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Sudan conflict: Neighbors volunteer to bury dead amid battle for Khartoum

Sudanese Red Crescent Society

(LONDON) -- Perturbed by the stench entering his family home in Bahri, Khartoum North, Dr. Noah Madni and his remaining neighbors decided to remove the bodies amassing in the street themselves.

"No one from the military or health ministry was coming to pick the bodies up," Madni told ABC News.

He and his neighbors gathered a party of people from different specialties. They set about assigning roles and organizing transport. Madni then shared pictures on Facebook, calling on friends and families to contact him if they saw a dead body.

For weeks the world has watched an exodus of more than 100,000 people from Sudan, the northeastern African country where a dispute between rival generals has led to a bloody internal conflict. Cease-fire talks have stalled. And citizens and doctors who remain face a worsening humanitarian situation and the monumental task of preventing Sudan's fragile health system from full-scale collapse.

Civilians account for a small number of the dead that Madni encounters, he said. Instead, the majority are members of the Rapid Support Forces, a powerful Sudanese paramilitary group. Many are soldiers aged between 20-30 years old, though Madni said he has heard some are as young as 16.

"We wash them and bury them in the cemetery. We try our best to dig holes. We are just trying our best," he said.

Photos show burial sheets, bodies wrapped and ready for burial, and graves being dug at Hillat Hamad Cemetery in Bahri.

'This is about basic human dignity'
With electricity in short supply and near constant air raids and gunfire prohibiting families and medical teams from collecting their dead, the issue is a prescient one, said Alyona Synenko, regional spokesperson for Africa with the International Committee of the Red Cross.

"We've been hearing about lots of bodies piled up in morgues. These were bodies from before these hostilities started, they were abandoned in morgues without electricity."

Sudan Doctor's Trade Union has warned of an "environmental catastrophe" as the bodies of soldiers and civilians caught in the crossfire lie in the street for days. They advised citizens in a Facebook post to avoid washing bodies that had reached a great degree of decomposition.

The bodies pose a public health risk, but civilians were also warned to avoid them as a measure of basic human dignity, Synenko said.

"These are not just bodies, these are people. It's important to properly collect them, identify them in a dignified way," Synenko told ABC News.

One video posted on social media shows a body being removed from ِِِAl-Wadi Street, Omdurman, Sudan, on April 17. Other social media posts seen by ABC News show bodies lying unburied in homes in embattled areas of Khartoum for weeks.

"It's a Muslim country and there is a tradition to bury people very quickly," Synenko said "The cultural and religious traditions must be respected."

Several physicians ABC News spoke to reported families were burying loved ones or colleagues wherever they could, often in their own gardens.

The ICRC said it's working closely with the Sudanese Red Crescent society engaged in "Dead Body Management," which includes collecting, identifying and burying those that have been killed. Whilst the ICRC has supplied 100 body bags, they have warned of potential implications when people are not identified.

"It's important to prevent people from going missing," they said. "If we have dead bodies that are not properly identified, that can translate into years or decades of suffering for families who will then try to find their loved ones and won't be able to do so if somebody was killed and buried somewhere without proper identification."

Sudan's Doctor's Trade Union has advised volunteer groups to assign numbers to each unidentified corpse and record the place of death and any identification papers they may be carrying.

"It is possible to go back to exhume the corpses and take a sample of the bone for DNA testing after the end of the war."

ABC News has reviewed photographs on social media showing pictures of unidentified corpses and numbered graves. One caption reads: "I have a name but buried unknown on May 23. 3487 that's my name, remember me to survive".

Civilians missing in Khartoum
Israa Kamal Ali, 22, said she has had no contact with her father since May 2.

Kamal Ali Osman left his home in Al Sahafa to collect heart medication from his father's home in Omak. Osman later sent a text message to his family telling them he had been stopped by the RSF, but minutes later these messages were deleted, Israa told ABC News from Cairo, Egypt.

Israa Kamal Ali



























"We think they forced him to delete the messages," Israa explains that the 60-year-old had recently undergone heart surgery that requires daily heart medication.

Israa's family is one of hundreds that have taken to social media to seek information about missing loved ones since the conflict began. According to the local monitor, the Missing Persons Initiative, 190 Sudanese people are now deemed missing.

"It has been a difficult time for my family," Israa said. "We are constantly worried about him and his health."

ABC News' Ayat Al-Tawy contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

At least 200 killed, hundreds injured in train crash in India

Tuul & Bruno Morandi/Getty Images

(INDIA) -- At least 200 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in a train accident in India, as the death toll continues to rise, officials said.

The crash occurred Friday night in Odisha, a state in eastern India, and involved three trains, according to Odisha Chief Secretary Pradeep Jena. Several cars of a passenger train derailed in the incident, he said.

"Death toll in the train accident increasing," Jena said on social media, noting that 207 people were killed and approximately 900 injured in the accident, per reporting from the Special Relief Organization, which deals with disaster management in the state.

More than 200 ambulances have responded to the scene of the "violent train accident," Jena tweeted.

Rescue teams have been mobilized from various parts of the country, according to Ashwini Vaishnaw, India's minister for Railways, Communications, Electronics and Information Technology.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was "distressed" by the accident.

