UN Tries to cut Numbers at EU-funded Migrant Center in Libya

The U.N. refugee agency plans to cut the number of migrants staying at an overcrowded transit center in Libya’s capital, a spokesman said Saturday. Libya is a major waypoint for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East to Europe. “The situation is very difficult, and we do not have the resources” because the center in Tripoli is at about twice its capacity, with some 1,200 migrants, Charlie Yaxley, a UNHCR spokesman, told The Associated Press. The UNHCR has asked those refugees not registered with the agency to leave the European Union-funded Gathering and Departure Facility, offering an assistance package that includes cash for an initial two months. “You will not be considered for evacuation or resettlement if you stay at the GDF,” the agency warned the migrants, according to a document obtained by the AP. It added that those seeking registration with the agency could only do so “outside” the facility. The UNHCR said it would phase out food distribution for the unregistered migrants, including dozens of tuberculosis patients, from Jan. 1. Yaxley said the agency also offered to facilitate returning the migrants to their home country or to a country they previously registered as asylum-seekers. Migrants, however, decried the move, fearing they would end up at detention centers or at the mercy of human traffickers. “The migrants are reluctant and have their concerns about leaving the GDF,” one person seeking shelter at the facility said, who spoke on condition of anonymity for his safety. The …

Climate Activists Invade East German Coal Mines in Protest

Climate activists protested at open-pit coal mines in eastern Germany, pouring onto the premises to urge the government to immediately halt the use of coal to produce electricity. The news agency dpa reported that police estimated more than 2,000 people took part Saturday at sites near Cottbus and Leipzig and that some of the demonstrators scuffled with police. Three officers were reported slightly injured at the Janschwaelde mine near Cottbus. The mine operators, Leag und Mibrag, filed police reports asking for an investigation and possible charges. Burning coal releases carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed by scientists for global warming. The German government plans to end the use of coal by 2038 and spend 40 billion euros ($44 billion) on assistance for the affected mining regions. …

Commonwealth, AU, OIF Call for Peace and Unity in Cameroon

Three international organizations have ended an official visit to Cameroon with a call for efforts to restore security, justice and the conditions for the resumption of normal life in English-speaking northwest and southwest regions of the country hit by the separatist crisis that has killed over 3,000 people. The Commonwealth, African Union, and International Organization of La Francophonie delegation says it is convinced dialogue remains the preferred path for peace to return, but that the government should start implementing the recommendations of the last major national dialogue it organized. Some, however, have been critical of government efforts. Thousands Flee Violence in Cameroon’s English-Speaking Regions The new violence has dashed hopes that schools would re-open this week, after being closed for three years Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, says after exchanging views with Cameroonian President Paul Biya, Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute, representatives of the main political parties, religious leaders, youth representatives and a cross-section of Cameroonians,  the organizations are convinced that there is a yearning for peace to return to the restive English-speaking regions. FILE – Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat delivers a speech during the African Union (AU) summit at the Palais des Congres in Niamey, Niger, July 7, 2019. He says they noted that a majority of Cameroonians welcomed the convening of the Grand National Dialogue from September 30 to October 4,  in which Cameroon’s government  consulted with political party leaders, activists, opinion leaders, traditional rulers, lawmakers and clergy, and …

Iran Opposition Leader Compares Supreme Leader to Shah

A long-detained opposition leader in Iran on Saturday compared a bloody crackdown on those protesting government-set gasoline prices rising under its supreme leader to soldiers of the shah gunning down demonstrators in an event that led to the Islamic Revolution. The comments published by a foreign website represent some of the harshest yet attributed to Mir Hossein Mousavi, a 77-year-old politician whose own disputed election loss in 2009 led to the widespread Green Movement protests that security forces also put down. Mousavi’s remarks not only compare Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the toppled monarch whom Khamenei to this day refers to as a tyrant. It also suggests the opposition leader views the demonstrations that began Nov. 15 and the crackdown that followed as a potentially similar last-straw moment for Iran’s Shiite theocracy as the 1978 killings represented for the shah. “It shows people’s frustration with the country’s situation. It has a complete resemblance to the brutal killing of people on the bloody date Sept. 8, 1978,” Mousavi said, according to the statement published by the Kaleme website long associated with him. “The assassins of the year of 1978 were representatives of a non-religious regime, but the agents and shooters in November 2019 were representatives of a religious government.” There was no immediate response from Iranian officials nor state media, which has been barred from showing Mousavi’s image for years. The protests that struck some 100 cities and towns across Iran beginning Nov. 15 came after …

Albania’s Earthquake Search, Rescue Operation Ends

The search and rescue operation for earthquake survivors in Albania has ended, Prime Minister Edi Rama said Saturday. The small town of Thumane, experienced the highest death toll from Tuesday’s quake with 26 people killed, six of whom belonged to one family, and all but one under age 30. They were buried Friday. In the port city of Durres – 30 kilometers west of the capital, Tirana — the quake killed 24.  One person also died in Kurbin. In all, 51 people died, including seven children. Nine-hundred were injured.  More than 5,000 people are without shelter; and 1,200 buildings were destroyed in the 6.4-magnitude quake and the aftershocks that followed.     Relatives surround some of the coffins during the funeral of six members of the Cara family, killed during an earthquake that shook Albania, in Thumane, Albania, Nov. 29, 2019. Seismologist Rexhep Koci told VOA that while there is the likelihood for more aftershocks, but they would be weaker. Neighboring countries provide assistance The European Union sent crews to help with search and rescue immediately following the quake and now the Albanian government has asked for experts to help assess the damage.   Volunteers distribute food at a makeshift camp in Durres, after an earthquake shook Albania, November 29, 2019. EU Ambassador to Albania Luigi Soreca said Friday that the European Union and its member states are standing with Albania and working nonstop to provide assistance “in this very difficult moment.”   “It is a week of deep sorrow …

