NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said Saturday more than 33,000 Somali
refugees living at Kenya’s Dadaab camp have returned to their
motherland since December 2014.
“In total, as of
Oct. 15, 33,178 Somali refugees had returned home since December
8, 2014, when UNHCR started supporting voluntary return of
Somali refugees in Kenya, out of which 27,077 were supported in
2016 alone,” a UNHCR report said.
The report said some
517 refugees had been repatriated in the past two weeks by
flight, adding that flight movements have now resumed and are
currently operating three days per week.
“Owing to the
suspension of reception of road convoys by the (Somalia’s)
Jubaland administration, the operation began facilitating return
to Baidoa by flights,” it added.
According to the
UNHCR, road convoys were suspended from Aug. 30, after the
Jubaland administration told the UNHCR Somalia it would not
receive any more returnees until “integration process” inside
Somalia was addressed.
The UNHCR said two
flights would continue to transport returnees to Jubaland every
two days a week until further notice.
borders Kenya, is an autonomous region in southern Somalia.
UN agencies in
Somalia held a meeting with the Jubaland administration last
month, after which they said Jubaland agreed to cooperate in the
reintegration of the returnees.
Kenya says it is
working with the UNHCR to repatriate the over 300,000 Somalis
living at Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp. It said
earlier this year it would close Dadaab, citing security
Last week, the UNHCR
said a total of 26,819 Somali refugees had in principle
confirmed their intention to return home and were waiting to be
facilitated to start their journeys.
Two killed in suicide car
bombing in Somali capital
MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) --
A suicide car bomber killed two people and
injured four others on Sunday evening in the Somali capital
Mogadishu, a local official said.
Commissioner Qasim Abdullahi told reporters at the scene that
the suicide bomber detonated his car outside an eatery near the
Daljirka Dahsoon Monument in Bondhere district.
Daljirka Dahsoon is
“a popular place for people in the evening”, said Abdullahi.
Police and witnesses
said there was a huge blast, sparking panic.
“We heard a heavy
blast near Daljirka. Everybody was running around and we learned
it was a car explosion,” witness Hassan Shire told Xinhua.
No group has yet
claimed responsibility, but Somalia-based Islamist group Al-Shabaab
carries out frequent attacks in the country, many of them in
MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) --
Somali police force checks the wreckage of the suicide car
in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, Oct. 23, 2016. A suicide
car bomber killed two people and injured four others on
Sunday evening in the Somali capital Mogadishu, a local
XINHUA PHOTO: FAISAL ISSE
News Analysis: Kenya’s urban
crime surges despite anti-terror success
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
Experts have warned about the rising crime rates
in Kenyan cities as the country’s security forces focus on the
war against terrorism.
security experts and investors have expressed concerns over the
surge in armed robberies, carjacking and abductions which
threaten economic growth and social cohesion in the East African
Based on police
records, violent crimes have escalated in different parts of the
Kenyan capital Nairobi since mid October.
This week alone, ten
hardcore criminals were shot dead by police in several parts of
Nairobi and lethal weapons including an AK-47 rifle and Ceska
pistols were recovered.
A bizarre incident
that involved lynching of three robbery suspects by an irate
public was reported by police on Thursday when Kenya celebrated
the Heroes’ day.
from senior police officers, ordinary Kenyan citizens and
foreigners residing in major cities have expressed concern over
escalating robberies, murders and kidnappings.
Security experts who
spoke to Xinhua on Friday said that Kenya must reframe its
strategies of fighting urban crimes, which have almost surpassed
terrorism to become a leading national security threat.
Simiyu Werunga, a
Nairobi-based security expert, said that criminals have
exploited a vacuum occasioned by too much concentration of
personnel and resources on the war against terrorism.
“My take is that
even as the country makes significant headway in the fight
against Somalia-based terror group, Al-Shabaab, we are losing
the battle against violent crime that has assumed crisis
proportion lately,” Werunga said.
He urged the
government to invest in state of the art technology and
personnel in order to enhance response to urban crime.
“The police force
should be equipped with modern technology to enhance tracking of
criminals. Likewise, surveillance cameras should be installed
along major highways, shopping malls, banks and market centers
to record movement of criminals,” Werunga told Xinhua.
He added that Kenya
should devote more attention to domestic security threats that
bodes ill for the country’s economic progress and stability.
indicate that Nairobi alone has more than a dozen criminal gangs
comprised of young men and women that have operated in
low-income suburbs located on the eastern fringes of the
The gangs are behind
the current wave of violent robberies, carjackings and
burglaries reported in residential and business premises.
Police say retail
shops and mobile money transfer outlets are their prized
destinations, while entertainment spots in wealthy Nairobi
suburbs are also a major target.
The Kenyan police
service has responded to a public outcry over a spike in violent
crime in Nairobi streets and residential premises with enhanced
Kenya plans to introduce toll
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
Kenya will develop a policy to introduce toll
roads with private sector participation, an official said
The director of the
Kenya National Highway Authority, Peter Mundinia, told Xinhua
that relevant stakeholders will soon meet to develop the policy.
“The policy will
then be forwarded to cabinet for approval and thereafter
endorsed by parliament,” Mundinia said.
He said that the
government is planning to introduce user fees on some of the
are not adequate to maintain the roads in good condition and so
we plan to introduce fees,” he said.
According to him,
under the new policy, firms from the private sector will build
and operate roads for 25 years and then hand them over to the
government after recouping their investments.