"In this hour of grief, my thoughts are with the bereaved families," Modi tweeted. "May the injured recover soon."

Saturday has been declared a day of mourning in Odisha due to the rail accident, which occurred near Bahanaga.

Ex-gratia payments will be offered to "victims of this unfortunate train accident in Odisha," Vaishnaw tweeted.

Families who suffered a death will receive 10 lakhs -- equivalent to about 12,000 USD -- while those who suffered "grievous" injuries will receive two lakhs -- about 2,400 USD -- according to Vaishnaw.

People with minor injuries will receive 50,000 rupees -- about 600 USD -- Vaishnaw said.

ABC News' Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Ethnic cleansing continues in Tigray, despite truce agreement: Report

omersukrugoksu/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Ethnic cleansing campaigns have continued in Ethiopia's Tigray region, despite a November 2022 peace agreement, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

"The November truce in northern Ethiopia has not brought about an end to the ethnic cleansing of Tigrayans in Western Tigray Zone," Laetitia Bader, deputy Africa director for Human Rights Watch, said in a statement. "If the Ethiopian government is really serious about ensuring justice for abuses, then it should stop opposing independent investigations into the atrocities in Western Tigray and hold abusive officials and commanders to account."

The new report highlights that Tigrayans have suffered forced expulsions and deportations, torture, death and life-threatening treatment that "may amount to the crime against humanity of extermination" on the basis of their identity.

The Ethiopian military entered Tigray, a semi-autonomous region in the northern part of the country, on Nov. 4, 2020, in response to claims the Tigray People's Liberation Front attacked a military base in the region, according to the country's prime minister.

The war in Tigray is estimated to have claimed the lives of up to 600,000 civilians between November 2020 and August 2022, according to researchers from Belgium's Ghent University. Han Nyssen, senior professor of geography at Ghent University, told ABC News in January that the true scale of death in Ethiopia's Tigray region remains hard to ascertain.

"We [still] have almost no view of what happens in Western Tigray," he said.

Human Rights Watch conducted dozens of interviews with witnesses, victims and humanitarian aid staff in gathering information about the bleak conditions for Tigrayans.

"The [militias] came into my home and said I need to leave because it's not our land," a woman from the town of Adebai who was forced to flee toward Sudan told Human Rights Watch on the condition of anonymity. "They would knock at midnight and say Tigrayans can't come back."

More than a thousand Tigrayans have been arbitrarily detained from September 2022 to April 2021, in the Western Tigrayan towns of Humera, Rawyan and Adebai, according to the report. One interviewee who was held at Bet Hintset prison told Human Rights Watch that detainees endured poor treatment, with many dying due to lack of food and medication.

The African Union, which convened the peace talks alongside members of the high-level, AU-led Ethiopian Peace Process panel, reached a "cessation of hostilities agreement" on Nov. 2, 2022. It said at the time it marked an "important step in efforts to silence the guns."

Many of the displaced -- which the U.N. registered as 47,000 in eastern Sudan as of October 2022 -- told Human Rights Watch that they felt unsafe returning home due to intimidation from abusive officials and security forces that remain in the region.

The Human Rights Watch has called on the Ethiopian government to "suspend, investigate and appropriately prosecute" commanders and officials who are implicated in the abuse of human rights in Western Tigray.

"If the Ethiopian government is really serious about ensuring justice for abuses, then it should stop opposing independent investigations into the atrocities in Western Tigray and hold abusive officials and commanders to account," Bader said.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

At Offensive, a new Kyiv bar, revellers toast to Putin's downfall amid the debris of war

Valentyn Semenov / EyeEm/Getty Images

(KYIV, Ukraine) -- A group of friends in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, opened what they call the first military-meme art bar: Offensive.

On the walls of a new bar, there's a piece of a Russian UAVs, a spent shell, the debris of the downed Russian jet and a few uniforms of captured Russian soldiers. There are a bunch of war trophies and war-related jokes.

The opening comes ahead of the Ukrainian army's much anticipated counteroffensive against Russians forces on the front line, some Ukrainians have turned the current success of their Armed Forces into a brand.

"Most of these items were brought to us by our friends in the Army who participated in the Kharkiv counter-offensive," said Borukh Feldman, the owner of the bar, whose name has been changed for security reasons.

He referred to a remarkable blitzkrieg of the Ukrainian forces in the east in early September last year when they managed to liberate a few hundred settlements in a few days.

"And I'm sure there will be even more new pieces from the future operations," Borukh said.

The idea to open a military-style bar came to him back in 2015, he said, when the war in Ukraine was practically frozen -- Russia annexed Crimea and parts of Donbas and there were only random shots fired on the front line.

"Then people almost forgot about the war, so I wanted to establish a place to remind of it," Borukh recalled. He didn't have enough money then to open a bar, but now it's easier since the price of the rent dropped due to the full-scale invasion and power outages caused by Russian attack on the Ukrainian energy infrastructure in autumn and winter.

Now, the bar not just reminds people of the war, but it's a way to go through this traumatic experience, praise the military and help the army, Borukh said.

One of the customers ABC News met at the bar was an American from the International Legion, who asked no to disclose his name. He said he was passing by, noticed the name, decided to pop up and found the place "very comfy."