US Border Agents Rescue Migrants From Flooded Drainage Pipe

U.S. border protection officials in San Diego said Friday that 20 people had been rescued from flooded drainage pipes west of the San Ysidro Port of Entry.  A Border Patrol agent found three people trying to enter the United States illegally late Thursday near a drainage tube about 3 kilometers west of the port of entry, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Border Patrol’s parent agency. In a release, CBP said the three people told agents there were people trapped inside the drainage tubes, with water rising because of heavy rain in the area.  After a search, local emergency officials aided CBP agents in recovering 17 people, sending seven of them to a nearby hospital for medical care. About an hour later, three more people were discovered in the drainage tubes and were taken into custody. One was sent to the hospital. CBP said it apprehended 15 men, three women and one juvenile male from Mexico, and one Guatemalan man. It said all would be processed for illegally entering the United States.  …

Twitter CEO Pledges to Live in Africa for Several Months in 2020

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey has wrapped up of a trip to Africa by pledging to reside on the continent next year for up to six months.  Dorsey tweeted this week: “Africa will define the future (especially the bitcoin one!). Not sure where yet, but I’ll be living here for 3-6 months mid 2020.” The CEO of the social media giant did not say what he planned to do on the African continent. Twitter, which is based in San Francisco, did not offer more details on Dorsey’s plans.  On Dorsey’s recent trip, he visited entrepreneurs in Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.  Dorsey, 43, co-founded Twitter with several other entrepreneurs in 2006. He ran the company until he was ousted in 2008 but was brought back seven years later to again lead the platform. Dorsey also co-founded the payment processing app Square and is also CEO of that operation. The tech exec holds millions of stock shares in both companies, and Forbes estimates his net worth at $4.3 billion. Twitter, along with other social media companies, has faced criticism of its handling of misinformation and has come under scrutiny ahead of next year’s U.S. presidential election. Dorsey announced in October that Twitter would ban political advertisements on the platform.  …

Does New Turkish Unrest Mean New Refugee Wave?

The conflict in Syria created a global humanitarian crisis, with millions displaced and millions more fleeing to other countries. Turkish military operations that began in early October may be creating a new wave of displacement. Where are these Syrians going? VOA’s Turkish service filed this report, narrated by Ege Sacikara.  …

North Korea Threatens Ballistic Missile Test Under Japan’s ‘Nose’

North Korea made perhaps its most direct recent threat to resume longer-range missile tests, warning Saturday it may soon launch a “real ballistic missile” in the vicinity of Japan. Pyongyang has carried out 13 rounds of short- or medium-range launches since May. Most experts say nearly all of the tests have involved some form of ballistic missile technology. The latest test came Thursday, when North Korea conducted its fourth launch this year of what it called a “super-large, multiple-rocket launch system.” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, delivers a speech as Pope Francis listens in Tokyo, Nov. 25, 2019. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe condemned the launch as a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, which prohibit North Korea from any ballistic missile activity. On Saturday, the official Korean Central News Agency published an article condemning Abe’s statement, saying the test involved a “multiple launch rocket” and not a ballistic missile. “Abe may see what a real ballistic missile is in the not distant future and under his nose,” KCNA said in a statement attributed to North Korean foreign ministry official. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has set an end-of-year deadline for the United States to offer more concessions in nuclear talks that have been stalled since February. As that deadline approaches, North Korean officials have repeatedly issued veiled warnings about bigger provocations, though none appear to have been as direct as Saturday’s statement. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversees a super-large multiple launch rocket system test …

Violence Continues in Iraq Despite PM’s Resignation

Anti-government violence raged on in southern Iraq on Friday, despite the announced resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. At least 21 people were killed in the southern part of the country, and one protester was killed in central Baghdad as demonstrations continued here, including a thousands-strong sit-in at Tahrir Square. Abdul Mahdi’s announcement came after the country’s senior Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, urged lawmakers to reconsider their support for a government rocked by weeks of deadly anti-establishment unrest. “In response to this [the cleric’s] call, and in order to facilitate it as quickly as possible, I will present to parliament a demand [to accept] my resignation from the leadership of the current government,” a statement signed by Abdul Mahdi said.  FILE – A still image taken from a video shows Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi delivering a speech on reforms, in Baghdad, Iraq Oct. 25, 2019. The statement did not say when he would resign. Parliament is to convene an emergency session on Sunday to discuss the crisis.  For weeks, young, unemployed and unarmed protesters have led calls for an overhaul of a political system they say is endemically corrupt and serves foreign powers, especially Tehran. Protesters celebrated the imminent departure of Abdul Mahdi, but said they would not stop their demonstrations until the whole of the political class was removed.   “Abdul Mahdi’s resignation is just the beginning. We’ll stay in the streets until the entire government has gone, and all the rest of the corrupt politicians,” said Mustafa Hafidh, a protester at Tahrir Square.  “It’s not enough,” said Ali al-Sayeda, another demonstrator. “We need them all out, root and …