The Guardian 2024-06-12 13:10:01


US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal

Hamas was reportedly seeking some amendments to the proposal, as Antony Blinken puts pressure on both sides to accept the deal

The US has said it is “evaluating” Hamas’ formal response to its Gaza ceasefire proposal, as the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, attempts to channel global support for a UN security council resolution backing the proposal into pressure on the Palestinian militant group and Israel.

Late on Tuesday, a Hamas official said they had submitted a response to Egyptian and Qatari mediators, seeking some “amendments”, and that their priority was to bring a “complete stop” to the war. A separate Hamas spokesperson, Jihad Taha, said the response included “amendments that confirm the ceasefire, withdrawal, reconstruction and [prisoner] exchange”.

Washington received the reply and was “evaluating it right now,” national security council spokesperson John Kirby told journalists on Tuesday night, while declining to provide details on its content.

Blinken, on his second day of a visit to the Middle East, said Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had “reaffirmed his commitment” to the proposal.

Blinken met Israeli opposition leaders on Tuesday morning, and spoke privately to hostages’ families before travelling to Jordan for an emergency summit on humanitarian aid for Gaza, where more than a million people are on the brink of famine and most of the population are displaced.

He announced an extra $404m (£317m) funding for humanitarian aid for Gaza at the conference, and called on other countries to step up donations.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said the international community had a responsibility to press Israel to open land crossings into Gaza. His Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said international pressure was needed to stop Israel using hunger as a weapon.

Blinken had been in Egypt on Monday, and was expected to visit Qatar as well. Both countries have served as key mediators with Hamas.

The deal, which was approved by the UN on Monday, was unveiled by the US president, Joe Biden, at the end of May. Biden presented it as an Israeli initiative although Netanyahu has been at best ambivalent about the plan, saying any ceasefire proposal before Hamas military and governance capacity had been destroyed was a “non-starter”.

That position appears to contradict the terms of the agreement, which calls for an initial exchange of elderly, sick or female hostages for Palestinian detainees held by Israel, in the course of a first six-week halt to fighting.

The ceasefire would evolve into a permanent end to hostilities and the release of all hostages in a second phase. A final stage would see the launch of a major reconstruction effort.

Hamas’s position could also complicate progress. It has said it would only accept a permanent ceasefire deal, after one temporary break in fighting collapsed last winter, and reportedly asked for international guarantees of any ceasefire.

Senior officials from the group on Tuesday welcomed the resolution and said it was ready to negotiate details. A spokesperson, Jihad Taha, said Israel was “stalling and procrastinating and creating obstacles” so it could continue fighting.

The UN vote on Monday was the first time a deeply divided security council has endorsed a comprehensive plan for Gaza. Palestinian support for the US resolution made it much harder diplomatically for Russia or China to veto it.

The rare show of relative unity puts pressure on both parties to the conflict, though both have shown themselves to be far more influenced by local constituencies and the personal interests of leaders than by international public opinion.

Netanyahu’s government has shifted to the right since Biden unveiled the deal, with the war cabinet member Benny Gantz resigning from the government over the failure to make a long-term plan for Gaza.

That has increased the weight of hardline extremists, who want to keep fighting and have said they would resign if Netanyahu accepted a deal.

However, the prime minister is also under pressure over the fate of hostages still in Gaza, whose relatives are lobbying hard for Israel to accept the deal. They demonstrated outside Blinken’s hotel in Tel Aviv, and he also met hostages’ families.

Four hostages were rescued at the weekend by Israeli special forces, in a mission that killed more than 270 Palestinians, many of them civilians, prompting international outrage at what the top EU diplomat, Josep Borrell, called a “massacre”.

The UN human rights office said it was “shocked” by the impact on civilians of the rescue operation, and warned that Israeli forces and Hamas may both have committed war crimes.

The operation brought the total freed in military operations to just seven, a tiny proportion of the 250 people captured in the Hamas cross-border attacks on 7 October, when militants also killed about 1,200 Israelis.

Relatives say military operations cannot free all their loved ones. Most of those who are now home were handed over under a temporary ceasefire deal last November. There are still 120 held in Gaza, at least a third of whom are presumed to have died.

In Gaza there was scepticism that the deal would bring a halt to Israeli attacks that have killed more than 37,000 people, according to health authorities in the strip, and brought at least half the population to the brink of famine.

“We will believe it only when we see it,” said Shaban Abdel-Raouf, 47, displaced with his family of five to the central town of Deir al-Balah. “When they tell us to pack our belongings and prepare to go back to Gaza City, we will know it is true,” he told Reuters.

Four Israeli soldiers were killed there in an ambush on Tuesday, Israeli media reported. Forty Palestinians were killed in Gaza over the last 24 hours, and 120 injured, Gaza health authorities said.

Fears of escalating conflict between Hezbollah and Israeli forces across the northern border were also on Blinken’s agenda in Israel. Late on Monday Israeli forces killed three fighters when they hit a convoy of tankers, and on Tuesday Hezbollah fired a barrage of about 50 projectiles towards the Golan Heights.

Blinken told Gantz that the ceasefire deal for Gaza would improve Israel’s security by taming tensions on that border, the US state department said.

Explore more on these topics

  • Israel-Gaza war
  • Gaza
  • Palestinian territories
  • Antony Blinken
  • Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Humanitarian response
  • United Nations
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

‘Unprecedented scale’ of violations against children in Gaza, West Bank and Israel, UN report says

More ‘grave violations’ committed in occupied territories and Israel than anywhere else in world, report says

More grave violations against children were committed in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel than anywhere else in the world last year, according to a UN report due to be published this week.

The report on children and armed conflict, which has been seen by the Guardian, verified more cases of war crimes against children in the occupied territories and Israel than anywhere else, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, Nigeria and Sudan.

“Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory presents an unprecedented scale and intensity of grave violations against children,” the report said.

The annual assessment – due to be presented to the UN general assembly later this week by the secretary general, António Guterres – lists Israel for the first time in an annex of state offenders responsible for violations of children’s rights, triggering outrage from the Israeli government.

Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, issued a statement that the UN had “added itself to the black list of history when it joined those who support the Hamas murderers”.

The report details only cases that UN investigators were able to verify, so it accounts for just part of the total number of deaths and injuries of children in the course of last year.

In all, the UN verified “8,009 grave violations against 4,360 children” in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank – more than twice the figures for the DRC, the next worst place for violence against children.

Of the total number of child victims verified, 4,247 were Palestinian, 113 were Israeli.

In all, 5,698 violations were attributed to Israeli armed and security forces, and 116 to Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. Israeli settlers were judged responsible in 51 cases, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s al-Quds Brigades was involved in 21.

Between 7 October and the end of December last year, the UN verified the killing of 2,051 Palestinian children, and said the process of attributing responsibility was ongoing, but the report noted: “Most incidents were caused by the use of explosive weapons in populated areas by Israeli armed and security forces.”

The report conceded it reflected only a partial picture of the situation in Gaza.

“Owing to severe access challenges, in particular in the Gaza Strip, the information presented herein does not represent the full scale of violations against children in this situation,” it said.

The report also found grave abuses by Israeli forces in the West Bank, with 126 Palestinian children killed and 906 detained. The UN verified five cases where soldiers used boys “to shield forces during law enforcement operations”.

In the course of 2023, in the run-up to the Hamas 7 October attack on Israel, the UN said Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s armed wings organised “summer camps”, in which children were exposed to “military content and activities”.

In the first three months of the war, the UN verified 23 separate cases of the denial of humanitarian access by Israeli authorities “related to denied coordination of humanitarian aid missions and prevention of access to medical care”.

In the course of the Israeli offensive in Gaza, the UN found “nearly all critical infrastructure, facilities and services have been attacked, including shelter sites, United Nations installations, schools, hospitals, water and sanitation facilities, grain mills and bakeries”.

“Children are at risk of famine, severe malnutrition and preventable death,” the UN report said.

“I am appalled by the dramatic increase and unprecedented scale and intensity of grave violations against children in the Gaza Strip, Israel and the occupied West Bank,” Guterres tells the general assembly in the report.

Explore more on these topics

  • Israel-Gaza war
  • Palestinian territories
  • United Nations
  • Children
  • Israel
  • Middle East and north Africa
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Rory McIlroy’s divorce off before US Open as couple resolve differences
  • Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction
  • US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal
  • Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen

Mette Frederiksen gives first interview since assault, saying it was ‘a kind of attack on us all’

Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, has said she is still “not doing great” but will continue to work, in her first interview since she was assaulted in a Copenhagen square last week.

Frederiksen, 46, suffered minor whiplash in the attack last Friday, which is not thought to have been politically motivated. A 39-year-old Polish man was detained on suspicion of assault.

“I’m not doing great, and I’m not really myself yet,” Frederiksen told the Danish broadcaster DR in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.

Frederiksen gave no details of the attack, but said “it was very intimidating when someone crosses the last physical limit you have. There is some shock and surprise in that”.

She said it was “probably also an accumulation of many other things. Threats over a long period of time on social media have got worse, especially since the war in the Middle East. Shouting in public space. Maybe that was the final straw”.

“As a human being, it feels like an attack on me,” Frederiksen said in the 10-minute interview. “But I have no doubt that it was the prime minister that was hit. In this way, it also becomes a kind of attack on all of us.”

“No form of violence has any place in our society.”

She continued: “I would rather have a Denmark where the prime minister can bicycle to work without being worried. I am Mette at my core, but I am the country’s prime minister. Thus, an institution that you must not attack, like the police.”

Frederiksen said the tone had changed in politics recently.

A 39-year-old Polish man was arrested and will be held in custody until 20 June on preliminary charges of violence against a person in public service. In Denmark, preliminary charges are one step short of formal ones but allow authorities to keep criminal suspects in custody during an investigation.

In court, the suspect, who was not identified, reportedly praised Frederiksen as “a really good prime minister”, and investigators suspect he was under the influence of drugs and intoxicated at the time of the incident that happened just before 6pm on Friday.

Media reports said the man walked toward Frederiksen and pushed her hard while she was passing one of Copenhagen’s main squares. He hit her upper right arm with a clenched fist.

Frederiksen has not appeared in public since the attack and did not participate in public party events as the results of Sunday’s European parliament elections started coming in. Her party, the Social Democrats, faced a loss in the vote.

Frederiksen became the youngest ever Danish prime minister when she took office in 2019. She won re-election in legislative elections in 2022.

Explore more on these topics

  • Denmark
  • European elections
  • Europe
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

‘Sanctions hole’: how secretive routes supply Russia with western tech and consumer goods

German exports of cars to Kyrgyzstan are up 5,100% since the start of the Ukraine war – with other routes channelling luxury goods and computer chips

Since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the west has imposed thousands of sanctions on Russia, and handed it the dubious distinction of being the most heavily sanctioned country on Earth.

Targeting everything from the finances of individuals to the major industries of its economy, international sanctions have aimed to isolate Russian consumers, with major brands such as Apple and McDonald’s ceasing their operations in the country.

But two years on, Russia’s economy is showing surprising resilience and is forecast to grow faster than most of the world’s advanced economies, although experts say that it is unsustainable in the long term. With efforts to constrain the Russian economy in the spotlight, the US said on Tuesday that it would announce a sweep of new “impactful” sanctions and export controls at the G7 in Italy this week.

“We’re going to continue to drive up costs for the Russian war machine,” White House spokesperson John Kirby said.

With reports that the US treasury will target financial institutions that help in the transfer of war-related imports – attention is likely to turn to banks in the club of countries that have not imposed sanctions and are facilitating the supply of goods and services to Russia.

The Russian economy has been party sustained by such imports.

Internal data from the Russian customs agency shows imports rebounding to close to their prewar levels, researchers say, although at considerably higher prices. Those imports have helped sustain vulnerable industries, such as aviation and the car industry.

Observers have referred to this as a “sanctions hole” – where anything from semiconductors to aeroplane parts to iPhones can be routed and re-exported into Russia through firms in China, Turkey or the UAE, or via Armenia, Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics.

