Africa Media Review for December 1, 2020

‘Unrelenting’ Insecurity: Nigeria Reels after Massacre of Farmers
Security forces and volunteer vigilante groups in northeastern Nigeria are searching to find people still missing after dozens of civilians working in rice fields were slaughtered by armed men over the weekend. Locals say they recovered 43 bodies after Saturday’s attacks in villages near Maiduguri, the capital of the restive Borno state, which has been plagued by an armed campaign for more than 10 years. … In Zabarmari village, where a funeral was held for the victims of the attack on Sunday morning, a local resident who identified himself as Umar said “no one knows the exact number of people killed.” … On social media, many expressed indignation at the government’s failure to stop the bloodshed despite repeated promises. People called for a review of the country’s security system, including the dismissal of security chiefs. Al Jazeera

UN: COVID-19 Will Increase Humanitarian Needs in 2021
The coronavirus pandemic is pushing the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance to new highs, according to the United Nations, dramatically increasing the ranks of extreme poverty in just one year. One in 33 people will need aid to meet basic needs like food, water and sanitation in 2021, an increase of 40 percent from this year, the UN said on Tuesday in its Global Humanitarian Overview 2021. That translates to 235 million people worldwide, with concentrations in Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, it said. … “The picture we’re painting this year is the bleakest and darkest perspective on humanitarian needs we’ve ever set out, and that’s because the pandemic has reaped carnage across the most fragile and vulnerable countries on the planet,” said UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock, who heads OCHA. Al Jazeera

Eritrean Refugees Cut off from Aid, Threatened by Ethiopia’s Continuing Conflict
Ethiopian federal forces captured the Tigrayan capital of Mekelle at the weekend, but a vow by the rebel regional government to fight on means there’s no end in sight to the unfolding humanitarian crisis. Among those most at risk are 96,000 Eritrean refugees sheltering in four camps in Tigray, cut off from desperately needed relief supplies. “We are surrounded by war, and we can’t move,” one Eritrean refugee told The New Humanitarian from Mai-Aini camp. Unlike most places in the region – where communications have been blacked out by the Ethiopian government – Mai-Aini, located in southern Tigray, has at least some mobile phone coverage. The refugee told TNH there was little food or fuel to run the camp’s water pumps, and added that fleeing further away from the conflict zone had become even harder due to vehicles being banned on the roads and the banks being shut. The New Humanitarian

Sudan PM Asks UNHCR for Technical Assistance
Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok has asked the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR for technical and programmatic assistance to deal with the influx of Ethiopian refugees in Sudan. He and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi agreed to organise an international conference on refugee issues to be hosted by Khartoum at the beginning of next year. PM Hamdok met Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and his delegation in his office yesterday. The UNHCR delegation visited Kassala and El Gedaref to assess the support Sudan needs to deal with the influx of Ethiopian refugees since civil war broke out in neighbouring Tigray. So far, more than 43,000 Ethiopians fled to Sudan. Grandi praised Sudan for receiving refugees from neighbouring countries for decades. He told Hamdok about the plans of the UN Refugee agency (UNHCR) and the willingness of donor countries to cooperate with the government of Sudan. Radio Dabanga

Nigeria: Soldiers Engage Bandits in Shoot-Outs on Kaduna Highways, Rescue 39 Kidnap Victims – Official
Nigerian soldiers have rescued 39 persons kidnapped on the Kaduna-Zaria highway, the Kaduna State Government said on Monday in a statement that showed the grim security situation in and around the state. The statement, which contained the feedback the state government said it received from the military authorities on recent military operations in the state, revealed how bandits have laid siege to the major highways in the state. The state’s Commissioner for Internal Security and Homeland Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, in the statement, said soldiers engaged armed bandits in firefight on the Kaduna-Abuja and Kaduna-Zaria roads in the late hours of Sunday and Monday in the latest of the confrontations. “At Kwanar Tsintsiya axis of Kaduna-Zaria Road, Igabi local government, troops of 4 Battalion Nigerian Army overpowered the armed bandits that were shooting at motorists plying the route. Premium Times

South Africa Army to Help Police Deal with Attacks on Trucks
Police in South Africa have asked the army in the country to help them curb a rapidly escalating series of attacks on truckers on one of the region’s major road arteries. There have been numerous attacks on trucks along the key road linking greater Johannesburg and Durban, on South Africa’s south-eastern Indian Ocean coastline. In the last week alone, over two dozen trucks have been destroyed and at least one driver murdered, with others assaulted and threatened. There appears to be multiple factors involved, including desperation on the part of unemployed local drivers, xenophobia towards foreign drivers and what one source described as “modern-day highway robbery.” Nation

