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Mali crisis could threaten global security: UN refugee chief
by Staff Writers
Niamey (AFP) May 7, 2012

The crisis in Mali could become a threat to global security if the international community does not help the coup- and rebellion-hit country, the head of the UN refugee agency said Monday.

"We are very worried by what is happening in Mali and its impact on the region," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres told journalists.

"We need to create the right conditions to avoid this crisis becoming a threat to global security," he added, appealing to the international community to get involved.

"If not, there's a risk of having to manage a regional crisis and a risk to peace and security all over the world."

Guterres also called for help dealing with Malian refugees and to stop a severe food crisis in Niger.

Mali's March 22 military coup and the subsequent seizure of half the country by rebels have compounded the already worrying effects of a food crisis across West Africa's Sahel region.

The UN estimates the Mali crisis has forced more than 320,000 people from their homes, with 187,000 seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, including Niger -- already in the grips of a new drought that has put millions at risk of hunger.

World Food Programme chief Ertharin Cousin said her agency needs $100 million (76 million euros) by year's end for Niger.

Just 40 percent of the funds required have been raised, she said.

The World Food Programme has launched emergency relief to feed some four million people in Niger.

Dane appointed to head UN peace office in Sierra Leone
Freetown (AFP) May 7, 2012 - United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon has appointed Denmark's Jens Anders Toyberg-Frandzen as his representative in Sierra Leone, said a press statement issued Monday in Freetown.

Toyberg-Frandzen, who will also head the UN's Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), takes over from Michael von der Schulenburg, whose departure caused a media storm in Sierra Leone.

The outspoken former UN representative was reported to have been recalled under pressure from Sierra Leone's government, but officials denied they had played a role in his departure.

The UN statement said Ban was grateful for Schulenburg's "excellent service as the head of UNIPSIL, which has contributed to the peacebuilding and development priorities of Sierra Leone."

Toyberg-Frandzen takes up the position just six months before presidential elections, a key test of democracy a decade after a bloody 1991-2002 civil war left some 120,000 dead.

In his regular reports to the UN, Schulenburg raised concerns about possible violence ahead of the polls, and warned over corruption in massive investments in the country's rich mineral wealth.

In March he called on the government to explain imports of "assault weapons worth millions of dollars" to equip its paramilitary police.

Toyberg-Frandzen has worked for the UN in Yemen, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bhutan, Iraq, Nepal and Turkey.

UNIPSIL was set up to consolidate peace in Sierra Leone after the 2005 expiry of a UN peacekeeping mission that had been, at its full strength of some 17,500 troops, the largest peacekeeping mission in the world.

UNIPSIL's mandate expires in September, but is expected to be extended until after the elections.

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Four children killed in Darfur blast: AU-UN
Khartoum (AFP) May 7, 2012 - Four children were killed and four others were wounded when leftover munitions exploded in Sudan's Darfur region, the African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission (UNAMID) told AFP on Monday.

A UNAMID spokesman said the incident occurred when a UXO (unexploded ordnance) detonated in Jealjeala, 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the West Darfur state capital El Geneina.

He could not immediately give other details, including exactly when the blast happened.

The UN estimates that at least 300,000 people have died as a result of the Darfur conflict, which began in 2003 when rebels from non-Arab tribes in Sudan's far west rose up against the Arab-dominated Khartoum regime.

The Sudanese government puts the death toll at 10,000.

Elsewhere in Sudan, the UN's humanitarian agency OCHA said last month it had received reports that three children died in Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan state, when they found a UXO which then detonated.

Government troops have been battling rebels in South Kordofan since last June.


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W. Africa bloc threatens coup leaders in Mali, G. Bissau
Dakar (AFP) May 3, 2012
West African presidents on Thursday threatened tougher action against coup leaders in Mali and Guinea-Bissau who have resisted efforts to fully restore civilian rule. Guinea-Bissau's ruling military junta, hit with EU sanctions on Thursday, has refused to quit power, while the junior officers who toppled Mali's government in March are still flexing their authority despite formally giving wa ... read more

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