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Three refugees claim the UAE funded ISIS war crimes during Syrian civil war in landmark UK court case

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Three refugees are arguing the UAE funded war crimes by ISIS terrorists in the Syrian civil war in a landmark case in British legal history.

The men, who are from Syria but are now asylum seekers in the UK, claim Arab officials financed human rights abuses in the war-torn country in 2015.

They said they saw severe torture, vicious beatings and property destruction committed by jihadists they say were armed by the Gulf state.

One claimant testified ‘the smell of corpses and death spread in my beloved town, and there was no life left in it’.

The three are pursuing legal action against the UAE through the High Court in England.

The claim would be the first of its kind as they seek to blow apart the use of the sovereign immunity defence in cases involving human rights abuses, such as torture.

If successful, it would open the floodgates for people to hold foreign state sponsors of militant and terror groups to account through UK courts.

Qatar sues UAE, Saudi, Luxembourg banks over riyal ‘manipulation’

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Doha has accused the banks of currency manipulation in the months following the start of a blockade against Qatar.

Qatar has filed lawsuits in London and New York against three banks for allegedly plotting to undermine its currency and bonds.

The cases named the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), Saudi Arabia’s Samba Bank and Luxembourg-based Banque Havilland, a statement from Qatar’s government communications office said on Monday.

FAB is the largest lender in the UAE and Samba is one of the leading banks of Saudi Arabia.

Qatar said Banque Havilland tried to weaken its currency, the riyal, by submitting what the statement called fraudulent quotes to foreign-exchange platforms in New York allegedly intended to disrupt indices and markets where significant Qatari assets and investors are located.

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The government statement did not go into details about the accusations against FAB and Samba Bank, saying only that they were “engaged in financial market manipulation”.

Later on Monday, Banque Havilland denied Qatar’s accusations, saying it had launched “an independent forensic investigation on the matter led by external legal counsel”.

“The investigation has established that the Bank did not engage in any transaction contemplated in the related articles published at the time,” the statement said.

FAB and Samba Bank are yet to comment. The extent of the damages being sought by Qatar is not clear.

Ongoing blockade

Qatar has been facing an economic and diplomatic blockade imposed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt since 2017.

Dozens dead in Pakistan as PIA plane plunges into Karachi houses

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Islamabad, Pakistan – At least 85 people have been killed after an Airbus A320 passenger airliner crashed into a residential neighbourhood while on approach to the airport in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi, officials say.

At least two male passengers of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight PK-8303 from the eastern city of Lahore to Karachi survived the crash on Friday, a health ministry spokeswoman told Al Jazeera.

There were at least 91 passengers on board the plane, according to an official passenger manifest shared with Al Jazeera by the officials.

Health ministry spokeswoman Meeran Yousuf told Al Jazeera by telephone that 85 people have died, with 53 bodies kept at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, Karachi’s largest government hospital, and 32 at Civil Hospital Karachi, another major state-run hospital.

Yousuf said the two survivors were being treated at the hospitals in Karachi, while 19 bodies have been identified so far.

At least six people who were on the ground when the airliner crashed into houses in the densely populated Model Colony area of Karachi, adjacent to the city’s international airport, were being treated for their injuries, she added.

“Our plane [an Airbus] A320 which was coming from Lahore to Karachi was on final approach,” said PIA chief Arshad Malik in a video message released after the crash.

“The last words we heard from our pilot were that there is a technical problem and he was told on final approach that he has both runways available to him to land on. But the pilot decided that he wanted to go around.”

The plane then rapidly lost altitude and crashed short of the runway into the Model Colony neighbourhood, witnesses told the local media.

Dense plumes of black smoke rose above houses in the narrow streets of the neighbourhood, with television footage showing several houses crushed from the impact of the aircraft.

COP24: Delivering Katowice climate talks like solving a 3D jigsaw says Christian Aid

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As ministers meet at the UN climate summit in Poland to discuss ramping up emissions reduction plans, Christian Aid warns the outcome will determine the success of these talks.

Mohamed Adow, Christian Aids International Climate Lead, said: “When the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015 we knew the pledges contained in it didnt add up to stopping climate change. The Paris Agreement as it stands now, only gets us to a world between 2.7 and 3.5 degrees Celsius of global warming, much higher than the agreements goal of 1.5. The process to bridge this gap is the Talanoa Dialogue which is why its such a vital part of these talks.

“No outcome here in Katowice will be acceptable without countries agreeing to review and strengthen their pledges by 2020. The recent IPCC report showed that we dont have the luxury of time, we need to start to close the gap now.

“The danger is that the Polish presidency is letting the Talanoa Dialogue turn into nothing more than a talking shop. This would be a travesty for the worlds most vulnerable people.”

“He added: “Delivering a successful outcome in Katowice is like solving a three-dimensional jigsaw. It has three parts, the Paris rulebook, finance for poor countries and renewed emissions reductions.

“Like an African stool, it doesnt work if one of the legs is missing.”

