ReliefWeb Latest Reports for Country Office

Italy: Up to 100 missing in two Mediterranean shipwrecks: UN

Sudan - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 25 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Guinea, Italy, Libya, Mali, Sudan, World

Rome, Italy | AFP | Sunday 5/1/2016 - 16:18 GMT

Fifteen migrants are missing after their boat sank on Friday, the second shipwreck in the Mediterranean that day, bringing to almost 100 the number of lives lost, the UN said Sunday.

A boat carrying around 120 people had sunk early Friday, four hours after leaving Libya for Italy, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokeswoman Carlotta Sami told AFP, adding that "some 15 persons went missing".

She said four Nigerians, two people from the Ivory Coast, three from Guinea, two from Sudan and one from Mali were among the missing.

Survivors were being disembarked in Pozzallo, Sicily, she said, adding that eight people had been taken straight to hospital "due to their serious health conditions," and that two bodies had also been disembarked.

The news came a day after the International Organization for Migration said that only 26 people were rescued from an inflatable boat carrying around 110 migrants when it sank off Libya in a separate shipwreck Friday.

Sami said Sunday that 27 people, including four women, were rescued from that boat sinking.

Survivors had provided harrowing accounts of the tragedy, both UNHCR and IOM said.

"Due to the very bad conditions of the sea, some two hours after the departure the small boat started to take on water," just a few miles off shore, Sami explained in an email.

IOM spokesman in Italy Flavio Di Giacomo told AFP Saturday that the vessel had been "in a very bad state, was taking on water and many people fell into the water and drowned."

The boat in the end broke into two parts throwing all the passengers into the waves, Sami said.

Rough seas and waves topping two metres (seven feet) hampered attempts to find any other survivors.

Sami said the health conditions of several of the survivors were "reportedly serious."

"Survivors say they lost relatives and friends during the shipwreck," she said.

The first hint of the tragedy came early Saturday, when Italy's coastguard said an Italian cargo ship had rescued 26 migrants from a flimsy boat sinking off the coast of Libya but voiced fears that dozens more could be missing.

The coastguard received a call from a satellite phone late Friday that helped locate the stricken inflatable and called on the merchant ship to make a detour to the area about four miles (seven kilometres) off the Libyan coast near Sabratha.

The migrants rescued were transferred to two coastguard vessel and taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Images released by the coastguard showed two women wrapped in shawls and blankets stepping off one of their vessels.

Giacomo said five unaccompanied minors aged between 16 and 17 were among those rescued.

More than 350,000 people fleeing conflict and poverty have reached Italy on boats from Libya since the start of 2014, as Europe struggles to manage its biggest migration crisis since World War II.

bur-nl/ccr

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Italy: Up to 100 missing in two Mediterranean shipwrecks: UN

Guinea - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 25 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Guinea, Italy, Libya, Mali, Sudan, World

Rome, Italy | AFP | Sunday 5/1/2016 - 16:18 GMT

Fifteen migrants are missing after their boat sank on Friday, the second shipwreck in the Mediterranean that day, bringing to almost 100 the number of lives lost, the UN said Sunday.

A boat carrying around 120 people had sunk early Friday, four hours after leaving Libya for Italy, UN refugee agency (UNHCR) spokeswoman Carlotta Sami told AFP, adding that "some 15 persons went missing".

She said four Nigerians, two people from the Ivory Coast, three from Guinea, two from Sudan and one from Mali were among the missing.

Survivors were being disembarked in Pozzallo, Sicily, she said, adding that eight people had been taken straight to hospital "due to their serious health conditions," and that two bodies had also been disembarked.

The news came a day after the International Organization for Migration said that only 26 people were rescued from an inflatable boat carrying around 110 migrants when it sank off Libya in a separate shipwreck Friday.

Sami said Sunday that 27 people, including four women, were rescued from that boat sinking.

Survivors had provided harrowing accounts of the tragedy, both UNHCR and IOM said.

"Due to the very bad conditions of the sea, some two hours after the departure the small boat started to take on water," just a few miles off shore, Sami explained in an email.

IOM spokesman in Italy Flavio Di Giacomo told AFP Saturday that the vessel had been "in a very bad state, was taking on water and many people fell into the water and drowned."

The boat in the end broke into two parts throwing all the passengers into the waves, Sami said.

Rough seas and waves topping two metres (seven feet) hampered attempts to find any other survivors.

Sami said the health conditions of several of the survivors were "reportedly serious."

"Survivors say they lost relatives and friends during the shipwreck," she said.

