Africa Media Review for April 18, 2024

Burkina Faso Expels Three French Diplomats for ‘Subversive Activities’
Burkina Faso’s military government has expelled three French diplomats for alleged subversive activities, the foreign ministry said in a letter…The three diplomats, two of whom were listed as political advisers, were declared persona non grata and given 48 hours to leave the country, according to the letter dated April 16, which was addressed to the French embassy…The West African country is run by a military junta that seized power in a coup in 2022, leading to a breakdown in relations with its former colonial ruler France. Ouagadougou has since kicked out French troops, pushed France to recall its ambassador, and suspended some French media. One source with direct knowledge of the situation, who asked not to be named, said that the diplomats were kicked out because of meetings that they had with civil society members. Reuters

Gunmen Kill Three in Benin Border Attack
Unidentified gunmen attacked a border crossing in northern Benin and killed three people and wounded one late on Tuesday, Malanville Mayor Gado Guidami said on Wednesday. The attack took place at a customs post near the Niger border around midnight, he said without giving any details on the motive of the attack. Benin’s northern neighbours are insurgency-plagued Burkina Faso and Niger, making it vulnerable to cross-border attacks by groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State. Reuters

Tunisia Jails Journalist Mohamed Boughalleb for Six Months
A Tunisian court on Wednesday sentenced prominent journalist Mohamed Boughalleb, a fierce critic of President Kais Saied, to six months in prison on charges of insulting a public official, his lawyer told Reuters…Boughalab was detained last month, which the journalists union said was aimed at silencing the voices of journalists. The imprisonment of Boughalleb reinforces activists’ fears that authorities are increasingly restricting freedoms ahead of presidential elections expected this year. Saied seized extra powers in 2021 when he shut down the elected parliament and moved to rule by decree before assuming authority over the judiciary. Reuters

The U.N. Rights Chief Says Eastern Congo’s Escalating Violence Is Being Forgotten by the World
The world is forgetting the escalating violence in eastern Congo as conflicts continue in places like Ukraine and Gaza, the U.N. human rights chief said Wednesday while visiting the region and calling for peace and support for millions repeatedly displaced. Eastern Congo has long been overrun by more than 120 armed groups seeking to control the region’s rich resources as they carry out mass killings. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced in recent months, worsening one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. About 7 million people are displaced, many beyond the reach of aid. AP

Hospitals in Eastern DRC Face Vaccine Shortages
In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, specifically in the Beni and Butembo region, parents are finding it hard getting vaccines for their children. Health care providers report that vaccines have been in short supply for several months, leaving thousands of children unvaccinated…The head nurse of the Makasi health area…said they’re missing several vaccines, such as the one that fights pneumonia and helps children fight coughs, and also the vaccine that fights meningitis and mumps…According to officials from the Beni health zone, which oversees dozens of hospitals in the region, over 1,000 children are waiting to be vaccinated in several towns in the Beni and Butembo region. VOA

Namibia’s Nama Community Rejects Green-Hydrogen Port Expansion
Namibia’s port authority, Namport, has proposed a port expansion on Shark Island, a heritage site that is sacred to the indigenous Nama ethnic group of southern Namibia. The expansion is designed to facilitate green hydrogen production and export to Europe by a German energy company, Hyphen…Germany once ruled Namibia, then known as German South West Africa, and in the early 1900s German authorities ran a concentration camp on Shark Island where around 3,000 locals were killed…Hans-Christian Mahnke of Namibia’s Legal Assistance Center told VOA that Namibia’s laws require developers to undertake environmental impact assessments in cooperation with local communities, who have the right to decline consent for any development they feel may violate their rights…Namibia has been identified as a potential green hydrogen source for its abundant sunlight and access to the sea, which developers say is crucial for the production of green hydrogen and its by-products, which include ammonia and fertilizer. VOA

Malawi’s President Moves In to Stop Tobacco Smuggling
Malawi’s President Lazarus Chakwera has ordered police to tighten border security to control tobacco smugglers who sell the crop to neighboring countries for better prices…Tobacco is the main cash crop and major foreign exchange earner in Malawi. Statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture show that the crop, also known in Malawi as “green gold,” contributes about 60% to the country’s foreign exchange basket. It also contributes about 13% to the country’s gross domestic product. Recent reports, however, show that almost 10% of the crop is smuggled to neighboring countries like Zambia and Mozambique for better prices. VOA

Italy’s Leader Keeps the Focus on Migration on Her Fourth Visit to Tunisia in a Year
[Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni] acknowledged Wednesday that Tunisia cannot serve as a dumping ground for migrants, days after Tunisia’s president reaffirmed his unwillingness to let Europe outsource migration problems by sending those not welcome there to his country…However, she sidestepped tensions over how to manage migration via the Mediterranean Sea and instead praised Tunisia and Italy’s shared priorities in fighting human traffickers and repatriating African migrants back to their home countries. Meloni and Tunisian President Kais Saied signed new accords as part of Italy’s “Mattei Plan” for Africa, a continent-wide strategy aimed at growing economic opportunities and preventing migration to Europe. AP

