World en Wed Apr 05 14:31:42 IST 2023 rights-group-says-saudi-arabia-border-guards-fired-on-and-killed-hundreds-of-ethiopian-migrants <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Border guards in Saudi Arabia have fired machine guns and launched mortars at Ethiopians trying to cross into the kingdom from Yemen, likely killing hundreds of the unarmed migrants in recent years, Human Rights Watch said in a report released on Monday.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp; The rights group cited eyewitness reports of attacks by troops and images that showed dead bodies and burial sites on migrant routes, saying the death toll could even be possibly thousands.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> The United Nations has already questioned Saudi Arabia about its troops opening fire on the migrants in an escalating pattern of attacks along its southern border with war-torn Yemen. Saudi officials did not respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press, but has previously denied its troops killed migrants.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Yemen's Houthi rebels, who allegedly make tens of thousands of dollars a week smuggling migrants over the border, also did not respond to requests for comment.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Some 750,000 Ethiopians live in Saudi Arabia, with as many as 450,000 likely having entered the kingdom without authorization, according to 2022 statistics from the International Organisation for Migration. The two-year civil war in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region displaced tens of thousands of people.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Saudi Arabia, struggling with youth unemployment, has been sending thousands back to Ethiopia in concert with Addis Abba.&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Human Rights Watch said it spoke to 38 Ethiopian migrants and four relatives of people who attempted to cross the border between March 2022 and June 2023 who said they saw Saudi guards shoot at migrants or launch explosives at groups.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> The report said the group also analysed over 350 videos and photographs posted to social media or gathered from other sources filmed between May 12, 2021, and July 18, 2023. It also examined several hundred square kilometers (miles) of satellite imagery captured between February 2022 and July 2023.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> These show dead and wounded migrants on the trails, in camps and in medical facilities, how burial sites near the migrant camps grew in size, the expanding Saudi Arabian border security infrastructure, and the routes currently used by the migrants to attempt border crossings, the report said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> An April 27 satellite photo from Planet Labs PBC analysed by the AP showed the same tent structures identified by the rights group near al-Raqw, Yemen, on the Saudi border. Two sets of fence lines could be seen just across the border into Saudi Arabia.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> The site Human Rights Watch identified as the migrant camp at Al-Thabit also could be seen in satellite images, which corresponded to the group's narrative that the camp largely had been dismantled in early April.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Both areas are in northwestern Yemen, the stronghold of the country's Houthi rebels. The UN has said that the Houthi-controlled immigration office collaborates with traffickers to systematically direct migrants to Saudi Arabia, bringing in USD 50,000 a week.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> The Houthis have held Yemen's capital, Sanaa, since September 2014. A Saudi-led coalition has battled the Houthis since March 2015, without dislodging them from the capital. Fighting has largely halted between the Saudi-led forces and the Houthis as Riyadh seeks a way to end the war.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> However, throughout the war years, the Houthis claimed multiple incursions across the Saudi border in this mountainous region.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> Migrants from Ethiopia have found themselves detained, abused and even killed in Saudi Arabia and Yemen during the war. But in recent months, there has been growing concern from the UN human rights body about Saudi forces attacking migrants coming in from Yemen.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> An October 3, 2022, letter to the kingdom from the UN said its investigators received concerning allegations of cross-border artillery shelling and small arms fire allegedly by Saudi security forces causing the deaths of up to 430 and injuring 650 migrants.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> If migrants are captured, they are reportedly oftentimes subjected to torture by being lined up and shot through the side of the leg to see how far the bullet will go or asked if they prefer to be shot in the hand or the leg, the letter from the UN reads. Survivors of such attacks reported having to play dead' for a period of time in order to escape.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p> A letter sent by Saudi Arabia's mission to the UN in Geneva in March said that it categorically refutes allegations that the kingdom carries out any systematic killings on the border. However, it also said the UN provided limited information so it could not confirm or substantiate the allegations. (AP)&nbsp; &nbsp;PY PY 08210943</p> Mon Aug 21 11:17:24 IST 2023 canada-thousands-flee-cities-in-british-columbia-as-wildlife-rages <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Over 15,000 households were evacuated in Canada's British Columbia on Saturday as wildfires raged through the interior of the province resulting in a partial shutting of some sections of a key highway between the Pacific coast and western Canada.