Category Archives: Business

Vatican Holds Spiritual Retreat for Peace in South Sudan

ROME, Pope Francis has told leaders of South Sudan that peace is possible and urged the country’s leaders to seek what unites and overcome what divides.

At the end of a two-day meeting in the Vatican, the pope shocked those present by kneeling and kissing the feet of South Sudan’s former warring leaders.

At the end of the two-day meeting in the Vatican, originally proposed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, Pope Francis told South Sudanese leaders to recognize the enormous shared responsibility they hold for the present and future of their country.

Those attending the meeting included South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, vice president and former rebel leader Riek Machar, and three other vice presidents.

The pope called on them to commit themselves to the building of their nation.

The pope said, “People are wearied, exhausted by past conflicts: remember that with war, all is lost! Your people today are yearning for a better future, which can only come about through reconciliation and peace.”

The pope said this meeting was “something altogether special and in some sense unique,” as it was neither an ordinary bilateral nor diplomatic meeting between the pope and heads of state, nor an ecumenical initiative involving representatives of different Christian communities. Instead, it was a spiritual retreat.

South Sudan’s civil war, which broke out in late 2013, has killed tens of thousands and displaced more than 4 million South Sudanese from their homes. A peace deal last August has reduced but not stopped the fighting.

One of the South Sudanese religious leaders attending said these were days of intense prayer and deep reflection and of open and frank dialogue and spiritual conversation.

“The leaders leave here renewed and committed to the task of working for peace, striving for reconciliation and seeking justice for the 13 million people, the South Sudanese, whose prayer and hope they all carry.”

Pope Francis told them how he learned last September that a peace agreement for the country had been signed and congratulated political leaders for “having chosen the path of dialogue.” He urged them to implement what has been agreed on.

The pope expressed his heartfelt hope that hostilities would finally cease, that the armistice would be respected, that political and ethnic divisions would be surmounted, and that there would be a lasting peace for all those citizens who dream of beginning to build the nation.

After his speech at the end of the retreat, Pope Francis kissed the feet of the former warring leaders and told them their people are waiting for their return home, for reconciliation, and a new era of prosperity.

Source: Voice of America

Somali Who Died in Mogadishu Blast Had Sought Refuge Abroad

In the end, Ahmed Salah Hassan could not escape the violence he repeatedly tried to flee.

The Somali native, who’d sought refuge from the Horn of Africa country’s armed conflict in South Africa and then in the United States, was among 12 people killed by a car bomb that exploded outside a restaurant on Mogadishu’s busy Maka Al-Mukarama road last Thursday.

Failed bid for US asylum

Hassan, 29, with a wife and 6-year-old daughter, had failed in a bid for U.S. asylum. He had spent all of his nearly two years in the United States in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before being returned to Somalia in January 2017.

What is hurting the family is that Ahmed endured and suffered during his journey to America, and eventually he got deported to Somalia, his older stepsister, Fatima Salah Hassan, told VOA’s Somali service in a phone call late Sunday. She said she and other relatives didn’t understand why he was sent back to his homeland, given the country’s insecurity and the fact that he had committed no crime.

The unfortunate thing is, in Mogadishu, we’ve had 30 years of civil war, she said.

Hundreds of civilians killed in Somalia

Ongoing conflict in Somalia, with combatants including warring clans, al-Shabab terrorists, Somali government and military forces, plus African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) troops, has claimed hundreds of civilian lives, Human Rights Watch reported last year. It noted that the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia reported 1,228 civilian casualties between January and September 2017, about half by al-Shabab.

At a campaign rally last week in Michigan, President Donald Trump accused immigration attorneys of coaching their clients to tell U.S. officials, I am very afraid for my life. According to a Mediaite account, the president suggested lawyers were promoting exaggeration of any dangers. It’s a big, fat con job, folks. A big, fat con job.

Hassan was among at least 350 Somalis returned from the United States from 2017 into mid-2018, VOA’s Somali service calculated, based on interviews with Somali immigration officials and deportees.

Fatima Salah Hassan said Somalia’s insecurity had prompted her brother, the youngest of eight siblings, to leave for South Africa in 2005. He first went to Port Elizabeth on the continent’s southern tip, then moved to Johannesburg, working for convenience stores.

