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California appeals court ruling overturning assault weapons ban



SACRAMENTO, California (AP) – The governor of California denounced in strictly personal terms the reversal by a federal judge of the state restrictions on assault weapons when authorities announced the presentation Thursday of a formal notice that they will appeal the decision. .

They described last week’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Roger Benítez as an outlier that conflicts with at least six other federal decisions upholding assault weapons laws in California and elsewhere, a ruling which is designed to bring the issue before a US Supreme Court.

Governor Gavin Newsom, the son of a judge, denounced Benítez as “a stone-cold ideologue. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the National Rifle Association gun lobby. ”

The state is already appealing the same judge’s 2017 ruling against a nearly two-decade state ban on the sale and purchase of magazines with more than 10 bullets, and its ruling last year that blocked a 2019 California law that requires verification. background for anyone who buys ammunition. .

“We need to call this federal judge. It will continue to hurt, take my word for it, ”Newsom said. “This is a very focused agenda to work through this judge, where the decision has already been made before even being presented, who writes ‘press releases’ on behalf of the gun lobby.”

Gun owners’ rights groups have made no secret of their effort to obtain restrictions on firearms in the nation’s highest court.

But the Firearms Policy Coalition, which led the plaintiffs who won at trial level, condemned the governor’s “outrageous and insensitive personal attacks” on the judge.

“Newsom’s verbal attacks on a respected member of the judiciary show his deep and continuing disrespect for the rule of law, the judiciary, the Constitution and the human rights of the citizens of California.” the group said.

Benitez was appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, and Newsom, a Democrat, also attacked Republicans who do not support gun restrictions.

A three-judge appeals court panel agreed with Benítez in his munitions magazine ruling, but the decision is being reconsidered by a larger appeals panel.

Attorney General Rob Bonta presented the three page appeal notice and plans to petition the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for a stay so that the current 32-year assault weapons ban remains in effect throughout the appeals process.

Benitez ruled on friday that the state definition of illegal military-style rifles violates the United States Constitution because it deprives law-abiding Californians of the weapons commonly allowed in most other states.

Critics of the ruling, including Bonta and Newsom, were particularly upset with the judge’s comparison of assault weapons to a common tool: “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination defense weapon. domestic and national defense team. Good for both home and battle, ”the judge wrote.

“The knives were not intended to kill as many people as possible,” said Mattie Scott, president of the state of Brady California, whose 24-year-old son was killed with an assault weapon in 1996.

State officials announced their appeal at San Francisco General Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center, where trauma surgeon Dr. Andre Campbell vividly described the damage that can be caused by a high-speed rifle fired from an assault weapon.

“An AR-15 is a weapon of mass destruction … used in warfare,” Campbell said. “It causes absolute devastation to the human body. It’s like a bomb exploding in the patient’s tissues. “

California first banned specific brands of guns in 1989 after a mass shooting at a Stockton elementary school killed five children and injured more than two dozen more. The state has updated the law several times since then and generally has some of the strictest firearm laws in the country.

As a result, “we have one of the lowest firearm death rates in the country,” said Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

The Firearms Policy Coalition said it will oppose any suspension of Benítez’s order. He had argued in part that assault weapons are no more deadly than some other weapons that are not prohibited by the state.

“The desire of the state to continue imposing its prohibition must not be allowed to prevail over the fundamental rights of law-abiding gun owners,” the group said.

Newsom and Bonta, both Democrats, have long supported what they call common-sense gun restrictions. The governor is likely to face a recall election this fall driven largely by his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Bonta took office in April to fill a vacancy and faces several more conservative challengers in next year’s election.

His measure was previously backed by 10 Democratic state lawmakers who said the restrictions help control gun violence.

Democrats who control the state assembly on Thursday revived for future consideration a bill that would increase taxes on the sale of weapons and ammunition.

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The invoice it requires a two-thirds vote because it would raise taxes, and it failed to gather enough votes last week. It would impose a 10% tax on the sale price of firearms and an 11% tax on the sale price of rifles, precursor parts and ammunition, using the money for armed violence prevention and recovery programs.


Associated Press writer Adam Beam contributed to this story.


Israel arrests Arab suspects in murder of Jewish man



JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli police said Sunday they arrested eight Arabs suspected of killing an Israeli Jew during a wave of ethnic violence last month.

Yigal Yehoshua, 56, died after being stoned during clashes between Arabs and Jews in the mixed city of Lod.

Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in Jerusalem clashed every night during the holy month of Ramadan in April and May over restrictions on public gatherings and attempts by settlers to evict dozens of Palestinian families. The clashes spread to a holy site in Jerusalem, sparking mob violence in Israel’s mixed cities and an 11-day war in Gaza.

In Lod and other mixed citiesGroups of Jews and Arabs fought each other and rampaged through neighborhoods, setting cars and shops ablaze, and attacking anyone on the other side who crossed their path.

Israel’s Shin Bet police and security agency said six Arab residents of Lod and two Palestinians from the West Bank were arrested on suspicion of throwing stones at Yehoshua’s car. He died of his injuries several days later, on May 17, and his kidney was donated to an Arab woman.

Israeli prosecutors plan to charge seven of the murder suspects.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett congratulated the security forces. “Every enemy and terrorist who tries to harm us must know: the state of Israel will lay its hands on all evildoers sooner or later and bring them to justice,” he said in a statement.

Arab citizens of Israel make up about 20% of the population. They have citizenship and the right to vote but face widespread discrimination. They have close family ties to the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza and strongly identify with their cause, leading many Israeli Jews to view them with suspicion.

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Afghan Sons of Norway | Close up



A Norwegian mother creates a home for frightened Afghan children who arrive alone seeking safety.

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Israel orders investigation into deadly Mount Meron stampede | Middle East News



The April stampede killed 45 people at a Jewish pilgrimage site long considered dangerous by authorities.

Israel’s new government approved an official investigation into a stampede in April that killed 45 people and injured dozens at a Jewish pilgrimage site long considered dangerously crowded by authorities.

Although it was the worst civil disaster in the country, a large-scale investigation into the Mount Meron deaths lagged behind under the previous government amid a dispute between its ultra-Orthodox Jews and opposition politicians.

“The responsibility to learn the lessons and prevent the next disaster is on our shoulders,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said at his first cabinet meeting on Sunday.

“A commission cannot bring back those who have passed away, but the government can do everything possible to avoid unnecessary loss of life in the future.”

A cabinet statement said the investigation’s findings would help safeguard other mass attendance events in Israel, which has sites sacred to Islam and Christianity, as well as Judaism.

Authorities deemed the Mount Meron site dangerous years ago. [File: Reuters]

Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews flocked to the Galilean hillside tomb of 2nd century wise Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on April 30 for the annual Lag B’Omer festival that includes all-night prayer, mystical songs and dancing .

This year’s figures were lower than in previous years, but still beyond those allowed by COVID-19 sidewalks.

Some Israelis questioned whether Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous government and the police were reluctant to further limit the size of the crowd due to pressure from influential ultra-Orthodox leaders.

During the ceremony, part of the crowd entered a narrow tunnel and the 45 men and boys were suffocated or trampled.

Police are already conducting an investigation and Israel’s government watchdog, which years ago deemed the Mount Meron site dangerous, has announced its own investigation, although it cannot press criminal charges.

Netanyahu had promised a thorough investigation, but his cabinet, which included ultra-Orthodox Jewish ministers, never took formal action and major hostilities between Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza erupted less than two weeks later.

Bennett is a religious observer, but his broad coalition does not include ultra-Orthodox parties. In his cabinet statements, he said that Meron attracts Jews “from all walks of life,” an allusion to denominations other than the ultra-Orthodox.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who pushed for the investigation to be carried out, said its findings would carry “heavy weight” and could not be ignored.

The commission of inquiry, headed by a judge, will have a budget of 6 million shekels ($ 1.8 million), the government said.

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Jordan’s unprecedented palace drama moves to the courtroom



AMMAN, Jordan (AP) – Jordan’s version of a century-old trial begins this week when a relative of King Abdullah II and a former head of the royal court are brought into the defendants’ cage at the state security court. to face charges. of sedition and incitement.

They are accused of conspiring with a member of the greater royalty, Prince Hamzah, the king’s half-brother, to foment riots against the monarch while requesting foreign aid.

The palace drama broke out in the open air in early April, when Hamzah was placed under house arrest. Since then, he has broken taboos in Jordan and sparked nervousness in foreign capitals, with Western powers backing Abdullah, an indispensable ally in an unstable region.

The case exposed rivalries in Jordan’s traditionally low-key Hashemite dynasty and generated unprecedented public criticism against the monarch. The defendants are the top figures in the establishment who appeared before the security court, which generally goes after drug offenders or suspected militants.