"I have friends for example in the Azov battalion and they said they feel like home here" Borukh said. "The military entourage is very familiar to them but they can relax here and be sure everyone understands them."

The memes on the walls of Offensive are a fascinating mixture of very particular Ukrainian jokes, dark humor about the deceased Russian soldiers and propaganda posters with F-16 jets and Neptune destroying a Russian warship.

"The sense of humor helps us stay sane and be resilient," Borukh said. "Some memes were created by our soldiers right in the trenches. They presented them to us and said this bar is blessed by the Armed Forces," Borukh laughed. "And that is true. If not [for] our army we wouldn't be even alive probably."

That's why fundraising is a must for the owners. The bar hosts regular concerts of some underground Ukrainian bands to raise money for certain needs Borukh's military friends have on the frontline -- from walkie-talkies to drones.

Not only the decor of the bar is unique, but, of course, the menu, too. It has some craft blackberry beer brewed locally and "fried Putin," which is actually a variation of the Canadian poutine.

One could think it's crazy to start a business during the war. But cafes, bars and restaurants are one of the most successful businesses in Ukraine and in particular in Kyiv, a vibrant megapolis, which both locals and foreigners love for the food, coffee and casual lively atmosphere.

Around a hundred establishments were opened in the city during the last year, many owned by internally displaced people, who lost property in the occupied areas of Ukraine or just preferred to move out of the occupation.

"It usually takes half a year or even a year to become profitable in the gastro sphere. After two months I feel like we're doing very well," Maksym, the administrator of the Offensive. said.

The bar already has its particular audience -- the military, students and young professionals of the creative industries, some actors and painters -- typical habitants of the Podil district of Kyiv, popular with its cultural places.

And war-related naming is not a rarity in Ukraine these days, too. There's another restaurant named after Bayraktar, a type of Turkish drone, and cafe Javelin, named after an American anti-tank weapon. There are cocktails called Himars, another American game-changer that has helped the Ukrainian forces.

Such features set a patriotic mood at the establishment and attract customers, but most businesses that use such branding -- from small to large companies -- have pledged to donate to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Good Samaritan describes rescuing five after Bahamas plane crash

Abstract Aerial Art/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) -- Keith Russell began his day with a trip to the airport to pick up some supplies. It ended with a scene that could have been pulled from an adventure movie when he rescued five travelers from an airplane submerged in the crystal-clear waters of the Bahamas.

A single-engine Piper PA-32 aircraft carrying five people crashed roughly 10 miles north of Andros, Bahamas on Thursday afternoon, according to the Bahamas' Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority.

The aircraft, which took off from San Andros Airport bound for West Palm Beach, suffered mechanical issues before the pilots ditched the craft in shallow waters, according to the Royal Bahamas Police Force.

That’s when Russell got involved.

While picking up supplies from the airport, Russell ran into a pilot who remembered that Russell owns a high-speed boat that might be able to reach the stranded travelers.

While officials from the Royal Bahamas Defense Force, Royal Bahamas Police Force and United States Coast Guard all participated in the search, Russell joined aboard his 18-foot center-console boat, powered by a 115-HP outboard.

"My goal was just to get out there to assess the situation and hope that I wasn't going out there to meet no bodies," Russell told ABC News.

Soon after launching his boat, Russell said he spotted a Coast Guard plane circling above shallow water.

“I see the Coast Guard circling and sure enough I got down there, and the plane was there in the water,” he said. “The passengers and the pilot were on top of the plane with a life raft and everything was there.”

To Russell’s surprise, he found no mangled bodies or debris. Instead he found two pilots and three passengers resting atop the plane in good spirits. With its tail peaking above the water line, the Piper aircraft rested seemingly unscathed on the seafloor.

"Everybody was just sitting on top of the plane, and they were just happy to see me," Russell said about finding the two pilots and three passengers.

Russell then transported the five travelers to land, where he said they declined medical attention. The Volunteer Pilot Group, which operated the flight, said that the passengers and pilots were unharmed after the “emergency water landing.”

The Volunteer Pilot Group is a Florida-based nonprofit that facilitates “charitable air transportation by connecting volunteer pilots with flight requests from passengers in need,” according to the organization’s website.

"I was just thankful that I was able to go out there and help. You know, at the end of the day, my goal was to try to do my best to save their lives," Russel said.

He added that helped the five travelers got to a local hotel, where they are resting ahead of another, hopefully drier, flight on Friday.

ABC News' Sam Sweeney, Jared Higgs, Rachel DeLima and Ellie Kaufman contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

5 people rescued after private plane crashes into waters near Bahamas: Authorities

pawel.gaul/Getty Images

(NASSAU, Bahamas) -- Five people were rescued after a private plane crashed into waters near the Bahamas on Thursday, the Bahamas' Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority told ABC News.

The plane was en route to Florida when it crashed into the water about 10 nautical miles north of Andros, an island in the Bahamas, the Royal Bahamas Police Force said during a press conference Thursday.

The passengers were rescued and transported back to Andros Island, authorities said. They are being transported to receive medical care for non-life-threatening injuries, authorities said.

