UK immigration minister says it is ‘fair’ for asylum-seekers to share hotel rooms 

UK immigration minister says it is ‘fair’ for asylum-seekers to share hotel rooms 
Pro-immigration protestors argue with an anti-immigration protestor, during a calling a migrant processing centre to be closed in Manston, UK. (File/Reuters)
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Updated 04 June 2023
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UK immigration minister says it is ‘fair’ for asylum-seekers to share hotel rooms 

UK immigration minister says it is ‘fair’ for asylum-seekers to share hotel rooms 
  • Jenrick says his duty is to British taxpayers than migrants

LONDON: UK Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said that in some cases it was “fair and reasonable” to ask asylum-seekers to share rooms in hotels.

Speaking to the BBC’s “Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg” program, Jenrick said that his obligation was to the British public rather than migrants and that he had to look after taxpayers.  

The interview came after dozens asylum-seekers, who were offered accommodation in a London hotel last week, refused to enter after being told to sleep four to a room.

In a letter to the home secretary, the head of Westminster Council, Adam Huq, voiced his concern that people who “are likely to have been through significant and traumatic events” were being made to share “an inappropriately sized room with multiple strangers.”

According to Jenrick, the government did not want to use hotels since it was “taking away valuable assets for the local business community ... people’s weddings and personal events had to be canceled.

“But where we are using them, it's right that we get good value for money for the taxpayer,” the minister told the BBC. 

“And so, if single adult males can share a room, and it’s legal to do so, which will obviously depend on the size of the accommodation, then we’ll ask people to do that,” he added.

Jenrick denied that it was government policy to house asylum-seekers and migrants in shared rooms.

He also suggested people were lodging illegitimate asylum claims, telling the BBC that the UK’s system was “riddled with abuse” and the country could not be allowed to be “perceived as a soft touch.”

The government is required by law to provide basic accommodation to asylum-seekers who are not permitted to work while their claim is being processed.

Typically, asylum-seekers would be accommodated in hotels or hostels for a few weeks before being transferred to long-term housing

However, with a rise in asylum-seekers and a backlog of processing claims, hotels are increasingly being used to provide temporary housing.

According to the BBC, the use of hotels is costing almost £7 million ($8.7 million) a day, which has sparked criticism among many Conservative MPs. 

In response to Jenrick’s interview, the UK’s Labour party responded: “After 13 years of Tory failure, the asylum system isn’t just broken — it’s costing taxpayers a fortune — only Labour has a proper plan to stop dangerous boat crossings.”


US imposes Sudan-related sanctions - US Treasury website

US imposes Sudan-related sanctions - US Treasury website
Updated 11 sec ago
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US imposes Sudan-related sanctions - US Treasury website

US imposes Sudan-related sanctions - US Treasury website
  • Sanctions target one individual and two entities, including one Russian-based company

WASHINGTON: The United States has imposed fresh Sudan-related sanctions, targeting one individual and two entities, including one Russian-based company, according to a notice posted on the US Department of Treasury website on Thursday.


UK, French defense ministers in Ukraine for aid talks

UK, French defense ministers in Ukraine for aid talks
Updated 6 min 17 sec ago
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UK, French defense ministers in Ukraine for aid talks

UK, French defense ministers in Ukraine for aid talks
  • Their visits came ahead of Kyiv’s first Defense Industries Forum
  • “I’ve been back to Kyiv this week to ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky what he needs to win,” UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said

KYIV: The British and French defense ministers visited Kyiv Thursday to discuss further military aid to Ukraine to bolster Kyiv’s counter-offensive against Russian forces.
Their visits came ahead of Kyiv’s first Defense Industries Forum, where Ukrainian officials were set to meet representatives from over 160 defense firms and 26 countries.
“I’ve been back to Kyiv this week to ask Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky what he needs to win,” UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said on his first trip to the Ukrainian capital in that role.
French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu is expected to hold talks with Zelensky and his new Defense Minister Rustem Umerov.
“We know that this war is going to last... We must ensure that tomorrow we continue to be reliable in our aid to Ukraine,” Lecornu said, after laying flowers at a memorial to Ukraine’s fallen soldiers.
Both Britain and France have supplied Ukraine with long-range cruise missiles which the Kremlin says can be used to strike Russian territory.
Ukraine has repeatedly asked for more Western arms, including longer-range weapons, to regain occupied territory.
Kyiv launched its counter-offensive in June but has acknowledged slow progress as its forces encounter lines of heavily fortified Russian defenses.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, who also visited Kyiv on Thursday, said Ukraine was slowly clawing back territory from Russian forces.
“Every meter that Ukrainian forces regain is a meter that Russia loses,” he said.


