Thai Cave Mission: All 12 Boys, Coach Have Been Rescued

Sunday's mission, the second rescue, was completed over nine hours and resulted in four boys being removed from the complex cave network.

Thai officials have confirmed that all 13 members of the Wild Boar soccer team have been successfully rescued from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave. A team of 19 divers undertook the third and final mission, entering the flooded cave to retrieve the final four members of the team and their coach, who had been trapped underground for more than two weeks.

Sunday's mission, the second rescue, was completed in less than 10 hours and resulted in four boys being removed from the complex cave network. The mission mirrored Saturday's successful attempt to rescue the first group of four but reduced the task by some two hours.

“The first day we spent 11 hours, yesterday we spent nine hours, [today] we hope we can do it faster or the same as yesterday. If everything goes right, we will see four kids and a doctor and Seals that have stayed with the kids will all come out,” head of the joint command center, Narongsak Osatanakorn, said.

“Four plus one coach, so it’s five.”

The rescue parties will also extract a doctor as well as three Navy SEALs who had been monitoring the members of the soccer team.

  • Published in World

U.S.: Children's Crying and the Power of Collective Anger

The immigration policies of the current U.S. government frequently provoke criticism and condemnation, but collective anger at these practices reached a new level when thousands of children became its most visible victims.

Reports of the increasing separation of families in the U.S. southern border began weeks ago, as a result of the implementation of the 'zero tolerance' policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April, which came into force the following month.

The policy, aimed at prosecuting those who illegally entered U.S., had a collateral damage that caused great indignation: while parents waited to face criminal charges, their children were taken from their side and sent to centers with other kids.

Data released in recent days indicate that there are more than 2,300 infants separated from their parents as a result of the Donald Trump administration's measure.

Meanwhile, On June 18, condemns increased as a result of a recording released by ProPublica News Agency, in which'the desperate crying of ten Central American children separated from their parents one day from last week'is heard, according to the media.

Immoral, shameful, cruel or heartrending were some of the adjectives used by Democratic and Republican legislators, immigrant rights groups, religious leaders, pediatricians, officials of previous administrations and users in social networks to qualify this practice.

The four former first ladies of the country who still live -Rosalynn Carter, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama- were among the voices of condemnation, which even the current President's wife, Melania Trump, joined.

We need a country where all the laws are followed, but also where leaders rule with the heart, expressed the current first lady in a statement, seen by several sources as an unusual positioning somehow opposed to his husband's position.

While Melania called to govern with the heart, the Republican ruler used the strategy of blaming Democrats for the separation of families, due to what he considers obstructionism in approval of new immigration laws by the blue partymembers.

What is happening is 'very sad,' but it is Democrats' fault, said the head of State noting that if the members of the opposing force sat down to negotiate, 'instead of obstructing', they could quickly do something about it.

However, the media and other sources maintained that Trump falsely blamed Democrats for his government's decision to criminally accuse every adult immigrant.

Under Barack Obama's administration (2009-2017), families were only referred to the immigration courts for deportation proceedings or for asylum applications to be heard, and they were released with supervision, CNN recently recalled.

The Washington Post said the situation had become a moral test for Trump and his mandate and that, despite his insistence on blaming Democrats, he had the power to immediately order the border agents to stop separating families.

UNDER PRESURE, TRUMP SUSPENDS FAMILY SEPARATION

The truthfulness of The Post and other media's statements was confirmed on June 20, when pressured by the increasing demands coming from several groups and places, Trump signed an executive order to put an end to family separation.

The anger expressed by so many voices seems to have forced the head of the White House not to wait for the action of Congress, which he intended to make responsible in the matter, especially five months to the mid-term elections of November to come.

The immigration issue must have an important weightfor those elections, in which Republicans will try to maintain control of the two legislative chambers.

When signing the document in the Oval Office, the Republican leader told the media his government'sdecision to continue with the 'zero tolerance' policy that gave rise to the situation.

