#Kabul, #KabulAttack, #KabulSikhGurudwaraAttack, #GurudwaraAttack, #Afghanistan,
Kabul (Afghanistan), Mar 25 (Canadian-Media): A crowded Sikh temple and housing complex in Kabul experienced terror attack by militants -- believed to be Islamic State extremists -- on Wednesday, killing at least 25 people in a six-hour siege amidst Afghanistan's struggle with the global coronavirus contagion, media reports said.
Terror attack on a Kabul Sikh Gurudwara. Image credit: wikipedia
At least 150 people were present inside the gurudwara when the attack took place and most of them were rescued by security forces later.
According to the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors militant media sites, Islamic State loyalists claimed responsibility for the attack.
People of the minor Sikh community had experienced widespread discrimination Islamic extremists in the country.
Over the years, a large number of Sikhs and Hindus of Afghanistan have sought asylum in India.
The attack was condemned by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), who tweeted, "UNAMA outraged by today’s attack on worshippers at Sikh-Hindu temple in Kabul. There can be no justification for the killing of civilians at a religious house. Our condolences to the victims and their families. #Afghanistan."
#UN, #BattleAgainstCOVID19; #Peace&Security
New York, Mar 23 (Canadian-Media): In an appeal issued on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres urged warring parties across the world to lay down their weapons in support of the bigger battle against COVID-19: the common enemy that is now threatening all of humankind, UN reported.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres appeals for a global ceasefire in a virtual press conference broadcast on UN Web TV. Image credit: UN News/Daniel Dickinson
“The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war”, he said. “That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world. It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.”
The ceasefire would allow humanitarians to reach populations that are most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19, which first emerged in Wuhan, China, last December, and has now been reported in more than 180 countries.
So far, there are nearly 300,000 cases worldwide, and more than 12,700 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
As the UN chief pointed out, COVID-19 does not care about nationality or ethnicity, or other differences between people, and “attacks all, relentlessly”, including during wartime.
It is the most vulnerable - women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized, displaced and refugees - who pay the highest price during conflict and who are most at risk of suffering “devastating losses” from the disease.
Furthermore, health systems in war-ravaged countries have often reached the point of total collapse, while the few health workers who remain are also seen as targets.
The UN chief called on warring parties to pull back from hostilities, put aside mistrust and animosity, and “silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes”.
This is crucial, he said, “to help create corridors for life-saving aid. To open precious windows for diplomacy. To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.”
While inspired by new rapprochement and dialogue between combatants to enable joint approaches to push back the disease, the Secretary-General said more still needs to be done.
“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world”, he appealed. “It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now. That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.”
#Minnesota; #PakistaniDoctorArrested; #FBI; #JointTerrorismTaskForce; #ISIS
Minnesota (United States), Mar 20 (Canadian-Media): Arrest of a Pakistani doctor, Muhammad Masood, 28, at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) was made for allegedly trying to help terror group ISIS by his desire to conduct “lone wolf” terrorist attacks in the United States, media reports said.
Masood made his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge David T. Schultz in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota and was ordered to remain in custody pending a formal detention hearing on March 24, according to a statement issued by the US Department of Justice.
Masood, a licensed medical doctor in Pakistan, was formerly employed as a Research Coordinator for a medical clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, under an H-1B Visa.
Several attempts had been made by him between January 2020 and March 2020, including pledging his allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) and its leader, and expressing his desire to travel to Syria to fight for ISIS.
On Feb. 21 Masood flew from Chicago, Illinois to Amman, Jordan, and from there planned to travel to Syria but he had to change his travel plans on March 16 because Jordan's borders were closed to incoming travel due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Masood traveled from Rochester to MSP on March 19, 2020 to board a flight for Los Angeles, California but as he checked in for his flight was arrested by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
#SouthSudan;#ResettlementProject; #UNMISS; #Women
New York Mar 19 (Canadian-Media): Women who had been displaced by fighting in South Sudan are sowing seeds of peace, with support from the UN mission in the country, UNMISS, UN reports said.
Ox ploughs have been delivered to women's groups in Rumbek North to enable the cultivation of larger areas. Image credit: UNMISS
They have been given ox ploughs to work the land, as part of a campaign to resettle returnees in the Rumbek North area who were uprooted during intercommunal clashes last year.
“We realized that household food security is one of the key factors for return and reintegration to be sustainable,” said Caroline Opok, a representative of the peacekeeping mission.
Rumbek North has been greatly affected by conflict, displacement and food insecurity.
Due to persistent intercommunal violence, including cattle raids, revenge attacks and armed ambushes, many people in the region have been reduced to relying on relief aid.
Tired of depending on external assistance, and with oxen aplenty available, residents figured that having ploughs could improve their situation.
