46 people found dead in truck in San Antonio, local media report

Update 46 people found dead in truck in San Antonio, local media report
1 / 2
An ambulance leaves the scene where police said dozens of people were found dead in a semitrailer in a remote area in southwestern San Antonio, Monday, June 27, 2022. (AP)
Update 46 people found dead in truck in San Antonio, local media report
2 / 2
The scene where police said dozens of people were found dead in a semitrailer in a remote area in southwestern San Antonio. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 28 June 2022

46 people found dead in truck in San Antonio, local media report

46 people found dead in truck in San Antonio, local media report
  • It may be the deadliest tragedy among thousands who have died attempting to cross the US border from Mexico in recent decades

SAN ANTONIO: Forty-six people were found dead and 16 others were taken to hospitals after a tractor-trailer rig containing suspected migrants was found Monday on a remote back road in southwest San Antonio, officials said.
A city worker at the scene was alerted to the situation by a cry for help shortly before 6 p.m. Monday, Police Chief William McManus said. Officers arrived to find a body on the ground outside the trailer and a partially opened gate to the trailer, he said.




Law enforcement officers work at the scene where people were found dead inside a trailer truck in San Antonio, Texas, U.S. June 27, 2022. (REUTERS)

Of the 16 taken to hospitals with heat-related illnesses, 12 were adults and four were children, said Fire Chief Charles Hood. The patients were hot to the touch and dehydrated, and no water was found in the trailer, he said.
Three people were taken into custody, but it was unclear if they were absolutely connected with human trafficking, McManus said.
Those in the trailer were part of a presumed migrant smuggling attempt into the United States, and the investigation was being led by US Homeland Security Investigations, McManus said.
Those in the trailer were in a presumed migrant smuggling attempt in South Texas, according to an official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the information had not been authorized for public release.




In this aerial view, members of law enforcement investigate a tractor trailer on June 27, 2022 in San Antonio, Texas. (AFP)

It may be the deadliest tragedy among thousands who have died attempting to cross the US border from Mexico in recent decades. Ten migrants died in 2017 after being trapped inside a truck that was parked at a Walmart in San Antonio. In 2003, 19 migrants were found in a sweltering truck southeast of San Antonio.
Big rigs emerged as a popular smuggling method in the early 1990s amid a surge in US border enforcement in San Diego and El Paso, Texas, which were then the busiest corridors for illegal crossings.
Before that, people paid small fees to mom-and-pop operators to get them across a largely unguarded border. As crossing became exponentially more difficult after the 2001 terror attacks in the US, migrants were led through more dangerous terrain and paid thousands of dollars more.
Heat poses a serious danger, particularly when temperatures can rise severely inside vehicles. Weather in the San Antonio area was mostly cloudy Monday, but temperatures approached 100 degrees.
 


Daesh militant gets life in US prison over killing of American hostages

Daesh militant gets life in US prison over killing of American hostages
Updated 12 sec ago

