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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Nigeria

    Malam Fatori, Nigeria | | Sunday 4/5/2015 - 03:37 GMT |

    by Celia LEBUR

    The black letters crudely painted on a wall at the entrance to the devastated town of Malam Fatori, in northeast Nigeria, spell out "God is great" -- a calling card from the evicted Boko Haram fighters.

    Niger and Chadian army troops, working together in support of Nigerian forces, recaptured the town on Tuesday to find grocery stores vandalised, smoke-blackened walls and motorbikes and wheelbarrows lying abandoned on the ground.

    Silence reigns in the clay-built houses of the desert town which has become a virtual ghost town, with only a few stray cattle roaming the streets.

    Suddenly a gaunt old man in a long ochre-coloured robe appears from behind a burnt-out house.

    When the Islamist fighters saw the troops arrive "they drove us out of our homes and burnt everything down before fleeing," he said, speaking in the regional Hausa language. "They didn't want to leave anything behind."

    Stalls at the nearby market, once the nerve centre of this trading post less than four kilometres (three miles) from the Niger border, stand empty, their contents all looted.

    - 'Group of naked women' -

    Bok Haram attacks and suicide bombings in northeast Nigeria have claimed more than 13,000 lives since 2009.

    The militant group has moved beyond Nigeria's borders in recent months, staging increasingly brazen attacks in Chad, Cameroon and Niger that have prompted Nigeria's neighbours to launch a joint military offensive in response.

    The regional fightback, concentrated in Nigerian border areas south of Lake Chad with Nigerian troops operating further inside the northeast, seems to have stopped the militants' advance for now.

    Almost all of the 30,000 residents of Malam Fatori left the town when Boko Haram fighters seized it last November.

    "Me, I couldn't go, I'm too old and too sick," the wheezing old man told AFP.

    A few women and children were forced to live with the insurgents for almost five months.

    "We had to ask their permission for everything. They watched all our comings and goings," he said of the Boko Haram insurgents.

    When troops of the Chad-Niger military alliance arrived in Malam Fatori on Tuesday the Islamists had already left and the town was retaken without a shot being fired.

    Local shepherds saw Boko Haram fighters leave with "a group of naked women," said a Niger soldier on patrol in the recaptured town.

    "This is a common tactic to prevent women from escaping, they were totally undressed. We found a lot of women's clothes," he added.

    The day after the troops moved in, an army patrol on "mopping up" operations some 10 kilometres from the town was ambushed by Boko Haram rebels, one young soldier explained.

    The official death toll was one Niger and nine Chadian soldiers along with around 150 of the Islamist insurgents.

    - 'Mines everywhere' -

    The soldiers in the Chad-Niger alliance, fearing more insurgent attacks, have "planted mines everywhere" in Malam Fatori, and are camped a few hundred metres from the entrance to the town, their tanks, heavy artillery and gun-mounted jeeps creating an imposing deterrent.

    "These people are concealing themselves for an attack, to carry out small ambushes... but our forces have been on high alert and we've neutralised them," said Chadian army Chief of Staff Brahim Seid, on a visit to congratulate the soldiers on their battlefield achievements.

    The soldiers also recovered dozens of Kalashnikov rifles -- some carrying the "NA" Nigerian army logo -- as well rocket launchers and 12.7 calibre machine guns.

    Malam Fatori was "the biggest stronghold of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and it was imperative to destroy that," General Seid added.

    Chadian and Niger troops made the town a primary target once they entered Nigeria on March 8, marking the start of foreign military operations on the home territory of the Islamist sect.

    "It is now for our Nigerian partner... to take possession" of the towns recaptured from Boko Haram, said Niger army chief Seyni Garba.

    With his Chadian counterpart, he called for greater "coordination" with Nigeria, stressing that the Chad-Niger joint force does "not intend to occupy" these areas.

    Nigeria's President-elect Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday vowed to rid Nigeria of the "terror" of Boko Haram after an historic election victory late last month which marked the first democratic transfer of power in Africa's most populous nation.

    cl/mc/jpc/pvh/mfp/jom

    © 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Niger

    Niamey, Niger | | Sunday 4/5/2015 - 20:56 GMT

    by Boureima HAMA

    Thousands of Christians across Niger tried to forgive and move on as they celebrated the first Easter since their churches were torched during deadly riots spurred by the publication of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

    The walls and ceiling are still black from flames at the Saint Gabriel parish church in the capital Niamey, which was left without doors or windows by the unrest in January that killed 10 people and destroyed eight out of ten of the country's churches.

    "We are still in shock. We have forgiven, but what happened is still in our hearts," said Father Paul Wendyam Sandwidi, a priest at Saint Gabriel's.

