UK aid agency workers killed in Syria earthquake

Thousands of people across Turkiye and Syria have lost their lives in the devastating earthquake. (AFP)
Thousands of people across Turkiye and Syria have lost their lives in the devastating earthquake. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 07 February 2023

UK aid agency workers killed in Syria earthquake

Thousands of people across Turkiye and Syria have lost their lives in the devastating earthquake
  • Medic, who worked for Action For Humanity, also lost her infant in the earthquake

LONDON: Action For Humanity, the UK based-parent charity of Syria Relief, confirmed that two of its staff members were killed in Idlib, Syria, after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country on Monday.

According to a statement released by AFH, the group was unable to name the staff members, as their families were yet to be notified, but confirmed one was a doctor working in one of the organization’s mobile health clinics.

The medic’s child was also killed in the quake.

Othman Moqbel, AFH’s Chief Executive Officer said: “We are sad to confirm a member of the Action For Humanity team has lost her life, as has her child.”

He continued: “She was a doctor who was motivated with saving the lives of people impacted by the crisis in Syria, sadly, she has lost her life. If she hadn’t she would be there now trying to help as many people as possible, just like the rest of her colleagues.”

The earthquake hit a wide area in south-eastern Türkiye and Northern Syria, killing thousands of people. Reports of new deaths and injuries are being confirmed on the hour.  

Meanwhile, international NGO World Vision also expressed concern about the fate of children caught up in the disaster.

“In the middle of a harsh winter, already incredibly vulnerable children and families have now been shaken to their core by this devastating earthquake, which is likely to affect thousands in Northern Syria and southern Turkiye,” said Johan Mooij, Response Director for World Vision’s Syria Crisis Response.

“I am devastated by this sad news, and we will do everything we can to help those who were affected.

“As well as rapidly assessing how we can support the relief effort, we are also confirming the wellbeing of our staff in Turkiye and Syria – all of whom are safe. It is a reminder of how challenging these situations can be for all involved,” he added.

 


Shamima Begum’s former friend who inspired her to join Daesh ridicules her as ‘non-believer’

Shamima Begum’s former friend who inspired her to join Daesh ridicules her as ‘non-believer’
Updated 22 March 2023

Shamima Begum’s former friend who inspired her to join Daesh ridicules her as ‘non-believer’

Shamima Begum’s former friend who inspired her to join Daesh ridicules her as ‘non-believer’
  • BBC tracked Sharmeena Begum after escaping from Syria’s Camp Hol
  • Former London schoolgirl discovered to be raising money to help Daesh regroup

LONDON: Shamima Begum’s best friend, whom she claims inspired her to join Daesh, was tracked down by the BBC after escaping from a Syrian detention camp. 

Sharmeena Begum, no relation, was Shamima Begum’s schoolmate in Bethnal Green, east London. In December 2014, she fled to join Daesh in Syria, with Shamima and two other friends following her two months later.

The BBC tracked Sharmeena down after she escaped from Camp Hol prison for women who were with Daesh and their children.

A journalist from the “Shamima Begum Story” podcast, posing as a sympathizer, contacted Sharmeena online after receiving a tip-off about a social media account she was using.

In her exchanges with the BBC, Sharmeena ridiculed Shamima as a failure and a non-believer, claiming she had tainted the reputation of the women who had joined Daesh. 

Sharmeena also said her former friend was “just another individual, living off the benefits” who did not contribute at all.

Sharmeena, still in Syria, is in hiding and going by a different identity.

A former Daesh member told the BBC that she is fanatical even according to the extremist group’s standards. 

When asked if she regretted joining Daesh, Sharmeena dodged the question, saying only that she did not want to return to the UK and be sent to prison. 

The BBC also discovered Sharmeena illegally fundraising for Daesh members while in hiding. She has been posting about detention camp conditions on social media while appealing for cryptocurrencies. 

Although it is unclear how much money she has raised in total, one account revealed 29 transactions totaling $3,000. 

The commander of the Syrian Democratic Forces who guards detainees at Camp Hol expressed concern that money like this is assisting Daesh in regrouping, purchasing weapons, and planning escapes and attacks. 

“If we...look at the camps, there are little children who are a few years old and are being raised on the ideology of how to kill,” Gen. Newroz Ahmed told the BBC, saying that her people are among those being targeted and killed.

Camp Hol hosts over 65,000 people of 57 different nationalities. Guards say they have discovered grenades, guns and explosive belts smuggled in and that 50 people have been murdered there over the last six months, the BBC reported.

