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Protests in Rome lead to clashes, arrests

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Demonstrators clash with policemen during a protest against austerity measures in downtown Rome April 12, 2014.

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

Two people were arrested and 15 policemen were injured on Friday when far-right activists and local residents held a protest over a new centre for asylum-seekers outside Rome.

The protesters tried to block the access road to the reception centre as the first group of 20 migrants arrived by coach and allegedly hurled stones at the police and set fire to bales of hay along the roadside.

The centre’s first residents are asylum-seekers from Bangladesh, Somalia and Etritrea.

Members of the neo-fascist organization Casa Pound Italia on Friday joined the protest against the centre by neighbourhood activists in Casale San Nicola, on the northern outskirts of Rome.

The local activists have been camping outside a former school since May 7 to protest against plans to turn it into a reception centre for about 100 migrants.

“We are not going to move from here. Casale San Nicola must remain in Italian hands. We will defend to the end,” said a deputy leader of the group, Andrea Antonini.

After police forced their way through the blockade, the activists vowed to continue their protest “in a legal and wholly peaceful manner”.

An investigation is due to be opened into Friday’s clashes, sources said.

Rome Prefect Franco Gabrielli — a top interior ministry official who authorised the opening of the migrant centre — said there will be no change of plan. “We will not take any steps back,” Gabrielli said.

Local authorities announced that 101 asylum-seekers being accommodated in an apartment complex in Quinto di Treviso would on Friday be rehoused in a disused military barracks after protests this week by residents in the small town 30 km north of Venice.

“No more refugees will be arriving,” the surrounding Veneto region’s Governor Luca Zaia announced.

Between Wednesday night and Thursday, locals stole furniture from apartments reserved for migrants and set fire to it. Forza Nuova, another neo-Fascist organisation, staged a sit-in in their support.

Italy currently hosts 93,700 refugees, about one per 1,000 inhabitant, against more than 200,000 each for Germany and France, 117,000 for Britain and 142,000 for Sweden, according to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, which has condemned recent acts of intolerance.

In Italy, where the economy remains persistently weak, anti-migrant sentiment is on the rise amid a surge in the number of asylum seekers arriving in the country, most of whom are fleeing conflict and persecution in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

(With inputs from IANS)

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Royal Enfield launches Interceptor, Continental GT 650 in India

The two motorcycles were unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in Italy's Milan.

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Royal Enfield's new trump cards
The two motorcycles were unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in Italy's Milan on November 7, 2017. Wikimedia Commons

The Royal Enfield on Sunday unveiled its much-awaited Interceptor GT 650 and Continental GT 650 in front of hundreds of bike enthusiasts at its annual rider mania here.
Both the motorcycles are powered by an all-new 650cc, air-cooled parallel twin engines with an oil cooler for enhanced performance. The fuel injected motor claims to deliver 47PS of power at 7,100rpm and a peak torque of 52Nm at 4,000rpm.
The two motorcycles were unveiled at the EICMA motorcycle show in Italy’s Milan on November 7, 2017.
The engines have a strong low and mid-range performance, retaining the Royal Enfield character of accessible torque through the rev range.
Also new to the Interceptor is the six-speed gearbox, specially developed for this motorcycle.
The gearbox is augmented by its ‘slip/assist’ clutch that facilitates easy riding in traffic with a light feel and prevents wheel-hop when downshifting gears – also a first for Royal Enfield.
The chassis has been developed from the ground up by the team at Royal Enfield’s UK Technology Centre and Harris Performance.
It has been engineered and fine-tuned for enhanced agility that can handle different terrains and speeds with ease while retaining the period classic style.
The Interceptor INT 650 ushers in the idea of the 1960’s fun, relaxed motorcycles from the sun-drenched California beaches.
With its classic tear-drop shaped fuel-tank, quilted twin-seat and distinctive wide braced handlebars, the Interceptor INT 650 looks every bit the stunning Roadster that it is.
The motorcycle is equipped with classic 18″ front and rear Pirelli tyres and twin shock absorbers, along with front and rear disc brakes with ABS.
While, the Continental GT 650 is a cafe-racer and looks almost identical to the existing Continental GT 535 as it retains the same headlamp, fuel tank and many other elements from its sibling while the rear has gone through some changes along with the new dual side exhaust muffler.
Speaking after unveiling the new motorcycles, Royal Enfield CEO and MD Siddharth Lal said: “Both the Interceptor 650 and the Continental GT 650 will be very accessible motorcycles in India in terms of both pricing and maintenance.”
He said that with the two new motorcycles, the company wants to upgrade their 2.5 million customers in India who wants more from the Royal Enfield.
He also said that the new motorcycles will be available in the showrooms by March or April. Without announcing the prices of the new motorcycles, Lal hinted that it would be priced between Rs 3 lakh and 3.5 lakh. (IANS)

