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Little Amal journey across Europe to support refugees

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A large puppet representing a Syrian refugee girl arrived in Geneva on Tuesday as part of a journey to raise awareness on refugee crises.

The puppet is 3.5 meters tall, and the journey, which is across Europe, is 8,000 kilometers long.

“Little Amal” began her journey on July 27 in the Gaziantep city in Turkey, near the border with Syria. “Amal” means ‘hope’ in Arabic

After Geneva, Amal will resume the journey towards her last station in the northern city of Manchester in the UK.

The puppet represents a 9-year-old refugee child seeking safety and searching for her mother, who never returned from trying to find food.

The Handspring Puppet Company created her to spread awareness about the unaccompanied refugee children’s dilemma.

Four people are operating Amal and bringing her to life; they are called ‘Puppeters’

One of them is inside the body and walking on poles, as well as operating a complex set of strings that control the puppet’s facial expressions.

Two others operate the arms, and another one supporting the back.

“We are artists, so we create emotion, empathy, to try and make things change,” said Claire Bejanin.

Bejanin is the producer of Amal’s journey in France, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.

“We encourage children from all over the world to write letters for children like Amal,” she continued.

She added, “We used the tools we have, which are images, beauty, art and different communities.”

Alicia Minardi, a nine-year-old child who visited the gathering outside the UN HQ with her school, found it mesmerizing.

“I’m happy and sad. Happy because for me and my classmates, everything is great,” she said.

“But I’m sad because there are a lot of children for whom it’s very hard to live like this,” she added.

One Killed as Earthquake Strikes Crete

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An earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 shook Greece’s largest island, Crete, killing one person and injuring 20 others.

The quake also damaged several homes and churches, causing rock slides near the country’s fourth-largest city. Nearby villages were also damaged.

The quake had a preliminary magnitude of at least 5.8.

People fled into the streets in the city of Heraklion.

Authorities declared a state of emergency. However, thousands would spend the night in hotels and tents.

The earthquake’s strength appeared to take seismologists by surprise. “[It] was a bolt out of the blue,” Prof Ethymios Lekkas, who heads the faculty of geology and geoenvironment at the University of Athens, told Greek TV.

“The scientific community thought the phenomenon [of heavy seismic activity] in the region was over. We were all mistaken as the earthquake was totally unforeseen.”

It was too early, Lekkas said, to predict whether a stronger one would follow.

Dr Stephen Hicks, a seismologist at Imperial College London, described the tremor as the most powerful to hit the Mediterranean island since 1959.

The Athens Geodynamic Institute said the quake struck at 9.17am (6.17am GMT), with an epicentre 246km (153 miles) south/south-east of the Greek capital, Athens.

Greece has been facing what has been described as its worst heatwave for more than three decades.

Athens saw temperatures climb as high as 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). Forecasters predict they will reach 40 C later on Wednesday.

Fresh fires broke out late as strong winds and blistering heat continued to complicate the efforts of rescue crews.

UK Army to Ease Ongoing Fuel Crisis

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UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace declared that the army is ready to help ease the ongoing fuel crisis.

The statements came after long queues continued in many places on Monday due to the tanker driver shortages.

The UK government says a lack of tanker drivers to deliver fuel and unprecedented demand is behind the crisis.

“Limited number of military tanker drivers to be put on a state of readiness and deployed if necessary to further stabilise fuel supply chain,” the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said in a statement issued.

Desperate motorists queued up at fuel pumps across Britain, draining tanks, fraying tempers and prompting calls for the government to use emergency powers to give priority access to healthcare and other essential workers.

The military drivers will receive specialised training before deploying if the crisis does not ease in the coming days.

“The fuel industry expects demand will return to its normal levels in the coming days. However, it’s right that we take this sensible, precautionary step,” said Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.

“If required, the deployment of military personnel will provide the supply chain with additional capacity as a temporary measure. This aims to help ease pressures caused by spikes in localised demand for fuel,” he added.

 

25 People Injured in Building Explosion in Sweden

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At least 25 people were injured in an explosion in a central residential area of the Swedish city of Gothenburg early on Tuesday.

Four people suffered serious injuries during the incident.

The explosion took place just before 5 a.m. in the Annedal district in central Goteborg, Sweden’s second-largest city.

Fires spread to several apartments, and crews from the local fire department were still working to extinguish the flames as of 9 a.m.

The explosion forced the evacuation of hundreds more, police and rescue workers said.

Police spokesman Stefan Gustafsson told The Associated Press that eight people remain in hospital.

However, the immediate cause of the blast and blaze is still unclear.

Police said they had opened an investigation but could not give more details.

Emergency services said they were working to evacuate people and put out fires in the building.

They ruled out a gas leak but refrained from speculating on the cause of the explosion.

Anja Almen, who lives in the building, said she heard a commotion from the street just after 5:00a.m. — around 15 minutes after the explosion.

