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M23 rebels capture key DRC town as Congolese military blames Rwanda

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Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) rebel group, M23, have reportedly captured a key border town in the renewed fighting in the country, with the Central African nation blaming its neighbours, Rwanda, for allegedly supporting the militia.

The DRC’s military on Tuesday, accused Rwanda of encouraging an invasion on its territory after the M23 rebels captured Bunagana, a key border town, marking a dramatic escalation in tensions between the two neighbours.

“The Rwandan defence forces have this time decided to violate our territorial integrity by occupying the border town of Bunagana.

“This is no less than invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo,” General Sylvain Ekenge, spokesman for the military governor of North Kivu province, said in a statement late on Monday night.

Bunagana, a city of about two million people, is located 60km northeast of Goma, and serves as a hub for international aid organisations and the United Nations peacekeeping mission, which is known by its French acronym MONUSCO, fell into the hands of the M23 on Monday.

Relations between the two countries have been frosty at best in the past two decades since the rise of the M23 fighters who are mostly of Congolese ethnic Tutsis, with the DRC accusing Rwanda of backing the rebels, often citing Rwandan Tutsi descent as the basis for the support.

But in its defence, Kigali has strongly denied accusations over the years that it supports the M23 rebels fighting in DRC.

Rwanda has also allege that the DRC gave refuge to the ethnic Hutus who carried out the 1994 Rwandan genocide that killed at least 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

This is the second time the M23 will capture a key DRC city after it rose to prominence more than a decade ago when its fighters seized Goma, the largest city in DRC’s east, which sits along the border with Rwanda, before they were pushed out of the country by government forces.

They were said to have fled to neighbouring Rwanda with some of them integrated into the Congolese national military after a peace deal.

But earlier this year the group appeared to make a comeback, launching an offensive against the DRC military after saying Kinshasa had failed to live up to its decade-long promises.

Metro

Malian migrants, including children, die as makeshift Europe-bound boat capsizes in Libya

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Twenty-two Malian migrants including three children, have been killed when their makeshift Europe-bound boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Libya, the United Nations as well as the Malian government have confirmed on Wednesday.

The UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM), also confirmed that 61 other migrants were rescued and taken to a detention centre in Libya.

The Ministry of Malians Abroad, in a statement, said the people who died were part of a group of 83 mostly Malian nationals who were stuck on a distressed vessel since June 22.

The IOM, in statement by its spokeswoman Safa Msehli, said the rescued victims were brought back to shore with the help of the Libyan coastguard after nine days at sea, adding that the “cause of death for the 22 people was drowning and dehydration.”

Msehli also said some of the survivors were in very poor health and had to be taken to hospital by the IOM.

“The remaining migrants were taken to al-Maya detention centre” in Libya, she said.

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Monkeypox: WHO records over 6,000 cases in 58 countries in recent outbreak

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According to the World Health Organization, more than 6,000 cases of monkeypox have now been reported from 58 countries in the current outbreak.

The United Nations agency is yet to decide declaring the outbreak a global health emergency, the WHO’s highest level of alert.

Its committee reconvene a meeting in July 18 to decide or sooner.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual news conference from Geneva.

Monkeypox, a disease that was once largely restricted to Africa, has also penetrated Europe and North America in its recent spread with more than 100 cases recorded outside Africa.

The UN committee meeting in June 27 decided that the disease was not yet a health emergency. There have recently been reported cases in other African countries like Nigeria and Morocco.

“I continue to be concerned by the scale and spread of the virus across the world,” Tedros said, adding that a lack of testing meant that there were likely many more cases going unreported.

Until recently, monkeypox had been a disease that was once largely restricted to Africa, but has gradually penetrating Europe and North America in its recent outbreak.

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