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Yemen aid workers: ‘If ever there was a time for support, then it’s now’

As a UN donor conference nears, aid workers warn the humanitarian crisis in Yemen could worsen without more international support. An attempted rebellion and Saudi-led military intervention has led to severe famine. International funding for Yemen is urgently needed in response to widespread malnutrition and limited access to medical care caused by the war in the country, representatives of an aid organization active in Yemen reported Monday in Berlin. Roughly 17 million Yemenis are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, among them 7 million Yemenis exposed to extreme food shortages and almost 500,000 severely malnourished children under the age of five, aid organization CARE International reported. Ahead of a UN donor conference later in April, aid workers warned that more money was needed to stop the situation from spiraling further out of control. "If there was ever a time for support from the international community, then it's now," said Marten Mylius, an emergency help coordinator with CARE. Little money so far Less than 10 percent of the $2.1 billion (1.98 billion-euro) aid package sought by the UN for 2017 has been funded, according to the most recent UN numbers. The funding target is based on the projected costs of supplying basic provisions like food, water and shelter by those in need as a result of the war - more than 60 percent of Yemen's total population, according to CARE. Famine is a growing concern, representatives said. With South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia, Yemen is likely to be a focal point of Western humanitarian help in the months ahead. The UN donor conference for the country is scheduled for April 25 in Geneva. Children suffer the most Ordinary Yemenis, and especially children, continue to bear the brunt of a bombing campaign started by Saudi Arabia in March 2015 to stop the advance of Shiite Houthi rebels against the internationally-recognized government in Sana'a. A Saudi blockade of Yemeni ports and restrictions imposed on Yemeni airspace have proven more devastating for the civilian population, limiting the arrival of critical supplies in a country that depends heavily upon imports for foodstuffs, and preventing Yemenis from escaping the country. The war has killed more than 10,000 people, according to a January UN estimate. More than 4,700 civilians had been killed and 8,200 injured as of March, the UN Commissioner for Human Rights reported. Roughly 2.2 million children in Yemen were malnourished as of December, "an all-time high and increasing," according to UNICEF. 'Unacceptable' conditions CARE representatives criticized the use of food or medical access as forms of leverage, even as they avoided criticizing specific nations or groups. They called pointedly for the lifting of blockades and airspace restrictions. "It's simply unacceptable," said CARE general secretary Karl-Otto Zentel. "It's unheard of that civilians severely injured in war are unable to be treated on location but can't be evacuated out of the country. These are unacceptable conditions." Despite the extent of suffering on the ground, the war in Yemen receives less attention in the West than conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, where NATO forces are active. In Yemen, several NATO powers are providing intelligence and logistical support to the Saudis' coalition, but stopping short of airstrikes. The conflict still has global consequences, seen by many observers as part of the broader regional struggle between Sunni power Saudi Arabia, a US ally, and Shiite Iran, which supports the rebels. UN funding has yet to match the projected need for the country. In 2016, the organization received only 62 percent of the $1.6 billion sought. Of that total, CARE received $13.7 million for Yemen projects.

As a UN donor conference nears, aid workers warn the humanitarian crisis in Yemen could worsen without more international support. An attempted rebellion and Saudi-led military intervention has led to severe famine. International funding for Yemen is urgently needed in response to widespread malnutrition and limited access to medical care caused by the war in the country, representatives of an ... Read More »

Deaths reported in Syria ‘gas attack’

