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Ethiopia: ICRC Urges Respect For Lives, Properties Amidst Escalating Tension in Tigray

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Friday called on those taking part in clashes in northern Ethiopia to respect people’s lives and property.

The humanitarian organization also asked the warring parties not to deny people access to timely medical care and assistance.

“We are deeply concerned that a military escalation in northern Ethiopia could trigger a wider humanitarian emergency in which people are displaced from their homes and unable to meet their basic needs,” said Katia Sorin, the head of delegation for the ICRC in Ethiopia.

“This can be averted if people’s lives and property are protected and respected,” added the official in a press statement.

The ICRC is closely following developments in northern Ethiopia, through its teams in Addis and Mekelle, and stands ready to provide humanitarian assistance as needed.

Its partner, the Ethiopia Red Cross Society, is one of the main ambulance providers in the area.

“Unimpeded access for Red Cross ambulances and teams to the wounded and those in need will be crucial if clashes escalate,” said Sorin.

The present military action in northern Ethiopia come on top of recurrent episodes of violence that have flared around the country.

Many people have been killed, injured, and displaced in different parts of Ethiopia.

The ICRC says it has long had a presence in northern Ethiopia to help those impacted by different situations of violence.

This includes ensuring people have access to water and sanitation facilities, distributing essential household items, and providing cash assistance.

It is also responding to needs created by violence in other parts of the country, such as Oromia, Benshangul-Gumuz, Amhara and Somali Regional State.

East Africa News

One Missing in Militant’s Attack on Kenyan Police Patrol

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Jihadist fundamentalist group, Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, more commonly known as al-Shabaab, on Wednesday, attacked a police patrol base in Fafi, Garissa County of Kenya and injured a police officer.

Another police officer was also said to have gone missing.

The North-eastern Regional Commander, Rono Bunei, said the security officers were at the Amuma base when the heavily armed gunmen fired at them for about ten minutes before escaping.

Bunei said the station armoury was badly damaged in the attack, noting that the search for their missing colleague was ongoing while the injured one was stable at a local hospital.

According to him, an assessment done at the scene showed the attackers were armed with rocket-propelled grenades and they escaped as reinforcements approached there.

“We are determined to deal with this menace but we need support from locals. Such an attack cannot happen without their knowledge,’’ he said.

The regional police commander said no arrests have been made so far. More patrols have been sent to the area to search for the attackers, which are believed to have either crossed the border into Somalia or were still holed up along the border.

There have been several attacks staged by the militants in counties neighbouring Somalia in a series, amid efforts to contain the situation.

Five police officers were seriously wounded on Sunday when their vehicle ran over a set improvised explosive device in Rhamu, Mandera County, in the latest such incident.

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East Africa News

Six Insurgents Killed In Southern Somalia

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The Somali National Army (SNA), on Wednesday, confirmed the killing of no fewer than six al-Shabab fighters in a security operation in Mara Adde neighbourhood in the southern region of Lower Shabelle.

The Commander of Somali infantry division, Mohamed Tahlil Bihi, who made the announcement, said that the operation came after the locals protested excessive enforced taxes ordered by the militants.

He said, “Our forces conducted an operation targeting the hideouts of those militants and we killed six of them during an intense clash between the army and the militants.’’

He added that the army also captured three al-Shabab fighters alive and destroyed bases used by the militants.

Southern and central regions of Somalia had seen clashes between government forces and al-Shabab extremists, after the militants were chased out of the capital Mogadishu in August 2011 by the Somali army and African Union forces.

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International Payments: MPesa Partners with Visa

The Mpesa-Visa partnership aims to enable tourists visiting Kenya to use Mpesa in Kenya by downloading an app. Similarly, Mpesa users travelling abroad should be able to use Mpesa to make payments abroad.

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Mpesa, a mobile money transfer service has partnered with Visa, to enable Mpesa users to make payments on e-commerce sites like Amazon, send money internationally, and make cross-border payments.

According to a report by Citi-Bank, “Mpesa is a principal license holder of Visa.”

The Mpesa-Visa partnership aims to enable tourists visiting Kenya to use Mpesa in Kenya by downloading an app. Similarly, Mpesa users travelling abroad should be able to use Mpesa to make payments abroad.

However, Mpesa and Visa are awaiting regulatory approvals for the new payment product.

“With this joint effort, Visa and Safaricom will seek to eliminate barriers to global commerce and offer an expanded set of mobile e-commerce capabilities to merchants and consumers by enabling secure and convenient cashless payment solutions, according to a statement by Visa.

Read also: Safaricom, Vodacom to acquire $13 million M-Pesa purchase rights

The Citi-Bank also report states that Mpesa is Africa’s largest Fintech. Additionally, it is the largest mobile money service with over 40 million users in Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Lesotho, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Egypt.

MPesa has 400,000 30-day active merchants and 8 million Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), over 240,000 merchants, and 5 million MSMEs in Kenya using the platform for payment collections.

In April, Safaricom and Vodacom completed the acquisition of the MPesa brand from UK’s telecommunication giant, Vodafone. The deal aimed to accelerate the growth of MPesa throughout the African continent.

Visa is the leading retail electronic payments network in the world. The partnership with MPesa will expand Visa’s network in Africa. Additionally, the deal will boost MPesa’s presence in the international scene and grow its market beyond the African continent.

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