More than 1,000 Afghans who fled Taliban to travel to UK ‘to be made homeless in December’

More than 1,000 Afghans who fled Taliban to travel to UK ‘to be made homeless in December’
The first flight carrying Afghan refugees from Pakistan to the UK arrived on Friday. (File/AFP)
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Updated 29 October 2023
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More than 1,000 Afghans who fled Taliban to travel to UK ‘to be made homeless in December’

More than 1,000 Afghans who fled Taliban to travel to UK ‘to be made homeless in December’
  • Council leaders appealed for additional funding to help accommodate Afghans and Ukrainians, but none was offered

LONDON: More than 1,000 Afghans who fled the Taliban for a new life in the UK are facing the threat of being made homeless after the Home Office imposed a new deadline of Dec. 15 to evict them from hotels, The Guardian reported.

The Local Government Association says some Afghans who served UK interests in Afghanistan could already be sleeping on the streets after the government forced them out of hotels more than two years after they were evacuated from Kabul.

Separate new data shows that more than 5,200 Ukrainian families are currently receiving “homelessness support,” with 4,350 identified as homeless after relationships with UK families with whom they were residing “broke down.”

Council leaders appealed to Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick on Thursday for additional funding to help accommodate Afghans and Ukrainians, but none was offered.

LGA Chairman Shaun Davies told The Guardian: “Councils are becoming increasingly concerned over the numbers of Afghan and Ukrainian families presenting as homeless, which is likely to dramatically increase when Home Office accommodation is withdrawn as a result of the current clearance of the asylum backlog.”

According to an internal LGA briefing note on the plight of Afghan refugees who arrived in the UK in 2021: “Councils remain hugely concerned that some families — some of whom are particularly vulnerable and will have ongoing medical conditions — may have to end up presenting as homeless, particularly given the lack of available housing stock for larger and multi-generational families.”

The crisis has been exacerbated by the arrival of Afghans who had been waiting for relocation in Pakistan.

The refugees are thought to have been accommodated in former Ministry of Defence buildings. However, councils suspect some will have to be resettled in hotels that the government intends on keeping free of asylum-seekers.

The first flight carrying Afghan refugees from Pakistan to the UK arrived on Friday. Another 3,200 in Pakistan are awaiting UK visas after working for the British government or the army.

The LGA briefing note added: “Afghanistan households who were not included as part of the 2021 evacuation to the UK but are entitled to come as part of the existing resettlement schemes — potentially several thousand more people — are also likely to arrive in the coming weeks.”

Veterans’ Affairs Minister Johnny Mercer said in August that if Afghans who worked for the UK government ended up homeless, he would have failed.

A government spokesperson told the Guardian: “The UK made an ambitious and generous commitment to the people of Afghanistan and, so far, we have brought around 24,600 people to safety.

“We do not recognize the Local Government Association figures as the vast majority of those still in interim accommodation have been pre-matched to settled accommodation.”
 


French PM eyes rebuilding political force after party backing

French PM eyes rebuilding political force after party backing
Updated 23 sec ago
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French PM eyes rebuilding political force after party backing

French PM eyes rebuilding political force after party backing
  • Sunday’s election runoff left the National Assembly without any overall majority, but a broad alliance — called New Popular Front of Socialists, Communists, Greens & the hard-left France Unbowed won the most seats, with 193 in the 577-strong lower chamber

PARIS: France’s prime minister on Saturday was elected leader of his party’s National Assembly lawmakers as politicians from all sides jockeyed for position to form the next government.
Gabriel Attal was the only candidate in the vote by the Renaissance party parliamentary group, which he plans to use as the base from which to rebuild the political force that got roundly beaten in a snap election called by President Emmanuel Macron.
Of the 98 Renaissance deputies registered to vote, 84 backed Attal, who will start in his role next week.
As Attal and other ministers eye a future outside government, deep cracks have appeared between the 35-year-old premier and his former mentor Macron.
Macron did not get any mention in Attal’s message to Renaissance deputies outlining his leadership bid, with observers saying that the prime minister blames the president for calling the vote, which he said took the party to the brink of “extinction.”
Sunday’s election runoff left the National Assembly without any overall majority, but a broad alliance — called New Popular Front of Socialists, Communists, Greens and the hard-left France Unbowed won the most seats, with 193 in the 577-strong lower chamber.
Macron’s allies came second with 164 seats and the far-right National Rally third at 143.
According to the constitution, Macron will appoint the next prime minister, who must be able to survive a confidence motion in parliament.
This appointment could come as early as next week when the new National Assembly session opens, but Macron could ask Attal to stay on while Paris hosts the Olympic Games starting July 26.

