Schoolgirl’s story about fleeing Islamic State wins Australian writing competition

Sarah Sona was only eleven when her family fled Iraq.

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Islamic State militants invaded her small village of Qaraqosh in 2014 vowing to kill all Christians.

“I was very scared and nervous because we could hear people screaming. My neighbours were telling us [her family] to run away because there was no where we could stay, they would just kill us”, the Year 6 student from St Dominic’s Primary School Broadmeadows told SBS World News.

Sarah has now been awarded the Young Journalist award by the Australian Catholics magazine for her entry detailing her harrowing journey from her small village in Iraq to Melbourne’s northwestern suburb of Broadmeadows.

The theme for this year’s competition was Justice Heroes with students asked to write about a hero from their own community.

Sarah’s family first escaped to Erbil and travelled to Jordan. Here, members of the humanitarian charity, Caritas, took Sarah and her family into their care. 

Sarah based her story around this organisation that she says made her family’s life in Australia possible.

“They [Caritas Jordan] are the real justice heroes and I will never forget them”, Sarah’s entry reads. 

Caritas Jordan have been working with refugees since the escalation of violence in 2010.

There are 165 Caritas agencies globally working to end poverty and promoting justice. Caritas Jordan has been in partnership with Caritas Australia working on programs for refugees fleeing attrocitieis in Syria and Iraq.

Sarah Sona says her Justice Heroes are the Caritas Jordan volunteers.Caritas Australia

Humanitarian program coordinator at Caritas Australia, Suzy McIntyre, said Sarah’s piece highlighted the significance of work by organisations like Caritas to protect refugees. 

“Sarahs piece is very significant for Australians to understand the work being done like Caritas for refugees”, Ms McIntyre told SBS World News.

Ms McIntyre said she was so uplifted by Sarah’s piece that she contacted Caritas Jordan to notify them straight away.

“I sent them an email to share the story. I think they were touched that Sarah was able to express personal gratitude to them”, McIntyre said. 

The life I’v nw wd’t have been possible without @CaritasJordan #justice #heroes #Sara #Iraqi_refugees @CaritasAust 南京桑拿,南京SPA,/Hi1Tu9ebIK

— Caritas Jordan (@CaritasJordan) September 9, 2017

 Sarah spoke only a few words of English when she arrived to Australia last year. She says Caritas introduced her to English.

“When I was in Jordan, some teachers from Caritas came and they started teaching me writing”, Sarah told SBS World News.

“I knew the letters but I didn’t know how to read. They started showing me easy words, like apple and banana and I started learning quickly.

“I always thought English was really hard and impossible to learn but here I am”, Sarah says.

Sarah with Caritas Australia staff member, Megan Bourke, at the Awards Ceremony.Caritas Australia  

Sarah, an aspiring author, says writing is an integral part of her life. 

“I think I can make my imagination work pretty well and I can be free. When I’m angry, I write – and it just makes me feel better”, Sarah says.

This is the first time Sarah has openly penned her journey from Iraq to Australia and says her winning entry has given her a taste of what it would be like to accomplish her dream.  

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Apps help treat mild depression: study

Smartphone apps can be an effective treatment option for people with mild to moderate depression, according to a new international research review.

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With mental health services struggling to meet the demand for treatment, researchers from Australia’s National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), Harvard Medical School, The University of Manchester and the Black Dog Institute examined the efficacy of smartphone-based treatments for depression.

Researchers systematically reviewed 18 randomised controlled trials which examined a total of 22 different smartphone-delivered mental health interventions.

The meta-analysis involved more than 3400 male and female participants between the ages of 18-59 with a range of mental health symptoms and conditions including major depression, mild to moderate depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and insomnia.

Overall, the smartphone apps “significantly”reduced people’s depressive symptoms, according to the findings published in journal World Psychiatry.

“The main analysis found that smartphone interventions had a moderate positive effect on depressive symptoms, with no indication of publication bias affecting these findings,” the authors wrote.

“However, our subgroup analyses found that the effects of smartphone interventions were substantially larger when compared to inactive than active control conditions.”

