Tag Archives: work in saudi arabia

Pakistani Prime Minister calls on troops to help clean up rain-stricken Karachi | Instant News


ISLAMABAD: The European Union Air Safety Agency (EASA) has suspended authorization of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) to fly to the block for six months, the airline said on Tuesday, in a major blow to the country’s flag carrier.
Separately, the safety agency said it took action because of concerns about the country’s ability to ensure compliance with international aviation standards at all times.
The suspension follows runway 262 of Pakistan’s 860 state pilots – including 141 of 434 PIAs – whose licenses are called by the aviation minister “dubious.”
“EASA has temporarily suspended PIA authorization to operate in EU member states for an effective six-month period of July 1, 2020 with the right to appeal,” the PIA said in a statement. He added that he would suspend all flights to Europe.
Confirming the move in a statement sent by e-mail, EASA was referring to a recent investigation by Pakistan that said it indicated “most” of pilot licenses were invalid.
The Pakistani pilot landed after an initial report on a PIA accident in Karachi that killed 97 people last month.
The PIA said it was in contact with EASA to take corrective action and appeal the decision, adding that it expected the suspension to be revoked “as early as possible” after action by the government and the airline.
EASA also suspended the authorization of another Pakistani airline, Vision Air International.
Vision Air International does not immediately respond to requests for comment via email.
Following the EASA decision, the British Civil Aviation Authority said it also withdrew PIA permits to operate from three airports, as required by law.
“PIA flights from Birmingham, London Heathrow and Manchester airports were suspended immediately,” a spokesman for the British authority told Reuters.
All three are the main flight destinations for airlines.
Meanwhile, Pakistani pilots and their union, the Pakistan Airline Pilots Association (PALPA), said there were differences in the list of government pilots with licenses that were considered dubious and demanded a court investigation.
PIA and private airline Air Blue also questioned the list with PIA saying 36 of its pilots were said to have retired or left the airline, while Air Blue said it no longer employs seven of the nine pilots on the list.
“It contains the names of highly educated and quality pilots who have passed all the tests,” PALPA president Chaudhry Salman told Reuters. “We want a fair and impartial resolution to this issue.”
An official at the Pakistani aviation ministry, Abdul Sattar Khokhar, said they did not have full details about the differences. “This problem is being resolved through consultation with airlines and civil aviation authorities.”

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Pakistani businesses that rely on Hajj pilgrims face a bleak future | Instant News


KARACHI: Every year before the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, hundreds of Pakistanis visit the Shaikh Rafi shop on busy MA Jinnah Road in Karachi to buy prayer mats and ihram clothes, two pieces of cloth worn by Muslims during the hajj.

But not this year. Since last month’s announcement by Saudi authorities that the pilgrimage will be limited to several thousand pilgrims living in the Kingdom, to prevent the spread of coronaviruses, Rafi has spent days cleaning dust from unsold items as he anxiously waits for customers who never arrive . .

“This has been our routine for the past few months,” said Rafi, whose shop is in the Karachi Allahwala Market.

The plan for around 2.5 million Muslims around the world was canceled when this year’s pilgrimage was dramatically lowered. In Pakistan, nearly 180,000 people canceled their trips, and its influence on the country’s hajj industry 160 billion rupees ($ 1 billion) was devastating. Rafi’s shop is only one of at least 5,000 small businesses in Karachi that have been severely affected.

“Because of the Kingdom’s decision to postpone Umrah flights and limit hajj, almost all related businesses experienced a decline in sales,” he said. “We opened our shop hoping someone would come but that day ended without customers.

Wholesaler Muhammad Rizwan said: “Under normal circumstances, ordinary people buy prayer mats and hats, before or after performing the hajj or umrah, as gifts for their relatives and friends – but since they have been locked, the industry has been completely shut down.”

Traders said it was not only the lack of sales that caused the problem, but also delayed payments.

