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69 Canadians giving up holidays to help with Australian wildfires – CBC.ca

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Sixty-nine Canadians are giving up their holidays at home to join the battle for the first time against the deadly wildfires devastating vast tracts of several Australian states.

The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre says 21 highly trained staff from a variety of agencies left Canada on Dec. 3 for a 38-day deployment in New South Wales after the centre received an official request for assistance.

On Thursday, a second group of 30 Canadians was sent in for a 38-day deployment in the fire zone and 18 more are leaving on Dec. 30 for about a month.

Kim Connors, executive director of the Winnipeg-based CIFFC, says Canada has called on Australian firefighters four times since 2015, and the “agreements are reciprocal in nature, so it was the first time that Australia has needed help from Canada.”

“Our Canadian firefighters and their families have volunteered their time to be away for the holidays, which is different for the northern hemisphere to be dealing with wildland fires over Christmas and New Year’s so we’re very proud of them for doing that,” he said in an interview.

The CIFFC says crews from the following provinces are assisting with a variety of tasks including roles in command, aviation, planning, logistics and operations:

  • Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Quebec.
  • Yukon.
  • Ontario.
  • Manitoba.
  • Saskatchewan.
  • Alberta.
  • British Columbia.

 “So they’re not on the front line, they’re in the overall management of the fires,” said Connors.

“They’ve been in a period of drought for quite a long period and it’s not a very good situation down there and obviously their summer is just started as our winter starts.”

Record high temperatures and strong southerly winds are fanning more than 100 fires in New South Wales alone.

Two volunteer firefighters have been killed and dozens of homes have been lost since Thursday in the massive fires, including the Gospers Mountain one that covered more than 460,000 hectares.

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New migrant caravan in Mexico pushes past blockade to head north

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Several thousand migrants from Haiti, South America and Central America set off from southern Mexico headed north on Saturday, clashing with law enforcement trying to hold the caravan back.

Some people among the latest mass movement of migrants trying to pass north through Mexico said they hoped to eventually reach the U.S. border, where the number of migrants trying to gain entry was already hitting new records.

Some 3,000 people, including families with young children, began trekking on foot on Saturday from the city of Tapachula near the Guatemala border toward Mexico’s capital.

One of the caravan’s organizers, Irineo Mujica, said he was leading the group to Mexico City in protest of the lack of government assistance in the south, where officials have attempted to contain thousands of migrants https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/this-is-prison-mexico-struggles-hold-migrants-far-us-border-2021-09-21, and to demand legal documents that would let migrants move freely in the country.

A highway checkpoint in Tapachula with some 400 law enforcement officers aimed to block their path, but many migrants managed to break past. A Reuters video showed people carrying backpacks and with children on their shoulders pushing through a cluster of officers in anti-riot gear who attempted to contain the crowd.

One family, including a woman and small children, were knocked to the ground in the crush of people, their belongings scattering.

Some migrants who attempted to leave Tapachula in September to head north were subject to brutal treatment by Mexican officials, and the government’s National Migration Institute condemned incidents of violence captured on video. https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/mexico-condemns-violent-actions-by-migration-agents-caught-video-2021-08-30

U.S. authorities arrested more than 1.7 million migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year, the most ever recorded https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-under-pressure-us-mexico-border-arrests-reach-record-highs-2021-10-20.

 

(Reporting by Jose Torres, Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by David Gregorio)

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Seven prisoners found dead in Ecuador jail affected by riots

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Ecuador‘s SNAI prison authority has found the bodies of seven prisoners in the same jail where violence between gangs lead to the deaths of 119 inmates last month, it said on Saturday.

The seven bodies were found in the Penitenciaria del Litoral, located in the southern city of Guayaquil, which has become Ecuador’s most violent prison.

The riot at the end of last month also left dozens of prisoners injured.

The seven prisoners discovered dead on Saturday were found in a pavilion used for conjugal visits, the SNAI authority said in a Twitter message without elaborating.

The deaths of four other prisoners in the jail during October are also under investigation.

The SNAI will work alongside police and prosecutors as it investigates the inmates’ deaths, it said.

Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency for the country’s penitentiaries last month in order to free up resources and increase control inside prisons.

Members of the military have also been brought in to help control prisons across the country.

Officials say gangs have alliances with transnational criminal groups and are battling over drug trafficking routes.

Since the beginning of the month Ecuador’s police have brought violence in Penitenciaria del Litoral under control, it said, adding that other prisons were also under control.

 

(Reporting by Alexandra Valencia; Writing by Oliver Griffin, Editing by Franklin Paul)

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Spain vows to speed up aid to volcano-hit La Palma

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Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Spain would speed up aid to the hard-hit agriculture and fishing industries on the island of La Palma, where part of the volcano’s cone collapsed on Saturday and red hot lava continued to flow over a month after the eruption began.

Lava has covered almost 900 hectares of land, destroying over 2,000 buildings and many banana plantations. More than 7,000 people have had to leave their homes since the eruption started on Sept. 19.

“At the cabinet meeting next Tuesday we are going to make a budgetary modification to accelerate the arrival of economic resources for both the Employment Plan and aid for the entire agriculture and fishing sector,” Sanchez said at a press conference during his fifth visit to the island since the eruption began.

In early October, Sanchez announced 206 million euro ($239 million) in government funding for the island to rebuild infrastructure and boost employment, agriculture and tourism. [L1N2QZ06F]

The Canary Islands Volcanology Institute said that part of the main cone had collapsed on Saturday morning. It tweeted footage of dark ash clouds billowing from the volcano.

Reuters footage showed lava engulfing buildings and a dog who appeared to have had a narrow escape after running away from the fast-moving flow.

The eruption has been devastating some of the island’s banana crops, which account for around half its economic output. [L8N2QQ2J0]

Sanchez paid tribute to all those working to tackle the eruption, which has caused no deaths.

 

(Reporting by Antony Paone; Writing by Jessica Jones; Editing by Christina Fincher)

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