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The province that declared a state of emergency on Friday saw hundreds of separate fires in West Kelowna and the city of Yellowknife as the country grapples with its worst wildfire season.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>The fires near Kelowna, about 90 miles (150 kilometres) north of the US border, are among more than 380 blazes across the province, with 150 burning out of control, according to the Canadian Press. Another 236 fires are burning in the Northwest Territories.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;West Kelowna fire chief Jason Brolund told BBC that the wildfire were&nbsp; &quot;devastating&quot;. &quot;We fought hard last night to protect our community. We fought 100 years' worth of fires all in one night,&quot; he added.<br> </p> <p>Officials report that the fire inflicted &quot;significant structural loss&quot; in the area, including in Trader's Cove, just north of West Kelowna.<br> </p> <p>Meanwhile, in Yellowknife, firefighters managed to contain the flames 15 kilometres from the city, which is the capital of the Northwest Territories. &quot;We're by no means out of the woods yet,&quot; Mike Westwick, wildfire information officer for Yellowknife, told The Associated Press. &quot;We still have a serious situation. It's not safe to return.&quot;<br> </p> <p>Though the fire is not expected to reach city limits by the end of the weekend, thanks to the rain and cooler temperatures, the situation may change as officials have predicted a drier and windier weather forecast for the coming days.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Shane Thompson, the province's minister of environment and climate change, said the fires near Yellowknife had not grown very much in the past few days thanks to breaks in the weather. &quot;But I want to be clear, a little bit of rain doesn't mean it's safe to come back home,&quot; he said.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Authorities asked residents to stay away from the town. &quot;This fire's taking a nap. It's going to wake up and we still got a serious situation to handle here,&quot; Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty told AP. Over 20,000 residents of the town have left Yellowknife leaving it a virtual ghost town.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Canada has seen a record number of wildfires this year that have caused choking smoke in parts of the US. All told, there have been more than 5,700 fires, which have burned more than 137,000 square kilometres from one end of Canada to the other, according to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre.<br> </p> <p>According to Province&nbsp; Premier David Eby, the situation changes very quickly. He said he was restricting non-essential travel to fire-affected areas to free up accommodations such as hotels, motels and campgrounds for displaced residents and firefighters.<br> </p> <p>Meanwhile, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who met Friday with some of the Yellowknife evacuees, hailed firefighters, police, military personnel, the Red Cross and others who responded to the fires and other natural disasters this summer. &quot;Terrible loss, increased extreme weather events. And all through it, we've seen Canadians step up,&quot; he told reporters in Edmonton.<br> </p> <p>The TransCanada highway was closed near Chase, around 400 km northeast of Vancouver, and between Hope, 150 km east of Vancouver. The highway is the main east-west artery used by thousands of motorists and truckers heading to Vancouver, the country's busiest port.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>(With inputs from agencies)</p> Sun Aug 20 14:38:40 IST 2023 hilary-downgraded-to-category-2-hurricane-as-mexico-and-california-brace-for-catastrophic-impact <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Hurricane Hilary roared toward Mexico's Baja California peninsula late Saturday as a downgraded but still dangerous Category 2 hurricane that's likely to bring catastrophic flooding to the region and cross into the southwest U.S. as a tropical storm.</p> <p>Meteorologists warned that despite the hurricane's weakening, the storm's speed had accelerated Saturday, and urged people to finish their preparations by sundown. By Sunday, one expert said, it would be too late.<br> </p> <p>Forecasters said the storm is still expected to enter the history books as the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, and bring along flash floods, mudslides, isolated tornadoes, high winds and widespread power outages.<br> </p> <p>Heavy rainfall and flooding began Saturday ahead of the storm's expected Sunday crossing into the southwestern U.S., where it is expected to dump up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of rain in southern California and southern Nevada.<br> </p> <p>This does not lessen the threat, especially the flood threat, said Jamie Rhome, the U.S. National Hurricane Center's deputy director, during a Saturday briefing to announce the storm's downgraded status. Don't let the weakening trend and the intensity lower your guard.<br> </p> <p>Meteorologists also expect the storm to churn up life-threatening surf conditions and rip currents including towering waves up to 40 feet (12 meters) high along Mexico's Pacific coast. Dozens sought refuge at storm shelters in the twin resorts of Los Cabos, at the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, and firefighters used an inflatable boat to rescue a family in San Jose del Cabo after the resort was hit by driving rain and wind.