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THOUSANDS OF ETHIOPIAN REFUGEES HELD FOR RANSOM IN SAUDI ARABIA
March 19, 2013 (durame) — Thousands of Ethiopian refugees are being
held captive for ransom in the border regions of Saudi Arabia and Yemen, according to Mohammed Najad,
a Yemeni security official.
Making the situation worsedocumentaries in late February that depict
Ethiopian refugees as gangs involved in illicit activities.
As a result, many Saudis and Yemeni vigilante groups have sprung up
near their common border, under the guise of defending their
territories but in reality, most are there to take Ethiopian
migrants captive for ransom.
Fleeing from economic hardship and a repressive dictatorship in
Ethiopia, the Middle East
is seen as a place where young Ethiopians can earn a higher standard
of living to support their families back home.
Despite the dangerous risks involved, over 84,000
Ethiopian refugees cross the traitorous waters of the
Gulf of Aden each year, according to the United Nation’s
Once in Yemen, most Ethiopians head straight
for the Yemeni-Saudi border, where bandits, vigilantes, and
smugglers frequently hold migrants captive and demand thousands of
dollars in ransom for their release.
A recent report by
UNHCR reveals thousands of Ethiopian men, women and children are
being held captive for extortion on both sides of the Yemeni-Saudi
border by armed criminal gangs and vigilantes.
The gangs use rape and torture against their victims to make their
families pay for their release. Those who fail to have their ransom
paid are killed and their organs harvested for sale on the black
“It was horrible. If your ransom wasn’t paid, they tortured and
raped you,” recounted one of the victims, who requested anonymity.
“I am lucky I was able to flee. My friends who came with me were
Former President George W. Bush lawyer fighting for
prime minister in election loss case
Kenya (AP)– A former lawyer for President
George W. Bush now representing Kenya’s prime minister in his fight to win a new
presidential election says he doesn’t think Kenya’s election commission is
William Burck told The Associated Press that Kenya’s election
commission failed in its duty to ensure the March 4 presidential
election was fair. Among the faults was what Burck called an
inexplicable rise in the number of registered voters just before the
Burck is representing Prime Minister Raila Odinga in his petition to
Kenya’s Supreme Court asking that
the results be scrapped and a new election held. Uhuru Kenyatta —
the son of Kenya’s
founding father — was named the winner with 50.07 percent.
The Supreme Court has until a week from Saturday to rule on Odinga’s
Kenyatta urges ICC to drop charges
NAIROBI, Kenya (Aljazeera)–Hearing to consider war crimes charges
facing president-elect comes a week after case against his
Lawyers for Uhuru Kenyatta have argued that the International
Criminal Court (ICC) should dismiss crimes against humanity charges
president-elect over post-2007 election violence.
Lawyer Steven Kay asked a three-judge bench at The Hague-based court
on Monday to scrap his client’s July trial date and send the case
back to the pre-trial chamber, after prosecutors last week dropped
all charges against Kenyatta’s co-accused.
The evidence against top civil servant Francis Muthaura was
critically undermined by the withdrawal of key witness testimony,
and Kay said the five charges against Kenyatta, including rape and
murder, should now also be reconsidered.
Should the charges against Kenyatta stand, he will become the
first-ever president to have to go to The Hague to face a trial that
could last at least two years shortly after taking office.
The case against Kenyatta, charged with crimes against humanity over
deadly violence in the wake of Kenya’s election in 2007, has been
further complicated by his victory in a ballot which was held
largely peacefully this month.
A status conference, or pre-trial hearing, has been called by judges
in The Hague
for 14:00GMT on Friday, and will look at the consequences of the
withdrawal of the charges against Muthaura for the case against
Kenyatta and former civil servant Muthaura were among six suspects
initially charged by ICC prosecutors with orchestrating violence
after the 2007 election, when some 1,200 people were killed.
On March 11, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said the decision of a key
witness to recant testimony had forced her to drop charges against
Bensouda said the decision would have no impact on Kenyatta’s case.
Kenyatta’s lawyers will call on Friday for the case against him to
be dropped or at least postponed, said one lawyer who was familiar
with the case, but did not want to be quoted by name.” The collapse
of the case against Muthaura has a profound impact on the viability
of the prosecution’s case against Kenyatta,” the lawyer said.
The prosecutions are based to a large extent on similar evidence,
with both men denying any wrongdoing.
Kenyatta, 51, elected by a slim margin earlier this month, faces a
big challenge in bridging Kenya’s ethnic divides even without
the court case.
His opponent, Raila Odinga, challenged the election result in court
on Saturday, alleging widespread ballot rigging.
The prosecution would then have to show again that it has a strong
enough case to go to trial.
Judges have not yet formally dropped the case against Muthaura.
The case is an important test for the Netherlands
court, which was set up more than a decade ago as the world’s first
permanent war crimes tribunal, but has so far only secured one
Car bomb in Somalia’s
capital kills 10
(Washinton Post) — A suicide bomber driving a car filled with
explosives killed at least 10 people in the Somali capital of Mogadishu on Monday, illuminating the
lingering security challenges faced by the U.S.- and U.N.-backed
al-Qaeda-linked militia, al-Shabab, claimed responsibility for the
attack, the deadliest this year in
Mogadishu. The militia continues to stage
guerrilla assaults, more than a year after African Union
peacekeepers pushed the militants out of the capital.
The bombing appeared to target a group of Somali government
Mogadishu’s security chief, near the
presidential palace, but instead struck a minivan filled with
passengers, according to police and witnesses. The attack occurred
on a main road, lined with shops and tearooms, between the palace
and the national theater.
“The suicide car bomber targeted a senior national security officer
whose car was passing near the theater,” senior police officer
Abdiqadir Mohamud told Reuters, adding that the official was injured
and that most of the people who died were civilians on the minibus.
“This public vehicle coincidentally came between the government car
and the car bomb when it was hit. Littered at the scene are human
hands and flesh,” the news agency reported.
Sheik Ali Mohamud Rage, a spokesman for al-Shabab, told Reuters that
the attack was revenge for the deaths of its members targeted by the
Somali national security forces. The militia still controls large
swaths of rural Somalia,
even as it has been pushed out of major cities, including the Indian
Ocean port city of Kismayo, which has
severely damaged its ability to raise money.
Since late 2011, security in Mogadishu has improved considerably, prompting
the United Nations and some countries to reopen offices and
embassies in the capital. A nearly 18,000-strong African Union force
still protects the fragile central government.
Nevertheless, Monday’s bombing was a reminder of the militia’s
ability to create havoc and disrupt efforts by Somali President
Hassan Sheik Mohamud to pull the nation out of more than two decades
of civil war. Mohamud was elected last year in Somalia’s first nationwide vote
since the fall of dictator Siad Barre in 1991, an event that helped
trigger the country’s descent into turmoil.