In a move that has upset the Greeks, Alexander the Great has made a huge comeback in Macedonia. A giant statue bearing an uncanny resemblance to the warrior king – although, officially, no one dares call it that – has been erected in the heart of Skopje, Macedonia's capital. Seated upon his favourite steed, the classical hero surveys the capital from the vantage point of Plostad Makedonija, Skopje's central square. At 22 metres, or eight storeys high, the statue dwarfs its surroundings. But, then, that is the idea. Amid great clouds of dust, giant bulldozers perpetually gnaw at the ground as the former Yugoslav republic undergoes one of Europe's biggest urban renewal schemes. And it all takes place against the backdrop of a 20-year-long dispute with Greece, its southern neighbour, over ownership of the name Macedonia. The sculpture, part of a building bonanza that has also erected gothic edifices, grandiose bridges and a triumphal arch, has been billed as the project's … [Read more...] about Macedonia statue: Alexander the Great or a warrior on a horse?
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Antigua and Barbuda Barbuda, the first island to feel the force of Hurricane Irma was devastated by its high winds, with Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, saying 90% of buildings had been destroyed and 50% of the population of about 1,000 people left homeless. The island is now a near-deserted disaster zone. Almost all of its 1,500 residents left for the sister island of Antigua, a 90-minute boat ride away, ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Jose. “The biggest problem in Barbuda now is the fact that you have so many dead animals in the water and so on, that there is a threat of disease,” said the island’s foreign affairs minister, Charles Fernandez. “You could put all the people back in Barbuda today … but then you’ll have a medical crisis on your hands.” One person – two-year-old Carl Junior Francis – is confirmed to have died in the storm. Michael Joseph, president of the Red Cross in Antigua and Barbuda, said: … [Read more...] about Irma’s destruction: island by island
Tens of thousands of members of one of Iraq's oldest minorities have been stranded on a mountain in the country's north-west, facing slaughter at the hands of jihadists surrounding them below if they flee, or death by dehydration if they stay. UN groups say at least 40,000 members of the Yazidi sect, many of them women and children, have taken refuge in nine locations on Mount Sinjar, a craggy, mile-high ridge identified in local legend as the final resting place of Noah's ark. At least 130,000 more people, many from the Yazidi stronghold of Sinjar, have fled to Dohuk, in the Kurdish north, or to Irbil, where regional authorities have been struggling since June to deal with one of the biggest and most rapid refugee movements in decades. Sinjar itself has been all but emptied of its 300,000 residents since jihadists stormed the city late on Saturday, but an estimated 25,000 people remain. "We are being told to convert or to lose our heads," said Khuldoon Atyas, who has stayed behind to … [Read more...] about 40,000 Iraqis stranded on mountain as Isis jihadists threaten death
Work is set to begin building a new town inspired by the writing of Yugoslavian Nobel literature laureate Ivo Andrić, following plans by film director Emir Kusturica and the Republika Srpska's government. Andrić, who won the Nobel in 1961, is best known for his novel The Bridge on the Drina, the inspiration behind the new town of Andrićgrad. Written by the author during the second world war, it tells of the three centuries of conflict the bridge of the novel's title has witnessed, situated as it is in the small Bosnian town of Višegrad. Work on the town of Andrićgrad, which will be located within Višegrad, is due to start this week and to be completed by 2014, reported Serbian news agency Tanjug. Kusturica, who has won the Cannes Palme d'Or twice, told Balkan Insight that it would be "the biggest, most spectacular project of my life", with stone streets, gates and tower, encompassing a museum, library, theatre and memorial to Andrić . The project to … [Read more...] about Bosnian novelist has town built in his honour
Residents of the British Virgin Islands say they have witnessed scenes of “unbelievable” devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, and warned of widespread looting and a shortage of water and shelter for those left homeless by the storm. Irma severed links with the outside world and left thousands of tourists and local people desperate to escape after it pounded islands along the north-eastern edge of the Caribbean. However, the islands were spared another battering on Saturday when Hurricane Jose had “markedly less” impact than first feared. Irma wrought extensive damage after it hit the isolated islands of St Barts, St Martin, Anguilla and the British and the Virgin Islands group, leaving 22 people dead. “We are all safe but in a state of shock,” said Natalie Drury, a resident of the British Virgin Islands. “We desperately need help as soon as possible. Food, water, shelter. I’m extremely concerned about health and safety – there is … [Read more...] about Hurricane Irma: survivors tell of ‘utter devastation’ on Caribbean islands