“There has been no business for about the past five months and our payments from retailers and shop owners who have bought on credit have been put on hold,” said Muhammad Hanif Katlia, a wholesale supplier of ihram clothing. “Many shopkeepers have failed to pay (because of their bills) and have not paid rent, and many have fled without paying what is due.”

Some factories that produce goods for the Hajj and Umrah industries have been forced to close down completely, work costs, while others have switched to producing other goods.

“Production has been stopped for the past five months and we have laid off workers,” said Jannat Gul, whose business produces ihram clothing and other hajj-related products. “There is no buying and selling, and borrowers have not paid back what they owe since Umrah was suspended because of a coronavirus.”

This year is the first time in the modern era that pilgrims from other countries are not permitted to enter Mecca. According to Pakistan’s Ministry of Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, which oversees the country’s hajj arrangements, 179,210 Pakistanis have registered to attend this year: 71,684 with private tour operators and 107,526 through cheaper packages, supported by the government.

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The iconic Sea View area in Karachi to get a facelift | Instant News


KARACHI: Inspired by a project in Jeddah, a city agent in Karachi, Pakistan’s seaside metropolitan city in the Arabian Sea, plans to turn the coastal environment into a recreational area, open and free to the public, officials told Arab News.

In April last year, a member of the Clifton Cantonment Council (CBC) visited the Jeddah Waterfront resort project, part of the Jeddah Corniche, a 30-kilometer coastal resort area along the Red Sea. They held consultations with Saudi city authorities to transform the Sea View area along 2.83 kilometers of Karachi into a more friendly space, where visitors can enjoy modern facilities.

“There will be no walls. This will be a truly open space, accessible to all, “CBC spokeswoman Amir Ali told Arab News, adding that entry will be free.

“The beach that we have currently doesn’t offer much to visitors who come here from all over Pakistan or abroad. CBC authorities realized that we had to have the best beach, complete with all the necessary facilities. ”

He added: “This is a non-commercial project built with limited resources, but will offer maximum recreation.”

The provincial government in Sindh says Karachi’s modernization and beauty are part of the main goal of revitalizing Pakistan’s largest city and economic power, which has long been disrupted by traffic congestion, poor infrastructure and road transportation, lack of water and electricity, and rampant crime. But politicization by local parties and disputes between various levels of government have long hampered Karachi’s growth for decades and continued to hold back development.

In this context, the resort project, called “Beautifying Clifton Beach,” is not an easy task.

This project consists of two main parts. You will start at the Nishan-e-Pakistan monument and end at the Chanki Manki amusement park. It will have footpaths, jogging trails, green areas, seven restaurants built of wood, two emergency rescue rooms and four public conveniences.

The second part, starting from Chanki Manki, will end at the Village restaurant. It will have a food court, a warung, a yoga place, three guard towers, a garden, a magical park, a reading area, a playground for children, prayer facilities, and a beach deck.

According to the CBC, the project is environmentally friendly and has received a certificate from the Sindh Environment Agency.

“The project is planned taking into account environmental aspects, so that no high-rise construction will be involved,” CBC Ali said, adding that 70 percent of the area will be green, covered with grass, mangrove forests and miswak trees, with vegetation functioning as buffer between the main road and the beach. This will also help prevent sand from entering the residential area.

“Over the past decade, many countries in the world, including Saudi Arabia, have developed their beaches and turned them into good recreational areas,” he said. “We also aim to do the same thing.”

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Waves of migrants turn the Italian island into ‘barrels of gunpowder’ | Instant News


ROME: Tensions on Lampedusa, a small island in Italy in the middle of the Mediterranean, are at their peak following the arrival of more than 250 migrants from Libya in the past two days, with the island’s mayor describing the situation as an “explosion”.

The latest group of migrants landed on small ships on Saturday, placing further strain on the overcrowded Lampedusa holding center.

A wave of more than 1,000 migrants has reached the island from Libya in the past three days.

“The current situation cannot be managed. This is an emergency, “Salvatore Martello, mayor of Lampedusa, told Arab News.

“If the government does not declare a state of emergency, I will do it,” he said.