After accounting for population type, the significant benefits of smartphone apps were only found for those with self-reported mild-to-moderate depression.

“Nonetheless, the nature of smartphone interventions does appear to position them as an ideal self-management tool for those with less severe levels of depression. The observed effects indicate that these interventions are well-placed for delivering low-intensity treatment within a stepped-care approach, or even prevention of mild-to-moderate depression among the millions of people affected by subclinical symptoms,” the authors concluded.

Despite the promising early results, there is currently no evidence to suggest that using apps alone can outperform standard psychological therapies, or reduce the need for antidepressant medications, the authors cautioned.

Earlier this year, consumers were urged to be cautious about the plethora of ‘mindfulness’ apps now available in the booming digital health market.

Dr Quinn Grundy, a postdoctoral research fellow in the University of Sydney’s Faculty of Pharmacy based at the Charles Perkins Centre, said while apps have the potential to deliver tailored, accessible and cost-effective mental health services, greater regulation was needed.

Dr John Torous at Harvard Medical School agrees patients and doctors are faced with a vast array of mental health apps, and says for this reason it’s “imperative” more research is done.

“This research provides much-needed information on the effectiveness of apps for depression, and offers important clues into the types of apps which can help patients manage their condition,” Dr Torous said.

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MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78.

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Bird in hand means future bright: Bennett

The addition of Jack Bird and another year of finals experience means Brisbane are a step closer to another elusive NRL premiership, according to coach Wayne Bennett.

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The Broncos fell short in their quest to break an 11-year drought when they were over-run by Melbourne, who put on 22 unanswered second half points for a 30-0 victory in Friday’s preliminary final at AAMI Park.

Brisbane’s kicking game let them down while they failed to build any pressure on the Storm in the second half with some poor attacking choices.

But Bennett said Cronulla utility Bird, who signed a four-year deal in May worth about $4 million, would be a strong addition.

“The bridge is not long, it’s pretty short,” Bennett said of their journey to a title.

“We’ve got Jack Bird coming next year, we’ve got quality players there – we’re on this journey to get ourselves in a situation where we can’t get exposed like we did (against the Storm).

“Next year we’ll be older and smarter, we need to play in these games, these guys need to get the experience.”

Bennett lamented the injury toll at his club and said the side rarely played the same spine throughout the season, losing hooker Andrew McCullough for the year with a knee injury while others were in and out of the line-up.

“I’ve been in a lot of finals series and a lot of seasons and I’m going to tell you the best thing is constant players – the same team every week, you crave for that,” Bennett said

“To put the same 17 on every week and that gives you confidence and belief and we haven’t managed that.

“It’s the best thing you can have going into the finals.”

Skipper Darius Boyd missed their last two games after suffering a hamstring injury in round 26. The gamble of playing him underdone on Friday backfired and he was forced off early in the second half.

Bennett likened it to his club’s 2002 finals campaign, when Allan Langer broke his thumb late in the season and returned but couldn’t stop the Broncos crashing out in the preliminary finals.

“When Alf came back in for the play-offs like Darius did he wasn’t the same player he was before,” Bennett said.

“We needed what Darius brings and what Alf brought in that era so it does have an impact.”

Australia restrict India to 252 in ODI

A strong recovery by the Australian bowlers has restricted India to 252 in the second one-day international in Kolkata.

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Grappling with oppressive conditions, the visitors wrested control from the home side who at one stage looked in a position to set a target in excess of 300, after winning the toss and deciding to bat.

Australia will chase 253 for a victory under lights to level the series at one-all, with India all out after Yuzvendra Chahal was run out off the final ball.

Fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile was again the pick of the Aussie attack, picking up three wickets for the second-straight match.

The 29-year-old again snared the wicket of Virat Kohli who played superbly until he chopped one on to the stumps on 92.

India were cruising at 1-121 until Ajinkya Rahane (55) was run out by Hilton Cartwright after hesitating when turning for a second run.

He and Kohli combined for a 102-run partnership.

