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Easter: Umahi tasks Christians on peace, unity

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Easter

Abakaliki, April 20, 2019 Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi has charged Christians in the country to use the occasion of the 2019 Easter celebrations to reflect on the essence of Christ ‘s death and reurrection and pursue peace and unity of the country.

Umahi gave the charge in his  Easter message sent in a statement through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Emma Uzo,  in Abakaliki on Saturday.

The governor, who is the  chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum,  said that the Easter festivity was important in Christian calendar because it reminded christians of the highest form of sacrifice made by Jesus Christ when He  laid his life for sinners for redemption of sin.

“As Christians all over the world celebrate Easter marking the resurrection of Jesus Christ,  Christians should use the solemnity of the season to heal all wounds arising from the last elections in the country.

“Christians should emulate the virtues of Jesus and strive hard to live in peace and unity with one another.

“This year’s Easter is apt as it presents clear opportunity for christians and Nigerians in general to heal the country and make peace with one another as the only panacea to development,”  Umahi said.

He said easter as the solemnity of the celebration of highest sacrifice made by Christ by accepting to die for mankind,  should serve as pointer to all christians in the country to make sacrifices for the peace and unity of the country.

He also said  that the period should be used for the healing of all wounds arising from the last general elections in the country.

The governor said there was no sacrifice too much to make to achieve peace and called on Christians to emulate Jesus by giving all, adding that all that was not given is lost and prayed God to continue to sustain mankind in His everlasting love.

He acknowledged that the country had  been greatly wounded by various divisive political tendencies but insisted that this year’s Easter should be the season to addressing  all these challenges that faced us as a people.

He further urged the people to continue to live in peace and learn to forgive one another in the spirit of Easter.

Foreign

Turkey, Libya to enhance cooperation in Eastern Mediterranean: Turkish president

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Turkey and Libya agreed to further enhance their cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean over a deal made on maritime delimitation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

“On maritime delimitation, we aim to improve our cooperation, including exploration and drilling,” Erdogan said at a joint press conference with Libya’s UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj.

Sarraj on Thursday met with Erdogan in the Turkish capital Ankara after GNA’s military said in a statement that they had regained control over Tripoli.

Erdogan welcomed the recent military success of the GNA forces.

Turkey supports the GNA both politically and militarily. Ankara deployed Turkish troops in Libya to train and advise forces loyal to Sarraj in Tripoli.

Sarraj and Erdogan discussed the ways of lifting embargos on Libya, the Turkish president said, “We are on the same page on the issue of continuation of oil exports of Libya,” he stated.

Erdogan called on international actors to prevent the “illegal” oil export of Hafter.

Sarraj expressed gratitude for Turkey’s “historical and responsible attitude.” He said they want to increase cooperation with Turkey.

Since the uprising which killed former Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, Libya has been divided between the powers of GNA and the eastern-based Libyan National Army (LNA).

(XINHUA)

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Heavy rains, floods leave 10 killed in southeastern Yemen: official

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At least 10 people were killed and several others injured during heavy seasonal rains and floods that hit Yemen’s southeastern province during the past 24 hours, a government official told Xinhua on Thursday.

According to the local government official who preferred to remain anonymous, “the heavy seasonal rain began late Wednesday and caused flash floodings that killed at least seven people in Hadramout and three others in the neighboring province of Shabwa.”

“Dozens of houses and civilian vehicles were flooded and livestock were washed away during the heavy seasonal rains continued throughout Thursday morning,” the source said.

He pointed out that “military helicopters of the government forces intervened to rescue several families trapped in their villages by the flooding.”

Yemen’s National Meteorological Center issued a statement on Wednesday expecting the continuation of heavy seasonal rains and thunderstorms during the upcoming hours and warned citizens to stay away from flood ducts.

The center also asked the Yemeni citizens living in mud houses in Hadramout to take necessary precautions in order to ensure their safety.

(XINHUA)

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Eastern forces quit Libyan capital after year-long assault

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Libya’s internationally recognised government regained control of Tripoli on Thursday, driving eastern forces out of the capital after a year-long battle in which foreign powers poured in arms and fighters.

A military source with the eastern forces, whose base is in the eastern city of Benghazi, said they were pulling back from all of Tripoli’s suburbs. Government forces said they now held everything within the city boundary.

It represents a stinging reversal for eastern commander Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA), which launched an offensive on Tripoli last year pledging to unite Libya after years of chaos.

Continued Russian, Egyptian and United Arab Emirates support for the LNA means the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is recognised by the United Nations and backed by Turkey, has little hope of carrying the war into eastern Libya for now.