The migrants were rescued at sea or managed to avoid detection by Italian and Libyan coast guards.

All arrivals – some traveling by boat carrying only six to eight people – are sent to the island’s shelter, known as a “hotspot.”

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READ MORE: Videos of the abuse of Italian police against Tunisian migrants went viral

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Designed to accommodate around 100 people, this facility now holds 10 times that amount.

Local officials on Saturday ordered an emergency transfer of around 300 migrants to another center in Sicily.

“Hotspots can no longer welcome migrants,” Martello said. “Responsibility for this emergency should not fall with the mayor, the city government and the people who live on the island.”

He said: “It seems impossible to stop this wave. We have moved a number of migrants to Sicily, but by the time they left the island, more were coming, so the hotspots remained crowded.

“Today there is no planned transfer to Porto Empedocle (in Sicily), but five boats have arrived from Tunisia.”

Lampedusa is about 100 km from the coast of Tunisia.

Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese is expected to go to Tunis on Monday to hold talks with Tunisian authorities on a joint strategy to prevent migrants from leaving the country for Italy.

“The Tunisian government must do something, they must work together to stop this wave. Italy cannot be left alone, “Anna Maria Bernini, a Forza Italia senator, told Arab news.

“We understand that people want to escape from Libya where there is no peace, but Tunisia is safe as far as we know. So they have to do something fast, otherwise Lampedusa will explode,” he said.

The Tunisian Institute of Statistics said it would collect data until March 2021 to help determine the country’s migration policy.

Meanwhile, the Italian foreign ministry has allocated funds to support the International Organization for Migration in Tunisia, which helps the voluntary return of migrants.

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Pop-up shops, textile companies are moving to the bustling Pakistan mask market | Instant News


ISLAMABAD: A 103-year-old man has recovered from COVID-19 in Pakistan to become one of the oldest survivors of the disease in the world, beating the odds in a country with a weak health care system, relatives and doctors said.
Aziz Abdul Alim, a resident of a village in the northern Chitral mountainous district, was released last week from the emergency response center after being tested positive in early July.
“We are worried about him considering his age, but he is not at all worried,” Alim’s son Sohail Ahmed told Reuters by telephone from his village, close to Pakistan’s borders with China and Afghanistan.
Ahmed quoted his father as saying that he had been through many things in life and the corona virus did not scare him. But he, does not like being in isolation.
A carpenter until his 70s, Alim has outlived three wives and nine sons and daughters, said Ahmed, himself in his 50s, adding that his father had separated from his fourth wife and is currently married to his fifth daughter. .
Alim must also be given moral and psychological support during his isolation and treatment, said Dr. Sardar Nawaz, a senior medical officer at the Aga Khan Health Services emergency center, told Reuters on Friday.
The emergency center was set up in the women’s dormitory only a few weeks before Alim was brought in and was the only one equipped to deal with COVID-19 patients remotely.
Pakistan has registered more than 270,000 cases of illness and 5,763 deaths. While the number of people who tested positive has declined over the past month, government officials fear there will be another increase during the Muslim religious festival Eid al-Adha, which falls on August 1.

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Crime gangs ‘exploit’ African farm workers in Italy: human rights report | Instant News


ROME: Long-standing exploitation of migrant farm workers by crime gangs in southern Italy has increased due to a coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), claims a medical human rights group.

Workers, mostly from Tunisia, Morocco and central Africa continue to be mistreated in Piana in Gioia Tauro, in the Calabria region, said a report by the NGO Doctor for Human Rights (MEDU).

Entitled “Pandemic Rosarno,” the study accused Ndrangheta of organizing crime syndicates behind “constant exploitation” of migrants and widespread illegal practices in one of the poorest areas in Italy where foreign farm workers rebelled more than a decade ago.

The report highlights that the lack of inspections and effective measures against illegal work practices, and weak legal protection, have worsened the living and working conditions of agricultural workers and damaged their physical and mental health.

