1. Djibouti drownings: How Covid has increased risk to migrants

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    Video caption: At least 20 people drowned near Djibouti after they were thrown off an overloaded boat

    At least 20 people drowned near Djibouti after more than 80 were thrown off an overloaded boat

  2. UN asks for tougher stance on human traffickers

    Will Ross

    Africa editor, BBC World Service

    A map showing Djibouti and Saudi Arabia
    Image caption: At least 20 people travelling from Djibouti have died at sea

    The UN migration agency has called for more to be done to prosecute smugglers and human traffickers following the latest drownings off Djibouti.

    Survivors have described the brutal actions of smugglers operating in the Horn of Africa.

    Some 200 migrants including children were crammed onto the boat in Djibouti on Wednesday morning.

    Just half an hour after setting off, the smugglers forced 80 of them into the sea.

    At least 20 people died.

    Every year, tens of thousands of young migrants try to make it to Yemen despite the conflict there. Their aim is to reach Saudi Arabia and the neighbouring Gulf countries in search of work.

    Last year there was a dramatic decrease in the number of people making the journey from Ethiopia and Somalia to Yemen, but the International Organization for Migration fears that as coronavirus controls are lifted many more lives will be lost due to the greed and brutality of the smuggling gangs.

  3. Migrants die after being thrown in sea off Djibouti

    BBC World Service

    Boys fish near Djibouti port on May 3, 2015.
    Image caption: Drownings are common as migrants try to escape war in Ethiopia and Somalia

    The UN says at least 20 African migrants died after smugglers threw them overboard off the coast of Djibouti.

    The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said at least 80 people were thrown off the vessel after the traffickers realised it was overloaded.

    Their boat had been carrying about 200 migrants, including women and children according to IOM.

    The migrants were on their way to Yemen, hoping to get to Saudi Arabia to look for work.

    The head of IOM, António Vitorino, tweeted about the news:

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    Drownings are common off Djibouti as migrants from Ethiopia and Somalia try to escape war and poverty at home to find work in the Gulf.

  4. 4 Mars and music from Djibouti

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    Video caption: Kathryn Tickell talks to Ostinato Records founder Vik Sohonie about their new release.

    Kathryn Tickell talks to Ostinato Records founder Vik Sohonie about their new release of rare archive music from Djibouti, featuring the band 4 Mars.

  5. The 1970's Somali 'super band' getting a new lease of life

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    Video caption: 4 Mars, which was set up 'unify the country', counted Muammar Gaddafi amongst its fans

    4 Mars, which was set up 'unify the country', counted Muammar Gaddafi amongst its fans

  6. Djibouti urges 'peaceful settlement' of Ethiopia conflict

    Abdi Dahir

    BBC Monitoring

    Djibouti is the latest country to appeal for a "peaceful settlement" to the conflict between Ethiopia's central government and the Tigray regional leadership.

    It follows a meeting between Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmeds special security adviser, Gedu Andargachew, and Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh.

    In a statement broadcast on state-owned TV, Djibouti's Foreign Affairs Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf said the government was following the conflict with "great concern".

    Djibouti recognised Mr Abiy's government as the "sole guarantor" of Ethiopia's unity and territorial integrity, it added.

    Landlocked Ethiopia uses Djibouti's port for imports and exports, and the conflict in Ethiopia could negatively affect Djibouti’s economy.

    Ethiopia has rejected mediation with the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF), which Mr Abiy wants to dislodge from power in the northern Tigray region.

    He said the military operation was launched after the TPLF violently took control of a huge military base in Tigray, and the conflict will end once TPLF officials are arrested and prosecuted.

    The TPLF says its members have been "victimised" since Mr Abiy took office in 2018. It also accuses him of trying to impose a unitary system of government in Ethiopia.

    Thousands have fled the conflict to neighbouring Sudan, which expects to receive close to 200,000 refugees.

    On Monday, the leaders of Uganda and Kenya met Ethiopia's Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen and called for talks to end the conflict.

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  7. Eight migrants dead and 12 missing off Djibouti coast

    BBC World Service

    A map of Djibouti and its neighbours

    The United Nations migration agency says at least eight migrants have died and 12 more are missing at sea after being forced off a boat by smugglers near the coast of Djibouti.

    More than 30 people on board - thought to be Ethiopian - had been attempting to return to East Africa from Yemen.

    A spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration said 14 survivors are receiving medical treatment in Djibouti.

    Some 14,000 African migrants are stranded in Yemen trying to return home after being expelled by Saudi Arabia as part of measures to control the coronavirus pandemic.

  8. Protests over torture of Djibouti military pilot

    BBC World Service

    A map showing Djibouti in relation to Ethiopia

    Protests have been taking place in Djibouti following reports that a detained air force pilot had been tortured.

    Although officials in the country have not commented on the case, Fouad Youssuf Ali is thought to have been arrested in April in neighbouring Ethiopia and extradited to Djibouti.

    In a secretly filmed video he said he feared he would not survive his incarceration.

    His lawyer says when he visited last month Mr Ali showed signs of having been tortured.

    The rights group, Reporters Without Borders, says since Friday two journalists covering the story of the detained pilot have been arrested.

  9. Unlocking Djibouti's 'best kept secret'

    A music producer on a trip to Djibouti to listen the national radio station’s music archive discovered some of the country’s best musicians jamming in a studio next door.

