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Man arrested over mass drowning of migrants in English Channel fighting extradition to France | UK News

An alleged ringleader of a people smuggling gang, accused of sending more than 30 migrants to their deaths in the English Channel, is fighting extradition to France.

Harem Abwbaker, a UK asylum seeker, is said to have charged the migrants $3,200 (£2,680) each for the trip in November last year.

Appearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the 32-year-old was accused of putting them in a badly-designed boat with inadequate navigation or life-saving equipment.

When the boat deflated and sank in darkness two hours after leaving France – and all but two on board drowned – he allegedly offered their relatives money to keep quiet.

French authorities outline allegations

Two migrants survived and identified Abwbaker as the ‘right-hand man’ of the gang’s leader, according to an extradition warrant issued by the French authorities.

The document also claims he personally helped the migrants on to the boat and electronic data showed his mobile phone was at the launch site on the French coast.

The warrant states the migrants were powerless to respond to an emergency, and “had no chance of facing any event at sea,” Prosecutor Michael McHardy told Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Harem Ahmed Abwbaker. Pic: National Crime Agency
Harem Abwbaker was arrested in Cheltenham. Pic: National Crime Agency

Suspect wants to prove ‘innocence’

Abwbaker, a Kurd, was arrested in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, on Tuesday morning. In court he gave his address as the town’s Ramada Hotel.

He sat in the dock in jeans and a grey sweatshirt, scratching his beard during the 30-minute hearing.

Asked if he agreed to be extradited, he said through an interpreter: “If I return now, how can I come back once I’ve proved my innocence? What you’re talking about is my life and my freedom.”

Judge Paul Goldspring said: “It’s clear he’s not consenting.”

Read more:
French government will investigate worst-ever Channel migrant disaster

It’s previously been reported that 27 bodies were recovered the day after the boat sank and four migrants were still missing.

According to the extradition warrant, the French Navy recovered 25 bodies.

This is what remains of the boat that capsized in the Channel and resulted in the deaths of 27 people
The remains of the boat which capsized in the English Channel in November 2021

Abwbaker did not ask for bail and was remanded in custody ahead of an extradition hearing in April. He will appear in court again for a preliminary hearing on 29 December.

Government runs out of prison places and has to ask police for 400 cells | Politics News

The government has run out of prison places and has had to ask police to use 400 cells to make up for the shortfall.

Prisons Minister Damian Hinds told MPs there had been an “acute and sudden increase in the prison population” in recent months and, as a result, the Operation Safeguard contingency plan had been launched for the first time since 2007.

He claimed the move was not “unprecedented” and that the government had “long anticipated” the rise due to bringing in additional measures to tackle crime.

But Mr Hinds also pointed to strike action by the Criminal Bar Association, saying it had led to more people being held on remand.

And he said with court hearings returning to normal, the government was “seeing a surge in offenders coming through the criminal justice system, placing capacity pressure on adult male prisons in particular”.

Just Stop Oil considers slashing famous artworks as it threatens to ‘escalate’ protests | UK News

Just Stop Oil demonstrators are considering slashing famous works of art as they threaten to “escalate” their protests.

The controversial climate activists have also issued a call to England captain Harry Kane to wear an armband carrying their message at the World Cup in Qatar.

The group is planning more disruption in the run-up to Christmas in its campaign of direct action, which has included blocking roads, spraying orange paint on buildings and defacing famous artworks.

Among the protests, demonstrators have thrown soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting and glued themselves to the frames of several masterpieces, prompting one art critic to brand them “morons”.

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Soup thrown over Van Gogh painting

Alex De Koning, a spokesman for Just Stop Oil, said it was “insane” that “more people are outraged” about the activists targeting artwork than the devastating floods in Pakistan, which displaced millions of people.

The 24-year-old – who describes himself as a “climate scientist” – told Sky News that the protest group may follow in the footsteps of suffragettes who “violently slashed paintings in order to get their messages across”.