But, with eastern forces withdrawing towards their northwestern stronghold of Tarhouna, the lines are being drawn for battles to come although both sides have agreed to resume UN-brokered ceasefire talks.

The arrival of heavier weapons, which the United States says include a fleet of Russian warplanes, means a new escalation could lead to deadlier fighting than at any time since the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Last week France, which has been largely supportive of Haftar, said the conflict risked replicating the scenario of Syria, where Turkish and Russian rivalry bolstered both sides in an attritional war of bombardment and air strikes.

The main outside powers engaged in the conflict have welcomed the decision to resume ceasefire talks and publicly say they support a political resolution, but it is unclear if they could agree on a settlement.

It leaves Libya still partitioned between rival administrations in Tripoli and Benghazi in the east.

GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj will meet Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday in Ankara, where a senior Turkish official said the GNA advances were critical before any potential peace talks.

“Everyone wants to sit at the table without losing territory, but the territory you hold strengthens your positions at the table,” the official said, adding that Erdogan and Serraj would discuss both strategy and the situation on the ground.

The United Nations is responsible for convening talks, but its Libya envoy, Ghassan Salame, resigned in March and the Security Council has yet to agree on a permanent replacement.

Both sides in Libya are made up of unstable coalitions of sometimes rival factions. It is unclear how the failure of the Tripoli offensive could affect the position of Haftar, who went to Cairo on Wednesday for meetings with Egypt’s deputy defence minister.

Analysts say there are few other candidates capable of holding together the different forces in the LNA.

Its sudden reversals follow direct intervention by Turkey since late last year with drones that have targeted LNA supply lines and defences that neutralised much eastern air power.

In the past month, the GNA has also retaken a string of towns near the border with Tunisia and the strategic al-Watiya airbase southwest of the capital.

Fighting in the southern suburbs has for months involved intense bombardment of civilian areas held by the GNA, including rocket attacks on hospitals.

A GNA military spokesman said the recent advances meant Tripoli would now be out of range of LNA shelling.

But as the GNA moved southwards through the city over the past week, it said its fighters encountered many explosive booby traps hidden in houses.

Civilians in LNA-held Tarhouna now face the prospect of coming under more intense bombardment.


Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Silas Nwoha (NAN)

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Kurdish-led militia, United States-led coalition forces brace for operation in eastern Syria: monitor

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The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and forces of the U.S.-led coalition are bracing for operation in eastern Syria against Islamic State (IS) militants, a war monitor reported on Thursday.

The SDF brought hundreds of its members in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour province to areas in the northern countryside of that province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The watchdog group said the military operation will be focused on in the desert region in the northeastern countryside of Deir al-Zour.

The IS still has sleeper cells and members in the Syrian desert in Deir al-Zour and Homs provinces.

The group has carried out a number of attacks against the Syrian army in Deir al-Zour.

(XINHUA)

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Feature: Unemployed graduates in Gaza Strip earn living by cultivating lands along eastern border

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Wesam Abu Musabeh, a 26-year-old young man, cultivates lands along Gaza’s eastern border with Israel to make a living, with 44 unemployed graduates from the Gaza Strip.

“The eastern border between Gaza and Israel has changed my life,” Abu Musabeh from Khan Younis city in the south of the coastal enclave told Xinhua.

Over two years, Abu Musabeh used to take part in the weekly protests joined by thousands of Palestinians who lost hope in life.

The protestors demanded Israel to end its blockade that has been imposing against them since 2007 following Hamas’ seizure of power, causing harsh living conditions.

After few weeks of demonstrations, Israeli soldiers stationed on the border shot Abu Musabeh twice, leaving him disabled on the left foot.

For Abu Musabeh, who was his 10-member family’s only breadwinner, the injury was a severe blow. The young man has tried to find a job on a number of occasions but has repeatedly failed.

“The situation went from worse to worst,” Abu Musabeh said, adding that “there were no jobs, no security, no food and no hope for a better future.”

Pushed into poverty, Abu Musabeh was desperately looking for a solution.

Together with other 44 unemployed graduates, he went again to the border areas to cultivate lands.

Alaa Abu Tair, who has been unemployed since he graduated in 2009, was one of the young people who joined Abu Musabeh.

“It is not what I had dreamt of. I spent some 12,000 U.S. dollars on education, but I had no job after completing my studies,” the 31-year-old father of three told Xinhua.

“Now, we work eight hours a day to earn 15 dollars only, but we simply don’t have any other choice,” the man said.

However, cultivating the lands has proven to be difficult as the young men often face the shooting of Israeli soldiers if they approach the fence.