Six road projects
have already been chosen to be the first toll roads, including
the 487 km Nairobi-Mombasa highway and the 160 km Nairobi-Nakuru
Next month, the
roads agency will hold a meeting with potential investors.
“The private sector
is expected to inject 700 million U.S. dollars for the Nairobi-Nakuru
road project and recoup investment by charging roads users,” he
According to the
official, the first toll roads in Kenya will be operational in
the next five years.
He also said the
Nairobi-Mombasa road will be divided into three parts to make it
easier for private investors to undertake the project.
Tanzania calls for laws to
check migration, cross-border crimes
DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) --
A senior Tanzanian government official has
proposed for the enactment of laws to govern migration of people
to Europe and within the southern African region and check
the east African nation’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, said on
Friday the scourge of illegal migration and cross-border crimes
has increased rapidly in recent years both towards Europe and
within southern Africa.
He was speaking in
the commercial capital Dar es Salaam at the opening session of
the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)-European Union
(EU) Policy Dialogue on peace and security.
He said: “Terrorism
and cross-border organized crime continues to impact countries
around the world.”
Mahiga added: “A
number of African teenagers have been killed when attempting to
migrate to European countries and within southern African
the minister said SADC member states have made significant
progress in conducting democratic elections.
“We have made
deliberate efforts to ensure that the member states adhere to
the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic
elections,” said Mahiga.
the SADC Executive Secretary, said SADC and EU regions are faced
with various challenges related to peace, security and stability
in different forms and intensity.
Lawrence said: “It
is important to note that SADC and EU share many aspirations
with regard to our ambitions to foster peace, stability and
democratic governance and enhanced public security as
fundamental elements in strengthening regional integration and
social economic development.”
She said SADC has
adopted an anti-terrorism strategy and regional strategy to
combat illegal migration, smuggling of migrants and trafficking
“We hope that the EU
has also developed responses to the migration crisis and several
policy instruments related to EU cooperation with respect to
counter-terrorism,” she added.
Roeland Van De Geer,
the EU head of delegation to Tanzania, said the EU will continue
nurturing the long standing partnership with SADC countries.
Spotlight: Officials, lawyers
propose tougher laws against kidnappers in Nigeria
LAGOS, (Xinhua) --
Government officials and lawyers in Nigeria have
proposed tougher laws to curb frequent occurrence of kidnapping
in the countryn with death penalty being suggested.
KIDNAPPING—A SOCIAL PROBLEM IN NIGERIA
become a social problem in Nigeria as criminal gangs in
different parts of the West African nation are holding citizens
hostage for ransom.
African Insurance Organization (AIO) said kidnapping has become
“Nigeria is now the
kidnap capital of the world, accounting for a quarter of
globally reported cases,” the AIO said.
International, a United Kingdom-based global risk and crisis
management consultancy, placed Nigeria on top among the five
countries with the largest numbers of cases of kidnapping in the
world between January and June 2015.
Kingdom-based risk-control consultancy, which tracks kidnapping
cases globally, said Nigeria has risen to the fifth position in
the world in terms of kidnapping, just behind Mexico, India,
Pakistan and Iraq.
The deadly Islamic
insurgency in the North and militancy in the Niger Delta seem to
have fueled this degeneracy.
In April 2014, Boko
Haram terrorists captured 276 schoolgirls in the town of Chibok
in the country’s northeastern state of Borno.
A total of 57 girls
managed to escape over the next few months after they were
abducted and 21 were freed in October 2016, but nearly 200 girls
are still in captivity.
With the recent
suspension of the pipeline operation mostly in southwest
Nigeria, the criminals no longer had access to the oil money and
they resorted to terrorizing other citizens.
Abdullahi Chafe, the
police chief in Kogi State, said kidnappers now target elderly
people with well-to-do children outside the state and compel
their children to pay ransom.
Crime rate has
reduced by about 70 percent in the state as kidnapping and armed
robbery no longer take place on highways but in individual
homes, said Chafe.
security measure and other security strategies introduced by
police to improve security of the state has paid off handsomely,
Medical doctors, for
unknown reasons, are prime targets. Early this year, doctors
reportedly embarked on a strike in southern Rivers State to
protest against the incessant abduction of their members.
Public figures were
also major victims of kidnapping in Nigeria with several cases
reported in 2015 and 2016.
The latest case was
Margaret Emefiele, wife of the Nigerian Central Bank Governor,
who was kidnapped early this month with four others on Benin-Agbor
road in southern Edo State.
In September 2015,
Olu Falae, a former secretary to the Government of the
Federation, was kidnapped in his farm in southern Ondo State.
In April 2016, Iyabo
Anisulowo, a former senator, was kidnapped in her home state of
Ogun, which is located in the southwestern part of Nigeria.
The two have since
regained freedom after spending days in captivity, but the
conditions under which they were released remained unclear.
While the police
claimed to have rescued them, many victims and their families
have been paying ransom without calling the police.
believed that the situation requires radical and creative
Akeem Gbadamosi, a
security expert, said the Department of State Services needs to
step up its intelligence activities on kidnapping.
PROPOSED AGAINST KIDNAPPERS
In a move to tackle
repeated cases of kidnapping in Lagos, where about 20 million
people live, a private member bill sponsored by the Speaker of
the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, seeks death
penalty for kidnappers.
Obasa condemned the
trend of kidnapping in the state, saying that the kidnappers
should be punishable by death penalty.
Those who engaged in
the crime were not fit to live, said Obasa.
The bill comes after
two cases of kidnapping in the state in which gunmen stormed
schools and kidnapped school children.