But South Africa proved unsafe, too, with xenophobic attacks on foreigners surging in early 2015. Fatima Salah Hassan and one of her brother’s friends, Hassan Abdullahi Aalim, said killings there prompted Hassan to set out for the United States that spring.

In May, he arrived at the U.S. southern border, requesting asylum at the crossing in Brownsville, Texas. The following January, an immigration judge in Oakdale, La., denied his request at a court hearing. Before and after the decision, Hassan was held in ICE custody.

In January 2017, he was removed from the U.S. after receiving appropriate legal process that found he had no lawful basis to remain in the country, ICE reported in an email to VOA.

Since his return to Mogadishu, Hassan had been unable to find steady work, Fatima Salah Hassan said. On the day of the explosion, he had gone to meet friends and was considering a move back to South Africa, she said.

Aalim, who befriended Hassan in South Africa and now lives in Mogadishu, remembered the bombing victim in a Twitter post. He noted his sadness that Ahmed escaped Xnephobic in SA to seek better life in #USA.

Source: Voice of America

Mozambique Races to Contain 1,000 Cases of Cholera

BEIRA, MOZAMBIQUE Mozambican and international health workers raced on Monday to contain the outbreak of cholera in the cyclone-hit city of Beira and surrounding areas, where cases of the disease has jumped to more than 1,000.

There has been one death from cholera and of the reported cases 97 remain in treatment centers, with others released, Mozambique’s health director Ussein Isse announced. The new figures are an indication that cholera is spreading but is being brought under control, say health workers.

The overall cyclone death toll in Mozambique has risen to 518. With 259 deaths in Zimbabwe and 56 in Malawi, the three-nation death toll from Cyclone Idai now stands at more than 815. Authorities warn the tolls are preliminary as receding flood waters will expose more bodies.

There are seven emergency cholera treatment centers operational in Beira and two more being set up. Two additional centers are being set up in Nhamatanda, said David Wightwick, the World Health Organization’s team leader in Beira.

Mozambican workers have restored clean tap water to parts of Beira, a city of 500,000, although large areas of the urban center still do not have access to sanitary water, he told The Associated Press while visiting a water treatment center.

A vaccination campaign against cholera, with 900,000 doses of the vaccine, will start Wednesday, said Wightwick. That should blunt the edge of this outbreak.

More than two weeks after the cyclone hit Beira and swept across central Mozambique, about 98,000 people are in camps for displaced and living under canvas, he said.

Cholera is our most immediate challenge, said Wightwick, who added that getting adequate nutrition to the population and battling other diseases like malaria are also priorities.

In addition to Mozambican medics, health workers from Portugal, Denmark, Italy and China are helping respond to the crisis.

Sanitary water points and latrines are being constructed throughout Beira by the International Federation of the Red Cross, which has also established a field clinic in Macurungo, is constructing a field hospital in Nhamatanda and distributing relief supplies to 800 in Buzi, said the group’s spokeswoman Jana Sweeny.

Cases of cholera, an acute diarrheal disease, have risen dramatically since the first five cases were confirmed last week. Cholera is spread by contaminated water and food. It can kill within hours but is relatively easy to treat.

The U.S. military joined the international humanitarian aid efforts to Mozambique by airlifting food and relief supplies from South Africa.

Round-the-clock flights are delivering supplies from the U.N. World Food Program from King Shaka International Airport in Durban, South Africa, said Robert Mearkle, U.S. embassy spokesman.

He said the commodities airlifted from Durban were from the World Food Program’s internal stock including rice, dried peas and vegetable oil.

This lifesaving emergency food assistance will support approximately 160,000 people for one month, said Mearkle.

As health responders stress the need for better disease surveillance, the United Nations’ deputy humanitarian coordinator in Mozambique, Sebastian Rhodes Stampa, has said all cases of diarrhea are being treated as though they are cholera.

Cholera is endemic to the region, and it breaks out fast and it travels extremely fast, he told reporters.

Doctors Without Borders has said other suspected cholera cases have been reported outside Beira in the badly hit areas of Buzi, Tica and Nhamathanda but the chance of spread in rural areas is smaller because people are more dispersed.

Mozambican officials have said Cyclone Idai destroyed more than 50 health centers in the region, complicating response efforts.