A monitor has reported that dozens civilians were killed and hundreds injured by a "toxic gas" attack in northwestern Idlib province. The Syrian government had vowed to destroy its stock of chemical weapons. At least 100 people, many of them children, were reportedly killed on Tuesday morning by a "toxic gas" attack in northwest Syria, a monitor said. The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that an airstrike on the rebel-held town of Sheikhun was responsible for the civilian deaths. SOHR, which relies on witness reporting from within Syria and is sometimes accused of a favorable stance towards the opposition forces, said it was trying to determine what the substance was and if it had been dropped by Syrian aircraft or planes belonging to allied Russia. Russia vehemently denied carrying out Tuesday's attack. The Syrian government had promised to destroy its store of chemical weapons in 2013 as part of a deal to avoid US military intervention. But photographs collected by activists showed some of the White Helmets volunteer rescue group hosing down victims with water, and two men foaming at the mouth after the attack. The Syrian Medical Relief Group, an international aid agency funding hospitals in Paris, said at least 400 people were injured in the attack. Many of the wounded are reportedly suffering from respiratory problems. Medical workers in the town told SOHR that victims had been brought in vomiting and fainting after the air raid, and on top of the dead there were dozens of patients suffering respiratory problems as a result. UN rights investigators launch investigation Idlib province, where Sheikhun is located, is controlled by the al-Qaeda affiliated Fateh al-Sham Front, formerly known as the Al Nusra Front. Later on Tuesday, UN human rights investigators started gathering information on the alleged chemical weapons attack after the National Coalition - an opposition group uniting more moderate elements - demanded an independent investigation from the United Nations. UN investigators also said they were probing whether a medical facility treating victims was also under siege. "The National Coalition demands the Security Council convene an emergency session..., open an immediate investigation and take the necessary measures to ensure the officials, perpetrators and supporters are held accountable," the group said in a statement. UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said that "both the use of chemical weapons, as well as the deliberate targeting of medical facilities, would amount to war crimes and serious violations of human rights law," International outcry Leaders across the world condemned the Syrian government and its allies following reports of the attack, and called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to be held to account. French President Francois Hollande accused the Assad regime of carrying out a "massacre." "Once again the Syrian regime will deny the evidence of its responsibility for this massacre," Hollande said. "Those who support this regime can once again reflect on the enormity of their political, strategic and moral responsibility." British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the alleged chemical attack near Idlib "bears all the hallmarks" of the Syrian government, adding that the UK government would "continue to lead international efforts to hold perpetrators to account." Both the UK and France have called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, which could take place as early as Tuesday. Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft urged Russia and China not to veto any council resolution against those responsible for the attack. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that Tuesday's attack served as a "dramatic reminder of the fact that the first priority is, as in any conflict, stopping the fighting," adding that the Assad regime had the "primary responsibility of protecting its people and not attacking its people." Turkey's foreign minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, called the attack "a crime against humanity" but also criticized the West for intervening for similar attack in the past. Western nations, he said, were glad to give frequent lectures to the Middle East on human rights but "remained carefree when the red line was crossed before." The attack came as the European Union was preparing to hold a two-day summit on the Syrian conflict in Brussels. After US President Donald Trump last week walked back from the demand that President Bashar al-Assad step down, EU foreign ministers have said they see no place for the strongman in Syria. US lawmakers demands tougher Trump approach Trump's suggestion that removing Assad from power might no longer be the top US priority in Syria would represent quite a shift in policy for Washington in the six-year civil war. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also raised eye brows last week when he said that Assad's fate would be "decided by the Syrian people." However, Tuesday's attack could force Trump to challenge the Syrian government more forcefully. While the White House and US congressional leaders had yet to react to the attack, Republican lawmakers urged the president to take action. House Republican Adam Kinzinger wrote on Twitter that "Removing #Assad from power IS and MUST be a priority." Senator John McCain described the attacks as "butchery," and criticized the administration's handling of the crisis, warning that Tillerson's words only served to encourage Assad and his allies.

A monitor has reported that dozens civilians were killed and hundreds injured by a “toxic gas” attack in northwestern Idlib province. The Syrian government had vowed to destroy its stock of chemical weapons. At least 100 people, many of them children, were reportedly killed on Tuesday morning by a “toxic gas” attack in northwest Syria, a monitor said. The London-based ... Read More »