    "We hold nothing against those who attacked us," he added.

    Undeterred by the stench of smoke and the damage done to the building, hundreds of worshippers went there Saturday to pray.

    "They destroyed my church, but they didn't damage my faith," said parishioner Marie at a service, where rubble still littered the floor.

    Saint Gabriel and 44 other churches were torched -- causing three million euros in damage -- during protests set off when the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo published the image of the Prophet Mohammed on its cover three months ago.

    The publication came just a week after Islamist gunmen killed 12 people in an attack on the paper's office, claiming they were avenging cartoons of the Prophet the paper has run previously.

    To many Muslims, any such depiction is blasphemous and the Charlie Hebdo cover prompted protests around the world.

    But the ferocity of the reaction in Niger shocked many where sectarian violence had been rare and Christians make up less than two percent of the mainly Muslim nation's population of 17 million. The government declared three days of officials mourning after the flames subsided.

    - Next time? -

    Some worshippers are still meeting in tents or temporary structures as their churches are repaired or rebuilt. One high profile exception is the grand cathedral in Niamey, which survived the riots because it was -- and remains -- under police protection.

    Despite the destruction and violence visited on other houses of worship, the church has offered its forgiveness to all involved, said Eric Medagbe, a spokesman for Niamey's Catholic archbishop.

    "We are celebrating Easter in peace and reconciliation with our Christian as well as Muslim brothers and sisters," he said.

    "We were laid low, not wiped out."

    The government has offered to help finance the millions of euros needed to repair the burned churches, but Father Wendyam Sandwidi said: "Concretely, we haven't seen anything from the state state yet."

    Coming up with the funding is urgent in Niamey because the rainy season is due to arrive next month.

    "If between now and then the roofs are not repaired, buildings will flood and could collapse," said a local architect.

    It is not the only destruction feared by some members of Niger's Christian community. Those who witnessed the burning and looting said at the time they could not get rid of the images of youths methodically destroying their places of worship, before setting them on fire.

    One community leader said: "There are signs that this is not over and all this could happen again."

    bh/jm/fg

    © 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Niger

    Niamey, Niger | | dimanche 05/04/2015 - 16:09 GMT | 600 mots

    par Boureima HAMA

    Cantiques religieux sous plafonds noircis : des milliers de fidèles nigériens ont fêté Pâques à Niamey sous le signe du "pardon", après les émeutes anti-chrétiens de janvier qui ont fait dix morts et ont détruit presque toutes leurs églises.

    "Nous sommes toujours sous le choc. Un pardon est donné, mais les évènements restent dans les coeurs", remarque Paul Wendyam Sandwidi, le curé de la paroisse Saint-Gabriel, qui avait été totalement incendiée et pillée.

    L'empreinte noire des flammes marque encore les murs et plafonds de cette église évangélique, restée sans porte ni fenêtre. Samedi soir, des centaines de chrétiens de Saint-Gabriel ont veillé dans des odeurs de brûlé.

    "Le bâtiment est touché mais notre foi demeure", observe le père Sandwidi. "Nous ne gardons rien contre ceux qui nous ont attaqués".

    Maria, quinquagénaire drapée dans une robe rose, affirme avoir vu sa foi "se renforcer" depuis l'embrasement des lieux. "Ils ont détruit mon église, mais ils n'ont pas atteint ma foi", affirme-t-elle, assise sur une chaise au milieu de gravats.

    Des manifestations contre la publication d'une caricature de Mahomet en Une de l'hebdomadaire français Charlie Hebdo ont viré mi-janvier en émeutes anti-chrétiennes à Niamey et Zinder, la deuxième ville du pays. Dix personnes ont été tuées et 45 églises ont été brûlées, soit 80% des lieux de cultes chrétiens.

    La surprise avait été amère pour cette minorité religieuse, qui ne représente qu'1 à 2% des 17 millions de Nigériens mais s'était toujours flattée d'être en excellents termes avec la majorité musulmane.

    Les conséquences sont pénibles pour de nombreux fidèles qui, privés de lieux de culte, doivent désormais se réunir sous des tentes ou des structures temporaires, en attendant la réhabilitation de leurs églises.

    La grande cathédrale de Niamey, un bâtiment carré situé au centre-ville, est l’un des rares édifices chrétiens à ne pas avoir trop souffert lors des émeutes. Des dizaines de policiers l'avaient protégée de groupes de jeunes en furie. Des forces de sécurité stationnent désormais en permanence devant l'édifice.

    • 'Terrassés, mais pas anéantis' -

    Visage fermé et bougie à la main, l'archevêque de Niamey, Michel Cartatéguy, y a dirigé la messe dimanche devant un millier de fidèles.

