Britain repatriates first adult held from Syrian detention camp

Al-Hawl refugee camp on the southern outskirts of the town of Al-Hawl, close to the Syria-Iraq border, northern Syria, Oct. 17, 2019. (Wikimedia Commons)
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Updated 13 October 2022
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Britain repatriates first adult held from Syrian detention camp

  • Woman becomes the first detained adult to return to the UK since the defeat of Daesh
  • It is estimated about 60 Britons, including 35 children, are being held in indefinite detention in Syria

LONDON: A British woman has been repatriated from a Syrian detention camp, becoming the first detained adult to return to the UK since the defeat of Daesh.

The Foreign Office said that policy towards others still in Syria was unchanged, but campaigners said the repatriation of the woman, along with her child, was a significant first step. 

Reprieve, a human rights group that had been monitoring the case, said that the woman was “a victim of trafficking, taken to Syria by a male relative when she was a young girl” and that “she and her child have suffered extreme trauma.”

The group has asked for her identity to remain confidential.

Jonathan Hargreaves, the UK’s special representative for Syria, tweeted: “UK officials have facilitated the repatriation of two British nationals from Syria. 

“In line with longstanding policy we consider each request for consular assistance in Syria on a case by case basis, taking into account all relevant considerations including national security.”

It is estimated about 60 Britons, including 35 children, are being held in indefinite detention in Syria. The best known is Shamima Begum, who traveled to the country from Bethnal Green in London when she was 15. 

Most of those in detention were captured by Syrian-Kurdish forces in the final days of the ground war in early 2019 and have been held in indefinite detention in sprawling camps such as Al-Hawl in the northeast of the country.

Some countries have been gradually taking back their nationals. Earlier this month Australia said it would start repatriating around 20 women and 40 children.

Britain repatriated a number of orphans around three years ago, which the then-foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said was the “right thing to do.”

However, up until this week, requests from adults were refused. The government has also removed citizenship from some of those in detention, including Begum. Her lawyers continue to contest her case.

Experts say that those who remain in the female camps are at risk from a hardcore of “radical women” still loyal to Daesh.

Men who are detained are typically held separately in makeshift prisons.


Jordan, Saudi Arabia conduct three airdrops in southern Gaza

Updated 6 sec ago
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Jordan, Saudi Arabia conduct three airdrops in southern Gaza

  • One airdrop of food supplies took place in Al-Mawasi, where thousands of displaced Palestinians are sheltering

AMMAN: The Jordanian Armed Forces, in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, conducted three airdrops of humanitarian aid in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday.

The airdrops involved two Royal Jordanian Air Force aircraft and one from Egypt, according to a statement carried by Jordan News Agency.

One airdrop of food supplies took place in Al-Mawasi, in the city of Khan Younis, where thousands of displaced Palestinians are sheltering, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

In a CNN interview earlier this month, Queen Rania explained the reason for the airdrops in an area where the UN has reported a widespread food crisis.

“We found that after trying so hard in vain to persuade Israel to open the land access points, that we had to do something. We couldn’t just sit idle and watch people starving,” she said.

She added the airdrops were desperate measures to address a desperate situation, describing them as “drops in an ocean of unmet needs.”

Queen Rania echoed King Abdullah’s comments that the airdrops were far from sufficient and could not replace the large-scale humanitarian access needed to deal with the issue.

Since October, Jordan has conducted 117 airdrops independently and participated in 266 others with international partners.

The Jordanian army reiterated its commitment to continuing support efforts, including an airbridge from Marka Airport in Amman to El Arish International Airport in North Sinai, which facilitates both airdrops over Gaza and the organization of ground aid convoys.
 


Jordanian energy commission, US solar foundation sign MoU

Updated 10 min 38 sec ago
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Jordanian energy commission, US solar foundation sign MoU

  • Marks lauded Jordan’s significant role in leading green education, innovation in the Middle East

AMMAN: Jordan’s Arab Renewable Energy Commission — AREC — and the American Solar Car Challenge Foundation — ASC — have entered into a memorandum of understanding to promote innovative initiatives aimed at enhancing vocational education in the Arab world.

The partnership is designed to contribute to sustainable development and generate productive green job opportunities for recent graduates, Jordan News Agency reported on Monday.

The MoU was signed in Dallas by ASC Founder Lehman Marks and AREC Secretary-General Mohammad Al-Ta’ani.

Marks lauded Jordan’s significant role in leading green education and innovation in the Middle East, noting the country’s extensive experience with renewable energy and electric vehicles.

Al-Ta’ani stressed the MoU’s importance in supporting Jordan’s efforts toward creative and innovative technical and vocational green education, as well as in creating more job opportunities.

