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Week after ‘unilateral truce’, Ethiopia’s Tigray region receives UN food aids

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Following the declaration of a unilateral truce by the Ethiopian government last week, a convoy of trucks carrying food aid has entered territory controlled by fighters loyal to the fugitive leaders of Ethiopia’s Tigray region on Friday.

The truck is the first humanitarian convoy to move into the Tigray region since Dec. 14, the United Nations World Food Programme said.

The U.N. estimates that 90% of Tigray’s 6 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. It says 100 trucks must enter every day to feed people there.

“WFP-led convoys to Tigray are back on the road & making steady progress,” the agency said on Twitter. It added that the trucks “arrived in Erepti” carrying over 500 metric tons of food supplies “for communities on edge of starvation.” The UN World Food Programme concludes.

The Tigray Region is the northernmost regional state of Ethiopia. The Region is the homeland of the Tigrayan, Irob, and Kunama people. Formerly known as Region 1, its capital and largest city are Mekelle. Tigray is the fifth-largest by area, the fifth-most populous, and the fifth-most densely populated of the 11 regional states in Ethiopia. 96 percent of Tigrayans are Orthodox Christian.

Erepti is a district in the neighboring state of Afar, into which the war has spilled in recent months. Fighters loyal to the outlawed party of Tigray’s leaders — the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF — are present in six districts in Afar, having entered the region in December.

The spokesperson of the TPLF, Getachew Reda, confirmed on Twitter that 20 WFP trucks had crossed into territory controlled by their fighters and are now on their way to Mekele, the Tigray capital. The Tigray fighters had said they would observe the humanitarian truce declared by the government if aid started to reach Tigray.

“This is one good step in the right direction,” Getachew added. “The bottom line, though, isn’t about how many trucks are allowed but whether there is a system in place to ensure unfettered humanitarian access for the needy!”

Metro

South Sudan activists fight child marriage where girls are sold for cows

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A group of South Sudanese activists have come together to fight against an obnoxious practice where young girls are auctioned off into marriage in exchange for cows, especially in some rural communities.

According to Jackline Nasiwa, the Executive Director of the Center of Inclusive Governance, Peace and Justice, the practice had robbed many young girls of a future.

“The price of a daughter, determined in negotiations between her father and would-be husband, is typically 50 to 100 cows, each worth up to $1,000.

“A girl viewed as beautiful, fertile and of high social rank can bring as many as 200 cows. They sell their daughters so that they get something to survive. The younger the girl marries, the more the family gets cattle in return,” Nasiwa said.

“Poor families in South Sudan see laws against child marriage as barring them from profiting from thrir daughters and threatening their very survival, with only about 10% of girls finishing primary school because of factors including conflict and cultural beliefs.

“Some families worry that sending girls to school exposes them to dangers such as sexual assault that could lower their value when it comes time to look for marriage offers,” Nasiwa added.

Another girls’ right activist, Nyanachiek Madit, herself a survivor of the wife-for-cow practice, said she fought back when her father wanted to sell her off.

The 21-year-old Nyanachiek said she refused to be traded when her father said she would be married to a man about 50-years-old when she was only 17, because her family couldn’t afford to send her to school.

“I didn’t accept to get married because I am disabled and my education will be my ‘leg’ later on,” said Nyanachiek who was born with a congenital disorder.

She said she was convinced that schooling would give her a better life, so she stood up to her family and dared them to beat or even kill her.

Nyanachiek’s plight came to the attention of ChildBride Solidarity, which offers scholarships to girls whose parents abandon them after they oppose early marriage. With the group’s assistance, Nyanachiek now studies in South Sudan’s capital and is a very vocal voice against the practice.

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South African man bags two life sentences for brutally raping, murdering 29-year-old woman

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A 40-year-old man, Hendrick Nicholas Hanse van Reinsburg, has been sentenced to two life sentences by a High Court for rape and brutally murdering a 29-year-old woman.

Prosecutors revealed that Van Reinsburg had, on 13 October 2019, brutally raped and murdered Andiswa Zitha, in her home in the Mjejane area of Mpumalanga.

The prosecutors said the victim suffered violence which was perpetuated by the accused, adding that after the accused raped her, he used a wooden object to pummel her several times before he fled the scene.

“Van Reinsburg left Zitha in a pool of blood after raping and brutally attacking her in her home in Mjejane near Komatipoort,” Mpumalanga police spokesperson, Brigadier Selvy Mohlala, said while testifying.

“Zitha was found by neighbours who took her to Tonga Hospital but she was unfortunately certified dead the next day on 14 October 2019,” Mohlala said.

“The police opened a murder case with an additional charge of rape and worked tirelessly in their investigation with the hope to find the perpetrator. Their hard work paid off when they arrested the accused at a tavern in Kamhlushwa on 20 October 2021,” said Mohlala.

“The accused was charged and taken to court where he was convicted and sentenced to one life sentence for rape as well as another life sentence for murder. The court also ordered for the sentences to run concurrently,” the police spokesman said.

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