    "Nous avons été terrassés, mais pas anéantis", estime Eric Medagbé, le responsable de la communication de l'archevêché.

    Si des ateliers de réflexion ont un temps été organisés pour comprendre les motifs des émeutes de janvier, l'église a depuis lors "offert le pardon à tout le monde" et "nous célébrons ces fêtes pascales dans la paix, la réconciliation avec nos frères et soeurs chrétiens et aussi musulmans", précise-t-il.

    Pour Hélène, une catholique présente à la messe, "les chrétiens ont déjà oublié tout ce qui s'est passé" et "avancent vers l'avenir".

    Le gouvernement nigérien a promis qu’il aiderait les églises à financer les travaux de réhabilitation. Les pertes se chiffrent à quelque 2 milliards de francs CFA (environ 3 millions d'euros), selon des responsables chrétiens.

    Mais "concrètement, de l’État, on n'a rien vu jusqu'à présent", se désespère Paul Wendyam Sandwidi.

    Or la saison des pluies s'approche à grands pas. Des trombes d'eau s'abattent chaque année sur Niamey dès le mois de mai. "Si d'ici là, les toits ne sont pas refaits, des édifices seront inondés et fragilisés et pourraient s’effondrer", s'inquiète un architecte local.

    Des destructions qui, si elles advenaient, seraient un nouveau test pour les chrétiens nigériens. Certains, derrière un calme apparent, ne cachent pas leurs craintes de l'avenir.

    Tel ce leader de la communauté, à la confiance toute modérée : "il y a des signes qui montrent que ce n'est pas fini et que tout peut survenir" de nouveau.

    bh/jf/fal


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    4/5/2015 - 14:02 GMT

    Une femme a été tuée et trois membres de sa famille blessés dimanche matin par des tirs de roquettes sur Gao, principale ville du nord du Mali, selon des sources hospitalière et policière.

    "Nous avons reçu quatre blessés par les tirs de roquettes. L'une des personnes, âgée de 27 ans, vient de mourir de ses blessures", a déclaré à l'AFP un responsable de l'hôpital de Gao. Selon la même source, un enfant de trois ans figure parmi les blessés.

    "La personne décédée et les blessés sont de la même famille, et tous dormaient quand la roquette est tombée dans leur maison", a précisé une source policière sur place jointe par téléphone.

    Un peu plus tôt, un habitant de la ville avait annoncé à l'AFP qu' "au moins trois roquettes ont été tirées dimanche sur la ville de Gao par les terroristes".

    La Mission de l'ONU au Mali (Minusma), qui doit assister les autorités maliennes dans leur enquête, a confirmé cette information dans un communiqué, datant les tirs de 06H00 du matin.

    La force onusienne "condamne fermement cette attaque terroriste sur les populations civiles innocentes" et dit avoir "renforcé présence et patrouilles dans la ville et ses environs".

    Un responsable de la gendarmerie locale a précisé que "les tirs des +terroristes+" provenaient de l'extérieur de Gao.

    Il a confirmé qu'une roquette était tombée sur le nord de Gao dans la maison familiale, ajoutant qu'une autre était tombée en plein centre, non loin d'un dispensaire, et la troisième dans le sud de la ville, vers le fleuve, dans un champ. Ces deux dernières n'ont pas fait de victimes.

    Ces tirs ont eu lieu six jours après la mort, dans une attaque jihadiste près de Gao, du conducteur d'un camion du Comité international de la Croix-Rouge (CICR) qui avait quitté la ville pour Niamey, au Niger voisin. L'attaque a été revendiquée auprès de l'AFP par le Mouvement pour l'unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l'Ouest (Mujao).

    Depuis, plusieurs attaques se sont produites dans les régions du centre et du nord du Mali.

    Mercredi, trois "bandits armés" ont été tués dans un accrochage avec des soldats maliens dans une localité à la lisière du nord, près de la frontière avec le Burkina Faso.

    Deux civils ont été tués vendredi au cours de l'attaque de Boni, un village du centre du Mali menée par des hommes armés circulant à moto, selon des responsables locaux.

    Samedi, des hommes armés ont enlevé un expatrié roumain, responsable de la sécurité d'une mine du nord du Burkina Faso, dans une région proche du Mali voisin vers lequel ils se sont dirigés ensuite avec leur otage.

    Les groupes jihadistes ont été chassés en grande partie des régions centre et nord par une intervention militaire internationale lancée en janvier 2013 par la France mais des islamistes restent actifs dans ces zones où opèrent également diverses bandes armées.

    Enfin, vendredi également, un homme a été tué dans l'explosion d'une maison à Bamako, la capitale. Le gouvernement malien a parlé d'un "événement malheureux" tandis que la gendarmerie a évoqué la découverte d'un projet d'"attentat de grande envergure".

