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AU calls for comprehensive approach to combat terrorism

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…As UN says hunger intensifies in 9 African countries, others***

African Union’s Peace and Security Council has called for a comprehensive approach to combat transnational threat of terrorism in Africa.

The call came as the UN laments biting hunger, due to lack of access to adequate food in nine African countries, amongst others, following growing acts of terrorism.

A statement by Spokesman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tope Elias-Fatile, on Tuesday in Abuja, said that the council made the call in a communiqué at the end of its 749th meeting in Ethiopia.

The meeting was held at the level of Heads of State and Government, on the sidelines of the 30th AU Summit in Addis Ababa.

The council condemned all terrorist acts, methods, practices and incitements, regardless of the pretext under which they were committed.

It reiterated its strong displeasure over violent extremist ideologies and narratives, and recognised the integral role of the phenomena in the execution of terrorist acts.

The council noted with deep concern, the immense threats to peace and security as a result of upsurge of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalisation in Africa.

It also underscored AU’s continued commitment to “inclusive approaches and African ownership within the context of African solutions to the problems plaguing the continent’’.

It underlined Africa’s commitment to international counter-terrorism regime as outlined by relevant OAU/AU treaties and conventions, UN Security Council resolutions and the UN Global Counter-terrorism strategy.

The council encouraged member-states to develop their own comprehensive national counter-terrorism strategies focusing on prevention as well as on timely and swift responses to terrorist acts.

It urged the members to adopt holistic approaches in addressing root causes of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization, focusing attention to the plight of the youth and marginalized sections of society.

It stressed the importance of coordination and complementary efforts among member-states and all relevant regional and international actors in preventing and countering terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization.

The council also stressed the importance of inter-regional continental and international forums of cooperation in the prevention and combating of terrorism.

It called for constructive engagement of a broad range of actors in the fight against terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization.

It expressed deep concern over the threat posed by the return of Foreign Terrorist Fighters from conflict zones outside the continent.

In this regard, the council requested the AU Commission and partners to sustain assistance to member-states in building and further strengthening national capacities in order to enable them to more effectively deal with threats.

It urged members to take measures to dry up the flow of terrorism financing by cutting the links between terrorist organizations and organized crime, including trafficking, smuggling and illicit trade.

Meanwhile, food insecurity, or lack of access to enough food, continues to worsen in 16 countries, nine of them in Africa are torn by conflict, UN agencies have reported.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) highlighted the extremely critical importance of humanitarian support for affected countries.

The agencies listed the countries monitored to include Burundi, the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan.

The others are Afghanistan, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

The countries are classified as most affected by acute hunger.

Conflict is a common factor undermining food security in all 16 countries covered in the report, which formed part of the bi-annual briefings to the UN Security Council on food security.

According to the report, the intensification of conflicts is a key reason behind the recent resurgence of world hunger levels, following decades of steady declines.

Among them, Yemen, South Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, CAR, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Somalia have a quarter or more of the population facing crisis or emergency levels of hunger.

In Yemen, 60 per cent of the population, or 17 million people, are affected by acute hunger.

These figures are 45 per cent, or 4.8 million, in South Sudan, 33 per cent, or 6.5 million, in Syria, and 33 per cent, or 1.9 million, in Lebanon – a country hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees.

But these are far from being the only countries flagged as cause for concern.

In the DRC, where serious food security concerns have been overshadowed by crises in other parts of Africa, the situation is rapidly deteriorating, the report warns.

There, 11 per cent of the population is now in the crisis phase or above, adding up to 7.7 million people who are coping with acute hunger.

In Sudan, 3.8 million people are in the crisis phase or above, in Iraq, that figure is 3.2 million while in the Lake Chad basin, the number is 2.9 million people.

In Burundi and Haiti, it is 1.8 and 1.3 million, respectively.

According to data, the number of hungry people worldwide rose to 815 million people in 2016, up from 777 million the year before.

The report stated that majority of the hungry, or 489 million people, live in countries wracked by conflict.

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U.S. strikes 2 targets in Syria in response to ‘continued attacks’

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The U.S. military struck two facilities in eastern Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran-affiliated groups in response to “continued attacks” against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The strikes were conducted against a training facility in Abu Kamal and a safe house in Mayadin in the eastern governorate of Deir Ezzor, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a brief statement.