They include highly scrutinised items like microchips for use in the Russian war effort – among them those made by US producers such as Xilinx and Texas Instruments, or processors from Intel. The technology is often bought by companies in Hong Kong or China and re-exported to Russia, the data shows.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposed a governance crisis in the EU. The EU has become an enabler of the war,” said Robin Brooks, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution during a webinar on Russian sanctions evasion.

Brooks, who has been tracking the effectiveness of export controls, pointed to examples such as German exports of cars to Kyrgyzstan, up 5,100% since the beginning of the war.

“It is not because people in Bishkek decided that they love Mercedes. These are cars that are going to Russia. This stuff mostly doesn’t even arrive in Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan just is put on the invoice,” Brooks said.

Export data shows that this trend is happening in “every single European country”, says Brooks.

“It roughly offset about half the drop in direct exports to Russia.”

Studies have revealed that the Russian military has exploited these loopholes to obtain critical western military technology. According to a report by the Royal United Services Institute defence thinktank, more than 450 foreign-made components have been discovered in Russian weapons found in Ukraine.

The US and EU have recently stepped up their efforts against companies and banks in middle countries trading with Russia.

In a speech to German business leaders in Berlin, the US deputy treasury secretary Wally Adeyemo urged companies to stop Russia importing critical components from or via China.

“The US is increasingly putting pressure on banks to address the issue of re-export of dual-use goods from or via China. Without it, battlefield items will flow to Russia unabated,” says Maria Shagina, a senior sanctions researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

But some of the countries crucial to Russia’s sanction evasion efforts are resisting western pressure.

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, the chair of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, the oil state’s main trading hub, said sanctions on Russia were having no impact outside the west, and attempts to stop the flow of business just redirected it elsewhere.

“The fact that the economy is not purely controlled by one side of the world makes these sanctions less effective,” said Hamad Buamim.

“Trade continues flowing, it just flows in a different way.”

‘Great Greek Tanker Sale’

Continuing imports to Russia and sustaining the wider economy would be impossible without the substantial revenues generated from its energy resources – and here too, Moscow has been reliant on outside actors willing to defy the west’s sanctions coalition.

In December 2022, the UK, alongside G7 countries, Australia, and the European Union, implemented a $60-per-barrel price cap to restrict western companies from transporting, servicing, or brokering Russian crude oil cargoes in order to undermine Russia’s oil trade, which is heavily reliant on western-owned and insured tankers.

To ship crude oil abroad and earn much-needed foreign currency, Russia turned to a “dark fleet” of older tankers with murky ownership.

Greek shipping magnates, who wield an outsized role in the global oil trade, have stepped in and sold Russia hundreds of old vessels in a phenomenon dubbed the “Great Greek Tanker Sale.”

According to the trade publication TradeWinds, Greek shipowners have sold at least 125 crude and vessel carriers, worth over $4bn, to bolster Russia’s “dark fleet”.

As G7 leaders meet in Italy, they will face a spectrum of issues, with the challenge of how best to support Ukraine expected to be near the top of their agenda. As things stand, western officials and analysts largely agree that the impact of sanctions on Russia has been slower than hoped.

“So far we have failed on the main objective, which is to get Russia out of Ukraine,” said Brooks.

He argued that the key to hurting Moscow remained in targeting its energy profits. Measures proposed by Brooks and other sanction experts included reducing the oil cap to $20 a barrel and banning the sale of western oil tankers to undisclosed buyers.

“If Europe is willing to take decisive action, we will witness a financial crisis in Russia,” Brooks said.

Explore more on these topics

  • Russia
  • Europe
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • features
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Rory McIlroy’s divorce off before US Open as couple resolve differences
  • Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction
  • US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal
  • Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Thailand market fire kills more than 1,000 animals prompting calls for crackdown

Animal welfare groups have called for better regulation of the sale of wildlife after a fire swept through the pet zone of one of Bangkok’s biggest markets

Animal welfare experts have called for a crackdown on the sale of wildlife in Thailand, after a fire swept through the pet zone of Bangkok’s most famous outdoor market, killing more than 1,000 animals.

Puppies, cats, fish, snakes, swans, cockatoos and rabbits kept inside cages were all reportedly killed in the blaze, which began early on Tuesday morning and burned through about 1,300 square metres of the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, according to Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt.

About 118 shops were burnt down and an initial inspection suggest that the fire was caused by an electrical fault, police superintendent Phuwadon Ounpho said.

The market is one of the biggest in south-east Asia, and attracts tourists from across the world to its shops which sell anything from plants and ceramics, to food and clothes.

The market’s pet section has been accused by conservationists of selling endangered species, and of keeping animals in poor conditions. Vendors have in the past denied breaking any laws.

Lek Chailert, Founder of Save Elephant Foundation, said Tuesday’s fire underscored the need to improve animal welfare and regulate breeding. “We need to ask how these animals ended up in such dire conditions,” she said in a statement.

“I call on the government to respond transparently and implement measures to regulate the breeding and sale of wild animals in markets. There must be clear laws governing international animal trade and protecting animal welfare in Thailand,” she said

Edwin Wick, founder and director of the Friends of Wildlife Foundation, said the market was “a shame on the city of Bangkok”.

“It has been allowed to continue selling animals unethically and often illegally for far too long. We are urging the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to act now and stop this place from selling animals, particularly wild animals,” said Wick.

Explore more on these topics

  • Thailand
  • Animal welfare
  • Asia Pacific
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Rory McIlroy’s divorce off before US Open as couple resolve differences
  • Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction
  • US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal
  • Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Thailand market fire kills more than 1,000 animals prompting calls for crackdown

Animal welfare groups have called for better regulation of the sale of wildlife after a fire swept through the pet zone of one of Bangkok’s biggest markets

Animal welfare experts have called for a crackdown on the sale of wildlife in Thailand, after a fire swept through the pet zone of Bangkok’s most famous outdoor market, killing more than 1,000 animals.