The first hint of the tragedy came early Saturday, when Italy's coastguard said an Italian cargo ship had rescued 26 migrants from a flimsy boat sinking off the coast of Libya but voiced fears that dozens more could be missing.

The coastguard received a call from a satellite phone late Friday that helped locate the stricken inflatable and called on the merchant ship to make a detour to the area about four miles (seven kilometres) off the Libyan coast near Sabratha.

The migrants rescued were transferred to two coastguard vessel and taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Images released by the coastguard showed two women wrapped in shawls and blankets stepping off one of their vessels.

Giacomo said five unaccompanied minors aged between 16 and 17 were among those rescued.

More than 350,000 people fleeing conflict and poverty have reached Italy on boats from Libya since the start of 2014, as Europe struggles to manage its biggest migration crisis since World War II.

bur-nl/ccr

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Jordan: KSRELIEF Distributes 774 tons of Dates in Pakistan, Jordan and Mauritania

Pakistan - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 31 min ago
Source: Government of Saudi Arabia Country: Jordan, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic

The King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRELIEF) in cooperation with the World Food Program (WFP) distributed 774 tons of dates in Pakistan, Jordan and Mauritania.

King Salman Center has allocated 396 tons of dates for Pakistan, 306 tons for Syrian refugees in Zaatari and Azraq camps in Jordan, and 72 tons of dates to Mauritania.

Kenya: Situation report 003 – Nairobi Floods and Huruma Building Collapse

Kenya - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 42 min ago
Source: Kenya Red Cross Country: Kenya

Current Situation

Heavy rainfall has been observed in various parts of the country over the last few days. The latest forecast from the Kenya Meteorological department (KMD) indicates a likelihood of continued heavy rains in most parts of the country including parts of Western, Nyanza, Central and Northern Kenya.

Following the rains, a number of flash floods incidents were reported as below:

  • Vanga, Kwale County that resulted in displacement of about 1800HHs. A Multi-agency rapid assessment was conducted in the affected areas that highlighted NFIs and seeds as the priority needs for the affected populations.
  • Kalokol in Turkana County where about 312 families were displaced
  • Moyale in Marsabit County that resulted in displacement of about 230HHs.
  • Laisamis in Marsabit County in which about 81 HHs were affected.
  • Other areas (Garissa, Bungoma, Baringo, Embu and Murang’a) have reported small magnitude incidents that cumulatively affected about 210Hhs

Nairobi County has so far seen the worst effects of the rains that have affected a total of approximately 792HHs due to flooding in the various estates and has also led to a collapse of one residential building in Huruma. As at the time of this Sitrep, 16 deaths had been confirmed and 135 people injured and treated for multiple type injuries. 75 people have reported missing. Search and rescue operations are ongoing to rescue survivors that may still be trapped under the rubble.

Myanmar: Authorities to continue water distribution in Pauk Tsp

Myanmar - ReliefWeb News - 6 hours 50 min ago
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

LOCAL authorities will continue their daily distribution of drinking water to residents of rural villages in Pauk Township, Magwe Region, until 6 May.

“We started supplying drinking water to four villages in the township on 23 April under the arrangement made by U Win Khaing, the Union Minister for Construction,” an official said.

In cooperation with the township water distribution supervision committee, the road department has distributed 800 gallons of water to Thetkechaung Village, 8,000 gallons to Thabyay and Sanphonechaung villages and 1,600 gallons to Myaukkapaing Village.—Township IPRD

Yemen: Yemen govt temporarily suspends talks with rebels

Yemen - ReliefWeb News - 7 hours 7 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Yemen

Kuwait City, Kuwait | AFP | Sunday 5/1/2016 - 15:22 GMT

Yemen's government temporarily suspended Sunday its participation in talks with Iran-backed rebels in protest at their takeover of a military base and continued ceasefire violations, officials said.

"The delegation of the republic of Yemen has suspended its participation in Kuwait talks because of the continued violations by rebels and their takeover of Al-Amaliqa base," foreign minister and head of delegation Abdulmalek al-Mikhlafi said on Twitter.

He said the suspension will last "until guarantees for compliance were provided", without providing details.

A spokesman for Mikhlafi told AFP that the government delegation has suspended its participation in both "direct and indirect" talks taking place in Kuwait.

"The suspension will continue until guarantees are provided that the rebels will stop their ceasefire violations and withdraw from the base," Mane al-Matari told AFP.

The United Nations also said it was informed by the government delegation that it will not attend a round of talks scheduled for later Sunday.

"The government delegation informed the special envoy that they will not attend plenary sessions today," Charbel Raji, spokesman for UN special envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, told AFP.