The plane -- a single-engine Piper PA-32 aircraft with United States registration -- crashed around 3:10 p.m., the Aircraft Accident Investigation Authority said.

The aircraft had departed the San Andros Airport in Andros and was en route to Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach when "the pilot encountered issues and attempted to return to Andros Island," the agency said.

The crash was caused by "mechanical issues," the Royal Bahamas Police Force said in a statement

"The pilot was able to land the aircraft safely into shallow waters, without any casualties," police said.

The U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Bahamas Defence Force and Royal Bahamas Police Force responded to the scene.

The crash remains under investigation.

ABC News' Jared Higgs and Rachel DeLima contributed to this report.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Are US arms sent to Ukraine being tracked so they can't be used to attack Russia?

Serhii Mykhalchuk/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Paramilitary organizations making the largest cross-border attack inside Russia since the war began have maintained they're fighting for Ukraine and reportedly claimed to have conducted another operation Thursday.

But more than a week after verified images appeared to show that the fighters were equipped with U.S.-supplied military vehicles in their initial incursion, the Biden administration has yet to say whether the groups are formally fighting in coordination with Kyiv.

The incidents raise questions about whether they put at risk the main U.S. strategic goal of avoiding escalation with Moscow -- "World War III" as the White House has warned -- and they come just when the conflict appears poised to intensity with Ukraine's long-awaited spring offensive.

And, they raise practical concerns about whether that goal could be undermined given questions about how well the U.S. keeps track of the billions in arms and equipment it has sent to Ukraine.

Any assessment from Washington on whether the groups are operating within the Ukrainian government's chain of command could have significant impact in determining whether any end-use violation or breach of agreement occurred if the fighters were given access to the equipment or pave the way for Kyiv to openly outfit the fighters with donated weaponry, while the persisting lack of clarity raises questions about how effectively these arms are monitored.

Gaps in monitoring, potential for escalation

When pictures surfaced appearing to show U.S.-manufactured Humvees and MRAP armored vehicles used in the Belgorod incursion, the administration initially showed strong skepticism. But after the photographic evidence was vetted by various major media organizations, officials promised to investigate.

"We're looking into those reports that the U.S. equipment and vehicles could have been involved," White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters.

Asked on Thursday about the status of that investigation, a State Department spokesperson said there were no updates to share.

The Ukrainian government has denied playing any part in the first wave of raids on Belgorod, which were carried out by groups made up of anti-Kremlin Russian nationals known as the Free Russia Legion and the Russian Volunteer Corps, the latter of which has been linked to neo-Nazi sentiments.

On Thursday, the pro-Ukrainian militants appeared to shell towns in Belgorod, prompting a partial evacuation of civilians from the area. While the groups seemed to be heavily armed with sophisticated weaponry, there were no immediate signs that American arms were used in the attacks.

Although U.S. officials have not publicly characterized Ukraine’s role in the incursions, they have repeatedly said that the U.S. does not support attacks on Russian territory.

"We have been very clear with the Ukrainians privately, we certainly have been clear publicly, that we do not support attacks inside Russia," Kirby said on Wednesday, after announcing the latest drawdown of equipment for Ukraine in the White House briefing room. "We certainly don't want to see attacks inside Russia that are, that are being propagated, that are being conducted, using US-supplied equipment."

Kirby said that stance was rooted in the president's goal to "avoid World War III."

"I think we can all agree that a war that escalates beyond that -- that actually does suck in the West and NATO and the United States is not only not good for our national security interest, it is not good for the Ukrainian people," he said.

Beyond close coordination with the Ukrainian government, U.S. officials have touted close monitoring of military aid shipped to Ukraine. But their flip-flopping on the possibility that some of the armored fighting vehicles used in Belgorod could have been supplied to Ukraine by Washington and their inability to provide any conclusions after a week has opened the Biden administration up to criticism.

Republicans have zeroed in on accountability but have largely centered their focus on avoiding waste rather than preventing escalation.

"I do not conduct this oversight to undermine or question the importance of support for Ukraine, but rather -- to the contrary -- oversight should incentivize the administration and Ukraine to use funds from Congress with the highest degree of efficiency and effectiveness," House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said at a hearing in late March.

While the Department of Defense's top watchdog testified during that hearing that he had not seen any illicit diversion of the over $20 billion worth of American weapons and other military equipment provided to Ukraine, previous reports have indicated that only around 10% of high-risk munitions have been inspected by U.S. monitors and only a handful of the weapons are legally subject to enhanced end-use tracking.

Defense officials have also noted that carrying out oversight in an active war zone with a very limited American footprint comes with challenges and potential blind spots. Ukraine's history of past corruption has also stoked some unease across Washington.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller was asked last Thursday whether the time that had elapsed in the investigation into the incident raised red flags for the administration regarding the effectiveness of its tracking measures.

"No, I think it raises the fact that we are looking into it and haven't yet reached a conclusion," he responded.

One way that the U.S. tracks sensitive items to Ukraine is by the placement of barcodes on each item that contain unique identifying information, such as serial numbers, and by providing Ukraine with ways to track the equipment it has been given by the U.S.