MS Dhoni couldn’t repeat his heroics from the first match of the five-game series, caught by Steve Smith at cover for five off the bowling of Richardson.

Hardik Pandya couldn’t get hold of the bowling as he did in Chennai, holing out to Kane Richardson (3-55) for 20 in the final over.

As rain started falling in the 48th over, Pandya was caught off a Richardson full toss which was deemed to be a no-ball.

As Pandya walked off the bails were whipped off at the non-striker’s end.

Despite repeated Australian appeals for a run out, Pandya survived after the umpires ruled the ball was dead.

Steve Smith’s tough tour in the field continued after the 15-minute delay when he spilled a chance from Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the outfield.

Ashton Agar (1-54) bowled nine overs before coming off the ground with cramp, while Richardson and Matthew Wade both showed signs of heat stress with the sun beating down in the first half of the innings.

Wade recovered to take a superb catch to dismiss Kuldeep Yadav in the penultimate over, with Pat Cummins (1-34) getting a deserved reward from an impressive 10-over spell.

South Korea urges North to abandon nukes

Adopting a less confrontational stance than key allies, South Korea’s president urged North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons and seek dialogue to prevent conflict breaking out on the divided peninsula.

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President Moon Jae-in voiced support for stronger sanctions in response to the North’s recent weapons tests, but his tone was in stark contrast to President Donald Trump’s dark warning at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday that North Korea would be “totally destroyed” if it attacked.

Another US ally, Japan, said Wednesday that pressure, not dialogue, was needed.

Moon cautioned that North Korean nuclear issues need to be “managed stably” to prevent a spike in tensions and military clashes – a prospect that has overshadowed this year’s gathering of world leaders.

Pyongyang conducted its most powerful underground atomic test explosion and fired missiles over Japan twice in the past three weeks.

The standoff over North Korea’s weapons development has intensified as its autocratic leader Kim Jong Un has accelerated his nation’s development of a nuclear-tipped missile that could soon strike the continental United States.

Yet it is still South Korea, and its capital Seoul close to the heavily militarised frontier with the North, that faces the greatest immediate risk in a conflict.

“(North Korea) must immediately cease making reckless choices that could lead to its own isolation and downfall and choose the path of dialogue,” Moon said.

“We do not desire the collapse of North Korea. We will not seek unification by absorption or artificial means, if North Korea makes a decision even now to stand on the right side of history, we are ready to assist North Korea together with the international community.”

Kuldeep hat-trick sets up India’s win against Australia

Chasing India’s total of 252 all out, the touring side appeared comfortably placed at 138-4 before they suffered a collapse and were bundled out for 202 in the 44th over.

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The 22-year-old Kuldeep had not enjoyed success in his first seven overs and gave away 39 runs. But he dismissed Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins in his eighth over to turn the match in India’s favour.

He is only the third Indian to take a hat-trick in one day internationals after Kapil Dev and Chetan Sharma.

Kuldeep’s triple strike snuffed out Australia’s hopes of squaring the series as the visitors were reduced to 148-8 in the 33rd over. The left-arm spinner finished with figures of 3-54 in his quota of 10 overs.

Australia captain Steve Smith and Travis Head propped up their team’s chase with a 76-run stand for the third wicket after India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar had dismissed openers Hilton Cartwright and David Warner cheaply.

Head was out for 39 to leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal while Smith fell for 59, caught in the deep when trying to pull all-rounder Hardik Pandya.

Kumar dismissed Kane Richardson for a nought with the first delivery of his second spell to complete India’s win and finish with miserly figures of three for nine runs from 6.1 overs. Marcus Stoinis was left stranded on 62 not out at the other end.

Earlier, India’s innings was built on captain Virat Kohli’s sublime 92 and opener Ajinkya Rahane’s 55. The duo added 102 for the second wicket after Kohli had won the toss and opted to bat.

India looked set for a total in excess of 300 when they reached 186-3 in the 36th over but they lost their way after suffering a mini collapse, losing Kedar Jadhav (24), Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (five) in quick succession.

