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Sudan gets new defence minister

Maj. Gen Yassin Ibrahim, 62, was sworn in Tuesday before Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, a statement from the council said.

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PHOTO: Maj. Gen. Yassin Ibrahim Yassin, left, takes the oath as Minister of Defense in front of Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, at the Presidential Palace, in Khartoum, Sudan, on June 2, 2020/ AP

Sudan has sworn in new defence minister, Maj. Gen Yassin Ibrahim, two months after the death of the former defence chief, General Jamal al-Din Omar who died while in neighbouring South Sudan for peace talks with the country’s main rebel groups.

Ibrahim, 62, was sworn in Tuesday before Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, a statement from the council.

The new defence chief came out of retirement to take the position.

His appointment comes a year after long-time autocrat Omar Bashir was toppled in mass protests in April 2019.

“We will work side by side doing our best… to achieve the goals of the constitutional declaration,” the official SUNA news agency quoted Ibrahim as saying after he was sworn in.

The swearing-in came amid tensions with neighbouring Ethiopia over a cross-border attack allegedly conducted by a militia backed by Ethiopia’s military.

Since August last year a transitional government, comprised of civilians and military officials, has taken over the reins of power in Sudan after political factions adopted a constitutional declaration.

The declaration paved the way for the new government to steer the country to civilian rule during a three-year transition.

But the transition has been fragile with the government facing major challenges, including soaring inflation, a huge public debt, tribal clashes and efforts to forge peace with rebels. 

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Seven Illegal Immigrants Drown in Libya

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The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday that seven illegal immigrants drowned off the Libyan coast over the past week.

“In the period of 17-23 November, the bodies of 7 immigrants washed up on shore and no survivors returned to Libya,” IOM said.

The IOM also said that 11,765 illegal immigrants had been rescued and returned to Libya so far in 2020, compared with 9,225 in 2019.

The organisation also revealed that a total of 312 illegal immigrants died and 414 others went missing on the Central Mediterranean route so far this year, compared with 270 deaths and 992 missing immigrants last year.

Following the ouster and killing of its leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has been mired in a state of insecurity and chaos that has prompted thousands of illegal immigrants to cross the Mediterranean Sea toward Europe from the country.

Thousands of illegal immigrants, who were either rescued at sea or arrested by the authorities, remain detained inside overcrowded detention centres in Libya, in spite of repeated international calls to close those centres.

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Egyptian Actor, Mohamed Ramadan to Face Trial over Photograph with Israeli Singer

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Egyptian actor and singer, Mohamed Ramadan, will face trial in December, following outrage in Egypt when a photo he took with an Israeli singer was posted on social media.

A lawyer, Tareq Mahmoud, filed a lawsuit against Ramadan, saying the photo offended Egyptians, but it was not clear what the precise charge against him was.

The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters said the trial would begin on Dec. 19.

A photo of Ramadan posing with Israeli singer, Omer Adam in Dubai was first posted on Twitter by an Emirati journalist, and was deleted afterwards.

It however, later appeared on a Facebook page with the title “Israel speaks Arabic’’ linked to the Israeli Foreign Ministry along with the caption “Art always brings us together.’’

In response to the attacks online, Ramadan said on his own Facebook page that he never asked people their nationality before they took picture with him.

He also posted a video with a Palestinian fan in Dubai, accusing his attackers of trying to sabotage his success and popularity.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

However, it has been described as “cold peace’’ and many in Egypt reject normalisation between the two countries.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain recently established official ties with Israel.

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UNICEF Says 348,000 Libyan Children Need Humanitarian Aid

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The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that more than 348,000 children out of 1.2 million people, need humanitarian assistance in Libya, due to the impact of the prolonged armed conflict, political and economic crises and the COVID-19 pandemic.

It also said that $49.1 million is needed by the agency itself together with its partners for emergency interventions in the country in 2021.

In a statement issued on Friday on the review of its humanitarian work plan and needs in 2021, on the occasion of International Children’s Day, UNICEF announced that “it will work with government officials, civil society organisations and the private sector to implement its humanitarian, development and peacebuilding strategy in Libya.

The main needs associated with the coronavirus outbreak include priority interventions for 2021, health, water, sanitation, hygiene, education and child protection.

“Humanitarian needs continue to increase in Libya due to the political crisis, armed conflict and now the COVID-19 pandemic,” UNICEF said, noting that “the first half of 2020 has seen the death of nearly 500 civilians, including 79 children”.

In August 2020, the UN agency counted the needs of more than 392,000 internally displaced persons and about 494,000 returnees for humanitarian assistance, including clean water, sanitation, access to health services, education and protection, ensuring that a total of 283,000 children are in need of protection and 165,000 have access to education.

UNICEF also warned of “the suffering of Libyan children and families due to the rapid deterioration of public services, high food and fuel prices, loss of livelihoods and serious protection problems.”

The agency, however, noted that vaccination services have ceased due to the coronavirus epidemic. In addition, “children are affected by armed conflict and are extremely vulnerable to violence, exploitation, trafficking, gender-based violence, recruitment by armed groups and illegal detention.”

Regarding the status of illegal immigrants, UNICEF has recorded the presence of nearly 585,000 migrants and refugees in Libya, including about 47,000 children (about 12,000 of them unaccompanied) since August 2020.

Every year on 20 November, UNICEF celebrates Universal Children’s Day, which coincides with the date of the adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

The International Day aims to promote international cohesion and awareness among the world’s children and to improve their well-being.

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