“Then, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation intolerable for migrants who come to work here mostly from Tunisia, Morocco and Central Africa,” the report said.

MEDU has operated a mobile clinic in Calabria for seven years during the citrus harvest season, providing basic medical assistance and orientation to workers’ rights to around 2,000 farm laborers in slums scattered among the cities of Rosarno, San Ferdinando, Drosi, and Taurianova.

The report analyzes the period before the COVID-19 outbreak and the ongoing situation shows that the virus pandemic has exacerbated the exclusion, marginalization, and exploitation of migrant farm workers in the area.

The MEDU team highlights poor living, working and hygiene conditions including lack of electricity and toilet / washing facilities, no drinking water or heating in slum cities, inhuman working conditions, and poor diets.

He noted that 90 percent of those assisted by MEDU have a residence permit: Two-thirds are asylum seekers or have been given international protection or other forms of protection, while 25 percent are trying to renew or change their official humanitarian protection status.

“This has been a quite difficult process after the Italian government left only a few possible regularization arrangements for many workers who did not meet the requirements for the conversion of residence permits to work permits due to widespread contractual deviations in Italy (called gray). work), “the report added.

“This situation ends with many migrants becoming like Ndrangheta slaves,” Giulia Anita Bari, a MEDU doctor and report coordinator, told Arab News.

“Migrants have no protection and no rights, so they end up in the hands of the masses. Criminals treat migrants in a very inhumane way, they pay them almost without fees. They treat them like slaves. That is inconceivable.

“Local and national politicians do not want to see this situation, while direct long-term action against the exploitation of farm workers and the ghetto and promoting legality must be taken immediately,” he said.

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Arab Games brings together game pioneers | Instant News


RIYADH: Game developers, artists, fans and industry leaders have taken part in a series of online and panel talks about life in the gaming industry.

The two-day Arab Games inaugural conference on the weekend was organized by five industry leaders across the region: Joseph Azzam, Carl Farra and Iyad El-Hout, organizers of the LebGameDev community; Mohamed Bouabidi, from Tunisia’s Black Dune Studio and Hussem Ben Amor, treasurer of Global Game Jam Inc. and manager of business development of Nuked Cockroach Studio Tunisia.
Speakers and panelists included Tariq Mukhttar, game development manager at Manga Productions of Saudi Arabia; Seifeddine Ben Hamouda, CEO of Newgen Studio Tunisia; Nourhan ElShereif, senior game developer in the Egyptian studio, Instinct Games.
The panel included a discussion about getting the first jobs in the industry and women in the game, which was hosted by Lynn Charafeddine, a former Arab editorial head at IGN Middle East.
Tariq Mukhtar, who hosted an instructional workshop on the Unity game engine, told Arab News about the importance of the event in the continued success of the industry in the region. He also praised local game developers for their efforts in expanding the industry.
“I really appreciate fellow Arab game developers who continue to initiate, encourage, develop and organize events in our region. “This event helped foster a sense of solidarity and community throughout the Arab world,” he said.
He also talked about the importance of the Kingdom to the MENA game market.
“Saudi Arabia is a very important country in the regional video game market, and as a Saudi I have a sense of obligation to support and contribute to the Arab Games 2020 Conference.
It is also an honor to represent my country in this conference. Saudi Arabia is a collection of talents who are itching to contribute to the game development scene in the MENA region and help see it rise to the global stage, “he said.
Charafeddine, whose panel is scheduled for the second day of the conference, told Arab News that he was waiting for the future of the Arab Olympics.
“I hope this conference grows every year and more Arabs contribute to this industry which we love very much,” he said.
Malek Teffaha, head of communication and localization at Ubisoft MENA, was one of the panelists of the event. He said initiatives such as the Arab Games are doing many things to highlight the untapped potential in the region in the form of developers and consumers.
“The localization of the Arab game has become the foundation for opening markets here and it is beneficial to see its impact on all players alike,” he said.
In a joint statement to Arab News, the committee spoke about the reasons behind the event and what they hoped to achieve through the conference.
“All the Arab Game organizers are managing their local game developer community and that is the spirit that we inadvertently pursued. After encouraging local initiatives, we want to collaborate with our neighboring countries, where the game developer scene is still in its infancy and we face some of the same challenges, “the statement read.

