Aid to Afghans on US Bases Pours In

Many who fled Afghanistan during the U.S. troop withdrawal are now located at U.S. military installations across the country as they wait for resettlement to host communities. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, donations and support for Afghans continue to pour in while aid organizations prepare to help them find housing and jobs. 

your ad here

Former Malawi Lawmaker Commits Suicide at Parliament

A former high-ranking lawmaker in Malawi committed suicide Thursday afternoon in the country’s parliament building.

Clement Chiwaya, 50, a former second deputy speaker, fatally shot himself in the head with a pistol while inside the National Assembly. Details about what led Chiwaya to kill himself remained sketchy.

The parliament said in a statement that the public would be informed at an appropriate time, as the Malawi Police Service was investigating the incident.

When in office, Chiwaya represented the opposition United Democratic Front.

According to the statement from parliament, Chiwaya recently was involved in a court case regarding his vehicle. The car was in an accident before the transfer of ownership was completed, and the insurance had expired.

Chiwaya sought help from the government’s Office of the Ombudsman, who made a determination in his favor, but Malawi’s High Court set the determination aside.


The parliament statement said guards have the proper equipment and protocols to ensure safety in the building. However, Chiwaya’s suicide raised concerns.

Former military officer Sheriff Kaisi, a security expert based in Blantyre, said, “To me, I would say that there is negligence on how security should be provided at high-risk places like parliament. This is a wake-up call in the management of security. There is no way you can manage security in that sense, when you have cameras and detectors.”

Chiwaya had used a wheelchair for a number of years. In its statement, the National Assembly said that while Chiwaya’s entrance had set off alerts when he passed through metal detectors Thursday, the alerts were deemed to be from the wheelchair, and therefore guards did not look for any firearms.

your ad here

UN Chief ‘Shocked’ as Ethiopia Expels 7 Aid Officials

The U.N. secretary-general expressed “shock” Thursday after the Ethiopian government announced the expulsion of seven senior U.N. humanitarian officials working in the country.   

“In Ethiopia, the U.N. is delivering lifesaving aid — including food, medicine, water, and sanitation supplies — to people in desperate need,” Antonio Guterres said in a statement. “I have full confidence in the U.N. staff who are in Ethiopia doing this work.”   

He said the organization is engaging with the Ethiopian authorities “in the expectation that the concerned U.N. staff will be allowed to continue their important work.”   

The seven officials have been given 72 hours to leave Ethiopia. They include the U.N.’s deputy humanitarian chief, the deputy humanitarian coordinator, and the U.N. Children’s Agency (UNICEF) representative.   

In a tweet, the ministry of foreign affairs said the seven were “meddling in the internal affairs of the country.” 

Conflict-induced hunger 

The Ethiopian federal government has been engaged in an armed conflict with rebels in the northern Tigray region for nearly one year. The government declared a unilateral cease-fire and withdrew its forces in June, but the conflict has continued to spill into the neighboring regions of Amhara and Afar. 

Of the 6 million people who live in Tigray, the U.N. says 5.2 million need some level of food assistance. Over 400,000 people are already living in famine-like conditions, and another 1.8 million people are on the brink of famine. 

On Wednesday, U.N. Humanitarian Chief Martin Griffiths said that after 11 months of conflict and three months of a de facto government blockade, the humanitarian crisis in Tigray is spiraling out of control. 

In an interview with The Associated Press, Griffiths said the humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia is a “stain on our conscience,” as civilians starve because aid workers are being blocked from getting enough supplies to them. 

One hundred aid trucks are needed daily in the region, but in the past week, only 79 in total were allowed in, a U.N. spokesman said. 

“Trucks carrying fuel and medical supplies still cannot enter into Tigray,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday. “Trucks are waiting in Semera, in Afar, to travel to Mekelle.” 

The federal government headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, blames the rebels for blocking the aid deliveries. 

White House condemnation

“The U.S. government condemns in the strongest possible terms the government of Ethiopia’s unprecedented action to expel the leadership of all of the United Nations organizations involved in ongoing humanitarian operations,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters on Thursday. 

Earlier this month, U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order allowing the government to impose financial sanctions on those who prolong the conflict. 

“We will not hesitate to use this or any other tool at our disposal to respond quickly and decisively to those who obstruct humanitarian assistance to people of Ethiopia,” Psaki said. 

Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this report.

your ad here

Nigerian Police Deny Killing Members of Banned Shiite Group

Nigerian police have denied killing any members of a banned Shiite Muslim group during a gathering this week in the capital, Abuja.

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria said police on Tuesday shot and killed eight of its members as they marked the religious ritual of Arbaeen. 

The Abuja police command denied the allegation in a statement Wednesday, saying operatives intervened during the Islamic Movement of Nigeria procession to prevent a breakdown of law and order.

The command said members of the IMN attacked security officers before officers shot tear gas into the air, arrested 57 of them, and seized petrol bombs and bags of stones. 

An Abuja command spokesperson couldn’t be reached for a comment, but national police spokesperson Frank Mba backed the command’s statement on the matter. 

Statement approved

“That statement is comprehensive enough, and it answers all questions. I am okay with that statement,” Mba said.

The IMN rejected claims by the police that its members attacked officers, however, and said it would file a lawsuit against authorities. 

Spokesperson Abdullahi Muhammed Musa said it was IMN members who were attacked at the group’s procession to mark the religious ritual.

‘We have videos’

He said at least eight people were shot, while dozens of people scampering to safety were injured.

“Armed police and soldiers come out and attack unarmed, innocent citizens that are carrying out their religious activities, which is their constitutional right, but they’re denying that they didn’t kill anybody,” Musa said. “We have videos, we have people around that you can come and investigate.”

