on the central Mediterranean route leading from Libya to Italy.

The same report added that the Libyan Coast Guard had intercepted 22,419 people so far this year, including 1,530 women and 803 minors, compared with 11,891 during the whole of 2020.


EU moots suspending asylum rights in Poland to end migrant crisis

EU moots suspending asylum rights in Poland to end migrant crisis
Updated 6 sec ago

EU moots suspending asylum rights in Poland to end migrant crisis

EU moots suspending asylum rights in Poland to end migrant crisis
  • The bloc has accused Belarus of manufacturing a crisis for political ends
  • 13 people have died on the Belarus border due to freezing conditions

LONDON: The EU is considering suspending some rights belonging to asylum seekers in countries bordering Belarus in an effort to end the ongoing migrant crisis.

Proposals put forward by the European Commission, the executive arm of the bloc, would allow for faster deportations and the detention of asylum seekers at the border for up to four months.

The plans are aimed at mitigating the political harm caused by large numbers of people attempting to enter Poland and other EU states from Belarus, in what Brussels describes as a crisis manufactured by Minsk.

The EU argues that Belarus has flown migrants in from the Middle East in order to put pressure on its northeastern border regions and manufacture political instability, with the onus of dealing with a large influx of migrants placed disproportionately on Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.

Belarus has denied those accusations, calling them absurd.

The three Belarus-bordering EU states have defended their approach of pushing migrants back without individually assessing their cases or granting them a realistic chance to claim asylum.

Rights groups say that 13 people have now died in the area due to the freezing conditions and that the practice violates EU rules and international humanitarian law.

Under the EU’s proposals, migrants would be permitted to claim asylum only at designated locations, such as border crossings.

National authorities would have a longer period of up to four weeks to register asylum applications and asylum seekers could be kept for up to 16 weeks at the border, losing a standing right to be held in more suitable centers inside the country.

The proposals are a further example of the EU tightening immigration rules since more than one million people arrived in 2015 — many of them fleeing the conflict in Syria — overwhelming the bloc and dividing member states over how to respond.

Immigration is among the most contentious intra-bloc issues for EU members, in part because regulation and geography mean that the burden of managing asylum applications and inward immigration falls disproportionately on Southern and Eastern countries — many of which are less wealthy than western states, such as France and Germany.

According to Lithuania’s interior ministry, around 10,000 migrants remain in Belarus, despite Minsk initiating removal flights for some.


Pope Francis urges ‘fraternity’ at mass in divided Cyprus

Pope Francis urges ‘fraternity’ at mass in divided Cyprus
Updated 03 December 2021

Pope Francis urges ‘fraternity’ at mass in divided Cyprus

Pope Francis urges ‘fraternity’ at mass in divided Cyprus
  • The 84-year-old pontiff was expected to offer 50 migrants now in Cyprus a chance for a new life in Italy
  • Francis on Thursday bemoaned “the terrible laceration” of Cyprus while also urging greater unity in Europe

NICOSIA: Pope Francis appealed for a “sense of fraternity” in an open-air mass in Cyprus on Friday, the second day of a visit to the divided Mediterranean island that has focused heavily on the plight of migrants.
As a gesture of solidarity to those fleeing poverty and conflict, the 84-year-old pontiff was expected to offer 50 migrants now in Cyprus a chance for a new life in Italy.
The pope delivered his open-air mass at Nicosia’s main football stadium to some 7,000 faithful, many of them workers from the Philippines and South Asia who make up a large proportion of the 25,000 Catholics in mainly Greek-Orthodox Cyprus.
“Faced with our own inner darkness and the challenges before us in the church and in society, we are called to renew our sense of fraternity,” Francis told them.
“If we remain divided, if each person thinks only of himself or herself, or his or her group, if we refuse to stick together, if we do not dialogue and walk together, we will never be completely healed of our blindness.”
Many in the crowd were waving the flags of nearby Lebanon, the Philippines and the pope’s native Argentina. A 130-member multicultural choir sang songs in Arabic, English and Greek.
“We are so lucky,” Jackylyn Fo Bulado, a 31-year-old domestic worker from the Philippines wearing a T-shirt with the pope’s image, said before the mass started.
“We are just waiting for a simple message of love and peace from the pope and that he will bless Cyprus and the world.”

