Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 31st 2016 Contents A35
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A boat carrying Syrians
attempting the short sea journey
from Turkey to Greece struck rocks
and capsized at dawn on Saturday,
causing at least 37 people to drown,
among them several babies and
Images of dead children on a
beach on Saturday were another
soul-searing reminder that Europe's
migrant crisis keeps destroying lives
and families by the day.
They recalled the photo of 3-
year-old Aylan Kurdi lying face
down on a Turkish beach last year.
His story put an intimate face on
the Syrian refugee crisis for people
across the world, prompting many
to finally grapple with the magni-
tude of the suffering caused by the
war in the Middle East and the
treacherous journeys many risk
seeking shelter in Europe.
By contrast, the heartbreaking
images Saturday met a muted
response, perhaps a sign that many
have grown weary of the unending
reports about the suffering of
migrants even though the number
of people dying at sea is rising.
"January has been the deadliest
month so far for drownings between
Turkey and Greece," Peter Bouck-
aert, the emergencies director at
Human Rights Watch, told The
Associated Press in an email.
"Almost every day, more drown on
this dangerous journey."
"It is deeply disturbing that after
all those solemn pledges when Aylan
Kurdi drowned, these latest drown-
ings were barely mentioned in the
media," added Bouckaert, who
played a crucial role in giving wide
circulation on Twitter to the images
of Kurdi last year. "We have chosen
to look away."
Tima Kurdi , the Kurdi's aunt,
said she is heartbroken to know that
children continue to die as her
"No parent would put their chil-
dren in that kind of situation unless
what they were escaping from was
worse," she told the AP, speaking
from a hair salon she recently
opened in Port Coquitlam, British
"The image of my nephew Alan
Kurdi was really powerful. People
started to look at the crisis. But now,
another boy and another boy and
another boy are drowned," she said.
"I wish the world would not forget
my nephew and his tragedy. We
have to stop the war or this won't
While Turkish authorities gave
the boy's first name as Aylan, his
aunt says the family prefers that it
be transliterated as Alan.
More than 250 migrants have
drowned already this month trying
to reach one of Greece's offshore
islands, entry point to the European
Union and its uncertain promise of
refuge from war and poverty.
The Turkish coast guard said
three ships, a helicopter and team
of divers searched the partially sub-
merged craft and surrounding seas
for more bodies as police on shore
placed bodies, some 10 children
among them, in black bags. AP
The main Syrian opposition delega-
tion vowed Saturday not to participate
in UN-sponsored peace talks with the
government unless their demands are
met, including lifting the siege imposed
on rebel-held areas and an end to Russ-
ian and Syrian bombardment of regions
controlled by opposition fighters.
The oppositions warned that if these
conditions are not met, there will be no
reason for the team to stay in Geneva.
The nearly five-year conflict has left
at least 250,000 people dead, forced mil-
lions to flee the country and given an
opening to the Islamic State group to
capture territory in Syria and Iraq. It has
drawn in US and Russia, as well as region-
al powers such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia
The indirect peace talks began here
Friday with a meeting between the United
Nations envoy and the Syrian government
delegation. The main opposition group,
the Higher Negotiations Committee or
HNC, boycotted that session saying it
won't take part until a set of preliminary
demands are met: releasing detainees,
ending the bombardment of civilians by
Russian and Syrian forces, and lifting
government blockades on rebel-held
The HNC later agreed to send a del-
egation to meet with UN officials, while
still insisting it would not negotiate until
their demands are met. The HNC deci-
sion to come to Geneva gave a glimmer
of hope that peace efforts in Syria might
actually get off the ground for the first
time since two earlier rounds of nego-
tiations collapsed in 2014.
He added that the HNC team will dis-
cuss these issues with UN Special Envoy
to Syria Staffan de Mistura during a meet-
ing scheduled for Sunday.
The Syrian opposition team is demand-
ing that a governing body with full exec-
utive powers rules Syria during the tran-
sitional period. They say President Bashar
Assad should not have any role during
the transitional period. AP
Turkish President Recep Tayyip
Erdogan warned Moscow yesterday
that it would be forced to "endure the
consequences" if its jets continue to
violate Turkish airspace, after Ankara
reported a new border infringement
incident by a Russian plane.
NATO-member Turkey said another
Russian warplane violated its airspace
on Friday despite several warnings - two
months after Turkey's military shot down
a Russian jet for crossing over its territory.
The past incident seriously strained the
previously close ties between the two
countries, damaging a strong economic
"We regard this infringement which
came despite all our warnings in Russian
and in English as an effort by Russia to
escalate the crisis in the region," Erdogan
told reporters before departing on a Latin
American tour. "If Russia continues the
violations of Turkey's sovereign rights,
it will be forced to endure the conse-
He did not specify what those con-
sequences might be.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman,
Major Gen Igor Konashenkov, denied
that there was any violation of Turkey's
airspace and called the Turkish state-
ments "unsubstantiated propaganda."
His statement was carried by state news
agencies Tass and RIA Novosti.
Erdogan said he attempted to reach
Russian President Vladimir Putin to dis-
cuss the issue but that the Russian leader
did not respond.
"These irresponsible steps do not help
the Russian Federation, NATO-Russia
relations or regional and global peace,"
Erdogan said. "On the contrary they are
Turkey's Foreign Ministry said the
Russian SU-34 crossed into Turkish air-
space on Friday, ignoring several warnings
in Russian and in English by Turkish
radar units. It said Ankara summoned
the Russian ambassador to the ministry
Friday evening to "strongly protest" the
violation. It was not clear where exactly
the new infringement had occurred.
NATO Secretary General Jens
Stoltenberg also called on Russia "to act
responsibly and to fully respect NATO
airspace" but also urged "calm and de-
escalation" of tensions between Moscow
"Russia must take all necessary meas-
ures to ensure that such violations do
not happen again," he said in a statement.
"NATO stands in solidarity with Turkey
and supports the territorial integrity of
our ally, Turkey." AP
The number of pregnant women in
Colombia infected with the Zika virus has
doubled in a week, officials said.
Almost 2,000 pregnant women now have
the virus, Colombia's National Health Institute
said, out of the more than 20,000 people
infected across Colombia.
The mosquito-borne virus has been linked
to babies being born with abnormally small
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has
warned Zika is "spreading explosively,"
predicting up to 4m cases this year.
On Monday, the WHO meets to decide
whether Zika should be treated as a global
Brazil has been worst affected by the
outbreak, followed by Colombia, but more
than 20 other countries have seen cases.
Jamaica and Peru reported their first
confirmed cases over the weekend, with
Peruvian President Ollanta Humala urging
calm and stressing that the patient
contracted the disease outside of the country.
But concern surrounds a surge in babies born
with microcephaly, or abnormally small heads,
from mothers infected with Zika. A link has
not been confirmed. BBC News.
A woman feeds a baby after their arrival with other refugees and migrants from the Turkish coast to the
northeastern Greek island of Lesbos, last Friday. A migration monitoring agency says deaths of refugees and
migrants crossing the Aegean Sea between Turkey and Greece are "increasing at an alarming rate" as 218
people have died in January on that eastern Mediterranean route. AP PHOTO
Dozens of refugees
drown off Greece
Tragic accident leaves 37 Syrians dead
Syria opposition demands
an end to siege
Zika virus cases double in Colombia
Turkey warns Russia over
new airspace violation
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