Africa Media Review for August 27, 2021

Gunmen Kill 36 Villagers in Nigeria’s Divided Plateau State
Attackers shot dead at least 36 people and destroyed buildings in a night raid on a village near the central Nigerian city of Jos, officials said, in an area hit by repeated ethnic clashes. The gunmen went house to house killing residents in Yelwa Zangam late on Tuesday, a military spokesman said. Troops struggled to get to the area as a bridge had been destroyed, he added. Jos is the capital of Plateau State – part of Nigeria’s so-called Middle Belt which has seen regular fighting between the Hausa-Fulani group, who dominate the whole of northern Nigeria, and a number of much smaller local ethnic groups. … The whole of Nigeria has been experiencing an upsurge of violence this year, with abductions for ransom and armed robberies commonplace in several state. The underlying cause of much of the tension is poverty which intensifies competition for resources and jobs and, in the Middle Belt, exacerbates a complex inter-section of ethnic and religious rivalries. CNN

‘Dismayed’ African Intellectuals Call for End to Ethiopian Conflict
A group of more than 55 African intellectuals have added their call for peace in Ethiopia, demanding the country’s warring parties to lay down arms for dialogue. The intellectuals include Kenya’s former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, Prof Makau Mutua of the SUNY Buffalo Law School, former Chair of the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights and economist David Ndii. They say the Ethiopian conflict is causing unnecessary loss of life and livelihood and must be stopped immediately. In an open letter Thursday, the group of experts from cross the continent said that Ethiopia’s role both as an example of Africa’s resilience and a host to the African Union demands urgent intervention. A delay in intervention has encouraged protagonists to fight on, they added. … They urged Ethiopia’s warring partners to agree to dialogue so as to reach an amicable solution. “All Ethiopians must recognise that a political rather than military solution is what is now called for, regardless of the claims and counterclaims, legitimate and otherwise, as to how Ethiopia has come to this place.” The East African

UN Chief: No Military Solution to Ethiopia Crisis
The U.N. secretary-general said Thursday that there is “no military solution” to Ethiopia’s 10-month-old conflict, and he urged the parties to stop fighting and open a dialogue. “In every sense, the future of Ethiopia is at stake,” Antonio Guterres told a meeting of the U.N. Security Council. Last week, in a bid to end the conflict, the U.N. chief appealed for a cease-fire, unrestricted aid access and an Ethiopian-led political dialogue. He told the council these steps are essential to preserve Ethiopia’s unity and the stability of the region and to ease the humanitarian crisis. “I believe there is an opportunity to address the conflict peacefully, which the parties must seize in the interest of Ethiopia,” he told the council. “Conditions must be created for the start of an inclusive national political dialogue to address the underlying causes of the conflict and ensure Ethiopian voices direct the pathway to peace.” VOA

More than 210 Killed in Violence in Western Ethiopia: Commission
More than 210 people have been killed across several days of ethnic violence in Ethiopia’s tense Oromia region last week, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said. The state-affiliated but independent commission said on Thursday that witnesses described gunmen affiliated with the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), a rebel group, arriving on August 18 after security forces withdrew from Gida-Kirimu in the western region. “The area’s residents and others have told the commission more than 150 people were killed by the gunmen,” the human rights body said. The attack forced women and children to flee to neighbouring areas, and sparked a wave of revenge killings. “In subsequent days, some residents carried out ethnic-based reprisal attacks, killing more than 60 people” and triggering a further exodus of civilians fleeing the violence, the commission said. … Local reports and sources said the initial attack targeted ethnic Amharas who have often faced similar attacks in the past. Al Jazeera

Gunmen Release Dozens of Nigerian Students Abducted in May
Nigerian gunmen have freed the remaining pupils from more than 100 kidnapped from an Islamic seminary in northwestern Niger State nearly three months ago, the school’s head teacher said on Thursday. Heavily armed criminals snatched 136 pupils from the seminary in Tegina on May 30 in one of a series of mass abductions targeting schools and colleges in Nigeria since December. Six of the pupils died in captivity and a further 15 escaped in June, according to school officials. “The pupils have all been released. We are now conveying them home,” seminary head Abubakar Alhassan told AFP by telephone. … Northwest and central Nigeria have seen a surge in attacks, looting and mass abductions by criminal gangs known locally as bandits. But gangs this year began targeting schoolchildren and students as a way to squeeze out more ransom payments. Around 1,000 students have been kidnapped since December after gangs started to hit schools. Most have been released after negotiations, but scores are still being held in forest camps. AFP