    Le 7 mars, Bamako avait été le théâtre d'un attentat contre un bar qui avait fait cinq morts : trois Maliens, un Français et un Belge.

    sd/ft/jpc/dom/fal

    © 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali
    Country: Mali

    Le Représentant spécial du Secrétaire général (RSSG) M. Mongi Hamdi se trouve dans la capitale Algérienne depuis hier, afin de poursuivre les consultations avec le chef de file de la Médiation et Ministre des Affaires Etrangères de l’Algérie, H.E.M. Ramtane Lamamra, et une délégation de la Coordination en vue du paraphe de l’Accord de paix par la Coordination dans les meilleurs délais.

    Au cours des consultations, la Coordination a réaffirmé son engagement au processus d’Alger en cours et a réitéré sa volonté à aller de l’avant en vue du parachèvement de l’accord le plus rapidement possible.

    « Les défis auxquels le Mali est confronté sont multiples et nécessitent l’engagement ferme de tous les maliens pour y faire face. La signature de l'accord est une étape nécessaire et cela doit être parachevé le plus rapidement possible», a déclaré M. Hamdi. « La MINUSMA sera toujours aux cotés des maliens et continuera à soutenir tous les efforts en faveur de la paix et de la stabilité au Mali», a-t-il conclu.


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    Source: UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali
    Country: Mali

    Bamako, le 5 avril 2015 - Aux alentours de 6:00 ce matin, au moins 3 roquettes ont été tirées sur la ville de Gao. Les rapports préliminaires indiquent que l'une d'entre elles a atteint une maison, entraînant la mort d'une femme et blessant deux autres civils actuellement en cours de traitement à l'hôpital de Gao.

    Une équipe de la MINUSMA s'est immédiatement rendue sur place et assistera les autorités maliennes dans leur enquête.

    Les Forces de Police de la MINUSMA ont également renforcé présence et patrouilles dans laville et ses environs.

    La MINUSMA condamne fermement cette attaque terroriste sur les populations civiles innocentes.

    La MINUSMA met tout en oeuvre pour que de tels agissements cessent et que les personnes impliquées répondent de leurs actes devant la Justice.

    La MINUSMA demeure résolue dans son soutien à la stabilisation du Mali.


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Chad, Nigeria

    Baga Sola, Tchad | | lundi 06/04/2015 - 08:47 GMT

    Sept personnes ont été tuées vendredi au Tchad dans une localité proche du lac Tchad dans une attaque attribuée aux islamistes nigérians de Boko Haram, a-t-on appris lundi de source officielle.

    Les assaillants ont tendu une embuscade à des civils qui se rendaient au marché de Tchoukou Telia, a indiqué à l'AFP Dimouya Souapebe, sous-préfet de Baga Sola. Certaines victimes ont été égorgées, d'autres tuées par balle, a-t-il ajouté.

    Après l'attaque, des engins explosifs artisanaux ont été découverts sur la route reliant Tchoukou Telia à Ngouboua, localité où Boko Haram avait déjà mené un raid il y a quelques semaines, selon des sources humanitaires de la région.

    Début février, l'armée tchadienne a lancé une offensive terrestre au Nigeria contre les islamistes de Boko Haram qui déstabilisent les pays riverains du lac (Nigeria, Niger, Cameroun, Tchad).

    Les armées nigérianes, nigériennes et camerounaises participent également aux opérations.

    Vendredi, le chef d'état-major de l'armée tchadienne, le général Brahim Seid, avait assuré à l'AFP que la "capacité de nuisance" de Boko Haram avait été réduite "au maximum" après une série de succès de la coalition.

    cl-mc/jhd

    © 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Chad, Nigeria

    Baga Sola, Chad | | Monday 4/6/2015 - 09:11 GMT

    Seven civilians were killed in an attack in Chad blamed on Nigerian Boko Haram rebels, officials said Monday.

    The Islamist militants ambushed people on their way to a market in Tchoukou Telia near Lake Chad on Friday, Dimouya Souapebe, the deputy prefect of Baga Sola told AFP.

    Some of the victims had their throats cut while others were shot, he said.

    Improvised mines were later discovered along the road between Tchoukou Telia and Ngouboua close to the Nigerian border, which Boko Haram also raided in recent weeks.

    The Chadian army is taking part in an regional offensive against the insurgents along with troops from Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon.

