Africa Media Review for April 25, 2024

Burkina Faso’s Army Massacred over 200 Civilians in a Village Raid, Human Rights Watch Says
Military forces in Burkina Faso killed 223 civilians, including babies and many children, in attacks on two villages accused of cooperating with militants, Human Rights Watch said in a report published Thursday. The mass killings took place on Feb. 25 in the country’s northern villages of Nondin and Soro, and some 56 children were among the dead, according to the report…The HRW report provided a rare firsthand account of the killings by survivors amid a stark increase in civilian casualties by Burkina Faso’s security forces as the junta struggles to beat back a growing jihadi insurgency and attacks residents under the guise of counterterrorism…Since seizing power in September 2022, the junta led by Capt. Ibrahim Traoré has promised to beat back militants but violence has only worsened, analysts say. Around half of Burkina Faso’s territory remains outside of government control. AP

Ghana Accused of Expelling Fulani Asylum Seekers from Burkina Faso
Since early 2022, at least 15,000 Burkinabé have fled into northern Ghana, escaping an escalating conflict between the military, who are backed by armed civilian auxiliaries, and the two main jihadist groups…The thousands of Burkinabé – both Fulani and non-Fulani – who fled into Ghana in late 2022 and early 2023 were initially hosted by Ghanaian communities on the border…In April 2023, the Ghana Refugee Board and the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, began building the reception centre in Tarikom, in the Upper East region. Within a month, the basics had been established, and the government began registering people in the border areas, and then transporting those who wanted to settle in the new camp. But that hospitality was not extended to the Burkina Fulani. Instead, in July 2023, soldiers and immigration officers descended on at least a dozen small towns and villages across northern and central Ghana, detaining hundreds of Fulani and forcibly returning them to Burkina Faso, local officials and rights groups told The New Humanitarian…The expulsions stopped in August last year, but the Ghana Refugee Board has still not registered any arriving Fulani – despite the urging of UNHCR. The New Humanitarian

No Final Decision on Withdrawing US Troops from Niger and Chad, Top Official Tells AP
There has been no final decision on whether or not all U.S. troops will leave Niger and Chad, two African countries that are integral to the military’s efforts to counter violent extremist organizations across the Sahel region, a top U.S. military official told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Niger’s ruling junta ended an agreement last month that allows U.S. troops to operate in the West African country. The government of neighboring Chad in recent days also has questioned its agreement with the U.S., Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Adm. Christopher Grady, the nation’s second-highest-ranking military officer, said in an interview…He said that if both countries ultimately decide the U.S. cannot remain there, the military will have to look for alternatives to run counterterrorism missions across the Sahel, a vast region south of the Sahara Desert. AP

South Africa Extends Troop Deployment in Mozambique and Congo
South Africa’s military will extend the deployment of its troops in conflict-hit Mozambique and Democratic Republic of Congo, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement on Wednesday. The extension, for an unspecified amount of time, will keep 1,198 personnel of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in eastern Congo, where they are part of a U.N. peacekeeping force helping Congo fight rebel groups. The statement also said that 1,495 SANDF members would continue their operations in Mozambique, where they have been supporting the government’s fight against violent extremism in northern areas since 2021. South Africa’s military deployments abroad have come under domestic scrutiny this year, after two SANDF soldiers were killed and three wounded by a mortar bomb in Congo in February. South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance party accused Ramaphosa of sending troops into a war zone unprepared. Reuters

US Urges All Armed Forces in Sudan to Halt North Darfur Attacks
The United States on Wednesday called on all armed forces in Sudan to immediately cease attacks in al-Fashir, North Darfur, as Sudan’s army battles the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) for control of the country. In a statement, the U.S. State Department said it was “alarmed by indications of an imminent offensive” against the city by the RSF and its militias that would endanger civilians, including hundreds of thousands of displaced people. It also said it was troubled by RSF’s reported razing of multiple villages west of al-Fashir as well as “indiscriminate” aerial bombing and humanitarian aid limits by Sudanese Armed Forces…Attacks around al-Fashir have shattered a truce that protected it from a year-old war, leading to warnings of a new wave of inter-communal violence and humanitarian risks for 1.6 million residents crammed into the North Darfur capital. Reuters

Sudan Had Largest Number of People Facing Extreme Food Shortages in 2023, UN Report Shows
Sudan had the world’s largest number of people facing extreme food shortages in 2023 as conflict and displacement drove food insecurity globally, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The war between rival generals meant Sudan accounted for two-thirds of the additional 13.5 million people needing urgent help last year, while conflict also plunged Gaza into the world’s most severe food crisis with its entire population facing high levels of food insecurity…The FAO report said the conflict had restricted access to farmland and movement for livestock, as well as destroying infrastructure, leading to disruption of the production of key grains such as sorghum and millet, forcing Sudan to rely heavily on imported food. The Guardian

Fuel Tax Blocks Aid to Hunger-Ravaged South Sudan, UN Says
South Sudanese authorities are holding up United Nations fuel tankers over a tax dispute, jeopardising the delivery of millions of dollars of aid during a humanitarian crisis, the U.N. mission there said. The trucks were held up at depots and the Ugandan border on Wednesday despite assurances from the minister of humanitarian affairs a day earlier that a new tax on trucks carrying fuel and other supplies did not apply to U.N. humanitarian operations, a spokesperson for the mission said…The trade ministry order this week, announcing the tax, said the $300 charge on each goods truck entering and leaving the country was intended to help the government maximise revenue collection by addressing undervaluations and fraud. South Sudan, where hundreds of thousands of people died as a result of civil war from 2013-2018, is experiencing one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises as a result of persistent conflict, natural disasters and poverty…Humanitarian airdrops have been suspended, affecting 60,000 people in need, and UNMISS has also been forced to review peacekeeping patrols and reduce support to peace and electoral processes, the mission said in a statement on Tuesday. Reuters

