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Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 23:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Zelenskyy Says 31,000 Ukrainian Soldiers Killed Since Start of War

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 22:35
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since Russia invaded. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says an offensive in Rafah could be “delayed somewhat” if a cease-fire is reached. And celebrating the record for the longest U.S. spaceflight.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 22:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Dragons and Dancers Parade Through Manhattan's Chinatown for Lunar New Year

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 21:58
New York — Dragons took a starring role at the Lunar New Year parade in Manhattan's historic Chinatown on Sunday — it's the Year of the Dragon, after all — as hundreds of revelers filled the cold clear air with the sound of drums, cymbals and puffs of confetti. Lions and red lanterns were interspersed with around a dozen groups displaying traditional dragon puppets, which stretched up to 20 meters (65 feet) long, in interconnected segments held by up to 11 people walking beneath. Two people also held up a giant golden picture frame with the Chinese character for "Dragon" on a red background. Other staples of the parade included waves of red lanterns, a file of classic cars, as well as formations by local civic organizations, businesses, New York City agencies, and politicians. Many marchers yelled "Happy New Year" in English, mixing in traditional greetings in Mandarin and Cantonese wishing financial prosperity. Asian communities across the world started ringing in the Lunar New Year on Feb 10, celebrating the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac. Fireworks, parades and other Lunar New Year rituals are centered around removing bad luck and welcoming prosperity. In New York, there have already been major celebrations in larger Chinese immigrant enclaves in Queens and Brooklyn. While the symbolic new lunar cycle ended earlier this week with the full moon, Manhattan's parade was scheduled for the weekend.

Algeria Inaugurates Africa's Largest Mosque After Years of Political Delays, Cost Overruns

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 21:37
ALGIERS, Algeria — Algeria inaugurated a gigantic mosque on its Mediterranean coastline Sunday after years of political upheaval transformed the project from a symbol of state-sponsored strength and religiosity to one of delays and cost overruns. Built by a Chinese construction firm throughout the 2010s, the Great Mosque of Algiers features the world's tallest minaret, measuring at 265 meters (869 feet). The third-largest mosque in the world and largest outside Islam's holiest cities, its prayer room accommodates 120,000 people. Its modernist design contains Arab and North African flourishes to honor Algerian tradition and culture as well as a helicopter landing pad and a library that can house up to 1 million books. The inauguration would guide Muslims "toward goodness and moderation," said Ali Mohamed Salabi, the General Secretary of world union of Muslim Ulemas. Propagating a moderate brand of Islam has been a key priority in Algeria since government forces subdued an Islamist-led rebellion throughout the 1990s when a bloody civil war swept the country. Algerian President Abdelmajid Tebboune inaugurated the mosque, fulfilling his promise to open it with great pomp and circumstance. The event, however, was mainly ceremonial. The mosque has been open to international tourists and state visitors to Algeria for roughly five years. An earlier ceremony was delayed. The timing allows the mosque to officially open to the public in time to host nightly prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins next month. Beyond its gigantic dimensions, the mosque is also known for the delays and controversy that characterized the seven years it was under construction, including the choice of site, which experts warned was seismically risky. The state denied that in a news release Sunday posted on APS, the state news agency website. Throughout the delays and cost overruns, the project never stopped feeding Algerians' anger, with many saying they'd rather have four hospitals built throughout the country. The project's official cost was $898 million. The mosque was originally a project of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who designed it to be the largest in Africa. He wanted it to be his legacy and called "Abdelaziz Bouteflika Mosque" much like Mosque Hassan II in Casablanca, Morocco. That mosque, named after the former King of Morocco — Algeria's neighbor and regional rival — was once marketed as Africa's largest. But the protests that swept Algeria in 2019 and led him to resign after 20 years in power prohibited Bouteflika from realizing his plans, naming the mosque after himself or inaugurating it in February 2019 as scheduled. The mosque — along with a major national highway and a million new housing units — each were marred by suspicions of corruption during the Bouteflika era, with suspected kickbacks to contractors then paid to state officials.