In 1914, Mary Richardson attacked Diego Velazquez’s painting The Rokeby Venus with a meat cleaver in a protest against the arrest of Emmeline Pankhurst.

Later that year, suffragette Anne Hunt entered the National Portrait Gallery and hacked away at a painting of Thomas Carlyle, one of the gallery’s trustees.

Mr De Koning said targeting famous art had “marked an escalation” in Just Stop Oil’s action and warned it will “continue to escalate unless the government meets our demand” to stop future gas and oil projects.

He told Sky News: “If things need to escalate then we’re going to take inspiration from past successful movements and we’re going to do everything we can.

“If that’s unfortunately what it needs to come to, then that’s unfortunately what it needs to come to.

“We’re fighting for our lives, why would we do any less?”

Asked directly whether future protests could involve slashing artwork, the spokesman replied: “It could potentially come to that at one point in the future, yeah.”

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Oil protesters glued to masterpiece

‘Not intimidated by jail’

Two Just Stop Oil activists, Hannah Hunt and Eden Lazarus, are due to face trial on Tuesday accused of causing criminal damage to John Constable’s The Hay Wain.

The pair glued themselves to the frame of the painting and attached their own image of an “apocalyptic vision of the future”.

Last week, a Just Stop Oil protester was jailed for gluing himself to the frame of a Van Gogh painting in a London gallery.

A judge said the 18th-century frame had been “permanently damaged” by the stunt, as Louis McKechnie was imprisoned for three weeks and fellow activist Emily Brocklebank received a 21-day sentence, suspended for six months.

Louis McKechnie and Emily Brocklebank. Pic: Just Stop Oil
Louis McKechnie and Emily Brocklebank glued themselves to the painting. Pic: Just Stop Oil

Mr De Koning said Just Stop Oil activists were “not going to be intimidated by potential prison time”.

“At least in prison you get three meals a day and shelter and water,” he said.

“In 20 years’ time, who knows if that’s still the case for millions of people.”

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Mashed potato thrown on Monet painting

Why are protesters targeting art – and are they gaining support?

Climate activists have been targeting famous artworks around the world in recent months.

In Germany, demonstrators threw mashed potatoes at Monet’s Les Meules painting in a protest against fossil fuel extraction.

And in Australia, two climate activists were arrested after gluing themselves to the frame of Picasso’s Massacre in Korea.

After Just Stop Oil activists threw soup at the Van Gogh painting, art critic Waldemar Januszczak branded the stunt “pathetic”.

“Take it out on the oil companies you morons, not on innocent art,” he wrote on Twitter.

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However musician and activist Bob Geldof voiced his support for the protesters, saying their actions were “1,000% right” and it was “clever” to deface the famous 1888 painting while it was covered with a glass screen.

Mr De Koning said the stunt had “sparked international conversations” and the protests targeting artworks were “probably” more effective than blocking roads.

“It really got a lot of people talking about the climate crisis in a way that other protests in the past have not done,” the PhD student at Newcastle University said.

“We’ve tried protesting outside the Chinese embassy and doing other things and it just doesn’t get coverage.

“Because there was no damage (to the Van Gogh painting), there was a lot of support that actually came out as well as a lot of controversy.”

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Just Stop Oil: ‘Do you love your children?’

Who is organising the worldwide art protests?

Mr De Koning refused to say who first suggested climate protesters should target works of art, saying he couldn’t discuss it for “legal reasons”.

The groups involved, including Germany’s Last Generation and Just Stop Oil in the UK, operate independently and no one person is believed to be directing the actions.

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Activists target Klimt painting

According to TIME, clinical psychologist Margaret Klein Salamon is perhaps the closest thing to a global mastermind of the protests.

She is the executive director of a group called The Climate Emergency Fund (CEF), which distributes money from wealthy donors to “support disruptive protest”.

She told the magazine that the CEF does not fund anything illegal with its grants, which generally range from $35,000 (£29,000) to $80,000 (£67,000).

But Ms Salamon added that disruptive protests are like a fire alarm to “shake us awake”.

