BUCHAREST, February 1 -- Romania will deploy transport helicopters to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA), replacing the Canadian deployment, Canada’s ministry of foreign affairs said in a release.
The decision followed a bilateral meeting at the NATO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in December 2018, Global Affairs Canada said in a Thursday, January 21 release. “Romania’s commitment to replace Canada is an example of the continuing close cooperation among NATO allies to deliver critical capabilities to the U.N., in line with the “smart-pledging” approach, which ensures countries’ contributions match real needs on the ground,” the release said. “In line with its long-standing support for multilateralism, Romania is proud to cooperate with Canada and other close partners in providing a substantial and effective contribution to a very important U.N. mission,” Romania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Teodor-Viorel Meleșcanu said.
Canada is due to complete its mission in Mali on July 31, and Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan told reporters in Ottawa that troops would return home on schedule. Romania has “made a commitment to replace us,” he said. “They’re working very hard right now to make sure that they have all their capabilities go through the United Nations process just like we did to meet those timelines.” However, a Romanian official noting the country’s peacekeeping efforts said an “airlift helicopter detachment” would deploy to MINUSMA “starting October 2019,” according to a January 30 Ministry of National Defence release. It is unclear which aircraft or how many personnel Romania will deploy to Mali, and Romania’s Ministry of National Defense has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Canada’s Presence in Mali
Following two years of talks with the U.N., Canada committed to deploying an air Task Force of helicopters to the U.N. mission MINUSMA for twelve months in March 2018. The first Canadian troops arrived in Gao in northern Mali in June, and the ATF, Operation Presence, became operational in August. Around 250 Canadian personnel are deployed in Gao along with three CH-147F Chinook heavy transport helicopters, and five CH-146 Griffon helicopters, which are intended as armed escorts, according to Canada’s Department of National Defense. Up to 10 personnel work as staff officers at MINUSMA headquarters in Bamako.
NAIROBI, January 16 -- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said all the gunmen behind Nairobi hotel complex attack have been killed and the 19-hour hostage crisis is over.
In a national television address, Kenyatta said on Wednesday 14 civilians died in the attack claimed by the al-Shabab armed group. The president said more than 700 civilians were evacuated from the complex. "The security operation operation at Dusit complex is over and all the terrorists have been eliminated," said Kenyatta. "We have confirmation that 14 innocent lives were lost through the hands of these murderers, terrorists with others injured." Earlier reports said at least 15 people were killed.
"We are grieving as a country this morning and my heart - and that of every Kenyan - goes out to the innocent men and women violated by senseless violence. We wish the injured quick recovery and as a nation we will continue to pray for them," said Kenyatta.
UTRECHT, January 9 -- Dutch international heavy lift company Mammoet has established a new fleet of heavy lifting operation in Mozambique.
The operation which will include specialised equipment and an experienced team of individuals, will be located in Mocímboa da Praia town in Cabo Delgado province. The office, which will report through Mammoet’s South African office, is geared up to provide heavy lifting and transport services and solutions across the country. Davide Andreani, general manager of Mammoet South and East Africa said: “Mammoet has worked in Mozambique for quite a while now, albeit on a project basis. The outlook of Mozambique's economy is positive. Particularly, as capital investments have been growing significantly in the past few years. Mammoet locates its global fleet close to our customers anywhere in the world they need us, in order to serve them swiftly and efficiently. It demonstrates our commitment to be part of, and to contribute to the Mozambique community, working with local people, utilizing the local workforce, training and offering professional development opportunities to help grow our business and the local economy.”
CAPE TOWN, January 4 -- Minstrels perform during the Minstrel Parade in Cape Town, South Africa, on Jan. 2, 2019.
The annual Cape Town Minstrel Parade took place on Wednesday, bringing the new year celebrations to a climax. About 100,000 spectators from home and abroad watched and cheered the minstrels parading along several major streets in the city.
MOGADISHU, November 9 -- At least 20 people have been killed and 17 injured in explosions followed by heavy gunfire in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, according to police.
Plumes of smoke billowed into the air on Friday as at least two car bombs went off near the popular Sahafi Hotel and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). Initially, "two blasts struck the perimeter of the Sahafi Hotel along the main road," Ibrahim Mohamed, police official, was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency. A third explosion later hit the busy street, according to witnesses. Although the attackers "failed to access the hotel, the blasts outside the hotel killed many people," police captain Mohamed Hussein told the Associated Press news agency.
"I’ve pulled many dead bodies from the cars," Mohamed Aden, a witness of the attack, told Al Jazeera in Mogadishu. "The number of casualties is unknown as bodies are still being pulled from the burning cars".
Some of the victims were burned beyond recognition when one car bomb exploded next to a minibus, Mohamed Hussein, a police captain, told The Associated Press news agency.
"The street was crowded with people and cars, bodies were everywhere," said Hussein Nur, a shopkeeper who suffered light shrapnel injuries on his right hand. "Gunfire killed several people, too."
