ReliefWeb Latest Reports for Country Office

Sudan: Ma’alia officials quit East Darfur institutions amid tribal attacks

Sudan - ReliefWeb News - 55 min 15 sec ago
Source: Sudan Tribune Country: Sudan

September 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Eight officials in the government of East Darfur state and twelve members of state legislative assembly resigned from their positions to protest the continuous attacks by Rizeigat gunmen without prompt action from the state and national governments to stop it.

Umda Abu al-Hassan Moahmoud al-Tom, the representative of Ma’alia paramount chief, said on Saturday that all the members of his tribe participating in the institutions of East Darfur state handed over their resignation letters to the tribe leader Mohamed Ahmed al-Safi.

“We decided to boycott East Darfur state politically and administratively,” al-Tom said adding they are resolved to disengage from the Rizeigat dominated institutions, reaffirming that all the Ma’alia officials are committed to this decision.

Al-Tom further said they formed a committee to officially deliver the resignation letters to the competent authorities.

Last August, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced that 200 Ma’alya and 123 Rizeigat tribesmen were killed in clashes which took place in the Umm Rakubah area in East Darfur’ Abu Karinka locality.

Clashes between the two tribes intensified in recent years following oil discovery in Ma’alia areas. But the tribal fighting is also related to disputes over pasturage and water sources.

A governor adviser, Hamid Mohamdi Bashar, who is one of the resigned officials, proposed three options to settle this conflict: the first le create a new state including the oil fields, annexing their land to North Darfur state or create an autonomous administration with in East Darfur state similar to the transitional administration of the disputed Abyei area.

The Ma’alia represent 40% of East Darfur population and control 45% of its superficies. The centre of Rizeigat territory is the state capital El Daein town, while the Ma’alia centre is in Adila, which borders North Darfur and South Kordofan states.

Sudanese government launched several reconciliation conferences to end the conflict between the two pastoral tribes. Last July, the vice president attempted to mediate between the two parties but the Ma’alia rejected his efforts because he belongs to the Rizeigat.

The Ma’alia accuse the government of supporting their foes because many of them are involved in the paramilitary forces known as Janjaweed militias used to fight rebel groups. But Khartoum and the tribal leaders deny the charges saying the attacks are carried by uncontrolled gunmen.

(ST)

Sudan: Displaced in North Darfur’s Kutum to pay ‘protection fees’

Sudan - ReliefWeb News - 1 hour 8 min ago
Source: Radio Dabanga Country: Sudan

FATA BORNO (21 Sep.) - Militiamen in Kutum locality, North Darfur, are imposing ‘protection fees’ on displaced farmers.

“Militiamen told us last week that each displaced family has to pay SDG 10 ($1.75) and three bowls of sorghum for the so-called protection of their farmlands,” a sheikh of the Fata Borno camp for the displaced reported to Radio Dabanga.

He explained that the militiamen have taken position at the police station of Fata Borno, since the police withdrew from the locality almost three years ago.

“We are continuously harassed and assaulted by those Janjaweed. We need protection against them, not by them, as they are the ones who rob our money, mobile telephones, and other belongings. We went to the security service in the locality to file a complaint, but they rejected the case, under the pretext that those robbing the displaced are outlaws, who have nothing to do with police.”

An activist from Fata Borno camp described the security situation in Fata Borno as “extremely bad”. “The government-backed militias sustain full control over the area, while police and Unamid are entirely absent. The displaced do not dare to go to Kutum town for shopping, or work, as they fear being assaulted and robbed.”

He demanded from Unamid to re-deploy its forces in Kutum locality for the protection of the displaced.

Sudan: ‘Nuba in South Kordofan on the brink of starvation’

Sudan - ReliefWeb News - 1 hour 11 min ago
Source: Radio Dabanga Country: Sudan, South Sudan

KHARTOUM / SOUTH KORDOFAN (21 Sep.) - After three years of civil war in South Kordofan, the humanitarian situation is extremely bad.

“The Nuba in South Kordofan are on the brink of starvation,” Najwa Musa Kinda, executive director of the Nuba Relief and Reconstruction Organisation, told Radio Dabanga.

She described the humanitarian situation in Southern Kordofan since the outbreak of fighting as “extremely bad”. “The Sudanese Air Force is continuously bombing the areas controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), which has prevented the farmers from planting this rainy season.”

“Owing to the constant bombardments on residential areas, as well as vast tracts of farmlands, the people have sought refuge under the ground or in the hills, where there is nothing to drink or eat. They have now also consumed all their planting seeds. The majority of the Nuba who did not flee to South Sudan or towards the north are severely malnourished. They are depending on wild fruits and trees barks’ to stay alive, as relief organisations are not allowed access to the area.”

Kinda said that more than 1.2 million people have been displaced in the Nuba Mountains during the three-year-war. “They are surviving in dire conditions. About 800,000 fled to areas under control of the SPLM-N. Some 90,000 fled from the areas of Rashad and Dalami in April and May this year.”

“The areas controlled by the rebel movement are devoid of any health care services”, the NGO director explained. “Only one hospital and one health clinic are still kind of functioning in Kauda, with one doctor present. The number of patients by far exceeds the capacity of both health institutions. There are many patients now being treated in improvised shelters, and under trees.”

“Both the hospital and the clinic have been bombed intentionally, earlier this year, by the Sudanese Air Force”, the NGO director noted. “An aircraft first took photographs of both health institutions, and a few days later they were bombarded.”

Regarding the Nuba who fled to South Sudan, “they are not better off”. “The UN refused to officially recognise the 80,000 Nuba in Yida camp, and the about 10,000 Nuba in the Jwan Tong camp in South Sudan as refugees. Consequently, they have not been provided any relief.”

