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UN Seeks $147M Support For Ethiopians Fleeing Into Sudan

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The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, has launched an appeal for $147 million to support as many as 100,000 people fleeing Ethiopia’s Tigray region into neighbouring Sudan.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), on Monday, said more than 43,000 people have fled across the border to escape fighting in Ethiopia in recent weeks, almost half of them children, the UN said in a statement.

The Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, on Saturday, announced the capture of Mekelle, the Tigray regional capital, by the Ethiopian Defence Forces from the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) forces.

Violence erupted at the start of November in Tigray involving federal and local forces, following the reported takeover of an army base in Mekelle, which prompted the prime minister to order a military offensive.

Mr. Grandi said in a statement that Sudan’s welcome of the refugees was an example to the international community and called for international support to bolster its effort.

“The Government of Sudan has kept the border open in the best tradition of African and Sudanese hospitality and I want to commend it as an example to the international community. But the government of Sudan needs a lot of help,” he said during a four-day visit to the region.

In its appeal document, UNHCR said its current planning scenario was for an anticipated increase in refugee numbers, with a total of 100,000 by April 2021, but the worst-case scenario was for an influx of 200,000.

UNHCR said on Friday it had begun airlifting aid to the refugees, sending the first of four planeloads of supplies to Khartoum, with a second flight due to bring 100 tonnes from Dubai on Monday, including blankets, solar lamps, mosquito nets, plastic sheets, tents and prefabricated warehouses.

The appeal for $147m aims to fund UNHCR, the UN and humanitarian community to help Sudan manage the crisis over the next six months.

During his trip, Mr. Grandi met Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, and other Government officials in Khartoum, and he spoke to refugees at the hot and dusty frontier where they are coming across, many of whom said they wanted to return home as soon as it was safe, according to UNHCR.

Mr. Grandi also said he was worried about the situation facing almost 100,000 refugees from Eritrea who are hosted by Ethiopia in the Tigray region.

“Ethiopia is a very hospitable country for refugees, but now they are caught in this conflict, we don’t have access to them,” he said.

In a separate report, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said lack of funding had forced it to cut rations for refugees in East Africa, and WFP Ethiopia urgently needed $209m to assist 6.2 million beneficiaries from December 2020 to May 2021.

It said the fighting between the Ethiopian National Defence Forces and the Tigray People’s Liberation front had displaced more than 100,000 civilians, including those who had fled into eastern Sudan since 4 November.

Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Sunday that local hospitals and health facilities in the Tigray capital, Mekelle, are running dangerously low on medical supplies to care for the wounded as well as other mounting medical needs and conditions.

Ambulances run by the Ethiopian Red Cross Society (ERCS) have been transporting the injured and deceased people to Ayder Referral Hospital in Mekelle, it said in a statement.

ICRC staff visited Ayder Referral Hospital on Saturday and found approximately 80 per cent of patients to be suffering from traumatic injuries.

The influx of the wounded forced the hospital to suspend many other medical services so that limited staff and resources could be devoted to emergency medical care, it said.

“The hospital is running dangerously low on sutures, antibiotics, anticoagulants, painkillers, and even gloves,” said Maria Soledad, the head of operations for the ICRC in Ethiopia, who visited Ayder Referral Hospital and is currently in Mekelle. “The influx of injured comes more than three weeks after supply chains were disrupted into Mekelle. We need to ensure that health workers have the supplies and conditions they need to carry out their lifesaving work.”

The hospital is also lacking in body bags for the deceased. Food supplies are also low, affecting particularly those recovering from surgery and requiring specific nutritional needs.

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Semi Ajayi Trumps Boly as West Brom Beat Wolves 3-2

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Nigeria’s Super Eagles defender, Semi Ajayi, continued his scoring form for West Brom in the Baggies 3-2 away victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Molineux Stadium.

Ajayi, who has had success in front of goal this season, grabbed the equaliser for his side who were trailing 2-1 by halftime.