“Playing by the rules, going step by step through normalcy, we’re walking off a cliff,” she said.

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Activists dragged away after gluing themselves to painting

Just Stop Oil considers ‘new tactics’

Asked whether the activists felt any guilt over defacing art, Mr De Koning said: “It’s obviously terrible. Yes, of course, we don’t want to be doing things like that.

“The question you need to be asking is why on earth would students, grandparents, engineers, doctors, nurses, do something like that? It’s because our government is behaving criminally.”

He added that if action isn’t taken to stop new oil and gas projects then “millions more people are going to die and can’t appreciate that artwork”.

Protesters from Just Stop Oil climate protest group glue their hands to the frame of a copy of Leonardo da Vinci's, The Last Supper inside the Royal Academy, London. Picture date: Tuesday July 5, 2022.
Protesters glue their hands to the frame of a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

“We’re not even going to have a habitable planet for this artwork and for us to live on,” Mr De Koning said.

The Just Stop Oil spokesman confirmed more disruption is planned in the run-up to Christmas, saying it would be “mostly road blocking” but it was “always good to have new tactics”.

The group has said it will stop its direct action if the government announces it will immediately halt all future licences for the exploration and production of fossil fuels in the UK.

Read more:
Who are Just Stop Oil?
Just Stop Oil ‘should be named a terrorist group’

Harry Kane wears the UEFA One Love armband

Call for Kane to wear Just Stop Oil armband

Just Stop Oil has now urged Harry Kane to wear a captain’s armband displaying its message at the World Cup in Qatar, which has one of the world’s largest natural gas reserves and oil reserves.

Kane was due to wear a OneLove armband in support of the LGBT+ community at the World Cup – with homosexuality illegal in Qatar – but England abandoned the plan after FIFA threatened to book players who wore it.

Mr De Koning said: “A lot of people really respect Harry Kane… so a lot of people would be swayed by (him wearing a Just Stop Oil armband).”

The spokesman pointed out that Gary Lineker tweeted a message about Just Stop Oil after a protester disrupted a Premier League match and Formula One star Lewis Hamilton defended the activists after they invaded the Silverstone track during the British Grand Prix.

“These people have such a platform they can use so I would ask them to consider their responsibilities to future generations and do something as simple as put on an armband,” the Just Stop Oil spokesman said.

“It’s not going to make a massive difference to (Kane’s) everyday life but it could have a great effects for people down the line.”

Two more teenagers arrested over fatal stabbings of Charlie Bartolo and Kearne Solanke in southeast London | UK News

Two more teenagers have been arrested over the fatal stabbings of two 16-year-old boys in southeast London.

Police detained the suspects, aged 15 and 16, following the killings of Charlie Bartolo and Kearne Solanke in two separate incidents about a mile apart at the weekend.

Charlie was found with stab wounds in Sewell Road, Abbey Wood, at around 5.10pm on Saturday, with Kearne discovered with similar injuries in Titmuss Avenue, Thamesmead, at around the same time.

Another 16-year-old who was previously arrested on Sunday on suspicion of both murders has been released on bail pending further enquiries.

Kearne Solanke, left, and Charlie Bartolo, right.
Kearne Solanke, left, and Charlie Bartolo, right.

Detective Chief Inspector Kate Blackburn said: “My officers are working around the clock to establish the circumstances of these senseless murders and to find those responsible.”

She added that the force is investigating a “number of lines of enquiries” and she is “keeping an open mind about any motive”.

“The arrests are a positive development, but we continue to work to understand the events that unfolded on Saturday evening,” she said.

‘Help us bring justice for these young boys’

The Met Police have appealed for anyone with information on the incidents to come forward, specifically those who saw a black Nissan Qashqai with silver roof bars in either area in the days or hours before the murders.

“We have the vehicle in our possession, but are still interested in witnesses who may have seen it being driven locally. Information you provide could help us bring justice for these young boys and their families,” DCI Blackburn added.

