Marijuana parcels seized from plane owned by evangelical church

Police have seized 290kg (640lbs) of marijuana from a plane registered under the name of a Brazilian branch of an evangelical church.

The single-engine aircraft was scheduled to depart from a private hangar at Belém International Airport.

One person was arrested at the scene, despite attempting to the flee.

Footage released by Brazil’s Federal Police showed the discovery, which took place on Saturday.

UN humanitarians complete first food distribution in Khartoum as hunger, threats to children, intensify — Global Issues

WFP’s Country Director in Sudan, Eddie Rowe, told reporters in Geneva that in a major breakthrough, the agency distributed food assistance to 15,000 people in both Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) controlled areas of Omdurman, part of the Khartoum metropolitan area, beginning on Saturday.

Speaking from Port Sudan, Mr. Rowe highlighted other recent food distributions, in Wadi Halfa in Northern State to reach 8,000 people fleeing Khartoum and on their way to Egypt, as well as to 4,000 newly displaced people in Port Sudan.

Rapidly scaling up support

In total, WFP has been able to reach 725,000 people across 13 states in the country since it resumed its operations on 3 May, following a pause brought on by the killing of three aid workers at the start of the conflict.

Mr. Rowe said that WFP was rapidly scaling up its support, which they expected to expand depending on progress in negotiations for humanitarian access for all regions, including the Darfurs and Kordofans, strongly impacted by violence and displacement.

Hunger on the rise

In addition to the 16 million Sudanese who were already finding it “very difficult to afford a meal a day” before the fighting started, Mr. Rowe warned that the conflict compounded by the upcoming hunger season, could increase the food insecure population by about 2.5 million people in the coming months.

With the lean season fast approaching, WFP’s plan was to reach 5.9 million people across Sudan over the next six months, he said.

He stressed that WFP needed a total of $730 million to provide required assistance as well as telecommunications and logistics services to the humanitarian community, including all of the UN agencies operating in Sudan.

17,000 tonnes of food lost to looting

He also reiterated the humanitarian community’s call on all parties to the conflict to enable the safe delivery of urgently needed food aid, and deplored that so far, WFP had lost about 17,000 metric tonnes of food to widespread looting across the country, particularly in the Darfurs.

Just two days ago, he said, the agency’s main hub in El Obeid, North Kordofan, came under threat and looting of assets and vehicles was already confirmed.

Over 13 million children in need

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that “more children in Sudan today require lifesaving support than ever before”, with 13.6 million children in need of urgent assistance. “That’s more than the entire population of Sweden, of Portugal, of Rwanda,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder told reporters in Geneva.

According to reports received by UNICEF, hundreds of girls and boys have been killed in the fighting. “While we are unable to confirm these due to the intensity of the violence, we also have reports that thousands of children have been maimed,” Mr. Elder said.

‘Death sentence’

He also pointed out that reports of children killed or injured are only those who had contact with a medical facility, meaning that the reality is “no doubt much worse” and compounded by a lack of access to life-saving services including nutrition, safe water, and healthcare.

Mr. Elder alerted that “all these factors combined, risk becoming a death sentence, especially for the most vulnerable”.

UNICEF called for funding to the tune of $838 million to address the crisis, an increase of $253 million since the current conflict began in April, to reach 10 million children. Mr. Elder stressed that only 5 per cent of the required amount had been received so far, and that without the therapeutic food and vaccines which this money would allow to secure, children would be dying.

Healthcare under attack

The dire situation of healthcare in the country has been aggravated by continuing attacks on medical facilities. From the start of the conflict on 15 till 25 May, the World Health Organization (WHO) verified 45 attacks on healthcare, which led to eight deaths and 18 injuries, the agency’s spokesperson Tarik Jašarević said.

He also cited reports of military occupation of hospitals and medical supplies warehouses, which made it impossible for people in need to access chronic disease medicines or malaria treatment. Mr. Jašarević recalled that attacks on healthcare are a violation of international humanitarian law and must stop.

Keep borders open: Grandi

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, concluded a three-day visit to Egypt on Tuesday, with an urgent call for support for people fleeing Sudan – and the countries hosting them – insisting that the borders must remain open.

More than 170,000 people have entered Egypt since the conflict started – many through Qoustul, a border crossing that Grandi visited close to the end of his trip. The country hosts around half of the more than 345,000 people who have recently fled Sudan.

Mr. Grandi met newly arrived refugees and Egyptian border officials, to get a sense of the hardships being endured.

Loss ‘on a huge scale’

I heard harrowing experiences: loss of life and property on a huge scale,” Grandi said. “People spoke of risky and expensive journeys to arrive here to safety. Many families have been torn apart. They are traumatized and urgently need our protection and support.“

The UNHCR chief also held talks with the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, and discussed how best to support refugees and mobilize resources for host countries, not least Egypt.

I commend Egypt for its long-standing commitment to providing a safe haven to those fleeing violence,” Mr. Grandi said. “The Government, the Egyptian Red Cresent and the people, have been very generous in supporting arrivals. We urgently need to mobilize more resources to help them to maintain this generosity.”

