Video: Moroccan Workers in Saudi Arabia Ask King Mohammed VI to…

Rabat – Some Moroccans working in Saudi Arabia are requesting that King Mohammed VI intervene to resolve the issue of their delayed salaries after not being paid for eight months.A video posted on July 14 on YouTube by Moroccans working at Saudi Oger LTD, one of leading construction companies in Saudi Arabia and abroad based in Riyadh, shows Moroccan employees staging a sit-in in front of the company’s office and calling upon Mohammed VI to save them.The six-minute video shows the protestors in a tough situation, asking for their rights and a solution to settle their conditions. Currently, the workers do not know if they are expelled from the company or not, since officials  have not announced any formal decision yet. The video displays the protestors asking the King Mohammed VI and Moroccan officials to stand by their side and help them by intervening to resolve their problems, since they are no longer able to pay their residences rent  or renew the residency documents and their children’s school fees due to the delayed salaries.“We Moroccans living in Saudi Arabia are homeless in Jeddah due to the delayed salaries for seven-eight months from [Saudi Oger LTD]. People are being threatened to be expelled from their [work] and residency. There are people who have to [pay off] their debts in their homeland, so we are addressing the King Mohammed VI to restore our rights,” one of the protestors said.Another protestor said that the French officials and Embassy have intervened to resolve the problem for the French employees [at Saudi Oger LTD], and now they are about to resolve it.Last June, Saudi Arabian newspaper Arab News reported that 150 expatriate workers gathered in front of the company office in Jeddah to protest against their nonpayment salaries and set a fire to a number of company vehicles.Last March, Arab News reported that the Saudi Arabia’s Labor Ministry was being punished due to the delayed nonpayment salaries to some of its employees.The same source added that the ministry would terminate supplying some of the company’s services, such as the social security and passport affairs, as part of its punitive steps.Edited by Bryn Miller read more

UNICEF welcomes final release of child soldiers by armed group in South

The release of 282 boys and one girl by the so-called ‘Cobra Faction’ took place in Labrab, a village in a remote corner of Jonglei state in South Sudan, bringing to 1,757 the number of children who have been released by the militant group this year. During the release ceremony, the children handed in their weapons and uniforms in exchange for civilian clothes. The boys and the one girl will stay at the interim care centre where they will receive food, shelter, medical and psychosocial support until their families are traced and they can return home. “It is the last chapter in a series of releases that have taken place since January and follows a peace agreement between the faction and the Government of South Sudan,” UNICEF said in a press release issued today in Juba, the capital of South Sudan. Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF’s South Sudan Representative, said: “We are very pleased to have seen this process through and that the final group of children has been released from the Cobra Faction.” “But the work is far from over,” he continued. “These children must be reunited with their families and they must begin the long and difficult road towards rebuilding their lives.” “UNICEF is extremely concerned about the welfare of children recently recruited around Malakal in Upper Nile state, given the recent upsurge in fighting in the area, the UNICEF representative said. “We again call for the immediate release of these children and we continue to stand ready to provide all necessary support for their demobilization,” he said. The reintegration programme, which includes ongoing psychosocial support, costs an estimated $2,580 per child. UNICEF faces a funding shortfall of $11 million for the programme. The conflict that began in December 2013 in South Sudan continues to affect the lives of millions of people. It has been marked by brutal violence against civilians and deepening suffering across the country. The major humanitarian consequences are widespread displacement due to the violence; high rates of death, disease, and injuries, severe food insecurity and disrupted livelihoods, and a major malnutrition crisis. Some 5.8 million people are estimated to be in some degree of food insecurity as of September 2014. This number is projected to increase to 6.4 million during the first quarter of 2015. The people in need for the coming year include an anticipated 1.95 million internally displaced people and a projected 293,000 refugees. Within South Sudan, the most acute needs are found in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile, the three states that have seen the most active hostilities. read more

Knockout that left Montreal boxer in coma prompts questions in medical community

MONTREAL — One of the doctors who worked the boxing match Saturday night in Quebec City that left Adonis Stevenson hospitalized in an induced coma said he and his colleagues are at a loss to medically justify the sport.The goal of boxing is to inflict damage on the opponent, often by knocking him unconscious. And that carries important risks for severe head trauma, Jean Dore said.“I can’t say we can justify it,” Dore said in an interview. “It’s a question a lot of doctors are asking, especially doctors within the sport.”As of Monday evening, Stevenson, the 41-year-old Montreal-based fighter known to his fans as “Superman,” remained in intensive care in a Quebec City hospital after a knockout by Oleksandr Gvozdyk of the Ukraine. In a statement, the hospital described the fighter’s condition as stable.Despite his misgivings, Dore said he prefers to remain ringside rather than leave the sport.One of his patients was New Brunswick boxer David Whittom, who died last March after being in an induced coma for 10 months following a knockout blow.Dore chooses to keep attending fights, he said, “to better manage the situation and to try to prevent these events.” On Saturday, Dore was a backup physician and did not directly care for Stevenson.Dr. Charles Tator, a neurosurgery professor at University of Toronto and a director at Canadian Concussion Centre, said it pains him to watch boxing.“I can’t really watch combat sports because it bothers me so much when I see the direct hits to the head,” he said in an interview.He said its “tragic” that people willingly get into the ring.“There’s so many hits to the head that could be damaging, that I can’t take it as a brain surgeon, knowing what happens inside,” Tator continued.Alain Ptito, a brain trauma expert at McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital, said it is impossible to make the sport safe.“When you are knocking out someone, you are essentially damaging their brain,” he said in an interview.A fighter who stumbles and crashes onto the mat after a knockout punch has suffered trauma to the area around the brain stem, which governs vigilance and consciousness, he explained.Injuries are cumulative, Ptito added, meaning the more one gets hit in the head, the greater the likelihood they will have an early degenerative disease.“Boxing should be abolished as a sport,” he said. “I wouldn’t hesitate to say that.”But any pressure by doctors to ban boxing would trigger resistance from those who say government has no place interfering with consenting adults who understand the risks of professional boxing.In Montreal, one of the top boxing cities on the continent, the pushback would be particularly strong, said TSN 690 boxing analyst Matt Casavant.Fighters such as Lucian Bute, Jean Pascal, and Stevenson are major sporting figures in the city and are embraced by fans, said Casavant, who also works bouts as a cutman treating fighters between rounds.Boxing transcends sport, in part because of the storylines of troubled men who make something of their lives, Casavant said. Stevenson, for instance, served jail time for being a pimp. The boxer has in the past credited boxing for turning his life around.“These fighters, especially in North American culture — do not necessarily choose this path,” Casavant said. “This is their best way of getting out of trouble — of making a living for their family. Boxing knows what it is. It’s not trying to hide the fact it has big-time risks and health concerns.”Sylvera “Sly” Louis, co-owner of Underdog Boxing Gym in downtown Montreal, said boxing changed his life.“Boxing lets me express my anger — my anger and my desire to create and to compete,” he said in an interview. “It allows me to be nice (outside the ring.)”Louis, 36, who still competes professionally, said seeing what happened to Stevenson was a reminder of the dangers of the ring. “Sometimes when I’ve gotten hit, my ego will want to pretend that it didn’t hurt me,” he said. “We’re all proud and sometimes our pride can get us hurt.”Louis started boxing at 16, and he says it makes him happy to see people he’s come up with over the years doing well, thanks in large part to the sport.“We’re not in jail and we’re not dead,” he said. “Some have families and most are doing good.”— With files from Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press.Giuseppe Valiante, The Canadian Press read more