Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border

Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border
A fence on the border between Poland and Belarus is seen at the Kuznica-Bruzgi checkpoint on the Polish-Belarusian border amid the migrant crisis, in Kuznica on Monday. (Reuters)
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Updated 08 December 2021

Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border

Iraqi migrant girl, 4, goes missing along Polish-Belarus border
  • Poland has sealed off the region along its frontier with Belarus to outsiders as it has sought to keep out thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa
  • Humanitarian groups reported that the Iraqi girl was separated from her parents after they breached the border into Poland on Monday

WARSAW: A four-year-old Iraqi migrant girl went missing in an icy forest after being separated from her parents in a scuffle with Polish border guards, humanitarian groups said as they pressed for access to the border region to help find the child.
Poland has sealed off the region along its frontier with Belarus to outsiders as it has sought to keep out thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa who traveled to Belarus in the hope of crossing into European Union territory.
The EU accuses Belarus of flying them into the country and then pushing them to cross into Poland and — to a lesser extent — Lithuania and Latvia in retaliation for sanctions imposed on Minsk over human rights abuses.
Humanitarian groups reported on Wednesday that the Iraqi girl, called Eileen, was separated from her parents after they breached the border into Poland on Monday night.
They said the parents handed their daughter to another adult migrant when Polish border guards approached and pushed them back into Belarus, and the girl was last seen with the person accompanying her near the Polish frontier village of Nowy Dwor.
“This girl is probably either already dead or will die very soon. The most dramatic thing is that if it was a Polish child, the whole country would be looking for her,” Kasia Kosciesza from the Families without Borders charity group said.
“The search should have started as soon as they knew of the situation...Chances are diminishing, night is setting in again and temperatures will start falling, so if we want to rescue her, it needs to happen immediately.”
Border Guard spokeswoman Anna Michalska said servicemen started searching for the girl as soon as they received information she was missing around midday on Tuesday.
“Extra patrols were directed to the area where the girl was supposed to be. We also searched from the air using helicopters, but we found no one,” Michalska said.
Campaigners said the authorities’ efforts were inadequate.
Under new rules introduced after a state of emergency in the migrant crisis expired last week, activists who are not resident in the border area cannot enter to help with any search.
International organizations have accused Poland’s right-wing nationalist government of breaching humanitarian standards in forcing some migrants back into Belarus, a charge Warsaw denies.


Egypt, Algeria discuss foreign interference in Libyan affairs

Egypt, Algeria discuss foreign interference in Libyan affairs
Updated 55 min 52 sec ago

Egypt, Algeria discuss foreign interference in Libyan affairs

Egypt, Algeria discuss foreign interference in Libyan affairs
  • FMs call for exit of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libyan territory during talks held in Cairo
  • Meeting touched on several issues of mutual interest, including developments in Sudan, Mali, and the Sahel and Sahara region

CAIRO: Egypt and Algeria agreed on the necessity of stopping any foreign interference in the affairs of Libya and the exit of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from Libyan territory during talks held in Cairo between Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Algerian counterpart Ramtane Lamamra.

Lamamra’s visit to Cairo, which began on Sunday, is the second in his capacity as a special envoy of Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune.

Egypt is the third Arab stop in the Algerian foreign minister’s Arab tour, which he began in Saudi Arabia with the delivery of a written message from Tebboune to King Salman. Abu Dhabi was the second Arab capital Lamamra visited.

During the meeting, Ambassador Ahmed Hafez, the official spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry, stated that the two ministers expressed pride in the relations between Egypt and Algeria and a desire to continue strengthening cooperation across various fields, including in economic and investment opportunities.

He added that the meeting touched on several issues of mutual interest, including developments in Sudan, Mali, and the Sahel and Sahara region. The two ministers stressed the need to coordinate within a framework of joint African action in a way that enhances efforts to achieve peace, security and prosperity on the continent, especially in light of the various security challenges.

They also stressed the importance of advancing Arab efforts in a similar way within the framework of the Arab League.


Iran hostage crisis victim to hunger strike for release of others detained by Tehran

Iran hostage crisis victim to hunger strike for release of others detained by Tehran
Updated 54 min 22 sec ago

Iran hostage crisis victim to hunger strike for release of others detained by Tehran

Iran hostage crisis victim to hunger strike for release of others detained by Tehran
  • Barry Rosen was one of 52 Americans seized by extremists at US embassy in 1979
  • Iran has long used hostage-taking of dual nationals as a tool of its foreign affairs

LONDON: A man held as a hostage for over a year by Iranian extremists in the turmoil following Iran’s Islamic Revolution has pledged to initiate a hunger strike to demand the release of all existing hostages in Iran. 

Barry Rosen was one of 52 Americans held as hostages for 444 days by Iranian extremists who stormed the US Embassy in Tehran after a coalition of Islamists and other protestors deposed the Shah of Iran in 1979.

He announced Monday on Twitter that he will travel to Vienna and initiate a hunger strike aimed at pressuring the US into prioritizing the release of foreign hostages during ongoing talks with Tehran.

The Vienna talks are currently aimed primarily at curbing Iran’s nuclear arms program, but many, such as Rosen, have urged the US to broaden the scope of talks to curtailing Iran’s other belligerent behavior, such as its taking of foreign hostages.

In a video statement, Rosen said: “This week marks the 41st anniversary of my release from captivity. But the hostage crisis hasn’t ended for many others, Americans and Westerners, who are currently being held as bargaining chips in Iran.

