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Erdogan says Turkey to send 3m refugees back to Syria in 2 stages

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(Sputnik/NAN) Turkey will send back to Syria one million refugees as the first step, while two more million will follow, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday.

Erdogan made this known in his address at the Turkic Council in Baku on Tuesday.

“With God’s help, we will within a very short period of time make our border stretching up to Iraq safe, and one million refugees will return (to Syria) as the first step.

“And two more million refugees as the second step,” he said.

The Turkish leader has already pledged to “open the door” for Syrian refugees if Ankara’s ongoing offensive in Syria’s north, dubbed Operation Peace Spring, is qualified as invasion.

The Turkic Council in full, the Cooperation Council of Turkic-Speaking States, is an international organisation comprising some of the Turkic countries.

The member countries are Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkey, with the remaining two Turkic states – Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – not currently official members of the council due to their neutral stance.

However, they are possible future members of the council.

The General Secretariat of the council is in Istanbul, Turkey.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday that it had boosted aid in northeastern Syria as the Turkish offensive triggered another wave of civilians fleeing their homes in fear of hostilities.

On Oct. 9, Turkey launched an offensive in northern Syria in a bid to create a “safe zone” along the border that would be free of Kurdish militias, whom it considers an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (banned by Ankara).

The military operation has already displaced at least 160,000 Syrians, the UN said on Monday.

UNHCR said that since the escalation of violence in north-east Syria last week, it had provided help to at least 31,800 people in the region.

In particular, it distributed blankets and “other core relief items” to the residents of Al Hasakah and Tall Tamr.

It also sent additional aid, such as blankets, plastic sheeting and solar lamps to the border town of Qamishli.

The agency noted that it was still assessing the needs of the newly arriving displaced people across the region, adding that people often fled their homes “without papers and other belongings,” with families separated.

“Amid the continued fighting, some 184 people crossed from north-east Syria into neighbouring Iraq on Monday, with a further 277 arriving overnight into Tuesday.

“It is estimated that another 2,000 people who have fled the latest fighting in north-east Syria are currently close to the Syria-Iraq border,” it said.

UNHCR also expressed concerns over the Kurds-run Ayn Issa camp, where displaced people and suspected members of the Islamic State terrorist organisation (IS, banned in Russia) are held.

Last week, the Kurdish authorities reported that at least 785 IS affiliates had escaped a prison camp with the help of “Turkish mercenaries”, but Ankara has refuted the claim.

“As of today, humanitarian workers are unable to safely access the camp to provide critical life-saving assistance.

“Basic services, including food and water, are no longer being provided,” the UN agency said.

The Syrian government views the Turkish incursion as an act of aggression, having dispatched forces to the north at the Kurds’ request. (Sputnik/NAN)

YEE

Edited by Emmanuel Yashim

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S. African auditor-general urges action to restore gov’t accountability

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South Africa’s Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu on Wednesday called for “immediate action” to restore the government’s accountability.

Makwetu said this after the release of audit results that were described as revealing disappointing mismanagement of public funds.

Political leaders, accounting officers, and authorities, as well as oversight structures “must take immediate action” to halt the trend of disappointing audit results, restore accountability and prevent mismanagement of public funds, Makwetu said.

“This could be done by acting on the outcomes of the recent audits, dealing effectively with material irregularities that have been identified, and implementing preventative controls to turn the tide of undesirable stewardship over public funds,” Makewetu said.

According to the report, fruitless and wasteful expenditure by governments at all levels continued to rise, with 223 auditees losing 849 million rand (about 57 million dollars) in the current year.

Also 4.16 billion rand (about 281 million dollars) of expenditure was fruitless and wasteful over a five-year period.

The report also finds that irregular expenditure this year increased to 62.6 billion rand (about 4.22 billion dollars), up from the 51 billion rand (about 3.44 billion dollars) reported in 2018.

A total of 184 auditees incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure in both the current and the previous year, 158 of which had incurred such expenditure for the past three years, the report says.

The report indicates that the results of the audited state-owned entities (SOEs) continued to regress from the previous year.

None of the SOEs managed to obtain a clean audit opinion, with the South African Post Office slipping back to a qualified audit opinion and the Development Bank of Southern Africa regressing from a clean audit in 2017-18 to a financially unqualified opinion with findings in the year under review, the report says.

The report raises significant doubt about whether some of the SOEs can continue with their operations in future without financial assistance.

Makewetu said executive authorities and oversight structures did not lead by example in setting the correct tone “that would enable accountability, transparency and good governance.” (Xinhua/NAN)

(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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Canadian-Somali human rights activist killed in Mogadishu

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Police on Wednesday said unknown gunmen killed a well-known human rights activist in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

Almaas Elman, who is a Somali and Canadian citizen, was killed while travelling by car towards the airport, police officer Ahmed Bashane told dpa.

The exact circumstances of Elman’s death were unclear.

Elman was running the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre in Mogadishu together with her sister, Ilwad Elman, who was nominated for the 2019 Nobel peace prize, and her mother Fatuun.

The foundation supports vulnerable women and former child soldiers in the volatile East African nation.

The centre is named after her father, Elman Ali Ahmed, a peace activist, who was killed in Mogadishu in 1996.

(Edited by Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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Alleged attacker of German ex-president’s son in psychiatric hospital

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Attacker

Berlin, Nov. 20, 2019   German prosecutors say they want the alleged assailant of Fritz von Weizsaecker, son of former German president, who was stabbed to death while giving a lecture, confined in a psychiatric hospital as investigations proceed.

The prosecutors referred to acute psychological illness, in releasing the information. They have begun a murder investigation.