Ukraine keeps stock of its Humvees and MRAP armored vehicles, and regularly reports battlefield losses to American officials.

ABC News reached out to Ukraine's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a member of Ukraine's parliament seated on a committee charged with monitoring weapons supplied by foreign governments but did not receive a response.

A shortfall in tracking weapons

Despite the administration's apparent hesitancy to draw firm conclusions, experts closely studying the conflict say some key answers are obvious.

"It is a shortfall in tracking of weapons and munitions," Mark Cancian, a senior adviser for the Center for Strategic and International Studies' International Security Program, said. "War is complicated -- there is no guarantee that weapons will not be used in ways that we don't approve, and this is clearly one of them."

"It would strain credulity to me to think there is not command control here from Kyiv—or at least from Ukrainian military intelligence," said John Hardie, the director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies' Russia program.

Cancian echoed that conclusion, adding that any disconnects within Ukraine's military could present serious problems.

"It's not impossible that there are fractures within the Ukrainian government. If that's the case, it is quite disturbing -- because that means that the Ukrainians are not in full control of military forces on their territory," he said. "It opens the possibility of what we're seeing in Russia, where you have militias that are acting independently and confronting even in some ways undermining the central government."

Cancian says that repeated incidents of American military gear surfacing in the hands of paramilitary groups would be telling.

"If this happens again, then it's not just happenstance -- it's a pattern. And that would indicate that they have not been able to get control," he said.

Or, Hardie posited, the Biden administration could seek to allow Ukraine to leverage ambiguous attacks on Russia while publicly standing by its policy against such actions.

"Perhaps U.S. officials look the other way," Hardie said.

Beyond Belgorod, apartment buildings in the heart of Russia's capital were the target of a drone strike on Tuesday. Though Ukrainian authorities did not take responsibility, the country's officials have not masked their pleasure.

"If the Russians can make Kyiv a nightmare, why do the people of Moscow rest?" Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, said in a televised address following the strike.

While the spike in attacks waged by Ukraine on Russia drastically pales in comparison to those waged on Ukraine by Russia through the course its 15-monthlong invasion, Kyiv has much more to lose in terms of public opinion since its war efforts depend on support from dozens of allies who largely see the country as a besieged victim rather than a tit-for-tat combatant.

Conversely, by bringing the war full circle, strikes into Russia might erode its population's support for the Kremlin -- something some indicators show has already been happening in recent weeks.

So far, the Biden administration appears to be sticking to an increasingly familiar strategy.

"We're still trying to get information here and develop some sort of sense of what happened," Kirby said when asked about the Moscow drone strikes on Wednesday.

ABC's Matthew Seyler and Molly Nagle contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

France passes law to regulate paid influencers, combat fraud

Telmo Pinto/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

(PARIS) -- France is now the first country in Europe to regulate influencer marketing on social media, cracking down on what people can monetize and promote online with a new law passed on Thursday.

"The law was passed in record time and unanimously, which shows how much support it had in both government and parliament," Stéphane Vojetta, one of the French legislators who championed this new bill, told ABC News. "There was a clear understanding of the need to urgently respond to the challenge at hand."

Influencer marketing is a form of social media marketing that involves people leveraging their reputation to endorse products or services in exchange for money.

There are an estimated 150,000 influencers creating content on social media aimed at a French audience, according to France's Ministry of Economics, Finance and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty.

This new law makes it unlawful for influencers to create paid content promoting cosmetic surgeries, online sports betting sites or financial products like cryptocurrencies.

Influencers and companies caught violating the law could face up to two years in prison and 300,000 euros ($330,000) in fines, and see their ability to post on platforms potentially be revoked, according to the text of the bill.

Until Thursday, no law in France directly regulated commercial activity on social media leaving consumers vulnerable to scams and frauds.

Influencers will now be required to label all paid content, adding extra disclaimers if the content has been filtered or edited.

The law also closes an existing loophole when it comes to online advertisement, Vojetta tells ABC News. Now, content creators will have to abide by existing French advertising laws when it comes to the promotion of products and services.

For example, posts promoting sodas or processed food will have to include a message reminding consumers to undertake physical activity, similar to how it would be done on television.

The Senate unanimously adopted the law and will go into effect within the next two weeks. The Ministry of Economics and Finance has already released guidance for paid influencers on how to operate lawfully moving forward.

"It is a sector in which we believe in because it creates jobs and because it values French culture and creativity," said Bruno Le Maire, the French economic minister, describing the influencer economy at a press conference in March.

"The best way to protect it is to define a framework and rules so that in this dynamic sector, there are no profiteers, stowaways, or people who can take advantage of the weakness of certain consumers," Bruno Le Maire said.

Over 42 million consumers in France purchase goods or services online, according to a report by the government's Directorate General for Enterprise.

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Prince William, Kate attend royal wedding in Jordan

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(NEW YORK) -- William and Kate traveled from their home in Windsor, England, to Jordan to attend the wedding of Crown Prince Al Hussein bin Abdullah II, 28, and Rajwa Alseif, 29, on Thursday.

The Waleses are reportedly among 1,700 guests at the high-profile wedding.

Kate was seen arriving in a pale pink dress, while William chose a dark suit and blue tie for the occasion.

