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Phuket Gazette World News: Syrians are main asylum seekers in rich world – U.N.

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Phuket Gazette World News: Syrians are main asylum seekers in rich world – U.N. | Thaiger

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Syrians are main asylum seekers in rich world – U.N.
Reuters / Phuket Gazette

PHUKET: For the first time, Syrians were the biggest group seeking asylum in industrialised countries last year, as the impact of fighting in the country spread beyond the turbulent region, the United Nations refugee agency said on Friday.

A record number of asylum requests by Syrians and Russians in 2013 raised the total number received in 44 rich countries to it highest since 2001, the agency said. The total of 612,700 claims rose 28 percent from the year before.

Syrian refugees are expected to continue fleeing the country’s civil war, now in its fourth year. Some 2.6 million have now been driven into five neighbouring countries, one million in Lebanon alone, the agency said.

In the industrialised world, 56,400 Syrians requested refugee status in 2013, more than double the number the previous year, the UNHCR said in its report Asylum Trends 2013.

“There is clear evidence in these numbers of how the Syria crisis in particular is affecting countries and regions of the world far removed from the Middle East,” Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement.

Syrians who managed to lodge asylum requests in the industrial world enjoyed high rates of approval, 95 percent, Volker Turk, the UNHCR director of international protection, told a news briefing.

Russian nationals, mostly believed to be from the breakaway region of Chechnya, were the second-largest group of asylum seekers in 2013, with a record 39,800, a jump of 76 percent on the previous year, the agency said.

But many Russian applicants appeared to be migrants joining family in Europe, mainly Poland and Germany, rather than people fleeing violence and persecution, Turk said. He noted a lower rate of approval for their applications.

Asylum seekers from Afghanistan, the top country of origin for the two previous years, were the third-largest group in 2013 at 38,700, with Turkey their prime destination.

For the first time in eight years, the United States was not the biggest recipient of asylum seekers among the 44 countries. It fell to second behind Germany, despite a rise of 25 percent from the year before, to 88,400 claims, the agency said. Chinese nationals were the largest group of asylum seekers in both the United States and Canada.

Germany top choice

The biggest increase in applications by region was in the 38 countries of Europe, where a total of 484,600 requests were lodged, a rise of 32 percent over 2012. The 28 members of the European Union had 398,200 claims, also a 32 percent rise.

Germany was the top destination worldwide, receiving 109,600 asylum claims. Within Europe, it was followed by France with 60,100 and Sweden with 54,300.

“If you look at the last three years, it is Sweden and Germany that have attracted comparatively the highest number of Syrians within the European Union,” Turk said.

But Turkey is the biggest refugee host in Europe. It has issued a blanket temporary protection for Syrians, registering 640,889 to date, Turk said. “Which by the way, if you compare that, this is actually higher than the number of all people who applied for asylum in the industrialised world” in 2013.

In addition, Turkey received 44,800 individual claims, mainly from Afghans and Iraqis.

“We see a significant increase of Iraqis applying for protection in Turkey, which is not least due to the deteriorating security situation in Iraq,” Turk said.

Turk, asked about a hardening of EU asylum policies, said that the bloc’s Common European Asylum System was a “good body of law and legislation” that will help ensure that people needing international protection will get it within the EU.

“The problem is always access and admission,” he said.

Hundreds of people died last year as refugees sought to enter the EU by boat through Lampedusa, an Italian island south of Sicily, putting the EU’s migration policies in the spotlight.

European countries should ease requirements for Syrians and allow for more family reunifications, Turk said. He noted that some applicants tried to enter the EU using false passports or without documents, often helped by criminal smuggling rings.

“I think once you actually are able to enter a European Union country and you are able to access the asylum procedure, I think you have very strong safeguards in place that ensure that if you are in need of international protection you will actually get it,” he said. “The problem is how to get there.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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World

Doctors in India see alarming rise in severe Covid symptoms in younger patients

Maya Taylor

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Doctors in India see alarming rise in severe Covid symptoms in younger patients | Thaiger
PHOTO: Trinity Care Foundation / Flickr

Doctors in India are reporting a worrying rise in the number of young patients being hospitalised with severe Covid-19 symptoms. One medical practitioner in the western state of Gujarat says more young people are developing serious symptoms affecting their lungs, hearts and kidneys, with one hospital opening the state’s first paediatric Covid-19 ward. Other states are reporting a similar increase in severe symptoms among the younger population.

