IOM Ethiopia Relocates 57,000 Refugees from South Sudan Border

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM Ethiopia has moved some 57,000 South Sudanese refugees from the South Sudan border to camps inside Ethiopia since violence broke out between South Sudan’s government and opposition forces in December 2013.

In Ethiopia’s Gambella province, IOM boats have moved up to 450 people a day from Akobo-Tergol. Road convoys have moved up to another 2,000 people a day from Pagak. Destinations include Fugnido, Leitchor and Kule (former Tierkidi) refugee camps, where the refugees are provided with shelter and food.

The camps are quickly reaching their maximum capacity. Leitchor, which is located in a flood zone, faces additional challenges, and aid agencies and the Ethiopian authorities are racing to identify new sites, while asylum seekers continue to pour into the country through Pagak and Akobo-Tergol.

Most of the refugees are women and children. Many have walked for seven to 10 days to reach the border, living on wild fruit, and are destitute. Many families have also been separated in the chaos.

Ojulu Obutha, 36, a community leader in Akobo town in South Sudan, was separated from his wife and children when they crossed over to Akobo-Tergol on December 18th. He remained behind, hoping that the situation would calm down. But security deteriorated and he decided to follow them to Gambella.

“There was fighting in the Denaka area and when they (the rebels) came back, they started looting Akobo town… A friend and I were the last Agnuaks to leave,” he says.

He hopes to be reunited with his wife soon. “When the fighting started, a lot of women crossed over to Akobo-Tergol on foot. I don’t know where she is, but I hope that she is waiting for me in Fugnido,” he said, after registering with IOM, a day before his relocation by boat.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization


NEW YORK, April 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The following statement was issued by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today:

The Secretary-General is concerned by the latest upsurge in violence in the Central African Republic. This further deterioration of the security situation in the country has resulted in additional fatalities, a high number of injured and increased hardship for the population.

The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms all acts of violence against civilians and against international forces working in the Central African Republic to re-establish peace and order. He stresses the fundamental importance of protecting civilians at all times.

The Secretary-General reminds all those who are involved in spreading the violence, including those directly or indirectly supporting or otherwise facilitating the actions of armed groups, that they will be held accountable for their actions and brought to justice. In this regard, he stresses the importance of quickly establishing a list of individuals who act to undermine peace, stability and security in the Central African Republic, as called for by Security Council resolution 2127 (2013).

The Secretary-General reaffirms the full commitment of the United Nations to help the Central African Republic emerge from the ongoing crisis and to build peace.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Somali police should release Sky FM journalist

NEW YORK, April 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Somali authorities in the capital, Mogadishu, to release a radio journalist who has been held without charge since Sunday. Nuradin Hassan is an editor of Sky FM, as well as a news presenter, according to news reports and Sky FM.

Mohamed Khalif, chief inspector of the Central Investigations Department (CID), asked Nuradin to report to the CID for questioning on Sunday, but the journalist was detained when he arrived, Sky FM Director Mohamed Muse told CPJ.

News reports and local journalists, including Mohamed, said Nuradin was detained in connection with his report on Sky FM that said the passport of a British citizen-who works as an adviser to the prime minister-briefly went missing, disrupting his travel plans with the prime minister. Authorities said Nuradin had reported misleading information and questioned the journalist on how Sky FM obtained its information, reports said.

“Somali authorities continually harass journalists who portray the government in a negative light,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes. “We call on the government to release Nuradin Hassan immediately.”

Abdirahman Omar, a spokesman for the government, told CPJ that Information Minister Mustafa Dhuholow was looking into the case.

Sky FM is a sister radio station to Radio Shabelle and part of the Shabelle Media Network. The Shabelle Media Network has often been harassed and its journalists targeted. In October 2013, heavily armed security forces raided its offices, arrested three dozen staff members, and confiscated equipment. In the past five years, unknown gunmen have killed at least nine journalists working for the Shabelle Media Network, according to CPJ research.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

UNSOM offers support as President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud holds consultations in Baidoa with supporters of local state formation initiatives

MOGADISHU, Somalia, April 1, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, has welcomed the visit by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud to Baidoa to meet with supporters of opposing state formation processes.

