Africa Media Review for February 2, 2024

Sudan: El Fasher Rocked by Artillery Clashes, Raising Fears of Escalation
The capital of North Darfur, El Fasher, was rocked by violent artillery clashes between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) on Thursday, leaving at least 3 dead and 8 injured. Despite repeated warnings from the international community, regional bodies, and local residents, the RSF launched an attack on El Fasher, a city serving as a refuge for displaced civilians fleeing the Darfur conflicts…This incident exacerbates the already dire humanitarian situation in El Fasher. The city grapples with shortages of food, fuel, and medicine, further worsened by the suspension of commercial convoys previously provided by the joint force of armed movements under the Juba Peace Agreement. The armed movements in El Fasher have mobilized their forces in anticipation of further attacks by the RSF on civilians. This development raises concerns about a potential escalation of the conflict, plunging the region back into chaos. Sudan Tribune

38 People Killed and 52 Wounded in Communal Clashes over Land in South Sudan, Officials Report
Residents of a swampy area in central South Sudan battled with cattle herders who moved in looking for water and pasture during the dry season, and at least 38 people were killed and 52 suffered gunshot wounds, officials said Thursday. The fighting started Wednesday and tensions remained high Thursday night, with officials reporting “minor clashes” and apprehension over revenge attacks in the remote area…[A police spokesperson] said young herders from Warrap migrated to the Alor area with their cattle two weeks ago and began burning brush and the temporary shelters of residents. He said the herders were looking for pasture and water in the swampy lands of Alor. The bloodshed came four days after at least 52 people, including a U.N. peacekeeper, were killed and 64 wounded by gunmen who attacked villagers in Abyei, an oil-rich region that is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan. Officials said that violence also arose from a dispute over land. AP

Nigeria: Kidnappers Kill Another Traditional Ruler, Abducts Wife in Kwara
The police have confirmed the killing of a traditional ruler in Kwara State, Peter Aremu, the Onikoro of Koro-Ekiti, in Ekiti Local Government Area of the state by kidnappers…“The gunmen invaded the residence of the traditional ruler in the evening and killed him and went away with his wife,” the police spokesperson said…The incident happened a few days after kidnappers killed two traditional rulers in neighbouring Ekiti State and abducted nine persons, including five students, from a school bus. Premium Times

Ethiopia: Parliament Endorses Extension of State of Emergency in Amhara Region
The House of People’s Representatives convened a special session this morning, during which it resolved to prolong the prevailing six-month state of emergency in the Amhara region. The decision comes as the region continues to grapple with a region-wide militarized conflict involving federal and regional state forces on the one hand and the Fano militia on the other…Although major urban centers within the Amhara region have since appeared to be reverting to a relative state of stability, recent accounts indicate the emergence of fresh conflicts in numerous cities and towns across the region, leading to casualties, injuries, and the devastation of public infrastructure. Addis Standard

Migrant Arrivals to Spain’s Canaries Jump by over 1,000% in January
The number of migrants from West Africa who braved the sea in fragile boats to reach Spain’s Canary Islands jumped more than 1,000% in January from a year ago, data released by the country’s interior ministry on Thursday showed. A total of 7,270 irregular migrants reached the archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean between Jan. 1 and Jan. 31, a nearly 13-fold increase from the 566 in the same month in 2023, the ministry said. The chain of islands off Africa’s northwestern coast, one of Spain’s most popular tourist destinations, was the entry point for 39,910 migrants last year, an all-time record. Reuters

Refugee Files Complaint to UN against Spain over 2014 Border Deaths
A 25-year-old from Cameroon has filed a complaint to the UN against Spain, accusing the country of multiple violations of the convention against torture in hope of seeking justice after an incident in 2014 during which at least 15 people died while trying to enter Spanish territory from Morocco…[The man, who asked to be identified by the pseudonym Ludovic] said he was 15 when he joined about 200 people trying to make it to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from Morocco…His complaint to the UN committee against Torture, which has called on Spain to reopen the investigation into the incident, cites his ill-treatment at the border, as well as his expulsion to Morocco and the failure of authorities to investigate his case. The complaint was filed with the support of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR). On Wednesday, the Berlin-based NGO described the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla as the “European laboratory of border rightlessness” and pointed to the fact that the bodies found off the former’s Tarajal beach had never been identified. The Guardian