Puppies, cats, fish, snakes, swans, cockatoos and rabbits kept inside cages were all reportedly killed in the blaze, which began early on Tuesday morning and burned through about 1,300 square metres of the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, according to Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt.

About 118 shops were burnt down and an initial inspection suggest that the fire was caused by an electrical fault, police superintendent Phuwadon Ounpho said.

The market is one of the biggest in south-east Asia, and attracts tourists from across the world to its shops which sell anything from plants and ceramics, to food and clothes.

The market’s pet section has been accused by conservationists of selling endangered species, and of keeping animals in poor conditions. Vendors have in the past denied breaking any laws.

Lek Chailert, Founder of Save Elephant Foundation, said Tuesday’s fire underscored the need to improve animal welfare and regulate breeding. “We need to ask how these animals ended up in such dire conditions,” she said in a statement.

“I call on the government to respond transparently and implement measures to regulate the breeding and sale of wild animals in markets. There must be clear laws governing international animal trade and protecting animal welfare in Thailand,” she said

Edwin Wick, founder and director of the Friends of Wildlife Foundation, said the market was “a shame on the city of Bangkok”.

“It has been allowed to continue selling animals unethically and often illegally for far too long. We are urging the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to act now and stop this place from selling animals, particularly wild animals,” said Wick.

Explore more on these topics

  • Thailand
  • Animal welfare
  • Asia Pacific
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Rory McIlroy’s divorce off before US Open as couple resolve differences
  • Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction
  • US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal
  • Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Azerbaijan accused of media crackdown before hosting Cop29

State reportedly arrested at least 25 journalists and activists in last year as it prepares for September climate summit

Azerbaijan’s government has been accused of cracking down on media and civil society activism before the country’s hosting of crucial UN climate talks later this year.

Human Rights Watch has found at least 25 instances of the arrest or sentencing of journalists and activists in the past year, almost all of whom remain in custody.

Many campaigners and civil society groups have spoken of their concerns that climate advocacy was being stifled amid a media clampdown. Azerbaijan will host the UN Cop29 climate summit over two weeks in November, when nearly 200 governments, including dozens of heads of state, are expected to thrash out a new global approach to providing the funds needed to tackle the climate crisis.

Azerbaijan, an authoritarian state where media and civic freedoms are curtailed, is regarded as one of the world’s most corrupt countries, coming 154th out of 180 states in a ranking by Transparency International last year. There is little effective political opposition and the president, Ilham Aliyev, won more than 92% of the vote in elections in February to take a fifth consecutive term. His father was Heydar Aliyev, who led the country under Soviet rule and was installed as president after a military coup in 1993 followed the breakup of the eastern bloc.

Azerbaijan is also accused of holding political prisoners. A war with neighbouring Armenia last year over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region ended with 100,000 people being displaced from their homes.

One of Aliyev’s top advisers said a few weeks ago that the government intended to make Cop29 a “Cop of peace”, and to call for a Cop truce in which hostilities would be suspended around the world for the duration of the talks.

Campaigners raised their concerns at a pre-Cop29 meeting of governments in Bonn, where the secretariat for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is based. Officials from around the world are in the midst of two weeks of meetings to discuss the key issues that will dominate the Cop29 summit, including the vexed question of how to provide sufficient finance to help the developing world cut greenhouse gas emissions and cope with the impacts of global heating.

A protest was held at the entrance to the Bonn talks on Friday evening – the midpoint of the discussions – calling for the release of 23 Armenian political prisoners held in Azerbaijan. Some protesters accused the government of genocide.

Myrto Tilianaki, a senior environmental advocate at Human Rights Watch, highlighted the case of Anar Mammadli, a member of the Human Rights Houses network, who was arrested on 29 April on smuggling charges. He is a founder of the Climate of Justice Initiative, which aims to use Cop29 to push for environmental justice in Azerbaijan.

Ibad Bayramov is campaigning for the release of his father, Gubad Ibadoghlu, a research fellow at the London School of Economics and civil rights activist, who was imprisoned last summer and whose health has badly deteriorated, requiring urgent medical treatment which his family say he is not receiving.

Bayramov said: “Cop29 lends legitimacy on the world stage to the government’s illegitimate imprisonment of my father. As his health has deteriorated to extreme levels, western governments continue to meet weekly with their Azerbaijani counterparts regarding Cop29. Meaningful progress on climate change cannot be achieved in a country where individuals like my father are imprisoned and tortured for speaking out.”

Paul Polman, a former CEO of Unilever who now campaigns on climate and human rights issues, said he wanted to use Cop29 as an opportunity for the international community to talk about Azerbaijan’s treatment of prisoners, about which he has serious concerns. “I hope that Cop29 can be used as an opening,” he said. “But it’s appalling that human rights has not been on the agenda. After Cop29, there will not be a spotlight on Azerbaijan’s record.”

Azerbaijan’s government has rebutted the activists’ claims. A spokesperson said: “We totally reject the claims about [a] crackdown against human rights activists and journalists in Azerbaijan. No one is persecuted in Azerbaijan because of political beliefs or activities.

“As in any rule-of-law based society, any detention or imprisonment of a person who is suspected in illegal activities is subject to the requirements of investigation and fair trial, based on relevant laws and regulations. Instead of waiting for the results of criminal cases and investigations, as well as court rulings … to call on Azerbaijan to release suspects is in open contradiction with legal procedures.

“As Cop29 president, Azerbaijan lays out its vision and pillars for a successful year of climate negotiations, encouraging an open and direct dialogue among all nations, and we believe all the layers of society should contribute to successful efforts to tackle the climate change challenge.”

Azerbaijan’s presidency follows two other consecutive Cops – the term stands for conference of the parties, under the UNFCCC, the 1992 parent treaty to the Paris agreement – in countries with authoritarian leaders and poor records on human rights: the United Arab Emirates hosted Cop28 in Dubai last year, where protests were muted, and Egypt hosted Cop27 in 2022. The UN guarantees some freedom of expression for protesters within the confines of the Cop during the fortnight it runs, but has little influence on the hosts’ behaviour outside its precincts.

