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  • RSS BBC News – Africa

    • Reeva Steenkamp shot in 'rapid fire' April 16, 2014
      A forensics expert contradicts police ballistics testimony by telling the trial of Oscar Pistorius that his girlfriend was shot in quick succession.
    • Remittance fees 'hurt Africans' April 16, 2014
      Communities in sub-Saharan Africa are being "hurt" by high fees charged by money transfer operators, charity Comic Relief says.
    • Fate of Nigeria kidnap girls unclear April 16, 2014
      Mystery surrounds the fate of more than 100 teenage girls abducted from a school in the remote north-east of Nigeria.
    • Head of oldest African park shot April 16, 2014
      The Belgian director of Africa's oldest national park - Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo - is shot and wounded in an ambush.
    • 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.
    • 'Last' Chadian soldier leaves CAR April 16, 2014
      Chad has withdrawn all its peacekeepers from the Central African Republic, an official confirms, after accusations they sided with Muslim rebels.
    • South Sudan rebels 'seize' oil hub April 15, 2014
      Rebel forces in South Sudan say they have recaptured the oil hub of Bentiu and want oil companies to halt operations.
    • Elite marathon runner misses flight April 15, 2014
      A London Marathon runner from Sierra Leone is missing after she disappeared and failed to catch a flight home.
    • 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.
    • Rwandan musician and journalist held April 14, 2014
      One of Rwanda's best-known musicians and a leading journalist are arrested over their alleged links to an opposition group and rebels.
    • Video link trial for Gaddafi's son April 14, 2014
      A Libyan court rules that the late Colonel Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, and other Gaddafi officials being held outside Tripoli, can be tried via video-link.
    • VIDEO: Hunt for 100 abducted girls in Nigeria April 16, 2014
      Security forces in Borno State in Nigeria are searching for dozens of teenage girls abducted by suspected members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial day 23 - in 60 secs April 16, 2014
      The girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius was shot in quick succession as she fell down, a forensics expert has told the South African athlete's murder trial.
    • AUDIO: 'Killing books' in Libya April 15, 2014
      Libyan author Mansour Bushnaf says Libya does not have much of reading culture because under Col Muammar Gaddafi, people were afraid of books.
    • VIDEO: At site of Nigeria bus station blast April 14, 2014
      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
      The Egyptian government is turning to its traditional rubbish collectors - the Zabaleen - to revolutionise Cario's waste disposal industry.
    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial day 21 - in 60 secs April 14, 2014
      The prosecutor at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial suggests the South African athlete is using his emotions "as an escape".
    • 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

