Six In The Morning Sunday 10 December 2023

Chances shrinking of new ceasefire, Qatar says, as Israel steps up assault

Gaza death toll now reportedly about 18,000

The Gaza health ministry – which is run by Hamas – has reportedly said about 18,000 Palestinians have now been killed in Gaza since the war started on 7 October.

Al Jazeera quotes spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra as saying at least 49,500 others have been injured.

He told the outlet that 297 people had been killed and more than 550 injured over the last 24 hours.

Hamas is a proscribed terror organisation in many countries, including the UK and US. But the UN considers the figures provided by its health ministry to be trustworthy.

Gaza hospital director describes shortages and shooting

The manager at al-Awda Hospital in northern Gaza tells the BBC the building has been “under siege for five days”, meaning none of the 250 or so people inside are able to enter or leave.

Mohammed Salha describes an increasingly desperate situation – saying the facility only has enough fuel for four days, food for three days, and water for two days.

He says it’s impossible to get fuel refills, and that “we don’t know how to deal with this situation.” He says snipers have shot at a number of people in the hospital – two of whom were killed – without specifying who was behind the alleged shooting.

The BBC has approached the Israeli military for comment on this, and some separate accusations from the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) – which has detailed in a social media thread alleged attacks by Israeli troops on one of its ambulances and paramedics.

Iran stops Mahsa Amini’s family from travelling to receive human rights prize

Ban comes as jailed Nobel laureate Narges Mohammadi begins new hunger strike before award ceremony

Iran has banned Mahsa Amini’s family from travelling to France to receive the EU’s top human rights prize on her behalf, as the family of the imprisoned Nobel peace prize winner Narges Mohammadi said she had begun a new hunger strike before Sunday’s award ceremony in Oslo.

In Mohammadi’s absence, her 17-year-old twin children, Ali and Kiana, will instead collect the award on her behalf, reading out a speech their mother smuggled out of her cell.

The two high-profile award ceremonies, taking place days apart in Norway and France, have recast a spotlight on the deep costs borne by those who battle for women’s rights in Iran.


Refugees on the Balkan RouteEurope’s Nameless Dead

They freeze to death in the forests and drown in the rivers: Many of the migrants who die on the Balkan route are never identified. Relatives are desperately searching for certainty – and some even have to pay bribes to get access to the morgues.

By Doraid Al-HafidMay BulmanMaria ChereshevaAsia HaidarIvana LjuštinaSteffen LüdkeJack Sapoch und Nicole Vögele

The news that Husam Bibars had been dreading reached him on the evening of September 24. Majd, his son, had gone missing, he learned. He also found out that the other Syrian refugees his son had been traveling with left the 27-year-old behind. Alone, in a forest. Somewhere in Bulgaria.

Bibars, 53, a deliberate man with graying hair, is talking about that day in a sparsely furnished apartment in the center of Nakskov, a small town in southern Denmark. He has piled up tangerines, bananas and apples on plates on the living room table. A photo of Majd is hanging above him on the white wall. It shows a young man in a shirt and vest with a neatly trimmed beard, the eyes reminiscent of his father’s.

‘Small minority’ of nations blocking progress on fossil fuels at COP28, says at-risk Vanuatu

A small minority of countries at UN climate talks are blocking a growing consensus to phase out fossil fuels, at-risk Vanuatu’s climate change minister told AFP on Sunday.

The COP28 meeting in Dubai is at a “critical stage“, said Ralph Regenvanu, whose low-lying Pacific nation faces a severe threat from rising sea levels and tropical cyclones.

“The majority here wants fossil-fuel language, language that takes us away from fossil fuels, that indicates a desire for us to move according to the science, according to the 1.5 degree target,” Regenvanu said in an interview.

“So that is the will of the majority. We need the small minority of countries that is blocking progress to shift the position, and that’s what we’re working on for the next couple of days.”

Negotiators from around the world are trying to strike an agreement aimed at keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Hong Kong: Polls open in ‘patriots only’ council elections

Nearly all opposition and pro-democracy candidates have been barred from running in local elections after a Beijing-backed “national security” crackdown and turnout is expected to be low.

Voting for Hong Kong’s district council elections got

underway on Sunday, with the pro-China city government dismissing concerns of a potentially low turnout as many pro-democracy voters turning their backs on the polls.

Sunday’s candidates were required to seek nominations from three government-appointed committees, which effectively shut out all pro-democracy parties.

“It is the last piece of the puzzle for us to implement the principles of patriots governing Hong Kong,” Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing Chief Executive John Lee said while casting his ballot, referring to China’s ongoing efforts to weed out political opposition.

Philippines and China accuse each other of South China Sea collisions

Manila and Beijing have a long history of maritime incidents in the contested South China Sea.

The Philippines and China have traded accusations over a collision of their vessels near a disputed shoal in the South China Sea as tensions over claims in the vital waterway escalate.

The shoal is part of what are internationally known as the Spratly Islands.

China’s coastguard said in a statement on Sunday that two Philippine vessels, ignoring repeated warnings, had “illegally entered the waters adjacent to Ren’ai Reef in the Nansha Islands without the approval of the Chinese government”.

It said the Unaizah Mae 1 “made an unprofessional and dangerous sudden turn, intentionally ramming into China Coast Guard vessel 21556”. It said the Philippine side bore full responsibility.

Spokesperson Gan Yu also called on the Philippines to stop its “provocative acts”, saying Beijing would continue to carry out “law-enforcement activities” in its waters.