Plenary sessions are attended by all delegates.

The UN and the government delegation said they will issue statements later.

Government representatives will remain in Kuwait, delegates said.

"We call on the United Nations to act seriously to end these violations which threaten to undermine the peace talks," said a government official who asked not to be identified.

On Saturday, Yemen's warring parties held their first face-to-face talks since the negotiations in Kuwait began on April 21.

The UN envoy said these direct talks were "productive" and had touched on key issues.

But later Saturday, the rebels and their allies overran Al-Amaliqa base in northern Yemen after hours of clashes, tribal and military sources said, adding that the fighting caused casualties.

The sources said the commanders of the 600-strong brigade at the base, located in the rebel stronghold province of Amran since 2014, had "chosen to remain neutral" as pro-government forces, backed a Saudi-led coalition, clashed with the insurgents across Yemen.

"The attack against Al-Amaliqa brigade torpedoes the peace consultations in Kuwait," Mikhlafi has said on Twitter.

Yemen's warring parties have repeatedly traded blame for ceasefire violations.

Government loyalists said they have recorded "3,694 ceasefire violations by the Huthis and their allies" -- troops fighting in support of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Meanwhile, the rebels accused government forces and the Saudi-led coalition backing them of 4,000 breaches.

The coalition in March 2015 began a military campaign against the rebels, who have seized the capital Sanaa among other parts of the country.

The UN says that more than 6,400 people have been killed since then and around 2.8 million displaced.

Rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdulsalam wrote on Facebook on Saturday that Saudi Arabia freed 40 Yemeni rebel prisoners as part of a deal reached with the kingdom in March to calm the situation along the border.

mou-oh/lyn/srm

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

World: Pathways from Peace to Resilience: Evidence from the Greater Horn of Africa on the Links between Conflict Management and Resilience to Food Security Shocks

Uganda - ReliefWeb News - 8 hours 16 min ago
Source: Mercy Corps Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, World

Chronic violence and instability in the Horn of Africa have spurred major investments in resilience in the hopes of preventing future humanitarian crises. Yet how best to build resilience in conflict contexts remains unclear. Mercy Corps began tackling these issues through previous research that demonstrated that peacebuilding interventions can have positive effects on pastoralists’ abilities to cope with and adapt to severe drought. Building on these insights, Mercy Corps conducted research in Uganda and the Mandera Triangle to examine how conflict management programs might strengthen resilience.

The central question this research sought to answer was: How do conflict management and peace-building programs affect households’ resilience to shocks and stresses in pastoral areas in the greater Horn of Africa? Specifically, Mercy Corps looked at the effect of social cohesion (opportunities for groups in conflict to interact and build trust) and an enabling institutional environment (helping informal and informal leaders work together to prevent conflict and resolve disputes). The study adopted a mixed methods approach, which included quantitative and qualitative data collected and analyzed first in early to mid-2013, and again in early to mid-2015.

Key lessons and recommendations

  • Building resilience through peacebuilding efforts can support food security goals. Household food security is gravely affected by economic and climate-related shocks. But these effects can be mitigated by strengthening community and institutional conflict management systems, strengthening the case for scaling up peacebuilding work.

  • Peace is stronger where conflict management skills and systems are institutionalized. Where government representatives and traditional leaders work together, more conflicts are resolved satisfactorily. This supports Mercy Corps’ efforts to bring together formal and informal leaders in conflict resolution initiatives.

  • Not all forms of social capital appear to be equal when it comes to building resilience.Greater links across ethnic boundaries did not appear to improve peace or food security; however stronger bonds within communities did. Such intra-ethnic social cohesion can manifest as a community-level social safety net, for example, where community members help each other out during times of stress. Development actors should support interventions that strengthen these types of networks that people rely on during times of stress.

Read the Pathways from Peace to Resilience research brief

Read the Pathways from Peace to Resilience full report

Contact

Jon Kurtz, jkurtz@dc.mercycorps.org
Kate McMahon, kmcmahon@mercycorps.org

World: Pathways from Peace to Resilience: Evidence from the Greater Horn of Africa on the Links between Conflict Management and Resilience to Food Security Shocks

Somalia - ReliefWeb News - 8 hours 16 min ago
Source: Mercy Corps Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, World

Chronic violence and instability in the Horn of Africa have spurred major investments in resilience in the hopes of preventing future humanitarian crises. Yet how best to build resilience in conflict contexts remains unclear. Mercy Corps began tackling these issues through previous research that demonstrated that peacebuilding interventions can have positive effects on pastoralists’ abilities to cope with and adapt to severe drought. Building on these insights, Mercy Corps conducted research in Uganda and the Mandera Triangle to examine how conflict management programs might strengthen resilience.