    • Search for S Korea ferry passengers April 17, 2014
      Emergency services continue to search for nearly 300 people unaccounted for after a ferry carrying more than 470 sank off South Korea.
    • Key Geneva talks over Ukraine crisis April 17, 2014
      Senior officials from the US, Russia, the EU and Ukraine meet in Geneva as differences over the crisis in eastern Ukraine deepen.
    • 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.
    • Busiest Easter day on roads expected 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.
    • 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.
    • First Heartbleed 'hacker' arrested April 16, 2014
      A 19-year-old Canadian citizen is charged with hacking into the Canada Revenue Agency's website, becoming the first arrest in relation to the Heartbleed security breach.
    • Blakelock family 'must feel angry' April 16, 2014
      Nicholas Jacobs, the man cleared of killing PC Keith Blakelock in 1985, says he would feel "angry and disappointed" if he was a member of the police officer's family.
    • Argentina girl kept years in garage April 17, 2014
      Police in Argentina say they have rescued a teenage girl who had been starved, beaten and kept in a garage for nine years by her foster parents.
    • Spy leaks 'criminally irresponsible' April 17, 2014
      Ex-CIA contractor Edward Snowden risked the lives of secret agents by leaking documents containing their names, Conservative MP Liam Fox says.
    • Don't axe 2021 census, MPs advise April 17, 2014
      It is "too soon" to decide whether to scrap the national census, and the 2021 survey should go ahead, MPs advise.
    • Power cut hits north of Scotland April 16, 2014
      A severe power cut leaves large areas of northern Scotland without electricity, with almost 200,000 properties said to have been affected.
    • 10,000 new drivers 'lost licences' April 17, 2014
      About 10,000 new drivers had their licences revoked after receiving six or more penalty points in 2012, Newsbeat finds through a Freedom of Information request.
    • Cancer hopes and ferry disaster - papers April 16, 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.
    • Jockey Club makes record profits April 17, 2014
      The Jockey Club, the organisation behind the UK's leading horseracing events, reports record profits for last year of £22m.
    • Row erupts over removed Banksy work April 16, 2014
      A row breaks out over the ownership of a work of art by "guerrilla artist" Banksy after it was taken from a Bristol street.
    • Manchester City 2-2 Sunderland April 16, 2014
      Manchester City's Premier League title hopes are dealt a blow after they are held to a draw by bottom side Sunderland.
    • Everton 2-3 Crystal Palace April 16, 2014
      Everton hand the initiative back to Arsenal in the race for fourth as they suffer a surprise 3-2 defeat to Crystal Palace.
    • Ebdon misses out on Crucible spot April 16, 2014
      Peter Ebdon fails to qualify for the World Championship for the first time since turning professional.
    • Bale winner sees Real lift Copa del Rey April 16, 2014
      Gareth Bale scores a brilliant late goal as Real Madrid defeat Barcelona 2-1 in the Copa del Rey final in Valencia.
    • Scott earns Arsenal point in opener April 16, 2014
      Alex Scott's goal ensures FA Cup holders Arsenal opened their Women's Super League season with a 1-1 draw at Notts County.
  • 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.
    • U.S. calls for more investment-friendly Indian government April 17, 2014
      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.
    • Obama, Republicans openly feud over immigration legislation April 16, 2014
      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.
    • Two incompatible gun ballot measures lead in Washington state April 16, 2014
      OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - Two incompatible ballot measures on background checks for gun buyers in Washington state enjoy majority support in a poll released on Tuesday, but the one advancing stricter gun controls is more popular.
    • Detroit pension deal approved by one retirement system April 16, 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.
    • Wisconsin passes law to curb private custody transfers of children April 16, 2014
      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.
    • Obama, Biden visit Pennsylvania to promote job-training plan April 16, 2014
      OAKDALE, Penn. (Reuters) - President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden took a trip to a Pennsylvania community college on Wednesday to promote a plan to train workers for skills they need for hard-to-fill jobs.
    • Former New York Mayor Bloomberg to spend $50 million on gun control April 16, 2014
      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.
    • Obama looks to salvage Asia 'pivot' as allies fret about China April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON/MANILA (Reuters) - When a Philippine government ship evaded a Chinese blockade in disputed waters of the South China Sea last month, a U.S. Navy plane swooped in to witness the dramatic encounter.
    • Obama's departing health chief mulls U.S. Senate run: report April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Departing Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who took withering criticism over the botched rollout of President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate in Kansas, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.
    • F-35 fighter jet to make first trans-Atlantic flight in July April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Defense Department has approved the first trans-Atlantic flight of Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet in July to take part in two international air shows near London, U.S. and British officials said Wednesday.
    • HUD's Donovan says U.S. Senate housing bill is best chance of reform April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's top housing official on Wednesday said a proposed Senate bill provides the best chance to overhaul the mortgage finance system this decade, but more debate over down payment requirements for government-backed loans is needed.
    • Paul, Rubio lead potential Republican 2016 contenders in spending April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Groups supporting Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio lead the pack of potential Republican presidential candidates in spending money and investing in possible campaigns this year, more than 20 months before the first votes are cast in 2016.
    • Ex-con, ex-governor Edwards raises $33,000 in Louisiana run for Congress April 16, 2014
      (Reuters) - Former Louisiana Governor, Edwin Edwards, a convicted felon now running for the U.S. Congress, has raised nearly $33,000 in donations since launching his campaign last month, according to a contribution report.
    • Michigan, White House discuss federal money for bankrupt Detroit: report April 16, 2014
      (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.
    • Two incompatible gun ballot measures lead in Washington state April 16, 2014
      OLYMPIA, Washington (Reuters) - Two incompatible ballot measures on background checks for gun buyers in Washington state enjoy majority support in a poll released on Tuesday, but the one advancing stricter gun controls is more popular.
    • Pentagon says automatic budget cuts would hit F-35, other weapons April 16, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon on Tuesday detailed $48.3 billion in cuts to major weapons programs like Lockheed Martin Corp's F-35 fighter jet that would kick in from fiscal 2016 to 2019 if Congress does not reverse automatic budget cuts that are to resume in 2016.
    • Senators press Delphi for answers on recalled GM cars April 15, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Lawmakers probing how General Motors used faulty ignition switches in many vehicles are turning their scrutiny to the supplier of the part, Delphi Automotive.
  • RSS CNN.com – Africa