Tunisia Banned 50 Officials, Politicians from Travel in Past Month – Amnesty
Tunisia has stopped at least 50 officials, politicians and businessmen from travelling abroad since the president seized governing powers last month, Amnesty International said on Thursday. “President Kais Saied has made widespread use of arbitrary travel bans in Tunisia while bypassing the judiciary,” it said, adding that the total number of people affected was likely “far greater” than the 50 cases it documented. The office of the president did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Saied said late on Monday he was indefinitely extending emergency measures he announced on July 25 that included removing the prime minister, freezing parliament and lifting immunity of its members, moves his foes call a coup. Reuters

Western States Finalise Covid Booster Plans as Developing World Left Behind
Wealthy countries are finalising plans to roll out Covid-19 booster programmes to counter the threat from waning vaccine immunity, decisions that will further squeeze the supplies available to the developing world. France this week joined the US and at least two dozen other countries by confirming it would administer third vaccine doses, capping the debate over the use of boosters that has rolled on all summer. Doing so has meant going against the World Health Organization, which has called for a moratorium on boosters and for any spare doses to be given to less-vaccinated countries. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general, this week questioned whether boosters were “effective at all”, insisting they should only go to those with weakened immune systems. A Financial Times analysis of programmes in Israel, Turkey and Chile, three of the countries giving out boosters, show in excess of 10m have been deployed, more than the total vaccine doses administered in half a dozen African nations combined. … Only 2 per cent of Africa’s population has been fully vaccinated, the lowest coverage of any continent. Financial Times

Africa’s COVID-19 Third Wave Stabilises as Vaccine Levels Rise – WHO
A third wave of COVID-19 infections in Africa has stabilised and the continent’s slow vaccination drive has picked up pace, the World Health Organisation said on Thursday. Some 248,000 new cases were reported in the past week, down from 282,000 in mid-July, while the number of vaccinations tripled to 13 million, Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director, told an online news conference. Africa, with a population of 1.3 billion, has experienced a third wave of infections since May, straining health systems in countries from South Africa to Tunisia, Zambia and Senegal, where vaccination rates are far lower than in Europe and North America. Reuters

Malaria Trial Shows ‘Striking’ 70% Reduction in Severe Illness in Children
A trial combining vaccinations and prevention drugs has substantially lowered the number of children dying of malaria in two African countries, according to researchers. The results of the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, have been hailed as “very striking”, especially at a time when decades-long progress on combating malaria has stalled in some countries. Led by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), the trial showed a 70% reduction in hospitalisation or death when young children were given both seasonal vaccinations and antimalarial drugs compared to using just one intervention. Researchers believe the approach could prevent some of the 400,000 deaths from the mosquito-borne disease every year, most of them children. In 2019, more than 90% of the estimated 230m cases of malaria occurred in Africa. The Guardian

Zimbabwe: Chamisa Demands Transparency on Use of IMF’s U.S.$1 Billion
The opposition MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa has demanded transparency in the disbursement US$961 million received recently from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The funds came through from IMF’s Special Drawing Rights (SDR) facility and are aimed at increasing liquidity across the global economies. Zimbabwe’s allocation was transferred into the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank (RBZ) account. However, in a statement Thursday, the MDC Alliance spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere said the opposition party was demanding accountability on how “every cent” was going to be used. … “We call for the Auditor-General’s office to be further capacitated to audit, monitor and report timeously to the people of Zimbabwe on how these funds are being disbursed. We further urge journalists and citizens to be alert and expose corruption wherever it manifests and to demand accountability,” she said. … Mahere added the MDC Alliance was concerned the Zanu PF government would misappropriate the funds and divert them for the 2023 national elections. “Zanu PF, given a bit of fiscal space, heading towards an election is likely to use the money for electioneering if not held to account. The past is replete with examples of how the regime misuses funds to fund election campaigns.” New Zimbabwe

