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Migrant Arrivals in Spain Surge

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Spain’s migrant surge may mean that it could soon top Greece for arrivals, as migrants have been arriving on the Spanish coast in dinghies, small boats and even jet-skis in the hope that they can slip in undetected.

This year, the country has seen a dramatic rise in the number of migrants arriving on its shores – effectively meaning that it may soon overtake Greece to become Europe’s second most popular migrant destination. According to the latest figure released by the Organization for Migration (IOM), so far, 8,200 migrants have arrived in Spain this year – this figure is triple the number compared with this time last year and already more that the total figure for 2016. While the number of arrivals is much lower than Italy, which has seen more than 96,400 migrants arrive by sea this year, Spain is catching up with Greece, which has had 11,713 migrants arrive.

It appears that the good weather over the past few weeks have led to a sudden increase in the number of migrants arriving in Spain. On 9 August, a dinghy carrying dozens of migrants arrived on a popular tourist beach in Zahara de los Atunes on the coast of Andalusai. Sunbathers looked on a migrants jumped out of the small craft and ran up the beach after successfully crossing the Strait of Gibraltar. They dinghy’s point of departure was not known. According to the authorities, that same day twelve migrants arrived in waters off the Spanish territory of Ceuta in northern Morocco on board jet-skis, with one man drowning before he could be rescued. On the morning of 10 August, Spanish coastguards disclosed that they had rescued ten men from sub-Saharan Africa in a rickety boat off Tarifa in southern Spain.

IOM spokesman Joel Millman has disclosed that he believes that migrants taking the long route towards Italy via the Sahara and Libya, many of whom come from West Africa, are now choosing to take the “safer” coastal route through morocco, adding that they were also using smaller crafts to cross the short but choppy sea to Spain in the hope of slipping in undetected. This tactic is in stark contrast to the many migrants arriving from Libya, who are often packed onto leak, overloaded boats, with the intention of summoning aid as quickly as possible.

According to the IOM, over 100,000 migrants reached Europe from north Africa and the Middle East from January to June, with the overwhelming majority coming by sea.

UN: Reports Suggest that North Korea Treating Foreign Detainees Inhumanely

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According to a United Nations investigator, foreign detainees in North Korea are reportedly being denied due process in court and being held in inhumane conditions.

Last month, Tomas Ojea Quintana, UN special rapporteur for human rights in North Korea, disclosed that military threats being exchanged by Washington and Pyongyang were diverting attention from the needs of ordinary North Koreans. While he welcomed the release earlier in August of Canadian pastor Hyeon Soo Lim on humanitarian grounds, after he served more than two years of a sentence of hard labour for life on charges of plotting to overthrow the regime, the UN expert noted that at least nine other foreigners – three Americans and six citizens of South Korea – remain in custody in North Korea.

In a statement issued in Geneva, Ojea Quintana disclosed, “I am concerned by reports that detainees are not receiving due legal process and are being held in inhumane conditions.” He went on to say that North Korean authorities are obliged to provide foreign detainees with access to consular support and an interpreter, “but these entitlements cannot be taken for granted, based on the information I have been receiving.” A 2014 UN report catalogued massive violations in North Korea, including large prison camps, starvation and executions, that it said should be brought tot the International Criminal Court (ICC). The landmark report, which was strongly rejected by Pyongyang, stated that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un might be personally responsible for crimes against humanity.   The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which visits detainees worldwide, does not have access to political prison camps in North Korea, which are believed to hold some 100,000 people.

Otto Warmbier, a US student held for seventeen months after being sentenced to fifteen years in hard labour for trying to steal a propaganda item from his hotel, was released in a coma in June and died within days of arriving back in the US. The circumstances of his death remain unclear.

As Tensions Rise, US States that its Not Seeking Regime Change in North Korea

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Amidst tensions over Pyongyang’s weapons programme, the United States government confirmed this month that it is not seeking a regime change in North Korea.

Rex Tillerson stated this month “we’re not your enemy,” adding that the US wanted a dialogue at some point. A Republican senator however has contradicted this statement, saying that US President Donald Trump had told him there would be a war with North Korea if its missile programme continued.