 

 


Two dead in Russian ‘double tap’ attack on town near Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Two dead in Russian ‘double tap’ attack on town near Ukraine’s Kharkiv
Updated 13 July 2024
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Two dead in Russian ‘double tap’ attack on town near Ukraine’s Kharkiv

Two dead in Russian ‘double tap’ attack on town near Ukraine’s Kharkiv
  • Prosecutors said the mid-afternoon missile attack targeted the railway station in Budy, southwest of Kharkiv
  • After rescue teams arrived, a second missile hit the area, injuring 23 people

KYIV: Russian forces launched a “double tap” missile attack on Saturday on a small town near Ukraine’s second largest city, Kharkiv, killing two people, an emergency services official and a police officer, officials said.
Officials also reported two dead in Russian attacks on the Donetsk region to the southeast.
Prosecutors said the mid-afternoon missile attack targeted the railway station in Budy, southwest of Kharkiv. After rescue teams arrived, a second missile hit the area.
They said 23 people were injured in the incidents.
Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said the head of the Kharkiv district emergency services was killed, along with a police officer from a rapid reaction unit. Among the injured were three emergency workers, a policeman and about 20 civilians.
Reuters could not verify independently the accounts and Russia denies deliberately targeting civilians. But Russian forces have used the “double tap” tactic to devastating effect.
Kharkiv remained out of Russian hands in the initial advance of the Kremlin’s forces after the February 2022 invasion.
The city and surrounding area have since come under constant attack, though Ukrainian officials say the frequency has diminished since US supplies of weaponry to Ukraine resumed after a break of several months.
Donetsk regional governor Vadym Filashkin said an attack by multiple rocket launchers hit a multi-story apartment building in Chasiv Yar — a town targeted by Russian forces as a key staging point in moving forward through Ukraine’s east.
And a guided bomb killed one person near the town of Kurakhove, where some of the heaviest fighting is taking place along the 1,000-km (600-mile) front.


Peaceful pre-Olympic protest in Paris honors fallen Ukrainian athletes

Peaceful pre-Olympic protest in Paris honors fallen Ukrainian athletes
Updated 13 July 2024
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Peaceful pre-Olympic protest in Paris honors fallen Ukrainian athletes

Peaceful pre-Olympic protest in Paris honors fallen Ukrainian athletes
  • Several hundred athletes plus coaches and other people closely involved in professional and amateur sports in Ukraine have been killed
  • Volodymyr Kogutyak, vice president of the French Ukrainian association, said: “Some were killed fighting in the Ukrainian armed forces”

PARIS: In a powerful tribute to the hundreds of Ukrainian athletes who have perished since the Russian invasion of their homeland, the Union of Ukrainians of France led a peaceful march of several hundred people in Paris on Saturday.
The demonstration, held in the run-up to this month’s Olympic Games, aimed to honor these fallen sports heroes and highlight the ongoing impact of the conflict on Ukraine’s athletic community.
Several hundred athletes — including some who competed at elite levels — plus coaches and other people closely involved in professional and amateur sports in Ukraine have been killed in the full-scale invasion since 2022, some while fighting as soldiers on the front lines.
The human losses, the ongoing war, and the widespread destruction of sports facilities threaten to erode Ukraine’s edge, both at the Paris Games that open July 26 and in the future, as a powerhouse of Olympic sport after the breakup of the former Soviet Union.
“What is tragic today is that we have hundreds of Ukrainian athletes who will unfortunately not have the chance to come to the Olympic Games in Paris because the Russian Federation senselessly killed them,” said Volodymyr Kogutyak, vice president of the French Ukrainian association. “Some were killed fighting in the Ukrainian armed forces, but many others were simply killed as civilians.”
Among those being remembered is Maksym Halinichev, a promising boxer who won a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018 and was the junior European champion in 2017. Halinichev joined the Ukrainian army and was killed at the front in March 2023 at the age of 22. Other notable athletes include Ivan Bidnyak and Yehor Kikhitov, both pistol shooters and members of the Ukrainian national team. Bidnyak won a silver medal at the European Championships in Osijek in 2013.
Also commemorated is Stanislav Hulenkov, a 22-year-old judoka, whose body was only identified 10 months after his death, and Oleksandr Peleshenko, a weightlifter who represented Ukraine at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Anastasiia Ihnatenko, an acrobatic gymnastics coach, died in a Russian missile strike along with her husband and their 18-month-old son.
The event drew scores of participants, including Ukrainians, French citizens, and people from various other backgrounds, all united in their grief and determination to honor the athletes’ memories. Participants wore T-shirts displaying the names of the deceased athletes, and a minute of silence was observed, followed by speeches from organizers.
“These athletes were killed at a time when they could have been training to be chosen for the Olympic Games. That is significant. Russia did not give them the choice to train and go to Paris. That is the sad part,” Kogutyak emphasized.
Ukraine’s haul of 11 medals at the 2016 Rio Games was its smallest as an independent nation and it tumbled to a low of 22nd in the country rankings. Ukraine recovered to 16th at the pandemic-delayed Olympics in Tokyo in 2021, but just one of its 19 medals was gold — another new low.
The peaceful protest also served a political purpose, aiming to send a clear message regarding the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in the upcoming Paris Games. “The protest is to loudly and clearly state that the Belarusian and Russian athletes, regardless of what flag or colors they come to Paris under, are not welcome,” Kogutyak declared.
He further noted his sadness that some of those Russian athletes had been decorated by various ministries and had met President Vladimir Putin.
The human toll of the ongoing war, coupled with the widespread destruction of sports facilities in Ukraine, poses a severe threat to the country’s future in Olympic sports. The loss of these athletes robs the nation of its current talents and jeopardizes its sporting future.
It is still unclear how many Russian athletes will compete at the Olympics being held from July 26-Aug. 11. The IOC already barred them from taking part in the opening ceremony of boats sailing along the River Seine.


