Prisoner swap in eastern Ukraine +++ Sick evacuated from besieged Damascus area
News | 27 December 2017
Prisoner swap in eastern Ukraine
A long-awaited prisoner exchange is taking place today between the two sides battling against each other in eastern Ukraine. According to the OSCE, 306 prisoners will be freed by the Ukrainian government while the separatist rebels will release 74. The exchange was agreed back in 2015 as part of the Minsk peace accord. It’s the largest prisoner swap in the eastern Ukraine war, which has seen more than 10,000 people killed since it began in 2014.
Sick evacuated from besieged Damascus area
Aid workers and Syrian volunteers have evacuated the first critically-ill patients from a rebel-held suburb of Damascus. International aid agencies last week made an appeal to President Bashar al-Assad to allow treatment for dozens of urgent cases - including seven children with cancer. The medical situation for residents in Eastern Ghouta has reached breaking point after four years under siege.
Deadly airstrike on busy market in Yemen
At least 25 people, including children, are reported to have been killed in a Saudi-led coalition airstrike on a market in northern Yemen. Sources linked to the Houthi rebels say the attack happened in the south-western province of Tawiz.
Obama warns of social media dangers
Barack Obama has issued a warning about the irresponsible use of social media. In an interview with Britain’s Prince Harry for the BBC, the former U.S. president said such actions were distorting people's understanding of complex issues, corroding civil discourse and spreading misinformation. Obama did not mention his successor Donald Trump by name:“All of us in leadership have to find ways in which we can recreate a common space on the internet. One of the dangers of the internet is that people can have realities. They can be just cocooned in information that reinforces their current biases.”
US imposes sanctions on missile makers
The United States has placed sanctions on two North Korean officials, who it says are "key leaders" of Pyongyang’s ballistic missile programme. The measures will essentially freeze any U.S. assets held by Kim Jong-sik and Ri Pyong-chol. Last Friday, the UN Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea in response to ballistic missile tests. Pyongyang called that move "an act of war".
Pakistan marks 10 years since death of Benazir Bhutto
Thousands of supporters of Pakistan’s People’s Party have converged at the mausoleum of the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to mark the 10th anniversary of her death. She was killed by a suicide bomber after an election rally in Rawalpindi in 2007.
Counting begins in Liberia elections
Vote counting has begun in Liberia in a run-off presidential election between the country's Vice-President Joseph Boa-kai and the former international footballer George Weah. Weah won the first round, but did not secure the required 50% of the vote for an outright victory. The winner will replace Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first elected female president. The result is expected to lead to the first smooth transfer of power in Liberia in 73 years.
Spain withdraws its police from Catalonia
The Spanish government has begun withdrawing thousands of police officers it sent to Catalonia to deal with the fall-out from an independence declaration by the Catalan regional government. The Interior Ministry in Madrid says the withdrawal should be complete by Saturday.
Mainly overcast with rain and snow spreading from southern to western Austria. It should be dry along the Danube and sunny in the north-east. Highs today are ranging from +2 to +11 degrees.
- Paul Brennan