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25,000 Refugees died in eight years while crossing Meditteranean, says Erdogan

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(Last Updated On: June 22, 2020)

An estimated 25,000 people, mostly women, and children have died while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea over the past eight years, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.

Addressing the closing ceremony of the International Migration Film Festival, via a video call, Erdogan said: “In the past eight years, 25,000 people, most of them women and children, died in the treacherous waters of Mediterranean.”

Anadolu Agency reported that Erdogan not only highlighted the grave situation that refugees face while trying to cross the Meditteranean but he also called on people to set aside their prejudices about migrants and to note the contributions these people bring to countries and societies.

During his video call, Erdogan stated that the migrants who had died while trying to cross the Meditteranean were people who had set out with a hope for a safe future, however, many of the journeys ended in death.

“Fate of some 10,000 Syrian children who sought asylum in Europe is unknown,” Anadolu Agency reported Erdogan as having said.

Erdogan said migration was a global issue and millions of people have left their homes due to war, terror, and poverty.

“Today there are nearly 260 million migrants in the world, as well as over 71 million displaced and over 25 million refugees,” he said.

Turkey continues to host the largest number of refugees worldwide.

Currently, it hosts 3.6 million registered Syrian refugees plus 330,000 people of other nationalities.

In a bid to highlight the problem, the International Migration Film Festival is supported by Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry and organized by the Interior Ministry under the auspices of the Turkish Presidency.

The film festival features films and documentaries that capture the promise and challenges of migration, and the unique contributions that migrants make to their new communities and the goal of the festival is to pave the way for greater discussion around the issue.

This year’s Best Full-Length Film award meanwhile was won on Sunday by directors Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts for the movie “For Sama”.

Celebrated Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan, this year’s festival jury president, said that “For Sama” was selected unanimously for the award.

The film focuses on Al-Kateab’s journey during the Syrian civil war as she and her husband, a doctor in Aleppo, raise their daughter Sama. They eventually have to decide on whether to stay to help others or flee to safety themselves.

“For Sama” made history when it was nominated in four categories in the BAFTA awards, making it the most nominated documentary ever. It was also nominated for Best Documentary Feature at last year’s Academy Awards.

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Survivors call for Kabul school bombing to be seen as act of genocide

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2021)

The survivors and families of victims of the girls’ school bombing in Dasht-e-Barchi in Kabul last Sunday have called on the Afghan government and the international community to recognize the attack as an act of “genocide”.

Addressing a press conference Sunday, they stated that a specific ethnicity was targeted in the attack.

According to the families, at least 95 people – mostly schoolgirls – were killed and more than 200 others wounded in last week’s deadly bombing.
The families stated that the attack was a violation of human values and human rights.

Rajab Ali, who lost two of his relatives stated: “This brutality must be stopped. Such attacks must be prevented so that people can pursue education peacefully.”

Mina is another Afghan who lost a sister in the bombing, she stated: “I don’t want to witness such a terrible attack again.”

Meanwhile, students of Sayeed-ul-Shuhada – who are still dealing with severe mental anguish following the attack – stated that they will not give up and they “will firmly pursue their education.”

“I promise to continue this path (education) stronger than ever and I will definitely make Afghanistan one day,” Shirin Rezae, a student at the school said.

“I hope that the day will come when we will be capable of being candidates for the Presidency,” she added.

Masooma Yaqubi, another student stated: “We call on the international community, the United Nationals, and human rights organizations to investigate this brutal attack and to identify the perpetrators through a fact-finding commission.”

This comes after the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) last week urged the government to grant special protection to Hazaras and the community in Dasht-e-Barchi.

The AIHRC said in a statement that it was the government’s duty to protect the Hazara community against crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, or genocide.

The AIHRC stated that government has an obligation to “protect the population at risk of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing or genocide.”

“The Afghan government has an obligation under International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Human Rights Law to protect the population at risk of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing or genocide and international law obliges the government to take measures to end and prevent genocide and war crimes, crimes against humanity and persecution on the basis of ethnicity and gender,” the statement read.

“In October 2020, just over six months ago, more than 40 students died in an attack on Kawsar Danish tutoring center. In May 2020, almost a year ago 11 mothers were murdered with their unborn babies, two boys were, and an Afghan midwife was killed, with 5 mothers injured; this is femicide and infanticide,” the statement highlighted.

The AIHRC stressed that the Afghan government should fulfill its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights “which includes acknowledging massacres targeting Hazaras.”

“The Afghan government should communicate immediately a human rights-based protection plan for Dasht-e-Barchi and West Kabul. This should include plans for collective reparations,” the organization said.

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Laghman district police chief killed in accidental fire

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2021)

Abdul Zahir, Police Chief of Laghman’s Dawlat Shah District, was killed accidentally by Afghan forces artillery fire, Laghman Governor said.

The incident took place on Sunday afternoon.

Laghman Governor Rahmatullah Yarmal told Ariana News that the Afghan forces were targeting Taliban strongholds but due to a “technical issue a mortar shell hit the position of the police commander in the area.”

Yarmal stated that one of Zahir’s bodyguards was also killed in the incident.

Yarmal did not provide further details.

Dawlat Shah is one of Laghman’s volatile districts.

The Afghan forces have launched an operation to clear the district of Taliban presence.

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ISIS claims responsibility for Kabul mosque bombing

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(Last Updated On: May 16, 2021)

ISIS (Daesh) has claimed responsibility for Friday’s bombing at a mosque in Kabul that left at least 14 worshippers, including the mosque’s Imam, dead, SITE Intelligence Group reported.

The explosion happened inside a mosque in Shakardarah district of Kabul province during Friday prayers.

The explosion took place during a three-day Eid ceasefire between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

According to SITE, ISIS said its fighters had placed an explosive device inside the mosque and detonated it once worshippers were inside offering prayers on the second day of the Eid-ul-Fitr.

The ceasefire ended at midnight on Saturday.

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