The 27-year-old Nigerian scored in West Brom’s draw against Liverpool last month while he was also on target in the FA Cup loss to Blackpool last weekend. He also had an effort ruled as a Ruben Dias own goal in the Baggies draw against Manchester City at the Etihad. His goal on Saturday afternoon was his second in 17 league matches.

West Brom’s Matheus Pereira scored twice from the spot to give Allardyce his first victory as the club’s manager.

The result gave West Brom a big boost in their bid to avoid relegation, as they moved to within three points of 17th place, albeit remaining stuck in 19th spot for now. Wolves stay in 14th place.

“It’s massive. If there was one game to change our season, this is the game. It’s the one fans look forward to the most,” West Brom midfielder Romaine Sawyers told BT Sport.

“We had seven days with the gaffer. This was the first time really on the training ground, getting back to basics… He’s a bit tough on us, but it’s not a happy situation we’re in, so we need that tough love.”

West Brom opened the scoring when centre back Willy Boly fouled Callum Robinson in the seventh minute on the edge of the box and Pereira stepped up to convert the penalty, sending Wolves keeper Rui Patricio the wrong way.

Boly made amends later when his back-heeled pass in the box freed up Fabio Silva, who side-footed the ball past David Button for the 18-year-old’s first goal at home.

Minutes later, Boly made it 2-1 when the ball fell to him during a corner kick, leaving Button no chance to make a save as the defender scored from six yards out.

West Brom turned things around with two quick-fire goals after the restart, the first from a long throw-in when Kyle Bartley’s flicked header allowed Semi Ajayi to loop his header past Patricio.

The visitors sealed the win when Robinson won another penalty after drawing a foul from defender Conor Coady and Pereira scored from the spot again.

“We wanted to control the game and be aggressive in defence and we didn’t do it,” Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said.

“Two penalties and a throw-in. We knew we required better defending. We must rectify it and do better.”

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UN Peacekeeper Dies After Vehicle Strikes Landmine in Mali

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A United Nations peacekeeper has died in northern Mali after his vehicle struck a landmine, a statement said on Saturday.

The statement, issued by the United Nation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), said that the second of the two peacekeepers in the vehicle was seriously injured.

Mahamat Saleh Annadif, MINUSMA Head, said the peacekeeping mission’s tanker truck, which was part of a logistics convoy, drove over the mine near the town of Tessalit in the Kidal region.

While securing the site of the incident, peacekeepers detected a second explosive device and neutralized it, the statement added.

Mali’s central and north have experienced regular flare-ups of violent attacks following a 2012 military coup that saw separatist rebel groups and later al-Qaeda-associated militants take control of the region.

French and African military operations, alongside the Malian Army’s efforts scattered militants and restored government control over the area.

Rebel activities and military operations have, however, continued in some areas in spite of signing of various peace agreements.

MINUSMA is supporting the Malian Army and France’s Operation Barkhane in securing the volatile region.

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Three UN Peacekeepers Killed Injured in Mali, CAR in 3 Days

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No fewer than three UN peacekeepers were reportedly killed and four others injured in separate attacks in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Mali over the past three days.

According to the United Nations, the deceased peacekeepers were from Rwanda, Burundi and Egypt while the nationalities of those wounded have not been disclosed.

The UN said the latest attack, which occurred on Friday near Tessalit, a village in the Kidal region of Mali, targeted a convoy of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

An Egyptian peacekeeper died and another was seriously injured in that incident, UN spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement on Saturday.

Earlier on Friday, a peacekeeper from Burundi was killed and two others injured in an attack by combatants in CAR.

That attack targeted a convoy of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) in Grimari, a city in the Ouaka prefecture.

It followed a similar attack by rebel fighters near the capital, Bangui, on Wednesday that left a Rwandan peacekeeper dead and another wounded.

Reports say violence has intensified in parts of the Central African Republic over the Dec. 27 presidential and legislative elections.

Armed groups opposed to the re-election of President Faustin-Archange Touadera, are alleged to be behind the attacks.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said the worsening post-election violence had forced no fewer than 120,000 people from their homes.

In different statements, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned all the attacks and called for action to bring the perpetrators to justice.

He emphasised that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers might constitute a war crime.

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