Africa Media Review for April 30, 2024

Threat of ‘Large-Scale Massacre’ in Sudan’s Darfur Is Imminent, US Official Says
A senior U.S. official warned Monday that more than 2 million people in El Fasher, in Sudan’s western Darfur region, are under imminent threat of a “large-scale massacre” from a paramilitary group’s attack and urged the international community to pressure the warring parties to de-escalate. “There are already credible reports that the RSF and its allied militias have razed multiple villages west of El Fasher,” U.N. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield told reporters at the United Nations. “And as we speak, the RSF is planning an imminent attack on El Fasher.” The RSF is the Arab-dominated Rapid Support Forces, the paramilitary group that is made up of elements of the Janjaweed fighters who carried out a genocide in Darfur in the early 2000s. VOA

UN Asks South Sudan to Remove New Taxes That Led to a Pause in Food Airdrops
The United Nations has urged South Sudan to remove newly imposed taxes and charges that led to the suspension of U.N. food airdrops for thousands of people who depend on outside aid. The U.N Humanitarian Affairs Agency said Monday in a statement that the pausing of airdrops in March had deprived of food 60,000 people who live in areas that are inaccessible by road, and their number is expected to rise to 135,000 by the end of May…The new charges introduced in February are related to electronic cargo tracking, security escort fees and new taxes on fuel…U.N. spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said in New York that the taxes and charges are also impacting the nearly 20,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan. AP

South Sudan: ‘Disappeared’ Critic Morris Mabior Awikjok Resurfaces in Juba Court
The reappearance in a South Sudan court of a former refugee who had been forcibly disappeared more than a year ago points to the urgent need to reform the National Security Service (NSS), Human Rights Watch said on Sunday…Human Rights Watch has documented three other cases of enforced disappearance in recent months. Security agents arbitrarily detained two people, including a former Juba City Council leader, without warrants and have since then denied any information about their whereabouts. The agency is also implicated in the disappearance of a youth activist at a checkpoint, which authorities have failed to effectively investigate…The 2014 National Security Service Act gives the agency broad and unqualified powers that enable it to commit serious abuses with impunity. Human Rights Watch has documented that the NSS’ exercise of these broad powers has contributed to shrinking the space for civil society, including human rights defenders and independent media. Radio Tamazuj

US, UK Call on Burkina Faso to Investigate Civilian Killings
The United States and Britain on Monday called on Burkina Faso’s transition authorities to thoroughly investigate the killings of 223 civilians in two northern villages in February that were detailed in a recent Human Rights Watch (HRW) report and hold those responsible to account. The governments of the U.S. and UK are “gravely concerned by reports of massacres of civilians by Burkinabe military forces in late February,” the countries said in a joint statement, calling for the probe. The HRW investigation alleged the Burkinabe military executed about 223 villagers in February as part of a campaign against civilians accused of collaborating with jihadist militants. Reuters

Why Burkina Faso Is Muzzling Foreign Media
Burkina Faso has suspended several more international news organizations for their coverage of a Human Rights Watch report that accuses the army of killing civilians in its battle against Islamist armed groups…”The war that is being waged against the insurgents in Burkina Faso is being carried out both on the battlefield and also on the ideological level,” [Muheed Saeed, manager of the freedom of expression program at the Media Foundation for West Africa] told DW. “At the ideological level, there’s been a lot of propaganda that is aimed at forcing citizens into line, so any criticism of the administration has been met with some form of repression”…The junta is also using media crackdowns to cover up human rights abuses committed by the army in its counterterrorism operations, says Reporters Without Borders. DW

It’s 30 Years since Apartheid Ended. South Africa’s Celebrations Are Set against Growing Discontent
South Africa marked 30 years since the end of apartheid and the birth of its democracy with a ceremony in the capital Saturday that included a 21-gun salute and the waving of the nation’s multicolored flag…But this Freedom Day holiday marking that day fell amid a poignant backdrop: Analysts and polls predict that the waning popularity of the party once led by Nelson Mandela is likely to see it lose its parliamentary majority for the first time…In the week leading up to the anniversary, countless South Africans were asked what 30 years of freedom from apartheid meant to them. The dominant response was that while 1994 was a landmark moment, it’s now overshadowed by the joblessness, violent crime, corruption and near-collapse of basic services like electricity and water that plagues South Africa in 2024. AP

African Leaders Seek Record World Bank Financing to Combat Climate Change
African leaders on Monday called for rich countries to commit record contributions to a low-interest World Bank facility for developing nations that they rely on to help fund their development and combat climate change. Donors will make their cash pledges to the International Development Association (IDA), a World Bank institution that offers loans with low interest rates and long tenures, at a conference to be held in Japan in December…African economies [are] facing a “deepening development and debt crisis that threatens our economic stability, and urgent climate emergencies that demand immediate and collective action for our planet’s survival,” [Kenya’s President William Ruto] said. Reuters

Dozens Dead after Dam Bursts amid Torrential Rain in Kenya
At least 45 people died when a makeshift dam burst its banks near a southern town in Kenya’s Rift valley in the early hours of Monday, police said, as torrential rains and floods hit the country. The disaster raises the total death toll over the March-May wet season in Kenya to more than 100, as heavier-than-usual rainfall pounds east Africa, compounded by El Niño weather pattern…Residents said the dam burst in the dead of night, sending water gushing down a hill and engulfing everything in its path…The disaster occurred at Old Kijabe dam, a hillside barrier formed naturally over decades after railway construction work by Kenya’s former British colonial rulers. AFP

