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A Syrian asylum seeker who says he’s been stranded at a Malaysia airport for more than a month — after his attempts to leave the country were repeatedly blocked — has been contacted by the United Nations.
Hassan al-Kontar, who ended up in Kuala Lumpur after fleeing a war in Syria is stuck in limbo — neither able to stay nor seek a new home.
An airport immigration official tells VOA that responsibility for Kontar, who is seeking refuge elsewhere because his Malaysian visa expired and the country won’t grant him asylum, lies with a private airline that brought him into the country, not the government.
Kontar said U.N. High Commission on Refugee officials met with him on Wednesday after video pleas that he posted to social media drew media attention.
“I tried to reach each and every international human [rights] organization,” he said on Wednesday. “Today itself they show up, after 36 days, they interviewed me, I just finished with them from 9am to 2pm.”
Two UNHCR officials told Kontar his case is being reviewed, but made no promises, according to Kontar.
In a statement, a UNHCR spokesperson confirmed it had contacted Kontar and authorities, but was unable to comment on individual cases.
“In general, it is standard practice to advocate for the protection of persons in need of international protection,” the statement said.
Kontar said that after fleeing Syria in 2006 he was unable to renew his residency visa in the United Arab Emirates and consequently was arrested and deported to Malaysia in 2016.
Realizing his case was equally hopeless in Malaysia, he tried to fly to Ecuador on February 28, 2017, but was prevented at the last minute by Turkish airline officials because his flight had a stopover in Turkey. The ticket cost him thousands of dollars, he said.
With what little money he had left, Kontar bought a March 7 AirAsia ticket to Cambodia, a country he knew had a visa-on-arrival option that could serve as a bridging destination on his way to comparatively refugee-friendly Ecuador.
But upon arrival, Cambodian officials took his passport and demanded a hefty bribe, which he could not pay, said Kontar.
“They asked me how much cash I had,” he said. “They were able to solve the matter if I gave them under the table some money, but they were asking for a lot so I refused to give them that money so they sent me back.”
Kontar said his passport remained with AirAsia staff, who helped him with the odd meal along with other random people inside the arrival area.
Keo Vanthan, deputy director of Cambodia’s Immigration Department, could not be reached for comment.
Keo Sarin, director of the Immigration Department’s administration office, confirmed Kontar had arrived on March 7, but said he knew nothing about the case and had not seen a report into it before hanging up on a reporter.
On Thursday Sok Veasna, an official at the Immigration Department, told The Phnom Penh Post Cambodia had a right to turn away certain individuals.
“We have visa-on-arrival, [but that] does not mean we allow everyone to enter Cambodia without our security check or different layers,” he told the paper in a message.
Cambodia is a signatory to the U.N. Refugee Convention and has also resettled at least one Syrian under a controversial refugee deal with Australia.
An immigration official at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 – where Kontar is stranded – declined to address the case.
“It’s under Air Asia’s responsibilities,” the official said, and provided a number for the airline that would not connect.
In a void of information, Kontar remained in the airport’s arrival area and said he feared he would be deported back to Syria imminently, something he had begged Malaysian immigration officials not to do.
“I said it would be like a death sentence. I cannot go to Syria,” he said. “I explained to them why and I tried to enlighten them about international law and how you are not allowed to send people back to a conflict zone.”
“It’s the story of thousands of people who tried to smuggle themselves through the Mediterranean and watched their kids die. It’s the story of the Syrians who are stuck inside Syria. It’s not only my story, it’s my people’s story,” he said, fighting back tears. VOA
As robots evolve to do more work around us, the UK-based humanoid robot manufacturer Engineered Arts has infused more human-like facial expressions into one of its robots, which may leave you with an eerie feeling.
In a video posted on YouTube, the robot called 'Ameca' displays various human expressions, like appearing to "wake up" from sleep, as its face shows confusion and frustration when it opens its eyes.
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Once awake, 'Ameca' starts looking at its hands and arms, opens its mouth and raises its eyebrows, just like a human does.
At the end of the video, Ameca smiles and holds a welcoming hand out towards the viewer.
According to Engineered Arts, the humanoid bot is currently unable to walk and it is working towards giving it the ability in the near future.