The only change of his decree isthat the parents awaiting trial will be able to stay with their children, instead of being taken to different facilities, as it was happening until now.

The order states that although the administration will 'strictly' enforce immigration laws, it's also part of its policy to respectfamily unit, including the detention of family members in a united manner when appropriate and consistent with the law and available resources.

However, since the head of State signed the text, alarms about its content have appeared, and the controversy on the matter seems far from over.

One of the widely debated issues is that the order does not apply to families already separated, but to those that will arrive in the future; therefore, the 2,300 children who are currently heldin custody by the Health Department will not meet immediately with their parents.

The executive decree also pointed out that the Department of Homeland Security will be in charge of the new families during the period required for their process in court, which can last for months or even years, although Trump decided to give priority to cases with children.

This decision conflicts with the legal agreement known as Flores, of 1997, which prohibits the government from keeping children in detention for more than 20 days, even with their families.

That's why the document states that the U.S. Attorney General must quickly submit an application to the Central District Court of California to modify that ruling so that it allows the authorities to retain foreign families while proceeding with prosecutions.

Given the content and conditions of the new order, immigrant rights advocacy groups are expected to take legal action.

Leaders of some entities have already spoken about it, such as the director of Movimiento Puente in Phoenix, Arizona, Francisca Porchas, who said in a press conference that what Trump approved 'is not family reunification, it is family imprisonment.'

According to Cesar Espinosa, executive director of Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle, based in Houston, Texas, they oppose the order because many children will be still detained while the text is only used as a political trick to appear more 'compassionate.'

US Should Stop Detaining Migrants, Separating Children: United Nations

Geneva: The United Nations called on the United States on Tuesday to stop detaining irregular migrant families and separating children on its frontier with Mexico, saying this broke the law.

Several hundred children crossing the southern U.S. border have been held in custody since October 2017 following an executive order issued by President Donald Trump when he took office in January 2016, it said.

"The U.S. should immediately halt this practice of separating families and stop criminalising what should at most be an administrative offence - that of irregular entry or stay in the U.S.," U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a briefing in Geneva.

"Entering a country without the relevant papers should not be a criminal offence...so these people should not be detained," she said, adding that some children were very young, including a one-year-old infant.

Poverty, as well as deepening violence from criminal gangs and drug traffickers has driven hundreds of thousands of Central Americans to try to cross the U.S. border illegally or seek asylum in the country.

The Trump administration will soon begin fingerprinting parents claiming custody of children who entered the United States illegally without an adult relative, officials said a week ago, prompting criticism that children may be abandoned by those who fear being identified and deported.

Shamdasani, asked about comments by senior U.S. officials that it was normal to remove children from parents in custody, said: "There is nothing normal about detaining children.

"Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation," she said.

The United States - the only country in the world not to have ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child - still has obligations as a signatory to that treaty and as a party that has ratified other rights treaties, Shamdasani said

"Our position is that preserving family unity is a fundamental tenet of refugee protection," U.N. refugee agency spokesman William Spindler said.

Most crossing the U.S. southern border are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador where there is rampant violence and persecution targetting children and youth, he said.

"The fact that you have people coming from countries experiencing violence and might be subject to persecution by gangs and other criminal violence, would certainly ... give them the right to receive international protection," Spindler said.

  • Published in World

Cuba Exhibits Tangible Human Rights Achievements

Havana, Dec 8 (Prensa Latina) Cuba is showing today tangible human rights achievements by guaranteeing access to education, health and social security amid the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States more than 50 years ago.

More than 1,750,000 students were enrolled only in the 2017-2018 school year, about 68,000 students are in boarding schools and other 755,000 are in semi-boarding schools.

There are currently about 10,698 schools, of them, 26 are teacher training centers. These institutions have more than 23,000 students.

In terms of social security, the Caribbean island ensures retirement pensions to 1,672,000 people and about 245 million pesos for maternity leaves.