The United Nations has said some 1.8 million people need urgent help across central Mozambique’s sodden, largely rural region.

Source: Voice of America

Tanker Captain Feared Death in Migrant Hijacking

VALLETTA, MALTA African migrants who hijacked an oil tanker after it rescued them in the Mediterranean Sea seized metal objects and began smashing the ship and threatening crew members after they realized they were being returned to Libya, the ship’s captain said Friday.

Nader el-Hiblu, the 42-year-old Libyan captain of the El Hiblu 1 ship, said he and five other crew members feared they could be killed during the horror that played out at sea this week. He said the threats by rioting migrants forced him to agree to their demand that he take them to Europe, not back to Libya.

They attacked the cockpit, heavily beating on the doors and the windows and they threatened to smash the boat, el-Hiblu said in an exclusive account given Friday to The Associated Press. He spoke by phone from the ship, which is now docked in Valletta, the capital of Malta.

They went nuts and they were screaming and shouting ‘Go back! Go back! Go back!’ he said.

Death and desperation

For years, the Mediterranean Sea has been a place of drama and death as desperate people from Africa and the Middle East board unseaworthy smuggling boats with dreams of a better life in Europe. Last year, 2,299 people died in the sea trying to head to Europe. The dangerous journey has killed 311 people so far this year.

The migrants revolted against heading back to lawless Libya, where aid groups say migrants are beaten, raped and tortured on a regular basis in detention camps. Some aid groups called the migrants’ actions self-defense against Europe’s inhumane migration policies.

Now, there are fears that some merchant ship captains might become reluctant to save migrants from sinking boats if they fear they could lose control of their ships.

Rescue becomes hijacking

El-Hiblu said the drama began Tuesday afternoon when his tanker was traveling from Istanbul to Libya. He was contacted by a military aircraft flying above � though he isn’t sure if it was Maltese or Italian � alerting him of a boat with people who needed help.

He then approached the boat, which he said was carrying 98 men, women and children.

I took the people in the boat and there were six who refused to jump in, fearing that I take them back to Libya, he said. They refused to come with me and they fled while the plane was going after them.

The aircraft then contacted him with a second location and he went there, but lost contact with the plane and the boats, he said.

He then directed his ship to Libya, saying the migrants believed they were headed to Europe and were relaxed and happy and did nothing throughout the journey.

Call for help ignored

At 6 a.m. Wednesday, el-Hiblu alerted Libyan port authorities that he was nearing the coast and requested assistance from coast guard or naval forces, aware that the migrants would become upset at realizing they were returning to Libya.

But help didn’t come. When the Libyan capital of Tripoli came into view, about 25 of the male migrants began their attack, he said.

They all brought heavy metal tools and started to beat and smash the ship and threatened that they would leave the ship in pieces if the vessel continued to Libya, he said. It was horror. I didn’t care much about the boat, but the crew members.

El-Hiblu called the port in Libya again and told them the crew was heading north toward Europe, saying: they are going to kill me and kill us if we return. We are leaving.

Libyan Coast Guard Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ayoub Gassim said when the Libyan coast guard learned about the hijacking, they sent two boats in hot pursuit over a distance of 60 nautical miles (110 kilometers), but said the tanker was faster than their boats.

El-Hiblu insists, however, that the Libyan coast guard could have reached his tanker had authorities wanted to.

Italy rejects migrants

As the tanker moved north, news started spreading it was heading either toward Malta or the Italian island of Lampedusa. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has a strong anti-migrant stance, said Italy would not accept them.

At first, Malta also insisted it would not accept the vessel in its waters.

But Thursday morning, the Maltese armed forces stormed the vessel and detained five men suspected of leading the hijacking, taking them away in handcuffs when the ship docked in Valletta, the capital.

El-Hiblu was incensed, however, at his treatment by a Maltese security officer, who ordered him to take off his clothes for a body search and confiscated his phone. He said he was detained for a couple of hours in a cell in a police station near the port, under suspicions of being a human trafficker.

This filthy country treated me in a very disrespectable way after rescuing 98 people. They dealt with me as a criminal and accused me of illegal migration, he said angrily.

Maltese officials would not comment on the tanker hijacking case as they carried out an investigation. It was also impossible to speak to any of the migrants who had been on the ship to hear their side of the story.