"Designed specifically as a platform for development into future robotics technologies, 'Ameca' is the perfect humanoid robot platform for human-robot interaction," says the company.
The 'Ameca' hardware is a development based on its own research into humanoid robotics and built on its advanced 'Mesmer' technology.
Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.Unsplash
Also read: NASA humanoid robot dances to technology
Engineered Arts is slated to put 'Ameca' on display at the CES 2022 conference in Las Vegas in the US in January.
"Human-like Artificial Intelligence needs a human-like artificial body. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning systems can be tested and developed on Ameca alongside our powerful 'Tritium' robot operating system," the company posted on its website. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: Humanoid Robot, Ameca, Technology)
Microsoft has disrupted the activities of a China-based hacking group, gaining control of the malicious websites the group used to attack organisations in the US and 28 other countries around the world.
The Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) said in a statement that a federal court in Virginia granted its request to seize websites of the hacking group called 'Nickel', enabling the company to cut off Nickel's access to its victims and prevent the websites from being used to execute attacks.
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"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations," said Tom Burt, Corporate Vice President, Customer Security and Trust at Microsoft.
Obtaining control of the malicious websites and redirecting traffic from those sites to Microsoft's secure servers will help the company protect existing and future victims while learning more about Nickel's activities.
Also Read : Fortnite : A Gold Mine for Hackers
"Our disruption will not prevent Nickel from continuing other hacking activities, but we do believe we have removed a key piece of the infrastructure the group has been relying on for this latest wave of attacks," Burt said late on Monday.
To date, in 24 lawsuits - five against nation-state actors -- Microsoft has taken down more than 10,000 malicious websites used by cybercriminals and nearly 600 sites used by nation-state actors.
"We have also successfully blocked the registration of 600,000 sites to get ahead of criminal actors that planned to use them maliciously in the future," the tech giant informed.
"We believe these attacks were largely being used for intelligence gathering from government agencies, think tanks and human rights organisations."Unsplash
In some observed activity, Nickel malware used exploits targeting unpatched on-premises Exchange Server and SharePoint systems.
"However, we have not observed any new vulnerabilities in Microsoft products as part of these attacks. Microsoft has created unique signatures to detect and protect from known Nickel activity through our security products, like Microsoft 365 Defender," the company noted.
Nickel has targeted organisations in both the private and public sectors, including diplomatic organisations and ministries of foreign affairs in North America, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Africa. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords : hacking, China, Microsoft, website, victim, intelligence, attack, malicious, traffic, server, company, disruption, lawsuits, cybercriminals, vulnerability.)
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Chip manufacturer MediaTek on Monday announced that it is focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, substantial expansion in Research and Development capabilities.
MediaTek's plans to boost technology democratisation and enable access to disruptive connectivity with its range of mainstream to flagship 5G chips.
"We at MediaTek are focused on making 2022 a year aimed at rapid growth, business success, and substantial expansion in our R&D capabilities. For 2022, we are focused on further strengthening our presence in India, offering incredible experiences to customers, and supporting the country's technology initiatives with our expertise and collaboration with leading OEMs," Anku Jain, Managing Director, MediaTek India said in a statement.
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In the flagship segment, MediaTek recently announced the Dimensity 9000 chip, which is a milestone of innovation and a rise to the incredible, built-to-power flagship 5G smartphones in the world, the company claims.
MediaTek Dimensity 9000 features a single Cortex-X2 performance core clocked at 3.05GHz, three Cortex-A710 cores at 2.85GHz and four Cortex-A510 efficiency cores at 1.8GHz.
It packs a 10-core Arm Mali-G710 that takes care of graphics processing, the report said.
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.Unsplash
Also read: Realme Unveils First 5G Smartphone
The chipset also comes packed with MediaTek's fifth-generation APU with six total cores for AI processing.
The chipset can handle screens with up to a 180Hz refresh rate at Full HD+ resolutions. It is also the first chipset to have an 18-bit image signal processor, offering the ability to capture 4K HDR video using up to three cameras at the same time, or still photos using up to a massive 320MP sensor. (IANS/PR)
(Keywords: 5G, smartphones, Mediatek)