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Record-Setting Cyclone Gati Hits Somalia

It’s the first recorded instance of a hurricane-strength hitting the country with sustained winds of around 105 mph. Gati is much more intense than the previous strongest storm to hit Somalia.

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The strongest tropical cyclone ever measured in the northern Indian Ocean, tropical Cyclone Gati arrived in Somalia, East Africa on Sunday.  

It’s the first recorded instance of a hurricane-strength hitting the country with sustained winds of around 105 mph. Gati is much more intense than the previous strongest storm to hit Somalia. 

In 2018, tropical Cyclone Sagar crashed into northern Somalia near the Djibouti border with winds of around 60 mph and heavy rain.

Climate experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Physical Sciences Laboratory say that Gati is the strongest tropical cyclone that has been recorded in the region.   

They added that its escalation from about 40 mph to 115 mph was the largest 12-hour increase on record for a tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean. The storms usually form then begin to move west towards the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa. This runs into another force field with devastating tendencies around coastal terrains.  

The storms are leading to a lot more rain. The attendant effect of climate change is causing spikes in ocean temperatures and a moister atmosphere. These are major triggers for tropical cyclones.   

Although Northern Somalia gets about 4 inches of rain per year on the average, projections show that Gati could bring 8 inches over the next two days — “two years’ worth of rainfall in just two days,” an observer adds. 

A United Nations alert warned the storm posed an immediate threat to the marine shipping lane that links Somalia and the Gulf states.

Threats of heavy rain and flash flooding may hit regions like Socotra, Somalia, Yemen, and western Oman from Sunday night into Monday and potentially Tuesday.

SBC Somali TV reports eight people have died in the storm, several others wounded including five fishermen from Yemen.

Reports show that streets and houses in Hurdiya and Bosaso have been flooded. Several buildings in the eastern Somalia town Hafun are equally affected with dozens of people being evacuated.

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East Africa News

Cases of Sexual Violence Reported in Tigray – UN Envoy

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The United Nations (UN) has revealed that serious allegations of sexual violence are being reported in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.

Pramila Pattern, a Mauritian-British barrister and UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict, said the reports included a high number of alleged rapes in Mekelle, Tigray’s capital.

Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) seized control of Mekelle from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) on 28 November after several weeks of fighting.

“There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence,” Ms Patten said in a statement.

“Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.

“While medical centres have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict.

“In addition, there are increasing reports of sexual violence against women and girls in a number of refugee camps.”

She called on those parties involved in the hostilities “to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence”.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a ground and air offensive on 4 November to oust the region’s ruling party, after its troops captured federal military bases.

He declared victory in Tigray after a month’s conflict, but fugitive TPLF leaders vowed to continue the fight.

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COVID-19: Kenya Airways Suspends Flights to 2 European Hubs

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Kenya Airways said on Friday it has suspended flights to two major European hubs following the introduction of new regulations as a result of a new variant of the coronavirus.

The Airline said the suspension of the flights is temporary.

The service suspension affects flights to France – Charles de Gaulle Airport and the Netherlands – Schiphol Airport through the month of February 2021.

“The temporary suspension is due to the new COVID-19 regulations in Europe that have resulted in depressed demand,” the airline said in a statement.

The airline expects to resume regular services to France on 3 March, 2021, and to the Netherlands on 7 March, 2021.

The airline said the resumption of the flights will be communicated. “We will keep customers updated in case of any changes to these resumption plans,” the airline added.

KQ said customers who had booked their flights to these two destinations, would be provided with alternative flight options.

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15-Day COVID-19 Lockdown: Rwanda Distributes Food to Vulnerable Families

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Following its decision to lockdown Kigali, its capital, the Rwanda authorities have begun the distribution of COVID-19 palliatives to vulnerable families in affected by the restriction.

News Central reports that the Rwandan government had, on Monday, imposed a 15-day lockdown on Kigali to curb the spread coronavirus after a surge in cases in the capital.

All movements outside homes require an approved permit from the police, except for essential service providers.

However, to help some 3,000 families – identified as the most vulnerable – cope with the lockdown the government is distributing food rations to households.

Local and international reports said that as of Thursday evening households have started receiving sacks of rice, maize flour and beans.

Some 3,000 families have been identified as the most vulnerable. The city has a population of about one million people.

There have been concerns that hundreds of thousands of residents who live hand to mouth would face hunger during the lockdown.

The authorities have assured that food will reach the most vulnerable, as well as poor Covid-19 patients being treated at home.

The rations were being delivered by volunteers who had tested negative before the programme started, city officials said.

A free phone line is available for requests from “those who want and merit the food aid to be delivered at their doorsteps”.

On Thursday Rwanda reported nine Covid-19 deaths, the highest daily fatalities so far, and 310 new cases.

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