“There are at least two dozen of them. It is clear to me that the release of hostages can only take place if the United States, and countries like the United States, put pressure on Iran,” said Rosen, who worked in the US press attaché during the 1979 hostage crisis.

He pledged to stage a hunger strike in Vienna.

“My message is simple: no deal with Iran unless the hostages are free,” said Rosen, adding that he will deliver the message to both the American and Iranian delegations in Vienna.

He said his hunger strike will take place despite concerns over his health due to his age because it is “the right thing for the hostages and their family.”

Iran has long been accused of detaining foreigners, particularly those with dual Iranian nationality, in order to use them as bargaining chips in negotiations later.

High-profile individuals currently detained include Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a dual British-Iranian national who has been held in Iran for nearly six years.

Her family believes she is being held as a hostage to use as a negotiation tool in a separate issue between London and Tehran that has been simmering for decades.

Rights group Amnesty International said that Nazanin continues to be used as a “bargaining chip” at the hands of an authority who has “played cruel political games with her life.”

In a separate statement, Amnesty also decried Tehran’s entire hostage-taking strategy.

“In recent years, the Iranian authorities have arrested and detained dozens of dual nationals, including prisoners of conscience such as journalists, academics and human rights defenders,” said the group.

But the approach has, in the past, paid off for Iran. During the Obama administration, the US transferred $1.7 billion in cash to Iran in exchange for the release of several Iranian-American citizens.

Many believe that Tehran is again hoping to use hostages as bargaining chips, this time to pressure the US and its Western partners into a more favorable deal in Vienna.


Tear gas in Sudan as thousands protest coup: AFP

Tear gas in Sudan as thousands protest coup: AFP
Updated 17 January 2022

Tear gas in Sudan as thousands protest coup: AFP

Tear gas in Sudan as thousands protest coup: AFP
  • Sudanese security forces fire tear gas at thousands in Khartoum

KHARTOUM Thousands in Sudan took to the streets Monday to protest a military coup nearly three months ago, and were quickly met by tear gas fired by security forces, according to an AFP correspondent.
Security officers had deployed in large numbers as the demonstrators carrying the Sudanese flag gathered in the capital, Khartoum, as well as other cities.


Three killed, six wounded after fuel tanker explosion in Abu Dhabi

Three people have been killed and six injured in a fuel tanker explosion in Abu Dhabi. (Reuters/ File)
Three people have been killed and six injured in a fuel tanker explosion in Abu Dhabi. (Reuters/ File)
Updated 33 min ago

Three killed, six wounded after fuel tanker explosion in Abu Dhabi

Three people have been killed and six injured in a fuel tanker explosion in Abu Dhabi. (Reuters/ File)
  • A fire also broke out at the construction site of the UAE capital’s new airport extension
  • Investigations indicate that fragments, possibly belonging to drones, may have caused explosion and fire

DUBAI: Three people – one Pakistani and two Indian - were killed and six others injured after three fuel tankers exploded in the industrial area of Musaffah ICAD 3 near an ADNOC storage unit in Abu Dhabi, Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

A fire also broke out at the construction site of the UAE capital’s new airport extension, which was potentially caused by drones, Abu Dhabi police said in a statement carried by WAM.

Ongoing investigations indicate that fragments, possibly belonging to drones, that fell in both locations may have caused the explosion and the fire.

“Initial investigations found parts of a small plane that could possibly be a drone at both sites that could have caused the explosion and the fire,” Abu Dhabi police said, adding there was no significant structural damage.

A spokesperson for Etihad Airways said a small number of flights were briefly disrupted at Abu Dhabi airport due to “precautionary measures,” but normal operations quickly resumed.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement later said it had carried out an attack on the UAE, Reuters reported.

Saudi Arabia has led international condemnation of the incident, with the Kingdom calling it a “cowardly terrorist attack.”

The Indian embassy in Abu Dhabi later confirmed in a tweet that it was aware of the incident and was awaiting further details.

Earlier this month, a UAE-flagged cargo ship, “Rwabee,” was hijacked by the Houthis, in a plan the coalition has said was backed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. 

The ship was on its way from Socotra Island in Yemen to the port of Jazan in Saudi Arabia, carrying medical equipment used in a field hospital on the island, the coalition added.


Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei’s niece arrested in Tehran

Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei’s niece arrested in Tehran
Updated 17 January 2022

Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei’s niece arrested in Tehran

Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei’s niece arrested in Tehran
  • Farideh Moradkhani was arrested on Thursday

DUBAI: The niece of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei was arrested Thursday, Jan. 16 as she was making her way home in Tehran, Al Arabiya reported on Monday.

Farideh Moradkhani’s brother, Mahmoud, who lives in exile in France, confirmed the news in an interview with UK-based media organization Iran International.

Mahmoud Moradkhani said the Iranian regime was oppressive.

He said in the interview: “She wasn’t a political activist. There is no freedom to become a political activist in Iran in the first place. She was a human rights defender who participated in charity work and peaceful demonstrations.”

He added: “Of course, my uncle Ali Khamenei is aware of our opposition to the regime since it was first established decades ago.”

And he said his family “would not be silenced.”

Speaking with her family on the phone on Friday, Farideh said she was being moved to Evin prison.

She had been previously called by Iranian intelligence for her criticism of the regime. Farideh campaigns for the abolition of the death penalty and for the rights of prisoners.

No news on the cause of her arrest was provided.