Six In The Morning Monday 18 September 2023

The nightmare is over’: Americans freed by Iran in prisoner swap

Chief international correspondent

Five Americans jailed for years in Iran and widely regarded as hostages are on their way home to the United States.

The last pieces in a controversial swap mediated by Qatar fell into place when $6bn (£4.8bn) of Iranian funds held in South Korea reached banks in Doha.

It triggered the next step – to allow the four American men and one woman in Tehran, who are also Iranian citizens, to board a flight to Qatar’s capital.

They will be met by senior US officials and then flown to Washington.

The Americans are reported to include 51-year-old businessman Siamak Namazi, who has spent nearly eight years in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, as well as businessman Emad Shargi, 59, and environmentalist Morad Tahbaz, 67, who also holds British nationality.

Libya floods: calls for aid grow louder as hopes of finding survivors fade

Eight days after the city of Derna was devastated by floods the death toll has passed 11,300 with more than 10,000 missing

Eight days after a 10-metre wall of water transformed a city of 100,000 people into a wasteland some people are still wearing the pyjamas they woke up in that terrible night. With loved ones lost, finding new clothes, washing, sleeping and eating are not priorities for the survivors of Derna.

Libyans from all over the country have rushed to help, and among them are rescue teams from the Libyan Red Crescent, some in crimson jackets, others in white hazmat suits, gloves and masks. Roads into Derna are filled with ambulances and trucks carrying food and water.

Where is Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu?

Political upheaval continues in China, with another major minister disappearing from public view. Questions over the fate of Defense Minister Li Shangfu could cast a negative light on the military and Xi Jinping.

The disappearance of Defense Minister Li Shangfu is the most recent case of apparent problems among the top echelons of China’s political leadership.

Li, who was only appointed six months ago, has been out of public sight since August. The 65-year-old is believed to be the subject of a corruption investigation, a scenario which could end up reflecting poorly on Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Suspicions were first roused when Beijing suddenly called off Li’s attendance at a September annual gathering in Vietnam, stating that the minister had a “health condition.”

Then reports from Western media further fueled the debates over Li’s status.

‘Border surveillance’ primary focus of EU migrant plan, ‘real solution has not been discussed’


European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday visited the Italian island of Lampedusa, which is struggling with a surge in migrant arrivals, and promised a 10-point EU action plan to help Italy deal with the situation. For more analysis and perspective on the EU’s solutions to migration, FRANCE 24’s Delano D’Souza is joined by Sara Prestianni, Euromed Rights’ Head of Thematic Programmes Unit. Ms. Prestianni takes strong issue with the EU action plan, deriding it as “nothing new at all” and that the “solutions are not really solutions.”Nearly 126,000 migrants have arrived in Italy so far thisyear, almost double the figure by the same date in 2022.

Australia swelters in spring heatwave with temperatures up to 16 degrees Celsius above September average

By Renju Jose

A spring heat wave across large parts of Australia’s southeast, including Sydney, intensified on Monday, the weather bureau said, with temperatures expected to peak up to 16 degrees Celsius above the September average.

Australia is baking through a rising heatwave which has been building in the country’s outback interior over the weekend and is likely last until Wednesday across the states of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.

The Bureau of Meteorology said it expected several early spring records were likely to be broken over the next few days, calling the heat “very uncommon for September”.

UNESCO designates ancient Jericho ruins as World Heritage Site, sparking Israeli ire

Updated 12:19 AM EDT, Mon September 18, 2023

The United Nations World Heritage Committee voted Sunday to list the Tell es-Sultan archaeological site in Jericho as a “World Heritage Site in Palestine.”
The decision was made at a conference held in Riyadh, UNESCO said on its official X account, formerly known as Twitter.


The Palestinian Authority welcomed the decision, while Israel expressed ire.

The newly designated site, located in Jericho in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, contains ruins dating back to the ninth millennium BCE. Jericho itself is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world.