    On Friday the head of the Chadian general staff, General Brahim Seid, told AFP that Boko Haram's "nuisance capacity" had been heavily limited by the military intervention.

    cl-mc/fg/hmn

    © 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: UN Security Council, UN Department of Public Information
    Country: Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, occupied Palestinian territory, Syrian Arab Republic, Western Sahara, World, Yemen

    Security Council
    Press Conference

    Amid the crisis in Yemen, the ongoing situation in Syria and other urgent threats to peace and security, the Jordanian presidency of the Security Council would focus on a range of issues, holding three open debates and hearing top officials brief on pressing matters.

    During the coming weeks, the 15-member body was scheduled to focus on some of those issues, said Dina Kawar, Permanent Representative of Jordan. Three open debates would hear briefings from top officials on women, peace and security, the Middle East and the maintenance of international peace and security, with a focus on the role of youth in countering violent extremism and promoting peace.

    With the latter ministerial-level debate, to be held 23 April and chaired by Jordan’s Prince Hussein bin Abdullah, she said the idea was to address youth engagement in extremism and the causes behind it. The Council would then discuss, among other things, the steps that the international community could take to address that concern.

    On the Middle East, she said the Council’s quarterly open debate on that region on 21 April would focus on Palestinian issues. On the situation in Syria, consultations would be held today and on 24 April, the latter following a briefing by Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to that country. That ministerial-level briefing would address the crisis and its repercussions on neighbouring States, she said, pointing out that refugees now account for 21 per cent of Jordan’s population.

    The Council would also hold an Arria Formula meeting on 27 April that would discuss the destruction of cultural artefacts and their illicit trade during armed conflicts, she said. Members would hear briefings by experts, including Irina Bokova, Head of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and a representative of INTERPOL.

    The Council was also scheduled for a 6-7 April retreat with the Secretary-General, which would focus on, among other things, peacekeepers and sanctions in general.

    Also featured on the Council’s agenda were updates and action on sanctions and mission mandates. On 28 April, it was expected to adopt resolutions on Côte d’Ivoire sanctions and on the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). Briefings and consultations were scheduled on 9 and 14 April on the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and MINUSCA. In addition, meetings were scheduled on 8 and 16 April to consider troop-contributing countries on MINUSCA and MINURSO, and on 22 April a briefing and consultations would focus on Côte d’Ivoire sanctions. The Council had already today adopted a resolution to extend the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). (See Press Release SC/11849.)

    Before asking questions, many correspondents welcomed and congratulated Ms. Kawar for being the first Arab woman to hold the Security Council presidency. Thanking them, she addressed, in her national capacity, questions about Syria, saying her Government was pleased with the current rounds of talks aimed at creating a transitional government amid the humanitarian crisis that had left millions affected. A political solution was important, she said.

    Resuming her role as Council President, she said Mr. de Mistura had been working in difficult conditions and the Council supported him, hoping to hear about recent developments and some “good news” during his briefing on 24 April.

    To questions on the likeliness of a Palestinian resolution passing during her presidency, she said two resolutions were “floating”, but she had not seen them. Welcoming an outcome, she said the open debate later this month would be very important. “Any resolution had to take the time it takes to be acceptable to everyone,” she said. To a question on the State of Palestine joining the International Criminal Court, she wished the Palestinians good luck.

    Turning to questions on Yemen and a possible draft resolution from the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, she said negotiations were ongoing. “They were not easy,” she said, “but eventually we will arrive at a solution.” Jamal Benomar, United Nations Special Adviser on Yemen, had been trying to get parties around the table to agree, yet the Houthis had disagreed on certain items. The Council had, for its part, issued resolutions and presidential statements calling for resumed negotiations and would remain seized of the matter. In her national capacity, she said Saudi Arabia’s recent action was valid.

    Asked about the Council’s consideration of Boko Haram, she said a resolution was still under discussion and that a decision would be made soon. With crises in Yemen, the Syria issue and other situations, the Council had this month tried to leave some empty days to allow for issues that could come up. However, considering that the programme was often crowded, it meant dealing with three or four issues on one day.

    Responding to questions on Libya, she said ways could be found within the sanctions regime to ease up those measures to enable the army to defend itself.

    To a question on Western Sahara, she said the Council would consider the latest reports and the renewal of the mandate.

    On Mali, she said the Council was pleased with positive developments in discussions. More and more frequently, the situations the Council was seeing were not inter-State but intra-State, making it more difficult for negotiations.

    Responding in her national capacity to questions on Iran, she said Jordan hoped that the latest news would open up other situations in the region. Elaborating on that point, she said the issue of Iran and the United States and the nuclear matter could provide an opportunity to discuss other concerns, including Palestine, in the Council. Resuming the Council presidency, she said she would consult with members on the possibility of a statement.

    Responding to a question on the killing of Jordanian air force pilot Muath Al-Kasasbeh by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham (ISIL/ISIS or Da’esh), she said his brutal death, being burned alive, was a “wake-up call” and a shock to everyone in Jordan. On ISIL, she said “these people have nothing to do with religion”, a notion that was now “cemented” in Jordanian society after that killing.

