In brief: Militant suicide raid kills 13 at U.N. compound in Somalia
Mogadishu, Somalia – Seven al-Qaida-linked militants on a suicide mission attacked the U.N. compound Wednesday with a truck bomb and then poured inside, killing at least 13 people before dying in the assault.
At least three foreigners were slain during the raid in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, where the United Nations expanded its presence this year, about 18 months after Islamic insurgents were pushed from the seaside city.
The militant group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the U.N. “a merchant of death.”
U.S., Cuba agree to negotiate on migration issues in July
Havana – The United States and Cuba have agreed to resume bilateral talks on migration issues next month, a State Department official said Wednesday, the latest evidence of a thaw in chilly relations between the Cold War enemies.
Havana and Washington just wrapped up a round of separate negotiations aimed at restarting direct mail service, which has been suspended since 1963. Both sets of talks have been on hold in recent years in a dispute over the fate of U.S. government subcontractor Alan Gross, who is serving a 15-year jail sentence in Havana after he was caught bringing communications equipment onto the island illegally.
The migration talks will be held in Washington on July 17.
Syrian war pushes number of refugees to record high
Geneva – The Syrian civil war contributed to pushing the numbers of refugees and those displaced by conflict within their own nation to an 18-year high of 45.2 million worldwide by the end of 2012, the U.N. refugee agency said Wednesday.
Those are the highest numbers since 1994, when people fled genocide in Rwanda and bloodshed in former Yugoslavia.
By the end of last year, the world had 15.4 million refugees, 937,000 asylum seekers and 28.8 million people who had been forced to flee within the borders of their own countries, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in a report.
Of those, 17 percent were new to their situations in 2012: 1.1 million new refugees and 6.5 million internally displaced people – many from conflicts in Mali, Congo and Sudan.
Most of the refugees in the world have fled from five war-affected countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan. Of those, Afghanistan has for the past 32 years held the top spot; one of every four of the world’s refugees is an Afghan – and nearly all of them have fled to Pakistan or Iran.