Muhammad Rufai was at the procession Tuesday. He said he heard gunshots and saw bodies soon after.

“We saw these joint taskforce vehicles. I think they’re up to 20-something,” Rufai said. “They started shooting tear gas and bullets immediately, as at that time, I saw three persons that they shot down.” 

The Shiite minority Muslim group in Nigeria has long complained of discrimination and repression. 

IMN banned in 2019

Authorities banned the IMN in 2019 following violent clashes with security during protests to demand the release of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky. 

Zakzaky and his wife had been detained since 2015 after a clash in which the army killed an estimated 350 Shiites.

In July, a Nigerian court acquitted the IMN leader of all criminal charges, and Zakzaky and his wife were released from prison.

your ad here

Turkey Eyes Economic Bonanza in Nagorno-Karabakh

As Armenia and Azerbaijan mark the one-year anniversary of the start of their campaign in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Baku is vowing to rebuild the region, and Turkish companies see an economic bonanza. Dorian Jones in Istanbul reports.

your ad here

London Policeman Sentenced to Life for Sarah Everard Murder

A London Metropolitan Police officer has been sentenced to life in prison without parole after pleading guilty in July to the murder of Sarah Everard, whose disappearance and death in March sparked nationwide grief and outrage.

Wayne Couzens confessed to abducting Everard on the evening of March 3, 2021, during a 50-minute walk home from her friend’s house in south London. Prosecutors said he falsely accused her of violating COVID-19 restrictions to lure her into his car.  

Everard’s body was discovered a week later near Ashford in County Kent, about 90 kilometers southeast of London.  

Following Couzen’s sentencing Thursday, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told reporters she was “absolutely horrified” Couzens used his position as a police officer to deceive and coerce Everard into his vehicle. She said his actions were “a gross betrayal of everything policing stands for.” 


She said she knows for some, the bond of trust in the police has been damaged, but she pledged the police department’s dedication to the public remains undiminished.  

Sarah Everard’s disappearance caused a nationwide outcry in Britain, with thousands expressing grief and anger regarding the safety of women in London and elsewhere. Women also then began sharing experiences of being threatened or attacked – or simply facing the everyday fear of violence when walking alone.

The incident prompted British opposition Labour Party lawmaker Jess Phillips to pay tribute to the 118 women in Britain who have died at the hands of men over the last 12 months by reading their names aloud in Britain’s House of Commons.


Some information in this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

your ad here

Ethiopia Expels Seven UN Officials

Ethiopia is expelling seven high-level United Nations officials for allegedly interfering in the country’s internal affairs.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page Thursday the officials were informed they must leave the country “within the next 72 hours” for allegedly “meddling” with internal matters, without being specific.

The announcement came two days after a senior U.N. official reiterated that hundreds of thousands of people in Ethiopia’s embattled northern Tigray region were probably experiencing famine.

Among the seven who were ordered to leave Ethiopia are the heads of the United Nations Children’s Fund and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The remaining five are OCHA officials.

Armed conflict over Ethiopia’s Tigray region erupted in November 2020 among federal and allied regional forces and forces backed by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front.

U.N. aid chief Martin Griffiths said Tuesday that a nearly three-month-long blockade has limited aid shipments to 10% of what is needed in the region. 

Without evidence, Ethiopia has alleged that unnamed aid workers have supported Tigrayan forces.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement he was “shocked” by the expulsions and that the organization’s humanitarian operations “are guided by the core principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality, and independence.”

He said the U.N. “is now engaging” with the Ethiopian government “in the expectation that the concerned UN staff will be allowed to continue their important work.”

(VOA’s Margaret Besheer contributed to this story. Some information in this report comes from AFP, AP and Reuters.)

your ad here

Red Cross Prepares for Potential Afghan Refugee Exodus

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is appealing for $24 million to prepare for the potential outflow of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees into neighboring countries in the coming months.

The anticipated exodus of refugees following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in mid-August has not happened. Although internal displacement is rife, the U.N. refugee agency reports just over 30,000 people have fled across borders in search of international protection since January.

However, the International Red Cross Federation say it expects refugee numbers to surge as humanitarian and economic conditions in Afghanistan worsen.

Red Cross spokeswoman Nathalie Perroud told VOA Afghanistan is in the grips of multiple complex emergencies. She said millions of people are suffering from severe drought, food and water shortages, internal displacement, the COVID-19 pandemic, and a shattered economy. A major problem, she said is access to banking services.

“We have reports of people really queuing very, very long hours to just access cash flow. And the maximum that they can withdraw is $200 per week. So that means that people are really out of cash and that their basic needs may not be met in the immediate future,” said Perroud.

The Red Cross reports 18 million people lack basic services and urgently need humanitarian aid to survive. It warns Afghanistan’s looming harsh winter threatens greater misery and hardship.

Perroud said this grim situation is likely to send tens of thousands of Afghans fleeing into neighboring countries in the coming months. She said the Red Cross is making preparations to provide them with the protection and humanitarian assistance they need.

“So, the current situation in Afghanistan is quite alarming and that is why we are getting ready for even the worst scenario. The displacement or refugee situation may not happen, but we would rather be prepared now rather than wait for this massive population of movement to happen and not know how to deal with it,” said Perroud.

The Red Cross says it requires $24 million to provide aid and protection to about 160,000 Afghan refugees for an initial 12-month period. It says it will focus most of its efforts on Iran, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, but adds preparations could be extended to other countries of asylum in Central Asia.

your ad here

South Africa’s Coal Energy Sector Under Mounting Pressure

Coal provides more than 75% of South Africa’s energy supply, but in the wake of global warming, pressure is mounting for that to change. Protests were seen across the country last week and now a proposed Chinese-backed coal power plant may be scrapped.