The children in both
cases have been released by their abductors.
The bill prescribes
that any person, who kidnaps, abducts, detains or captures, or
takes another person by any means, or tricks him or her with the
intent to demand ransom, is liable on conviction to a death
Attempt to kidnap
attracts life imprisonment, while false representation to
release a kidnapped or abducted person, under Section 4,
attracts seven years imprisonment, the bill stipulates.
The bill also
provides that any person, who knowingly or willfully allows or
permits his premises, building or a place belonging or occupied
to which he has control of, to be used for the purposes of
keeping a person kidnapped is guilty of an offence under the
Such a person can be
sentenced to 14 years in prison without an option of fine,
according to the bill.
States like Abia and
Anambra, where kidnapping was once rife, adopted tough measures
with laws imposing death penalty on kidnappers and mandatory
demolition of the properties of kidnappers.
Richard Komolafe, a
lawyer from the United Action for Change, commended the move for
stiffer penalty for kidnappers, but said that death sentence was
no longer fashionable all over the world.
hanging itself is inhuman by conventions as against life
Seri Sholebo, a
Chief Magistrate in Lagos State, said it was fundamental to add
conspiracy to kidnapping, as the ministry had not been able to
convict offenders of conspiracy since 2011.
Nigeria extends anti-piracy
operation by 3 months
LAGOS, (Xinhua) --
The Nigerian government Friday said an anti
piracy operations has been extended by three months to tackle
incessant attacks on merchant ships by criminals.
Ibok-Ete Ibas, the
country’s Chief of Naval Staff, made the remarks in the southern
city of Onne in Rivers State, adding that the navy has reduced
incessant attacks on merchant ships by pirates on the nation’s
Ibas said deployment
of several warships was responsible for the decline.
“In order to sustain
the gains of the earlier operation for optimum performance and
benefits, it has become imperative to extend it by another three
months,” he added.
“It is instructive
to note that attacks on shipping have substantially declined
since the commencement of this operation, relative to what
obtained between January and April 2016,” he said.
“This is because
only four attacks on shipping have been reported during the
period as compared to 45 incidences of piracy reported from Jan.
16 to April 16,” the navy chief told reporters.
According to him,
the navy operation was aimed to stem the rising wave of attacks
on shipping and other criminality within Nigeria’s maritime
domain, particularly in the offshore areas.
Ibas said the
operation would enable merchant ships move their cargoes freely,
while sustaining protection of oil and gas installations for
improved revenue for the country.
AU mission in Somalia probes
killing of civilians by its soldiers
MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) --
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)
said on Friday it had launched a probe into the circumstances of
a shooting by its soldiers that killed a driver and injured two
others in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Wednesday evening.
The head of AMISOM
Francisco Madeira said in a statement the accident happened
after a convoy carrying civilian contractors were stopped at an
AMISOM camp for routine security check.
of the soldiers conducting the security check accidentally shot
a driver dead and injured two others. The injured were
immediately ferried to AMISOM Level II hospital for treatment,”
the statement said.
The AU envoy said
the families of the deceased and the injured had been notified
of the incident and regretted “this very unfortunate
Madeira said “a
final conclusion on the circumstances” would be reached soon.
AMISOM troops are
helping the Somali government battle Islamist militant group Al-Shabaab,
which stages frequent attacks in the country. But there had been
incidents involving AMISOM troops against civilians.
In April, AMISOM
troops killed four civilians near Bulla Marer in southern
Somalia in what the AU mission called an accident, sparking
protests by locals.
In July, AMISOM
troops were accused of killing 14 civilians and injuring three
others in Wardiinle location, southern Somalia.
Somali pirates free 26 hostages
held since 2012
MOGADISHU, (Xinhua) --
Somali pirates on Saturday released 26 people who
had been held hostage for nearly five years, an organization
involved in mediation efforts said.
fishing vessel FV Naham 3 was hijacked south of the Seychelles
in March 2012, according to John Steed, a regional coordinator
of the organization, Oceans Beyond Piracy.
“Of the original
29-member crew, sadly one died during the hijacking and two more
succumbed to illness during their captivity. The remaining 26
crew members spent much of their captivity on land in Somalia,”
Steed said in a statement.
The hostages are all
men and are from China, the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia and
“They have spent
over four and a half years in deplorable conditions away from
their families,” said the statement.
The statement added
their release represented the end of captivity for the last
remaining seafarers taken hostage during the height of Somali
It however said the
threat of piracy remains, and urged the shipping industry to
continue to follow the Best Management Practices for Protection
against Somalia-based Piracy to reduce risks.
China on Sunday
confirmed the release of the captives.
Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said the 29 crew members
kidnapped included 12 Chinese, of them 10 from the Chinese
mainland and two from Taiwan.
Meanwhile, three of
the hostages, including one from the Chinese mainland and
another from Taiwan, had died, Hua said.
Hua said the 26 men
released had arrived in Kenya with UN intervention. Chinese
officials had met the Chinese crew members and would accompany
them on their trip back home.
Hua said the Chinese
government offers its sincere gratitude to all the organizations
and people involved in the “rescue operation”, and best wishes
to the released crew members. It also sends its profound
condolences to the families of the three deceased crew members.
A report released by
the International Maritime Bureau of the International Chamber
Commerce in July said piracy and armed robbery off the coast of
Somalia had fallen to its lowest levels since 1995 with only one
incident recorded in the past six months.
attributed the fall to operations by foreign warships. Chinese
naval fleets have been involved in escort missions in the Gulf
of Aden and waters off Somalia since 2008.