Mr Tillerson disclosed, “we do not seek a regime change, we do not seek the collapse of the regime, we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula, we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel,” referring to the border between the two Koreas, adding “we’re not your enemy, we’re not your threat but you’re presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond.” While President Trump has repeatedly criticized China, which is North Korea’s closely economy ally and which shares a land border, for not doing enough in order to stop Pyongyang’s weapons programme, Mr Tillerson took a more diplomatic approach, stating that “only the North Koreans are to blame for this situation.”   “But,” he added,” we do believe China has a special and unique relationship, because of this significant economic activity, to influence the North Koran regime in ways that no one else can.”

The statement comes after Pyongyang late last month carried out its second test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a test that was celebrated by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the latest to be conducted in defiance of a United Nations ban. Pyongyang has claimed that its latest missile could hit the US west coast.

In a separate development, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham stated that President Trump told him that there would be a military conflict between the two countries if Pyongyang continued with its aim to develop a missile programme with the US in its range. In an interview with NBC’s Today programme, Mr Graham stated, “there will be a war with North Korea over their missile programme if they continue to try to hit America with an ICBM,” adding “He (President Trump) has told me that, I believe him, and if I were China I would believe him too, and do something about it,” adding ‘if there’s going to be a war…it will be over there. If thousands die, they’re going to die over there. They’re not going to die here. And he (President Trump) has told me that to my face.”

Despite the ongoing tests, most experts believe that Pyongyang does not have the capability to miniaturise a nuclear warhead, fit it on a long-range missile, and ensure that it is protected until delivery to the target. They say that many of North Korea’s missiles cannot accurately hit targets. Others however believe that at the rate it is going, Pyongyang may overcome these challenges and develop a nuclear weapons within five to ten years that could strike the US.

New Boko Haram Faction Proving to be Deadly

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A Boko Haram faction that has ties to the so-called Islamic State (IS) group and which is responsible for the kidnapping in July of a Nigerian oil prospecting team that led to at least 37 people being killed, has proven to be a deadly force capable of carrying out highly-organized attacks.

In recent years, Nigerian government forces have focused their attentions on combatting the best-known branch of Boko Haram, with the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, leading an eight-year insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic state in northeastern Nigeria, which has killed thousands. However while Nigerian officials have claimed the capture of Shekau’s main base in the Sambisa Forest, and freed many of the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by his group in April 2014 from the town of Chibok, a rival wing has been quietly developing its capacities to carry out deadly attacks on a larger scale. Shekau’s division, which operates in the northeastern Sambisa Forest has been known to deploy girls as suicide bombers, targeting mosques, markets and bus stations in northeastern Nigeria as well as in neighbouring states, including Cameroon and Niger.

In late July, at least 37 people, including members of th team, rescuers from the military and vigilantes, were killed when security forces tried to free those being held by the Boko Haram faction that is led by Abu Musab al-Barnawi, who is trying to thwart government efforts to explore for oil in the Lake Chad Basin. The group has been assessed as being better organized the Shekau’s faction, though in recent weeks, Shekau’s faction has stepped up suicide bombings. According to a Reuters tally, since 1 June 2017, at least 113 people have been killed by its attacks. Furthermore, the combined attacks by the two wings have effectively marked a resurgence by Boko Haram, occuring months after Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari announced in December 2016 that Boko Haram’s stronghold in the Sambisa Forest had been captured.

While Shekau has been Boko Haram’s most recognizable figure, since IS named al-Barnawi as Boko Haram’s leader in August 2016, after the West African militants pledged allegiance the previous year, his Lake Chad-based faction has been rapidly moving fighters and ammunition across the porous borders of northeastern Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger. According to the head of Nigerian security firm, al-Barnawi’s IS affiliation effectively means that his wing has been able to benefit from sub-Saharan trade routes to ship weapons from lawless Libya where IS is active. A Western diplomat has also disclosed that his group has been planning a larger scale attack for some time.

Air France Expands North Korea No-Fly Zone

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This month, Air France-KLM expanded its no-fly zone over North Korea after one of is jets flew past the location where an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) splashed down ten minutes later.

Citing flight data provided by Japan, an airline spokesman disclosed that Air France’s flight 293, a Boeing 777 carrying 323 people on board and flying from Tokyo to Paris, missed North Korea’s latest ICBM as it fell to earth on 28 July by about 100 km (60 miles). The spokesman went on to say that Air France-KLM flied direct to Tokyo and Osaka and the expansion of the no-fly zone could make the flights 10 minutes to 30 minutes longer, depending on the direction.

Late last month, North Korea announced that its latest ICBM test proved its ability to strike America’s mainland. The latest test drew a sharp warning from US President Donald Trump and a rebuke from China.