Libyan minister says journalists asked to leave flood-hit Derna

Libyan minister says journalists asked to leave flood-hit Derna
The enormous flood, fuelled by torrential rains on September 10, had broken through two upstream dams and sent a giant wave crashing down the previously dry river bed, or wadi, that bisects the city of about 100,000 people. (AFP)
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Updated 19 September 2023
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Libyan minister says journalists asked to leave flood-hit Derna

Libyan minister says journalists asked to leave flood-hit Derna
  • Large number of journalists was hampering the work of rescue teams

TUNIS: Eastern Libyan authorities have asked journalists to leave the flood-hit city of Derna, a government minister told Reuters on Tuesday, saying the large number of journalists was hampering the work of rescue teams.
"It is an attempt to create better conditions for the rescue teams to carry out the work more smoothly and effectively," Hichem Abu Chkiouat, minister of civil aviation in the administration that runs eastern Libya, said by phone.
"The large number of journalists has become an impediment to the work of rescue teams."

The prime minister of Libya’s eastern administration said Tuesday that authorities have divided the flood-stricken city of Derna into four sections to create buffers in case of disease outbreaks, a day after thousands of angry protesters demanded the city’s rapid reconstruction.
Last week, two dams collapsed during Mediterranean storm Daniel, sending a wall of water gushing through Derna. Government officials and aid agencies have given death tolls ranging from about 4,000 to 11,000.
“Now the affected areas are completely isolated, the armed forces and the government have begun creating a buffer out of fear of the spread of diseases or epidemics,” Prime Minister Ossama Hamad said in a telephone interview with Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV. No further details were given.
According to local media, the Internet went down in the east of the country on Tuesday morning.
On Monday, the United Nations warned that a disease outbreak could create “a second devastating crisis.”
Libyan protesters gathered in central Derna on Monday in the first mass demonstration since the flood. Outside the city’s Al-Shabana mosque thousands called for a rapid investigation into the disaster, the urgent reconstruction of the city and other demands.
On Monday evening, the former mayor of the city, Abdel-Moneim Al-Gaithi, said his home was set on fire by protesters. Public prosecutors opened an investigation on Saturday into the collapse of the two dams, built in the 1970s, as well as the allocation of maintenance funds for them. That same day Al-Gaithi was suspended pending the investigation.
Many of the city’s residents see politicians as the architects of the crisis. The country has been divided between rival administrations since 2014. Both are backed by international patrons and armed militias whose influence in the country has ballooned since a NATO-backed Arab Spring uprising toppled autocratic ruler Muammar Qaddafi in 2011.
Both authorities have deployed humanitarian teams to the city but have struggled to respond to the large-scale disaster. The recovery operation, with help from international teams, has been poorly coordinated, and residents say aid distribution has been uneven.
Conflicting death tolls and statistics have been released by various official bodies.
Bashir Omar, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Tuesday search and rescue teams were still retrieving bodies from under the rubble of wrecked buildings and from the sea. He told The Associated Press that the fatalities are “in the thousands,” but didn’t give a specific toll for retrieved bodies, explaining that there are many groups involved in collecting them.
Libya’s Red Crescent had said last week that at least 11,300 people have been killed and an additional 10,000 are missing. After earlier reporting the same death toll, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is now citing far lower numbers, about 4,000 people killed and 9,000 missing.


Emirati market opens in Qingdao to celebrate 40 years of UAE-China relations

Emirati market opens in Qingdao to celebrate 40 years of UAE-China relations
Updated 7 sec ago
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Emirati market opens in Qingdao to celebrate 40 years of UAE-China relations

Emirati market opens in Qingdao to celebrate 40 years of UAE-China relations
  • Market includes pavilions selling dates, traditional handicrafts, and popular Emirati cuisine

DUBAI: The UAE opened an Emirati market in Qingdao on Saturday as part of the UAE-China Friendship Festival, which ends Sunday.

The festival marks 40 years of diplomatic relations between the two nations, showcasing a diverse array of Emirati products and arts to the Chinese public, the Emirates News Agency (WAM) reported.