She appealed to the UN to immediately intervene, and provide relief to the Nuba people in the refugee camps, and the displaced in the areas controlled by the SPLM-N.

Sudan: Sudanese opposition figures say country is on the brink of collapse

Sudan - ReliefWeb News - 1 hour 20 min ago
Source: Sudan Tribune Country: Sudan

September 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Several Sudanese opposition figures have painted a bleak picture of the situation in the country, saying Sudan is witnessing a deep political crisis and is on the verge of the collapse.

The deputy chairman of the National Umma Party (NUP), Meriam al-Mahdi, who spoke in a symposium organised by the Reform Now Movement (RNM) on Saturday, said the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) bears the greater responsibility for the current Sudanese problems, calling for the need to embrace the principle of transparency and recognise problems and mistakes in order to resolve the country’s crises.

She said the government policies weakened the state’s institutions including the Sudanese army, pointing to the great powers enjoyed by the National Intelligence and Security forces (NISS) at the expense of the police and the army.

Al-Mahdi emphasised that the NCP could no longer control NISS, stressing that change in Sudan is inevitable in light of the failure of the state to perform its necessary functions.

The NUP official added that the regime seeks to entangle political forces into participation in the government in order to share responsibility of its failures, warning that cosmetic changes within the regime will have serious implications, including extreme violence and intervention of international powers.

She further noted the national dialogue began to witness a shift towards making fundamental change in the regime, saying that elections as a tool for achieving peaceful resolution was aborted since 2010 elections.

Al-Mahdi underscored the need to adhere to national dialogue and those who seek to manipulate it, considering it the only hope for achieving peaceful transformation in the country.

The leading figure at the National Movement for Change (NMC), Mohamed Mahjoub Haroun, for his part, said Sudan is going through a state of “frustration” and the Sudanese people are desperate and have lost hope, pointing to the lack of security and stability in the country.

He noted the negative changes in the Sudanese society including the racial, regional, and class divisions besides the increase in crime rate and the greater tendency towards violence, pointing to the high cost of Sudan’s ill-relation with the international community.

Haroun warned that Sudan is on the brink of the abyss due to corruption and failure to achieve renaissance, pointing the national dialogue produced two trends including the one which is occupied with “change” of power and the other which seeks to “overthrow” the regime through popular uprising.

He also pointed to existence of two trends within the regime, saying some are scared from the forces representing the marginalised people and others believe the regime has come to an end.

The NMC figure underscored the need for reaching a compromise in order to make the necessary change through a genuine dialogue, warning the country would fall in the abyss if such a move was not realised.

The deputy chairman of the RNM, Hassan Rizg, warned the government against manipulation of the national dialogue process, stressing that dialogue is progressing well.

He called for adoption of the positive items included in the Paris Declaration signed between the NUP and the rebel alliance of the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF).

Rizg further accused the NCP of using government money to finance its conferences.

“All NCP conferences are funded by billions [of government money] not members subscriptions [or financial contributions],” he added

Last January, Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir unveiled a national dialogue initiative aimed at holding an comprehensive conference on a new constitution and ways to end the armed conflicts in the Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur.

The NUP, led by al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, and the RNM, led by Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Attabani, suspended their participation in the national dialogue before the latter rejoined the process.

The opposition alliance of the National Consensus Forces (NCF) and the rebel SRF refused to join the dialogue from the outset.

On 8 August, the NUP and SRF signed the “Paris Declaration”, which calls for ending the wars and engaging in a genuine national dialogue aimed at restoring democracy in Sudan.

(ST)

Sudan: Darfuris call on Sudan’s HRs Commission to stop violations

Sudan - ReliefWeb News - 1 hour 33 min ago
Source: Radio Dabanga Country: Sudan preview

KHARTOUM / DARFUR (21 Sep.) - Darfuri civil society members last week submitted a statement to the Sudanese Human Rights Commission in Khartoum about the “situation of human rights” in the country.

In the statement, the Darfur displaced, women, youth, journalists, and lawyers of the Darfur Bar Association express their hope that the Human Rights Council “will perform its obligations and duties towards the improvement of the human rights situation in Sudan”.

The Darfuri activists urge the Council to take all the appropriate measures, “within the framework of its jurisdiction”, to put pressure on the Sudanese government to immediately stop the “heinous and gross violations” of human rights.

Pressure must be put to pear on the Sudanese government to “honour its commitment according to the 2005 Interim Constitution, international covenants and conventions”, and immediately stop human rights violations “committed on a daily basis in Darfur: bombardments of villages and populated areas, extra‐judicial killings, sexual harassment, forced displacement, and arbitrary detention”.

“We the undersigned, in submitting this statement to the honourable members of HRC, remind them, as Darfuris, we represent a mixture of ethnicities, cultures and tribes, unifying as a heterogeneous co‐existent Afro‐Arab society, which is known throughout history as Darfur. We invoke the members of HRC to consider the situation of human rights in Sudan in the light of the report of 18 September 2013 of the UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Sudan, Professor Mashood Adebayo Baderin,” the statement said.

The statement contains multiple examples of violations of the human rights of displaced, Darfur students studying at Sudanese universities, Darfuri living in different parts of Sudan; of children's rights (in particular during the demonstration on 23 and 24 of September 2013); political actions designed to pit tribes against each other; the denial of Darfuri to express themselves freely as provided by the Sudanese Interim Constitution and international laws, and the partiality and lack of independence of the judicial system.

Recommendations

The statement, signed by 53 Darfur displaced, activists, civil society organisations, and lawyers recommends that the Sudanese government “must be ordered” to respect the rights of the displaced in the camps. The regime must abide by its international obligations in the fields of international law and international humanitarian law. It must desist from evacuating displaced’ camps by force, imposing constraints on these camps, as well as denial of basic services, and the services provided by the international humanitarian organisations.