The U.S. struck similar targets in eastern Syria in October and earlier in November.

Pro-Iranian militias have intensified their attacks on U.S. military bases in Syria and Iraq in recent weeks as a response to the Israeli military campaign in Gaza.

The security situation in the entire region has been particularly tense since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants staged deadly attacks in southern Israel.

Israel is responding with an overwhelming air and ground offensive in Gaza.

As a deterrent, the U.S. has moved more weapons systems, warships and air squadrons to the Eastern Mediterranean, and is deploying several hundred troops to the Middle East to support US units there.

U.S. President Joe Biden had ordered Sunday’s action to make it clear that the U.S. was defending itself, its personnel, and its interests, Austin stressed.

The U.S. is prepared to take further necessary measures to protect its own people and interests.

  • dpa
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Russia writes off $23bn debt for Africa – Putin

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Russia sends almost 12m tons of grain to Africa says Putin

…Pledges additional $90 million***

Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, says the Russian Government has written off $23 billion debt burden of African countries.

Putin spoke at the plenary session of the ongoing second Russia–Africa Summit 2023 held from July 27 to July 28.

He said Moscow would allocate an additional $90 million for these purposes.

Putin said Russia was advocating the expansion of representation of African countries in the UN Security Council and other UN structures.

“Russia and Africa strive to develop cooperation in all areas and strengthen ‘honest, open, constructive’ partnership.

“Russia will also assist in opening new African embassies and consulates in Russia,” he said.

According to him, the reopening of embassies in Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea is going as planned.

He said sovereignty was “not a one-time achieved state,” and it must be constantly protected.

Putin also offered assistance to Africa in countering threats such as terrorism, piracy, and transnational crimes adding that it would continue to train personnel from African countries.

He assured that Russian businesses have a lot to offer partners from Africa.

Putin said transition to national currencies and the establishment of transport and logistics chains would contribute to the increase in mutual trade turnover.

“Russia is ready to provide trade preferences to Africa, support the creation of modern production sectors, agricultural sector, and provide assistance through relevant international structures and agencies.

“Russia will always be a responsible international supplier of agricultural products,” he said.

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U.S. Coastguard Finds ‘debris field’ Near Missing Vessel

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A “debris field” has been discovered within the search area for the missing Titan submersible, the U.S. Coastguard (USCG) said on Thursday.

The agency said a remotely-operated vehicle made the discovery near the wreckage of the Titanic on Thursday.

The hunt for the missing deep-sea vessel is still an “active search and rescue” mission after it lost communication on Sunday.

The vessel was about 700 kilometres south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.

Coastguard officials said they were “evaluating the information” following Thursday’s debris discovery.

A press conference will be held at the Coastguard base in Boston to “discuss the findings” at 8pm (1900 GMT).

Rear Admiral John Mauger, the first Coastguard district commander, and Captain Jamie Frederick, first Coastguard district response coordinator, will lead the press conference.

Founding member of the Board of Trustees of The Explorers Club, Hamish Harding, was on board the undersea craft, alongside UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, and OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush, as well as French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.

The USCG said the ROV that made the discovery was from the Canadian Horizon Arctic ship – with the debris being found on the sea floor near the Titanic wreckage.

Assistance from the Royal Air Force (RAF) is due to arrive in St John’s on Thursday after it confirmed a request was received overnight for help with the movement of additional commercial equipment.

Two RAF planes, a C-17 Globemaster and A400 Atlas, departed RAF Lossiemouth in north-east Scotland on Thursday.

A British submariner and equipment from a UK firm have been sent to help the search at the request of the U.S. Coastguard, Downing Street said.

Royal Navy submariner Lieutenant Commander Richard Kantharia, who was on exchange with the U.S. Navy, has been seconded to the search and rescue team.

OceanGate Expeditions estimated the oxygen supply on the 6.7 metre-long vessel would last 96 hours, giving rescuers a deadline of around midday on Thursday.

Experts said the chances of finding the sub and rescuing those inside were diminishing.

Former Royal Navy submarine captain Ryan Ramsey told the PA news agency: “The outlook is bleak, that’s the only word for it as this tragic event unfolds and almost the closing stages of where this changes from rescue to a salvage mission.”

The Titan is believed to be about 900 miles east and 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

It is not known how deep the vessel is, with the seabed being around 3,800 metres from the surface. 

– dpa

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