Africa Media Review for August 16, 2017

Nigeria Violence: Female Suicide Bombers Kill 27
Three female suicide bombers have carried out an attack that has killed at least 27 people in north-eastern Nigeria, officials say. Dozens were injured when the women blew themselves up outside a refugee camp near Maiduguri in Borno state – a stronghold of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram. There has been an upsurge in violence in the city in recent months. Boko Haram has been fighting to set up an Islamic state since 2009. A report published by US anti-terrorist researchers last week said it is the first insurgency in history to use more women suicide bombers than men. … Last year, Nigeria’s government said that Boko Haram had been defeated. But correspondents say that the army is failing to stop the attacks, and people have continued to flee their homes in Borno State and poured into camps. BBC

Nigerian Military to Boost Security Amid Surge in Boko Haram Attacks
Since April, Boko Haram has carried out more than 100 attacks in Nigeria’s northeastern city of Maiduguri. Efforts are underway to secure the city, including the relocation of military chiefs to Maiduguri, and to tighten security at the university after staff abductions and repeated suicide bombings. In the past week, the Nigerian military has carried out a cordon-and-search operation for fleeing Boko Haram members. The head of the operation said more than 30 houses were searched, based on information that high-level Boko Haram suspects had infiltrated an area in Maiduguri. Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, is the birthplace of Boko Haram and remains the epicenter of the group’s insurgency, which began in 2009. Several parts of the state have seen a spike in Boko Haram attacks in the past six months. VOA

Five Kenyan Police Killed in Suspected Islamist Ambush
Five police officers were killed on Tuesday when their patrol was ambushed by suspected Shabaab Islamists in eastern Kenya, police said, the latest in a string of similar attacks in the area. The attack occurred in Ijara, in the county of Garissa, and led to a firefight between the officers – two of whom escaped – and their assailants. “The five from Bothai police station were on patrol at 13:00 when they were ambushed by the terrorists on the Bothai-Ijara road, leading to a fierce gunfight,” a senior police officer in Garissa said. News24

UN Concerned over Shooting of Kenyan Protesters
The United Nations human rights chief says he is concerned about reports that Kenyan security forces used live ammunition against protesters opposing results of the country’s presidential election. Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said on Tuesday that the government has the responsibility to ensure that security forces exercise restraint. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights says at least 24 people have been shot dead by police since the August 8 vote. Zeid is also expressing concern that Kenya’s oversight body for non-governmental organizations has called for the African Centre for Open Governance to be shut down and its directors arrested. News24

Kenyan Government Suspends Actions against Rights Groups – Letter
The Kenyan government has ordered the immediate suspension of moves to shut down two rights groups that have raised concerns over last week’s election, according to a letter seen by Reuters. The letter, signed by the acting interior minister and sent to the head of the non-government organisation coordination board, said the government and the organisations would hold talks on resolving issues. Threats to shut the organisations, which played a leading role in organising civil society to question and monitor the elections, drew condemnation from the United Nations and international rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Reuters

UN Skirts Raila Odinga’s Vote Analysis Call
A United Nations spokesman on Monday declined to accept Raila Odinga’s request for a UN review of the August 8 election results. Spokesman Farhan Haq reiterated Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ recent statement urging Kenyan political leaders to bring election-related disputes to “the relevant constitutionally mandated institutions.” That formulation suggests that the UN is unlikely to carry out the election analysis Mr Odinga proposed in an interview last week with London’s Financial Times. Mr Haq added at a press briefing that the UN will monitor Mr Odinga’s expected remarks on Tuesday. The East African

Humanitarian Groups Urge UN to Take ‘Immediate Action’ in CAR
Aid groups have called on the United Nations to take “immediate action” in the Central African Republic, saying the conflict-wracked nation is “teetering on the brink of catastrophe”. In a letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and published on Tuesday, six humanitarian organisations expressed their “grave concern about the rapid deterioration of the security situation” in the country. We “request your office take immediate action to prevent the country collapsing into another full-blown conflict”, the letter said, adding that “at least 821 civilians have been killed since the start of the year.” News24

