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  • RSS BBC News – Africa

    • Pistorius forensic tests challenged April 17, 2014
      The tests carried out by a forensic expert for Oscar Pistorius' murder trial are being rigorously challenged by the state prosecutor in South Africa.
    • Algeria votes on Bouteflika's future April 17, 2014
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      Officials in Guinea-Bissau say a run-off vote will be held next month after no candidate won an outright victory in Sunday's presidential election.
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      Communities in sub-Saharan Africa are being "hurt" by high fees charged by money transfer operators, charity Comic Relief says.
    • UN mulls medal for peacekeepers April 16, 2014
      The UN Security Council hears a proposal to create a medal for bravery in UN peacekeeping, to be named after a Senegalese soldier who saved lives during the Rwandan genocide.
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    • 'Last' Chadian soldier leaves CAR April 16, 2014
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      Rebel forces in South Sudan say they have recaptured the oil hub of Bentiu and want oil companies to halt operations.
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    • Jordanian envoy kidnapped in Libya April 15, 2014
      Masked gunmen kidnap Jordan's ambassador to Libya in the capital, Tripoli, in an attack that left his driver wounded, officials say.
    • More than 70 killed in Nigeria blast April 14, 2014
      More than 70 people are killed in a powerful explosion at a crowded bus station near Nigeria's capital, Abuja, officials say.
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      Libyan author Mansour Bushnaf says Libya does not have much of reading culture because under Col Muammar Gaddafi, people were afraid of books.
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      A powerful bomb blast has ripped through a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, killing at least 71 people.
    • VIDEO: Cleaning up Cairo's waste system April 14, 2014
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    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial day 21 - in 60 secs April 14, 2014
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    • VIDEO: Ghana's 'waste to wealth' initiative April 12, 2014
      Suzanne Vanhooymissen reports on the large and smaller-scale enterprises set up to segregate waste and encourage recycling in Ghana.
    • VIDEO: Stalemate for SA's platinum miners April 12, 2014
      Lerato Mbele reports on the impact of the platinum workers' strike in South Africa, which has so far lasted for almost three months.
  • RSS BBC News – Home

    • Weather blights S Korea ferry search April 17, 2014
      Bad weather, murky water and strong currents are hampering the search for survivors of a stricken South Korean ferry, from which almost 300 people are missing.
    • Putin cautious on force in Ukraine April 17, 2014
      Russia's President Putin says he hopes he will not have to exercise his "right" to send troops into Ukraine, as crisis talks are held with Western leaders in Geneva.
    • Co-op Group reports £2.5bn loss April 17, 2014
      The Co-operative Group reports losses of £2.5bn, the worst results in its 150-year history, after what its chief executive calls a "disastrous" year.
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      A lorry driver is arrested following a five-vehicle pile up on the M26 in Kent in which two people died and seven others were injured.
    • RBS: No evidence of small firm fraud April 17, 2014
      Royal Bank of Scotland says law firm Clifford Chance has cleared it over allegations that it forced small firms to close so it could make a profit.
    • Pensioners could get death estimate April 17, 2014
      Retirees could be told how long they are likely to live after stopping work, says pensions minister Steve Webb.
    • Catholic Church refuses poll request April 17, 2014
      The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales turns down a request by members for the results of a sexual ethics survey to be made public.
    • Lamb takeaways 'often another meat' April 16, 2014
      Takeaway owners are to face a new testing programme, after a watchdog found nearly a third of lamb takeaways it checked contained a different meat.
    • Royals visit bush fire-ravaged town April 17, 2014
      The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meet families whose homes were destroyed by bush fires that ravaged parts of Australia last year.
    • Busy roads warning ahead of Easter April 17, 2014
      Motorists are braced for what is set to be the busiest day of the year on the roads so far, with up to 16m cars expected to be used over Easter.
    • George Alagiah treated for cancer April 17, 2014
      BBC News presenter George Alagiah is diagnosed with bowel cancer and will take a break from broadcasting while he receives treatment.
    • Palace loss should not stand - Cardiff April 17, 2014
      The BBC obtains a letter sent by Cardiff City that says the defeat by Crystal Palace in early April should not stand.
    • Cancer hopes and ferry disaster - papers April 17, 2014
      The prospects for the latest clinical trials of cancer drugs make some front pages, while many feature photographs of a ferry sinking off South Korea.
    • Removed Banksy taken to city museum April 17, 2014
      The Banksy picture at the centre of a row over ownership is moved from a youth club by police and taken to Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery.
    • Leigh and Loach selected for Cannes April 17, 2014
      Veteran British directors Mike Leigh and Ken Loach see their new films selected for competition at this year's Cannes Film Festival.
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      Defending champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is drawn to face Robin Hull in the first round of the World Championship in Sheffield.
    • Man City 'suffered Liverpool hangover' April 16, 2014
      Manuel Pellegrini says his Manchester City side were still thinking about defeat at Liverpool as they were held by Sunderland.
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      England's Lee Westwood shoots an opening-round 65 at the Malaysian Open to lead by one shot from Nicolas Colsaerts.
  • RSS Reuters: Politics

