NEWS

Congress in Argentina has created a commission to investigate the disappearance of a navy submarine and its 44 crew in the Atlantic Ocean.

The ARA San Juan went missing on 15 November after reporting an electrical problem.

No trace of the missing submarine has been found despite an intensive search.

The commission will investigate the causes and circumstances of the vessel's disappearance as well as the ongoing search and rescue operation.

Relatives of the missing crew had asked for the commission to be created.

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It will be made up of six members of the Chamber of Deputies and six senators from both opposition and government parties.

The commission will nominate a team of retired navy officials to advise it.

All of the commission's reports will be made public and the relatives of the missing crew will be allowed to sit in on its sessions.

The commission's aim is to establish what caused the submarine to disappear and to assess its condition before it sailed as well as analysing how the navy and the ministry of defence have conducted the search.

Relatives of the missing crew members have criticised the government's handling of the search, accusing officials of withholding key information.

The head of the Argentine navy was sacked last month following the loss of the submarine and its crew.

The search for the submarine is still ongoing. The Argentine navy said one of its boats would join the Russian ship Yantar and another Argentine navy vessel in the search on Wednesday.

The Russian ship searching for the Argentine missing sub
The three ships are focussing their search on the area where a loud noise was recorded in the hours following the disappearance, possible evidence that the submarine imploded.

President Emmanuel Macron says France will not allow a new migrant camp to be set up in Calais, on a visit to the port where many gather, hoping to get to the UK.

Up to 700 migrants are congregating in the area, despite the camp known as the Jungle having been dismantled in 2016.

Mr Macron also vowed to punish officers involved in violence against migrants.

On Thursday, he will travel to Britain, where he is expected to demand the UK government does more to help.

In his first official visit to Calais, Mr Macron met migrants and groups working with them, as well as residents and local authorities who have called for more measures to prevent another large camp from emerging.

Two groups refused to meet the president in protest at strict measures used by the French police against migrants.

Mr Macron defended the security forces from accusations of brutality made by some activists, but vowed to take action against wrongdoings.

What next after the Jungle?
The Calais 'Jungle' became the French symbol of the European migrant crisis, and some 7,000 people - most from the Middle East and Africa - were living there before the area was cleared.

"In no case will we allow another Jungle here," Mr Macron said on Tuesday.

France received a record 100,000 asylum claims in 2017, making it one of the main destinations in Europe.

The president is expected to unveil a new migrant policy next month, which will include speeding up the application process for asylum seekers and faster removal of those who fail to be accepted.

Macron to tell May: Do more
During last year's French election campaign, Mr Macron said he wanted to renegotiate or scrap the 2003 Le Touquet agreement, which established French border controls in Britain and UK controls in Calais.

As a result, undocumented migrants barred from entering the UK stay in France - many in makeshift camps.

 

Mr Macron will demand the UK do more to help ease the migrant burden when he meets British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday, French officials say.

He will ask the UK to allow in unaccompanied children and adults with family members already in the country and more money to help with border security.

An Australian teenager has been found alive in a car wreck after his father made an intuitive decision to search for him in a helicopter.

Samuel Lethbridge, 17, was trapped for 30 hours after his car left a New South Wales highway on Sunday, police said.

His family had become concerned and alerted police when he failed to arrive at a friend's house that day.

Tony Lethbridge then decided to hire a helicopter after recalling a local car accident from "about five years ago".

"Unfortunately that bloke passed away because nobody found him within five days, and I wasn't going to let that happen [to Samuel]," he told local network Channel Seven.

Mr Lethbridge said he suspected his son was in trouble because his disappearance was out of character.

"So we went and hired the helicopter straight away and found him within 10 minutes," he said.

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The family spotted the wreckage about 20m (65ft) off a road in Crangan Bay, 100km (62 miles) north of Sydney.

Emergency crews took more than an hour to remove the teenager from the car, where he had been trapped under the dashboard.

The teenager was taken to hospital with multiple fractures and remains in a serious condition, authorities said.

"He is very lucky to be alive," said Inspector Jeff Atkins, from New South Wales Ambulance.

Police said they were investigating the crash.

The unusual sight of a wallaby bounding across the Sydney Harbour Bridge has surprised early-morning motorists.

Drivers spotted the "wayward" marsupial on the iconic bridge just before 05:00 local time on Tuesday (18:00 Monday GMT), police said.

Authorities monitored the wallaby as it crossed lanes, traversed the 1,150m-long (3,700ft) landmark and turned on to an expressway in the city centre.

Police eventually caught up with it near a music school.

The animal appeared startled and was taken to a nearby zoo for assessment by vets, police said.

One witness told Sydney radio station 2GB she could not believe what she had seen.