Multinational Joint Task Force Receives Additional Support from European Union
In fulfilment of its pledge to provide additional support to enhance the operational efficiency of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), mandated to bring an end to the Boko Haram insurgency, the European Union (EU) has provided command, control, communication and information systems (C3IS) to the Force. In line with the agreement for implementation of this support, training has been jointly organised by the service providers and Force headquarters, based in N’Djamena, Chad, for personnel who would operate the C3IS equipment across the MNJTF sectors, according to Colonel Muhammad Dole, Chief of Military Public Information, MNJTF. While declaring the training opened, the Force Commander, Major General Ibrahim Manu Yusuf commended the EU for the provision of the C3IS equipment, describing it as ‘most critical’ to enhancing the operational performance of the troops in the field. defenceWeb

Niger Wants to Double Size of Army to Fight Jihadists: Minister
Niger’s army, locked in a battle with jihadist groups in several regions, should double in size to “at least 50,000” soldiers in the next five years, Defense Minister Issoufou Katambe has told parliament. The impoverished country lies in the heart of the Sahel, a region plagued by overlapping jihadist insurgencies that have spilt across borders over the past decade. “An army must have at least 50,000 to 100,000 or 150,000 soldiers and we are at only 25,000, which is why the president of the republic has pledged that in the next five years we must increase this figure, we must have at least 50,000 in this army,” he told lawmakers on Saturday. He told reporters later that the decision was part of the long-term fight against terrorism and said “arrangements were being made to achieve this objective.” The Defense Post with AFP

Military Bases Housing Foreign Troops Attacked in Northern Mali
Three military bases housing foreign forces in northern Mali have come under separate attacks within the space of a few hours, according to officials. The camps in Kidal, Menaka and Gao were hit by “indirect fire” on Monday morning, said Thomas Romiguier, a spokesman for French forces who have more than 5,100 personnel spread across the region. No deaths or injuries were reported, and the only damage was to a United Nations base in Kidal, added Romiguier. Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Chadian head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), condemned the attacks. “We remain in solidarity with our partners and will spare no effort to carry out our respective mandates and bring peace to Mali,” he said. The attacks come after French forces killed Bah ag Moussa, a military leader of al-Qaeda’s North Africa wing on November 10. Al Jazeera

Togolese Opposition Cries Foul over Detention of Leaders Opposing Gnassingbe
Critics of the authorities in Togo have slammed the arrest of key opposition figures held over accusations of plotting to destabilise the country. Gérard Djossou and Brigitte Kafui Adjamagbo-Johnson were arrested on Friday and Saturday in the centre of the capital Lomé by Togolese security forces. Adjamagbo-Johnson and Djossou remain in detention on Monday, questioned by Togolese intelligence services and the criminal investigation unit… Adjamagbo-Johnson is a lawyer and was a candidate in Togo’s 2010 elections. … Djossou is president of the social affairs committee within Dynamique Mgr Kpodzro, a movement named after Philippe Kpodzro, a church leader, who was particularly vocal about electoral fraud during the last presidential polls. The group claims opposition candidate Agbéyomé Kodjo won Togo’s earlier this year and not the incumbent president. RFI

Amnesty International Urges UN to Renew South Sudan Arms Embargo
Amnesty International is urging the United Nations Security Council to renew its arms embargo on South Sudan, saying violence, atrocities and war crimes against civilians have quadrupled this year despite a cease-fire and formation of a unity government in February. The Security Council first imposed an arms embargo on South Sudan in May 2018, which it renewed a year later and again in May 2020. Brian Castner, senior crisis adviser and weapons investigator at the New York-based rights group Amnesty International, told South Sudan in Focus the embargo is needed because government forces do not “use their weapons responsibly,” adding that they are “often the ones committing the atrocities themselves.” VOA

Uganda President Quotes Bible in Ominous Message to Opposition
Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni Sunday bragged about the army’s strength and appeared to threaten the opposition. Referencing security clashes at opposition protests this month that left 54 people dead, Museveni quoted the Bible, saying wrongdoers deserve death. In a special address Sunday night, President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for 34 years, donned a military jacket and did not mince words.   Referring to opposition parties as “criminal gangs,” Museveni said the violent protests that led to the loss of 54 lives will never be repeated. … Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda, the FDC spokesperson, says Museveni’s message to the opposition is that both they and their supporters are vulnerable. “He wants to prove a point, that the next elections are just another ceremony,” he said. “Even if you remove me by a vote, I am not going to accept and I have military. And that’s why the shooting was random. In arcades, in schools, in taxis. To prove to everybody that it is very costly to protest against Museveni.” VOA