The central question this research sought to answer was: How do conflict management and peace-building programs affect households’ resilience to shocks and stresses in pastoral areas in the greater Horn of Africa? Specifically, Mercy Corps looked at the effect of social cohesion (opportunities for groups in conflict to interact and build trust) and an enabling institutional environment (helping informal and informal leaders work together to prevent conflict and resolve disputes). The study adopted a mixed methods approach, which included quantitative and qualitative data collected and analyzed first in early to mid-2013, and again in early to mid-2015.

Key lessons and recommendations

  • Building resilience through peacebuilding efforts can support food security goals. Household food security is gravely affected by economic and climate-related shocks. But these effects can be mitigated by strengthening community and institutional conflict management systems, strengthening the case for scaling up peacebuilding work.

  • Peace is stronger where conflict management skills and systems are institutionalized. Where government representatives and traditional leaders work together, more conflicts are resolved satisfactorily. This supports Mercy Corps’ efforts to bring together formal and informal leaders in conflict resolution initiatives.

  • Not all forms of social capital appear to be equal when it comes to building resilience.Greater links across ethnic boundaries did not appear to improve peace or food security; however stronger bonds within communities did. Such intra-ethnic social cohesion can manifest as a community-level social safety net, for example, where community members help each other out during times of stress. Development actors should support interventions that strengthen these types of networks that people rely on during times of stress.

Read the Pathways from Peace to Resilience research brief

Read the Pathways from Peace to Resilience full report

Contact

Jon Kurtz, jkurtz@dc.mercycorps.org
Kate McMahon, kmcmahon@mercycorps.org

World: Pathways from Peace to Resilience: Evidence from the Greater Horn of Africa on the Links between Conflict Management and Resilience to Food Security Shocks

Kenya - ReliefWeb News - 8 hours 16 min ago
Source: Mercy Corps Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, World

Chronic violence and instability in the Horn of Africa have spurred major investments in resilience in the hopes of preventing future humanitarian crises. Yet how best to build resilience in conflict contexts remains unclear. Mercy Corps began tackling these issues through previous research that demonstrated that peacebuilding interventions can have positive effects on pastoralists’ abilities to cope with and adapt to severe drought. Building on these insights, Mercy Corps conducted research in Uganda and the Mandera Triangle to examine how conflict management programs might strengthen resilience.

The central question this research sought to answer was: How do conflict management and peace-building programs affect households’ resilience to shocks and stresses in pastoral areas in the greater Horn of Africa? Specifically, Mercy Corps looked at the effect of social cohesion (opportunities for groups in conflict to interact and build trust) and an enabling institutional environment (helping informal and informal leaders work together to prevent conflict and resolve disputes). The study adopted a mixed methods approach, which included quantitative and qualitative data collected and analyzed first in early to mid-2013, and again in early to mid-2015.

Key lessons and recommendations

  • Building resilience through peacebuilding efforts can support food security goals. Household food security is gravely affected by economic and climate-related shocks. But these effects can be mitigated by strengthening community and institutional conflict management systems, strengthening the case for scaling up peacebuilding work.

  • Peace is stronger where conflict management skills and systems are institutionalized. Where government representatives and traditional leaders work together, more conflicts are resolved satisfactorily. This supports Mercy Corps’ efforts to bring together formal and informal leaders in conflict resolution initiatives.

  • Not all forms of social capital appear to be equal when it comes to building resilience.Greater links across ethnic boundaries did not appear to improve peace or food security; however stronger bonds within communities did. Such intra-ethnic social cohesion can manifest as a community-level social safety net, for example, where community members help each other out during times of stress. Development actors should support interventions that strengthen these types of networks that people rely on during times of stress.

Read the Pathways from Peace to Resilience research brief

Read the Pathways from Peace to Resilience full report

Contact

Jon Kurtz, jkurtz@dc.mercycorps.org
Kate McMahon, kmcmahon@mercycorps.org

World: Pathways from Peace to Resilience: Evidence from the Greater Horn of Africa on the Links between Conflict Management and Resilience to Food Security Shocks

Ethiopia - ReliefWeb News - 8 hours 16 min ago
Source: Mercy Corps Country: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, World

Chronic violence and instability in the Horn of Africa have spurred major investments in resilience in the hopes of preventing future humanitarian crises. Yet how best to build resilience in conflict contexts remains unclear. Mercy Corps began tackling these issues through previous research that demonstrated that peacebuilding interventions can have positive effects on pastoralists’ abilities to cope with and adapt to severe drought. Building on these insights, Mercy Corps conducted research in Uganda and the Mandera Triangle to examine how conflict management programs might strengthen resilience.

