At least 184 people have been killed and dozens injured in a shooting attack and bombing at a mosque in the restive Sinai Peninsula, state TV says.
Police officers said militants attacked al-Rawdah mosque in the town of Bir al-Abd, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the North Sinai provincial capital of el-Arish, during Friday prayers.
The attack reportedly targeted the supporters of Egyptian security forces attending prayers there.
No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, which had the hallmarks of the Daesh-affiliated Velayat Sinai terrorist group.
President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi convened an emergency security meeting soon after the attack, state television reported. The Egyptian president announced three days of national mourning.
The Sinai Peninsula has been under a state of emergency since October 2014, after a deadly terrorist attack left 33 Egyptian soldiers dead.
Over the past few years, militants have been carrying out anti-government activities and fatal attacks, taking advantage of the turmoil in Egypt that erupted after the country's first democratically-elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was ousted in a military coup in July 2013.
Velayat Sinai has claimed responsibility for most of the assaults. The group later expanded its attacks to target members of Egypt’s Coptic Christian community as well as foreigners visiting the country. That has prompted the government to impose the state of emergency and widen a controversial crackdown, which critics say has mostly targeted dissidents.
The Rwandan government has offered to take in thousands of African migrants trapped in Libya under enslaved conditions, its foreign ministry chief said on Wednesday.
Louise Mushikiwabo told a local media portal that the government was ready to find space for Africans in Libya even though Rwanda was a small place.
In an official statement, the government joined the world to condemn the CNN report that exposed the human slavery enterprise in the north African country.
The African Union Commission chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat, expressed appreciation at Rwanda’s gesture and called on other African governments and private sector to play a role in helping out those trapped.
“I am deeply appreciative of the offer made by the government of Rwanda to resettle up to 30,000 African migrants languishing in Libya or transport those who wish to return to their countries of origin.
“I call on all African Member States, private sector and African citizens to pool resources and add the voices to support our brothers and sisters suffering in Libya,” he said in tweets sent out on Wednesday.
While an investigation has been opened to ascertain the real cause of the fire that razed more than four floors of the Ngoa Ekelle Glass House hosting the National Assembly in the night of November 16 breaking into the early morning of November 17, 2017, many questions are lingering on the lips of Cameroonians on how such a heavily guarded and important national edifice could succumb so easily to a fire.
Government spokesman and minister of communication, Issa Tchiroma Bakari while ruling out the presumption that the fire incident may be the result of arson attack, said all indicators point to the fact that this could have been caused by an electrical short circuit. He however called on Cameroonians to remain calm pending the results of the investigation.
His assessment of the fire incident, to many, left more questions than answers. Many conspiracy theorists have been quick to suggest that this was an insider job aimed at covering up some unwanted traces. Others also suggested that this might be the handiwork of a group of persons who have been responsible for arson attacks on public and private property mostly in the North West and South West regions of the country.
Another question regularly raised by the average Cameroonian and still begging for answers is why and how could such a structure be razed in the heart of the Nation’s capital which is supposed to host a good armada of firefighting equipment.
These questions and more will obviously be answered after the investigation is completed.
Meanwhile, work will continue unperturbed at the Lower House of Cameroon Parliament during this ordinary session dedicated to the examination and adoption of the 2018 state budget despite the fire incident.
The decision was taken last November 18, 2017 during a crisis meeting chaired by House Speaker, Hon Cavaye Yeguie Djibril as the dust is yet to settle over the fire incident which material damage is still to be quantified.
The House Speaker insisted that while waiting for results of the ongoing investigations into the cause of the fire incident, adjustments to facilitate the progress of work should be taken immediately so that the tabling, scrutiny and adoption of bills must be done within the stipulated deadline.
The crisis meeting was attended among other bureau members by SDF MP, Hon Awudu Cyprain Mbaya in his capacity as Questor. Shortly after the one hour crisis meeting consultation, they visited the affected parts of the building led by the House clerk, Victor Yene Ossomba to assess the damages.
The fire incident left the SDF Parliamentarians homeless as their Parliamentary Group office was burnt to ashes alongside other important offices.
It is worth noting that the accounting office was spared by the fire outbreak.
In a press statement read out by Senior Vice Speaker, Hon Hilarion Etong whose office was equally ravaged by the fire, it is explained that “work will continue so that the 2018 state budget be adopted within the legal time frame, that the House Chamber which was not hit by the fire will henceforth play host to plenary sessions and committee works.”
Culled from The Sun Newspaper
By ELAH GEOFREY & DOH JAMES SONKEY
In the framework of the finalization of the draft budget, Cameroon’s government confirmed that it will hold political elections next year.
In this regard, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh, general secretary at the presidency, sent a mail to his peer at the office of the prime minister, on November 20, 2017, to relay the directives of the president to “increase the budget for the elections from CFA35 billion to CFA50 billion”. However, Ferdinand Ngoh Ngoh did not reveal, in the mail, which of the elections to be held. According to the legislation however, there should be municipal, legislative and presidential elections in 2018.
This budget will be highly sufficient to fund the material organization of all these elections because, the government spent about CFA21 billion for the last presidential elections on October 9, 2011.This was financed thanks to the country’s own funds. Moreover, for the twin legislative and municipal elections which were to be held in 2011 and, were finally held on September 30, 2013, CFA12 billion were progressively disbursed by the ministry of finance. So, the total amount spent for the three elections was CFA33 billion.
