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Many children, mostly girls, abducted by Mozambique terrorist group

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Many children, mostly girls, abducted by Mozambique terror group. Terror group in conflict-hit northern Mozambique abducted many children during raids in 2020, according to another analysis by Save the Children.

The charity said in a report on Wednesday the “abduction of children has become another and alarmingly regular tactic by armed groups” in Cabo Delgado province, where worsening fighting over the past three-and-a-half years has killed almost 3,000 people and displaced more than 700,000, half of whom are children.

Save the Children said “at least 51 children, most of them girls” were seized by non-state armed groups in the region last year, adding that the numbers involved were likely “far higher” than its estimates, which were based on data collected by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project and reflected only reported cases.

It warned that the victims are at risk of sexual violence, early marriage and being used as terrorists in the conflict.

“Being abducted, witnessing abductions, experiencing attacks, being forced to escape from armed groups – these are extremely traumatizing events for little youngsters and adolescents,” said Chance Briggs, the Mozambique country director for Save the Children.

Attacks by an armed group known locally as al-Shabab, whose starting points, analysts say, are steeped in local political, religious and economic discontent, have steadily increased in the Cabo Delgado province since October 2017.

The sophistication of the attacks has increased, too.

The terrorists linked to ISIS have ransacked towns and gained control of key roadways, destroying infrastructure and beheading civilians. In some cases, they have forced locals into their positions or held them as sex slaves.

Since August 2020, the terrorists have been in control of the key port town of Mocimboa da Praia, while in March, they launched a coordinated assault on Palma town, killing handfuls and forcing more than 67,000 to abandon their homes.

A video by the group distributed in August last year – filmed in either Mozambique or the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to the US-based SITE Intelligence Group – showed three weapon toting children flanked by adults in front of an ISIL banner.

“Abducting a child constitutes one of the six grave violations against children in times of conflict, as defined by the United Nations. It is against international humanitarian law and can be a first step towards war crimes, for example, forced child conscription or sexual violence against children,” Briggs said.

“Every day spent by abducted children outside their community is one too many, and the risks of abuse, early marriage and pregnancy increase the more time goes by.”

Calls for immediate release of children

Save the Children called for the immediate release of all abducted children and for the perpetrators to be considered responsible.

It said children were sometimes targeted for abduction in large groups, citing one attack where 21 people were abducted in a group, including six children.

“In that equivalent incident, at least seven anglers were beheaded,” it said.

In another attack in June 2020, 10 girls were taken while drawing water from a well, it added.

The charity highlighted the recent abduction of a 14-year-old girl following the March 24 attack on Palma. She and her family had in August 2020 fled their fishing village to seek shelter in the town.

But seven months later, “armed men entered Palma and forced the family to escape once more. On the best approach to seek safety, the family was abducted by armed men. They all escaped except for their eldest daughter,” it said, citing the teenager’s father.

In the mean-time, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it had registered more than 2,600 appeals in Mozambique between September 2020 and April 2021 from people who lost track of family members, most of whom are youthful adults and children.

“There is a very high number of unaccompanied children [who are] extremely vulnerable to all sorts of abuses and exploitation,” said James Matthews, deputy head of the ICRC’s mission in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo.

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With 9,056 fresh infections, Moscow Covid cases soar to pandemic high

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New coronavirus infections hit a pandemic high in Moscow on Monday, tripling in just weeks and forcing Russia’s capital to close its Euro fan zone and extend other curbs.

Some 9,056 new cases were recorded in the megapolis of 12 million in the past 24 hours, up from 3,000 fourteen days ago and another every day record since the Covid-19 pandemic began in mid 2020, according to official statistics.

Faced with the spike, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who has been rolling out restrictions for almost seven days, said that the city would limit gatherings and close the Euro 2020 fan zone outside of the Luzhniki stadium.

“I didn’t want to do this, but we have to,” Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his website.

“Starting today, we will limit mass events to a maximum of 1,000 people.”

“We are temporarily stopping all mass entertainment events and we’ll also have to close ballrooms and fan zones,” he wrote.

The move came a day after he warned that the city was facing another wave of infections, likely because of new Covid variants.

“It’s tripling, there’s an enormous powerful that we have not seen during the previous waves,” he said, adding that cases jumped from 3,000 to 7,000 in just days and predicting they would pass the 9,000 mark on Friday.