St. Petersburg metro hit by deadly blast

Some 10 people have been killed and some 50 injured in an explosion on a train in the subway system of the Russian city of St. Petersburg, Russian authorities say. All stations were closed after the blast. An explosion in a train carriage on the St. Petersburg subway system on Monday killed at least 10 people and injured some 50 others, Russian authorities said. The blast was reported to have taken place in a train traveling between the stations of Sennaya Ploshchad and the Institute of Technology. A spokesman for Russia's National Anti-Terrorism committee (NAK), Andrei Przhezdomsky, said in televised remarks that the blast occurred at 2:40 pm local time (1140 UTC). St Petersburg metro blast: Timeline Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed source as saying the explosion was caused by a shrapnel-filled bomb. The blast tore a hole in the side of a carriage. The NAK later said it had found and deactivated another homemade bomb found at a different St. Petersburg station. Terrorism 'being considered' Following the explosion, there were scenes of confusion, with traffic blocked on the busy thoroughfare of Moskovsky Prospect, while emergency vehicles and a helicopter rushed to assist the victims. All stations on the subway system were closed following the blast. The Moscow metro also said it was stepping up security in case of an attack there, while the Russian National Anti-Terrorism Committee said security would be tightened at all criticial transport facilities. President Vladimir Putin, who was visiting the city for talks with his Belarus counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, expressed his condolences to the families of those killed in the blast, and said all possible causes, including terrorism, were being considered. "Law enforcement agencies and intelligence services are doingtheir best to establish the cause and give a full picture of what happened," Putin said at the start of his talks with Lukashenko. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel expressed his condolences following the blast, saying he had learned of the news "with deep sorrow." He said Germany's thoughts were "with our friends in Russia, the victims and their families in this dark hour." Several enemies Russia has seen several attacks by separatist Islamist Chechen militants in past years, and the extremist group "Islamic State" (IS) has also threatened to carry out attacks in the country in retaliation for the Russian military operations in Syria. Russia is giving military assistance to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in fighting rebel groups including IS. There has, however, been no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. Double suicide bombings in the Moscow subway in March 2010 killed 40 people and wounded more than 100 others. Those attacks, carried out by two female suicide bombers, were claimed by Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov. In November 2009, 26 people were killed and some 100 injured in a bombing on the high-speed Moscow-to-St. Petersburg train, with Umarov's group saying he also ordered that attack.

Some 10 people have been killed and some 50 injured in an explosion on a train in the subway system of the Russian city of St. Petersburg, Russian authorities say. All stations were closed after the blast. An explosion in a train carriage on the St. Petersburg subway system on Monday killed at least 10 people and injured some 50 ... Read More »

Indian sailors held for ransom on hijacked boat near Somalia

Pirates have commandeered an Indian commercial vessel with 11 on board on its way from Dubai. After years of relative calm, many are worried that disputes over fishing rights may lead to a resurgent crime wave. Pirates have hijacked an Indian commercial vessel off the coast of Somalia and are holding its 11 sailors for ransom, according to a private marine security investigator. Dryad Maritime reported that the boat had been intercepted en route to Bosaso, Somalia, from Dubai. The pirates were reportedly steering the ship towards the port town in Eyl, in the Puntland region. Lieutenant Ian McConnaughey, spokesman for the US Navy's Fifth Fleet, which is stationed in Bahrain and oversees many regional anti-piracy missions, said they were "aware of the reports and monitoring the situation." Last month, hijackers who attempted a similar maneuver were forced to release the commandeered vessel after losing a fight with Puntland's marine forces. The incident in March was the first of its kind since 2012, when international efforts at patrolling the seas off Somalia led to a decrease in threats to the shipping industry. Locals have however become increasingly irate at the amount of foreigners being granted license to fish in Somali waters, leading to fears that the region may see a new uptick in piracy.

Pirates have commandeered an Indian commercial vessel with 11 on board on its way from Dubai. After years of relative calm, many are worried that disputes over fishing rights may lead to a resurgent crime wave. Pirates have hijacked an Indian commercial vessel off the coast of Somalia and are holding its 11 sailors for ransom, according to a private ... Read More »

