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NHS calls for young black Londoners to give blood and save lives

A new campaign is being launched to encourage young black Londoners to give blood and save lives. Currently half the country's black population lives in the country- and NHS Blood and Transport wants to recruit 7000 new black donors by 2020.

NHSBT aim to recruit 7,000 new black donors by 2020 Credit: PA

The black community makes up around 5% of the UK population - with about half living in London - but active black donors currently account for only 1% of blood donors. *

·NHSBT collects 1.8 million units of blood each year from over 23,000 blood donation sessions in more than 3,000 venues

Rarer blood groupsinclude B+, Ro and RoR which are more common and more in-demand among black communities.

Female blood donors can give blood every 16 weeks, while male blood donors must wait 12 weeks between donations. Platelets can be donated every 2 weeks.

Inquest into death of doctor who died in Syria enters its second day

The inquest into the death of a London doctor who died in a Syrian prison last December enters its second day today. Abbas Khan -- who was from Streatham -- was being held by the Syrian government when he died.

Dr Abbas Khan's mother Fatima outside court yesterday Credit: ITN

His family has always mantained he was murdered- while the authorities insist he took his own life. Yesterday his mother Fatima collapsed in court as she gave evidence. The inquest at the Royal Courts of Justice is set to last three weeks.

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Mother gives evidence at Abbas Khan inquest

Fatima Khan, mother of Dr Abbas Khan, at a service in honour of him in 2013 Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

The mother of a south London doctor found dead in a cell in Syria in 2013 has been giving evidence at his inquest.

Fatima Khan told the jury that in July last year she went to Syria to rescue her son and visited a number of embassies, ministries and prisons to try to find out where he was. Some of the buildings she went to were shaken by bomb blasts and vans she travelled in came under sniper fire.

She said: "I felt scared, but my son was here so I had to be brave."

She would kiss the shoes of the officials she met and beg them to help her. At the end of that month, she saw her son at the Court of Terrorism.

She told the hearing: "I hugged him. He was a skeleton. He was in tears. I said, 'Look, mummy is here for you'. He said, 'Sorry, I shouldn't have come here, please take me home'. "His hands were cold as if he was fasting. They were full of black marks and one nail was missing as if someone had taken it off. His feet were completely burnt. "I said, 'What's all this?'. He said, 'This is nothing, I have suffered more than this'."

She said she threw herself at the judge's feet and begged for mercy but he said there were allegations against her son, who was taken away in chains and then transferred to a civilian prison.

Mrs Khan said that when she visited him there at the end of August, he said the conditions were much better.

He said the previous prison was "like Hell" with seven prisoners sharing an eight feet square cell 24 hours a day.

He said he was beaten up by other inmates and interrogated by five men who beat him with rubber hoses, leaving him with open wounds which became infected.

Jury to consider whether doctor was "unlawfully killed"

Dr Abbas Khan who died in custody in Damascus Credit: Khan family photo

The coroner at in inquest into the death of a doctor from south London said Dr Abbas Khan, aged 32, was found "allegedly hanged" while in custody in Damascus on 16th December 2013.

He told the jury they would hear evidence that he was a "family man", and also a "respected" medical man.

He added: "It is clear that he wanted to use his medical skills to help others, and that included helping others in conflict-torn Syria."

The coroner said "things went wrong" on 22nd November 2012. Dr Khan, who was working in a hospital, went out for a walk when he was detained and "was never a free man again".

Just over a year later Dr Khan was found dead, he said.

"During that period of a year while in custody his family made superhuman efforts to try to get him released. In particular, his mother Fatima was extraordinarily persistent."

The coroner said the main issues for the jury to consider after hearing all the evidence were likely to be - did Dr Khan take his own life, or was he "forced in some way by his captors to take his own life against his will", or was he "unlawfully killed" by his captors.

Family made 'superhuman' efforts to free doctor

Fatima Khan, second from the right, mother of Dr Abbas Khan, at a service for her son in 2013 Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive

The family of a British doctor who died in a prison in Syria made "superhuman" efforts to secure his release, the jury at his inquest has been told.