Daesh militant gets life in US prison over killing of American hostages

Daesh militant gets life in US prison over killing of American hostages
VIRGINIA, US: A US federal judge on Friday sentenced a member of a Deash cell known as “The Beatles” to life in prison for involvement in a hostage-taking plot that led to the killings of American journalists and aid workers in Syria.
Families and friends of the four Americans killed and of other hostages previously detained by the militant group looked on as District Court Judge T.S. Ellis sentenced El Shafee Elsheikh, 34, to life without parole, calling his behavior “horrific, barbaric, brutal and of course criminal.”
A jury in April concluded the former British citizen was part of an Daesh cell, nicknamed “The Beatles” for their English accents, that beheaded American hostages in areas of the Middle East controlled by the militant group. He was found guilty on four counts of hostage-taking and four counts of conspiracy after a two-week trial.
The victims’ relatives and friends sat in the front rows of the courtroom and were visibly shaken during the course of the hearing as tears rolled down their eyes and they consoled each other. Elsheikh was sentenced to eight concurrent life sentences.
At the peak of its power from 2014-2017, Daesh ruled over millions of people and claimed responsibility for or inspired attacks in dozens of cities around the world.
Its leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, declared a caliphate over a quarter of Iraq and Syria in 2014, before he was killed in a raid by US special forces in Syria in 2019 as the group’s rule collapsed.
Elsheikh, who was born in Sudan and raised in London, was accused of conspiring to kill four American hostages: James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Peter Kassig and Kayla Mueller.
Foley and Sotloff, both journalists, and Kassig, an aid worker, were killed in videotaped beheadings. Mueller was raped repeatedly by Al-Baghdadi before her death in Syria, US officials have said.
The deaths of Foley, Sotloff and Kassig were confirmed in 2014; Mueller’s death was confirmed in early 2015.
Elsheikh appeared in the federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, on Friday wearing a gray jumpsuit, a facemask and glasses. Family and friends of his victims were asked to make statements in front of the judge.
“Hatred completely overtook your humanity,” Foley’s mother, Diane said, later breaking down in tears. “I pity you. I pray your time in prison will give you a time to reflect.” Friday marked the eighth anniversary of Foley’s beheading.
The head of the London police’s Counter Terrorism Command, Richard Smith, said in a statement the victims’ families “have shown remarkable fortitude and bravery in giving their accounts of what happened to investigators, and in court.”
The charges against Elsheikh, whose British citizenship was withdrawn in 2018, carried a potential death sentence, but US prosecutors had previously advised British officials that they would not seek the death penalty.
Prosecutors argued that a life sentence was needed to prevent Elsheikh from causing future harm and to set a precedent that such crimes will get strict punishment.
“The Beatles were genuine psychopaths,” First Assistant US Attorney Raj Parekh argued in court on Friday during the hearing, adding that Elsheikh was the highest-ranking member of the Daesh to ever be convicted in a US Court.
Another cell member, Alexanda Kotey, was sentenced to life in prison by a US judge earlier this year. Kotey was held in Iraq by the US military before being flown to the United States to face trial. He pleaded guilty last September to the murders of Foley, Sotloff, Kassig and Mueller.
A third member of the group, Mohammed Emwazi, died in a US-British missile strike in Syria in 2015.
Some former hostages, released by the cell after protracted negotiations, testified during trials about the torture they endured. Family members of those killed also testified.

In Philippines’ Muslim south, women unite to escape destitution

In Philippines’ Muslim south, women unite to escape destitution
Updated 30 min 50 sec ago

In Philippines’ Muslim south, women unite to escape destitution

In Philippines’ Muslim south, women unite to escape destitution
  • Bangsamoro poverty rate at 63% caused by decades of conflict
  • 500 cooperatives raise scarce funds from farming, weaving, crafts

MANILA: Equipped with sewing machines, simple agricultural tools, and a will to contribute to the community, women in Bangsamoro have been joining together to lift from poverty one of the poorest regions of the southern Philippines, where armed conflict has for decades hampered development.

Bangsamoro is the only Muslim-majority territory in the predominantly Christian Philippines. After four decades of separatist struggle, which took the lives of over 150,000 Filipino citizens, the region since 2014 has been the centerpiece of a peace process, under which fighters agreed to turn over their firearms in exchange for self-administration.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao was formed in 2019 and its transition to autonomy will culminate in 2025, when it will elect its legislature and executive.

Part of the process is development — long overdue in the region that is home to some 4.7 million people, where the poverty incidence rate is 63 percent, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

The empowerment of women is recognized as key in uplifting the community and one of the initiatives undertaken for economic empowerment is through cooperatives.

They allow women to organize for joint activities such as agriculture, weaving, and other crafts. Some of their products are sold on the market to keep their organizations running, while they retain a portion.

For Raga Tarotawan, 64, who heads the Women Sector Agricultural Cooperative in South Barira municipality in the BARMM province of Maguindanao, participation supports her family, but also allows her to give back to her community.

“We want to be productive to show that we can also contribute something to the community,” she said. “We don’t have a job but still we want to show we can still be productive.”

Tarotawan’s cooperative was established in 2019, and has since gained over 1,000 members, who grow fruits, vegetables and chilies.

There are about 500 women’s organizations like this in BARMM, according to Bangsamoro Transition Authority data, and there used to be many more but authorities say there are challenges in making them sustainable as many fail when external funding runs out.

“Because of the conflict, they developed a culture of dependency,” Dr. Susana Salvador Anayatin, member of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, told Arab News. “They are not really sustainable.”

The matter of keeping women’s business initiatives afloat is what has come to the attention of foreign donors.

Among them is a new program by the French government to help streamline their operations.

