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UN: 1 Million South Sudan Refugees Now in Uganda

KAMPALA, UGANDA — 

The number of South Sudanese refugees sheltering in Uganda has reached 1 million, the United Nations said Thursday, a grim milestone for what has become the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

Ugandan officials say they are overwhelmed by the flow of people fleeing South Sudan’s civil war, and the U.N. refugee agency urges the international community to donate more for humanitarian assistance.

An average of 1,800 South Sudanese citizens have been arriving daily in Uganda in the past 12 months, the UNHCR said in a statement. Another 1 million or more South Sudanese are sheltering in Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Congo and Central African Republic.

The number of people fleeing jumped after fighting again erupted in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, in July 2016.

Thousands arrive daily

“Recent arrivals continue to speak of barbaric violence, with armed groups reportedly burning down houses with civilians inside, people being killed in front of family members, sexual assaults of women and girls and kidnapping of boys for forced conscription,” the statement said.

“With refugees still arriving in the thousands, the amount of aid we are able to deliver is increasingly falling short.”

A fundraising summit hosted by Uganda in June raised only a fraction of the $2 billion that Ugandan officials have said is needed to sufficiently look after the refugees and the communities hosting them.

“This unhappy 1 million milestone must serve as a wake-up call to the international community that much more is needed from them,” Sarah Jackson, an Amnesty International official in the region, said in a statement Thursday. “With no resolution to the conflict in South Sudan in sight, refugees will continue to flee to Uganda and the humanitarian crisis will only escalate.”

Most of the refugees are women and children fleeing violence, often along ethnic lines, since the world’s newest country erupted into violence in December 2013.

Uganda under strain

Ugandan refugee officials have repeatedly warned that the influx is straining the country’s ability to be generous to the refugees, who often are given small plots of land for building temporary shelters and planting crops when they arrive.

The largest of the settlements hosting refugees from South Sudan, Bidi Bidi, is roughly 230 square kilometers (88.8 sq. miles).

The World Food Program cut food rations for some refugees amid funding shortages in June.

The U.N. says at least $674 million is needed to support South Sudanese refugees in Uganda this year, although only a fifth of that amount has been received.

The money is needed to provide basic services, including stocking clinics with medicines and putting up schools. Aid agencies say classroom sizes in the few available schools often exceed 200 pupils, and other children have dropped out because the nearest schools are miles away.

Basic services suffering

“The funding shortfall in Uganda is now significantly impacting the abilities to deliver life-saving aid and key basic services,” the UNHCR statement said.

Fighting persists in parts of South Sudan despite multiple cease-fire agreements. Rebel forces said Tuesday they had reclaimed their stronghold of Pagak in the northeast, less than a week after being pushed out by government forces.

Both sides have committed serious rights violations, including murder and rape, against civilians, according to U.N. investigators.

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Kenyan Election Official Delayed, Allowed to Fly to US

NAIROBI, KENYA — 

Kenyan officials say a top electoral official, among those who oversaw Kenya’s disputed presidential election, was delayed while on her way to the U.S.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said via Twitter Wednesday that commissioner Roselyn Akombe delayed at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport by officials who have since apologized. She is to return from the U.S. on Sunday.

Earlier Wednesday, officials who insisted on anonymity for fear of reprisals said Akombe was stopped by security agents from boarding a flight to New York late Tuesday. Officials say her luggage was offloaded and she was told to seek clearance to travel from the director of immigration.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has rejected the official results of the presidential election, which show he lost to incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta. Odinga claims that the vote was rigged.

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Boko Haram Bombers Kill 20 at Village in Northeast Nigeria

MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA — 

Suicide bombers attacked a camp for internally displaced people and a nearby market in a northeastern Nigeria village Tuesday, killing at least 20 people, a local official said Tuesday.

Village chief Lawan Kalli said Tuesday at least three suicide bombers entered Mandarari’s market around 5 p.m. posing as buyers, then an undetermined number went to the nearby camp for people displaced by Nigeria’s conflict while at least one stayed at the market. They all detonated their explosives almost simultaneously, he said.

