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Hamas/Israeli Conflict: Over 260,000 People Displaced in Gaza, Says UN

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The United Nations has said over 260,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the Gaza Strip, as heavy Israeli bombardments from the air, land and sea continue to hit the Palestinian enclave.

It added that fierce fighting has left thousands dead on both sides since Hamas launched a surprise assault on Saturday, spurring Israel’s reprisal bombing campaign.

“Over 263,934 people in Gaza are believed to have fled their homes,” said UN humanitarian agency OCHA said in an update Tuesday, warning that “this number is expected to rise further”.

It said that around 3,000 people had been displaced “due to previous escalations”, prior to Saturday.

“More than 1,000 people have been killed in Israel in the worst attack in the country’s 75-year history, while Gaza officials have reported 900 people killed since the air strikes began,” UN added.

The bombing campaign has destroyed more than 1,000 housing units, and 560 have been so severely damaged they are uninhabitable, OCHA said, citing Palestinian authorities.

“Among the displaced, nearly 175,500 people sought shelter in 88 schools run by the UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees, UNRWA.

“More than 14,500 others had fled to 12 government schools, while close to 74,000 were estimated to be staying with relatives and neighbours or seeking shelters in churches and other facilities.

The number of displaced people inside of Gaza “represents the highest number of people displaced since the 50-day escalation of hostilities in 2014,” it said.

“Meeting basic needs is becoming increasingly challenging for those who have not been displaced,” OCHA warned.

Israel has imposed what it called a “complete siege” on the already blockaded Gaza Strip, cutting off food, water, fuel and electricity — a move that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned would worsen an already dire humanitarian situation.

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Middle East

Helicopter Carrying Iran’s President Crashes, IRNA Begins Search

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A helicopter carrying Iranian President, Ebrahim Raisi, has been involved in an incident while he was visiting neighbouring Azerbaijan, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on X on Sunday according to CNN.

“Some of the president’s companions on this helicopter were able to communicate with Central Headquarters, raising hopes that the incident could have ended without casualties,” it added.

It is unclear what the exact status is of Raisi’s helicopter, CNN reports.

The helicopter was part of a convoy of three helicopters. Two of those helicopters were carrying ministers and officials who arrived at their destination safely, according to Tasnim.

“Seyyed Mohammad-Ali Al-Hashem, Tabriz’s Friday Prayer Imam, and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian were also reportedly on the helicopter with the president,” Tasnim said on X.

Meanwhile, the IRNA, according to IRCG, has initiated a Search and rescue operation to locate the helicopter carrying Iranian President Raisi and FM Amir-Abdollahian, which went down in the forest area of Dizmar between the villages of Uzi and Pir Dawood.

More than 20 rescue teams equipped with drones, search dogs, and full equipment, along with groups of rangers and special armed forces, have been dispatched to the site.

The area, located north of Varzeghan in East Azarbaijan province, is difficult to access, and adverse weather conditions, including thick fog, complicate the search efforts.

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Africa

Info Analytics Poll: Mahama Gaps Bawumia by 20% Votes

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With nine months before the next General election in Ghana, the presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Dr. John Dramani Mahama, is commanding a 20 per cent lead over his closest rival, Dr. Mahamudu Bawunia of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).

This was revealed in a new poll conducted by research agency, Global Info Analytics.

The poll show that over 50 per cent of Ghanaians has expressed interest to vote Mahama as against nearly 35 per cent for the incumbent vice president.

Other candidates in the election shared the remaining percentage of a little over 15 per cent.

The Ghana election is expected to hold on December 7.

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Africa

Bassirou Faye Sworn-in As Senegal’s Youngest President

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Bassirou Diomaye Faye, a left-wing pan-Africanist, has been sworn-in as Senegal’s youngest president after sweeping to a first-round victory on a pledge of radical reform 10 days after he was released from prison.

The 44-year-old has never before held an elected office but several African leaders attended the ceremony in the new town of Diamniadio, near the capital Dakar.

“Before God and the Senegalese nation, I swear to faithfully fulfill the office of President of the Republic of Senegal,” Faye said before the gathered officials.

He also vowed to “scrupulously observe the provisions of the Constitution and the laws” and to defend “the integrity of the territory and national independence, and to spare no effort to achieve African unity”.

The formal handover of power with outgoing President Macky Sall will take place at the presidential palace in Dakar.

Faye was among a group of political opponents freed from prison 10 days before the March 24 presidential ballot under an amnesty announced by Sall, who had tried to delay the vote.

Faye’s campaign was launched while he was still in detention.

The former tax inspector becomes the West African state’s fifth president since independence from France in 1960 and the first to openly admit to a polygamous marriage.

Working with his populist mentor Ousmane Sonko, who was barred from the election, Faye declared their priorities in his victory speech: national reconciliation, easing a cost-of-living crisis and fighting corruption.

The anti-establishment leader has vowed to restore national sovereignty over key assets such as the oil, gas and fishing sectors.

Faye wants to leave the regional CFA franc, which he sees as a French colonial legacy, and to invest more in agriculture with the aim of reaching food self-sufficiency.

But he has also sought to reassure investors that Senegal “will remain a friendly country and a sure and reliable ally for any partner that engages with us in virtuous, respectful and mutually productive cooperation.”

After three tense years and deadly unrest in the traditionally stable nation, his democratic victory was hailed from Washington to Paris, via the African Union and the European Union.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday spoke with the president-elect by telephone and “underscored the United States’ strong interest in deepening the partnership” between their two countries, the State Department said.

On the international stage, Faye seeks to bring military-run Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger back into the fold of the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) bloc.

New generation of politicians

Commonly known as Diomaye, or “the honourable one” in the local Serer language, he won the election with 54.3 percent of the vote.

It was a remarkable turnaround after the government had dissolved the Pastef party he founded with Sonko in 2014, with Sall postponing the election.

Faye, a practising Muslim from a humble background with two wives and four children, represents a new generation of youthful politicians.

He has voiced admiration for US ex-president Barack Obama and South African anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela.

However, Faye and the government he must unveil will quickly face major challenges.

He does not have a majority in the National Assembly and will have to look to build alliances to pass new laws, or call a legislative election, which will become an option from mid-November.

The biggest challenge will be creating enough jobs in a nation where 75 percent of the 18-million population is aged under 35 and the unemployment rate is officially 20 percent.

Many youths have considered the future so bleak they have risked their lives to join the waves of migrants trying to reach Europe.

Sall, meanwhile, has been appointed special envoy of the Paris Pact for People and Planet, created to combat poverty, protect the planet and support vulnerable countries.

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