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IOM Rescues 79 Illegal Migrants Off Libyan Coast

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The International Organisation for Migration (IOM), over the weekend, disclosed that not more than 79 illegal migrants were rescued and eight others went missing off the Libyan coast.

Reports say that IOM staff are currently providing emergency assistance to the 79 migrants returned to Libya by the coast guard, among the rescued migrants were 13 women and seven children.

Libya has been mired in chaos following the ouster and killing of its leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, making the North African country a preferred point of departure for illegal migrants who intend to cross the Mediterranean Sea towards Europe.

Thousands of illegal migrants, who were either rescued at sea or arrested by the authorities, remain detained in overcrowded detention centres in Libya.

This is in spite of repeated international calls to close the centres.

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Rabbis Condemn Tunisia’s President Saied over ‘Thieving Jews’ Comments

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The Conference of European Rabbis (CER) on Wednesday warned that Tunisian Jews may become targets after President Kais Saied blamed them for rising social tensions in the country.

President Saied had in a recent meeting with residents of the low-income Al-Tadamon neighborhood – also known as Ettadhamen-Mnihla – in Greater Tunis blamed Tunisia’s woes on “thieving Jews”.

A recording of the visit to Al-Tadamon, including the president’s comments, were uploaded to his Facebook account on Tuesday.

CER’s Chief Rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt, condemned the president’s verbal attacks on the Jews.

“The Conference of European Rabbis wishes to express its deep concern following the serious and public remarks made by Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed this morning, accusing Jews of being responsible for the instability in the country”

“The CER urges the Tunisian President to withdraw these remarks, which constitute an immediate threat to the physical and moral integrity of Tunisian Jewish citizens.

“We consider that the Tunisian government is the guarantor of the security of Tunisian Jews. Such allegations threaten the integrity of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world,” he said.

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Tropical Storm Eloise: Weather Service Publishes Updates

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Tropical storm Eloise made a landfall on Tuesday across the North-East of Madagascar bringing gusty winds & heavy rain. Eloise has weakened but is forecast to escalate as it exits the west coast and heads into the Mozambique Channel towards Southern Mozambique later this week.

At the moment, Eloise is currently considered as a Moderate Tropical Storm, with a central pressure less than 1000 hPa (hectopascal). It is however set to intensify in the coming days into a cyclone.

In December, Cyclone Chalane hit parts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Weather experts say South Africa may experience heavy rains over the next few days.  The storm is expected to reach the Kingdom of Eswatini this weekend, with strong winds and heavy rainfall making its way from Mozambique.

South African Meteorologist Francois Engelbrecht forecasts severe winds and flooding. 

“Right now, for South Africa, if the storm is going to follow this track into Southern Mozambique and then towards our eastern escarpment in the North East, some parts of our Limpopo province and then southwards along the escarpment in Mpumalanga all the way to Swaziland, these areas [are] getting 100mm of rainfall on Sunday and Monday.”

Engelbrecht said rains of up to 200mm in certain areas indicate a high chance of flooding.

After making a landfall, Eloise is expected to push further south-westwards towards South Africa and Mozambique. Extreme rain is expected over southern Mozambique, eastern Lowveld, escarpment of Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces as well as Northern KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa up until Monday 25th January.

Against this backdrop, the South African Weather Service (SAWS) warns that possible impacts of these rains may include general flooding, damage to road infrastructure, bridges and possible displacements of affected communities.

SAWS relying on modern satellite remote sensing as well as advanced ensemble numeric modelling techniques will continue to closely monitor and make further timely updates to the public.

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Militant Attacks in Mozambique Continue to Fuel Aid Crisis – UN

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) group, no fewer than 2,500 people have died, over half of them civilians.

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The United Nations on Wednesday, disclosed militant attacks in northern Mozambique have created a “worsening humanitarian crisis,” estimating that over half a million people had now fled their homes.

A shadowy militant group that calls itself Ahlu Sunnah Wal-Jama has terrorized residents in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province since 2017, ransacking villages in a campaign to establish an Islamist caliphate.

The group, after pledging allegiance to the Islamic State group in 2019, intensified its attacks, sometimes carrying out executions and beheadings and abducting women and children.

According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) group, no fewer than 2,500 people have died, over half of them civilians.

Thousands have had to flee their homes, mainly seeking refuge with friends and relatives in the regional capital Pemba, due to the militant attacks.

“The United Nations is deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian crisis and escalating violence forcing thousands to flee in Cabo Delgado province,” the UN’s southern and eastern Africa directors said in a joint statement.

“According to the government, militant attacks by non-state groups have forced more than 565,000 people to flee … abandoning their crops and livelihoods.”

They added that the upcoming rainy season and the coronavirus pandemic have only aggravated existing issues like the shortage of food, sanitation and schooling among the displaced.

The UN has called for more aid and resources to help uprooted families start from scratch, as they were “completely reliant on humanitarian assistance”.

“We reckon that 1.6 million people are in need of help,” UN resident Mozambique coordinator Mytra Kaulard said in an online press briefing.

“There is a cholera epidemic in Cabo Delgado that we are struggling to contain,” she added.

The UN’s statement coincided with a three-day visit by Portugal’s foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, on behalf of the European Union, to discuss security situation in its former colony, which is constantly getting worse.

Mozambican forces have struggled to regain control of Cabo Delgado, which also houses Africa’s three largest liquid natural gas (LNG) projects.

Militants have so far seized large swathes of territory, including the key port town of Mocimboa da Praia — about 60 kilometres (37 miles) south of a $20 billion gas exploration project led by Total, the French energy giant.

In late December, insurgency forced the company to suspend construction on its LNG site.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne had a meeting this week and the president vowed to “establish a security plan” to safeguard the project.

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