“The regime must stop arbitrary arrests”, and “allow international humanitarian organisations to provide their services” to the displaced “and the areas affected by conflicts in Darfur, and elsewhere,” the signatories state.

“The Sudanese government must be forced to ensure fair trials, and to establish independent investigations committees into cases of extra judiciary killing during the popular uprising of 23‐24 September 2013. Special investigation committees must be established to investigate the killings of Darfur university students and activists.”

The Darfuri activists urge the international community to “take clear and firm steps to stop the grave violations of human rights”, committed by the Sudanese government, its security apparatus, and proxy militias.

The statement concludes by stressing that “strong measures must been taken to monitor the human rights situation in Sudan”. The signatories believe that this can only be fulfilled by changing the mandate of the UN Independent Expert on human Rights from Item 10 to Item 4 of the International Human Rights Convention.

Yemen: Yemen: Clashes in Al Jawf and Sana’a Situation Report No. 1 (as of 21 September 2014 at 16.00)

Yemen - ReliefWeb News - 3 hours 22 min ago
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Yemen preview

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • On 18 September, clashes erupted in Sana’a between Al Houthi militants, Government forces and pro-Government armed groups, following weeks of Al Houthi protests in the city. Fighting continued as of 21 September, mainly in the northern half of the city. However, UN DSS reported shelling from Army positions in Faj Attan around noon on 21 September, indicating that conflict may be expanding south.

  • No verified estimates of humanitarian needs were available at the time as of 21 September, but reports indicate civilian casualties and significant displacement from affected areas. Partners are currently not able to reach affected areas due to road closures and ongoing violence, but the Government confirms that Ministry of Health and Yemen Red Crescent ambulances have been deployed to the area. Partners are also providing essential supplies to Sana’a hospitals.

  • Intermittent clashes between Al Houthi militants, Government forces and affiliated armed groups in Al Jawf and Marib Governorates have escalated since mid-September. According to humanitarian partners, 1,500 families have been displaced from these areas since the end of July. Of these, 1,200 families in Al Jawf are receiving basic assistance, but an estimated 300 families in Marib have not yet been assisted.

  • UN Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on Yemen Jamal Benomar announced late on 20 September that all parties had committed to sign an agreement. This agreement is intended as a “national document” that would immediately end hostilities and set out a peaceful way forward. Government sources reported yesterday that the agreement would be signed on 21 September, but it had not been signed by 16.00.

World: “Rights of People to Peace”, celebrated today by the UN and the Iraqi Council of Representatives

Iraq - ReliefWeb News - 3 hours 33 min ago
Source: UN Assistance Mission for Iraq Country: Iraq, World

Baghdad, 21 September 2014 – The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the Parliament Speaker, Dr. Salim Al-Juburi today hosted a ceremony to mark the International Day of Peace, which is celebrated each year around the world on 21 September. The ceremony was held at the Council of Representatives in the presence of numerous political dignitaries, representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, women’s NGOs and youth organizations.

In his opening remarks, Parliament Speaker Dr. Salim Al-Juburi said “I think, it is time for everyone to raise their voices against the death merchants at all levels and to stop the futile conflicts under any title, whether political, ethnic, sectarian, benefit-based or even tribal”. “Yes, it is time for the world to stand bravely and talk again about weapons’ ban agreements, especially the agreements on the internationally prohibited weapons and to hold accountable governments and terrorist groups who go in for their hobby of genocide against the innocents everywhere in the world”, he further stated.

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by resolution 36/67 of the United Nations General Assembly. In 2001, the General Assembly designated 21 September as the annual day of non-violence and cease-fire, devoting it to strengthening the ideals of peace, both within and among all nations and peoples.

Addressing the gathering, the Resident Coordinator for Iraq and Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (DSRSG), Ms. Jacqueline Badcock read the UN Secretary-General’s message on the International Day of Peace where Mr. Ban Ki-moon highlighted that “armed conflicts cause untold grief to families, communities and entire countries, and that “too many are suffering today at the brutal hands of warmongers and terrorists”. The Secretary-General called for standing with them in solidarity.

Using the opportunity, Ms. Badcock further encouraged the Government of Iraq to keep on the commitment the world’s community made on that day, highlighting the importance of establishing a national plan to address the humanitarian situation of those hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqis, and reaffirming the United Nations’ readiness to provide the necessary technical support and assistance in improving the coordination and delivery of humanitarian aid.

“Peace is a long road that we must travel together – step by step, beginning today”, she concluded, quoting the Secretary-General’s message.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Eliana Nabaa, Director of Public Information/Spokesperson
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Phone: +964 790 193 1281,
Email: nabaa@un.org or the UNAMI Public Information Office: unami-information@un.org

Sudan: Sudan: Presence of Aid Workers across Darfur (August 2014)

Sudan - ReliefWeb News - 4 hours 22 min ago
Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Country: Sudan preview

Pakistan: Pakistan: Daily Emergency and Response Situational Information Report, 20 September 2014

Pakistan - ReliefWeb News - 4 hours 51 min ago
Source: US Agency for International Development, iMMAP Country: Pakistan preview

Update includes the following:

