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Central African Republic children starve as aid workers flee fighting
17 October 2017, 8:49 PM

Children are starving to death in Central African Republic because violence has forced aid workers to pull out, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator for the country said on Tuesday.

Four years after a conflict began between Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian “anti-balaka” militias, Central African Republic had seemed calm in the early part of the year. But violence has flared since May, turning the southeast into a virtual no-go area.

“There is no humanitarian assistance there. It’s not even half, it’s nothing, because it was just not possible for humanitarians to stay there,” coordinator Najat Rochdi said. “We started already seeing children dying from severe malnutrition.”

Lack of funds had already forced aid workers to halve food aid and in some places stop it completely, despite widespread malnutrition in children under five-years-old.

“What I heard -– but we have not been able to confirm it — is that so far we had 10 kids who died from malnutrition. But as long as we don’t have humanitarians going there, it’s very difficult for us to confirm that,” Rochdi said.

The violence is often ethnically based and tinged with suspicions of witchcraft. The latest U.N. humanitarian report said four children had been abducted and killed in the town of Bambari, their bodies found with their organs removed.

In the town of Kembe, about 40 people were reportedly killed or wounded in a clash between armed groups on Oct. 10, it said.

The number of displaced people has jumped by 50 percent to 600,000 this year, in addition to 500,000 who have fled into neighbouring countries. Rochdi said 400,000 children were not going to school.

Overcrowded camps averaging 30,000 displaced people are fertile recruiting grounds for armed groups, so the United Nations is trying to clear out weapons and fighters and get people back home wherever possible.

The U.N. peacekeeping force is only 11,600 strong, in a country the size of France and Belgium combined, and the government is struggling to create an army that can hold territory against marauding gunmen.

The United States and Uganda withdrew their forces after declaring victory in April against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a marauding gang notorious for abducting and recruiting child soldiers.

Rochdi said their withdrawal “left a vacuum” and LRA attacks had continued sporadically.

Tuesday 17 October 2017 20:49

REUTERS

Car bombs kill at least 22 in Mogadishu
14 October 2017, 7:04 PM

Two car bombs in separate parts of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu killed at least 22 people on Saturday and injured several others, police said.

The first explosion – in the city’s K5 Junction area which is lined with government offices, hotels, and restaurants -destroyed several buildings and set dozens of vehicles on fire.

“We know that at least 20 civilians are dead while dozens of others are wounded,” said Abdullahi Nur, a police officer who was in the area.

“The death toll will surely rise. We are still busy transporting casualties,” he said, adding that there were bodies under the rubble.
About two hours later, a second blast took place in the city’s Madina district.

“It was a car bomb. Two civilians were killed, ” SiyadFarah, a police major, told Reuters, adding that a suspect had been caught on suspicion of planting explosives.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although the Islamist al Shabaab group has carried out regular attacks. The al Qaeda-allied group is waging an insurgency to topple the weak U.N.-backed government and its African Union allies and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam.

They frequently launch gun, grenade and bomb attacks in Mogadishu and other regions controlled by the federal government, though in recent years the militants have lost most territory under their control to African Union peacekeepers and government troops.

Saturday 14 October 2017 19:04

REUTERS

Car bombs kill at least 22 in Mogadishu
14 October 2017, 7:04 PM

Two car bombs in separate parts of Somalia’s capital Mogadishu killed at least 22 people on Saturday and injured several others, police said.

The first explosion – in the city’s K5 Junction area which is lined with government offices, hotels, and restaurants -destroyed several buildings and set dozens of vehicles on fire.

“We know that at least 20 civilians are dead while dozens of others are wounded,” said Abdullahi Nur, a police officer who was in the area.

“The death toll will surely rise. We are still busy transporting casualties,” he said, adding that there were bodies under the rubble.
About two hours later, a second blast took place in the city’s Madina district.