Pace duo Nathan Coulter-Nile and Richardson both picked up three wickets each for Australia, who must now win the third ODI at Indore on Sunday to stay alive in the series.

(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Keith Weir)

AFL final not a battle of coaches: Pyke

Adelaide coach Don Pyke isn’t buying it.

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Pyke reckons Friday night’s AFL preliminary final won’t hinge on his coaching box battle with Geelong counterpart Chris Scott.

While Scott has been hailed for his tactical genius in the Cats’ semi-final win against Sydney, Pyke believes the impact of coaches can be overblown.

And so is dubbing the preliminary final as a battle of the coaches.

“I don’t really think it’s about myself or him,” Pyke said ahead of the Adelaide Oval fixture.

“It’s about the teams and the players. They are the ones that do it.

“So I don’t really buy into that side of it.

“We prepare our teams. We understand the strengths of our teams. And we understand how we want to play.

“Both teams have got to this point playing some really good, strong footy. There’s no reason to go away from that.”

Pyke predicted Scott would tinker with Geelong’s tactics that delivered their semi-final triumph.

“I will expect some changes, some subtle tweaks, which is really what they did well last week against Sydney, to their credit,” he said.

“But we will prepare to play the way we want to play.”

Adelaide and Geelong met twice in the home-and-away season, for one win each.

The Cats prevailed in Geelong in round 11; the Crows won a round 18 rematch in Adelaide to snap a five-game losing streak to the Cats.

“We have learnt out of both of them,” Pyke said.

“And it’s not just the Geelong games we have learnt out of, we have learnt out of other games later in the year.

“I’m sure they will come with a clear plan in terms of how to beat us.

“And we will come with a clear plan of what we think is going to get it done against Geelong.

“That is the joy of this time of year, there’s a great opportunity that presents to win a prelim final.”

Giants’ AFL backs must be smart: Corr

Greater Western Sydney back Aidan Corr would relish the chance to spend time on old teammate and new Richmond scoring threat Jacob Townsend in their AFL preliminary final clash.

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Townsend has been a revelation in his new forward role at the Tigers, kicking 13 goals in their last three games.

Deployed as an inside midfielder and tagger by the Giants, Townsend kicked just four goals in 28 games over four seasons with GWS.

He played just four matches for the Tigers in his first season there in 2016 and had to wait till round 22 for his first senior appearance this year.

Played up forward, the 23-year-old promptly kicked bags of six and five goals in successive weeks against Fremantle and St Kilda respectively.

He booted two more in the qualifying final win over Geelong, for a tally of 13 goals from just 21 kicks over the three games.

“(At GWS) he was definitely a midfield hard nut,” Corr said.

“He kicked a few goals in the NEAFL, but I don’t think he kicked a bag of five or six, like he has been doing.

“He’s a great fellow, he was a good mate of mine when he was here, so I’m happy to see him go so well, but hopefully this weekend we can take him down.

“Hopefully I’ll get my hands on Jacob, that would be fun.”

The Giants back line will face a very different challenge against Richmon’d’s mosquito fleet after curbing West Coast’s taller attack last week.

“West Coast had the three key talls and we had three key tall backs,” Corr said.

“They (Richmond) have got pretty much just Jack (Riewoldt as a tall forward).

“Jacob Townsend is a bit of a marking target and Josh Caddy; they are medium-sized.

“You’ve just got to do your research early. You’ve got to make more decisions if you play on a small player.

“If the ball is coming in high, you can’t fly every time, so we’ve just got to make smart decisions.”

Brisbane’s Pangai no Taumalolo: McGuire

Brisbane forward Josh McGuire says comparisons with Jason Taumalolo are premature for Broncos enforcer Tevita Pangai Junior.

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However, the Queensland lock tipped him to lift Wayne Bennett’s side against a Jesse Bromwich-inspired Melbourne pack in Friday night’s NRL preliminary final at AAMI Park.

Pangai Junior has this week been championed by teammate Alex Glenn as Brisbane’s answer to Cowboys wrecking ball Taumalolo upon his return from a two week hamstring injury.

However, McGuire isn’t so sure.