Taiwan Ally Tuvalu Names Feleti Teo as New Prime Minister

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 21:23
SYDNEY — Tuvalu on Monday announced former attorney general and fisheries official Feleti Teo as its new prime minister, after he was elected unopposed by lawmakers in the Pacific Islands nation, officials said. Former Prime Minister Kausea Natano lost his seat in a general election on Jan. 26 closely watched by Taiwan, China, the U.S. and Australia, amid a geopolitical tussle for influence in the South Pacific. Tuvalu, with a population of about 11,200 spread across nine islands, is one of three remaining Pacific allies of Taiwan, after Nauru cut ties last month and switched to Beijing, which had promised more development help. Teo received unanimous support from the 16 lawmakers, two lawmakers told Reuters on Monday. Teo, who was educated in New Zealand and Australia, was Tuvalu's first attorney general and has decades of experience as a senior official in the fisheries industry - the region's biggest revenue earner. "Feleti Teo was declared by the Governor General as Prime Minister for Tuvalu," Tuvalu election official, Tufoua Panapa, said in an emailed statement. Tuvalu lawmaker Simon Kofe congratulated Teo in a social media post. "It is the first time in our history that a prime minister has been nominated unopposed," he said. Only one nomination had been sent to the Governor General, before the formal vote by the lawmakers on Monday morning. The election result in Tuvalu had been delayed by three weeks as dangerous weather stopped boats from bringing new lawmakers to the capital to vote for prime minister, highlighting why climate change is the top political issue in the Pacific Islands nation. Taiwan previously said it was paying close attention to the election after Tuvalu's finance minister in the previous government, Seve Paeniu, said the issue of diplomatic recognition of Taiwan or China should be debated by the new government. There had also been calls by some lawmakers to review a wide-ranging deal signed with Australia in November, that allows Canberra to vet Tuvalu's police, port and telecommunication cooperation with other nations, in return for a defense guarantee and allowing citizens threatened by rising seas to migrate. The deal was seen as an effort to curb China's rising influence as an infrastructure provider in the Pacific Islands. Teo's position on Taiwan ties, and the Australian security and migration pact, have not been made public. Tuvalu's ministry is also expected to be decided on Monday.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 21:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Giving Up on US, Haitian Migrants Opt for 'Mexican Dream'

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 20:51
MEXICO CITY — It wasn't his first choice, but Mexico is now home for Evens Luxama — along with thousands of other Haitians forced to put their hopes of migrating to the United States on hold. The 34-year-old is one of a growing number of people from the crisis-torn Caribbean nation pursuing what activists have described as the "Mexican dream," building a life in a land that migrants traditionally hurried through. "I wanted to go to the United States, but I don't think there's another country that offers the opportunity that Mexico does right now," said Luxama, who hopes his partner and young daughter will join him in the Mexican capital soon. "In Mexico, they accept you, not only Haitians, but all foreigners," he told AFP. "They do everything to get you regularized, so that you have your papers, and with your papers, you can bring your family to live with you," he said. Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has seen years of worsening security due to raging gang violence, with its political, economic and public health systems also in tatters. Luxama fled overseas last year after a gang kidnapped a cousin and the sister of his girlfriend, who were released after paying a ransom. At the time, the Mexican Embassy was the only one open in Port-au-Prince to process his visa request. Luxama now works in Mexico City as an editor at a video production company — one of an unprecedented 141,000 people who sought refuge in the Latin American nation in 2023, mostly from Haiti, Honduras and Cuba. In a recent video call to his parents in Haiti, he asked about the situation back home. "You already know, son — a lot of problems," his father replied.   Haiti has spiraled deeper into chaos since President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in 2021.  Gangs run rampant in large swaths of the country, and homicides in Haiti more than doubled last year to nearly 4,800, according to a U.N. report released last month. In October, the United Nations Security Council authorized the deployment of a multinational force to help restore order. "It's almost impossible to live in Haiti," said Luxama, who fears that he will be powerless to help his family when danger comes. 'Mexican dream exists'  Migration from Haiti is not a new phenomenon for Mexico. In September 2021, after a deadly earthquake in their country, thousands of Haitian migrants crowded into the Mexican border city of Ciudad Acuna hoping to cross over to the United States. There were already Haitian communities in Tijuana on the Mexican-U.S. border and the southern city of Tapachula, where thousands gathered seeking permits to travel through Mexico to the United States. These days, Haitians are also a growing presence in Mexico City, many of them working in low-paid, informal jobs. Some sleep on the streets in makeshift camps. Rule changes and the "militarization" of the southern U.S. border are among the reasons prompting migrants to stay in Mexico, said Rafael Velasquez, country director at the humanitarian group International Rescue Committee. "Many people arrive and when they see that there is an opportunity (in Mexico), that the Mexican dream exists, they decide to give it a try," he said. Although the United States is allowing thousands of Haitians with expired travel documents to stay on, it only applies to those who arrived before November 6, 2022. On a street in the Mexican capital, five Haitians drilled the pavement to install pipes near an abandoned cinema. One of them, who gave his name as Jony and speaks Spanish, acts as an interpreter between the bosses and the rest of the workers, who speak Haitian Creole. He was part of a wave of Haitians who arrived in Brazil after a devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010 that left more than 300,000 people dead. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of them headed north from Brazil as well as Chile, citing discrimination and difficulty obtaining legal status, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch. Every day, Jony travels several hours by subway to and from his workplace, and sometimes spends days waiting to be paid his salary. Although he originally wanted to go to the United States, he said he stayed in Mexico because "it's easier to return to Haiti one day."

