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Deported American gang members make El Salvador murder rate soar

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MS-13 is a brutal, clandestine and fractured gang.

It’s also one ultimately made in America by refugees fleeing a violent civil war in the 1980s.

Donald Trump has vowed to destroy the group and for the past year I’ve been reporting on the issue from the US – meeting the families of murdered teenagers, interviewing the Trump administration, looking inside the police response and hearing from immigrant communities who fear they are being unfairly swept up in a broader immigration crackdown.

After months of negotiation, I was about to see life on the other side, meeting a new wave of deportees taking their first steps in El Salvador, coming face to face with MS-13 members in prison and trying to see what if anything is changing.

Deportees from the US arrive in El Salvador
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Deportees from the US arrive in El Salvador

At the international airport, I noticed something unusual on the arrivals board- a flight with no name or location.

Minutes later, a Swift Air plane pulls up close to the road.

It’s been charted from Houston by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Family members and friends are anxiously looking on – some crying, others biting their nails.

Then, a steady stream of bewildered looking men start to emerge.

They look anything between 18 and 55 years old.

Tattoos are often a sign of gang membership
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Tattoos are often a sign of gang membership

Some are covered in tattoos and will later try to have them removed – any ink is immediately associated with gangs here.

La Chacra, the country’s main repatriation centre where they’re taken to is in a gang-ridden area punctuated with gun fire.

What strikes me the most up close, is the mix of people arriving.

There are those open about the fact they’ve committed crimes in the US.

The majority I speak to though, tell me they’ve been sent back for failing to follow the immigration process properly.

Clerical errors and missed appointments keep coming up.

By next year, nearly 200,000 Salvadorans with permits to live and work in the US could also be forced to return.

The men and handful of women here have left behind their families in America and are hurriedly making calls to any relatives they may still have here.

It’s striking to learn that most don’t know how or where they’ll spend the next few days, let alone months. Many haven’t been here for decades and one man tells me it feels like a foreign land.

Donald Trump’s rationale for sending people back is to stop MS-13’s barbaric violence on US soil.

What immediately hits you here is how much more pervasive and inescapable violence is.

We’re told we can’t go to any gang areas (and it’s hard to avoid them) without a police escort.

It is eerie to see a capital city emptied by 7 o’clock in the evening.

Entire neighbourhoods are in darkness and it’s deadly quiet.

Heavily armed police try to tackle the gangs
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Heavily armed police try to tackle the gangs

The police we’re on patrol with are imposing – wearing balaclavas and carrying assault rifles.

We spend four nights with them as they stop and search countless people.

The gang knows how to hide though and this very visible presence at times feels futile, occasionally hostile.

23 people are killed the day we arrive.

When we saw the body of an 18-year-old man in an open arid field, a family’s raw grief unfolds before us.

Watching as his distraught mother asks to hold onto his shoes before his body is carried away is something I will never forget.

This 18-year-old was shot in the chest and head after being threatened by a gang
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This 18-year-old was shot in the chest and head after being threatened by a gang

MS-13 however is a problem with no easy solutions.

In Apanteos prison, they are really trying to help people rebuild lives through learning.

But gangs members who tell me they want to leave, say it is near impossible to do so.

In the past, deportation have only emboldened MS-13, with members re-grouping and recruiting inside, some then returning to the US.

That risk still exists in a crowded penitentiary system.

Some efforts are being made to reform gang members in prison
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Some efforts are being made to reform gang members in prison

Just as we’re leaving Apanteos, four men are killed in a prison where two rival gangs live cheek by jowl.

This might me El Salvador’s problem now, but if history tells us anything, it could very quickly be swing back to being America’s.

Poverty and lack of opportunity has encouraged alienated young people to join MS-13 in America.

In El Salvador, it is far worse.

And with the economy dependent on money being sent back, Washington could once again be about to shape its fate.

Donald Trump says he wants to end MS-13’s violent scourge.