How Arabic language influences everyday lives of Filipinos 

How Arabic language influences everyday lives of Filipinos 
Updated 28 September 2023
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How Arabic language influences everyday lives of Filipinos 

How Arabic language influences everyday lives of Filipinos 
  • Many Tagalog words of everyday use trace their origin to Arabic 
  • First Arabs began to reach the Philippines around the 1000s 

MANILA: As they wish others well or express gratitude, Filipinos often use words that were not originally present in their native languages. Few know that one of the main sources of those terms is Arabic, which centuries ago had major influence on the region. 

The first Arabs began to reach the southern Philippines, especially the Sulu and Mindanao islands, around the beginning of the second millennium of the Common Era — a few hundred years before Islam began to dominate the region around the year 1380, when the first mosque was established in Tawi-Tawi. 

“It’s a long story if we speak of the influence of Arabs in the Philippines. It could be dated probably as early as the ninth, 10th, 11th century onward,” Prof. Julkipli Wadi, dean of the Institute of Islamic Studies at the University of the Philippines, told Arab News. 

Like in most of Southeast Asia, the influence of Arabic and Arab culture began through trade with coastal communities, from where it spread further into the islands that nowadays constitute the Philippine archipelago. 

Later, Islam entered the same way. And it was one of the most peaceful processes. 

“Why? Because apart from the traders, the conversion happened, in fact, through intermarriages,” Wadi said. 

“The remnants of the influence could be shown in Filipino languages.” 

The term most Filipinos use to say “thank you” is “salamat” — deriving straight from the Arabic “salam” (peace). The phrase “alam mo ba?” — “do you know?” — comes from the Arabic ‘‘ilm,” which means knowledge. 

And there are many more such terms, without which everyday conversations may not be possible. 

One of the most popular Tagalog words is “mabuhay,” which can be translated as “may you have a long life.” 

Wadi said: “The root word is ‘hayy,’ which means life (in Arabic).” The opposite, death, which is “namatay” in Tagalog, is also derived from Arabic, from the word “mawt.” 

He added: “Even our basic concepts of life and death are actually Arabic … Deep in our psychology and spirituality is the Islamic influence.” 

They are also reflected in the culture of the predominantly Catholic country, where nowadays Muslims constitute roughly 5 percent of the population. 

Wadi believes this is what possibly makes it easier for Filipinos to connect with the Arab communities that host nearly 2 million of them in the Middle East. 

“When they go to the Middle East, Filipinos can easily relate with Arabs,” he said. 

“I think it is because there is the rootedness of their relationships that is traceable to their past.”  


NATO’s secretary-general meets with Zelensky to discuss battlefield and ammunition needs in Ukraine

NATO’s secretary-general meets with Zelensky to discuss battlefield and ammunition needs in Ukraine
Updated 28 September 2023
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NATO’s secretary-general meets with Zelensky to discuss battlefield and ammunition needs in Ukraine

NATO’s secretary-general meets with Zelensky to discuss battlefield and ammunition needs in Ukraine
  • Zelensky said that Stoltenberg agreed to make efforts to get NATO members to help provide additional air defense systems to protect Ukraine’s power plants
  • Stoltenberg said that NATO has contracts for $2.5 billion in ammunition for Ukraine

