Saturday, 30th September 2023

East Africa

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Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said relations between Russia and South Sudan were developing "intensively".

Speaking at a meeting with the South Sudan President Salva Kiir in Moscow, Putin noted Russia was one of the first countries to recognise the sovereignty and independence of South Sudan.

"I must say we believe that we have a lot to do, primarily in the area of economic development," Putin added. 

Kiir said he was happy for the warm welcome and stressed that he was in Moscow "as an opening for our long work in the future."

South Sudan was one of the African countries present at the Russia-Africa summit in St. Petersburg.

The meeting took place as Kremlin seeks more allies amid the military campaign in Ukraine.

-Africa News

The breakaway region of Somaliland said it has no plans to discuss unity with Somalia, in an apparent rejection of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni's offer to mediate reunification talks between the two entities.

A statement by the Somaliland's foreign affairs ministry said Hargeisa would only agree to talks with Mogadishu if the agenda the future of both entities as separate states.

“Any dialogue that transpires between Somaliland and Somalia will not discuss unification, but rather how the two previously united countries can move forward separately,” Somaliland’s government said in a statement late on Sunday. 

Somaliland’s government declared autonomy from Somalia in 1991 but has not gained international recognition for independence.

Museveni's offer followed a meeting in Uganda with an envoy of Somaliland's president. He said that Somaliland's secession had frustrated efforts to build a strong and prosperous Somali state.

Somaliland has has been dealing with secessionist forces itself. Heavy fighting broke out between its forces and clan militiamen in and around the town of Las Anod in in February. 

The militiamen are seeking to break away from Somaliland to create their own state.

-Africa News

Four memorials commemorating the Tutsi genocide in Rwanda, during which at least 800,000 people were exterminated, became UNESCO world heritage sites on Wednesday, the UN organization announced.

"New inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Genocide memorial sites: Nyamata, Murambi, Gisozi and Bisesero", indicated UNESCO on X (ex-Twitter). These four sites commemorate the massacres which bloodied Rwanda over a hundred days between April and July 1994, targeting the Tutsi ethnic group but also moderate Hutus.

Located on Gisozi Hill a few kilometres from the centre of the capital Kigali, the Genocide Memorial, built in 1999 and inaugurated in 2004, is the main one of some 200 places of remembrance which dot "the country of a thousand hills". 

The site notably houses the remains of 250,000 people found in the streets, houses, mass graves and rivers of Kigali and its surroundings.

In the museum retracing the history of Rwanda, the visitor finds himself confronted with display cases displaying skulls, bone fragments, torn clothing, images of piled up corpses, portraits of victims and weapons - machetes, clubs, rifles - used by genocidaires.

The other sites classified by UNESCO were the scene of some of the bloodiest killings of the genocide. In the Nyamata church, about forty kilometers south of Kigali, 50,000 people who had sought refuge there were massacred in one day.

The building has been transformed "into a memorial representative of other churches in which the victims of the genocide died", states UNESCO on its website.

On Murambi Hill, about 150 km southwest of Kigali, local authorities and the former Rwandan armed forces called in April 1994 on the Tutsi population to regroup in a technical school group under construction under the pretext of guaranteeing their security, before massacring them. Between 45,000 and 50,000 people died there.

The Bisesero site notably commemorates the resistance led, with spears, machetes and sticks, by Tutsi against the genocidaires who murdered hundreds of people in the hills of this region in the west of the country. The Bisesero massacres are one of the most sensitive episodes of the genocide.

In June, French justice relaunched the investigation into the complaint of several associations, which accuse the forces of the French military-humanitarian mission Turquoise of having, from June 27 to 30, 1994, knowingly abandoned the Tutsi civilians taking refuge in the hills of Bisesero, allowing the massacre of hundreds of them to take place.

-Africa News

The United Nations has summoned the governments of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Qatar, as well as the European Union and the African Union, calling for increased support for humanitarian action as Sudan's neighbours face a constant influx of refugees and returnees.

700,000 children at risk of death

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), millions of people - particularly in Khartoum, Darfur and Kordofan - have no access to food, water, shelter, electricity, education or health care. 

Malnutrition rates are on the rise, pointing to premature death for 700,000 Sudanese children suffering from severe acute malnutrition. Half the population is acutely food insecure, and more than 6 million people are just one step away from starvation. Measles and other diseases are endemic, and sexual and gender-based violence takes a heavy toll on women and girls.

More than 7 million people, including 3.3 million children, have been driven from their homes, and more than 1 million have sought refuge in the Central African Republic, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

The international response plan must be strengthened

In the short term, aid to the population must be stepped up. The Humanitarian Response Plan for Sudan needs 2.6 billion dollars to help 18 million people until the end of the year. However, it is currently only 31% funded.

The Sudan Regional Refugee Assistance Plan, meanwhile, is only 27% funded and is seeking $1 billion to support refugees, returnees and host communities in five of Sudan's neighbouring countries.

At a pledging ceremony in Geneva in June, according to an OCHA and UNHCR press release, donors pledged nearly 1.5 billion dollars for the response in Sudan and the region.

-Africa News

United Nations (U.N.) agencies have reported the devastating loss of more than 1,200 young lives in Sudan's refugee camps, succumbing to suspected measles and malnutrition.

These statistics come amidst an ominous warning that thousands more, including vulnerable newborns, teeter on the brink of peril as we approach the year's end.

Speaking at a U.N. briefing in Geneva, Dr. Allen Maina, the chief of public health at the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), conveyed the tragic reality that over 1,200 children under the age of five have perished in the White Nile state since May. Dr. Maina's somber statement was underscored by his grim forecast: "Regrettably, we anticipate that these numbers will continue to rise."

UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, expressed grave concern for the "many thousands of newborns" among the 333,000 infants expected to be born before the year's close. These infants, along with their mothers, are in dire need of skilled delivery care.

However, in a nation where millions find themselves trapped in war-torn regions or displaced, and where critical medical supplies are in scarce supply, such crucial care is rapidly slipping beyond reach. James Elder, spokesperson for UNICEF, delivered this sobering message during the same briefing.

To compound the crisis, Sudan faces a relentless battle against severe malnutrition, with approximately 55,000 children requiring treatment each month. Shockingly, only a fraction of nutrition centers are operational, with less than one in 50 serving the capital city, Khartoum, and just one in ten functional in West Darfur.

The stark reality of this humanitarian catastrophe demands immediate global attention and intervention, as countless lives hang in the balance amidst the unforgiving backdrop of Sudan's ongoing conflict and healthcare crisis.

-Africa News

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