Detective Superintendent Richard McDonagh, from the South East Command Unit, assured the local community that officers will “work tirelessly” to discover what happened and urged people to continue working together to “prevent such tragedies” in the future.

The families of Charlie and Kearne are being supported by specialist officers.

Ambulance workers across England set to strike before Christmas | UK News

The UK’s biggest trade union has announced ambulance workers intend to take strike action before Christmas.

Thousands of 999 call handlers, ambulance technicians, paramedics and their colleagues working for ambulance services in the North East, North West, London, Yorkshire and the South West are due to be called out on strike over pay and staffing levels, UNISON said.

The union revealed large numbers of its members had voted to take industrial action following a long-running dispute over pay and staffing levels.

The exact areas that will be affected is not yet known, as UNISON said the vote was just below the 50% threshold in many trusts.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “The decision to take action and lose a day’s pay is always a tough call. It’s especially challenging for those whose jobs involve caring and saving lives.

“But thousands of ambulance staff and their NHS colleagues know delays won’t lessen, nor waiting times reduce, until the government acts on wages. That’s why they’ve taken the difficult decision to strike.”

Read more: Up to 100,000 nurses striking – is your local NHS employer affected?

She added that, despite the strikes, patients will “always come first” and emergency cover will be available.

“The public knows health services won’t improve without huge increases in staffing and wants the government to pay up to save the NHS. It’s high time ministers stopped using the pay review body as cover for their inaction,” she said.

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What is industrial action?

What’s happening across the rest of the UK?

The union’s health committee is analysing the results of the ballot and will decide what happens next.

It follows a decision by up to 100,000 nurses from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to stage a mass walkout in December – one of the busiest months for the NHS.

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Health workers belonging to UNISON and working in Northern Ireland have also voted to take action over pay and staffing.

However, in Scotland, the union is recommending its NHS members vote to accept the latest offer from the Scottish government, which will see a £2,205 increase for the lowest paid staff, and more for those on higher bands.

Earlier this month, both UNISON and RCN were among several that met Health Secretary Steve Barclay to discuss the growing NHS “workforce crisis” and to urge the government to take action on wages.

Firefighters to vote on strike action after rejecting 5% pay offer | Politics News

Firefighters will start voting on strike in the latest industrial dispute over below-inflation pay offers.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said the “historic ballot” comes after its members rejected a 5% increase to their wages.

The FBU pointed out that inflation currently stands at a record 11.1% and said firefighters and control staff need a “substantial pay increase” that reflects the cost of living crisis.

Politics latest: Matt Hancock to face MPs after jungle stint

Matt Wrack, the Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said: “This is an historic ballot for firefighters and control staff. We are rarely driven to these lengths.

“Nobody wants to be in this position. After years of derisory pay increases and a pay offer that is well below inflation, firefighters’ and control staff’s living standards are in peril.”

Mr Wrack said firefighters are using foodbanks and “we know that because FBU officials have had to sign off on members going to them”.

He added: “Firefighters and control staff worked throughout the pandemic and firefighters took on extra duties including moving the deceased.

“They have now been given a below-inflation pay offer. It is utterly disgraceful to call people ‘key workers’ and then treat them like this.”

Last week, the union warned it would formally issue notice of ballot if its demands were not met by Monday.

With that deadline now passed, members will have from 5 December to 30 January to vote on whether to go on strike

The FBU noted that the government has “no direct role in pay negotiations”, but they do “provide a substantial amount of the funding for fire and rescue services”.

Pay negotiations happen with representatives from employers – typically local authorities.

However, the FBU insists “a big factor in all of this is central funding”.

The ballot comes as the UK faces a winter of discontent as workers from different industries are set to walk out over pay and conditions.

Read More:
Which industries are striking and why

Nurses, rail workers, civil servants and teachers are among the tens of thousands expected to take industrial action as a recession grips the UK and the cost of living rises.

Ministers have insisted they cannot afford to give striking workers inflation-busting pay rises.

But Labour have criticised the government for refusing to negotiate with unions.