Coffee may not only give you a morning boost; it also may have significant health benefits.
So says a review by British scientists of more than 200 studies on coffee consumption and health, published Wednesday in The BMJ, a British medical journal.
“Coffee drinking appears safe within usual patterns of consumption,” said the University of Southhampton's Robin Poole, who led the study.
According to the researchers, people who drink three to four cups of coffee a day are more likely to see health benefits than harm, experiencing lower rates of premature death, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.
Drinking more coffee is also associated with a decrease in several types of cancer — including prostate cancer, endometrial cancer, skin cancer, leukemia and liver cancer — according to the researchers' findings. There were also lower rates of type 2 diabetes, gallstones and dementia associated with coffee consumption.
Drinking three to four cups of coffee offers the most health benefits, except for pregnant women and people who are prone to bone fractures.
Since the review was an analysis of existing studies, it is impossible to account for many other factors that might have influenced the subjects' health. More studies would be needed to determine causation and not just correlation. In other words, it might be that healthier people also drink coffee, but the review's findings suggest that there are more positive effects than negative ones.
Although the review found that there was more benefit than harm from drinking coffee, the studies were not adjusted for important confounders, such as body mass index, smoking, age, alcohol use, income and education level.
Media reports about alleged migrant slave markets in Libya have resulted in strong reactions across the continent. African politicians demand an investigation and the prosecution of those responsible.
Who's the highest bidder? 800 Dinar! 1,000 Dinar! 1,100 Dinar! In the end, the winning bid is 1,200 Libyan Dinar – the equivalent of $800 (€680). A done deal; however, this isn't just any auction for a car or a piece of art. What's being sold here is a group of frightened young men from Sub-Saharan Africa.
The low-resolution images, apparently taken at a market in Libya earlier in 2017 were shown on the US-based network CNN last week, which looked further into the issue. Journalists working for CNN discovered several such slave markets in the country's interior, proving what experts had feared for a long time: migrants trying to reach Europe via Libya continue to be subject to abuse.
Heavy criticism across Africa
Politicians in Africa have expressed their outrage at the scandal – especially in West Africa where most African migrants originate. President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou felt particularly revolted by the reports, summoning the Libyan ambassador to Niger and demanding the International Court of Justice investigate Libya for trading slaves.
Meanwhile the foreign minister of Burkina Faso, Alpha Barry, told the press that he had also summoned the Libyan ambassador to the capital Ouagadougou for consultations. The issue has since been added to the agenda of next week's African Union meeting in Ivory Coast, to take place on November 29 and 30.
The issue has made waves in the Ivory Coast itself — 155 Ivorian refugees, including 89 women and underage migrants, were returned from Libya to the Ivory Coast earlier this week as part of a reintegration initiative launched by the European Union. Representatives of the Ivorian government, however, said that the health of those migrants returned from Libya was in a "deplorable state."
Libya vows to cooperate with UN investigation
Protests meanwhile took place outside the Libyan embassies in several other African capital cities including Bamako, Mali and Conakry, Guinea over the weekend. Another protest is planned in London later this week. A protest outside the Libyan embassy in Paris spilled out into the famous Arc De Triomphe roundabout at the heart of the French capital.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in New York on Monday that "slavery has no place in our world and these actions are among the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity," appealing to the Libyan leadership to investigate these cases and bring those responsible for the slave trade to justice.
He said that he had asked all relevant UN departments to investigate the issue further.
Guterres added that all countries should join the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and sign its 2004 optional protocol on human trafficking. Libya's internationally recognized government, which is also supported by the UN, has announced that it will launch an investigation. Ahmed Omar Maiteeq, vice chairman of the presidential council of Libya, announced the establishment of a commission to that end.
The foreign ministry in a statement added: "If these allegations are confirmed, all implicated persons will be punished."
'Libya was hell'
Most refugees stranded in Libya come from West Africa, from countries such as Nigeria, Guinea, Burkina Faso or Ivory Coast. Additionally, many Eritreans and Somalians are also among those who hope to find a better future in Europe. Oftentimes they use a route crossing Niger's desert city of Agadez, where they encounter human traffickers, who promise to get them to the Mediterranean Coast and on to Europe. That journey, however, often ends in Libya.
"Libya was hell," says Souleymane, a young migrant from the Ivory Coast. He told DW that he was held captive in the North African country for month. Only by chance did he manage to return home with the help of an initiative launched by the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM).
"I had to live in permanent fear of being picked up by a militia group and sold off as a slave."
Fighting human trafficking in northern Africa has been a top priority for the UN for years. However, there's little progress; on the contrary, the practice appears to have intensified in recent years, says Othman Belbeisi, the IOM Chief of Mission in Libya.
Belbeisi told DW that local militias often held refugees for up to three months in dungeons in Libya in order to exploit them: "The problem is that most economic migrants don't have any kind of documentation on them and therefore do not cross official borders into Libya but rather make themselves completely dependent on people smugglers. It isn't rare that they end up being kidnapped, and if their ransom isn't paid they'll be sold off, tortured or even murdered."
He added that as long as legal ways of migration into Europe weren't facilitated, many young Africans would remain motivated to take such risks. According to the IOM, more than 160,000 migrants have so far managed to cross the Mediterranean Sea this year alone. Hundreds of thousands, however, are still waiting to make the sea journey to Europe. Nearly 3,000 refugees died since the beginning of this year on the perilous sea route.