Israel imposed a security buffer zone of 300 meters along the Gaza Strip‘s eastern border, making agricultural areas challenging to approach.

Israel claims that the move was necessary to prevent Palestinian armed factions from launching attacks from the Gaza Strip into Israel‘s southern communities.

However, Palestinians believe that it is just another means that tightens the loss of Gazans.

Mohammed Abu Lahia, from the town of al-Qarara, is another young man who takes the risk by cultivating the lands close to the border.

He walks about five km a day to reach his team before heading towards the eastern areas where they work under the hot summer sun.

Graduating from the College of Sharia and Fundamentals of Religion, Abu Lahia has been unemployed since 2017, struggling to feed his family.

“There is an army of unemployed graduates who had lost any hope,” Abu Lahia said. “Since there is a lack of justice, it is us, the ordinary Palestinians, who end up paying the price,” he complained.

Nevertheless, the young people who joined in the cultivation of lands believed that the Palestinian youths in the impoverished coastal enclave can overcome the worst circumstances to earn a living and feed their families.

The unemployment in Gaza has reached unprecedented heights after Hamas seized power in 2007 and Israel’s subsequent decision to impose a full blockade of the coastal enclave.

According to estimates, more than 80 percent of Gazans are unemployed, of whom many are educated young people.

A local Gaza-based committee resisting the Israeli blockade has warned in January that Israel‘s embargo has led to a severe humanitarian deterioration in all aspects of life in the Gaza Strip.

(XINHUA)

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6.8 magnitude quake strikes off eastern Indonesia, no tsunami alert issued

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An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 rocked Indonesia’s eastern North Maluku province on Thursday, but did not potentially trigger a tsunami, the meteorology and geophysics agency said here.

The agency initially issued the quake at 7.1 magnitude before revising it down to 6.8, said Wahyu Kurniawan, official in charge at the agency.

The quake jolted at 15:49 p.m. Jakarta time (0849 GMT) with epicenter at 89 km northwest Daruba village of Pulau Marotai district and the depth at 112 km under sea bed, the official said.

“For this quake, we did not issue a tsunami warning,” he told Xinhua via phone.

The intensity of the quake was felt at III to IV MMI (Modified Mercally Intensity) in Ternate city of the province, said Kurniawan.

Indonesia has been frequently hit by earthquake as it sits on a vulnerable quake-impacted zone called “the Pacific Ring of Fire.”

(XINHUA)

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Gun battle kills 1 militant, wounds 2 in eastern Afghan province

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At least one militant has been confirmed dead and two others wounded as clash erupted in the eastern Logar province, said a statement of provincial police released Thursday.

The clash erupted after a group of Taliban militants attacked a security checkpoint on a roads leading to provincial capital Pul-e-Alam on Wednesday and police returned fire, killing one insurgent and wounding two others, forcing the militant to flee, the statement added.

No police personnel had been hurt in the firefight, the statement further said.

Taliban militants who are observing an undeclared ceasefire have yet to make comment on the incident.

(XINHUA)

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Libyan gov’t forces kill dozens of eastern-based army soldiers in southern Tripoli

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Libya’s UN-backed government forces said Tuesday that they have killed 48 soldiers of the rival eastern-based army in the south of Tripoli.

“The heavy artillery of the 307 Artillery Battalion destroyed a mortar company of Haftar’s terrorist militias (commander of eastern-based army) in Wadi al-Rabee axis (southern Tripoli),” Mohamed Gonono, spokesman of the UN-backed government’s forces, said in a statement later Tuesday.

“Our brave forces counted 48 bodies of the fleeing terrorists left behind before they escaped from the battlefields,” the statement added.

The spokesman also said that the UN-backed government’s forces has seized eight armed vehicles of the eastern-based army, captured four soldiers, and destroyed 10 military vehicles.

Despite repeated international calls for cease-fire, the eastern-based army and the UN-backed government have been fighting for more than a year over the control of Tripoli, which killed and injured hundreds of civilians and displaced more than 150,000 others.

(XINHUA)

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Latvia confirms commitment to EU Eastern Partnership

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Latvia will continue to assist the European Union’s (EU) Eastern Partnership countries (the EU members plus Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) in their efforts to cope with the COVID-19 crisis and supports the EU‘s joint efforts to provide a global response to the related challenges, the Baltic country’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday in a report to the government.

The ministry drafted the report in preparation for a videoconference of EU ministers in charge of development cooperation, scheduled for June 8.

Latvia also calls for continued support to the partner countries’ ongoing reforms and sustainable development, taking into account the persisting challenges like security and stability risks, as well as the effects of climate change.

(XINHUA)

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