    • Luxury shoes made in Ghana April 15, 2014
      Fred Deegbe was standing outside a shop window five years ago, marveling at the shiny pair of wing-tip Oxfords he'd just bought, when he started wondering whether such beautiful designer shoes could ever be produced in his country, Ghana.
    • Meet Nigeria's 'Mark Zuckerberg' April 3, 2014
      At 23, many people around the world are still at university -- at that age, Gossy Ukanwoke had already started one.
    • Why we need more geek girls April 3, 2014
      "It was like taking a big leap of faith."
    • 'Uncle Ebo' revives Ghanaian theater April 15, 2014
      African Voices meets James Ebo Whyte a passionate storyteller with a series of successful plays to his credit.
    • How medics saved lives at Westgate 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.
    • Embracing Ghana's natural beauty April 1, 2014
      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.
    • Secrets of 'gorilla whisperer' March 25, 2014
      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
      It's almost impossible for a photographer to find fresh visual perspectives these days. Brooklyn-based Zack Seckler had to travel to a different continent and strap into an ultra-light aircraft to find one. His Botswana series presents the country from between 50 and 500 feet, providing a unique and captivating view of the savannah.
    • Holy water at baptism festival March 25, 2014
      France has Lourdes, but Ethiopia has Gondar -- with thousands of pilgrims swimming in its holy waters to celebrate the baptism of Jesus.
    • Pop art condoms saving lives April 15, 2014
      The Center for African Family Studies in Nairobi has teamed up with Kenyan artist Michael Soi to create eye-catching condom wrappers to promote safe sex and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among young people.
    • Africa's most endangered April 16, 2014
      Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened. Find out more about its most endangered animals.
    • Ebola: A swift and bloody killer April 16, 2014
      It took only moments to feel the impact of what was happening here.
    • 'I lost my fingers, made new ones' April 14, 2014
      A South African carpenter lost his fingers in an accident -- now he's making mechanical fingers and hands for others.
    • Kenya double in London Marathon April 13, 2014
      World record-holder Wilson Kipsang completed a Kenyan double at the London Marathon Sunday as home hope Mo Farah disappointed on his debut over the 42km distance.
    • Pistorius at mercy of 'bull dog?' April 11, 2014
      He's known as the "bull dog" in South Africa's legal circles, and just two days in to Gerrie Nel's merciless cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius, it's easy to see why.
    • 'Now is the time for Afro-realism' April 11, 2014
      Over the last 20 years, the narrative on the African continent has shifted from Afro-pessimism to Afro-optimism. The truth lies somewhere in between. Now is the time for Afro-realism: for sound policies based on honest data, aimed at delivering results.
    • Africa's tastiest street food April 11, 2014
      Here are your photos of the tastiest -- and most unusual -- African street food.
    • Most stylish tribe in Africa? April 10, 2014
      A South African designer is making sure that when Xhosa boys come of age, they're dressed to the nines.
    • Egypt's sex pest epidemic? April 9, 2014
      A university student cowers in a pharmacy as a mob outside threatens her with sexual violence. A law student is groped by her classmates, the dean cites her "inappropriate attire." Frightening allegations but advocates say this is an everyday reality for women in Cairo.
    • 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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Security in the North – Animals in camps

Posted by African Press International on April 3, 2012

SAHEL: Malian refugees risk being “forgotten”

Malian refugees in Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou
This is part of a series of reports on the crisis in northern Mali exploring the MNLA rebellion, and the impact of AQIM

Mali is facing its “worst humanitarian crisis for 20 years” due to a combination of food insecurity affecting around three million people, and conflict-induced displacement in the north.

The whereabouts and status of some 93,500 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Mali is uncertain; in addition, 113,000 refugees have fled the north to neighbouring countries.

Between 175,000 and 220,000 children will be acutely malnourished this year and access to northern Mali and refugee destinations across the border is problematic. The current problems are compounded by a perennial lack of real interest in the Sahel.

“Up to now aid agencies have not had great access to these areas… It’s hard to sell this crisis, it’s quite forgotten,” says Helen Caux, West Africa communications head at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The arrival of so many refugees comes at a difficult time for many of Mali’s neighbouring countries, where nine million people are facing a serious food crisis after a poor harvest in 2011, with severe malnutrition rates in children of more than 15 percent being reported in some areas.

Malians began to flee the north in January when fighting flared up between the Malian army and the Tuareg rebel group, the MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad). 

