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Afghan family crosses into Pakistan, heading to Canada after months of hoping – CTV News

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MONTREAL —
An Afghan man living in hiding for months has been able to escape Afghanistan with his family and now awaits a flight to Canada.

Reza Kateb had spent time working with the Canadian embassy to promote gender equality in Afghanistan and helped implement the Afghan elections, ultimately winning an award from Canada’s ambassador to Afghanistan in 2016.

But when the Taliban took over the capital city of Kabul in late August, Kateb and his family had to flee out of fear for Taliban retribution for his involvement with Canada’s government.

“I was hiding,” Kateb told CTV News. “I was not at my house, because that was not an option for me.”

At one point during the height of chaos in Afghanistan, Kateb narrowly escaped an explosion near the Kabul airport.

“The Canadian government sent me a message to avoid the area, so we avoided, and we are alive today,” he said.

Now two months later, Kateb, his wife and his three children — aged 12, eight and four — have successfully crossed the Afghan border into Pakistan, where they now await travel into Canada.

“I want a bright future for my children,” he said. “It’s very unfortunate that over the course of four decades, I never experienced peaceful life and sustainable life in Afghanistan. So, I want to be part of a peaceful life in Canada, if it is possible.”

Kateb and his family were assisted by U.S.-based humanitarian group Afghanistan Transit Initiative and were able to leave the country thanks to the Canada-based Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), as well as a CTV News journalist.

“I cannot find words to tell them, they helped me and family and many other families and friends,” he said.

Kateb also wanted to thank “kind people around the globe” who helped bring his family to safety either through fundraising or other support measures.

Getting across the border has not been easy. Kateb said he and his family tried many times to make the proper arrangements, but each time it fell through.

Still, Kateb never gave up hope, mainly because he had what few other Afghans have to help him cross the border: a passport.

“Many intimate members of my family do not have passports, so they are waiting for the passports,” he said. “I know that hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people have a [sic] visa, but are waiting for a passport.”

Kateb hopes to settle in Toronto once he arrives in Canada, as he has about 10 friends in the city and has already been promised a job in the area.

“They have a peaceful and satisfied life in Canada, so they encouraged me to come,” he said.

Kateb also has a long-term goal of achieving his PhD from a Canadian university.

Canada has committed to resettling 40,000 Afghans into Canada, though it’s unclear how many have since arrived. The government has previously cited privacy concerns for withholding that information.

The government has also committed $50 million to international organizations helping the Afghan people.  

There are an estimated 1,700 men, women and children destined for Canada currently stuck in safe houses across Afghanistan.

With files from The Canadian Press

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Former U.S. President Clinton leaves hospital, will return to New York

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Former U.S. President Bill Clinton walked out of a Southern California hospital on Sunday after being admitted last week for a Urological Infection, live video showed.

Clinton, 75, will return to New York and remain on antibiotics, Dr. Alpesh Amin, who had been overseeing his care at the hospital, said in a statement released by Clinton’s spokesman. His fever and white blood cell count have normalized, Amin added.

The former president had been in California for an event for his foundation and was treated at the University of California Irvine Medical Center’s intensive care unit after suffering from fatigue and being admitted on Tuesday.

He left the medical center accompanied by his wife, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

The two-term president, who has had previous heart problems, held the White House from 1993 to 2001.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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China condemns U.S., Canada for sending warships through Taiwan Strait

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The  Chinese military on Sunday condemned the United States and Canada for each sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait last week, saying they were threatening peace and stability in the region.

China claims democratically-ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has mounted repeated air force missions into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the past year, provoking anger in Taipei.

China sent around 150 aircraft into the zone over a four-day period beginning on Oct. 1 in a further heightening of tension between Beijing and Taipei that has sparked concern internationally.

The U.S. military said the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Dewey sailed through the narrow waterway that separates Taiwan from its giant neighbour China along with the Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg on Thursday and Friday.

“Dewey’s and Winnipeg’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the commitment of the United States and our allies and partners to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” it added.

China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theatre Command said its forces monitored the ships and “stood guard” throughout their passage.

“The United States and Canada colluded to provoke and stir up trouble… seriously jeopardising peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait,” it said.

“Taiwan is part of Chinese territory. Theatre forces always maintain a high level of alert and resolutely counter all threats and provocations.”

U.S. Navy Ships have been transiting the strait roughly monthly, to the anger of Beijing, which has accused Washington of stoking regional tensions. U.S. allies occasionally also send ships through the strait, including Britain https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/british-frigate-sails-through-taiwan-strait-2021-09-27last month.

While tensions across the Taiwan Strait have risen, there has been no shooting and Chinese aircraft have not entered Taiwanese air space, concentrating their activity in the southwestern part of the ADIZ.

While including Taiwanese territorial air space, the ADIZ encompasses a broader area that Taiwan monitors and patrols that acts to give it more time to respond to any threats.

Taiwan’s defence ministry said on Sunday that three Chinese aircraft – two J-16 fighters and an anti-submarine aircraft – flew into the ADIZ again.

(Reporting by Ryan Woo in Beijing, Ben Blanchard in Taipei and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Pravin Char and John

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No end in sight to volcanic eruption on Spain’s La Palma – Canaries president

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There’s no immediate end in sight to the  volcanic eruption that has caused chaos on the Spanish isle of La Palma since it began about a month ago, the president of the Canary Islands said on Sunday.

There were 42 seismic movements on the island on Sunday, the largest of which measured 4.3, according to the Spanish National Geographical Institute.

“There are no signs that an end of the eruption is imminent even though this is the greatest desire of everyone,” President Angel Víctor Torres said at a Socialist party conference in Valencia, citing the view of scientists.

Streams of lava have laid waste to more than 742 hectares (1833 acres) of land and destroyed almost 2,000 buildings on La Palma since the volcano started erupting on Sept. 19.

About 7,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on the island, which has about 83,000 inhabitants and forms part of the Canary Islands archipelago off northwestern Africa.

Airline Binter said it had cancelled all its flights to La Palma on Sunday because of ash from the volcano.

“Due to the current situation of the ash cloud, operations with La Palma will continue to be paralyzed throughout today. We continue to evaluate the situation,” the airline tweeted.

Almost half – 22 out of 38 – of all flights to the island on Sunday have been cancelled, state airport operator Aena said, but the airport there remains open.

(Reporting by Graham Keeley; Editing by Pravin Char)

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