South Sudan violence blocking food aid, says UN’s WFP

A United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) plane releases sacks of food during an airdrop near the town of Nyal, in South Sudan August 20, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 29 October 2018
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South Sudan violence blocking food aid, says UN’s WFP

NAIROBI: Violence in South Sudan is blocking deliveries of food aid needed to stave off severe hunger in some areas, the World Food Programme said, adding to evidence that a peace deal signed last month is not holding.
The deal signed last month is meant to end a war that began in 2013 and has, according to a London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine study, killed nearly 400,000.
It commits the warring parties — forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebel groups fighting them — to power-sharing. Analysts and aid groups say it is unclear how the structure will work.
Fighting was continuing in the Western Bahr el Ghazal and Central Equatoria regions, said WFP. Nationwide “tens of thousands of people (are) in need,” the group’s Country Director Adnan Khan told Reuters by email.
WFP singled out Baggari, an area southwest of the city of Wau, in Bahr el Ghazal, where the severity and spread of hunger was alarming.
“Food distributions were briefly provided in September, after four months without access, but insecurity is again preventing us from accessing the area,” it said.
When it was able to briefly access Baggari last month, WFP found acute malnutrition rates had risen to above 25 percent from 4 percent earlier this year.
In Wau, government soldiers have been accused by Human Rights Watch of attacking civilians and their homes.
“Tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee into the bush or United Nations protection sites,” HRW said last week in a report on violence that began in June. .”..Government forces are committing new abuses against civilians.”
Military spokesman Lul Ruai Koang denied the HRW report’s findings.
The East African nation gained independence in 2011 but has been torn apart by an ethnically charged civil war since late 2013.
On Wednesday, rebel leader Riek Machar is due to fly from Sudan’s capital Khartoum to Juba for a “Peace Celebration” hosted by Kiir and that the presidents of Sudan, Uganda and Kenya are expected to attend.
It is unclear if Machar will be there. On Friday a spokesman for his group said: “We are still waiting for the release of political detainees and prisoners of war.”
Machar was last in South Sudan was in 2016, after he was reinstated vice president under a short-lived peace deal agreed in 2015.


Around 117 migrants may have died when rubber dinghy capsized off Libya: survivors

Updated 2 min 2 sec ago
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Around 117 migrants may have died when rubber dinghy capsized off Libya: survivors

MILAN: Survivors say up to 117 migrants may have died when a rubber dinghy capsized off Libya, a rescue official said Saturday.
Earlier on Saturday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said some 117 migrants who left Libya in a rubber dinghy two days ago are unaccounted for after three people were rescued from the vessel after it sank in the Mediterranean.
“The three survivors told us they were 120 when they left Garabulli, in Libya, on Thursday night. After 10 to 11 hours at sea ... (the boat) started sinking and people started drowning,” IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo said.
He said the people came mainly from west Africa, adding: “Ten women including a pregnant girl were aboard and two children, one of whom was only two months old.”
An Italian military plane on sea patrol on Friday had first sighted the dinghy sinking in rough waters and had thrown two safety rafts into the water before leaving due to a lack of fuel, Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini told TV channel RaiNews24.
A helicopter dispatched from a naval ship had then rescued the three people, who were suffering from severe hypothermia and were taken to hospital on the island of Lampedusa.
“During this operation at least three bodies were seen in the water who appeared to be dead,” Agostini said.
The Italian navy said it had alerted Libyan authorities who coordinated rescue operations, ordering a merchant ship to go to the site of the sinking, though rescue efforts had ceased after the search for the dinghy had proved fruitless.
According to the IOM, 2,297 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean last year, out of a total of 116,959 people who reached Europe by sea.
Arrivals in the first 16 days of 2019 totalled 4,449, almost all by sea, compared with 2,964 in the same period of 2018.
“As long as European ports will remain open ... sea-traffickers will continue to do business and kill people,” Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said in a Facebook post late on Friday.
Since Italy’s populist government came to power in June, Salvini, leader of the anti-migrant League, has closed Italian ports to humanitarian vessels.