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Hundreds of refugees feared dead in shipwrecks off Libya

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Almost 180 refugees were pulled to safety in the Mediterranean on Thursday – but as many as 240 were feared drowned in two shipwrecks off the Libyan coast, according to reports.

The rescue vessel Topaz Responder – run by the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station and the Italian Red Cross – responded to the scene, where dozens of exhausted and panicking people fell from their dinghies.

On Wednesday, a vessel carrying about 140 migrants capsized a few hours after setting off from Libya. Only 29 survived, UN refugee agency UNHCR spokeswoman Carlotta Sami told AFP.

The Norwegian Siem Pilot was the first rescue ship to arrive on the scene, about 20 nautical miles off Libya. The survivors were in poor health after spending hours in the water. A dozen bodies were retrieved.

The rescued migrants were transferred to the island of Lampedusa by the Italian coast guard. Among them were two women who said they believed they were the only survivors from a shipwreck in which about 125 people drowned.

“They told us they were on a faulty dinghy which began to sink as soon as they set sail. They were the only survivors,” Sami said.

Leonard Doyle, a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration, said 4,220 lives have been lost in the Mediterranean so far this year.

The increased number of deaths this year is partly due to the fact that smugglers are often using rubber dinghies, which are prone to deflating, UNHCR officials told AP.

In addition, more migrants suffer severe burns from being exposed to fuel mixed with sea water in the bottom of the dinghies.

Crime

Nigeria Football Federation boss Amaju Pinnick under fresh corruption probe

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Several properties belonging to top officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), including its president Amaju Pinnick, have been seized in a fresh corruption probe.

The latest investigation and seizures are being carried out by the country’s Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission’s (ICPC).

The ICPC has published a newspaper advertisement about the properties seized – half of which belong to Pinnick.

According to the statement published in the Nigerian papers one of Pinnick’s properties is in London.

It comes amidst wide-ranging claims over how money meant for football development allegedly disappeared.

“We can’t go into further details beyond the fact that many officials of the NFF are under investigation,” ICPC spokesperson, Rasheedat Okoduwa said.

“It’s basically because what they have is in excess of what they have earned.”

The ICPC has also taken control of properties belonging to the NFF second vice-president Shehu Dikko and the general secretary Muhamed Sanusi among others.

Source: BBC

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24 Hours Across Africa

Rwanda ban Burundi,s music star ahead of annual festival

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Burundian musician Jean Pierre Nimbona, popularly known as Kidum, has told the BBC he is confused by Rwanda’s decision to ban him from playing at the upcoming Kigali Jazz Fusion festival.

Kidum is one of Burundi’s biggest music stars and has performed in Rwanda for the past 16 years.

But a police official phoned the musician’s manager to warn that he would only be allowed to make private visits to Rwanda.

“[My manager was told] Kidum is not supposed to perform, tell him to leave. If he comes for private visits fine, but no performances,” the musician told BBC’s Focus on Africa radio programme.

The mayor of Rwanda’s capital said that in this instance permission had not been sought from the authorities for him to perform at the festival in Kigali.

Kidum was a leading peace activist during Burundi’s civil war between 1993 and 2003 and used his songs to call for reconciliation.

The 44-year-old musician said he had never had problems with Rwandan authorities until recently when three of his shows were cancelled at the last minute – including one in December 2018.

That month Burundi had banned Meddy, a musician who is half-Burundian, half-Rwandan, from performing in the main city of Bujumbura.

Kidum said he was unsure if the diplomatic tensions between Burundi and Rwanda had influenced his ban.

“I don’t know, I don’t have any evidence about that. And if there was politics, I’m not a player in politics, I’m just a freelance musician based in Nairobi,” he said.

He said he would not challenge the ban: “There’s nothing I can do, I just wait until maybe the decision is changed some day.

“It’s similar to a family house and you are denied entry… so you just have to wait maybe until the head of the family decides otherwise.”

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