The central question this research sought to answer was: How do conflict management and peace-building programs affect households’ resilience to shocks and stresses in pastoral areas in the greater Horn of Africa? Specifically, Mercy Corps looked at the effect of social cohesion (opportunities for groups in conflict to interact and build trust) and an enabling institutional environment (helping informal and informal leaders work together to prevent conflict and resolve disputes). The study adopted a mixed methods approach, which included quantitative and qualitative data collected and analyzed first in early to mid-2013, and again in early to mid-2015.

Key lessons and recommendations

  • Building resilience through peacebuilding efforts can support food security goals. Household food security is gravely affected by economic and climate-related shocks. But these effects can be mitigated by strengthening community and institutional conflict management systems, strengthening the case for scaling up peacebuilding work.

  • Peace is stronger where conflict management skills and systems are institutionalized. Where government representatives and traditional leaders work together, more conflicts are resolved satisfactorily. This supports Mercy Corps’ efforts to bring together formal and informal leaders in conflict resolution initiatives.

  • Not all forms of social capital appear to be equal when it comes to building resilience.Greater links across ethnic boundaries did not appear to improve peace or food security; however stronger bonds within communities did. Such intra-ethnic social cohesion can manifest as a community-level social safety net, for example, where community members help each other out during times of stress. Development actors should support interventions that strengthen these types of networks that people rely on during times of stress.

Read the Pathways from Peace to Resilience research brief

Read the Pathways from Peace to Resilience full report

Contact

Jon Kurtz, jkurtz@dc.mercycorps.org
Kate McMahon, kmcmahon@mercycorps.org

World: Innovation needed to turn on climate cash tap for the poor

Philippines - ReliefWeb News - 8 hours 35 min ago
Source: AlertNet Country: Philippines, World

By Laurie Goering

DHAKA, April 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - When residents of the low-lying Del Rosario slum settlement in Valenzuela City in the Philippines noticed floodwater was lapping half a finger's length higher up their homes each year, they decided it was time to do something.

Read the story on the Thomson Reuters Foundation

Kenya: In Kenya, portable toilets find a new role: protecting trees

Kenya - ReliefWeb News - 8 hours 56 min ago
Source: AlertNet Country: Kenya

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 29 Apr 2016 09:20 GMT

By Geoffrey Kamadi

NAIVASHA, Kenya, April 29 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A new project is using solar energy to transform toilet waste into efficient cooking fuel, in an initiative to improve hygiene for people in communities without indoor sanitation and at the same time reduce the felling of trees for charcoal.

Read the story on the Thomson Reuters Foundation

Iraq: UN Casualty Figures for Iraq for the Month of April 2016

Iraq - ReliefWeb News - 10 hours 28 min ago
Source: UN Assistance Mission for Iraq Country: Iraq

Baghdad, Iraq, 01 May 2016 – A total of 741 Iraqis were killed and another 1,374 were injured in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in Iraq in April 2016*, according to casualty figures recorded by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

The number of civilians killed in April was 410 (including 11 federal police, Sahwa civil defence, Personal Security Details, facilities protection police, fire department), and the number of civilians injured was 973 (including 20 federal police, Sahwa civil defence, Personal Security Details, facilities protection police, fire department).

A total of 331 members of the Iraqi Security Forces (including Peshmerga, SWAT and militias fighting alongside the Iraqi Army but excluding Anbar Operations) were killed and 401 were injured.

The overall casualty figures are down from the previous month of March, where a total of 1,119 were killed and 1,561 were injured.

The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Iraq, Mr. Ján Kubiš, expressed his deep concern at the incessant violence.

“It pains us to see the continuing bloodletting and loss of life, particularly among civilians who are paying a high price as a result of bombings and the armed clashes”, Mr. Kubiš said.

“Terrorists have used suicide attacks to target cafés, places of worship, pilgrims and markets in a wicked, unrelenting campaign to cause maximum casualties and inflict untold suffering on the population”, he added.

Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 874 civilian casualties (232 killed, 642 injured). Ninewa 72 killed and 30 injured, Salahadin 32 killed and 24 injured, Diyala 17 killed and 15 injured, while Kirkuk had 16 killed and 10 injured and Basra 08 killed and 16 injured.

According to information obtained by UNAMI from the Health Directorate in Anbar, the Governorate suffered a total of 252 civilian casualties (27 killed and 225 injured).

