A Syrian Kurd pours water on a child after they crossed the Syrian-Turkish border near the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province, on September 20, 2014. (Photograph credit: Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)
More than 60,000 Syrian Kurds have crossed into Turkey in the past 24 hours, a deputy prime minister said Saturday, fleeing an advance by Islamic State (IS) militants who have seized dozens of villages close to the border and are advancing on a Syrian border town of Ayn al-Arab, known as Kobane in Kurdish. IS fighters is now within 15 km (9 miles) of the town, Reuters said on Saturday quoting a Kurdish commander on the ground. Ankara, which has given shelter to some 1.5 million refugees from the Syrian conflict, has been refusing to accept any more for fear of being overwhelmed. Howbeit, due to an instant migration wave, Turkey on Friday reopened a 30 kilometers stretch of its border with Syria after Kurdish civilians fled their homes fearing a massacre in Kobane and nearby kurdish dominated villages. “The number of Syrian refugees has exceeded 60,000 as of today,” Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus told reporters Saturday at a boarding school in the southeastern Sanliurfa province allocated for the flowing refugees. “We faced hardships by the new wave of refugees, but even the first phase of the process has been well conducted. Some of our brothers are being placed with their relatives, some are being taken to local schools and state facilities, others are being hosted in tents,” Kurtulmus said, adding that Turkey was ready to cope with an even larger refugee influx. “We are ready for both the worst case and the best case scenario,” he said.
In the above photographs taken Friday, September 19, 2014 on the island of Koh Tao, Thailand, tourists enjoy the nice weather on a beach (left) and take pictures (right) at the spot where bodies of two killed British tourists were found last Monday. (Photo credits: Chaiwat Subprasom/Reuters)
The bodies of David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, were found early Monday on the beach on Koh Tao island, a popular tourist destination on the western shore of the Gulf of Thailand known for its coral reefs and diving. Both the victims were attacked Sunday night and had suffered serious injuries. The killings of the two Britons remain unsolved. Thai police have admitted they are struggling to find the killers, after it emerged crime scene DNA did not match that of any of their initial suspects. Country’s top official said police were working “to make an arrest as soon as possible.”
"Tourists think that Thailand is beautiful, safe and that they can do anything they want here. That they can put on their bikinis and go anywhere they want. I ask, can you get away with wearing bikinis in Thailand? Unless you are not beautiful?" Thai Prime Minister General Prayuth Chan-ocha had said in a televised speech on Wednesday, following the murder of the two Britons —an insensitive comment that sparked an international outcry on social media. "Someone should tell Gen. Prayuth that Hannah Witheridge was not wearing a bikini when she was killed." the Bangkok-based BBC’s SE Asia correspondent Jonathan Head writes on his twitter account Thursday. On the same day, Prayuth apologised for his comment: “I am sorry with what I said and if it has caused any ill-feelings,” Prayuth told reporters. “I just wanted to warn tourists that we have different traditions and they have to stay on their toes,” he said. Although Thailand is infamous worldwide as a freewheeling hub of sex tourism, its culture is fairly conservative with many Thai women preferring to don shorts and T-shirts rather than bikinis on the beach.
Home to around 2,000 people, Koh Tao or Turtle Island, which measures just 21 square kilometers (8 sq miles), survives on its laid-back brand of tourism in the Gulf of Thailand. Known as the less-developed, holiday sibling of its more raucous neighbours, Koh Samui and Koh Pha Ngan, the island of Koh Tao received around 500,000 visitors last year, and was voted “Asia’s number one island” on Trip Advisor for two years in a row. The BBC’s Jonathan Head on the island said that “it was clear that people there were in shock” after the bodies of the two young Britons were found. The two deaths bring the number of UK nationals murdered in Thailand to 13 since 2009, British authorities said. More than 900,000 Britons made visit to Thailand in 2013/14, among more than 25 million foreign visitors. There are also around 50,000 Britons permanently live in the country.
Spanish flamenco dancer and choreographer María Pagés performs during a rehearsal of her show “Siete golpes y un camino” to be presented Wednesday night at Teatro de la Maestranza, one of the several venues of Flamenco Biennial, in the Andalusian capital of Seville September 17, 2014. (Photograph credit: Marcelo del Pozo/Reuters)
Bringing together the best flamenco musicians and dancers, the Flamenco Biennial of Seville began in 1980 and now considered as one of the most popular flamenco events in the world. The festival lasts for about 30 days and includes a multitude of venues throughout the city, from theatres to smaller establishments. The 18th edition of Flamenco Biennial 2014 will run until October 5, and aside from the official program there are always many parallel shows, events and exhibits.