U.S. first lady Dr. Jill Biden was also in attendance at the royal wedding, held at Zahran Palace.

The bride and groom were both educated in the United States.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'A number of items seized' in Portugal in renewed search for Madeleine McCann, German authorities say

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(LONDON and BERLIN) -- German authorities said Thursday that "a number of items were seized" in Portugal during a renewed search for missing British child Madeleine McCann.

"These will be evaluated in the coming days and weeks," the Braunschweig District Attorney's Office in Germany said in a statement. "It is not yet possible to say whether any of the items are actually related to the Madeleine McCann case."

German, Portuguese and British police took part in the three-day operation in the Algarve region of southern Portugal last week, during which officers were seen scouring the banks of the Arade reservoir for possible evidence. The area is about 30 miles from the Praia da Luz resort, where McCann was last seen in 2007. The 3-year-old was on vacation with her family at the time.

A number of searches have been conducted over the years, but the latest was done at the request of German authorities. Portuguese police said last week that all material collected during the operation would be handed over to German authorities for examination.

"Sincere thanks go out to all police officers involved in the search," the Braunschweig District Attorney's Office said. "The cooperation between the Portuguese police, the police officers from Great Britain and the and the Federal Criminal Police Office was excellent and very constructive."

In 2020, German police identified 45-year-old German citizen Christian Brueckner as a suspect in McCann's disappearance. Brueckner, who was in Portugal's Algarve region in 2007, is currently in jail in the northern German city of Braunschweig for a different case.

"The investigations conducted here in Braunschweig against the 46-year-old suspect are are expected to continue for some time," the district attorney's office added.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Canada becomes first country to put health warnings on individual cigarettes

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(NEW YORK) -- Canada has announced that it will begin putting individual warning labels on cigarettes and other tobacco products in an effort to further reduce their appeal, becoming the world’s first country to use such a measure.

Beginning on Aug. 1, Canada will implement a phased approach that will force cigarette companies to put individual health warnings on their products starting with king size cigarettes by the end of July 2024 and all other products -- including regular size cigarettes and little cigars -- by the end of April 2025.

“The new Tobacco Products Appearance, Packaging and Labelling Regulations will be part of the Government of Canada's continued efforts to help adults who smoke to quit, to protect youth and non-tobacco users from nicotine addiction, and to further reduce the appeal of tobacco,” Health Canada said in a statement announcing the new tobacco labelling policy. “Labelling the tipping paper of individual cigarettes, little cigars, tubes, and other tobacco products will make it virtually impossible to avoid health warnings altogether. In addition, the regulations will support Canada's Tobacco Strategy and its target of reaching less than 5% tobacco use by 2035.”

Canada announced other measures they plan on implementing as well such as strengthening and updating health-related messages on tobacco product packaging, extending the requirement for these messages to all tobacco product packaging and making sure there is a periodic rotation of the message.

“Tobacco use continues to kill 48,000 Canadians each year. We are taking action by being the first country in the world to label individual cigarettes with health warning messages. This bold step will make health warning messages virtually unavoidable, and together with updated graphic images displayed on the package, will provide a real and startling reminder of the health consequences of smoking,” Carolyn Bennett, minister of Mental Health and Addictions and associate minister of Health, said in the government’s statement announcing the new measures. “We will continue to do whatever it takes to help more people in Canada stop smoking and help young people to live healthy tobacco-free lives.”

While copies of the full regulations are currently available upon request, the new policy will be published for the general public on June 7 in an edition of the Canada Gazette, Health Canada said.

“The requirement for a health warning directly on every cigarette is a world precedent setting measure that will reach every person who smokes with every puff,” said Rob Cunningham, Senior Policy Analyst at the Canadian Cancer Society. “The new regulations deserve strong support.”

Canada first adopted imaged warning requirements on tobacco product packages in 2000 but the current health-related messages and images for cigarettes and little cigars have been in place since 2011. These new regulations also bring Canada into full compliance with the tobacco labelling obligations under Article 11 of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control by extending health warning and toxicity information requirements to all tobacco product packages.

“Tobacco use continues to be one of Canada's most significant public health problems, and is the country's leading preventable cause of disease and premature death in Canada,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s minister of Health, in the announcement. “Our government is using every evidence-based tool at our disposal to help protect the health of Canadians, especially young people. Beginning next year, these new measures will help make sure that everyone across the country can receive credible information on the risks of tobacco use so they can make healthier choices for their wellbeing.”

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What is happening in Sudan?

Ahmed Satti/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

(KHARTOUM, Sudan) -- Sudan is on the brink of collapse as forces loyal to two rival generals are battling for control of the resource-rich North African nation.

The ongoing conflict has left hundreds of people dead, thousands more wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced, according to figures from the United Nations. It has also prompted a number of countries, including the United States, to evacuate personnel from Sudan and shutter diplomatic missions there indefinitely.

In recent weeks, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been mediating negotiations between Sudan's warring factions in the Saudi port city of Jeddah. But those talks fell apart on May 31, as both sides accused the other of violating a humanitarian cease-fire.

Here's what we know about the situation in Sudan and how it unfolded.

Who is fighting and why?

