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Libya reaches historic ceasefire between UN-backed government and Eastern forces2 minutes read

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) welcomed the truce and urged the warring parties “to strictly abide by the ceasefire.”

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Spokesperon of Libya’s Government of National Accord Colonel Mohamed Ghnouno holds a press conference in Tripoli, Libya on April 07, 2019. (Photo by Hazem Turkia/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) and the eastern forces loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar have announced a ceasefire that will commence at midnight on January 12, a statement from both sides said on Sunday.

Haftar’s forces had on Saturday announced a ceasefire in the western region, which includes the capital Tripoli, starting 00:01 a.m. on Sunday (22:01 GMT) and the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) agreed to the truce a day after, media reports said.

Since April, Libyan National Army forces loyal to Haftar have been waging a campaign to take Tripoli, where they are battling forces aligned with the GNA.

In a statement posted online early on Sunday, the Tripoli based GNA said: “In response to the Turkish president and the Russian president’s call for a ceasefire, the head of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord announces a ceasefire starting 00:00 on Jan. 12,” a Reuters report said.

While the LNA had on Thursday rebuffed a call by Turkey and Russia for a ceasefire in a conflict that is drawing increasing foreign involvement and concern, LNA spokesman Ahmed Mismari said in a video statement late on Saturday that the LNA accepted a truce in the west “provided that the other party abides by the ceasefire.”

He warned that “any breach will be met with a harsh response”.

The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) welcomed the truce and urged the warring parties “to strictly abide by the ceasefire and make a room for peaceful efforts to address all disputes through a Libyan-Libyan dialogue”.

Turkey backs the Tripoli-based GNA headed by Fayez al-Serraj, while Russian military contractors have been deployed alongside the eastern forces.

A senior GNA official said on Thursday that it welcomed any credible ceasefire proposal but had a duty to protect Libyans from Haftar’s offensive.

Any ceasefire will likely be hard to uphold after a recent escalation in fighting around Tripoli and the strategic coastal city of Sirte and given the fractious, loose nature of Libya’s military alliances.

Forces loyal to Haftar said this week they had taken control of Sirte in a rapid advance preceded by air strikes.

Earlier on Saturday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Libyan peace talks will be held in Berlin, adding that Libya’s warring parties would need to play a major role to help find a solution

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10 Migrants From Comoros Drown Trying To Reach Mayotte

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Ten migrants from the Comoro Islands, including a seven-year-old child, have drowned while trying to make their way to the island of Mayotte.

Mayotte, a French territory, is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and the coast of Mozambique.

Police said their bodies were found washed up on the beach, with their boat appearing to have capsized in a strong swell.

Rescuers picked up survivors perched on coral reefs.

Mayotte has seen an influx of migrants from neighbouring poor and unstable Comoros and from countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

About half of Mayotte’s 280,000-odd inhabitants are foreigners, about 95 percent of them from the Comoros.

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Nigerian Army Bombs ISWAP Terrorist Hideout In Lake Chad, Sambisa

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Scores of Boko Haram/Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) terrorists have been killed in Nigeria military raid on hideouts in Lake Chad and Sambisa forest in Borno, north-east, Nigeria.

The Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, in a statement on Friday, said the air strikes by Air Task Force of Operation Lafiya Dole were launched on Sept. 22 under a subsidiary operation tagged ‘’Operation Hail Storm’’.

Enenche said the air interdiction was aimed at taking out identified Boko Haram and ISWAP terrorists in the North East.

He explained that one of the targets was located at Bula Sabo on the fringes of the Sambisa forest, identified as a settlement used as a dwelling place by some terrorist commanders.

According to him, the task force dispatched Nigerian Air Force (NAF) fighter jets and helicopter gunships, which scored devastating hits on the target buildings, including a logistics facility.

Dole, which is located in the Yale-Kokiwa axis near Dikwa, was targeted because the settlement was being used by the terrorists as a venue to plan and launch attacks against the surrounding areas.

“The NAF attack aircraft similarly engaged the location, inflicting heavy damage on the insurgents’ structures and neutralising several fighters,’’ Enenche said.

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U.S Proposes Two-Year Limit For African Student Visas

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African students in the United States may be forced to reapply for visas in the middle of their courses if proposed new US immigration measures sail through.

Student visas are currently valid for as long as students are enrolled in their courses of study.

The plan, issued by the Department for Homeland Security, would limit the validity period to two years for certain immigrants under the theory that it will be easier to identify security threats and monitor compliance.

The U.S DHS cites as an example of one student who has remained in the U.S on a student visa since 1991 to attend a dance school. It does not say how many students have used student visas in similar ways.

According to the Department, whereas students from many countries will be allowed to get a four-year visa, there are others who will be limited to two years “due to heightened concerns related to fraud, abuse, and national security”.

Citizens and people born in countries – including Iran, Syria, Sudan, and North Korea – listed by the US as state sponsors of terror will be affected but by far the largest group are those from 55 countries who have had more than 10% of their citizens overstay their visas.

This includes Nigeria, which in 2019 had an overstay rate of 13% according to government data.

Other countries affected include Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, The Gambia, Liberia, Malawi and Uganda.

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