Africa Media Review for April 10, 2023

Burkina Faso: Dozens Dead in Suspected Terrorist Attack
Officials have decried the “despicable and barbaric attack,” but did not immediately say who was behind it. The West African country has been fighting militants linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group since 2013. At least 44 civilians were killed by terrorist groups in northeastern Burkina Faso, a regional governor said on Saturday. Rodolphe Sorgho, the lieutenant governor of the Sahel region, decried “this despicable and barbaric attack” in the villages of Kourakou and Tondobi in northeast Burkina Faso. The gunmen killed 31 in Kourakou and 13 in Tondobi, and more people are wounded, according to the official. The Burkina Faso military fought the group, and “actions to stabilize the area are under way,” he added. A resident of Kourakou told the AFP news agency that “a large number of terrorists burst into the village.” DW

Armed Groups Kill Dozens in Nigeria’s Benue State
At least 74 people were killed in two separate attacks by gunmen this week in Benue state, north central Nigeria, local officials and police have said. Violence has increased in the region in recent years as population growth leads to an expansion of the area dedicated to farming, leaving less land available for open grazing by nomads’ cattle herds. Benue state police spokesperson Catherine Anene said 28 bodies were recovered at a camp for internally displaced people in Mgban local government area between Friday evening and Saturday morning. It was not immediately clear what triggered the attack but witnesses said gunmen arrived and started shooting, killing several people. The attack followed a separate incident in the same state on Wednesday in the remote Umogidi village of Otukpo local government area, when suspected herdsmen killed villagers at a funeral, Bako Eje. Al Jazeera

Over 1M Children in Central Sahel May Face Malnutrition: UNICEF
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Friday issued a warning that severe acute malnutrition will affect over one million children in three central Sahel nations this year as a result of increased food costs, armed conflict, and climate change. The UNICEF urged the governments of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso to “place child nutrition at the top of national priorities” and “increase national investments for the prevention, early detection and treatment of malnutrition.” According to the U.N. organization, “about 970,000 children” are at risk of severe acute malnutrition in three nations, with Niger expected to bear the biggest burden (430,000 children) in central Sahel. While “in Mali, severe acute malnutrition is expected to increase by 18.4% to 367,000 girls and boys, up from 309,000 last year,” according to UNICEF, this amount represents “60,000” fewer children than in 2022. According to the report, admissions for severe acute malnutrition rose by 31% last year in nine Sahelian nations – Burkina Faso, northern Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, northern Nigeria, and Senegal – compared to 2021. Daily Sabah

Four Dead and at Least 23 Missing after Boat Attempting to Cross Mediterranean Sinks off Tunisia
Four people have died and at least 23 were missing on Saturday after their boat sank off Tunisia as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to Italy, amid a sharp rise in boats setting off from the north African country. The coast guard rescued 53 other people from the same boat off the southern city of Sfax, two of whom were in critical condition, said a local judge, Faouzi Masmousdi. In recent weeks, dozens of people have gone missing and died in repeated drowning accidents off the Tunisian coast. Tunisia has taken over from Libya as a main departure point for people fleeing poverty and conflict in Africa and the Middle East in the hope of a better life in Europe. The national guard said on Friday that more than 14,000 migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, were intercepted or rescued in the first three months of the year while trying to cross to Europe – five times more than in the same period last year. The Guardian

Boat With 400 Migrants Adrift Between Greece, Malta
A vessel with around 400 people on board is adrift between Greece and Malta and is taking on water, support service Alarm Phone said Sunday, after a sharp rise of migrant boats crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa. Alarm Phone said on Twitter they had received a call from the boat, which departed from Tobruk, in Libya, overnight and that they had informed authorities. But authorities had not launched a rescue operation so far, they added. Alarm Phone said the boat was now in the Maltese Search and Rescue area (SAR). German NGO Sea-Watch International said on its Twitter account it had found the boat with two merchant ships nearby. It said the Maltese authorities had ordered the ships not to carry out a rescue and that one of them was just asked to supply it with fuel. … Alarm Phone said people on board were panicking, with several of them requiring medical attention. The vessel was out of fuel and its lower deck was full of water, while the captain had left and there was nobody who could steer the boat, they said. VOA