It’s what keeps the lights on and industries running.

But South Africa’s coal energy sector is facing mounting pressure at home and abroad to end its use of coal for good.

Frustrated with regular blackouts and the effects of pollution, citizens of the mineral-rich country rallied last week, demanding cleaner, more reliable and affordable alternatives.

Urika Pais was among the protesters from Soweto.

“Electricity has always been a problem in our community. So, community members went forward and they fought for electricity. But when the electricity came, it came at a very high price. We know that solar power is a better solution and it will be cheaper,” said Pais.

South Africa is among the world’s top 15 largest emitters of carbon dioxide. Its reliance on coal stems from having vast quantities of the resource underground.

This week, though, South Africa’s government told the United Nations it is setting more ambitious climate targets.

While environmentalists welcomed the commitment, they say change to the energy sector is not happening fast enough.

Nicole Loser is an attorney with the Centre for Environmental Rights.

“We have to drastically reduce our emissions and reduce our reliance on coal by about 80% within the next 10 years, less than 10 years. We aren’t seeing those changes happening fast enough. We also know that we need to essentially double our renewable energy build our plants — that also is not happening,” said Loser.

As the rest of the world races to tackle climate change, analysts say pressure from business and foreign governments can force a faster green transition in South Africa.

Chris Yelland is an energy analyst with EE Business Intelligence.

“If we do not reduce our dependence on coal, we will be punished by our trading partners who will set up cross-border tariff. And ultimately, South Africa relies on trade with the rest of the world,” he said.

China announced last week that it would no longer fund foreign coal projects. That means a Chinese-backed coal project slated to power a new industrial complex in South Africa’s northern province of Limpopo may not materialize. 


Analysts like Chris Yelland say China’s decision will have long-term ramifications.

“China was seen to be perhaps the last outpost of finance that could be available for new coal. And there is nobody else to pick up this ball to finance this new coal-fired power. So, I think the days of new coal in South Africa are over,” he said.

The prospect of canceling coal is a major victory for protesters who want to see South Africa embrace renewables on a larger scale.


your ad here

Germany’s Political Parties Bargain to Determine Next Government

The wrangling over who will control Germany’s government has begun among the top four finishing parties following parliamentary elections.

The Social Democrats (SPD), led by Olaf Scholz, defeated outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) 25.8% to 24.1%, handing the conservative party its worst ever defeat.  

But since neither party won enough votes to control the Bundestag – the lower house of parliament – they must work with the third-place finishers, the Green party, which received 14.8% of the vote, and fourth place finishers, the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP), which received 11.5%.

The Greens and FDP agreed Tuesday to meet with each other first before discussions with the SPD or CDU. A photo was released to the media showing Green party candidate Annalena Baerbock with FDP leader Christian Lindner.

While the two parties have some common ground, they have traditionally belonged to rival ideological camps and have different approaches to issues including the economy and fighting climate change.

During media briefings with reporters Wednesday, both parties said they have scheduled meetings with the SPD and CDU, as well another meeting with each other.  

But traditionally, the Greens have leaned more toward the SPD’s left-center politics, and the FDP has been more aligned with the more conservative CDU, and their leadership indicated Wednesday that may not have changed.

When asked which coalition his party preferred, FDP General Secretary Volker Wissing said, “Our preference was based on content and since the parties’ content has not changed, the preference of course remains the same.”

At her own news conference, while stressing they were meeting with all parties, the Green party leader Baerbock, said that since SPD was the winner of the election, it was important to meet with them first.  

The Green and FDP leaders said they scheduled talks with the two first-place finishing parties for this Saturday and Sunday, followed by deliberations with their own party membership.

Some information for this report came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

your ad here

Kosovo, Serbia Reach Deal to End Border Tensions

Kosovo agreed on Thursday to withdraw police units from its northern border with Serbia to end a mounting dispute over vehicle license plates that briefly escalated into violence and prompted NATO to step up its patrols.

The accord negotiated in Brussels calms the latest flare-up in a decades-old standoff between Serbia and Kosovo but does not resolve a bigger issue blocking European Union membership talks: that Serbia and its former province Kosovo should normalize relations following Pristina’s 2008 independence.

“We have a deal,” said Miroslav Lajcek, the EU’s envoy dealing with one of Europe’s toughest territorial disputes. “After two days of intense negotiations, an agreement on de-escalation and the way forward has just been reached,” he said on Twitter, where he posted the details.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Gabriel Escobar was in Brussels to show support for E.U.-led talks, which he said showed the potential for more progress in the Balkans.

“I think we can make enormous strides in helping the Balkans get over a very difficult period during the ’90s and hopefully, eventually become more integrated with the European Union,” Escobar said on a briefing call with reporters.

However, Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic played down hopes of any broader breakthrough for now. Serbia does not recognize Kosovo’s independence.

“I think the agreement is fair for the citizens. I would like us to be able to find more lasting solutions. That would not include recognition of Kosovo,” Vucic told a news conference in Serbia, where he was hosting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.


Special stickers


Under the agreement, NATO troops will replace the Kosovar police units on the border, who will withdraw from Saturday. From Monday, both countries will place special stickers on car license plates to remove national symbols and allow the free movement of citizens.

NATO has had some 5,000 troops in Kosovo under a United Nations mandate since June 1999, overseeing a fragile peace following a U.S.-led bombing campaign to end ethnic conflict.

The new agreement ends a ban instigated by Kosovo for all drivers from Serbia to show a temporary, printed registration. Pristina said its move was in retaliation for measures in force in Serbia against drivers from Kosovo since 2008.

Lajcek said he was working on a longer-term solution.