Russia can counter US missile deployments in Europe, Kremlin says

Russia can counter US missile deployments in Europe, Kremlin says
Updated 13 July 2024
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Russia can counter US missile deployments in Europe, Kremlin says

Russia can counter US missile deployments in Europe, Kremlin says
  • Peskov noted that throughout the Cold War, American missiles based in Europe were aimed at Russia

MOSCOW: European countries would be putting themselves at risk if they accept deployments of long-range US missiles, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a video published on Saturday.
Asked by Russian state TV reporter Pavel Zarubin about the possibility of the United States deploying hypersonic missiles to Europe, Peskov said: “We have enough potential to deter these missiles. But the capitals of these (European) states are potential victims.”
Peskov noted that throughout the Cold War, American missiles based in Europe were aimed at Russia, with Russian missiles aimed at Europe in return, making the continent’s countries the chief victim of any potential conflict.
He said: “Europe is now coming apart at the seams. This is not the best time for Europe. Therefore, in one way or another, history will repeat itself.”


Swiss prosecutors say probing suspected Russian agent

Swiss prosecutors say probing suspected Russian agent
Updated 13 July 2024
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Swiss prosecutors say probing suspected Russian agent

Swiss prosecutors say probing suspected Russian agent
  • The man had been accredited as a diplomat in Bern, who had been under surveillance by Swiss intelligence
  • After facing accusations of spying with the aim of procuring dangerous material, he had discretely left Switzerland

GENEVA: Swiss prosecutors said Saturday they were investigating a Russian diplomat and suspected agent alongside two others reported to have tried to procure weapons and other potentially dangerous material.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) said it had been conducting an investigation into the two accused people without diplomatic immunity, suspected of violating laws including Switzerland’s War Material Act and Embargo Act.
It confirmed to AFP that its request to Switzerland’s Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) for authorization to also look into the third man in the case had been granted.
“A national arrest warrant” had been issued, it said.
The Tages-Anzeiger daily reported that the man had been accredited as a diplomat in Bern, who had been under surveillance by Swiss intelligence.
After facing accusations of spying with the aim of procuring dangerous material, he had discretely left Switzerland, the paper said.
After the Swiss foreign ministry confirmed that the man’s diplomatic immunity was lifted when he left the country, and following searches of “several houses,” “the FDJP has now granted ... authorization to prosecute,” the OAG said.
It added that the accused enjoyed the presumption of innocence.
The case comes amid concern over swelling numbers of Russian spies in Switzerland since Moscow’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
Swiss lawmakers in May demanded that the government take a harsher stance on Russian spies operating in the country — a center of international activity considered a hub for espionage.
That came after Switzerland’s Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) warned last year that the country was among European nations with the highest number of Russian intelligence officers operating under diplomatic cover.
FIS chief Christian Dussey suggested then that around a third of the some 220 people accredited as diplomatic or other staff at the Russian mission in Geneva were intelligence service operatives.