Dhaka, May 11 (UNB) – A number of Bangladeshis are feared to be among those who drowned in Friday’s boat capsize in the sea while attempting to reach Europe from Libya.
Mongi Slim, the head of Tunisia’s Red Crescent, said Saturday that around 75 migrants had left Libya’s Zouara on the boat.
The BBC Bangla, quoting other agencies, claimed that most of the victims were Bangladeshis.
Slim told the Associated Press that only 16 people have been rescued by a Tunisian fishing boat and 14 of them are Bangladeshis.
He said those still missing are nationals of Bangladesh, Egypt, Morocco and unspecified countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Friday’s accident was dubbed the “deadliest migrant boat sinking since January” by the International Organization for Migration.
Many Bangladeshis choose the risky way to reach Europe in the hope of a better life. A number of them often die in the seas.
At least 164 people have drowned in the first four months while crossing the sea from Libya to Europe, according to the UN.
Tunis, May 11 (AP/UNB) — The bodies of dozens of migrants who drowned trying to reach Europe from Libya will take days to surface, the head of Tunisia's Red Crescent said Saturday.
Mongi Slim told The Associated Press that around 75 migrants left the Libyan city Zouara aboard a boat that capsized Friday. Of those, Mongi said, only 16 survived after being rescued by a Tunisian fishing boat. He said the 14 Bangladeshis, a Moroccan and an Egyptian are receiving care from the U.N. refugee agency in Medenine, a southern Tunisian city.
Four bodies have so far been recovered by fishing boats. Slim said the missing are nationals of Bangladesh, Egypt, Morocco and unspecified countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The International Organization for Migration called it the deadliest migrant boat sinking since January.
Tunis, May 11 (AP/UNB) — As many as 70 migrants trying to reach Europe from Libya drowned Friday when their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, and at least 16 other people from the boat were rescued, according to U.N. migration officials and Tunisia's state news agency.
The International Organization for Migration called it the deadliest migrant boat sinking since January. The drownings happened as migrant arrivals to Europe are decreasing.
The smuggling boat left Libya on Thursday and sent a distress signal in international waters early Friday off the Tunisian coastal city of Sfax, according to an IOM official in Tunisia and a statement from Tunisia's Defense Ministry. Between 60 and 70 people drowned, said the official, who wasn't authorized to give details about the emergency and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Three bodies have been recovered, the Defense Ministry said.
Tunisian state news agency TAP said 70 people drowned as the boat sank and that fishing boats rescued 16 others.
The survivors of the sinking are now being questioned and cared for by Tunisian authorities, the IOM official said. She said they included people from Bangladesh and Morocco, among other nationalities.
Joel Millman, an IOM spokesman in Geneva, said the reported death toll is the largest number of migrants killed since a Jan. 19 sinking in which 117 people were reported missing and presumed dead.
So far this year, 17,000 migrants and refugees have entered Europe by sea, about 30 percent fewer than the 24,000 arriving during the same period last year, according to the IOM. It said 443 people have reportedly died on dangerous Mediterranean Sea crossings so far this year, compared to 620 deaths for the same period in 2018.
Libya's navy said Friday it rescued 213 Europe-bound African and Arab migrants off the Mediterranean coast this week. It said they were handed over to Libyan police after having received humanitarian and medical aid.
Lawless Libya in North Africa became a major conduit for African migrants and refugees fleeing to Europe after an uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011. Libyan authorities have stepped up efforts to stem the flow of migrants, with European assistance.
But human rights groups have strongly criticized Libya for its detention centers, saying migrants being sent back to Libya faced hunger, beatings, torture, rapes and a lack of medical care.
In addition, the head of the self-styled Libyan National Army launched an offensive against the government in the Libyan capital of Tripoli last month. The U.N. health agency says 443 people have died, 2,110 have been wounded and nearly 60,000 have been displaced by the violence.
Geneva, May 11 (AP/UNB) — Almost every country in the world has agreed on a legally binding framework for reducing polluting plastic waste, with the United States a notable exception, United Nations environmental officials said Friday.
An agreement on tracking thousands of types of plastic waste emerged at the end of a two-week meeting of U.N.-backed conventions on plastic waste and toxic, hazardous chemicals. Discarded plastic clutters pristine land, floats in huge masses in oceans and entangles wildlife, sometimes with deadly results.
Rolph Payet of the United Nations Environment Program said the "historic" agreement linked to the 186-country, U.N.-supported Basel Convention means countries will have to monitor and track movements of plastic waste outside their borders.
"It's sending a very strong political signal to the rest of the world — to the private sector, to the consumer market — that we need to do something," Payet said. "Countries have decided to do something which will translate into real action on the ground."