“It’s a project with a level of financing of EUR530,000 ($533,325),” Michele Boccoz, the French ambassador to the Philippines, said. “We’re looking at these areas where we can bring some experience and some expertise.”

She recognized the potential of women’s cooperatives for post-conflict community development.

“If women are empowered and they have economic power they can create resources, then they would immediately focus on their families,” Boccoz told Arab News.

“You have all these decommissioned combatants and if you really want to make the peace process a success, you have to anchor them, give them the capacity to build their lives, to have good jobs, to be able to raise their kids, to be able to develop their businesses, and to be active citizens participating in society.”

 


UAE team explores setting up plasma farming facilities in Pakistan

A Pakistani paramedic stores plasma after donations by volunteers in Karachi. (AFP file photo)
A Pakistani paramedic stores plasma after donations by volunteers in Karachi. (AFP file photo)
Updated 36 min 11 sec ago

UAE team explores setting up plasma farming facilities in Pakistan

A Pakistani paramedic stores plasma after donations by volunteers in Karachi. (AFP file photo)
  • Proteins from human plasma are used in treatment of life-threatening conditions
  • Pakistan and UAE have been working on the ground-breaking project for several months

ISLAMABAD: A delegation from the UAE has arrived in Pakistan to carry out a feasibility study for a project to set up the first plasma farming facilities in the South Asian country.

Plasma farming technology is a growing field in patient care and clinical medicine. It involves plasma fractionation, the processing of plasma harvested by donors to break it into individual proteins, or plasma fractions.

Protein products derived from human plasma are used — often as the only available option — in the prevention and treatment of life-threatening conditions resulting from trauma, congenital deficiencies, immunologic disorders or infections.

The UAE delegation, which arrived in Pakistan earlier this week, was led by Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al-Maktoum, and included representatives of Hayat Biotech Limited, Emirati artificial intelligence company Group 42, and China’s Sinopharm.

After meeting the delegation, Pakistani Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel told Arab News on Thursday that he hoped the establishment of plasma farming facilities would happen “as early as possible.”

“We have discussed establishing state-of-the-art PFFs in Pakistan which will be the first of its kind as we have fresh frozen plasma extraction, but not farming ability,” Patel said.

Fresh frozen plasma is a blood product made from the liquid portion of whole blood. It is used to treat conditions in which there are low blood clotting factors or low levels of other blood proteins. It may also be used as the replacement fluid in plasma exchange.

Pakistan and the UAE have been working on the PFF project for several months, and a Pakistani delegation had visited the UAE in June, the minister said.

“It is a follow-up visit by the UAE delegation to assess potential, and to conduct a feasibility study for the establishment of PFFs based on World Health Organization’s standards,” he said, adding that blood services in the country were mostly provided by hospital blood banks, with no separation of the plasma processes into production and utilization.

“Very soon,” Patel replied when asked when the PFFs would become operational.

“After the submission of a report by the UAE delegation, we will try to expedite the whole process and would like to start this facility as early as possible,” he said.

“We are thankful to the UAE government as due to their efforts and the personal interest of Sheikh Al-Maktoum, who engaged a consortium of G-42, Sinopharm, Hayat Biotech Limited, and led a delegation for assessment and feasibility study of the project.”

Patel said that the team will visit regional blood centers in Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi to evaluate the readiness of the sites for PFFs.

The UAE delegation will submit its report in about two weeks, “and then we will sign an agreement to cover its legal framework.”

Patel said that the facilities would save Pakistan precious foreign exchange by reducing the need to import several expensive medicines.

“No country can sustain without working on plasma farming, as we have to import all the plasma-based medicines, which cost us millions of dollars in foreign exchange,” he said, adding that plasma would also be easily available, especially for thalassemia, hepatitis and cancer patients.

The minister said that Pakistan was also in talks with the UAE to establish a genetic database profiling system to digitalize the Pakistani health system, revamp major hospitals across the country, and help in the modernization of health equipment and staff training.

“The visit was successful,” Rashed Abdulrehman Al-Zamar, deputy head of mission at the UAE Embassy in Islamabad, told Arab News. “The UAE is keen to invest in different sectors of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, especially in the health field.”