The creators say they want to focus on community development, Arab technical content and industry exposure.
“This idea has been piling up in our minds for a while now, however, doing such an event can be expensive, but with the current situation and with everything going online, we decided to do it,” the team said.
They added that most conferences in the region tended to ignore the importance of technical talks, especially in Arabic.
“Business and networking are two important aspects, but also improve the developer’s skills.
“There is a lot of technical content online, but for some people, language is a barrier to entry and we want to reduce that. Not to mention, technical talks are even harder to follow when you’re not a fluent English speaker. “Arabic is the language that unites large areas, and that is why we named our program Arab Games,” they said.
The event also hopes to help game developers avoid the challenges of working in an area where the industry is still developing and most developers learn on their own without resources or opportunities for formal education. By connecting game developers and creating communities, the industry will grow organically, organizers say.
“It is also important for us to involve regional studios, as well as show people games so they can help each other. The key to making a successful game is a team and we want to help developers shape them or be hired by helping to understand what the studio is looking for, and where they should direct their focus, “they said.

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The killing of students has impacted Italy’s relations with Egypt, the minister said | Instant News


AL-MUKALLA: Yemeni coast guards in the Red Sea have seized a ship loaded with three tons of ammunition, when the country increased sea patrols to intercept Iranian arms shipments to Houthi.

A local security official said a coast guard ship on Thursday stopped ships sailing in Yemeni waters near Perim Island.

Coast guards aboard found thousands of ammunition bullets in large plastic bags and uncounted AK47 assault rifles hidden inside. The official said three Yemeni crew, who came from various Red Sea coastal areas, were arrested.

“They admit that they are headed to Sudan to sell ammunition,” the official, who prefers to remain anonymous, told Arab News on Saturday.

He said the three Yemenis were part of a large network involved in arms smuggling from various countries, including Iran, to Yemen and other places. The official did not say whether the confiscated ammunition and rifles were sent from Iran. “Investigations are still ongoing,” he added.

In June, coast guards in the Red Sea seized a small boat filled with dozens of pistols and thousands of bullets. Also that month, five people were arrested after they were found hiding 40 kilograms of cocaine on their ship and headed to areas controlled by Houthis.

The Yemeni coast guard authority that was destroyed during the Houthi invasion of the country’s coastline in early 2015 was later rebuilt by a Saudi-led coalition. Hundreds of troops, trained inside and outside Yemen, were deployed on fast armed ships along the country’s long coastline in the Red Sea and Arabian Sea.

For the first time since the start of the war, Yemen has succeeded in repelling the invasion of Eritrean ships and intercepting many shipments of weapons and drugs.

“We succeeded because everyone supported us including the Saudi-led coalition, the National Resistance and others. We now have 150 ships, “the officer said, boasting about their achievements.

The Saudi-led coalition and the internationally recognized Yemeni government accuse the Iranian regime of sending sophisticated weapons to the Houthis who are supplying their weapons back drained by heavy fighting and aerial bombing.

In June, the Saudi-led coalition announced the seizure of two Iranian arms shipments to Houthi.

In a separate development, the Saudi ambassador to Yemen, Mohammed Al-Jaber, said that the separatist South Transitional Council (STC) had returned the money confiscated to the central bank in Aden after the government agreed to pay military and security forces following the success of Saudi mediation.

“Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts, through direct meetings between the Government of Yemen and the STC, to resolve the issue of CBY funds and payment of salaries and implement the Riyadh Agreement, have been successful because of the consensus between the two parties regarding alleviation of suffering in Yemen,” Al-Jaber tweeted on Friday.

Government officials and the STC were involved in extensive talks in Riyadh, brokered by Saudi Arabia, to discuss ending hostilities in southern Yemen and enacting the Riyadh Treaty.