The confrontation was a reminder to the wider world of the larger Kosovo-Serbia dispute that was the EU’s to resolve, diplomats said. One senior diplomat in Brussels said the latest flare-up was, in part, an attempt to get Brussels’s attention as the process towards EU membership has stalled.

Ahead of a Balkan-EU summit on Oct. 6 in Slovenia, Reuters reported on Tuesday that the 27 member states have so far been unable to agree a declaration reaffirming their 18-year-old pledge of future EU membership for the western Balkan states.

your ad here

Delayed Elections Are Underway in Ethiopia

Delayed elections are underway Thursday in four regions of Ethiopia.

Voters in three regions will decide who wins dozens of parliamentary seats in the last round of voting before Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed forms a new government on Oct. 4.

Voters in the fourth region will decide whether to establish their own regional state.

The parliamentary elections are being held in the Somali region, the eastern city of Harar, and in the southwestern Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR).

Voters in SNNPR are also deciding whether or not to form a regional state.

The elections were delayed by a variety of voter registration irregularities, legal disputes, and security issues.

Abiy is facing mounting global pressure over the war in the northern region of Tigray. Conflict erupted in November 2020 between federal and allied regional forces and forces backed by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front.

Ethiopia’s parliament consists of 547 seats, 47 of which are being contested. Abiy’s party previously won 410 of the 436 parliamentary seats that were contested in the June election. It is uncertain when elections for the remaining seats, some of which are in Tigray, will take place.

The TPLF regained control of Tigray in June after months of fighting. The United Nations has said parts of Tigray are experiencing famine because of the war.

(Information for this article comes from Reuters and AFP.)

your ad here

Senate Democrats Call on Biden to Support Resettlement of Eligible Afghans, Others

A dozen Democratic senators are pushing President Joe Biden to create two high-level posts to assist in evacuating eligible Afghans and others who remained in the country after the U.S. withdrew troops Aug. 31.

Senator Maria Cantwell, leader of the initiative, said her office had been contacted by at least 1,800 people. She said they included U.S. citizens, Special Immigrant Visa holders, journalists and contractors who worked at the now-shuttered U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

“We know that we still have many people in Afghanistan that are stuck there, and they need the U.S. continuing to help them and support them,” she said Wednesday, after introducing a letter signed by 11 colleagues, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, both of whom sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

The senators have asked Biden to establish those positions in the president’s office and in the State Department.

The United States evacuated 124,000 people from Afghanistan over two weeks in August in what administration officials described as the largest airlift in history.

This week, the State Department said that about 100 U.S. citizens were still waiting to leave Afghanistan but that their evacuation was challenged by the “unpredictability” of the hard-line Taliban government, which took over after the American withdrawal.

“Rescuing Americans is a floor, not a ceiling,” the senators wrote. “A focus on evacuating Americans to the exclusion of others we have promised to get out is unacceptable. Civilian lives are in danger, and the United States’ international reputation is at risk.”

Rabbi Will Berkovitz, who heads the Jewish Family Service of Seattle, joined Cantwell in making the plea.

“I think what we need is … a point person at the White House who sits on the National Security Council. That person needs to oversee this entire effort, because it just needs to be a high-level person of authority who can get things done,” he said via a Zoom call Wednesday afternoon.

VOA asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki about the criticism and requests presented in the letter.

“We agree that there’s more work to be done in Afghanistan, that it’s important and imperative that humanitarian assistance is able to reach the people of Afghanistan,” she said, adding that Biden raised this with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week, and that the U.S. government is working with the government of Qatar on humanitarian assistance flights.

“We do have a range of officials who are working on exactly this, from the State Department and from the White House,” she said. Psaki said that she didn’t know the specifics of the request but that the administration agrees “there’s more work to be done.”

“We have staff. We’re committed to doing exactly that,” she said.

Republican effort

Senate Republicans are pursuing the matter through legislation. On Monday, 22 Republican senators introduced the Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act, which seeks, among other things, to set up a State Department task force to focus on the evacuation of U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders still in Afghanistan.

“We continue to see the grave implications of the Biden Administration’s haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Senator Jim Risch said in a statement. “An unknown number of American citizens and Afghan partners remain abandoned in Afghanistan under threat from the Taliban, we face a renewed terror threat against the United States, and the Taliban wrongly seek recognition at the U.N., even as they suppress the rights of Afghan women and girls.”

Jacob Kurtzer, director and senior fellow with the Humanitarian Agenda initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the criticism and calls for a plan are valid.

“I think the need for a plan, a specific plan, reflects that this is not something that we can expect to resolve quickly,” he said. “For me, the necessity of a plan is that it’s an indication of the administration’s commitment into the future.”

The Democratic senators also urged the Biden administration to appoint officials who would hold the Taliban accountable on its previous commitments to protect human rights and allow freedom of movement, while also assisting the new Taliban government with humanitarian work and operating an international airport.

your ad here

Taliban, China Decry Afghan Airspace Violations by US

The Taliban and China called Wednesday for the United States to stop flying drones over Afghanistan’s airspace, saying such actions were in breach of Afghanistan’s sovereignty and a mutual agreement.

“We recently saw [the] United States violating all international rights, law and …commitments [made] to the Islamic Emirate [the Taliban] in Doha, Qatar, as Afghanistan’s sacred airspace is being invaded by U.S. drones,” the Taliban said in a statement.

The Islamist group referred to its February 2020 agreement with Washington that paved the way for U.S. and NATO troops to leave the country. The withdrawal process concluded last month, marking the end of nearly 20 years of international involvement in the Afghan war.

‘Negative consequences’

“We call on all countries, especially the United States, to treat Afghanistan in light of international rights, laws and commitments … in order to prevent any negative consequences,” the Taliban warned without elaborating.

