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Israel bans easy entry for Ethiopian Christians this Easter

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Israel has reportedly placed a ban on Ethiopian Christians to control the influx of pilgrimages at the coming Easter celebration.

Local media reports travel and tour companies have received a letter from Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority stating that any Ethiopian traveller who wants to visit Israel will need to contact the authority personally and receive permission to enter.

Tourists from other countries do not have to follow this same protocol; tour companies can generally submit a group application for tourists travelling as a group.

The authority’s letter noted that the move was out of concern that “these tourists will not head back” due to the ongoing civil war in their country, according to local media reports.

Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority said the policy was necessary because in the past Ethiopian tourists have overstayed.

The head of the Israel Incoming Tour Operators Association is quoted by the Times of Israel as saying it was “severely discriminatory” as it only applied to Ethiopians.

A spokesperson for Ethiopia’s foreign ministry says that he was not aware of the decision by Israel.

Ethiopia’s tourism sector has also been hit hard by the fighting, as many of the country’s most-celebrated destinations are unreachable.

One tour operator in Addis Ababa, which works with counterparts in Israel to arrange the pilgrimages, says that the decision was bad news for his business already suffering from the war and pandemic-related restrictions.

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Ghanaian social media influencer Hajia4Reall pleads guilty in $2m romance scam case in US

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Ghanaian social media influencer, Mona Faiz Montrage, popularly known as Hajia4Reall, has pleaded guilty in a $2 million romance scam case in the United States.

The United States Attorney’s Office reported on Wednesday that Hajia4Reall who was arrested in the UK last year and extradited to the US, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to receive stolen money, and could be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison.

The Attorney Office added that Hajia4Reall also agreed to forfeit the sum of $2,164,758.41, as well as make restitution in the same amount while her sentencing is scheduled to be conducted by U.S. District Judge, Paul A. Crotty, at a date yet to be stated.

US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, who addressed journalists after the court hearing on Wednesday, confirmed the socislite’s guilty plea which he said emphasized the seriousness of the crime.

Williams explained that the accused knowingly accepted money stolen from older Americans through romance scams, and as a consequence, she faces significant legal ramifications.

“This Office and our law enforcement partners are relentless in bringing fraudsters who target Americans to justice, no matter where they are,” the Attorney said.

He explained that Hajia4Reall, a socialite turned musician, was extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom over her alleged involvement in a $2 million romance scam which is locally called ‘Sakawa’ in her native Ghana, targeting older, single Americans, in May 2023.

During the hearing, prosecutors said she was charged with conspiracy to commit and committing wire fraud and money laundering, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment.

The prosecution noted that Hajia4Reall received money from several victims of romance frauds whom members of the syndicate tricked into sending money.

“Among the false pretences used to induce victims to send money to Hajia4Reall were payments to transport gold to the U.S. from overseas payments to resolve a fake FBI investigation, and payments to assist a fake U.S. Army officer in receiving funds from Afghanistan.

“In total, Hajia4Reall controlled bank accounts that received over $2 million in fraudulent funds from the fraud.

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Director of ‘Dahomey’ Mati Diop shines at Berlin Film Festival 2024

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Senegalese-French writer and and director of African documentary movie, “Dahomey,” Mati Diop, made history when her movie was selected for a special world premiere at the 2024 Berlin Film Festival.

She was joined by other directors of African descent including Gildas Adannou, Habib Ahandessi and Joséa Guedje at the premiere where Kenyan Hollywood actress, Lupita Nyong’o became the ever black person to head the festival’s jury.

“Dahomey” which is one of Africa’s entry in this year’s festival, is a documentary that explores colonization through the return of stolen artifacts plundered by French colonial troops and returned to Benin in West Africa.

Dahomey” follows the journey of plundered artifacts taken by French colonial troops in 1892, being sent from Paris to the Republic of Benin and the impact of their return.

Other African films selected for the festival include “Black Tea” by Mauritanian-born Malian director Abderrahmane Sissako, and “Who Do I Belong To” by Tunisian-Canadian director Meryam Joobeur.

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