|Iraqi army launches second phase of military operation against Islamic State|
|Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) ‐ The Iraqi army announced Saturday the launch of the second phase of a military operation to pursue (IS) in northern the country.|
The "Will of Victory" operation is carried out by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command and Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces.
The campaign aims to attain security and stability in the desert area between Nineveh, Salahuddin and Anbar provinces on the Iraqi-Syrian border, in addition to preventing IS remains from sneaking into that region or even using it as a stronghold for their terrorist acts.
|Hundreds of Nineveh IDPs returned to home areas: Migration and Displacement ministry|
|[Rudaw] Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and Displacement announced the federal government-assisted return of hundreds of Iraqi IDPs to their home areas across the province of Nineveh, as the painstaking process of returning internally displaced persons (IDPs) who seek to travel home after years of violence continues.|
In the past week, 423 IDPs were returned home from camps in the east and south of the city of to their home areas across Nineveh province, the Ministry claimed in a statement released on Sunday. Of the returnees, 142 were from Khazir and Hasan Sham IDP camps in the Kurdistan Region, while 281 of the IDPs were from the Jadaa, Hamam Alil, and Southern Mosul Airport Track camps.
"The Ministry, in cooperation with the Ministry of Transport and the Joint Operations Command, dedicated buses to transport those IDPs who wish to return to their areas in Nineveh," the statement quoted Ali Abbas Jahagir as saying.
Trucks transporting the IDPs’ belongings, including furniture and electrical appliances, were also provided, he added.
Forming part of a longer term initiative in cooperation with the relevant authorities in the province to return IDPs home, Jahangir said, they returned to the Syrian border town of Baaj, Tel Afar, Tel Abta, al-Mihalabya, Hamidat, Northern Terminal, al-Nahrawan and Mosul’s city centre.
According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), 1.7 million of a total 5.9 million IDPs in Iraq are still yet to return home after swept through the north and west of Iraq in 2014, causing a civilian exodus from Nineveh and its neighbouring provinces.
Of internally displaced Mosul residents, around 300,000 are unable to return to their homes, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), two years after the city was declared liberated from ISIS.
Fierce urban warfare ravaged Mosul as the Iraqi Army fought to reclaim the city and its surrounding areas in 2017. Some 138,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, the NRC said, leaving swathes of the already devastated province uninhabitable.
The Mine Action Service (UNMAS) warned in June that 70 percent of mines and other explosive hazards remain uncleared in Nineveh and other areas of Iraq ravaged by war with ISIS, preventing millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from returning home.
Reconstruction has in part been hindered by the embezzlement of federal funds by Nineveh government officials, with an Iraq Integrity Commission report published in April claiming that around $64 million was stolen by former governor Nineveh Nawfal Hamadi and other officials.
Mosul’s residents have also complained of a widespread lack of jobs and services after their return, despite a flurry of government and NGO initiatives attempting to tackle the lack of available opportunities.
|Pakistan Allows Afghan Refugees To Stay For Another Year|
|[ToloNews] The federal government has decided to extend the stay of registered Afghan refugees living in Pakistain till June 30 next year, the Express Tribune reported on Friday.|
The decision, notified by the Ministry of States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON), comes during ’s ongoing visit to Pakistain and days before the current extension ends on June 30, 2019.
"In pursuance of approval of the Federal Cabinet conveyed vide Cabinet Division’s Memorandum No.550(S)/Rule-19/2019-Cab, dated 27 June, 2019, the Government of Pakistain is pleased to extend the Validity in respect of Tripartite Agreement, Proof of Registration (PoR) Cards till 30-06-2020," read the notification, quoted by the Express Tribune.
The ministry also announced an extension in the validity of Afghan Citizen Cards (ACC) till October 31, 2019.
Pak Prime Minister also informed the Afghan president about the Pakistain (PTI) government’s decision, the report says.
Figures by High Commissioner for Refugees show that there are 1,405,715 registered Afghan refugees and 210,465 Afghan families in Pakistain as of June 3, 2019.
Statistics by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) indicate that 10,720 Afghans have returned home from Pakistain since the beginning of this year. Of the total figure, 8,421 have returned spontaneously, while 2,299 others were deported.