“As far as I know, there has not been such a big case in Jordan’s history,” said defense attorney Ala Khasawneh. He said the trial could start on Monday.

Hamzah, 41, is the central figure, although he does not face charges. In conflicting narratives, he is a defender of ordinary Jordanians suffering from economic mismanagement and corruption, or a disgruntled royal who never forgave Abdullah for stripping him of his crown prince title in 2004 in favor of the king’s eldest son.

The indictment, leaked to state-linked media, alleges that Hamzah “was determined to achieve his personal ambition” to become king. It says the prince and the defendants, Sharif Hassan bin Zaid, a royal, and Bassem Awadallah, a former royal adviser, conspired to generate discontent.

Security agencies began monitoring them in mid-March, at a time of public uproar over an oxygen cut at a hospital in Salt City that killed eight coronavirus patients.

Hamzah met with grieving families shortly after the king visited Salt. The indictment alleged that the prince “took advantage” of the families’ pain to spread a populist message.

Hamzah’s popularity stems from the ties he has forged with the tribes of Jordan, the base of the Hashemite government. Atef Majali, a tribal leader in the city of Karak, said that he and other sheikhs have met with the prince more than a dozen times over the years, but denied that the king has been criticized for these events.

The indictment alleged that Hamzah and the two defendants were working on the social media messages that the prince was going to post, with the aim of “inciting some groups in society against the ruling system and state agencies.”

Hamzah has denied the sedition allegations, saying he is being punished for exposing corruption and mismanagement.

On April 3, the day he was placed under house arrest, more than a dozen tribal and public figures were arrested, including his top aide. Only Awadallah and bin Zaid remain in detention.

The prince has no legal problems, and the king says the matter is being resolved by the family and that his half brother remains in his care. The royal court has declined to comment when asked if Hamzah can leave his Amman palace or communicate with others. Atef Majali said that Hamzah’s staff were not allowed to return to work.

Khasawneh, who represents bin Zaid, a distant cousin of the king, said his client is “in shock” and plans to plead not guilty. In addition to sedition and incitement, Bin Zaid is also charged with possession of narcotics after two pieces of hashish were allegedly found in his home.

The lawyer said he plans to call Hamzah to the stand, potentially amplifying the sensational nature of the trial. It is unclear whether the palace, eager to quell the crisis, would allow the prince to make his case on such a public stage.

Khasawneh said his client plans to fight the charges and dismissed questions about a possible plea deal. During the trials in the security courts, the defendants stood in a cage in the courtroom. Awadallah and bin Zaid are also expected to be confined in the cage, wearing the detainees’ blue uniforms, said former head of the state security court Mohammad al-Afeef, who represents Awadallah. The defendants, who are being held in an intelligence compound in Amman, face up to 20 years in prison.

In the days leading up to the trial, a broader narrative has emerged, although it is only mentioned in the indictment.

In this version, the alleged conspirators sought foreign help to exploit the king’s perceived vulnerability at a time when he was under pressure from the United States and Saudi Arabia to agree to a Middle East plan of the now-defunct Trump administration often referred to as the deal of the century. Jordan has expressed concern that the plan will weaken the monarch’s historic role as guardian of the Al Aqsa Mosque, an important shrine in disputed Jerusalem and a pillar of Hashemite claims of legitimacy.

Accusations of overseas disclosure center on Awadallah, who has Jordanian, American and Saudi citizenship, once served as the king’s official envoy to Saudi Arabia and has close ties to Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. .

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In Jordan, Awadallah has been widely accused of economic policies that are seen to primarily benefit the wealthy and has been prosecuted on suspicions of corruption. In Riyadh, he had been visibly involved in efforts to attract foreign investment.

The indictment alleges that Hamzah and bin Zaid invited Awadallah to join them because of his ties to abroad. At one point, Hamzah allegedly asked Awadallah: “If something happened to me in Jordan, will Saudi officials help me or not?”

Saudi Arabia, a major financial backer of Jordan, immediately sent its foreign minister to the kingdom after the crisis broke out, publicly reaffirming its support for the king.

Mohammed Momani, a member of the Jordanian Senate and former Minister of Information, argued that there was a link between the alleged sedition plot and regional politics.

“When he sees that Jordan is under pressure from his main allies because of the Deal of the Century, then he probably saw this as an opening or as a possibility or opportunity to request some support from the outside world,” alleged Momani, who said he was briefed on the investigation.