For her part, Shamima said Sharmeena played a big role in influencing her to run away to Syria to join the extremist “caliphate.” 

Shamima told the BBC: “I was being manipulated into thinking this was the right thing to do and I was being manipulated with lies about where I would be going and what I would be doing. 

“I mean, in my opinion, even though Sharmeena probably is still radical, I will say she was also a victim of (Daesh),” she added.


Romania further extends influencer Andrew Tate detention

Romania further extends influencer Andrew Tate detention
Updated 22 March 2023

Romania further extends influencer Andrew Tate detention

Romania further extends influencer Andrew Tate detention
  • Tate, 36, and his brother Tristan, 34, were arrested in late December
  • Their detention has been extended every month since then by Romanian judges

BUCHAREST: A Romanian court on Wednesday extended the detention of controversial influencer Andrew Tate while he’s being investigated along with his brother for alleged human trafficking and rape.
Tate, 36, and his brother Tristan, 34, were arrested in late December, and their detention has been extended every month since then by Romanian judges.
Under Romania’s legal system, pre-trial detention can be extended to a maximum of 180 days, pending possible indictment.
The Bucharest Tribunal ruled to extend their detention by a further 30 days, a decision which can be appealed.
The latest extension left the brothers “speechless,” their media team said.
“The substantial material damages they have suffered are nothing compared to the moral ones. Their image has been irreparably harmed,” it said.
The brothers continue to deny all charges brought against them.
Tate, a British-American former kickboxer who has millions of online followers, along with his younger brother and two Romanian women, are under investigation for allegedly “forming an organized criminal group, human trafficking and rape.”
As part of the probe, Romanian police raided several properties connected to the Tate brothers and seized many of their assets, including a collection of luxury cars.
A court document from January said that one woman was “recruited” from the UK after she fell in love with Andrew Tate, who then brought her to Romania “with the goal of sexual exploitation.”
In 2016, Tate appeared on the “Big Brother” reality television show in Britain but was removed after a video emerged showing him attacking a woman.
He then turned to social media platforms to promote his divisive views before being banned for misogynistic remarks and hate speech.
Tate was allowed back on Twitter after the South African billionaire Elon Musk bought the company.


Pakistani parliament’s ruling sought over ex-PM Khan’s party

Pakistani parliament’s ruling sought over ex-PM Khan’s party
Updated 22 March 2023

Pakistani parliament’s ruling sought over ex-PM Khan’s party

Pakistani parliament’s ruling sought over ex-PM Khan’s party
  • The ruling was asked for in a joint session of parliament convened over the instability caused by the crisis over Khan
  • The clashes erupted after Khan's supporters prevented police and paramilitary forces from arresting him

LAHORE, Pakistan: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Wednesday sought a parliament ruling to empower authorities to tackle former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party’s alleged involvement in violence.
The ruling was asked for in a joint session of parliament convened over the instability caused by the crisis over Khan.
Sanaullah told the house nearly 68 security personnel were injured in clashes and 16 arrested Khan aides will be tried on terrorism charges.
The clashes erupted after Khan’s supporters prevented police and paramilitary forces from arresting him in a case in which he is accused of unlawfully selling state gifts during his tenure as premier from 2018-2022. He denies any wrongdoing.
The minister requested the house give “guidance” to the government about the violence stoked by Khan’s supporters, who he said included “miscreants, armed groups, and terrorists.”
“It is required that the security forces should be given authority and other measures to deal with this issue,” he said, adding that Khan’s agenda is “chaos and anarchy.”
The government has alleged that Khan’s supporters had militants among them and ministers have called for proscribing Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Khan has rejected the allegation, saying that the government wanted his party out of politics.
The former premier has demanded snap elections since he was ousted in a parliamentary vote of confidence in April last year.
Khan’s successor Shehbaz Sharif has said that a general election will be held as scheduled later this year.

