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  • Italy needs EU help to handle tide of refugees, U.N. says

  • An estimated 6,000 people, many of them Syrians and Eritreans, have been rescued by Italy's navy in four days and thousands more asylum seekers keen to reach Europe have gathered in Libya, the U.N. refugee agency on Friday. The UNHCR urged the European Union to help Italy provide more reception facilities and find "durable solutions" for asylum seekers fleeing war and persecution. UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the Italian navy had rescued the migrants from more than 40 overcrowded boats in the Mediterranean off the shores of Sicily and Calabria.
  • Khartoum suspends UN refugee aid programme in east Sudan

  • A man stands outside a tent in Shegerab refugee camp in Kassala State, eastern Sudan on Feburary 18, 2010Sudan has suspended a United Nations programme which gives job training and other assistance to thousands of refugees and local residents in poverty-stricken east Sudan, the UN said on Wednesday. The state-linked Sudanese Media Centre said the Transitional Solutions Initiative (TSI) is on hold while both sides review the project "so it can attain its goals." The programme's beneficiaries are among 6.1 million people -- 18 percent of the population -- needing humanitarian assistance in Sudan. TSI aims to help the tens of thousands of refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia, some of whom have been in eastern Sudan for decades.



  • Italy rescues 600 Syrian, Palestinian, Eritrean boat migrants

  • A handout photo released by the Italian Navy on March 18, 2014 and taken on March 17 shows migrants standing on a boat during a rescue operation near LampedusaThe Italian navy said on Tuesday it had rescued nearly 600 Syrian, Palestinian and Eritrean migrants crossing the Mediterranean in two overcrowded boats, including 62 minors. The Italian frigate Grecale pulled 323 Syrians and Palestinians to safety late on Monday, after helping rescue another 273 migrants from Eritrea, who were taken aboard the gunboat Sfinge, the navy said in a statement. The migrants, including 103 women, were spotted by a plane patrolling the seas off Italy as part of an operation launched after two October shipwrecks in which hundreds drowned. Italy began its operation "Mare Nostrum" -- ("Our Sea") a Latin reference to the Mediterranean -- after more than 400 migrants from Eritrea and Syria perished in twin tragedies off Italian shores in October 2013.



  • Fears S.Sudan conflict could infect region

  • South Sudanese security forces stand next to weapons intercepted from a UN peacekeeping mission in Rumbek on March 8, 2014As ongoing fighting in South Sudan shatters any pretence of a ceasefire between government troops and rebels, analysts fear the conflict could engulf the region, as former foes fight old wars in a new country. There are tensions between South Sudan's northern neighbour and old enemy Sudan and its new ally Uganda, while chief mediator Ethiopia is likely alarmed by allegations that its arch-enemy Eritrea is funnelling weapons from ally Khartoum to South Sudan's rebels. One Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the worst case-scenario currently being discussed is that "you've got Uganda fighting Sudan inside South Sudan, with Eritrea fighting Ethiopia inside South Sudan and a complete law and order vacuum." "As far as the regionalisation of the conflict goes, the question is not if, but when", said Casie Copeland, South Sudan analyst for the Brussels-based International Crisis Group think tank.



  • 'Iran weapons ship' arrives in Israel

  • The Panamanian-flagged Klos-C is escorted into the southern Israeli port of Eilat by Israeli warships (unseen) on March 8, 2014 after it was intercepted by the Israeli navy with the military saying it was carrying advanced rockets from Iran to GazaEilat (Israel) (AFP) - A ship allegedly carrying advanced rockets from Iran to Gaza that was intercepted by the Israeli navy was escorted into the Red Sea port of Eilat on Saturday. Israeli naval commandos seized the vessel on Wednesday in the Red Sea between Eritrea and Sudan, with the military saying it was carrying an Iranian shipment of M-302 rockets destined for the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Israeli radio said that ambassadors and military attaches posted to Israel as well as "prominent Israeli figures" would be invited to view the weapons seized by the army. This, the radio said, "will prove to the world that Iran is providing weapons to terrorists active in the Gaza Strip".



  • Israel hails seizure on high seas of 'Iran arms ship'

  • A handout picture released by the Israeli Army shows a missile on an intercepted ship in the Red Sea on March 5, 2014 carrying what Israeli military says was Iranian "advanced weaponry" bound for Palestinian militants in GazaIsraelis Thursday hailed the capture of an alleged Gaza-bound arms ship as a major coup in the fight to unmask Iran but thought it unlikely to scupper ongoing nuclear talks. The pre-dawn raid, which targeted a Panamanian-flagged ship in the Red Sea between Eritrea and Sudan, dominated the front pages of Israel's main newspapers on Thursday. The vessel set sail 10 days ago, allegedly carrying Syrian-made missiles "capable of striking anywhere in Israel" which were transported overland to Iran then sent on by sea, the military said. Pundits were quick to point out the raid coincided with a high-profile US trip by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to raise a red flag over talks between the P5+1 group of world powers and Iran.



  • Seized 'Iran weapons ship' to be brought to Israel Saturday

  • Israel'’s Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz (L) flanked by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon gives a press conference at the Defence Ministery in Tel Aviv, on March 5, 2014A ship Israel said was carrying advanced rockets bound for Gaza from Iran will be brought into port Saturday after being intercepted by Israeli naval forces, the military said. Israel intercepted the "Klos-C" in the Red Sea between Eritrea and Sudan on Wednesday, claiming that Syrian-made weapons aboard had been shipped overland to Iran and then onward by sea, intended for Palestinian militants in Gaza. Israel latched onto the alleged weapons shipment to chide Western powers for negotiating with Tehran over its nuclear programme. Israel has long accused Iran and Syria of providing military aid to Hezbollah and to Palestinian militant groups, and the military spokesman's office tweeted that the ship was carrying weapons "capable of striking anywhere in Israel".



  • U.N. extends partial easing of Somalia arms embargo to October

  • By Louis Charbonneau UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday extended a partial suspension of the decades-old arms embargo on Somalia for eight months while highlighting concerns about the possible diversion of weapons to al Qaeda-linked militants. A resolution unanimously adopted by the council has its members "condemning flows of weapons and ammunition supplies to and through Somalia in violation of the arms embargo on Somalia, as well as the destabilizing accumulation of such weapons, as a serious threat to peace and stability in the region." A year ago, the 15-nation Security Council agreed to partially lift the arms embargo on Somalia, allowing the government in Mogadishu to buy light weapons to strengthen its security forces to fight the Islamist group al Shabaab and other militants. Instead of extending that partial easing for a year, or scrapping the embargo entirely as the Somalia government would have liked, the council resolution renews it only until October 25, which is when U.N. experts who monitor the embargo and other sanctions on Somalia and Eritrea are due to report back.
  • Young Africans upset record-seeking Ahly

  • Emmanuel Okwi celebrates after scoring during a Council for Uganda in an East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) Cup match against Eritrea in Nairobi, on December 2, 2013Johannesburg (AFP) - Al-Ahly made a poor start in pursuit of a record third consecutive CAF Champions League title when they slumped 1-0 at Young Africans this weekend.



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