Home » Archives by category » World

Greece: Sailboat with 100 migrants sinks in high winds

Greece: Sailboat with 100 migrants sinks in high winds

ATHENS, Greece — A large-scale rescue operation was underway off a southern Greek island where a sailboat carrying up to 100 migrants sank in high winds late Wednesday, authorities said. The coast guard said its vessels, private boats and a rescue helicopter were involved in the effort off the coast of the island of Kythira, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) south of Athens.Officials had no immediate details on the number of people rescued and missing but said the sailboat hit rocks off the village of Diakofti on the east of the island. Winds in the area were up to 70 kph (45 mph) per hour. Most migrants reaching Greece travel from neighboring Turkey, but smugglers have changed routes in recent months in an effort to avoid heavily patrolled waters around Greek islands near the Turkish coastline. Kythira is some 400 kilometers (250 miles) west of Turkey and on a route often used by smugglers to bypass Greece and head directly to Italy.

Germany repatriates more nationals from camp in Syria

Germany repatriates more nationals from camp in Syria

BERLIN — Germany brought home four women and seven children Wednesday from a camp in northeastern Syria where suspected members of the Islamic State group have been held, along with a young man who was taken to Syria as an 11-year-old, officials said.Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said in a statement she was relieved that with Wednesday’s operation — the sixth so far — “almost all known cases could be concluded.”Baerbock said the four women and the young man “will have to answer for their acts” and were taken into custody on arrival in Germany. She didn’t give further details, but stressed that the children carry no blame for their parents’ decisions and “are ultimately also victims of IS.”The latest repatriation from the Roj camp in Syria, following a six-month gap, brings the total brought back to Germany to 26 women and 76 children, as well as the young man.Baerbock thanked Kurdish authorities in northeastern Syria for their help in preparing and carrying out the operation and “our American friends for the logistical support.”