The report, however,
said that there has been a surge in kidnappings off West Africa.
Burkina Faso Police kill
alleged jihadist, arrest others
OUAGADOUGOU, (Xinhua) --
Burkina Faso’ Police on Sunday killed an alleged
jihadist Saturday night during dismantling operation in the
north-west suburb of the capital Ouagadougou.
The alleged jihadist,
with an explosive and a pistol in hand, was killed during
gunfire exchange as security and defense forces were dismantling
jihad supporters recruitment network, police said in a news
“The operation led
to the arrest of suspects and the investigation is underway”,
security authorities said, adding that no exact members of
suspects were arrested in the operation.
According to the
National commissioner of the police, Lazare Tarpaga, police were
informed that criminal suspects were trying to recruit youths to
join their groups.
The country has been
experiencing terrorist attacks over the few past years as well
as coup attempts that involve soldiers of the disbanded former
special presidential security guard unit who served under Blaise
Burundian police arrest
reporters for allegedly destroying evidence
BUJUMBURA, (Xinhua) --
Burundian police said they had arrested two
journalists, including a United States national and a BBC’s
local employee, on Sunday morning.
Julia Steers, a U.S.
citizen, and Gildas Ihundimpundu, a Burundian journalist working
for the BBC were arrested at the 9th Avenue at
Mutakura while taking pictures of a mass grave, Burundian police
spokesman Pierre Nkurikiye said.
“They are accused of
planning to destroy evidence that insurgents killed people and
dumped them in that mass grave,” Nkurikiye said.
Xinhua that the two journalists had not informed the local
administration or the police of their visit at Mutakura in the
north of the capital Bujumbura.
“Their goal is to
destroy evidence that insurgents killed people and dumped them
there,” said Nkurikiye.
According to him,
both journalists are being heard by investigators as well as
representatives of the Burundian Media Council (CNC).
Ramadhan Karenga told Xinhua that the U.S. journalist was later
released after the CNC confirmed that she had an accreditation.
“The U.S. journalist
has been released but the Burundian journalist is still in the
hands of the police because he has not registered with the CNC,”
On Aug. 25, Steve
Irakoze Gisa, a dual Burundian-Rwandan journalist working for
Burundi-based Buja FM was arrested and released after spending
one week at the custody of the Burundi National Intelligence
He was accused of
posing a threat to Burundi’s security after police agents
browsed through his mobile phone and said it contained
14 Egyptian police detained
over 6 criminals’ deadly jailbreak
CAIRO, (Xinhua) --
The Egyptian prosecution decided on Sunday a
4-day detention of 14 policemen over a recent jailbreak of six
criminals in the Suez Canal province of Ismailia, northeastern
the capital Cairo, official MENA news agency reported.
The fire exchange
during the escape from Al-Mustaqbal (Future) Prison on Thursday
night left a policeman killed and another wounded, while a
citizen who happened to pass by the prison was randomly shot
dead during the confrontations.
charges the 14 policemen, including three officers, with gross
negligence and they are currently in custody for four days
Some Egyptian local
media said that machine guns had previously been smuggled into
the prison to facilitate the criminals’ jailbreak.
Zambian president names
commission to probe election violence
LUSAKA, (Xinhua) --
Zambian President Edgar Lungu has named a
15-member Commission of Inquiry to probe the causes of political
violence before and after the August 11 general elections, his
office has said in a statement.
inauguration speech after being declared winner of the election,
Lungu had promised to constitute a Commission of Inquiry to look
at the causes of electoral violence.
spokesperson Amos Chanda said the Commission of Inquiry would be
headed by Justice Munalula Lisimba.
The statement noted
that the Commission will examine to what extent the pre-election
violence could have influenced the voting patterns as well as
the role of political parties, traditional leaders and the media
in shaping voting patterns and instigation of violence among
The Commission has
been tasked to submit its report to the Zambian leader within
120 days from the date of appointment, he added.
unprecedented violence in the run-up to and after the elections.
Update: Egypt court confirms
Morsi’s 20-year prison sentence over violence
CAIRO, (Xinhua) --
An Egyptian court confirmed on Saturday a 20-year
prison sentence against deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi,
official MENA news agency reported.
court, the Court of Cassation, rejected Morsi’s appeal,
rendering the prison sentence final, convicting the former
president of inciting clashes between his supporters and
opponents outside the presidential palace in late 2012 that left
10 people dead.
The same court on
Saturday also cancelled the 25-year jail term against the
Brotherhood’s top chief Mohamed Badie and six others including
former supplies minister Bassem Ouda, ordering their retrial
before different courts over similar charges.
The defendants have
been accused of urging confrontations between Morsi’s loyalists
and opponents that left at least 10 people killed and 20 others
injured outside a mosque in Giza following Morsi’s removal.
Morsi was removed by
the military in July 2013 in response to mass protests against
his one-year rule.
crackdown against his loyalists, mostly from the Brotherhood,
left about 1,000 killed and thousands more arrested while the
group was eventually blacklisted as a terrorist organization.
In May 2015, Morsi
and 106 of his Brotherhood supporters received initial death
sentences over a mass jail break following the 2011 uprising
that ousted the country’s long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Later in June 2016,
a criminal court handed Morsi 25-year jail and announced
confirmation of death sentences against six other Brotherhood
loyalists over conspiring with militant Hamas and Hezbollah
groups and leaking classified documents to Qatar against Egypt’s
ouster, Egypt has been facing growing anti-government terrorist
attacks that left hundreds of police and military men killed,
with a Sinai-based militant group loyal to the Islamic State
(IS) regional group claiming responsibility for most of them.
