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35 Ethiopian children die as drought, conflict, escalate – Medical Charity

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Medical charity, Doctors Without Borders (DWB), has confirmed that at least 35 Ethiopian children have died due to drought and conflicts in the country’s northeastern Afar region in recent weeks.

The DWB made the disclosure on Thursday after a government minister denied that people have died due to food shortages which is gradually leading to a famine.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Planning and Development, Fitsum Assefa, had on Monday, told cabinet members that though millions of people in the South Oromia and Somali regions need food assistance, no one had died due to hunger.

“An additional 5.2 million in Tigray, around 600,000 in Afar and 8.7 million in the Amhara region also need food assistance and are receiving assistance both by the government and donors,” she said, but denied the loss of human lives, calling the efforts a “big success.”

But while countering her, the medical charity said in a statement that “35 children have died in the last eight weeks alone and more than two-thirds of those patients died within 48 hours of admission,” while noting an escalating crisis in the arid region of the country.

The statement which was issued by the group’s emergency coordinator in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, Raphael Veicht, added:

“What scares us most at this point is that we are only beginning to see the very tip of the iceberg, and already it is overwhelming.

“The number of malnourished and sick children arriving at hospitals is rising steadily. Hence, the mortality rate among children is also rising

“Our hospital wards are full, so we are using tents. Even that is getting full, so we are treating some of them in the corridors.”

The United Nations had also raised the alarm on Tuesday about the impending famine and hunger induced by drought in the region and appealed for $847 million to help support 4.2 million people, half of them children in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti.

“The nutrition situation in the region is extremely concerning as malnutrition rates are increasing, particularly in Ethiopia, and in the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya and Somalia,” the UN had said.

Ethiopia is currently facing one of the worst droughts in the past 40 years following consecutive failed rains in the region with the Afar region also witnessing some of the fiercest fighting in the war between Ethiopia and the Tigray region since November 2020.

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Terrorists attack Nigerian Correctional Service Centre, release dangerous criminals

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A premium Correctional Service Center, the Kuje Medium Prison, in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja, came under severe attack by heavily armed terrorists who laid siege to the facility on Tuesday night and by the time they were done, hundreds of dangerous criminals, including fellow terrorists, were released into the society.

Residents of the immediate vicinity of the prison who sent out distress messages on social media at the time of the attack which occurred at about 10:30pm, narrated how the gunmen who numbered over 100, used explosives and machine guns to overpower the security operatives stationed at the prison reputed to be one of the safest in the West African country.

The frightened residents also revealed that the terrorists invaded the facility from the back of the premises which has less security personnel and shot their way into the facility where they attacked the officers on duty and ended up releasing some of the inmates believed to be members of terrorist groups locked up in the prison.

While confirming the attack on the Custodial Centre in the Federal Capital Territory, in a statement on Wednesday by its spokesperson, Umar Abubakar, the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCS) said calm has been restored to the area as the armed squad of the service were on the trail of the gunmen in collaboration with other security agencies.

“I wish to confirm that at about 2200hrs, some yet-to-be-identified gunmen attacked the Medium Security Custodial Centre, Kuje, in the Federal Capital Territory.

“However, men of the Armed Squad of the Nigerian Correctional Service and other security agencies attached to the Custodial Centre have responded and calm has been restored to the facility and the situation is under control. Other details will be made available soon.”

In the last three years, several prisons across Nigeria have come under attacks by gunmen whose main objectives have been to free some inmates.

Prisons in Owerri, Imo State in the South-East region of Nigeria, Kogi and Plateau States in the North-Central, Ibadan, Oyo State and Owo in Ondo State in the South-West, have been attacked by gunmen where thousands of inmates were freed.

According to Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, in an interview in November 2021, a total of 4,369 prisoners were set free by the gunmen in the various attacks on the custodial centres during various incidences of prison breaks, with many of them yet to be recaptured.

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Terrorists attack President Buhari convoy in Salah home coming. Who is Safe?

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The presidency in Nigeria has confirmed that bandit attacked the presidential convoy of President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday.

Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, in a statement revealed the President Buhari was not in the convoy at the time of the attack but security operatives and an advance team heading for Daura, Buhari’s hometown, ahead of Sallah, were attacked near Dutsinma in Katsina.

Shehu said the attack was repelled by “gallant presidential guards”.

“The Presidency has described as sad and unwelcome, the shooting incident near Dutsinma, Katsina State, at the convoy of cars carrying the Advance Team of security guards, protocol and media officers ahead of President, Muhammadu Buhari’s trip to Daura for Sallah.”

“The attackers opened fire on the convoy from ambush positions but were repelled by the military, police and DSS personnel accompanying the convoy.

“Two persons in the convoy are receiving treatment for the minor injuries they suffered. All the other personnel, staff and vehicles made it safely to Daura,” Shehu said in a statement.

Terrorist activities have taken an upward trend in Nigeria since the deadly Boko Haram sect based in North-Eastern Nigeria, which is also active in Chad, Niger and northern Cameroon was founded in 2002.

Numerous bandit groups exist in north-west and north-central Nigeria with activities ranging from cattle rustling, kidnapping civilians for ransom, armed attacks and community invasion. Recall that the Nigerian government was slow to regard the bandits as terrorists, till it gazetted it in January.

The audacity of the attacks has grown in recent times. There have been attacks on an international airport, a train but an attack on a presidential convoy is a new height.

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