Tilianaki said: “Holding Cop29 in Azerbaijan raises serious concerns about the possibility of advancing ambitious climate action in negotiations. Governments attending the Bonn preparatory meeting should call out Azerbaijan for its repression of civil society and make clear that they will actively confront any attempts to weaken robust climate policies.”

Explore more on these topics

  • Cop29
  • Azerbaijan
  • United Nations
  • Climate crisis
  • Human rights
  • Journalist safety
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Rory McIlroy’s divorce off before US Open as couple resolve differences
  • Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction
  • US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal
  • Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Jin from BTS wraps up military service to the strains of K-pop hit Dynamite

Jin has finished his stint in South Korea’s military but group won’t be able to reform until RM, Jimin, Jungkook, J-hope and V are discharged in 2025

Jin, the oldest member of the K-pop supergroup BTS, has completed his military service in South Korea, although their legions of fans around the world will still have to wait at least a year until all seven artists are reunited.

The star, who in December 2022 became the first member of the group to begin 18 months of military service, emerged on Wednesday from the 5th Army Infantry Division’s base in northern Yeoncheon province, 60km north of Seoul, to be greeted by fellow bandmates J-hope, RM, V, Jungkook and Jimin.

A smiling Jin saluted outside the camp gate before RM played BTS’s 2020 mega-hit Dynamite on a saxophone, then exchanged hugs with other members of the band who presented him with a giant bouquet of flowers.

While fans had been asked not to visit the camp, some had hung colourful banners outside, with one reading: “Seok-jin you did so well for the last 548 days. We’ll stand by you with our unwavering love,” referring to the star by his full first name.

All able-bodied South Korean men are required to spend between 18 and 21 months in the military by the time they are 28 – a duty intended to maintain the country’s ability to respond to a possible attack by North Korea, with which it is technically still at war.

Some fans had hoped the band – by far South Korea’s most successful cultural export – would be granted an exemption in recognition of their huge contribution to the country’s economy and soft power. Exemptions have been granted to classical musicians and athletes who won international tournaments.

But in October 2022, BTS’s management agency, Big Hit Music, confirmed that all seven artists were “moving forward with plans to fulfil their military service”.

The band will not be able to reform until RM, Jimin, Jungkook and V – the last four members of the band to join up – are discharged from military service in June 2025.

While the two Koreas engage in a proxy war by flying balloons across their heavily armed border, a giant balloon flown outside the camp had a more benign message. “Worldwide handsome Seok-jin! Congratulations on your discharge,” it said.

County authorities joined in with a banner of their own that read: “BTS Jin, the last year and a half was a joy for us. Yeoncheon will not forget you!”

The band’s agency announced Jin’s discharge on Weverse – a superfan social media platform – earlier this week. “We are excited to bring you the news of Jin’s upcoming military discharge,” it said.

It also urged fans not to visit the camp over safety concerns, and only two were seen on Wednesday morning, according to local media.

On Thursday, Jin, who is expected to release a solo album later this year, is scheduled to give out hugs to fans at the Festa event in Seoul, held to mark the 11th anniversary of the band’s debut. Later the same day he will take part in a meet-and-greet event that will be livestreamed on Weverse.

The five members who greeted Jin on Wednesday had applied for leave, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, adding that Suga, who is performing civilian duties after the effects of shoulder surgery ruled him out of military service, was the only absentee.

Agence France-Presse contributed reporting.

Explore more on these topics

  • K-pop
  • South Korea
  • Asia Pacific
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Rory McIlroy’s divorce off before US Open as couple resolve differences
  • Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction
  • US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal
  • Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction

Lawyers say improper procedures call for new trials for Holmes, who has an 11-year sentence, and Sunny Balwani

Lawyers for Elizabeth Holmes, founder of failed blood testing company Theranos, urged judges in a federal appeals court on Tuesday to overturn the fraud conviction that earned her an 11-year prison sentence.

In an appeal hearing for both Holmes and company president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, lawyers argued improper procedures and evidence in both cases warrant new trials.

Holmes, who started Theranos as a college student and became its public face, was indicted alongside Balwani, her former romantic partner, in 2018. The two were tried separately in 2022 and sentenced later that year to 11 years and three months, and 12 years and 11 months, respectively.

Her legal team filed an appeal of her conviction in April 2023, but Tuesday marked the first court hearing on the matter.

Amy Saharia, Holmes’ lawyer, told a three-judge panel of the ninth US circuit court of appeals in San Francisco that the Theranos founder believed she was telling the truth when she told investors that Theranos’s miniature blood testing device could accurately run a broad array of medical diagnostic tests on a small amount of blood.

“There were in fact many good people working at Theranos, and believing they had good technology,” Saharia said. “Holmes believed that, and that is what she was telling investors.”

Saharia’s argument also focused on issues with two main witnesses for the prosecution: former Theranos employee Kingshuk Das, who testified as a scientific expert about Theranos’s product and former laboratory director Adam Rosendorff.

Holmes’ team argued Das should have faced cross-examination about his qualifications and the judge should have allowed Holmes to introduce more evidence attacking Rosendorff, including details of a government investigation of his work after leaving Theranos.

Those mistakes could have made the difference in the “close” case, in which jurors were not able to reach a verdict on most counts against Holmes after seven days of deliberations.

The assistant US attorney Kelly Volkar, arguing for the government, disputed that Das had improperly testified as an expert, saying he was called to talk about his personal experience at Theranos. She also said that “it was not really contested that the device did not work”.

The judges had skeptical questions for both sides and did not clearly indicate how they would rule. Circuit judge Ryan Nelson said that, even without the disputed testimony, “there was, it seemed to me, pretty overwhelming evidence”.

Circuit judges Jacqueline Nguyen and Mary Schroeder said that much of Das’s testimony concerned what he observed at the company, not his scientific opinions, as Saharia argued.

Nguyen and Nelson, however, also both told Volkar that they had concerns about what opinions Das was allowed to give during the trial. “I have some problems with how this happened,” Nelson said.

