Giant puppet of Syrian girl starts England tour to mark World Refugee Week

Giant puppet of Syrian girl starts England tour to mark World Refugee Week
Little Amal, a giant puppet depicting a Syrian refugee girl, arrives in Parliament Square opposite the House of Commons in London. (File/AFP)
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Updated 19 June 2022

Giant puppet of Syrian girl starts England tour to mark World Refugee Week

Giant puppet of Syrian girl starts England tour to mark World Refugee Week
  • She will visit 10 towns and cities across England to share her resilient and hopeful message: “Don’t forget about us”

LONDON: A giant puppet designed to highlight the plight of child refugees embarked on a tour of England on Sunday and will visit landmark destinations as part of World Refugee Week.

Little Amal, the giant puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee girl, became an international symbol of human rights after she journeyed from the Turkish-Syrian border to Manchester last July. Amal means “hope” in Arabic.

This year, the 3.5m puppet began her New Steps New Friends tour in Manchester, where she will be the special guest at the Manchester Day Parade with thousands of children and families all celebrating in the city.

She will visit 10 towns and cities across England to share her resilient and hopeful message: “Don’t forget about us.”

Artistic director Amir Nizar Zuabi said: “It is because the attention of the world is elsewhere right now that it is more important than ever to reignite the conversation about the refugee crisis and to change the narrative around it.

“Yes, refugees need food and blankets, but they also need dignity and a voice. The purpose of The Walk is to highlight the potential of the refugee, not just their dire circumstances. 

“Little Amal is 3.5 meters tall because we want the world to grow big enough to greet her. We want her to inspire us to think big and to act bigger,” Zuabi said. 

After participating in the Manchester Day Parade, Amal will go on to visit Bradford, Leeds and the Liverpool docks. She will also meet communities in Birmingham, Cheltenham and Bristol’s historic Old City and Harbour.

She will return to the Southbank Centre in London and visit Stonehenge before finishing her journey on the beach in Folkestone in Kent.

In May, Amal landed in Poland, bringing aid relief packages for Ukrainian refugee children and their families.

“The machine of war is faceless, it’s metal grinding metal, but victims of the battles grownups fight have names and children are often the worst victims. That’s why Amal went to Ukraine. She’s a big girl so she can remind us there are many Amals and many Annas and many Andriys and many Abduls,” Zuabi said.

In September 2022, Amal will travel to New York City. She will travel through all five boroughs, meeting artists, civic leaders, community groups and New Yorkers of all backgrounds.


Official: 39 dead in fire at migrant facility in Mexico

Official: 39 dead in fire at migrant facility in Mexico
Updated 12 sec ago

Official: 39 dead in fire at migrant facility in Mexico

Official: 39 dead in fire at migrant facility in Mexico

MEXICO CITY: An official with the National Immigration Institute say 39 people died and 29 were injured in a fire in an immigration detention facility in northern Mexico.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case.
Images from the scene showed rows of bodies lying under shimmery silver sheets outside the facility in Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas. Ambulances, firefighters and vans from the morgue could also be seen.
The Diario de Juarez newspaper, which citied unnamed sources in the Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office, said 39 people died in the fire, which broke out late Monday. Injured people have been taken to four hospitals, according to the newspaper.
Neither Mexico’s National Immigration Institute nor the Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office responded immediately Tuesday to requests for confirmation.
Ciudad Juarez is a major crossing point for migrants entering the United States. Its shelters are full of migrants waiting for opportunities to cross or who have requested asylum in the United States and are waiting out the process.
Mexico’s attorney general’s office has launched an inquiry and has investigators at the scene, according to media reports.


China ambassador arrives in North Korea in sign of reopening

China ambassador arrives in North Korea in sign of reopening
Updated 38 min 27 sec ago

China ambassador arrives in North Korea in sign of reopening

China ambassador arrives in North Korea in sign of reopening
BEIJING: China said Tuesday its new ambassador to North Korea has taken up his post, in a sign the North is reopening amid reports it has been suffering heavily from the COVID-19 pandemic and food shortages.
Wang Yajun will help in the development of the traditional friendship between the “close neighbors sharing mountains and rivers,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said at a daily briefing.
China is North Korea’s main source of economic aid and political support, but interactions have been disrupted by travel restrictions imposed in an attempt to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The ambassador’s posting comes as North Korean state media reported that leader Kim Jong Un urged his nuclear scientists to increase production of weapons-grade material to make bombs to put on the country’s widening range of weapons.
The report Tuesday followed a series of missile launches — seven this month alone — and rising threats to use the weapons against North Korea’s enemies.
North Korea’s weapons tests and US-South Korea military exercises have intensified in recent months, increasing tensions in the region.
China’s support for both North Korea and Russia is seen as an act of defiance against the US-led liberal world order, along with ensuring security along its borders. While China has agreed to United Nations sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear tests, it has repeatedly assured the Kim regime of support to prevent its collapse and the potential humanitarian, military and political consequences that might ensue.

