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Nigerian fans riot after World Cup qualification defeat to Ghana | Qatar 2022 News

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Abuja, Nigeria – Ghana held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw in the Nigerian capital on Tuesday, winning the tie on away goals to become the first African country to book a ticket to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

But angry reactions from the home fans in and around the stadium blighted the “Jollof derby”, with a pitch invasion, fighting and other disturbances taking place.

Most of the vociferous crowd in Abuja had expected Nigeria to qualify for the World Cup after the first leg of their playoff ended 0-0 in Ghana on Friday.

But goalkeeper Francis Uzoho’s error allowed Thomas Partey to open the scoring for Ghana early in the second leg. William Troost-Ekong levelled from the penalty spot, but Nigeria missed several clear chances to win the match at the Moshood Abiola Stadium.

There had been signs of trouble before the match as crushes had built up outside the 60,000-capacity stadium barely an hour before kick-off, with thousands of ticketless fans approaching different gates.

There was a surge and stampede at one of the entrances after police officers began turning fans away. A journalist who tried to capture the scene was allegedly attacked by the police.

“You think watching Nigeria play a football match is worth losing my life and properties for,” one angry fan shouted. “I was beaten like a thief by the police even though I have a ticket. I will never come back here again.”

Many fans with executive and VIP tickets which cost 25,000 naira ($60) were locked out and unable to enter the stadium before kick-off. Some officials with state box tickets were shocked as state police prevented them from going inside the stadium.

Away from the VIP entrance, fights broke out in the overcrowded terraces, with some reports suggesting 75,000 fans managed to enter the stadium. Local journalists came face to face with fans who invaded the media section.

At the final whistle, fans reacted to the result by throwing objects at both the small group of visiting fans and the Ghana players, and invaded the pitch – where both sets of players were left to battle their own way towards the tunnel as fans charged at them. Fans also smashed the doors leading to the presidential box and overturned two dugouts.

The police hit the pitch invaders with their batons, and fired tear gas on the pitch to disperse them.

Cars parked outside the stadium were vandalised and properties stolen, while some vehicles parked near the exit doors had windows, wing mirrors and lights smashed. Attacks outside the ground were reported by local media, with some fans having their mobile phones stolen.

Journalist Uche Nwudoh told Al Jazeera that the disturbances were “embarrassing and sad to witness” and blamed security forces for failing to control the crowd.

“I don’t think it makes sense to mess a big day like this up for those who only came to support their national team,” Nwudoh said. “What message are we sending to those who are planning to come to the stadium in the future?”

Nigeria stadium
Security men control the crowd during the World Cup qualifier match between Nigeria and Ghana at Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja, Nigeria [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

For some, it was a déjà vu moment at the stadium. Back in October 2011, Nigeria’s 2-2 home draw against Guinea in a 2012 Nations Cup qualifier meant the hosts failed to qualify for the continental event for the first time since 1986.

Stadium doors were shattered, and VIP entrance glasses broken by angry fans. They also pelted the team bus with heavy stones, leaving some players with minor injuries.

Nigeria could face sanctions from world football’s governing body, the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), after this latest crowd trouble at the same venue.

Death at the ground

Meanwhile, a doping officer on duty at the match died from a suspected cardiac arrest after the game’s full time, contrary to rumours on social media he was beaten to death by irate fans. Attempts to resuscitate Joseph Kabungo failed, and the Zambian official was pronounced dead after arriving at a hospital in Abuja, according to the Nigeria Football Association (NFF).

An NFF statement said Kabungo was found “gasping for breath near the dressing room of the Ghanaian team” while on his way to find a Ghana player for a doping test.

“We mourn the passing of our CAF [Confederation of African Football] and FIFA medical officer Dr Joseph Kabungo and we extend our sincere condolences to Dr Kabungo’s family and the football family at large,” Football Association of Zambia President Andrew Kamanga said.

“He was a dedicated and widely loved member of our football community and his impact was vast, having also been part of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations winning team.”

Former African footballer of the year and Zambia football legend Kalusha Bwalya wrote on Twitter that he has lost a brother and courageous man.





