Hungry S.Sudanese ‘eat leaves and seeds to survive’

In this photo taken Friday, March 10, 2017, women pick leaves from a tree that they will later cook for dinner in the small village of Apada, near Aweil, in South Sudan. (AP)
Updated 10 April 2017
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Hungry S.Sudanese ‘eat leaves and seeds to survive’

NAIROBI: South Sudanese villagers are eating leaves from trees and precious seed stocks as food runs out in areas where famine has not been declared, a humanitarian aid group said Monday.
The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said villages outside Aweil Center County in the north of the country were on the brink of famine, which was declared in February in two counties to the east.
“Eating barely edible wild foods is a coping strategy for communities trying to survive a food crisis,” said NRC’s South Sudan country director Rehana Zawar.
“The bitter leaves eaten by families we spoke to are from the Lalop tree, and have limited nutritional value. When families eat these leaves and little else, malnutrition quickly follows.”
Some 100,000 people are already in a state of famine in the counties of Leer and Mayendit, and aid agencies have warned another one million are at risk in the coming months.
“About 40 percent of the people in Amothic are eating tree leaves. About half of the village are eating their seed stocks too,” said Deng Yel Piol, 48, the chief of the village in Aweil Center, cited in the NRC statement.
According to the NRC, the consumption of seeds is particularly alarming in the farming community, which will have few to plant in the next growing season.
The county is one of many in the region classified as in a “crisis” or “emergency” phase of hunger, a short way away from famine which implies acute malnutrition in over 30 percent of people, and at least two deaths per 10,000 people every day.
The food crisis is the latest in a vicious cycle of hunger blamed on civil war in South Sudan, from near-famine conditions in 2014 to devastating scenes of starvation in the early 1990s when the country was still battling for independence.
After independence in 2011, fighting turned inwards and a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar plunged the country into war in 2013.
Hunger has sent over 60,000 from the northern region fleeing into Sudan in the first three months of 2017, according to the UN refugee agency.
This has compounded a humanitarian crisis caused by fighting, which has thousands fleeing every day into Uganda — now the site of the world’s largest refugee camp — and Ethiopia.
Over 1.7 million have fled the country and another 1.9 million are internally displaced.


Suicide bombers in deadly attack on Afghan ministry

Updated 20 April 2019
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Suicide bombers in deadly attack on Afghan ministry

  • At least 7 people were killed in the attack on the Afghan communications ministry in Kabul
  • The area around the building was sealed off by police as at least 3 attackers battled security forces for several hours

KABUL: Suicide bombers and gunmen attacked the communications ministry in central Kabul on Saturday, officials said, in a deadly, hours-long assault that destroyed weeks of relative calm in the capital.
The Taliban said it had “nothing to do” with the attack, which left some 2,000 people stranded in the tall office building for hours at the start of the Afghan work week.
No other group claimed immediate responsibility, but the Afghan branch of Daesh has previously carried out multiple deadly attacks in the capital.
“As a result of today’s explosion/attack in Kabul city, two people have been martyred (killed) and 6 others are wounded,” the health ministry spokesman wrote in a tweet, adding 3 of the injured were women.
In a statement, the interior ministry said four civilians and three soldiers had been killed, though unverified social media posts suggested the final toll could be higher.
AFP journalists heard one big blast around 11:40 am (0710 GMT), followed by sporadic gunfire for hours afterwards.
“The information that we have is four attackers have placed themselves near the communication ministry and are engaged in gunbattles with the Afghan security forces,” Amanduddin Shariati, a security official in Kabul told AFP.
By about 5:00 p.m. (1230 GMT), the interior ministry declared the assault over.
“Operations finished. All suicide bombers killed & more than 2000 civilians staff rescued,” the ministry said on Twitter.
Panicked workers inside the 18-story building, believed to be Kabul’s tallest, moved up to the top floor as gunmen and Afghan security officials battled lower down.
One woman said she had been in a group of about 30 people on the 10th floor when the assault started, then was told to move up to the 18th floor as gunfire increased. They were all eventually rescued by commandos.
“Women were screaming and children of the kindergarten were the first to be evacuated,” the woman, who did not want to be named, told AFP.
Afghan authorities gave conflicting reports during the incident. The information ministry initially said three suicide bombers had attacked a post office building at the ministry.
General Sayed Mohammad Roshan Dil, the Kabul police chief, said four attackers had been wearing police uniforms and had targeted a shrine near the ministry.
Footage on local television showed a small plume at the building, and people climbing out windows on a lower level.
The presidential palace said in a statement “the enemies of Afghanistan have conducted a terrorist attack.”
“Once again they have created fear and have killed or wounded a number of innocent countrymen,” the statement read.
The communication ministry is located in downtown Kabul, about two kilometers (1.25 miles) from the green zone, a heavily fortified compound for foreign embassies.
The area is the city’s main commercial zone and is home to a large hotel.
Aside from a grenade attack on a military vehicle last week and persistent crime, the capital has in recent weeks enjoyed a period of relative calm.
Last year however saw a string of attacks including one where a massive bomb concealed in an ambulance killed more than 100 people.
The attack comes a week after the Taliban announced their annual spring offensive and amid ongoing fighting across Afghanistan.
It illustrates the sprawling nature of Afghanistan’s conflict, and the obstacles to peace even if a deal is reached with the Taliban.
This week in the Qatari capital Doha, a summit planned between the Taliban and officials from across Afghanistan was scrapped at the last minute due to bickering over who should attend the conference.
The collapse comes at a critical time and amid continued bloodshed in Afghanistan, where the Taliban now control or influence about half of Afghanistan and 3,804 civilians were killed there last year, according to a UN tally.
Taliban officials are separately negotiating with the United States, which wants to forge a peace deal with the militants.