52,000 displaced by 'horrific violence' in western Niger: UN

1 day 6 hours ago

More than 52,000 people have been displaced by violence since January in western Niger, an unstable area hit by jihadist incursions near the poor west African country’s border with Mali, the UN refugee agency said.

“The UN refugee agency is becoming increasingly troubled by ongoing violence in Niger’s border areas with Mali and Burkina Faso,” the UNHCR said in a statement.

“Those displaced report fleeing horrific violence. Armed groups are said to be attacking villages, killing and abducting civilians, including community leaders, burning schools and looting homes, businesses and livestock.”

UN: More than 52 000 displaced by ‘horrific violence’ in Niger https://t.co/Lp3I4UIINH ..— TODAY (@todayng) December 15, 2018

The raids and plunder affect residents of the Tahoua and Tillaberi border regions, where the government has declared a state of emergency while troops of a five-nation G5-Sahel military task force fights insurgents.

“They kidnapped five people from my village who were later found dead,” cattle farmer Al-Bashir Gamo Gamo told the UN agency, saying that armed groups threatened the villagers with death if they did not leave within 12 hours.

“Nobody can sleep at night, walk anywhere or cultivate crops because of fear,” he added.

He fled to the town of Inates, concerned about how to feed his family. “If you want to look after your animals, you have to go to the bush, but there, they can attack you.”

Violence displaces more than 50,000 in western Niger this year -UNHCR https://t.co/K7IA8t8SLl.— Ronald Kabuubi (@Kabuubi000) December 14, 2018

The constant threats in an “alarming and extremely volatile” situation have prevented humanitarian workers from reaching some of the communities in need, the UNHCR said.

In addition to inducing local residents to flee, the violence is affecting 53,000 refugees from Mali who live in Niger’s border regions.

A previous count by the United Nations in October reported 42,000 people displaced by the activities of non-state armed groups and also by security measures aimed at halting “repeated infiltrations by terrorists” from Mali.

In January, only 540 internally displaced people were registered in west Niger. Humanitarian corridors were negotiated in July and October with the G5-Sahel force — Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Chad — and with Niger’s army.

The UN World Food Programme and a range of NGOs were then able to deliver food and other essential supplies to several thousand refugees in the “red zone”.

#Violence displaces more than 50,000 in western #Niger this year: https://t.co/fUQ1CohZcr via refugees— heartforafrica (aheartforafrica) December 14, 2018

On Wednesday Niger’s parliament extended the border area’s state of emergency, first put into place in March 2017.

Across the country, more than 156,000 people have displaced, while there are more than 175,000 refugees, according to the UNHCR.

Though the frontier is porous, Niger is regarded as one of the most stable countries in a vast area south of the Sahara where jihadist forces have emerged.

AFP

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Supporters of ex-al Shabaab leader clash with police in Somalia's Baidoa city, 11 dead

1 day 7 hours ago

At least 11 people were killed in Somalia’s city of Baidoa in clashes between security forces and supporters of a former al Shabaab leader who is seeking election as a regional president, a military officer and an elder said on Friday.

Somali govt detained former Al-Shabaab Deputy leader who was running for the leadership of southwest. A statement from the security ministry of fed govt said Mukhtar Robow violated terms agreed with him, and smuggled weapons into Baidoa, mobilised militias to threaten Security. pic.twitter.com/WmyBH0LFIr— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) December 13, 2018

Authorities arrested Mukhtar Robow on Thursday, accusing him of bringing Islamist militants and weapons back to Baidoa, the capital of South West region where he is running for president.

Robow supporters angered by his arrest clashed with police backed by Ethiopian peacekeeping forces in Baidoa, said Hussein Aden, a military officer in the city.

