Africa Media Review for April 13, 2023

IS Group-Affiliated Militants Take Key Mali Village
Militants affiliated to Islamic State group have taken Tidermene in Mali, further isolating the regional capital, Menaka, in a region that has fallen almost entirely under their control, officials and witnesses told AFP on Wednesday. Tidermene’s fall follows months of fighting by Islamic State in the Greater Sahara, or ISGS, to seize the northeastern village of a few thousand inhabitants about 75 kilometers north of Menaka. All the region’s main administrative subdivisions are now under the group’s control. The village was captured Monday night. … A major ISGS offensive has been underway since early 2022 in the region of Menaka and that of Gao, further west. … The militants have stepped into a vacuum left when French forces departed last year, experts say. VOA

Ghana First to Approve ‘World-Changer’ Malaria Vaccine
Ghana is the first country to approve a new malaria vaccine that has been described as a “world-changer” by the scientists who developed it. The vaccine – called R21 – appears to be hugely effective, in stark contrast to previous ventures in the same field. Ghana’s drug regulators have assessed the final trial data on the vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, which is not yet public, and have decided to use it. The World Health Organization is also considering approving the vaccine. Malaria kills about 620,000 people each year, most of them young children. It has been a massive, century-long, scientific undertaking to develop a vaccine that protects the body from the malaria parasite. Trial data from preliminary studies in Burkina Faso showed the R21 vaccine was up to 80% effective when given as three initial doses, and a booster a year later. BBC

Malaria Outbreak in Sudan Continues
In Toker, Red Sea state, 80 cases of malaria infections were reported within a week. Four people died. The Ministry of Health in Khartoum has stressed the need for urgent action to control the increase of malaria infections in the city. Osman Salem told Radio Dabanga from Toker that four malaria patients died of malaria in the hospital of Toker on Monday. “The hospital is overcrowded with patients, while there is a large shortage of medical staff and medicine,” he said. On Monday, journalist Osman Hashim reported that a group of people from Toker met with a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the Red Sea capital of Port Sudan and expressed their concerns about mesquite trees and their impact on the prevalence of malaria in the area. Dabanga

Fighters Take Weapons from Police Station amid Clashes with Ethiopia’s Military
Residents in northern Ethiopia’s Amhara region say local fighters briefly took over a police station and seized weapons amid ongoing clashes between protesters and the military. The fighting was sparked last week when Ethiopia’s government ordered all regional forces to integrate with federal forces or regional police. Amhara residents say gunfights have erupted in cities and authorities have shut off the internet. In the Amhara region town of Mezzezo, residents said they heard heavy gunfire early Wednesday as armed Amhara fighters, known as FANO, took over a police station. One resident who did not want to be identified due to security concerns, told VOA the fighters were after a delivery of weapons. … Mayor Mohammed Amin told Reuters that protesters attacked an army camp after false rumors spread that federal troops had taken Amhara regional fighters into custody. VOA

Egypt Accuses Ethiopia of ‘Buying Time’ in Nile Dam Row
Egypt’s deputy foreign minister on African affairs has accused Ethiopia of “buying time” through negotiations while continuing to fill its disputed Nile dam without an agreement. In a statement on Wednesday, the minister condemned statements by Ethiopia that had accused Cairo of “politicising” the Nile dam dispute. The fresh row received mixed reactions in Egyptian local media. Prominent pro-state host Ahmed Moussa said Addis Ababa intentionally built the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to “harm” Egypt and Sudan. Opposition TV host Muhammad Nasser blamed the Egyptian government and media for not taking a stronger stance against the issue. Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have been embroiled in a years-long dispute over the dam, which Sudan and Egypt fear would reduce their shares of water from the River Nile. BBC

