Belarus clears migrant camp at border with Poland

Belarus clears migrant camp at border with Poland
Migrants gather at a transport and logistics center near the Belarusian-Polish border in the Grodno region, Belarus, November 18, 2021. (Reuters)
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Updated 19 November 2021

Belarus clears migrant camp at border with Poland

Belarus clears migrant camp at border with Poland
  • The Polish border force confirmed the evacuation of the camp, which had been set up in a wooded area not far from the border post of Brouzgui

MOSCOW: The Belarusian border force said Thursday it had cleared a makeshift migrant camp at the border with Poland that had held around 2,000 people, with the occupants relocated to a reception centre nearby.
"On November 18, all the refugees at the makeshift camp at the Belarus-Poland border, near the Brouzgui crossing point, have been moved, on a voluntary basis, to a logistics centre," the border guards said via the Telegram messaging service. Pictures of the camp looking abandoned were sent out.
Over 1,000 people had already moved to the centre, a vast hangar close to the border, on Tuesday night.
But according to Minsk, around 800 others had remained outside even as temperatures dropped below freezing, spending the night in tents or around campfires.
These last had now also moved because weather conditions had deteriorated further, the border guard said, adding that at the centre the migrants had received "hot meals, warm clothes and basic necessities".
The Polish border force confirmed the evacuation of the camp, which had been set up in a wooded area not far from the border post of Brouzgui.
On Tuesday, hundreds of migrants faced off against Polish forces, who used tear gas and water cannon, at the crossing point.
The relocation comes after weeks of rising tension between Belarus and the European Union.
The European Union accuses Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko of luring the migrants -- mainly Iraqi Kurds -- to the border as revenge for sanctions slapped on his regime after its suppression of opposition protests last year.
Lukashenko and his Russian ally President Vladimir Putin have rejected the accusations and criticised Poland for not taking the migrants in.
Polish media say at least 11 migrants have died since the crisis began in August.
Hope for de-escalating the crisis mounted this week, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaking with Lukashenko twice by phone -- his first call with a Western leader since disputed presidential elections last year.
On Thursday, a day after the pair's second call, the first repatriation flight for migrants landed in Iraq.
Lukashenko's spokeswoman Natalya Eismont said on Thursday that there were about 7,000 migrants in the country in total.
She said Belarus will take responsibility for sending 5,000 of the migrants home if they want to go.
She alleged German Chancellor Angela Merkel would negotiate with the EU on creating the humanitarian corridor to Germany, which Berlin has denied.


Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents

Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents
Updated 6 sec ago

Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents

Austria to lift lockdown for unvaccinated residents
BERLIN: Austria will end its lockdown for unvaccinated residents next Monday — one day before a COVID-19 vaccine mandate takes effect in the country, the government announced Wednesday, according to Austrian news agency APA.
Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Health Minister Wolfgang Mueckstein said the measure, which was introduced in November, was no longer needed because there was no threat of hospital intensive care units being overstretched, APA reported.
For weeks, the lockdown for the unvaccinated has been “a measure that many people complained about, but that was unavoidable for health policy reasons,” Nehammer said.
On Feb. 1, a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for adults — the first of its kind in Europe — will take effect in the small Alpine country. Officials have said the mandate is necessary because vaccination rates remain too low. They say it will ensure that Austria’s hospitals are not overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. So far, 75.4 percent of the country’s residents have been fully vaccinated.
Once the mandate goes into effect, authorities will write to every household to inform them of the new rules.
From mid-March, police will start checking people’s vaccination status during routine checks; people who can’t produce proof of vaccination will be asked to do so in writing, and will be fined up to 600 euros ($676) if they don’t.
If authorities judge the country’s vaccination progress still to be insufficient, Nehammer said earlier this month, they would then send reminders to people who remain unvaccinated. If even that doesn’t work, people would be sent a vaccination appointment and fined if they don’t keep it. Officials hope they won’t need to use the last measure. Fines could reach 3,600 euros if people contest their punishment and full proceedings are opened.

Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack

Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack
Updated 7 min 22 sec ago

Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack

Ukraine says Russian troop build-up ‘insufficient’ for major attack
  • ‘At the moment, as we speak, this number is insufficient for a full-scale offensive against Ukraine along the entire Ukrainian border’
KIEV: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Wednesday that the number of Russian troops deployed along his country’s border was not enough for a major attack.
“The number of Russian troops amassed along the border of Ukraine and occupied territories of Ukraine is large, it poses a threat to Ukraine, a direct threat to Ukraine,” Kuleba told reporters.
“However, at the moment, as we speak, this number is insufficient for a full-scale offensive against Ukraine along the entire Ukrainian border.”

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack
Updated 26 January 2022

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack

UK police arrest two more men over Texas synagogue attack
  • The day-long siege occurred on Jan. 15 when a British man took four people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville

LONDON: British police said on Wednesday they had arrested two men in the northern English city of Manchester as part of a US investigation into a hostage taking at a synagogue in Texas earlier in January.
British police had previously said they had arrested four people over the incident: two teenagers in Manchester plus one man in Birmingham and another man in Manchester. The teenagers have been released without charge.
The day-long siege occurred on Jan. 15 when a British man took four people hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, about 16 miles northeast of Fort Worth, Texas. The gunman died as federal agents stormed the temple while the four hostages were released unharmed.


Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February

Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February
Updated 26 January 2022

Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February

Denmark aims to scrap all COVID-19 curbs by February
  • The move is the most far-reaching easing of curbs yet seen among the Nordic countries

COPENHAGEN: Denmark aims to scrap all remaining COVID-19 restrictions next week, the most far-reaching easing of curbs yet seen among the Nordic countries.
In a letter addressed to parliament, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the government intends to follow recommendations issued by an expert panel on Tuesday to scrap all restrictions.
The proposal is still subject to parliamentary approval.


Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list

Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list
Updated 26 January 2022

Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list

Russia puts jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s brother on wanted list
  • Oleg Navalny, whose whereabouts are unknown, was last year held under house arrest between January and April
  • He was handed a one-year suspended sentence for violating safety regulations linked to the COVID-19 pandemic

MOSCOW: Russia has put the brother of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny on a wanted list, according to interior ministry records, as he faces a summons for a court hearing that could convert a suspended sentence against him into a prison term.
Oleg Navalny, whose whereabouts are unknown, was last year held under house arrest between January and April and handed a one-year suspended sentence for violating safety regulations linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those charges were filed after he took part in a Moscow rally against his brother Alexei’s arrest.
The Federal Penitentiary Service will petition a Moscow court on Feb. 18 to sentence Oleg Navalny to jail time for failing to comply with restrictions imposed against him for violating safety regulations, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
The 38-year-old was released from prison in 2018 after serving three-and-a-half years for an embezzlement conviction that critics say was designed to pressure his brother and smother dissent.
Alexei Navalny was given a suspended sentence in the same case, converted into a prison term last year because of alleged parole violations. He says the charges against him are politically motivated.
An anti-corruption campaigner and high-profile critic of President Vladimir Putin for the past decade, he survived being poisoned with a nerve agent in 2020 and his political network was banned as “extremist” last year.