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Sudan war: Ethiopia blocks fleeing Nigerian students, factions agree 72-hour ceasefire

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The Federal Government, on Monday, confirmed that some Nigerian students fleeing the conflict in Sudan were denied entry into Ethiopia, but stated that the situation was being handled.

The Federal Government said Nigerian authorities in Ethiopia were addressing the issue, as they had sought clearance for the fleeing students, stressing that it was, however, risky for the students to have embarked on such a journey.

This was as the United States Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, said on Tuesday that Sudan’s warring generals had agreed to a three-day ceasefire starting Tuesday (2200 GMT Monday), after previous bids to pause the conflict quickly disintegrated.

“Following intense negotiation over the past 48 hours, the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces have agreed to implement a nationwide ceasefire starting at midnight on April 24, to last for 72 hours,” Blinken said in a statement two hours before the truce was to go into effect.

“During this period, the United States urges the SAF and RSF to immediately and fully uphold the ceasefire,” Blinken said.

Blinken said the United States was also working with partners to set up a committee that would negotiate a permanent ceasefire in Sudan, where the conflict between rival generals descended into deadly violence 10 days ago.

Foreign countries rushed to evacuate their nationals from Sudan as deadly fighting raged into a second week between forces loyal to two rival generals.

More than 420 people have been killed and thousands wounded, according to UN figures, amid fears of wider turmoil and a humanitarian disaster in one of the world’s poorest nations.

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The Director, Special Duties, National Emergency Management Agency, who doubles as the Chairman, NEMA’s Committee for the Evacuation of the Stranded Nigerians from Sudan, Dr Onimode Bandele, told The PUNCH that the students’ case was receiving the required attention.

“Yea, you must have been reading on social media that some students got into a town at the border of Ethiopia and they have not been able to grant them passage.

“The Nigerian Ambassador in Egypt, Nura Rimi, confirmed to me that the ambassador in Ethiopia is working on that, and hopefully they should be able to get a passage,” Bandele stated.

He, however, explained that “In our own humanitarian assignment, self-evacuation is at the risk of the person that is involved. If you decide to self-evacuate, whatever you meet is your headache, because you did not listen to the authorities that are supposed to cater for you.

“We empathise with them; we understand their situation; some of them are doing that out of panic or running to safety. But at the same time, self-evacuation has its own disadvantages.

“So, our appeal to Nigerians is that wherever they are, they should please wait for further instruction from the Federal Government, especially the ambassador that is with them in Sudan. He is there with his family too. It is not that he has run out and left them,” Bandele stated.

The NEMA official also said the Federal Government had considered using the services of the United Nations in evacuating Nigerians stranded in Sudan.

But this, according to him, did not work, because the UN said it could not support anyone now, due to the loss of five UN staff in Sudan.

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“We were looking at the possibility of using the UN Utility Service and he (Rimi) said the UN had released a message that they cannot guarantee helping anybody.

“This is because the UN has already lost five staff in Sudan. So they are looking for a way to protect themselves and cannot guarantee anybody,” Bandele stated.

Students leave Tuesday

The PUNCH also learnt on Monday that trapped Nigerian students would leave Khartoum, Sudan capital, on Tuesday morning, for Cairo, Egypt, by road.

It was learnt that the journey from Khartoum to Cairo by road would take about 28 hours 27 minutes.

The PUNCH reports that the Federal Government said it was making preparations to evacuate about 5,500 stranded Nigerians out of Sudan through the Egyptian town of Luxor, adding that it was seeking Egypt’s support so that the stranded Nigerians could be moved to Luxor.

However, in a letter dated 23 April 2023, signed by the Charge D’ Affairs, Haruna Garko, and sighted by our correspondent on Monday, the Embassy of Nigeria in Sudan made a request for buses to convey students from Khartoum to Cairo on Tuesday at 6am.

The letter read: “I am directed to request the services of your 200-seater buses to convey 3,500 Nigerian students from Khartoum to Cairo Egypt on 25 April 2023, at 6am.”

Confirming this development, a student of the International University of Africa, Abdullah Zakari, said, “Tomorrow (Tuesday), we are going to leave for Egypt by 6am. We will go by road. It is a long journey though.”

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Also, the President of the Jigawa State Students Association in Sudan, Umar Abubakar, said, “All preparations from Khartoum have been put in place and by God’s grace, we will leave tomorrow morning.”

A student of Noble College in Sudan, who pleaded anonymity, said, “The buses to convey the students are on the ground. All students would be evacuated by tomorrow morning to Cairo.”

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PM Keir Starmer meets Biden, says UK-US relations ‘stronger than ever’

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PM Keir Starmer meets Biden, says UK-US relations ‘stronger than ever’

Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer meets US President Joe Biden at the White House in Washington DC, during his visit to the US to attend the Nato 75th anniversary summit.

UK Prime Minister Sir Keir Starmer has met with the US President Joe Biden, saying the special relationship between the two nations remains stronger than ever.

BBC reports that the new prime minister met President Biden for the first time at Nato’s 75th anniversary summit in Washington just hours before their private talks in the Oval Office.

Starmer said his first face-to-face talks with President Biden were an opportunity to “recommit” to Nato and the “special relationship” between the UK and US.

Addressing reporters in the White House, Starmer told the president: “The special relationship is so important. It’s forged in difficult circumstances, endured for so long, and stronger now than ever.”

President Biden called the US and UK the “best of allies”, saying the UK was “the transatlantic knot” that ties Nato together with its European members.

The meeting comes as Starmer is looking to form a new security pact with EU nations to strengthen co-operation on defence.

The two leaders’ meeting came as Nato agreed further support for Ukraine at the Washington summit.

