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Geopolitics

Islamist Militants Responsible For Algerian Hostage Crisis Say It's "Only The Beginning"

PARIS MATCH (France), REUTERS

Worldcrunch

PARIS – The Islamist militant group behind the deadly hostage crisis at an Algerian gas plant that killed dozens of foreigners last week has threatened to carry out new attacks, especially against France.

In a phone call to French weekly magazine Paris Match, a spokesman for Mokhtar Belmokhtar – the man behind the terrorist attack at the In Amenas gas plant that killed an estimated 38 foreigners and one Algerian worker according to Reuters – said the operation had been "90% successful, because with only 40 men, we managed to hit a strategic site guarded by 800 soldiers."

The spokesman, who called himself Joulaybib, but whom Paris Match identified as Hacen Ould Khalil, Belmokhtar’s right-hand man, warned: "I hope France realizes that there are going to be dozens of Mohammed Merahs and Khaled Kelkals."

Mohammed Merah was a French Al-Qaeda sympathiser who killed seven people in the southern city of Toulouse last year; Khaled Kelkal was an Algerian terrorist involved in a series of terror bombings in France in the 1990s.

"The attack in In Amenas is only the beginning," Joulaybib added.

Paris Match also reports that the spokesman claimed his group contacted the French authorities for negotiations even before the Algerian army launched an assault on the facility – a fact that France denies.

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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