“The challenge they reported was a lack of implements to increase their food production. That’s how the ox plough idea was born,” said Samuel Owoko, a representative of Sans Frontieres Germany, the organization implementing the project.
The tools were handed to women’s groups, as local tradition dictates that girls and women are the ones responsible for feeding their families.
They will be put to good use, according to Mary Agor, a local women’s leader.
“We have been using hand hoes, and with that you can only do so much. With these ox ploughs coming in, we shall cultivate bigger areas which will help us sustain our families throughout the long dry spell. We shall also have some surplus produce to sell at the market in Rumbek and thus make some money”, she said.
All that is required now is for their men to bring back the bulls to draw the ploughs.
Most of the time, male villagers bring their cattle and run into the wilderness as a way of fending off possible raids from neighbouring communities. Now, their women want them back home and working.
“We are telling men that food security is the responsibility of the entire household, not just women”, said Ms. Opok, the UNMISS representative. “We are encouraging men to bring out the bulls and put in the energy to work together with their women to expand the areas of cultivation”.
Ms. Agor, the women’s group leader, also had a message for the national authorities: “We want our Government to make sure that there is enough security so that we can bring in our bulls and cultivate. Without peace, that will not be possible. Right now, the roads are full of armed youth. They should go away so that our men can safely return with their cattle”.
#Sudan; #SudanPMHamdok; #AttemptedAssasination; #Survives; #UNAMID; #UNMission
Sudan, Mar 09 (Canadian-Media): Sudan’s Prime Minister survived a reported assassination attempt in the capital Khartoum on Monday, tweeting after the incident that he was “safe and in good shape”.
Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Republic of the Sudan, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s 74th session. Image credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak
Briefing reporters, the UN’s Spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, said UN chief António Guterres was “shocked and saddened” to learn of the attack, and expressed "full solidarity" with the Prime Minister and people of Sudan.
The joint UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) also released a statement expressing “deep regret” at the attempted assassination.
UNAMID’s Joint Special Representative, Jeremiah Mamabolo, said “we are both deeply shocked and saddened by this serious incident. It is indicative that the perpetrator(s) of such a heinous act aims to derail the transitional period. The hopes of the Sudanese people for a transition to peace, freedom and justice must prevail.”
Mr. Hamdok was appointed to lead Sudan’s transitional Government last August, after its longterm ruler, Omar al-Bashir, was deposed by the military in response to months of popular protest against his rule.
So far nobody has claimed responsibility for the assault on the Prime Minister’s convoy, which the country’s information minister is reportedly describing as a “terrorist attack”. The political transition has led to many former key figures in politics and the military, losing influence and authority.
'Full support' from UN Mission
“UNAMID and its leadership reiterate their full support to Prime Minister Hamdok in his endeavors to see Sudan through a successful transition in a manner that achieves the hopes and aspirations of the Sudanese people for a peaceful, stable and prosperous future”, said Mr. Mamabolo.
Nobody was reported to have been hurt in Monday’s attack, which reportedly took place near the northeastern entrance to a bridge which collects the north of the city to the Prime Minister office in central Khartoum.
Mr. Hamdock said on Twitter: “Rest assured that what happened today will not stand in the way of our transition; instead it is an additional push to the wheel of change in Sudan.”
#Yemen; #FreezeMilitaryActivities; #deEscalationInFighting; #SaudiArabia
Yemen, Mar 08 (Canadian-Media): In a visit to northern Yemen on Saturday, UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths repeated his call for an immediate freeze on military activities and for warring parties to work towards a de-escalation in fighting, UN news reports said.
Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, talks to journalists during a visit to Marib
Image credit: Ismini Palla
Mr. Griffiths was speaking during a one-day visit to Marib, which he described as a “haven” amid the ongoing conflict between government forces, backed by a Saudi-led coalition, and Ansar Allah, also known as Houthis.
Thousands of people have arrived there following recent fierce fighting in neighbouring Al Jawf governorate.
“Last week I issued a public call for a freeze on military activities. Today, I am reiterating that call for an immediate and unconditional freeze and the start of a comprehensive and inclusive and accountable de-escalation process,” he told journalists.
While in Marib, Mr. Griffiths met with the Governor and other senior officials, and with local authorities, tribal chiefs, civil society, women, youth, and displaced people.
“Marib has been an island of relative stability and calm amid the insanity of the war”, he said. “The parties need to ensure that Marib will remain a haven and not become the next epicenter of the fighting and of the war.”
The envoy underscored the UN position that the conflict cannot be solved on the battlefield.
He said Yemen is at a critical juncture: “We will either silence the guns and resume the political process, or we will slip back into large-scale conflict and suffering that you have already seen here in Marib.”