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Children among 45 dead in 2020’s worst Mediterranean boat tragedy | News



At least 45 people including five children died earlier this week in the worst shipwreck reported so far this year off Libya’s coast, according to the United Nations.

In a joint statement released on Wednesday, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) said 37 survivors from Monday’s shipwreck reported that at least 45 others had died when the engine of the vessel they were aboard exploded off the coast of Zwara.

The two agencies said the survivors, mostly from Senegal, Mali, Chad and Ghana, were rescued by local fishermen and later detained upon disembarkation.

Following the tragic incident in the Mediterranean, the UNHCR and the IOM urgently called for a review of countries’ approach in their rescue efforts. 

“There remains an absence of any dedicated, EU-led search and rescue programme,” Federico Soda, head of the IOM’s mission in Libya, said on Twitter.

“We fear that without an urgent increase in SaR capacity, there is a risk of more disasters,” he added, referring to the search and rescue activities by the coastguards of countries in the Mediterranean. 

Human rights groups and agencies have repeatedly denounced what they describe as an inadequate response by maritime authorities when alerted of people left adrift in damaged boats after embarking on dangerous sea journeys to reach Europe.

While each state has the responsibility to conduct SAR operations within a defined zone, the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue stipulates that they have the obligation to intervene in the zone of another state if that state fails to respond to a help request from that area. 

On Tuesday, Alarm Phone – a hotline for migrant and refugee boats in distress – said it had alerted both the Libyan and Italian coastguards about the presence of about 100 people in a deflating rubber boat off the Libyan shore.

Both authorities failed to intervene, according to Alarm Phone. As of Tuesday, the NGO said it had lost contact with the vessel.

At least 302 people have drowned in the Mediterranean so far this year, including the latest tragedy – a number that soars to 20,000 when the overall deaths since 2014 are counted, according to the IOM.

In their joint statement, the agencies urged countries to stop impeding the work of NGOs, which have stepped up their rescue efforts in the Mediterranean amid a scaling back of operations by European countries but are facing numerous legal and logistical restrictions.

“UNHCR and IOM are deeply concerned by recent delays in rescue and disembarkation,” they said, stressing that “delays recorded in recent months, and failure to assist, are unacceptable and put lives at avoidable risk”.

They also reiterated their position that war-ravaged Libya, which has become a key route for attempted migration to Europe is not a safe destination for refugees and migrants to return to.

These people are “at risk of the ongoing conflict, severe human rights violations, and arbitrary detention post-disembarkation”, the agencies said.

They also lamented that responsibility for rescues was increasingly being left to Libyan state vessels, pointing out that this had led to more than 7,000 people being returned to the unstable North African country so far this year alone.

“Any assistance and responsibilities assigned to Libyan search and rescue entities should be made conditional on no one being arbitrarily detained, ill-treated or subjected to human rights violations post-disembarkation,” they said.

“Without such guarantees, support should be reconsidered, and search and rescue responsibilities redefined.”

About 17,000 people arrived in Italy and Malta this year by boat from Libya and Tunisia. While the number is a threefold increase compared with 2019, it is still drastically lower compared with the previous year.

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Muntu Blocked in Kamwenge



Alliance for National Transformation presidential candidate Gen. Mugisha Muntu has been blocked from campaigning in Kamwenge according to a statement he released earlier today.Below is the full statement:

Today in Kamwenge, as we have done since the start of the campaign season, we headed out to speak with the people. We had earlier in the week agreed on the venue with security agencies. No one had anticipated that it would rain as much as it did, making it impossible for us or the people to access.

After identifying an alternative place only 100m away from the original venue, negotiating with the owner and communicating the same to the public, we headed to the second venue only to be stopped by police.

Our policy has always been to do all we can to be reasonable, even in the face of unreasonable action on the part of the state. We engaged the police leadership in a civilized, respectable manner well knowing that they intended to not only frustrate us, but cause us to act in ways that would give them an excuse to cause chaos. This was on top of their intimidating the radio we had booked and duly paid to appear on.

While we are confident that we are on the right side of both the law and reason, we have chosen not to endanger the lives of our supporters or the general public by escalating the situation. We will do everything humanly possible to avoid a single life being lost or blood being shed on account of our campaign.

And yet this truth remains: the regime’s days are numbered.



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Is Johnson Byabashaija courting Enid Kukunda for protection?



The very amiable Commissioner General of Prisons Canon Johnson Byabashaija was recently sighted with President Y K Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s second wife Enid Kukunda as the two had a very secretive meeting in one of the city hangouts.

According to our informers, the two seem to be in a deep conversation that they wouldn’t allow a housefly pass around. However, sources further reveal that Byabashaija could have courted the second lady for protection given that he has amassed a lot of wealth and could be a subject of investigations.

Our sources reveal that Byabashaija who carries himself as Mr.I know it all hasn’t met Madam Enid alone but a host of others with connections to the centre of power in the country.

We will bring you more detail

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Bobi Wine released on Bail



Presidential candidate and kyadondo East legislator Hon. Robert Kyagulanyi Sentamu has been realeased on bail by the Iganga magistrates court where he appeared to defend himself against accusations of flouting COVID-19 campaign SOPs. A defiant Kyagulanyi took the opportunity to blast the incumbent Yoweri Museveni, whom he accuses of using state power to quell dissident.

This follows a tense week that has seen thousands injured and several dead following Hon. Kyagulanyi’s arrest earlier this week. Demonstrations and riots erupted in many parts of the country and heavy police and army deployment was seen all over the country.

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