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Norway marks three years of war in Syria

Norway's foreign minister will on Friday evening lead a candlelit vigil from the roof of Oslo's Opera House to mark three years since the start of the Syrian civil war, a conflict which has displaced 40 percent of the population and left more than 146,000 people dead.

Norway marks three years of war in Syria
A Syrian child whose image is being used in Norway's With Syria campaign. Photo: Facebook
Børge Brende will be joined by representatives from Amnesty International Norway, Norwegian People's Aid, Save the Children and the Red Cross, as well as other agencies, to mark three years since the Syrian regime launched its crackdown on anti-government protesters.
 
The event, which will take place simultaneously with events in Bergen, Trondheim, Kristiansand, Skien and Arendal, is part of the international #WithSyria campaign, with vigils planned across Europe and around the world.
 
Since clashes in March 2011 the crisis has descended into a civil war between President Bashar al-Assad’s government and a divided opposition which includes both citizen protesters and extremist foreign fighters.
 
While the UN has stopped updating its death toll, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Thursday said more than 146,000 people have now been killed.
 
On Friday morning Bård Vegard Solhjell, the head of Norway's Socialist Left party, proposed in parliament that Norway offer to increase the number of Syrian refugees it is accepting from 1,000 to 5,000. 
 
There was quite broad support when we proposed 1,000, and I think it is evident that we should now accept more," he said. "We are now facing a war that's going to be a long one, and we in Norway have the financial ability to help." 
 
Brende will travel to the Middle East on Monday, visiting Israel, the Palestinian territories Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, as part of preparations for a donor conference for the Palestinian territories in June. 
 
in Jordan and Lebanon he is scheduled to hold talks on Syria on how to best look after the refugees these two countries have accepted. 
 
The Save the Children-led campaign has achieved widespread support with more than 2,000 people saying they will attend the vigil on Facebook. 
 
Here you can view a gallery of vigils from around the world: 

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Watch: Norwegian rescue services evacuate crew from ship adrift at sea

A Dutch cargo ship was adrift in the Norwegian Sea on Tuesday after it was evacuated in dramatic fashion in rough seas, Norway's maritime authorities said.

Watch: Norwegian rescue services evacuate crew from ship adrift at sea
JRRC South Norway / AFP

The “Eemslift Hendrika” made a distress call Monday, reporting a heavy list after stormy weather displaced some of its cargo. 

The 12 crew members were evacuated in two stages later the same day by Norwegian rescue services: the first eight were airlifted from the deck of the cargo ship while the last four had to jump into the water.

Footage from the Norwegian authorities shows a man in an orange survival suit throwing himself into the rough sea off the stern of the ship.
The ship also suffered an engine failure and then began drifting towards to the Norwegian coastline.

On Tuesday morning it was about 130 kilometres (80 miles) northwest of the port city of Ålesund.

“The ship is drifting with a large list (between 40 and 50 degrees), so there is a risk that it will capsize,” Hans-Petter Mortensholm, head of the Norwegian Coastal Administration (Kystverket) told AFP.

“Our main priority is to try to stabilise it so that it does not sink, and so that it does not leak fuel oil into the sea,” he added.
The cargo ship contains 350 cubic metres of heavy fuel oil, 75 cubic metres of diesel and 10m3 of lubricating oil.

A Norwegian Coast Guard vessel was en route to the ship on Tuesday morning.

The operator of the vessel has also called in the Dutch company Smit Salvage, which was involved in the refloating of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal last week.

Weather conditions were “extremely bad” with waves of 10 to 15 metres, complicating the situation but a lull was expected in the afternoon, according to Kystverket.

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