'So many children dying': Somalia drought brings famine near

'So many children dying': Somalia drought brings famine near

DOLLOW, Somalia — A man in a donkey cart comes wheeling through the dust, carrying two small, silent boys. The sky is overcast. It could rain. It won’t. It hasn’t for a very long time.Mohamed Ahmed Diriye is 60 years old, and he’s completing the grimmest journey of his life. He set off from a seaside city on the northern edge of Somalia two weeks ago. People were dying. Livestock were dying. He decided to abandon work as a day laborer and flee to the other end of the country, crossing a landscape of carcasses and Islamic extremist-held territory along the way.Seven hundred miles later, he is exhausted. The food has run out. He clutches a battered stick in one hand, the nearly empty cart in the other. His boys are just 4 and 5.They had tried to escape, Diriye says. “But we came across the same drought here.”More than 1 million Somalis have fled and discovered that, too.———This story was supported by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.———In Somalia, a nation of poets, droughts are named for the kind of pain they bring. There was Prolonged in the 1970s, Cattle Killer in the 1980s, Equal five years ago for its reach across the country. A decade ago, there was Famine, which killed a quarter-million people.Somalis say the current drought is worse than any they can remember. It doesn’t yet have a name. Diriye, who believes no one can survive in some of the places he traveled, suggests one without hesitation: White Bone.This drought has astonished resilient herders and farmers by lasting four failed rainy seasons, starting two years ago. The fifth season is underway and likely will fail too, along with the sixth early next year. A rare famine declaration could be made as soon as this month, the first significant one anywhere in the world since Somalia’s famine a decade ago. Thousands of people have died, including nearly 900 children under 5 being treated for malnutrition, according to United Nations data. The U.N. says half a million such children are at risk of death, “a number, a pending nightmare, we have not seen this century.”As the world is gripped by food insecurity, Somalia, a country of 15 million people shaking off its past as a failed state, can be considered the end of the line. The nation of proud pastoralists that has survived generations of drought now stumbles amid several global crises descending at once.They include climate change, with some of the harshest effects of warming felt in Africa. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which stalled ships carrying enough grain to feed hundreds of millions of people. A drop in humanitarian donations, as the world shifted focus to the war in Ukraine. One of the world’s deadliest Islamic extremist groups, which limits the delivery of aid.The Associated Press spoke with a dozen people in rapidly growing displacement camps during a visit to southern Somalia in late September. All say they’ve received little aid, or none. A day’s meal might be plain rice or just black tea. Many camp residents, overwhelmingly women and children, beg from neighbors, or go to sleep hungry.Mothers walk for days or weeks through bare landscapes in search of help, at times finding that the withered, feverish child strapped to them has died along the way.“We’d grieve, stop for a while, pray,” Adego Abdinur says. “We’d bury them beside the road.”She holds her naked 1-year-old in front of her new home, a fragile hut of plastic sacks and fabric lashed together with cord and stripped branches. It’s one of hundreds scattered over the dry land. Behind a thorn barrier marking her hut from another, giggling children pour cherished water from a plastic jug into their hands, sipping and spitting in delight.The home the 28-year-old Abdinur left was far superior — a farm of maize and dozens of livestock in the community where she was born and raised. The family was self-sufficient. Then the water dried up, and their four-legged wealth began to die.“When we lost the last goat, we realized there was no way to survive,” Abdinur says. She and her six children walked 300 kilometers (186 miles) here, following rumors of assistance along with thousands of other people on the move.“We have seen so many children dying because of hunger,” she says.At the heart of this crisis, in areas where famine likely will be declared, is an Islamic extremist group linked to al-Qaida. An estimated 740,000 of the drought’s most desperate people live in areas under the control of the al-Shabab extremists. To survive, they must escape.Al-Shabab’s grip on large parts of southern and central Somalia was a major contributor to deaths in the 2011 famine. Much aid wasn’t let into its areas, and many starving people weren’t let out. Somalia’s president, who has survived three al-Shabab attempts on his life, has described the group as “mafia shrouded with Islam.” But his government has urged it to have mercy now.In a surprise comment on the drought in late September, al-Shabab called it a test from Allah, “a result of our sins and wrongdoings.” Spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage claimed that the extremists had offered food, water and free medical treatment to more than 47,000 drought-affected people since last year.But in rare accounts of life inside al-Shabab-held areas, several people who fled told the AP they had seen no such aid. Instead, they said, the extremists continue their harsh taxation of families’ crops and livestock even as they withered and died. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.One woman says al-Shabab taxed up to 50% of her family’s meager harvest: “They don’t care whether people are left with anything.” Some flee their communities at night to escape the fighters’ attention, with men and even young boys often being forbidden to leave. One woman says no one from her community was allowed to leave, and people who received assistance from the outside would be attacked. Weeks ago, she says, al-Shabab killed a relative who had managed to take a sick parent to a government-held city and then returned.Those who escaped al-Shabab now cling to a bare existence. As what should be the rainy season arrives, they wake in camps under a purple sky, or a gray one offering the tiniest specks of moisture.Children send up kites, adults their prayers. Black smoke rises in the distance as some farmers clear land just in case.In the only treatment center for the most severely malnourished in the immediate region, 1-year-old Hamdi Yusuf is another sign of hope.She was little more than bones and skin when her mother found her unconscious, two months after arriving in the camps and living on scraps of food offered by neighbors. “The child was not even alive,” recalls Abdikadir Ali Abdi, acting nutrition officer with the aid group Trocaire, which runs the center of 16 beds and has more patients than they can hold.Now the girl is revived, slumped over her mother’s arm but blinking. Her tiny toes twitch. A wrist is bandaged to stop her from pulling out the port for a feeding tube.The ready-to-use therapeutic food so crucial to the recovery of children like her could run out in the coming weeks, Abdi says. Humanitarian workers describe having to take limited resources from the hungry in Somalia to treat the starving, complicating efforts to get ahead of the drought.The girl’s mother, 18-year-old Muslima Ibrahim, anxiously rubs her daughter’s tiny fingers. She has saved her only child, but survival will require the kind of support she still hasn’t seen.“We received a food distribution yesterday,” Ibrahim says. “It was the first since we arrived.”Food is hard to come by everywhere. At midday, dozens of hungry children from the camps try to slip into a local primary school where the World Food Program offers a rare lunch program for students. They are almost always turned away by school workers.Mothers recall having to eat their stockpiles of grain and selling their few remaining goats to afford the journey from the homes and lives they loved. Many had never left until now.“I miss fresh camel milk. We love it,” says 29-year-old Nimco Abdi Adan, smiling at the memory. She hasn’t tasted it for two years. Residents outside the camps feel the growing desperation. Shopkeeper Khadija Abdi Ibrahim, 60, now keeps her goats, sheep and cattle alive by buying precious grain, grinding it and using it as fodder. She says the price of cooking oil and other items has doubled since last year, making it more difficult for displaced people to obtain food with vouchers handed out by WFP. Hundreds of families continue to emerge from the empty horizon across Somalia, bringing little but grief. The true toll of dead is unknown, but people at two of the country’s many displacement camps in the hardest hit city, Baidoa, say over 300 children have died in the last three months in rural areas, according to aid organization Islamic Relief.One day in mid-September, 29-year-old Fartum Issack and her husband carried a small body along a dusty track to a graveyard. Their 1-year-old daughter had arrived at camp sick and hungry. She was rushed for treatment, but it was too late.The graveyard opened in April especially for the newly displaced people. It already had 13 graves, seven of them for children. There’s easily room for hundreds more.Issack and her husband chose to bury their daughter in the middle of the empty ground.“We wanted to easily recognize her,” Issack says.At the camp, eight other hungry daughters are waiting.———Associated Press writer Omar Faruk in Mogadishu, Somalia, contributed.