On Saturday, a
senior military general, who served in restive North Sinai
province, was shot dead by three unknown assailants outside his
home on the outskirts of the capital Cairo.
A week earlier, at
least 20 soldiers were killed in blasts and armed attacks in
North Sinai, and the security forces retaliated by killing
around 100 militants and wounding 40 others.
security forces killed over 1,000 militants and arrested a
similar number of suspects in the chaotic peninsula as part of
the country’s “war against terrorism” declared by then
military-chief and now-President Sisi.
Roundup: Khartoum welcomes U.S.
“positive” stances towards Sudan
KHARTOUM, (Xinhua) --
Sudan welcomed the U.S. officials’ recent
statements which reflected positive stances towards the war-torn
On Saturday, the
U.S. envoy for Sudan and South Sudan Donald Booth, who is
currently visiting Sudan’s Darfur region, told reporters that
“war and arms are no longer the appropriate way to resolve
He explained that
Washington has asked the Chief African Mediator Thabo Mbeki to
put pressure on the Sudanese armed groups and reject opposition
forces to join Sudan’s national dialogue.
came contrary to previous U.S. stances that regarded the
national dialogue conference, which recently concluded, as not
leading to resolving Sudan’s issues because key players did not
participate in it.
On Oct. 10, the
national dialogue conference concluded its sessions and approved
the dialogue’s national document which is to be the base for the
country’s permanent constitution.
However, major armed
movements have refused to participate in the conference,
including the Revolutionary Front Alliance, which brings
together the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)/northern
sector and the major Darfur armed movements, besides major
political parties, top of them the opposition National Umma
The second U.S.
stance was represented in a statement attributed to Mark Toner,
U.S. deputy spokesperson of the State Department, which was
widely reported by local Sudanese media Saturday and in which he
urged South Sudan government to stop supporting Sudanese armed
“The United States
calls on the Government of the Republic of South Sudan to comply
with its commitments to cease harboring or providing support for
Sudanese armed opposition groups, as required by UN Security
Council Resolution 2046,” said Toner in the statement.
ministry welcomed the stance of the U.S. State Department and
regarded it as a “positive stance.”
reiterated in a press release the importance for the South
Sudanese government to fulfil its commitments recently signed
with Sudan to expel the Sudanese armed groups and preventing
them from launching any armed act from its territories against
Sudan in accordance with the security arrangements agreement
signed by the two countries.
In a related
development, the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Friday
availed South Sudan until the end of current year to implement
the agreements signed between the two sides.
In September 2012,
Sudan and South Sudan signed a cooperation agreement in the
Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa under the patronage of the
included a package of understandings related to security,
citizens’ status, border and economic issues and others related
to oil and trade. However, the signed agreements did not tackle
the issues of Abyei and border demarcation.
The border issue is
the biggest obstacle to the settlement of differences between
Sudan and South Sudan.
accuses Juba of supporting and sheltering the rebels of Sudan
People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM)/northern sector, which are
fighting the government at South Kordofan and Blue Nile areas,
besides the armed groups which are fighting in Sudan’s Darfur
The Sudan-U.S. ties
have been characterized by continued tension where the U.S. has
been imposing sanctions on Sudan since 1997 and putting it on
its list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
Washington has been renewing its sanctions on Sudan due to the
continuing war in Darfur, Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions
besides a number of outstanding issues with South Sudan,
including the disputed oil-rich area of Abyei.
However, in February
2015, the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets
Control (OFAC) announced that it had decided to loosen the
sanctions on Sudan via allowing exports of personal
communications hardware and software, including smart phones and
It said the move
aimed at helping the Sudanese citizens integrate into the global
In October last
year, Washington also expressed readiness to cooperate with
Sudan in the field of counter-terrorism.
economic reports, Sudan’s losses due to the U.S. sanctions
amounted to over four billion U.S. dollars annually.
Sudan has also been
witnessing an escalating economic crisis since the secession of
South Sudan in 2011, which has greatly affected the Sudanese
economy as the country lost around 70 percent of its oil
Feature: Pumpkin farming
catches on in Kenya amid dry weather
By Robert Manyara NYERI, Kenya, (Xinhua)
-- In an effort to remain resilient to
hostile environment, farmers in central Kenya region have
embraced farming of pumpkin, an orphan crop well performing in
water stressed areas.
They have also
learned different ways of diversifying its use, a progress
attributed to the ongoing sensitization of farmers from various
food production stakeholders.
George Muraya has
three acres of a high producing and drought resilient variety of
pumpkin in Nyeri, north of capital Nairobi. He said it’s the
best choice a farmer can make to escape from hunger.
“You only need two
cups of water each week per fruit,” said Muraya, who grows a
variety called opica. It is a graft of jolladale and rock mass
species, he said.
“This variety is
highly resistant to diseases and does well in arid and semi-arid
areas because it can survive with low rainfall,” said Muraya.
In cold areas, the
crop matures between 28 to 32 weeks while in hot regions, it is
ready for harvest in 17 to 20 weeks, he said.
“In moderate weather
it can mature in 20 to 24 weeks. It is a crop that can grow
anywhere,” he said.
Kenyans living in at
least two thirds of land in the country fall in either arid to
semi-arid zones with minimal or zero agricultural activities.