Sindh Updates ........... 1
PDMA Sindh Updates ....... 1
Sind Safe Evacuation Report (SER) as of 19-9-2014 .................. 1
Drought Updates .............. 2
Daily Health Report of District Tharparkar as on 20-9-2014.................... 2
Nationwide Updates ................ 3
NDMA-Rain/Floods 2014 Updates as of 20-9-2014 ......................... 3
River Flow and Flood Forecast ........................... 3
Summary of Losses and Damages Updates by PDMA, SDMA and GBDMA as of 20-9-2014 ............. 4
Flood Rescue/Relief Activities as of 20-9-2014 .............................. 7
Relief Provided by PDMA Punjab as of 20-9-2014 ....... 8
Relief Provided by GBDMA as of 20-9-2014 ......... 9
Relief Provided by SDMA as of 20-9-2014 ...................... 9
Monsoon Weather Situation Report 2014 # 78/ http://www.ndma.gov.pk/new/Documents/sitrep-19-9-14.pdf/ published on 20-9-2014 ..... 9
Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS) Update on Floods 2014 as of 19-9-2014 ...................... 9
Severe damage to 2014 cereal and cash crops at subnational level ................ 9
FAO response ............................ 9
4 day Weather Forecast 21st –24th Sep, 2014....................... 10
Pakistan- Reservoirs and River Flow Map as of 20-9-2014 .............. 11
Pakistan- Punjab Rain Flood Situation Update Map as of 20-9-2014 ................... 12
Pakistan Flood-Damages and Losses Update Map as of 20-9-2014 .................... 13
Weather Update Map of Pakistan as of 20-9-2014 .................... 14

Central African Republic: Centrafrique: la criminalité empoisonne la vie quotidienne à Bangui

CAR - ReliefWeb News - 5 hours 43 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Central African Republic

09/21/2014 10:45 GMT

Par Christian PANIKA

BANGUI, 21 septembre 2014 (AFP) - Braquages, agressions, disparitions : à l'heure où se déploie une nouvelle mission de l'ONU en Centrafrique, les habitants de la capitale Bangui sont excédés par la criminalité qui continue d'empoisonner leur vie quotidienne.

Les violences intercommunautaires de masse qui ont ravagé le pays pendant un an et demi ont largement diminué, mais toutes les bandes armées n'ont pas été démantelées.

Les violences se concentrent particulièrement dans les quartiers nord de Bangui comme Boy-rabe, Fouh et Gobongo, fiefs des milices anti-balaka qui ont commis d'innombrables exactions depuis plus d'un an.

"On ne peut plus vivre en paix ici à Boy-rabe. Chaque nuit, il y a au moins entre deux à trois cas de braquage. Aucun dispositif de dissuasion n'est en place pour faire peur aux auteurs de ces braquages", se plaint le gérant d'un bar, Jozias Maïngué.

"Alors que tout le monde était en droit de penser que l'ennemi était la Séléka, aujourd'hui c'est tout à fait le contraire. Ce sont les anti-balaka qui terrorisent encore les Centrafricains et particulièrement les Banguissois", accuse un habitant de Boy-rabe, André Ngaïnam.

Ce sont aussi des anti-balaka "qui ont attaqué la station-service Tradex du 4e arrondissement en plein jour en tirant en l'air. Ils "sont partis avec 18 millions de francs CFA (27.000 euros) sans être inquiétés", affirme Job Bekoïssé, un revendeur de carburant.

Les miliciens ex-Séléka - qui avaient pris le pouvoir début 2013 avant d'en être chassés en janvier 2014 - sont aujourd'hui soit repliés dans leurs bastions musulmans du nord du pays, soit cantonnés dans des bases militaires de la capitale, contrairement aux anti-balaka, miliciens majoritairement chrétiens, qui se sont fondus dans la population civile.

"Des quartiers entiers sont des poudrières et des nids de bandits", confirme une source militaire française sous couvert d'anonymat.

"Les anti-balaka sont en ce moment une entrave à la paix. Tout le monde sait qui fait quoi et tout le monde s'en plaint. Mais personne ne peut dénoncer quoi que ce soit", par peur de représailles, explique cette source.

  • Impunité totale -

Dans chaque maison, chaque boutique, on a son lot de malheurs à raconter, tel Elie Tonfio, mécanicien qui a pignon sur rue à Boy-rabe: "Mercredi, un colonel des douanes centrafricaines qui rentrait chez lui a été attaqué à sa descente de voiture par des individus qui l'ont poignardé à l'abdomen. Le véhicule a essuyé des tirs provenant d'un responsable des anti-balaka".

"Ils allaient le tuer. Heureusement pour lui, sa fille s'est mise à crier et à appeler au secours. Ils ont pris la fuite en emportant tout qu'il y avait dans la voiture", poursuit le mécanicien.

Les quartiers sud ne sont pas épargnés non plus. Cela fait 15 jours que Mamadou, un chrétien portant un nom musulman, tout juste arrivé de province pour travailler à Bangui comme moto-taxi, a disparu.

"Il n'a plus été revu, ni la moto. Plusieurs témoins ont affirmé l'avoir vu les mains et les pieds ligotés à la base des anti-balaka avant sa disparition", s'inquiète son frère aîné, Axel.

Excédés par l'impunité qui règne dans la capitale, les habitants du quartier Fouh (nord) ont mis un en place un comité d'autodéfense comprenant des jeunes et quelques anti-balaka pour patrouiller dans les ruelles à la nuit tombée, en espérant dissuader les malfaiteurs.

Samedi, quatre responsables anti-balaka ont été arrêtés pour avoir transporté des "armes de guerre" et déférés à la prison centrale de Bangui, selon une source au parquet. Mais les miliciens et délinquants opportunistes sont rarement inquiétés malgré la présence des forces françaises (2.000 hommes) et africaine (6.000) auxquelles la force de maintien de la paix de l'ONU a succédé le 15 septembre, et dont la tâche s'annonce déjà difficile.

acp-cl/de

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Kenya: Kenya grieves one year after Westgate mall attack

Kenya - ReliefWeb News - 10 hours 49 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Kenya, Somalia

09/21/2014 13:51 GMT

by Reuben KYAMA

NAIROBI, September 21, 2014 (AFP) - Thousands of mourners gathered in Kenya's capital on Sunday for emotional commemorations marking a year since Somali Islamist gunmen attacked Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall and massacred at least 67 people.