Fresh Clashes Erupt Near Eastern DR Congo City of Goma
Fresh clashes with M23 rebels erupted Wednesday near the eastern DR Congo city of Goma, according to officials, rupturing weeks of relative calm in the troubled region. A Tutsi-led group, the M23 has won a string of victories against the army and enemy militias since re-emerging from dormancy in late 2021, capturing swathes of North Kivu province. The group also triggered a vast humanitarian crisis as it closed in on the provincial capital Goma, a trade hub of over one million people. On Wednesday morning, armed men claiming to be Congolese patriots attacked M23 positions near Kibumba, about 20 kilometres north of Goma, according to an army official who requested anonymity. East African

Tension as Sudan’s Army Accuses Rival Force of Mobilising
The Sudanese army has warned that the country’s biggest paramilitary group is mobilising troops in cities across the country. In a statement released in the early hours of Thursday, the military accused the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of clearly breaking the law. There are growing fears of a confrontation between the two sides. The RSF leader, Mohamed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagolo, played a key role when the army seized power in Sudan in 2021. This week leaders failed to meet a deadline to form a civilian-led government. The breakdown of the talks has been blamed on differences between rival military factions. BBC

Clashes in Sudan’s Darfur Kill 24
Clashes between Arab and non-Arab groups in Sudan’s Darfur region have left at least 24 people dead, dozens of homes burned, and thousands displaced, an official said on Wednesday. The latest violence in Sudan’s westernmost region near Chad erupted between members of Arab tribes and the Masalit non-Arab group in the town of Foro Baranga, about 185 kilometres (115 miles) from Geneina the capital of West Darfur state. “The death toll has reached around 24 people on both sides,” according to Mohammed Hussein Teeman, of the Foro Baranga community council. He said the fighting broke out Saturday. The violence prompted Sudanese authorities to declare a night curfew and a month-long state of emergency across West Darfur. Security forces have been dispatched over the past days and the situation had calmed by Wednesday, he said. The Nation

S. Sudan Holdout Groups Form Alliance to Topple Juba Regime
South Sudan hold groups have formed an alliance of all armed and non-opposition groups in preparation for major offensives against the Juba regime, raising concerns about their commitment to peace. The alliance, operating under South Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance (SSFDA), claimed President Salva Kiir and First Vice President Riek Machar were not ready to implement the peace agreement because they are using the 2018 accord as a strategy to remain in power to enrich themselves and members of their families. Gen. Simon Gatwec Dual, leader of Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) Kitgwang faction, said Kiir and Machar share the same agenda. … The holdout groups are a collection of armed and non-political organizations which declined to sign the 2018 revitalized peace agreement, claiming it did not address specifically the root causes of the conflict in the country. The peace agreement was brokered by Sudan and Uganda as guarantors. Sudan Tribune

First Quarter Was Deadly for Migrants in Mediterranean, UN Says
The first three months of 2023 were the deadliest first quarter in six years for migrants crossing the central Mediterranean Sea in smugglers’ boats, the U.N. migration agency reported Wednesday, citing delays by nations in initiating rescues as a contributing factor. The International Organization for Migration documented 441 migrant deaths along the dangerous sea route between northern Africa and Europe’s southern shores during January, February and March. In 2017, 742 known deaths were documented in the same period, while 446 were recorded in the first three months of 2015. “The persisting humanitarian crisis in the central Mediterranean is intolerable,” IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino said of the figures the agency released in a report. “With more than 20,000 deaths recorded on this route since 2014, I fear that these deaths have been normalized,” Vitorino said. “States must respond. Delays and gaps in state-led SAR [search-and-rescue areas] are costing human lives.” VOA

Cyclone Freddy Death Toll Jumps to over 1000, Malawian President Says
The death toll from Cyclone Freddy has risen sharply to more than 1,000 people, Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said on Wednesday, as the southern African nation continues to recover from one of the deadliest storms to hit the continent in the last two decades. Cyclone Freddy left a trail of destruction in its wake after ripping through Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar, first in late February, before circling back in March. The storm affected over 2 million people and displaced over half a million as it washed away homes, roads and other infrastructure, Chakwera said. Reuters

