A new app launched in South Sudan on Friday aims to help aid workers reunite thousands of children with their families after they became separated during a five-year war and identify other vulnerable children.
The app was developed by the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) and the charity Save the Children to allow the hundreds of field workers tracing families in South Sudan to share information on their phones or tablets.
“Case workers are the backbone of everything we do. They walk for hours and hours under the scorching sun, wade through mud, travel for days on bumpy dirt roads to knock on doors,” said Rama Hansraj, head of Save the Children in South Sudan.
“They are in every corner of South Sudan, yet until now have found it difficult to communicate with other case workers on the other side of the country. With this new app, we’re bringing their work into the 21st century.”
South Suda has been ravaged by civil war since 2013 after clashes erupted between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.
The government signed a peace agreement with rebels in September, but the war has had a devastating impact. At least 50,000 people have been killed and one in three South Sudanese have been uprooted from their homes.
Children have borne the brunt of the violence, said aid workers, with more than 19,000 registered as missing, unaccompanied or separated from their families.
While more than 6,000 children have been reunited with their families, thousands are still living with temporary foster families or in care centres.
Many were abducted by armed factions to be used as child soldiers, informants or porters. Others were separated from their parents after an attack on their villages.
Some separated children are also migrants from poor families forced to look for work, or runaways who were facing physical or sexual abuse at home, said aid workers.
Child protection case workers – who come from various charities as well as the government – will now be able to directly input data on separated children into the app so that other field workers can easily access it.
The app is connected to a database featuring children’s pictures and biodata, as well as details on circumstances leading to separation and where their family used to live.
“The app will be vital in a poorly connected South Sudan. It can be synced before the case worker heads out and allows them to access the necessary files while in remote areas,” said Helene Sandbu Ryeng from UNICEF in South Sudan.
The app has photo and sound features, which is crucial – especially when parents and their children have been separated for years, which is often the case in South Sudan, added Ryeng.
It will also help identify minors who need help such as counselling for trauma.
Field workers will be able to input data on their apps, according a level of priority so that it can be quickly followed up by child protection teams based in their offices.
Ugandan police confirm the death of 19 people in fuel truck blast
The blast occurred Sunday evening in the Kyambura trading centre, a mountainous area near the Queen Elizabeth National Park
Nineteen people died when a fuel truck barrelled into other vehicles in a busy town in western Uganda and exploded, police said Monday.
The blast occurred Sunday evening in the Kyambura trading centre, a mountainous area near the Queen Elizabeth National Park.
“Ten people died instantly when the fuel truck lost control and hit three other vehicles, leading to multiple explosions that also burned 25 small shops,” said regional police spokesman Martial Tumusiime.
“Of the people that were rushed to the hospital, nine of them have also died as a result of wounds,” he added.
In 2002, 70 people were killed when an oil truck rammed into a bus in Rutoto, less than 50 kilometres from Kyambura.
And in 2013, 33 people died in an explosion after a fuel truck overturned — many having rushed to the scene to siphon fuel.
The accident in Uganda came eight days after a fuel truck exploded in Tanzania. The fireball engulfed a crowd thronging to collect petrol from the wrecked vehicle, leaving 95 dead.
President pardons 4 jailed opponents in Comoros
The four were jailed for life for attempting a coup and threatening state security but had their terms reduced to 20 years in May
Comoros President Azali Assoumani has pardoned four opposition figures jailed for life for an attempted coup in the Indian Ocean islands. In a decree issued Saturday, writer Said Ahmed Said Tourqui, lawyer Bahassane Ahmed Said, Mohamed Ali Abdallah and El-Had Ibrahim Halifa were “pardoned from all of their remaining sentences”.
The four were jailed for life for attempting a coup and threatening state security but had their terms reduced to 20 years in May when 17 other jailed opponents were pardoned. The charges were linked to unrest that followed a controversial constitutional referendum to extend the president’s term last year.
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Bahassane is the younger brother of Jaffar Ahmed Said Hassani, a former vice-president to Azali now living in exile in Tanzania after denouncing the president’s authoritarianism. The pardons follow Azali’s re-election in March, in which he pledged “appeasement measures” to quell accusations of voter fraud.
He was credited with nearly 60 per cent of the ballot, an outcome rejected as fraudulent by the opposition. Comoros has had a volatile political history since independence in 1975, enduring more than 20 attempted coups, four of which were successful.
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Azali initially came to power in a coup, then ruled between 1999 and 2006. He was re-elected in 2016 in a vote marred by violence and allegations of irregularities.
Tanzania mourns 69 who were killed in fuel tanker blast
“We’re currently mourning the loss of 69 people, the last of whom died while being transferred by helicopter
Tanzania was in mourning Sunday, preparing to bury 69 people who perished when a crashed fuel tanker exploded as crowds rushed to syphon off leaking petrol. President John Magufuli declared a period of mourning through Monday following the deadly blast near the town of Morogoro, west of Dar es Salaam.
He will be represented at the funerals by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa, an official statement said. “We’re currently mourning the loss of 69 people, the last of whom died while being transferred by helicopter to the national hospital in Dar es Salaam,” Majaliwa told residents in comments broadcast on Tanzanian television.
The number of injured stood at 66, he said. The burials will start Sunday afternoon, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jenista Mhagama announced during the morning after relatives identified the dead.
“The preparations for the burials have been completed. Individual graves have been dug and the coffins are ready,” Mhagama said, adding that experts would be available to offer psychological counselling to the victims’ relatives.
DNA tests would be carried out on bodies that were no longer recognisable, Mhagama said, adding that families could take the remains of their loved ones and organise their own burials if they preferred.
Pay Attention: Fuel tanker blast kills 10 in Nigeria
In the latest in a series of similar disasters in Africa, 39 seriously hurt patients had been taken to hospital in Dar es Salaam while 17 others were being treated in Morogoro, 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of the economic capital of Tanzania.
Footage from the scene showed the truck engulfed in flames and huge clouds of black smoke, with charred bodies. The burnt-out remains of motorcycle taxis lie scattered on the ground among scorched trees. A video posted on social media showed dozens of people carrying yellow jerricans around the truck.
No-one wanted to listen
“We arrived at the scene with two neighbours just after the truck was overturned. While some good Samaritans were trying to get the driver and the other two people out of the truck, others were jostling each other, equipped with jerricans, to collect petrol,” teacher January Michael told reporters.
“At the same time, someone was trying to pull the battery out of the vehicle. We warned that the truck could explode at any moment but no one wanted to listen, so we went on our way, but we had barely turned on our heels when we heard the explosion.”
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President Magufuli called Saturday for people to stop the dangerous practice of stealing fuel in such a way, a common event in many poor parts of Africa. He issued a statement saying he was “very shocked” by the looting of fuel from damaged vehicles.
“There are vehicles that carry dangerous fuel oil, as in this case in Morogoro, there are others that carry toxic chemicals or explosives, let’s stop this practice, please,” Magufuli said. Last month, 45 people were killed and more than 100 injured in central Nigeria when a petrol tanker crashed and then exploded as people tried to take the fuel.
Among the deadliest such disasters, 292 people lost their lives in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2010, and in September 2015 at least 203 people died the South Sudan town of Maridi.
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