Africa Media Review for February 25, 2021

World Risks ‘Collapse of Everything’ without Strong Climate Action, Attenborough Warns Security Council
Climate shocks such as record high temperatures and a “new normal” of wildfires, floods and droughts, are not only damaging the natural environment, said UN chief António Guterres, but also threatening political, economic and social stability. … “Whether you like it or not, it is a matter of when, not if, your country and your people will have to deal with the security impacts of climate change,” [UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson] said, urging them to show the global leadership necessary to keep the world safe. … Nisreen Elsaim, a young activist from Sudan, spoke of how climate vulnerability is forcing young Africans and their counterparts elsewhere to leave their homelands, which can contribute to conflict. “As a young person I am sure that young people are the solution,” said Ms. Elsaim, chair of the UN Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change. “Give us more space, listen to us and engage youth.” … In his briefing to the Council, Mr. Guterres outlined the need for action in four priority areas: prevention, protection, security and partnerships. UN News

Central African Republic ‘Very Volatile,’ despite Important Progress – UN Peacekeeping Chief
Despite a successful presidential election and other noteworthy progress, the Central African Republic (CAR) continues to be plagued by violence and volatility, the UN peacekeeping chief told the Security Council on Tuesday. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, praised the peacekeeping mission in the country, MINUSCA, in providing security to thousands of internally displaced, helping to safeguard democratic order and protecting civilians “in the face of persisting attempts by the armed group coalition to asphyxiate the country.” … Two years since its signing, the Political Agreement remains “the only viable framework for peace,” said Mr. Lacroix. “It is now essential that these democratic gains are preserved by completing the electoral process and advancing a peaceful resolution to the crisis,” he asserted. To start “healing the national trauma,” the UN peacekeeping chief advocated for “inclusive and meaningful dialogue…without delay” and for the international community to support national efforts by “promoting cooperation and coherence in the peace process.” UN News

Gunmen Kill 36 in Attacks on Two Northern Nigerian States
Gunmen killed 36 people in two attacks in northern Nigeria on Wednesday, a day after insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades amid worsening security facing Africa’s most populous nation, officials and residents said. The series of attacks by armed bandits occurred over the past 48 hours with 18 people killed each in villages of Kaduna and Katsina states and several others injured. The assailants burned down houses, displacing the villagers. Hundreds of people have been killed in northern Nigeria by criminal gangs carrying out robberies and kidnappings. Such attacks have added to security challenges in Nigeria, which is struggling to contain Islamist insurgencies in the northeast and communal violence over grazing rights in central states. Reuters

CAR: Pro-Government Forces Capture Ex-President’s Stronghold
Pro-government forces in the Central African Republic (CAR) on Wednesday seized a stronghold of former president Francois Bozize, who was accused in December of plotting a coup, Prime Minister Firmin Ngrebada said. “I hail the capture of the town of Bossangoa by our forces and allies today,” he said on Facebook, referring to a key pro-Bozize town 280 kilometres (175 miles) north of the capital Bangui. “Allies” is a term used by CAR’s government for Russian paramilitaries and Rwandan troops who are supporting the beleaguered authorities against rebel groups. “Never again will bandits disturb people in this part of the country,” Ngrebada vowed. A senior government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said “fighting is still ongoing” but “resistance has been broken, the enemy is fleeing.” AFP

At Least 14 Killed at Religious Site in CAR: Amnesty
At least 14 people have been killed at a religious site in the Central African Republic (CAR) amid clashes between armed groups and security forces, according to material gathered by rights group Amnesty International. Following the analysis of satellite images, testimonies and photographs, Amnesty International published a report on Thursday detailing an attack that took place on February 16 in Bambari, CAR’s fifth biggest town, located in the centre of the country, 380 kilometres (236 miles) from the capital Bangui. … Crisis Evidence Lab, set up to help fact-finding human rights organisations, received one video showing at least 14 bodies laying on the floor of a religious site in the east of the city following an attack that took place a day before the government said it had “completely liberated” the town from armed groups. Al Jazeera