KYIV: NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met with President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss the status of the war and needs of troops on Thursday, the day after Russia accused Ukraine’s Western allies of helping plan and conduct last week’s missile strike on the Black Sea Fleet’s headquarters on the annexed Crimean Peninsula.
Zelensky said that Stoltenberg agreed to make efforts to get NATO members to help provide additional air defense systems to protect Ukraine’s power plants and energy infrastructure that were badly damaged in relentless and deadly attacks by Russia last winter. He also reminded the secretary-general of the persistent attacks that often strike civilian areas, including 40 drone attacks overnight.
“In the face of such intense attacks against Ukrainians, against our cities, our ports, which are crucial for global food security, we need a corresponding intensity of pressure on Russia and a strengthening of our air defense,” Zelensky said. “The world must see how Russia is losing dearly so that our shared values ultimately prevail.”
Stoltenberg said that NATO has contracts for 2.4 billion euros ($2.5 billion) in ammunition for Ukraine, including 155 mm Howitzer shells, anti-tank guided missiles and tank ammunition.
“The stronger Ukraine becomes, the closer we become to ending Russia’s aggression,” Stoltenberg said. “Russia could lay down arms and end its war today. Ukraine doesn’t have that option. Ukraine’s surrender would not mean peace. It would mean brutal Russian occupation. Peace at any price would be no peace at all.”
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had said the attack on the Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Crimea had been coordinated with the help of US and UK security agencies, and that NATO satellites and reconnaissance planes also played a role.
Ukraine said without providing supporting evidence that the attack had killed 34 officers and wounded 105 others. But it also claimed to have killed the fleet’s commander, Adm. Viktor Sokolov, who was shown on Russian state television on Wednesday speaking with reporters in the Black Sea city of Sevastopol.
Unconfirmed news reports said Storm Shadow missiles provided to Ukraine by the UK and France were used in the attack on the Russian navy installation. The UK Ministry of Defense, which in the past has declined to discuss intelligence-related matters, didn’t comment on Zakharova’s remarks.
The meeting with Stoltenberg came the same day the French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu visited the memorial wall that honors fallen soldiers in Kyiv and the day after UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps met with Zelensky to reaffirm the UK’s support for Ukraine and pledged to provide more ammunition as Kyiv’s counteroffensive plods forward toward the season when damp and cold weather could slow progress.
Shapps, who hosted a Ukrainian family in his home for a year, said that he was personally aggrieved by what the country had endured.
“Our support for you, for Ukraine remains absolutely undented,” Shapps said in a video posted by Zelensky. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with you. We feel your pain of what’s happened and we want to see a resolution, which is the resolution that you want and require.”
Zelensky has pushed for Ukraine to join NATO, but at the organization’s annual summit this summer in Lithuania, members of the trans-Atlantic military alliance pledged more support for Ukraine but stopped short of extending an invitation for the country to join the alliance.
NATO leaders said during the summit that they would allow Ukraine to join the alliance “when allies agree and conditions are met.” They also decided to remove obstacles on Ukraine’s membership path so that it can join more quickly once the war with Russia is over.
Zelensky said Thursday that Ukraine is working on a plan that will outline practical steps for Ukraine to align with the principles and standards of NATO.
“And it is very important that the allies have agreed that Ukraine does not need an action plan for NATO membership,” Zelensky said.


American soldier who crossed into North Korea arrives back in the US, video appears to show

American soldier who crossed into North Korea arrives back in the US, video appears to show
Updated 28 September 2023
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American soldier who crossed into North Korea arrives back in the US, video appears to show

American soldier who crossed into North Korea arrives back in the US, video appears to show
  • North Korea abruptly announced Wednesday that it would expel Pvt. Travis King
  • His return was organized with the help of ally Sweden and rival China, according to the White House

SAN ANTONIO, USA: The American soldier who sprinted into North Korea across the heavily fortified border between the Koreas more than two months ago arrived back in the US early Thursday, video appeared to show.
North Korea abruptly announced Wednesday that it would expel Pvt. Travis King. His return was organized with the help of ally Sweden and rival China, according to the White House.
While officials have said King, 23, is in good health and the immediate focus will be on caring for him and reintegrating him into US society, his troubles are likely far from over.
King, who had served in South Korea, ran into the North while on a civilian tour of a border village on July 18, becoming the first American confirmed to be detained in the isolated country in nearly five years. At the time, he was supposed to be heading to Fort Bliss, Texas, following his release from prison in South Korea on an assault conviction.
He has been declared AWOL from the Army. In many cases, someone who is AWOL for more than a month can automatically be considered a deserter.
Punishment for going AWOL or desertion can vary, and it depends in part on whether the service member voluntarily returned or was apprehended. King’s handover by the North Koreans makes that more complicated.
Video aired Thursday by a Texas news station appeared to show King walking off a plane in San Antonio. Dressed in a dark top and pants, he could be seen speaking briefly with people waiting on the tarmac. He shook hands with one before being led into a building.
Emails seeking comment were sent to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, the Air Force and the Army.
Officials earlier said he would be taken to Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston. He is expected to undergo psychological assessments and debriefings, and he will also get a chance to meet with family.
He will be in military custody throughout the process since his legal situation is complicated.
Many questions remain about King’s case, including why he fled in the first place and why the North — which has tense relations with Washington over Pyongyang’s nuclear program, support for Russia’s war in Ukraine and other issues — agreed to turn him over.
The White House has not addressed North Korean state media reports that King fled because of his dismay about racial discrimination and inequality in the military and US society.
The North’s official Korean Central News Agency reported that King made such complaints but verifying that is impossible.
On Wednesday, Swedish officials took King to the Chinese border, where he was met by US Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns, the Swedish ambassador to China, and at least one US Defense Department official.
He was then flown to a US military base in South Korea before heading to the US
His detention was relatively short by North Korean standards.
Several recent American detainees had been held for over a year — 17 months in the case of Otto Warmbier, a college student who was arrested during a group tour. Warmbier was in a coma when he was deported, and later died.
North Korea has often been accused of using American detainees as bargaining chips, and there had also been speculation that the North would try to maximize the propaganda value of a US soldier.
But analysts say King’s legal troubles could have limited his propaganda value, and Biden administration officials insisted they provided no concessions to North Korea to secure his release.