Momani alleged that bin Zaid had approached a foreign embassy, ​​”trying to ask them for their reaction” if the alleged conspirators implemented their plan. He did not identify the embassy.

Jordanian officials have said the alleged plot was discovered in time, but posed a threat to stability.

Critics said claims of a threat appear exaggerated, noting that any plot would have required the backing of security forces.

“I can’t find any evidence that leads to this kind of trial,” said political analyst Amer Sabaileh. He and Momani are among 92 members of a political reform committee formed by the king to deal with the crisis.

Sabaileh said the saga may have caused lasting damage.

“It has opened the door for the Hashemites for ordinary people to look inward, and I think this is not good regardless of how it happened,” he said. “It is better for this family to be together and not show that there is this kind of competition or sense of revenge.”


Associated Press writers Omar Akour in Amman and Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates contributed.

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AP Interview: Former President Says US Failed in Afghanistan



KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The former president of Afghanistan said Sunday that the United States came to his country to fight extremism and bring stability to his war-tortured nation and that he will leave nearly 20 years after failing both. .

In an interview with The Associated Press just weeks before the last US and NATO troops left Afghanistan, ending their “eternal war,” Hamid Karzai said that extremism is at a “peak” and that troops that leave are leaving behind a disaster.

“The international community came here 20 years ago with this clear goal of fighting extremism and bringing stability … but extremism is at an all-time high today. So they have failed, ”he said.

His legacy is a war-torn nation in “utter disgrace and disaster.”

“We acknowledge all our failures as Afghans, but what about the greater forces and powers that came here for exactly that purpose? Where do they leave us now? “He asked and replied,” In total disgrace and disaster. “

Still, Karzai, who had a troubled relationship with the United States during his 13-year tenure, wanted the troops to leave, saying the Afghans were united behind an overwhelming desire for peace and now needed to take responsibility for their future. .

“We will be better off without their military presence,” he said. “I think we should defend our own country and take care of our own lives. … His presence (has given us) what we have now. … We do not want to continue with this misery and indignity that we face. It is better for Afghanistan that they leave. “

The Karzai government followed the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001 by a US-led coalition that launched its invasion to hunt down and destroy the Al Qaeda network and its leader, Osama bin Laden, accused of the September 11 attacks on the United States. .

During the Karzai government, women re-emerged, girls again attended school, a young and vibrant civil society emerged, new skyscrapers were erected in the capital Kabul, and roads and infrastructure were built. But his administration was also characterized by accusations of widespread corruption, a burgeoning drug trade, and in recent years relentless disputes with Washington that continue to this day.

“The (US / NATO military) campaign was not against extremism or terrorism, the campaign was more against Afghan villages and hopes; put Afghans in prisons, create prisons in our own country … and bomb every village. That was very bad. “

In April, when President Joe Biden announced the final withdrawal of the remaining 2,500-3,500 soldiers, he said the United States was leaving having achieved its objectives. Al-Qaeda had declined enormously and bin Laden was dead. The United States no longer needed boots on the ground to fight terror threats that could emanate from Afghanistan, he said.

Still, America’s attempts to bring about a political end to decades of war have been elusive. It signed an agreement with the Taliban in February 2020 to withdraw its troops in exchange for a promise from the Taliban to denounce terrorist groups and prevent Afghanistan from being the scene of attacks against the United States again.

There is little evidence that the Taliban are honoring their end of the bargain. The United Nations claims that the Taliban and al-Qaida are still linked. The architect of the US agreement and current US peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, says some progress has been made, but without offering details.

Karzai has spoken harshly and uncompromisingly criticized America’s tactics of war for the past two decades in Afghanistan. Yet it has become something of a linchpin in a joint effort being launched by the United States and Britain to get Kabul’s rowdy Afghan leaders together enough to talk peace with the Taliban. The insurgent group has shown little interest in negotiating and has instead intensified its attacks on government positions.

The Taliban have made considerable progress since the May 1 start of the US and NATO withdrawal. They have invaded dozens of districts, often negotiating their surrender with Afghan national security forces.

But in many cases the fighting has been intense. Last week, a brutal Taliban assault in the northern province of Faryab killed 22 of Afghanistan’s elite commandos, led by a local hero, Colonel Sohrab Azimi, who was also killed and greatly lamented.