Fighting erupted in Khartoum on April 15 in a culmination of weeks of tensions between Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, the head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful Sudanese paramilitary group. The two men were once allies who had jointly orchestrated a military coup in 2021 that dissolved Sudan's power-sharing government and derailed its short-lived transition to democracy, following the ousting of a long-time dictator in 2019.

Officially formed in 2013, the RSF evolved out of the notorious Janjaweed militias used by the Sudanese government to crush an armed rebellion in the Darfur region in the 2000s. Sudanese forces and the Janjaweed were accused of committing war crimes in Darfur. Ultimately, the International Criminal Court charged Sudan's former dictatorial ruler Omar al-Bashir al-Bashir with genocide.

After overthrowing al-Bashir and carrying out a coup, Burhan became Sudan's de facto ruler with Hemedti as his right-hand man. In recent months, military and civilian leaders have been engaged in negotiations to reach a power-sharing deal that would return Sudan to the democratic transition and end the political crisis. But long-simmering tensions between the two generals boiled over amid demands that the RSF be disbanded and integrated into the army.

"Hemedti started to believe he had been deceived by Burhan and that the overthrow of the [transitional] government was primarily aimed at serving old-regime figures given the intertwined interests they share," Mohamed Abdel Aziz, a Sudan-based writer and political analyst, told ABC News. "The final straw was disagreement over the security and military reform dossier," which Aziz said is a key aspect of making the transitional period work.

Burhan wants the planned integration of the RSF to take place in two years, while Hemedti insists it should be stretched out over a decade. Now, they are in a vicious power struggle and neither have shown any real indication of backing down.

"The situation now is the worst-case scenario," Jon Temin, vice president of policy and programs at the Truman Center for National Policy in Washington, D.C., told ABC News. "The two generals seem pretty set on fighting it out and seeing who wins, and an incredible number of people are going to suffer along the way."

What's at stake?

The international community has repeatedly called on Sudan's warring parties to immediately lay down their arms and engage in dialogue. But proposed cease-fires have barely held, if at all.

If fighting persists, it could evolve into another civil war that might drag on for years, spelling disaster for a nation that sits at the crossroads of Africa and the Middle East, bordering the Red Sea. A number of countries in the region are connected through open borders.

"There are two equally unpleasant courses of action: if any of the two sides wins, this will not achieve democracy in Sudan and will be seen as a bad scenario for civil forces," Aziz said. "If the conflict continues and division deepens and extends wider, it will turn into a civil war that will have ramifications beyond Sudan."

"Millions of people will flee to Europe through the Mediterranean." he added. "Neighboring countries already grappling with economic woes will face more pressure when new people are added to their population."

Why is the US concerned?

The clashes have spread outside Khartoum, though "the heaviest concentration of fighting" remains centered in the densely populated capital, according to the WHO. Although Sudan is no stranger to conflict, warfare in Khartoum is unprecedented.

The U.S. is concerned that Sudan's conflict could spread further and has been in contact with the rival sides "every single day ... trying to get them to put down their arms, to abide by the cease-fires that they themselves say they want and to return to some sort of civilian authority," according to John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council in the White House.

"We're doing everything we can to get this fighting stopped," Kirby told ABC News. "This is a centrally located, very important, very large African country. We are concerned that other partners, other nations will be affected by this -- not just in the region, but beyond -- so that's why we're working so hard to get this violence stopped."

But it's questionable how much influence the U.S. or the larger international community has on Sudan's warring sides.

"We are looking at a civil war with no end line, with no end game -- and that's why you saw all these countries, including the United States, pull out their diplomats and their citizens out of Sudan," Hussain Abdul-Hussain, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, D.C., told ABC News. "I don't think any one of these countries has enough leverage to push any one of the fighting parties to step back or to compromise."

There's also a risk that the conflict could create a security vacuum, which Aziz said "will invite militant groups to take Sudan as a haven or a pathway to target other countries in the region and weapons will infiltrate through the borders."

In 1993, the U.S. designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism for supporting international terrorist groups. Sudan notoriously hosted al Qaida founder Osama bin Laden and other militants in the mid-1990s. The U.S. removed Sudan from its state sponsors of terrorism list after Khartoum agreed to forge ties with Israel in 2020.

"With nations politically, economically and security fragile like Sudan, the importance of national institutions comes to the forefront," Mohamed Fayez Farhat, director of al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, told ABC News. "Sudan now is seeing the absence of those institutions. The army is a pillar for stability."

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Talks between Sudan's warring sides fall apart

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(LONDON) -- Negotiations between Sudan's warring parties fell apart Wednesday as both sides accused each other of cease-fire violations.

The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) announced its decision to suspend its participation in talks with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a powerful Sudanese paramilitary group, due to the RSF's "lack of commitment in implementing any of the terms of the agreement and its continuous violation of the cease-fire.”

There was no immediate comment Saudi Arabia or the United States, which have been mediating the talks.

In response to the military's move, RSF said in a statement that it "unconditionally backs the Saudi-U.S. inititive" and the "recent SAF violations have not deterred us from honoring our commitments."

The development came after the two sides agreed to a five-day extension of a shaky humanitarian cease-fire that was set to expire Monday evening. Both Riyadh and Washington had expressed impatience with persistent breaches of the weeklong truce.