Last week the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) called for urgent consultations with all political and traditional leaders in Baidoa to ease tensions between supporters of different state formation initiatives in the region.

“The United Nations Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) will continue to support the Federal Government of Somalia’s consultations with political and traditional leaders in Baidoa. This important visit underlines the commitment of the Federal Government to maintaining peace and stability in the region,” said SRSG Kay.

“I call on all parties to work constructively with the Government to find a peaceful and inclusive solution and avoid any actions that could pose a security threat or undermine stability. We will continue to work closely with international partners, particularly the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to foster reconciliation and state formation processes under the leadership of the FGS,” Mr Kay concluded.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Eritrea: UN expert warns about persisting human rights violations linked to the national service

GENEVA, Switzerland, March 31, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Sheila B. Keetharuth, today expressed deep concern about persisting human rights violations in the country in the context of the Eritrean national service.

“National service dominates life in Eritrea entirely,” Ms. Keetharuth said at the end of an official visit to Germany and Switzerland from 17 to 28 March 2014 during which she collected first-hand information from Eritrean refugees and migrants on the human rights situation in Eritrea.

The bulk of what the human rights expert documented reconfirmed her earlier findings: “The main reasons spurring Eritreans to flee their country are linked to the indefinite national service and the constant fear of being targeted,” she said.

Young people are conscripted into the military without any prospect of demobilization. Once they complete military training, they are assigned to various Government sectors, including in the civilian administration.

A conscript who spent almost 14 years in national service told the Special Rapporteur that ‘some families have three or four sons and daughters in the national service. The salary is paltry – too low to cover the prevailing cost of living, let alone support family members, especially children, the elderly or siblings.’

During the interviews with the Special Rapporteur, refugees described in great detail the widespread insecurity that every Eritrean citizen experienced, irrespectively of whether he or she was a national service conscript.

“In addition to regular round-ups by the military, citizens are targeted arbitrarily for reasons that remain mostly unknown to the victims or beyond their control, or at times on charges of ‘plotting to leave the country,’” the independent expert explained.

Severe punishment, including of family members of those who fled, often takes the form of arrest and detention, sometimes for prolonged periods in inhumane conditions and systematic ill-treatment. Other forms of punishment may include the payment of heavy fines, thus depriving entire families of their means of livelihood.

Harassment and intimidation of family members, including elderly parents, is routine.

“Accountability mechanisms do not exist, leaving victims without any access to justice and perpetuating a climate of impunity and fear which extends beyond the borders of the country,” the Special Rapporteur warned.

Ms. Keetharuth also expressed concern about the plight of 276 Eritreans detained in Nagad, Djibouti, with two having reportedly died while in custody. “I reiterate my call on the international community to strengthen efforts to ensure the protection of those fleeing from Eritrea by granting at least temporary refuge or protection in line with their obligations under international refugee and human rights law.”

“I request the Eritrean Government to demonstrate its willingness to deal with its human rights challenges by taking immediate positive steps to reverse the climate of impunity and fear and by inviting me to assess the situation of human rights in the country first hand so as to find lasting solutions,” she stressed.

Eritrea continues to refuse to cooperate with the country mandate created unanimously by the UN Human Rights Council and has not yet granted the Special Rapporteur a visa to visit the country.

“Due to lack of access to Eritrea, I will continue to link up with Eritrean refugees and migrants outside of their home country, as well as with all others concerned by human rights in Eritrea, including those who consider themselves to be victims of alleged human rights violations, human rights defenders and other civil society actors,” Ms. Keetharuth said.

The result of her findings, which will be strictly limited to the situation inside Eritrea, will be reflected in her second report to the Human Rights Council in June 2014.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

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