The danger is that sending them back could once make them grow stronger once again.

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Afghanistan: Youngsters protest online against order telling girls not to go to school | World News

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Afghan girls and boys have joined a social media protest against a decision by the Taliban to prevent young females going to school.

Putting their own safety at risk, many have created makeshift banners to make their points, opposing an edict by the Taliban government that female middle and high school students should not return to school for the time being, while boys of the same age can resume their studies this weekend.

It comes as the interim mayor of Kabul is telling female city authority employees to stay home, with only those whose jobs cannot be done by men allowed to work.

Banner reads: "What is our crime that we are prevented from education?"
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Banner reads: ‘What is our crime that we are prevented from education?’

The moves are further evidence the Taliban, which overran Kabul last month, is enforcing its harsh interpretation of Islam despite initial promises that it would be tolerant and inclusive.

Among the slogans on the banners displayed by the youngsters are statements like: “What is our crime that we are prevented from education?” and “I won’t go to school without my sister. I support my sister. We are equal.”

Sky News has blurred the faces of some of those protesting, as there are fears they could be at risk in a country that appears to be clamping down on the right of expression.

Banner reads: "You took our holy land, so don't take our education from us"
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Banner reads: ‘You took our holy land, so don’t take our education from us’

On Sunday, just over a dozen women staged a protest outside the new ministry, holding up placards calling for the right of women to participate in public life.

The protest lasted for about 10 minutes before a short verbal confrontation occurred with a man and the women got into cars and left, as members of the Taliban watched from nearby cars.

Kabul’s new interim mayor, Hamdullah Namony, told his first news conference that, pending a further decision, most of the 1,000 or so female city authority employees would be required to stay home.

He said exceptions would only be made for women who could not be replaced by men, including some in the design and engineering departments and the attendants of public toilets for women.

The Taliban flags are seen on a street in Kabul, Afghanistan
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The mayor of Kabul has told many female employees of the city authorities to stay home

Mr Namony added: “There are some areas that men can’t do it, we have to ask our female staff to fulfil their duties, there is no alternative for it.”

During its previous rule between the mid 1990s and 2001, the Taliban had forbidden girls and women from schools, jobs and public life.

In recent days, Taliban officials told female university students that classes would take place in gender-segregated settings, and they must abide by a strict Islamic dress code.

Banner reads: "We won't go to schools, until our sisters are allowed to go to school"
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Banner reads: ‘We won’t go to schools, until our sisters are allowed to go to school’

Under the previous US-backed administration, before it was deposed by the Taliban in August, men and women had sat alongside each other in universities, for the most part.

On Friday, the Taliban shut down the ministry for women’s affairs, replacing it with a government department responsible for the “propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice”, with the job of enforcing Islamic law.

Amid deteriorating conditions for ordinary Afghans, many of whom previously relied on international aid, witnesses said an explosion targeted a Taliban vehicle in the provincial city of Jalalabad, the second such deadly blast in as many days in an area where Islamic State militants are said to dominate.

Banner reads: "I don’t go to school without my sister. I support my sister. #We are equal"
Image:
Banner reads: ‘I don’t go to school without my sister. I support my sister. #We are equal’

The Taliban and IS extremists are enemies and battled each other before the Taliban took control of Afghanistan last month.

Initial reports said five people were killed, with a child among the two civilians said to have died. The Taliban were not immediately available for comment.

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Boris Johnson tells world leaders he is growing ‘increasingly frustrated’ at their efforts to tackle climate change | Politics News

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Boris Johnson has criticised other world leaders over their efforts to tackle climate change, telling them he is growing “increasingly frustrated” that their commitments are “nowhere near enough”.

Speaking during a meeting at the United Nations in New York, the prime minister said the gap between what has been promised by industrialised nations and what they have so far delivered remains “vast”.

