Africa Media Review for January 10, 2023

African Migration Trends to Watch in 2023
African migration has been on a steady upward trajectory for the past two decades. The record level of over 40 million African migrants represents a 30-percent increase from 2010. Given continuing strong push factors, that trend can be expected to continue in 2023. While often unrecognized, most African migration occurs within the continent as migrants seek employment opportunities in neighboring regional economic hubs. In fact, 80 percent of African migrants do not have an interest in leaving the continent. Africa accounts for only 14 percent of the global migrant population, compared to 41 percent from Asia and 24 percent from Europe. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

UN Rights Chief Calls for Probe into Burkina Faso Killings
The head of the United Nations human rights office called Saturday for a prompt, transparent investigation into the deaths of at least 28 people whose bodies were found in northwest Burkina Faso last month…Local human rights groups allege that volunteer militias supporting Burkina Faso’s army killed dozens of Fulani civilians, including children. Fulani people have been increasingly targeted by the military and local defense militias because they are suspected of supporting the West African country’s Islamic extremist rebels who have been inflicting violence on the country for years. AP

Gunmen Kidnap 32 People from Southern Nigeria Train Station
Gunmen armed with AK-47 rifles have abducted more than 30 people from a train station in Nigeria’s southern Edo state, the governor’s office said on Sunday. The attack is the latest example of the growing insecurity that has spread to nearly every corner of Africa’s most populous country, posing a challenge to the government in advance of a February presidential election. Police said in a statement that armed herdsmen had attacked Tom Ikimi station at 4 p.m. (1500 GMT) as passengers awaited a train to Warri, an oil hub in nearby Delta state. The station is some 111 km northeast of state capital Benin City and close to the border with Anambra state. Reuters

Nigeria: Insecurity: Polls May Be Postponed, Cancelled — INEC
The Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, has lamented the growing wave of election-related insecurity across the country, expressing fears that the trend, if not checked, could lead to the cancellation or postponement of the forthcoming general polls. Noting that the development could hinder the declaration of election results and precipitate a constitutional crisis, the electoral umpire called for concerted efforts to stem the tide of violence. Chairman, Board of The Electoral Institute TEI, INEC’s training arm, Professor Abdullahi Abdu Zuru, made the observation, yesterday, in Abuja at the validation of election security training resources. Vanguard Nigeria

Sierra Leone: She Is Africa’s First Heat Officer. Can She Make Her City Livable?
Before Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown exploded into a sprawling metropolis — eating up wooded hills and encroaching on the Atlantic — Eugenia Kargbo loved it for the pristine beaches and lush forests that once enveloped the city, and for its green landscape. Ms. Kargbo, who grew up in the capital in the 1990s, would like to see the city reclaim those vistas. And as Freetown’s first chief heat officer, a post created in 2021, that is her seemingly impossible mission: to make the city verdant and livable again by helping it cope with rising temperatures and other climate changes. These disruptions, along with decades of uncontrolled urban development, have left the capital prone to deadly landslides and annual floods, with heat waves almost all year long. “Heat is invisible but it’s killing people silently,” Ms. Kargbo said in an interview on one of the top floors of Freetown’s city hall, a massive air-conditioned building that towers over the dozens of informal settlements dotting the capital of the small West African nation. New York Times

Appeals Trial for Liberia War Crimes Opens in Finland
Suspected warlord Gibril Massaquoi appeared Tuesday in a Finnish appeals court accused of atrocities in Liberia’s civil war following his acquittal last year in a lower court…Massaquoi, who moved to Finland in 2008, is accused of murders, rapes and war crimes. The first day of the trial was to include decisions on witness confidentiality and the presentation of the case by both the prosecutor and Massaquoi’s defence. The trial will subsequently move to Liberia and Sierra Leone to hear witness testimony before returning to Finland. “The main trial will start in Turku in January 2023 and will continue in Liberia for about two months from the beginning of February,” the Turku Court of Appeal said. A Finnish district court acquitted Massaquoi in April 2022. It ruled that the prosecution had “not proven with sufficient certainty” that he had been involved in the crimes, which occurred in the later years of Liberia’s second civil war. AFP