The market includes pavilions selling dates, traditional handicrafts, and popular Emirati cuisine. There is also an exhibition chronicling the development of relations between the UAE and China.

The festival also features a “comprehensive cultural program” that includes performances of traditional arts “celebrating the UAE's national identity,” as well as workshops.

This event is part of a broader series of activities in both countries aimed at “enhancing mutual understanding and fostering new opportunities for cooperation across various sectors,” according to WAM.
 


UAE, GCC welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestine

UAE, GCC welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestine
Updated 20 July 2024
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UAE, GCC welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestine

UAE, GCC welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestine
  • ICJ had reinforced the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights under international law, Albudaiwi says

DUBAI: The UAE and the Gulf Cooperation Council have welcomed a ruling by the UN’s top court that Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory break international law.

The International Court of Justice issued the judgment, which is non-binding, on Friday.

The court ruled that “the transfer by Israel of settlers to the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as Israel’s maintenance of their presence, is contrary to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the country rejected all measures aimed at altering the historical and legal status of occupied Palestine.

The ministry condemned practices that contravene international resolutions, warning that such actions “threaten further escalation and instability in the region, and hinder efforts to achieve peace and stability.” It also emphasized the importance of supporting initiatives to advance the peace process in the Middle East as well as bringing an end to “Israel’s illegal practices that undermine an independent Palestinian state.”

GCC Secretary-General Jassem Mohamed Albudaiwi said that the ICJ had reinforced the Palestinian people’s legitimate rights under international law and UN resolutions to reclaim territories occupied by Israel. He asserted that the settlement activities and geographic changes imposed by Israeli forces are “illegitimate and lack regional or international recognition.”

Albudaiwi reiterated that the Occupied Territories remain “the inherent right of the Palestinian people” and reaffirmed the GCC’s steadfast support for the Palestinian cause, advocating for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The ICJ’s ruling comes against the backdrop of Israel’s devastating bombardment on Gaza, following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli settlements adjacent to the Palestinian enclave.

Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in 1967, but Palestinians consider those areas to be an integral part of any future independent state.

The ruling was also welcomed by Saudi Arabia and the Muslim World League.


 


Moroccan ex-minister hit with five-year jail sentence

Moroccan ex-minister hit with five-year jail sentence
Updated 20 July 2024
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Moroccan ex-minister hit with five-year jail sentence

Moroccan ex-minister hit with five-year jail sentence
  • The charges relate to funds the Moroccan Liberal Party (PML) received in a 2015 electoral campaign
  • Ziane, who was human rights minister between 1995 and 1996, has been in detention since November 2022

RABAT: Moroccan opposition figure and former minister Mohamed Ziane has been sentenced to five years in prison while serving a three-year term in another case, his lawyer said on Saturday.
The former Rabat bar association president was convicted on charges of “embezzlement and squandering of public funds,” the lawyer Ali Reda Ziane, who is also his son, told AFP.
The charges relate to funds the Moroccan Liberal Party (PML) — of which Mohamed Ziane was founder and chief — received in a 2015 electoral campaign.
“This is a form of life sentence for an 81-year-old man while legally nothing has been proven,” said the lawyer, who plans to appeal the ruling.
Ziane, who was human rights minister between 1995 and 1996, has been in detention since November 2022, after being sentenced the three years on appeal.
The opposition figure had become known in recent years for statements criticizing the authorities in Morocco, particularly the intelligence services.
He said he was being judged “because of his opinions.”
The proceedings follow an interior ministry complaint on seven counts, among them contempt of public officials and justice, insults against a constituted body, defamation, adultery and sexual harassment.
In the same case, the financial crimes chamber of the Rabat appeals court sentenced the PML treasurer and a party administrative employee to five years in prison and one year in prison plus a one-year suspended sentence, respectively.