A Palestinian boy stands next to mural graffiti with Arabic writing on the drawing of a tank reading: “Boycott! 16% of the cost of their (Israeli) products goes into the killing of children in Gaza” in the al-Azzeh refugee camp near the West Bank city of Bethlehem on September 17, 2014. There have been growing calls for an economic, academic and cultural boycott of Israel over alleged human rights violations, including in Gaza, where a recent 50-day conflict has killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians. (Photograph credit: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images)
A shopkeeper throws away groceries damaged in the floods as water recedes in parts of Srinagar, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Tuesday, September 16, 2014. Health workers were scrambling Tuesday to manage a mounting health crisis nearly two weeks after massive flooding engulfed much of Kashmir, where they are treating cases of diarrhea, skin allergies and fungus as they hope the stagnant waters do not create conditions for more serious disease outbreaks.
(Photograph credit: Altaf Qadri/AP photo)
Cuban hairdresser Tania Maldonado Mesa holds a photo of her daughter Jaima Pantoja Maldonado, who survived more than three weeks lost at sea while trying to reach Honduras in a makeshift boat, with the goal of continuing overland to the United States, during an interview with Reuters at her home in Manzanillo September 12, 2014. Of the 32 people who set off in that boat from Granma Province the first week of August, only 15 were still alive when they were rescued at sea by the Mexican Navy off of the Yucatan Peninsula. (Photograph credit: Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters)
The tragedy, the worst Cuban migrant boat disaster in two decades, is part of a growing illegal exodus from eastern Cuba — a region famous as the launching pad of the 1959 revolution in the nearby Sierra Maestra mountains. In Manzanillo, a run-down colonial city of 130,000 in eastern Granma province, residents say as many as five boats, with up to 30 passengers, depart in weeks with favorable weather. Passengers in last month’s voyage, who were aged 16 to 36, each paid the equivalent of US$400 to US$600 for the 675-mile trip, Reuters said. According to US authorities, 14,000 Cubans arrived without visas at the border with Mexico in the past 11 months, the highest number in a decade. The situation threatens to further strain relations between Cuba and the United States. Cuba argues that US policy foments illegal and dangerous departures by granting Cubans a special right of entry not offered to other nationalities.
Campaigners wave Scottish Saltires at a “Yes” campaign (top image) and “No” supporters hold banners after a “No” campaign (bottom image) at separate rallies held in Glasgow, Scotland September 17, 2014. The referendum on Scottish independence will take place on September 18, when Scotland will vote whether or not to end the 307-year-old union with the rest of the United Kingdom. (Photo credits: Dylan Martinez/Reuters)
In these photographs taken on December 29 and 30 of 2009, the Mayon volcano is seen in activity from Lingñon Hill in Legazpi city, Albay province, central Philippines. (Photo credits: Tryfon Topalidis, File)
The 2,460-meter (8,070-foot) active volcano, which towers over the city of Legazpi, has shown “a noticeable escalation of unrest,” the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said in a bulletin late Monday. The agency warned that a “hazardous eruption” of Mount Mayon is possible within weeks. “Currently, the activity is just lava coming down,” said Renato Solidum, who heads the government’s volcano monitoring agency. The provincial disaster operations center reported Wednesday that nearly 24,000 people from villages within an 8-kilometer (5-mile) radius from the crater had been evacuated.
Mount Mayon, a popular tourist site known for its near-perfect cone, lies in coconut-producing Albay province, in Luzon Island, some 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila. Considered as the most active volcano in the Philippines, Mt. Mayon has erupted over fifty times in the last 400 years, sometimes violently, endangering thousands of poor villagers who insist on living or farming in the danger zone. The first record of a major eruption was witnessed on February 1616 by Dutch explorer Joris van Spilbergen who recorded it on his log in his circumnavigation trip around the world. The volcano’s most devastating eruption took place on February 1, 1814, killing at least 1,200 people. On May 7, 2013, the volcano suddenly spewed ash, killing five climbers, including three Germans, who had ventured near the summit despite warnings of possible danger.
Police and housing activists in Brazil’s biggest city clashed violently on Tuesday after authorities attempted to evict some 200 families, around 800 people, who had occupied for six months a 20-floors unused former hotel in downtown São Paulo. Protesters hurled rocks and pieces of wood at some of the 250 police troops who showed up to evict the families from the building. The confrontation spread to nearby streets and in front of São Paulo’s Municipal Theater, where some protesters torched a bus. Police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades in an effort to disperse the crowd. After several hours of calm, isolated clashes ignited again as night fell in central São Paulo, with protesters blocking some roads in the region, the Associated Press reported.