The pope earlier visited the Holy Archbishopric of the Greek Orthodox Church of Cyprus in Nicosia, seeking to improve historically difficult relations between the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches.
“Where our relations are concerned, history has opened broad furrows between us, but the Holy Spirit desires that with humility and respect we once more draw close to one another,” he said in an address to Orthodox clerics, including Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus.
Elena Chentsova, an Orthodox Christian originally from Ukraine, said she woke up early to see the pope.
“I’m Orthodox and I hope he will spread a message of dialogue between the different religions, to be all the more close,” the 42-year-old told AFP.
Francis — on his 35th international trip since becoming pope in 2013 — is the second Catholic pontiff to visit Cyprus after Benedict XVI went in 2010. He travels on to Greece on Saturday morning.
Cyprus said it had deployed 500 police to secure the pontiff’s visit, with sharp-shooters deployed on rooftops and a helicopter buzzing in the sky.
Police said a 43-year-old man was arrested after a security check at the stadium when a knife was found in his possession. A police spokesperson said it was believed the knife “had nothing to do with the pope” and was for personal use.
The pope will later hold an ecumenical prayer service with migrants from dozens of nations at Nicosia’s Church of the Holy Cross, located near the UN-patrolled “Green Line” that divides the country.
Cyprus has been split since 1974 when Turkish forces invaded and occupied the island’s northern third in response to a military coup sponsored by the Greek junta in power at the time.
Only Ankara recognizes the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and tensions simmer between the two sides.

The majority-Greek speaking south accuses the north of sending migrants across the Green Line and also says it now receives the highest number of first-time asylum seekers of any EU member country.
Francis on Thursday bemoaned “the terrible laceration” of Cyprus while also urging greater unity in Europe, instead of nationalism and “walls of fear,” as the continent faces an influx of refugees and migrants.
The island’s experience served as a reminder to Europe, he said, that “we need to work together to build a future worthy of humanity, to overcome divisions, to break down walls, to dream and work for unity.”
On Thursday evening, Francis visited President Nicos Anastasiades for talks focused on the island’s painful division.
“I think of the deep suffering of all those people unable to return to their homes and their places of worship,” said the pope, urging dialogue.
Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar accused the south of seeking to use the trip to score “political goals against Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.”
It was a “source of sorrow for us that Pope Francis will visit Greek Cyprus only,” he said.
“There are two peoples in Cyprus. Not only Christian Greeks but also Muslim Turks live in Cyprus. This is one of the basic realities of Cyprus.”


Philippines court allows Nobel laureate Ressa to travel to Norway

Philippines court allows Nobel laureate Ressa to travel to Norway
Updated 03 December 2021

Philippines court allows Nobel laureate Ressa to travel to Norway

Philippines court allows Nobel laureate Ressa to travel to Norway
  • The prize is the first Nobel Peace Prize for journalists since the German Carl von Ossietzky won it in 1935
  • The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided this year’s award ceremony will be an in-person event taking place in Oslo City Hall