The UN refugee agency defines registered Afghans as those who have valid Proof of Registration cards issued by the Pak government, the report said.
The data shows the agency facilitated voluntary repatriation of 4,374,208 Afghan refugees from 2002 till December 4, 2018.
This year ‐ till June 24, 2019 ‐ UNHCR has facilitated the voluntary repatriation of 2,036 Afghan refugees, the Express Tribune says in the report.
At the UNHCR hosted and chaired 30th Tripartite Commission Meeting in Islamabad on June 18, Pakistain, Afghanistan and the refugee agency reaffirmed their commitment to upholding the principle of voluntary repatriation ‐ in safety and dignity ‐ under the Tripartite Agreement.
They called for enhanced efforts to create an environment conducive to voluntary return and sustainable reintegration in Afghanistan and vowed to continue supporting the host communities in Pakistain, within the framework of the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR).
All three stakeholders also expressed concern at the decrease in the voluntary repatriation grant provided to Afghan refugees and encouraged the international community to increase the cash grant to its previous level of approximately $400 per individual, the report said.
|UN To Reintegrate 126 Ex-Shabab Militants In Somalia|
|[RADIOSHABELLE] The said 126 former a combatants have completed a rehabilitation program and are ready for reintegration.|
The former combatants graduated from the Baidoa Rehabilitation Center, in Somalia’s South West State, on Friday after completing an intensive rehabilitation program.
Aden Hussein, national project officer in charge of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration program at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said the rehabilitation (DDR) program will encourage more youths in al-Shabaab to lay down arms and contribute to the country’s .
"The ex-combatants undertook various vocational training lessons, among them, electricity, masonry, tailoring as well as welding," Hussein said, according to a statement issued by the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) on Friday evening.
"But they'll all end up as cab drivers"
He called for more support for the program, saying al-Shabaab cannot only be fought using arms but also through training and the reintegration of ex-combatants.
"This is the best method, and hopefully the graduates will integrate back into the community and be constructive in their communities," Hussein said, referring to the program.
The program graduates, comprising youths from various parts of the country, received vocational training and psychological support at the center.
The UNSOM, the IOM, and other development partners have supported the establishment of similar rehabilitation and transition centers in Mogadishu, Beletweyne and .
|Home Front: Politix|
|Member of Polish Parliament Invites Ocasio-Cortez to Visit Real Concentration Camps|
[PJ] On Thursday morning Dominik Tarczynski, who is a member of Parliament in Poland, invited AOC to visit my ancestral homeland and "study the concentration camps" so that she can learn how they differ from the detention centers.
|Iraqi authorities prevent IDPs from returning home: HRW|
"Iraqi authorities have put in place a system that has allowed communities, security forces, and government agencies to collectively punish families whose relatives were allegedly linked to ISIS," said Belkis Wille, senior researcher for Iraq at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
"This system has put these families in a purgatory that prevents them from returning home, imprisons them in camps, and forces them to endure dire conditions that portend bleak futures for their children," she added.
HRW said that "an estimated 1.8 million people still remain displaced" as a result of the five-year conflict between Iraqi forces and ISIS. According KRG figures, last updated in April, the Kurdistan Region hosts 1.12 million IDPs.
This is not the first time HRW has accused Iraqi authorities of blocking the IDPs from returning home.
In June 2018, the organization published a report documenting alleged cases where Iraqi forces prevented IDPs from Anbar province from returning to their homes.
"It is unacceptable for soldiers to arbitrarily block residents from going home, in direct contradiction to the central government’s orders to facilitate safe and voluntary returns," said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at HRW in the 2018 report.
According to a report from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), last updated on April 30, over four million IDPs have returned to their place of origin. The IOM estimates that around 1.7 million remain displaced.
Rudaw English contacted relevant Iraqi authorities for comment on HRW's report, but they were unavailable.
ISIS took control of large swathes of Iraqi territory in 2014, forcing millions of people to flee to other areas in Iraq, with many displaced to the Kurdistan Region.
The Iraqi government announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in December 2017. The liberation of the areas also led to more displacements, as civilians fled in an attempt to avoid being trapped in the battle between security forces and ISIS.