In northern Yemen, the Defense Ministry said that government forces, supported by coalition fighters led by the Saudis, were attacking Houthis in Qania in the central province of Al-Bayda.

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Germany plays peace in a dispute between Greece and Turkey | Instant News


Germany plays peace in a dispute between Greece and Turkey

Migrants and refugees are waiting to board ships in the port of Mytilene in Greece. The entry of Syrian refugees into Greece after Turkey opened its doors to Europe along its border has been a major disturbance between the two countries. (Photo: Getty Images / AFP)

NATO allies Turkey and Greece are at odds over deep-rooted issues that affect their domestic and international agenda. The conflict in the Middle East has made things even more complicated for the two countries, in such a way that other countries act as mediators.
Germany, an unofficial leader in talks between Turkey and European countries, appears to have assumed the role of peacemaker during the latest tensions. Can Berlin break the ice between two neighbors – or at least cool the rising temperatures in the hot waters of the Eastern Mediterranean?
Recent reports in Turkish and Greek media revealed that officials from Turkey, Greece and Germany took part in an unknown meeting in Berlin last Monday, ahead of the session of the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC).
Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported the meeting, citing confirmation from Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. The Greek newspaper Kathimerini said it had been mediated by Germany as part of an effort to continue to open channels of communication between Athens and Ankara.
There is no official confirmation of when the meeting will take place, but reports say the meeting was held earlier, and most likely on the same day as the FAC meeting, which was called to discuss deteriorating relations between the EU and Ankara.
Berlin reportedly invited Ibrahim Kalin, adviser to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to a meeting with Eleni Sourani, diplomacy adviser to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and foreign policy adviser to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Jan Hecker.
Reports suggest this is not the first meeting mediated by Berlin between Kalin and Sourani, with the previous talks taking place on June 26. However, during an interview with Radio Skai in early July, Mitsotakis denied that Germany had mediated negotiations between Ankara and Greece, saying: “We don’t need intermediaries or referees.”
In light of this refusal, Cavusoglu’s disclosure this week from the last meeting caused an uproar in Athens because it had been kept a secret from the public and was not officially confirmed until then. The two largest opposition parties in Greece, Syriza and the Movement for Change (KINAL), are demanding an explanation from Mitsotakis. A Syriza spokesman criticized the government for keeping the meeting secret, which was revealed by the Turkish foreign minister.
Greek newspapers say Cavusoglu’s disclosures undermine Berlin’s mediation efforts and reduce their chances of proving successful.
According to German sources, the agenda for Monday’s meeting included a proposal to open preliminary talks leading to the resumption of full negotiations between Athens and Ankara which were stalled in 2016. However, the prerequisites for this included an agreement by Turkey to stop it. drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and increasing its efforts to block the flow of refugees to Europe. Kalin reportedly disagreed specifically with demands to stop drilling.

Many people in the region are increasingly asking Berlin to be more involved. Concern over the flow of Syrian refugees to Europe, in particular, has prompted Germany to take the role of this mediator in regional disputes.

