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At least 37 dead as migrant boat sinks off Turkey

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AYVACIK — The Turkish coastguard on Saturday recouped the bodies of women and children washed up on a beach after yet another migrant boat sank while trying to reach Europe, leaving at least 37 dead.

In harrowing scenes reminiscent of the death of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler photographed lying dead on a Turkish beach in September, the body of a small child could be seen among those strewn over a beach near the town of Ayvacik in north-western Canakkale province.

A Turkish official said the Turkish coastguard recovered 37 bodies. In an earlier statement the coastguard said 75 people had been rescued.

Photos showed the dead child dressed in dark trousers and a blue top, face covered with a small hat. In another image, a Turkish gendarme is seen lowering the body of an older child into a body bag.

A number of other children also drowned after the boat ferrying them and their families — some from Syria, others from Afghanistan and Myanmar — to the nearby Greek island of Lesbos sank just off the Turkish coast.

The incident comes two days after 25 migrants, including 10 children, drowned off the Greek island of Samos.

The coastguard also said it could not give an exact number of asylum seekers in the boat based on the testimony of the rescued people.

The capsized boat was visible around 50 metres from the shore, where divers from the coastguard were still searching for the missing. Military police in green berets placed bodies in bags to be taken to a morgue.

Life jackets and other refugees’ belongings were seen dotted across the beach.

The drownings continue a grim trend that accelerated last year when nearly 4,000 people died trying to reach Europe by sea, according to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

The influx, which has been fuelled by Syria’s civil war, has continued throughout the winter.

During the first 28 days of 2016, a further 244 asylum seekers died at sea, with at least a dozen more dying on land, the IOM said.

Turkey, which is hosting at least 2.5 million refugees from Syria’s civil war, has become the main launchpad for migrants fleeing war, persecution and poverty to Europe.

The Turkish Government struck a deal with the EU in November to halt the outflow of refugees, in return for 3 billion euros ($3.2 billion) in financial assistance, but the agreement has failed to check the migrant tide.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday that with 2,000 new asylum seekers entering the Balkans on their journey to northern Europe every day the EU “urgently” needed to implement its side of the agreement.

Italy has however questioned how much of the money should come from the EU budget, and how much control the bloc will have over how Ankara spends the funds.

AFP

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Demand for legalizing same-sex marriage

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KATHMANDU- Stakeholders concerned have demanded a law related to same-sex marriage in the context when the Nepal’s constitution and laws have accepted the concept of marital equality.

At an interaction program held with media about the issue of gender identity and sexual orientation by an organization named Yubalaya here Sunday, the demand came as a prompt need of the time by the people concerned.

The complaint of homosexuals was that they were deprived of marriage by choice in the absence of the legalization of same-sex marriage which according to them is the deprivation of fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution.

Blue Diamond Society Program Officer Anuj Peter said though the constitution has promised to make special provisions for protection, empowerment or development of gender and sexual minorities, such vows are yet to be executed in practice.

Peter, who identifies himself as a homosexual, shares that he has been legally denied to marry a man of his choice.

Yubalaya Chair Sabin Singh highlighted the need of support from media and civil society to address the issue of gender identity and sexual minorities regarding same-sex marriage law.

The participants of the program put their queries about marital equality, broader sexual education and safe abortion.

As told by the Society, to date, 30 countries across the world have legalized same-sex marriage and endorsed a law towards that end and the Netherlands was the first country to legalize it in the end of 2000.

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