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Kim Jong Un warns of ‘great turmoil’; 21 new ‘fever’ deaths | Coronavirus pandemic News

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Limited testing capabilities suggest the numbers released are likely to represent only a tiny fraction of total cases.

North Korea on Saturday reported 21 deaths and tens of thousands more people with fever symptoms as leader Kim Jong Un said the outbreak of COVID-19 had put the country in “great turmoil”.

The isolated nation made an unprecedented admission of its first COVID outbreak earlier this week, after claiming no infections since the start of the pandemic more than two years ago.

State media announced the first suspected deaths from the virus on Friday.

The new deaths and cases increased the total numbers to 27 deaths and 524,440 illnesses amid a rapid spread of fever since late April. North Korea said 243,630 people had recovered and 280,810 remained in quarantine.

State media did not elaborate on how many of the fever cases and deaths were confirmed as COVID-19.

North Korea, one of only two countries in the world not to have had a COVID vaccination campaign, has limited testing capabilities suggesting the numbers released probably represent only a small fraction of total infections.

Amid the outbreak, the country’s ruling Workers’ Party met for an emergency meeting on the situation, according to KCNA.

“The spread of the malignant epidemic is a great turmoil to fall on our country since the founding,” the state news agency quoted Kim as telling the meeting.

He expressed optimism, however, that officials would be able to bring the outbreak under control, saying most transmissions were occurring within communities that had been isolated from one another and not spreading from region to region.

The country has imposed stronger preventive measures aimed at restricting the movement of people and supplies between cities and counties since Thursday, but state media’s descriptions of the steps suggest people are not being confined to their homes.

Experts say a failure to control the spread of COVID-19 could have devastating consequences in North Korea, given the state of its healthcare system and that its 26 million people are largely unvaccinated.

North Korea has been testing about 1,400 people a week, Harvard Medical School’s Kee Park who has worked on healthcare projects in the country, told Reuters news agency.

Since late April, 524,440 people have shown signs of fever, KCNA said.

Epidemic control officials told the Workers’ Party meeting that “in most cases, human casualties were caused by negligence including drug overdose due to lack of knowledge of treatment methods”, state media said.

North Korea previously rejected offers of COVID-19 vaccinations, and while South Korea, China and the WHO have all offered assistance to help deal with the outbreak, Pyongyang has yet to indicate whether it will accept their assistance.



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Pope to visit Canada in July to meet residential school survivors | Indigenous Rights News

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Visit from July 24 to 30 comes after Pope Francis apologised for Catholic Church’s role in abuse of Indigenous children.

Warning: The story below contains details of residential schools that may be upsetting. Canada’s Indian Residential School Survivors and Family Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

Pope Francis will travel to Canada at the end of July, the Vatican has announced, as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church is expected to meet Indigenous survivors of abuse committed at so-called residential schools.

The 85-year-old will travel to Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit, the Vatican said on Friday, adding that more details on the July 24 to 30 visit will be published in the coming weeks.

The announcement comes after the pope last month apologised for abuses that members of the church committed against Indigenous children at residential schools.

Speaking to Indigenous delegates at the Vatican, Pope Francis said he felt “sorrow and shame” for the role Catholics played in the many harms that Indigenous children suffered while attending the forced-assimilation institutions.

“For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart, I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon,” he said.

A map of former residential schools in Canada

Canada forced more than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children to attend residential schools between the late 1800s and 1990s. The children were stripped of their languages and culture, separated from siblings, and subjected to psychological, physical and sexual abuse.

Thousands are believed to have died while attending the institutions, most of which were run by the Roman Catholic Church. A federal commission of inquiry into Canada’s residential schools, known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), concluded in 2015 that the system amounted to “cultural genocide”.

The discoveries of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across Canada over the past year spurred renewed calls for accountability – and an apology from the Catholic Church in particular.

The pope’s apology last month was welcomed by Indigenous leaders, but they called on him to visit Canada to deliver the apology on Indigenous lands.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that “a formal in-person apology” from the head of the Roman Catholic Church to survivors and their families would be an important step “to advance meaningful reconciliation for Indigenous Peoples in our country”.