Co-hosting a discussion on the issue at the UN General Assembly, Mr Johnson urged fellow leaders to renew their efforts to meet a key financing pledge to help developing nations.

The PM wants to get countries to commit to giving $100bn (£73bn) a year in support to developing nations to cut their carbon emissions and shield themselves against climate change.

But he earlier told reporters there was only a “six out of 10” chance of this target being met before the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow in November – which he then said will be “a turning point for the world” and “the moment when we have to grow up and take our responsibilities”.

He told Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby: “We have been here before, we have all heard lots of positive noises, let’s see where we get to.

“We are not counting our chickens.”

However, Joe Biden’s climate envoy sounded upbeat when questioned by Sky News.

“I think we’re going to get it done by COP and the US will do its part,” John Kerry said.

Asked if the US president will announce more money this week, he replied: “I’m not hoping… I’m telling you to stay tuned into the president’s speech and we’ll see where we are.”

Chairing the climate discussion on Monday, Mr Johnson noted that “everyone nods and we all agree that something must be done”.

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Kerry ‘confident’ of $100bn climate target

“Yet I confess I’m increasingly frustrated that the ‘something’ to which many of you have committed is nowhere near enough,” he continued.

“It is the biggest economies in the world that are causing the problem, while the smallest suffer the worst consequences.

“And while progress is being made all over the world, the gulf between what has been promised, what is actually being delivered, and what needs to happen… it remains vast.

“Too many major economies – some represented here today, some absent – are lagging too far behind.”

And the PM warned countries there would be consequences if the financing target is not met, saying: “If you say that the lives of their children are not worth the hassle of reducing domestic coal consumption, will they vote with you in fora such as this?

“Will they work with you, borrow from you, stand with you if you tell the world that you don’t care whether their land and their people slip below the waves?

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“To be merely a bystander is to be complicit in their fate – yet that is exactly what you will be if you fail to act this year.”

Ahead of the UN meeting, Downing Street said developed countries had “collectively failed” to meet the target.

Figures released last week by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that $79.6bn was mobilised in 2019, more than $20bn off the target.

Watch the Daily Climate Show at 6.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.

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Serbians block roads in Kosovo in protest over license plate restrictions | World News

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Protesters have blocked roads in northern Kosovo after authorities stopped cars with Serbian plates from entering the country.

Police in Jarinje, Kosovo are forcing drivers from Serbia to remove or hide license plates and use temporary registration details that are valid for 60 days and cost €5 (£4.30).

Serbia, which lost control of Kosovo in 1999, does not recognise Kosovo and has stopped cars with Kosovo license plates from entering the country.

Kosovo's special force deployed armoured vehicles as hundreds blocked the roads in Jarinje, Kosovo
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Kosovo’s special force deployed armoured vehicles as hundreds blocked the roads in Jarinje, Kosovo

Almost 50,000 Serbs who live in the north of Kosovo and share a border with Serbia, refuse to recognise Pristina’s authorities and as restrictions came into force on Monday, cars and trucks blocked roads in protest.

Police in Kosovo deployed riot gear and armoured vehicles as the blockades built up and Kosovo’s Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, said the move was not taken to harm drivers but was a retaliation measure against Belgrade.

“Today there is nothing illegal or discriminatory,” Mr Kurti said in parliament.

“Just as yesterday, today and tomorrow, Serb citizens will move freely and safely.”

Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said the situation is very “serious and difficult”.

“When you are dealing with people who are not responsible, it is difficult to find a solution,” Mr Vucic said.

Drivers waved a Serbian flag as they protested against the government ban on entry of vehicles with Serbian license plates
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Drivers waved a Serbian flag as they protested against the government ban on entry of vehicles with Serbian license plates

The two countries began talks in 2013, mediated by the European Union, to resolve the issues, but little progress has been made.

Kosovo is recognised by around 110 countries, including the United States, Britain and most western countries, but Russia, Serbia’s traditional ally, does not recognise it.

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