There were no immediate comments from U.S. officials. The warning was apparently issued in response to recent comments by the Pentagon saying Washington retains “all necessary authorities to execute over-the-horizon counterterrorism operations” in Afghanistan.

“We remain confident in these capabilities moving forward,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters on Friday. “Without speaking to specific rules of engagement surrounding airstrikes, there is currently no requirement to clear airspace with the Taliban. And we do not expect that any future over-the-horizon counterterrorism strikes would hinge on such a clearance.”

China also voiced opposition Wednesday to the U.S. drone operations in Afghan airspace.

“The U.S. should earnestly respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a news conference in Beijing.

“More importantly, the U.S. should stop habitually imposing wanton military intervention and forcing its own will on others, and avoid repeating the tragedies of plunging people into misery and suffering,” she said.

The Taliban regained power in Kabul in August after U.S.-led NATO forces withdrew from Afghanistan, and the Western-backed government and its military collapsed in the face of increased attacks by the Islamist insurgent group.

Countering threats

Washington has said, however, that it will use its “over-the-horizon” capabilities to launch airstrikes from outside the country to counter terror threats from al-Qaida and the Afghan affiliate of Islamic State, known as Islamic State Khorasan Province or ISIS-K.

Last week, the Taliban rejected as “baseless propaganda” U.S. concerns that the two terrorist groups maintain a presence in the country, even as ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly bombings against Taliban fighters in the eastern Afghan provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar in the past week.

ISIS-K also took credit for an August 26 suicide bombing at the Kabul airport, when thousands of foreign citizens and vulnerable Afghans were trying to catch U.S.-run emergency evacuation flights out of the country. The attack killed more than 170 people, including 13 American service members.

your ad here

Rohingya Community Leader Shot Dead in Bangladesh Refugee Camp

Gunmen shot and killed a prominent Rohingya Muslim leader Wednesday in a refugee camp in southern Bangladesh, a U.N. spokesperson and a local police official said, following months of worsening violence in the world’s largest refugee settlement.

Mohib Ullah, who was in his late 40s, led one of the largest of several community groups to emerge since more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar after a military crackdown in August 2017.

Invited to the White House and to speak to the U.N. Human Rights Council, he was one of the most high-profile advocates for the Rohingya, a Muslim minority that has faced persecution for generations.

Rafiqul Islam, a deputy police superintendent in the nearby town of Cox’s Bazar, told Reuters by phone that Mohib Ullah had been shot dead but had no additional details.

A spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said the agency was “deeply saddened” by the killing of Mohib Ullah. “We are in continuous contact with law enforcement authorities in charge of maintaining peace and security in the camps,” the spokesperson said.

Documented atrocities

Mohib Ullah’s group, the Arakan Rohingya Society for Peace and Human Rights, made its name documenting atrocities the Rohingya suffered during the Myanmar crackdown, which the U.N. has said was carried out with genocidal intent.

At the Bangladesh refugee camps, Mohib Ullah went from hut to hut to build a tally of killings, rape and arson that was shared with international investigators.

His organization worked to give refugees more of a voice inside the camps and internationally. Speaking to the U.N. Human Rights Council, he said the Rohingya wanted more of a say over their own future.

But his high profile made him a target of hardliners and he received death threats, he told Reuters in 2019. “If I die, I’m fine. I will give my life,” he said at the time.

The sprawling camps in Bangladesh have become increasingly violent, residents say, with armed men vying for power, kidnapping critics and warning women against breaking conservative Islamic norms.

Aung Kyaw Moe, a Rohingya civil society activist and an adviser to Myanmar’s National Unity Government, the parallel civilian government established after February’s coup, said Mohib Ullah’s death was a “big loss for the Rohingya community.”

“He was always aware there is a threat, but he thinks that despite the threat if he is not doing the work he is doing, no one else would,” he said.

your ad here

IRC: 2.1 million Kenyans Face Hunger Due to Drought

The International Rescue Committee says more than two million Kenyans are facing hunger due to poor rainfall. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, declared a national disaster this month because of drought.

Thirty-six-year-old Suleiman Ahmed Osman lost 50% of his livestock to drought in the past six months. He says more are dying now due to worsening drought. 

“When we lost this number of animals there is no other source of income,” he said. “To source our daily meal because we used to get milk and meat, sometimes selling the animals to get other food, sugar and other things. Now that the animals are very emaciated, nobody can buy them, no milk because the drought has affected them to the extent that no milk can come from the animal.” 


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) says Kenya received insufficient rainfall during the October to December 2020 and March to May 2021 rainy seasons, leading to the current drought situation. 


The IFRC report said that arid and semi-arid areas received less than 50% of the average rainfall in June. The three counties in northeastern Kenya received less than 25% of average rainfall. 


Abdullahi Musa has been buying animal feed and water for four months now for his more than 100 cattle in Garissa, along the Kenya and Somalia border. 

“There are two sets of livestock herders,” he said. “There are those who the drought in Kenya has affected them there are those who crossed to Somalia to get pasture but came back due to lack of water. I am among the people who are not so affected. I have lost some animals but most of them are alive. But 90% of animal herders have lost their livestock. They got nothing.” 


The International Rescue Committee says 2.1 million people in Kenya are now food insecure. 

The head of the organization in Kenya, Mohamed El Montassir Hussein, says he is concerned about the growing humanitarian situation in some 20 out of 47 counties.

“Our concern overall is the protracted drought situation and protracted aspect of drought in Kenya that’s been over the years coming again and again and also concern is extended to the growing humanitarian needs as people move out of their homes searching for places closer to water sources,” he said.

The IRC says climate change is the main driver of the region’s recurring drought and locust outbreaks. 


Kenya’s National Drought Management Authority predicts the food insecurity situation will persist until the end of the year. 


