MANHATTAN: Following a Government-led assault on Syria’s opposition-held areas, an estimated 140,000 people in the country’s south-west remain homeless and in need of help, the United Nation Refugee Agency (UNCHR) said Friday, calling for sustained access to displaced communities.
“A new scaling-up of assistance is needed and UNHCR continues to advocate for sustained access for humanitarian actors,” UNHCR spokesperson Andrej Mahecic told reporters at the regular press briefing in Geneva, explaining that the UN and other partners have reached tens of thousands.
During the first six months of this year, amid continued fighting and new displacements, nearly 13,000 refugees from neighboring countries and another 750,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are estimated to have returned to Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Rural Damascus, Damascus, south-west and north-eastern Syria.
Mahecic pointed out that the UN’s has continued to enhance its humanitarian response for IDPs, returnees, and other crisis-affected communities.
“In anticipation and recognition of this dynamic, UNHCR ramped up its capacity inside Syria already in 2017 to support refugees and internally displaced people who return spontaneously,” he stated.
In recognition of Wednesday’s announcement of a joint Syrian-Russian initiative to set up a refugee centre in Syria to help those wishing to return home, UNHCR said that while it has not yet seen any details of the plan, it is ready to engage in discussions with both Governments and prepared to work with them towards finding solutions that meet international refugee and human rights standards.
“Refugees always have a right to return,” Mahecic said, adding that they should not be pressured, rushed or prematurely pushed into leaving the countries where they have found shelter.
“UNHCR stresses that any plan that aims to enable refugees to exercise this right must be aligned with international standards“ meaning that returns must be voluntary, they need to take place in safe and dignified conditions, and need to be sustainable,” he spelled out.
Into its eighth year, the Syrian conflict continues to exact a terrible toll on the country’s civilians. Over half of the population has been forced from their homes, and many have been displaced multiple times.
Punjab: 358 newly-elected MPAs take oath!
LAHORE: As many as 358 newly-elected members sworn in during a maiden session of 17th Punjab Assembly here today.
Outgoing speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal administered the oath. Prominent among others who took oath include: Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Aleem Khan, Hamza Shehbaz, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Mian Mehmoodur Rashid, Shujaur Rehman, Ayesha Chaudhry, Chaudhry Zaheerud Din, Bilal Yasin, Nadeem Kamran, Irfan Doltana, Murad Ras, Dr Mukhtar Bharat, Hina Pervaiz Butt, Bushra Anjum Butt and Sania Ashiq.
The outgoing speaker felicitated the newly-elected members. Earlier, the first session of new assembly started at10.46 am behind its scheduled time with recitation from the Holy Quran and Naat-e-Rasool-e-Maqbool (SAWW). The members signed the roll of members in the register constituency-wise.
The outgoing speaker read out the procedure for election of speaker and deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly to be held on Thursday (August 16) at 10:30 am. The election will be through secret balloting.
The nomination papers for the slots were filed in the Punjab Assembly Secretariat. The PTI nominated Chaudhry Pervez Elahi as a speaker and Dost Muhammad Mazari as deputy speaker while PML-N nominated Chaudhry Iqbal Gujjar and Rana Ayyaz as a speaker and deputy speaker, respectively.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the majority party in Punjab Assembly has nominated Hamza Shehbaz Sharif for the slot of Punjab chief minister. Its rival, the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, yet to name its candidate for the position.
PML-N leads with 127 seats in the assembly, while PTI is a close second with 122 seats, as per the ECP’s results of 294 out of 295 total seats.
Interim Chief Minister Punjab Dr. Hassan Askari and his cabinet members attended the session and welcomed the newly- elected MPAs.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Assembly staff welcomed the newly-elected members of the assembly with bouquets on their arrival to attend the maiden session of the 17th assembly.
The PA administration had also set up help desks for the members where each member issued his assembly card before joining the oath-taking session.
Prominent leader Chaudhry Nisar did not attend the session. Strict security arrangements were made to avert any untoward incident.
On completion of day’s agenda, the Chair adjourned the session till next morning on Thursday at 10:30 am.
Indonesia expresses support for Turkey, Erdogan
JAKARTA: The Indonesian Council of Ulama on Wednesday expressed strong support for Turkey against the United States’ recent economic attacks.
Head of the council’s external affairs committee, Muhyiddin Junaidi, told Anadolu Agency that they support Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s stance against the U.S.
Stressing that the U.S. targeted Muslim countries and tried to curb Turkey’s power in the region, Junaidi said that Muslim world must use their own currency in trade among themselves against the U.S. dollar.
Junaidi praised Turkey’s economy and its commercial value and added that Turkey would overcome the U.S.’ attacks.
Turkey and the U.S. are currently experiencing rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions over the detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson, who is under house arrest in Turkey over terrorism charges.
Brunson’s charges include spying for the PKK — listed as a terrorist group by both the U.S. and Turkey — and the Fethullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), the group behind the defeated coup attempt in Turkey of July 2016.
Malik Rafique Rajwana resigns from the office of Governor Punjab
LAHORE: Punjab Governor Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana Wednesday announced to resign from the office.
Talking to media at the Lahore High Court Bar,Rajwana said he sent his resignation to President Mamnoon Hussain. He said that the party (PML-N) leadership entrusted him the responsibility which he tried to fulfill to the best of his abilities.
“Bar is my home and I have returned to it.I started my career with a black coat.Today I will wear it again”, he added.It is pertinent to mention here that Rafique Rajwana served as Governor for more than three years. He was appointed to the post in May 2015.