Kayakers Paddle in Death Valley After Rains Replenish Lake

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 20:37
DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, Calif — Kayakers have been paddling in one of the driest places on Earth after a series of record rainstorms battered California's Death Valley and replenished Lake Manly. Park Ranger Nichole Andler said Badwater Basin at Death Valley National Park, which runs along part of central California's border with Nevada, "is normally a very beautiful, bright white salt flat." This year it is a lake. In the past six months, Death Valley has received more than double its annual rainfall amount, recording more than 12.45 centimeters (4.9 inches) compared to a typical year that gets about 5.08 centimeters (2 inches). Temperatures at or above 54.44 C (130 F) have only been recorded on Earth a handful of times, mostly in Death Valley. Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America at 85.95 meters (282 feet) below sea level and has been a favored spot for tourists to take selfies and briefly walk along the white salt flats ringed by sandy-colored mountains. "It's the lowest point, in North America. So it's going to collect water, but to have as much water as we have now — and for it to be as deep and lasting as long as it has — this is extremely uncommon," Andler said. "If it's not once-in-a-lifetime, it's nearly." Andler said kayakers should come soon since water levels are expected to drop in a matter of weeks, though the lake "will probably be here into April. If we're lucky, May. And then it'll be a muddy, wet mess, and then it'll dry out into those gorgeous white salt flats." On Thursday, Heather Gang of Pahrump, Nevada, and her husband, Bob, were among hundreds of visitors playing in the water. Most waded into the lake, though the couple and others paddled where the water reached up to about a foot (0.3 meters) deep in parts. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to kayak Lake Manley," Heather Gang said. It was a sharp contrast to the Death Valley of the past where they figured they had once stood around the same spot and looked at the chalky salt flats for as far as the eye could see. The couple has been eyeing the lake's evolution ever since last year's storms started filling the lake. In the fall, they drove out to see it re-emerge as a lake but they said it wasn't deep enough for kayaks like now. This time the water reached up to the boardwalk. The lake, which is currently about 9.66 kilometers long and 4.83 kilometers wide, is still nowhere near its original state thousands of years ago after it formed during the Ice Age and covered a significant part of the park and was several hundred feet deep. Bob Gang said he had heard the lake had filled up to the point that boaters could go on it about 20 years ago, so he didn't want to miss out on the experience this time. "It's a lot of fun," said Bob Gang, who gave a girl a ride on his kayak. "It's good to see the little kids out here enjoying this and seeing something totally unique." It could be another 20 years before boaters return, he added, but "with climate change, who knows, maybe this will be the normal." Guo Yu, an assistant research professor of hydrometeorology at the Nevada-based Desert Research Institute, said the lake's size is a "simple natural phenomenon." It's linked to a wet winter from a strong El Nino — a natural and occasional warming of part of the Pacific Ocean that can lead to more precipitation than usual in California — plus climate change, which brings more intense atmospheric rivers to the area more frequently, Yu said. Scientists need to study Lake Manly now, he said, to see if they can harness the water for other uses in the future, such as drinking water throughout the dry Southwest. Tiffany Pereira, an associate research scientist at the institute, said the lake's size now can be beneficial to local flora and fauna. Certain seed species endemic to the area, meaning they only naturally exist in Death Valley, have lain dormant for a decade or more and are now beginning their short-lived life cycle because there is enough water to sustain them. "They hang out, they do their thing, and as soon as it dries up, that's it. They're done," she said. For now, friends Trudell Artiglere and Sheri Dee Hopper of Las Vegas will enjoy paddling through the lake. At the end of the day on Thursday, Artiglere said, their salt-encrusted kayaks looked like "glazed donuts."

US Airman Sets Himself on Fire Outside Israeli Embassy in Washington

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 20:09
WASHINGTON — A U.S. military service member set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington on Sunday afternoon, authorities said. The man was transported to an area hospital after the fire was put out by U.S. Secret Service officers, DC Fire and EMS posted online. The man remains in critical condition, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson said Sunday afternoon. An Air Force spokesperson confirmed that the incident involved an active-duty airman. Local police and Secret Service are investigating the incident. Israel's embassy has been the target of continued protest against the war in Gaza. The war in Gaza has led to pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protests in the United States. The protests started after Oct. 7 when Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that rules Gaza, killed 1,200 Israelis and seized 253 hostages in a cross-border attack. Since then, Israeli forces have waged a military campaign against the coastal enclave, laying much of it to waste, with nearly 30,000 people dead, according to Palestinian health officials.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 20:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

IS Landmine Kills 14 Truffle Hunters in Syria Desert

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 19:44
Damascus, Syria — A blast Sunday from a landmine left by the Islamic State group killed 14 people foraging for truffles in the Syrian desert, state media said. "Fourteen citizens were killed, and eight others injured after a landmine left by IS terrorists exploded while they were collecting truffles in the Raqa desert," said Syria's official news agency SANA. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor earlier reported that the landmine blast had killed "13 civilians, including women" who were hunting for truffles. The Syrian desert is renowned for producing some of the best quality truffles in the world, which fetch high prices in a country battered by 13 years of war and a crushing economic crisis. Authorities frequently warn against the high-risk practice. But every year between February and April, foragers risk their lives to collect the delicacies in the vast northern Syrian desert, or Badia — a known hideout for jihadis that is also littered with landmines. In March 2019, IS lost its last scraps of territory in Syria following a military campaign backed by a U.S.-led coalition, but jihadi remnants continue to hide in the desert and launch deadly attacks. They have used such hideouts to ambush civilians, Kurdish-led forces, Syrian government troops and pro-Iran fighters, while also mounting attacks in neighboring Iraq. Syria's war has claimed the lives of more than half a million people and displaced millions since it broke out in March 2011 with Damascus's brutal repression of anti-government protests.

Brazil's Bolsonaro Gathers Supporters to Defend Him Amid Investigations

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 19:29
Sao Paulo, Brazil — Tens of thousands of supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro rallied in Brazil's biggest city Sunday to defend him against legal challenges that could put him in jail. The far-right leader said in a speech that he seeks "pacification to erase the past,” taking a more conciliatory tone than when he was in office. Bolsonaro is seeking to show his base is resilient as he is being investigated by federal police over his alleged role in the Jan. 8, 2023, attacks on government buildings by his supporters over his election loss. He wants the dozens of people still in jail for those incidents to get pardons. Bolsonaro is also accused of illegally receiving jewels from Saudi Arabia during his presidency. Six blocks of Paulista Avenue filled with Bolsonaro supporters, many of them saying that he is being persecuted by Brazil's Supreme Court and that President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva unfairly won his narrow victory in the 2022 election. Some also carried Israeli flags as a show of defiance to the current president, who has received widespread criticism at home for comparing Israel's military offensive in Gaza to the Holocaust. “What I seek is pacification, it is erasing the past,” Bolsonaro said in a speech as he held an Israeli flag himself. “It is to seek a way for us to live in peace and stop being so jumpy. Amnesty for those poor people who are jailed in Brasilia. We ask all 513 congressmen, 81 senators for a bill of amnesty so justice can be made in Brazil.” Bolsonaro denied that he and his supporters attempted a coup when rioters assaulted government buildings a year ago. "What is a coup? It is tanks on the streets, weapons, conspiracy. None of that happened in Brazil," he said. Bolsonaro is barred from running for office until 2030 due to two convictions of abuse of power, but he remains active in Brazilian politics as the main adversary for left-of-center Lula. As this year's mayoral elections loom, candidates have split between the two leaders. Some of Bolsonaro's allies aiming to unseat Lula in the 2026 elections also attended, including influential governors Tarcisio de Freitas of Sao Paulo state and Romeu Zema of Minas Gerais state. But other key politicians and business executives who aligned with him during his 2019-2022 presidency did not show up. Carlos Melo, a political science professor at Insper University in Sao Paulo, predicted the pro-Bolsonaro event would not help the former president's legal situation. “The fact that Bolsonaro doesn't yield any power now reduces what he can do. Beforehand, we feared he could use the force of the armed forces. Now that is ruled out,” Melo said. “This new reality does not favor him with unpredictability and drama.” The event showed, though, that Bolsonaro's message still resonates with many Brazilians, some of whom evidently favor any coup attempt that would put him in charge. One man paraded wearing a military hat and shouted, “Brazil, nation, hail our forces. The armed forces didn’t sleep!” Federal police investigations also include military generals among those who are alleged to have plotted a pro-Bolsonaro coup with the riots in the capital city of Brasilia last year. Other Bolsonaro supporters believe Brazil faces the risk of radicalism under Lula, who also governed for two terms in 2003-2010. “It is a country that was taken over by a communist party,” hairstylist Simone da Silva Sampaio said, in reference to the president’s Workers’ Party. “We’re living terrible days in this place, where we are silenced. We don’t have the right to speak about the truth that happens here.” Workers' Party chairwoman Gleisi Hoffmann was one of the few high-profile adversaries of the former president to make comments about the pro-Bolsonaro event in Sao Paulo. “When he speaks about amnesty for those sentenced for the riots of Jan. 8, Bolsonaro aims at his own impunity. He cannot defend interests that are not his own,” Hoffman said on her social media channels. “We should not have any complacency with coup mongers, starting from their boss.”

Biden to Summon Congressional Leaders to Discuss Ukraine, Government Funding

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 19:19
Washington — President Joe Biden will convene the top four congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday to press lawmakers on passing an emergency aid package for Ukraine and Israel, as well as averting a looming government shutdown next month, according to a White House official. The top four leaders include Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democratic House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. During the meeting, the president will discuss the “urgency” of passing the aid package, which has bipartisan support, as well as legislation to keep the federal government operating through the end of September, said the White House official, who was granted anonymity to discuss a meeting not yet publicly confirmed. The Republican-led House is under pressure to pass the $95 billion national security package that bolsters aid for Ukraine, Israel as well as the Indo-Pacific. That legislation cleared the Senate on a 70-29 vote earlier this month, but Johnson has been resistant to put the aid bill up for a vote in the House. “This is one of those instances where one person can bend the course of history. Speaker Johnson, if he put this bill on the floor, would produce a strong, bipartisan majority vote in favor of the aid to Ukraine,” Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said Sunday on ABC's “This Week.” Sullivan stressed that Ukrainians need weapons and ammunition to fend off Russian forces, and that in his personal conversations with the speaker, he “has indicated that he would like to get the funding for Ukraine.” Separate from the national security package, the first tranche of government funding is due to expire Friday. The rest of the federal government, including agencies such as the Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security and the State Department, expires on March 8. In a letter to his colleagues sent Sunday, Schumer said there was not yet an agreement to avoid a partial shutdown of the agencies whose funding expires this week. That includes the departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs. “While we had hoped to have legislation ready this weekend that would give ample time for members to review the text, it is clear now that House Republicans need more time to sort themselves out,” Schumer wrote in the letter. The Senate majority leader called on Johnson to “step up to once again, buck the extremists in his caucus, and do the right thing" by greenlighting funding to keep the government open.

Sudan Authorities Block Cross-Border Aid to Stricken Darfur

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 19:07
Port Sudan, Sudan — Authorities loyal to the army in war-ravaged Sudan have blocked cross-border aid to the western Darfur region, a move decried by aid workers and the United States. The vast Darfur region, bordering Chad, has been one of the hardest hit parts of Sudan since war began 10 months ago between the Sudanese Armed Forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). RSF are descendants of the Janjaweed militia, which began a scorched earth campaign in Darfur more than two decades ago. In their current battle against the army, which started last April, the RSF have taken over four out of the five Darfur state capitals. More than 694,000 people have fled over the border to Chad, according to the International Organization for Migration, but many more remain trapped in Darfur and in need of assistance. The United Nations has had to limit its work in Darfur to cross-border operations from Chad, but last week the U.N.'s World Food Program (WFP) country director Eddie Rowe told reporters that "authorities have restricted the Chad cross-border operation." State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Friday the United States is deeply concerned by the army's "recent decision to prohibit cross border humanitarian assistance from Chad and reports that the SAF is obstructing assistance from reaching communities in areas controlled by the RSF." Sudan's foreign ministry, loyal to the army, expressed "confusion and rejection" of the "false accusations" by Washington. The ministry said the Sudan-Chad border "is the main crossing point for weapons and equipment" used to commit "atrocities" against the Sudanese. A United Nations experts' report in January cited credible evidence that the United Arab Emirates was funneling "military support" through Chad to the RSF. The UAE has denied the allegations. Miller, of the State Department, also expressed concern about RSF "looting homes, markets and humanitarian assistance warehouses."  In Brussels, Rowe said his agency was "engaging with the authorities to ensure this critical lifeline" from Chad remains operational. It is essential, an international aid worker told AFP on Sunday from Darfur, requesting anonymity so as not to jeopardize their mission. "Children and babies are already dying from hunger and malnutrition. There will be an immense human impact... and quite possibly large-scale mortality rates," the aid worker said. "The highest levels of diplomacy need to unblock this situation immediately because millions of lives hang in the balance," the aid worker said, calling it "a huge region already facing an imminent and immense food security crisis on top of a civil war, ethnic violence and state service collapse." The war has killed thousands, including up to 15,000 in the West Darfur city of El Geneina alone, according to the U.N. experts. Washington has accused both sides of war crimes and said the RSF also carried out ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 19:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Gunmen Kill at Least 15 Worshippers at Burkina Church

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 18:58
Abuja, Nigeria — At least 15 Catholic worshippers were killed in a Burkina Faso village on Sunday when gunmen attacked a community as they gathered for prayers in the country's conflict-hit northern region, Church officials said. The violence in the village of Essakane was a "terrorist attack" that left 12 of the Catholic faithful dead at the scene, while three others died later as they were being treated for their wounds, according to a statement issued by Abbot Jean-Pierre Sawadogo, vicar-general of the Catholic Diocese of Dori, where the attack happened. No further details were provided about the attack, which no group claimed responsibility for. But suspicion fell on jihadis who have frequently attacked remote communities and security forces, especially in the northern region. "In this painful circumstance, we invite you to pray for the rest in God for those who have died in faith, for the healing of the wounded and … for the conversion of those who continue to sow death and desolation in our country," Sawadogo said in a statement. About half of Burkina Faso is outside government control as jihadi groups have ravaged the country for years. Fighters have killed thousands and displaced more than 2 million people, further threatening the stability of the country that had two coups in 2022. The country's junta has struggled to restore peace in violent hot spots. Since the first coup in January 2022, the number of people killed by jihadis has nearly tripled compared with the 18 previous months, according to a report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies in August. In addition to the junta's limited capacity, the security situation also has been worsened by the country's porous borders with Mali and Niger, both of which are also run by juntas and which struggle with security crises.

Mexico Poll Favorite Faces 'Hate Messages' After Journalist’s Number Leaked

Voice of America’s immigration news - February 25, 2024 - 18:32
Mexico City — The front-runner in Mexico's upcoming presidential election said Saturday she was being inundated with hate-filled calls and messages after her phone number was released online. The privacy violation for Claudia Sheinbaum comes days after the incumbent, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, revealed the phone number of a journalist investigating his entourage's alleged drug cartel links. Sheinbaum, candidate for the ruling left-wing party, posted on X, formerly Twitter, that she was being deluged with "calls and hate messages because someone published my cell phone number on social networks." "What they want to do is obvious, once again their attacks are as crude as they are harmless," she said, adding that she would change her phone number. The former Mexico City mayor faces Xochitl Galvez, from the opposition coalition, and Jorge Alvarez Maynez of the Citizens' Movement party in the June poll. Lopez Obrador is barred from running because of Mexico's one-term limit. One of the president's sons, Jose Ramon Lopez Beltran, has also denounced the leak of his private number online. Lopez Obrador described that leak as "shameful," and accused his political opponents of being behind it. On Thursday at a regular press briefing, Lopez Obrador revealed the phone number of a New York Times reporter, along with questions put to him by The New York Times. The newspaper has reported that U.S. law enforcement officials spent years examining claims that people close to Lopez Obrador took millions of dollars from criminal gangs. A day later, he denied he had breached data protection regulations, saying, "There can be no law above a fundamental principle which is freedom." The New York Times described the incident as "a troubling and unacceptable tactic from a world leader at a time when threats against journalists are on the rise." Mexico's National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection said that it would investigate whether the disclosure broke the law.