Fighting erupted in Sudan's capital, Khartoum, on April 15 in a culmination of weeks of tensions between Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the commander of the SAF, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, the head of the RSF. The two men were once allies who had jointly orchestrated a military coup in 2021 that dissolved Sudan's power-sharing government and derailed its short-lived transition to democracy, following the ousting of a long-time dictator in 2019. Now, they are battling for control of the resource-rich North African nation and neither has shown any real indication of backing down.

The conflict has left hundreds of people dead, thousands more wounded and hundreds of thousands displaced, according to figures from the United Nations. It has also prompted a number of countries, including the U.S., to evacuate personnel from Sudan and shutter diplomatic missions there indefinitely. Meanwhile, aid groups have struggled to get desperately needed supplies into the war-torn country.

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North Korea satellite launch fails, with another promised as 'soon as possible'

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(SEOUL, South Korea) -- North Korea acknowledged on Wednesday its failure to launch a military spy satellite, an attempt that U.S. officials called a "brazen violation" of U.N. resolutions.

After admitting the failure in an unusually short time, North Korea’s state news agency reported that a second launch attempt will be made as soon as possible.

The satellite crashed into the West Sea as it lost its thrust due to an abnormality in the start of the two-stage mover after the first stage was separated during a normal flight, according to state media.

The satellite essentially blew up in the air, an embarrassment for Kim Jong Un's government, a senior U.S. official told ABC News. North Korea said in 2018 that it put a satellite into space, but international analysts later said that wasn't true.

Citizens in Seoul, South Korea received a "presidential alert" phone message early on Wednesday morning, shortly after the satellite launch, from the Seoul Metropolitan Government which noted that “all citizens should be ready to evacuate.”

Twenty-two minutes later, the Ministry of Interior and Safety in charge of sending disaster alerts across the country sent another alert noting that the initial message to Seoul was “an erroneous alert."

Another 22 minutes later, Seoul Metropolitan Government clarified that their earlier message was due to a “North Korean missile launch” and “the alert has been lifted.”

Some citizens whose phones’ operating systems were set up in English received messages titled “wartime alert,” which sent jitters across the foreign community.

The confusing alert messages from the city and the government raised criticisms over whether the authorities were overreacting or actively administering.

“Unlike North Korea’s usual launch into the East Sea, the Seoul Metropolitan Government, which is responsible for the safety of 10 million citizens in the situation of launching south this time, decided that immediate action is necessary and issued an alert,” Oh Se-hoon, the mayor of Seoul, said.

“South Korean people are not trained nor have they been carrying out drills to prepare for such attacks. The problem is, cases like this will most likely happen again more frequently,” Park Jae Wan, professor of Security Strategy at Seoul-based Kookmin University in Seoul, told ABC News.

President Joe Biden and his national security team are assessing the launch in close coordination with allies and partners, according to National Security Council spokesperson Adam Hodge.

The launch used ballistic missile technology, "which is a brazen violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, raises tensions, and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region and beyond," Hodge said in a statement.

"We urge all countries to condemn this launch and call on the DPRK to come to the table for serious negotiations," Hodge said. "The door has not closed on diplomacy but Pyongyang must immediately cease its provocative actions and instead choose engagement."

South Korea’s military retrieved parts of North Korea’s satellite wreckage from the sea and plans to analyze the technology used in the projectile which North Korea claims to be a "satellite."

North Korea's National Space Development Administration is analyzing the cause of the accident.

Wednesday’s launch also prompted brief evacuation alerts in Japan.

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Cellists in Seoul pledge to play until end of war in Ukraine

ABC News

(SEOUL, South Korea) -- On a recent Thursday afternoon, the soft melody of Bach's "Amazing Grace" filled the bustling streets of Seoul.

The solemn tunes coming from the violin and cello were part of a "Concert for Peace." Twice a week, a handful of musicians perform near the Russian Embassy in Seoul to send a message to Vladimir Putin: end the war in Ukraine.

"I thought in the beginning this would end in a couple of months. I didn't know it was going to go on like this," Bae Il Hwan, an orchestra professor at Ewha Womans University, told ABC News.

Musicians like Hwan have pledged to play their instruments until the war comes to an end.

Bae set up the weekly concerts outside the Russian Embassy last year. More than a hundred musicians are involved.

"This was a good way of letting people know that these [aggressive] things are happening. We hope that peace is restored in Ukraine pretty soon," Anika Kim, who listened to a recent concert, told ABC News.

In May, Bae and his team of musicians were joined by Ukraine’s Chernivtsi Philharmonic orchestra. The musicians had traveled to Seoul with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska.

"Only about 20 female musicians came to Seoul because all of the male musicians are out on the battlefields fighting for freedom and justice," Bae said.

Twice a month Seoul's Ukraine community holds a peace protest near the Russian Embassy. The chant of "Support and solidarity for Ukraine" can be heard for blocks.

"We gathered as a community, as a Ukrainian community in Korea," Dmytro Vi, a lawyer who came to a peace protest, told ABC News. "Doesn't matter the weather, we’ll be [here] always, until the war ends."

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