Communist leader detained after Sudan demonstration

Soaring bread prices sparked a series of protests in Sudan. (AFP)
Updated 17 January 2018
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Communist leader detained after Sudan demonstration

KHARTOUM: Sudanese security agents arrested the leader of the opposition Communist Party on Wednesday after it organized a protest in the capital Khartoum against rising bread prices, its spokesman told AFP.
Sporadic protests have erupted in parts of Sudan, including Khartoum, after bread prices more than doubled earlier this month following a jump in the cost of flour.
On Tuesday, hundreds of Sudanese demonstrated near the presidential palace in response to a call by the Communist Party.
Anti-riot police fired tear gas and beat protesters with batons to disperse the crowd.
Early on Wednesday, agents of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) arrested the Communist Party’s leader, spokesman Ali Saeed said.
“Today, at 3:00 a.m. (01:00 GMT), two trucks full of armed men from NISS came to the house of our General Secretary Mokhtar Al-Khatib and took him to an unknown location,” Saeed told AFP.
“We don’t know where he is but we do know that it was NISS that took him.”
Several other senior Communist Party figures, student leaders and activists have already been arrested since the bread price protests began.
The Communist Party said its members would continue to mobilize people and organize demonstrations, while the country’s main opposition Umma Party has called an anti-government demonstration for later on Wednesday.
The protests erupted after the cost of a 50 kilo sack of flour jumped from 167 Sudanese pounds to 450 ($9 to $25) as wheat supplies dwindled following the government’s decision to leave grain imports to private companies.
So far they have been sporadic and quickly broken up by security forces. A student was killed during a protest in the western region of Darfur on Jan. 7.
Similar protests were held in late 2016 after the government cut fuel subsidies.
The authorities cracked down on those protests to prevent a repeat of the deadly unrest that followed an earlier round of subsidy cuts in 2013.
Dozens of people were killed when security forces crushed the 2013 demonstrations, drawing international condemnation.


UN criticizes Algeria for mass deportations of migrants

Updated 2 min 41 sec ago
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UN criticizes Algeria for mass deportations of migrants

GENEVA/ALGIERS: The United Nations on Tuesday urged Algeria to stop rounding up and expelling sub-Saharan migrants, highlighting an influx of immigrants from Mali and Niger that Algeria says it needs UN help to address.
Hassen Kacimi, a senior official at Algeria’s Interior Ministry, told Reuters on Saturday that Algeria had called for help from the international community, while the United Nations had done little to save the migrants.
UN spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a regular UN briefing in Geneva that deportations and expulsions have increased markedly since the second half of 2017, and a UN human rights team went to Niger to investigate this month.
“What they heard was that Algerian authorities frequently carry out mass round-ups of sub-Saharan African migrants in various parts of the country,” Shamdasani said.
Of 25 migrants interviewed by the UN team, only one had had her passport checked before being expelled. Most had been told to put thumbprints on Arabic documents they could not read.
Most were not told why they were being detained and were not allowed to pick up their belongings, passports or money before being expelled. Some were taken straight to Niger, others were held in military bases, in inhuman and degrading conditions, before being taken south.
“(Some) are crammed into big trucks to be transferred to the Nigerien border where they are abandoned and left to walk hours in the desert heat to cross the border into Niger,” she said.
Algeria says it faces a huge influx of migrants.

SURGE OF MIGRATION
“A surge of migration is invading the south of Algeria,” Kacimi said. “Before reaching Algeria, the migrants are abandoned in the desert, and it is Algeria that rescues them by offering humanitarian aid.”
“Algeria is not responsible for the population of other states,” Kacimi said. “So whoever wants to cry over the outgoing migrants just (has) to put their hand in their pocket.”
Algeria, which has a 2,500 km (1,550 mile) border with Mali and Niger, spent $20 million in the past three years to handle an influx of illegal migrants from the Sahel region fleeing war, insecurity or poverty.
“Where is the UNHCR, where is the IOM, and where are the African states?” Kacimi said.
The UN migration agency IOM has rescued about 3,000 migrants in the area in the past four months, including some trying to get into Algeria and some being expelled, IOM spokesman Joel Millman said.
Many said it was not unusual for them to be dropped as much as 30 km (19 miles) from the border, in 45 degree Celsius (113F) heat, often without water and carrying children.
“Many of them report seeing migrants who have lost their lives, often unrecorded or unrecognized in the sand dunes,” Millman said.