"I thought, no, no way do you see a kangaroo in the city like that. I've only seen them in the country," said the woman, identified only as Michelle.

"I just thought of people's safety and the safety of the little kangaroo or wallaby."

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Police said the 13kg (29lb) swamp wallaby, also known as the black wallaby, may have come from a golf course about 3km (1.8 miles) from the bridge.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge connects major roads and city buildings on both ends, making the wallaby's trip feel incongruous to locals. Some enjoyed fun on social media.

He told the BBC that the wallaby's path to the bridge was unclear - possibly, it had been in parks around the harbour.

"There's also any chance it was just near the bridge and got spooked, and hopped very quickly to the bridge and found itself in a one-way path not knowing where else to go," Mr de Vos said.

The animal will be monitored at the zoo for up to 48 hours before being returned to the wild.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have agreed a timeframe for repatriating hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who fled crackdowns from the military.

Myanmar has agreed to accept 1,500 Rohingya each week, Bangladesh says, adding that it aims to return all of them to Myanmar within two years.

More than 740,000 Rohingya have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh amid violence in Rakhine state in 2016 and 2017.

Aid agencies have raised concerns about forcibly repatriating them.

Bangladesh says it aims to repatriate families together, as well as orphans and "children born out of unwarranted incidence" - meaning children conceived as a result of rape.

However, displaced Rohingya in Bangladesh have expressed concerns about returning to Myanmar.

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Sirajul Mostofa, a community leader in a camp in Cox's Bazaar, told the BBC: "We are still not clear about what agreement was signed.

"Our first priority is, they have to grant us citizenship as Rohingyas. Secondly, they have to give back our lands. Thirdly, our security must be ensured internationally. Otherwise, this is not good for us."

Bangladeshi foreign secretary Shahidul Haque told BBC Bangla that the government had wanted to repatriate the Rohingya more quickly.

"We asked them to take back 15,000 every week. But they said they will take back 300 people every day, so that makes 1,500 every week.

"So we compromised that we will start by sending 300 people each day, but there will be a review in three months' time and the number will be increased."


'Mistrust and fear'
Jonathan Head, BBC Southeast Asia correspondent

At 1,500 refugees a week it would take almost 10 years to bring back all 740,000 who have left since October 2016. Bangladesh hopes that flow can be increased. But as matters stand it is difficult to see how.

Both countries have agreed the repatriation will be voluntary. And most refugees say they will only return if their safety can be assured, their homes rebuilt, and if they are no longer subjected to official discrimination. None of these conditions is in place.

Myanmar has started rebuilding, but mostly for non-Muslims. It is preparing two transit camps, the first able to accommodate 30,000 people. Beyond that not much has changed.

More than 350 villages, nearly all of them Rohingya, have been burned down, some recently. The military, which is accused of terrible human rights abuses, still runs northern Rakhine state. It has denied the abuses, denied access to independent investigators, and strictly limits access for aid agencies.

There is talk of closing the camps in which 130,000 Rohingyas are still confined, but not yet of ending restrictions on Rohingya movements. And nothing is yet happening to reduce the mistrust and fear of Rohingyas felt by the non-Muslim population, some of whom have vowed to fight against any large-scale refugee return.


Myanmar's foreign secretary U Myint Thu told BBC Burmese: "The repatriation process will commence on 23 January."

He said three more transit camps were "under construction", and there were plans to "build new villages".

Rakhine's state secretary, U Tin Maung Swe, told BBC Burmese: "The houses are not yet built. We plan to build them under a cash-for-work project. We will give them both money and jobs. The returnees will build their homes by themselves."

A spokesperson from the UN High Commission for Refugees urged Myanmar to address the underlying causes of the crisis and said that refugees should only return when they feel it is safe for them to go back.

Andrej Mahecic said there were major challenges, including ensuring the Rohingya were "told about the situation in their areas of origin" and "consulted on their wishes, that their safety is ensured".

The agreement covers Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh following attacks by a Rohingya militant group on police posts in October 2016 and August 2017.

Those attacks triggered a military crackdown that led to widespread allegations of killings, rape and torture of Rohingya.

The agreement does not cover Rohingya who fled to Bangladesh prior to October 2016, under previous crackdowns and bouts of communal violence.

When the initial repatriation deal was signed in November, Amnesty International said it doubted there could be safe or dignified returns "while a system of apartheid remains" and added that it "hoped those who do not want to go home are not forced to do so".

The Rohingya are a stateless minority in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

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The crisis has been described as ethnic cleansing by the UN and the US.

Despite widespread accusations of human rights violations, Myanmar has consistently denied persecuting its Rohingya minority.
 

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