South Sudan’s ‘Wasted’ Decade: ‘We Have Been at War for Far Too Long’
Rose Jamba, a 52-year-old maize farmer, has lost count of the “many” family members killed since South Sudan gained independence from Sudan a decade ago. In May, she fled violence in her village in the southern state of Central Equatoria to settle in a holding camp in Yei, some 30km from home. … “There was shooting from both sides. They fought, then some looted,” says Jamba. Local authorities estimate that more than 7,000 people displaced by the fighting in Central Equatoria have sheltered in Yei this year. “I have seen this many times since I was a teenager — fighting, looting, raping,” Jamba says. “I am not happy. What’s the point of having an independent country if we have no food, we are poorer and have no peace?” … Her words resonate across South Sudan, which in July marked its 10th anniversary amid little hope of securing a political agreement to pacify the country. … Local analysts say the violence over the past 10 years has fundamentally been a fight for patronage, where powerful groups are competing over resources from oil to grazing land, which has left some two-thirds of the almost 12m population in need of humanitarian aid, according to the UN. Financial Times

#EndSARS Judicial Panels: 28 States Complete Assignment — Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says all 28 states that established Judicial Panels on EndSARS have completed their assignments, except Lagos State’s panel which will be ready by October. NEC had in the wake of violent EndSARS protests against police brutality of 2020, directed states to constitute Judicial Panels of Inquiry to investigate complaints against the Special Anti-Robbery Squads (SARS) and other police units. Me Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, in a statement on Thursday, said the vice president presided over a virtual meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) anchored from the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The vice president said that eight states had turned in their reports as the council looked forward to discussing them in full at its next meeting when all the states would have made their submissions. Premium Times

Sudan, Saudi Arabia Discuss Military Intelligence Cooperation
Sudan’s army Chief of Staff and the head of Saudi military intelligence discussed cooperation between the two armies. In a statement released on Thursday, the Sudanese Military Media said that Lt Gen Mohamed Osman al-Hussein received Maj Gen Hussam Abdullah Al-Damer on Thursday. “The meeting discussed ways to enhance and develop cooperation for the sake of security and stability of the two countries and their armies,” reads the statement. The Military Media said the meeting was attended by the head of the Sudanese military intelligence but did not develop on its outcome. The two armies held ground, air and naval drills in past years but this is the first time they discuss joint military intelligence cooperation. Sudan Tribune

Ivory Coast Says First Ebola Patient since 1994 Has Recovered
A young Guinean woman who tested positive for the Ebola virus in Ivory Coast after arriving there two weeks ago has recovered from the disease, the Ivorian health ministry said Tuesday. “We performed on the patient two biological tests which were negative in an interval of 48 hours. She is therefore declared cured,” Serge Eholie, ministry spokesman and head of the country’s infectious diseases department told AFP. “We are lifting her isolation today (Tuesday). She is no longer a risk of contamination. She is still very tired, we are keeping her in hospital,” the professor added. Her diagnosis was the first confirmed case of Ebola in Ivory Coast since 1994. The 18-year-old had traveled to Abidjan by bus from Labe in northern Guinea, a journey of about 1,500 kilometers (950 miles) that traverses a densely-forested region where Ebola epidemics broke out earlier this year and 2013-16. AfricaNews

De Beers, National Geographic Form Partnership to Protect Botswana’s Okavango Delta
Mining giant De Beers and the National Geographic Society have announced a partnership to protect the waters and endangered animals of Botswana’s iconic Okavango Delta. The vast UNESCO World Heritage wetland is threatened by climate change and agricultural activities. The five-year project, “Okavango Eternal,” will see De Beers and National Geographic work with local communities to deliver ecological solutions aimed at preserving the 16,000 square kilometers of the delta. … The Okavango Delta forms part of a large conservation area known as the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA), which covers five southern African countries. Nyambe Nyambe, KAZA executive director, says the project presents an exciting opportunity for local communities and protecting the environment. “It is a welcome development,” he said. “The threats that the Okavango Delta faces are real [and] range from climate change, potential for agriculture development, large-scale water abstraction and infrastructure development, and related threats. All these threats cannot be addressed by one entity, so partnerships are very welcome.” VOA



Photo: Adam Jones