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Earthquakes in Turkey and Syria further intensify refugee crisis

The recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit along the border between Turkey and Syria has left heavy casualties among the 42,000 displaced Syrian refugees living across southeast Turkey’s six refugee camps.

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A group of volunteers helps with donations in Syria and Turkey after an earthquake disaster in February 2023
In Turkey, the number of people killed has risen to 6,957, according to the country's disaster agency.

The recent 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit along the border between Turkey and Syria has left heavy casualties among the 42,000 displaced Syrian refugees living across southeast Turkey’s six refugee camps.

More than 6.8 million Syrians have been forced to flee their country since 2011,
according to UNHCR. And approximately 5.2 million have found refuge in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan.  Another 6.9 million Syrians are internally displaced.   

In Syria, the earthquake has temporarily closed the northeast Bab-al-Hawa corridor linking
northern Syria with Turkey. The corridor is the lifeline for over four million people left isolated and heavily dependent on humanitarian aid. Out of 5.6 million people the World Food Project provides food assistance to in Syria, 1.4 million live in the northwest.

It would be timely for the U.S. and European countries to lift the sanctions against Syria to allow for critical earthquake relief aid to reach the population in need.

The Sweden-based non-profit international advocacy and humanitarian aid
organization A Demand for Action (ADFA) is one of the first responders reaching Syria. With private donors funding the all-volunteer organization, ADFA’s first aid shipments arrived in Syria on Tuesday, February 7.

“It’s been a race against time to get to the front lines of the disastrous earthquake in Syria and Turkey,” says Nuri Kino, ADFA founder and award-winning Swedish investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, and human rights advocate.  

Working in cooperation with the Syriac Orthodox Bishop of Aleppo, Butrus Qasis, ADFA volunteers are organizing the distribution of thermal blankets and other necessities for the earthquake victims to withstand the frigid winter temperature. They are distributing food and
personal hygiene products to 300 displaced families now housed in three shelters within churches across Aleppo.

“We’ve raised $40,000 thus far from our generous donors, and since we don’t have any administration costs, we are able to do more,” says Kino. “We are scanning the cities close to Aleppo to find food, blankets, everything we can.”

The worst part of the day, Kino says, is “speaking to parents whose children are under houses that have collapsed.”

“What we do is a drop in the ocean, but an important one,” says Kino, who is simultaneously coordinating a bus to Sweden of Ukrainian refugees that will depart in two days .

“We never feel that we are doing enough, for anyone or anywhere. The need is enormous around the world.” Kino says ADFA has started a new chapter in Aleppo and may start one in Antakya in the southernmost region of Turkey.

This is ADFA’s first operation in response to the massive earthquake that continues to ravage Syria and Turkey.

“The ADFA volunteers have set aside their own family responsibilities for a while, and are generously giving their time to do this work of compassion. We will not rest until we have helped as many as possible,” Kino explains.

The recent earthquake in Turkey is the deadliest in the country since 1999.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has declared a state of emergency in 10 provinces, according to news agency Reuters. But residents in several damaged Turkish cities have voiced anger and despair at what they said has been a slow and inadequate response by the authorities. In Syria, already devastated by 11 years of war, the confirmed toll climbed to more than 2,500 overnight, according to the Syrian government and a rescue service operating in the rebel-held northwest.

Jackie Abramian is committed to amplifying the work of women peace-builders, change makers and social entrepreneurs. She is a social enterprise advisor and the founder of Global Cadence consultancy.

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Nimesh Kataria to join England and Wales Cricket Board as CFO

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Nimesh Kataria to join England and Wales Cricket Board as CFO
Nimesh will succeed Scott Smith, who is leaving the ECB after eight years in the role.

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced Nimesh Kataria as new Chief Financial Officer.

Nimesh will join the ECB in April, and brings a wealth of experience and expertise in financial management and strategic planning. He will sit on the ECB Board.

“We are thrilled to welcome Nimesh to the ECB at an important time for our sport. His proven track record in financial management and strategic insight will be invaluable as we seek to grow cricket and become the most inclusive sport, whilst ensuring we put the game on a financially sustainable footing,” says Richard Gould, ECB Chief Executive Officer.

In his current role, Nimesh is Chief Financial Officer for WBD’s International Sports Division, overseeing Eurosport, Global Cycling Network, Discovery Sports Events and the Olympics. He also played a key role in the recent TNT Sports Joint Venture between WBD and BT. Nimesh began his career at Ernst & Young, before joining WBD.

