Libyan oil ports seized; Quake toll rises; Lake Chad focus ahead of Obama refugee summit

By AT editor - 12 September 2016 at 5:38 pm
Libyan oil ports seized; Quake toll rises; Lake Chad focus ahead of Obama refugee summit

Death toll rises from Tanzania’s 5.9 earthquake

The death toll from a weekend earthquake in Tanzania continues to rise, with 16 fatalities and more than 250 injured. At least 800 buildings in Bukoba are damaged, according to news reports from AFP Africa and neighboring Uganda. The United States Geological Survey, after reviewing the seismic data, has increased the initial measurement of the earthquake’s force to 5.9-magnitude.

The quake struck Saturday afternoon near the Tanzania-Uganda border, along the western edge of Lake Victoria, with its epicenter about 22 kilometers northeast of Nsunga. About 2.7 million people live in the wider Kagera district, according to national census data. Bukoba, the regional capital, appeared to be hardest hit.

Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa called the earthquake unprecedented as he met Sunday with survivors and mourners, and promised assistance. Earthquakes are not unusual in the East African Rift Valley, but an event this significant is rare. The earthquake shook buildings in Kampala, with reports of shaking in Burundi and Rwanda as well as western Kenya, which pledged assistance to Tanzania.

GNA: Libyan oil port seizures escalate conflict

Libyan forces aligned with General Khalifa Haftar say they seized control of three key oil ports on Sunday, claiming control of Ras Lanuf, Sidra and Brega. Spokesman Ahmed al-Masmari said that his army, a loyalist opposition force fighting against rivals aligned with the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord, also is tightening its grip on the port at Zueitina and nearby city of Ajdabiya.

The National Oil Company has confirmed the ports at Ras Lanuf and Sidra were taken, but there’s no further information on the other Mediterranean sites. The port seizures further complicate the establishment of Libya’s internationally backed government under GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, with wider regional implications as the largely successful advances to shut down ISIS are met with increased resistance – and delays – in Sirte and Misrata to the west.

Reuters reports that in a statement released late Sunday, the GNA’s leadership called the port attacks an “unjustified escalation” that would “prolong the period of conflict” in Libya. The GNA has called on its aligned forces to defend the ports in the contested eastern regions and defeat Haftar, who resists any GNA legitimacy and seeks to ensure that oil resources remain in opposition hands.

UNICEF calls attention to Lake Chad region ahead of Obama refugee summit

A new UNICEF report warns of a rapidly developing humanitarian crisis affecting 3.8 million people who face severe food shortages in the Lake Chad region. The report comes ahead of the September 19 United Nations General Assembly meeting, to be followed by a Leaders’ Summit on Refugees hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama.

The report emphasizes the dire situation of 21 million people living in Niger, as well as Chad, Cameroon, and regions of Nigeria impacted by Boko Haram insurgency. UNICEF officials specifically call on the international community to provide solutions for 1.4 million children who are currently displaced in the Lake Chad region, many of whom are separated from their families and face violence and detention.

The UNICEF report also discusses climate change dimensions that affect migration, which is already making catastrophic matters worse for refugees fleeing regional conflict. Lake Chad, once the largest water reservoir in the Sahel, now covers less than a tenth of its original surface.  This development caused President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger to declare the lake is dying during his remarks at last year’s Paris Climate Conference.

The refugee summit in New York will focus on increasing humanitarian aid, admitting more refugees through resettlement or other legal pathways, and increasing their self-reliance through education and opportunity.

South Africa remembers Biko

Monday marked the anniversary of the September 12, 1977 death of Black Consciousness Movement leader Stephen Biko in South Africa. Tributes to Biko, who died in police custody following his arrest in connection with the 1976 Soweto Uprising, included the 17th annual Steve Biko Memorial Lecture at the University of South Africa on Friday. American civil rights activist and speaker Angela Davis encouraged young people to continue the “unfinished activism” in achieving racial and socioeconomic justice.

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