BBC News with Marion Marshall
The United Nations has been given figures for the numbers of people dying every month in the Syrian war and those fleeing the conflict. The UN high commission of refugees told a Security Council meeting that the crisis had gone on for much longer than anyone feared with unbearable humanitarian consequences. Nick Bryant reports.
Almost 1.8 million refugees have now fled Syria according to the United Nations, two thirds of them since the beginning of the year. That’s an average of 6,000 people a day what UN officials describe as the most frightening rates since the Rwandan genocide almost 20 years ago. In a briefing to the UN Security Council, officials also spoke despairingly of the extremely high-rate of killings, approximately 5,000 people a month. It demonstrated, they said, a drastic deterioration of the war.
Panama’s security minister Jose Raul Mulino has told the BBC that it would take days to complete the search of a North Korean ship suspected of smuggling missiles through the Panama Canal. He said the North Korean crew had sabotaged the cargo hoist in the week since the ship was held.
“We have started to unload their vessel on Sunday around 250,000 bags of sugar which is a lot of sugar to unload and the crew members disconnect it and then destroy the mechanic cranes through their own board. So we are doing basically manually to take the sugar out in order to take the containers out of the ship to open them and with the specialized assistance determining what kind of weapon on earth were we found.”
The vessel, the Chong Chon Gang was sailing from Cuba. The ship’s captain has reportedly tried to kill himself twice since it was impounded.
A lawsuit has been filed against the United States government by a coalition of rights groups from across the political spectrum to try to halt its electronic surveillance programme. Rajini Vaidyanathan has more.
This lawsuit argues that the collection of phone records is an illegal and unconstitutional programme of dragnet electronic surveillance. It demands that the U.S. government returns and destroys all telephone communication it has. Details of the government phone surveillance scheme were leaked by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden last month. Officials confirmed they did monitor phone calls and said the schemes had helped to prevent terror attacks. The Justice Department and the NSA have yet to comment on this legal action.
The Russian authorities say Edward Snowden who remains on the run from the U.S. authorities has applied for temporary asylum in Russia. A Russian lawyer traveled to the airport outside Moscow where Mr. Snowden has been stranded for more than three weeks. The White House spokesman Jay Carney said they told the Russian government Mr. Snowden should be expelled to face trial in the US for leaking national secrets.
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Egypt’s new interim government has been sworn in but none of the 33 cabinet ministers come from Islamist organizations. Among those taking the oath before the interim president Adly Mansour was the army chief and defense minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who retains his post and also becomes first deputy prime minister. The Muslim Brotherhood has again said it won’t participate in the new government until the army reverses what it calls a coup and reinstates president Morsi.
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has attacked European Union guidelines that will ban EU funding and cooperation with Israeli institutions in the occupied territories. Mr. Netanyahu said that Israel would not accept any external dictates regarding its borders. From 2014, any agreement for EU funding to Israel must show that it does not apply to Jewish settlements.
An astronaut at the International Space Station has been forced to cut short a space walk after water is detected floating inside his helmet. The Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano said his head was wet and the problem seemed to be worsening prompting this instruction from NASA controllers.
“Hi, Chris and Luca just for you guys based on we heard with Luca saying there’s water in his eyes. Now it seems to be increasing. We think we’re gonna terminate EVA case for EV2. So Luca, we’ll have you head back to the airlock, Chris, we’ll get a plan for you to clean things up and then join him here in a minute.”
The planned six-hour walk was abandoned after 90 minutes.
The president of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos has said 30 members of the ELN, the country’s second largest rebel group, have laid down their arms. Mr. Santos called the development a great step towards peace. The ELN has expressed an interest in joining the ongoing government sponsored peace talks with Colombia’s largest armed group the Farc, but the government insists that it must release all its hostages first.