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UN, aid agencies, call for famine relief in East Africa amidst worst drought in 40 years

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Following the continued effect of the worst drought in 40 years ravaging East Africa, Aid organizations and the United Nations are calling for urgent famine relief in the region.

According to charity group, Oxfam the drought would result into food shortages which is likely to cause one death every 36 seconds until the end of the year.

One of the affected countries, Kenya, last week lifted a ban on genetically modified crops. Other affected countries are Somalia, and Ethiopia

Representative in Somalia, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Etienne Peterschmitt, stressed the need to be proactive about the extreme consequences of the situation.

“We should not wait for a famine declaration to act, because then it will be too late. We know from 2011, when we faced a famine situation and a famine declaration, that by the time the famine was declared half of the 260,000 people who died had actually already died.” Peterschmitt said.

According to Etienne Peterschmitt, “The current drought is the worst that we have seen in the last four decades. It has affected about 7.8 million people. So just to put things in perspective this is about half of Somalia`s population. 90 percent of the country is facing extreme drought”.

According to climatechampions, large areas of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya are currently in the grip of a severe drought.

An estimated 16.7 million people face acute food insecurity. That’s more than the combined populations of Austria and Switzerland.

Metro

Islamist jihadists kill nine in attack on Niger refugee camp

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Nine people have been confirmed killed by Islamist jihadists who attacked a refugee camp in western Niger Republic on Saturday night, local officials said.

The camp, according to the officials, housed refugees from neighbouring Mali who were displaced by the turmoil in the country.

“The toll from the attack is nine dead, one wounded and six missing,” an elected county official said.

“The attack was carried out by heavily armed terrorists who arrived on motorcycles and opened fire on the refugees before fleeing back to Mali,” he said.

A security personnel who also confirmed the attack, said it happened in the Tahoua region which lies in a zone bordering Mali and Burkina Faso, two countries that have been heavily hit by jihadist insurgency and has come under repeated attack since 2017 by armed groups linked to Al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

Jihadists attacks in the region since 2021 have led to the killing of hundreds of civilians and soldiers alike.

According to the United Nations, there are over 61,000 Malian refugees sheltering in Tahoua and nearby Tillaberi.

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Metro

Three killed in attacks on ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church

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An attack on an Ancient Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Saturday has claimed the lives of three people, while an unspecified number were reported injured, according to a a religious media outlet.

The violence which erupted in southern Ethiopia, came on the backdrop of tensions in the Orthodox Tewahedo Church after some rebel bishops broke away from the body of the church and created their own synod in Oromia, the country’s most populous region.

The breakaway bishops have accused the church of discrimination and linguistic and cultural hegemony, saying congregations in Oromia are not served in their native language, claims rejected by the patriarchate.

Church-affiliated Tewahedo Media Center (TMC), in a report on Sunday, said two Orthodox Christian youths were killed, and another four people injured, when Oromia special forces attacked the church in Shashamene, which lies about 250 kilometers (150 miles) south of Addis Ababa.

The outfit later said there had been sniper fire on the church from nearby high-rise buildings that had killed a woman and injured others.

A statement issued by the Archbishop of Addis Ababa Diocese of the church. Abune Henok, described the incidents in the Oromia city of Shashamene as “shameful and heart-wrenching,” and urged the clergy and the faithful to wear black in protest, while calling for peaceful demonstrations at churches at home and abroad on February 12.

The World Council of Churches also issued a statement on Friday voicing its “deep concern” about the developments in the Ethiopian institution.

“We call upon all political leaders in Ethiopia to support the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in its efforts to achieve unity and peace among its members,” WCC general secretary, Jerry Pillay said in the statement.

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