  • CAVEATS: In general, UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in conflict areas. Figures for casualties from Anbar Governorate are provided by the Health Directorate and are noted below. Casualty figures obtained from the Anbar Health Directorate might not fully reflect the real number of casualties in those areas due to the increased volatility of the situation on the ground and the disruption of services. In some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. UNAMI has also received, without being able to verify, reports of large numbers of casualties along with unknown numbers of persons who have died from secondary effects of violence after having fled their homes due to exposure to the elements, lack of water, food, medicines and health care. For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum.

For more information, please contact: Mr. Samir Ghattas, Director of Public Information/Spokesperson

United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, Phone: +964 790 193 1281, Email: ghattass@un.org

or the UNAMI Public Information Office: unami-information@un.org

Iraq: Rare IS bombings in southern Iraq kill 33: officials

Iraq - ReliefWeb News - 10 hours 32 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Iraq

Najaf, Iraq | AFP | Sunday 5/1/2016 - 14:26 GMT

The Islamic State group carried out rare attacks in Iraq's deep Shiite south Sunday, killing at least 33 people with twin suicide car bomb blasts in the city of Samawa.

"The hospitals have received 33 dead," a senior official in the Muthanna health department, which covers Samawa, told AFP. An officer in Muthanna Operations Command confirmed the toll.

They said at least 50 people were also wounded in the blasts in Samawa, 230 kilometres (145 miles) south of Baghdad.

"Two car bombs went off in town. The first one was at around midday near a bus station in the city centre," a senior police officer in Muthanna province said.

"The other exploded about five minutes later, 400 metres from the spot of the first explosion," he said.

IS issued a statement later on social media claiming two suicide attackers detonated their car bombs against members of the security forces.

It named the bombers as Abu Dayyar al-Qurashi and Abu Zubayr al-Zaidi, saying that the second blew up his car bomb as security forces rushed to the scene of the first blast.

Samawa is the capital of Muthanna and lies deep in Iraq's Shiite heartland and such attacks there are rare.

Muthanna also borders Saudi Arabia and a vast Iraqi desert that connects the troubled province of Anbar with the south.

A car bomb just outside Baghdad on Saturday killed at least 23 people, according to security and medical sources.

That attack targeted Shiite faithful walking to the northern Baghdad shrine of Imam Musa Kadhim, the seventh of 12 imams revered in Shiite Islam.

The Iraqi capital remains on high security alert for a whole week as the faithful walk from all over the country to commemorate Imam Kadhim.

The Islamic State jihadist group, which considers Shiites heretics, almost systematically attempts to target pilgrims marching to holy sites during Iraq's many religious commemorations.

But there was no immediate indication that the attacks in Samawa specifically targeted Shiite pilgrims.

IS has carried out several large and very deadly bomb attacks south of Baghdad in recent weeks.

At least 61 people were killed when a massive truck bomb exploded at a checkpoint at one of the entrances to the city of Hilla on March 6.

A suicide bomber blew himself up on March 26 during a trophy ceremony after a local football tournament near Iskandariyah, killing more than 30 people, many of them teenagers and children.

The jihadist group has been losing territory steadily in Iraq for almost a year.

Observers have warned that, as their self-proclaimed "caliphate" shrinks, IS fighters are likely to revert to their old guerrilla tactics and ramp up suicide attacks on civilian targets.

str-sf/jmm/mm

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Kenya: Kenya death toll after building collapse reaches 16

Kenya - ReliefWeb News - 10 hours 36 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Kenya

Nairobi, Kenya | AFP | Sunday 5/1/2016 - 12:07 GMT

At least 16 people were killed when a six-storey residential building due for demolition collapsed in Nairobi in torrential weekend storms, local authorities said Sunday.

“The people dead from this incident is now 16,” said National Disaster Management Unit head Pius Masai.

Authorities had initially put the death toll from Friday's building collapse in the northern district of Huruma at 12 Saturday night.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had Saturday visited the ruins of the building, where residents perished after concrete floors collapsed on top of each other.

Building authorities had condemned the bloc, home to more than 150 families, but the order to evacuate and carry out the demolition had been ignored.

The overall death toll from the severe rains meanwhile rose to 23 for Nairobi as a whole.

The collapse of the residential bloc in a torrential downpour prompted questions over the quality of a construction completed only two years ago near a river.

Two neighbouring buildings were declared unsafe and were evacuated.

The downpours were the heaviest since the start of the rainy season and caused flooding and landslides in many areas of the capital.

Elsewhere in the city, two people were swept away in their vehicle in an industrial district, four people died when a wall collapsed and another victim drowned, police said.