Ends

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Top Iran Security Official Says Biden Illegally Threatened Tehran

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DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – A top Iranian security official accused U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday of illegally threatening Iran by saying he may consider other options if nuclear diplomacy with Tehran fails.

“The emphasis on using ‘other options’ against [Iran] amounts to threatening another country illegally and establishes Iran’s right to reciprocate … against ‘available options’,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said on Twitter.

Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in White House talks on Friday that he was putting “diplomacy first” to try to rein in Iran’s nuclear program but that if negotiations fail, he would be prepared to turn to other unspecified options.

The U.N. atomic watchdog said in a report this month that Iran had accelerated its enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade, a move raising tensions with the West as both sides seek to resume talks on reviving Tehran’s nuclear deal.

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Fighting Corruption is Core National Security Interest, Biden Says

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WASHINGTON – The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is formally establishing the fight against corruption as a core national security interest.

Biden on Thursday issued his first national security memorandum, outlining his anti-corruption agenda.

“Corruption threatens United States national security, economic equity, global anti-poverty and development efforts, and democracy itself,” the president said in his directive. “But by effectively preventing and countering corruption and demonstrating the advantages of transparent and accountable governance, we can secure a critical advantage for the United States and other democracies.”

Biden’s memorandum is important because it serves as a formal notification from the president “that he expects all relevant federal departments and agencies to up their anti-corruption game in very specific ways,” a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call Thursday.

In part, the memo calls for combatting all forms of illicit finance in the country and with the international financial systems. It calls for American companies to report their beneficial owners to the Treasury Department and reduce offshore financial secrecy.

Treasury’s beneficial ownership registry is intended to effectively bar illicit assets from being hidden behind anonymous shell companies.

“It’s a massive undertaking,” acknowledged the senior administration official, who spoke to reporters on condition of not being named. “We have seen several instances over past years in which the proceeds of corruption have been funneled through shell companies and wound up in major metropolitan areas in the United States to offshore those ill-gotten gains. And so we’re going to be taking additional steps to make sure that that doesn’t happen in the future.”

In the action, the president calls for “corrupt individuals, transnational criminal organizations, and their facilitators” to be held accountable, including by taking criminal enforcement action against them.

The Office of the Director of National Intelligence and Central Intelligence Agency will also be involved in the anti-corruption effort, which will use “all the tools at our disposal to make sure that we identify corruption where it’s happening and take appropriate policy responses,” said a senior U.S. official.

Biden’s memo requests an interagency review to be completed within 200 days with a report and recommendations to be submitted to him for further direction and action.

“The United States will lead by example and in partnership with allies, civil society, and the private sector to fight the scourge of corruption,” said the president in a statement. “But this is a mission for the entire the world. And we must all stand in support of courageous citizens around the globe who are demanding honest, transparent governance.”

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Leading players to attend City Exchange Ria Money QIA Champions League

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The Peninsula[hhmc] [contfnewc]

Legendary players from Qatar and India will play each other as part of the inaugural ceremony of the 7th City Exchange Ria Money QIA Champions League to be held on April 5 at Doha stadium.

Around 80 guest players from India, who play for top clubs in ISL, are playing for the 12 teams in the competition. This was announced by the officials of Qatar Indian Association (QIA) at a a press conference held at the Marriott Hotel Doha.

The tournament kicked off with the initial group stage matches on March 21, with the opening match between Tea Time FC and Ansar Tea FC at the Doha Stadium. Eight group matches have been played so far, with ten more set to be played in the coming weeks.

The highlight of the inaugural ceremony will be an exhibition match featuring legendary players from Qatar and India, to mark the Qatar-India 2019 Year of Culture.

The Indian team will be led by yesteryear stars IM Vijayan, Jopaul Ancheri and Asif Saheer.

On the other side, QIA officials and Qatari authorities have confirmed that the Qatari legends will add to the glamour of QIA Champions League as official brand ambassadors of the tournament.

This years QIA Champions League tournament is being held with the support and patronage of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, and the QFA. In addition to this, QIA has partnered this year with Generation Amazing (GA), the CSR programme of the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, the organisers of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

“The QIA Champions League has earned an outstanding reputation among the Indian expatriate community since its inception in 2013 and has become a much awaited annual event. We are proud to associate with Generation Amazing and also celebrate Qatar-India Year of Culture,” Abdurrahman E P, President of QIA, said.

Safeer, QIA General Secretary, went on to explain the tournament format. This years event involves 12 participating teams, including those from Bangalore and Tamil Nadu, in addition to prominent teams from Kerala. The teams are split into 3 groups of 4 teams each.

The final is set to take place at Al Arab stadium on May 3 and organisers has promised some big surprise events on the day.

Gold is climbing and the dollar is falling

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Gold rose for the eighth session in a row, as the dollar fell, prompting investors to buy it, while palladium rose to a 17-year high.

Gold prices rose more than 3% in the past two weeks as the dollar weakened by the yellow metal. By 10:30 GMT (1330 Moscow time), spot gold rose 0.2% to $ 1285.35 an ounce, while gold increased in decades American futures futures increased by $ 2.60 to $ 1290.10 an ounce.

