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‘Balloon-Pop’ to support Calais kids

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screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-09-45-15LAST Sunday (Oct 16), a group of International Politics PhD students organised a novel event to express support for unaccompanied refugee children in Calais. The ‘Balloon Pop’ took place in the grounds of Aberystwyth Castle.

Braving the cold evening wind and rain, participants wrote messages of support on balloons.

The messages included ‘Refugees Welcome’, ‘All Kids Matter’, and ‘Children are Innocent’. With the sun setting over a stormy Cardigan Bay, the balloons were burst in a big group ‘pop’.

The burst balloons were then collected and sent to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, along with a letter calling for the United Kingdom to do more to help the children on the Calais camp. The event was attended by more than 30 ‘poppers’, including children, students and residents of Aberystwyth.

CHILD PROTECTION CONCERNS

Over 1,000 unaccompanied refugee children are currently living in the Calais refugee camp known as the Jungle. Evictions by the French authorities are scheduled to commence in the coming days, raising severe child protection concerns. Following a previous eviction earlier this year, an estimated 129 refugee children were reported to have gone missing. In this context, three PhD students of International Politics from Aberystwyth University decided it was time to, quite literally, make some noise.

Under the Dublin Agreement and Dubs Amendment, the United Kingdom has committed to welcoming unaccompanied refugee children. The former agreement provides reunification rights to unaccompanied children with family ties in the UK, while the latter allows for the resettlement of vulnerable unaccompanied children without family ties. Home Secretary Amber Rudd has reaffirmed her commitment to welcoming refugee children and a handful of children from Calais with family ties in the United Kingdom have started to arrive in the country. It remains unclear how many children will be relocated, however. Given that over one thousand unaccompanied refugee children are present in Calais, the Aberystwyth student group believe more action is needed to protect the lives and well-being of all unaccompanied refugee children in Calais, regardless of family ties.

One of the balloon pop organisers, Karijn van den Berg, told The Herald: “The sound of popping balloons, sadly, is only too reminiscent of the primary cause of displacement of many of these refugee children, who fled countries at war to the sound of gunfire and explosions. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which both France and the United Kingdom are parties, states that ‘a child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State’. Where is this special protection and assistance for the unaccompanied refugee children of Calais?”

UK GOVERNMENT STIRS

On Monday (Oct 17), 14 teenagers arrived in the UK from the jungle camp in Calais ahead of its looming demolition. The transfer of the vulnerable children, aged from 14 to 17, was confirmed by the Home Office. France’s Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, has called on the UK to fulfil its moral duty to Calais’ unaccompanied children: “From the point of view of some in France, the Calais migrants’ misery is entirely down to the selfishness of the British government.

“London, they believe, is hiding behind the Le Touquet agreements governing controls on entry from continental Europe to the UK. They accuse the UK of using these agreements in an unscrupulous way, as a means of refusing to take in refugees fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, including unaccompanied children with family connections in the UK. The first transfers of young people with close relatives in the UK begin this week, while France has agreed to take in 13,000 refugees. The British government now needs to intensify its efforts to identify and resettle child migrants.”

The founders of the ‘Balloon Pop’ have no illusions that an envelope of burst balloons will be sufficient to sway the policies of the United Kingdom. They hope, though, that their action showed the world that, across the country, people care; that Britain, despite appearances, has not lost its humanity.

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Man sentenced following Tregaron assault

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FOLLOWING a report of an assault in Tregaron on Tuesday, April 3, Dyfed-Powys Police has arrested and charged Saul Rownan Henvey, aged 42, of Chapel Street, Tregaron, with common assault.

He was arrested following the incident, for which the victim required hospital treatment.

Henvey appeared before Llanelli Magistrates’ Courts on Friday, April 6.

He received a three month sentence, suspended for 12 months. He was also given a 12 month supervisory order and ordered to undergo 30 days of rehabilitation requirements.

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Motorbike safety campaign launched across Wales

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A CAMPAIGN aimed at reducing the risk of motorcycle-related deaths and serious injuries on the roads is underway across Wales.

As the weather improves police see more bikers on the roads, taking advantage of the beautiful routes across Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire and Powys.

Dyfed-Powys Police is urging motorcyclists to ride safely and warns that until October there will be an increased focus as part of the campaign, named Op Darwen.

Superintendent Huw Meredith, Head of Specialist Operations, said: “Motorcyclists have long been identified as particularly vulnerable road users and reducing the number of road deaths and casualties on the roads of Dyfed-Powys is a priority for our Roads Policing Units.

“We have always welcomed motorcyclists from outside our borders to enjoy the magnificent landscape, but they must be aware that Dyfed-Powys Police is doing all it can to ensure our roads are used safely by all, with our Roads Policing Units taking robust action to prevent fatal or serious road traffic collisions on our roads.

“Everyone must take responsibility for their own and others safety on our roads and be aware of their riding and driving manner. Action will be taken against anyone choosing to ride or drive anti-socially, recklessly or illegally on our roads.

“Our officers see far too many tragedies, many preventable. Roads Policing officers will be out in numbers throughout Dyfed-Powys using a combination of education, engagement and enforcement to prevent further tragedies.”

Officers will also be encouraging riders to improve their biking skills by taking part in BikeSafe workshops, which
offer an insight into what can be achieved with further advanced training. The workshops, run by police forces around the UK, use a mix of discussions, on-road observed rides and information videos. They are designed to enhance the skills of all riders who have already passed their tests and are suitable for all abilities, from the most seasoned rider to those returning to biking after a period of absence.

Economy and Transport Secretary Ken Skates praised the campaign: “Our roads continue to be amongst the safest in the world.

“However, the number of motorcyclists being killed or seriously injured is still too high.

“Campaigns like this are a key part of a wider range of measures aimed at making our roads safer and preventing future motorcycling casualties. This holistic approach includes ensuring motorcyclists are prioritised in our road safety funding, supporting Go Safe’s operation of speed cameras and funding local authorities to deliver Bikesafe and other motorcyclist training.”

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‘Race hate’ case will be heard at Crown Court

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A BRYNAMMAN man who allegedly called for all Muslims to be ‘forcibly sterilised and banned from preaching their ‘evil creed’ in a social media post will have his case heard at Crown Court.

It s alleged that 34-year-old Jonathan Jennings posted nine offensive or threatening comments between March and April last year.

These are said to include threatening to ‘Jo Cox’ Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, hailing a man jailed for kicking a pregnant Muslim woman in the stomach as ‘a National Hero’ and suggesting that bombing mosques and ‘putting Muslim on top of bonfires’ were ‘great ideas’.

It is alleged that he said Hitler was born 100 years too soon, and called for Gina Miller to be ‘hunted down and executed’ over her stance on Brexit.

Appearing at Llanelli Magistrates’ Court wearing a blue military greatcoat, purple shirt, and yellow striped tie, Jennings, of Heol y Gelynen, spoke only to give the court his name, age and address.

Jennings’ solicitor said that he would not be entering a plea at this stage.

The District Judge declined jurisdiction, and Jennings was released on bail until May 18 at Swansea Crown Court, on condition that he does not post or repost anything on social media, or create any new accounts.

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