Africa Media Review for December 6, 2017

Cameroonians Flee Government Troops in English-Speaking Regions
People fleeing villages in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon accuse government troops of killings, rape and harassment. Thousands are on the run after President Paul Biya declared war on secessionists. The new Kumba-Mamfe road in the English-speaking South West Region of Cameroon, built to improve traffic and commerce, is almost deserted. It is the road that allows trade to flourish between Nigeria and Cameroon. But 32-year-old merchant Ethel Takem told DW that she and her peers had to suspend their trading when Cameroon President Paul Biya declared war on local separatist groups last weekend: “The number of check points is just unbearable,” Takem said. She likened the president’s soldiers to hungry lions let loose on a defenseless population. “Those who want to be killed can travel. I still have my life ahead, so I will not move,” she said. Deutsche Welle

Security Experts Ponder Gulf of Guinea Terror Threat
Security experts from West Africa, France and the United States gathered in Abidjan on Tuesday for talks on beefing up anti-terrorism measures at sea in the Gulf of Guinea. The three-day seminar seeks to identify terrorism risks in the Gulf of Guinea – the vast expanse of water stretching from Liberia to Gabon – and any link with terrorists in the Sahel. The Gulf of Guinea is one of Africa’s hotspots for crime, ranging from piracy, armed robbery and illegal fishing to oil theft and trafficking in stolen goods. Participants will discuss measures such as specialised counter-terrorism units, pooled intelligence and private security companies,the organisers, the Ivorian-based Institute for Interregional Maritime Security (ISMI), said. AFP

Somalia’s Puntland Region Declares State of Emergency over Drought
Somalia’s semi-autonomous region of Puntland declared a state of emergency Tuesday and appealed for food and water because of shortages triggered by a severe drought. Drought has gripped large parts of the Horn of Africa country this year and the United Nations says children face acute malnutrition. The crisis is compounded by al-Shabab’s Islamist insurgency that seeks to topple the central government that is backed by African Union peacekeepers and the West. Al-Shabab militants carry out bombings in the capital Mogadishu and other regions. Militants killed more than 500 people in the capital in an attack last month. VOA

Mali Hostages in Video Appeal for Negotiated Release
A video of two hostages, a Malian judge and a soldier kidnapped by armed men, was released on Tuesday in which they asked the government to free jihadists and impose sharia to secure their release. District judge Soungalo Kone and soldier Mamadou Diawara – who both had short white beards and wore turbans – spoke for six minutes without men, neither mentioning the name of their captors. “I am judge Soungalo Kone, kidnapped in Niono,” said the president of the Niono district court, who then recited some verses from the Koran. Kone said he would be freed if Bamako released imprisoned jihadists and applied sharia law across the country. AFP

Former Egyptian Interior Minister Habib Al-Adly Arrested: Security Sources
Former Egyptian Interior Minister Habib al-Adly has been arrested after failing to hand himself in to authorities after being sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption charges, two security sources said on Tuesday. Adly, a former minister under Hosni Mubarak who was ousted in 2011, was due to hand himself after the case in April but had not been seen in recent months. He is due back in court for an appeal in January. Egypt’s state news agency MENA earlier reported that Adly had been located, but did not disclose his location or whether he had been arrested. Reuters

Why South Africa’s Leadership Race Is Wide Open
The race to lead South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is in overdrive. While current nomination tallies from the ANC’s branches indicate that Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has the edge ahead of the party’s national elective conference that starts Dec. 16, its voting structure and procedures mean his main rival Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma could still win. The victor is likely to become the country’s next president. The ANC holds a national conference every five years to pick its top leadership. Because the ANC has held power in South Africa since apartheid ended in 1994, the winning candidates typically go on to top positions in the government. Jacob Zuma, the nation’s current president, won control of the ANC from Thabo Mbeki in December 2007 and took office in May 2009. Bloomberg