Jeffrey Coopersmith, Balwani’s lawyer, argued that prosecutors had gone beyond what was in the indictment against his client by introducing evidence that the commercial testing technology Theranos secretly used was not reliable.

The judges appeared more skeptical of that argument, though again did not clearly signal how they would rule. Appeals can take weeks or months to be decided. Representatives from Holmes’s legal team did not respond to request for comment.

Reuters contributed to this report

Explore more on these topics

  • Elizabeth Holmes
  • Theranos
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Rory McIlroy’s divorce off before US Open as couple resolve differences
  • Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction
  • US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal
  • Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction

Lawyers say improper procedures call for new trials for Holmes, who has an 11-year sentence, and Sunny Balwani

Lawyers for Elizabeth Holmes, founder of failed blood testing company Theranos, urged judges in a federal appeals court on Tuesday to overturn the fraud conviction that earned her an 11-year prison sentence.

In an appeal hearing for both Holmes and company president Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani, lawyers argued improper procedures and evidence in both cases warrant new trials.

Holmes, who started Theranos as a college student and became its public face, was indicted alongside Balwani, her former romantic partner, in 2018. The two were tried separately in 2022 and sentenced later that year to 11 years and three months, and 12 years and 11 months, respectively.

Her legal team filed an appeal of her conviction in April 2023, but Tuesday marked the first court hearing on the matter.

Amy Saharia, Holmes’ lawyer, told a three-judge panel of the ninth US circuit court of appeals in San Francisco that the Theranos founder believed she was telling the truth when she told investors that Theranos’s miniature blood testing device could accurately run a broad array of medical diagnostic tests on a small amount of blood.

“There were in fact many good people working at Theranos, and believing they had good technology,” Saharia said. “Holmes believed that, and that is what she was telling investors.”

Saharia’s argument also focused on issues with two main witnesses for the prosecution: former Theranos employee Kingshuk Das, who testified as a scientific expert about Theranos’s product and former laboratory director Adam Rosendorff.

Holmes’ team argued Das should have faced cross-examination about his qualifications and the judge should have allowed Holmes to introduce more evidence attacking Rosendorff, including details of a government investigation of his work after leaving Theranos.

Those mistakes could have made the difference in the “close” case, in which jurors were not able to reach a verdict on most counts against Holmes after seven days of deliberations.

The assistant US attorney Kelly Volkar, arguing for the government, disputed that Das had improperly testified as an expert, saying he was called to talk about his personal experience at Theranos. She also said that “it was not really contested that the device did not work”.

The judges had skeptical questions for both sides and did not clearly indicate how they would rule. Circuit judge Ryan Nelson said that, even without the disputed testimony, “there was, it seemed to me, pretty overwhelming evidence”.

Circuit judges Jacqueline Nguyen and Mary Schroeder said that much of Das’s testimony concerned what he observed at the company, not his scientific opinions, as Saharia argued.

Nguyen and Nelson, however, also both told Volkar that they had concerns about what opinions Das was allowed to give during the trial. “I have some problems with how this happened,” Nelson said.

Jeffrey Coopersmith, Balwani’s lawyer, argued that prosecutors had gone beyond what was in the indictment against his client by introducing evidence that the commercial testing technology Theranos secretly used was not reliable.

The judges appeared more skeptical of that argument, though again did not clearly signal how they would rule. Appeals can take weeks or months to be decided. Representatives from Holmes’s legal team did not respond to request for comment.

Reuters contributed to this report

Explore more on these topics

  • Elizabeth Holmes
  • Theranos
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Rory McIlroy’s divorce off before US Open as couple resolve differences
  • Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction
  • US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal
  • Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Explainer

Ukraine war briefing: Washington clears Azov brigade for US weapons and training

No evidence of gross human rights violations, says state department; formerly far-right group are heroes in Ukraine for Mariupol’s defence. What we know on day 840

  • The US has lifted a ban on providing weapons and training to Ukraine’s Azov Brigade, which had far-right roots but proved key to the defence of the major port city of Mariupol. Azov was absorbed into Ukraine’s national guard as the 12th Special Forces Brigade and current members reject accusations of extremism and ties with far-right movements. The Russian government has seized on Azov’s origins in its efforts to cast Russia’s invasion as a battle against Nazi influence, though Vladimir Putin’s regime has not substantiated such claims.

  • US law prohibits providing equipment and training to foreign military units or individuals suspected of committing gross human rights violations. The state department said on Tuesday that it found “no evidence” of such violations by Azov. “This is a new page in our unit’s history,” the Azov Brigade said in a statement. “Obtaining western weapons and training from the United States will not only increase the combat ability of Azov, but most importantly, contribute to the preservation of the lives and the health of personnel.”

  • Azov held out in a siege and low on ammunition for weeks at Mariupol’s steel mill, despite devastating attacks from Russian forces in 2022. They are hailed as heroes in Ukraine, and people take to the streets for weekly rallies calling for the release of hundreds of Azov PoWs who remain in Russian captivity.

  • The US will send Ukraine another Patriot missile system, two US officials said on Tuesday, in a move approved by the president, Joe Biden. It would be the second Patriot system that the US has given directly to Ukraine along with an undisclosed number of the missiles it uses. Other allies, including Germany, also have provided air defence systems as well as ammunition for them. Speaking in Madrid recently, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, said Ukraine needed another seven Patriot systems to defend against Russian strikes.

  • Violence against children in war reached “extreme levels” in 2023, including in Ukraine, according to the UN’s annual report Children in Armed Conflict. The UN kept the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups on its blacklist for a second year over their killing and maiming of children and attacking schools and hospitals in Ukraine.

  • The White House has said steps to use frozen Russian assets for Ukraine’s benefit will be announced at this week’s G7 summit in Italy, as well as new sanctions and export controls. National security council spokesman John Kirby predicted “unanimity” among G7 members who hope to agree a deal on using the profits from the interest on €300bn of frozen Russian central bank assets as collateral for a loan to Ukraine.