“The desire of the Afghan people, overwhelmingly, throughout the country is peace,” said Karzai, who despite being out of power since 2014 has lost little political influence and is often at the center of the country’s political machinations. .

Diplomats, Western officials, generals, tribal elders and politicians from all ends of Afghanistan’s political spectrum regularly make their way to the Karzai gate in the heart of the Afghan capital.

Given that the final military withdrawal is already more than 50% complete, the need for a political settlement or even a visible path to a final settlement seems to be taking on greater urgency even as thousands of Afghans seek a way out. They say they are frustrated by relentless corruption, marauding criminal gangs, some linked to powerful warlords in Kabul, and worsening insecurity and few see a future that is not violent.

Karzai had a message for both parties to the conflict: “The two Afghan parties, neither of them should be fighting. “While accusing both Pakistan, where the Taliban leadership is based, and the United States of stoking the fighting, Karzai said it is up to the Afghans to end decades of war.

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“The only answer is for the Afghans to unite. … We must recognize that this is our country and we must stop killing ourselves. “


Follow Kathy Gannon on Twitter at

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Visualizing 70 Years of Refugee Travel | Human rights news



When we entered 2021, there were 82.4 million people around the world displaced by conflict or persecution.

Thirty million of them are refugees, the rest are internally displaced (48 million) or asylum seekers (4.1 million), according to the latest UNHCR report. report. Almost half of these forcibly displaced people are children.

55 percent of the refugees come from three countries: Syria, Palestine and Venezuela.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, “everything else stopped, including economies, but wars, conflicts, violence, discrimination and persecution, all the factors that pushed these people to flee, have continued”, UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said.

Refugee travel during 2020

In 2020, 1.27 million people from 64 countries became refugees. The infographic below shows the desperate journeys these people made despite the additional challenges brought on by COVID-19.

Africa accounts for more than a third of the world’s displaced people. By the end of 2020, at least 30.6 million people were displaced across the continent.

In 2020, about 60,000 refugees fled Ethiopia to neighboring countries following violence in various parts of the East African country. In November 2020, fighting broke out in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, displacing more than a million people. according to the International Organization for Migration.

In the Middle East, Syrian refugees continued to flee their country’s 10-year war, with nearly 134,000 recorded leaving in 2020. Half of them (65,000) fled to neighboring Turkey, which is now home to the community of largest refugees in the world: 3.7 a million people. That same year, almost a quarter of Syrian refugees (32,500) arrived in Germany.

In Latin America, about 400,000 refugees fled Venezuela after a political and economic crisis in the country. Of these, 139,000 were registered fleeing to Peru, 80,000 to the Dominican Republic and 60,000 to Brazil.

In Asia, the UN registered at least 29,000 refugees from Myanmar. Almost all of these refugees reached neighboring India (17,000) and Bangladesh (12,000).

In Europe, at least 89,000 refugees fled from Azerbaijan to Armenia after 44 days of fighting that broke out between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

On the other side of the Atlantic, during 2020, the United States received 8,500 refugees from 20 countries. Almost half of these refugees came from just three countries: Venezuela (1,600), El Salvador (1,200) and Guatemala (1,100). This is significantly lower than in 2019 when the country received 32,000 refugees.

Canada received 7,500 refugees from 21 countries in 2020. The main countries of origin were Nigeria (1,400), Iran (1,200) and Hungary (629). On the other side of the world, Australia received only 956 refugees in 2020, mostly from Iran.

Where are the largest refugee camps?

Refugee camps are intended as a temporary safe haven to meet the basic needs of refugees. However, many people end up living in these camps for decades. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Kenya: “Many displaced people spend more than 16 years living as refugees in temporary shelters.”

The infographic below highlights some of the largest refugee camps in the world.

The Kutupalong Camp In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, it is the largest refugee camp in the world. It was established informally in the early 1990s after Myanmar’s Rohingya minority began fleeing various repressions against them in Rakhine State.

In 2017, brutal crackdown targets across the state and the camp had to be significantly expanded, reaching a capacity of approximately 800,000 people.

On March 22, 2021, a major fire engulfed a neighboring refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar. Fifteen people died and tens of thousands were left without their homes and belongings.

Smoke rises from a fire in the Rohingya refugee camp in Balukhali. It destroyed hundreds of shelters and left thousands homeless. March 22, 2021 [Shafiqur Rahman/AP Photo]

The Dadaab Refugee Complex Kenya comprises three large refugee camps – Hagadera, Dagahaley and Ifo – and hosts more than 200,000 refugees near the border with Somalia. Dadaab was established in 1991 after the civil war in Somalia and expanded in 2011 after widespread drought and famine.

The Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya it is home to at least 150,000 refugees, mostly from South Sudan and Somalia. The camp was established in 1992 after the arrival of thousands of Sudanese children fleeing the civil war.

In March 2021, the Kenyan government announced that it would close the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps by June 30, 2022.

Kenya said in March that it planned to close two refugee camps housing more than 400,000 people. [Tony Karumba/ AFP]

The Zaatari refugee camp was established in Jordan in 2012 to host Syrian refugees. Today, it is the largest Syrian refugee camp in the world. The world’s first COVID-19 vaccination center in a refugee camp opened there in February 2021.

70 years of refugee travel

In 1951, the UN established the 1951 Refugee Convention, created to protect the rights of refugees in Europe after World War II. In 1967, the convention was expanded to address displacement in the rest of the world.

The infographic below highlights 70 years of refugee travel, from 1951 to 2020. The number of refugees has more than doubled over the past decade, from 15 million in 2011 to 30 million in 2020.

The plight of the Palestinian refugees is the world’s longest unsolved refugee problem. On May 14, 1948, the British mandate for Palestine expired, triggering the first Arab-Israeli war. The Zionist militias expelled at least 750,000 Palestinians. According to figures compiled by UNHCR, in 1952 the number of Palestinian refugees was 867,000. Today, that number is 5.7 million.

Afghanistan has been devastated by four decades of war. From 1979 to 1989, the country was the scene of one of the last battles of the Cold War, when Soviet troops waged a bloody guerrilla war against the Afghan mujahideen. Over the next decade, the county kept fighting. Only 12 years after the Soviet withdrawal, Afghanistan would be invaded again, this time by the United States. The largest number of Afghan refugees was registered in 1990, where 6.3 million refugees were reported.

Which countries host the most refugees today?

At 6.7 million people, Syrians are the largest refugee population today, followed by Palestinians (5.7 million) and Venezuelans (4 million). In 2020, 88 percent of the world’s refugees came from just 12 countries.

At the receiving end, 65 percent of the world’s refugees are housed in just 16 countries. Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees (3.7 million) followed by Jordan (3 million) and Colombia (1.7 million).

In Europe, Germany is home to around 1.2 million refugees, the largest number on the continent.

According to UNHCR, developing countries are home to 86 percent of the world’s refugees.

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China says 1 billion doses of COVID vaccine were administered | Coronavirus pandemic news



Beijing plans to fully vaccinate 40 percent of the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people by the end of this month.

China has announced that more than 1 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the country, as the world’s most populous nation accelerated its immunization program.

The announcement by the National Health Commission (NHC) comes after the number of injections given globally surpassed 2.5 billion on Friday, according to an AFP tally from official sources.

The NHC did not say how many people had been vaccinated. As elsewhere, most vaccines in China are given in two doses.

The pace of vaccinations has accelerated in the country of 1.4 billion people after a slow start. The total number of doses administered doubled from 500 million in less than a month, according to government figures.

Lack of transparency and past vaccine scandals have also sparked resistance from residents.

Authorities have set an ambitious goal of fully vaccinating 40 percent of the country’s nearly 1.4 billion people by the end of this month.

Incentives for vaccines

Some provinces are offering vaccines for free to encourage people to roll up their sleeves. Residents of the central province of Anhui received free eggs, while some living in Beijing received shopping vouchers.

A recent outbreak of the most contagious Delta variant of the virus in the southern city of Guangzhou has also served as a wake-up call for many shufflers.

China reported 23 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday.

The country has four conditionally approved vaccines, whose published efficacy rates lag behind rival hits from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which have success rates of 95 percent and 94 percent, respectively.

China’s Sinovac previously said that trials of its injection in Brazil showed about 50 percent effectiveness in preventing infections and 80 percent in preventing cases requiring medical intervention.

Sinopharm’s two vaccines have efficacy rates of 79 percent and 72 percent respectively, while CanSino’s overall efficacy is 65 percent after 28 days.

Regulators have not approved any non-Chinese vaccines so far, although they appear to be moving to do so for the one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

China is expected to produce more than three billion doses of vaccines this year, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported in April.

Health authorities have not said when China will achieve herd immunity or what proportion of its vaccine doses will be sold abroad.

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