Sierra Leone: Cabinet Reshuffle 4 Months to Elections
The government of Sierra Leone on Monday announced a major Cabinet reshuffle just months before elections. An official press release said the government made former Finance Minister and Bank Governor Kaifala Marrah the new foreign minister, taking over from Samura Kamara, the ruling APC party’s presidential candidate for the coming general elections. Kamara stepped down in line with the Constitution and the busy campaign ahead. On a recent visit to Gambia, President Bai Koroma, accompanied by Samura, told Sierra Leoneans in Banjul that he believes in Kamara succeeding him. Sierra Leone is set to go to the polls in March 2018 and the stakes are high. Fourteen political parties are contesting for the presidency to replace Koroma, whose second and final term is coming to an end. Anadolu Agency

AU to Help Evacuate 15 000 Migrants from Libya This Year
The African Union and member states will repatriate more than 15 000 migrants stranded in Libya by the end of the year amid outrage over recent footage that showed migrants being auctioned off as slaves, the AU’s deputy chairperson said on Tuesday. Between 400 000 and 700 000 African migrants are in dozens of camps across Libya, often under inhumane conditions, AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat told a summit of European and African leaders last week. The International Organisation for Migration says more than 423 000 migrants have been identified in the chaotic North African country, most of them from impoverished countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Libya’s modern-day slavery came to international attention after the CNN footage showed migrants being auctioned off for as little as $400. Thousands of migrants make their way to Libya in hopes of eventually reaching Europe via the Mediterranean, often facing desertion and inhumane treatment by smugglers. AP

Jobless Senegalese Migrants Likely to Head for Europe Again
Thousands of migrants flown back from Libya are likely to attempt the perilous journey to Europe again unless they find jobs at home, Senegal said Tuesday, after reports that slave traders were selling Africans in markets. The West African country has some of the highest numbers of young men who get trafficked, imprisoned and sold in lawless Libya while trying to reach Europe, according to the United Nations migration agency. “If we don’t provide for their needs, they’ll leave again,” said Mariama Cisse, who coordinates government programs for returnees, including job training, loans and community projects. “At the moment we cannot cover all the needs,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. The trafficking and enslavement of African migrants has been in the spotlight after footage broadcast by CNN last month appeared to show Africans being sold in Libya, sparking a global outcry and protests across Europe and Africa. VOA

Nigerian Navy Deploys 80 Boats, 13 Ships against Militants in Niger Delta
To contain activities of militants and sea pirates in Niger Delta, the Nigerian Navy has deployed 80 boats, 13 ships and two helicopters to the region. While the 80 boats were deployed over the weekend to various creeks and back waters to flush out militants and illegal refineries, the capital ships on Tuesday commenced navigation to the high seas for the annual Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS’) sea inspection exercise codenamed “Eagle Eye II.” Flagging off the exercise at the Onne Port in Rivers State, the CNS, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ette Ibas, said it was designed to assess the operational readiness of the naval force to conduct maritime policing including anti-piracy and riverine operations. The National Nigeria

Nigerian State Gets ‘Happiness Minister’
It has been ranked among the happiest places in the world despite widespread unrest, political crisis and recession. Now one Nigerian state has a minister in charge of contentment. The commissioner for happiness and couples’ fulfilment is the brainchild of Rochas Okorocha, governor of the southeastern state of Imo. Okorocha, who was previously widely criticised for using public funds to erect statues of prominent African leaders, on Monday appointed his sister to the post. Ogechi Ololo now takes up the first such portfolio in Nigeria. She previously served as Okorocha’s deputy chief of staff and special adviser on domestic matters, in charge of Christmas decorations. AFP

Nigeria Ramps up Crusade against Human Trafficking
By rewarding whistleblowers, boosting prosecutions and challenging beliefs in black magic, Nigeria is ramping up its crusade against human trafficking, backed by millions of pounds of British aid, anti-slavery and government officials said. Thousands of Nigerian women and girls are lured to Europe each year, making the treacherous sea crossing from Libya to Italy, and trafficked into sex work, the United Nations says. The number of female Nigerians arriving in Italy by boat surged to more than 11,000 last year from 1,500 in 2014, with at least four in five forced into prostitution, according to data from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). VOA

