Sudan rebels call for aid through S. Sudan, Ethiopia

Updated 29 August 2012

Sudan rebels call for aid through S. Sudan, Ethiopia

KHARTOUM: Rebels in Sudan's war-torn South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where hundreds of thousands of people have been affected by fighting, called yesterday for aid to be sent in through South Sudan and Ethiopia.
The request — which the rebels said they will formally makings about the humanitarian situation in the two states along Sudan's southern border.
“We will ask for the cross-border operation from South Sudan and Ethiopia,” Arnu Ngutulu Lodi, spokesman for the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), told AFP.
He said the Sudanese government “is not respecting” a memorandum of understanding signed on Aug 5.
A ruling party official in Khartoum, however, insisted the government is committed to providing humanitarian assistance to all those affected by the war.
Both the government and rebels signed similar memorandums with the African Union, Arab League and UN to allow for humanitarian access throughout South Kordofan and Blue Nile — including in rebel-held areas.
The signing came six months after the three organizations submitted their proposal to Khartoum.
The UN has expressed concern for months about a worsening humanitarian situation in the war zone, where Khartoum cited security concerns in tightly restricting the operations of foreign aid agencies.
Lodi accused the government of “delaying tactics” and said the rebels would officially request the cross-border operation at a meeting between the signatories next Tuesday.
He said the rebels are still “committed to the MOU” and to working with the three foreign organizations.
Ali Adam, a director general of Sudan's Humanitarian Aid Commission, confirmed on Monday that implementation of the memorandum was behind schedule. He said the required planning meetings had not yet occurred.
“Our duty and our responsibility is to provide aid to our people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile,” Rabbie Abdelatti Ebaid, a senior official of the ruling National Congress Party, told AFP. “Each and every and all support will be provided by our government.”
Under the memorandum reached between Khartoum, the UN, AU and Arab League, the “entire humanitarian operations” are to be under Sudanese government supervision.
A United Nations source said the UN “has to respect the sovereignty of nation states” and could not enter a country without its permission.


Muslims in Italy follow rules while celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

Updated 26 May 2020

Muslims in Italy follow rules while celebrating Eid Al-Fitr

  • Italian media reported that Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayers in compliance with anti-coronavirus measures

ROME: Italy’s Muslims gathered in parks and public squares to celebrate the end of Ramadan, as many of the country’s mosques remained shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Islamic places of worship have been going slow on welcoming back congregations, despite an easing of a months-long lockdown, in order to guarantee social distancing and other preventive steps required under an agreement between Muslim communities and the government.

Mosques and prayer rooms will have to respect the same strict rules which have been imposed on Catholic churches. Halls will have to be sanitized before and after every prayer and a maximum of 200 people will be allowed, even in the biggest places of worship. For outdoor prayers a limit of 1,000 people has been set and each worshipper must be spaced at least one meter apart from the next. Those with a temperature above 37.5 degrees cannot enter.

Italian media reported that Muslims gathered to perform Eid prayers in compliance with anti-coronavirus measures.

“Happy Eid Al-Fitr to all Muslims in Italy as they have two reasons to celebrate,” Yassine Lafram, president of the Union of Islamic Communities in Italy (UCOII), said in a message. 

“This is not the only festivity closing the holy month of Ramadan, it matters even more to us all this year in Italy as it finally marks the return of our faithful to the mosque after several months of lockdown due to coronavirus. The Muslim faithful all over Italy now pray to God to accept the fasts, prayers and every good deed carried out during this holy  month and bring peace and blessing to our homes, so that phase two in the fight against COVID-19 in Italy will start in the best way possible.”

Many Muslims celebrated Eid at home with immediate family members. Those who decided to meet and pray together outside their households did it while “strictly respecting” health protocols and social distancing to avoid risk of infection, UCOII said. The organization asked people to display the same “utmost prudence and responsibility” when entering every place of worship from now on.

At Milan’s Al-Wahid Mosque Imam Yahya Sergio Pallavicini set up spacing for 140 new prayer mats. There are different entry and exit points for men and women, along with dedicated courtyards. 

Sanitization is carried out regularly while detergents, disinfecting gel and personal protective equipment are being offered by city authorities. “We pray for the inner and outer health of believers and Italian people,” Pallavicini said at the start of Eid prayers.

Almost 200 people gathered to pray in Rome’s Piazza Vittorio Emanuele. Muslims arranged their prayer mats and moved about in line with social distancing rules. Posters in Italian and Arabic told people that hugging was not allowed. 

“Even if we are in an outside space, nobody has to get too close,” the imam told his flock before prayers commenced. “It is mandatory and for the sake of everyone’s health.” There were children in the congregation too, and everyone wore face masks.

“I am so happy that I am finally meeting my friends for this prayer, but we have to stay apart,” 13-year-old Samir told Arab News. “We will have time to embrace, to play together in the future, when the virus will be gone.” He said he had missed going to his mosque, near Furio Camillo station, during the lockdown. 

“I prayed with my father, of course we were following prayers on YouTube and on Facebook. But it was not the same. Here I really feel part of a group sharing a faith. And it is great to be together again,” he added.

In Piazza Re di Roma, in the southern part of the city center, 250 Muslims gathered to pray. “We just prayed together, and stayed in the square for an hour only,” 31-year-old Latif told Arab News. “The celebration will be with our families later on.”

An outdoor celebration took place in the Sicilian capital Palermo with Mayor Leoluca Orlando also joining in. “We are happy for this celebration which marks another sign of the return to normality of our communities,” he told Arab News. “Being able to pray together is one of the most important needs for a religion as that improves the sense of community. Now we can do it again together: and that’s a great sign not only for the Muslim community but for the entire population of Palermo.”