Related


Nobel Peace committee ‘deplores’ actions against Russia’s Memorial

Nobel Peace committee ‘deplores’ actions against Russia’s Memorial
Updated 22 March 2023

Nobel Peace committee ‘deplores’ actions against Russia’s Memorial

Nobel Peace committee ‘deplores’ actions against Russia’s Memorial
  • "The Norwegian Nobel Committee deplores the arrest of and legal actions taken against Jan Rachinsky and other leading members of Memorial," Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the committee, said
  • The rights group said Tuesday that Russian authorities had opened a criminal case against Oleg Orlov for "discrediting" the army

OSLO: The Nobel Committee in charge of the Peace Prize on Wednesday condemned the legal actions and what it called “unfounded” charges against members of the prize-winning Russian human rights organization Memorial.
“The Norwegian Nobel Committee deplores the arrest of and legal actions taken against Jan Rachinsky and other leading members of Memorial,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, chair of the committee, said in a statement.
“The charges made against them are unfounded and must be dropped,” she said.
The rights group said Tuesday that Russian authorities had opened a criminal case against Oleg Orlov, the co-chair of Memorial, for “discrediting” the army.
The announcement came after security officials raided the homes of several Memorial employees including Orlov, 69, and Rachinsky, its 64-year-old co-founder, earlier in the day.
Memorial established itself as a pillar of civil society by preserving the memory of victims of communist repression and campaigning against rights violations in Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
The raids took place after investigators accused Memorial staff of allegedly including World War Two-era Nazi collaborators on their list of victims of political terror, the organization said.
Memorial was disbanded by Russian authorities in late 2021, just months before Putin sent troops to Ukraine.
“(I have) constant pain and shame for the horror that our army is creating in a neighboring sovereign state,” Orlov told AFP last year.
Memorial received the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize along with the jailed Belorusian activist Ales Bialiatski and Ukraine’s Center for Civil Liberties.
Rachinsky said last year that the prize came as a surprise and would give all Russian rights defenders “new strength and inspiration.”
After the start of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine, Russian authorities expanded a crackdown on dissent, jailing or pushing into exile nearly all prominent Kremlin critics.
Public criticism of Moscow’s assault on Ukraine is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.


UAE looks to more engagement with India ahead of G20 summit

UAE Ambassador to India Abdulnasser Jamal Al-Shaali speaks to Arab News in an interview on Tuesday. (AN photo)
UAE Ambassador to India Abdulnasser Jamal Al-Shaali speaks to Arab News in an interview on Tuesday. (AN photo)
Updated 22 March 2023

UAE looks to more engagement with India ahead of G20 summit

UAE Ambassador to India Abdulnasser Jamal Al-Shaali speaks to Arab News in an interview on Tuesday. (AN photo)
  • Bilateral relations received boost with last year’s free trade pact
  • Now UAE is also focusing on people-to-people relations, says envoy

NEW DELHI: The UAE wants to expand ties with India beyond the economic spectrum, Abu Dhabi’s envoy to New Delhi told Arab News, as the two countries are increasing engagement during the Indian presidency of the Group of 20 largest economies.

Economic ties between the two countries received a major boost when their Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement came into force in May last year. The landmark deal reduced tariffs on about 80 percent of all goods and provided zero-duty access to 90 percent of Indian exports.

“The momentum has been great. We have had many senior officials coming from the UAE and from India visiting the UAE. We have had quite a few ministers visit. We have a minister visiting almost every month. And non-oil bilateral trade is now above $40 billion and the target is $100 billion by 2027,” UAE Ambassador to India Abdulnasser Jamal Al-Shaali told Arab News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

“We are keen on expanding ties with India in every possible way, so not just in the bilateral spectrum of things, but also exploring trilateral, multilateral venues ... you would see us being very active as well in the G20 presidency by the Indian government.”

While Saudi Arabia is the only Middle Eastern country in the G20, India, which is chairing the group this year, can invite non-G20 members to its processes and meetings.

The UAE is India’s special guest — alongside Oman and Egypt — and will also take part in the group’s summit in September.

The growing representation of Middle Eastern countries will result in a “higher engagement between India and the countries in the region,” the UAE ambassador said.

“Alignment in the G20 is important not only between India and the countries in the Arab world, but also among the G20 countries and among the countries that get invited,” Al-Shaali said.

The Indian government, he added, has “made sure that it has a different kind of representation in the G20 meeting than what we have seen in the past few years, and this further affirms the commitment that India has to the region and, of course, it has the region’s support in its G20 presidency.”

While economic ties between New Delhi and Abu Dhabi are reaching new heights under last year’s trade pact, the UAE is also investing in people-to-people relations.

“We are only just starting,” Al-Shaali said. “We are focusing a lot on people-to-people ties. We have just signed an MoU on establishing cultural councils, the second chapter of the India-UAE business council has been established as well ... we are exploring all venues; we are expanding in the areas both countries are interested in.”