Migrants in Libya fearful and angry after crackdown and killings

Migrants in Libya fearful and angry after crackdown and killings
A migrant receives IV treatment in makeshift care area as migrants wait outside the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) negotiation office, in Tripoli, Libya, October 9, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 10 October 2021

Migrants in Libya fearful and angry after crackdown and killings

Migrants in Libya fearful and angry after crackdown and killings
  • The migrants say they have faced violent abuse and extortion in a country that has had little peace for a decade
  • Many of the people waiting outside the UN center in Tripoli, some sleeping on the pavement, were wounded

TRIPOLI: Hundreds of migrants and refugees waited outside a United Nations center in Tripoli on Sunday to seek help in escaping Libya after what aid groups called a violent crackdown in which thousands were arrested and several shot.
The migrants say they have faced violent abuse and extortion in a country that has had little peace for a decade, but has become a major transit point for people seeking to reach Europe in search of a better life.
“We are guilty of nothing except emigrating from our country... but we are treated as criminals and not as refugees,” said Mohamed Abdullah, a 25-year old from Sudan.
He said he had been beaten and tortured during his detention in five different centers in Libya, and that he had nowhere to go for shelter or food.
Armed forces in Tripoli began a series of mass arrests a week ago, detaining more than 5,000 people in overcrowded detention centers as aid and rights groups voiced alarm.
On Friday, guards in a center killed at least six migrants there as the overcrowding led to chaos, the UN migration agency IOM said, and scores managed to flee the area before being detained again.
Many of the people waiting outside the UN center in Tripoli, some sleeping on the pavement, were wounded, with bandages on their heads, legs or hands. Some walked only with crutches or the help of friends.
They spoke of hunger, desperation and abuse. “I was beaten and humiliated a lot in prison. Many were beaten and tortured,” said Matar Ahmed Ismail, 27, from Sudan.
Libya’s Government of National Unity said it was “dealing with a complex issue in the illegal migration file, as it represents a human tragedy in addition to the social, political and legal consequences locally and internationally.”
The UN refugee agency UNHCR said it was trying to help people waiting at the center and urged crowds there to disperse so it could assist the most vulnerable. It added it was ready to assist with humanitarian flights out of Libya.
Nadia Abdel Rahman came to Libya three years ago from Eritrea via Sudan with her husband, her son and her sister, brother-in-law and nephew, hoping to reach Europe by sea.
She said her husband had been seized by criminals who demanded a ransom but killed him even though she paid. Her brother-in-law died at sea when attempting to cross the Mediterranean.
She was arrested last week in the crackdown, she said. “We only want one thing, and that is to not live in Libya,” she said.
Mousa Koni, a member of Libya’s three-man Presidency Council, which acts as interim head of state, on Saturday said he had intervened with the Interior Ministry “to end this suffering.”


Vaccine coverage below 10 percent in seven eastern Mediterranean nations — WHO

Vaccine coverage below 10 percent in seven eastern Mediterranean nations — WHO
Updated 6 min 49 sec ago

Vaccine coverage below 10 percent in seven eastern Mediterranean nations — WHO

Vaccine coverage below 10 percent in seven eastern Mediterranean nations — WHO
  • Low-income countries, mostly in Africa, have received only 0.6% of the world's vaccines
  • "The longer that these inequities persist, the greater the chance of more variants,” said WHO’s regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean

CAIRO: An official at the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office said on Wednesday seven countries in the region have not yet reached a threshold of 10 percent vaccination coverage.
These countries represent a high-risk setting for the emergence of further variants, Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO regional director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said at a news briefing in Cairo.
Low-income countries, mostly in Africa, have received only 0.6 percent of the world’s vaccines, while G20 countries have received more than 80 percent, Al-Mandhari said.
“The longer that these inequities persist, the greater the chance of more variants,” said Al-Mandhari. “Indeed, no one is safe until everyone is safe.”
So far, 24 countries may have reported cases of the new Omicron variant, said Abdinasir Abubakr, infection hazards prevention manager for the region.
Early Omicron cases suggest mild symptoms, added Richard Brennen, WHO regional emergency director in the region.
In terms of the response to the variant, he warned of complacency and COVID-19 fatigue and encouraged social-distancing measures.
However, he said social and travel curbs require risk assessment before implementation.
“While we understand that some countries locked down international travel, this has to be done on evidence and strong analysis,” said Brennen.
As of Nov. 29, over 16.7 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 309,500 deaths were reported across the Eastern Mediterranean region.


Iran starts enriching with advanced machines at Fordow during deal talks

Iran starts enriching with advanced machines at Fordow during deal talks
Updated 4 sec ago

Iran starts enriching with advanced machines at Fordow during deal talks

Iran starts enriching with advanced machines at Fordow during deal talks

VIENNA: Iran has started the process of enriching uranium to 20 percent purity with advanced centrifuges at its Fordow facility buried inside a mountain, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday, a move likely to raise tensions at talks on Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verified on Tuesday that Iran fed uranium hexafluoride feedstock enriched to up to 5 percent into a cascade, or cluster, of 166 IR-6 centrifuges at Fordow to enrich it further to up to 20 percent, the IAEA said in a statement. An IAEA report last month said Iran was operating 166 IR-6 machines there without keeping the enriched product.


Egypt removes access to government services for unvaccinated citizens

Egypt removes access to government services for unvaccinated citizens
Updated 46 min 27 sec ago

Egypt removes access to government services for unvaccinated citizens

Egypt removes access to government services for unvaccinated citizens
  • The move is the latest in a slew of preventive measures introduced by Egypt to contain the spread of COVID-19
  • Once vaccinated, citizens will be able to get a vaccination certificate that will allow them to enter government facilities

CAIRO: Egyptian citizens who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 will from Wednesday be denied access to all government services and buildings unless they can provide evidence of a negative PCR test.