Britain’s Contentious Plan to Send Some Migrants to Rwanda Hits a Hurdle in Parliament
A law that will enable Britain to send some asylum-seekers on a one-way trip to Rwanda suffered a setback on Wednesday after Parliament’s upper chamber pressed its attempt to amend the contentious legislation. The House of Lords inserted amendments into the Safety of Rwanda Bill, sending it back to the lower House of Commons in a process known as parliamentary ping-pong…The Rwanda plan is key to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ’s pledge to “stop the boats” bringing unauthorized migrants to the U.K. across the English Channel, and Sunak has repeatedly said the first flights will take off in the spring. AP

9 Bodies Found Adrift in a Boat off Brazil Were Likely Migrants from Mauritania and Mali, Police Say
Brazilian police investigating the grim discovery of a boat with several decomposing bodies say they were likely African migrants from Mali and Mauritania. Fishermen off Brazil’s northern coastal state of Pará found the boat adrift Saturday in the Atlantic Ocean. Brazil’s Federal Police said in a statement late on Monday they had recovered nine dead in all. On Tuesday afternoon, officials said the boat is believed to have been carrying at least 25 people, based on the number of raincoats found inside the vessel…The Atlantic route from West Africa to the European Union territory is one of the most dangerous in the world. Boats that miss their destination can be swept away by Atlantic trade winds and currents from east to west, drifting for months. AP

Homes Are Demolished in Ivory Coast’s Main City over Alleged Health Concerns. Thousands Are Homeless
Demolitions in low-income neighborhoods are nothing new in Abidjan, where rapid urbanization has led to a population boom and housing shortages, with nearly one in five Ivorians residing in the city. It’s a challenge in many parts of Africa where economic woes pushed more people into cities in search of better opportunities, straining an already overstretched infrastructure. However, the latest Abidjan demolition — mainly in impoverished suburbs in the Gesco and Sebroko districts — is one of the largest in years, with an estimated hundreds of thousands of residents affected since it began in late January. Evicted families and rights groups say that this time, it’s being done without prior notice or compensation…[Ivory Coast’s communications minister, Amadou Coulibaly,] claimed in February that some of those evicted in neighborhoods like Boribana are being resettled in at least 1,000 houses built by the government. Many families, however, remain homeless, stranded in several parts of the city. AP

UN Report Points to Yawning Gap of Inequality in Sexual and Reproductive Health Worldwide
A new study says an African woman is roughly 130 times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth complications than a woman in Europe or North America, the U.N. population fund reported Wednesday as it decried widening inequality in sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide. UNFPA’s latest “ State of World Population ” report also estimates that nearly 500 maternal deaths per day occur in countries with humanitarian crises or conflicts, and shows that women of African descent in the Americas are more likely to die giving birth than white women. AP

Biden Administration Announces New Partnership with 50 Countries to Stifle Future Pandemics
President Joe Biden’s administration will help 50 countries identify and respond to infectious diseases, with the goal of preventing pandemics…U.S. government officials will offer support in the countries, most of them located in Africa and Asia, to develop better testing, surveillance, communication and preparedness for such outbreaks in those countries…Congo is one country where work has already begun. The U.S. government is helping Congo with its response to an mpox virus outbreak, including with immunizations. AP

Cameroon Doctors Flee to Europe, North America for Lucrative Jobs
The state of health care in Cameroon is a source of growing concern, with thousands of doctors fleeing the central African country for lucrative jobs elsewhere, especially in Europe and North America, according to officials. The number of people, including doctors, acquiring passports and applying for visas has increased by 70 percent, officials say…The Cameroon Medical Council, an association of doctors, says the doctor-patient ratio in Cameroon has sunk to one doctor per 50,000 people, instead of the World Health Organization’s recommended ratio of one doctor per 10,000 patients. The group reports that the doctors are fleeing to escape hardship, poor pay, difficult working conditions and unemployment. VOA

Burundi Appeals for Aid as Rains, Floods Displace 100,000
The government of Burundi and the United Nations have launched an appeal for financial aid to cope with the “devastating effects” of months of relentless rainfall that has displaced nearly 100,000 people…The government of President Evariste Ndayishimiye has been under fire for several weeks, particularly from civil society groups and the opposition, which are calling for the authorities to declare a state of emergency or natural disaster. Usually there are two rainy seasons between September and January and March to May, but the situation has been exacerbated by the El Nino weather phenomenon…It said 306,000 people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Burundi, ranked by the World Bank as the poorest country on the planet in terms of per capita GDP. France 24