It is in these areas
that the National Drought Management Authority shows the need
for redress to upscale food production.
continue to rise as a result of the impact of the devastating
climate change, more areas are turning into unfavorable farming
zones, an inevitability the Kenyan government is aware of.
Kenyan economy is
mainly anchored in farming, which provides more than 85 percent
of the population jobs spread across the whole production and
“We will be able to
address the issue of hunger if we had people in the areas such
as Baringo, Kilifi, Garissa or Mandera growing pumpkin. These
are dry areas and there are others in various parts of the
country,” said Muraya.
Presently, more than
1.3 million are threatened with hunger and malnutrition in the
Eastern, North Eastern and Coastal parts of the country.
Worse still, the
Kenya Meteorological Services has in the latest forecast
predicted a rather dry season in most parts of the country till
the end of the year.
This as it indicates
will affect farming activities but advises farmers to consult
agricultural officers on the appropriate crops to grow during
the season. In Muraya’s farm, each plant of pumpkin produces 45
On average, each
fruit weighs 20 kilograms. And one unit of weight goes for 1.8
U.S. dollars. To enhance its shelf life, the fruit is dried and
milled into flour used for various purposes as preparing ugali,
porridge as well as well as cakes.
He also makes juice
out of the fruit rich in vitamins. It is the realization of the
existing benefits and markets for the produce that has also
drawn Paul Kabuchwa into pumpkin farming.
“You can eat pumpkin
at any time of the day,” said Kabuchwa who jointly runs the
three acre farm in Nyeri with Kabuchwa.
“We should not be
having farmers sticking to crops that fail. The weather is
changing and it’s impossible to feed ourselves if we cannot grow
what can survive in bad weather,” said Kabuchwa.
He said the proceeds
from the crop farming are encouraging since they have a ready
market in the cities and other farmers in various parts of the
Out of will to
change the farming landscape in the country, the two visit
farmers in their farms to educate them on pumpkin farming.
“We have been to
Coast, Eastern, Western, Rift Valley and some parts of Central
Kenya, meeting farmers in groups and as individuals,” said
“And we already have
so many of them growing pumpkin. And it is very encouraging.”
For decades, many
Kenyan communities regarded pumpkin as a traditional crop but it
is these changing temperatures and preferences that have
catapulted interest in converting it into one of the emerging
cash crop in a country of more 40 million people to feed.
Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Willy Bett said the government
will continue to support farmers in becoming more resilient to
climate change through supplying varieties of seeds of crop that
perform well in low rainfall.
He also said they
are making all efforts to encourage farmers to grow orphan crops
to boost food security, which can in the long-term lower levels
of hunger and poverty.
enlightened farmers like Muraya and Kabuchwa taking part in
spreading the information, it is expected that the country will
be steady in feeding its population in the midst of harsh
Tanzania imposes ban on plastic
bags effective Jan. 2017
DAR ES SALAAM, (Xinhua) --
Tanzanian authorities has advised plastic bags
producers in the east African nation to adopt new technologies
of making biodegradable bags saying the plastic bags will be
banned from January 1, 2017.
“Plastic bags will
not be used in the country from January 1,” Luhaga Mpina, the
Deputy Minister in the Vice-President’s Office responsible for
Environment, told a Parliamentary Committee on Industries, Trade
and Environment on Friday.
presented a draft ban regulations which indicated that there
will be an exemption on plastic bags used in medical services,
industrial packaging, construction industry, agricultural sector
and in sanitary use and waste management.
Mpina added that
there will also be a special phasing out exemption time of up to
two years for plastic bags manufacturers either to shut down
their facilities, laying off workers or changing technology.
which will still have raw materials to process the bags which
were ordered before the official announcement of the ban will be
allowed to manufacture the bags provided if the bags will be for
export only,” said Mpina.
He said the plastic
bags have been causing devastating pollution and the government
has tried since 2006 to set regulation to combat the problem by
banning the use of plastic bags below the width 30 microns.
In 2015 the ban was
extended to plastic bags below the width of 50 microns, but now
they have decided to do away with the matter altogether, he
The minister said in
Dar es Salaam alone authorities spend up to 5 million U.S.
dollars annually to repair water supply infrastructures due to
blockages caused by the plastic bags.
For their part, the
Members of Parliament expressed concern over the government’s
aptitude to stop illegal importation of plastic bags.
Mushtak Walij, the
chairman of Plastic Manufacturers Association of Tanzania (PMAT),
said the manufacturers had no problems with embracing the
However, Walij said
importing chemical additives to make biodegradable bags will
increase the production costs by between 20 to 25 percent.
Massive capital investment
boosts Nigeria’s economy: accountant general
LAGOS, (Xinhua) --
The on-going massive capital investment by the
Nigerian government is helping the country to get out of a
recession gradually, a top official said Friday.
Speaking at a forum
in Abuja, the nation’s capital city, Idris Ahmed,
Accountant-General of the Federation of Nigeria, said the recent
announcement by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa demonstrates the
resilience of the economy.
“The IMF rating
confirms the resilience of our economy and the resilience of
Nigerians in terms of coming out of this recession,” he added.
“It also goes to
confirm the massive capital investments that are being made by
this government and it is not just by the Federal Government but
by the state governments as well,” the official said.
“So, we will come
out of this recession. It is just a matter of time,” Ahmed said.
The IMF, in its
Economic Outlook Report for October, projected Nigeria as the
biggest economy in Africa ahead of South Africa and Egypt
despite the worst economic recession Nigeria faced in 29 years.