Nigerian Troops Reclaim Town Seized by Jihadists: Army
Nigerian soldiers backed by fighter jets on Tuesday recaptured a town in the restive northeast seized last week by jihadists after they overran a military base, the army said. Troops had recovered the town of Marte and “adjoining communities” in the Lake Chad region from jihadists, after intense fighting, the army said. “The troops backed by air cover… successfully charged through Marte town, destroying several Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) and landmines laced across their route,” said the statement. Government troops were in “total control” of the area and had killed “scores” of jihadists during the gun battle, the army added. On February 15, fighters from the IS-aligned Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) seized the town after overrunning a base there, killing eight soldiers, military sources said. The Defense Post with AFP

Nigerian Military to Protect Oil Assets to Curb Daily Losses
Africa’s largest crude producer will tap the services of the military to protect its oil and gas infrastructure in a bid to curb daily losses from theft and vandalism. Nigeria is losing about 200,000 barrels of crude daily, about 10% of output, Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. Managing Director Mele Kyari said during a meeting with Major General Lucky Irabor, the chief of defense staff. Officers in the armed forces will be instructed to cooperate with the state-owned firm, Irabor said. “Our existence, economically, rests almost solely on the NNPC, and to that extent, we must do everything possible to give you everything that you require,” he said. Crude exports account for about 90% of foreign-exchange earnings and about 50% of government revenue in the West African nation. Disruption to oil flow is regular due to sabotage and theft along exposed pipelines in the Niger River Delta through which most of the country’s crude is pumped. Bloomberg

Niger Opposition Leader Alleges Election Fraud, Declares Victory
Niger opposition leader Mahamane Ousmane has claimed that he narrowly won the country’s presidential election, as fresh violence erupted a day after official results gave victory to his rival by a wide margin. … According to provisional results announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), former interior minister Mohamed Bazoum picked up 55.75 percent of the vote in Sunday’s runoff and Ousmane 44.25 percent. Police clashed with Ousmane supporters in the capital, Niamey, after CENI’s announcement on Tuesday, AFP news agency reported. Sources in the city said at least one police station and shops owned by people perceived as being close to the government had been pillaged. … Further violence erupted on Wednesday morning in Niamey’s central market area. … Internet access was severely reduced on Wednesday in Niamey and Zinder. … Also on Wednesday, Moumouni Boureima, a former chief of staff of the armed forces, was arrested at his home, a security source said. He was accused of leading the disturbances after the election result was announced, the source told AFP. Al Jazeera

Talks on Gambia’s Constitutional Deadlock Moved to Abuja
Negotiations to resolve a deadlock over a draft constitution for Gambia have been moved to Nigeria. Representatives of the country’s main political leaders were flown to the Nigerian capital, Abuja on Monday, where they are currently meeting. The mediation is been chaired by former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan. … The Abuja meeting followed two others held in Banjul, which have so far failed to broker a deal to rescue the new draft constitution that should replace ex-President Jammeh’s 1997 constitution which is said to have helped him preside over a reign of terror for over 20 years. … A key source of the disagreement is a clause that counts Barrow’s current term as his first term. … Gambians are due to vote for a new president in December, the first after Jammeh’s dictatorship was ended. And getting a new constitution is crucial in ensuring a peaceful, free and fair election. Nation

Egypt Backs Call to Internationalize Ethiopia Dam Dispute
Egypt said Wednesday it has endorsed a Sudanese proposal to internationalize arbitration in a years-long dispute with Ethiopia over a massive dam Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry said Cairo backs the formation of an “international quartet” including the U.S., the European Union, and the U.N., along with the African Union to facilitate reaching a deal on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam. The dispute centers on how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the three countries would settle any future disputes. Egypt and Sudan also call for a legally binding agreement on the dam’s filling and operation, while Ethiopia insists on guidelines. Shukry said Egypt wants to develop the negotiating mechanism to reach a “legally binding agreement” at the earliest possible opportunity.” AP