BREAKING Ethiopian forces in Baidoa arrest former #Alshabab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow and presidential candidate of south west regional state in raid #Somalia pic.twitter.com/lG9rAiGRTF— Radio Dalsan (@DalsanFM) December 13, 2018

Baidoa elder Saleh Isak accused the authorities of seeking to install their own candidate as president of South West, the first of Somalia’s seven semi-autonomous regions to hold presidential elections in the coming months.

“Yesterday 10 people died and today they killed a lawmaker,” Isak told Reuters by telephone.

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Baidoa residents said the city had calmed down in the afternoon but was still tense, with most businesses staying closed and residents staying indoors.

“AMISOM’s (peacekeeping force) armoured vehicles came into the town as a patrol. They just went back after they saw it was calm and that some residents blocked some of the roads with big stones,” one resident, Halima Mohamed, said from Baidoa on Friday.

The elections are a critical juncture in a growing power struggle between the U.S.-backed central government and regions where al Shabaab militants retain a presence following a long civil war.

Mukhtar Robow was born out of Ethiopia’s brutal occupation in 2007 and co-founded al-Shabaab. His arrest by the very Ethiopian troops whom he fought tooth & nail will only discourage many reconcilable elements who were willing to follow his path & give the reconciliation a chance— Abdihakim Ainte (@AbdihakimAinte) December 13, 2018

Aden gave a lower death toll of at least six killed, among them lawmaker Abdishakur Bule.

“He died in cross fire between armed protesters and police this morning. Tension is high and we do not know what to do,” Aden told Reuters.

Robow was a prominent al Shabaab leader and group spokesman before he publicly renounced violence and recognised federal authority in August 2017.

His spokesman said he was beaten by Ethiopian troops, part of an African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, in the course of his arrest.

Officials in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa were not immediately reachable for comment.

A second day of violence in Baidoa, Somalia following the arrest of Mukhtar Robow https://t.co/H2mkrtavpi— Tomi Oladipo (@Tomi_Oladipo) December 14, 2018

REUTERS

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Nigerian army lifts ban on Unicef operations in northeast after 'spy' row

1 day 7 hours ago

The Nigerian military has lifted a ban on Unicef operations in the ravaged northeast late on Friday after earlier suspending the aid agency and accusing it of training “spies” supporting Boko Haram jihadists.

Nigeria lifts UNICEF suspension hours after accusing staff of spying for Islamists https://t.co/Ga88i0HHql pic.twitter.com/YHzYWudjw5— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) December 15, 2018

The military earlier on Friday said the United Nations children’s agency had this week held workshops in the northeast city of Maiduguri training people for “clandestine” activities that were “sabotaging” counterterrorism efforts.

Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency has killed more than 27 000 people since it began in 2009 and has triggered a humanitarian crisis in the wider Lake Chad region, where the jihadists have stepped up attacks in recent months.

Nigeria army lifts ban on UNICEF amid spying allegations https://t.co/hTcEirfy9H pic.twitter.com/BwBDw42u9y— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) December 15, 2018

But after a meeting between the military and the aid agency late on Friday, army spokesperson Onyema Nwachukwu said the ban had been revoked following an “intervention by well meaning and concerned Nigerians”.

“During the meeting, the Theatre Command admonished the representatives of the organisation to desist from activities inimical to Nigeria’s national security and capable of undermining the ongoing fight against terrorism and insurgency,” he said in a statement.

“The Command also urged Unicef representatives to ensure they share information with relevant authorities whenever induction or training of new staff is being conducted in the theatre,“Nwachukwu said.

He said after extensive deliberations “the Theatre Command has henceforth lifted the three months suspension earlier imposed on Unicef activities in northeastern Nigeria”.

Army Lifts Suspension Of UNICEF’s Activities In North East. https://t.co/INUIbgUw8K pic.twitter.com/JGzUJ4EeIA— Channels Television (@channelstv) December 14, 2018

Nwachukwu had earlier said there was “credible information that some (Unicef representatives) are indulging in unwholesome practices that could further jeopardise the fight against terrorism and insurgency, as they train and deploy spies who support the insurgents and their sympathisers” and that Unicef operations would therefore be suspended until further notice.