“I went out on the balcony. There was smoke everywhere, from every stairwell,” she said by phone from a nearby church to which she and other tenants took refuge. “Fire trucks with ladders were pulling people from apartments.”

French President Thrown with Egg

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French President Emmanuel Macron was thrown with an egg while attending a food event in Lyon.

The egg “bounced off Macron’s shoulder and burst on the floor right in front of me,” Florence Lago, a journalist for French publication Lyon Mag ,reported.

Lyon Mag shared a video of the incident at the SIRHA food and hospitality fair on its Twitter account.

The clip showed Macron walks through crowd when an egg hits his shoulder and bounces off without breaking.

The camera later panned to officials detaining a man in the crowd.

Two bodyguards were seen immediately getting closer to the French President to protect his shoulders.

Meanwhile, a man was taken away from the scene by other bodyguards.

Reporters at the scene heard Macron saying, “if he has something to tell me, then he can come.”

Second Incident in 3 Months

In June, Macron was slapped in the face by a man as he was greeting the public in a small town in southeastern France.

He then denounced “violence” and “stupidity”. The man was ordered to serve four months in jail.

The slap prompted a wide show of support for France’s head of state from politicians across the ideological spectrum.

La Palma volcano erupts again, lava near the sea

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La Palma’s volcano started spewing lava and smoke again on Monday after a short pause, as hundreds of people living near the coast are locked down.

People anticipate the lava will release toxic gases once it races the sea.

Columns of white smoke ascended at 11 AM (10:00 GMT) from the Cumbre Vieja volcano hours after it was calm.

According to Reuters, researchers said the volcano started ejecting lava around the same time.

“It’s something normal with this type of eruption,” Miguel Angel Morcuende, the director of the Pevolca response committee, said.

He added, “The volcano has periods of growth and periods of decay.”

Morcuende’s colleague, Maria Jose Blanco, said the low levels of gas and material in the volcano’s crater could have been the reason behind its calmness.

Black lava has been steadily flowing from the volcano’s western side towards the sea since September 19.

According to the EU’s Copernicus disaster monitor, the volcano destroyed over 500 houses as well as, churches and banana crops.

The Spanish property business Idealista estimated on Monday 178 million euros worth of damage.

The super hot and black lava surrounded a hill in Todoque, western Spain, on Monday.

Although the lava was less than a kilometer from the Atlantic, authorities are not sure when it would reach the water.

Nearly 300 citizens living near the coasts of San Borondon, Marina Alta, Baja and La Condesa have stayed at their homes.

The self-lockdown is because the contact between lava and water is likely to cause explosions and emit toxic chlorine gas.

There were no reports of serious injuries, however, nearly 15% of the island’s banana crops are at risk of burning.

La Palma has a population of more than 83,000 people and is a part of the Canary Islands.

Five People Killed in Colombia Shooting

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At least five people were shot dead in south-west Colombia in the latest of a series of attacks by armed groups.

Two people have died at the scene and three more died later in hospital.

A 15-year-old girl was among the reported deaths. Six other people suffered different injuries.

A military commander blamed a breakaway rebel group for the attack.

Army officials said that armed men had opened fired at “a public venue” in the town of Tumaco.

Local media described the venue as a discotheque.

Major-General Álvaro Pérez said a group of dissident former Farc rebels calling itself the Uriel Rendón Column was to blame.

In July, dissident Farc rebels claimed responsibility for an attack on a helicopter carrying President Iván Duque.

Colombia’s institute for the study of development and peace keeps a tally of what it calls “massacres”.

It says that there have been 72 such “massacres” between 1 January and 21 September.

Nariño province, where the latest attack happened, witnessed an increase in deadly attacks.

What’s the background?

Murder rates have fallen since the government signed a peace deal with Colombia’s main rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), in 2016.

2019 had among the lowest number of homicides since 1975, according to figures from Colombia’s ministry of defence.

But breakaway factions of the Farc remain active in rural areas of the country, where they engage in extortion and drug trafficking.

The country’s second-largest rebel group, the National Liberation Army (ELN) is also still active. There are a number of right-wing paramilitary groups originally founded to fight the left-wing rebels.

Despite the fall in homicide number, human rights and land rights activists have been killed by their dozens.

But armed attacks such as on those gathered in Samaniego are unusual and reawaken memories of darker times in Colombia when its armed groups would carry out mass killings, especially in rural areas where there was no or little presence of the security forces.

The 5 Warmest Destinations for Autumn Sun in Europe

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Is Autumn one of your favourite seasons? Here are five of the best autumn sun holidays in southern Europe.

Autumn is indeed a glorious season when leaves turn orange and red.The sky changes colour. The forest becomes a true painting with a thousand shades of gold.

But it means that winter is coming! The days are getting shorter. You feel the lack of natural light on your body and your morale takes a dip.

Here is a list of characterful places to spend an autumn sun holidays.