Regarding expenses, the State had 36.5 million pesos for public health, social assistance, culture, sports, public administration, among other sectors.

In sports, the Caribbean nation reached from 1900 to date about 77 gold, 68 silver and 75 bronze medals at Olympic Games, Granma newspaper said.

Cuba has been since January 1, 2017, for fourth time one of the eight representatives of Latin America and the Caribbean in the Human Rights Council, with more votes in its election (160) than any other country in the region.

  • Published in Cuba

2017 ‘didn’t look good’ but 2018 will bring more wars, famine & extremism – NGO

Violence and pockets of fighting in Syria and Iraq, near-famine in Yemen, and Islamic extremists steadily gaining ground in Afghanistan will make humanitarian crises around the world much worse next year than they were in 2017, an NGO predicts.

The ‘Humanitarian Overview: An Analysis of Key Crises into 2018’ by Geneva-based think tank ACAPS looks at major trends that will shape the face of the world next year. It specifically focuses on countries going through deteriorating or ongoing crises, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Mali, South Sudan, Yemen, Venezuela, among others.

 
Internally displaced people wait to collect food aid, Somalia. File photo. © Ismail Taxta

Aross these countries, food security, displacement, health, and protection are expected to be the most pressing humanitarian needs in 2018,” the researchers said. “Most humanitarian crises in this report are driven by conflict, with a spread in violence and shifts in tactics this year in several countries.

“If 2017 did not look good, predictions for 2018 are no better: violence and insecurity are likely to deteriorate in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Ethiopia, Mali, Somalia, and Syria next year,” ACAPS Director Lars Peter Nissen wrote in the report.

Islamic extremism will also continue to cause violence and conflict in various hotspots across the globe, the study said. In Afghanistan, where there is no let-up in 16-year war against the Taliban, “the security situation is likely to continue to deteriorate in 2018 leading to greater health, food security, and protection needs.”

The Islamic group is gaining ground over rural areas, particularly in the north and south of the country, as well as in territories used for opium poppy cultivation, which rose by 67 percent compared to 2016, with the production of opium rising by 87 percent.

Despite the defeat of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) in its main redoubts in Iraq, the terrorist group is expected to continue fighting against the government, “shifting toward the use of non-traditional conflict strategies and improvised attacks.”

In neighboring Syria, there will be pockets of insecurity, especially in Idlib, Eastern Ghouta, and Deir-ez-Zor provinces, the study predicts. The report noted that “the Astana agreements [brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran] over de-escalation zones have been a major political development in 2017, contributing to the perception of an improving security situation in Syria.”

@ACAPSproject The #HumanitarianOverview2018 report is now out: an analysis of key crises into 2018 with likely developments and corresponding #humanitarian needs. Download it here: http://humanitarianoverview.acaps.org and please share it!

Next year is likely to be “decisive for the Syria conflict,” as any real or perceived progress in establishing de-escalation zones would change perceptions of the conflict. “This would likely affect third country policies on refugees, and potentially prompt more spontaneous returns,” ACASP said.

In Yemen, ravaged by civil war and the Saudi-led intervention, “civilians are bearing the brunt of the fighting.” ACASP says that over 3.3 million Yemenis have been displaced since the escalation of the conflict in March 2015, and 17 million people are estimated to be food-insecure. The conflict has also prompted aid agencies to fight “one of the worst cholera outbreaks in history affecting more than 910,000 people.”

Despite all efforts, the cholera outbreak is likely to continue due to lack of infrastructure and health systems. “Continuation of the import blockade is likely to deteriorate the situation even further,” it said, adding, “food insecurity is likely to get worse, and most conflict affected areas, particularly the south and west coast, are likely to fall into famine if food access does not improve.”

 
  • Published in World

UN: At Least 3,900 Children Killed by Boko Haram in Three Years

The latest report showed how Boko Haram committed “grave violations” against children under the conflict in Nigeria.

Children in Northeast Nigeria are under continuous brutalization as Boko Haram's insurgency contiues to terrify the region, a U.N. report concluded.