The east African nation is on high alert for the anniversary, which comes just weeks after the Shebab's reclusive leader and the alleged mastermind of the attack, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed in a US air strike in southern Somalia.

In Nairobi's Karura forest, close to 2,500 people -- many of them survivors or bereaved families -- were holding inter-faith prayers and a memorial procession. A memorial stone with a plaque bearing the names of those confirmed dead was also unveiled.

"My life is completely shattered, it's been very hard to cope," said 62-year-old Amul Shah, whose son was among those cut down when a small group of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters walked into the upmarket mall, tossing grenades and raking shoppers and staff with machine gun fire.

Shah said his 38-year-old son was looking after children taking part in a cooking competition on the mall's rooftop when the attackers struck. "He helped several children escape from the attack, but he was not lucky himself. He was so selfless."

Fred Bosire, a former shop salesman who was shot in the legs and played dead to survive, said he had yet to recover physically or emotionally, with the additional burden of having lost is job.

"I was shot several times on my left leg and pretended to be dead fearing the worst. The attackers would go and come back. So, I lay there next to dead bodies for more than nine hours before I was rescued," he said.

"Life has never been the same. That attack disrupted everything. I lost my job and now I have to depend on my wife, a casual labourer. It's tough," he told AFP after laying a wreath at the memorial.

Relatives of the victims will also lay wreaths of flowers at a garden in the forest where 67 tree seedlings were planted last year. Commemorations were also held outside the boarded-up mall, and were to end later in the day with a candlelight concert at the National Museum, the venue of a memorial exhibition that opened this week.

All four gunmen were believed to have died in the mall, their bodies burned and crushed by tonnes of rubble after a section of the complex collapsed following a fierce blaze started by the fighting.

  • Appeals for unity -

The Sunday Nation newspaper named the four as Hassan Abdi Mohamed Dhuhulow, a Norwegian national of Somali origin, Somali national Mohamed Abdi Nur Said, and Ahmed Hassan Abukar and Yahye Osman Ahmed, both Somali refugees. The four were all aged between 19 and 23.

Apparently inspired by the Mumbai attack of 2008, the gunmen hunted down shoppers in supermarket aisles and singled out non-Muslims for execution. They then fought it out with Kenyan security forces before the siege was finally declared over four days after the first shot was fired.

The Shebab said the attack was revenge for Kenya's sending of troops to fight the extremists in Somalia as part of an African Union force. They have launched a string of subsequent attacks in Kenya, including a wave of massacres in the coastal region, which has badly affected the country's key tourist industry.

The head of the Kenyan Red Cross, Abbas Gullet, said it was a time for Kenyans to unite.

"When faced with such adversity, the only thing we can do is to stand together," he told mourners, reminding them that despite widespread criticism of the security forces -- who were accused of incompetence and even looting shops -- they were police and soldiers who lost their lives.

In an editorial published by the Sunday Nation, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also vowed the country would not give in to the Shebab.

"We have pushed with greater resolve to defeat terrorists and criminals who target innocent people living in Kenya. We have maintained our focus in Somalia, where our defence forces continue to incur heroic sacrifices to defeat terrorists and their sponsors," he wrote.

On Saturday, Kenyan police chief David Kimaiyo said security forces were on high alert for the anniversary.

"We are prepared in case of anything. Specialised units are on the ground and we have intensified patrols during this period of the anniversary," Kimaiyo told reporters.

rk-sas/gd

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Kenya: Kenya marks anniversary of Westgate mall attack

Somalia - ReliefWeb News - 10 hours 49 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Kenya, Somalia

09/21/2014 02:35 GMT

by Reuben KYAMA

NAIROBI, September 21, 2014 (AFP) - Kenya on Sunday marks a year since Somali Islamist gunmen attacked Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, with anniversary commemorations including the unveiling of a memorial stone and candlelight vigil.

At least 67 people were killed and scores more wounded when a small group of Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters walked into the upmarket mall, tossing grenades and executing shoppers and staff.

Kenya has been on high alert ahead of the anniversary, especially amid fears of retaliatory Shebab attacks after their reclusive leader and the alleged mastermind of the Westgate attack, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed at the start of this month in a US air strike.

Police chief David Kimaiyo announced Saturday they are on high alert following fears of a terror attack during the Westgate anniversary.

"We are prepared in case of anything. Specialised units are on the ground and we have intensified patrols during this period of the anniversary," Kimaiyo told reporters.

Kenyan officials, community leaders, attack survivors and relatives of the victims are due to assemble early Sunday in Nairobi's Karura forest for a memorial procession and inter-faith prayers.

"We will be unveiling a plaque in honour of those who lost their lives," said Rajesh Shah, chairman of Karura Forest Environmental Education Trust, one of the event organisers.

The plaque, on a black granite stone, bears the names of the 67 people who were confirmed to have been killed in the attack, which began on a Saturday midday and was declared over four days later.

  • 'Healing process' -

Relatives of the victims will also lay wreaths of flowers at a garden in the forest where 67 tree seedlings were planted last year.

"We expect the victims' families and friends to come out and be part of the healing process," Shah said.

The commemorations will end later in the day with a candlelight concert at the National Museum, the venue of a memorial exhibition that opened this week.

All four gunmen are believed to have died in the mall, their bodies burned and crushed by tonnes of rubble after a section of the complex collapsed following a fierce blaze started by the fighting.

The mall was crowded with hundreds of shoppers and friends meeting for a meal, as well as a children's cooking competition.

Shoppers were hunted down in supermarket aisles and killed, in what the Shebab said was revenge for Kenya's sending of troops to fight the extremists in Somalia as part of an African Union force.

