First Ukraine grain ship for Horn of Africa reaches Djibouti

First Ukraine grain ship for Horn of Africa reaches Djibouti
As of Sunday, 114 ships carrying more than 1.2 million metric tons of food commodities had left Ukraine, WFP said. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 30 August 2022

First Ukraine grain ship for Horn of Africa reaches Djibouti

First Ukraine grain ship for Horn of Africa reaches Djibouti
  • FP says this first shipment of grain will be shipped overland to northern Ethiopia, where millions of people have been affected by the country’s Tigray conflict

NAIROBI: The first ship carrying grain from Ukraine for people in the hungriest parts of the world has docked at the Horn of Africa port of Djibouti as areas of East Africa are badly affected by deadly drought and conflict.

Food security experts call it a drop in the bucket for the vast needs in the worst-hit Horn countries of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, the nation where this first shipment is going. But the flow of grain from Ukraine for other hungry parts of the world is expected to continue, with another ship departing Tuesday for Yemen. The UN World Food Program has said it is working on multiple ships.

WFP says this first shipment of grain will be shipped overland to northern Ethiopia, where millions of people have been affected by the country’s Tigray conflict, which has now flared up again.

How any of the grain will reach Tigray is now in question as humanitarian deliveries by road and air have been suspended amid the fighting that sparked again last week between Tigray forces and Ethiopian ones. But Ethiopia’s neighboring Amhara and Afar regions also are expected to benefit.

WFP has said the 23,000 metric tons of grain on the first ship are enough to feed 1.5 million people on full rations for a month. But the UN has said 2.4 million in Tigray alone are severely food insecure and that 20 million people across Ethiopia face hunger.

Millions of other people in the Horn of Africa region are going hungry because of drought, and thousands have died. Somalia has been especially hard hit because it sourced at least 90 percent of its grain from Ukraine and Russia before Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

Millions of tons of food are needed for the Horn of Africa, WFP said. “In Ethiopia alone, three quarters of everything that we used to distribute originated from Ukraine and Russia,” regional director Michael Dunford said.

Food security experts have said it will take weeks for people in African countries to see grain from Ukraine arrive and even longer to see it bring down high food prices that have been a source of despair and protests in multiple nations.

Far more ships carrying grain from Ukraine’s reopened ports have been going to richer places like Europe as existing business contracts are fulfilled. As of Sunday, 114 ships carrying more than 1.2 million metric tons of food commodities had left Ukraine, WFP said, but “export volumes remain far below pre-conflict averages.”


King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death

King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death
Updated 58 min 9 sec ago

King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death

King Charles III in first engagement since queen’s death
  • Large crowds turned out on the streets of Dunfermline in Fife, north of Edinburgh, hoping to get a glimpse of the new monarch
  • Charles wore a kilt for the visit and greeted Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other leaders

LONDON: King Charles III and his wife Camilla, the queen consort, visited Scotland Monday in their first joint public engagement since the royal mourning period to remember Queen Elizabeth II ended.
Large crowds turned out on the streets of Dunfermline in Fife, north of Edinburgh, hoping to get a glimpse of the new monarch. Charles, who wore a kilt for the visit, spent some time shaking hands with well-wishers after he greeted Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and other leaders.
The royal couple were visiting to formally give city status to Dunfermline, the birthplace of another King Charles: Charles I, who reigned in the 17th century before his execution, was the last British monarch born in Scotland.
Dunfermline was among towns that won city status as part of Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne.
Later Monday, Charles and Camilla will host a reception for around 300 guests at Edinburgh to celebrate the British South Asian community. The royals will meet British Indians, Pakistanis, and many others and pay tribute to the contributions they made to the UK
Charles became sovereign immediately upon the death of his mother Elizabeth in Balmoral Castle, Scotland, on Sept. 8. Britain held 10 days of national mourning, while the royal family extended the mourning period for a week after the queen’s funeral on Sept. 19.


Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt

Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt
Updated 03 October 2022

Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt

Top Al-Shabab leader killed in joint operation: Somalia govt
  • Abdullahi Yare was one of seven leaders named by the United States on its most-wanted list in 2012