RELATED: Beset by Economic, Political Woes, Nigerians Protest for Change

The “Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Nigeria” documented the impact of armed conflict on children from January 2013 to December 2016.

It found that at least 3,900 children were killed and 7,300 more maimed due to Boko Haram’s attacks on communities and confrontations with security forces during that period. Suicide attacks became the second leading cause of casualties, which account for over one thousand of child deaths and 2,100 injuries. 

Boko Haram, the Islamist group, had waged a campaign of violence and terror across parts of west and central Africa. It has killed more than 20,000 people and displaced 2.3 million others since then. 

"With tactics including widespread recruitment and use, abductions, sexual violence, attacks on schools and the increasing use of children in so-called 'suicide' attacks, Boko Haram has inflicted unspeakable horror upon the children of Nigeria's northeast and neighboring countries," Virginia Gamba, the special representative of the secretary-general for children and armed conflict, said in a press release. 

The U.N. verified the recruitment and use of 1,650 children by the group, including the use of 90 children for suicide bombings in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Many of those children were abducted.

https://images.openmultimedia.biz/640x480/clips/imagen-2016-10-14-100546397298-601750.png

In April 2014, Boko Haram militants abducted 276 schoolgirls from the small Nigerian town of Chibok. The majority of those girls are still missing, despite a high-profile international campaign of “#BringBackOurGirls” on social media.

Testimonies from children separated from Boko Haram indicated that other children joined the group due to financial incentives, peer pressure, familial ties and for ideological reasons. Some parents also gave up their children to the group in exchange for security guarantees or economic gain. 

Boko Haram fighters then employ the children in "direct hostilities," including for planting improvised explosive devices, to burn schools or houses and in a variety of intelligence-related support roles, the report says.

Schools have been targets of choice for Boko Haram and the U.N. estimates that 1,500 were destroyed since 2014, with at least 1,280 casualties among teachers and students.

The report condemned those violations against children “in the strongest possible terms” and urged all parties to ensure the protection of civilians during armed conflict under international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. 

  • Published in World

How 2016 Became the Worst Year for Syrian Children

According to UNICEF the state of affairs of Syrian children has been deteriorating since last year. The organization's latest report published on March 12 suggests that at least 652 children were killed in military clashes in 2016. That is 20% more than last year.

Syrian army soldiers carry flags in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017.
Reflections on Six Years of Conflict in Syria        © REUTERS/ Omar Sanadiki

About 255 children were killed at or near school. More than 850 children were involved in military hostilities, which is 2.5 times more than that in the previous few years. It should be noted however, that the report statistically accounted for only the officially confirmed cases.

As the war against terrorists rages in Syria the militants are increasingly using children in combat clashes on the front lines and turning them into suicide bombers.

The former regional representative of UNICEF in the Middle East, Ahmed Khalifa, told Sputnik Arabic that these sad figures speak of the great sufferings and troubles of the Syrian children.

“As a result of the six-year conflict about 6 million small Syrian citizens are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance,” Khalifa said.

He further said that there are 250,000 children living in blockade conditions. These children are in the worst situation because they do not receive any humanitarian assistance.

“They are suffering from diseases that cannot be cured at home without any medical assistance or prescriptions,” the former representative said.

According to UNICEF more than 1 million Syrian children have become displaced  inside Syria, with another 2.3 having fled the country. These children are constantly in danger of getting kidnapped and enslaved.

Earlier, Sputnik reported that, according to estimates made by Norwegian media, six years of war have taken a terrible toll on the mental health of Syrian children.

Every fourth Syrian child was found to be struggling with suicidal thoughts, self-harm, substance abuse and/or depression, a survey conducted by Save the Children reveals. Two out of three children surveyed also answered they had lost a loved one, had their home destroyed or sustained war-related injuries themselves, the Norwegian news portal ABC Nyheter reported.

