Africa Media Review for February 29, 2024

Dominic Ongwen: Ugandan Warlord’s LRA Victims Awarded Share of £56M
Victims of Ugandan warlord Dominic Ongwen have been awarded more than €52m ($56m; £44.5m) by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The order covers almost 50,000 people, including former child soldiers and children born out of rapes and forced marriages. Ongwen was a ruthless rebel commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). He is currently serving a 25-year prison term in Norway for multiple war crimes and crimes against humanity. He was originally abducted as a child and forced to join the LRA but went on to become one of the leaders of the notorious rebel group. During his trial, his argument that he should also be treated as a victim was rejected by the court. The crimes were committed by his rebel fighters in northern Uganda in the early 2000s. BBC

Red Sea Attacks Are Making It Too Risky to Ship Medical Supplies to Sudan
The peril commercial ships face in the Red Sea is now compromising the delivery of medical supplies to war-ravaged Sudan, leaving humanitarian organisations worried about their ability to deliver aid. Since November, Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have attacked ships in solidarity, they say, with Hamas’ war against Israel. Instability in that region is now colliding with the brutal civil war in Sudan, which is geographically removed from the Middle Eastern hotspots, but no longer easily accessible by sea. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) this week said it had “made the difficult decision to suspend operations to Port Sudan through the Red Sea route”. Now, it has to find the money to use alternative routes…Blood transfusion bags, anaesthesia, gauze, solutions, and suture threads are among the medical supplies that are in short supply in Sudan’s conflict zones. News24

Escaping Sudan: ‘My Mother’s Body Was Left by Smugglers in the Desert’
Desperate to escape Sudan’s war, people have told the BBC how they have handed over their precious savings to unscrupulous people smugglers-cum-gold miners, to make a terrifying journey to Egypt…The smugglers are usually men who are involved in gold mining in the area, so know the tough desert terrain along the 1,200km (745-mile) border and have access to trucks…[T]hose who agreed to talk to the BBC said accidents were common as the smugglers drive at high speeds to evade the authorities…But once in Egypt, the plight of Sudanese migrants is not over. If they do not have refugee status or cannot prove they have an appointment to apply for it, they can be deported. BBC

Congolese Journalist Denied Provisional Release after Months in Detention
A court in the Democratic Republic of Congo has rejected an appeal for the provisional release of journalist Stanis Bujakera, who has been in detention for more than five months. Bujakera, who works for international media outlets including Reuters, was detained on Sept. 8 and later charged with spreading false information about the killing of a prominent opposition politician. He denies the charges. In its ruling on Tuesday, the court did not provide a reason for the rejection of the appeal to release him from Kinshasa central prison. The court had previously rejected several other appeals for his release, also without giving a reason…The next hearing is scheduled on March 8…Local and international rights groups have condemned Bujakera’s detention, calling it an attack on press freedom, and demanded his release. Reuters

UN Hands Over 1st Military Base in Congo to Begin Its Drawdown after Decades in the Country
United Nations peacekeepers handed over their first military base to security forces in eastern Congo on Wednesday as part of an eventual withdrawal after decades of operating in the country…Peacekeepers transferred responsibility and equipment at its base in Kamanyola in South Kivu province to Congo’s national police as part of a phased drawdown agreed upon between the government and the U.N. last year…The mission is expected to close 14 bases and facilities in South Kivu by June, at which point the U.N. Security Council will decide on a timeline for the rest of the withdrawal. The drawdown comes amid soaring violence in recent weeks as one of the most active rebel groups, M23, launched attacks against a community considered the last line of defense before the region’s largest city of Goma. AP

Burundi Detains Dozens of Soldiers Who Refused Deployment in Fight against M23 Rebels in Congo
Dozens of Burundian troops have been detained for refusing to be deployed to eastern Congo in the fight against the M23 rebel group as it advances toward a major border city, according to army officers, prison officials and other witnesses. The dissenting soldiers were being held in at least four prisons across the tiny central African country, they told The Associated Press…Burundian President Évariste Ndayishimiye, in a public broadcast on Dec. 29, acknowledged the presence of Burundian troops in eastern Congo under the terms of a defense pact with Congolese authorities. “If you do not help your neighbor put out the fire when his house is burning, tomorrow, if it is your turn, he will not come to help you,” he said. “If Burundi is going to help (Congo), it is defending itself.” He said in that address that it was “normal for Burundian soldiers to be killed on Congolese territory”. AP