Oman thanks Iran for 'delivering' detained Iranian-American

Oman thanks Iran for 'delivering' detained Iranian-American

TEHRAN, Iran — Tehran said late Tuesday that Oman thanked the Iranian government for “delivering” to Muscat a detained 85-year-old Iranian-American who had been cleared to leave the country for medical treatment. Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on its website that Oman’s top diplomat called his Iranian counterpart to express appreciation for Tehran’s decision to hand over Baquer Namazi, a retired U.N. children’s agency official, as a “humanitarian gesture.” It remained unclear whether Namazi, who was detained in Tehran in 2016, had actually left Iran.Oman has frequently served as a neutral mediator between Iran and the West.Namazi was placed under house arrest for medical reasons in 2018 but prevented from leaving Iran despite his family’s pleas that he travel to receive emergency heart surgery after suffering multiple hospitalizations. Last October, he underwent surgery in Iran to clear a blockage in an artery to the brain that his family and supporters described as life-threatening.The U.N. announced this week that following heavy pressure on the Iranian government, Tehran had agreed to lift Namazi’s travel ban so he could receive medical treatment abroad. Namazi was arrested when he traveled to Tehran to visit his incarcerated son Siamak Namazi, a 49-year-old energy executive. Security forces had arrested the son, an advocate of closer ties between Iran and the West, months earlier while he visiting Iran on a business trip.Both Namazis were sentenced to 10 years in prison in Iran on what the U.S. and U.N. say were trumped-up spying charges.