“Our village is right at the entrance into Konduga town and that is where both the camp and the makeshift market are situated, which made us an instant target point of the insurgents,” Kalli said.

At least 80 people were injured and were rushed to the hospital in Maiduguri, a town about 30 kilometers (18 miles) away, he said.

Musa Bura, a youth volunteer in nearby Konduga town, said most members of the local defense force were on guard at the market and not the nearby camp.

“The suicide bombers came, three in number. One went into the camp and detonated and almost immediately everywhere turned into disarray, and in the confusion, the two other suicide bombers detonated in the market,” he said.

The death toll will likely rise, he predicted.

Boko Haram’s eight-year insurgency has displaced millions in Nigeria and neighboring countries and has killed more than 20,000 people.

The Islamic insurgents also staged attacks late Monday that killed seven people in the communities of Nyibango and Muduhu in the Madagali Local Government Area of Adamawa, said the chairman of the Madagali Local Government Council, Yusuf Muhammed.

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Zimbabwe Vice President in South African Hospital

HARARE, ZIMBABWE — 

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe says one of his deputies is in a South African hospital, as local media reported he was poisoned at a political rally.

Mugabe did not address the poisoning claims Monday. He told thousands at a national ceremony to honor independence heroes that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa is in a hospital in Johannesburg.

Health minister David Parirenyatwa told reporters at the ceremony that Mnangagwa was taken to a hospital Saturday because “he had severe vomiting with diarrhea and became dehydrated.” Mnangagwa is now “much better, almost jovial,” he said.

Mnangagwa is viewed as one of Mugabe’s potential successors and is linked to a faction involved in a vicious succession battle. First lady Grace Mugabe is associated with the other faction.

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UN: Gunmen Attack 2 UN Peacekeeping Sites in Mali, 2 Killed

UNITED NATIONS — 

The United Nations says unidentified gunmen have attacked two U.N. peacekeeping sites in Mali, killing one Malian soldier and one U.N. peacekeeper.

U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the U.N. camp in Douentza in the Mopti region of central Mali came under attack Monday morning. He said in addition to the two soldiers, two gunmen were killed when U.N. peacekeepers fired back.

Haq said the U.N. joins the peacekeeping mission’s condemnation of the attack.

He said armed men launched an attack Monday afternoon against the U.N. peacekeeping mission’s headquarters in Timbuktu city in northern Mali. He said the mission dispatched a quick reaction force and helicopters to the scene “and sporadic gunfire is still ongoing.”

The peacekeeping mission in Mali is the deadliest of the U.N.’s 16 global peacekeeping operations.

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Many Kenyans Go to Work in Capital Despite Call to Stay Away

Many residents of the Kenyan capital have returned to work despite a call by opposition leader Raila Odinga to stay at home to protest last week’s disputed election in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner.However, many street stalls w…

Police: Restaurant Under Attack by Gunmen in Burkina Faso

OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINA FASO — 

A Turkish restaurant came under attack late Sunday as heavy gunfire erupted in the capital of Burkina Faso, which has seen a surge in violence by Islamic extremists over the past few years.

Security forces were at the scene with armored vehicles, as reports of shots fired near an upscale restaurant in Ouagadougou brought back painful memories of a January 2016 attack at a cafe that left 30 people dead.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility and it was not known whether there were any casualties. Police spokesman Capt. Guy Ye told The Associated Press the target of the attack was a Turkish restaurant known as Aziz Istanbul.

Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation in West Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world. It shares a northern border with Mali, which has long battled Islamic extremists.

The three attackers in the 2016 massacre were of foreign origin, according to al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which claimed responsibility in the aftermath along with the jihadist group known as Al Mourabitoun. But the terror threat in Burkina Faso is increasingly homegrown, experts say.

The northern border region is now the home of a local preacher, Ibrahim Malam Dicko, who radicalized and has claimed recent deadly attacks against troops and civilians. His association, Ansarul Islam, is now considered a terrorist group by Burkina Faso’s government.

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South Africa's Opposition Moves to Dissolve Parliament

JOHANNESBURG — 

South Africa’s main opposition party submitted a motion to dissolve the nation’s parliament on Thursday, which, if passed, would require fresh national elections.

