LONDON: The EU is to continue providing humanitarian aid and support to flood-stricken Libya through its civil defense mechanism.
Luis Miguel, the EU’s spokesman in the Middle East and North Africa region, told the Libyan News Agency that more help would be on the way and “offers made by European countries to participate in relief efforts will be coordinated.”
He noted that the focus would be “on rescue operations, search, and recovery of bodies,” and “providing aid to those affected,” adding that “the scale of the disaster in the city of Derna is very large.”
The UK has ramped up its life-saving support too, allocating increased funding and deploying an emergency medical team.
In a statement, the British government said the additional support would be in addition to an initial package worth up to £1 million ($1.24 million), which will be used for vital provisions including emergency shelter items, portable solar lanterns, and water filters.
Led by health and sanitation experts from the British medical aid charity UK-MED, the team will conduct rapid medical assessments in affected areas and coordinate with local authorities, international organizations, and other partners on the ground to focus in on Libya’s most urgent health needs.
The UK has increased its financial support for Libya and earthquake-hit Morocco, allocating around £10 million, the statement added.
British minister for the MENA region, South Asia, and the UN, Tariq Ahmad, said: “We will increase UK funding to the crisis response and deliver crucial life-saving provisions, including shelter, water filters, and medical assessments.”
German envoy to Libya, Michael Unmacht, said: “The German International Cooperation Foundation began distributing emergency aid on Friday in the cities of Shahat and Al-Bayda.”
He added that the aid included, “baby food, tents, electric generators, and blankets.”
In a post on X, the French ambassador to Libya, Mostafa Mihraje, said he had met with the Libyan Armed Forces’ chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Abdul Razzaq Al-Nadhouri, to discuss the setting up of a French field hospital in Derna.
Thousands flee Sudan town as war grips country’s south: witnesses
RSF fighters attacked the town of Wad Ashana, on the border between North Kordofan and White Nile states, on Saturday
Updated 02 October 2023
PORT SUDAN: Thousands have fled a southern Sudan town, residents said Monday, after attacks by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, at war with the army for nearly six months.
RSF fighters on dozens of armed vehicles attacked the town of Wad Ashana, on the border between North Kordofan and White Nile states, on Saturday, according to residents.
“My neighbor and my cousin were both killed in the crossfire. It was hours of terror,” Al-Tayeb Abdelbaqi told AFP from El Odaydab, a town 10 kilometers away to which he could eventually flee, sheltering with a relative along with three other families.
By early September, the war between Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and his former deputy, RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, which began on April 15, had killed nearly 7,500 people, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data (ACLED) project.
The worst of the violence has been concentrated in Khartoum and the western region of Darfur, but North Kordofan — a crossroads between the capital and Darfur — has also seen fighting.
Almost 4.3 million people have been displaced by the fighting within Sudan, in addition to around 1.2 million more who have fled across borders.
Dozens of families like Abdelbaqi’s, who fled to save their lives but left everything behind, were holed up in schools in the area.
“We left with only the clothes on our backs,” said another resident, Ahmed, who used to own a store in Wad Ashana and asked to only be identified by his first name for fear of retaliation.
He said the local market “had been completely looted.” The same allegation has followed RSF attacks across Sudan since the war began.
Footage posted to social media on Sunday by the RSF claimed to show fighters “taking over the Wad Ashana garrison in North Kordofan and advancing toward Kosti,” the last major town on the road to South Sudan.
The Sudanese Armed Forces have not yet issued any comment on the situation there.
According to Abdelbaqi, the area had been spared the fighting, until last week, when “an army force set up camp west of town.”
Three days later, “the RSF attacked the city, completely overtaking it and pushing the army” 35 kilometers east, he said.
Already one of the world’s poorest countries, the war has brought a humanitarian catastrophe to Sudan, where millions are on the brink of famine, and diseases are spreading, according to the United Nations.
On Sunday, the eastern administration said it was postponing an international conference it had planned to hold on reconstruction for Derna
Updated 02 October 2023
DERNA: The United Nations’ Libya envoy Abdoulaye Bathily said on Monday he was concerned about “unilateral and competing initiatives” by Libyan institutions to rebuild Derna, where a destructive flood killed thousands of people last month.
“Unilateral efforts are counterproductive, deepen the existing divisions in the country, impede reconstruction efforts and are at odds with the outpouring of solidarity, support and national unity shown by Libyan people,” he said in a statement.
Libya has had little stable governance since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising and it split in 2014 between western and eastern factions with parallel political institutions.
On Sunday, the eastern administration said it was postponing an international conference it had planned to hold on reconstruction for Derna.
The internationally recognized government in Tripoli, in the west, has also said it plans to hold a reconstruction conference.
Analysts have said control over Derna’s reconstruction, which could bring large sums in finance and coordination with foreign powers, may become a major new arena for conflict between Libyan factions.
Turkiye strikes suspected Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq after suicide attack in Ankara
Some 20 targets of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party were ‘destroyed/ in the latest aerial operation
Updated 02 October 2023
ANKARA, Turkiye: Turkish warplanes carried out airstrikes on suspected Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq on Sunday following a suicide attack on a government building in the Turkish capital, Turkiye’s defense ministry announced.
Some 20 targets of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, were “destroyed” in the latest aerial operation, including caves, shelters and depots, the ministry said, adding that a large number of PKK operatives were “neutralized” in the strikes.
Earlier on Sunday, a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device near an entrance of the Interior Ministry, wounding two police officers. A second assailant was killed in a shootout with police.