‘Scope for agreement’ on rail dispute

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‘Inflation-busting pay rises are unaffordable’

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are due to stage a fresh wave of strikes next month at Network Rail and 14 train operators which will cripple services.

Disputes over pay, jobs and conditions remain deadlocked despite months of talks and industrial action.

In a letter to RMT boss Mick Lynch, published today, Transport Secretary Mark Harper insisted his role is to “facilitate and support, not negotiate”.

“Negotiations will continue between trade unions and employers, but I can see scope for agreement,” he said.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Steve Barclay insisted yesterday that his “door is open” to resume talks with health unions to avert unprecedented strike action in the NHS.

But Pat Cullen, the general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing union (RCN) , accused the government of being the main obstacle to a deal and choosing “strike over negotiation”.

‘It’s going to be terrible for me’: Two-thirds of adults worry they cannot afford Christmas dinner | UK News

Two-thirds of adults are worried that they will not be able to afford Christmas dinner, according to a survey.

The survey, commissioned by the Salvation Army, calculated the cost of Christmas dinner at £7.50 per head but – as the price of food is continuing to rise – the cost has increased since the survey was carried out on 22 October.

The concern is greater among those aged 65 and over – 81% – and those in the east of England – 80%.

Some 16% are planning to use a food bank to get items for their meal, while 38% are likely to skip meals if they have an unexpected expense such as a broken boiler.

The Salvation Army’s Lieutenant Colonel Dean Pallant said: “Christmas should be the season of joy, not sorrow.

“If so many people are worried they can’t even afford one of the most important meals of the year, it’s a red flag that poverty is creeping further into our communities.”

The poll also found that 14% of people cannot afford to buy their children a present this Christmas, and 18% expect to spend time in a building that is free to visit – just so they can keep warm.

Lt Col Pallant said measures announced in the autumn statement show the government is trying to help, but “its ability to stop the creep of poverty has been dangerously reduced due to rising inflation and the overall bleak economic outlook”.

He continued: “We expect this Christmas to be one of our busiest ever and are providing as many emergency food parcels as possible for those in urgent need and Christmas dinner for isolated older people.

Read more:
Rising energy and food bills tip inflation to highest level since 1981
UK economy to be worst hit of all G7 nations, OECD report says

“And our Present Appeal is giving gifts to children who would otherwise have nothing to open on Christmas Day.

“We also offer a warm space in many of our buildings to people who can’t afford to heat their homes and will support rough sleepers so they aren’t forced to spend a cold Christmas on the streets.”

In October, figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that almost half of UK adults were finding it difficult to afford energy bills, rent, or mortgage payments.

This comes against a background of tax hikes and inflation that is rapidly outpacing wages.

John, a 64-year-old grandfather and volunteer worker from Middlesbrough, told the Salvation Army survey: “I usually go to relatives for Christmas dinner, but they can’t afford to have me this year so I will stay at home.

“I am going to treat it like a normal day and have sandwiches for lunch as I’m worried it will cost too much to buy the food and cook it.

“It is going to be a terrible Christmas for me.”

A government spokeswoman said: “We recognise people are struggling with rising prices which is why we’re protecting millions of the most vulnerable households through our £37bn package of support, including at least £1,200 of direct payments and saving households an average of £900 on their energy bills this winter, in addition to £150 of extra support for disabled people and £300 per household for pensioners.

“Vulnerable families in England are being supported by the government’s Household Support Fund – which was boosted by £500m – to help pay for essentials.”

Rishi Sunak’s speech shows cosy UK-China ties since David Cameron’s pint with Xi Jinping are ‘beer today, gone tomorrow’ | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has called last orders on the UK government’s cosy relationship with China.

The UK needs to “evolve our approach” to China, he declared at the sumptuous Lord Mayor’s Banquet at the Guildhall in the City of London.

The so-called “golden era” is over, he said, “along with the naive idea that trade would lead to social and political reform”.

Naive? That sounded like a pretty scathing attack on David Cameron and George Osborne. It was Mr Cameron, after all, who took President Xi to a country pub near Chequers during a state visit in 2015.