Boko Haram’s bloody uprising in northeastern Nigeria has spread to neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, leaving 1.8 million people homeless and millions dependent on aid for survival.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who came to power in 2015 pledging to end the violence, is under increasing pressure to act as he gears up to seek re-election in a February ballot.

Theatre Command Operation LAFIYA DOLE convened and held an emergency meeting with representatives of UNICEF this evening and admonished the representatives of the organization to desist from activities inimical to Nigeria's national security.https://t.co/Nvup7a1Ipd pic.twitter.com/2HIKgrHf1k— Nigerian Army (@HQNigerianArmy) December 14, 2018

He has come under attack for previously claiming the Islamists were “technically defeated”.

The Nigerian military has hit out at media reporting casualty figures of the attacks and even threatened legal action against organisations for publishing unofficial death tolls.

It has also dismissed reports from international human rights organisations that it has committed rights violations and war crimes during its fight against Boko Haram.

Amnesty International had on Friday condemned the suspension and called on Nigeria to reverse the decision.

“We see the suspension of Unicef as part of a wider drive to intimidate international humanitarian and human rights organisations who are working to save lives in this devastating conflict,” said Amnesty’s Nigeria director Osai Ojigho.

“The Nigerian army has accused Unicef of ‘aiding Boko Haram’ – an absurd charge. The suspension of Unicef will in fact deprive those whose lives have been devastated by the Boko Haram conflict from receiving much-needed humanitarian assistance,” Ojigho said.

The Nigerian military is expelling UNICEF from the northeast. The military says UNICEF is spying and sabotaging, but I see a political context – the military catering to some people's suspicions while deflecting attention away from its own failures. https://t.co/9H7YkA9udj— Alex Thurston (@sahelblog) December 14, 2018

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Salah wins 2018 BBC African footballer award

1 day 8 hours ago

Liverpool and Egypt striker Mohamed Salah has capped a sparkling 2018 for club and country by winning the prestigious BBC African Footballer of the Year Award for the second time in a row.

“It’s a great feeling to win again. I’m happy and I would like to win it also next year!” said Salah.

2017, 2018…? pic.twitter.com/PKrhALVXeu— Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) December 14, 2018

The 26-year-old, who beat Medhi Benatia, Kalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mane and Thomas Partey to the award, is just the second player after Jay-Jay Okocha to win it two years running.

Yaya Toure is the only other player to have twice won the award in its current form while Nwankwo Kanu won it twice when it was a broader African Sports Personality award.

YES MO!! ???MoSalah has won the 2018 BBC African Footballer of the Year award.?#BBCAFOTY pic.twitter.com/zySe4U8i3q— Liverpool FC (LFC) December 14, 2018

2017?
2018?

Two years running for MoSalah.???— Liverpool FC (LFC) December 14, 2018

Salah scored 44 goals in 52 games for Liverpool last season, his first on Merseyside after joining them from Roma, and helped them to reach the Champions League final.

His club form has continued this season with his winner against Napoli on Tuesday that saw the Reds into the Champions League last 16 taking his tally to 13.

“There have been many good moments in 2018,” he added.

“I’m scoring goals and helping the team to get the points to be top of the league. That’s always a great feeling.”

Salah also scored twice for Egypt at the World Cup in Russia.

Earlier in 2018, Salah won the English double — the Players’ Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Player of the Year.

Salah also won the 2017 CAF Player of the Year and is one of 10 nominees for the 2018 award which will be announced in January.

2017: ?
2018: ?MoSalah is the BBC African Player of the Year once again ? pic.twitter.com/zvGCRVQWPs— B/R Football (brfootball) December 14, 2018

Mo Salah has been voted as the BBC African footballer of the year for the second year running.

