19 June 2019

RSS Facebook

Ads

International

Friday May 17, 2019
Kabul (BNA) The European Commission has warned Hungary over its ill-treatment of migrants and refugees, including depriving some of food, and trying to force others back to Afghanistan in violation of human right laws.
"We are concerned of the reports of the treatment of migrants in Hungary, we take such allegations quite seriously," a European Commission spokeswoman told reporters in Brussels on Monday (13 May).
The expression of concern from the Berlaymont follows Hungary's failed efforts last week to deport three families back to Afghanistan, in what Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, described as deeply shocking.
Two families were forced back into Serbia, while a third family remains in Hungary's transit zone after the European Court of Human Rights granted an injunction preventing them from being removed.
Budapest had drafted in the EU's border agency Frontex to carry out the Afghan returns, posing questions on possible EU complicity.
But the commission said neither itself, nor the Warsaw-based Frontex, has any say over the return decisions, despite having launched two court cases against Hungary over its migration and asylum policies.
"We have a case before the Court of Justice regarding Hungarian legislation in asylum and 'return', both cases are before the court at the moment," said the spokeswoman.
Hungarian legislation automatically dismisses asylum claims by anyone transiting from Serbia - which Budapest deems a "safe country."
That means people who have passed through Serbia cannot claim asylum in Hungary, even based on merit - despite EU laws that are supposed to provide safeguards against the abuse.
This appears to be part of a larger strategy by Hungary's right-wing government under Prime Minister Viktor Orban to demonize refugees and migrants, which it views as a national security threat.
Hunger tactics
The Budapest-based Hungarian Helsinki Committee last August had also documented cases in Hungary's transit zone, along the Serbian border, of people being denied food, sometimes for up to five days.
Despite promises by Hungarian authorities to start feeding the failed asylum seekers, the NGO documented another eight cases between February and April this year.
A total of twenty-one people have gone hungry in what the NGO describes as "starvation cases".
"Pending the enforcement of the expulsion, adults, unless they are pregnant or nursing women, are starved in detention," said the NGO.
Pressed on the issue last September, Orban's spokesperson Zoltan Kovacs took a defiant tone, telling reporters in Brussels that "we are not providing a free meal, free food for any illegal migrants".
Orban earlier this month toured the Hungarian transit zone and razor-wire border fencing with Italy's far-right deputy prime minister, Matteo Salvini.
The pair are ratcheting up the anti-migrant rhetoric ahead of the European Parliament elections at the end of this month. Salvini is hoping to increase the European Alliance of Peoples and Nations political group in the next parliament.
The move seeks to bridge an alliance against immigrants with other far-right leaders like France's Marine Le Pen, Geert Wilders of the Netherlands, and Germany's AfD, among others.
Salvini's League party and his wider crusade against migrants has also helped spread the rise of Italian disinformation networks on Facebook.
The social media giant shut down 23 Italian Facebook pages, with over 2.46 million followers, for peddling hate against immigrants and Jews and spreading debunked anti-vaccine conspiracies.
Over a dozen of the pages supported the League party and its populist government coalition party, the Five-Star Movement.
The Facebook removals follow an investigation by Avaaz, a global activist NGO.
"Facebook has done a good job in taking these pages down, but it says a lot that a multi-billion dollar company is relying on a crowd-funded Avaaz investigation to defend Europe's democracy," said Christoph Schott, Avaaz campaign director, in a statement on Monday.
Euobserver
Ansari