The dollar slipped against the euro on Wednesday. Traders said there was little news to support the rise of the euro, but some investors were poised for a possible rise in the single currency at the start of the new year, after a remarkable performance in 2017, which recorded the best annual performance against the US currency since 2003.

Despite a relative slump in the fourth quarter, gold has risen 10% this year and is heading towards its biggest annual gain since 2010.

Among other precious metals, palladium rose more than 1% to its highest level since February 2001 to $ 1069.50 an ounce, before falling to $ 1059.20 an ounce, up 0.7%.

Silver rallied 0.5% to $ 16.62 an ounce, after rising earlier in the session to $ 16.64 an ounce, its highest level since late November.

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Prolonged conflict would make Yemen the poorest country in the world, UNDP study says

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New York — Yemen will become the poorest country in the world if its conflict goes on through 2022, a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) projects.

Since 2014, war has driven poverty in Yemen from 47 percent of the population to a projected 75 percent by the end of 2019. If fighting continues through 2022, Yemen will rank as the poorest country in the world, with 79 percent of the population living under the poverty line and 65 percent classified as extremely poor, the report, Assessing the Impact of War in Yemen on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says.

The report, released Thursday and produced for UNDP by the Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver, says that in the absence of conflict Yemen could have made progress toward achieving the SDGs, the global anti-poverty framework agreed in 2015 with a target date of 2030. But more than four years of fighting has set back human development by 21 years—and Yemen would be unlikely to achieve any of the SDGs even if the war were to stop today.

“The war has already made Yemen the largest humanitarian disaster in the world, and now threatens to make its population the poorest in the world,” said UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. “UNDPs work with support from international partners and as part of the UNs overall engagement – is focused on helping Yemenis keep institutions and businesses running to ensure they have the solid footing needed to recover when peace returns.”

Using cutting-edge data modeling and open-source information, the report finds that Yemens war will have more than tripled the proportion of the population living in extreme poverty if fighting persists. It will skyrocket from 19 percent of the population in 2014 to a projected 65 percent in 2022.

The intensity of poverty has also surged, with Yemen projected by 2022 to have the largest poverty gap—the distance between average income and the poverty line—in the world.

The surge in poverty across Yemen is driven by factors attributed to war, including a breakdown of the economy that has seen US$89 billion in lost economic activity since 2015.

The conflict has disrupted markets and institutions and destroyed social and economic infrastructure, while inequalities have sharply increased. Gross domestic product per capita has plummeted from US$3,577 to US$1,950, a level not seen in Yemen since before 1960. Yemen is now ranked as the worlds second most unequal in the world in terms of income, surging past 100 other countries in inequality levels in the last five years.

The report, launched at a United Nations General Assembly side event co-hosted by Germany and UNDP, also identifies spikes in malnutrition across Yemen. Twenty-five percent of the population was malnourished in 2014, but the report estimates that this figure is now closer to 36 percent and could reach nearly 50 per cent if fighting continues through 2022. By the end of 2019, caloric intake per person will have fallen by 20 per cent from 2014 levels.

The report contains especially dire projections if the war continues for the next decade. If fighting continues through 2030, 78 percent of Yemenis will live in extreme poverty, 95 percent will be malnourished, and 84 percent of children will be stunted.

Registration gives many Rohingya refugees identification for the first time

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By Alex St-Denis in Coxs Bazar, Bangladesh | 17 May 2019

Nasima Aktar is among hundreds of thousands of stateless Rohingya — many of whom have spent a lifetime without official documentation — for whom getting an official identity card is a significant step.

“We want documents for Rohingyas. This is our document,” says Aktar, who recently received a plastic identity card bearing her basic biodata, photo and country of origin in a registration drive in Bangladesh.

There are more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees like Nasima living in crowded settlements in southeast Bangladesh of whom an estimated 741,000 have fled a violent crackdown by the Myanmar military since August 2017.

“Having an identity is a basic human right … its also an incredible step into a more dignified life.”

Despite living in Myanmar for generations they were not able to acquire formal citizenship and documentation that comes with this, leaving them stateless and deprived of basic rights.

She is now among more than a quarter of a million Rohingya refugees who have been registered in a push since June last year by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in support of the Bangladesh government, in an effort that also helps to safeguard their right to voluntarily return home to Myanmar.

“Having an identity is a basic human right,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi during a recent visit to Coxs Bazar. “And remember: many of these people, all their life, did not have a proper identification. So, for them, its also an incredible step into a more dignified life.”

To date, a total of 270,348 refugees have been registered in the settlements of Ukhia and Teknaf Upazilas. On average, over 4,000 refugees are being registered a day in the exercise, with the aim of concluding the registration of all those in the settlements late this year.

The exercise also improves the accuracy of data on refugees in Bangladesh, which will help the authorities and humanitarian partners to better understand the needs of the refugee population. It will allow them to plan and target assistance more effectively, particularly for vulnerable groups such as children, women, and those with disabilities.

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