    • California Governor Brown wants rainy-day fund in constitution April 17, 2014
      SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California Governor Jerry Brown on Wednesday stepped up his efforts to enshrine a rainy day fund in the state's constitution, stealing some thunder from Republicans backing a similar measure as he seeks an unprecedented fourth term.
    • Detroit pension deal approved by one retirement system April 17, 2014
      (Reuters) - The board of Detroit's General Retirement System on Wednesday approved economic terms of a settlement with the city that include cuts to pension benefits, putting in place another key component of Detroit's effort to exit bankruptcy by October.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday urged the Indian government that emerges from ongoing elections to follow economic policies that encourage investment, saying Washington would like to see bilateral trade grow to $500 billion a year.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Partisan bickering over immigration reform legislation intensified on Wednesday as President Barack Obama and House of Representatives Republicans accused each other of standing in the way of progress one year after bipartisan Senate legislation was introduced.
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      (Reuters) - The board of Detroit's General Retirement System on Wednesday approved economic terms of a settlement with the city that include cuts to pension benefits, putting in place another key component of Detroit's effort to exit bankruptcy by October.
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      NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wisconsin has adopted a law to limit private custody transfers of children, the first law of its kind in the United States, responding to a Reuters investigation that exposed the dangers of the unregulated practice.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ramped up his efforts to fight gun violence on Wednesday with a plan to spend $50 million on a grassroots network to organize voters on gun control.
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      (Reuters) - Michigan officials and President Barack Obama's Administration are discussing a plan to free up $100 million in federal money to aid Detroit's retired city workers, the Detroit Free Press reported on Tuesday.
    • Bill signed allowing surprise inspections of Arizona abortion clinics April 16, 2014
      PHOENIX (Reuters) - Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on Tuesday signed into a law a bill allowing state health authorities to conduct surprise inspections of abortion clinics without first obtaining a warrant, handing another victory to abortion foes.
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  • RSS CNN.com – Africa

    • Luxury shoes made in Ghana April 15, 2014
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      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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      She started her business with just £100, lugging her beauty bag from door to door, but some 25 years later Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
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      Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened. Find out more about its most endangered animals.
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      Zain Verjee visits Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park -- the home of half of the world's endangered mountain gorilla population.
    • Savannah from the sky March 13, 2014
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    • Rating Pistorius's defense April 16, 2014
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    • Egypt's sex pest epidemic? April 9, 2014
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    • Day that changed Kenya forever April 9, 2014
      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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Food and pasture in short supply for Tuareg communities in north

Posted by African Press International on February 20, 2012

MALI: Aid gets into gear, but must navigate no-go zones

Food and pasture in short supply for Tuareg communities in north (file photo)

DAKAR,  – Aid workers are facing a trio of challenges in northern Mali: extensive drought-induced food insecurity and pasture shortages; conflict between Tuaregs and the Malian army; and the resulting displacement of thousands more Tuaregs, say aid agencies on the ground.

The country has some three million people who are predicted to be vulnerable to severe food insecurity, and is one of eight Sahelian states facing food insecurity this year due to a mixture of poor 2011 rains, region-wide high food prices, chronic vulnerability and poverty.

“All expectations are that the current security crisis will make food insecurity worse,” said Mali country director for Catholic Relief Services, Timothy Bishop.

In its latest February Sahel strategy, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in West Africa estimates over 10 million people will be food insecure this year, unless they receive help soon.

Among the seven affected areas – Kayes, Kouklikoro, Ségou, Mopti, Sikasso, Timbuktu and Gao – the latter two have seen fighting between Tuareg group Movement National pour la Liberation de l’Azawad (MNLA) and the Malian army.

Fighting in and around Ménaka in Gao Region has led to 26,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs); while 4,000 are displaced in villages around Augelhoc, 150km northeast of Kidal; and thousands more are expected to be displaced in Kidal’s Tessalit area, as well as Léré and Niafunké in Timbuktu, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Meanwhile, a yet-to-be-confirmed figure of 15,000 Malians have fled across the border to Niger; some 13,000 to Mauritania, and 8,000 to Burkina Faso, according to UNHCR.