The drought management authority says people’s fortunes may change if the affected areas get rain in the next three months.




your ad here

British Government to Use Army to Help Ease Fuel Trucker Shortage

Britain’s business minister said Wednesday the army would begin driving fuel tankers in response to shortages at gas stations around the nation brought on by a dearth of truck drivers.

For about a week now, a shortage of around 100,000 truck drivers in Britain has made it difficult for oil companies to get gasoline from refineries to fueling stations. The British Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) reported Wednesday that more than a third of the nation’s 8,500 gas stations remain without fuel.

The situation has left long lines of motorists trying to buy fuel at stations that did have gasoline.

Business Minister Kwasi Kwarteng told reporters they could expect to see soldiers driving tanker trucks to help get gasoline to the stations in a few days. He added that he felt the situation was stabilizing, noting that the inflow of gasoline matched sales on Tuesday. 

The situation had been exacerbated by panic buying among some motorists, but Kwarteng said people were “behaving quite responsibly” over the last day or so, and he encouraged them to continue buying fuel as they normally would.

The British business minister said Britain was not alone in facing a truck driver shortage. He said Poland is facing a shortage of about 123,000 drivers, and the United States is facing a similar situation. 

In a release on their website, the PRA reported “early signs that the crisis at pumps is ending,” with more of the association’s members reporting they are now receiving deliveries of fuel. 

They expect the percentage of stations without fuel is likely to improve further over the next 24 hours.

The driver shortage, however, is raising fears in Britain’s retail sector that if it continues much longer, it could create problems for the holiday season.

Some information for this report was provided by The Associated Press and Reuters. 

your ad here

First Female Prime Minister Appointed in Tunisia

Tunisian President Kais Saied surprised many Wednesday with his appointment of Najla Bouden Romdhane, a 63-year-old professor at a prestigious engineering school, as the country’s first female prime minister.

The geologist was named prime minister after the office was vacated July 25 when Saied froze parliament and seized executive powers, leaving the country in limbo.

Saied’s office issued a statement ordering Bouden to fill Cabinet positions as soon as possible.

The president’s moves sidelined the Islamist Party that dominated the legislature, prompting critics to denounce his actions as a coup that jeopardizes the country’s young democracy and could threaten democratic gains made after the Tunisia Revolution that helped spark the Arab Spring in the early 2010s.

The Arab Spring was a sequence of armed, anti-government rebellions and other forms of unrest that swept across much of the Arab world in response to corruption and economic woes.

Last week, Saied suspended most of the constitution, contending he could govern by decree during an indefinite “exceptional” period. 

In an online video, he said Bouden’s appointment honored Tunisian women and that the transitional government should address corruption and respond to citizen demands of all sorts, including those pertaining to health, education and transportation.

Bouden may have less power than her predecessors had under the 2014 constitution.  Saied said last week when announcing the emergency period that the transitional government would be accountable to the president.

The Associated Press and Reuters provided some information for this report.

your ad here

Russia Threatens YouTube Block After RT TV’s German Channels Are Deleted

Russia threatened Wednesday to block Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube after Russian state-backed broadcaster RT’s German-language channels were deleted, and said it was considering retaliating against German media.

YouTube said on Tuesday that RT’s channels had breached its COVID-19 misinformation policy, a move Russia’s Foreign Ministry described as “unprecedented information aggression.”

Russian state communications regulator Roskomnadzor said it had written to Google and demanded the restrictions be lifted. It said Russia could seek to partially or fully restrict access to YouTube if it failed to comply.

Google declined to comment Wednesday.

The Kremlin said it may have to force YouTube to comply with Russian law, saying there could be zero tolerance for breaches.

“Of course there are signs that the laws of the Russian Federation have been broken, broken quite blatantly, because of course this involves censorship and obstructing the spread of information by the media,” Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The foreign ministry said Russian authorities had been approached with “a proposal to develop and take retaliatory measures against the YouTube hosting service and the German media.”

Christian Mihr, executive director at Reporters Without Borders (RSF) Germany, said the threat of action against German journalists was “completely inappropriate.”

Moscow has increased pressure on foreign tech firms in the past year, fining social media companies for failing to delete content Russia deems illegal and punitively slowing down the speed of Twitter.

That pressure led Google and Apple to remove an anti-government tactical voting app from their stores on the first day of a parliamentary election earlier this month, Kremlin critics said.

Berlin denied an allegation by the Russian foreign ministry that YouTube’s decision had been made with clear and tacit support from the German authorities and local media.

“It is a decision by YouTube, based on rules created by YouTube. It is not a measure [taken by] the German government or other official organizations,” German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert told reporters.

your ad here

Schools in Nigeria’s Kaduna State Record Low Attendance Over Fear of Bandits

Nigerian authorities have reopened schools in northern Kaduna state after closing them for two months due to insecurity. The region has suffered a string of armed kidnappings and the U.N. Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says about one million Nigerian children are “afraid to return to school.” Timothy Obiezu reports from Kaduna, Nigeria.

Camera: Emeka Gibson

your ad here

India’s Elite Military Academy to Open Doors to Women

For the first time, women in India are eligible to apply to the country’s elite military college after a historic Supreme Court ruling paved the way for them to aspire to the top ranks of the world’s second largest military and marking a key step in gender equality.

“Keeping in view gender equality, it is a good first step and something that had to happen given the fact that women are seeking more roles in the army all over the world,” former Lt. General H.S. Panag told VOA.

The battle for the rigorous four-year program in the National Defense Academy has not been easy — so far women enter the military through a shorter 11-month training course that excludes them from higher positions and mostly limits their career to 14 years. 

