UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, has condemned a deadly airstrike on the Mai Aini refugee camp in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, that left three refugees dead.
Mr Grandi reiterated UNHCR’s call for all parties to the conflict to “respect the rights of all civilians, including refugees.”
According to him, UNHCR continues to gather and corroborate details on Wednesday’s attack that left three Eritrean refugees dead – two of them children – and four others injured.
“Refugee settlements must always be protected in line with international legal obligations that apply to all who take up arms,” he said, offering his thoughts and deepest sympathies to the loved ones of those killed.
Meanwhile, the wider humanitarian crisis that has wracked Ethiopia since hostilities began between Government forces and fighters of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in November 2020 continues.
Some 5.2 million people currently need help in the northern regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar. Amidst widespread human rights abuses allegations, thousands are feared killed as more than two million have been forced to flee their homes.
Over the past few months, killings, looting and destruction of health centres and farming infrastructure, including irrigation systems vital to production, have caused humanitarian needs to surge.
UN humanitarians report that the situation in the northern part of the country remains unpredictable and volatile.
“In Tigray, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, with tensions restricting the movement of humanitarian supplies along the only available route from Semera to Abala to Mekelle. No trucks carrying humanitarian supplies have been able to enter Tigray since December 15,” UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric told journalists on Thursday in New York.
Since July 12, 2021, only 1,338 trucks have entered Tigray, less than 12 per cent of those required. Around 100 trucks must be admitted every day to meet the humanitarian need of people in Tigray.
As of January 3, UN partners who have been distributing food in the region have only around 10,000 litres of fuel left, while at least 60,000 litres are needed to dispatch the limited food supplies currently available in Mekelle.
“Several UN and non-Governmental organisations will be forced to cease operations if humanitarian supplies, fuel and cash are not delivered to Tigray very soon,” Mr Dujarric warned.
UN humanitarian staff reported that people continue to be displaced, including Afar, Amhara, and the western zone of Tigray.
“People are also returning, along with those people needing food, water, sanitation and shelter,” added the UN spokesperson. “Our partners continue to work with authorities to ensure that the returns are well planned, voluntary and dignified and that returnees have adequate support.”
Ekiti pensioners weep, kneel to God in prayer over unpaid gratuities
Pensioners in Ekiti were on Tuesday seen weeping and kneeling in supplication to God over the non-payment of their gratuities by the state government.
The pensioners attended an interdenominational prayer session at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Pensioners, Oke-Bareke in Ado-Ekiti.
Some of the pensioners who were seen crying, prayed that Governor Kayode Fayemi would be moved to pay the arrears of their gratuities and pensions.
Speaking with journalists after the prayers, the NUP Chairman, Ekiti state chapter, Joel Akinola, noted that many pensioners in Ekiti had died without getting their benefits while some are battling with various illnesses due to lack of funds.
According to him, Ekiti government is owing gratuities to the tune of N2 billion and outstanding pensions accumulating to millions of naira.
Mr Ajibola said the pensioners were hoping that the governor would pay a substantial amount of the debt before leaving office.
“Each time there is transition of power, it’s often difficult to agitate or confront the new governor because they will be quick to tell you that they are not the one owing us.
“We have laboured and served our nation and state meritoriously for 35 years, we deserve better than what we have been getting,” he lamented.
The NUP state chairman appealed to the state government to pay them to enable the few ones who are still alive make use of the money for their upkeep.
Passport Issuance: El-Zakzaky, wife object to NIS motion to join SSS, NIA
Leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, and wife, Zeenah, objected to the request by the Nigeria Immigration Service to join the State Security Service and the National Intelligence Agency in a suit.
El-Zakzaky and wife expressed their objection after counsel to the NIS, Jimoh Adamu, served on the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Funmi Falana, a motion to join the SSS and NIA in the suit which came up on Tuesday before Justice Obiora Egwuatu of a Federal High Court, Abuja.
Mr Adamu, who filed the motion earlier in the morning, had said that joining the parties would also help the court in its decision and for the sake of fair hearing.
However, Mrs Falana objected to the motion for joinder on the ground that the reason for filing the suit, she argued, had nothing to do with the SSS or NIA.
She argued that since the Immigration Service was statutorily empowered to issue travel documents, the SSS and NIA had nothing to do with the applicants’ claims.
According to her, the plaintiffs have approached the court to seek an order declaring that the violation of their right to freedom of movement in the denial of the issuance of passports to them to enable them seek medical care abroad is unconstitutional.
She said her clients had applied to seek an enforcement of their fundamental rights as enshrined in the constitution.
Justice Egwuatu then adjourned the matter until February 14 for the argument to be taken, stating that this became necessary on the ground that the motion had not been studied by the court and more time would be needed to go through it.
El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zennah, had in another N4 billion suits before Justice Inyang Ekwo of a sister court, sued the SSS and the Attorney-General of the Federation before the court over allegation bordering on their passports seizure.
Meanwhile, the couple sued the NIS before Justice Egwuatu over the refusal to release their international passports.
The duo, who listed the NIS and its Comptroller General as 1st and 2nd defendants, prayed the court to enforce their fundamental right.
In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/22/2022 and filed by their lawyer, Femi Falana, on January 11, 2022, El-Zakzaky and wife said they had the right to freedom of movement as guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution and the African Charter of Human and Peoples Right.
They prayed the court to declare that the refusal of the NIS to process their travel documents to enable them travel abroad is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.
South Sudan: UN calls for probe into deadly intercommunal violence
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has called on the authorities to investigate a report of deadly intercommunal violence in the country’s Jonglei State earlier this week.
UNMISS said on Tuesday that the attack reportedly occurred on Sunday when armed youth from the Murle community carried out cattle raids in two villages in Baidit, citing various independent sources, including the Human Rights Commission.
Some 32 people from the Dinka Bor community were killed, according to preliminary information, with the victims including three women killed by gunshots, and three children who reportedly drowned in the river while fleeing.
At least 26 other people were wounded, and at least five houses were burnt and other property looted. Also, some people reportedly fled to nearby bushes, some of whom remain unaccounted for.
UNMISS stated that it strongly condemns any attack on civilians and urged groups and individuals to take immediate action to avoid further escalations that would endanger vulnerable people.
“The Mission further calls on authorities to carry out timely investigations and that the perpetrators be held accountable,” it said.
“Any surge in subnational violence will have a devastating effect on communities that have already been impacted by flooding, the COVID-19 pandemic and recurring conflict,” the Mission stated.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) also responded to the attack, with its South Sudan representative, Hamida Lasseko, saying she was deeply saddened to learn children were among the victims.
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