At Least Two Dozen Migrants Died off Senegal’s Northern Coast Trying to Reach Europe, Say Officials
At least two dozen people died off Senegal’s northern coast and many were injured when their boat capsized, said officials, underscoring the danger of the route used by an increasing number of migrants seeking to reach Spain from West Africa. The boat was bound for Europe and capsized near the town of Saint-Louis where bodies washed ashore Wednesday afternoon and the fire department was alerted, said Alioune Badara Sambe, the local governor…The number of migrants leaving from Senegal on rickety wooden boats surged last year, and nearly 1,000 people died while trying to reach Spain by sea in the first six months of 2023, according to the Spanish migration advocacy group, Walking Borders. Factors such as youth unemployment, political unrest and the impact of climate change push migrants to risk their lives on overcrowded boats. AP

Senegal: Dakar’s University Reopens after Months of Closure Following Sonko Protests
The Academic Council of Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar (CADU) decided on Saturday that face-to-face teaching could resume as of Monday, 26 February. Students have responded – hundreds of them turned up to take classes in person after months of online teaching…The university is a known centre for political unrest. But its closure for almost six months has had a devastating impact on students and the entire education system…On campus, few students wanted to speak about the reopening or the political situation. “We’re worried and think this has everything to do with the political deadlock”, [said a student], studying Portuguese. Off campus, Diomaye Yatt, a student and president of the science and technology association at UCAD, told RFI: “We truly appreciate this decision, because we went months without face-to-face classes. But there remain issues with the lack of accommodation and access to food on campus. “And some timetables of classes are not even ready.” RFI

Ghana Parliament Passes Stringent Anti-LGBTQ Law
Ghana’s parliament passed legislation on Wednesday that intensifies a crackdown on the rights of LGBTQ people and those promoting lesbian, gay or other non-conventional sexual or gender identities in the West African country. Gay sex was already punishable by up to three years in prison. The bill now also imposes a prison sentence of up to five years for the “wilful promotion, sponsorship, or support of LGBTQ+ activities”. The bill is one of the harshest of its kind in Africa…Following the vote in parliament, the bill will be presented to President Nana Akufo-Addo after which he has seven days to assent or refuse to assent, according to Ghana’s constitution. If he assents, the bill becomes law. Akufo-Addo, had avoided the heated debate over the bill, but said he’ll react once it is voted by parliament. Reuters

Yaya Dillo, Several Others Killed in Chad’s Foiled Security Office Attack
Several people, including a top opposition leader, were on Wednesday killed following an overnight attack on Chad’s internal security agency in the capital N’Djamena. The government blamed the attack on the opposition. Chadian Minister for Communication Abderaman Koulamalla said in a statement that the attack on the National Agency for State Security (ANSE) was carried out by members of the Socialist Party Without Borders (PSF), opposition party led by Yaya Dillo. Later, local media reports indicated the forces had killed Dillo…Tchad One, a local independent news outlet, reported the “assassination” of Dillo and later high “palpable tensions” in the capital N’Djamena as forces hunted for more opposition figures. The news outlet also reported that Gen Saley Deby, a close relative of the Chadian junta leader Mahamat Deby, was being hunted down to “surrender”. Later, Saley was arrested and “taken to the presidency”, it reported. Saley had joined the PSF earlier in February, having left the ruling junta…The attack comes a day after the country announced it will organise a two-round presidential election over May and June with provisional results expected July 7. The East African

Nigeria Imposes Annual Levy on Expatriate Workers
Nigeria has imposed a mandatory annual levy for organisations employing expatriate workers, requiring them to pay $15,000 (£12,000) for a director and $10,000 for other employees. The move is meant to encourage foreign companies to employ more Nigerian workers. Staff of diplomatic missions and government officials are exempt. President Bola Tinubu…said that its aim was to balance employment opportunities between Nigerians and expatriates…The levy applies to employees who work for at least 183 days in a year. The scheme imposes fines of up three years and jail terms of up to five years for a person or organisations that do not comply, including failure to provide accurate information. The Nigerian Immigration Service will be responsible for enforcing the levy. BBC

African Leaders Call for Equity over Minerals Used for Clean Energy
A resolution for structural change that will promote equitable benefit-sharing from extraction, supported by a group of mainly African countries including Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Chad, was presented at the UN environmental assembly in Nairobi on Wednesday and called for the sustainable use of transitional minerals…Demand for transitional minerals and metals, which are used to build renewable energy technologies such as solar plants, windfarms and electric vehicles, has surged over the past decade as the world transitions from fossil fuels…More than a half of the world’s cobalt and manganese, and 92% of its platinum, are found on the continent…Many of the region’s countries have limited capacity to process these critical transitional materials domestically. The minerals are often exported in their raw state and refined elsewhere, often in China, which does the bulk of global minerals processing and production…Agreements that promote technology transfers, and raise local countries’ processing capacities and workforce skills, are necessary for an equitable transition, leaders said at the assembly. The Guardian