<br> </p> <p>In Tijuana, Rafael Carrillo voiced the fear that was at the back of everyone's mind in the border city of 1.9 million, particularly residents who live in homes that cling precariously to steep hillsides.<br> </p> <p>If you hear noises, or the ground cracking, it is important for you to check it and get out as fast as possible, because the ground can weaken and your home could collapse, said Carrillo, head of the Tijuana fire department.<br> </p> <p>That city ordered all beaches closed Saturday, and set up a half-dozen storm shelters at sports complexes and government offices.<br> </p> <p>Mexico's Navy evacuated 850 people from islands off the Baja coast, and deployed almost 3,000 troops for emergency operations. In La Paz, the picturesque capital of Baja California Sur state on the Sea of Cortez, police patrolled closed beaches to keep swimmers out of the whipped-up surf.<br> </p> <p>In the U.S., the Miami-based hurricane center issued tropical storm and potential flood warnings for Southern California from the Pacific coast to interior mountains and deserts. The San Bernardino County sheriff on Saturday issued evacuation warnings for several mountain and foothill communities ahead of the storm.<br> </p> <p>And an evacuation advisory for the tourist destination of Santa Catalina Island, 23 miles (37 kilometers) off the Southern California coast, urged residents and beachgoers to leave, while authorities in Los Angeles scrambled to get the homeless off the streets and into shelters.<br> </p> <p>Across the region, municipalities ran out of free sandbags and grocery shelves emptied out as residents stockpiled supplies. The U.S. National Park Service closed California's Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve to keep visitors from becoming stranded amid flooding.<br> </p> <p>Major League Baseball rescheduled three Sunday games in Southern California, moving them to Saturday as part of split doubleheaders, and SpaceX delayed the launch of a satellite-carrying rocket from a base on California's central coast until at least Monday. The company said conditions in the Pacific could make it difficult for a ship to recover the rocket booster.<br> </p> <p>President Joe Biden said Friday the Federal Emergency Management Agency had pre-positioned staff and supplies in the region. I urge everyone, everyone in the path of this storm, to take precautions and listen to the guidance of state and local officials, he said.<br> </p> <p>Hilary on Friday had rapidly grown into an exceedingly dangerous Category 4 Major hurricane for a time with top sustained winds of 145 mph (230 kph) at its peak. Its maximum sustained winds initially dropped to 115 mph (185 kph) earlier Saturday as a Category 3 storm, before further weakening to 110 mph (177 kph) making it a Category 2.<br> </p> <p>By midafternoon Saturday, it was still 640 miles (1,030 km) south-southeast of San Diego, California. Moving north-northwest at 17 mph (28 kph), the storm was expected to turn more toward the north and pick up speed.<br> </p> <p>Forecasters said the storm was swirling off one of the westernmost spurs on Mexico's southern Baja peninsula. The hurricane was expected to brush past Punta Eugenia on that coast before making a nighttime landfall along a sparsely populated area of the peninsula about 200 miles (330 kilometers) south of the Pacific port city of Ensenada.<br> </p> <p>Hilary is likely then to rake northward all the way up the peninsula and into Tijuana, before heading to the U.S. in its historic path.<br> </p> Sun Aug 20 13:46:55 IST 2023 trump-raises-high-india-tax-rates-again-warns-of-retribution-if-voted-to-power <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Former US President Donald Trump has once again raked up the &quot;high taxes&quot; imposed by India on certain American products and warned he would match it if voted to power in the 2024 presidential elections.</p> <p>Trump, in 2019, had hit out at India for its &quot;big tariffs&quot; on American paper products and the iconic Harley-Davidson bikes. Calling India 'tariff king&quot;, Trump claimed the country has been losing billions of dollars to countries like India, China and Japan.<br> </p> <p>He doubled down on the issue a few days ago in an interview with Larry Kudlow of Fox Business News, stating that &quot; India is very big with tariffs.&quot;<br> </p> <p>&quot;The other thing I want to have is a matching tax where, if India charges us -- India is very big with tariffs. I mean, I saw it with Harley-Davidson. I was saying, how do you do in a place like India? Oh, no good sir. Why? They have 100 per cent and 150 per cent and 200 per cent tariffs,&quot; said the former president.<br> </p> <p>&quot;So, I said, so they can sell their Indian motorbike. They actually make a bike, an Indian motorbike. They can sell that into our country with no tax, no tariff, but when you make a Harley, when you send it over there -- because they were doing no business. I said, how come you don't do business with India? The tariff is so high that nobody wants it. But what they want us to do is, they want us to go over and build a plant, and then you have no tariff,&quot; Trump said.