Unlike Taumalolo’s 200m-plus games, Pangai Junior has made 86m a match this season, averaging only 26 minutes off the bench.

“It is hard to compare him with Taumalolo at the moment but he is definitely got a lot of aggression to his game and can develop into a very good player at that level,” McGuire said.

“He just has to keep learning. He is a player of the future for this club.”

McGuire still expected Pangai Junior to turn heads upon his return.

“He is still learning his trade but he is still very important for us off the bench,” he said.

“He brings a lot of spark.”

And it seems they will need it against a Storm pack led by Kiwi giant Bromwich.

“They have international players everywhere but it is hard to go past Jesse Bromwich, who has been benchmark of the competition,” McGuire said.

“He’s a big body with great footwork.

“You won’t find a lot of front-rowers who have quite such good hands and feet and he’s a hard guy to get a decent hit on.

“But they are the form team of the year, the best team in the comp.”

Glenn believed last week’s grinding 13-6 semi-final win over Penrith was ideal practice for what was to come from Storm’s pack on Friday night.

“Melbourne have a lot of structure, they are clinical and relentless but I think last week’s game was great preparation for us,” he said.

“We have got to make sure we take that enthusiasm as a pack to Melbourne because us guys in the middle we have a job on our hands.”

Australia fold under pressure in India ODI

Australia captain Steve Smith has lamented his side’s tendency to panic under pressure after another batting collapse put them 2-0 down in their one-day international series against India.

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Set 253 for victory, the visitors lost their last eight wickets for 117 runs with a hat-trick to left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav sealing Thursday’s match at Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

After falling 50 runs short in the second of five ODIs, Australia now need to win Sunday’s match in Indore to keep the series alive.

“In regards to our batting, 250, we should be getting that on that wicket,” Smith said.

“It’s now about getting out in the middle and just executing your skills when you’re under pressure and not panicking.

“We’re just making silly errors when we’re under pressure and you can’t afford to do that against a quality line-up like India.”

Smith looked like he could guide Australia home in his 100th ODI, but after a measured half-century he was caught on 59.

Two overs after Smith’s dismissal, Yadav weaved his magic to dismiss Matthew Wade, Ashton Agar and Pat Cummins with consecutive deliveries.

Marcus Stoinis top scored with a gallant innings, but ran out of partners and was left unbeaten on 62.

Yadav (3-54) and Yuzvendra Chahal (2-34) again exposed Australia’s deficiency against wrist spin, combining for five wickets as they did in game one in Chennai.

Paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar was outstanding with 3-9 off 6.1 overs.

Maxwell (14) hit two sixes before he was bamboozled by Chahal and Dhoni pounced on the chance to stump him.

Openers David Warner and Hilton Cartwright both fell to Kumar for one, while Travis Head made a run-a-ball 39.

Earlier, Nathan Coulter-Nile was again Australia’s most damaging bowler, picking up 3-51 off his 10 overs in oppressive conditions.

The West Australian paceman again snared the prized scalp of Virat Kohli, but the Indian skipper had already done the damage with a beautifully compiled 92 off 107 balls.

A huge score loomed when he had combined for a 102-run partnership with Ajinkya Rahane (55 off 64), but the opener was run out by Hilton Cartwright and India went on to lose their last seven wickets for 66.

“We didn’t feel like we had enough at the break,” Kohli said.

“(But) we knew if we had a good start, we had a chance.”

Australia felt the full force of the stifling Kolkata heat while bowling with Wade, Ashton Agar and Kane Richardson all receiving treatment for heat stress or cramps.

Cosmic rays come from far-flung galaxies

Cosmic rays reaching earth come from other galaxies far outside the Milky Way, new research has revealed.

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Ending a 50-year debate over the origin of the rays, a global collaboration of scientists has found there is only a one in million chance they could have come from a single source, within our own galaxy.

The research, which has involved scientists from the University of Adelaide, was published on Friday in the journal Science.

“This clearly indicates an origin of particles outside of the Milky Way and is a very exciting outcome, the result of years of careful work with a highly tuned giant detector,” Bruce Dawson, from the university’s energy astrophysics group, said.