    For information media. Not an official record.


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    Source: UN Security Council
    Country: Mali

    I. Introduction

    1. Le présent rapport est soumis en application de la résolution 2164 (2014) du Conseil de sécurité, par laquelle le Conseil a prorogé le mandat de la Mission multidimensionnelle intégrée des Nations Unies pour la stabilisation au Mali (MINUSMA) et m’a demandé de lui faire rapport tous les trois mois sur l’application de la résolution et l’exécution du mandat de la Mission. Le présent rapport couvre la période allant du 17 décembre 2014 au 19 mars 2015.

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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    Nouakchott, Mauritania | | Monday 4/6/2015 - 13:08 GMT

    Mali has urged separatist rebels in the north to commit to a peace deal signed by the government several weeks ago, saying their claimed homeland "does not exist".

    The Algiers Agreement, hammered out over eight months of tough negotiations, aims to bring a lasting peace to a sprawling area of northern desert that the rebels refer to as "Azawad".

    It has been signed by Mali's government and smaller armed groups but Tuareg-led rebels under the banner of the Coordination for the Movements of Azawad (CMA) have sought more talks.

    The rebels have been calling for "recognition and compensation by the state of Mali" and "recognition of Azawad as a political, legal and territorial entity".

    "The people of Azawad as an entity does not exist. This concept does not exist," Zahbi Ould Sidi Mohamed, Minister of National Reconciliation, said late on Sunday on a trip to neighbouring Mauritania.

    The minister was meeting Malian refugees in the capital Nouakchott as part of a campaign to explain the peace accord which will take him to the Mbera refugee camp in southern Mauritania on Monday.

    "These movements are currently in Algiers," he said, referring to the rebels yet to sign the document.

    "We hope they will face the facts and seize the opportunity of a historic agreement that is inclusive and viable for the first time."

    Divided into rival armed factions, plagued by drug trafficking and at the mercy of jihadism, Mali's desert north has struggled for stability since the west African nation gained independence in 1960.

    The Mbera camp has housed up to 70,000 Malians who fled the north in 2012-13, when Islamists seized control of the region's main towns and cities before being ousted by a French-led military intervention.

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which runs the camp, says it expects to house 48,000 refugees this year.

    hos/ft/ach/

    © 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Burkina Faso, Mali


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    Source: Guardian
    Country: Côte d'Ivoire, Greece, Mali, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, World

    Smugglers are taking more illegal migrants through the western Balkans, but the route holds great hardships for a group of west Africans heading for Macedonia

    After a 10-day trek over 150km, Sandrine Koffi’s dream of a new life in Europe ended and her nightmare of losing her infant daughter in the Macedonian night began.

    Read the full article


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    Source: Agence France-Presse
    Country: Mali

    Bamako, Mali | | lundi 06/04/2015 - 18:25 GMT

    "Aujourd'hui, des hommes armés à moto sont arrivés à Diafarabé. Ils ont tiré des coups de feu au marché et tué un agent des Eaux et Forêts", a déclaré à l'AFP, Mamadou Sidibé, employé à la mairie de Diafarabé.

    Selon la même source, une fois arrivés devant la mairie, les assaillants, qui circulaient sur plusieurs motos, ont descendu le drapeau national du Mali, avant de le brûler.

    "Ils l'ont tué parce qu'il portait l'uniforme national. C'est un acte de défiance contre l'Etat", a déclaré à l'AFP par téléphone l'un des membres de la famille de la victime, un homme père de "plusieurs enfants".

    Selon la gendarmerie de Ségou, située à 190 km au sud de Diafarabé, un renfort militaire se rendait sur les lieux de l'attaque.

    Plusieurs attaques se sont produites ces derniers jours dans les régions du centre et du nord du Mali.

    Mercredi, trois "bandits armés" ont été tués dans un accrochage avec des soldats maliens dans une localité à la lisière du nord, près de la frontière avec le Burkina Faso.

    Deux civils ont été tués vendredi au cours de l'attaque de Boni, un village du centre du Mali menée par des hommes armés circulant à moto, selon des responsables locaux.

    Samedi, des hommes armés ont enlevé un Roumain, responsable de la sécurité d'une mine du nord du Burkina Faso, dans une région proche du Mali voisin vers lequel ils se sont dirigés ensuite avec leur otage.