Scores of policemen killed in Democratic Republic of Congo

Forty-two police officers have been decapitated by a Congolese militia group after the officers' vehicles were ambushed. The country's Kasai region has seen seven months of severe violence amid local power struggles. Members of the Kamwena Nsapu militia were behind the attack on a convoy of two police trucks in the DRC's Kasia Central province, a local official said. The attack between the cities of Tshikapa and Kananga occurred on Friday, according to Kasai Assembly President Francois Kalamba. Local reports said many of the officers were decapitated and others were shot dead. Six policemen were released because they spoke the local Tshiluba language, he said. The militia fighters, who are often armed with machetes but rarely carry firearms, made off with weapons and vehicles during the raid, Kalamba added. Hundreds have been killed and about 200,000 displaced since fighting between the Kamwena Nsapu and government forces started in Kasai province in August 2016. The insurgency, which has spread to five provinces, poses the most serious threat yet to the rule of President Joseph Kabila, whose failure to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate in December was followed by a wave of killings and lawlessness across the vast central African nation. Friday's attack follows government reports of a wave of surrenders by fighters in neighboring Kasai-Central province in recent days. The Interior Ministry said on Saturday that 400 fighters had surrendered this week in the province. Last week, two United Nations officials - one US citizen and the other of Swedish nationality- and four Congolese accompanying them were also kidnapped last week by unknown assailants in Kasai-Central. They have yet to be located.

Forty-two police officers have been decapitated by a Congolese militia group after the officers’ vehicles were ambushed. The country’s Kasai region has seen seven months of severe violence amid local power struggles. Members of the Kamwena Nsapu militia were behind the attack on a convoy of two police trucks in the DRC’s Kasia Central province, a local official said. The ... Read More »

Don’t forget Ethiopia starvation risk, says German NGO

The Menschen für Menschen charity has said 5.7 million Ethiopians could die of a lack of food. Part of the problem is that other countries are faring even worse and thus getting most of the publicity. Some 6 percent of Ethiopia's population of 98 million suffers from food shortages resulting from a catastrophic drought in the eastern African country. But that doesn't qualify as a risk of famine for the United Nations, which defines the term as 20 percent of a country's population having fewer than 2,100 kilocalories of nutrition per day. The German NGO Menschen für Menschen (People for People), however, is worried that the situation in Ethiopia could deteriorate if Ethiopians' needs are drowned out by news reports of even more acute food shortages in Somalia, South Sudan and northern Kenya. "Of course there's a catastrophe in Somalia, but let's not forget the situation in Ethiopia," Menschen für Menschen executive director Peter Renner said on Wednesday at a press conference in Berlin. "It's not like everything is fine there while there's a major drought 500 kilometers away. A climate catastrophe doesn't stop at national borders." Menschen für Menschen was founded by the late German actor Karlheinz Böhm in 1981 specifically for Ethiopia. The NGO's view of the threat of starvation in the country tallies almost exactly with estimates by the UN's World Food Programme, which says 5.6 million Ethiopians are currently in need of emergency food assistance. Ethiopia can count itself lucky, Renner said, that the country got a normal amount of rainfall in 2016. But he added that Ethiopians are still struggling to overcome a catastrophic dry spell two years ago. Depleted food stocks from 2015 In 2015, precipitation during Ethiopia's two annual rainy seasons was extremely low. It was the worst drought since 1984, the catastrophe that prompted the Live Aid relief concerts. The 2015 dry spell ruined the harvest in a country where 80 percent of the population are farmers, and the Ethiopian government was forced to deplete food reserves to keep people from starving. Moreover, Renner pointed out, there were other knock-on effects for one of the poorest countries on earth. More than 68 percent of electricity in Ethiopia, for example, comes from hydroelectric power. The country has yet to fully recover from the drought, Renner said, and is depending on normal levels of rainfall in 2017 to avoid slipping back into crisis. But the el Nino climate phenomenon has brought potentially deadly instability to weather patterns in eastern Africa. "Despite el Nino, there was decent seasonal rainfall in 2016, but there's no guarantee of that in 2017," Renner pointed out. "We've observed in the past two or two-and-a-half years that we can no longer predict when the short and long rainy seasons will start, how long they'll last or the amount of rain they'll bring." The world's industrialized nations need to provide additional aid, Renner argued, to ensure that the tentative progress Ethiopia has made isn't wiped out. Germany's Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development said Berlin earmarked 129 million euros ($136 million) in aid to Ethiopia from 2015 to 2017. 'Chronically critical' regions Despite criticism of Ethiopia's repressive ruling coalition, the UN and NGOs like Menschen für Menschen said the country's ability to respond to natural catastrophes has improved and that Ethiopians have grown more self-reliant. But the areas of Ethiopia that border on Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya remain, in Renner's words "chronically critical" regions - rocky deserts that are naturally susceptible to recurrent droughts and that are far more likely to experience crop failures than the relatively fertile center of the country. That's what's happening at the moment in Somalia, South Sudan and Kenya. "These countries are now experiencing what Ethiopia went through 15 months ago," Renner said. "If it rains in one place, it doesn't mean it rains in another." Despite the country's poverty and climate problems, Ethiopia currently hosts some 650,000 refugees from neighboring countries. Those people are particularly vulnerable to hunger. Long-term solutions a long way off The chances of reversing the climate trends that cause droughts in eastern Africa are exceedingly slim. In the medium term, Renner said, that means the world's industrialized nations have a duty to help countries like Ethiopia deal with failed harvests and avoid food shortages. European countries also have an interest in reducing the number of migrants from the region as a whole and an improvement in living conditions there would keep some people from heading to Europe. If that is to happen, there needs to be what Renner called a "paradigm shift" in aid away from donors giving money to recipients and toward sustainable development and self-reliance. Renner said that the so-called "Marshall Plan for Africa" currently being drawn up by the Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, lasting developmental help takes time. Renner said Menschen für Menschen in Ethiopia had seen that 15 years are needed for individual assistance projects to establish themselves and become self-preserving. Food shortages can also disrupt and stymie that process. If the 2017 rainy seasons yield a normal amount of precipitation, Renner said, Ethiopia could be able to overcome the effects of the 2015 drought by this autumn. If not, the country will need immediate assistance to prevent the situation from becoming catastrophic.