German Tourist Killed in Attack in Northern Ethiopia
The German Foreign Office confirms that a German national has been killed in an attack in northeastern Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s state-run news agency says Sunday’s attack occurred near a volcanic lake at Erta Ale. The tourist’s local guide was wounded. “The two got separated from a group of tourists and were taking photos around when they were shot at by unknown armed men,” the news agency quotes a local official as saying. “We are trying to arrest the perpetrators.” Ethiopia’s government has blamed attacks on foreign tourists in the area in 2012 and 2007 on neighbouring Eritrea, which denied the accusations. AP

South Sudan Owes Sudan $1.3 Billion from 2012 Oil Deal -Official
South Sudan still owes neighbouring Sudan $1.3 billion from a 2012 deal that ended a dispute over oil payments between the two nations, the deputy finance minister told Reuters before he was sacked last week. The previously undisclosed amount is equivalent to eight years worth of oil revenues for South Sudan at current prices, according to former deputy minister Mou Ambrose Thiik. He spoke to Reuters on Friday and was removed from his post by President Salva Kiir later that day. Finance Minister Stephen Dhieu Dau did not answer calls or text messages. Oil minister Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth also did not answer calls or text messages. Information minister Michael Makuei said he could not comment on figures. In 2012, South Sudan shut down oil output after it could not reach an agreement with neighbouring Sudan, its former ruler, on payment to use its infrastructure to export crude from its oilfields. Reuters

Hundreds of Thousands of Poor People Detained in Hospitals
[…] In the report released by British think tank Chatham House on Wednesday, experts reviewed nine studies on the issue and combed through media articles documenting cases of patients detained in 14 countries from Latin America to sub-Saharan Africa. The researchers found more than 950 cases between 2003 and 2017, including a report of about 400 patients held in a single hospital in Kenya in 2009. The researchers said based on that limited data, the rate of detentions reported and the size of the countries where such reports originated, it was likely that hundreds of thousands more people faced the same fate. “It appears to be very systemic and a big problem in countries where the charging of user fees is rampant and unregulated,” said Robert Yates of Chatham House, the study’s lead author. “Even though all countries would say these practices are illegal, the law is not being enforced and health facilities are just breaking the law and essentially holding people hostage until their families pay their bills.” Yates and colleagues found the problem affected a disproportionate number of women like Mwenge, who suffered unexpected complications in childbirth. AP

The Spain/Morocco Border
If you zoom really far in on a map of Morocco, you’ll notice a little wedge of land that doesn’t belong to Morocco at all. It belongs to Spain. It’s a small city called Melilla. And it’s one of two Spanish enclaves in Morocco, marking Europe’s only land border with Africa. Melilla feels just like the rest of Spain: the same language, food, architecture, and currency. You might as well be in mainland Europe. It’s only when you walk to the periphery of town that you are reminded you’re on a different continent. There, you will see one of the most fortified barriers on the planet. Right outside this obstacle, in the forests surrounding Melilla, you’ll find makeshift camps, constructed from scraps of tarp and trash. They are home to sub-Saharan Africans, biding their time, preparing for the day they will attempt to jump this barrier and set foot on European soil, where they hope to find a better life and benefit from the European Union’s migrant protection programs. Vox

A Borderless Africa? Some Countries Open Doors, Raise Hopes
For years African leaders have toyed with the idea of free movement by citizens across the continent, even raising the possibility of a single African passport. Now some African countries are taking bold steps to encourage borderless travel that could spur trade and economic growth on a continent in desperate need of both. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced during his inauguration last week that the East African commercial hub will now give visas on arrival to all Africans. That follows similar measures by nations including Benin and Rwanda. “The freer we are to travel and live with one another, the more integrated and appreciative of our diversity we will become,” Kenyatta said. AP

 



Photo: Adam Jones