    Les groupes jihadistes ont été chassés en grande partie des régions centre et nord par une intervention militaire internationale lancée en janvier 2013 par la France mais des islamistes restent actifs dans ces zones où opèrent également diverses bandes armées.

    sd/dom

    © 1994-2015 Agence France-Presse


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    Source: UN High Commissioner for Refugees
    Country: Mali, Mauritania

    HIGHLIGHTS

    • As of 28 February, UNHCR in Mauritania protects and assists 52,402 Malian refugees in Mberra camp and 758 urban refugees and 591 asylum seekers of various nationalities in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.

    • In February, 51 432 Malian refugees in Mberra camp (14 796 households) received food during the monthly distribution organized by UNHCR through its implementing partner, the Commissariat à la sécurité alimentaire.

    • Owing to a funding shortage faced by WFP, the food ration distributed to Malian refugees in Mberra camp on a monthly basis was reduced in February. Urgent funding is needed to enable the distribution of a sufficient quantity of food in 2015.

    • UNHCR, through its partner INTERSOS, continues to support primary school education in Mberra camp through the payment of incentives for education staff. In February, sociocultural events were organized in the six primary schools in the camp to promote primary education.

    • From 9 to 21 February, a Child Protection mission from UNHCR headquarters was conducted in Mberra camp to provide training and technical support to UNHCR and its partners.

    • In February, UNHCR through its implementing partner INTERSOS, conducted home visits to more than 452 individuals with specific needs in Mberra camp and 12 victims of sexual and gender-based violence.


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    Source: Voice of America
    Country: Cameroon

    Moki Edwin Kindzeka

    YAOUNDE—Despite a decrease in deadly attacks, Cameroon said suspected Boko Haram fighters have been seizing food and livestock from farmers and cattle ranchers on its northern border with Nigeria for the past few weeks. Most of the food producers are now relocating to safer areas away from the border.

    Midjiyawa Bakari, Governor of the region of the far North, said the armed insurgents carry out raids in groups of 5 to10 - seizing cattle, food and money from residents along Cameroon's border with Nigeria's Borno state.

    He said the very long and porous border with Nigeria makes it possible for the insurgents to attack crop farmers, cattle ranchers and small businesses and quickly make a getaway.

    Sali Dairou, a member of the National Assembly from northern Cameroon, told VOA some of the farmers who refuse to cooperate with the assailants have been killed.

    But the governor said the inability of Boko Haram to organize a major attack on Cameroon for more than two months now is an indication they are finding it very difficult to regroup themselves in Nigeria due to the offensives carried out by the new regional military force with troops from Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria.

    He said he is very sure Boko Haram will be terminated soon and that today, everyone can see that the end of the terrorist group is near.

    The last major attack by Boko Haram on Cameroonian territory was on January 10, 2015 at Fotokol - when about 300 assailants killed 500 people.


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    Source: Oxfam
    Country: Burkina Faso

    Dans le Sahel, les politiques de protection sociale en lien avec la sécurité alimentaire ont un rôle fondamental quant au bien-être de la population.

    Étudier ces politiques ainsi que leurs mesures profite aux organisations qui œuvrent pour la sécurité alimentaire de la région (organisations paysannes et de consommateurs) et peut favoriser la conception de stratégies de réponse face aux crises et de développement local.

    Cette étude s’intéresse au fonctionnement des boutiques témoins au Burkina Faso, une mesure de protection sociale destinée à améliorer l’accès aux aliments. Elle relève certains impacts de cette mesure sur les paysans, les commerçants et les stocks de proximité.


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    Source: Oxfam
    Country: Burkina Faso

    Dans le Sahel, les politiques de protection sociale en lien avec la sécurité alimentaire ont un rôle fondamental quant au bien-être de la population.

    Étudier ces politiques ainsi que leurs mesures profite aux organisations qui œuvrent pour la sécurité alimentaire de la région et peut contribuer à la conception de stratégies de réponse face aux crises et de développement endogène.

    Cette étude s'intéresse au fonctionnement des cantines scolaires, le programme d’alimentation scolaire du Burkina Faso, en décrivant ses mécanismes, en élaborant des recommandations et en relevant les bonnes pratiques.


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    Source: World Bank
    Country: Nigeria

    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • Additional financing for the National Fadama Development Project III is helping Nigeria’s farmers to turn their agriculture skills into income-generating businesses
    • The additional funding comes on the heels of three successful phases of agriculture and rural development in states
    • The project financing also supports the country’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda

    ABUJA, April 2, 2015 – Since 1993, the World Bank funded-National Fadama Development Project has been supporting Nigeria’s farmers by helping to empower communities and strengthen agriculture development in states throughout the country. Now, with additional funding recently added to the third phase of the project, farmers are poised to turn subsistence farming into for-profit businesses.

    With financing of $200 million, new generations of business-oriented agro-preneurs are emerging, giving farmers a new way to feed their families and earn an income.

