DAR ES SALAAM, July 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The short video that Matilda Kasele plays on her phone shows water rushing into her house, submerging all her belongings.

Those images are all that she and her family have left of their home after a barrage of floods in May destroyed the building and all their belongings.

“We have lost everything,” Kasele, 37, told Thomson Reuters Foundation. “We could not salvage anything because the water started pouring into the house at night.”

Kasele and her family, who live in the low-lying Kinondoni district, are among the hundreds of Tanzanian residents who have been repeatedly hit by flooding.

Since April, a spate of heavy downpours has been pounding Dar es Salaam, leaving dozens dead and thousands homeless, and wreaking havoc with the fragile city’s infrastructure.

For years, the Tanzanian government has tried to get low-income families to move out of disaster zones but the residents have usually refused, saying they cannot afford to leave and need to live close to the city center.

Now the government is taking a softer approach, by offering free land to flood victims who agree to relocate.

“It’s high time the people living in the valleys moved out of those areas, otherwise this problem will never end,” President Jakaya Kikwete told scores of flood-hit residents. “We will get you land in safer areas on which to build your new homes.”

The government estimates that about 70 percent of the city’s five million residents live in informal settlements that lack adequate drainage systems, making them prone to flooding. Hundreds of residents have already accepted the government’s offer, Kasele and her husband among them.

“This is not the first time the flood waters have gotten into my house, but I think this time it was too much,” said her husband, who had to rescue his children from a balcony during the floods, and was unsure if they would make it out alive.

Now, “I had better hear the government’s call and get out of danger,” he said.


Working with district authorities, the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner’s office has been identifying and registering residents willing to move, with the intent of issuing the first batch of new title deeds in August.

According to Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Said Meck Sadick, some houses that obstruct the flow of water from nearby Wazo hill to the Indian Ocean – and thereby increase the flood risk – will be demolished after assessment by the city engineers.

“The owners of those houses will be compensated and the government will also allocate them new sites,” he said.

Sadick says more than 2,500 families whose homes are constructed in hazardous areas need to relocate. The government will mobilise funds from local and central government coffers to accomplish the project, he said, after surveyors have assessed thousands of hectares of unused government-owned land to find suitable plots.

The government will also declare certain flood-prone areas disaster zones, Sadick added, giving regional and district authorities the power to forcefully evict anyone who erects a new structure on the land.

Kinondoni district resident Kasele says she is grateful for the opportunity to move her family to safer ground. She plans to get a bank loan to start building a new home as soon as she secures the title deed.

And she hopes the government will help with building materials, as it did in 2011 when it relocated some flood victims from the Jangwani area to a new area just north of Dar es Salaam.

“I have suffered huge loss and I don’t want to suffer any more,” Kasele said. “I know it will take time to start afresh, but at least I will have peace of mind.”

Kathmandu, Nepal (CNN)A 7.8 magnitude earthquake centered less than 50 miles from Kathmandu rocked Nepal with devastating force Saturday, toppling homes, temples and historic buildings and leaving at least 1,457 people dead, authorities said.

Afterward, whole streets and squares in the nation’s capital and largest city were covered in rubble. The injured wound up being treated outside hospitals in chaotic scenes. Residents, terrorized by a seemingly endless series of aftershocks, huddled outdoors for safety.

The death toll was reported by Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs. But given that the rescue effort is still in its early stages and that people in outlying areas may well have been affected, as well, it seems probable the number will rise.

In neighboring Tibet, roads buckled, buildings collapsed and at least 12 people were killed, China’s state media reported, citing local authorities.

Separately, at least four Chinese citizens in Nepal — two workers with a Chinese company, a tourist and a mountaineer — have been killed, state media reported, citing the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu.
Kathmandu, which sits in a valley surrounded by the Himalayas, has a population of about 1 million.

Thomas Nybo, a photographer who’s shooting the quake’s aftermath for The New York Times, was sitting in a coffee shop in Kathmandu’s Temal district when the massive temblor struck. It appeared to be a minor tremor at first but gradually gained intensity, he told CNN. Thousands poured onto the streets of Temal, a densely populated tourist hub.

“This region is no stranger to earthquakes,” he said. “A lot of people had the same feeling: this is a tremor, it passed. When that wasn’t the case, they were in uncharted territory… It’s basically an unwritten book.”

Aid agencies expressed concern for the welfare of survivors in the coming days, as overnight temperatures are expected to drop and people will need to make do without electricity, running water and shelter.

The international community must react quickly to save lives — particularly those of children — said Devendra Tak, of the aid agency Save the Children.

“With every minute the situation becomes worse,” he said. “Tonight is going to be a very tough night out there for people in Kathmandu and for people in the surrounding villages.”

Food, clothing and medicine will be urgently required, he said.

(CNN)A highway crash involving three buses and a freezer truck in northern Peru killed at least 37 people, the country’s Ministry of Health said Monday.