Alongside host governments, the UNHCR is leading the refugee response in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania. It says some 113,000 Malians have fled across the border – 40,000 to Mauritania, 23,000 to Burkina Faso (government statistics), and 19,000 to Niger, as well as other destinations.

Initial estimates were higher, partly because many migrants were Nigerien returnees fleeing Mali, and because many Malians have since returned to their villages near the border. Thousands may also have also fled fighting in Tessalit and Aguelhoc to Algeria, but the government, which is not very open to outside help, is leading the response, and UNHCR has no official figures.

Up to 120,000 people in Mali are sheltering with relatives or friends in temporary settlements and host villages in and around areas of conflict such as Ménaka, Kidal - which is currently experiencing hostilities – and Gao, where MNLA rebels are reportedly surrounding the town and shoring up their positions.

Security in the north

The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (ICRC) has serious concerns about accessing the IDPs in more isolated areas of northern Mali, and for the security of its staff. Germain Mwehu, ICRC spokesperson, cited the example of Ménaka, in eastern Mali, which is now held by the MNLA. “Many of those who stayed are living on the periphery of the town. Food and shelter are our priorities and this is in an area very vulnerable to drought,” he told IRIN.

“People in Ménaka are very stressed about not knowing what to do. Should they try to leave for Niger? Should they stay put? Will the conflict resume? Will the government look to stage an offensive?”

Médecins du Monde was forced to scale down its activities in the north due to insecurity, but has since expanded them again. In spite of the insecurity, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) recently opened healthcare programmes around Kidal and Timbuktu. Johanne Sekkenes, head of MSF in the capital, Bamako, said the displaced who are less used to a nomadic existence are the most vulnerable.

The World Food Programme (WFP) is working closely with the ICRC in negotiating and signing agreements with more NGO partners to try to reach the displaced in the north with food aid, said WFP head Nancy Walters. The plan is to try to get aid to 1.2 million Malians, including the displaced – security, funding and access permitting – but thus far WFP has received just 38 percent of its requirements, said Walters.

Animals in camps

According to WFP in Niger, food is being distributed to all the Malian refugees at different sites, but not yet to the local population.

“People are arriving [from Mali] exhausted, hungry and in need of the very basics,” said Chris Palusky, food crisis response manager for Mali and Niger with NGO, World Vision. “But Niger is struggling to cope with the influx of refugees, and the extra strain is pushing families to the brink of survival.”

Most of those who arrived at the three sites near the Niger-Mali border have come from Ménaka, about 50km inside Mali, and many left behind all their possessions, and even their animals.

Regarding those who brought their livestock – a principal source of livelihood to agro-pastoralist Tuaregs – UNHCR is having to rethink its idea of a refugee camp, said Caux, as animals cannot be cooped up in camps.

Urgent solutions are needed as water is scarce: “Up to now, locals have been sharing their wells, but in the long run this will cause problems,” she told IRIN. Much of the available water is not clean and potable water must be brought in by aid agencies.

The plan is to try to separate Malians into those with animals – who will be settled in refugee “sites” which are more flexible – and those without. Many northern Malians are semi-nomadic and do not feel comfortable in settled camps. “It is hard for them to adapt to this environment,” said Caux, noting that many would prefer to stay in border villages, despite the greater potential for insecurity.

Thus far, UNHCR has transported 2,000 of the 4,700 refugees who were sheltering in Sinegodar village near the Mali border, to a camp in Abala, 84km away from the border. Other Malians are staying in Mangaize, where a more permanent site may be built if the government approves it, and in the area around Ayorou.

Burkina Faso

Most of the Malian refugees in Burkina Faso arrived in the Sahelian provinces of Oudalan and Soum in the drought-hit north, where the National Commission for Refugees (CONAREF) and UNHCR are now leading the response after a significantly slow start-up, said observers.

At a recent press conference, Ousmane Aga Dalla, the head of the government body coordinating assistance to the Malian refugees (CAREM), said there were no major concerns and communities were largely welcoming the refugees, even when there was a temporary interruption the food and emergency funding pipeline.

Despite the myriad problems that agencies face, Caux said she saw some reason for feeling relieved. Although seriously weakened by the journey and having to sleep out in the open air, and facing enormous difficulties in trying to preserve their livelihoods, security and collective future, most of the refugees who arrived were in a relatively decent state of health, said UNHCR and MSF, with no major epidemics having broken out, and few deaths of children en route.

aj/bb/ch/he/cb source www.irinnews.org

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