    "With increase in yield per hectare, quality products, availability of ready markets with good pricing guaranteed, farm business seems bright. Our living standard will surely improve"
    Muhammadu Sallah
    Yegborolo Rice Farmers Group, Majin Gari, Lavun

    With the success of the completed Fadama projects I, II and II, the Nigerian government wanted to expand the success to the Agricultural Transformation Agenda, which led to the additional financing. The project, which started this year, will focus on support to value chains of cassava, rice, sorghum and horticulture in six states; Kogi, Niger, Kano, Lagos, Anambra and Enugu. The six states will serve as hubs of Staple Crops Processing Zones (SCPZs), while surrounding states will serve as catchment areas to feed the processing zones.

    “The Third National Fadama Development Project Additional Financing is a unique opportunity to demonstrate how the World Bank Group can support Nigeria to drive its Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA),” said Adetunji Oredipe, task team leader for the project. “It is therefore not surprising to see the high level of commitment and political support availed the project by the federal government.”

    The additional financing will also be used to increase the income for users of rural lands and water resources within the Fadama areas in a sustainable manner throughout the territory. This time around, the project is not just focusing on production, but also concentrating on aggregating and processing for marketing. This is upping the scale from subsistence agriculture to making agriculture a business. This why it is being aligned to the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) of the government, as well as other WBG-supported projects such as Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria in Project (TRIMING) and SCPZs, the Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP).

    Critical production activities will also be scaled up, along with organizing of farmers into clusters of out-grower groups in the participating states. The project will also build a culture of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to link the FCAs to markets and private sector investors, as well as develop their capacity to negotiate marketing arrangements and contracts. “The Additional Financing will help the Government to transform our state with agriculture as well as eradicate poverty,” Said Mr. Yomi Awoniyi, Deputy Governor of Kogi State.

    Investors and Partners such as Cargill, Dangote and others have already keyed into the program by establishing farms and processing plants as up-takers for the Fadama products.

    Bukar Bukata Bayero, the commissioner for agriculture in Bauchi state, expressed his support for the project.

    “We don’t joke with agriculture here,” he said. “We are ready to partner with the World Bank to see that priority is given to agriculture in the state.”

    The project’s target population is the smallholder households of Fadama farmers engaged in the production of selected value chains such as cassava, rice, sorghum and horticulture, on operational holdings of 0.25ha – 2 ha, and young farmers – the agro-preneurs and processors who are new entrants into agricultural enterprise.

    To participate in the program, farmers are expected to join cluster groups through Fadama Offices in the participating states. The project is expected to reach about 317,000 direct beneficiary households and 1.4 million indirect beneficiary households.


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    Source: World Bank
    Country: Burkina Faso

    WASHINGTON, April 2, 2015—The World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors approved today a total of US$100 million in budget support for the Government of Burkina Faso to reduce agriculture and transport costs, improve transparency and accountability in mobilizing public resources, and minimize the country’s vulnerability to shocks.

    Burkina Faso is a landlocked, low-income country in the Sahel region with a high population growth rate facing many challenges including structural vulnerabilities, trade shocks, and inadequate ability to provide basic services to the country’s population. The lack of governance, increased youth unemployment and significant inequalities among the population were the main contributors to the recent unrest in the country.

    “The transitional authorities are committed to addressing governance issues and restoring political and economic stability in Burkina Faso, said Mercy Miyang Tembon, the World Bank’s Country Manager for Burkina Faso. “The World Bank supports these efforts by providing resources and technical assistance that focus on promoting governance.”

    The budget support approved today includes a US$50 million dollar IDA credit and a US$50 million IDA grant for the Fourth Growth and Competitiveness Operation, the fourth and final in a programmatic series of Development Policy Operations launched in May 2012. It builds upon previous reforms in the cotton sector, trade and transportation, public financial management, and transparency in the mining sector.

    The operation will support policies that improve the way the government invests in agriculture and transport, reduces the costs in these areas in order to promote trade, increase production of goods, and ultimately give people access to jobs, higher income, and better livelihoods.

    “In the last decade Burkina has experienced solid growth driven by sound economic management and strong gold and cotton production,” said Samba Ba and Mariam Diop, Senior Economists for Burkina Faso and Task Team Leaders for the operation. “However, transformational interventions are necessary to improve productivity in important areas of agriculture, manufacturing, and other key services in order to create a more inclusive growth.”

    MEDIA CONTACTS

    In Washington
    Aby Toure
    Tel : 202 473-8302
    akonate@worldbank.org

    In Ouagadougou
    Lionel Yaro
    Tel : 226 50 49 63 00
    lyaro@worldbank.org

    PRESS RELEASE NO: 2015/380/AFR


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