Africa 

Mali in transition: UN peacekeeping chief takes stock of political and security developments

With the country in the throes of a political transition, following a military coup and the establishment of an interim Government last year, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, took, stock of recent political and security developments, and discussed progress on implementing the mandate of the UN Stabilization Mission there (MINUSMA), the most dangerous place to serve as a ‘blue helmet’ in the field.   Four peacekeepers were killed, and five others wounded in an attack on their convoy just over a week ago, in the vast Timbuktu region, although…

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Africa 

Sudan: 250 killed, over 100,000 displaced as violence surges in Darfur, UN refugee agency says

According to the agency, 250 people – including three humanitarian workers – also lost their lives in the clashes that started on 15 January in West Darfur province, and spread into South Darfur the next day.  Boris Cheshirkov, a UNHCR spokesperson, told journalists at a regular press briefing in Geneva on Friday, that about 3,500 new Sudanese refugees have arrived in eastern Chad.  “These refugees – the majority of them women and children – have been hosted in four very remote locations that lack basic services or public infrastructure, where…

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Africa 

Central African Republic: UN mission chief appeals for more peacekeepers

Mankeur Ndiaye, head of the UN mission in the country, MINUSCA, said this “new security situation” is testing its ability to ensure civilians are protected.  An alliance of armed groups, known as the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC), launched attacks ahead of the 27 December vote, which saw incumbent President, Faustin-Archange Touadéra, returned to power.    Assaults and ambushes have continued, including against UN peacekeepers, seven of whom have been killed in recent weeks.   “We need an increase in our capacity in order to respond to this new…

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Africa 

COVID ‘vaccine hoarding’ putting Africa at risk: WHO

Although vaccines have been administered in 50 wealthier nations, Guinea is the sole low-income country on the continent to receive doses, with only 25 people being inoculated so far.  Meanwhile, Seychelles is the only African country to start a national vaccination campaign.  ‘We first, not me first’  “We first, not me first, is the only way to end the pandemic. Vaccine hoarding will only prolong the ordeal and delay Africa’s recovery. It is deeply unjust that the most vulnerable Africans are forced to wait for vaccines while lower-risk groups in…

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Africa 

UN calls for resumption of Mediterranean rescues, after 43 die in Libya shipwreck

In a joint statement released on Wednesday by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the two agencies expressed their sadness at the tragic event, the first of 2021 in the Central Mediterranean. The boat reportedly capsized due to bad sea conditions when its engine stopped, just a few hours after embarking from the Libyan city of Zawra early on Tuesday morning. The 10 survivors, mainly from Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Ghana, and The Gambia, reported that those who perished were all men of…

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Africa 

‘Complex’ emergency unfolding in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado, warn UN agencies

According to the agencies, growing insecurity and poor infrastructure are making it increasingly difficulty to reach families “completely reliant” on humanitarian assistance, amid fears that imminent rains and threat of cyclones could further compound the challenges.  “Coupled with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the crisis has become even more complex”, regional heads of UN agencies in east and southern Africa said in a joint statement.  “The crisis is a complex security, human rights, humanitarian and development emergency, underscoring the imperative of continuing to provide life-saving assistance while collectively supporting…

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Africa 

East African countries better prepared, but desert locust threat ‘not over’

The UN agency is seeking $38 million to continue work in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan.   Without this support, 28 aircraft that patrol the skies to spot and spray swarms could be grounded as early as March.  No time for complacency  Dominique Burgeon, FAO’s Director of Emergencies and Resilience, said the huge desert locust swarms in 2020, some as wide as 60 kilometres, had not been seen in decades, threatening food security in a region where many were already going hungry.  Surveillance and response led to 1.6 million hectares of…

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Africa 

‘Swift action’ needed in Tigray to save thousands at risk, UNHCR warns 

Granted one-time admittance by the Ethiopian authorities to conduct a needs assessment, UNHCR led the first humanitarian mission to Mai Aini and Adi Harush refugee camps since the start of the conflict in November and found Eritrean refugees in “desperate need” of supplies and services, agency spokesperson Babar Baloch told journalists at a regular press briefing in Geneva.   “The assessment, which concluded last week, found help is urgently needed for the tens of thousands of Eritrean refugees in northern Ethiopia”, he said.  Refugee plight  Cut off from supplies and services…

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Africa 

Two UN peacekeepers killed in an ambush in Central African Republic

The attack took place some 17 kilometres (about 11 miles) from Bangassou, the capital of the Mbomou prefecture. UN peacekeepers had retaken control of the city on Friday, after it captured two weeks earlier by anti-government armed groups.  Mankeur Ndiaye, head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), strongly condemned the attack and stressed that the Mission “will work with the Central African authorities to ensure that the perpetrators and accomplices of these war crimes are arrested and held accountable for their acts.”  The deceased peacekeepers were…

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Africa 

UN chief calls for protection of civilians as violence spikes in Sudan’s West Darfur

According to media reports, at least 83 people, including women and children, have been killed and more than 160 wounded in inter-communal clashes this weekend. Several houses are also said to have been destroyed and about 50,000 people displaced.  In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Secretary-General António Guterres called on the Sudanese authorities to “expend all efforts to de-escalate the situation”.  He also called on them to “bring an end to the fighting, restore law and order and ensure the protection of civilians, in accordance with the Government’s National…

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