The extremists have launched a string of subsequent attacks in Kenya, including a wave of massacres in the coastal region, which has badly affected the country's key tourist industry.

rk-sas/hmn

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Kenya: Kenya marks anniversary of Westgate mall attack

Kenya - ReliefWeb News - 10 hours 49 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Kenya, Somalia

09/21/2014 02:35 GMT

by Reuben KYAMA

NAIROBI, September 21, 2014 (AFP) - Kenya on Sunday marks a year since Somali Islamist gunmen attacked Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, with anniversary commemorations including the unveiling of a memorial stone and candlelight vigil.

At least 67 people were killed and scores more wounded when a small group of Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters walked into the upmarket mall, tossing grenades and executing shoppers and staff.

Kenya has been on high alert ahead of the anniversary, especially amid fears of retaliatory Shebab attacks after their reclusive leader and the alleged mastermind of the Westgate attack, Ahmed Abdi Godane, was killed at the start of this month in a US air strike.

Police chief David Kimaiyo announced Saturday they are on high alert following fears of a terror attack during the Westgate anniversary.

"We are prepared in case of anything. Specialised units are on the ground and we have intensified patrols during this period of the anniversary," Kimaiyo told reporters.

Kenyan officials, community leaders, attack survivors and relatives of the victims are due to assemble early Sunday in Nairobi's Karura forest for a memorial procession and inter-faith prayers.

"We will be unveiling a plaque in honour of those who lost their lives," said Rajesh Shah, chairman of Karura Forest Environmental Education Trust, one of the event organisers.

The plaque, on a black granite stone, bears the names of the 67 people who were confirmed to have been killed in the attack, which began on a Saturday midday and was declared over four days later.

  • 'Healing process' -

Relatives of the victims will also lay wreaths of flowers at a garden in the forest where 67 tree seedlings were planted last year.

"We expect the victims' families and friends to come out and be part of the healing process," Shah said.

The commemorations will end later in the day with a candlelight concert at the National Museum, the venue of a memorial exhibition that opened this week.

All four gunmen are believed to have died in the mall, their bodies burned and crushed by tonnes of rubble after a section of the complex collapsed following a fierce blaze started by the fighting.

The mall was crowded with hundreds of shoppers and friends meeting for a meal, as well as a children's cooking competition.

Shoppers were hunted down in supermarket aisles and killed, in what the Shebab said was revenge for Kenya's sending of troops to fight the extremists in Somalia as part of an African Union force.

The extremists have launched a string of subsequent attacks in Kenya, including a wave of massacres in the coastal region, which has badly affected the country's key tourist industry.

rk-sas/hmn

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Yemen: PM quits as Shiite rebels seize Yemen government HQ

Yemen - ReliefWeb News - 10 hours 51 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Yemen

09/21/2014 16:18 GMT

by Hammoud Mounassar

SANAA, September 21, 2014 (AFP) - Shiite rebels seized the Yemeni government headquarters Sunday and the premier resigned as violence raged despite a UN announcement of a power-sharing deal to end days of fighting, officials said.

Prime Minister Mohamed Basindawa stepped aside, accusing President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi of being "autocratic", senior officials said.

State news agency Saba reported Basindawa's resignation, but without giving the reason.

However, the council of ministers released the text of Basindawa's resignation letter.

"The partnership between myself and the president in leading the country only lasted for a short period, before it was replaced by autocracy to the extent that the government and I no longer knew anything about the military and security situation," he wrote.

Mohammed Abdulsalam, spokesman for the Ansarullah rebels, also known as Huthis, said on his Facebook page that the seat of government had been taken.

He also said parts of "the military and security apparatus have supported the popular revolt", including "the general command of the armed forces, the radio", the government and other institutions.

A posting on the interior ministry's website urged security forces not to confront the rebels.

Interior Minister Abdo al-Tarib calls on "all members of the ministry not to confront Ansarullah," the statement said.

Tarib urged "cooperation" with the rebels "to strengthen security and stability, preserve public property and guard government installations... and to consider Ansarullah friends of the police".

One Western diplomat, who also reported rebel movements near Hadi's residence, said: "The situation is changing at speed with a capital S."

  • Dozens of people killed -

Earlier, shelling and gunfire in the north of Sanaa was heard across the city, as Sunni militiamen and troops battled the rebels, prompting an exodus of terrified residents, an AFP correspondent reported.

A week of fighting has left dozen of people dead on both sides and forced the suspension of all flights into and out of Sanaa airport, which is in the battle zone.

There was no let-up in the fighting on Saturday night despite Hadi ordering an after-dark curfew.

The clashes centred on the campus of Al-Iman University, a bastion of Sunni Islamists that the Shiite rebels have been trying to capture, witnesses said.

The violence came despite UN envoy Jamal Benomar announcing late on Saturday that a deal had been reached after "intense consultations with all the political parties, including Ansarullah".

Benomar did not specifically mention a ceasefire, nor did he say when a deal would be signed, although he said preparations were under way for the signing.

But he did say the accord would be a "national document that will advance the path of peaceful change, and will lay the foundations for national partnership and for security and stability in the country".

On Sunday evening, Benomar entered a meeting with Hadi.

Forces allied to the government have been battling to halt the rebels, who swept into Sanaa from their mountain stronghold in the far north last month and set up armed protest camps across the capital to press their demands.

  • Rebels demand key posts -

Hadi has denounced the rebel offensive as a "coup attempt", but agreed to involve the rebels in the formation of a new government to replace the unpopular administration that imposed austerity measures, including a fuel price hike, earlier this year.

He has also agreed to partly reverse the price hike.

But the rebels have also demanded posts in key state institutions as part of a push for greater political clout.

