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1 million children in Mozambique homeless, without food or orphaned by cyclones – National

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1 million children in Mozambique homeless without food or orphaned by cyclones National

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PEMBA, Mozambique — Isabella Mussa has not set foot in a classroom or read a book for the past week. For the 13-year-old, displaced by a deadly cyclone in northern Mozambique, it feels like a lifetime.

Yet she is called one of the lucky ones. More than 1 million children have been affected by a pair of cyclones that ripped into Mozambique in less than two months, the United Nations children’s agency says.

READ MORE: Mozambique cyclone displaces hundreds of thousands, true death toll may never be known

Many of the children are without shelter or food. Some saw parents killed or disappeared in the flooding that followed the storms.

But Isabella, who now shelters in the city of Pemba in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, doesn’t feel fortunate.

“I miss my school, my friends and my teacher,” she told The Associated Press, standing in a corridor at a sprawling government complex that now houses children and their guardians who were displaced by Cyclone Kenneth.

It is not clear when she can return home, or to school. The family home was flattened. Her school books were destroyed.

WATCH: Rescuers in Mozambique search for victims of Cyclone Kenneth as death toll rises





With a lull in the incessant rains on Thursday, children of Isabelle’s age were helping families repair homes or retrieve property. Claudio Ismael, 11, balanced a chair on her head and clutched a homework book in one hand while navigating a flooded pathway.

“This is the first thing I grabbed when I got the chance to return home,” she said of the book.

For the first time in recorded history, Mozambique has been hit by two cyclones in a single season. Kenneth made landfall just over a week ago, killing 41 people and now sparking a cholera outbreak. Last month Cyclone Idai struck central Mozambique, killing more than 600 people and leading to thousands of cases of cholera and malaria.

Now aid groups are struggling to help the millions of people affected by both powerful storms.

Of the 150,000 people affected by Kenneth, half are children, UNICEF spokesman Daniel Timme told The Associated Press.

READ MORE: Nearly 2 million people affected by Cyclone Idai’s devastation in Mozambique, UN says

“The children here have shelter, they are the lucky ones,” he said.

“In many parts of the province the children are still out there and we need to reach them to provide shelter, food and clean drinking water. It is very urgent, it is very essential so that the children don’t get sick and we avoid cholera like we had in central Mozambique.”

Many of the hardest hit areas are outside Pemba city, such as Ibo island and the districts of Macomia and Quissanga, which remain difficult or impossible to reach by road.

For the hundreds of children like Isabella sheltering in the complex in Pemba, recovery is fragile.

The children play in the corridors. Women and girls prepare porridge on open fires while some pound cassava leaves for a popular local dish. Authorities distribute water treatment chemicals.

IN PHOTOS: Mozambique residents plead for help after Cyclone Idai kills hundreds

Some just want normal life again.

“We are too many here, the food is not enough,” said 18-year-old Maria Daudi, adjusting the cloth she uses to carry her 4-month-old baby. She came to the shelter with her two children after their home was destroyed.

“I fear for my children. I don’t like this place but I have nowhere else to go,” she said.

WATCH: Death toll from Cyclone Idai tops 750





Even as shelter remains a need for many, aid agencies hope to take further steps and create safe spaces where children can turn their attention back to studies.

“We want to ensure that the children go back to school as soon as possible,” Timme said. “It is very important that children’s education is not interrupted for weeks.”

That’s good news for Isabella.

“We are not reading at all. We are just spending the days playing,” she said. “I will only be happy when the rains end and I can go back to school.” Her 8-year-old brother, Divan, nodded in agreement.



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FOREIGN NEWS

Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu
RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA

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Harris accepts VP nomination

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Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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