Salah becomes the first player since Nigerian Jay-Jay Okocha to win the award in consecutive years. pic.twitter.com/dg9hQbYYmm— 32Red (@32Red) December 15, 2018

Salah retains BBC African Footballer of the Year award https://t.co/bNgeYLsKAa pic.twitter.com/7cOMxNIzjs— CAF (@CAF_Online) December 15, 2018

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Former Ethiopian president Girma Woldegiorgis dies

1 day 8 hours ago

Former Ethiopian president Girma Woldegiorgis died on Saturday, two weeks short of his 95th birthday, state media reported.

Girma was president of Ethiopia for twelve years between 2001 to 2013, a largely ceremonial role.

Ethiopia's 12 years serving President Girma Woldegiorgis passed away today. pic.twitter.com/PF5TriIL9U— Sawra Tafari (@SawraTafari) December 15, 2018

His death was reported by the Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) and other state media.

The cause of death was not given.

Girma was a fluent speaker in Ethiopia’s working language Amharic, his native language Afan Oromo as well as English and French.

In recent years Girma had been active in efforts to foster reconciliation between former foes Ethiopia and Eritrea who declared an end to two decades of hostility in July.

In a political career that spanned more than five decades, the man fondly known as Lieutenant Girma has been fortunate enough to live through and witness many momentous and significant period of the nation.

Starting his career as head of civil aviation in Eritrea in 1955, he was appointed as director-general of Ethiopian civil aviation in 1958.

Former Ethiopian president Girma Woldegiorgis died on Saturday, two weeks short of his 95th birthday, state media reported. Girma was president of Ethiopia for twelve years between 2001 to… https://t.co/Ilxg1HGxaI— Infotrust (@Infotrustng) December 15, 2018

He would assume the position of director-general of Ethiopia’s ministry of trade and industry for two years and later elected as member of chamber of deputies of the imperial Ethiopian Parliament.

After the collapse of the imperial government and amid a nationalist revolt by the Eritreans, he became a member of a peace commission created by the military government to address Eritrean land and sovereignty disputes.

He crowned his long time career by taking up the largely ceremonial post of president, while the late premier Meles Zenawi exercised the real power whom Girma described as “very intelligent, who shifted his personality as gallant warrior to a seasoned statesman quickly.”

Former #Ethiopia-n President #GirmaWoldegiorgis dies https://t.co/hr9Pmww94Q pic.twitter.com/hw6CpDe0bn— FANA BROADCASTING C (@fanatelevision) December 15, 2018

Girma was 77 when he became President in 2001. His open manner and common touch and advocacy for environmental conservation made him one of the country’s beloved politicians.

He formed an environmental protection association Lem Ethiopia in 1991, which he led until his retirement years. He also carried out his duties with ease, and a touch that contrasted sharply with the stilted manner of many Ethiopian politicians.

Very sad to hear that the former #President (2001-2013) of the FDR of Ethiopia, Girma Woldegiorgis (born in 1924) has passed away aged 94. He was the most humble person I ever seen.

Thank you for your service and may your soul rest in peace! #Ethiopia #GirmaWoldegiorgis pic.twitter.com/7FYSoBXeEu— Kebede Taye (@KebedeT) December 15, 2018

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Climate of Fear: Global Warming Alarmists Intimidate Dissenting Scientists into Silence

1 day 12 hours ago

To understand the misconceptions perpetuated about climate science and the climate of intimidation, one needs to grasp some of the complex underlying scientific issues.

The post Climate of Fear: Global Warming Alarmists Intimidate Dissenting Scientists into Silence appeared first on Global Research.

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Serbia threatens military action after Kosovo votes to create army

1 day 12 hours ago

Serbia has threatened military action against neighbouring Kosovo after its parliament approved the creation of a new army.Kosovar MPs voted on Friday to expand the existing Kosovo Security Force into a 5,000-troop army, plus 3,000 reservists.Belgrade called the move a “direct threat to peace and stability” in the Balkans and lashed out at the United States for supporting the proposal.

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