MOGADISHU: The Somali government announced on Monday a top Al-Shabab militant, who had a $3.0-million US bounty on his head, had been killed in a joint air strike in southern Somalia.
The drone strike on October 1, launched by the Somali army and international security partners, killed Abdullahi Yare near the coastal town of Haramka, the ministry of information said in a statement dated Sunday but posted online on Monday.
“This leader... was the head preacher of the group and one of the most notorious members of the Shabab group,” it said.
“He was former head of the Shoura council and the group’s director for finances,” the ministry said, referring to a powerful consultation body within Al-Shabab.
A co-founder of the Al-Qaeda-linked group, Yare was believed to be next in line to take over the leadership of the movement from its ailing chief Ahmed Diriye, according to the ministry.
“His elimination is like a thorn removed from Somalia as a nation,” the ministry said.
Yare was one of seven leaders named by the United States on its most-wanted list in 2012. Washington offered three million dollars for his capture.
The announcement of the strike comes weeks after Somalia’s recently elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud vowed to stage all-out war on the jihadists, following a string of deadly attacks. They include a 30-hour hotel siege in the capital, Mogadishu, that killed 21 people.
Mohamud last month urged citizens to stay away from areas controlled by Al-Shabab as he vowed to ratchet up offensives against the militants.
US forces have in the past partnered with African Union soldiers and Somali troops in counterterrorism operations, and have conducted frequent raids and drone strikes on Al-Shabab training camps throughout Somalia.
Last month, the US military said it had killed 27 jihadist fighters in an air strike near Bulobarde, the main town on the road linking Mogadishu to Beledweyne, a key city on the border with Ethiopia.
It said the air strike was carried out “at the request” of the Somali government.
Al-Shabab, which espouses a strict version of sharia or Islamic law, has waged a bloody insurrection against the Mogadishu government for 15 years and remains a potent force despite an African Union operation against the group.
Its fighters were ousted from the capital in 2011 but continue to stage attacks on military, government and civilian targets.
The group last week claimed responsibility for a bomb blast that killed a top Somali police officer near the Al-Shabab-controlled village of Bursa, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) north of Mogadishu.


India scrambles fighter jets after report of bomb scare on flight from Iran

India scrambles fighter jets after report of bomb scare on flight from Iran
Updated 03 October 2022

India scrambles fighter jets after report of bomb scare on flight from Iran

India scrambles fighter jets after report of bomb scare on flight from Iran
  • The air force said it later received information from Iran’s capital Tehran to disregard the bomb scare

NEW DELHI: India’s air force (IAF) said on Monday it had scrambled fighter jets after receiving information of a bomb scare on an airline bearing Iranian registration transiting through Indian airspace.
The air force said it later received information from Iran’s capital Tehran to disregard the bomb scare and the flight continued its journey.
The jets followed the aircraft at a safe distance and the aircraft was offered the option to land at two airports in north-western India.
“However, the pilot declared his unwillingness to divert to either of the two airports,” the IAF said in a statement.
Data from FlightRadar24 showed Mahan Air flight W581, which originated from Tehran and was destined for China’s Guangzhou, fly in circles a handful of times above northern India, west of New Delhi, before continuing to fly across the country and into Myanmar.
An Indian Air Force spokesman did not confirm the flight number for which fighter jets were scrambled.


46 girls and women among 53 killed in Friday’s Afghan suicide bombing: UN

46 girls and women among 53 killed in Friday’s Afghan suicide bombing: UN
Updated 30 sec ago

46 girls and women among 53 killed in Friday’s Afghan suicide bombing: UN

46 girls and women among 53 killed in Friday’s Afghan suicide bombing: UN
  • The bomber detonated as hundreds of students were sitting a practice test ahead of an entrance exam for university admissions

KABUL: At least 46 girls and young women were among 53 people killed in a suicide attack on an education center in the Afghan capital last week, the United Nations said Monday.
“Fifty three killed, at least 46 girls & young women,” the United Nations mission in Afghanistan said on Twitter, adding that another 110 people were injured in the bombing on Friday.
The death toll previously stood at 43.
The bomber detonated as hundreds of students were sitting a practice test ahead of an entrance exam for university admissions.
No group has so far claimed responsibility, but the Daesh group which considers Shiites as heretics has carried out several deadly attacks in the area targeting girls, schools and mosques.
The Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan last year brought an end to a two-decade war against the Western-backed government, and led to a significant reduction in violence, but security has begun to deteriorate in recent months.
The extremist hard-liners, accused of failing to protect minorities, have often tried to downplay attacks challenging their regime.
Friday’s attack triggered sporadic women-led protests in Kabul and some other cities.
Around 50 women chanted, “Stop Hazara genocide, it’s not a crime to be a Shiite,” as they marched on Saturday in Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood where the attack happened.
The rallies have been dispersed by Taliban forces often firing shots into the air and beating protesters.
Afghanistan’s Hazaras have regularly faced attacks in the majority Sunni Muslim country.
They have faced persecution for decades, targeted by the Taliban during their insurgency against the former US-backed government and by Daesh — both of which consider Shiites heretics.
In May last year, before the Taliban’s return to power, at least 85 people — mainly girls — were killed and about 300 were wounded when three bombs exploded near their school in Dasht-e-Barchi.
Again, no group claimed responsibility, but a year earlier Daesh claimed a suicide attack on an educational center in the same area that killed 24.