Flooding Inundates Kenya, Killing at Least 32 and Displacing Thousands
Days of heavy rains have pummeled parts of Kenya, leaving at least 32 dead, 15 injured and more than 40,000 people displaced, according to officials. They said that flooding had killed nearly 1,000 farm animals and destroyed thousands of acres of crops, with more rain expected across the country. The rains began in March during what is known in the country as the “long rains,” but precipitation intensified over the past week, according to the Kenya Meteorological Department. In Nairobi, where some of the heaviest rain has fallen, more than 30,000 people have been displaced, according to the United Nations. On Tuesday, 18 people, including seven children, were stranded, and later rescued, in Nairobi after heavy rain, the Kenya Red Cross Society said. The New York Times

Kenyan Government Threatens to Halt Salaries of Striking Doctors
The Kenyan government is threatening to withhold the salaries and union remittances of striking doctors after failing to reach an agreement with doctors’ union…Led by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, the doctors went on strike on March 15 to demand a commitment from the government to fulfill collective bargaining agreements signed in 2017. The work stoppage has paralyzed medical services in public hospitals across the country. The government said it has addressed all issues raised by the medics — except for the salary of intern doctors — which union officials say is the deal breaker…The ongoing strike has severely disrupted health services in public hospitals. The situation has been compounded by a strike by clinical and laboratory workers…Kenya’s health sector, which medical experts say is underfunded and understaffed, has seen a number of strikes over the years. A previous walkout in 2017 lasted 100 days. VOA

Botswana Rejects Controversial UK Proposal on Asylum-Seekers
Botswana says it has rejected a proposal to accept asylum-seekers from the United Kingdom, an arrangement similar to the one Rwanda has agreed to. The UK’s House of Lords on Monday passed a bill that will see migrants deported to Rwanda in a move condemned by human rights activists and the United Nations. In Botswana this week, an umbrella of civil society organizations urged the government to reject proposals from the U.K. to send thousands of migrants to the African nation. Botswana’s minister for foreign affairs, Lemogang Kwape, told VOA that U.K. officials had reached out, but authorities in Gaborone would not commit to “hosting people not knowing what the end game would be.” VOA

Tunisian Coast Guard Retrieves Bodies of 14 Migrants off Djerba Coast
Tunisian coast guard recovered 14 bodies of migrants off the coast of Djerba, a judicial official told Reuters on Wednesday, raising the number of migrants died off Tunisia coasts in the last two days, amid a sharp increase of migrant boats heading towards Italy. On Tuesday, the coast guard recovered also 22 bodies off the coast of Sfax, and seven other bodies off the coast of Gabes. Reuters

Congo Republic Declares Mpox Epidemic
Republic of the Congo has declared an epidemic of mpox after 19 cases were confirmed across five departments, including the capital Brazzaville. No deaths have yet been recorded, Health Minister Gilbert Mokoki said in a statement on Tuesday. He called on the public to take precautions including avoiding close contact with suspected cases, avoiding contact with animals and avoiding handling game meat with bare hands. The World Health Organization (WHO) has named the virus mpox to replace the older term monkeypox, citing concerns of stigma and racism associated with the name. Mpox was first detected in humans in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in 1970, according to the WHO. Symptoms include fever, aches and skin lesions. In 2022, the WHO declared an outbreak that spread to Europe and North America a global health emergency. Reuters

In Final Report, Commonwealth Identifies Factors That Undermined Nigeria’s 2023 Elections
The Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) has released a final report on Nigeria’s 2023 elections, identifying significant problems that undermined the credibility of the electoral process. The report, published Monday, said the failure of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS) devices and the INEC Results Viewing (IReV) portal on, and after, election day are major factors that undermined the overall credibility, transparency and inclusivity of the elections…The Commonwealth observers said while Nigeria’s 2022 Electoral Act represented a significant step forward, further institutional and legal reform is necessary if Nigeria is to make lasting progress on issues such as campaign finance, electoral offences and inclusion…The report noted that numerous security challenges facing the country and economic hardship also affected the electoral processes…The report also lamented the harassment of journalists and the threat to media freedom during the election. Premium Times

AfDB President Seeks End to Loans Linked to Africa’s Natural Resources
The president of the African Development Bank has doubled down on criticism of resource-backed loans for African countries, calling them “asymmetrical” and “non-transparent.” Akinwumi Adesina, speaking to Semafor Africa at the World Economy Summit on April 18, said the loans in which a country provides access to a natural source such as oil in exchange of value for a financial loan were effectively undermining the multilateral banking system. Adesina’s public criticism — the second time in a month — comes in the context of many African countries currently facing what the IMF has described as a “credit crunch” where some governments are unable to access new debt, even as their existing debt obligations escalate due to rising interest rates…As of 2020, up to $66 billion had been loaned to African countries in exchange for resources from Chinese and Russian state-owned institutions, but also private companies like mining giant Glencore, according to the Natural Resources Governance Institute. Overall, most resource-backed loans have been provided by the China Development Bank (CDB) and the China Exim Bank. Semafor