The PKK, which maintains bases in northern Iraq, claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing, according to a news agency close to the rebel group. Turkiye’s Interior Ministry also identified one of the assailants as a member of the outlawed group. It said efforts were still underway to identify the second attacker.
The attack happened hours before Turkiye’s Parliament reopened after its three-month summer recess with an address by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Iraqi President Abdul-Latif Rashid stated that Iraq does not accept the repeated Turkish strikes or the presence of Turkish bases in the Kurdistan region and hopes to come to an agreement with Turkiye to solve this problem, in an interview with Saudi broadcaster Al-Hadath. It is not clear if the interview was filmed before or after Turkiye’s latest strikes.
Attack on Turkish Parliament
The two assailants arrived at the scene inside a light commercial vehicle, which they seized from a veterinarian in the central province of Kayseri, according to the Interior Ministry. The pro-government daily Sabah reported that they shot the man in the head and threw his body into a ditch by the side of the road. They then drove the vehicle to Ankara, roughly 300 kilometers (200 miles) away.
“Our heroic police officers, through their intuition, resisted the terrorists as soon as they got out of the vehicle,” Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya told reporters. “One of them blew himself up, while the other one was shot in the head before he had a chance to blow himself up.”
“Our fight against terrorism, their collaborators, the (drug) dealers, gangs and organized crime organizations will continue with determination,” he said.
Police found plastic explosives, hand grenades and a rocket launcher at the scene, a ministry statement said.
Erdogan gave his speech in Parliament as planned and called the attack “the last stand of terrorism.”
“The scoundrels who targeted the peace and security of the citizens could not achieve their goals and they never will,” he said.
The president reiterated his government’s aim to create a 30-kilometer (20 mile) safe zone along Turkiye’s border with Syria to secure its southern border from attacks.
Turkiye has conducted numerous cross-border offensives against the PKK in northern Iraq. It has also launched incursions into northern Syria since 2016 to drive away the Daesh group and a Kurdish militia group, known by the initials YPG, and controls swaths of territory in the area.
Turkiye, YPG and PKK
Turkiye views the YPG as an extension of the PKK, which is listed as a terror group by Turkiye, the United States and the European Union. The PKK has waged an insurgency against Turkiye since 1984. Tens of thousands of people have died in the conflict.
Last year, a bomb blast in a bustling pedestrian street in Istanbul left six people dead, including two children. More than 80 others were wounded. Turkiye blamed the attack on the PKK and the YPG.
Security camera footage on Sunday showed the vehicle stopping in front of the Interior Ministry, with a man exiting it and rushing toward the entrance of the building before blowing himself up. A second man is seen following him.
Earlier, television footage showed bomb squads working near a vehicle in the area, which is located near the Turkish Grand National Assembly and other government buildings. A rocket launcher could be seen lying near the vehicle.
Turkish authorities later imposed a temporary blackout on images from the scene.
Justice Minister Yilmaz Tunc said an investigation has been launched into the “terror attack.”
“These attacks will in no way hinder Turkiye’s fight against terrorism,” he wrote on X. “Our fight against terrorism will continue with more determination.”
Police cordoned off access to the city center and increased security measures, warning citizens that they would be conducting controlled explosions of suspicious packages.
The two police officers were being treated in a hospital and were not in serious condition, Yerlikaya said.
Egypt, which has normalized ties with Turkiye after a decade of tensions, condemned the attack. A terse statement from the Foreign Ministry offered Egypt’s solidarity with Turkiye.
The US Embassy in Ankara and other foreign missions also issued messages condemning the attack.
Erdogan in his speech did not provide any indication as to when Turkiye’s parliament may ratify Sweden’s membership in NATO.
Stockholm applied for NATO membership alongside Finland following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year. While Finland has since joined, Turkiye blocked Sweden’s membership in the military alliance, accusing it of not doing enough to tackle groups like PKK from operating on its soil. In a posting on X, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said Stockholm “strongly condemns today’s terrorist attack in Ankara.”
“We reaffirm our commitment to long-term cooperation with Türkiye in combating terrorism and wish for quick and full recovery of the ones injured,” he wrote, using the Turkish government’s preferred spelling for the country.
Egypt celebrates success of house, road-building programs
Ministers highlight achievements of past 9 years at ‘Story of a Homeland’ conference
Updated 02 October 2023
CAIRO: Egypt has spent millions of dollars on new urban communities over the past nine years, its housing minister said on Sunday.
Speaking at the “Story of a Homeland” conference in the New Administrative Capital, Housing and Urban Communities Minister Assem El-Gazzar said: “In the past nine years we have built 1.5 million housing units.
“We have worked to eliminate 357 unsafe areas by building more than 300,000 housing units at a construction cost exceeding 300 billion (Egyptian) pounds.”
El-Gazzar said 24 new cities that could accommodate 32 million people had been developed in the period.
The country’s Decent Life Initiative had been a major contributor to the increased urbanization, which in turn had had a significant impact on economic development, he added.
The three-day conference was attended by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and representatives from across Egyptian society.
It comprised several discussion sessions, at which the participants highlighted the government’s achievements and addressed the challenges that lie ahead.
The conference also provided a platform for political leaders to respond to citizens’ queries about political, social and economic issues.
Transport Minister Kamel Al-Wazir said that under the Decent Life Initiative 7,000 km of new roads had been built over the past nine years.
The national road network now spanned 30,000 km and served agricultural and industrial areas across the country, he said.
He added that on completion of the development plan, Egypt’s ports would have capacity for 400 million tons of goods and 40 million containers, and be able to handle 30,000 giant ships a year.
El-Sisi thanked the ministers for their efforts and said the success of the development program was testimony to their efforts and the will of the state to serve the people.