A new wave of infections has struck India, just as the country thought the worst was over and had begun to roll out vaccines. It has now recorded 1 million positive cases in a nation of 1.3 billion people. Despite this, hundreds of thousands of people gathered for the recent Kumbh Mela religious festival, with social distancing and face masks dispensed with. There were similar scenes at election rallies.

According to an AFP report in Thai PBS World, doctors in India are warning of a steep rise in infections among the younger generation. Around 35% of India’s population is under the age of 65 and Arvind Kejriwal, chief minister of New Delhi says around 65% of new Covid cases are in patients under the age of 45. Khusrav Bajan, a hospital consultant in Mumbai, has also expressed concern at the number of children being admitted

“We are also seeing children under the ages of 12 and 15 being admitted with symptoms in the second wave. Last year there were practically no children.”

Meanwhile, in India’s own “Silicon Valley”, Bangalore, 58% of Covid-19 infections in early April were in people under the age of 40, a 46% increase compared to last year. Tanu Dogra, a 28 year old book publicist in New Delhi, spent a week in bed after testing positive for the virus last month.

“I haven’t seen such a rise in cases in the last 1 year as I’ve seen in the last 1 week. Everybody on my timeline, on my WhatsApp, is frantically messaging each other because they’ve all tested positive.”

Medical professionals are critical of the slow vaccination rollout in India, with jabs currently limited for those over the age of 45. They are calling for inoculation to be extended to everyone, with many young people saying they feel exposed in the workplace, but have no choice, as the sole earners for their families.

Venkat Ramesh, a specialist in infectious diseases in the southern city of Hyderabad, feels the worst is yet to come.

“When I speak to my colleagues in major metropolitan cities across India, they have numerous calls from patients trying to find a bed. I’m quite afraid for the next month. Given the rapidity of the rise in cases, it is certainly worrying.”

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Business

Bitcoin sheds nearly 15% of its ‘value’ in one day

Tim Newton

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Bitcoin sheds nearly 15% of its ‘value’ in one day | Thaiger

After a meteoric, and probably unsustainable rise and rise over the past 12 months, Bitcoin has suffered a short and sharp mini-crash over the weekend, dropping nearly 15% of its value in less than an hour – a stark warning of the cryptocurrency’s unpredictable volatility.

Bitcoin dropped in ‘value’ from about US$59,000 to US$51,000 before rebounding. Ethereum and Dogecoin also suffered dramatic and sudden losses, before clawing back some of their losses.

This time last year Bitcoin was simmering around US$7,725 after bumping up and down on the spot since 2018. But last year, fuelled by fears of an over-heated US stock market, Covid volatility (whatever that is), government handouts and people-with-too-much-time-on-their-hands, Bitcoin went on a spectacular climb to peak at US$63,588 last Tuesday. But Newton’s first law (the scientist, not me) kicked into action, and with venom.

The price of a single Bitcoin hit a low of US$52,810.06 Saturday after tumbling more than US$7,000 in just one hour, before stabilising.

The drop on Saturday appears to have been triggered by a Twitter rumour that the US Treasury would crack down on money laundering schemes involving cryptocurrencies. Separately, Reuters reported a power blackout in China’s Xinjiang region, where a lot of Bitcoin ‘mining’ happens, was blamed for the steep dive.

That information came from data website CoinMarketCap.

The sudden rise of the cryptocurrencies over the past 12 months has drawn a lot of attention from governments and investors, and RobinHood-esque day trade brigade. Coinbass went public, and therefore ‘mainstream’, last Wednesday.

“All eyes are on Coinbase… as the cryptocurrency exchange prepares for its first day of trading as a public company on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol ‘COIN’.

