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  • Migrant crisis: Europol to investigate Egypt mass drowning


    The European policing agency Europol is planning to investigate what is believed to be the biggest loss of a migrant boat in 2016, following a Reuters-BBC Newsnight investigation.

    More than 500 people are thought to have died in the sinking on 9 April, but there has been no official inquiry.

    Newsnight has established that the boat set sail from Egypt - not Libya, as the UNHCR stated at the time.

    The head of Europol, Rob Wainwright, said the case was "uncomfortable".

    He welcomed the Reuters-BBC Newsnight investigation and promised "to look at it again" given "the absence of any clear answers".

    The forgotten shipwreck

    Reuters and BBC Newsnight spent months piecing together the story of what happened to the ship that sank on 9 April 2016 - speaking to survivors, to relatives of the victims, and eventually tracking down the smugglers, the brokers, and the details of the ship that sank.

    Thirty-seven people survived the shipwreck, but more than 500 are believed to have died. Those who perished came from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Syria, Egypt and a number of other countries.

    Each had paid around $2,000 (£1,600) to smugglers in the hope of reaching Italy.

    Newsnight understands that the main boat - a trawler - set sail from the port of Rashid, just to the east of Alexandria in Egypt. At about 02:00 local time on the night of Saturday 9 April a fishing boat with around 200 additional migrants attempted to join the trawler, which by that time had around 300 people on board.

    It began to list towards the fishing boat. The migrants tried to correct that by shifting to the other side, but they over-compensated and the trawler capsized.


    According to survivors of the disaster, the fishing boat sped off, leaving about 100 people who were still alive and swimming in the water, to drown. One survivor told BBC Newsnight that he was threatened with a knife by a smuggler when he tried to help fellow migrants.

    The first that was known of the shipwreck was a full week later when the Italian coast guard received a distress call from one of the survivors.

    The smugglers had instructed those on board to say they had come from Libya - in order to avoid being repatriated to Egypt. A few days later, based on interviews with survivors in Greece, the UNHCR issued a press statement stating that the ship had left from Libya.

    Read more at BBC

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  • Ethiopian Jews 'to be moved soon'


    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his government is still committed to reuniting thousands of Ethiopian Jews with their families who are now in Israel.

    At least 9,000 Ethiopians who claim Jewish ancestry are waiting to immigrate to Israel, after years of waiting.

    Speaking at a joint press briefing with his Ethiopian counterpart, he said the exercise would be conducted soon, though he failed to outline any clear timelines:

    "On bringing to Israel members of the [Ethiopian Jewish] community that are still here, we are doing so, we have a commitment, we are fulfilling it on a humanitarian level of family reunification, it will not happen in the future it will happen now under the current budget - we are committed to a certain programme and we are advancing it."

    At least 130,000 Ethiopian Jews are now living in Israeli since the first airlift begun in 1984.

    Israeli government has come under intense criticism for its alleged failure to absorb and fully integrate the Ethiopian Jews into Israeli society.

    Over the past months, hundreds of Ethiopian Jews have taken to the streets in Israel part in protests that have turned violent, alleging racism.

    During the meeting, Mr Netanyahu also called for closer co-operation between Israel and Africa in tackling terrorism and boosting trade ties.

    Two bilateral agreements to improve agriculture and information technology were also signed.

    By Emmanuel Igunza BBC Africa

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  • Netanyahu in Ethiopia, talks to focus on trade and future of nine-thousand Ethiopian Jews

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the last leg of his African tour, which also brought him to Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.

    Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Israeli  ambassador to Ethiopia, and senior Ethiopian government officials have warmly received him on his arrival at Bole international air port yesterday evening.

    He is the first Israeli prime minister to visit Africa in three decades. The talks in Addis Ababa will focus on trade issues but also on the future for nine-thousand Ethiopian Jews living Ethiopia.

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  • Ethiopia base in Somalia attacked: 248 Al-Shabaab militants dead


    Ethiopian forces have foiled planned Al-shabaab attack on its base in Hiran, Somalia yesterday morning leaving 248 Al-Shabaab militants dead including 5 top commanders.

    Al-shabaab militants were 400 in number and attacked the Ethiopian base with car bombs and from four different positions.

    According to Ethiopian colonel Aynom Mesfin, Al-Shabaab launched the assault early in the morning arround 5 a.m. and Ethiopian troops managed to end the battle around 9 a.m. the same day.

    AMISOM authorities: "this is one of Al-Shabaab's heaviest defeats"

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  • Eritrean Human-Trafficker Mered Medhanie extradited to Italy


    An Eritrean man believed to be at the heart of the operation to smuggle migrants from Africa to Europe has been extradited to Italy, prosecutors say. 

    Mered Medhanie, known as The General, was held in Sudan in May and was flown to Rome on Tuesday. 

    Britain's National Crime Agency said he is thought to have arranged the transit of a boat that sank near the Italian island of Lampedusa in October 2013. 

    At least 359 migrants died when the boat, travelling from Libya, capsized. 

    Most were from Eritrea and Somalia.

    Italian news agency Ansa said Mr Medhanie was accused of being "the leader and organiser of one of the largest criminal groups operating between central Africa and Libya".

    The investigation is being led by investigators in Palermo, Sicily. Mr Medhanie is expected to appear in court on Wednesday.

    The National Crime Agency said they tracked him down to an address in Khartoum, where he was then arrested.

     
    Mered Medhanie was arrested in Sudan and extradited to Italy

    Click here to read more on Mered Medhanie at the BBC

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