<br> </p> <p>&quot;They said, well, that's not good. That's not our deal, OK? That's not our deal. And I came down very hard on them. But India is very big. Brazil is very big on tariffs, I mean, very, very big. We had a couple of people, like the senator from a place called Pennsylvania that I love. But this guy was just horrendous. I said, let me ask you a question. If India is charging us 200 per cent, and we're charging them nothing for products, can we charge them 100 per cent? No, sir, that's not free trade. Can we charge them 50 per cent? No, sir. Twenty-five, 10, anything? No. I said, what the hell is wrong? There's something wrong. You know what I'm talking about,&quot; he said.<br> </p> <p>&quot;If India is charging us too, so what I want to have is a -- call it retribution. You could call it whatever you want. If they are charging us, we charge them,&quot; Trump said in response to a question.<br> </p> <p>Trump, who is facing a series of court cases and indictments, has also announced that he would skip the upcoming Republican primary debates, citing his large lead in opinion polls. The first debate is set to happen on Wednesday night at&nbsp; Milwaukee in Wisconsin.&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>Trump took to his social media platform Truth Social to announce the news. &quot;The public knows who I am &amp; what a successful Presidency I had, Trump wrote on his social media site. &quot;I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!&quot;&nbsp;<br> </p> <p>His spokesman did not immediately clarify whether he plans to boycott every primary debate or just those that have currently been scheduled.<br> </p> <p>Trump had earlier too suggested that he would not give his Republican rivals a chance to attack him given his sizeable lead in national polls. &quot;Why would I allow people at 1 or 2% and 0% to be hitting me with questions all night?&quot; he said in an interview in June with Fox News host Bret Baier, who will be serving as a moderator.<br> </p> <p>As per the latest poll figure, Trump was far ahead in the race with 62% of Republican voters choosing him. His closest rival Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is at 16% while all other candidates in the primary race had less than 10% support.<br> </p> <p>Trump's absence now means that the spotlight will be on DeSantis and the other candidates will focus their attacks on him. The winner of the Republican nominating fight will take on Democratic President Joe Biden in November 2024 election.<br> </p> <p>Meanwhile, DeSantis campaign spokesperson Andrew Romeo said the Florida governor was looking forward to being in Milwaukee to share his&nbsp;vision for a possible presidency. &quot;No one is entitled to this nomination, including Donald Trump. You have to show up and earn it,&quot; Romeo said on X, formerly known as Twitter.</p> <p>Donald Trump had mocked DeSantis, stating he was &quot;crashing like an ailing bird.&quot;&nbsp;<br> </p> Mon Aug 21 11:38:44 IST 2023 all-about-hurricane-hilary-first-tropical-storm-to-hit-california-in-84-years <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Hurricane Hilary is expected to hit Southern California as a tropical storm, bringing heavy rainfall as early as this weekend after it makes its way up Mexico's Baja California Peninsula.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The Category 4 major hurricane with a sustained wind speed 130-156 mph is expected to cause ‘catastrophic damage’ in many areas in California. Power outages, home destruction, severe flooding is likely to follow the storm.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The storm is expected to produce three to six inches of rainfall, with maximum amounts of 10 inches, across portions of Baja California through Sunday night. Flash flooding warnings has been issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hurricane Hilary is expected to bring &quot;rare and dangerous flooding&quot; to the southwestern US as well.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>National Hurricane Center (NHC) has issued tropical storm warning for Southern California for the first time in region's history.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to NWService, storm warnings were issued in San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties and California's Catalina Island.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>After hitting Mexico, the storm is expected to bring heavy rainfall with strong winds. However, NWS has predicted that its strength is likely to decline.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>NHC in its advisory warned of “life-threatening and potentially catastrophic flooding likely over much of Baja California and the Southwestern U.S. this weekend and early next week.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>A tropical storm is defined as having winds of at least 39 mph.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nearly 26 million people in the south-western US were under flood watch.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;On the forecast track, the center of Hilary will move close to the west coast of the Baja California peninsula over the weekend and reach southern California by Sunday night,&quot; said the hurricane center.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“We're looking at this to be a significant storm, possibly one of those that sets records, and so we're preparing accordingly,” said Chris Heiser, emergency services director of San Diego, was quoted by BBC.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>President Joe Biden said that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has deployed disaster force personnel and supplies in the region and the response team is also alert.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo announced late Friday night that 100 National Guard troops had been activated ahead of Hilary.