Not long after the two leaders supped pints in The Plough at Cadsden in Buckinghamshire the pub was bought by a Chinese firm. Presumably not what Mr Cameron had in mind for boosting UK-Chinese trade.

Prime Minister David Cameron drinks a pint with Chinese President Xi Jinping at The Plough Inn at Cadsden in Princes Risborough
Prime Minister David Cameron drinks a pint with Chinese President Xi Jinping at The Plough Inn at Cadsden in Princes Risborough

A bitter irony, one might say.

The term “golden era” was actually used by Mr Osborne during a visit to China in 2015, when he claimed the UK was China’s best partner in the West.

Four prime ministers later – in just seven years – Mr Sunak lambasted the Chinese in his Guildhall speech. He condemned the assault of BBC journalist Ed Lawrence and said the media and MPs must be able to highlight the crackdowns without sanction.

BBC journalist Ed Lawrence arrested during protests in Shanghai
BBC journalist Ed Lawrence arrested during protests in Shanghai

That included calling out abuses in Xinjiang and the curtailment of freedom in Hong Kong, he added.

But it wasn’t just Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne who were derided by the current Prime Minister.

His rejection of “grand rhetoric” in favour of “pragmatism” could only have been directed at one ex-PM: Boris Johnson.

When he was London mayor, Mr Johnson visited China in 2013. But by the time he became PM relations had soured because of highly alarming security concerns

Xu Weiping, center right, Chairman of ABP, Boris Johnson, center left, Major of London, pose for photos during the announcement of setting up ABPs global headquarters in London, Britain, 16 September 2013.
Xu Weiping, center right, Chairman of ABP, Boris Johnson, center left, Major of London, pose for photos in September 2013.

In the current hostile climate, there’s no chance of Mr Sunak following Mr Cameron’s example by taking President Xi to a country pub in his Yorkshire Dales constituency. Or visiting China like Mr Osborne and Mr Johnson.

Since the cosy camaraderie of pints in The Plough, the relationship between the UK and China has become a case of beer today, gone tomorrow.

Wives of Russian troops ‘encourage’ them to rape Ukrainian women, Ukraine’s first lady says | World News

Ukraine’s first lady has accused Russian forces of using rape as a weapon of war in her country as she called for a “global response”.

Olena Zelenska also claimed the wives of Russian servicemen encouraged them to rape Ukrainian women.

The 44-year-old was speaking in London at an international conference to tackle sexual violence during conflicts.

Ms Zelenska, who is married to president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, 44, talked about sexual violence being perpetrated “systematically and openly” by the invaders as the war in her nation drags on since the Russian offensive began in February.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska attend a commemoration ceremony for people killed during pro-EU demonstrations in Ukraine in 2014
Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his wife Olena Zelenska attend a commemoration ceremony for people killed during pro-EU demonstrations in Ukraine in 2014

Is Russia trying to secure a truce?; Moscow ‘unilaterally postpones’ nuclear arms meeting – Ukraine war latest

“Sexual violence is the most cruel, most animalistic way to prove mastership over someone. And for victims of this kind of violence, it is difficult to testify in war times because nobody feels safe”, she said.

“This is another instrument that they (Russian forces) are using as their weaponry. This is another weapon in their arsenal in this war and conflict. That’s why they’re using this systematically and openly.”

Olena Zelenska

Ms Zelenska said it was “extremely important to recognise this as a war crime and to hold all of the perpetrators accountable”.

‘Russian troops talk to their relatives about rapes’

“We see that the Russian servicemen are very open about this: they talk about it over the phone with their relatives, from phone conversations we’ve managed to capture.

“In fact, the wives of Russian servicemen encourage this, they say, ‘Go on, rape those Ukrainian women, just don’t share this with me, just don’t tell me’.

“This is why there has to be a global response to this.”