Bolsonaro, Lula headed to runoff after polarized Brazil vote

Bolsonaro, Lula headed to runoff after polarized Brazil vote
Updated 03 October 2022

Bolsonaro, Lula headed to runoff after polarized Brazil vote

Bolsonaro, Lula headed to runoff after polarized Brazil vote
  • Since neither of the two got a majority of support, a second-round vote was scheduled on Oct. 30
  • Bolsonaro beat pre-election polls giving da Silva a commanding lead of 50 percent against 36 percent for him

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil’s top two presidential candidates will face each other in a runoff vote following a polarized election to decide if the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps the far-right incumbent in office for another four years.
With 98 percent of the votes tallied on Sunday’s election, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had 48 percent support and incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro had 43.6 percent support. Brazil’s election authority said the result made a second round vote between the two candidates a mathematical certainty.
Nine other candidates were also competing, but their support pales to that for Bolsonaro and da Silva.
The tightness of the election result came as a surprise, since pre-election polls had given da Silva a commanding lead. The last Datafolha survey published Saturday found a 50 percent to 36 percent advantage for da Silva among those who intended to vote. It interviewed 12,800 people, with a margin of error of 2 percentage points.
“This tight difference between Lula and Bolsonaro wasn’t predicted,” said Nara Pavão, who teaches political science at the Federal University of Pernambuco.

Supporters of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who is running for another term, watch the vote count of election in Brasilia on Oct. 2, 2022. (AP)

Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo, said: “It is too soon to go too deep, but this election shows Bolsonaro’s victory in 2018 was not a hiccup.”
Bolsonaro outperformed in Brazil’s southeast region, which includes populous Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais states, according to Rafael Cortez, who oversees political risk at consultancy Tendencias Consultoria.
“The polls didn’t capture that growth,” Cortez said.
Bolsonaro’s administration has been marked by incendiary speech, his testing of democratic institutions, his widely criticized handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the worst deforestation in the Amazon rainforest in 15 years.
But he has built a devoted base by defending conservative values, rebuffing political correctness and presenting himself as protecting the nation from leftist policies that he says infringe on personal liberties and produce economic turmoil.
While voting earlier Sunday, Marley Melo, a 53-year-old trader in capital Brasilia, sported the yellow of the Brazilian flag, which Bolsonaro and his supporters have coopted for demonstrations. Melo said he is once again voting for Bolsonaro, who met his expectations, and he doesn’t believe the surveys that show him trailing.
“Polls can be manipulated. They all belong to companies with interests,” he said.
A slow economic recovery has yet to reach the poor, with 33 million Brazilians going hungry despite higher welfare payments. Like several of its Latin American neighbors coping with high inflation and a vast number of people excluded from formal employment, Brazil is considering a shift to the political left.

Bolsonaro has repeatedly questioned the reliability not just of opinion polls, but also of Brazil’s electronic voting machines. Analysts fear he has laid the groundwork to reject results.
At one point, Bolsonaro claimed to possess evidence of fraud, but never presented any, even after the electoral authority set a deadline to do so. He said as recently as Sept. 18 that if he doesn’t win in the first round, something must be “abnormal.”
Da Silva, 76, was once a metalworker who rose from poverty to the presidency and is credited with building an extensive social welfare program during his 2003-2010 tenure that helped lift tens of millions into the middle class.
But he is also remembered for his administration’s involvement in vast corruption scandals that entangled politicians and business executives.
Da Silva’s own convictions for corruption and money laundering led to 19 months imprisonment, sidelining him from the 2018 presidential race that polls indicated he had been leading against Bolsonaro. The Supreme Court later annulled da Silva’s convictions on grounds that the judge was biased and colluded with prosecutors.

Supporters of presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva react as they watch the vote count of the election in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Oct. 2, 2022. (AFP)

Social worker Nadja Oliveira, 59, said she voted for da Silva and even attended his rallies, but since 2018 votes for Bolsonaro.
“Unfortunately the Workers’ Party disappointed us. It promised to be different,” she said in Brasilia.
Others, like Marialva Pereira, are more forgiving. She said she would vote for the former president for the first time since 2002.
“I didn’t like the scandals in his first administration, never voted for the Workers’ Party again. Now I will, because I think he was unjustly jailed and because Bolsonaro is such a bad president that it makes everyone else look better,” said Pereira, 47.
Speaking after casting his ballot in Sao Bernardo do Campo, the manufacturing hub in Sao Paulo state where he was a union leader, da Silva recalled that four years ago he was imprisoned and unable to vote.
Bolsonaro grew up in a lower-middle-class family before joining the army. He turned to politics after being forced out of the military for openly pushing to raise servicemen’s pay. During his seven terms as a fringe lawmaker in Congress’ lower house, he regularly expressed nostalgia for the country’s two-decade military dictatorship.
His overtures to the armed forces have raised concern that his possible rejection of election results could be backed by top brass.
On Saturday, Bolsonaro shared social media posts by right-leaning foreign politicians, including former US President Donald Trump, who called on Brazilians to vote for him. Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed gratitude for stronger bilateral relations and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also praised him.
After voting Sunday morning, Bolsonaro told journalists that “clean elections must be respected” and that the first round would be decisive. Asked if he would respect results, he gave a thumbs up and walked away.
Leda Wasem, 68, had no doubt Bolsonaro will not just be reelected. Wearing a jersey of the national soccer squad at a polling place in downtown Curitiba, the real estate agent said an eventual da Silva victory could have only one explanation: fraud.
“I wouldn’t believe it. Where I work, where I go every day, I don’t see a single person who supports Lula,” she said.