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Thousands Killed, Thousands Missing As Flood Ravages Eastern Libya

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Emergency workers uncovered more than 1,500 bodies in the wreckage of Libya’s eastern city of Derna on Tuesday, and it was feared the toll could surpass 5,000 after floodwaters smashed through dams and washed away entire neighborhoods of the city.

The startling death and devastation wreaked by Mediterranean storm Daniel pointed to the storm’s intensity, but also the vulnerability of a nation torn apart by chaos for more than a decade. The country is divided by rival governments, one in the east, the other in the west, and the result has been neglect of infrastructure in many areas.

Outside help was only just starting to reach Derna on Tuesday, more than 36 hours after the disaster struck. The floods damaged or destroyed many access roads to the coastal city of some 89,000.

Footage showed dozens of bodies covered by blankets in the yard of one hospital. Another image showed a mass grave piled with bodies. More than 1,500 corpses were collected, and half of them had been buried as of Tuesday evening, the health minister for eastern Libya said.

At least one official put the death toll at more than 5,000. The state-run news agency quoted Mohammed Abu-Lamousha, a spokesman for the east Libya interior ministry, as saying that more than 5,300 people had died in Derna alone. Derna’s ambulance authority said earlier Tuesday that 2,300 had died.

But the toll is likely to be higher, said Tamer Ramadan, Libya envoy for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He told a U.N. briefing in Geneva via videoconference from Tunisia that at least 10,000 people were still missing. He said later Tuesday that more than 40,000 people have been displaced.

The situation in Libya is “as devastating as the situation in Morocco,” Ramadan said, referring to the deadly earthquake that hit near the city of Marrakesh on Friday night.

Source: AP News

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Africa

Guinean Military Junta Dissolves Government, Seals Country’s Borders

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Guinea’s military junta, which took power through a coup in September 2021, has officially dissolved the government, as announced via a presidential decree read on state TV by the presidency’s Secretary General, Brig Gen Amara Camara.

The announcement was not followed by details regarding the rationale of this dissolution, or the timeline for establishing a new government.

As part of the dissolution, ministers in the now-dissolved government have been instructed to surrender their passports and official vehicles, and also given directives for their bank accounts to be frozen.

The junta has also directed security agencies to “seal” all of Guinea’s borders until the complete handover of government ministries to the junta.

According to Camara, during the interim period until a new government is appointed, lower-level officials will manage state ministries.

The dissolved government, led by Prime Minister Bernard Goumou, was appointed by coup leader Mamady Doumbouya, who led Guinea’s armed forces in overthrowing elected President Alpha Condé in September 2021. The coup came after a series of protests against Condé’s controversial bid for a third term.

Guinea, as well as several other countries in West and central Africa, including Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Gabon, have experienced coups in recent years. These coups have faced strong condemnation from West Africa’s regional bloc ECOWAS, the African Union, and the UN.

The junta and ECOWAS had earlier set a 24-month transition period, and Guinea is expected to hold elections to restore democratic rule within 10 months, as the transition period comes to an end.

Arise News

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Thabo Mbeki Not Dead, Foundation Confirms

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Former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, is well and alive. This was confirmed by the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, following reports that he was dead.

Even his Wikipedia profile page was updated to reflect the hoax.

In a statement on Wednesday, The Thabo Mbeki Foundation said: “We urge the public to rely on official channels for accurate information about President Mbeki’s well-being and activities.”

Recall that there was a similar death report during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. Also, the Foundation came out to debunk it then.

Mbeki succeeded the country’s first black president, Nelson Mandela. He served as the President of South Africa from 1999 to 2008.

He is respected for his intellectual approach to governance, and his contributions to post-Apatheid South Africa.

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Diplomatic Breach: AfDB Directs International Staff in Ethiopia to Leave Country, Work Remotely

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By Dolapo Aina

In a statement issued and made public on Wednesday, the 20th of December 2023, the African Development Bank has decided to withdraw all its international staff from Ethiopia immediately. The office will remain open under an Officer-in-Charge. These measures will not affect nationally recruited staff from Ethiopia who will continue their work and remain in the full employment of the Bank. The Bank will assure them and their families of its duty of care.

The institution stated that: “These decisions follow the recent breach of diplomatic protocol and assault by Ethiopian security forces on two of the African Development Bank’s international members of staff. Specifically, on the 31st of October 2023, two Addis Ababa based staff were unlawfully arrested, physically assaulted, and detained for hours without charge or any official explanation. This was a gross violation of their personal diplomatic immunities, rights, and privileges under the African Development Bank Group’s Host Country Agreement with the Government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. On learning of the incident, the African Development Bank President Dr Akinwumi Adesina immediately contacted the highest levels of authority in the Ethiopian government, following which the Bank’s two staff members were released.”

The statement also stated that: “The African Development Bank formally communicated with the government of Ethiopia through an official note verbale on 6 November requesting a full and transparent investigation into the incident. Dr Adesina also sent a high-level delegation of Bank officials led by its Senior Vice President to Addis Ababa on 22 November to engage with senior Ethiopian authorities on the matter and to meet with Bank staff in the Ethiopia Office in Addis Ababa.”

The Bank President Dr Adesina said, “the assessment from the Bank’s delegation indicates that the situation is still not yet resolved in a satisfactory manner. It also does not provide full confidence that all the African Development Bank’s employees feel safe and secure to carry out their duties and move around the country without fear of harassment. The African Development Bank remains particularly concerned that the Ethiopian government has, to date, not shared with the Bank any report, or details of investigations into the incident.”
President Adesina stated that: “The October incident continues to cause much anxiety across the African Development Bank Group and especially among staff at the Ethiopia country office. The incident has also raised concerns among the Bank’s shareholders, other multilateral development banks, international financial institutions, the broader diplomatic community, and other stakeholders.” President Adesina further emphasised that the African Development Bank will do everything possible to ensure the safety and security of its personnel, and the protection of their rights and privileges in the conduct of their work. The Bank’s international staff in Ethiopia will work remotely outside the country until the findings of the government investigations into the grave incident are transparently shared with the Bank, and full details of the measures taken to bring the guilty parties to book are made public.

President Adesina reiterated that: “While the Bank appreciates the excellent relations it has with Ethiopia until this egregious incident, its continued operations and future presence in the country could be negatively affected if the incident is not fully resolved.”

I reached out to the African Development Bank’s President’s Senior Advisor (Communication) in the person of Dr Victor Oladokun on the identities and nationalities of the bank’s international staff who were manhandled by the security forces of Ethiopia. The bank’s official response goes thus: “To protect the privacy of the affected members of staff (and the privacy of their families) their identities will not be disclosed at this time. Suffice to say, the Bank is providing both staff members and all the local AfDB staff in Addis Ababa, with the necessary support they need at this time.”

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