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South Sudan army ‘suffocated 60 in container’

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  • As Leaked ISIS Personnel Files Paint Picture of Group’s Recruits

A rights group says it has evidence that South Sudan government forces deliberately suffocated more than 60 men and boys in a shipping container. They then dumped the bodies in a field in Leer Town, Unity State, Amnesty International said.

Researchers said they had found the remains of skeletons from the killings, which are are said to have taken place last October. Thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced since 2013.

“Dozens of people suffered a slow and agonising death at the hands of government forces that should have been protecting them.

These unlawful killings must be investigated,” said Lama Fakih from Amnesty. Amnesty researchers interviewed more than 42 witnesses, including 23 people who said they saw the men and boys being forced into a shipping container and later saw their bodies either being removed or at a mass burial site. Witnesses described hearing the detainees screaming and banging on the walls of the shipping container, which they said had no windows or other form of ventilation.

One said she saw a commander order soldiers to open the container and take out four bodies before closing it again on the remaining detainees. Relatives of the victims told Amnesty that the victims were cattle keepers, traders and students, not fighters.

Amnesty has called for the African Union (AU) to set up a Hybrid Court for South Sudan agreed under a peace agreement signed last August.

In the meantime, the 23-question form looks like a standard job application — save for the black ISIS logo in the top right corner.

Thousands of documents apparently leaked from inside ISIS paint a detailed picture of the terror group’s personnel, including a 20-year-old from Minneapolis with just a high-school education. NBC News was among several media organizations to obtain a trove of recruitment forms from a man who claims to be a disillusioned ISIS fighter who recently defected.

The questions start off mundane — name, nickname, date of birth, education — and then shift to the more sinister. Fields ask about previous fighting experience, blood type, special skills, level of obedience and whether the applicant is interested in fighting or becoming a suicide attacker. The forms also ask for “countries traveled” to clarify the route to ISIS’ caliphate and who can vouch for the recruit.

More than 22,000 jihadis are named in the files and some 51 nationalities represented, according to Britain’s Sky News. The broadcaster — which also obtained and reviewed the documents — said many of the names were already “well-known” jihadis, such Londoner Abdel Bary.

Other forms bore the names of jihadis known to have died on the battlefield, like former ISIS media-wing head Junaid Hussain.

German intelligence officials are reviewing the files, according to local media there. Federal police believe “that the documents are authentic,” German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said in an emailed statement noting the potential intelligence value of the trove.

“They provide a great chance for the procedure of furnishing proof and the participation also of Germans in terror activities,” he said. “With this, we also better understand the structures of this terror organization and it will possibly function as a deterrent for some young radical people.” The cache could offer critical information to intelligence agencies — from routes taken by foreign fighters to previously-unknown recruits and recruiters.

The leak and its origin deal a blow ISIS itself, too, signaling weakness at a time when the organization has been coming under increasing pressure. Defense officials in recent weeks captured an ISIS official who has reportedly offered valuable information on the group’s chemical weapons and operations while under interrogation.

U.S. airstrikes have been pounding ISIS weapons depots and an airstrike also is believed to have killed a top ISIS commander known as “Omar the Chechen” in Syria last week.

BBC with additional report from NBC

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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