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Even Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said in a news briefing that &quot;swift water rescue personnel and rescue aircraft are on alert and ready for immediate response.&quot;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>In 2011, Hilary has struck the coast of Mexico, however, it did not cause any fatalities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Due to the storm warning, major League Baseball has rescheduled three games in south California. The National Park Service also closed Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve in California.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is &quot;extremely rare&quot; for a tropical storm to come off the ocean and make landfall in California, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in San Diego told the New York Times.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Sat Aug 19 15:54:06 IST 2023 double-whammy-as-california-rattled-by-51-earthquake-and-tropical-storm-hilary <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>An earthquake of 5.1 magnitude rattled California on Sunday, the same day Hilary, the region's first tropical storm in 84 years, unleashed furious flash floods in the US state after barreling through Mexico's Baja California peninsula.<br> </p> <p>The earthquake occurred at 2.42 pm local time near Ojai City, according to US Geological Survey, and it was followed by a dozen aftershocks of magnitudes ranging from 2.6 and 4.0. The US Tsunami Warning System said there was no threat of a tsunami from the quake.</p> <p>&quot;There are no immediate reports of damage at this time however the quake was felt extensively throughout Ventura County,&quot; read a statement on Ventura County website.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Hilary wreaked havoc in east and west of Los Angeles on Sunday after punishing Mexico's Baja California peninsula with deadly force. One person was killed in Mexico flash flooding. Some roads in the peninsula were swept away and social media showed torrents gushing down city streets.</p> <p>California Governor Gavin Newsom, who is on a tour of Southern California, declared a state of emergency for much of region that is more accustomed to drought. The last time a tropical storm made landfall in the region was in Long Beach in 1939.</p> <p>Newsom said Palm Springs, a desert getaway in Riverside County about 160 km east of Los Angeles, was dry when he left on Sunday but an hour later it had received &quot;the most significant rainfall over a 60-minute period any time in the history of Palm Springs.”</p> <p>“That's how quickly this system is moving. Take nothing for granted,&quot; Newsom told a news briefing in Los Angeles after he said he updated U.S. President Joe Biden, who ordered federal agencies to move personnel and supplies into the region.</p> <p>Hilary sparked flooding in the San Gabriel Mountains, east of the city and coastal areas to the northwest in Ventura County, reported Reuters.</p> <p>North America has been plagued by extreme weather and calamities recently. July 2023 was the hottest month, according to Nasa. A deadly wildfire in across Hawaii on August 8 killed at least 111 people and the situation was deteriorated by hurricane winds.</p> <p>Meanwhile, Canada reported widespread wildfires in the British Columbia province, where tens of thousands of people were evacuated from their burning homes.</p> <p><br> <br> </p> Mon Aug 21 11:21:20 IST 2023 vivek-ramaswamy-surges-to-second-spot-behind-trump-in-republican <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>Trump is leading the Republican primary contest far ahead with 56 per cent of registered Republicans on his side despite the three different indictments filed against him recently, according to a new poll. There is a mere 3 per cent drop in the support for the former US President as Emerson College's previous poll in June pegged his support at 59 per cent.</p> <p>Indian-American entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Florida governor Ron DeSantis are tied for the second place with 10 per cent support each, the Emerson College poll revealed. DeSantis, who registered 21 per cent in June, saw a sharp 11 per cent plunge in his support in two months, while Ramaswamy has surged to the second spot from a mere 2 per cent back then.</p> <p>The latest development comes four days before the contest’s first debate. “Ramaswamy has improved among Republican voters with a postgraduate degree, a group that has previously been part of the DeSantis’s base,” said Spencer Kimball, the poll’s executive director.</p> <p>Ramaswamy earlier referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as an 'outstanding leader', saying, “I think he’s been an excellent prime minister for India. I think he has unapologetically embraced free-market capitalism.”</p> <p>Ramaswamy whose parents are originally from Kerala, was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He completed his undergraduation from Harvard University and pursued law from Yale University.</p> <p>Another Republican candidate of Indian origin are former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, 51, who was Trump's first ambassador to the UN and the only woman in the Republican primary contest.</p> <p>Hirsh Vardhan Singh became the third Republican of Indian origin to join the race for US President on July 30. Singh made headlines after being nicknamed, “Trump on steroids” and called himself the only pure-blood candidate as he never got the COVID jab.</p> <p>Other Indian Americans to run for the White House were Bobby Jindal in 2016 and US Vice President Kamala Harris in 2020.