The fighting in northern Sanaa has raged continuously since Thursday when nearly 40 people were killed in a single day.

Residents of northern districts have begun to flee their homes, an AFP correspondent reported earlier on Sunday.

The city's streets were largely deserted as shops remained closed and the education ministry ordered schools to suspend lessons indefinitely.

Sanaa University told students to stay away until mid-October after its campus was hit by shelling.

One of Sanaa's main markets, the Ali Mohsen Souk, has been closed for three days, which residents said had started to cause problems in obtaining fresh produce.

Yemen has been swept by political turmoil since longtime strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced from the presidency in early 2012.

Al-Qaeda loyalists have taken advantage of the political turmoil in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula state to launch persistent attacks on the security forces.

Separatist protests have also rocked the formerly independent south.

The rebels hail from the Zaidi Shiite community, a minority in the mostly Sunni nation but the majority community in the northern highlands, including the Sanaa region.

Also known as Huthis after the name of their leading family, they have battled the government on and off for a decade from their stronghold of Saada in the far north.

bur-srm/mm

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Yemen: Fighting rages in Yemen capital despite UN talk of deal

Yemen - ReliefWeb News - 10 hours 51 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Yemen

09/21/2014 10:08 GMT by Hamoud Mounassar

SANAA, September 21, 2014 (AFP) - Fighting raged in the Yemeni capital on Sunday despite an announcement by the UN envoy that pro-government forces and Shiite rebels were poised to sign a deal.

The shelling and gunfire in the north of Sanaa was heard across the capital, as Sunni Islamist militiamen battled the rebels prompting an exodus of terrified residents, an AFP correspondent reported.

A week of fighting between the two sides has left dozen of people dead and forced the suspension of all flights into or out of Sanaa airport, which lies within the battle zone.

There was no let-up in the fighting during the night despite an after-dark curfew ordered by President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi.

The fighting centred on the campus of Al-Iman University, a bastion of Sunni Islamists that the Shiite rebels have been trying to capture, witnesses said.

It came despite the announcement by UN envoy Jamal Benomar late on Saturday that a deal had been reached after "intense consultations with all the political parties, including (rebel movement) Ansarullah."

Benomar did not specifically mention a ceasefire nor did he say when the deal would be signed, although he said preparations were under way for the signing.

He said the accord will be a "national document that will advance the path of peaceful change, and will lay the foundations for national partnership and for security and stability in the country".

He said he regretted the continuing bloodshed and reiterated that the "time has now come to overcome narrow interests and that the higher national interest should prevail".

Forces allied to the government have been battling to halt the rebels, who swept into Sanaa from their mountain stronghold in the far north last month and set up armed protest camps across the capital to press their demands.

Hadi has called the rebel offensive a "coup attempt".

  • Streets deserted as residents flee -

He has agreed to involve the rebels in the formation of a new government to replace the unpopular administration that imposed austerity measures, including a fuel price hike, earlier this year.

He has also agreed to partially reverse the price hike.

But the rebels have demanded posts in key state institutions as part of a push for greater political clout.

The fighting in the north of the capital has raged continuously since Thursday when nearly 40 people were killed in a single day.

Two prominent opponents of the rebels -- Islamist cleric Abdel Majid al-Zindani and General Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, an army commander whose troops played a prominent role in a 2011 uprising that forced veteran strongman Ali Abdullah Saleh from power -- are both inside the Al-Iman University campus, multiple sources said.

Residents of northern districts have begun to flee their homes, an AFP correspondent reported.

The streets of the capital were largely deserted as shops remained closed and the education ministry ordered schools to suspend lessons indefinitely.

Sanaa University told students to stay on holiday until mid-October after its campus was hit by shelling.

One of the capital's main markets, the Ali Mohsen Souk, has been closed for three days, which residents said had started to cause problems in obtaining fruit and vegetables.

Yemen has been swept by political turmoil ever since Saleh was forced from power.

Al-Qaeda loyalists have carried out persistent deadly attacks on the security forces while separatist protests have rocked the formerly independent south.

The rebels hail from the Zaidi Shiite community, a minority in the mostly Sunni nation but the majority community in the northern highlands, including the Sanaa region.

Also known as Huthis from the name of their leading family, they have battled the government on and off for a decade from their stronghold of Saada in the far north.

mou/mh/kir/mm

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

Myanmar: Relief items, foodstuffs donated to flood victims in Palauk

Myanmar - ReliefWeb News - 13 hours 24 min ago
Source: New Light of Myanmar Country: Myanmar

Palauk, 20 Sept — A ceremony to donate supply items to flood victims was held in Pyichar Village of Palauk Townshipin Taninthayi Region on 18 September. The Taninthayi Region Minister, the deputy commissioner of the district, departmental officials, NGOs and well-wishers donated 38 bags of rice and foodstuffs worth K794,500. Alinyaungchi (Dawei) Group relief items, KDN Group K1 million and Myeik Sasana Area (Head Office) K500,000 and personal goods to 91 flood victim households.

Palauk IPRD

Philippines: NDDRMC Update Sitrep No. 05 re Monitoring Activities on the Alert Status of Mayon Volcano

Philippines - ReliefWeb News - 13 hours 29 min ago
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines preview

Alert Level 3 remains in effect as of 8:00 AM, 20 September 2014, which means that magma is at the crater and that hazardous eruption is possible within weeks. Mayon Volanno's seismic network recorded 22 volcanic earthquakes and 77 rockfall events during the past 24-hour observation period as of 1600H 19th September 2014.