Von Weizsaecker, 59, the son of Richard von Weizsaecker, who was president from 1984 to 1994, was stabbed late Tuesday while giving a public lecture at Schlosspark Hospital in Berlin, where he was a senior doctor.

His 57-year-old alleged assailant has not been identified but has been reported by police to come from the western state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The motive for the killing is not known.

Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her condolences to the family.

“This is a terrible blow to the von Weizsaecker family, and the condolences of myself as chancellor and from the government as a whole go to the widow and the entire family,” Merkel said via her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

A 33-year-old off-duty police officer who was in the auditorium was also seriously injured in the attack after going to the victim’s aid.

Police reported that he had undergone an operation but that his injuries were not life-threatening.

No fewer than  20 people attended the lecture in a room in the psychiatric wing of the hospital. Several people helped to hold the suspect and handed him over to the police.

The private hospital, where von Weizsaecker was a senior doctor, held regular events where members of the public could come along out of their own interest and learn about illnesses, diagnoses and therapy opportunities, according to the hospital’s website.

Von Weizsacker had a long medical career and was an internal medicine specialist, according to the hospital website.

His lecture was about fatty liver disease, the site said.

His father Richard von Weizsaecker was mayor of Berlin from 1981 to 1984, before serving as president. He died in 2015.

The head of Germany’s FDP political party, Christian Lindner, paid tribute to von Weizsaecker on Twitter, saying: “My friend Fritz von Weizsaecker was stabbed this evening in Berlin.

“A passionate doctor and fine man. He was recently at our home for a barbecue.

“I am speechless and need to share my grief.

“This begs the question once again of what kind of world we live in.’’

(Edited by Halima Sheji/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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IPCR, South African institute to hold int’l conference on conflict prevention, mgt, resolution

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reports.

The institute made this known in a statement by its Head of Media, Mr Musa Mato on Wednesday.

Mato said that the conference would be held in conjunction with the Institute for Dispute Resolution in Africa (IDRA) of the University of South Africa.

According to him, the conference is aimed at strengthening the socio-cultural and academic relations between Nigeria and South Africa.

The IPCR head of media further said that the conference would enable both countries to explore ways of managing disputes without resorting to violence or bloodshed.

The theme of the conference will be “ Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution in Africa: A Cross-disciplinary Perspective Towards African Development.

The sub-themes of the conference will include Inter-tribal, Inter-state Conflicts and Xenophobia/Afrophobia; Rule of Law and Governance in Africa; as well as Intersection Between African Law and Eurocentric Legal System on Matters of Dispute/Conflict Resolution.

Some others are Election Governance and Democracy in Africa; and Management of Electoral Processes and Post-election Dispute and Conflict.

The conference is expected to hold in Abuja from Nov. 25 to Nov. 29.

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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U.S. aviation regulator pledges rigorous certification for Boeing 777X

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The U.S. aviation regulator says it will ensure certification of Boeing’s 777X wide-body jet is conducted rigorously, the agency’s head said on Wednesday while reaffirming that its review of the grounded 737 MAX will not be rushed.

Problems with a number of aircraft models have led some airlines to accuse plane and engine makers of over-promising on performance capabilities.

The grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX after two fatal crashes has increased scrutiny of testing and certification.

The comments from Steve Dickson, Administrator of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), come a day after Emirates — Boeing’s largest 777X customer — demanded that the aircraft be tested for at least 16 months to ensure it is safe to fly and meets performance expectations.

“I did meet with Emirates and we had excellent dialogue,” he said at the Dubai Airshow when asked if the 777X certification would be tougher in light of recent events.

“Perhaps there will be more emphasis on making sure that the systems, as they evolve, are effectively integrated across the entire product and that we are not looking at issues in a fragmented fashion.”

On the continuing review of the 737 MAX, Dickson last week said his team would take “whatever time is needed”, having previously pledged a data-driven methodical analysis, review, and validation of the systems and pilot training required to safely return the MAX to commercial service.

Dickson reiterated on Wednesday that the FAA is not following any timeline for the model’s return to service, adding that time pressure cannot influence the regulatory process.

“We are going to make sure we are very methodical and very diligent. We are not delegating anything,” he said at an airshow briefing.

Boeing has said it expects the FAA to issue an order approving the MAX’s return to service in December, with pilot training requirements for commercial flights to be granted in January.

(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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Non-religious marriages in majority in traditionally Catholic Italy for first time

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Most of the marriages celebrated in Italy in 2019 were non-religious, official data showed on Wednesday, in a first for the traditionally Catholic country.

Out of a total of just under 196,000 marriages, some 50.1 per cent were celebrated in civil rather than religious ceremonies, national statistics agency Istat reported.

By comparison, civil marriages represented only 2.3 per cent of the total in 1970, rising to 36.7 per cent in 2008 and 49.5 per cent in 2017.

In Italy’s southern regions, which tend to be more socially conservative, religious marriages remained in the majority, with only around 30 per cent of civil rites registered in 2018.

Like most of Western Europe, Italy is becoming more secular and multicultural.

Istat said it is far more common for foreigners and people re-marrying after a divorce to choose a civil rather than a religious ceremony.

The agency said there was an uptick in marriages from 2017 to 2018, but over a period of 10 years, their number shrank by more than 25 per cent, largely due to Italy’s demographic crisis.

“Fewer young people, fewer marriages” is how Istat summed up the situation.

Istat also reported that just over 9,500 same-sex civil partnerships have been celebrated since they were legalised in mid-2016, including around 2,800 in 2018.

(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN))

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