Muslim group trapped by Central African Republic violence face dire situation warns

Adrian Edwards, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told reporters in Geneva that 474 members of the Peuhl ethnic group had been trapped for several months in the town of Yaloke, 200 kilometres northwest of the capital city of Bangui, where they were now facing dire humanitarian conditions. Adults and children had become severely malnourished and more than 30 per cent were suffering from malaria, he noted, adding that there were also six known cases of tuberculosis. In addition, he warned, since their arrival in Yaloke in April, 42 people among the group had died, while others were becoming weaker by the day.“Despite the presence of international forces, the group at Yaloke is still subject to recurrent threats, verbal and physical aggression, and looting by anti-Balaka militias,” said Mr. Edwards. “Urgent humanitarian assistance is needed along with help in relocating them to safer places, either inside the Central African Republic or to neighbouring countries.” He added that today, the displaced Peuhl are the only Muslims still in Yaloke, and they are confined to an overcrowded site for the internally displaced.“They cannot go beyond a 500 metre perimeter because of the dangers. This means that they cannot seek safety elsewhere but it also impedes them from securing a livelihood or seeking other help.”On 18 December, a UNHCR team had visited the Peuhl in an effort to assess the situation and had been confronted with more than 90 per cent of the group members expressing the desire to seek refuge in neighbouring countries such as Cameroon and Chad.“People pleaded for assistance with vehicles and security to help them leave the country. Others wanted to be relocated away from Yaloke which is no longer considered viable,” said Mr. Edwards.More than two years of civil war and sectarian violence have displaced thousands of people in the CAR. According to UNHCR estimates, nearly 440,000 people remain displaced inside the country while some 190,000 have sought asylum across the borders. At the same time, more than 36,000 people – including the Peuhl – remain trapped in enclaves across the country, hoping to find asylum in neighbouring states.Earlier this month, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous warned of a potentially explosive situation in the CAR amid continuing violent clashes between the mainly Muslim Séléka alliance and anti-Balaka militia, which are mostly Christian.The UNHCR spokesperson noted that the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the CAR (MINUSCA) was playing “a key role in protecting people and had prevented numerous acts of violence” but, he cautioned, the situation was now “becoming worse by the day” and “immediate action” was necessary to help transport the Peuhl to safety. read more

Jaguar Land Rover invests £370 million in new Range Rover

Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window) Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) today announced that it has invested £370 million to upgrade its UK manufacturing facilities and increase productivity as it prepares to launch the new Range Rover in 170 countries around the world.As part of the investment package, JLR has installed a new aluminium body shop at the company’s Solihull plant, along with upgrades to paint-applications technologies, trim assembly, warehousing and JLR’s first customer handover centre.The arrival of the latest model follows a significant investment in all-aluminium production processes at Land Rover’s Solihull plant, where more than 6,800 workers are employed on Range Rover and other models.Dr. Ralf Speth, Jaguar Land Rover Chief Executive Officer, said, “As the UK’s leading automotive investor in R&D we are proud of the work that has gone into developing the new technologies and innovations to make the new Range Rover possible.“Through a £370m investment in our manufacturing facilities we have been able to build the world’s first SUV with lightweight all-aluminium construction, a car that is 20% lighter, with fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions reduced by 22%.”Paul Everitt, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Today’s announcement by Jaguar Land Rover is excellent news for the UK automotive industry, the wider economy and the thousands of workers the company employs in vehicle and engine manufacturing.“The wave of recent investments from global automotive companies demonstrate the growing strength and competitiveness of our manufacturing sector and shows what can happen when industry and government work together to build a better business environment.”As part of its recent expansion, Jaguar Land Rover has:opened a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility at Solihull;begun work on a £355 million engine factory near Wolverhampton;moved to 24-hour production at Halewood on Merseyside to meet demand for the Range Rover Evoque;created 1,100 new jobs at Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich plant;launched Land Rover assembly in India; andsigned a joint venture agreement with the aim of launching manufacturing in China, subject to regulation approval.Dr. Speth added, “Jaguar Land Rover is firing on all cylinders, generating export revenues of close to £8 billion a year as we meet demand for a model-range that justifies continued expansion in our UK facilities and elsewhere.”The first sales of the fourth-generation Range Rover will begin this month following a three-year engineering project, supporting 1,000 jobs in design, product development and manufacturing. Deliveries to customers will start in early 2013, some 40 years after the first Range Rover was unveiled.Click through to read more about investment announcements from UK automotive companies over the last two years. read more