The number of refugees who have entered Europe by sea and land this year has passed 1 million, the International Organization for Migration said Tuesday. The latest updates for so-called “irregular arrivals” into Europe in 2015 as of Monday put the total number at 1,005,504, according to the organization.
The vast majority — 971,289 — have come by sea, according to the figures. Another 34,215 have traveled over land. Among those traveling by sea, 3,695 are known to have drowned or remain missing as they attempted to cross the sea on unseaworthy boats, according to IOM figures.
The IOM’s director general William Lacy Swing has called the Mediterranean “the deadliest route for migrants on our planet.” The 3,279 people who lost their lives attempting to cross it in 2014 accounted for 65% of all migrant deaths that year.
By contrast, there have been 6,029 deaths between 1998 and 2013 along the second-deadliest border, the U.S.-Mexico border, the organization said. CNN
Heavy smog on Tuesday shrouded the capitals of the world’s two most populous countries. Air quality monitoring stations in Beijing and New Delhi displayed readings far exceeding the threshold for the highest-category hazardous level.
The Chinese capital on Monday and Tuesday was under its second-ever pollution red alert prompting Beijing’s metropolitan government to order factories to reduce production or shut down, pull half the vehicles off the capital’s roads and close schools. The city’s first red alert was issued on December 7.
In India’s capital, after a respite about a decade ago when anti-pollution measures led to improvements, the city is again choking on air considered the worst in the world, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Studies have shown that in Delhi every third child has impaired lungs now. If you look at the number of premature deaths that get reported from different studies in this city that virtually works out to be one death per hour due to air pollution related diseases,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director for research and advocacy at the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi.
The World Bank this year calculated that the shortened lifespans of people in India’s cities due to air pollution is costing the country’s economy $18 billion annually. VOA
On Monday, a suicide attacker drove an explosive-laden motorcycle into a military convoy near Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, Afghanistan, killing six U.S. service members and wounding two others, U.S. officials said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter. It was the deadliest attack on U.S. forces in the country since August, and struck as the Taliban is making a military push to capture Helmand province, a center of the opium poppy fields that help fund the Taliban’s insurgency. Among the U.S. troops killed was New York Police Detective Joseph Lemm, 45, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said late Monday. Lemm was serving his third tour as part of the Air National Guard. The New York Times
Elon Musk’s SpaceX made history Monday when the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket returned to Earth 10 minutes after its launch and landed safely in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Rocket boosters are usually only used once, and either burn or crash into the ocean after liftoff, but Musk has been trying to develop a reusable rocket in order to make space travel less costly (the most expensive part of the rocket, the engine, is in the first stage). Falcon 9’s mission was to deliver 11 commercial satellites into space for the communications company Orbcomm. This was SpaceX’s first launch since its rocket exploded in June while carrying cargo to the International Space Station. The Washington Post
Al-Shabaab militants ambushed a bus on Monday. They tried to single out Christians and kill. But a group of Kenyan Muslims shielded the Christian passengers and told the attackers they were prepared to die together. The Muslim passengers who were mostly women told the Islamic militants to kill them all or leave them alone, witnesses said.
The bus was headed to the city of Mandera, near the border with Somalia and Ethiopia. The journey is such a security risk that most buses travel with a police escort. In this case, however, the police car broke down and the bus continued on its journey, Joseph Nkaissery, Kenya’s interior cabinet secretary, said. A few hours later, the militants attacked.
In the Monday attack, the gunmen ordered Muslim passengers to come out of the bus and separate themselves from the Christians. There were more than 100 passengers on board. Muslim passengers gave the Christian women their hijabs and helped others hide behind bags in the bus, passenger Abdiqafar Teno told CNN. “They told them, ‘If you want to kill us, then kill us. There are no Christians here,” he said. A Christian man who tried to run away was captured and shot dead, Teno said. The driver of a truck, which was trailing the bus, was also killed. CNN
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