Cengiz Cinema

The trilateral talks, which followed Turkey’s announcement that the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul would be converted from a museum and re-used as a mosque, signaled Berlin’s efforts to ease rising tensions and prevent further problems that might hamper his interest in the region. Germany has been involved in a number of international peace efforts in recent years, in Somalia, Colombia, Tunisia, Afghanistan and Ukraine for example. In some cases, officials prefer to adopt a more covert approach, with talks mainly conducted in private. In other countries, they practice a more general style of diplomacy, openly bringing together opposing parties and their international supporters for talks in Berlin. For example, heads of state and government – including Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President Emmanuel Macron – met in Berlin recently for talks on the situation in Libya.
In recent years, as France became increasingly involved in regional disputes, Germany was then seen as an influential European partner who could negotiate with all parties. This is why many people in the region are increasingly asking Berlin to be more involved. Concern over the flow of Syrian refugees to Europe, in particular, has prompted Germany to take the role of this mediator in regional disputes.
In the special case of Turkey and Greece, Germany’s bilateral relations with the two countries are strong and involve a number of problems that prevent Berlin from ignoring disputes. For example, despite attempts by Athens to implement Article 5 of NATO – which states that an attack on one member of the alliance is an attack on all members – against Turkey, other countries have adopted a more cautious approach because ongoing disputes are between two NATO Allies.
For this reason and many others, including the Syrian refugee crisis, Berlin prefers to tread a line of good diplomacy in an effort to avoid the risk of an influx of migrants, if Turkey decides to open its doors to Europe along its border.
In addition, Germany and several other EU members have strong economic interests to protect, including defense contracts with Turkey. For example, a German company supplies submarines to the Turkish Navy, and its first aircraft carrier is being built by a consortium that includes the Spanish company Navantia. Turkey also enjoys close relations with Italy.
In short, the combination of bilateral and regional interests provided a strong motivation for Berlin to mediate the growing dispute between Athens and Ankara.

Sinem Cengiz is a Turkish political analyst who specializes in Turkish relations with the Middle East.
Twitter: @SinemCngz

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the authors in this section are their own and do not reflect the views of Arab News

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Italy welcomes the first refugees since the border was locked | Instant News


ROME: Italy welcomes the first refugee group to arrive in the country since its borders were closed due to a pandemic.

Ten refugees – members of four families – traveled through humanitarian corridors organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a lay Catholic group dedicated to social services, together with Greek and Italian authorities.

The refugees, originally from Afghanistan and Syria, arrived from the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, a site originally intended to accommodate 3,000 refugees but now with more than 19,000 people.

“Moria is known as European hell,” Razieh Gholami, one of the refugees, told reporters after arriving in Rome four months after Italy closed its border to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The refugees living in Moria live in difficult and frightening conditions where basic rights are ignored and they have no way to return or move forward,” he said. “This difficult situation is becoming increasingly difficult with a pandemic. People are just stuck there. “

Andrea Riccardi, founder of Sant’Egidio, told Arab News: “Reception of 10 refugees today is a stimulus. At the time of confinement, other EU countries must not forget these forgotten people, who were at the gates of Europe. Lesbos is their symbol. “

The Rome-based charity will help refugees integrate into Italian society with language programs, as has been done with 57 other exiles who came to Italy via the same route. The first group arrived in April 2016, traveling on the same plane as Pope Francis when he returned to Rome from a visit to the Lesbos refugee camp.

The humanitarian corridor project offers people fleeing conflict in their country a legal and safe way to reach Europe. It aims to stop refugees who risk their lives at the hands of human smugglers and dangerous crossings in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to figures from the Community of Sant’Egidio, more than 3,000 refugees have arrived in Europe from the Middle East and Africa under the scheme. NGOs claim that all have been moved and are now living normally in several Italian cities, especially in the center and south of the country.

“I have been in a refugee camp in Greece for two years. The situation for those who live in Greece is not good, “said Gholami, who arrived in Italy with her children, Eshan Khavari, 4, and Sajad Khavari, 10, and her husband Mohammad Khavari.

Gholami, who has been known for his work in the refugee camp, gave a painting to the Sant’Egidio community a painting showing Christ sending angels from heaven to fly to the refugee camp.

“I offer this painting to angels from the Sant’Egidio community who help those who are as desperate as me,” he said.

Some refugees who were previously relocated in Italy welcomed the newcomers with a voluntary lunch at the Sant’Egidio headquarters in Trastevere in central Rome.

Among them was Syria Majid Alshakarji, 19, who escaped from the civil war in 2016. He and his family fled from Aleppo to Tunisia, but then returned to Syria and went to Turkey before finally going to Greece.

The Alshakarji family is one of three Syrian refugee families who came to Rome with Pope Francis. He has now lived in the capital for four years and studied to become a dentist.

“We have been allowed to have a new life in a new country – this is a wonderful experience,” he said.

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