Saturday, the Red Cross had indicated around 50 people were missing after the drama in Huruma. Some residents were away, taking advantage of the May Day break to visit family and friends outside the city with Monday a public holiday.

Troops were leading operations to rescue dozens of other residents.

Several buildings have collapsed in Kenya in recent years amid a wave of construction -- but building quality has been questioned amid claims that unscrupulous developers have been getting around regulations by paying bribes to local authorities.

mom-fal/cw/ccr

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Sudan: Gunmen on camels wound 6 in Darfur camp attack

Sudan - ReliefWeb News - 13 hours 52 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Sudan

Khartoum, SUDAN | AFP | Sunday 5/1/2016 - 09:12 GMT

Gunmen riding camels shot and wounded six people in an attack on a camp housing thousands of people displaced by the brutal conflict in Sudan's Darfur, residents said on Sunday.

The attack came late on Saturday at the Kalma camp in South Darfur, one of the largest settlements of people displaced by the violence.

"Militiamen on camels attacked the camp and began shooting... six people have been wounded," Abdelrazi Mohamed, a resident of Kalma told AFP by telephone, adding the incident occurred at around 9:00 pm (1800 GMT) on Saturday.

Sources in the United Nations confirmed the incident but had no immediate details.

Kalma, often described as the size of a small city, houses about 100,000 people displaced by the conflict in Darfur.

The highly charged camp is awash with weapons and is a stronghold for representatives of multiple rebel groups.

The camp has seen several deadly incidents over the years, including attacks that have caused multiple fatalities.

The UN's independent expert on human rights in Sudan, Aristide Nononsi, said following a visit to Darfur last week that security there remained "fluid and unpredictable".

He said internally displaced people "live in a state of insecurity due to the presence of various armed elements and criminality that occur within the region".

Overall more than 2.5 million people have been displaced by the conflict in Darfur that erupted in 2003, and according to UN figures 300,000 have been killed in the conflict.

The conflict broke out when ethnic minority rebels in Darfur mounted an insurgency against the Arab-dominated government of President Omar al-Bashir -- who is wanted for alleged war crimes in the conflict -- complaining of economic and political marginalisation.

Khartoum however insists that the crisis in Darfur has ended following a referendum held there between April 11 and 13.

Almost 98 percent of voters of Darfur opted for maintaining the region as five separate states, according to the result of the referendum released by Khartoum.

Darfur was a single region until 1994 when Bashir's government split it into three states, and later added another two in 2012, claiming it would make local government more efficient.

ab-jds/pg

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Somalia: Somalia Food Security Outlook Update, April 2016

Somalia - ReliefWeb News - 14 hours 58 min ago
Source: Famine Early Warning System Network Country: Somalia

Cropping activities delayed in South/Central after poor start to Gu rains

KEY MESSAGES

  • In most of Northern Inland Pastoral livelihood zone, there has been little to no Gu rainfall received. This aggravates the already poor conditions that resulted from below-average 2015 Deyr rains, influenced by El Niño. Livestock conditions are not expected to improve, limiting saleable animals and milk availability. The number of households in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) will likely increase through September.

  • Gu rainfall was delayed and had poor spatial and temporal distribution in most central and southern regions. However, the forecast for these areas is near-average Gu rains through the remainder of the season, which will improve pasture conditions and livestock productivity. Crop production is expected to be slightly below average, although food security in most areas will remain stable. Households are expected to be Stressed (IPC Phase 2) or in None (IPC Phase 1).

Nigeria: With assistance, Africa targets coordinated fight against Boko Haram

Chad - ReliefWeb News - 16 hours 54 min ago
Source: The Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development Country: Chad, Nigeria

N'Djamena, Chad | AFP | Saturday 5/1/2016 - 03:42 GMT

by Valérie LEROUX

With US and European support, African states threatened by Boko Haram are out to smash the militant Islamist group terrorising the region -- but a coordinated response is required if they are to succeed.

A regional offensive launched early last year against the group by Chad, and Nigeria under new President Muhammadu Buhari has seen Boko Haram driven out from numerous towns and villages that it controlled in northeastern Nigeria.

Two weeks ago, Nigeria's military said it would raid the group's Sambisa Forest stronghold on the Cameroon border. The group also has hideouts within nearby Lake Chad's huge maze of small islands and swampland.

Despite losing some ground in recent months the insurgents retain the capacity to launch attacks almost at will, notably via suicide attacks which require few resources.

British NGO Action on Armed Violence said earlier this week that Boko Haram attacks claimed three times as many victims last year as in 2014.

