Ukraine aid announced
Washington announced a US$1.2 million aid package on Friday to help support Ukrainian news outlets ahead of presidential elections later this month. “Members of the media in Ukraine have faced serious challenges and dangers over the past several months,” Department of State deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said. She said that more than 500 journalists have been harassed, beaten or abducted since November last year, and one reportedly has been killed. Announced on the eve of World Press Freedom Day, the funding from the Agency for International Development “will help to protect vulnerable journalists while also advancing press freedoms and domestic governance in Ukraine,” Harf said.
Baby delivered on plane
Aviation officials say a woman has given birth prematurely aboard a passenger plane after it was diverted to a resort island. The 30-year-old woman, who was in the 26th week of pregnancy, went into labor during the British Airways flight from Abuja, Nigeria, to London, airport authority AENA and the airline said on Friday. Officials say the Boeing 777, carrying 296 passengers, was given clearance to divert to and land at Palma de Mallorca airport after she began to give birth. Airport medical staff came aboard to help the plane’s crew with the birth on Thursday. The airline said its cabin crews are trained in birthing procedures and mother and child were taken to a hospital on the island. The mother and the newborn were reportedly in good health.
Migrants spark concern
An Italian ship brought nearly 1,200 migrants to the Sicilian port of Augusta as officials sounded the alarm over the rising tide of migrants trying to enter Europe. Navy Commander Aldo Dolfino told Sky TG24 on Friday that migrants had been evacuated from eight life rafts and one boat, which alone carried about 500 migrants. The nation’s top security official told parliament last week that 20,500 migrants had arrived so far this year, a huge increase from 2,500 in the same period of last year. Most boats come from Libya carrying migrants from Africa. Save the Children has noted an increase in the number of minors, many traveling alone. On Thursday, 700 African migrants stormed a fence at Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla, and 140 got in.
Monkey hunt under way
Police launched a Europe-wide hunt on Friday after five monkeys, including three of a critically endangered species, were stolen from a zoo in northern England. Thieves took the monkeys — two female and a baby cotton-top tamarins and two emperor tamarins — from their enclosures after cutting a hole in the perimeter fence of Blackpool zoo on Tuesday night. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the cotton-top tamarins as a critically endangered species with a worldwide population estimated at about 6,000. Police suspect the monkeys, which require specialist care, were specifically targeted and their details have been circulated to ports and airports in case the thieves try to take them abroad. “There is definitely a market for these monkeys, and we are making inquiries across Europe in a bid to try and trace them,” said Andy McWilliam, Investigations Officer at the National Wildlife Crime Unit.