“The ANC is willing to do anything to protect President Jacob Zuma,” said John Steenhuisen, chief whip of the Democratic Alliance party. “South Africans need to be given the opportunity to make their voices heard at the polls.”

The dissolution motion comes hot on the heels of a no confidence vote which Zuma narrowly survived earlier this week.

The dissolution attempt, which requires 201 out of 400 parliamentary votes to pass, is seen as unlikely to succeed as the ANC holds a majority of 249 of the house’s seats.

The motion says the some ANC lawmakers “no longer represent the earnest hopes and aspirations of the electorate” and “exhibit unquestioning fealty to President Jacob Zuma and to the organization he leads.”

The ANC blasted the DA’s move as an attempt to subvert the will of South African voters by trying to dissolve a government that received 62 percent of the national vote in the 2014 polls.

Zuma has survived multiple attempts by the opposition to remove him from power, as he has faced growing anger over multiple allegations of corruption while the economy has slid into recession.

Tuesday’s no-confidence motion was the first to be held by secret ballot, and more than 25 members of his ruling party revolted and supported the motion or abstained, the ANC said.

“We are deeply disappointed that some of our ANC members allowed themselves to be used by the opposition to fracture and weaken the ANC and destabilize our country,” the party said in a statement. It did not say how and if it would discipline members who did not tow the party line.

The ANC is expected to replace Zuma as party president at a meeting in December, but his term as head of state is set to continue until elections in 2019.

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Officials: Rwandan Refugee in Uganda Kidnapped in Capital

KAMPALA, UGANDA — 

Ugandan officials say a Rwandan refugee has been kidnapped by unknown people in the capital, Kampala.

Apollo Kazungu, a government commissioner in charge of refugees, says Rene Rutagungira was known to refugee officials before the incident this week.

Ugandan police and U.N. officials did not immediately comment.

Over the years, some Rwandan exiles and refugees in Uganda have complained about the risk of abduction by Rwandan agents.

Douglas Asiimwe, a refugee officer, says it is not possible to give bodyguards to Rwandan refugees despite the threats.

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Up to 50 Migrants 'Deliberately Drowned' Off Yemen, UN Says

JOHANNESBURG — 

Up to 50 migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia were “deliberately drowned” when a smuggler forced them into the sea off Yemen’s coast, the U.N. migration agency said Wednesday, calling the drownings “shocking and inhumane.”

International Organization for Migration staffers found the shallow graves of 29 of the migrants on a beach in Shabwa during a routine patrol, the agency’s statement said. The dead were buried by those who survived.

At least 22 migrants remained missing, the IOM said. The passengers’ average age was around 16, the agency said.

The narrow waters between the Horn of Africa and Yemen have been a popular migration route despite Yemen’s ongoing conflict. Migrants try to make their way to the oil-rich Gulf countries.

The smuggler forced more than 120 migrants into the sea Wednesday morning as they approached Yemen’s coast, the IOM statement said.

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

IOM staffers provided aid for 27 surviving migrants who remained on the beach, while other migrants left.

De Boeck called the suffering of migrants on the route enormous, especially during the current windy season on the Indian Ocean. “Too many young people pay smugglers with the false hope of a better future,” he said.

The IOM says about 55,000 migrants have left Horn of Africa nations for Yemen since January, with most from Somalia and Ethiopia. A third of them are estimated to be women.

Despite the fighting in Yemen, African migrants continue to arrive in the war-torn country where there is no central authority to prevent them from traveling onward. The migrants are vulnerable to abuse by armed trafficking rings, many of them believed to be connected to the armed groups involved in the war.

The conflict itself is a deadly risk. In March, Somalia’s government blamed the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen for an attack on a boat that killed at least 42 Somali refugees off Yemen’s coast.

Some Somalis are desperate to avoid years of chaos at home with attacks by homegrown extremist group al-Shabab and deadly drought. Some Ethiopians have left home after months of deadly anti-government protests and a 10-month state of emergency.

More than 111,500 migrants landed on Yemen’s shores last year, up from around 100,000 the year before, according to the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat, a grouping of international agencies that monitors migration in the area.

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