Coinbase’s market debut is a special event for several reasons. First, it will be Nasdaq’s first major direct listing, an unusual route for companies to go public without the underwriting of an investment bank.” – USA Today

Then Dogecoin had a 500% rally – an ‘asset’ that was created as a joke 8 years ago – on April 16. 500%!!!

The fervent supports of cryptocurrencies, almost a cult, are having their moment and proving, for now, that they can have their day in the financial sun as well. With Coinbase’s successful debut on Wall Street last week, they’ve gone all suit and tie.

Last year’s sharp, and very tempting, rise in Bitcoin values has the wider financial market talking about the bubble in the cryptocurrency market – Bitcoin has more than doubled in value since the start of this year. The market will decide whether that bubble will continue to grow or do what bubbles eventually do.

At the end of 2017 the Bitcoin digital token rose in value to nearly US$20,000 before crashing to almost US$3,000 the following year.

For now, it’s all eyes on the cryptos to see which way they move. The only thing that can be guaranteed is that their valuations will remain volatile and that there will be winners and losers.

Bitcoin sheds nearly 15% of its 'value' in one day | News by Thaiger

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Tourism

World’s most travel-friendly passport list – 2021

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World’s most travel-friendly passport list – 2021 | Thaiger
FILE PHOTO: Japan tops the list of most travel-friendly passports.

The Henley Passport Index, which rates which passports are the most travel-friendly, has just released the list for 2021, with Japan once again at the top of the list.

But the Index noted that this international travel freedom comparison is mostly theoretical at the moment since Covid-19 continues to limit most travel worldwide. With a Japanese passport, travellers can enter 193 countries without a visa or with a visa-on-arrival. On the other end of the list, an Afghanistan passport can only get into 26 countries. The gap of 167 countries is the widest gap since the Henley Passport Index began tracking this data 15 years ago in 2006.

Singapore kept its second-place this year standing with just one less destination than Japan, followed by Germany and South Korea tied for 3rd place with 191 destinations. The rest of the top 10 are mainly European countries, with the exception of New Zealand and the US as part of the 5-way tie for 7th place with 187 destinations, and Australia and Canada tied for 9th place with 185 destinations.

The US and UK passports took a tumble, once tied for the most travel-friendly passport back in 2014, now losing ground slipping to 7th place. On the other hand, United Arab Emirates strengthened diplomatic ties worldwide and jumped 50 spots this year from 65th all the way to 15th. Over the decade, the climb is even more dramatic, with the Emirates exploding from 67 destinations 10 years ago up 107 destinations to 174 this year. China did well also, climbing 22 places since 2011, up to number 68 on the list.

Thailand’s passport is tied with Saudi Arabia at 66th with 79 destinations available without an advance visa.

The full list of most travel-friendly passports…
1. Japan (193 destinations)
2. Singapore (192)
3. Germany, South Korea (191)
4. Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, Spain (190)
5. Austria, Denmark (189)
6. France, Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden (188)
7. Belgium, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States (187)
8. Czech Republic, Greece, Malta, Norway (186)
9. Australia, Canada (185)
10. Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia (183)

Henley and Partners predict that the spread in passport access will mirror Covid-19 affected travel. Rich and mobile regions like the US, UK, EU and UAE are getting access to vaccination, hastening their ability to travel, while poorer and developing economies are experiencing a much slower vaccine roll-out.

Experts from Syracuse University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the Migration Policy Centre predict this trend will continue with potentially devastating long-term effects.

Countries that can afford and facilitate vaccination for their citizens quickly will be able to welcome travellers in for tourism and business and be able to travel more themselves. Conversely, countries that can’t afford the storage and distribution of vaccines will be less able to travel or welcome tourism income, widening a global wealth gap.

Remote working and the digital nomad lifestyle has been booming in recent years and with Covid-19 forcing businesses to adapt to telecommuting, the post-pandemic world will see more remote working, and countries falling behind with vaccinations will suffer the long-term loss in tourism dollars too.

SOURCE: CNN

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