Friday May 17, 2019
Kabul (BNA) External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday told visiting Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that India would take a decision on continuing oil imports from Iran "after the elections keeping in mind our commercial considerations, energy security and economic interests", Government sources said on Tuesday. On the issue of oil imports, it may be recalled that India has been in the process of completely stopping its oil imports from Iran to escape US sanctions.
However, the new government that is expected to be in place within the next three weeks in New Delhi is expected to take a final decision on the matter.
Iranian foreign minister Zarif had made a brief visit to New Delhi on Tuesday to hold talks with Ms Swaraj. The ministry of external affairs meanwhile only issued a brief statement, saying Ms Swaraj and Mr Zarif “held constructive discussions on all bilateral issues of mutual interest” and that there was a “good exchange of views on the evolving regional situation, including Afghanistan”.
The Indo-Iranian strategic cooperation on the Chabahar port was also discussed, with government sources saying “both sides expressed satisfaction at the operationalisation of the interim contract on the  Chabahar Port”.
New Delhi has been worried over the impact that American policy against Iran will have on the Indo-Iranian strategic partnership for the development of Chabahar port in Iran that gives New Delhi crucial sea-land connectivity to Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan.
It may be recalled that the United States had earlier given six-month waivers to eight countries including India, China, Japan and South Korea for exemption from the November 4 deadline last year of stopping Iranian oil imports completely. India relies heavily on foreign oil imports to meet its energy demands.
Deccanchronicle
Ansari

 

Friday May 17, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Republican and Democratic U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday revived an effort to provide visas to move to the United States for Afghans who worked for Americans during the long war in their country and are now stranded, their lives at risk due to that work.
The bill would provide 4,000 Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) for the rest of the federal fiscal year ending on Sept. 30, and also try to address obstacles that have prevented Afghans from getting visas under previously passed legislation.
National Public Radio (NPR) reported on May 1 that President Donald Trump’s administration had cut by 60 percent the number of U.S. visas provided to Afghans who risked their lives assisting American forces. About 1,650 were approved in 2018, down from more than 4,000 in fiscal year 2017.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen sponsored the bill with Republicans Thom Tillis, Roger Wicker and Cory Gardner and Democrats Jack Reed, Richard Blumenthal and Tim Kaine.
Backers of the plan said Washington needs to protect Afghans who worked for U.S. forces in order to ensure local support.
Army General Austin Miller, commander of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, sent a letter to Shaheen backing the bill, calling the SIV program critical to success in Afghanistan.
“If the program is not fully resourced, our credibility and the sacrifices made by thousands of Afghans in support of Americans and our Coalition partners could be undermined,” Miller wrote.
Shaheen was a lead sponsor of similar legislation passed in previous years, along with late Republican Senator John McCain, who was chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
His widow, Cindy McCain, backed the bill, saying McCain would be pleased to know that the bipartisan measure continued his legacy.
Backers said they felt the measure stood a good chance of passing, possibly as a provision of one of the larger must-pass spending bills Congress will consider later this year, despite Trump’s efforts to tighten immigration, particularly from Muslim-majority countries.
Reuters
Ansari

Wednesday May 1, 2019
Kabul (BNA) Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said on Tuesday that Iran supports any efforts or talks that help establish peace, stability and security in Afghanistan.
“Iran supports any process and dialogue in line with Afghanistan’s independence, peace and stability,” Mousavi stated.
A four-day consultative grand assembly, known as a Loya Jirga, started meeting in Kabul on Monday. The rare consultative meeting is aimed at finding ways to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban and end the long-running war in Afghanistan.
It is an attempt by President Ashraf Ghani to influence peace talks between the U.S. and the Taliban, which the Taliban have excluded his government from.
“It is a proud moment for me to have representatives from all over the country here and today we are gathered to speak about the peace talks,” Reuters quoted Ghani as saying in an opening ceremony in huge tent set up for such assemblies in central Kabul.
This week’s meeting, being attended by 3,200 tribal elders, and community and religious leaders from all 34 provinces, aims to set out Kabul’s conditions for any peace deal.
But opposition political leaders and government critics, including former president Hamid Karzai, are boycotting the assembly accusing Ghani of using it as a platform to boost his status as leader in an election year.
Ghani has invited the Taliban, but they have rejected the offer and urged others to boycott it.
The group has also alleged that this is an attempt by the government to deceive the country and extend its “illegitimate rule”.
“Do not participate in the enemy’s conspiracy under the name of Jirga; instead find ways to further sideline the shaky administration of Kabul,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement, according to Press TV.
Tehrantimes
Ansari

Page 1 of 66