The TN Weekend News Digest #4

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Miss some news this week? Catch up on a few of the stories with this quick weekly news digest.

The Obama administration’s top official for promoting democracy and human rights, Tom Malinowski, once says the Ethiopian government’s tactics in response to protests in the Oromia and Amhara regions of the country are “self-defeating”. He is now in Ethiopia.

Ethiopia: Top US Official Arrives for Rights and Political Dialogue

(AfricaNews) – Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Affairs is in Ethiopia for a four day working visit. Malinowski will be in the country between today December 14 and is expected to depart on December 17.

The Department of State disclosed that ‘‘During his visit, he will meet with government officials as part of a continued dialogue on human rights and governance.

‘‘He will also meet with members of civil society, political party representatives, and local government officials during the visit,’‘ they added.

The United States (US) recently renewed its travel alert for the Horn of Africa nation despite other countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany and Belgium lifting their travel bans. The US extension warned that there was still the potential for unrest in the country.

The US embassy is on record to have stated that some restrictions in the October 8 state of emergency was hindering the effective discharge of their duties. They also cited the restriction on communication as part of the reasons they extended their travel alert. (>> Read more …)

UN: South Sudan on Brink of Ethnic Civil War

Rights commission urges international community to take immediate action in South Sudan to avoid “all-out ethnic war”.

(Al Jazeera) – South Sudan is “on the brink of an all-out ethnic civil war which could destabilise the entire region”, the head of a team of UN human rights investigators told the UN Human Rights Council, describing a shattered country where children as young as two have been raped.

In her speech to the council, Yasmin Sooka, who heads the three-member UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, urged immediate deployment of a 4,000-strong regional protection force “to protect civilians all across South Sudan”.

She said that the international community can stop this “Rwanda-like” genocide in South Sudan with that deployment and should also set up a court to prosecute atrocities.

“South Sudan stands on the brink of an all-out ethnic civil war, which could destabilise the entire region,” Sooka said in the emergency session in Geneva on Wednesday, adding that the African Union and the government of South Sudan should immediately establish a hybrid court to prosecute human-right abuses in the country. (>> Read more …)

Car Blast Kills 16 at Police Station in Somalia’s Capital

car0blast(AP News) – A suicide car bomber killed at least 16 people and injured nine others at a police station in the Somalia capital, a Somali police official said Sunday.

The attack early Sunday targeted a police station adjacent to Mogadishu seaport, said Capt. Mohamed Hussein.

At the blast scene, medical workers carried bodies burned beyond recognition to ambulances. Human limbs and bloodied shoes were scattered across the blast scene.

Most of the victims are port workers and police officers.

Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the attack, the second blast in the seaside capital in two days. The insurgents said they had killed “apostates” in the attack, according to the group’s Andalus radio.

On Saturday, a suspected suicide car bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at a security checkpoint near Mogadishu when soldiers stopped him for security checks. (>> Read more …)

Troops and Court Needed Fast to Avert South Sudan Genocide: UN

Council-mandated Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan Yasmin Sooka addresses the Human Rights Council 26th Special Session on the human rights situation in South Sudan, Geneva, Switzerland, December 14, 2016.

(Reuters) – World powers can stop a “Rwanda-like” genocide in South Sudan if they immediately deploy a 4,000-strong protection force across the country and set up a court to prosecute atrocities, the head of a U.N. human rights commission said on Wednesday.

Africa’s newest nation plunged into civil war in December 2013 after a long-running feud between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy, Riek Machar, exploded into violence, often along ethnic lines.

“South Sudan stands on the brink of an all-out ethnic civil war, which could destabilize the entire region,” commission chief Yasmin Sooka told an emergency session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Fighting was expected to escalate again now that the dry season had started, she said. Gang rape was happening on an “epic” scale, she added, citing cases of women being raped at a U.N. site in the capital Juba within sight of U.N. peacekeepers.

Washington and other powers called the one-day meeting after Sooka’s commission reported this month that ethnic cleansing was already taking place in South Sudan, which only seceded from Sudan in 2011.

Sooka’s comparison with Rwanda referred to the killing of some 800,000 people in three months of ethnic violence there in 1994. (>> Read more …)

Saudi King Defends Yemen Intervention in Televised Address

saudi-king(AP News) – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman vowed on Wednesday to prevent other nations from intervening in neighboring Yemen, where it has been at war with Iranian-backed Shiite rebels since March 2015.

The king’s speech comes as UNICEF has renewed its warning of a humanitarian crisis in Yemen with a new report showing that the number of children suffering from severe malnutrition is 200-percent higher than in 2014.

“Malnutrition in Yemen is at an all-time high and increasing,” said Meritxell Relano, UNICEF’s acting representative in Yemen. “The state of health of children in the Middle East’s poorest country has never been as catastrophic as it is today.”

UNICEF said on Monday that nearly 2.2 million children in Yemen are acutely malnourished and that at least 462,000 children suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

The agency said that the rebel stronghold of Saada province has the world’s highest rate of stunted growth among children, with an “unprecedented eight out of 10 children in some areas being chronically malnourished.”

International organizations have demanded the Saudi-led coalition lift an air and sea embargo imposed in the beginning of its war, to facilitate access to food and basic necessities. The coalition denies any prevention of food or commodities and has previously said that it only inspects ships for to prevent weapons from being smuggled to the rebels. (>> Read more …)

Satellite Imagery: The UAE Expands its Military Reach

(Stratfor) – Stratfor Military Analyst Sim Tack examines satellite images showing Abu Dhabi’s new construction work on a harbor and airport in Eritrea.