Another police captain, Mohamed Ahmed, was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying 22 civilians were killed, along with six of the attackers. "So, in total, 28 people died," Ahmed said.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the armed group's Adalus radio station.
"In South Sudan there are still 19,000 children in armed forces, with boys trained to fight and girls taken as 'wives'."
EYL, February 26 -- Hawa Mohamed Saeed recites a prayer in a barely audible voice as she waits for the phone to ring with news of her imprisoned son. This has been her daily routine for the past five years.
Dressed in red flowing garment from top-to-toe, Hawa, 80, paces gingerly back and forth in front of a white-washed stone house with a corrugated tin roof perched on top of a mountain in the picturesque town of Eyl, in Somalia's northeast.
Colourful prayer beads play in one hand, an old battered mobile phone in the other. The elderly woman is awaiting news of her son who is jailed in Yemen. Farhan Mohamed Jaama - a convicted Somali pirate serving life behind bars - hasn't called in months.
Once in a while when the waiting gets unbearable, Hawa finds the courage to call him on the smuggled phone he hides, taking a chance the no-nonsense Yemeni prison guards won't find him answering her call.
"He was a seaman just like most people in this town, he used to go out to sea and sell the catch," Hawa says. "Our life was good. He did not only provide for us, but also for his relatives who live in towns and villages far from here. He used to pay for their rent and school fees."
Farhan is one of more than 200 men from this town who have been hauled off to prisons far from this Horn of Africa country. More than 1,300 young Somali men have been jailed in prisons abroad for piracy since 2005. Most have been sentenced to life in jail.
Eyl - an ancient town sandwiched between the blue warm waters of the Indian Ocean on one side, and the rolling Nugaal mountains on the other - was until recently known as Somalia's piracy capital. This once well-to-do town has fallen on hard times. Eyl has paid the heaviest price, and continues to do so.
With the seas empty of fish because of toxic waste dumping and illegal fishing by foreign trawlers - and the soil too rocky and barren to support farming - residents have run out of ideas on how to support themselves.
They have exhausted all options. Prayers at the local mosque are all that is left in their armour. The abandoned crumbling homes are a clear sign that many have given up and left.
"Life has turned for the worst, first our central government collapsed, then the sea got polluted by foreigners using it as dump site that killed most of the fish," Hawa says. "Life became tough not only for us but most of the people in this town. Then the little fish that was left was swept clean by the trawlers - illegal trawlers."
OTTAWA, November 1 -- Visa applications from worst-affected nations suspended in move slammed as ineffective and disheartening by critics.
Canada has suspended visa applications for residents and nationals of countries with "widespread transmission" of the Ebola virus, becoming the second nation after Australia to introduce such a measure. The countries most severely hit by the worst Ebola outbreak ever are Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Canada has not yet had a case of the disease.
The similar move by Australia was slammed on Wednesday by Dr Margaret Chan, the World Health Organisation's director general, who said closing borders won't stop spread of the Ebola virus. Canadians, including healthcare workers, in West Africa will be permitted to travel back to Canada, the government said.
Kevin Menard, a spokesman for Canada's immigration ministry, said the government has "instituted a pause" in issuing visas for foreigners from risky countries, but noted "there was room for discretion if we can be assured that someone is not infected with the virus," according to the Associated Press news agency.
Nancy Caron, a spokesman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada, said that "a number of African countries have imposed stricter travel bans as have several other countries around the world. Other countries such as the United States have started to place restrictions on travelers from countries with Ebola outbreaks".
The government also noted that all travelers, including Canadian citizens, will continue to be screened at ports of entry in Canada and will be subject to appropriate health screening. Menard said the move is similar to, but a bit less restrictive than, the Australian measure.
Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN secretary-general, said the body welcomed Canada's support in fighting the Ebola outbreak but advocated "against isolating the three most impacted countries and stigmatising its citizens".
NEW YORK, October 22 -- NBC News cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, who contracted Ebola while working in Liberia, has been declared free of the virus and can leave the Nebraska Medical Centre in Omaha, where he has been treated for the past two weeks, the centre reported on Tuesday.
Earlier reports said the experimental drug Brincidofovir developed by U.S. Chimerix company was used to treat the Ebola patient.
Mukpo contracted the virus while on an assignment in Liberia. After he began showing symptoms, he was immediately isolated and soon brought to the United States for medical treatment. His colleagues returned from Liberia a bit later and were examined by medics who found no Ebola symptoms.
Also on Tuesday, the U.S. National Institutes of Health upgraded from “fair” to “good” the condition of another Ebola patient, Texas nurse Nina Pham. She was also diagnosed with Ebola earlier in October after taking care of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed on U.S. soil.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported last week that the Ebola epidemic was spreading geographically and the death toll exceeds 4,500, while the number of probable and suspected cases nears 9,000.