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UN warns famine imminent in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region | Ethiopia News

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UN humanitarian chief warns the lives of hundreds of thousands of people are at risk, with famine imminent.

The United Nations humanitarian chief has warned that famine is imminent in Ethiopia’s embattled Tigray region as well as the country’s north and there is a risk that hundreds of thousands of people or more will die.

Mark Lowcock said the economy has been destroyed along with businesses, crops and farms and there are no banking or telecommunications services.

“We are hearing of starvation-related deaths already,” he said in a statement released on Friday. “People need to wake up. The international community needs to really step up, including through the provision of money.”

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, winner of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, ordered a ground and air military operation in Tigray in early November 2020 after accusing the northern region’s then-ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), of orchestrating attacks on federal army camps.

The six-month-old Tigray conflict is blamed for the deaths of thousands of people and atrocities including rape, extrajudicial killings and forced evictions, according to local authorities and aid groups.

Eritrea teamed up with neighbouring Ethiopia in the conflict.

“The conflict has destroyed livelihoods and infrastructure … brought about mass killings, abductions and sexual violence,” Lowcock told Al Jazeera before adding that there was evidence pointing towards Eritrea using “starvation as a weapon of war”, a violation and breach of humanitarian law.

“There are now hundreds of thousands of people in northern Ethiopia in famine conditions.

“That’s the worst famine problem the world has seen for a decade. There is now a risk of a loss of life running into the hundreds of thousands or worse.”

 

He added there are more than a million people in places controlled by Tigrayan opposition forces and “there have been deliberate, repeated, sustained attempts to prevent them getting food”.

In addition, there are places controlled by the Eritreans and other places controlled by militia groups where it is extremely difficult to deliver aid, he said.

“The access for aid workers is not there because of what men with guns and bombs are doing and what their political masters are telling them to do,” the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs said.

Lowcock said all the blockages need to be rolled back and the Eritreans, “who are responsible for a lot of this need to withdraw” so aid can get through to those facing famine.

“Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed needs to do what he said he was going to do and force the Eritreans to leave Ethiopia,” he said.

Lowcock said leaders of the seven major industrialised nations – the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Italy and Canada – need to put the humanitarian crisis and threat of widespread famine in northern Ethiopia on the agenda of their summit from June 11-13 in Cornwall, England.

 



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Apple Daily could shut ‘in days’ after Hong Kong asset freeze | Freedom of the Press News

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Company adviser says action under security law means it cannot access some $50 million in funds to pay staff and vendors.

Hong Kong pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily will be forced to shut “in a matter of days” after authorities used the national security law imposed by China to freeze the company’s assets as it arrested the paper’s editor and four other directors, an adviser to jailed tycoon Jimmy Lai told Reuters on Monday.

Mark Simon, speaking by phone from the United States, said the company was no longer able to access its funds and would be holding a board meeting on Monday to discuss how to move forward.

“We thought we’d be able to make it to the end of the month,” Simon told the news agency. “It’s just getting harder and harder. It’s essentially a matter of days.”

His comments signal closure is imminent even after Apple Daily said on Sunday the freezing of its assets had left the newspaper with cash for “a few weeks” for normal operations.”

The news comes two days after editor Ryan Law, 47, and chief executive Cheung Kim-hung, 59, were denied bail after being charged under the security law with collusion with foreign forces.

Apple Daily’s editor-in-chief Ryan Law arrives back at the detention centre after he was remanded in custody on Saturday [Lam Yik/Reuters]

Three other senior executives were also arrested last Thursday when 500 police officers raided the newspaper’s offices in a case that has drawn condemnation from Western nations, human rights groups and the chief United Nations spokesperson for human rights.

The three have been released on bail.

Simon told Reuters it had become impossible to conduct banking operations.

“Vendors tried to put money into our accounts and were rejected. We can’t bank. Some vendors tried to do that as a favour. We just wanted to find out and it was rejected,” he said.

Speaking earlier to US news channel CNN, Simon said the company had about $50 million available, but was unable to access the funds.

The publisher has come under increasing pressure since its owner Jimmy Lai was arrested under the national security law last August, which marked the first time the company’s headquarters was raided. Lai, 73, is now jailed and facing trial under the national security law. In May, the authorities also froze some assets belonging to the longtime critic of Beijing has also had some of his assets frozen.

Three companies related to Apple Daily are also being prosecuted for collusion with a foreign country and authorities have frozen HK$18 million ($2.3 million) of their assets.

China imposed the national security law on Hong Kong last June saying it was necessary to restore “stability” to a territory that had been rocked by mass protests in 2019, some of which turned violent.

The broadly-worded law criminalises acts such as subversion, sedition, collusion with foreign forces and secession with possible life imprisonment, but critics have said it is being used to suppress legitimate political debate with dozens of pro-democracy politicians and activists among the more than 100 arrested since it was brought into force.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Birmingham Classic: Ons Jabeur beats Daria Kasatkina to win first title

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Tunisian second seed Ons Jabeur defeated Russia’s Daria Kasatkina in straight sets to win her first singles title at the Birmingham Classic.

World number 24 Jabeur triumphed 7-5 6-4 against the fourth seed to become the first Arab woman to win a WTA title.

In Berlin, Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova stunned Swiss fifth seed Belinda Bencic to win her first title.

The 22-year-old world number 106 battled back from a set down to win 1-6 6-1 6-3 in her first final.

Victories for Jabeur and Samsonova mean there have now been 10 first-time singles winners on the women’s Tour this year.

Jabeur broke Kasatkina’s serve three times to prevail in the first set, before successive breaks at the start of the second put the 26-year-old in control at 4-0.

Two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Kasatkina recovered to 4-3, but Jabeur held on to win a singles final at the third attempt.

It was a breakthrough week for Samsonova in Germany, during which she also defeated seventh seed Victoria Azarenka of Belaurus in the semi-final.

World number 12 Bencic won the first five games as she dominated the opening set, but Samsonova matched that feat in the second before completing her comeback with breaks in the first and ninth games in the deciding set.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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Birtukan Mideksa: Ethiopia’s electoral board chairperson

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Restless for change, Ms Birtukan moved back into politics, playing a key role in the formation of the Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) to present a united front against the EPRDF in the 2005 parliamentary election, which was widely seen as the most fiercely contested poll in Ethiopia’s history, with the opposition claiming that it had been robbed of victory.



Source – www.bbc.co.uk

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