The Menschen für Menschen charity has said 5.7 million Ethiopians could die of a lack of food. Part of the problem is that other countries are faring even worse and thus getting most of the publicity. Some 6 percent of Ethiopia’s population of 98 million suffers from food shortages resulting from a catastrophic drought in the eastern African country. But ... Read More »

UN alarmed over escalation in fighting in Damascus ahead of Geneva peace talks

The UN has expressed concern over the escalation in fighting around Damascus. Syria peace talks are due to resume with the UN's envoy Staffan de Mistura expressing 'chronic optimism.' There have been reports of civilian deaths and injuries from shelling in Qabun, Barzeh, Tishreen and western Harasta districts of the city of Damascus, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Monday. "The UN is alarmed by the intensification of fighting in the Damascus area in recent days," said Haq, adding that over 100,000 civilians were living in need in neighborhoods that have seen an upsurge in fighting since Saturday. So-called Islamic State (IS)-linked groups on Monday reportedly launched a surprise attack on moderate rebels in southwestern Syria near the Golan Heights, seizing several villages and a large town. Peace talks Representatives from the opposition and President Bashar al-Assad's regime head to Geneva on Thursday for talks to end their country's six-year war. They are the fourth round of negotiations between Syria's warring parties moderated by the 70-year-old de Mistura (photo). De Mistura said the agenda at the talks would mirror the objectives outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 2254 from December 2015. The Security Council expressed its support for establishing inclusive and non-sectarian governance, the drafting of a new constitution and free and fair elections. Haq said there were still questions over the delegations. "We do expect clarifications on who precisely will be coming over," he said. The last round of talks broke up in April last year with violence ongoing on the ground. The UN-backed humanitarian taskforce created under de Mistura's watch has partially succeeded in increasing aid flows. In 2015 fewer than 500,000 Syrians in besieged and hard-to-reach areas received life-saving supplies. That number jumped to 1.3 million last year, according to the UN. Human rights groups attack Russia Participants in the talks should prioritize five key human rights issues during negotiations, 40 human rights and other organizations said in a statement released early on Tuesday. "The priorities are to end unlawful attacks, ensure aid access and safe passage for fleeing civilians, detainee rights, justice, and security sector reform," the statement read. "One of the main goals of the Geneva talks should be putting an end to the violations against Syrians who have faced bombing, chemical attacks, starvation, illegal detention, and more horrors," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. "The US-led coalition should take fully into account that the Russia-Syria coalition has repeatedly committed war crimes under the guise of fighting terrorism, and that any cooperation with Russia in the fight against the IS in Syria should ensure that it is not complicit in such crimes," the human rights statement reads.