The Supreme Court cleared the decks this month for women to sit for entrance exams to be held in November. Its ruling came after a public interest petition argued that barring women from the premier military college violated the constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.

Although qualifying through the military academy will put women on par with male officers, combat roles for them in the army will still be restricted.

Women form a miniscule part of India’s 1.3 million strong military with the army having the smallest percentage — a little over half a percent. The air force has 1.8% and the navy 6.5%.

During the hearing, judges had criticized the government for a “regressive mindset” after it cited numerous reasons to limit women’s role in the army including “motherhood, childcare, and psychological limitations.”

The court has been particularly critical of the army for being slower to induct women.

Last year, it had also cleared the way for them to hold non-combat command positions dismissing the government’s argument that “lower physical standards of women, composition of units that are entirely male mostly from rural background” play a role in deciding appointments of commanding officers.

“Policy makers were resisting women’s entry into military colleges because of a patriarchal mindset, that is why this has happened only after the court’s intervention,” said Akanksha Khullar, a researcher with the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi. “From my numerous interactions with women who joined the armed forces, the men who are under a woman leader do not question the gender, they simply follow instructions.”

The move toward gender parity in the armed forces could still take time. Although the Air Force has three women fighter pilots and the navy deployed four women on warships for the first time this March, allowing women into combat units in the army is not on the horizon. Women have worked in the armed forces mostly as doctors, nurses, engineers, administrators and lawyers.

“Certainly, the physical fitness standards of women cannot be at par with that of men, and this is not a problem where non-combat units are concerned,” points out Panag. “In the United States also for combat roles they have to be on par with physical fitness level of men and I agree with this. They should not be allowed into combat units unless they meet those standards. However, those women who do qualify should be allowed.”

Only a handful of countries, including Australia, Germany, Israel and the United States, allow women to take on combat roles.

“That is too major a leap considering that our government has taken so long to even open the military college to women,” Khullar said.

Some women who have served in the army say conquering the final frontier of combat roles will have to be a gradual process.

Sajita Nair, who joined the army in 1994, a year after it first began recruiting women, is happy that after three decades of serving in the armed forces, women will finally get their due. “This opens the way for them to get into senior positions,” she told VOA. “We have some way to go but we are nearly there. We need to go step by step.”

Nair said qualifying through the military college will give women the chance to build a full career instead of exiting in their thirties, as many have had to do in the past because the “short service commission through which they are inducted has a 14-year cap.

The entry of women will spell a change for the all-male academy located in western India.

It remains to be seen how many aspirants apply and make the cut. But women like Nair are optimistic.

“Overall, it will help the nation,” she said. “We have such able women and they should be given the opportunity, and then of course, it is up to them to prove themselves.”

your ad here

Top US Military Officials Set for More Afghanistan Testimony

A day after giving their assessments of the end of the war in Afghanistan and future terror threats that may emanate from the country, the top U.S. military officials return Wednesday to Capitol Hill to testify before another congressional panel about the conclusion of the two-decade mission. 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, and General Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, are all due to appear before the House Armed Services Committee. 

At a Tuesday hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, lawmakers both praised the decision to end the country’s longest war and condemned its final days as a debacle.

Austin defended the evacuation, saying that while not perfect it went as smoothly as possible and that no other military could have done better. 

“It was the largest airlift conducted in U.S. history, and it was executed in just 17 days,” he told committee members. ”We planned to evacuate between 70,000 and 80,000 people. They evacuated more than 124,000.” 

“It was a logistical success but a strategic failure,” Milley, the nation’s top-ranking military officer, told lawmakers of America’s final days in Kabul, which saw the evacuation of 124,000 people, including about 6,000 Americans. 

Milley said the final outcome, with the Taliban in control of Afghanistan, “is a cumulative effect of 20 years, not 20 days.” 

He also warned of the potential threat from terror groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State Khorasan Province, also known as IS Khorasan or ISIS-K. IS Khorasan is an Afghanistan-based affiliate of the Islamic State extremist group. 

McKenzie cited the 2020 Doha agreement, which set a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, saying it “had a profound psychological effect” on Afghan forces and may have hastened their collapse. 

“The Taliban were heartened by what they saw happen at Doha and what followed and our eventual decision to get out by a certain date,” McKenzie said. “I think the Afghans were very weakened by that morally and spiritually.” 

your ad here

UN Aid Chief to Ethiopia on Famine in Tigray: ‘Get Those Trucks Moving’

United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths said on Tuesday he assumes famine has taken hold in Ethiopia’s Tigray where a nearly three-month long “de-facto blockade” has restricted aid deliveries to 10% of what is needed in the war-torn region. 

Griffiths told Reuters during an interview that his request was simple: “Get those trucks moving.” 

“This is man-made, this can be remedied by the act of government,” he said. 

War broke out 10 months ago between Ethiopia’s federal troops and forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls Tigray. Thousands have died and more than two million people have been forced to flee their homes. 

“We predicted that there were 400,000 people in famine-like conditions, at risk of famine, and the supposition was that if no aid got to them adequately, they would slip into famine,” said Griffiths, referring to a U.N. assessment in June. 

“I have to assume that something like that is happening,” he said, adding that it was difficult to know exactly what the situation was on the ground in Tigray because of a de-facto aid blockade and lack of fuel, cash and trucks. 

Ethiopia’s U.N. mission in New York said that “any claim on the existence of blockade is baseless.” It said aid groups “faced shortage in trucks as a result of the non-return of almost all trucks that travelled to Tigray to deliver aid.” 

Truck drivers carrying aid into Tigray have been shot at least twice and some Tigrayan drivers have been arrested in the neighboring region of Afar, although they were later released, according to U.N. reports. 


Griffiths said a lot of trucks go into Tigray and don’t come back, compounding the humanitarian problems. He said no fuel trucks had gone into Tigray since late July. 