Gunfire, Protests in Ethiopia’s Amhara over Plan to Disband Regional Force
Gunfire was heard in at least two towns in Ethiopia’s Amhara region on Sunday as thousands protested against a federal government order to integrate regional special forces into the police or national army, residents said. Members of Amhara’s special forces and allied militias vowed to oppose Thursday’s order, setting up a standoff with the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who said in a statement that the plan was “for the sake of Ethiopia’s national unity.” The order applies to all of Ethiopia’s 11 regions, which have their own regional armies and the right use their own language, but has been received particularly badly in Amhara, the second biggest, which has fallen out with Abiy recently. … A media outlet run by the regional government quoted Amhara President Yilkal Kefale as saying the federal government’s order was being misunderstood as requiring the disarmament of the special forces. In fact it was simply organising regional forces under federal security institutions, it quoted him as saying. Reuters

Hundreds of Tunisians Protest to Demand Release of President Saied’s Opponents
Hundreds protested in the Tunisian capital on Sunday for the release of about 20 opponents of President Kais Saied arrested since February. Around 300 demonstrators from opposition parties waved Tunisian flags and carried signs with the images of detainees at the rally organised by the main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, according to AFP journalists. Since early February, authorities in the North African country have arrested more than 20 political opponents and personalities including politicians, former ministers, businessmen, trade unionists and the owner of Tunisia’s most popular radio station, Mosaique FM. Local and international rights groups have criticised the arrests. … Saied, who has seized almost total power since he froze parliament and sacked Tunisia’s government in July 2021, claims those arrested were “terrorists” involved in a “conspiracy against state security”. Opponents accuse him of reinstating autocratic rule in the North African country which was the only democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East region more than a decade ago. France24

Attack Kills around 20 in Eastern Congo
Islamic State on Saturday claimed responsibility for an attack on a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that authorities said killed around 20 people. … The attack, which took place on Friday in Musandaba, a village on the outskirts of Beni, is part of a wave of violence against civilians that the army and local authorities blame on the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan group based in eastern Congo that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. … An army spokesman in the North Kivu region where the attack took place, Anthony Mwalushay, said the assailants used machetes “to avoid confrontation with the army.” The attack took place in one of two conflict-hit provinces where Congo replaced civilian authorities with military administrations more than a year ago in an attempt to halt the violence. This week, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Congo condemned another massacre committed by the ADF in neighbouring Ituri province, which it says killed 30 people. News24/Reuters

New Hope as Kenya, Rwanda Back Local Political Solution in DRC Conflict
Kenya and Rwanda are backing a political solution fronted by the East African region, which will give a front seat to people with a “direct stake” in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to help end perennial conflict in the area. The public endorsements came last week as Kenyan President William Ruto made an official trip to Kigali, a move political observers interpreted as an embrace of Rwanda’s contribution to ending the conflict. Speaking to journalists in Kigali, both President Ruto and host Paul Kagame said Congo’s conflict had been incorrectly handled in the past, with President Kagame suggesting the solutions had been imposed not just on the country but on other African crises as well. … For eastern DRC, Ruto’s trip was significant in two ways: It offered Kigali a chance to publicly state how a long-term solution should be mooted for eastern DRC. It also gave Ruto a chance to impress upon Kigali the proposals by the East African Community to pursue both military and political tracks. East African

Chad Expels German Ambassador as Election Delay Raises Concern
Germany’s ambassador flew out of Chad late Saturday after the central African nation’s military leadership gave him 48 hours to leave the country. Jan-Christian Gordon Kricke was expelled for being “impolite” and “disrespecting diplomatic practice,” government spokesman Aziz Mahamat Saleh said in a short statement posted on Twitter late Friday. … Kricke, who served as Germany’s ambassador to Chad since 2021, had expressed concerns over delays to elections that would restore democracy following a military coup that year. He also criticized the lack of transparency in investigations into violent opposition protests in 2022, according to Yamingue Betinbye, a political analyst with think tank Centre de Recherches en Anthropologie et Sciences Humaines. On Oct. 20, security forces fired on protesters in several cities across Chad, including the capital N’Djamena, killing at least 50 people and injuring dozens of others, according to Human Rights Watch. Bloomberg

