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US, UK electronics ban on Middle East flights takes off

The British ban applied to any device, including smartphones, larger than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide or 1.5cm deep. However, most phones will be smaller than the limit.

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electronics ban on Middle East flights

London, March 25 : A ban on laptops and tablets in cabin baggage on flights from Turkey and some countries in the Middle East and North Africa to the US and Britain came into effect on Saturday, the media reported.

Officials said devices “larger than a smartphone” must travel in the hold because of an increased risk that they could contain explosives.

However, at least one airline was allowing devices to be used up until boarding, reported BBC.

The US ban covered eight countries, while Britain’s restrictions applied to six.

Nine airlines from eight countries — Turkey, Morocco, Jordan, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait — were affected by the US ban. They operate about 50 flights a day to the US.

UAE airline Emirates was offering complimentary packing and shipping services at gates to enable passengers to use their electronic devices after check-in and until boarding.

Passengers flying on two-leg trips from other countries to the US through Dubai can use their laptops on the first leg of their flights, said the report.

The United Kingdom ban, meanwhile, affected all flights out of Egypt, Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Lebanon.

The British ban applied to any device, including smartphones, larger than 16cm long, 9.3cm wide or 1.5cm deep. However, most phones will be smaller than the limit.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the US and Britain to lift the bans as soon as possible, said BBC.

The US Department for Homeland Security cited attacks on planes and airports over the past two years as the reason for the ban.

European security experts will be meeting next week to discuss the electronics ban by both countries, the Guardian reported.

Middle East

UN appeals for countries to take in 1,300 Libyan refugees

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Libyan refugees

The UN has appealed to countries worldwide to take in 1,300 mainly African refugees stranded in Libya. Many of them were mistreated while being detained appalling conditions.

Niger has agreed to temporarily host the most vulnerable of the evacuees, including unaccompanied children and single mothers, pending their processing and departure for resettlement, Reuters said.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Monday that it “urgently requests 1,300 places for resettlement” to be made available by the end of March. The UNHCR intends to evacuate between 700 and 1,300 people from Libya to Niger by the end of January 2018.

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Middle East

‘Don’t buy from Arabs’, says Israeli Defense Minister

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Avigdor Lieberman

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has called on his fellow citizens to boycott the Palestinian market of the Wadi Ara region of north-east Israel, after riots broke out there on Saturday over the American decision to move their embassy to Jerusalem.

Three people were injured when protesters began hurling stones at a bus. “I am calling for a boycott of Wadi Ara. Don’t go there and don’t buy there. They need to understand that it is impossible to demonstrate with Hezbollah flags, Palestinian flags and pictures of [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah.

To accept billions from the National Insurance [Institute] and to also destroy us from within,” Haaretz quoted Lieberman telling Army Radio.

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Middle East

Hamas leader calls for ‘new intifada in the face of Israel’

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Ismail Haniyeh

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has called for a new uprising against Israel following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state.

“We should call for and we should work on launching an intifada in the face of the Zionist enemy,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, in a speech in Gaza Thursday, Reuters reports.

Anti-US protests erupted almost immediately after Trump’s declaration Wednesday, with Palestinians first to take to the streets, calling for three days of rage against the move.

World leaders expressed serious concern over the decision and its potential to destabilize the region.

The decision has been welcomed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who thanked Trump, and said he be believes “many” other nations will follow suit in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Pope Francis said he could not “remain silent” and spoke of his “great anxiety” surrounding the decision, while the EU voiced “serious concern.”

“I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days,”Francis said at his weekly general audience at the Vatican.

“Jerusalem is a unique city,” he added, “sacred to Jews, Christians and Muslims, where the Holy Places for the respective religions are venerated, and it has a special vocation to peace.”

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