Nigeria entered a
recession on Aug. 31, when figures released by the National
Bureau of Statistics showed the second quarter Gross Domestic
Product fell 2.06 percent year on year, after slipping 0.4
percent in Q1.
have called the the West African country’s economic situation
“the worst possible time ever,” with many predicting that it may
take up to three years before the country can come out of the
UN reports financial shortage
for Madagascar aids
ANTANANARIVO, (Xinhua) --
The United Nations agencies face a financing gap
of 124 million U.S. dollars in its aids provision in Madagascar,
a joint statement from the UN agencies said Friday.
From October 2016 to
April 2017, the World Food Programme (WFP) faces a shortage of
69 million dollars out of a total need of 82 million dollars for
its operations in Madagascar.
WFP needs the money
to provide food assistance to 1 million people by the end of
next month, to provide food to more than 200,000 pregnant women,
nursing mothers and children under five years, and to assist
some 230,000 children through the school feeding program in
The United Nations
Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also requires an additional 36.5
million dollars to increase its efforts in southern Madagasca.
UNICEF said the
funds will allow it to increase water supply and sanitation to
850,000 people and health interventions for the 350,000 people
living far from a health center. The money will help treat
10,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition,
transfer cash to 4,000 families and provide education to 200,000
Out of 22 million
dollars needed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO),
only 3.5 million is available at its pocket and the organization
is still looking for the the rest.
With the funds, FAO
plans to give immediate response to 850,000 farmers in the most
affected districts, providing them with seeds, tools and
supporting their livestock production.
Some 92 percent of
the population in Madagascar lives on less than 2 dollars per
day. The El-Nino phenomenon has worsened the situation by
plunging the deep south of the country into an alarming food
Egypt’s exports 1 bln USD up,
imports 7 bln USD down: minister
CAIRO, (Xinhua) --
Egypt’s exports increased by one billion U.S.
dollars since the beginning of this year while imports decreased
by seven billion U.S. dollars, the country’s trade and industry
minister said in a statement on Sunday.
“The fields of
construction materials, chemicals, fertilizers, food industries
and furniture are on top of the sectors where exports have
increased,” said Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil,
referring to the period from January to September 2016 compared
to the same period last year.
He added that the
rising exports and declining imports over the past 10 months
contributed to reducing the country’s budget deficit by eight
billion U.S. dollars.
deficit has exceeded 35 billion dollars in the outgoing fiscal
year 2015/2016, which led the country to resort to a 12 billion
U.S. dollars loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
whose initial agreement has been reached in August.
The minister said
the large decline in imports “represents a great chance for
Egyptian industries to replace imported products with local
Egypt’s has recently
seen a sharp decline in its main foreign currency resources
including tourism, which led to a large hike in dollar price and
a wide gap between its official and black market exchange rates,
affecting many import-based businesses.
the IMF loan, tourism recovery and rising exports are hopeful
steps for the country’s to revive its struggling economy.
one of the most important sources of foreign currencies, so
raising our export rates requires improving the competitiveness
of Egyptian products in the local and foreign markets,” the
trade and industry minister explained.
Kabil said that his
ministry is currently preparing a new strategy to double exports
within the next five years in cooperation with all export
sectors in Egypt.
Feature: All-women blind
orchestra in Egypt brings light to darkness
CAIRO, (Xinhua) --
Clapping of audience at Egypt’s Opera House
lasted several minutes after an Egyptian orchestra composed of
blind girls magically performed one of the most famous pieces of
It is not the first
time the Al-Nour Wal Amal (Light and Hope) Chamber Orchestra
plays at Egypt’s most elite house of music as the group, which
consists of some 40 visually impaired and completely blind
female musicians, has performed across the country over the past
Dubbed the fourth
Pyramid of Egypt, the orchestra has also played in 24 countries
in five continents and was highly applauded by foreign
The orchestra won
its uniqueness as it is the only chamber orchestra in the whole
world entirely composed of blind musicians who play western
classical music as well as oriental music.
The orchestra works
under the umbrella of the Al-Nour Wal Amal Association, a
non-profit organization founded in 1954 that provides education
and professional training for visually impaired and blind girls
to integrate them into society.
In addition to the
main orchestra, the association also has a junior orchestra
composed of younger girls.
All female musicians
graduated from the Music Institute of Al-Nour Wal Amal
Wearing white veils
and black gowns, the all-women orchestra amazed the audience
with their efficiency and professionalism as they performed the
music of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Rossini, Verdi and Bizet.
“We learn the
musical piece in Braille and then we have to memorize it by
heart,” 31-year-old violist Shaimaa Yahiya told Xinhua in the
backstage minutes before the concert started.
Yahiya, who is also
an English language teacher, said this requires great efforts
since it is not easy to memorize the sheets of tens of musical
pieces and songs and play them with a group.
Even for a
well-trained sighted musician, playing in the Al-Nour Wal Amal
Chamber Orchestra is not easy, because the musicians have no
music notes or conductors to follow during the performance,
The orchestra is
composed of girls and women of different ages, from school
children to university students and graduates, and with
different levels of music education.
Yahiya said students
there learn to play their musical roles separately and they
train twice a week as a chamber orchestra, adding that the
orchestra has all four sections, strings, woodwind, brass and
“I joined the
orchestra when I was 12 years old...it was a dream that has come
true,” she said as she tuned her violin. “My life would have
been so different if I did not join the orchestra. It really
changed my life to the best.”