The panel of seven men and four women heard from a coroner today of the steps the family took in the hope of winning freedom for orthopaedic surgeon Abbas Khan.

At the start of an inquest, set to last around three weeks at the Royal Courts of Justice in central London, chief coroner Judge Peter Thornton told jurors that the medic's mother Fatima in particular had been "extraordinarily persistent".

Dr Khan, a father of two from London, died while being held in custody by Syrian government officials last December.

He was captured in the city of Aleppo in November 2012 after travelling from Turkey to help victims of hospital bombings.

His family claim he was murdered while being held. The Syrian government has always maintained Dr Khan killed himself and that he was found hanging in a jail cell.

Boris: 'UK will see ebola cases'

Boris John speaking on The Andrew Marr Show this morning Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

London's Mayor Boris Johnson has said that airport screening for ebola was a "far from perfect solution" and predicted there would be a case of the disease in London.

He told BBC 1's Andrew Marr Show: "It's one of those cases where we are at risk of seeming to promise stuff that doesn't really make any sense. You can't blood test everybody coming into the country."

He added: "The idea of screening it at airports is far from perfect as a solution."

Mr Johnson said there had been "fantastic preparations" to deal with the disease but he expected there to be a case in London.

He said: "I have no doubt, I have little doubt that eventually there will be a case of Ebola in this country and probably in this city."

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Africa festival for Black History Month

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has confirmed the African festival in Trafalgar Square today is part of the capital's Black History Month. The festival will feature inspirations from many African traditions and cultures, supported by Lebara, Air France and The Voice newspaper.

One of the weekend's highlights will be the the Square Celebrates Talent (ACT) which is a show for performers under 25 in front of a live audience. There will also be a fashion show featuring designers from the African UK fashion scene. The festival will take place today from 12pm to 6pm in Trafalgar Square

'London is home to a large and diverse number of African communities, who contribute to the cultural and economic life of the capital and reinforce the historic ties we have to that great continent. As we mark Black History Month I am delighted to be welcoming this celebration of African culture to Trafalgar Square. It will be an opportunity for all Londoners to explore Africa's rich heritage and traditions.'

– Boris Johnson, Mayor of London

New campaign launches in Kenya and the South Bank today

An international campaign to support the end of FGM opens on the South Bank and Nairobi, Kenya today. The Girl Generation: Together to End FGM is an African led movement to support the social and behavioral changes needed to stop violence against women and girls.

The campaign in the South Bank Center will gather together experts from human rights charities, the media, ambassador programmes and Government programmes to support the end of FGM

"My niece is the first girl in our family to be free from FGM. When you break the cycle of abuse once, you break it forever: Save a girl, save a generation. The solution to ending FGM is in empowering girls to be themselves. We are at a point where this is happening but we need to speed things up and get the financial resources to where they are needed."

– Nimco Ali, Girl Ambassador, The Girl Generation

Ticket barriers blocked by demonstrators

Credit: Richard Main

Kurdish protesters descended on Oxford Circus Station earlier, protesting in support of those under siege from Islamic State militants in the Syrian city of Kobane.

The protesters blocked the ticket barriers for a time at the station.

It's thought Kobane has been under attack by gangs from ISIS since the middle of September.

Credit: Richard Main

Swedish national charged with terrorism offences

A 36-year-old man has been charged with terrorism offences by the Metropolitan Police.

Bherlin Gildo, who is a Swedish national, appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court accused of three offences.

They include collecting or recording information at Heathrow Airport that was likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

It is alleged he made electronic copies of magazines called "Ultimate Guide to USA Army Combat", "39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad" and "44 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad".

Mr Gildo is also accused of attending a place used for terrorism training and believing instruction would be provided, and receiving training in the use of firearms connection with the preparation of acts of terrorism.

He has been remanded in custody and is due to appear at the Old Bailey later this month.

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