Six others were in critical condition after the Monday morning crash on a highway near the city of Casma, in the Ancash region, about 230 miles (370 kilometers) north of Lima, the capital.

One of the buses entered an oncoming lane and struck another bus as the other two vehicles approached, the state-run Agencia Andina news agency reported, citing a fire department official.

Bus travel is an essential form of transportation for Peruvians going north and south between cities along the Pan-American Highway, which hugs the Pacific coast.

(Reuters) – Burkina Faso’s government confirmed on Wednesday that an outbreak of H5N1 avian flu was responsible for the deaths of large numbers of chickens in two regions of the country in recent weeks.

Jean Paul Rouamba, minister for livestock, said tests had been carried out by the United Nations experts after a wave of deaths in traditional and modern poultry farms in February and March.

Rouamba said that strict measures had been put in place by the authorities to control further infections though he gave no details. The deaths occurred in Kadiogo province in Centre region and Sanguie in Centre-West region, Rouamba said on state radio.

Burkina Faso last battled an outbreak of avian flu in 2006, when the disease was detected in a string of other countries in the region, including Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon and Ghana.

Earlier this year, Nigeria confirmed an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu on poultry farms that has now reached 11 states nationwide. Four people have died in Egypt from bird flu this year.

The World Health Organization says that whenever bird flu viruses are circulating in poultry, there is a risk of sporadic infections or small clusters of human cases.

(Reporting by Mathieu Bonkoungou; Writing by David Lewis; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Rome (CNN)Muslims who were among migrants trying to get from Libya to Italy in a boat this week threw 12 fellow passengers overboard — killing them — because the 12 were Christians, Italian police said Thursday.

Italian authorities have arrested 15 people on suspicion of murdering the Christians at sea, police in Palermo, Sicily, said.

Why migrants are dying to get to Italy

The original group of 105 people left Libya on Tuesday in a rubber boat. Sometime during the trip north across the Mediterranean Sea, the alleged assailants — Muslims from the Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal — threw the 12 overboard, police said.

Other people on the voyage told police that they themselves were spared “because they strongly opposed the drowning attempt and formed a human chain,” Palermo police said.

The boat was intercepted by an Italian navy vessel, which transferred the passengers to a Panamanian-flagged ship. That ship docked in Palermo on Wednesday, after which the arrests were made, police said.

‘I enter Europe or I die’: Desperate migrants rescued this week off Italy

The 12 who died were from Nigeria and Ghana, police said.

Thousands of people each year make the dangerous sea journey from North Africa to Europe’s Mediterranean coast, often aboard vessels poorly equipped for the trip. Many of them attempt the voyage to flee war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East.

More than 10,000 people have arrived on Italian shores from Libya since last weekend alone, according to the Italian coast guard.

Many die each year while attempting the voyage, often when boats capsized. Last year at least 3,200 died trying to make the trip. Since 2000, according to the International Organization for Migration, almost 22,000 people have died fleeing across the Mediterranean.

The IOM reported Thursday the latest boat to sink in trying to make the journey. Only four people survived from the original 45 on board, bringing the estimated death toll so far this year close to a thousand.

CNN’s Hada Messia reported from Rome, and CNN’s Livia Borghese reported from Augusta, Sicily. CNN’s Jason Hanna wrote in Atlanta. CNN’s Ben Wedeman contributed to this report.

In 2003, as President George W. Bush unleashed his invasion of Iraq-based on the false premise of WMDs- for the overarching goal of reengineering the Arab world to conform to Western notions of governance and economics, the Christian community of that ancient Mesopotamian land numbered 1.5 million, representing some 5 percent of the Iraqi population. At present, eleven years after the disastrous American intervention, the Christian community in Mesopotamia has dwindled by more than two thirds. How many remain is hard to estimate; credible figures range from under half a million to as low as 200,000, the latter estimate postulated by The Economist. How ironic that the most powerful Christian-majority nation on the planet unleashed a series of events in the heart of the Arab world that may see the eventual extinction of the nearly two-millennia old Christian community in Mesopotamia.

Christianity predates Islam in the Middle East by hundreds of years. With the establishment of the Arab empires following the death of the Prophet Mohammed, particularly the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates, the status of minorities within the Islamic world became defined as dhimma, an Arabic term defining the granting of a minority religion the right to practice their faith and establish communal institutions, but with restrictions and requirements that enshrined their submission to the Muslim state, including payment of a special tax, referred to in Arabic as the jizya. The dhimma status was granted to Christians and Jews, both peoples recognized as being “people of the book.” Other religious minorities were deprived of any protection, and regarded as pagan heresies.

Despite the rights granted under the dhimma status, the Christians in the Arab world never had an easy existence, even under the best of circumstances. Under the Caliphate of the Ottoman Turks, the plight of the Christians actually worsened. Nearly a century ago, approximately 1.5 million Armenian Christians died during a massive ethnic cleansing campaign carried out by the Ottoman Empire during the early period of the First World War-the first genocide of the 20th century.