Swedes close area of Baltic Sea around pipeline gas leaks

Swedes close area of Baltic Sea around pipeline gas leaks

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The Swedish prosecutor in charge of the investigation into leaks from pipelines in the Baltic Sea said Tuesday that he has ordered the area to be closed as he carries out a preliminary investigation into “suspected gross sabotage.”“I understand the great public interest, but we are at the beginning of a preliminary investigation and I therefore cannot go into details about which investigative measures we are taking,” Prosecutor Mats Ljungqvist said late Monday. The Swedish coast guard said ships, divers, fishing vessels and underwater vehicles, among others, are banned from approaching within 9.3 kilometers (5.8 miles) of the two leaks off Sweden.Last week, undersea blasts involving several hundred pounds of explosives damaged the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in four locations off southern Sweden and Denmark and led to huge methane leaks in international waters in the Baltic Sea.Over the weekend, authorities in Denmark said the Nord Stream 1 and 2 natural gas pipelines had stopped leaking. However, the Swedish coast guard said Monday that one of its planes had reported that the smaller leak in Nord Stream 2 had increased and was about 30 meters (100 feet) in diameter. The coast guard offered no explanation as to why the leak had increased. The other one, in Nord Stream 1, has stopped, it said.A Swedish submarine rescue ship capable of advanced diving missions and a Swedish coast guard vessels have been sent to the two leaks off Sweden. It remains unclear when divers or a submarine will be able to go down to the pipelines. Danish authorities are monitoring the two gas leaks east of the Danish Baltic Sea island of Bornholm with ships and a a military helicopter. In Sweden, the Security Services are also taking part in the investigation, while Copenhagen police are in charge of an inquiry in Denmark.The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting Friday on the pipeline attacks, and Norwegian researchers published a map projecting that a huge plume of methane from the damaged pipelines will travel over large swaths of the Nordic region.

Judge acquits Legion priests in abuse-linked extortion case

Judge acquits Legion priests in abuse-linked extortion case

ROME — A judge in Milan on Monday acquitted five members of the Legion of Christ religious order and their lawyers of attempted extortion in a case in which they were accused of offering to pay the family of a sexual abuse victim to lie to prosecutors.Four of the five were also absolved of obstruction of justice charges because the statute of limitations expired, while a fifth was acquitted outright, said Daniela Cultrera, the lawyer for the victim’s family. The investigation was an offshoot of a case in which Italy’s highest court last year upheld the conviction and 6 1/2-year prison sentence for a defrocked Legion priest, Vladimir Resendiz, for sexually abusing boys at the Legion’s youth seminary in northern Italy.That case was sparked in 2013 when one of Resendiz’s victims confided in his therapist about the abuse he suffered while he was in middle school at the seminary. The therapist informed law enforcement authorities, who opened the probe.Prosecutors alleged the Legion hierarchy in Italy and their lawyers offered the family of the victim 15,000 euros in exchange for a settlement agreement in which the son ruled out having been abused by Resendiz and regardless didn’t remember. It said if the family members were ever called to testify, they were to make the same declarations, denying the abuse that they had already reported to prosecutors.The family refused to sign and reported the offer to law enforcement.At the time the offers were made, the Legion was emerging from years of Vatican-mandated reform following revelations that the founder of the Mexico-based order was a religious fraud who sexually abused his seminarians and built a secretive, cult-like order to hide his crimes.

