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Seven persons drown, 12 rescued as Greece struggles with migrants influx



Six migrants, including a baby, drowned in the Aegean Sea on Friday when a dinghy carrying them sank off the Greek island of Chios, state broadcaster ERT reported, citing Greece’s coastguard.

A ferry passing nearby rescued 12 people from the sunken vessel. The coastguard said it believed a trafficker was also among those who drowned.

The dinghy set off from the Turkish coast and had attempted to reach the Inousses islets near Chios, some 15 kilometres north. The nationality of the migrants was not immediately known.

The group was a part of a growing wave of refugees and migrants trying to reach wealthy European countries through the so-called Balkan route, which has been formally closed since March 2016.

Most of the migrants risk their lives to travel across the Aegean. According to the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, 174 people drowned making the journey in 2018.

The pace of arrivals accelerated this year: 41,940 people arrived from Jan. 1 until Sept. 22, compared to 27,718 and 32,494 in the whole of 2017 and 2018, respectively, according to UNHCR figures.

Coupled with slow processing of asylum applications, the increase has led to dramatic overcrowding in refugee centres on the Greek Aegean islands.

An estimated 29,000 migrants are waiting for processing on Lesbos, Chios, Samos, Leros and Kos, with the camps built for just around 6,000.

Greece’s new conservative government plans to ease the overcrowding by transferring people to the mainland. Authorities shipped one group of migrants, mostly families, from the centres to the mainland earlier this month, but plan to move another 10,000.

Greece’s Civil Protection Minister Michalis Chryssochoidis met on Friday with governors of Greece’s 13 provinces to discuss the plans.

“It can’t work any other way. There are more migrants than inhabitants on some of the islands,” Panagiotis Nikas, the governor of Peloponnese, said this the meeting.

The people to be transferred will be those with a good chance of receiving asylum in the EU, he said.

Under an agreement between the EU and Turkey in 2016, Greece should return migrants who are refused asylum to Turkey, which in turn will send approved migrants directly from Turkey to the European Union.


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Foreign News

11 injured, four abducted in Cameroon separatist attack



At least 11 plantation workers were seriously injured and four others abducted on Monday night by armed separatists in Tiko, a locality in Cameroon’s restive English-speaking region of Southwest, local authorities said on Tuesday.

Four of the injured workers on a rubber plantation of state-owned Cameroon Development Corporation (CDC) were rushed to the hospital early Tuesday with life-threatening wounds.

“They (armed separatists) arrived when the workers were about to sleep and assembled them in the yard and started flogging one after another with machetes.

“They chopped off the fingers and hands of some of them. And then abducted four men and left for the bush,” Lygonga Mbonde, one of the unit managers of CDC said.

Separatist groups had vowed on social media to make the English speaking regions of Cameroon ungovernable.

They consider CDC a legitimate target, according to security reports.

The CDC runs banana, palm oil, and rubber plantations in Cameroon’s troubled Southwest and Northwest regions.

In August 2018, the agro-industry said more than 6,000 of its 20,000 workers had fled sporadic attacks, killings and kidnapping from armed separatists.

Cameroon’s English-speaking regions have been hit by a separatist rebellion since 2017.

A national dialogue to end the separatist conflict was held in the country in early October and recommended that a special status should be granted to the two regions.


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Incumbent president, 12 candidates on provisional list for Guinea-Bissau elections



The Supreme Court of Justice of Guinea-Bissau on Monday published a provisional list of 13 candidates for the November 24 presidential elections, including the incumbent President Jose Vaz.

According to the list, Vaz will run as an independent candidate.

Winning of the legislative elections in March, the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) will be represented by former Prime minister Domingos Pereira.

Three other major candidates are Umaro Embalo for the Movement for a Democratic Alternative (Madem G-15), Nuno Gomes Na Biam for the United People’s Assembly – Guinea-Bissau Democratic Party, and former Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior as independent candidate.

The six unsuccessful candidates, including the only female candidate Nancy Schwartz, were not validated due to “incomplete files”.

However, they have 48 hours to appeal to the Supreme Court.
However, presidential elections will be held in Guinea-Bissau on Nov. 24 with a second round planned for Dec. 29, if no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the vote.

Legislative elections held in Guinea-Bissau on March 10.
The African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) won 47 of the 102 seats and remained the largest party.

Although its loss of ten seats resulted in a hung parliament, pre-election agreements with the Assembly of the People United (five seats) and the New Democracy Party (one seat).

The Union for Change (one seat) gave the PAIGC-led coalition a six-seat majority in the National People’s Assembly.


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South Korean justice minister resigns over corruption scandal



South Korean Justice Minister, Cho Kuk, on Monday resigned over an escalating corruption scandal barely a month after being appointed.

The opposition had accused him of misconduct as his family was being investigated on allegations of questionable financial transactions.

Kuk, 54, said in a statement that he would resign and not be a burden to President Moon Jae-In who had appointed him in September. Jae-In accepted his resignation.

Jae-In, however, apologised for causing national discord over Kuk’s appointment.

Earlier, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets to demand Kuk’s dismissal as well as Jae-In’s resignation.

Kuk’s family was being investigated on suspicion of investing in a holding company suspected of involvement in market manipulation and illegal transactions.

Liberal groups had spoken in support of Kuk as the architect of Jae-In’s plans to reform the National Prosecutor’s office, however, conservatives considered him unqualified for the position.


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