The deal affects products used in a broad array of industries, such as health care, technology, aerospace, fashion, and food and beverages.
Countries will have to figure out their own ways of adhering to the accord, Payet said. Even the few non-signatory countries, like the United States, could be impacted when they ship plastic waste to countries that are on board.
Payet credited Norway for leading the initiative, which first was presented in September. The time from then to approval was a blistering pace of change by traditional U.N. standards.
The framework "is historic in the sense that it is legally binding," Payet said. "They (the countries) have managed to use an existing international instrument to put in place those measures."
The agreement is likely to lead to customs agents being on the lookout for electronic or other types of potentially hazardous waste more than before.
"There is going to be a transparent and traceable system for export and import of plastic waste," Payet said.
Hong Kong, May 11 (AP/UNB) — Hong Kong's legislative assembly descended into chaos Saturday as lawmakers for and against controversial amendments to the territory's extradition law clashed over access to the chamber.
At least one lawmaker was taken from the chamber on a gurney after apparently fainting during the morning melee, in which legislators pushed and shoved each other on the floor, amid seats and tables and in an adjoining hallway.
The amendments have been widely criticized as eroding the semi-autonomous Chinese territory's judicial independence by making it easier to send criminal suspects to mainland China, where they could face vague national security charges and unfair trials.
Under the "one country, two systems" framework, Hong Kong was guaranteed the right to retain its own social, legal and political systems for 50 years following its handover from British to Chinese rule in 1997. However, China's ruling Communist Party has been seen as increasingly reneging on that agreement by forcing through unpopular legal changes.
Legislators in the pro-Beijing camp attempted to seat Abraham Razack, also known as Abraham Shek, who had been named earlier in the week through another committee and a contested interpretation of council rules to replace pro-democrat James To Kun-sun as head of the Bills Committee. To had stalled passage of the legislation over two sessions and Razack was seen as the best chance to push it through before the July recess.
However, pro-democracy legislators continued to claim James To is the legitimate chief of the committee guiding discussion of the proposed new law. Both they and their opponents had scheduled rival meetings on the same topic in the same Legislative Council meeting room on Saturday, starting just 30 minutes apart.
The two committees both claimed to be in charge of the same process of scrutinizing the new law before voting for it.
At one point, Wu Chi-wai, the Democratic Party chairman who tried to stop Shek from presiding over the meeting, shouted at him, saying "Don't be a sinner for a thousand years! Don't sell out Hong Kong."
The legislator removed by paramedics was identified as Gary Fan Kwok-wai of Neo Democrats.
The amendments expand the scope for the transfer of criminal suspects to China and remove the legislature's right to scrutinize individual extradition decisions filed by Hong Kong's chief executive.
They could also open the way for further measures to erode Hong Kong's civil liberties, including the passage of anti-subversion legislation that has been strongly opposed by many.
Saturday's legislative scuffle came weeks after a Hong Kong court handed down prison sentences of up to 16 months to eight leaders of massive 2014 pro-democracy protests on public nuisance charges. The harsh sentences were seen as an effort by the Hong Kong government to draw a line under the protests amid pressure from Beijing.
Tens of thousands of people marched against the extradition law amendments in Hong Kong last month and numerous legal, professional and human rights organizations have voiced their opposition. They warn the amendments would undermine not just Hong Kong's legal independence but also its attractiveness as a center for international business.
Hong Kong's Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said Friday the government would "further explain the proposed fugitive law change to the public," according to the government's press office.
"Some citizens and overseas organizations might have misunderstandings about the proposed law amendments," Cheung said.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said the amendments must be passed to close a "loophole" under which the government has been unable to extradite a Hong Kong man, Chan Tong-kai, accused of killing his girlfriend in Taiwan last year. Lam was chosen in 2017 from among a slate of candidates approved by Beijing and elected by a 1,200-member pro-China electoral body.
However, self-governing Taiwan has firmly ruled out signing any extradition agreement with Hong Kong unless it is treated as an equal, a condition Beijing, which claims the island as its own territory, is certain to reject. That would appear to undermine one of the government's major justifications for the amendments.
Taiwanese officials have also warned that Taiwanese detained in Hong Kong could be sent to China for their political activities if the amendments are passed. A Taiwanese activist, Lee Ming-che, is currently serving a five-year sentence in China after being convicted by a Chinese court in November 2017 on charges of subverting state power for holding online political lectures and helping the families of jailed Chinese dissidents.
Lee disappeared into the custody of the security services in March 2017 after crossing into China from Macau to meet with a friend. His arrest was seen as a sign the ruling party intends to extend its intolerance of criticism even outside its borders.
The Hong Kong government will continue to liaise with Taiwan over the homicide case, Cheung said.