Starmer also confirmed that the UK’s £3bn a year military aid for Kyiv would continue.

President Biden said “things are moving in the right direction, I’m feeling really optimistic”.

The prime minister congratulated President Biden on hosting the summit, adding it was “a bigger Nato, a stronger Nato and a Nato with the resolve that we need”.

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The Labour leader – on his first overseas visit as prime minister – is a season ticket holder at Arsenal Football Club and gave President Biden a personalised team shirt as a present.

It has President Biden’s surname on the back and the number 46 – a reference to him being the 46th US president.

Starmer also gave him a copy of the Atlantic Charter – the 1941 US-UK declaration which paved the way for the formation of the military alliance – featuring amendments from the then Labour leader Clement Attlee.

Foreign Secretary David Lammy, who accompanied Sir Keir on the trip, met his US counterpart Antony Blinken.

The State Department said the pair “re-affirmed the importance of ensuring Ukraine has the economic, security, and humanitarian assistance it needs to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

They “discussed the need to reach a ceasefire in Gaza that secures the release of hostages and lays the groundwork for durable peace”.

Source: Vanguard

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First US Senate Democrat asks Biden to step aside

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US election: Democrat lawmaker asks President Biden to withdraw from race

Peter Welch on Wednesday became the first Democratic senator to publicly call on US President Joe Biden to ditch his reelection bid as concerns rise over his age and fitness.

“For the good of the country, I’m calling on President Biden to withdraw from the race,” the Vermont senator said in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.

 

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Pakistan grants 1.4m Afghan refugees one more year of stay

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Pakistan grants 1.4m Afghan refugees one more year of stay

Pakistan has announced its willingness to stretch the stay of 1.45 million Afghan refugees by one more year.

The government said Wednesday it will extend the registration cards of the nearly 1.5 million Afghan refugees after a senior UN official appealed to the country to pause its deportation plan.

“The federal cabinet approved a one-year extension of the validity of POR (Proof of Registration) cards of 1.45 million Afghan refugees,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement at the end of a cabinet meeting on Wednesday

The office said the affected refugees’ PoR cards expired over a week ago, on June 30, but that extension has now been granted until June 30, 2025.

Afghans cherish their stay in Pakistan and are hurt when pushed out by their host country.

Quite a number of those asked to go are defiant, insisting they are not returning to Afghanistan.

The new lease of life for the Afghans in Pakistan is a product of a discussion on the status of the refugees between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the chief of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, who visited Pakistan days ago.

Pakistan has been a major host country for Afghan refugees since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

There was a lull after a while, but a further influx started when the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan in August 2021, when an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 Afghans sought refuge in neighbouring Pakistan.

Troubled by the large number of refugees, Pakistan last year launched a repatriation programme to return millions of Afghans.

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Government sources have it that Pakistan currently hosts nearly three million Afghans, out of whom almost 1.5 million hold a UNHCR Proof of Residence card and another 800,000 possess an Afghan Citizenship Card.

Source: Daily Post

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NATO: Ukraine to continue defending self from Russia with F-16s jets – US

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NATO: Ukraine to continue defending self from Russia with F-16s jets – US

The United States, US, Secretary of State, Antony Blinken on Wednesday, said Ukraine can continue to defend itself against the aggression from Russia.

Blinken said the first batch of US-built F-16 fighter jets are being transferred to Ukraine to allow the country defend itself from Russia.

He spoke on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Washington DC where world leaders pledged continued support for Kyiv.

Blinken said the F-16s were being transferred from Denmark and the Netherlands.

He said: “And those jets will be flying in the skies of Ukraine this summer to make sure that Ukraine can continue to defend itself against Russian aggression effectively.”

Top of the agenda at the NATO summit would be the backing of Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has long sought advanced Western aircraft to combat Russia in the ongoing war.

In August last year, President Joe Biden gave the green light to transfer F-16s to Ukraine despite concerns about how long it would take Ukrainian personnel to train to fly the planes.

Source: Daily Post

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Exit from ECOWAS irreversible – Mali Govt

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Exit from ECOWAS irreversible – Mali Govt

Mali’s Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Diop has maintained that the exit of his country, Burkina Faso and Niger Republic, from the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, is irreversible despite reconciliatory efforts from the union.

DAILY POST recalls that the military juntas in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso broke away from regional grouping, ECOWAS, earlier this year and formed a confederation of their own on Saturday.

ECOWAS Heads of State assembled in Abuja a day later and appointed the presidents of Senegal and Togo as mediators of dialogue with the three Sahel states.

According to Diop, Mali is ready to cooperate with ECOWAS but it’s against the possible introduction of visas for nationals of the three countries travelling within the bloc.

“Our Heads of State were very clear in Niamey when they said the withdrawal of the three countries from ECOWAS is irrevocable and was done without delay, and from now on we must stop looking in the rear-view mirror,” Diop said.

Mali remains “open to working with our neighbours and other organisations with which we share this space,” he added.

“We will have to maintain discussions with others in order to move forward, but I believe that the path we have embarked upon is not reversible.”

Source: Daily Post

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Israeli attack hits Syria’s coastal port city

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Israeli attack hits Syria’s coastal port city

Two powerful explosions were heard near the outskirts of Baniyas in the coastal region of Syria after midnight on Tuesday, in what appeared to be a new Israeli attack.

The Syrian Ministry of Defence confirmed on Tuesday that the Israeli forces conducted an aerial attack from the direction of the Mediterranean Sea, west of Baniyas.

The Israeli forces targeted a site in the vicinity of the city.

The assault resulted in some material losses.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, reported that two explosions occurred in Baniyas.

While it is unclear if they were the result of an Israeli attack, the city of Baniyas is known to house an oil port.

 

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