“It was a car bomb. Two civilians were killed, ” SiyadFarah, a police major, told Reuters, adding that a suspect had been caught on suspicion of planting explosives.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although the Islamist al Shabaab group has carried out regular attacks. The al Qaeda-allied group is waging an insurgency to topple the weak U.N.-backed government and its African Union allies and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam.

They frequently launch gun, grenade and bomb attacks in Mogadishu and other regions controlled by the federal government, though in recent years the militants have lost most territory under their control to African Union peacekeepers and government troops.

– By REUTERS

Nigeria jails 45 Boko Haram suspects in mass trial held in secret
14 October 2017, 11:02 AM

Nigeria has convicted and jailed 45 Boko Haram suspects, the government said on Friday, the first sentences it has handed down in a set of mass trials that have drawn criticism for being held behind closed doors.

The trials are the biggest to date in the eight-year-old militant Islamist insurgency, which has left at least 20 000 people dead and driven 2 million from their homes in north eastern Nigeria.

Those convicted were sentenced to between three and 31 years in jail, Lai Mohammed, the information minister said in a statement. He did not specify what they had been convicted of.

Of the rest of the 575 suspects arraigned in the first trial the court “discharged 468 suspects who had no case to answer,”threw out 34 cases, and remanded 28 for trial in Abuja or Minna,he said.

“The court ordered that the 468 discharged persons should undergo deradicalisation and rehabilitation programmes before they are handed over to their respective state governments,” it said.

The other trials have been adjourned until January. In all, about 1 670 suspects are due to appear in court, many of whom have been held for years in pre-detention in alleged violation of their rights.

The proceedings that began on Monday were cautiously welcomed by rights groups and experts. But both they and the United Nations have criticised the trials for handling too many cases at once, and all behind closed doors with no media or public observers allowed.

“We have serious concerns that the conduct of the proceedings may deny the defendants the right to a fair trial and an effective defence,” said a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson on Friday.

“The lack of transparency regarding these trials is worrying, and we note that Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission is not allowed to attend and monitor proceedings,” he said.

Amnesty International also complained about the trials being held without scrutiny but said on Wednesday: “These trials should provide a much-needed opportunity to deliver justice for the many victims of human rights abuses and crimes allegedly committed by Boko Haram members.

Saturday 14 October 2017 11:02

REUTERS

Nigeria jails 45 Boko Haram suspects in mass trial held in secret
14 October 2017, 11:02 AM

Nigeria has convicted and jailed 45 Boko Haram suspects, the government said on Friday, the first sentences it has handed down in a set of mass trials that have drawn criticism for being held behind closed doors.

The trials are the biggest to date in the eight-year-old militant Islamist insurgency, which has left at least 20 000 people dead and driven 2 million from their homes in north eastern Nigeria.

Those convicted were sentenced to between three and 31 years in jail, Lai Mohammed, the information minister said in a statement. He did not specify what they had been convicted of.

Of the rest of the 575 suspects arraigned in the first trial the court “discharged 468 suspects who had no case to answer,”threw out 34 cases, and remanded 28 for trial in Abuja or Minna,he said.

“The court ordered that the 468 discharged persons should undergo deradicalisation and rehabilitation programmes before they are handed over to their respective state governments,” it said.

The other trials have been adjourned until January. In all, about 1 670 suspects are due to appear in court, many of whom have been held for years in pre-detention in alleged violation of their rights.

The proceedings that began on Monday were cautiously welcomed by rights groups and experts. But both they and the United Nations have criticised the trials for handling too many cases at once, and all behind closed doors with no media or public observers allowed.

“We have serious concerns that the conduct of the proceedings may deny the defendants the right to a fair trial and an effective defence,” said a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesperson on Friday.

“The lack of transparency regarding these trials is worrying, and we note that Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission is not allowed to attend and monitor proceedings,” he said.

Amnesty International also complained about the trials being held without scrutiny but said on Wednesday: “These trials should provide a much-needed opportunity to deliver justice for the many victims of human rights abuses and crimes allegedly committed by Boko Haram members.

– By REUTERS

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