The decision was taken by the Supreme Committee for Coronavirus Crisis Management, which said the rule would apply to the provision of government services in all governorates and ministries.

The Ministry of Local Development instructed governors to implement the committee’s decision and refuse entry to government departments for anyone who is unable to provide evidence that they have been fully vaccinated or submit a negative PCR test result.

The move is the latest in a slew of preventive measures introduced by Egypt to contain the spread of COVID-19 in places of work and study.

The Ministry of Health and Population said it had made vaccines available to all citizens and that they should get vaccinated to avoid being disadvantaged by the new ruling.

It added that people who had not yet had their jabs should visit one of the many vaccination facilities located at medical centers, subway and railway stations, or the mobile units that travel throughout villages and towns.

Once vaccinated, citizens will be able to get a vaccination certificate that will allow them to enter government facilities, the health ministry said.

Egypt implemented a rule on Nov. 15 that prevents unvaccinated government employees from entering their place of work.


Muslim Council of Elders resumes Dialogue of East and West to promote coexistence

Muslim Council of Elders resumes Dialogue of East and West to promote coexistence
Updated 38 min 18 sec ago

Muslim Council of Elders resumes Dialogue of East and West to promote coexistence

Muslim Council of Elders resumes Dialogue of East and West to promote coexistence
  • The council will hold its next regular meeting in Manama, which will coincide with the Dialogue of East and West for Human Fraternity 2022 conference
  • The Muslim Council of Elders is headed by the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb

CAIRO: The Muslim Council of Elders has decided to hold the next round of the Dialogue of East and West in Bahrain after postponing it in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

The council is an independent international body based in Abu Dhabi and aimed at promoting peace, dialogue and tolerance. It is headed by the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb, and its membership includes an elite group of Muslim scholars.

The council will hold its next regular meeting in the Bahraini capital, Manama, which will coincide with the Dialogue of East and West for Human Fraternity 2022 conference.

The imam expressed his appreciation to Bahrain’s people and the King of Bahrain Hamad bin Isa bin Salman Al-Khalifa for hosting the new edition of the dialogue.

He noted that the dialogue comes within the framework of strengthening relations between religious and cultural institutions in Islamic countries and their counterparts in Western societies, establishing common ground based on shared values and promoting coexistence.

Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Khalifa, chairman of the Bahraini Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and a member of the Muslim Council of Elders, expressed Bahrain’s excitement to host the meeting and the new edition of the dialogue.

Sultan Al-Romaithi, secretary-general of the council, said that arrangements for the dialogue are now being finalized and that the new edition will witness positive interactions between Western and Eastern scholars and intellectuals.

He explained that the council is in the process of nominating youths to participate in the dialogue who have the capabilities to become future leaders and ambassadors for the Muslim Council of Elders.

The council was founded on July 13, 2014 to spread a culture of peace in Muslim societies, reject violence and extremism, and confront hate speech.


Displaced Syrians face brutal winter exacerbated by economic collapse, charity warns

Displaced Syrians face brutal winter exacerbated by economic collapse, charity warns
Updated 01 December 2021

Displaced Syrians face brutal winter exacerbated by economic collapse, charity warns

Displaced Syrians face brutal winter exacerbated by economic collapse, charity warns
  • One in three displaced Syrians know someone who has become ill or died because of the cold
  • People will be forced to choose between food and fuel during the winter months, says charity head

LONDON: The majority of displaced Syrians face a bitter winter with inadequate shelter and not enough food, a humanitarian organization working in Syria and Lebanon has warned.

Syria Relief said that the already brutal winter is exacerbated by the country’s economic crisis, which has sent prices of fuel and food skyrocketing.

Only 29 percent of internally displaced people (IDP) in Northern Syria believe that their current accommodation adequately protects them from winter conditions, according to a survey conducted by Syria Relief, which provides lifesaving aid and humanitarian interventions in the war-torn country.

The number is higher, at 52 percent, for Syrian refugees living in informal settlements in Lebanon, according to Syria Relief’s survey of over 1,000 people across Aleppo, Idlib, and Lebanon.

Around one in three respondents in Syria and Lebanon know someone who has either died or developed health conditions due to the cold.

Syria Relief Chief Executive Othman Moqbel told Arab News: “All of us, working on the ground, are very worried about this winter.”

He said: “There is the common misconception that Syria and Lebanon are hot, but in the winter months, especially high up in the mountains where there are many refugee and IDP camps, the temperatures regularly plummet to freezing temperatures. Winter is one of the greatest threats to a Syrian IDP or refugee living in a tent, as temperatures can drop as low as -10 C.”

Syria’s collapsing economy, worsening every year, makes the upcoming winter the toughest yet, Moqbel said.

“Last winter it was estimated by the UN that 80 percent of Syrians lived in poverty. Now, it is estimated at 90 percent. There are 13.4 million Syrians who depend on humanitarian aid to survive.

“To simply survive, millions of Syrians need fuel to keep the stoves they use for warmth fired up. But it’s expensive and the economic situation means fuel is harder than ever to find for many families.

“To afford the fuel they need to stop them freezing to death, most families living in tents have to make sacrifices. Maybe they will go without food, maybe one of their children will go without food, maybe all of them will have to go without food for a few days.”

Moqbel explained that Western countries, such as the UK, could take action that would alleviate the suffering of these Syrians.

“We would like to see the UK in particular not cutting its aid budget and instead ensuring that more money is spent on displaced Syrians who are already some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”