Home > News > News in Brief: 25 December 2007

News in Brief: 25 December 2007

A brief list of news for the day:

They Do Not Exist, And That Is Official. In the maze of dirty streets that spreads from Beirut’s revamped Sport City to the shabby Halabi quarters, 20,000 refugees are clustered in what is known as the Bourj al-Barajneh Palestinian camp. In a town plagued by poverty, many families live in complete destitution. These forgotten people have fallen through the cracks of legality and belong nowhere: they are known as non-ID Palestinians. With the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, many Palestinians fled their homeland to Lebanon. Today, there are approximately 400,000 refugees living in the ‘Land of the Cedars’, some with no documentation, and not registered with either the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) or the Lebanese authorities. (IPS)

Israeli Cluster Bombing Ruled Within the Law. Israeli military prosecutors have determined that Israel’s use of cluster bombs during last year’s war in Lebanon did not violate international humanitarian law, the army said Monday, closing an investigation into a practice that has drawn heavy criticism from the United Nations and international human rights groups. The United Nations and human rights groups have accused Israel of dropping about 4 million cluster bomblets during its 33-day war against the Hezbollah guerrilla movement. As many as 1 million bomblets failed to explode, according to the United Nations and the rights groups, and now endanger civilians. (Washington Post)

Thaksin to return as Thai political mess churns on. Ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said on Tuesday he was confident the party he backed in weekend elections could form a coalition government, unless prevented unfairly, allowing him to return from exile. (Reuters)

Australia would compensate me, hopes Haneef. Indian doctor Mohd Haneef, who was exonerated of terror charges in connection with the failed UK car bombings, has expressed hope that Australian Government would compensate him for the damages caused to him as he was ‘wrongly’ implicated in the case. In a legal victory for Haneef, the Federal Court on Friday upheld a decision to reinstate the work visa of the Indian doctor. (Indian Express)

Doubts Engulf an American Aid Plan for Pakistan. Weeks before it is to begin, an ambitious American aid plan to counter militancy in Pakistan’s tribal areas is threatened by important unresolved questions about who will monitor the money and whether it could fall into the wrong hands, according to American and Pakistani officials and analysts familiar with the plan. The disputes have left many skeptical that the $750 million five-year plan can succeed in competing for the allegiance of an estimated 400,000 young tribesmen in the restive tribal region, a mountainous swath of territory left destitute by British colonialists and ignored by successive Pakistani governments. (New York Times)

Afghanistan orders UN, EU officials to leave. Afghanistan has ordered a top European Union official and a United Nations staffer to leave the country for threatening national security, government and diplomatic officials said Tuesday. The two were declared persona non grata, apparently after allegations they had met with Taliban insurgents, a European diplomat said. (AFP)

Settlement plans stall Israeli-Palestinian talks. The latest peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have ended without making any progress. The negotiations, which were held in Jerusalem, broke down due to a dispute over the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. (Deutsche Welle)

Paper: Iran Plans to Buy Russian Copters, Fighter Engines. Moscow and Tehran are in negotiations for the sale of fighter jet engines and helicopters to Iran, the Kommersant daily reported Dec. 24, citing Russian arms industry officials. Iran wants to buy RD-33 engines for a fleet of new Iranian fighter jets, as well as an upgraded version of the Ka-32 helicopter that Tehran wants to be assembled in Iran, Kommersant said. Last year, Russia finished supplying Iran with 29 Tor-M1 air defense systems under a $700 million agreement. (Defense News)

Congo-Kinshasa: Ambitious Conference Aims to Bring Peace to Kivus. Hundreds of Congolese officials and representatives of neighbouring states, civil society and the international community are scheduled to gather in the North Kivu capital of Goma from 27 December for a conference about bringing peace and development to eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). But just three days ahead of the meeting, it was unclear whether one of the main players in the North Kivu conflict would attend, while some civil society groups in Goma, the province’s capital, have threatened to boycott the conference. (allAfrica)

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