Police in Belgium arrest 8 people in counterterrorism raids

Police in Belgium arrest 8 people in counterterrorism raids
Updated 28 March 2023

Police in Belgium arrest 8 people in counterterrorism raids

Police in Belgium arrest 8 people in counterterrorism raids
  • The prosecutor’s office said five persons were arrested but could not give details about what was found
  • The arrests came as suspected members of a cell that carried out the deadliest peacetime attacks on Belgian soil seven years ago are on trial in Belgium

BRUSSELS: Police officers in Belgium have arrested eight people during counterterrorism raids across the country as part of operations aimed at thwarting possible attacks, the federal prosecutor’s office said Tuesday.
Antwerp federal police carried out five searches in Merksem, Borgerhout, Deurne, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek and Eupen on Monday night at the request of an investigating judge. The prosecutor’s office said five people were arrested, but it didn’t give details about what was found.
“At least two of the people involved are suspected of planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Belgium. The target of the attack has not yet been determined,” prosecutors said.
Meanwhile, Brussels federal police carried out raids in the nearby localities of Zaventem, Sint-Jans-Molenbeek and Schaerbeek as part of a separate case, and arrested three people.
“These people are also suspected of planning to carry out a terrorist attack in Belgium,” the office said. “There are links between the two cases, but further investigation will have to reveal the extent to which the two cases were intertwined.”
Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported that the Brussels and Antwerp cases initially focused on two young adults suspected of violent radicalism and that investigations revealed links between the two, with potentially dangerous individuals gravitating in their entourage.
According to the independent center in charge of assessing the terrorism and extremist risk in Belgium, the current threat on a scale from one to four is medium, at level two.
The arrests came as suspected members of a cell that carried out the deadliest peacetime attacks on Belgian soil seven years ago are on trial in Belgium. The defendants face charges including murder, attempted murder and membership, or participation, in the acts of a terrorist group, over the morning rush hour attacks at Belgium’s main airport and on the central commuter line on March, 22, 2016.
In addition to the 32 people who died in Brussels that day, about 900 were injured or suffered mental trauma.
Among the accused is Salah Abdeslam — the only survivor among the Daesh group extremists who in 2015 struck the Bataclan theater in Paris, city cafes and France’s national stadium. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole over the atrocities in the French capital.


Japan, US, Philippines to launch security talks

Japan, US, Philippines to launch security talks
Updated 28 March 2023

Japan, US, Philippines to launch security talks

Japan, US, Philippines to launch security talks

TOKYO: Japan, the United States and the Philippines are preparing to establish a formal framework for high-level ministerial talks on security matters, the Kyodo news agency reported on Tuesday.
The three countries are considering holding their first meeting as early as April, Kyodo said.
The move comes as Taiwan, which lies between Japan and the Philippines, has become a focal point of intensifying Chinese military activity that Tokyo and Washington worry could escalate into war.
Japan held joint military exercises with the United States and the Philippines as recently as October.


Belarus says it decided to host Russian nuclear weapons after NATO pressure

Belarus says it decided to host Russian nuclear weapons after NATO pressure
Updated 28 March 2023

Belarus says it decided to host Russian nuclear weapons after NATO pressure

Belarus says it decided to host Russian nuclear weapons after NATO pressure
  • The Belarusian foreign ministry justified its decision to cooperate with Russia in a statement on Tuesday

Belarus said on Tuesday it had decided to host Russian tactical nuclear weapons after years of pressure from the United States and its allies aimed at changing its political and geopolitical direction.
Russian President Vladimir Putin
said on Saturday
that Moscow would in future look to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus, a staunch ally, escalating a standoff with the West.
The Belarusian foreign ministry justified its decision to cooperate with Russia in a statement on Tuesday, saying Minsk was acting to protect itself from the West.
“Over the last two and a half years, the Republic of Belarus has been subjected to unprecedented political, economic and information pressure from the United States, the United Kingdom and its NATO allies, as well as the member states of the European Union,” the statement said.
“In view of these circumstances, and the legitimate concerns and risks in the sphere of national security arising from them, Belarus is forced to respond by strengthening its own security and defense capabilities.”
Minsk said the Russian nuclear plans would not contravene international non-proliferation agreements as Belarus itself would not have control over the weapons.