UN says 100,000 ‘trapped’ in Syria’s Afrin

A picture taken on March 19, 2018 shows a body covered with a blanket in a street in the Syrian Kurdish city of Afrin a day after Turkish-led forces entered the city. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2018
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UN says 100,000 ‘trapped’ in Syria’s Afrin

BEIRUT: UN officials say some 100,000 people are “trapped” in rural areas of Syria’s northern Afrin district and need humanitarian aid after Turkish and allied Syrian forces drove out a Syrian Kurdish militia.
Spokeswoman Marixie Mercado of children’s agency UNICEF says it hasn’t been able to deliver health and nutrition supplies to the district in 20 days, and water trucks have stopped deliveries since Thursday.
UNICEF estimates 50,000 children are among those who need humanitarian aid in Afrin.
On Twitter, Syria country representative Sajjad Malik of the UN refugee agency wrote Tuesday that “looting, destruction of properties & exodus of civilians continues” in Afrin, and “100,000 civilians stay trapped inside in rural areas.”
Earlier, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Peter Maurer, raised doubts about Turkish aid efforts in Afrin, saying “the credibility of the Turkish Red Crescent working in Afrin with the Kurdish population is close to zero.”
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said Maurer’s statement was “far from truth and inacceptable.”


Four killed in torrential Tunisia rains

Updated 13 min 43 sec ago
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Four killed in torrential Tunisia rains

NABEUL, Tunisia: Flash floods in Tunisia’s Cap Bon peninsula have killed at least four people, authorities said Sunday, as surging waters caused by heavy rains carried away homes, cars and chunks of road.
Among the four dead were two sisters, swept away as they left work at a factory in Bou Argoub, 45 kilometers southeast of the capital, the interior ministry said.
A 60-year-old man drowned near the town of Takilsa and another man was found dead in Bir Bouregba, close to the town of Hammamet, ministry spokesman Sofiene Zaag told AFP.
Saturday’s storm caused water levels in some areas to rise as much as 1.7 meters (5.6 feet), as bridges and roads were damaged in record rains that dropped the equivalent of nearly six months of average precipitation.
“It was raining since noon and (in the afternoon) it became torrential. The water flooded over the bridge and onto the road,” Moncef Barouni, a resident in the coastal town of Nabeul, told AFP.
In just minutes, “the water swept away the fence, then the boiler room, the summer kitchen and a part of the house,” he said.
“I was scared for my life.”
The storm dumped 200 millimeters (7.9 inches) of rain on Nabeul and up to 225 millimeters in the city of Beni Khalled, in the peninsula’s center, according to Tunisia’s National Institute of Meteorology.
It was the heaviest rainfall since the institute began keeping a record in 1995, the institute said, adding that it had issued a warning about the storms on Friday.
Videos posted to social networks showed surging waters carrying cars and pieces of road in the north of the peninsula.
Tunisian authorities said they had dispatched police, army and rescue teams to the region on Saturday afternoon, in addition to mobilizing ambulances and two helicopters.
Authorities also took preventative measures in the Sahel region further south in anticipation of further rains, but by Sunday they appeared to have subsided.
The sun was out Sunday and receding water levels meant most of the area’s roads were passable by car, Zaag said, although the region’s telephone networks were still largely out of service.
Severe thunderstorms have hit the North African country since the middle of last week, flooding roads and damaging property, sparking anger against the authorities for allegedly failing to maintain drainage systems.