Nigeria Probes Sale to China of Stolen 48M Barrels of Crude Oil
Nigerian lawmakers have begun a probe into the sale of stolen 48 million barrels of crude oil to China. “It is quite alarming that illegal deals with China cost Nigeria $2.4 billion revenue loss from the sale of stolen 48 million barrels,” Nigeria’s Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila said in Abuja on Tuesday, at the opening of the ad hoc committee set up to probe the deals. He said Nigeria loses $700 million monthly to oil theft, a menace that impacts negatively on the country’s national budget. “Available data suggests that we may lose up to $23 billion to crude oil theft this year and between January and July last year, Nigeria lost $10 billion to the oil theft,” Gbajabiamila added. He noted that the oil and gas sector remained the main contributors of Nigeria’s economy as it accounted for its 95 percent of foreign exchange earnings and 80 percent of annual budgeted revenue. East African

Obi Voters in Nigeria Cry Fraud, Struggle to Keep Hope Alive
Late on February 28, three days after Nigeria’s presidential election, Favour Anyim and a friend were streaming the live results from the Independent National Electoral Commission. They had high hopes for a victory for Peter Obi, the outsider candidate they had voted for. As the results trickled in and Obi won and lost in different areas – by huge margins – the friends were elated, then angry, then exhausted and went to bed. … Obi’s emergence as one of three frontrunners disrupted Nigeria’s traditional two-man presidential contest and gave his supporters, mostly young people, hope of creating a political turnaround in the country. Many of his followers have refused to recognise the president-elect’s legitimacy, and a new wave of resentment for the political establishment has emerged. … Obi and Abubakar have petitioned the court to overturn the results, citing widespread electoral malpractice, voter intimidation and violence. Indeed observers condemned the conduct of the election, including the European Union mission and a joint mission of the International Republican Institute and National Democratic Institute. … While they wait for the cases to be heard in court, young voters say they have little faith in the judiciary’s neutrality in the matter. Al Jazeera

France’s Plan to Crack Down on Indian Ocean Migration
Christian Ally Moussa did not tell anyone that he had decided to get in a small boat to make the 350km (220-mile) trip across a treacherous stretch of the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and the French island of Mayotte. He was desperate and he had made the risky crossing twice before. He needed to return to the place from where he was deported a few weeks earlier as he was supposed to appear at a hearing about his application for French citizenship. After years of saving to pay his legal fees, the 42-year-old hoped he would finally be able to claim the European passport that was his birth right. He had the right to a passport as his father was a French citizen from Mayotte, a French overseas territory, 8,000km (5,000 miles) away from Paris. In almost every respect it is supposed to be treated like any part of mainland France. But because Mr Moussa was born and raised in Madagascar, an island to the south of Mayotte, he had struggled to gain recognition as a French citizen. … With only weeks to go until his citizenship hearing, Mr Moussa was unexpectedly arrested by French immigration police and deported to Madagascar. BBC

Artists on Using Poems as Mediums of Healing
A group of artists, including authors, poets, actors, writers, and painters have joined efforts in composing both written and recorded poems for the commemoration week. The youngsters hatched this plan as one of the channels to heal others, themselves, and show comfort to Rwandans who lost their loved ones. “We are working on this as ‘Nyomora’, an organisation that aims at tackling mental issues, especially among young people but also others. We had a lot of short poems but we wanted to use some in this commemoration week, so we filmed only some of them and we reserved others for upcoming commemoration projects,” stresses Roger Manzi, poet. So far, the recorded poems were uploaded to the ‘Nyomora’ YouTube channel five days ago. The youngsters chose to use poetry as a means that brings them together and also a way to reach large audiences, considering the poems are in three languages, French, Kinyarwanda, and English. The poems portray hope for the young generation, keeping the memories of the innocent souls lost in the Genocide against the Tutsi, and stressing that the young generation is aware of what happened even though they were born after the Genocide, thus have the power and capability to walk in the footsteps of their parents and pave a way for the next generation. New Times