Philippines: MDRRMC Update SitRep No.6 re Effects of Tropical Storm MARIO (Fung-Wong)

Philippines - ReliefWeb News - 13 hours 33 min ago
Source: Government of the Philippines Country: Philippines preview

Tropical Storm "MARIO" maintained its strength and continues to move closer to southern Taiwan with the following data:

Somalia: IGAD commends Somalia Government for Jubbaland Reconciliation Conference

Somalia - ReliefWeb News - 13 hours 50 min ago
Source: Intergovernmental Authority on Development Country: Somalia

18 September 2014, Nairobi, Kenya: The IGAD congratulates the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) for its leadership in organizing the reconciliation conference of Jubbaland communities in Kismayo yesterday.

The historic event facilitated by IGAD with the support from the United Nations and European Union Somalia Offices ushers in a new dawn of peace and stability for Somalia as a whole and Jubbaland in particular. It was graced by presence of the President, H.E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud.

Acknowledging the critical role of the Interim Jubbaland Administration leadership in its efforts to have sustainable peace in the region, Amb. Mohamed Affey, the IGAD Special Envoy to Somalia appealed to all the leaders to seize the opportunity and play constructive role of reconciling the people. “We are very proud to have facilitated the conference that provides fresh hope geared towards revitalized peace and prosperity for the entire Somalia,” stated the Special Envoy, adding that IGAD would continue to support the FGS in its state formation efforts.

He urged the international community to remain engaged and invest in Somalia and her people for sustainable peace to prevail. Amb. Affey further thanked the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) troops for their bravery and support to the Somali people to defeat the forces of evil. ##

For further information contact:

Mr. Brazille Musumba | Communications and Media Advisor | IGAD Secretariat |
E-mail: brazille.musumba@igad.int | Nairobi | Kenya

Syrian Arab Republic: IS fighters close in on Syria border town as thousands flee

Iraq - ReliefWeb News - 14 hours 6 min ago
Source: Agence France-Presse Country: Iraq, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey

09/21/2014 10:06 GMT

by Bulent Kilic

SURUC, September 21, 2014 (AFP) - Islamic State militants closed in on Syria's third-largest Kurdish town on Sunday as tens of thousands fled in terror across the border into Turkey.

The UN refugee agency said as many as 70,000 Syrian Kurds had poured into Turkey since guards cut barbed wire to open the border on Friday.

Kurdish fighters in the area, backed by reinforcements from Turkey, are battling to hold off the jihadists' advance on the strategic border town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds.

The IS group has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria, declaring a "caliphate", imposing its harsh interpretation of Islamic law and committing widespread atrocities including beheadings and crucifixions.

Local officials have warned of potential massacres should IS extremists take control of further territory in Kurdish parts of Syria, and have pleaded for an international intervention.

But despite promises by Washington to expand its air campaign against IS in Iraq to Syria, there were no signs yet of US strikes in the country.

UNHCR said it feared the massive influx of refugees would only grow.

"Turkish government authorities and UNHCR are preparing for the possibility of hundreds of thousands more refugees arriving over the coming days, as the battle... forces more people to flee," it said in a statement.

  • 'Waiting for a miracle' -

IS fighters have been advancing on Ain al-Arab since late Tuesday, hoping to seize it and cement their control over a large part of Syria's northern border with Turkey.

On Sunday, jihadist fighters were within just 10 kilometres (six miles) of Ain al-Arab, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, said.

Kurdish militia have lost 27 fighters since the jihadists launched their advance, the Observatory said, while IS has lost at least 37 of its militants.

The jihadists have captured more than 60 villages around Ain al-Arab over the past five days, and some 300 Kurdish fighters have entered Syria from Turkey to reinforce the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighting IS, the Observatory said.

"The IS came to our village and threatened everyone. They bombed our village and destroyed all the houses. They beheaded those who chose to stay," Mohammed Isa, 43, told AFP after fleeing across the border with his family of seven.

Mustefa Ebdi, a Kobane resident and local journalist, said the streets of the town -- once home to about 50,000 people -- were virtually empty.

"Most of the women and children have left Kobane, but there are thousands of Kurdish men who have taken up arms and are ready to defend the city," he told AFP by telephone, adding that the fighters would have a hard time matching the heavy weapons of IS.

"We need one US airplane to strike those barbarians, where is this is international coalition?" he said. "We are waiting for a miracle."

He said the situation in villages taken by IS was dire.

"People are being executed, we don't know exact numbers," Ebdi said, breaking into tears.

The Syrian opposition National Coalition has urged foreign air strikes to "stop mass atrocities" if IS advances into Ain al-Arab.

The United States has said it is prepared to carry out air strikes against IS in Syria, despite warnings from President Bashar al-Assad's regime against violating its airspace.

Washington has organised a coalition of more than 40 countries to support its campaign against the jihadists. US warplanes have so far launched 183 air strikes targeting IS vehicles, checkpoints and outposts across Iraq.

  • Wife appeals for British hostage -

International outrage has grown over the group's atrocities including the on-camera beheadings of two US journalists and a British aid worker.

The wife of a British taxi driver being held hostage by the jihadists released a statement on Saturday urging his captors to free him.

Alan Henning, a 47-year-old father of two, volunteered to drive a humanitarian aid convoy to Syria for a Muslim charity but was captured 10 months ago by IS.

In the statement his wife Barbara Henning urged his captors to "see it in their hearts to release my husband".

"Alan is a peaceful, selfless man who left his family and his job as a taxi driver in the UK to drive in a convoy all the way to Syria with his Muslim colleagues and friends to help those most in need," his wife said.

"I cannot see how it could assist any state's cause to allow the world to see a man like Alan dying."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was due later Sunday to meet some of the 46 Turks released on Saturday after being held by the jihadists in Iraq for more than three months.

It was unclear how the group, abducted from Turkey's consulate in Mosul, had been freed, though Erdogan has referred to a "secret operation".

burs-mm/kir

© 1994-2014 Agence France-Presse

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