</p> Sun Aug 20 17:00:07 IST 2023 13-labourers-killed-in-blast-in-northwest-pakistan <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>At least 13 labourers were killed and two others injured in a terrorist attack in the restive North Waziristan tribal district in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan, police said on Sunday.<br> </p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Terrorists detonated explosives near Gul Mir Kot in Shawal tehsil late Saturday night and blew up a vehicle carrying 16 labourers,” Deputy Commissioner North Waziristan Rehan Gul Khattak said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“As many as 11 labourers, who worked in an under-construction government building, were killed on the spot while two were critically injured, and three went missing,” Khattak said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Officials said the victims belonged to tehsil Makin and Wana of South Waziristan tribal district. The injured and the bodies were shifted to a nearby hospital. “Efforts to identify and locate the missing workers are ongoing,” he said.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar condemned the attack which claimed the lives of innocent labourers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>According to reports, a bomb was planted targeting a convoy of security forces and the bomb exploded immediately after the convoy passed by. Internet services were suspended in the area owing to security concerns.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Heartbreaking to know about the terrorist attack in North Waziristan which claimed the lives of 11 innocent labourers. Strongly condemn this senseless act of violence and stand in solidarity with the families affected,” he said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Meanwhile, earlier on Saturday, four personnel of the Bomb Disposal Squad were seriously injured in the Makin tehsil of Upper South Waziristan after miscreants fired a rocket at their vehicle.</p> Sun Aug 20 18:06:49 IST 2023 taiwan-complete-grasp-china-launches-military-drills-warning <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="'s%20Liberation%20Army%20(PLA)%20Navy-reu.jpg" /> <p>Taiwan has a &quot;complete grasp&quot; of Chinese military activities, the island's presidential office said on Saturday. Slamming China for launching military exercises involving vessels and planes around the island on Saturday, Taiwan said Beijing is &quot;ignoring its international responsibilities&quot; by increasing military threats and undermining regional stability, said reports.</p> <p>The Chinese military launched drills as a stern warning over what it called collusion between separatists and foreign forces, its defence ministry said. This comes days after Taiwanese Vice President William Lai travelled to Paraguay and the US as the mainland's ruling Communist Party claims Taiwan is part of its territory and hence, has no right to conduct foreign relations.</p> <p>The Chinese drills came hours after US President Joe Biden met with Japanese and South Korean leaders at Camp David to deepen defence and economic cooperation, while reaffirming &quot;the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as an indispensable element of security and prosperity in the international community.&quot;<br> <br> The PLA's Eastern Theatre Command said it was testing the forces' actual combat capabilities and posted footage of the drills that showed soldiers running, as well as missile-equipped boats and fighter jets.<br> <br> Strongly condemning China's “irrational, provocative moves&quot;, Taiwan's defence ministry said it would deploy appropriate forces to respond to the drills. It uploaded an undated video that showed Taiwanese forces holding drills on the streets, in the countryside and at sea.</p> <p>However, this is not the first time that Beijing has launched such military exercises. Last year, when then US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, major drills were held as a 'warning'. Later China responded in a similar way when President Tsai Ing-wen met senior American lawmakers in the US.</p> <p>– with inputs from agencies</p> Sat Aug 19 12:53:26 IST 2023 world-humanitarian-day-working-with-a-glass-and-a-half-of-optimism <a href=""><img border="0" hspace="10" align="left" style="margin-top:3px;margin-right:5px;" src="" /> <p>August 19 is World Humanitarian Day. It is a day to recognise the selfless efforts of humanitarian workers, who are on the frontlines in war zones, disaster settings and in refugee camps, worldwide. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the communities, they deliver life-saving relief assistance and bring hopes to crises-impacted communities.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>On August 19, 2003, a bomb attack in Iraq killed 22 humanitarian aid workers, including the United Nation’s Sergio Vieira de Mello. Five years later, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution declaring that day as the World Humanitarian Day. It calls for the survival, well-being and dignity of people affected by crises, and safety and security of aid workers.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Sacrifices continue. In 2021, 460 aid workers were attacked – 140 killed, 203 wounded and 117 kidnapped. Of all the aid workers who died, 98 per cent were national staff, and more than half national staff. South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria were the hotspots of violence. These are preventable.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The World Humanitarian Day focuses on a theme every year. ‘No Matter What’ is the theme for this year. It is an occasion to reaffirm our commitment to the humanitarian values such as compassion, and principles – humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. It is a moment to celebrate the grit humanitarian workers demonstrate in difficult and dangerous locations, never giving up.