Africa Media Review for August 30, 2019

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) on Friday said it is following more than 4,000 cases of South Sudanese who are missing. 30 August marks the International Day of Missing Persons. The day is an occasion to recall the consequences of having a missing relative and also the need to build legal frameworks to support people looking for loved ones. In a statement extended to Radio Tamazuj, the humanitarian institution said most of the people have gone missing because they were forced to flee fighting or internal violence and lost contact with their loved ones. “Each of these cases represents a family who is searching and living with the agony of not knowing what happened to their loved one,” said James Reynolds, ICRC’s Head of Delegation in South Sudan. “Some of these families haven’t heard from their relatives for years and can’t move on. They wait for a husband, a son, a sister and suffer social, economic and psychological consequences.” Radio Tamazuj

The yearlong Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has hit what officials are calling a milestone: more than 3,000 confirmed and probable cases and a death toll above 2,000, according to government data released on Friday. The outbreak, Congo’s 10th, is the second-worst epidemic of the virus on record. It is also the first in the densely forested hillside provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, where militia-led violence and ethnic killing have undermined security in certain areas for decades. Despite the development of an effective vaccine and treatments, health workers have struggled to control the spread of the disease in remote and conflict-hit areas of the eastern part of the country. Many residents are wary of the response effort, and responders are battling to overcome community mistrust and security problems. … In neighboring Uganda, meanwhile, officials said on Friday that a young girl who had tested positive for Ebola after crossing the border, the fourth case imported from Congo since June, had died. Reuters

Protestors blocked the Burri El Lamab road in eastern Khartoum on Wednesday to protest against power and water outages in the neighbourhood. North Darfur and Kassala also saw protests. Protesters complained that the neighbourhood has been without power or water from more than a day. They blocked the main road with barricades and stones and set fire to tyres. The Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) in Saraf Omra locality in North Darfur organised a protest on Wednesday in front of the Saraf Omra Hospital against the return of doctors affiliated with the former regime and allegedly involved in the illegal sale of medicines. … Many places in West Kordofan are still suffering from bread and fuel crises as well as rising prices of basic materials. People in El Fula told Radio Dabanga that bread and fuel queues are still going on since the formation of the new government to this day, in addition to the high prices of basic commodities in the market. Radio Dabanga

The Nigerian police force on Thursday announced that helicopters had been deployed to help deal with a rising spate of insecurity across the country. Arrangements have been made for all geographical zones of the country according to an order from the police chief, M. A. Adamu. He also tasked citizens to remain calm and not panic from the new arrangement. Nigeria has a multi-level security challenge which has seen the army deployed to fight terrorism and cattle rustling in the north east and north west respectively. There has also been rise in cases of kidnappings. The most recent being after an attack on a highway linking the capital Abuja to the north central Kaduna State. Africa News

At the age of 15, Aisha and Halima were abducted from their compound in north-eastern Nigeria by Boko Haram insurgents. For a year they were held in captivity, and were raped. They managed to escape their captors, and find their way across the desert to a camp in Madinatu, in Borno state. Though they had made it to relative safety, life in the camp was hard for the traumatised teenagers. … One morning as the girls went in search of firewood outside the camp, a group of women stopped them, asking them if they would be interested in work as hairdressers in Italy. … The women were traffickers. … The situation is reflected across the region. The 2019 US State Department Trafficking in Persons report revealed that “sexual exploitation, including sex trafficking, of IDPs in camps, settlements, and host communities around Maiduguri remained a pervasive problem”. It noted that security personnel are also involved in this criminal activity. The Guardian

The U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to extend its sanctions regime in Mali targeting those who delay implementation of a 2015 peace agreement. The French-sponsored resolution adopted Thursday extends the sanctions regime until Aug. 31, 2020, and the mandate of the panel of experts monitoring their implementation until Sept. 30, 2020. France’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Anne Gueguen, says the unity of the council signals its commitment to peace in Mali, which has been in turmoil since an uprising in 2012. Gueguen says the sanctions “are an instrument for stabilization” that has “contributed to change the behavior of a number of individuals in Mali.” AP

Ethiopia on Thursday granted its ethnic Sidama community a referendum in November on self-determination, with a view to creating the country’s 10th autonomous region, Fana news agency reported. Ethiopia’s nine existing regional states enjoy a degree of autonomy under which they are able to choose their official language and have limited powers over taxation, education, health and land administration. Buoyed by political reforms introduced by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed since he took power in 2018, political activists from the Sidama – currently subsumed into one of the nine states – wanted to unilaterally declare a new regional state in July. The same month, at least 17 people were killed in clashes between security forces and pro-autonomy activists, while other Sidama leaders accepted an offer from the government to hold a referendum within five months. … At least eight further ethnic groups in the Horn of Africa country of 105 million people are also seeking autonomy. Reuters

Guinea-Bissau president José Mario Vaz, announced on Thursday he would be seeking re-election in November. “I will be a candidate in the November 24 elections,” Vaz said in front of thousands of supporters in Bissau, capital of the tiny West African country. Excluded from the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which has a majority in the National Assembly, Vaz is contesting the election as an independent, after having failed to obtain the nomination of the opposition party, Madem. Despite the successful legislative elections in March, Guinea-Bissau’s political crisis has not eased. The impasse began in 2015 when President Vaz dismissed Domingos Simoes Pereira, head of the PAIGC, as prime minister. Even after PAIGC won an absolute majority, Vaz refused to name Pereira as prime minister. He instead renewed the mandate of the consensus government headed by Aristide Gomes. Africa News with AFP

