UN Says Migrant Boat Capsizes off Libya, 35 Dead or Presumed Dead

A migrant boat has capsized off the Libyan coast, leaving at least 35 people dead or presumed dead, the U.N. migration agency said Saturday.The shipwreck took place Friday off the western Libyan city of Sabratha, a major launching point for the mainly …

A migrant boat has capsized off the Libyan coast, leaving at least 35 people dead or presumed dead, the U.N. migration agency said Saturday.

The shipwreck took place Friday off the western Libyan city of Sabratha, a major launching point for the mainly African migrants making the dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea, said the International Organization for Migration.

The IOM said the bodies of six migrants were pulled out, while 29 others were missing and presumed dead. It was not immediately clear what caused the wooden boat to capsize.

The tragedy was the latest to involve migrants departing from North Africa to seek a better life in Europe. This past week alone, at least 53 migrants were reported dead or presumed dead off Libya, according to the IOM.

“Dedicated search and rescue capacity and a safe disembarkation mechanism are urgently needed to prevent further deaths and suffering,” the IOM said.

Investigators commissioned by the United Nations’ top human rights body found evidence of possible crimes against humanity committed in Libya against migrants detained in government-run prisons and at the hands of human traffickers.

Earlier this month, more than 90 people in an overcrowded boat drowned in the Mediterranean Sea, days after they left Libya, according to the Doctors Without Borders aid group.

Migrants regularly try to cross the Mediterranean from Libya in a desperate attempt to reach European shores. The country has emerged as the dominant transit point for migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

Human traffickers in recent years have benefited from the chaos in Libya, smuggling in migrants across the oil-rich country’s lengthy borders with six nations. The migrants are then typically packed into ill-equipped rubber boats and set off on risky sea voyages.

At least 476 migrants died along the central Mediterranean route between Jan. 1 and April 11, according to the IOM.

Once back in Libya, the migrants are typically taken to government-run detention centers rife with abuse and ill-treatment.

Source: Voice of America

Mali Says ‘Dozen Terrorists’ Killed in Airstrikes

Mali’s army said Saturday that it had killed “a dozen terrorists” including a French-Tunisian jihadis in airstrikes in the center of the Sahel nation.The armed forces carried out two strikes on Thursday “to neutralize a dozen terrorists in the forest o…

Mali’s army said Saturday that it had killed “a dozen terrorists” including a French-Tunisian jihadis in airstrikes in the center of the Sahel nation.

The armed forces carried out two strikes on Thursday “to neutralize a dozen terrorists in the forest of Ganguel” about 10 kilometers from the village of Moura, the general staff said in a press release.

“These strikes made it possible to neutralize some cadres of the GSIM,” (the Group to Support Islam and Muslims) the biggest jihadi alliance in the Sahel, it said, “including Samir Al-Burhan, a Franco-Tunisian terrorist cadre.”

The army said it acted on precise information regarding a “group of terrorists” it said had come “to boost the morale” of GSIM fighters and provide support to them after their “serious setback at Moura.”

Mali’s military-dominated government says it “neutralized” 203 jihadis in Moura at the end of March, but witnesses interviewed by media and Human Rights Watch (HRW) say soldiers actually killed scores of civilians with the help of foreign fighters.

No photos or video to support either the account by Malian authorities or HRW have emerged from Moura since then.

The U.N. mission in Mali has for days been asking to be allowed to send a team of investigators to the area but without success.

Ruled by a military junta since August 2020, Mali has been in a political crisis since 2012.

The spread of jihadis from the north of the vast, impoverished country has spilled into neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger, and the conflict has become more complicated with emergence of local militias and criminal gangs.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed in the conflict, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee their homes.

Source: Voice of America

UN Releases $100 Million to Battle Hunger in 6 African Countries, Yemen

GENEVA — The United Nations said Thursday it has released $100 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund to help millions facing hunger in South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen.Millions in these seven countries cannot f…

GENEVA — The United Nations said Thursday it has released $100 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund to help millions facing hunger in South Sudan, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Yemen.

Millions in these seven countries cannot feed themselves and their families because of armed conflict, drought, and economic turmoil made worse by COVID-19.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also said the spillover effects of the war in Ukraine threaten to drive millions of people even closer to famine.

OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke told VOA Yemen, South Sudan, and Somalia are already in what the United Nations calls a Phase 5 emergency – catastrophic hunger or famine.

“Other countries—Nigeria, Sudan, and Kenya for example—Ethiopia as well—we have millions of people who are just one step away from this catastrophic phase,” he said. “And we have to avoid that they end up in that phase because that is where people literally die from starvation and disease on our watch. If we have to avoid that, we need to act now.”

Ukraine and Russia are known as the “breadbasket of the world,” supplying nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley exports. The World Food Program said the war in Ukraine will increase global hunger.

It said the conflict is disrupting food and energy markets and driving food prices beyond consumers’ reach.

The United Nations launched appeals for each of the seven countries months ago for global total of $43 billion. Laerke said only 6.5% of this amount has been funded. He said the U.N. knows the $100 million it has made available for emergency relief will not solve the problems facing these countries.

“But it does plug a hole. It does cover a gap that is immediate, that is urgent, and that is absolutely necessary if we want to save lives in these countries,” he said. “And that is the function of Central Emergency Response Fund. It is kind of a provider of last resort.”

Laerke added that U.N. agencies hope donors will understand the situation facing these countries and support their humanitarian operations. If not, he said, drastic cuts will have to be made in critical projects.

Source: Voice of America