Edmonton is home to the second-largest number of Indigenous people living in urban Canadian centres, and approximately 25 residential schools were located in Alberta, the most of any province or territory in Canada, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said.

Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith, who is coordinating the papal visit on behalf of the Canadian bishops, said the pontiff will visit a former residential school site “and other locations of significance”.

Quebec is home to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, one of the oldest and most popular pilgrimage sites in North America, while Iqaluit, on vast Baffin Island, is the capital of the Nunavut territory, home to many Inuit.

Bishop Raymond Poisson said Canada’s bishops were “immensely grateful” the pope will visit to “continue the journey of healing and reconciliation”.

Francis is expected to repeat his apology to school abuse survivors and relatives of victims.



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US states argue to keep contentious border policy in place | Migration News

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US court is hearing challenge to Biden administration’s plan to end Title 42 restriction at US-Mexico border this month.

A group of 21 US states have argued that the Biden administration’s plan to lift a contentious border restriction that barred most asylum seekers from seeking protection at the US-Mexico border was made without sufficient consideration of the effects it would have.

Drew Ensign, a lawyer representing the states involved in the legal challenge, told US District Judge Robert Summerhays on Friday that their lawsuit was “not about the policy wisdom” behind the announcement to end the policy on May 23.

Rather, Ensign argued that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not follow proper administrative procedures requiring public notice and the gathering of comments on the decision to end the restrictions imposed under what is known as Title 42.

More than 1.8 million Title 42 expulsions have been carried out since March 2020, when the policy was first invoked under former President Donald Trump’s administration as the nation was going into lockdown due to COVID-19.

Rights groups have said the move was made largely to deter asylum at the border, however.

Title 42 has allowed US authorities to quickly expel most asylum seekers who arrived at the border without giving them chance to request protection in the country, which rights groups said violated US and international law.

Migrants being returned
The US states that sued are alleging that proper consideration was not given to increases in border crossings and their possible effects [File: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]

The lawsuit came after the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on April 1 that the restriction would be lifted by May 23 after the CDC said it was no longer needed.

Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri quickly sued and were later joined by 18 other states in the legal challenge being heard on Friday. Texas sued independently.

The states have alleged that proper consideration was not given to the resulting increases in border crossings and their possible effects, including pressure on state healthcare systems and the diversion of border law enforcement resources from drug interdiction to controlling illegal crossings.

Jean Lin, with the Department of Justice, argued on Friday that the CDC was within its authority to lift an emergency health restriction it felt was no longer needed. She said the CDC order was a matter of health policy, not immigration policy.

“There is no basis to use Title 42 as a safety valve,” Lin told Summerhays.

Several migrant advocacy groups have asked Summerhays to at least allow Title 42 to be lifted as planned in California and New Mexico, two border states that have not challenged the administration’s decision.

But the effort to end the policy came just months before crucial US midterm elections in November, and it appeared to have emboldened some Republicans who want to make immigration an issue before the vote.

Migrants being returned to Mexico
Rights groups say Title 42 violates US and international law [File: Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters]

“Ending refugee protection for those fleeing violence and human rights violations is a betrayal of the Democrats’ supposed values and our nation’s identity,” Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a group that advocates for immigration reform, said in a statement on Wednesday.

“It will do nothing to stop Republican attacks and falsehoods over the border, and it will do nothing to modernize our immigration system so that it serves our interests and reflects our values,” Sharry said in a statement.

US authorities stopped asylum seekers more than 221,000 times at the Mexican border in March, a 22-year high. Many of those were repeat crossers.

Title 42 authority has been applied unevenly across nationalities. Mexico has agreed to take back migrants from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico — but largely refused to take back people from other countries.

Under Title 42, the US has flown Haitian asylum seekers, including those who had not lived in the country for years, to the crisis-stricken nation on board deportation flights.

Earlier this year, however, US border officials exempted Ukrainians fleeing the war from Title 42 expulsions and allowed them to enter the US through the US-Mexico border.



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