New Wave of Political Change Blows through Eastern Africa
A wave of political change is blowing through East Africa, with the ruling parties battling to garner the support of the younger generations to stay in power. A growing agitation for change — and the permission for it — is returning to the region in what may signal progress in democracy. The latest trends in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda upend pre-Covid-era developments in which critics and opposition figures were detained or forced into exile. There is also an urgency within the political parties to trigger generational leadership change in an effort to maintain a grip on power. East African

Remembering Rwanda’s Darkest Hundred Days and the Thousands who Died
Rwanda today begins commemorating the 29th anniversary of the 1994 genocide, in which 800,000 people, most of them from the Tutsi ethnic group, were massacred by Hutu militia. The killing started on 7 April 1994 and lasted 100 days. It cost the lives of 800,000 people, mostly from the Tutsi ethnic group. They were murdered by their neighbours. The Rwandan Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement (MINUBUMWE) has urged the public to respect the guidelines issued ahead of this week’s ceremonies. “Commemorative activities will begin at the Kigali Genocide Memorial on 7 April, where over 250,000 victims are laid to rest,” Jean Damascene Bizimana, Minister of the MINUBUMWE, told journalists in the capital, Kigali, on Wednesday. The themes of this year’s commemoration are “Kwibuka twiyubaka: Remember-Unite-Renew”, and events will continue until 13 April, he added. RFI

Genocidaires’ Children in Diaspora Spreading Hate
Children of perpetrators of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi living abroad continue to engage in genocide ideology, government officials say. … While the cases are fewer among the youth born after the genocide, hate speech and genocide ideology persist on social media platforms largely by the diaspora, according to Jean Damascene who is Rwanda’s Ministry of National Unity and Civic Engagement. … He said there are some former affiliates of the genocidal regime in exile who have opened Internet-based media that they use to continue propagating the genocide ideology. He gave an example of Belgian-based Gaspard Musabyimana whom he said started an online radio, where he broadcasts messages riddled with genocide ideology and revisionism. … Twenty-nine years later, the children of some of the genocide perpetrators now push the hate agenda. They have created an association called Jambo ASBL which continues to deny the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. East African

Uganda Turns to Bamboo Farming to Combat Deforestation
Some 65 kilometers north of the Ugandan capital Kampala, a lush green bamboo forest, it’s the brainchild of former journalist-turned farmer, Andrew Ndawula Kalema. Kalema switched from journalism to bamboo farming in order to contribute to the reversal of environmental damage being seen in the East African country. In 2010, Uganda had 6.93 million hectares of tree cover, extending over 29% of its land area. In 2021, it lost 49,000 hectares of tree cover, equivalent to 23.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the East African country has lost over a million hectares of tree cover, nearly a third of the country’s total. With Uganda losing hundreds of hectares of forest cover due to population pressure and illegal logging, both public and individual efforts have become key to restoring degraded land. AfricaNews/AP

At Mogadishu’s Lido Beach, a Growing Community Hub
[T]oday – even as famine looms again over Somalia, amid the worst drought in 40 years – the majority of this nation’s roughly 17 million citizens get on with daily life the best they can. For residents of Mogadishu, that can mean taking advantage of the beaches and warm sea that define the southeastern edge of the capital. A small fleet of fishing skiffs is moored in the quaint old port in the shadow of the ruins of Italian colonial-era buildings dating back nearly a century. Men bring in hauls of tuna and sometimes shark, while children play in the surf. But the real place of unbridled happiness lies just up the coastline, at Lido Beach. It is here that families feel the rush of the waves, laughing and shouting as they enjoy the freedom offered by the sea. … Keeping the beach clean has become a priority, in the process turning its increasingly pristine expanse into an unexpected community hub. At dawn on Friday mornings citizen volunteers take to the sands, leaving daily dangers behind as they comb the coastline for trash. … The volunteers have been out every week for more than a year, their numbers having grown from just six to more than 300. “The environment is important for everyone,” says Abdisatar Arbow Ibrahim, who started the beach cleanup project. “In Somalia, people are starting to understand the value of volunteer work and the environment.” CSM