Founder of UK charity Penny Appeal visits Pakistan to review sustainable aid projects

Founder of UK charity Penny Appeal visits Pakistan to review sustainable aid projects
Updated 19 August 2022

Founder of UK charity Penny Appeal visits Pakistan to review sustainable aid projects

Founder of UK charity Penny Appeal visits Pakistan to review sustainable aid projects
  • Adeem Younis and two of his fellow trustees visited projects serving vulnerable people, including children, orphans and the elderly, and some of the 31 mosques established by the charity
  • ‘We all have a great love for Pakistan. There is so much beauty and so much potential, we all must play our part in helping lift our country up,’ said Mohammed Jehangir, chair of trustees

LONDON: The founder of UK-based humanitarian charity Penny Appeal, Adeem Younis, visited Pakistan recently to monitor and evaluate some of the development projects funded by the organization across the country with the aim of providing a sustainable and empowering route out of poverty.

The charity said it funds a diverse portfolio of relief projects in the country, including water wells, hunger relief, eye surgery, care for the elderly, homes for orphans and a number of schools.

“Now in its 13th year, the charity has helped transform the lives of over 20 million people around the world and has worked in 60 countries,” Penny Appeal said.

“To date, the charity has distributed an estimated £9.7 million ($10.7 million) in aid across Pakistan and been instrumental in disaster relief, as well as launching income-generating projects to support women and children in need.”

 

 

Younis, who was joined by fellow trustees Mohammed Jahangir and Irfan Rajput, visited some of Penny Appeal’s ongoing projects serving vulnerable groups including children, orphans and the elderly. The charity said it prioritizes projects that have long-term, multiplying effects on the lives of beneficiaries.

“With cutting-edge water-waste management for example, through its network of 9,334 kitchen gardens, the charity produces the equivalent of 65,000 meals every single day,” according to Penny Appeal.

“This is in addition to 18,645 tube wells benefiting 216,020 individuals, 461 deep wells benefiting 105,200 individuals, and 27 solar-powered wells and power centers benefiting 32,600 individuals.”

“We all have a great love for Pakistan,” said Mohammed Jehangir, the charity’s chair of trustees. “There is so much beauty and so much potential, we all must play our part in helping lift our country up.

The charity said it funds a diverse portfolio of relief projects in the country and a number of schools. (Supplied/Penny Appeal)

“There is so much to do, no one person can do everything but we can all do something and this is the wonderful spirit of Penny Appeal, enabling everyone to play their part.”

The charity said that by focusing on sustainability, it has helped transform Zakat receivers into Zakat givers. In 2018, for example, it provided 168 pregnant goats to vulnerable families and widows in Vehari District, Punjab province, and four years later the number of goats has grown to 1,512. With the income, meat and milk the animals provide, Penny Appeal said, families who once struggled to feed their children are now able to support multiple families in addition to their own.

“As a child of this nation I’m very privileged to be asked to support Penny Appeal’s incredible work in Pakistan,” Rajput said.

Adeem Younis visited some of Penny Appeal’s ongoing projects serving vulnerable groups including children, orphans and the elderly. (Supplied/Penny Appeal)

“The charity brings a wealth of expertise and experience, and its multi-pronged approach to sustainable development will help those in need not just lift themselves out of poverty but lift generations of Pakistanis out of poverty for good.”

The trustees also visited a few of the 31 mosques established by the charity, which serve 31,800 people. In addition to providing places of worship they are also used to provide about 6,700 children with a comprehensive Islamic education.

The charity began in Pakistan, Younis said, and “it’s here where we draw our inspiration to serve vulnerable people and communities all over the world … we want to help people not just escape poverty but become agents of change in their own communities.”

Related


UN chief urges more effort to ensure access to Ukrainian grain

UN chief urges more effort to ensure access to Ukrainian grain
Updated 19 August 2022

UN chief urges more effort to ensure access to Ukrainian grain

UN chief urges more effort to ensure access to Ukrainian grain
  • Guterres called for unimpeded access to global markets for Russian food and fertilisers

KYIV: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday there was still much more to do to ensure full global access to Ukrainian food products and Russian food and fertilizers after a UN-brokered food export deal.
At a briefing in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa, Guterres said developing countries needed help to purchase such grain and called for unimpeded access to global markets for Russian food and fertilizers which are not subject to sanctions.
“This is an agreement between two parties locked in bitter conflict. It is unprecedented in scope and scale. But there is still a long way to go on many fronts,” he said.
“It is time for massive and generous support so developing countries can purchase the food from this and other ports – and people can buy it,” he said.