Source: Voice of America

Tanker Captain Feared Death in Migrant Hijacking

VALLETTA, MALTA African migrants who hijacked an oil tanker after it rescued them in the Mediterranean Sea seized metal objects and began smashing the ship and threatening crew members after they realized they were being returned to Libya, the ship’s captain said Friday.

Nader el-Hiblu, the 42-year-old Libyan captain of the El Hiblu 1 ship, said he and five other crew members feared they could be killed during the horror that played out at sea this week. He said the threats by rioting migrants forced him to agree to their demand that he take them to Europe, not back to Libya.

They attacked the cockpit, heavily beating on the doors and the windows and they threatened to smash the boat, el-Hiblu said in an exclusive account given Friday to The Associated Press. He spoke by phone from the ship, which is now docked in Valletta, the capital of Malta.

They went nuts and they were screaming and shouting ‘Go back! Go back! Go back!’ he said.

Death and desperation

For years, the Mediterranean Sea has been a place of drama and death as desperate people from Africa and the Middle East board unseaworthy smuggling boats with dreams of a better life in Europe. Last year, 2,299 people died in the sea trying to head to Europe. The dangerous journey has killed 311 people so far this year.

The migrants revolted against heading back to lawless Libya, where aid groups say migrants are beaten, raped and tortured on a regular basis in detention camps. Some aid groups called the migrants’ actions self-defense against Europe’s inhumane migration policies.

Now, there are fears that some merchant ship captains might become reluctant to save migrants from sinking boats if they fear they could lose control of their ships.

Rescue becomes hijacking

El-Hiblu said the drama began Tuesday afternoon when his tanker was traveling from Istanbul to Libya. He was contacted by a military aircraft flying above � though he isn’t sure if it was Maltese or Italian � alerting him of a boat with people who needed help.

He then approached the boat, which he said was carrying 98 men, women and children.

I took the people in the boat and there were six who refused to jump in, fearing that I take them back to Libya, he said. They refused to come with me and they fled while the plane was going after them.

The aircraft then contacted him with a second location and he went there, but lost contact with the plane and the boats, he said.

He then directed his ship to Libya, saying the migrants believed they were headed to Europe and were relaxed and happy and did nothing throughout the journey.

Call for help ignored

At 6 a.m. Wednesday, el-Hiblu alerted Libyan port authorities that he was nearing the coast and requested assistance from coast guard or naval forces, aware that the migrants would become upset at realizing they were returning to Libya.

But help didn’t come. When the Libyan capital of Tripoli came into view, about 25 of the male migrants began their attack, he said.

They all brought heavy metal tools and started to beat and smash the ship and threatened that they would leave the ship in pieces if the vessel continued to Libya, he said. It was horror. I didn’t care much about the boat, but the crew members.

El-Hiblu called the port in Libya again and told them the crew was heading north toward Europe, saying: they are going to kill me and kill us if we return. We are leaving.

Libyan Coast Guard Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ayoub Gassim said when the Libyan coast guard learned about the hijacking, they sent two boats in hot pursuit over a distance of 60 nautical miles (110 kilometers), but said the tanker was faster than their boats.

El-Hiblu insists, however, that the Libyan coast guard could have reached his tanker had authorities wanted to.

Italy rejects migrants

As the tanker moved north, news started spreading it was heading either toward Malta or the Italian island of Lampedusa. Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who has a strong anti-migrant stance, said Italy would not accept them.

At first, Malta also insisted it would not accept the vessel in its waters.

But Thursday morning, the Maltese armed forces stormed the vessel and detained five men suspected of leading the hijacking, taking them away in handcuffs when the ship docked in Valletta, the capital.

El-Hiblu was incensed, however, at his treatment by a Maltese security officer, who ordered him to take off his clothes for a body search and confiscated his phone. He said he was detained for a couple of hours in a cell in a police station near the port, under suspicions of being a human trafficker.

This filthy country treated me in a very disrespectable way after rescuing 98 people. They dealt with me as a criminal and accused me of illegal migration, he said angrily.

Maltese officials would not comment on the tanker hijacking case as they carried out an investigation. It was also impossible to speak to any of the migrants who had been on the ship to hear their side of the story.

Source: Voice of America