1- Makriyialos, Greece

Autumn is near-perfect in Crete: the masses have left, days reach 24C, the Libyan Sea is still bath-like, and tavernas are still open and pouring raki.

Much of the island’s east has been overdeveloped but there is a lovely, low-key alternative on the south coast.

2- Sagres, Portugal

The rugged Sagres peninsula, where mainland Europe ends in a froth of Atlantic waves, is the Algarve’s wild west, and more geared to locals and surfers than crowds of tourists.

That means it stays buzzy into October, when temperatures are still around 20C, the sea is warm, the surf is up and birding is at its best (the Sagres Birdwatching festival is on 1-5 October).

3- Calheta, Madeira

Any month is great in subtropical Madeira; in October, temperatures are between 22C and 25C.

If it’s a beach break you want, head for southwesterly Calheta, surrounded by vineyards and banana plantations above one of the rocky island’s few sandy bays.

Opened in 2020, Socalco Nature Calheta is a cluster of Atlantic-facing rooms and houses integrated into cliffs, orchards and agricultural land.

4- Alicante, Spain

For a most therapeutic burst of sunshine, look to the Costa Blanca. The World Health Organization named it as having Europe’s healthiest climate – even January averages 17C here.

North and inland from Alicante are the foothills of the Bernia mountains: rural, remote and heaven for hiking at this time.

5- Vejer de la Frontera, Spain

Few places in mainland Europe beat Andalucía for low-season sunshine – October still reaches the high 20s.

Hilltop pueblo blanco Vejer de la Frontera lies within the “sherry triangle”, 10km inland from some of southern Spain’s loveliest, least-developed beaches (El Palmar is top pick).

Califa Casas runs a handful of holiday homes scattered amid Vejer’s medieval streets, so a stay here lets you feel you’re living like a local.

 

Italy Urges to Prevent Afghanistan’s Financial Collapse

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Italy’s Foreign Affairs Minister Luigi Di Maio urged foreign governments to prevent financial collapse in Afghanistan.

He said that any financial collapse would result in a massive flow of migrants

The Foreign Minister stressed that they will not recognise Taliban government in Afghanistan.

However, he stressed that Afghans should start receiving the financial support that was frozen after the armed group took power.

“We will not recognise the Taliban government as it includes 17 terrorists among the ministers,” Di Maio said.

“Clearly, we must prevent Afghanistan from implosion and from an uncontrolled flow of migration that could destabilise neighbouring countries,” Italy’s Di Maio, who chaired a meeting of G20 foreign ministers in New York last week, said.

“There are ways to guarantee financial support without giving money to the Taliban. We have also agreed that a part of humanitarian aid must always go to the protection of women and girls.”

Italy Warns of ‘Total Breakdown’

Earlier last week, the United Nations (UN) has warned that Afghanistan is at risk of “total breakdown.”

The UN urged the international community to keep money flowing into Afghanistan to avoid the “total breakdown.”

UN also called for the release of the frozen assets to avoid economic and social collapse. This came after UNDP said Afghanistan faces staggering poverty.

UN special envoy on Afghanistan Deborah Lyons stressed the importance of finding a way to get the money into the country “to prevent a total breakdown of the economy and social order.”

Afghanistan was facing a storm of crises including a plunging currency, a sharp rise in prices for food and fuel and a lack of cash at private banks. The authorities also do not have the funds to pay salaries, she said.

The Taliban has earlier promised to allow foreigners and Afghans to leave Afghanistan beyond 31 August.

There are still thousands inside and outside the airport wanting to fly out.

Germany Votes: SPD to Replace Merkel-Led Coalition

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Germany’s centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) have won 25.7% of the vote, according to the preliminary results of the German election.

However, Angela Merkel’s conservatives have suffered their worst postwar result.

The center-left Social Democrats will now lead a coalition negotiations with party leader Olaf Scholz claiming a “clear mandate” to form the government for the first time since 2005.

With neither main group commanding a majority, both parties say they are ready to form the next coalition.

Negotiations could take months, and the SPD may take the first chance to form a government.

“We are ahead in all the surveys now,” Scholz, the SDP’s chancellor candidate and the outgoing vice-chancellor and finance minister, said in a roundtable discussion with other candidates after the vote.

“It is an encouraging message and a clear mandate to make sure that we get a good, pragmatic government for Germany,” he added after earlier addressing jubilant SPD supporters.

The Greens, who made their first bid for the chancellery with co-leader Annalena Baerbock, improved on their performance in 2017.

Baerbock insisted that “the climate crisis … is the leading issue of the next government, and that is for us the basis for any talks … even if we aren’t totally satisfied with our result.”

However, the two parties were not in contention to join the next government.

The government formation will take weeks, if not months, of heated negotiations.

More than 60 million people have voted vote in the September 26 election which will decide which party’s chancellor candidate will replace Angela Merkel as she steps down after 16 years in office.