  • Ahead of the Swiss summit this weekend on peace in Ukraine, Zelenskiy’s office has said it wants Russia to attend a subsequent second summit, to receive an internationally agreed roadmap towards ending the war. Moscow has said it has no interest in joining this weekend’s meeting, and so was not invited by the hosts, Switzerland.

  • Andriy Yermak, head of Zelenskiy’s office, said the “bad experience” of previous negotiation formats involving Moscow meant the end to the war needed to be built on a broad platform of support from the outset and rooted in international law. “We are planning to prepare together the joint plan which will be supported by all these responsible countries. And we’re looking for the possibility, in the second summit, to invite a representative of Russia, and together present this joint plan.”

  • More than 90 countries have confirmed their attendance at this weekend’s summit and Yermak said he hoped abstainers like China would join the process sooner rather than later. “They have some days to change this position. We will be happy if a high-level representative of China will be in Switzerland.” The office of Argentina’s president, Javier Milei, has confirmed he will participate in the Swiss summit. Milei has a good relationship with Zelenskiy and has sought to strengthen ties with western countries.

  • Two Indian nationals drafted by the Russian army were killed in the war against Ukraine, the Indian foreign ministry said on Tuesday as it pressed for prompt repatriation of the remains and the release of other Indians who were duped into fighting for Russia. Indian police in May arrested four people allegedly linked to trafficking of dozens of young men to Russia with the promise of jobs or university places, only to be forced to fight against Ukraine.

  • The Ukrainian president and his allies used a major conference in Berlin on Tuesday to lobby international business for support in Ukraine’s reconstruction and recovery, even as it continues to be bombarded by Russia, Kate Connolly writes. Russia had destroyed enough energy infrastructure to “power the cities of Berlin and Munich”, Zelenskiy told 2,000 participants.

  • Zelenskiy also addressed the Bundestag, Germany’s parliament, in person for the first time. The event was boycotted by the far-right populist Alternative für Deutschland party, an opponent of supporting Ukraine’s war effort, and the far-left BSW bloc of Sahra Wagenknecht, who said the government should make more effort to negotiate with Putin.

Explore more on these topics

  • Ukraine
  • Russia-Ukraine war at a glance
  • Russia
  • Europe
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Rory McIlroy’s divorce off before US Open as couple resolve differences
  • Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction
  • US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal
  • Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Singer and actor who wrote some of her country’s biggest pop hits had suffered with lymphatic cancer for many years

Françoise Hardy, whose elegance and beautifully lilting voice made her one of France’s most successful pop stars, has died aged 80.

Her death was reported by her son, the fellow musician Thomas Dutronc, who wrote “Maman est partie,” (or in English, “mum is gone”) on Instagram alongside a baby photo of himself and Hardy.

Hardy had lymphatic cancer since 2004, and had undergone years of radiotherapy and other treatments for the illness. In 2015, she was briefly placed in an induced coma after her condition worsened, and had issues with speech, swallowing and respiration in the years since. In 2021, she had argued in favour of euthanasia, saying that France was “inhuman” for not allowing the procedure.

Hardy was born in the middle of an air raid in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944, and raised in the city, mostly by her mother. Aged 16, she received her first guitar as a present and began writing her own songs, performing them live and auditioning for record labels. In 1961, she signed with Disques Vogue.

Inspired by the French chanson style of crooned ballads as well as the emerging edgier styles of pop and rock’n’roll, Hardy became a key part of the yé-yé style that dominated mid-century French music. It was named after the predilection for English-language bands of the time to chant “yeah”, and Hardy had a hand in its coinage: an early song, La Fille Avec Toi, began with the English words: “Oh, oh, yeah, yeah.”

The self-penned ballad Tous les garçons et les filles was her breakthrough in 1962, and sold more than 2.5m copies; it topped the French charts, as did early singles Je Suis D’Accord and Le Temps de L’Amour. In 1963, Hardy represented Monaco at the Eurovision song contest and finished fifth.

Her growing European fame meant she began rerecording her repertoire in multiple languages, including English. Her 1964 song All Over the World, translated from Dans le Monde Entier, became her only UK Top 20 hit, but her fame endured in France, Italy and Germany. In 1968, Comment te Dire Adieu, a version of It Hurts to Say Goodbye (originally made famous by Vera Lynn) with lyrics by Serge Gainsbourg, became one of her biggest hits.

Hardy’s beauty and deft aesthetic – which encompassed cleanly silhouetted tailoring alongside more casual looks, including knitwear and rock-leaning denim and leather – defined the seeming effortlessness of 20th-century French cool. She became a muse to designers including Yves Saint Laurent and Paco Rabanne, and was also a frequent subject for fashion photography, shot by the likes of Richard Avedon, David Bailey and William Klein. Later, designer Rei Kawakubo would name her label Comme des Garçons after a line in a Hardy song.

Hardy was an object of adoration to many male stars of 60s pop including the Rolling Stones and David Bowie. Bob Dylan wrote a poem about her for the liner notes of his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan, beginning: “For Françoise Hardy, at the Seine’s edge, a giant shadow of Notre Dame seeks t’ grab my foot …”

She was also courted by directors, appearing in films by Jean-Luc Godard, Roger Vadim, John Frankenheimer and more.

Hardy left Disques Vogue amid financial disputes, and signed a three-year deal with Sonopresse in 1970. This creatively rich period saw her record with Brazilian musician Tuca on 1971’s highly acclaimed La Question, and continue her multi-lingual releases, but by the contract’s end her stardom had waned and it was not renewed.

She spent the mid-1970s chiefly focused on raising her son Thomas with her partner, musician and actor Jacques Dutronc. Releases restarted with 1977’s Star, and Hardy embraced – not always enthusiastically – the sounds of funk, disco and electronic pop. A longer hiatus in the 1980s was punctuated by 1988’s Décalages, billed as her final album, though she returned in 1996 with Le Danger, switching her palette to moody contemporary rock. She released six further albums, ending with Personne D’Autre in 2018.

Having first met in 1967, she and Jacques Dutronc married in 1981 – “an uninteresting formality”, she later said of marriage in general – and separated in 1988, though they remained friends. She is survived by him and their son.