MANILA: Philippine journalist Maria Ressa will be allowed to travel so she can accept her Nobel Peace Prize in person after a court gave her permission to leave the Southeast Asian country to visit Norway later this month.
Ressa, who is subject to travel restrictions due to the legal cases she faces in the Philippines, shared the Peace Prize with Russian investigative journalist Dmitry Muratov, in an endorsement of free speech under fire worldwide.
The prize is the first Nobel Peace Prize for journalists since the German Carl von Ossietzky won it in 1935 for revealing his country’s secret post-war rearmament program.
In its ruling on Friday, the Philippine Court of Appeals granted Ressa’s request to travel to receive the award on Dec. 10, noting that “she is not a flight risk.”
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided this year’s award ceremony will be an in-person event taking place in Oslo City Hall.
Ressa’s news site, Rappler, has had its license suspended and she is embroiled in various legal cases. Supporters say she is being targeted due to her scrutiny of government policies, including a bloody war on drugs launched by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Free on bail as she appeals against a six-year prison sentence https://www.reuters.com/article/us-philippines-media-idUSKBN23M03B handed down last year for a libel conviction, Ressa is facing five tax evasion charges and a corporate case with the regulator.
The Philippines saw its ranking in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index drop two notches to 138 out of 180 countries, and the Committee to Protect Journalists ranks the Philippines seventh in the world in its impunity index, which tracks deaths of media members whose killers go free.
The government denies hounding media and says any problems organizations face are legal, not political. It says it believes in free speech.
The United Nations on Monday had urged the Philippines to allow Ressa to travel https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/un-urges-philippines-let-nobel-laureate-ressa-travel-norway-2021-11-29 to Norway to accept the award.

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Hiroshima attack flame offered for Pearl Harbor memorial

Hiroshima attack flame offered for Pearl Harbor memorial
Updated 03 December 2021

Hiroshima attack flame offered for Pearl Harbor memorial

Hiroshima attack flame offered for Pearl Harbor memorial
  • The “flame of peace” is said to have been taken from the smoldering ruins of Hiroshima after the world’s first nuclear attack
  • December 8 will mark 80 years since the Pearl Harbor attack

TOKYO: The family of a famed Hiroshima atomic bomb victim is fundraising to take a flame burning since the wartime attack to Pearl Harbor to light a peace monument, they said Friday.
The “flame of peace” is said to have been taken from the smoldering ruins of Hiroshima after the world’s first nuclear attack. It was kept alive first in a private home before being moved to a peace tower in Japan’s Fukuoka in 1968.
Now, the family of Sadako Sasaki, who died at 12 of radiation-induced leukaemia a decade after the attack, wants the flame to be taken to the site of the deadly Japanese attack to promote peace.
“We want this plan to be a symbol of peace after Japan and the United States, once enemies, have overcome their hatred,” Sasaki’s brother Masahiro Sasaki told AFP.
A majority of Americans “still support the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and their reaction to our calls for ‘no more Hiroshima, no more Nagasaki’ is ‘you attacked Pearl Harbor,’ but we have to overcome the hatred,” the 80-year-old said.
He is soliciting private donations in Japan and the US to transport the flame next summer, and are discussing a site for the monument with authorities in Hawaii.
“We’re hoping that it will be at the memorial” built over the remains of the USS Arizona, which sank during the attack, he said.
The “flame of peace” has been taken abroad before including to the Vatican in 2019 when atomic bomb survivors were granted an audience with the Pope.
Sadako Sasaki is widely remembered for having folded one thousand paper cranes before dying on October 25, 1955, after a long battle with leukaemia.
She set out to fold the cranes while in hospital, after hearing a tradition that doing so would make a wish come true.
Her brother Masahiro, also an atomic bomb survivor, and her nephew Yuji have used her story to educate people globally about the dangers of war.
In 2012, they donated one of Sasaki’s paper cranes to the memorial built over the remains of the Arizona.
December 8 will mark 80 years since the Pearl Harbor attack, which killed more than 2,400 Americans and opened the war between Japan and the US.
Around 140,000 people died in the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, a toll that includes those who survived the explosion but died soon after from radiation exposure.
Three days later the US dropped a plutonium bomb on the port city of Nagasaki, killing about 74,000 people and leading to the end of World War II.


Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of omicron variant currently on mainland France

Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of omicron variant currently on mainland France
Updated 03 December 2021

Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of omicron variant currently on mainland France

Nine confirmed COVID-19 cases of omicron variant currently on mainland France

PARIS: The French Health Ministry said there were currently nine confirmed cases of the new omicron coronavirus variant on mainland France, which, according to the government’s top scientific adviser, could become dominant strain of the virus in the country by the end of January.