Asylum-seeker children to be taken out of camps

Australia said it aims to remove all asylum-seeker children from Nauru within two months as concerns escalate about their deteriorating health after having languished in the tiny Pacific atoll nation for up to five years.

But cabinet ministers said Thursday that the government is maintaining its much criticized policy of sending all asylum seekers who try to reach Australia by boat to immigration camps on Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Refugee advocates said 38 children remained on Nauru by Thursday. Papua New Guinea has male-only facilities, and all asylum seekers there are adults.

People-smuggling traffic from Southeast Asian ports to Australia has all but ended since it said in 2013 that any asylum seekers who try to reach its shores by boat would never be allowed to settle in the country.

Pressure has mounted on the government to make an exception for children, but some say it would only encourage asylum seekers to put children at risk by bringing them on treacherous voyages to Australia aboard rickety boats.

Humanitarian workers expelled from Nauru last month said that asylum seekers there had become suicidal and that their children had lost hope.

— Associated Press

OSCE drone allegedly downed by separatists

Germany and France said Thursday that Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine apparently downed a drone being used by neutral European observers and demanded accountability.

In a joint statement, the two nations said the long-range drone had disappeared shortly after having spotted a surface-to-air missile system in an area not controlled by the Ukrainian government close to the Russian border. Evidence “suggests Russia and the separatists it backs bear responsibility,” they said.

Germany and France, which have been working with Russia and Ukraine to bring an end to the conflict in eastern Ukraine, said the downing of the drone is a “clear violation” of the terms of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission.

They noted that in recent weeks, the drone had observed convoys entering Ukrainian territory across a nonofficial border crossing from Russia on “multiple occasions.”

The separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine erupted in 2014.

— Associated Press

South Korea's top court allows conscientious objection: South Korea's top court has ruled that South Korean men can legally reject their mandatory military service on conscientious or religious grounds without punishment. The ruling is expected to affect the cases of more than 930 conscientious objectors on trial. Hundreds of young men, mostly Jehovah's Witnesses, are imprisoned every year for refusing to serve in the military under South Korea's conscription system.

Over 100 held after Halloween 'purge' riots in France: France's Interior Ministry said police detained at least 116 people after violent incidents in several cities on Halloween night. Police fired tear gas at groups that threw projectiles and set cars and garbage bins on fire in Lyon, in eastern France. Similar incidents were reported in Nantes and Rennes, in the west, and in Toulouse in the south. Some stores were looted in Paris suburbs. The ministry said messages circulating on social media called for a "purge" of police.

Maldives ex-president returns from exile: Maldives's first democratically elected president returned home after more than two years in exile. Mohamed Nasheed was sentenced to 13 years in jail in 2015 after being convicted of terrorism for ordering the arrest of a top judge in 2012 while he was president. He was offered asylum in Britain when he went there for medical treatment on leave from prison. His return follows President Yameen Abdul Gayoom's election defeat on Sept. 23.

— From news services