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South Sudan conflict:Thousands flee to Uganda

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South Sudan Clashes

Thousands of people have fled conflict-hit South Sudan to Uganda following a recent clash between the rival armies in capital Juba, a media report said on Wednesday citing the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

At least 2,900 persons had crossed into the neighbouring Uganda since Friday in which more than 90 per cent were women and children, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The number of people seeking shelter and safety in Uganda from South Sudan has risen significantly in the past few days and we believe the influx will keep growing in the days ahead as tensions remain high across the border,” UNHCR said in a statement.

As the restrictions have been eased and the 200 km Juba-Nimule road has been cleared of the checkpoints, more persons were expected to flee to the East African country.

“As a result, more people are now coming by truck, and this explains the rising numbers of arrivals. Many are also bringing belongings,” said UNHCR.

The security situation remains volatile and fighting could return at any time while refugees talk of an increase in looting.

Over 6,000 South Sudanese were staying in the Pagiarinya refugee settlement in Uganda. The recent evaluation reveals the settlement has capacity for another 6,500 persons, the UNHCR said.

“An inter-agency site assessment mission, including officials from the Government of Uganda Office of the Prime Minister and UNHCR, are currently visiting sites to identify areas suitable for establishing new settlement areas,” said a statement by the UNHCR.

At least 300 persons were killed and over 10,000 fled their homes after a clash between government troops of President Salva Kiir and forces loyal Vice President Riek Machar in the capital.

“The fresh displacement will put a further strain on UNHCR’s resources for the South Sudan operation and our ability to provide timely and life-saving assistance, especially with access to Juba difficult,” it said.

On July 15, UNHCR presented a revised appeal for its South Sudanese refugee operations, seeking $701 million though the earlier appeal for $608 million was only 17 per cent funded.

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Africa

Indian-owned Swami fills Accra’s accommodation gap with $12 mn estate

Swami Group entered a market that has real demand and is perhaps providing what governments across the continent are not able to do.

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Knight Frank

Accra, March 31 : As the Ghanaian government struggles to find a solution to the country’s accommodation problem, Indian-owned Swami International has stepped in with a $12 million, 12.4 acre Paradise Estates township made up of 102 houses in the capital Accra.

This is part of the company’s $50 million investment in real estate across two other West African countries, Gambia and Senegal, its General Manager, Tarun Singh, told IANS.

Swami entered the West African real estate market two years ago, Singh said, in response to an African Development Bank (AfDB) report that the continent “was growing with an urbanisation rate of 3.4 per cent, with cities across the continent experiencing the fastest urban growth rate globally. Unfortunately, it looks like this is not being matched by the ability to provide affordable houses”.

He said the Swami Group entered a market that has real demand and is perhaps providing what governments across the continent are not able to do.

The international real estate group, Knight Frank, in a report on Africa’s real estate sector for 2017, said rapid population growth across Africa — faster than any other global region — together with urbanisation, is driving the property market activity across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Singh said the company had already completed a similar project in Senegal and had moved on to a second one at Diamniodo, a new development at the new airport.

“Our decision to come to West Africa is due to the peace and security we find in the countries that we are operating in,” he added.

Singh, however, said there were some problems that needed to be solved, including skilled workers to be engaged on large-scale housing projects and poor utility services, in order to attract more investors into the real estate sector in the three countries.

In addition to the provision of houses in Gambia, Singh said the company has also provided rural electrification and boreholes for the people. “In addition, we have also ventured into agriculture with the cultivation of potatoes in Senegal and bananas in the Gambia,” he said.

The AfDB has identified a huge deficit in the real estate sector which it said had hit the poor hard because of affordability and this had remained a key challenge to developing the housing finance market.

By : Francis Kokutse

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at [email protected])

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South Africa’s chief prosecutor set to announce decision on Zuma corruption charges

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Jacob Zuma

South Africa’s chief prosecutor will announce on Friday whether he is reinstating corruption charges against former president Jacob Zuma, who was forced to resign by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) last month.

Zuma faces 783 counts of corruption relating to a 30 billion rand ($2.5 billion) government arms deal in the late 1990s. They were filed but then dropped by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) shortly before Zuma ran for president in 2009.

The deal to buy European military kit has cast a shadow over politics in Africa’s most industrialized economy for years.

Zuma – then deputy president – was linked to the deal through Schabir Shaikh, his former financial adviser who was jailed for corruption.

Shaikh’s conviction almost torpedoed Zuma’s bid for president but the charges against him were dropped on a technicality in 2009.

He became president shortly afterwards, but his opponents fought a lengthy legal battle to have them reinstated. Zuma countered with his own legal challenges.

Chief Prosecutor Shaun Abrahams will make his announcement at 1330 GMT, according to NPA spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku.

Zuma has already been informed of what Abrahams has decided, the spokesman said.

South Africa’s High Court reinstated the charges in 2016 and the Supreme Court upheld that decision last year, rejecting an appeal by Zuma and describing the NPA’s initial decision to set aside the charges as “irrational”.

It then fell to Abrahams to decide whether or not the NPA would pursue a case against Zuma, who resigned as head of state on Feb. 14 on the orders of the ANC.

Zuma said in 2016 that an investigation into the arms deal he ordered five years earlier had found no evidence of corruption in the selection process of arms suppliers. Nor had it found evidence that officials were bribed in an attempt to influence the deal, he said.

Zuma has also been implicated by South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog in a 2016 report that alleges the Gupta family, billionaire friends of Zuma, used links with him to win state contracts. The Guptas and Zuma have denied any wrongdoing.

Source : Reuters

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Nigerian admits more than 100 missing schoolgirls have been ‘abducted’

Buhari, a former military ruler, was elected in 2015 on a promise to end the Boko Haram insurgency, which since it started nine years ago has claimed at least 20,000 lives.

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari

More than 100 girls missing for a week after a Boko Haram attack on their school in northeast Nigeria were kidnapped, the government said for the first time on Monday.

The authorities in Abuja had previously stopped short of saying the 110 girls were seized during the raid on the Government Girls Science and Technology College in Dapchi last Monday.

The attack has revived painful memories in Nigeria of the mass abduction of 276 girls from another boarding school in Chibok in April 2014. Nearly four years on, 112 are still being held.

President Muhammadu Buhari said his government was determined to ensure the release of everyone taken by the Islamist militants and to bring “the abducted girls to their families”.

“This is especially against the backdrop of the recent incident where another group of girls were abducted on January 19 from the Government Girls Science and Technical College in Dapchi, Yobe state,” Buhari told a reception in Abuja for former captives of jihadists.

Buhari added that he had ordered the country’s security agencies to ensure the safety of schools and students.

Nigeria’s reluctance to admit the kidnapping comes in part due to Chibok, whose shadow hung over the previous administration and many believe contributed to its election loss.

Buhari, a former military ruler, was elected in 2015 on a promise to end the Boko Haram insurgency, which since it started nine years ago has claimed at least 20,000 lives.

The abduction in Dapchi comes after repeated claims from the military and government that Boko Haram was on the verge of defeat.

It has led to questions about the extent of the government’s grip on security and why promises to improve security of schools appears not to have been implemented, despite Chibok.

Boko Haram, whose name translates roughly from Hausa as “Western education is forbidden”, has repeatedly targeted schools teaching a so-called secular curriculum.

The jihadists want to establish a hardline Islamic state in northeast Nigeria.

It has used kidnapping as a weapon of war, seizing thousands of women and young girls as well as men and boys of fighting age.

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