UN Investigator Probes Alleged Forced Return of Eritrean Refugees from Ethiopia
A U.N. human rights expert is calling for an urgent investigation into allegations that Eritrean forces have forcibly repatriated Eritrean refugees who were living in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray province. His report has been submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council. … Addressing the Human rights Council on Wednesday, Babiker said he has received information from credible sources about the precarious situation of Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in the province. Babiker said he is particularly concerned about two refugee camps in Tigray that hosted more than 25,000 Eritreans. These, he said, allegedly were destroyed in attacks by Eritrean and Ethiopian troops, acts which would constitute a serious breach of international humanitarian law. VOA

Hunger-Striking Ethiopia Politicians ‘Deteriorating’ in Jail
Lawyers representing jailed Ethiopian opposition politicians say they are concerned for the lives of their clients, whose hunger strike has gone on for nearly a month and drawn international attention as they protest their treatment by the government. “Four of them have continued with their hunger strike and their health is deteriorating quickly,” lawyer Tokuma Daba told The Associated Press, saying he last visited them on Monday. “Our concern now is for their lives. We are told by medics that they need a sophisticated medical treatment, which is lacking now. It is really concerning.” The jailed politicians include media mogul-turned-politician Jawar Mohammed, Bekele Gerba, Hamza Adane and Dejene Tafa. They were arrested along with at least 16 others following the killing of a renowned singer, Hachalu Hundessa, in June 2020. Amid outrage over the killing, violence targeting ethnic minorities claimed the lives of several dozen people, mainly in the Oromia region. AP

‘Historic Step’ as Sudan Ratifies Conventions on Torture, Disappearance
A joint meeting of Sudan’s Sovereign Council and Council of Ministers has approved two draft laws to join the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) of 2006, and the Convention against Torture and Cruel Punishment (UNCAT) of 1984. The ratification of the international conventions by Sudan’s transitional government was initially announced on Tuesday evening by Sudan’s Minister of Justice, Nasreldin Abdelbari as “a great step towards building a new Sudan a Sudan of dignity, freedom, justice and peace.” The announcement was confirmed by Sudan’s permanent envoy to the United Nations, Ambassador Ali bin Abitaleb, in his speech before the general sitting of the 46th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Radio Dabanga

‘First US Navy Ship in Decades’ Docks in Port Sudan
A rapid transport ship of the US Military Maritime Transport Command USNS Carson City arrived at Port Sudan harbour on the Red Sea on Wednesday “to enhance maritime security in the region” in a new indication of a post-embargo thaw in Sudan-US relations this year. In a statement via social media on Wednesday, the US Embassy in Khartoum stated that the arrival of the US naval ship to Sudan is the first in decades, indicating that the ship’s arrival refers to the US Armed Forces ‘readiness to enhance the renewed partnership with the Sudanese Armed Forces. “Today, the Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City arrived in Port Sudan, Sudan. This is the first US Navy ship to visit Sudan in decades and highlights the willingness of the United States Armed Forces to strengthen their renewed partnership with the Sudanese Armed Forces,” the US Embassy says. Radio Dabanga

Ivorian Refugees in Liberia Struggle to Get a Helping Hand
Ivorian Ruth Sayne, 33, escaped the post-election violence in Cote d’Ivoire in 2011 and fled to neighboring Liberia with her husband, a farmer. While life was hard in the refugee camp, formerly the site of the Prime Timber Production (PTP) Company, she survived. The Sayne family crossed back with their three children into Cote d’Ivoire again in 2017, ready to return to their old life. Peace back in the village was short-lived. Ruth was just one of 3,200 Ivorians who fled post-election violence after the November 2020 elections, according to the UN Refugee agency, with a total of 26,000 Ivorians taking refuge in Liberia to date. The PTP refugee camp was established to accommodate Ivorians fleeing into Liberia’s eastern Grand Gedeh region as a result of the presidential post-election conflict in Côte d’Ivoire in late 2010 and early 2011 which escalated into violence. RFI



Photo: Adam Jones