Mali in 2012
22% of farmers or agro-pastoralists produced a “medium” harvest in 2011, the other 78 percent produced virtually nothing.
Acute malnutrition levels are on average at 10.8 percent among under-fives in affected regions.
The number of affected communes has risen from 150 to 190, according to January government estimates.
Cereal prices across the country are 50-60% higher overall than the five-year average.
60% of pastoralists are already on the move, which is highly unusual at this time of year.
Agencies operating in the north include UNICEF, WFP, Africare, Save the Children, Catholic Relief Services, Islamic Relief, Action against Hunger.
Out of a projected US$724 million required for the Sahel, some $140 million has been received thus far.
Source: Mali Agriculture Ministry, WFP, OCHA, FTS

Most of those who have fled are in very bad shape, and were already suffering from food insecurity, say aid agencies.

Scale-up “complicated”

In northern Mali, while most aid agencies are continuing to work, “it is hard to scale up if there is a war situation going on,” said Walters, while Germain Mwehu, a spokesperson with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Niamey, told IRIN: “The situation is very complicated”.

NGO Médecins du Mondes pulled out of its Kidal office recently due to insecurity.

ICRC is one of the few agencies to operate in northern Mali, with sub-offices in Timbuktu, Kidal and Gao. “We already have programmes for the food crisis; now we also have displacements because of the conflict, as well as displacement of people who were drought victims,” said Mwehu, adding that the organization is negotiating with all parties to the conflict to try to maintain humanitarian access.

The Malian Red Cross has been distributing basics to some displaced households.

Given there are still many “no-go” areas in the north, agencies have been discussing the possibility of humanitarian corridors there, said Walters, though nothing has yet been identified.

For several years insecurity has driven WFP to work only through partners in the north – in this case ICRC and NGO Trans-Sahara.

The previous Tuareg rebellion ended in 2008. The north is also known for its extensive organized crime networks, which traffic drugs, arms and other contraband; and has also become a hub for Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Joint Mali-Mauritania military operations against AQIM in August 2011 increased the risk of conflict and retaliation in northern Mali, say security specialists.

Adding to the difficulties in scaling up in the north are “enormous” logistical constraints, including huge distances to cover, low population density, and unpredictable population movements, says Mwehu.

“What is needed is an air service connecting Mopti, Kidal and Gao,” Walters told IRIN.

Cereal stock shortages

Despite the myriad challenges, some agencies are starting to scale up their humanitarian response. WFP is starting some distributions through its wider nutrition programme this week, and has medium-term plans to triple caseloads in some areas.


Photo: OCHA
Population movements due to conflict as of 8th February (file photo) (See larger version of map)

Other agencies are coming in: The French branch of Médecins Sans Frontières, which has in the past held back from launching health and nutrition responses in the north, is now evaluating needs in Timbuktu and Gao said its Niger and Mali head Michel-Olivier Lacharité.

CRS is scaling up to distribute food to 125,000 in the Mopti region but this will cover just a small part of Mopti’s overall needs, said Bishop. “There is no doubt that all aid agency interventions are going to be insufficient and the government of Mali will need to step up its reaction,” he said.

The government, which is generally proactive in food security early warning and response, distributed 4,710 tons around the country in December, and set aside additional amounts to respond to food needs in the north. However, the Food Security Commission says it has just under 10,000 tons of food available, while 40,000 tons is needed.

The fear is that without imminent response, already high acute malnutrition rates could rise further, say aid agency staff. Many households have just one or two weeks of cereal stocks remaining, according to a WFP December 2011 assessment.

Danger of mixed messages

Thus far a few donors have come forward, but there is not enough to mobilize large-scale responses yet, say aid agency staff.

One of the reasons donors have been slower to mobilize on Mali is because of mixed early warning messages, said Bishop. While some agencies rang the alert in December 2011, others said the harvest would be adequate to cover food insecure regions. Only in mid-January did coherent messaging as to the extent of the crisis come out.

It is only with the mounting security and displacement crisis that people have begun to realize Mali is now at equal risk as Niger or Mauritania, said Bishop.

ECHO (the EU humanitarian aid body) has made $7.6 million available, with more projected once it is clearer about which amounts to direct to various Sahelian countries over the coming weeks. WFP confirms it has US$3.5 million to spend on immediate humanitarian needs and it expects a further $5 million in the coming days – against projected needs of $48 million, according to Walters. “This funding is enabling us to go ahead in some small way,” she told IRIN.

The Swedish government has allocated $328,000 to humanitarian needs, and the ICRC and UN agencies are likely to issue appeals soon.

aj/cb
source www.irinnews.org

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