Uganda Is Using Huawei’s Facial Recognition Tech to Crack down on Dissent after Anti-government Protests
Long before the Nov. 18-19 protests in Uganda that left more than 50 people dead, opposition politicians, and local activists had warned about the potential abuse and human rights implications of an invasive surveillance system bought by the government last year from China’s telecoms giant Huawei. … The latest protests, which were triggered by the arrest of two presidential candidates hoping to put a halt to president Yoweri Museveni’s 34-year rule, seem to have confirmed those fears. Ugandan police officials have confirmed they are using the cameras supplied by Huawei which helped the force track down some of the more than 836 suspects they have arrested. … Local rights group, Unwanted Witness, has previously called for the observance of international human rights law in the implementation of the project to safeguard human rights, freedoms, and democracy in the country. Quartz

China’s Monster Fishing Fleet
Today, according to a report by the British Overseas Development Institute, China’s blue-water fishing fleet is by far the world’s largest, and includes 12,490 unique vessels that were observed to have been fishing outside China’s internationally recognized EEZ in 2017 and 2018. … Though China isn’t alone in its destructive fishing practices, it stands apart by virtue of its sheer size and the extent to which it pushes its highly subsidized fleet across the world’s oceans. It’s also the only country whose fishing fleet has a geopolitical mission, taking over weaker countries’ waters and expanding Beijing’s maritime territorial ambitions. One of the malicious consequences of all this is that China’s monster fishing fleet robs poorer nations—from North Korea to the countries of West Africa—of desperately needed protein. FP

In Kenya, a Puppet TV Show Keeps Building on the Country’s Legacy of Political Satire
Satire has been a key feature of Kenyan political culture for decades now, humorously exposing and criticizing wrongs while also acting as a litmus test for free speech. Over the years, it has mostly come in the form of political cartoons, music, graffiti and sketch shows. … Newspaper cartoonists in particular have been instrumental in satirizing Kenyan politics. In 1992, weeks before an election pitting authoritarian president Daniel arap Moi against other candidates, cartoonist Paul Kelemba, popularly known as Maddo, published what is considered the first caricature of the president, in Society magazine. It depicted Moi unfairly winning a track race. Before this happened, cartoonist Patrick Gathara says, people were afraid they would be arrested if they satirized the president, but once Kelemba did it, people became bolder in criticizing the status quo. Quartz

A Ray of Hope for Heritage Sites under Threat from Humans, Natural Calamities
The Heritage Committee of Unesco, last year listed 53 cultural and natural sites that were facing destruction or degradation mainly because of human activities. … Dubbed Our World Heritage, the initiative is demanding a fresh look at the shortcomings of the 1972 Unesco World Heritage Convention that is concerned with the conservation and the preservation of cultural properties. … Of late, the Covid-19 pandemic has also hit most sites hard because of the plunge of tourism that has reduced conservation funding. Charlotte Karibuhoye, the director of West African programme at the Mava Foundation based in Senegal, said that nearly half of African heritage sites are either under threat or in pathetic conditions because of lack of political commitments. “Civil society is the pillar of conservation but when it comes to policy, they are never consulted. ‘‘It is also time to involve the indigenous communities that often live around most sites and how they can benefit so that they take keen interests in conservation,” said Ms Karibuhoye. The EastAfrican

On World Aids Day, South Africa Finds Hope in New Treatment
Health officials are hoping that new, long-acting drugs to help prevent HIV infection will be a turning point for the fight against a global health threat that’s been eclipsed by the coronavirus pandemic. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa highlighted the new drug in a weekly newsletter, saying the long-term acting and injectable HIV drug has “the potential to significantly strengthen our response to the epidemic.” The region is especially hard-hit. South Africa has the biggest epidemic in the world with 7.7 million people living with HIV, according to UNAIDS. In separate studies of men and women earlier this year, including one by the HIV Prevention Trials Network and the Reproductive Health and HIV Institute (RHI) at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, the drug — Cabotegravir — had successful trials. The shot given every two months has been proven to be 90% more effective than the daily pill known as PrEP. AP



Photo: Adam Jones