More Survivors, Remains of Drowned African Migrants Found
Staff of International Organisation for Migration, IOM, have in the past three days found more survivors, as well as the remains of more victims from last week’s tragic incidents. On August 9 and 10, 280 migrants headed toward the Gulf countries were forced from two boats off the coast of Yemen’s Shabwa Governorate and drowned. The UN migration agency said on August 9, when 120 people were forced from a boat, that the remains of 29 individuals (12 Ethiopian males, 12 Ethiopian females and five Somali males) were found by IOM staff on the same day. “The number of people still missing has reduced from 22 to six, all of whom are Ethiopian males. Through contact or from other survivors’ reports, IOM was able to account for a majority of the missing. “This makes 35 people presumed dead from the first incident. IOM provided urgent medical care, as well as food and water to 27 survivors, 22 of whom were Ethiopian males, and the remainder, five Somali males. Premium Times

UN Rights Official Decries Absence of Accountability in South Sudan
Lack of accountability for the various crimes perpetrated during the ongoing conflict in South Sudan remains one of the biggest challenges the country faces, Eugene Nindorera, the United Nations human rights boss, said. The senior UN official made the remarks while speaking at the end of a five-day visit to South Sudan’s Wau state, where violence in April led to the death of 19 pro-government soldiers and at least 28 civilians, according to state officials. The killing of civilians in Wau town followed the ambush and killing of soldiers by suspected to be armed opposition fighters. Sudan Tribune

Tunisia Says Foils Plot to Help ISIS Win Territory
Tunisia said on Tuesday it had foiled a “terrorist plot” aimed at allowing Islamic State group jihadists to seize part of its territory. Authorities had “uncovered a terrorist plot” targeting police and military units in the southern town of Ben Guerdane in a fresh bid to claim territory for ISIS, the interior ministry said in a statement. In March last year, jihadists mounted a coordinated assault on security installations in the town on Tunisia’s border with Libya, aiming to win over residents and establish an ISIS “emirate”. That attack cost the lives of seven civilians and 13 members of the security forces. Fifty-five assailants were killed. The latest plot sought to “take advantage of social unrest… to help Daesh elements infiltrate our country in order to carry out terrorist attacks and try to seize security and military buildings,” the ministry said, using an Arabic acronym for ISiS. Five people were arrested, it added. News24

Mali Appeals at UN for Aid in Setting up Joint Sahel Force
Hit by several attacks on UN camps, Mali on Tuesday called on the international community to provide military material and financial aid from a new joint force being set up by five countries of the Sahel region. Speaking before the UN Security Council, Mali’s ambassador to the United Nations, Issa Konfourou, said Monday’s attacks in Mali, which left nine dead, and an attack in Burkina Faso on Sunday, in which 18 people were killed, underscored the urgency of setting up the force. He said progress had been made since the joint force was formally constituted in early July but Mali called “on all friendly countries and partner international organisations to help us to complete the budget.” The 5 000-strong force is to be made up of troops from Niger, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso. It has an annual budget of about $496m a year but so far only about $127m has been pledged. News24

Sierra Leone Mudslide: At Least 600 Still Missing in Freetown
At least 600 people are still missing following a mudslide and flooding that devastated parts of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, a spokesman for the president has told the BBC. President Ernest Bai Koroma earlier pleaded for “urgent support”, saying entire communities had been wiped out. Nearly 400 people are confirmed dead after a mudslide in the Regent area and floods elsewhere in Freetown on Monday. The Red Cross has warned it is a race against time to find survivors. A mass burial of victims is planned on Wednesday to free up space in mortuaries. BBC

The Gambia’s Search for Truth and Justice
Gambians went through torture, murder and abuse in the 22 years dictator Yahya Jammeh ruled the country. … Recently the new government appointed a Truth, Reconciliation and Reparation Commission to help the country come to terms with the past, said Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou. “We want to establish the truth; to know those who was involved in these abuses; why they did it, what there objective was, the context, whether it was planned by the State, by a group or an individual,” Tambadou said. … Many aspects of the project still need to be clarified. Nobody knows to what extent perpetrators will be charged or what to do about Jammeh supporters who are still in positions of responsibility. Deutsche Welle



Photo: Adam Jones