Valais police chief found guilty of stealing Turkish stone


GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Christian Varone, police chief in canton Valais, was found guilty by a Turkish court Tuesday 19 March, of stealing an “archeological fragment”, a stone from near an ancient site at Antalya. The court sentenced him to one year and 15 days in prison, but the sentence is to be carried out only […]

Syrian refugees: now one million

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – It’s a landmark number, but no one is cheering: the civil war in Syria has now created one million refugees, according to the UN’s refugee organization in Geneva, the UNHCR. The number has increased dramatically in the nine weeks since the start of 2013: more than 400,000. “They arrive traumatized, without possessions […]

Suicide bombing at US embassy in Ankara kills 2

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – An explosion near the US embassy in Ankara, Turkey has  now been confirmed: an apparent suicide bomber died and one of the Turkish guards at the US Embassy was killed when a bomb went off. One or possibly two other people were injured, with conflicting information still coming in. People are being […]

Nato sends tough words to Syria over possible use of chemicals

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) gave Syria a stern warning Tuesday 4 December not to use chemical weapons. The strong words from Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen followed the disclosure by the US that Syria appears to be moving some of its four suspected stocks of chemical weapons materials, which could be […]

Dozens of migrants dead off Turkish coast

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Some 60 migrants seeking refuge in Europe died when a fishing boat they were traveling in hit rocks and sank off the western coast of Turkey, early Thursday 6 September. According to various official reports, many of the passengers, including children, were trapped in a lower deck. A few dozen survivors were able […]

UN’s Syrian mission to leave 1.5m displaced behind

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The United Nations’s UNSMIS (supervision authority for Syria) is preparing to leave Syria after four months, one month longer than its initial assignment 21 April 2012. It was assigned the task of monitoring the situation and helping to implement the UN peace plan for the region. As it leaves, Syria remains in […]

Refugee groups scramble to cope with growing Syrian exodus

Former Syrian PM, now in Jordan, says Assad controls only about 30% of country GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The UN refugee organization, UNHCR, said in Geneva tueday 14 August that it has opened a new registration centre in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, for Syrians fleeing across the border. The new centre can process 700 people a day. […]

Swiss police chief from Valais charged in Turkey, but freed

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Valais Police Chief Christian Varone has been charged in Antalya, Turkey with attempting to steal cultural relics, but he was released and allowed to return to Switzerland. The charges are related to a stone found in his family’s bags at the airport last Friday 27 June, as the police officer and his […]

Valais police chief arrested in Turkey over son’s souvenir


GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Christian Varone, head of canton Valais police, is under arrest in Turkey, reportedly for trying to get on a flight home with a stone picked up by his young son as a souvenir. Varone has been in detention in Antalaya since Friday 27 July when the family was stopped at the airport, […]

Syria group meets in Geneva against backdrop of $193m appeal for refugees


Numbers climb to nearly 100,000 GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – The conflict in Syria has killed from 10-15,000 people, but it has also created a massive, and growing, refugee problem. Humanitarian agencie have registered an average of more than 500 Syrian refugees a day since March, for a total of 96,000 registered people. The UN refugee agency, […]