When Ugandans troop to the polling stations in the 2021 general election, they may as well be walking into a battlefield, warns a report, but this could be averted if a national dialogue is held and the political playing field is levelled. The report titled Early warning signs for violence in Uganda’s 2021 elections and structures and strategies for mitigation prepared by the Women’s Democracy Network – Uganda Chapter and Innovation for Democratic Engagement and Action cites the youth and the police force as the likely key perpetrators of violence followed by agents of the ruling party and the opposition. According to country director of the Women’s Democracy Network Perry Aritua, the high levels of unemployment among the youth makes them vulnerable to exploitation by politicians “who use them to cause mayhem.” … Respondents also noted that government should bring electoral reforms to reduce electoral malpractice as recommended by the Supreme Court in 2016. The East African

A report by the International Refugee Rights Initiative reveals a mix of frustration, unemployment, post-traumatic stress and alcohol abuse escalating quarrels among refugee communities in northern Uganda. Uganda is home to 1.3 million refugees – 833,000 of them from South Sudan, among whom the research was carried out. … Land wrangling between South Sudan refugees and host communities are just one of many conflicts going on in refugee settlements in Uganda. … In the three districts of Adjumani, Lamwo, and Arua, which have the largest refugee populations, the number of refugees exceeds the number of Ugandan citizens. This has escalated conflict in the settlements. In order to deter some of these conflicts, the Ugandan government and the U.N. Refugee Agency deliberately separated communities in some settlements to avoid incidents. … The report is urging the Ugandan government, UNHCR and the international community to increase funding for refugees in Uganda in an effort to build harmony and peace among the different communities. VOA

The Kenyan government on Thursday expressed disappointment at the decision by the United Nations Security Council to block its push to toughen sanctions on Somali militant group Al Shabaab. Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau told The East African that he was dismayed that the countries that have been hit the most by Al Shabaab and other extremist groups did not support Kenya’s proposal. … The Security Council on Wednesday rejected Kenya’s request to designate Al Shabaab a terror group under Resolution 1267, which includes groups like Al Qaeda, Taliban and ISIL. The move came on the backdrop of strong lobbying by US humanitarian agencies and former diplomats who say such designation would “criminalise humanitarian aid.” … Nairobi was fronting the proposal for the second time after the first bid failed in 2014 on a veto from the United Kingdom. The East African

From its palm-fringed beaches to its rolling savannas and all over this country’s abundant farmland, through the capital’s messy patchwork of suburbs and slums – and yet even farther still, across vast deserts and thick montane forests – an army of more than 164,000 Kenyans is carrying out the gargantuan national endeavor of a census this week. The hordes of census workers, known here as “enumerators,” are conducting a vital process for effective governance that Kenya has undertaken every decade since it gained independence in 1963, and doing it mostly on foot, walking door to door, wearing bright orange vests. It is a remarkable feat that few other African countries have been able to execute with such regularity. … “The basic question that a census seeks to answer is: Who are we, exactly, as a country?” said Zachary Mwangi, the director general of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, which organizes the census. The Washington Post

Earlier this month, Zimbabwean opposition leader Nelson Chamisa announced that his party, the Movement for Democratic Change, was taking to the streets. He said they were protesting against the rapidly deteriorating economic situation, and promised to bring the nation to a standstill. The demonstration, when it happened on August 16, fell far short of that promise. In Harare, only a few hundred people turned out, in defiance of a last-minute government ban. Chamisa was not among them. Riot police locked down the city centre and dispersed the protesters with extreme force. The protest was over before it really began. That day, the repressive tactics of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration were on full view and were broadcast to the world. But a cross-section of members of the political opposition and civil society activists – none of whom are strangers to government brutality – said this was merely the public face of a crackdown that has been longer, more systematic and less predictable than any other they can remember. Mail & Guardian

“Decades of sustainable development gains can be wiped out overnight,” he lamented in Yokohama, citing the deadly cyclone streak in Mozambique earlier this year, floods that plagued Japan just days ago, and the wildfires presently ripping through the Amazon. With July recorded as the hottest month ever, “We are on track for 2015-2019 to be the five hottest years since there are records. At the same time, the World Meteorological Organization has also shown that we have now the largest concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere of human history,” the UN chief told reporters. As far as bearing the brunt, “The poor and vulnerable are the first to suffer,” he said, noting Africa is on the frontline of suffering consequences, yet contributes minimally to global warming. “Africa has the moral authority on this,” he urged, and holds the right to ask top CO2 emitters like China, the United States and India, according the UN Environment Programme’s latest numbers, to scale back on their emissions and comply with the scientific community’s recommendations for achieving carbon neutrality in 2050. UN News

President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Yokohama, Japan, sought the support of the Asian government in combating piracy in the Gulf of Guinea as well as illegal fishing in that region. The President made the request during a bilateral meeting between the Nigerian delegation and Japanese officials led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on the margins of the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7). … In his remarks, Mr Abe welcomed President Buhari’s participation at TICAD7 and the country’s signing of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. … Also on Thursday in Yokohama, Nigeria and the European Union signed a €50 million Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support humanitarian and development efforts in the country’s North-east region. Premium Times

Lagos in Nigeria has been named the world’s least safe city in an index ranking cities’ ability to handle everything from climate disasters to cyber attacks. Johannesburg in South Africa sits at 44 on the list of 60 cities, making it below average. This year the Economist Intelligence Unit Safe Cities Index aimed to capture the concept of “urban resilience” – with Tokyo being listed as the world’s safest city. All Africa



Photo: Adam Jones