The UN has expressed concern over the escalation in fighting around Damascus. Syria peace talks are due to resume with the UN’s envoy Staffan de Mistura expressing ‘chronic optimism.’ There have been reports of civilian deaths and injuries from shelling in Qabun, Barzeh, Tishreen and western Harasta districts of the city of Damascus, UN spokesman Farhan Haq said on Monday. ... Read More »

Dozens killed in likely tanker blast in Syria

A large explosion has killed dozens of civilians in a Syrian border town, targeting an Islamic court building in a stronghold of the Free Syrian Army. Several sources said that a fuel truck had blown up at the scene. At least 43 people were killed and many more injured after an explosion ripped through a busy market area in Azaz, a rebel-controlled town near the Turkish border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Saturday. A doctor cited by Turkey's state-run Anadolu agency said that no fewer than 60 people died in the blast. According to several sources, a massive tanker truck exploded in front of an Islamic court building in central Azaz in a presumed terror attack. Several of the surrounding vehicles caught fire. As firefighters were combating the flames, civil defense workers, rebels, and civilians were searching through the rubble. While six of the victims have been identified as Free Syrian Army (FSA) militants, most of the casualties were reported to be civilians. Repeated bombings blamed on IS Azaz, in Aleppo province, has been a FSA stronghold since they wrestled it from "Islamic State" ("IS") control in a Turkey-backed surge several months ago. At least two car bomb blasts previously targeted the town, with FSA pointing the finger at "IS." However, no group immediately claimed responsibility for the latest blast. The "Islamic State" extremist militia and the Fatah al-Sham group, formerly known as the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, are not included in the current nationwide ceasefire in Syria.

A large explosion has killed dozens of civilians in a Syrian border town, targeting an Islamic court building in a stronghold of the Free Syrian Army. Several sources said that a fuel truck had blown up at the scene. At least 43 people were killed and many more injured after an explosion ripped through a busy market area in Azaz, ... Read More »

UN to set up war crimes panel for Syria investigations

The UN has approved a resolution to set up a panel to gather evidence of possible war crimes in Syria. Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said the resolution was illegal and a threat to a solution to the conflict. The 193-member body adopted a resolution Wednesday by a vote of 105 to 15 with 52 abstentions. Iran, China and Russia - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's main ally - were among the countries which voted against. "The General Assembly today demonstrated that it can take the reins on questions of justice in the face of a Security Council deadlock," said Balkees Jarah of Human Rights Watch. "The countries that voted for this unprecedented Syria resolution took a critically important stand for victims of grave crimes." The resolution stresses the need for the new body "to closely coordinate" with an independent commission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council which has said war crimes are "rampant" in Syria. Syria and her ally Russia accused the assembly of interfering in the work of the Security Council. Syria's Ambassador Bashar Jafaari slammed the measure, saying it was contrary to the UN charter and a "flagrant interference in the internal affairs of a UN member-state." The resolution tasks the UN secretary-general to report within 20 days on the establishment of the new panel, which will be funded by the United Nations. It will set up an "international, impartial and independent mechanism to assist in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for the most serious crimes" in Syria since March 2011, when the conflict began. The panel will "collect, consolidate, preserve and analyze evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses and prepare files in order to facilitate and expedite fair and independent criminal proceedings," according to the draft text. Aleppo aid convoy attacked from the air Meanwhile, a UN inquiry has concluded that a UN aid convoy that was bombed while en route to the besieged city of Aleppo in September had come under air attack, but was unable to identify the perpetrators. In a summary of the findings released on Wednesday, the UN said the convoy had been "subject to an attack from the air, using multiple types of munitions deployed from more than one aircraft and aircraft type." At least 10 people were killed and 22 injured in the September 19 attack at Urem al-Kubra, near Aleppo, as a fragile ceasefire agreed to by the US and Russia collapsed. The inquiry panel said it had received reports that three Syria helicopters and three aircraft were "highly likely" to have perpetrated the attack and that a Russian plane was also suspected of being involved. "However, the board did not have access to raw data to support these assertions and, in their absence, it was unable to draw a definitive conclusion," the inquiry reported. Russia and Syria have denied involvement in the bombing. The board of inquiry, led by retired Indian general Abhijit Guha, was not allowed to visit the scene of the attack in Urem al-Kubra, but it did travel to Syria in early December.

