Category Archives: International

50 African Refugees Drown Off Yemen’s Coast

Refugees from migrant ship.

Refugees from migrant ship.

By Chuma Kisu

According to international reports a smuggler “deliberately drowned” up to 50 Somali and Ethiopian migrants in the sea off Yemen’s coast, the United Nations migration agency said.

The teenage migrants were trying to reach the Gulf countries via Yemen on Wednesday.

A statement of the International Organization for Migration (IMO) described the drownings in the Arabian Sea as “shocking and inhumane.”

“The survivors told our colleagues on the beach that the smuggler pushed them to the sea when he saw some ‘authority types’ near the coast,” said Laurent de Boeck, the Yemen mission chief for the International Organization for Migration.

“They also told us that the smuggler already has returned to Somalia to continue his business and pick up more migrants to bring to Yemen on the same route.”

Shortly after the drowning, IOM staff found shallow graves of 29 migrants on a beach in Shabwa, the UN agency said.

“The dead had been quickly buried by those who survived the smuggler’s deadly actions.”

The migrants were escaping the political instability and violence plaguing their nations. The IOM estimates that since January, 55,000 migrants have left the Horn of Africa to come to Yemen. Smugglers work in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.

More than 30,000 of those migrants are under age 18 and from Somalia or Ethiopia, while a third are estimated to be female.

According to reports the smuggler’s boat approaching Yemen on Wednesday, August 9, 2017was near the Shabwa coast. The IOM said the smuggler pushed 120 Ethiopians and Somalis into the sea. Medics provided care to dozens of survivors, but some left the beach before help arrived. Twenty-two people are missing.

The average age of the people headed to Yemen on Wednesday was 16.

US Gives to African Drought Relief

By Chuma Kisu

Parched land in Somalia after months of no rain.

Parched land in Somalia after months of no rain.

According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US gave $169 million to drought and food relief efforts in Ethiopia and Kenya.

USAID said in a statement that it had provided $137 million in aid for Ethiopia and nearly $33 million for Kenya.

The latest funding comes after the US pledged $639 million last month in urgent food assistance for Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen.

Increased aid comes as numerous countries in the region face crisis-level food shortages due to armed conflict, prolonged drought and economic upheaval that have also resulted in a lack of medical care, sanitation, shelter and safety.

Meteorologists have blamed a series of severe back-to-back droughts in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa region on fluctuations in ocean temperatures known as the Indian Ocean Dipole. While rain is expected early next year in Somalia it is unlikely to offer immediate relief.

The USAID statement said, “With this new funding, the United States is scaling up emergency food assistance, while providing specialized nutrition supplies to treat malnourished children, and also furnishing safe drinking water and essential health services.”

The funds for Kenya would help support refugees fleeing neighboring conflicts as well as Kenyans suffering from drought, the agency said. Rising food prices in Kenya have also been an ongoing concern.

The assistance for Ethiopia, which has also been struck by a severe drought, included enough food to feed 3 million people, USAID added.

While the hardest-hit area in Somali region of eastern Ethiopia is not plagued by conflict, it is remote with poor infrastructure and hard to reach.

“It is not a famine but it is rising up to the levels of getting close to famine,” said Matt Nims, acting director of Food for Peace at USAID. “That is why we want to act now so that we’re not into that stage.”

According to international reports the United Nations estimates that 795 million people worldwide are undernourished, mostly in developing countries. It has already warned of mass starvation in Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan.

Last month, The United Nations said that while many people in South Sudan are still going hungry, the worst of the famine had eased.

In Yemen, a two-year war has increased concerns about mass starvation and disease.

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Cameroon Train Crashes Killing One Person

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2016-10-21 17:38:59Z | | ÿÿÿÿÿ

Train crash in Cameroon, October 2016

By Chuma Kisu

According to international news sources one person was killed in the central west African country of Cameroon when a freight train operated by state rail company Camrail derailed this Wednesday, July 26, 2017.

This crash is less than one year after another Camrail train crash killed 79, an Camrail official said on Thursday.

Nine cars left the tracks on Wednesday near the town of Makondo, about 87 miles west of the Cameroon capital of Yaounde, said an official at Camrail. The official asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak about the crash.

“The train was carrying hydrocarbon products. Five cars completely overturned,” he said.

In reports one guard on the train died from injuries, he said. He did not say how many people had been on board. It was also not reported if others were injured.

Camrail, a unit of French industrial group Bollore, was determined to be “mainly to blame” for the derailment of a passenger train last October 2016. The Camrail train in October was going more than twice the speed limit, was overloaded and had defective brakes, according to a government report.

The government said at the time that Cameroonian President Paul Biya would review the concession agreement signed between the state of Cameroon and Camrail.

Akon Calls on Youth to Rebuild Africa

By Shujaa Kwanzaa

Akon speaks at Youth Connect Summit in Kigali, Rwanda

Akon speaks at Youth Connect Summit in Kigali, Rwanda

According to international reports, singer, songwriter and businessman Akon has called on African youth to play an active role in rebuilding the continent and not depend of their governments.

The American-born music star who once lived in St. Louis, Missouri, was addressing over 2,000 youth from all over Africa in Rwanda’s capital Kigali. He spoke during the final day of the maiden Youth Connect Africa Summit organized to shape the future of the continent’s youth. Akon’s parents are from Senegal.

“We have to be the driving force to rebuild Africa. We cannot depend on governments to do it for us. Their job is to lay down the law and make sure that there’s accountability for the things that we do,” he was quoted by local media.

Akon was further quoted as saying, “When I was growing as an entertainer, I said to myself, I don’t want to be remembered for just singing and dancing. Ultimately, I had to figure out what I can do that will help create a legacy. It hit me in the middle of the first song when the power just went off,” he said. Akon was making reference to his $1 billion solar power project aimed at providing electricity to some 600 million Africans.

Akon was named by his parents Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam. Thiam is the name of his father who once drummed with the National Ballet of Senegal and later with the Katherine Dunham Dance Company in East St. Louis, Ill. While drumming with Dunham, Thiam moved his family to St. Louis, Mo. where Akon spent much of his childhood. St. Louis is across the Mississippi River from East St. Louis. St. Louis, Senegal and St. Louis, Mo (USA) are sister cities.

Akon is the co-founder of the Akon Lighting Africa project. This project primarily targets rural communities that are not connected to electricity and also seeks to find ways to bring costs down to make power supplies more affordable.

He called on Africans in the diaspora to join hands and change the narrative about the continent while they help fast-track its economic development.

“On the internet, you will only see historical images and animals, as if Africa was a big jungle. Africans never get full credit in any way. Entertainers, filmmakers and producers, the press and anyone that creates content should take part in redefining this continent,” he added.

The three-day Youth Connect Africa summit opened on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 under the theme: “Realizing Africa’s Youth Potential.” The summit ended Friday, July 21, 2017.

It focused on establishing a policy, programs and partnerships to guide the continent to its goals of creating at least 54 million jobs that will absorb the growing labor force.

Among the participants are government officials and special guests. The list includes Rwandan President Paul Kagame; Jack Ma, founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group; and Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). It also included entrepreneurs, artists and youth opinion leaders from across the continent.