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At least 31 dead after migrant boats sink off Djibouti

One survivor estimated there were 130 people on his boat

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Ethiopian migrants sit aboard a ship repatriating them home via Djibouti - AFP

Two people were recovered alive and Veerassamy said “a few” more survivors arrived at an IOM facility in the town of Obock on Tuesday evening.

One survivor estimated there were 130 people on his boat, but was not able to estimate the number of passengers on the other vessel.

The nationalities of the victims remained unclear, Veerassamy said.

Located across the Bab el-Mandeb strait from Yemen and next to Somalia and Ethiopia, Djibouti has in recent years become a transit point for migrants heading to find work on the Arabian Peninsula.

In 2017 some 2,900 people, mostly Somalis and Ethiopians, passed through from Yemen, a year that saw about 100,000 migrants head into the troubled country. 

“The number of new arrivals arriving in Yemen has been continuously increasing since 2012, despite the deepened insecurity and violence following the war that erupted in March 2015,” the IOM said in its 2018-2020 regional migration response plan.  

“Arrivals peaked in 2016, when over 117,000 arrived in Yemen,” it added.

This migration comes despite Yemen facing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. 

UN officials say 80 percent of the population — 24 million people — are in need of aid and nearly 10 million are just one step away from famine. 

IOM said that most of the journey migrants take to Yemen is by foot, walking across the scorching desert regions of eastern Ethiopia, Djibouti and northern Somalia.

Once they arrive in Yemen they face torture, blackmail, sexual abuse or forced labour. 

The sea crossing itself has repeatedly proven perilous. 

Last year, at least 30 migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia believed to be headed for Djibouti drowned when their boat capsized off Yemen amid reports of gunfire being used against those on board. 

In August 2017, dozens of migrants from Somalia and Ethiopia died after human traffickers forced them off two Yemen-bound boats and into the sea.

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East Africa News & Stories

DR Congo military kills 16 militiamen in northeastern region

A spokesperson for the military said militia positions were targeted in Walendu Pitsi sector, killing 16 militiamen and capturing one

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DR Congo military kills 16 militiamen in northeast region
Soldiers of the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). (Photo by JOHN WESSELS / AFP)

The military in DR Congo said on Tuesday that sixteen militiamen have been killed in the northeastern part of the country, an area where ethnic violence has left at least 160 dead and forced hundreds of thousands to flee in the past two weeks.

A spokesperson for the military said militia positions were targeted in Walendu Pitsi sector, killing 16 militiamen and capturing one.

“At the moment, operations are concentrated around the Kpadruma locality where there is violent fighting,” Lieutenant Jules Tshikudi, a provincial army spokesman, told reporters.

He said;

“The soldiers of the armed forces of the DRC have chased attackers from several localities which they were occupying and sowing insecurity.” 

He also added that four AK47 rifles were recovered.

Lieutenant Tshikudi did not reveal the name of the group that was targeted, but there have been repeated outbreaks of violence between different ethnic groups in that area.

Between 10 and 12 June, there was a flare-up in violence in the Djugu region in DRC’s volatile Ituri Province which led to the deaths of at least 160 people, local authorities said. Earlier death tolls put the figure at somewhere between 50 and around 70.

The UN refugee agency has voiced deep concerns over the developments, which it said had seen “multiple attacks” involving the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups since early June.

The agency has said the recent wave of violence in the area has forced more than 300,000 people to flee their homes, with “large-scale displacement” reported in three of Ituri’s five administrative territories, with people fleeing unrest in Djugu territory especially.

The region which is known to be rich in gold, has experienced extreme violence before, with deaths numbering tens of thousands due to clashes between the Hema and Lendu form the periods of 1999 to 2003.

The DRC counts an estimated 4.5 million internally displaced people. Ituri and North Kivu province, just to the south, are battling with a major epidemic of Ebola that has claimed more than 1,400 lives since August last year. Both provinces are in the eastern part of the DRC, where the country shares its border with Uganda.

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Kagame calls out the West’s ‘human rights superiority complex’

Kagame said compared to what it was 25 years ago, Rwanda is now a different country

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Kagame criticises West's 'human rights superiority complex'
Photo credit: AFP

In an interview with French TV broadcaster, France24, Rwandan president, Paul Kagame has termed criticisms of his country’s human rights record as “rubbish” and “ridiculous”.

Kagame said compared to what it was 25 years ago, Rwanda is now a different country.

He challenged the host of the program to look at what he called Europe’s failing human rights record, particularly the way migrants have been treated.

“[Europe] is violating people’s rights, with this problem of people being bundled and sent back to sink in the Mediterranean and so many being mistreated in your own country”, he said.

He further added that criticisms from the West were tinged with a superiority complex:

“You really need to stop this superiority complex nonsense about human rights.

“You think you are the only ones who respect human rights, all others are about violating human rights. No, we’ve fought for human rights and freedoms for our people much better [than] you people who keep talking about this nonsense.”

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Ethiopia pays tribute to slain military chief with national funeral service

The country has been left reeling after Saturday’s violent foiled coup plot

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Ethiopia pays tribute to slain military chief with national funeral service

Ethiopia on Tuesday held a funeral service for its army chief who was assassinated by his bodyguard over the weekend, an incident believed linked to an alleged coup bid in northern Amhara state.

Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed wept and mourners wailed as the coffin of Seare Mekonnen, draped in the Ethiopian flag, was carried to the front of a room filled with soldiers in military fatigues, in footage carried by state media.

Related: Police in Ethiopia kill suspected coup plotter

Ethiopia has been left reeling after this weekend’s violence, a massive blow to Abiy who has embarked on an ambitious project of economic and political reforms in the nation.

However, his efforts have unleashed ethnic violence and turmoil as different groups jockey for resources and power.

On Saturday, what the government described as a “hit squad” entered a meeting of top Amhara officials and opened fire, killing regional president Ambachew Mekonnen, his top adviser and the state’s attorney general. 

A few hours later in Addis Ababa, some 500 kilometres (310 miles) away, army chief, Seare was shot dead by his bodyguard. A retired general visiting him was also killed.

Related: Ethiopia mourns death of army chief, top officials after failed coup attempt

The government said he was coordinating the response to the “attempted coup” at the time. 

Abiy’s office also said it appeared to be a “coordinated attack” without giving more details.

Ethiopian authorities have pinned the blame on Amhara’s security chief Asaminew Tsige, who was gunned down by police while on the run on Monday.  

Asaminew was only released last year from almost a decade in prison over a 2009 coup plot, under a mass prisoner amnesty that began under former prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn and continued under his reformist successor Abiy.

Related: Ethiopian army chief, regional president shot dead in Amhara coup attempt

Analysts describe him as a hardline Amhara nationalist who was likely facing removal from his job over efforts to form a militia and rhetoric pushing for territory in neighbouring Tigray to be reclaimed.

The motives of Seare’s assassin meanwhile, are completely unknown.

Internet services were down on Tuesday across Ethiopia for a fourth consecutive day.

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