The an Union (EU) announced on Friday that it was committing an additional 2 million euros to the IOM in Iraq "to make critical infrastructure improvements in camps for internally displaced persons", bringing their total contribution to IOM Iraq to 5 million euros for 2019.
In mid-May, Kurdistan Regional Government’s Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (JCC) and the IOM held a conference in Erbil, discussing "the obstacles before the return of IDPs and finding a mechanism to establish durable solutions for those who are not able to return."
Hoshang Mohammed, director of the JCC, said in the event that all relevant partners had to work on "removing security, financial, and services-related obstacles for the return of the IDPs."
Iraqi Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi and then KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, met in April to discuss improving coordination between Erbil and Baghdad for responding to the needs of IDPs.
The KRG has shouldered the lion’s share of the financial burden ‐ paying 75 percent of the $162 million monthly costs. International organizations cover the remaining 25 percent.
|At least two migrants die, 25 missing in boat accident off Libyan coast|
|[AlAhram] At least two died and around 25 others were missing after their inflatable boat capsized off the western Libyan coast, a for the coastguard said on Sunday.|
A total of 73 were picked up by a coastguard patrol about 14 miles off Qarabulli town, some 49 km (30.5 miles) east of the capital , Ayoub Qassem said.
The bodies of a woman and a child were recovered, he added.
The included 40 men, 25 women and eight children from Sudan, Kenya, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
"A wrecked and inflatable boat was found without an engine and the illegal were found clinging to it," Qassem said.
According to the UN migration agency IOM, 2,297 died or went missing in the Mediterranean last year out of a total of 116,959 people who reached by sea.
Libya's western coast has become a main departure point for as smugglers exploit the county's chaos since the toppling of in 2011.
But since July 2017, smuggling networks inside Libya have been disrupted under an Italian-backed deal with local authorities in a former smuggling hub of Sabratha town in western Libya.
The has stepped up patrols after receiving new boats from as part of efforts by the right-wing government there to stop reaching Italian shores from Africa.
|Home Front: Culture Wars|
|Texas bill would make protesting pipelines a felony on par with attempted murder|
A bill making its way through the Texas legislature would make protesting pipelines a third-degree felony, the same as attempted murder.
"It’s an anti-protest bill, favoring the fossil fuel industry, favoring corporations over people." ‐ Frankie Orona, executive director of the Society of Native Nations
H.B. 3557, which is under consideration in the state Senate after passing the state House earlier this month, ups penalties for interfering in energy infrastructure construction by making the protests a felony. Sentences would range from two to 10 years.
The legislation was authored by Republican state Rep. Chris Paddie. It passed the state House May 7 on a 99 to 45 vote, with two abstentions. The bill is being cosponsored in the state Senate by Republican state Sen. Pat Fallon.
In remarks on the state House floor during the bill’s passage, Paddie sought to assuage the fears of those who believe the legislation will target non-violent protest.
|'Tragic, terrible': Scores die as migrant boat sinks off Tunisia|
|[Aljazeera] A boat carrying scores of refugees and migrants has capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tunisia, killing at least 65 people, according to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).|
UNHCR said in a statement on Friday that 16 survivors were pulled from the water after the vessel sank "in one of the worst incidents on the Mediterranean in months".
"This is a tragic and terrible reminder of the risks still faced by those who attempt to cross the Mediterranean," said Vincent Cochetel, UNHCR's special envoy for the Mediterranean.
Only four bodies have been recovered so far and search operations were ongoing, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said in a Twitter post.
Survivors told the the tragedy unfolded after some 75 people who had left Zuwara on the northwestern Libyan coast late Thursday on a large boat were transferred to a smaller one that sank off Tunisia.
"The were transferred into a smaller inflatable boat which was overloaded, and 10 minutes later it sank," Mongi Slim, a official in the southern Tunisian town of Zarzis, told AFP.
The survivors said they spent eight hours trapped in the cold sea before they were spotted by the fishermen who alerted the Tunisian coastguard, Slim said.
Survivors said the boat was heading to and had on board only men, 51 from Bangladesh, as well as three Egyptians, several Moroccans, Chadians and other Africans.
Fourteen Bangladeshi nationals, including a minor, were among the survivors, said the .