The group started wreaking havoc in Nigeria in 2009 and according to World Bank estimates has killed around 20,000 people, also sowing chaos and fear inside neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

US and British troops will join the international coordination effort against the group, while Nigeria and France on Thursday signed an agreement on closer military cooperation, including intelligence sharing.

Nigerian Defence Minister Mansur Dan Ali saluted the deal as evidence of a "growing partnership" between Abuja and Paris.

An 8,500-strong multinational force has been drawn up to track the jihadists, but its deployment has been haphazard with little to indicate the extent of real progress.

Even so, the Nigerian general overseeing the force, Lamadi Adeosun, indicated Friday during a meeting with French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian that "much has been done and is still being done to win the battle and ultimately win the peace".

The Nigerian army is expected to launch an offensive in the coming days so as "to deny Boko Haram its traditional Sambisa sanctuary", according to Chad military sources in the capital N'Djamena.

Such an offensive has been in the offing ever since Buhari took office a year ago but has yet to materialise.

  • Imminent action -

"The idea is to be able to announce at the next Abuja summit (on May 14) that this sanctuary no longer exists. That is a military and also a political imperative," says a source close to the president.

The summit will bring together leaders of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria -- allied neighbours in the fight against Boko Haram -- as well as French President Francois Hollande and representatives from Britain and the United States.

Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau appeared in a video late last month and "he still seems to be the leader and is hiding out in the Sambisa Forest," according to a French military source.

The group is thought to number somewhere between 100,000 and 30,000. Its exact strength is hard to evaluate but the French source says that experienced fighters who have returned from Mali or Libya are no more than a small hard core.

The multinational force is preparing its own offensive along the border with Cameroon, Chad and Niger but time is of the essence with the rainy season approaching.

  • IS link? -

The multinational force, whose HQ is at N'Djamena although each nation's contingent is under its own command, will have access to intelligence compiled by French and US drones and fighter planes -- but communications, transport and logistics hardware are in short supply.

Coordination is paramount.

"If they are not coordinated they will never be able definitively to curtail Boko Haram," a French military source warned.

General Adeosun says the international community should be doing more -- red tape has held up 50 million euros ($55 million) of EU aid -- and has asked for lifejackets and a consignment of flat-bottomed boats to take the fight to the enemy across the huge expanse of Lake Chad.

There are concerns Boko Haram may have received weapons via Libya from Islamic State through individual go-betweens, though Le Drian says that "for now we do not have proof of close links" between the jihadists.

On Saturday, Le Drian promised to do away with Boko Haram "barbarity" as he visited the Ivorian resort of Grand-Bassam, scene of a deadly March 13 attack blamed on an Al-Qaeda affiliate which killed 19.

"We are determined to fight together with the Ivory Coast authorities for our freedoms and against barbarity," said Le Drian a day after pledging to lift the French troop contingent in the country from 600 to 900.

vl/cl/cdc/dom/cw

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Iraq: Iraq - ETC Situation Report #30 Reporting period 11/03/2016 to 21/04/2016

Iraq - ReliefWeb News - 17 hours 3 min ago
Source: World Food Programme, Emergency Telecommunications Cluster Country: Iraq

Highlights

• The Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) continues to provide services to the humanitarian community in five sites across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

• The ETC has completed the scope of work for a project to extend Internet services to refugees in two centres, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Youth Centre and International Rescue Committee (IRC) Library, in Domiz camp, Dohuk. This will be carried out in three stages.

• The ETC has secured the necessary funding to ensure the provision of ETC services and staff in Iraq until the end of the year.

• The contingency plan for the potential breach of Mosul Dam is being finalised and will be distributed to partners.

Situation Overview

Over the last month, the ETC team in Iraq has been focusing on a project to extend its Internet connectivity services refugees in Domiz camp. The project will be carried out in three stages, starting in May, and will see Internet services being provided in two centres within the camp.
This expansion of connectivity services to affected populations is part of the ETC strategy to ensure that, by 2020, all those responding to humanitarian emergencies have access to communications. The plan has been fully embraced by NonGovernment Organisations (NGOs) and all ETC partners on the ground.

Democratic Republic of the Congo: In Congo, Wars Are Small and Chaos Is Endless

DRC - ReliefWeb News - 17 hours 15 min ago
Source: The New York Times Country: Democratic Republic of the Congo

By JEFFREY GETTLEMANAPRIL 30, 2016

NYUNZU, Democratic Republic of Congo — Deep in the forest, miles from any major city, lies an abandoned cotton factory full of the dispossessed.

There is no police force guarding it. No electricity or running water inside. No sense of urgency or deep concern by the national authorities to do much about it.

Read the full article on the New York Times

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