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“When I click a picture or do an interview, I pause for a few moments to watch the hope in the eyes of children,” said Muhim Osman, a young Somali humanitarian worker with Plan International. I met Muhim in Somalia earlier this year. Rain had failed for five consecutive years there, starving local communities, children and mothers suffering the worst.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“You see suffering everywhere – in the relief camps for displaced people, neighbourhoods and on TV screens,” said Muhim. “You see mothers who must choose which child to feed or whether to feed cattle first. It is time to roll up your sleeves and start doing something about it.” Muhim works with Plan International as a media and communications specialist.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>“Doing nothing is not an option.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>It is not a time to ponder why the glass is half empty, but instead to do your work with a glass and a half of optimism. Humanitarian workers show that spirit while making world a more compassionate, peaceful, healthy, and just place. That is what makes the World Humanitarian Day special.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>No matter what</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Not even amid a raging civil war. “I was at Juba airport about to board and all set to fly home. I could see the aircraft parked through the glass window at the waiting area,” Hawa Eltigani recollected. Hawa had just finished a month-long humanitarian mission to remote areas of South Sudan, strengthening protection mechanisms for children caught in prolonged conflict and hunger. “I was busy packing in the morning, and I did not check media and social media reports. When I received a call and clear instructions not to board the flight, I knew something was wrong.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hawa learned quickly that everything had changed for her family and friends back in Sudan overnight. An armed conflict that began on April 15, hours before Hawa was set to fly, ripped families apart. UN estimates that over three million people are displaced, including 7,30,000 people who are now refugees in neighbouring countries.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hawa, a child protection in emergencies specialist at Plan International, had to cancel her plans to go home in Sudan and stayed in South Sudan. She struggled to stay connected with her family in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan that was becoming a conflict flashpoint. “My family was already on the move, and it was tense and a traumatising experience.”</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Hawa said that the images of scared children on the move who walked across television screens resonated with her. Those fleeting images made her more committed to her work. No matter what. “When the margin between a relief worker and those she serves blurs, it is a moment for reflection”, she added.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Putting dignity and compassion first</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Humanitarian workers place others above themselves. They go to great lengths to make sure that no one is left behind. “I can hear today, years later, the cries of people asking us not to leave them behind,” Anu Thelly recalled. When the floods hit Kerala in 2018, Anu, a nurse specialised in palliative care and her team of volunteers focused on providing one unique and rare humanitarian service – palliative care, pain relief and end of life care.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Cash-strapped, aid workers often make that difficult choice – between those who can survive only with our support and those who can survive anyway. Then there are those in people with life-limiting illness or those near the end of life stage and who may die soon even with care.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>These are not cold calculations. The Humanitarian Charter advocates principled and dignified humanitarian action. Sphere standards, the ultimate reference guide, favours a dignified approach to those who are terminally ill.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Amid disasters turning ferocious and frequent, it is critical to rethink how we prepare and respond to disasters. While there will always be a need for life-saving assistance, it is critical to strengthen the hands of frontline aid workers.</p> <p>Acting ahead of predicted hazards can prevent or reduce acute humanitarian impacts before they fully unfold. This approach of anticipatory action is central to ensure early warning and instant response mechanisms, reduce the number of lives lost, reduce loss and damage in disaster contexts. Further, it improves coordination, efficiency of emergency response and recovery efforts.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The best way to pay homage to humanitarian workers who lost their lives is by placing the dignity and safety of vulnerable communities and the frontline aid workers at the core of our thinking, planning and actions before and after disasters.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Krishnan is global humanitarian director, Plan International.</b></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><i>The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of THE WEEK.</i></p> Sat Aug 19 11:38:42 IST 2023