He highlighted Jordan’s internationally recognized leadership in sustainable development as a model of stability and energy security.

Additionally, an international solar car race is scheduled to be held in Jordan in September 2025, organized in collaboration between ASC and AREC, featuring teams from Arab and foreign countries.
 


EU imposes fresh sanctions on ‘extremist’ Israeli settlers

Updated 26 min 6 sec ago
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EU imposes fresh sanctions on ‘extremist’ Israeli settlers

  • The West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, has seen a surge in violence in the past year

BRUSSELS: The European Union on Monday announced sanctions on five Israelis — including those termed “extremist settlers” — and three organizations for abuses against Palestinians in the West Bank and blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza.
The asset freezes and visa bans are the second round of sanctions from the 27-nation bloc targeting violent Israeli settlers, taking the total number of listings to 14.
Prominent settlers blacklisted by the European Union included Moshe Sharvit, Zvi Bar Yosef, Baruch Marzel, and Isaschar Manne.
“The listed individuals and entities are responsible for serious and systematic human rights abuses against Palestinians in the West Bank,” the EU said in a statement.
Israeli organization Tsav 9 was also sanctioned for “regularly blocking humanitarian aid trucks delivering food, water and fuel to Gaza” through violent protests.
The West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, has seen a surge in violence in the past year, particularly since the Israel-Hamas war erupted in Gaza.
According to Palestinian figures, at least 565 Palestinians have died in the West Bank in military raids and in violence with Israeli settlers since the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7.
The United States, Britain and Canada have also blacklisted Israeli settlers.
The latest EU moves against Israeli settlers follow measures targeting funders of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
The bloc — which has struggled to settle on a unified position on the war in Gaza — has agreed to sequence sanctions against Hamas with those targeting settlers.


Omani diplomat chosen to head UN mission in Iraq

Updated 15 July 2024
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Omani diplomat chosen to head UN mission in Iraq

  • Mohammed Al-Hassan takes over as the secretary-general’s special representative for Iraq from Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, who became special coordinator for Lebanon in May
  • He has been Oman’s permanent representative to the UN since 2019, prior to which he held various positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Muscat

NEW YORK CITY: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday appointed Omani diplomat Mohammed Al-Hassan to be his new special representative for Iraq and head of the UN mission there.

Al-Hassan succeeds Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, a former Dutch defense minister who was appointed the UN’s special coordinator for Lebanon in May.

“Mr. Al-Hassan brings to the position a broad range of diplomatic experience, with a career spanning over 30 years working on preventive diplomacy, peacebuilding and development,” a UN spokesperson said.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq was established following the US-led invasion of the country in 2003. It was handed a robust mandate to help develop Iraqi institutions, support political dialogue and elections, and promote human rights.

The Security Council voted in May this year to end the mission by 2025. The decision was welcomed by the Iraqi government, which had requested that it be terminated on the grounds it was no longer needed because the nation had made significant progress toward stabilization.

Al-Hassan has served as the Sultanate of Oman’s permanent representative to the UN since 2019. Prior to that, he held various positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Muscat, including acting undersecretary for diplomatic affairs (2016), chief of staff (2015) and head of the Minister’s Department (2012).

He also served as the nation’s ambassador to the Russian Federation, and as nonresident ambassador to Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia and Moldova, and as deputy permanent representative of Oman to the UN in Geneva.

Al-Hassan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Washington in Seattle, a Master of Science degree in international relations from St. John’s University in New York, and a doctorate in Economics from Moscow State University of Economics, Statistics and Informatics. He speaks Arabic, English, Norwegian and Russian.


Egypt condemns terrorist bombing in Mogadishu as death toll rises to 9

Updated 15 July 2024
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Egypt condemns terrorist bombing in Mogadishu as death toll rises to 9

  • Egypt expressed its full solidarity and support for Somalia’s efforts to confront all forms of extremism and terrorism
  • Death toll from the car bombing at the cafe that was packed with football fans watching the Euro 2024 final has risen to nine

CAIRO: Egypt on Monday condemned the terrorist bombing that targeted a cafe in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu late on Sunday. 

Egypt expressed its full solidarity and support for Somalia’s efforts to confront all forms of extremism and terrorism, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Emigration, and Egyptian Expatriates.

The death toll from the car bombing at the cafe that was packed with football fans watching the Euro 2024 final has risen to nine, security sources in Somalia said on Monday.

Egypt expressed its sincere condolences to the government and people of Somalia and the families of the victims, wishing a speedy recovery for the injured.

The popular Top Coffee restaurant, which is located near the presidential palace in the center of Mogadishu, was thronged with young men watching the final.