    According to Ostinato Records’ Vik Sohonie, Groupe RTD, paid to perform the national anthem and appear at various state ceremonies, is one of East Africa’s best kept secrets.

    He told BBC Newsday’s Lawrence Pollard that their music revealed the rich mix of culture influences in the Red Sea nation, including Bollywood, reggae and jazz.

    The national radio archive itself holds more than 5,000 reels of music - the entire catalogue of Djiboutian music on record - partly because the country's recording industry is completely controlled by the government.

    Listen to the full interview:

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    Video caption: Rare access to Djibouti's government controlled music industry

    A recording of Groupe RTD's music - an album called The Dancing Devils of Djibouti - is being released by Ostinato Records this month.

  10. US military declares virus emergency in Djibouti bases

    Emmanuel Igunza

    BBC News, Nairobi

    US soldiers during a military a drill in Djibouti
    Image caption: The US uses the Djibouti bases for counter-terrorism operations in the region

    The US military has declared a public health emergency in all its installations in Djibouti following a sharp rise of coronavirus cases in the country.

    Djibouti has so far recorded two deaths and 986 positive cases of the virus, with concerns that it could spread even further in the tiny nation with a population of under one million.

    A statement from the commander of US forces in the Horn of Africa says the precautionary measures will give him more powers to deal with a possible Covid-19 outbreak and help keep American and Djiboutian forces healthy and safe.

    The directive affects all personnel, including service members, US department of defence civilians and contractors at Camp Lemonnier Djibouti and the Chabelley Airfield run by the Americans.

    The measures, which will be effective for an initial 30 days, will also apply to all US personnel working at the Port of Djibouti.

    Djibouti has seen the number of cases more than double to 986 in just a week. But the US statement does not mention if any of its forces has tested positive.

    The US forces in Africa mainly focus on counter-terrorism activities in several countries including Somalia where they have carried out hundreds of air campaigns against al-Shabab militants.

    They also conduct trainings for partner forces in the continent.

  11. Warnings issued as heavy rains lash East Africa

    Ferdinand Omondi

    BBC News, Nairobi

    A village flooded in Kenya - April 2020
    Image caption: Villages in western Kenya have been flooded

    More than 20 people have been killed by flash floods since the weekend in western Kenya. Dozens of others are missing.

    In Kisumu, Lake Victoria has swelled and flooded nearby businesses and the country’s largest dams are now threatened by the deluges.

    The authorities have warned people living near bodies of water to move to higher ground.

    Weather experts predict that heavy rainfall will continue to fall, affecting other countries in the region.

    Eight people have already drowned in Djibouti and the country's coronavirus testing facility has been flooded.

    Last year, hundreds of people died in torrential rains across East Africa.

    Entire villages were swept away, with crops and livestock destroyed.

  12. Sharp rise in Covid-19 cases in Djibouti

    Emmanuel Igunza

    BBC News, Nairobi

    Djibouti has recorded another sharp rise in coronavirus cases.

    On Tuesday, it reported 99 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed infections to 945.

    Mass testing has been greatly hampered by heavy rains and floods, which have killed eight people in the capital.

    The country, which has a population of under one million, has reported more than 200 new infections in the past two days.

    Two people have died so far.

    The reason for the spike is not yet clear, although experts say the tiny nation is conducting more daily tests than its neighbours Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan and even Kenya further south.

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  13. Djibouti records steep rise in Covid-19 cases

    Ahmed Adan

    BBC News, Nairobi

    Djibouti has reported 156 new cases of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number to 591.

    It’s the largest spike in numbers in a single day since the first case was reported.

    With the smallest population in East Africa - less than a million people - Djibouti has the highest number of Covid-19 cases in the region.

    Health Minister Mohamed Warsame said two patients had died and 73 others had recovered from the disease. He confirmed that the majority of the cases were local transmissions.

    President Ismail Omar Guelleh on Wednesday announced that the lockdown would be extended for a further 10 days.

    He said that the lockdown, which began two weeks ago, had “undoubtedly led to society avoiding mass infections”.

    The country has so far tested more than 5,000 people.

    The first cases were doctors who had returned from abroad, according to Mr Warsame.

  14. Video content

    Video caption: Building Africa's maritime trading hub

    Djibouti wants to become the premier trading point for the African continent.

  15. Red Sea boat disaster: Death toll rises to 52

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media


    The bodies of 52 people have been recovered from the red sea after two boats capsized off the coast of Djibouti, the UN migration agency says.

    The incident happened about 30 minutes after the overloaded boats - with hundreds of migrants on board - set off in heavy seas from Godoria, in the northeast of the country, on Tuesday.

    The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) added that 16 survivors had been rescued.

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    "This tragic event demonstrates the risks that vulnerable migrants face as they innocently search for better lives,” said IOM's Lalini Veerassamy in a statement.

    Djibouti has in recent years become a transit point for migrants heading to find work on the Arabian Peninsula.

  16. Dozens die in Djibouti boat accident

    Map showing Djibouti and neighbouring countries

    At least 28 people have died after two boats capsized off the coast of Djibouti, the UN migration agency says.

    The incident occurred about 30 minutes after the overloaded boats set off in heavy seas from Godoria on Tuesday.

    One survivor said there were 130 people on his boat, but was not able to say how many passengers were on the other vessel.

    A rescue and recovery operation is ongoing.

    Djibouti has in recent years become a transit point for migrants heading to find work on the Arabian Peninsula.