Prior to this conflict, Egypt was already host to a large refugee population of 300,000 people from 55 different nationalities.

After registering with UNHCR, refugees and asylum-seekers have access to a wide range of services including health and education. UNHCR’s emergency cash assistance programme started during the last week.

Waiting Game for Nigerian Students Awaiting Evacuation on Egyptian Border — Global Issues

Student evacuees from Sudan wait to return to Nigeria. Credit: Handout
  • by Abdullahi Jimoh (abuja)
  • Inter Press Service

“Today is exactly one week after we left Khartoum for Port Sudan. Our living conditions are not favourable, but the biggest problem is the lack of communication from the (Nigerian) embassy,” said Abdul-Hammid Alhassan, a student who was evacuating war-torn Khartoum and travelling to Port Sudan. This was the first time IPS interviewed him. The distance between the cities was 825 kilometres, and he and his colleagues felt abandoned. Now weeks later, he is still waiting.

“Our food supply isn’t constant; we don’t have enough water and good medical care, although there are people with poor health among us,” he told IPS on May 9, 2023. His voice trembles with fear and rage.

Now he has a greater problem; while most of his fellow students have been evacuated, he remains behind.

One and a half weeks into the bloody confrontation between the Sudanese Arms Force (SAF) and the Rapid Support Force (RSF) in Sudan, the Nigerian government started to evacuate the students—after other countries like Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States who quickly to evacuated their nationals from the warzone.

In preparation for the evacuation, the government paid USD 1.2 million through the Central Bank of Nigeria via the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for 40 buses to convey the students to Aswan in Egypt.

On April 26, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission’s chair Abike Dabiri Erewa said that 5,500 students were ready for evacuation to the Egyptian border to return to Nigeria. An evacuee told IPS that the buses arrived around 2 pm Central Africa Time (CAT), but the evacuation didn’t go as planned, with a media outlet HumanAngle saying the fleeing students were left in the desert by the drivers who complained about non-payment of the balance. After the payment was settled, the evacuees continued on their route.

On May 4, 376 students arrived in Abuja, and they were each given N100 thousand (about USD 216) as a stipend so they could travel back to their families. By May 11, a further 2,246 had been evacuated, according to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) – but Alhassan was not among them.

He is convinced something “fishy” is behind the delays. Weeks later, he is still awaiting transport home.

“They are selecting our names at random. We don’t know when we will leave here, but I’m convinced there is a kind of ploy and corruption going on to keep us staying as long as possible to keep the cash flowing from the federal government,” he said hopelessly.

On May 30, Alhassan says he and what he estimates to be about 300 fellow students (both women and men) still hadn’t been evacuated.

An official from Nigerian Embassy in Khartoum said they were working to return the remaining students to Nigeria.

“The embassy is available, and officials were there for screening exercise while waiting for the federal government to schedule the flight,” the official told IPS.

The Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency, Mustapha Ahmed, told IPS that NEMA had been trying to evacuate all the students and follow Embassy recommendations and advice.

“We only wait for Embassy’s recommendations, they advise, and we follow,” Ahmed said.

Sani Bala Sheu, a Kano-based current affairs analyst and former Civil Liberties Organization (CLO) activist speculated there was something untoward at play.

“In a situation like this, there will certainly be corruption,” he said. “Why can’t the Nigerian government deploy the methods of Dubai or Turkey and other advanced countries in evacuating their citizens? The federal government should ensure that all the students returned home safely.”

Mukhtar Saeed, one of the Nigerian student refugees in Port Sudan and among 265 that were airlifted to Nigeria in mid-May, said he was anxious because Alhassan is not among those who have returned.

“He wasn’t allowed to pass by the embassy officials because he had been very vocal since the war started, so they marked him and decided to punish him for absolutely no reason,” Saeed told IPS.

Why Do Nigerian Students Study Abroad?

The budget for education falls short of the 15-20 percent recommended by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization UNESCO for developing countries, with 8.2 percent of the budget allocation.

A long-term disagreement between the government and the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) in an eight-month strike and closure of higher education facilities.

As a result, middle-class Nigerians seek education from abroad. Data from Campus France shows that Nigeria tops among the migrating sub-Saharan students in Africa, with 71,700 Nigerian students representing 17 percent studying abroad, according to its 2020 study.

Middle-class northerners from Nigeria who are predominantly Muslim sought higher education in Sudan.

IPS UN Bureau Report

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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

Iowa building collapse: Woman rescued after 24 hours

The city said on Monday evening that after “extensive rescue operations, no confirmed viable signs of life” have been found, adding that the police had also been working to make contact with and account for all the individuals known to have been residents in the building at the time of its collapse. Its most recent update gave no more information on whether they had all been contacted.

Video appears to show drone flying over Il’inskii area of Moscow

Video footage shared on social media appears to show a drone flying over Il’inskii, south east of Moscow.

Several buildings have been damaged in Russia’s capital city after air defences shot drones down. It’s the second drone incident in Moscow after an alleged attack on the Kremlin earlier in May.

The attack comes following a Russian attack on Ukraine’s capital of Kyiv, in which one person was killed.