Tunisian Opposition Leader Ghannouchi Sentenced to Three Years in Prison
A Tunisian judge on Thursday sentenced opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi, a fierce critic of President Kais Saied, to three years in prison on charges of accepting external financing, his lawyer Monia Bouali told Reuters. Ghannouchi, 82, head of the Ennahda main opposition party, has been in prison since April. Last year he was sentenced to a year in prison on charges of incitement against police…Ghannouchi was in exile before the 2011 revolution that brought democracy, and was parliament speaker from the 2019 election until Saied shut down the chamber in 2021. The opposition and human rights groups accuse Saied of imposing authoritarian rule by imprisoning opponents, muzzling the press, and controlling the judiciary. Reuters

Algeria Pushes UN Security Council to Demand Gaza Ceasefire
Algeria has drafted a U.N. Security Council resolution to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas…The draft, seen by Reuters on Thursday, also “rejects the forced displacement of the Palestinian civilian population” and again demands all parties comply with international law and calls for full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access into and throughout the entire Gaza Strip. Algeria shared the draft with the 15-member council on Wednesday, diplomats said, after the body met to discuss a ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last week that ordered Israel to take action to prevent acts of genocide, but it stopped short of calling for an immediate ceasefire. Reuters

A Fire Set Off by a Gas Explosion in Kenya Kills at Least 3 People and Injures More than 270 Others
A vehicle loaded with gas exploded and set off an inferno that burned homes and warehouses in Kenya’s capital, killing at least three people and injuring more than 270, officials said Friday, with the death toll expected to rise…The truck explosion ignited a huge fireball, and a flying gas cylinder set off a fire that burned down a garment and textile warehouse called Oriental Godown, [government spokesman Isaac Mwaura] said. Several other vehicles and businesses were damaged by the inferno that started around 11:30 p.m. Thursday…The government and Red Cross said 271 people were taken to several hospitals with injuries. The proximity of the industrial company to residences raised questions about enforcement of city plans. Officials at the county government have been accused of taking bribes to overlook building codes and regulations. AP

Election Officials in South Africa Rush to Register 100,000 Prisoners to Vote
South African election officials have visited prisons across the country as part of an ambitious project to register at least 100,000 inmates to vote in this year’s national election. The country’s constitution guarantees every adult citizen the right to vote — meaning there are no restrictions on prisoners taking part in elections, a stark contrast to most other African nations. The date for the vote has not yet been announced, but it’s expected to be held between May and August. The Electoral Commission of South Africa hopes to register a record number of inmates in the 240 correctional facilities across the country as voters. Around 15,000 prisoners voted in the last national election in 2019. AP

Western Miners Lag as Oil Powers Enter Race for Africa’s Critical Metals
Risk aversion is likely to leave major Western miners lagging in a race to tap Africa’s reserves of critical raw materials that has gathered pace now Middle Eastern oil powers have begun to emulate China’s years of investment on the continent. Attracting the capital needed to advance copper, cobalt, nickel and lithium projects in Africa will be high on the agenda when executives, bankers and government officials gather in Cape Town, South Africa, for the annual African Mining Indaba beginning on Monday…The costs of gaining a stake are being inflated by an increased appetite for critical minerals needed for the transition to a greener economy, of which Africa’s copperbelt, stretching from southern Congo and Zambia to Botswana, has an abundance. Oil powers Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are among those most able to take risk. For Western companies, the hunt for assets is complicated by emerging challenges in jurisdictions previously seen as safer. Reuters

Nigeria’s Japa Economy Spurs a Battle over Remittances Market
Global remittances were for decades dominated by industry giants Western Union and Moneygram. But the proliferation of tech companies, along with greater adoption of mobile wallets, has increased competition from companies such as 11-year-old TransferGo which began serving the Nigeria market around two years ago, to much smaller fintech players across Africa and Europe…Remittances outstrip foreign direct investment and overseas development aid to such an extent that some African governments increasingly see it as a vital source of foreign currency…With a higher cost of living in advanced economies in recent years, due to high inflation and interest rate rises, migrants have less money to send home than before. That’s reflected in a slowdown in the rate at which remittance flows have grown. Semafor

Ethiopia Hails Return of Its First Plane, Stolen by Mussolini in 1930s
Almost nine decades after it was stolen by Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime, the Italian government has officially returned Ethiopia’s first plane…Built in 1935 during the reign of Selassie, the aircraft was a collaborative effort between the German pilot Herr Ludwig Weber and Ethiopian engineers…According to historians, the aircraft was requisitioned and taken to Italy after Mussolini occupied Ethiopia, known then as Abyssinia, in 1935. Addis Ababa fell to the fascists the following year…The minister of defence, Guido Crosetto, said: “This delivery represents a very strong message that, in the aftermath of the Italy-Africa summit, [Italy] wants to highlight the strong bond between our two countries and wants to emphasise the value of dialogue and the importance of international cooperation.’’ The Guardian