Read more:
Evidence of ‘credible allegations’ of sexual violence against children by Russian troops
Ukrainian women reveal their rape ordeal and say Russian soldiers must ‘be punished’

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Ukrainian women describe rape ordeal

Last week, an international criminal lawyer helping Kyiv’s war crimes investigations claimed there was evidence that Russian commanders were aware of sexual violence by military personnel in Ukraine “and in some cases, (were) encouraging it or even ordering it”.

Wayne Jordash said in areas around the capital, some of the sexual violence involved a level of organisation by Russian armed forces that “speaks to planning on a more systematic level”.

He did not identify particular individuals under scrutiny.

A UN-backed report published last month said victims of alleged attacks ranged in age from four to over 80, and in some cases family members witnessed rape.

A Russian soldier in March repeatedly sexually abused a girl and threatened to kill family members in northern Ukraine’s Chernihiv region, according to a ruling at Chernihiv district court.

The court this month found 31-year old Ruslan Kuliyev and another Russian soldier under his command guilty of war crimes in absentia for assault on locals, the ruling added.

Parliament Hill Lido issues warning after swimmers get hypothermia at outdoor pool | UK News

Outdoor swimmers have been warned about the risks of hypothermia after a spate of incidents at a public lido.

Organisers at Parliament Hill Lido in Hampstead Heath, north London, say lifeguards dealt with a hypothermic swimmer every day last week, following a sudden drop in outdoor temperatures.

Water temperatures at the unheated outdoor pool, which is open 365 days a year, dropped to as low as 8C (46.4F) last week.

NHS experts say hypothermia, which can be fatal if untreated, occurs when the body’s internal temperature drops below 35C.

Swimmers using the pool have now been warned not to spend too long in the water.

In a post on social media, Parliament Hill Lido wrote: “The water temperature has dropped like a stone and is now sitting around 8.

“This is significantly colder than it was just a week ago, yet a number of swimmers are still trying to stay in the water for as long as they did last week

“This week, the lifeguards have dealt with at least one hypothermic swimmer every day, and they are becoming concerned that people are not taking the temperature seriously.

“Please look out for yourself and other swimmers and please don’t stay in the water too long.”

Parliament Hill Lido tweeted this post warning users about a drop in temperature at its unheated outdoor pool
Parliament Hill Lido tweeted this post warning users about a drop in temperature at its unheated outdoor pool

According to the NHS, hypothermia is a medical emergency that requires hospital treatment.

Symptoms include shivering, slurred speech and tiredness or confusion. One of the main symptoms is pale, cold and dry skin and blue-coloured skin and lips.

The NHS advises anyone who thinks a person has hypothermia and has any of the above symptoms to go to A&E or call 999.

Outdoor swimming experts, meanwhile, say there is no accurate way to preemptively estimate how long a person can safely spend in cold water as it is different for each individual and can depend on a number of factors including size, body fat percentage and physical fitness.

Outdoor Swimmers’ Handbook author Kate Rew told Sky News: “Winter swimming is a fairly brutal physical experience but a lot of swimmers find it fun – if you love rivers, lakes and the sea you can get separation anxiety not saying hello to outdoor water if you don’t swim from September till the following May.

“It takes bravery to get into ice-cold water, and you will be rewarded by a sense of achievement and shot of adrenalin if nothing else.”

Outdoor swimming has become an increasingly popular hobby in recent years, with many claiming it to be beneficial to health and mental well-being.

Symptoms of hypothermia, according to the NHS

  • Shivering
  • Pale, cold and dry skin – their skin and lips may be blue
  • Slurred speech
  • Slow breathing
  • Tiredness or confusion

A spokesperson for the Hampstead Heath charity which runs the Parliament Hill Lido, and which is managed by the City of London Corporation, said: “We are urging swimmers to follow our cold water swimming guidelines, especially during the recent drop in temperatures.

“There are risks associated with cold water swimming, even for regular winter swimmers.

“We are advising people to swim with care and only spend a short amount of time in the water.

“The Parliament Hill Lido is staffed with fully trained lifeguards to help keep swimmers safe.”