The UN has approved a resolution to set up a panel to gather evidence of possible war crimes in Syria. Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said the resolution was illegal and a threat to a solution to the conflict. The 193-member body adopted a resolution Wednesday by a vote of 105 to 15 with 52 abstentions. Iran, China and Russia ... Read More »

Train derails in northern India, killing scores

بھارت کی ریاست اتر پردیش میں ہونے والے ایک ٹرین حادثے میں کم از کم نوے افراد ہلاک ہو گئے ہیں۔ ابتدائی تفصیلات کے مطابق ایک ایکسپریس ٹرین کی سولہ کے قریب بوگیاں پٹری سے اتر گئیں۔ ریاست اتر پردیش کے ایڈیشنل ڈائریکٹر جنرل آف پولیس دلجیت سنگھ چوہدری نے بتایا کہ یہ حادثہ پٹنہ اندور ایکسپریس کو صنعتی شہر کانپور کے قریب آج علی الصبح مقامی وقت کے مطابق تین بج کر دس منٹ پر پیش آیا۔ حادثے کے وقت زیادہ تر مسافر سو رہے تھے۔ ان کے بقول امدادی کارروائیاں جاری ہیں اور امدادی کارکنوں کو بری طرح تباہ ہونے والی بوگیاں سے زخمیوں اور لاشوں کو نکالنے میں شدید دشواریوں کا سامنا کرنا پڑ رہا ہے۔ طبی ذرائع نے بتایا ہے کہ اس حادثے میں زخمی ہونے والوں کی تعداد 120 سے زائد ہے، جن میں کئی کی حالت انتہائی تشویشناک ہے۔ابھی تک اس حادثے کی وجوہات معلوم نہیں ہو سکی ہیں تاہم مقامی ذرائع ابلاغ کے مطابق یہ واقعہ پٹری کے ٹوٹنے کی وجہ سے پیش آیا۔ حکومت کی جانب سے اس واقعے کی مفصل تحقیقات کا حکم دے دیا گیا ہے۔ وزیر اعظم نریندر مودی نے اپنے ٹویٹر پیغام میں ہلاک ہونے والوں کے لواحقین سے گہری ہمدردی کا اظہار کیا ہے،’’یہ دکھ الفاظ میں بیان نہیں کیا جا سکتا۔‘‘بھارت کے ریلوے نظام کو دنیا کا چوتھا بڑا ٹرین نیٹ ورک کہا جاتا ہے۔ تاہم اس کے بہت سے حصے انگریز دور کے بننے ہوئے ہیں اور جنہیں فوری طور پر جدید بنانے کی ضرورت ہے۔ بھارت میں ٹرین کا نقل و حمل کے لیے سب سے زیادہ استعمال کیا جانے والا ذریعہ ہے۔ ایک اندازے کے مطابق اس ملک میں روزانہ تیئس ملین سے زائد افراد اپنی منزل پر پہنچنے کے لیے ٹرین سے سفر کرتے ہیں۔ اس سے قبل 2014ء میں اترپردیش میں ہی ایک مسافر ٹرین ایک مال گاڑی سے ٹکرا گئی تھی، جس سے 26 افراد ہلاک ہوئے تھے۔اسی طرح گزشتہ برس مدھیاپردیش میں دو ٹرینوں کے تصادم میں ستائیس شہریوں کی جان گئی تھی۔ بھارتی تاریخ کا سب سے جان لیوا ٹرین حادثہ 1981ء میں اس وقت رونما ہوا تھا، جب مسافروں سے بھری ہوئی ایک ٹرین ریاست بہار میں باگماتی دریا میں گر گئی تھی۔ اس حادثے میں آٹھ سو افراد ہلاک ہوئے تھے۔

Some 14 coaches of a passenger train rolled off the tracks in a deadly early morning derailment. It is unclear what caused the mishap that killed at least 90 people. A passenger train derailed in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on Sunday, killing at least 90 people, police said. Scores more were injured. At least 14 cars of the ... Read More »

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