Gaza hospital says newborn saved from dead mother’s womb

Gaza hospital says newborn saved from dead mother’s womb
Updated 20 July 2024
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Gaza hospital says newborn saved from dead mother’s womb

Gaza hospital says newborn saved from dead mother’s womb
  • Doctors were unable to save the mother, but performed an ultrasound that detected the baby’s heartbeat
  • They quickly staged an emergency cesarean section “and extracted the fetus”

GAZA: A Gaza hospital said Saturday it saved a baby boy from his mother’s womb after she died from wounds sustained in an Israeli strike.
Ola Adnan Harb Al-Kurd, who was nine months pregnant, barely survived a punishing night of missile strikes that rescue services across the Hamas-run territory said killed more than 24 people, including six members of the same family.
But by the time Kurd reached Al-Awda Hospital, she was “almost dead,” according to surgeon Akram Hussein.
Doctors were unable to save the mother, but performed an ultrasound that detected the baby’s heartbeat.
They quickly staged an emergency cesarean section “and extracted the fetus,” the surgeon told AFP.
The newborn was initially in critical condition, but after receiving oxygen and medical attention was stabilized, said Raed Al-Saudi, head of the hospital’s obstetrics and gynaecology department.
He was placed in an incubator and transferred to Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir el-Balah.
Kurd was among three women and a child killed by an Israeli missile fired on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, according to a medical official at Al-Awda Hospital. Her husband was also wounded in the strike on the family home.
Israel has not confirmed individual strikes, but a military statement said troops were “conducting targeted raids on terrorist infrastructure sites” in central Gaza.
Israel has stepped up its offensive in several parts of the territory in line with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s order to increase pressure on Hamas following the Palestinian militants’ attacks on southern Israel on October 7.
One man was killed in a drone hit while riding a bicycle on a street near the southern city of Khan Yunis, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Air strikes on two homes in Gaza City in the north each left six dead, according to the civil defense agency and paramedics.
Israel’s military statement said “troops eliminated a number of terrorists in several different encounters” and had launched an operation on the Tal Al-Sultan refugee camp near the southern city of Rafah.
The war in Gaza has made childbirth increasingly perilous, with pregnant women facing not only near-daily strikes that hamper access to health facilities, but also widespread food insecurity, degrading sanitary conditions and water scarcity.
The few hospitals that are still working have been stretched to breaking point, according to humanitarian groups.
Pre-term deliveries and maternal complications, including eclampsia, haemorrhage and sepsis, have been rising, Doctors Without Borders said this week.


Australia calls for ‘concrete steps’ on Israeli settler violence after ICJ apartheid ruling

Australia calls for ‘concrete steps’ on Israeli settler violence after ICJ apartheid ruling
Updated 20 July 2024
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Australia calls for ‘concrete steps’ on Israeli settler violence after ICJ apartheid ruling

Australia calls for ‘concrete steps’ on Israeli settler violence after ICJ apartheid ruling
  • FM Penny Wong says visas will be denied to settlers, reiterates need for two-state solution
  • International Court of Justice calls for end to occupation, reparations for ‘internationally wrongful acts’

 

LONDON: Australia has called on Israel to do more to stop violence by settlers in the Occupied Territories after the International Court of Justice ruled that Israel is responsible for overseeing an apartheid system.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Israel needs to take “concrete steps” to end “extremist settler activity,” adding in a statement published on X that Canberra considers the occupation a “significant obstacle” to peace in the region.

“We respect the independence of the court and its critical role in upholding international law and the rules-based order,” Wong’s statement read.

“We are carefully considering the detail of the ICJ opinion to fully understand the conclusions reached.”

She said Australia will deny travel visas into the country to anyone identified as a settler. “A just and enduring peace will require the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to self-determination to be realised,” she added.

“We want to see concrete steps taken by Israel to cease the expansion of settlements and to respond to extremist settler activity.”

In its non-bonding advisory opinion, the ICJ said Israel should end the occupation “as rapidly as possible” and take steps to fund reparations for “internationally wrongful acts.”

Its publication follows a request in 2022 by the UN General Assembly to assess legal consequences of Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories.

Tirana Hassan, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement: “In a historic ruling the International Court of Justice has found multiple and serious international law violations by Israel towards Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including, for the first time, finding Israel responsible for apartheid. 

“The court has placed responsibility with all states and the United Nations to end these violations of international law.

“The ruling should be yet another wake up call for the United States to end its egregious policy of defending Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and prompt a thorough reassessment in other countries as well.”