US Announces $9 Million in Military Support to Somalia
The U.S. announced Sunday that it’s giving $9 million in new military aid to help Somalia’s ongoing campaign against al-Shabab militants. It’s the first such direct military support since U.S. forces returned to Somalia and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud announced an “all-out war” against the militants. The U.S. embassy in Mogadishu handed over military equipment to the government Sunday. According to a tweet from the embassy, the weapons and vehicles will support the campaign by the Somali National Army to liberate communities from al-Shabab control. According to Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, Somalia’s Defense Minister, the military donation from the U.S. was a show of confidence and testimony that the Somali military can be trusted to manage the weapons without it falling into the wrong hands. He added that the weapons will play an important role in fighting the Khawarij. Voice of America

Rwandan President Threatens to Evict Congolese Refugees
Rwandan President Paul Kagame threatened to evict thousands of Congolese refugees living in Rwanda if the international community continues to blame his country for the conflict in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo…The Congolese government and a recent U.N. report blame Rwanda for supporting the M23 mostly Tutsi rebel movement fighting in the east of the country against the Congo government. Rwanda has consistently denied the accusations, saying it is Congo’s internal issue. The M23 rebel movement, which claims to fight against persecution of Congolese of Tutsi origin, seems to have fueled even more hatred against them from other ethnic groups in several parts of Congo. For weeks, thousands have been fleeing into Rwanda and Uganda, including hundreds who crossed into Rwanda last week. “We fled from persecution, they are killing us and our children,” one of the refugees told VOA on arrival Sunday in the Rwandan border town of Rubavu. “I came with nothing; I do not know how I made it here.” Voice of America

Gabon Names Vice-President and New Prime Minister
Gabon’s President Ali Bongo on Monday appointed the country’s first female Prime Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda to the role of vice-president and named a new PM to replace her, his secretary general said. Ossouka Raponda, 59, was appointed in July 2020 after her predecessor stepped down. She was defence minister before that. She had to navigate a delicate political scene as prime minister after a coup attempt in 2019 while Bongo was on prolonged medical leave following a stroke. Reuters

Hopes Rise for Press Freedom in Tanzania as Number of Censured Journalists Falls
The number of journalists being censured for their work in Tanzania has fallen slightly, raising hopes that press freedom is improving in the country. Last year, 17 “press violations”, which include threats, arrests, denial of access to information and equipment seizures, were reported in the east African nation, the Media Council of Tanzania told the Guardian. This compares with 25 in 2021 and 41 in 2020. The country’s previous president John Magufuli, who died in March 2021, was considered “hostile” to the media. During his term, Tanzania tumbled down the world press freedom index, from 71 in 2016 to 124 in 2021, out of 180 countries. The new president, Samia Suluhu, has adopted a more progressive stance. In her first month in office, she announced she did not want Tanzania to continue being infamous for violations of press freedom, and instructed the minister of information to lift some media bans imposed during Magufuli’s tenure. Guardian

South African Experts to Meet over New COVID Variant
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is on Tuesday scheduled to convene a meeting of the National Coronavirus Command Council to discuss a new variant detected in the country this week. The new Covid sub-variant, known as XBB.1.5, has also been recorded in the US and UK. It is an offshoot of the globally-dominant Omicron Covid variant and is highly transmissible. President Ramaphosa confirmed Tuesday’s meeting to local journalists and urged South Africans not to panic. “We are agile enough to want to have that meeting tomorrow, and thereafter there will be information that will be shared with the rest of the country,” he told Eyewitness News on Monday. BBC

Sudan’s Military Leader Reiterates Vow to Restore Civilian Rule
Three days of talks between Sudan’s military and civilian leaders continued Monday, with the aim of reaching a final deal on governing during a two-year transition to elections. Sudan’s ruling military has vowed the army will come under civilian authority as the two sides hammer out a final agreement. The spokesman for the civilian side, Khalid Omer Yousif, addressed the media Monday at a press conference in Khartoum broadcast by the state-run Sudan News Agency. He said this was an opportunity for all Sudanese to engage and cooperate with the regional and international community to achieve the high national interests of the country. Voice of America

Sudan’s Political Process Would Continue Without JEM, SLM-MM: Arman
Yasir Arman a leading figure of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) said they would not negotiate with the Democratic Bloc if the Darfur groups refuse to join the framework agreement individually. The Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi (SLM-MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) refuse to join the framework agreement calling to open it for negotiation with an alliance they recently forged with other political groups…He stressed that the refusal of Minawi and Ibrahim to join the process without the other groups of the Democratic Bloc would force them to continue the political process without them. No, we would not accept to negotiate with the bloc if they maintain their rejection to join the agreement individually, he said. Sudan Tribune



Photo: Adam Jones