Charity ships have plied the Mediterranean Sea to rescue in large numbers but the number of rescue operations have dwindled as these vessels have come under fire, namely from the populist Italian government, over their action.
On Friday, however, more than 60 disembarked in after two boats which had left Libya faced difficulties at sea and needed assistance.
According to the UNHCR, the journey across the Mediterranean "is becoming increasingly fatal for those who risk it".
"In the first four months of this year, one person has died (crossing the Mediterranean) for every three that have reached European shores, after departing from Libya," it said.
|Spanish police bust Bangladeshi-run migrant smuggling ring|
|[TheLocal-Spain] Spanish police have smashed a Bangladeshi-run ring which smiggled mre than 350 from the Indian subcontinent into the country andgave them fake passports.|
The allegedly paid the ring between €14,000-20,000 ($15,500-$22,000) for the journey, police said, adding that 11 people had been in Barcelona where the group was based.
The were flown to Algeria, from where they crossed into neighbouring Morocco by foot and were then taken by motorboat across the Mediterranean into Spain, the police said in a statement issued on Friday.
At least 350 people from Bangladesh, India, Pakistain and Sri Lanka were smuggled in by the group, the statement added.
The ring comprised several cells. One was charged with recruiting , another organised their stay in transit countries while a third arranged the Mediterranean Sea crossing.
The gang fraudulently obtained Algerian entry visas for the in India.
Once the were in Spain, they were provided with fake passports or fake Bangladeshi police certificates stating they had no criminal records which they used to obtain Spanish residency permits.
Spain is the main entry point for seeking a better life in after Greece.
Over 7,800 have entered Spain since the start of the year, mostly by boat from Morocco, according to the ' International Organization for Migration (IOM). The vast majority were from Africa.
|-Short Attention Span Theater-|
|Bad Luck: Pope Francis Had Just Transferred All Records On Sex Abuse Scandal To Notre Dame For Safekeeping|
Pope Francis had reportedly just transferred the files to Notre Dame for safekeeping just days before the fire broke out.
"Oh well," Pope Francis said, shrugging. "How were we supposed to know it was going to burst into flames? We thought the Notre Dame cathedral would be the safest place for them."
The files were placed in the most flammable parts of the building hours before it caught fire, unfortunately. Several volunteers attempted to pull the files out of the fire, but Catholic Church officials sent them away, telling them not to risk their lives for them.
"It was a judgment call, but we care more about people's lives than the important work of bringing down sex offenders," one cardinal said. "Tough choice, but what are you gonna do."
At publishing time, the Pope had confirmed that all the files were also accidentally doused with lighter fluid just before the fire hit.
|Civilian casualties and displacement expected to increase due to continued use of air strikes and heavy artillery: UN report|
|[Libya Herald] Civilian casualties and displacement is expected to increase due to the continued use of air strikes and heavy artillery the latest UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report said.|
It added that frontline and referral hospitals in and surrounding areas are receiving daily casualties, according to health sector partners. Forty-eight civilian casualties have been confirmed since the start of current hostilities, including 13 civilian deaths. Civilian casualties and displacement are expected to increase further given the continued use of air strikes and heavy artillery. According to the IOM, the report says that over 2,500 civilians fled hostilities in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of people displaced to approximately 18,250.
It adds that thousands of civilians remain stuck in conflict-affected areas in the southern outskirts of Tripoli despite having requested evacuation assistance, with only some few hundred families brought to safety. Low evacuation rates have been attributed to ongoing , reports of the indiscriminate use of weapons, and reports of deliberate targeting of ambulance vehicles. Doctors and ambulance drivers are reportedly pulling out of the rescue operations, citing the unsustainable risk they are being exposed to, the report says.
The report says that the day after a school was severely damaged as the result of an air strike, UNICEF has confirmed that, on 14 April, a Ministry of Education warehouse in Ain Zara was severely damaged by shelling. The warehouse is said to have contained over four million copies of textbooks for basic and secondary education.
It warned that humanitarians have noted with growing concern the daily occurrence of fighting ‐ particularly the use of heavy artillery and s in urban areas ‐ impacting civilian objects. The humanitarian community continues to call on all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international law to refrain from targeting educational and health facilities and personnel as well as civilian infrastructure, it added.