“This is the first conclusive evidence that real atomic material, not just star-light, arrives at earth from distant galaxies.”

Cosmic rays travel through space at speeds just less than the speed of light, but are extremely rare, arriving at a rate of only one per square kilometre per year.

As one enters the earth’s atmosphere, it collides with an air molecule and creates a giant cascade of subatomic particles which sweeps down through the atmosphere almost at the speed of light, in a disc-like swarm several kilometres in diameter.

It’s this cascade that can be detected by the Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina.

The new research has determined that they arrive from multiple directions, although the actual sources are yet to be pinned down.

“The sources of these particles may be extreme cosmic environments associated with supermassive black-holes at the centres of galaxies, or perhaps in massive shocks in colliding galaxies,” senior research associate Jose Bellido said.

The observatory is currently undergoing an upgrade to narrow down the origin of the rays.

Smith hits out at Australian ODI collapses

Australia captain Steve Smith has a blunt message for his batsmen: the collapses must stop now.

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The visitors are in dire trouble in their one-day international series against India after a 50-run loss in Kolkata on Thursday put them 2-0 down.

Smith said batting collapses had become a worrying trend in all forms of Australian cricket after losing their last eight wickets for 112 in game two.

“We’ve had a lot of collapses and we need to stop,” Smith said.

“It’s a hard one to put my finger on but whatever it is, it needs to change.

“We need to make better decisions when we’re under pressure and start playing the game properly.

“It’s not good enough.”

Australia have lost their last 10 ODIs away from home. They need to break that streak in Indore on Sunday to keep the series alive.

Smith played well for 59 at Eden Gardens until he was caught in the deep off the bowling of Hardik Pandya.

Marcus Stoinis worked hard for an unbeaten 62, but Australia lost too many wickets due to poor shot selection as the Indian bowlers kept the pressure on.

“It’s easy just to sit here and say it needs to stop but when you get out in the middle you need to change what you’re doing because it’s not working,” Smith said.

“Watching the ball closer or maybe the guys are trying to watch it too closely and forgetting about just playing the game.”

Smith lamented his side’s inability to build partnerships, with his 76-run stand with Travis Head their best effort in the first two matches.

That partnership ended Head hit a seemingly harmless full toss straight to mid-wicket on 39.

Makeshift opener Hilton Cartwright’s position is under pressure after being bowled for one in his first two ODIs.

Aaron Finch is on the road to recovery from a calf injury and could come into contention for the must-win clash in Indore.

Part-time wicketkeeper Peter Handscomb could also be an option after Matthew Wade made 11 runs across the first two matches.

EU agrees on new sanctions against North Korea: sources

The bloc has agreed a new package of measures, including a ban on investments in North Korea and on European Union exports of oil, the sources said on condition of anonymity.

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EU members also want to blacklist more North Korean individuals and entities, a move that would freeze their assets in the bloc and ban them from entering its territory.

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Ambassadors from the 28 member states on Thursday “agreed on a package of new autonomous measures”, an EU official told AFP, and they will now be prepared in detail to be formally approved by a meeting of European foreign ministers next month.

The EU plans to reduce how much money North Korean workers in Europe can send home — seen as a key source of vital foreign exchange revenue — from its current level of 15,000 euros.

It also intends to expand the list of luxury products — much loved by top officials in Pyongyang — banned from export to the North. A cut in the number of North Korean workers in Poland from 500 to 300 is also on the cards, the sources said.

The North carried out its sixth nuclear test — and most powerful to date — on September 3, sparking international outrage and a fresh round of sanctions.

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International powers hope that economic sanctions will deprive the North of the resources it needs to pursue its nuclear programme and pressure it into negotiating.

The EU’s latest move comes as US President Donald Trump paved the way for sanctions against foreign companies doing business with North Korea.

Trump said he had signed an executive order allowing sanctions against “individuals and companies that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea.”

The measure could force Chinese banks or Russian importers to decide between doing business with North Korea or being blacklisted by the United States.