The period of European colonial rule that followed World War I, which included the creation of artificial, multi-ethnic and religious entities under the Sykes-Picot Agreement, and subsequent independence of these nations after World War II, allowed a brief period in which Christians in the Arab world could coexist with the Muslim majority in a context where Arab nationalism temporarily transcended religious identity. That is no more. The radioactive half-life of the U.S. military intervention in Iraq has demolished the thin veneer of secular nationalism that defined the post-World War II Arab Middle East, and opened a Pandora’s box of repressed 7th Century religious fanaticism that may well spell doom for the ancient Christian communities in much of the Arab world.

The recent onslaught of the armies of the Islamic State, under the brutal but militarily effective leadership of its self-appointed caliph, Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, has led to the seizure of large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. The very heart of the Christian communities in Mesopotamia have now fallen under the control of the Islamic State. The caliphate has made clear its attitude towards the Christians: they are “crusaders,” and therefore Islam’s number one enemy. In Mosul and other towns with substantial Christian communities, the Islamic State quickly laid down its policy towards these beleaguered people; convert to Islam, pay the jizya tax or be put to death. Initially, they are also being allowed to flee with no more than the clothes on their backs. In short order, even that option will likely be denied them. The largest Christian town in Iraq, Qaraqosh, with a population of 50,000, has now fallen to the Islamic State. Their future is indeed dire.

Most movements that commit large-scale massacres typically keep their blood-soaked deeds secretive. With the Islamic State, the opposite is the case. The caliphate has placed on the Internet a score or more of videos displaying with boastful pride the mass shootings and beheadings of Shiites in Iraq and Alawites in Syria. If this is the manner in which the Islamic State deals with Muslims who don’t follow the Sunni tradition, can there be any doubt as to the ultimate fate that will befall the Christians of the Arab world who fall under the control of Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi and his fanatical followers?

A horrific fate awaits the Christians in the Arab world, particularly in Iraq and Syria. Yet, the world is silent. The progressive left wing has its own ideological agenda, to which the Christians of the Middle East are irrelevant. The two most powerful Christian-majority countries, the United States and Russia, are too distracted by a crisis both nations manufactured over another Christian-majority country, Ukraine, to intervene and prevent the unfolding slaughter.

The first genocide of the twenty-first century approaches, yet the world displays profound indifference. As we all bear witness to another mass extermination in human history, it is a scathing reminder that the capacity of the human race to forget the lessons of the past remains daunting.

The refugee crisis caused by Christians and other minorities fleeing Islamic State terrorists is threatening to overwhelm Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to IRIN News, the more than 1 million displaced people are placing a huge burden on the state’s resources.

In 12 months, the region’s population has grown by 28 percent and poverty has increased to more than twice the amount.

The territory’s health and education services are feeling the pressure, and the economy is also suffering as the influx of workers is reducing wages and household incomes.

With the threat of more refugees likely to come if ISIS continues its assault on northern Iraq, it’s possible the crisis will grow worse, meaning the international community will have to do more to help these people.

CBN News spoke with Kristin Wright, with Open Doors USA, during her visit to Iraqi Kurdistan. She said the refugees and the relief agencies are beginning to see that it will be a long time before they can return home and are shifting to long-term planning.

During February, a new surge in cases of MERS caused by a coronavirus has been reported in the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia (74 cases in 2015, including 6 in healthcare workers). The source of transmission may be camels or camel products, as well as nosocomial spread within the healthcare system. With a fatality rate of approximately 40% of identified cases, the illness behaves like the SARS outbreak of 2003-4, also caused by a coronavirus. The current increase in MERS cases parallels the seasonal trends of 2014. MERS is currently a disease of adults, although it is not clear whether this is due to age specific pathophysiology or age related differences in exposure. MERS, spread by the airborne route as well as by contact and droplet transmission, has the potential to be far more contagious in the healthcare setting than Ebola, which is spread only by direct contact and droplet mechanisms.

Ebola case counts now total 23,694 (suspected, probable, and confirmed) with 9,589 deaths in the countries with widespread transmission during the 2014-5 epidemic. Last month’s totals were 21,689 cases with 8,626 deaths. While this is a good reduction from exponential spread late in 2014, imagine the sense of crisis if the present West Africa transmission rates pertained to the US. Among the endemic countries, infection control is best in Liberia. Sporadic cases continue to occur at a fairly constant rate in some communities in Sierra Leone and Guinea where contact tracing is incomplete. New reports indicate a very high child mortality rate of 80% in those younger than 5 years and 95% for those younger than 1 year, probably due to the lack of intensive nursing for those too young to feed themselves. Costs of infection control and disease treatment programs in West Africa continue to be enormous, and the rainy season beginning in April threatens to make the work less efficient. Meanwhile, costs of preparing for infection control within American healthcare facilities has also strained budgets, and federal support for these efforts remains uncertain. Expert consensus guidelines for pediatric critical care of Ebola patients in resource rich countries include input from the National Center for Disaster Preparedness.