“First of all, they probably don’t have fuel to come out,” he said. “And secondly, they may not wish to, so the consequences for humanitarian operations — whatever the cause — is problematic.” 

The United Nations in Ethiopia said on September 16 that only 38 out of 466 trucks that entered Tigray since July 12 had returned. On Tuesday, World Food Program in Ethiopia posted on Twitter that 61 commercial trucks had left Tigray in recent days and they expected more to depart in coming weeks.

“We’ll continue to work with transporters to overcome any logistical issue to ensure trucks are on the road, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid,” WFP Ethiopia said. 

In Tigray, the United Nations says 5.2 million people, or 90% of the population, need help. 

According to the United Nations, screening of children under age 5 during the first half of September revealed that 22.7% of are malnourished and more than 70% of some 11,000 pregnant or breastfeeding women are acutely malnourished. 

“As a comparison this is about the same levels of malnutrition that we saw in 2011 in Somalia at the onset of the Somali famine,” Griffiths said. 

Griffiths said 100 trucks a day of aid needed to get to Tigray, but only 10% had gained access in the past three months. 

“We need the Ethiopian government to do what they promised to do which is to facilitate access,” said Griffiths, who met with Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen last week during the annual U.N. gathering of world leaders in New York. 

Mekonnen assured him that access is improving, but Griffiths said, “it needs to improve a great deal more.” 

your ad here

Massive North Sea Wind Farm Could Power Denmark, Neighbors

Weeks before a high-profile climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Danish officials are talking up an ambitious program to develop the world’s largest offshore wind energy complex, with the potential to provide enough green energy to power not just Denmark, but some of its neighbors as well. 

The complex, to sit on and around an artificial North Sea island about 80 km off Denmark’s coast, would span an area up to the size of 64 soccer fields and support thermal storage facilities, HVDC converters, a heliport, and a research and visitor center.

Energy Island Envisioned by Denmark

“You can have hundreds of wind turbines around this island,” said Dan Jorgensen, Denmark’s climate and energy minister, during a visit to Washington this month. His government calculates that the energy island could yield up to 10 gigawatts of electricity — enough for 10 million households. 

“Since we’re only 5.8 million people in Denmark, that’s far more electricity than we’ll need for ourselves, so we want to find other countries to be part of this,” Jorgensen said, adding that Denmark is in talks with other European countries. 

The 10-gigawatt estimate is at the high end of what might finally be built. Current planning allows for a range of from three to 10 gigawatts, according to Jorgensen. But even at the low end, the energy island would dwarf the largest existing offshore wind farm — Britain’s Walney Extension Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea that has a capacity to generate 0.66 gigawatts and provide power to 600,000 homes. 

The world’s largest wind farm of any kind is a 10-gigawatt complex completed this summer and based in the northwestern Gansu province of China. The next largest of any kind is a 1.6-gigawatt wind farm in Jaisalmer, India. 

“It’s the biggest infrastructure investment in the history of my country, but we foresee it will be a good business model,” Jorgensen told VOA. 

“There will be some initial costs there, but we’re willing to bear them because this will also mean that we will get the project itself, but also the development know-how, the skills, and the expertise that we want.” 

The project is remarkable not just for its size but also for its innovative approach to some of the most difficult obstacles to weaning the world off fossil fuels. These include finding an effective way to store energy generated from wind turbines, and a way to transform the electricity into fuels to power transportation systems. 

Denmark’s plan is to transform the electricity into hydrogen, which can be used directly as an energy source or turned into fuels for use “in ships, planes and trucks,” as Jorgensen put it. 

“This sounds a bit like science fiction, but actually it’s just science; we know how to do it,” he said. 

While talks between the Danish government, industry, scientists and potential investors are still in the early stage, one decision has already been made, Jorgensen said. 

“We want at least 50.1% of the island to be publicly owned,” he said, calling the island “critical infrastructure because it’ll be such a huge part of our energy supply.” He added that the actual wind turbines will be owned by investors. 

“So far we have seen interest from Danish companies and investment funds; we’ve also seen interest from the governments of several European countries. We expect, of course, this will also mean interest from companies from other countries, definitely European, but probably also others.” 

Jacob F. Kirkegaard, a Danish economist based in Brussels, says the ambitious plan is plausible in light of Denmark’s track record in developing green energy. 

“There are already many days in which Denmark gets all its electrical power from wind energy, so rapid electrification is coming as are further rapid expansions of offshore wind farms,” he told VOA in an exchange of emails. 

He said he has “no doubt” that Denmark will achieve full decarbonization by 2050, “probably even considerably before” that date, thanks to broad public support, especially from the young. 

According to the Danish embassy in Washington, more than 50% of Denmark’s electrical grid is already powered by wind and solar energy, and the government projects that renewables will meet 100% of the nation’s electricity needs by 2028. 

your ad here

Top General Calls Afghanistan Evacuation, Withdrawal a ‘Strategic Failure’

America’s top military officer has described the Afghanistan evacuation as “a logistical success but a strategic failure.” General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at a contentious Senate hearing on the U.S. military’s withdrawal and evacuation from Afghanistan. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the details.

Produced by: Mary Cieslak

your ad here

Pakistani University Manufactures Stents for Heart Patients

According to the Pakistani government, over 45,000 angioplasty operations are conducted in Pakistan each year; an operation in which a small mesh tube is inserted into a blocked artery to allow blood to flow through it. Up until recently Pakistan had to import these medical devices, but now they’re being manufactured in country. VOA’s Asim Ali Rana files this report narrated by Bezhan Hamdard.

Camera: Wajid Hussain Shah  Produced by: Asim Ali Rana 


your ad here