The current protest is the latest in a long tradition of occupations of land and buildings in Brazil led mainly by left-wing social groups. For years, the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem-Teto, MTST (Homeless Workers’ Movement) has been active in São Paulo, decrying a gaping housing deficit — which the government acknowledges — and organizing poor families to move into abandoned buildings, often in central São Paulo, Brazil’s richest city but also one with the most acute housing shortage. The city hall estimates the shortfall at some 700,000 housing units, and many homeless people have simply occupied abandoned buildings. The MTST movement, who has called on officials to provide more low-income housing, estimates that the housing deficit in São Paulo alone totals six million residences.
Less than three weeks before Brazil’s presidential election, whoever is the next head of state will face a shortage of several million of homes. Building new houses, however, is not enough to tackle this deficiency, experts on city planning have told Agência Brasil. In the view of Guilherme Boulous, from the national coordination of the Homeless Workers’ Movement (MTST), the housing situation in the country deteriorates just as rents are seen to rise. He believes that the construction of houses by the government at the current pace is not sufficient to cover all the families in need of a new home, and does very little to drive rents down. “It’s a barrel of gunpowder that was bound to explode one day,” he said. “Over the last five years, the rise in property prices exceeded 130 percent in the city of São Paulo and 200 percent in Rio de Janeiro.” Boulous notes that this surge is not regulated by the market, and adds that there is no social assistance for those who have to pay the rent to keep living under a roof. Professor Paula Santoro, from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (FAU) of the University of São Paulo, adds that current housing policies, which prioritize the construction of houses for low-income families and a higher ceiling on mortgages for the middle class, are based on market rules, and only benefit those profiting from high property prices. With more credit available, the market tends to increase the prices. And as the families from the lower classes are unable to afford the mortgage, the houses built for them end up being sold to those who earn a higher income.
Photo captions and credits: 1. An activist of Brazil’s MTST throws a telephone box at riot police (rear) in downtown São Paulo (Nacho Doce/Reuters) 2. Firefighters work to douse the flames of a bus set on fire by housing activists in downtown São Paulo (André Penner/AP photo) 3. Members of Brazil’s MTST look out from a police van, after being detained by riot police (L) in downtown São Paulo. (Nacho Doce/Reuters). Photographs taken on Tuesday, September 16, 2014.
Hussien Ahmed, 70, a camel rider, talks to a visitor in front of the Djoser Pyramid, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) southwest of Cairo, in Saqqara, Egypt, September 16, 2014. The restoration of the 4,600-year old pyramid has prompted controversy between the Ministry of Antiquities, activists and archaeologists, the AP said.
(Photograph credit: Amr Nabil/AP photo)
Almost 10 million people in the United States live on less than two dollars a day and outside the money economy, surviving on food stamps, welfare and free meals provided by public schools and charities, Brookings Institution researcher Laurence Chandy said. "The people who are excluded from the money economy are the most vulnerable to unexpected crises such as illness or the death of a relative," Chandy told the Spanish international news agency EFE. Poverty is "a latent problem" in a country were almost 46 million people live under the official poverty level of $16 a day, and 20.4 million people subsist on less than $8 a day, said Chandy, who has published a study (.pdf) last August on the poorest of the poor.
School children eat their free midday meal distributed by a government-run primary school at Brahimpur village in the eastern Indian state of Bihar July 19, 2013. (Photograph credit: Adnan Abidi/Reuters)
"About 805 million people in the world, or one in nine, suffer from chronic undernourishment," said a United Nations report released on Tuesday in Rome. According to "The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014" report ― a joint annual publication of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) ― "the number of hungry people decline globally by more than 100 million over the last decade." Despite this progress, however, the number of hungry people in the world is still unacceptably high, the report said. In sub-Saharan Africa more than one in four people remain chronically hungry, while Asia is home to the majority of the hungry ― 526 million people.
In this photo taken Saturday, September 13, 2014, a man rides his bicycle as people walk on the “first mobile phone sidewalk in China”, which was recently installed at a tourism area in Chongqing, a vast municipality of 28 million in southwest China. The sidewalk was built in a short section of paving in the city’s Yangrenjie entertainment area, as an attempt to reduce pedestrian incidents, China Daily reported. The sidewalk separates pedestrians along two pathways. One is for cell phone users to walk on; the other is for those without cell phones. A warning sign proclaims: “Cell phones walk in this lane at your own risk”. With the increasing popularity of smartphones, more young people in China are glued to them, a phenomenon that worries many experts. It is estimated that the number of smartphone users in China will exceed 500 million this year. (Photograph credit: Ran Wen/China Daily)