Yahiya said that she
feels proud that the orchestra is playing an important role in
spreading classical music among Egyptians who are not big fans
of this genre of music.
For her colleague
Shaimaa Mukhtar, who plays the oboe, a flute-like instrument,
being a member of the orchestra made a notable difference in her
“I do not feel that
I’m a person with a disability at all, thanks to the orchestra
and the people who supported me to join it,” Mukhtar said as her
visually impaired fiancé stood next to her in the backstage.
Arabic language teacher said she feels that she is very
distinguished in music. “I may have not been a musician at all
if I were a sighted person,” she said.
“The orchestra has
given me much, maybe more than I have expected,” she revealed as
holding her fiancé’s arm.
The orchestra has a
long history, said Amal Fikry, vice president of Al-Nour Wal
Amal Association. It was founded in 1961 as a regular music
school and in 1972 the orchestra held its first performance
outside the premises of the Association at the old Cairo Opera
In 1988, Fikry said
the Chamber Orchestra performed for the first time abroad in
Austria, adding that the orchestra gained international
reputation, fame and recognition after the trip.
generation performed in Vienna, the audience was so delighted to
see the girls and could not believe how clever they were,” Fikry
added as the girls were finalizing the rehearsal before the
“The first, the
second and the current third generations traveled 30 times
around the world, visiting five continents and performing in 24
countries,” the lady said.
Fikry noted that the
two orchestras, the junior and the main music have 65 girls,
adding that 20 more girls are now learning at the music
institute of the association.
Today, Fikry said, a
fourth generation Orchestra composed of school children is being
trained, to follow the successful path of the former generations
of musicians of Al Nour Wal Amal Chamber Orchestra.
musicians have already won the hearts and admiration of
audiences in Cairo,” she said.
CAIRO, (Xinhua) --
Female musicians from the Al-Nour Wal Amal(Light and
Hope) Chamber Orchestra perform at the Opera House in
Cairo, Egypt on Oct. 21, 2016. The Al-Nour Wal Amal(Light
and Hope) Chamber Orchestra, consisting of some 40
visually impaired and completely blind female musicians,
played at Egypt’s most elite house of music on Friday.
XINHUA PHOTO: AHMED
Kenya’s runners lead Frankfurt
marathon elite field
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
It is a dream to wear the shoes of his mentor and big brother
Martin Lel, but Paris marathon champion Cyprian Kotut now wants
to follow his own path as he seeks a second title in as many
attempts on Sunday during the Frankfurt marathon.
Kotut hopes a good
run in the German city will move him closer to his target,
getting a national team call ahead of the 2017 World
Championships in London.
“I want to represent
the country in international competition. My elder brother was
good and he won London and New York races. I hope to go the same
path and now the challenge ahead is in Frankfurt and hopefully,
I will be able to excel,” he said.
Kotut triumphed at
this year’s Paris marathon and improved his best by almost two
minutes to 2:07:11. The 24-year-old will be eager to run another
personal record on Frankfurt’s flat course.
The Kenyan will be
up against compatriot Mark Korir, a former winner of Paris
(2015) and Ethiopia’s Tadese Tola.
“Korir is a good
racer and I hope it will help us get faster time. It is a big
field with everyone keen to outdo the other. I will study the
race as it proceeds and not put much pressure on myself and then
we see what time best to attack,” he added.
Korir, who was the
only Kenyan to finish the Beijing World Championship marathon
race from Kenya, in position 22 clocking 2:21:20, has not had a
good season and will be keen to redeem his image in Frankfurt.
ALEXANDIA, (Xinhua) --
Players of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate after claiming the
2016 African Champions League title in Alexandria, Egypt,
on Oct. 23, 2016. South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns won the
2016 African Champions League on Sunday by defeating
Egypt’s Zamalek with a 3-1 aggregate victory in the
XINHUA PHOTO: AHMED GOMAA
Kenya’s Jepchirchir pulls out
of Frankfurt marathon
NAIROBI, (Xinhua) --
World half marathon champion Peres Jepchirchir of
Kenya has withdrawn from the Frankfurt marathon race, which will
be held on Sunday because of poor preparations.
Earlier this year
she finished fourth at the Ras Al-Khaimah Half Marathon and cut
55 seconds off the women’s course record on her way to claim the
Yangzhou Jianzhen International Half Marathon in April.
But she has had
niggling injuries and will not be ready to compete on Sunday in
“I must say I am
disappointed not to be running in Frankfurt. I had wanted to
taste the waters and see how the ultimate distance is like, but
I have to wait. My focus will now turn to the track where I want
to compete for Kenya in the 10,000m at the World Championships
in London,” she said on Friday.
Jepchirchir had said she was not keen to run the marathon, but
changed her mind. She felt she is not ready and did not want to
push he body further because she felt her training hadn’t gone
runner-up, Dinkinesh Mekash, will return to Frankfurt, looking
to improve on the 2:23:12 personal best time she set in the
German city in 2015.
The field also
includes the likes of 2011 Frankfurt marathon winner Mamitu
Daska and Germany’s Fate Tola.
Sutume Asefa has also been added to the field. The 22-year-old
made her marathon debut earlier this year, clocking 2:24:00 in
Dubai. She followed that with a runner-up finish in Rotterdam.
Kenya’s Sarah Chebet
(2:27.59) and Doris Chengeywo (2:31.05) will also be putting the
best foot forward as they seek to secure the title.
Melkamu holds the course record at 2:21:01 in Frankfurt, which
has stood since 2012 and many of the competitors will try to