Iran's supreme leader breaks silence on protests, blames US

Iran's supreme leader breaks silence on protests, blames US

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei responded publicly on Monday to the biggest protests in Iran in years, breaking weeks of silence to condemn what he called “rioting” and accuse the United States and Israel of planning the protests. The unrest, ignited by the death of a young woman in the custody of Iran’s morality police, is flaring up across the country for a third week despite government efforts to crack down. On Monday, Iran shuttered its top technology university following an hours-long standoff between students and the police that turned the prestigious institution into the latest flashpoint of protests and ended with hundreds of young people arrested.Speaking to a cadre of police students in Tehran, Khamenei said he was “deeply heartbroken” by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody, calling it a “tragic incident.” However, he lambasted the protests as a foreign plot to destabilize Iran, echoing authorities’ previous comments.“This rioting was planned,” he said. “These riots and insecurities were designed by America and the Zionist regime, and their employees.”Meanwhile, Sharif University of Technology in Tehran announced that only doctoral students would be allowed on campus until further notice following hours of turmoil Sunday, when witnesses said antigovernment protesters clashed with pro-establishment students. The witnesses, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the police kept hundreds of students holed up on campus and fired rounds of tear gas to disperse the demonstrations. The student association said plainclothes officers surrounded the school from all sides as protests roiled the campus after nightfall and detained at least 300 students.Plainclothes officers beat a professor and several university employees, the association added. The state-run IRNA news agency sought to downplay the violent standoff, reporting a “protest gathering” took place without causing casualties. But it also said police released 30 students from detention, acknowledging many had been caught in the dragnet by mistake as they tried to go home.The crackdown sparked backlash on Monday at home and abroad.“Suppose we beat and arrest, is this the solution?” asked a column in the Jomhouri Eslami daily, a hard-line Iranian newspaper. “Is this productive?”German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock condemned the “the regime’s brute force” at Sharif University as “an expression of sheer fear at the power of education and freedom.”“The courage of Iranians is incredible,” she said.Iran’s latest protest movement, which has produced some of the nation’s most widespread unrest in years, emerged as a response to Amini’s death after her arrest for allegedly violating the country’s strict Islamic dress code. It has since grown into an open challenge to the Iranian leadership, with women burning their state-mandated headscarves and chants of “Death to the dictator,” echoing from streets and balconies after dark. The demonstrations have tapped a deep well of grievances in Iran, including the country’s social restrictions, political repression and ailing economy strangled by American sanctions. The unrest has continued in Tehran and far-flung provinces even as authorities have disrupted internet access and blocked social media apps. Protests also have spread across the Middle East and to Europe and North America. Thousands poured into the streets of Los Angeles to show solidarity. Police scuffled with protesters outside Iranian embassies in London and Athens. Crowds chanted “Woman! Life! Freedom!” in Paris.In his remarks on Monday, Khamenei condemned scenes of protesters ripping off their hijabs and setting fire to mosques, banks and police cars as “actions that are not normal, that are unnatural.” He warned that “those who foment unrest to sabotage the Islamic Republic deserve harsh prosecution and punishment.”Security forces have responded with tear gas, metal pellets and in some cases live fire, according to rights groups and widely shared footage, although the scope of the crackdown remains unclear.Iran’s state TV has reported the death toll from violent clashes between protesters and security officers could be as high as 41. Rights groups have given higher death counts, with London-based Amnesty International saying it has identified 52 victims.An untold number of people have been apprehended, with local officials reporting at least 1,500 arrests. Security forces have picked up artists who have voiced support for the protests and dozens of journalists. Most recently Sunday, authorities arrested Alborz Nezami, a reporter at an economic newspaper in Tehran.Iran’s intelligence ministry said nine foreigners have been detained over the protests. A 30-year-old Italian traveler named Alessia Piperno called her parents on Sunday to say she had been arrested, her father Alberto Piperno told Italian news agency ANSA.“We are very worried,” he said. “The situation isn’t going well.”Most of the protesters appear to be under 25, according to witnesses — Iranians who have grown up knowing little but global isolation and severe Western sanctions linked to Iran’s nuclear program. Talks to revive the landmark 2015 nuclear deal have stalled for months, fueling discontent as Iran’s currency declines in value and prices soar. A Tehran-based university teacher, Shahindokht Kharazmi, said the new generation has come up with unpredictable ways to defy authorities.“The (young protesters) have learned the strategy from video games and play to win,” Kharazmi told the pro-reform Etemad newspaper. “There is no such thing as defeat for them.”As the new academic year began this week, students at universities in major cities across Iran gathered in protest, according to videos widely shared on social media, clapping, chanting slogans against the government and waving their headscarves. The eruption of student anger has worried the Islamic Republic since at least 1999, when security forces and supporters of hard-line clerics attacked students protesting media restrictions. That wave of student protests under former reformist President Mohammad Khatami touched off the worst street battles since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.“Don’t call it a protest, it’s a revolution now,” shouted students at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran, as women set their hijabs alight.“Students are awake, they hate the leadership!” chanted crowds at the University of Mazandaran in the country’s north.Riot police have been out in force, patrolling streets near universities on motorbikes.

Page 1 of 1173123Next ›Last »