Explore more on these topics

  • Françoise Hardy
  • Pop and rock
  • France
  • Eurovision
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Rory McIlroy’s divorce off before US Open as couple resolve differences
  • Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction
  • US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal
  • Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80

Kevin Spacey says he was ‘too handsy’ in the past

Actor tells Piers Morgan in new interview that he had ‘pushed the boundaries’

Kevin Spacey has described himself as “pushing the boundaries” and “being too handsy” in the past, in a new interview.

The actor won a US civil lawsuit after being accused of an unwanted sexual advance at a party in 1986, and last year was acquitted at Southwark crown court after being accused of sexually assaulting four men in the period between 2001 and 2013.

He has always denied any criminal wrongdoing and misconduct allegations.

In an interview for the YouTube channel Piers Morgan Uncensored, Spacey said he had “pushed the boundaries” in the past.

When asked how, he told Morgan: “Being too handsy, touching someone sexually in a way that I didn’t know at the time they didn’t want.”

“I have caressed people, I have been gentle with people, that is the way that I am,” he added in response to accusations.

“You’re making a pass at someone, you don’t want to be aggressive. You want to be gentle. You want to see if they’re going to respond positively.”

He added: “They should let you know they don’t want to do it so that you can understand it’s non-consensual and stop.”

The actor also said his home is being sold at auction to settle legal bills after allegations of sexual misconduct made against him.

He said: “This week, where I have been living in Baltimore is being foreclosed on, my house is being sold at auction.

“I have to go back to Baltimore and put all my things in storage. So the answer to that question is I’m not quite sure where I’m going to live now, but I’ve been in Baltimore … since we started shooting House of Cards there … I moved there in 2012.”

When asked why he was selling the house, he replied: “I can’t pay the bills that I owe.

“A couple of times I thought I was going to file [for bankruptcy], but we’ve managed to sort of dodge it, at least as of today.”

Spacey said he owed “many millions” of dollars due to legal bills, and seemed emotional at several points during the lengthy interview, which was conducted in person.

He was sacked from Netflix’s House of Cards when the 2017 allegations emerged during the show’s sixth season, and later edited out of the movie All the Money in the World and replaced by Christopher Plummer, who had to reshoot scenes at the last minute.

The actor also denied fresh claims of inappropriate behaviour that were aired in a Channel 4 documentary titled Spacey Unmasked, which he criticised.

A spokesperson for Channel 4 previously said: “Spacey Unmasked is an important film exploring the balance of power and inappropriate behaviour in a work environment, aiming to give a voice to those who have previously been unable to speak out.”

In 2022, Spacey was sued at the high court in London by a man who claimed he had been sexually assaulted by Spacey and suffered “psychiatric damage”.

The case was paused during his criminal trial, but has since restarted after a hearing in May.

Famous faces including Sharon Stone, Liam Neeson and Stephen Fry have been campaigning for his return to acting in statements to the Telegraph newspaper in May.

Spacey has two Academy Awards, for best supporting actor for The Usual Suspects in 1996 and best actor in 2000 for American Beauty, which also secured him a Bafta for leading actor.

Explore more on these topics

  • Kevin Spacey
  • Piers Morgan
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Record number of people leave New Zealand amid cost of living pressures

More than half those who left recently headed to Australia with promises of higher pay and better working conditions

New Zealand citizens are leaving the country in record numbers, with large numbers heading to Australia, new figures show.

Stats NZ’s provisional international migration data shows there were an estimated 130,600 migrant departures in the year to April – the highest on record for an annual period.

Of those leaving the country on a long-term basis, an estimated 81,200 were New Zealand citizens – a 41% increase on the previous year. The figure is a rise from the previous record of 72,400 departures in 2012.

With 24,800 New Zealand citizens arriving during the period, that put the net migration loss of citizens at 56,500 – exceeding the previous record of 44,400 in 2012.

Overall, there was annual net migration gain of 98,500 as 154,900 non-New Zealand citizens entered the country. Migrant arrivals from India were the largest group, followed by the Philippines and China.

On Wednesday, Stats NZ also released provisional data on migration with Australia. It showed in the year to September 2023, 53% of New Zealand citizen departures were to Australia.

In recent years, New Zealanders – particularly young professionals and graduates -reported leaving the country due to high living costs and ongoing job shortages. It is also considered a rite of passage for many young New Zealanders to head overseas once they finish school or higher education.

Stats NZ does not gather specific data from New Zealanders about why they are leaving, but said it can look at overall trends.

“Historically, changes in migration are typically due to a combination of factors – those include the relative economic and labour market conditions between New Zealand and the rest of the world,” said Tehseen Islam, Stats NZ’s population indicators manager.

Brad Olsen, Infometrics principal economist, said there are two main factors driving the migration overseas.

“There will be younger Kiwis going overseas for an overseas experience, or a delayed overseas experience, because there have been heavy disruptions over the last few years on that front,” he said.

But half of New Zealanders are moving to Australia, which suggests a greater number of people and families are looking for opportunities and making a more permanent move, he said.

Australian employers have frequently attempted to recruit New Zealand workers with offers of higher pay and better working conditions.

Olsen said while it is normal for New Zealanders to leave the country, it will be harder to convince people to return, if there are ongoing issues around housing affordability and job prospects.

That ‘brain drain’ could pose problems for society as the population ages, Olsen said.

“We need to have as many young people as we can who are still part of the economy … who are being innovative and bringing their new thinking to the game so we can be more productive,” he said.

“If we are losing our young talent and we’re not able to attract them back it makes all of [that] so much harder.”

Explore more on these topics

  • New Zealand
  • Asia Pacific
  • news
Share

Reuse this content

Most viewed

  • Rory McIlroy’s divorce off before US Open as couple resolve differences
  • Danish PM ‘not doing great’ four days after assault in Copenhagen
  • Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes asks court to overturn fraud conviction
  • US ‘evaluating’ Hamas response to Gaza ceasefire proposal
  • Françoise Hardy, French pop singer and fashion muse, dies aged 80