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Drone and Satellites Expose Myanmar’s Pain

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Rohingya refugee
An Oct. 5, 2017 image taken from a video released by Arakan Rohingya National Organization shows villagers preparing to cross a river towards the Maungdaw township in the Rakhine state that borders Bangladesh.

London- The Rohingya refugee crisis is an age-old tale of displacement and suffering, but technology is providing new tools to tackle it, rights groups and charities said on Wednesday.

Powerful drone and satellite images are bringing to life the urgent needs of more than 800,000 Rohingya refugees who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar, while also providing strong evidence of abuses, which could be used to lobby for justice.

“We can describe for hours the large numbers of refugees crossing the border and how quickly existing camps have expanded, but one image captures it all,” said Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to neighboring Bangladesh since the military in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar launched a counter-insurgency operation after attacks on security posts by Rohingya militants in late August.

The UNHCR is using videos and photographs shot with drones to show the scale of the displacement crisis and bring it to life to spur action from the public and donors.

It is also using satellites to count and identify refugee families by their location in the Bangladesh camps to target assistance to those most in need, Mahecic told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an email.

The use of drone footage of refugees entering Bangladesh has boosted donations for medical care, water and food, according to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an alliance of 13 leading British aid agencies.

Rights monitors also hope satellite images can provide evidence that to help bring perpetrators to justice.

Satellite photos were used in the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to prove mass executions in 1995 in Srebrenica.

But the technology has yet to achieve its potential because of limited budgets and a lack of standardised methodologies accepted by courts, experts say.

Human Rights Watch has shared satellite images showing the burning of almost 300 villages in Myanmar, refugees’ mobile phone footage and their testimonies with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“We have found the debris field in satellite imagery where people were executed, corroborating multiple eyewitness statements,” said Josh Lyons, a satellite imagery analyst with the U.S.-based rights group.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has called the violence against Rohingya in Myanmar “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” and his office is working to determine whether it meets the legal definition of genocide.(VOA)

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Burundi Refugees in Miserable Condition, Assistance Programme Strapped for Cash

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Burundi refugees
Burundian refugees gather on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Kagunga village in Kigoma region in western Tanzania. voa

The U.N. refugee agency warns that funds for humanitarian assistance for hundreds of thousands of Burundi refugees have dried up, leaving only enough cash for the most essential needs.

More than 420,000 Burundi refugees, who have sought refuge in Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania, are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance; but, the U.N. refugee agency says it has practically run out of cash.

Only 19 percent of the agency’s revised $429 million appeal has been received. UNHCR spokesman Andrei Mahecic says “hard choices must be made. With so little money on hand, priorities must be rearranged to make sure life-saving needs are met”.

“But, there is a cost, there is a human cost attached to it,” Mahecic said. “There simply is not enough aid to go around. The services are not kept up to the standards that they should be and, obviously, in many cases, we are now facing the situation where shelter is by now dilapidated. The tents would need replacing. Eighty-eight-thousand refugees are still living under plastic sheeting, obviously vulnerable to heavy rains and so on.”

Mahecic says many refugees risk catching communicable diseases, such as malaria and acute watery diarrhoea. He says health care services must be urgently expanded. Because the money is not available, he says only 56 percent of identified survivors of sexual and gender-based violence are receiving the physical and psychological care they need.

The World Food Program, which also is suffering from underfunding, has been forced to cut monthly food rations to 60 percent in Tanzania — home to the largest number of refugees.

The UNHCR is appealing for international support so it can maintain its critical humanitarian assistance for Burundian refugees in the countries of asylum. The Burundians fled their country after violence surged in 2015. Many of them are women and children.