“I am proud to be joining the ECB and hope to be able to play a part in growing cricket and helping even more people to fall in love with the sport. I’ve been a cricket fan my whole life, and while there are real challenges for the whole game in England and Wales to navigate, I’m excited by the opportunity we have to become the most inclusive sport and secure the future of cricket for future generations to play, watch and enjoy,” celebrates Nimesh Kataria.

In his new role, Nimesh will be responsible for financial reporting and business planning. His work will enable the organisation to budget effectively, control expenditure and deliver its revenue objectives. He will also lead key business services including Information and Technology and Procurement, as well as the Finance team.

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New study reveals the poorest presidents of Europe

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Nataša Pirc Musar, President of the Republic of Slovenia
Nataša Pirc Musar, head of the Republic of Slovenia, is the poorest president in Europe, study says | Photo: Matjaz Klemenc

Slovenia has the poorest president in Europe. Relative to average salaries, the presidents of Ukraine and Serbia follow closely as the second and third poorest on the continent. Across Europe, heads of state earn 4.1 times as much as the average earner and cost taxpayers €49.62 per hour. 

This is according to a new study by Slot.Day, who analysed the average gross salaries, GDP per capita and presidents’ earnings across 31 countries in Europe. The researchers used the latest available data from national statistics offices and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), ranging between 2022 and the third quarter of 2023. GDP data is sourced from the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook, published in October 2023. Head of state income estimates are based on independent media reports, national legislation, government and presidency websites, income statements and official government communication. 

Europe’s poorest president lives in Slovenia. The president earns almost as much as any average employee in the country. The head of state has an estimated gross annual income of €44,701, only 3% higher than the current average salary in Slovenia – €43,342. An hour of the president’s time costs taxpayers €23.41 before deductions – one of the top 10 cheapest hourly pays for presidents in Europe. Slovenia is a country of medium wealth, whose GDP per capita (US$32,350) is slightly below the European average of US$34,710 for 2023, according to IMF estimates. The Slovenian president’s work is worth 1.5 of the country’s GDP per capita.  

Ukraine has the second lowest-paid president in Europe, relative to other average earners in the country. Based on official government communication, the Ukrainian president’s gross annual salary in 2023 was only €8,134, which is 1.63 worth of any average earner in the country. This is the lowest pay of any president in Europe, costing Ukrainian taxpayers only €4.26 per hour, before deductions, to carry out all their duties as head of state. Ukraine’s current GDP per capita is also the lowest in Europe, estimated at €5,245 for 2023. The president earns only 70% above that. 

Serbia’s president is the third poorest in Europe. With an hourly compensation of just €10.77, before tax, the head of state earns €20,564 per year. This is worth only 1.68 of the average salary in Serbia, estimated at €12,258. Serbia’s GDP per capita is the eighth lowest in Europe (US$11,301), and the president’s salary is almost double this amount. 

The presidents of Lithuania and Montenegro earn under two average salaries in their countries, while those in Croatia and Moldova earn just above this level. Finland, Latvia and Bosnia and Herzegovina complete the top 10 poorest presidents of Europe. Finland is the only country in Slot.Day’s ranking whose GDP per capita (US$54,507) is well above the European average (US$34,710).  

Richest presidents 

The richest presidents in Europe live in Bulgaria, Slovakia and Ireland when comparing their official incomes to average salaries.  

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Paul Royall appointed as Executive News Editor of the BBC News

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Paul was previously the channel's interim Executive News Editor

Journalist Paul Royall has been appointed as the Executive News Editor of the BBC News Channel on a permanent basis.

Royall was previously interim Executive News Editor – leading BBC News Channel’s single operation through the successful launch last year, and consistently delivering breaking news and public service journalism to audiences in the UK and across the world.

BBC News remains the most-watched news channel in the UK, and has a weekly audience of over 100m around the rest of the world. The single-news operation splits into a UK and international feed and joins up with important global news developments to offer audiences the very best of BBC journalism.

“I am delighted to be leading the BBC News channel on a permanent basis. This is a hugely talented team and I’m excited by everything we can achieve for audiences going forward. 2024 will be another momentous year of news, and it will be a privilege to be at heart of if for the channel,” says the new BBC News editor.

Prior to his role at the BBC News Channel, Paul edited the BBC News at Ten, Six and One, and has spent many years at the forefront of BBC News programmes covering major news events including three General Elections, the Scottish and EU Referendums, a global pandemic, the wars in Ukraine and Gaza/Israel and the death of the Queen Elizabeth II.

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