Botswana Pumps Water into Drying Channels to Aid Stranded Hippos
In Botswana, home to one of the world’s largest hippopotamus populations, around 500 hippos are stranded as blistering heat dries up water sources, Moemedi Batshabang, director of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, told VOA. More than 200 of the endangered animals are stranded at the Nxaraga lagoon near the town of Maun in the northwest. The Maun-based Save Wildlife Conservation Fund is working with the wildlife department to save the stranded hippos. The group’s director, Lars Gorschlüter, said they are pumping water into the lagoon and giving the hippos food. VOA

African Farmers Look to the Past and the Future to Address Climate Change
In Zimbabwe, where the El Nino phenomenon has worsened a drought, small-scale farmer James Tshuma has lost hope of harvesting anything from his fields…But a patch of green vegetables is thriving in a small garden the 65-year-old Tshuma is keeping alive with homemade organic manure and fertilizer…In conflict-prone Somalia in East Africa, greenhouses are changing the way some people live, with shoppers filling up carts with locally produced vegetables and traditionally nomadic pastoralists under pressure to settle down and grow crops…In Kenya, a new climate-smart bean variety is bringing hope to farmers in a region that had recorded reduced rainfall in six consecutive rainy seasons. AP

Namibia’s NAMCOR Signs Deal with Chevron to Develop Offshore Block
Namibia’s national oil company (NAMCOR) has signed a development deal with Chevron that will see the U.S. oil major take an 80% operating working interest in an offshore block in the Walvis Basin, NAMCOR said on Monday.
Oil companies are flocking to Namibia, excited by the southern African country’s plans to open up a major new frontier basin, with recent offshore finds ranking among the largest this century…Namibia, which has yet to produce any oil or gas, has become an exploration hotspot after offshore discoveries by TotalEnergies and Shell, and is planning for its first output by 2030. Reuters

EU Restricts Visas for Ethiopians, Citing Lack of Government Deportation Cooperation
The European Union is tightening visa rules for people from Ethiopia in response to what it says is a lack of cooperation from the Ethiopian government with the repatriation of those who have entered Europe illegally. As a result of the changes, the EU said the visa processing time for Ethiopian nationals will triple, from 15 to 45 days, and that waiving requirements for certain paperwork will no longer be allowed. Ethiopian officials and diplomats will need to pay to obtain travel visas, the EU said. Multiple entry visas will no longer be allowed. VOA

50 Migrants Reported Missing and 9 Rescued after Their Boat Overturns off Spanish Atlantic Island
About 50 migrants were missing after their boat overturned some 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Spain’s Canary Island of El Hierro in the Atlantic Ocean, Spanish media reported Monday. The national marine rescue service said one of its helicopters rescued nine people who were found clinging to the boat Monday morning following a warning call from a merchant vessel in the area. State news agency Efe said that once transferred to El Hierro airport, the rescued migrants reported that 60 of them had set sail nine days ago and that the open-topped wooden boat ran into problems Saturday…Efe said the migrants were of sub-Saharan African origin. There were no details on which country they had sailed from. AP

Ghana’s High Court Dismisses Bid to Speed Up Anti-LGBTQ Law Passage
A high court in Ghana has dismissed a legal challenge to President Nana Akufo-Addo’s decision not to act immediately on an anti-LGBTQ bill passed by parliament in February, it ruled on Monday. Lawmakers who unanimously passed legislation that would intensify a crackdown on LGBTQ rights in the West African nation have been calling on Akufo-Addo to promulgate the new law. But the presidency has said it would not forward the bill to the president for assent until two legal challenges against it were settled, sparking criticism in parliament. One opposition lawmaker, Rockson-Nelson Dafeamekpor, took the delay to the high court, which ruled against his challenge on Monday. Justice Ellen Lordina Serwaa Mireku said the court had decided it would be inappropriate to compel Akufo-Addo to act on a bill that faced two pending Supreme Court challenges. Reuters

Police Fire Tear Gas to Disperse Benin Wage Protest
Police in Benin fired tear gas to break up a protest over the cost of living called by trade unions and they arrested several senior union figures on Saturday, witnesses and union officials said. Armed police blocked access to the labour council in the commercial capital Cotonou, surrounding the area where the demonstration was meant to take place and turning away journalists. Some protesters nonetheless gathered nearby, carrying signs and wearing union T-shirts. Police used tear gas to disperse them…The guaranteed minimum salary in Benin is 52,000 CFA francs ($85) per month, up from 40,000 CFA francs ($65) in January 2023. But the prices of fuel and food products including corn, gari flour, beans and cowpeas, have risen in recent months. Reuters

DRC Withdraws Former President Kabila’s Govt Security and Support Staff
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government has recalled all civil servants working for former president Joseph Kabila, effectively stripping him of state security and supporting staff. In a statement, the director of the finance ministry, Mulueme Kilolo, said all those attached to Kabila’s official residence, the Vatican Site, should report to President Felix Tshisekedi’s official residence, known by its French name, Palais de la Nation (state house), by the end of April…Tshisekedi succeeded Kabila after the 2019 general elections…However, relations between Tshisekedi and Kabila have been on and off. News24