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Three UN aid workers, 11 civilians, killed in South Sudan attacks

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Three United Nations aid workers and 11 civilians have been reportedly killed in separate attacks by gunmen in South Sudan in the early week of January, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said on Wednesday.

The Head of OCHA Mission in South Sudan, Peter Van der Auweraert, in a statement, said two of the aid workers were victims of an attack by armed men, which left others dead on January 2 in a village in the oil-rich Abyei administrative area.

“In the first days of the year, three South Sudanese aid workers who were helping others paid the highest price with their lives,” said der Auweraert.

The third aid worker, according to der Auweraert, was killed in the same week while monitoring humanitarian supplies in the east-central state of Jonglei.

These three deaths are in addition to the nine killed last year and five in 2021. OCHA has urged the authorities to strengthen the protection of its staff in this oil-rich country, which is among the poorest in the world,” he said.

A spokesman for the Abyei administrative area, Ajak Deng, who also confirmed the incident, said a total of 14 people, including women and children, died in the attack, which was attributed to youths from the neighbouring Twic county.

The disputed region, which is under the protection of the United Nations, has been on the border between Sudan and South Sudan since the latter declared independence in 2011. with conflicts erupting every now and then.

Since independence in 2011, South Sudan has been plagued by crises, including a five-year civil war between President Salva Kiir’s loyalists and Vice President Riek Machar’s forces, with an estimated 400,000 deaths, and millions displaced and forced to flee from their homes.

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M23 rebels take control of Kitshanga in eastern DR Congo

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The M23 rebels have announced that its fighters have seized control of the strategic town of Kitshanga, in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after days of intense fighting.

The DRC military authorities also confirmed in a statement late on Friday that its forces have withdrawn from the town in a tactical move to protect civilians in the face of a renewed offensive by the rebel militia.

“We have tactically withdrawn from the city in order to attract these genocidal forces deep into the city and avoid the worst for our people in Kitshanga,” spokesman for the military governor of North Kivu, Lieutenant-Colonel Guillaume Ndjike, said in the statement.

“We are making every effort to dislodge this enemy,” he added.

Videos then emerged on social media showing the M23 fighters celebrating and claiming they had captured the town.

The M23 rebels said it took control of Kitshanga town on Thursday night after capturing several villages on the road linking the town of about 60,000 people to the provincial capital, Goma.

In an earlier statement, M23′s spokesman, Lawrence Kanyuka, has accused government troops of attacking civilians in Kitchanga and elsewhere, and said the rebel group was “obliged to intervene and stop another genocide”.

While condemning the recent development, the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO), said more than 500 people, including women and children, are seeking refuge at its base in the town of Kitshanga.

MONUSCO spokesperson, Ndeye Khady Lo, said civilians fleeing from Kitchanga have been given tents, food, water and first aid.

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237 African migrants rescued off Libyan coast

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Not less than 237 African migrants were on Friday, rescued after their makeshift boat capsized off the Libyan coast while navigating the dangerous Mediterranean Sea, on their way to Europe.

French medical charity, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), which carried out the rescue mission, said the migrants were rescued by its chartered rescue vessel, Geo Barents, which was sailing in the Mediterranean Sea, north of the country’s capital Tripoli, when it received a distress call.

“The Geo Barents ship encountered other overcrowded rubber dinghies with migrants attempting to reach Europe and took them on board,” the NGO said.

“Following instructions by the maritime rescue coordination centre, the ship then sailed towards the northern Italian port of La Spezia.l,” it added.

The MSF and other NGOs operating rescue vessels off Africa’s northern coast have accused the Italian government of deliberately assigning far away ports to discourage their operations, an accusation the Italian Interior Ministry had denied.

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