Save the Children surveyed 458 children and adolescents in all 14 of Syria's provinces (governorates) to coincide with the sixth anniversary of the Syrian war. Of those interviewed, 80 percent said they had become more aggressive, 71 percent suffered from bedwetting and involuntary urination, 51 percent resorted to drugs to cope and 50 percent admitted that they never felt safe, be it at home or at school.

These are possibly signs of so-called "toxic stress," i.e., prolonged stress that can lead to life-long issues with learning, behavior and health.

Syria has been mired in civil war since 2011, with government forces loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting a number of opposition factions and extremist groups.

Russia has been carrying out regular humanitarian aid deliveries to various parts of Syria and has been facilitating the distribution of UN aid in Syria where a civil war has been ongoing since 2011.

  • Published in World

‘Dying in silence’: Suffering of Syrian children at its worst, millions under attack, says UNICEF

There are now nearly 6 million Syrian children suffering from the perils of war, including hundreds who were killed, maimed or recruited to fight in 2016, the worst year on record for Syrian children, a UN watchdog has said.

“The depth of suffering is unprecedented. Millions of children in Syria come under attack on a daily basis, their lives turned upside down,”said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, speaking from Homs, Syria. “Each and every child is scarred for life with horrific consequences on their health, well-being and future.” 

 

At least 652 children died last year, and 255 of them were killed in or near their schools, the UNICEF report said. That signals a 20 percent increase on the number killed during 2015. 

“A father in Aleppo lives with the trauma of letting his daughters go to school,” Cappelaere said, retelling one of the many heart-breaking stories from the conflict. “They left their makeshift home one morning with their schoolbags on their backs. Only their lifeless bodies returned after a shell slammed into their classroom.”

UNICEF also believes more than 850 children were recruited to take part in hostilities – double the number in 2015 – and were used as executioners, suicide bombers or prison guards.

While horrifying, the number pales in comparison to the 5.8 million Syrian children who are dependent on humanitarian assistance – a twelvefold increase from 2012, the organization said.

“Beyond the bombs, bullets and explosions, children are dying in silence often from diseases that can otherwise be easily prevented. Access to medical care, lifesaving supplies and other basic services remains difficult,” the report added.

Almost half of those in need were displaced, many of them up to seven times, and over 2.3 million children are now living as refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.

Child refugees living in relative safety in neighboring countries are still deprived of some basic needs, unable to go to school and forced to beg or do low-paying jobs to make the ends meet, the UNICEF report said.

Unsurprisingly, many children took life-threatening journeys on the so called ‘death boats’ crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe.

Read more Almost six years of Syrian conflict, through eyes of children

Inside Syria, 2.8 million children are living in hard-to-reach areas, including 280,000 living literally on the battlefield, almost completely cut off from humanitarian aid.

As the country’s welfare system shrinks, families “are taking extreme measures just to survive, often pushing children into early marriage and child labor,” the report said. “In more than two thirds of households, children are working to support their families, some in extremely harsh conditions unfit even for adults.”

“I don’t know how to read or write. I only know how to draw the sky, the sea and the sun. I’ve waited tables, I served beans, corn, hummus, water pipe, potatoes, seeds. I’ve cleaned the shop and served ice cream to children,” said Fares, a six-year-old Syrian boy now living in Lebanon.

READ MORE: ‘They don’t want to be refugees’: RT sees Syria’s children surviving through war

With the Syrian war about to enter its sixth year, more and more people have become food-insecure. Inadequate food as a result of the protracted violence leads to poor nutrition among children and is weakening their immune system, UNICEF said, stressing that even ordinary diseases are now fatal.

“The situation for Syrian children has hit rock bottom,” said Juliette Touma, UNICEF’s regional spokesperson.

“The past year has been the worst since the crisis began, with children pushed right to the brink – being recruited at an ever younger age, being used to man checkpoints, being trained to use weapons, serving as prison guards. We also have reports of sexual abuse of girls by underage children, so it’s very grim.”

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed