Meghan Markle visits memorial to murdered South African woman

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A recent undated handout photograph released on September 28, 2019 by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shows Britain's Meghan, Duchess of Sussex ties on a ribbon as she visits the memorial to murdered South African student Uyinene Mrwetyana in Cape Town. (AFP)
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A recent undated handout photograph released on September 28, 2019 by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex shows Britain’s Meghan, Duchess of Sussex ties on a ribbon as she visits the memorial to murdered South African student Uyinene Mrwetyana in Cape Town. (AFP)
Updated 28 September 2019

Meghan Markle visits memorial to murdered South African woman

  • Meghan tied a ribbon to the memorial at the post office where 19-year-old university student Uyinene Mrwetyana was attacked last month
  • More than 100 rapes are reported every day in South Africa, and President Cyril Ramaphosa calls the country “one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman”

JOHANNESBURG: Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, has visited a memorial to a young South African woman whose rape and murder inspired thousands of people to protest the country’s high rate of sexual violence.
In a quiet stop during a royal tour, Meghan tied a ribbon to the memorial at the post office where 19-year-old university student Uyinene Mrwetyana was attacked last month. The assault has led outraged women to march in the streets in major cities and rally behind an online campaign called #AmINext.
A post on the royals’ Instagram account called the death “a critical point in the future of women’s rights in South Africa” and said the visit was “personally important” to Meghan.
The duchess also has spoken with Mrwetyana’s mother, the post said, adding that “the Duke and Duchess had been following what had happened from afar and were both eager to learn more when they arrived in South Africa.”
More than 100 rapes are reported every day in South Africa, and President Cyril Ramaphosa calls the country “one of the most unsafe places in the world to be a woman.” He announced new emergency measures and vowed to be tougher on perpetrators, but some women weary of years of such pronouncements have suggested that South Africa bring back the death penalty for rapists.
The scope of the problem is well-known. More than 2,700 women were murdered in South Africa last year, and more than 1,000 children, the government says. One in five women over age 18 have faced physical violence from a partner.
Women’s empowerment is one of the many issues that Meghan and Prince Harry are highlighting on their first official tour as a family with their baby, Archie. The 10-day, multi-country visit continued on Saturday for Harry with a meeting in Angola with the president of the southern African nation.
On Friday the prince followed in the footsteps of his late mother, Princess Diana, whose walk through an active mine field in Angola years ago helped to lead to a global ban on the deadly weapons.


Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

Updated 14 November 2019

Somalia struggles after worst flooding in recent history

  • At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks
  • More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding
MOGADISHU, Somalia: Ahmed Sabrie woke up to find his house half-submerged in fast-rising flood waters.

Frightened and confused, he herded his sleepy family members onto the roof of their home in central Somalia as scores of thousands of people in the town, Beledweyne, scrambled for their lives. Clinging to an electric power pylon by the edge of their roof, the family watched as their possessions were washed away.

“I could hear people, perhaps my neighbors, screaming for help but I could only fight for the survival of my family,” the 38-year-old Sabrie, the father of four, recalled.

As one of his children, unfed, wailed the family waited for more than 10 hours before a passing rescue boat spotted them.

Authorities have not yet said how many people died in the Somalia flooding last month, the country’s worst in recent history and the latest reminder that the Horn of Africa nation must prepare for the extremes expected to come with a changing climate.

At least 10 people went missing when their boat capsized after the Shabelle river burst its banks. Local officials have said at least 22 people in all are presumed dead and that toll could rise.

“This is a catastrophic situation,” Mayor Safiyo Sheikh Ali said. President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who visited the town and waded through submerged areas, called the devastation “beyond our capacity” and pleaded for more help from aid groups.

With no proper emergency response plan for natural disasters, local rescuers used rickety wooden dhows to reach trapped people while helicopters provided by the United Nations plucked people from rooftops. African Union and Somali forces have joined the rescue operations and the Somali government airlifted food.

“Many people are still trapped in their submerged houses and we have no capacity and enough equipment to cover all areas,” said Abdirashakur Ahmed, a local official helping to coordinate rescue operations. Hundreds are thought to still be stuck.

With more heavy rains and flash flooding expected, officials warned thousands of displaced people against returning too quickly to their homes.

More than 250,000 people across Somalia were displaced by the recent severe flooding, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Beledweyne town was the worst affected. Several thousand people were sheltering under trees or in tents.

“Floods have destroyed more than three-quarters of Beledweyne and submerged many surrounding villages,” said Victor Moses, the NRC’s country director.

Aid groups said farms, infrastructure and roads in some areas were destroyed. The destruction of farmland near rivers is expected to contribute to a hunger crisis.

The possibility of further damage from heavy rains in the coming days remains a concern, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Parts of the Lower Juba, Gedo and Bay regions, where IOM has supported displaced populations for years, have been affected. Many displaced people were stranded without food, latrines or shelter.

“In Baidoa, people have moved to high ground where they are in immediate need of support,” said Nasir Arush, the minister for humanitarian and disaster management for South West State.

Survivors like Sabrie now must struggle to rebuild their lives.

“We’re alive, which I am thankful to Allah for, but this flood disaster wreaked havoc on both our livelihoods and households so I see a tough road ahead of us,” he said from a makeshift shelter built on higher ground outside town.