Over the past week, the mayor has introduced a progression of new restrictions in an effort to contain the wave of infections, including declaring a “work-free” week, shutting settings, and ordering mandatory vaccinations of people working in the service industry in the city.

Also on Friday, Sobyanin extended until June 29 a few measures that were announced last weekend, similar to the closure of food corridors in shopping centers, zoos, playgrounds, and the closure of bars and restaurants between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am.

Curbs tightened in Euro host St Pete –

Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg, the country’s worst Covid hotspot after Moscow, is hosting seven Euro 2020 matches – including a quarter-final – and is expected to see thousands of football fans from Europe.

On Monday, Saint Petersburg also announced a tightening of restrictions, including no food deals in its fan zones.

The increase in cases in Russia comes as the country struggles to encourage Russians to get vaccinated, despite the fact that the country launched a mass campaign of free jabs in December and has developed and approved four vaccines – Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona, CoviVac and the one-portion Sputnik Light.

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Chinese, Indian workers among 11 killed in Nepal floods; 25 missing

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Landslides and flash floods triggered by heavy downpour across Nepal this week killed 11 people including one Indian and two Chinese workers at a development project, while 25 people were missing elsewhere, officials said on Friday.

The bodies of the three workers were recovered close to the town of Melamchi in Sindhupalchowk district, northeast of Kathmandu, which was hit by flash floods on Wednesday that also forced many people from their homes, district administrators said in a statement.

“The foreign nationals were working for a Chinese organization that is building a drinking water project,” district official Baburam Khanal told Reuters.

The Home Ministry said late on Thursday that 25 people were missing in floods in Sindhupalchowk, a mountainous district bordering the Tibet region of China, and other parts of the country.

The monsoon downpours, which normally begin in June and last until September, kill hundreds of people in mostly mountainous Nepal every year.

Heavy downpour since Tuesday have damaged roads, destroyed bridges, washed away fish ranches and livestock, and wrecked homes.

Hundreds of people have been forced to move to community shelters, including schools, sheds and tents, authorities said.

Aid agencies said the crisis this year could add to the social and economic troubles of a country hard hit by COVID-19. Nepal has been reporting among the highest coronavirus test positivity rates in the world.

“Those who have lost homes are resting in community centers,” said John Jordan of the U.S.- based charity World Neighbors.

“This forced density raises risks for a community that has been recovering from COVID-19.”

Israel to send 1 million Covid vaccine dosages to Palestinians

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Courts cannot appoint PM, says Nepal PM KP Oli as he defends dissolution of House of Representatives

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Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Thursday defended his government’s controversial decision to dissolve the House of Representatives and told the Supreme Court that it isn’t up to the legal executive to appoint a premier as it cannot undertake the legislative and the executive functions of the state, according to a media report.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari, at the recommendation of Prime Minister KP Oli, dissolved the House for the second time in five months on May 22 and announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19.

Prime Minister Oli is heading a minority government after losing a trust vote in the House.

In his written response to the Supreme Court, Oli said that it isn’t up to the legal executive to appoint a Prime Minister as it cannot undertake the legislative and the executive functions of the state.

The Supreme Court on June 9 issued a show-cause notice to the Office of the Prime Minister and the President’s Office to outfit a written response within 15 days.

The Apex Court received Oli’s response by means of the Office of the Attorney General on Thursday, The Himalayan Times reported.

“The Court’s duty is to interpret the Constitution and the existing laws, it cannot assume the part of the legislative or the executive bodies,” Oli said.

“Appointment of a Prime Minister is absolutely a political and an executive process,” the 69-year-old embattled leader underlined.

The Prime Minister also defended the involvement of the President in this entire issue, saying that Article 76 of the Constitution grants the sole right to appoint a Prime Minister to the President only.

“According to Article 76 (5), there is no such provision of a person acquiring or losing a vote of confidence in the House being examined by the legislative or the legal executive,” he said.

Upwards of 30 writ petitions, including by the Opposition partnership, have been filed in the Supreme Court against the dissolution of the House, which they said was “unconstitutional”.

The Supreme Court has started hearing on the case. Regular hearings on the case will resume from June 23.

Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 last year after President Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the decision Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

In February, the pinnacle court reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives, in a setback to embattled Prime Minister Oli who was preparing for snap polls.

Oli repeatedly defended his transition to dissolve the House of Representatives, saying some leaders of his party were attempting to form a “equal government”.

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