Latest Developments, October 29

In the latest news and analysis…

Desert deaths
Agence France-Presse reports that dozens of migrants have been found dead in Niger:

“ ‘About 40 Nigeriens, including numerous children and women, who were attempting to emigrate to Algeria, died of thirst in mid-October,’ Rhissa Feltou, the mayor of the main northern town of Agadez, said
‘Many others have been reported missing since their vehicle broke down in the desert,’ he said.

These migrants often look to Europe as their final destination, a security source said, and use Libya as a jumping off point amid the relative chaos in the North African country since the fall of Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.
Humanitarian agencies say nearly 20 000 migrants have perished while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea into Europe over the past 20 years.”

Congressional first
The Guardian reports on the testimony given to US Congress by civilian victims of a drone strike in Pakistan:

“Their harrowing accounts marked the first time Congress had ever heard from civilian victims of an alleged US drone strike.

‘Nobody has ever told me why my mother was targeted that day,’ [Rafiq ur Rehman] said, through a translator. ‘Some media outlets reported that the attack was on a car, but there is no road alongside my mother’s house. Others reported that the attack was on a house. But the missiles hit a nearby field, not a house. All of them reported that three, four, five militants were killed.’
Instead, he said, only one person was killed that day: ‘Not a militant but my mother.’

Rehman said: ‘In the end I would just like to ask the American public to treat us as equals. Make sure that your government gives us the same status of a human with basic rights as they do to their own citizens. We do not kill our cattle the way US is killing humans in Waziristan with drones. This indiscriminate killing has to end and justice must be delivered to those who have suffered at the hands of unjust.’ ”

Nearly unanimous
Al Jazeera reports that virtually all UN member states have called on the US to end its embargo on Cuba:

“This came in a symbolic vote of the 193-nation General Assembly on Tuesday. The unenforceable resolution was 188-2. The United States and Israel voted against it, while Pacific island states of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau abstained.

‘Our small island poses no threat to the national security of the superpower,’ [Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez] said. ‘The human damages caused by the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba are incalculable.’

‘The United States is a deep and abiding friend of the Cuban people,’ [US envoy Ronald Godard] said.”

CAR troops
Reuters reports that the UN Security Council has voted to send an initial 250 soldiers to the Central African Republic to protect UN staff:

“The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday approved a proposal by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to send 250 military personnel to the capital Bangui and then increase the strength of the force to 560 troops so they can deploy to areas outside the capital where there is a U.N. presence.

France has a small force in Bangui securing the airport and its local interests. French diplomatic sources have said France would be ready to provide logistical support and increase its troop numbers to between 700 and 1,200 if needed.”

Oil anger I
Reuters reports that protests have shut down all but offshore oil production in Libya:

“Libya’s oil exports have dropped to less than 10 percent of capacity or 90,000 barrels per day, Reuters calculations show, as renewed protests this week halted operations at western ports and fields, supporting global oil prices.

Any imminent agreement to even partially resume exports appeared elusive.
[Oil Minister Abdelbari Arusi] paid an emergency visit to the western Sharara field on Monday and discussed pay increases with oil workers there. He was forced to leave without a deal, however, after local protesters refused to meet him.”

Oil anger II
Reuters also reports that the UK’s Tullow Oil has suspended drilling operations in Kenya over “popular impatience for a share of the spoils”:

“Backed by local politicians, demonstrators from Kenya’s poor, northern Turkana community marched on Tullow sites demanding jobs and other benefits, prompting one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s most experienced oil explorers to ‘temporarily’ halt work.

Kenya is revising outdated laws governing the oil and gas industry. A draft law could go to parliament in November.
Others are also updating industry rules. Tanzania is drawing up a new gas policy, but has yet to issue it as a debate rumbles on about how much gas should be sold to foreigners.”

Redefining poverty
Uruguay’s President Jose Mujica tells Al Jazeera that he rejects the label of “the poorest president in the world”:

“ ‘It seems that we have been born only to consume, and to consume, and when we can no longer consume, we have a feeling of frustration and we suffer from poverty, and we are auto marginalised.’

‘Those who describe me so are the poor ones,’ he says. ‘My definition of poor are those who need too much. Because those who need too much are never satisfied.’ ”

Terror threat
The BBC reports that South Africa’s ruling party is demanding an apology after US officials detained a veteran of the anti-apartheid struggle and former cabinet minister because he was on a “terrorist watchlist”:

“[Tokyo Sexwale’s] detention at the JFK international airport was “an affront to the global anti-apartheid movement”, the [African National Congress] said.

Former ANC leader Nelson Mandela was only taken off the list by former President George W Bush in 2008.
Mr Sexwale was imprisoned along with Mr Mandela on Robben Island.

Another of Mr Sexwale’s lawyers, Leslie Makhabela, told South Africa media that US immigration officials had ‘alleged he posed a threat to international security’.”

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