Africa Media Review for July 10, 2017

ISIS Claims Attack in Egypt That Killed 23 Soldiers
The Islamic State group has claimed an attack on a remote Egyptian army outpost in the Sinai Peninsula that killed at least 23 soldiers, the deadliest assault in the turbulent region in two years. IS said in an online statement late Friday that it carried out the attack as the army was preparing to assault militant positions in the territory bordering Gaza and Israel. The coordinated attack suggested the Sinai-based militants are among the region’s most resilient, after IS in Iraq and Syria, where the so-called caliphate is rapidly losing ground. It also underscored the challenges facing Egypt’s security forces as they try to contain the insurgency. Local TV channels on Saturday carried live footage of the funerals of those killed, with their coffins wrapped in Egypt’s red, white and black flag. AP

Egyptian Police Kill 16 Gunmen in Raids Targeting Militants
Egyptian police officers have shot dead 16 gunmen in two shootouts, the country’s Interior Ministry said on Saturday, adding that most of those killed were fugitive militants linked to recent attacks on security forces in Northern Sinai. Egypt faces an Islamist insurgency led by the Islamic State group in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where hundreds of soldiers and police have been killed since 2013. At least two policemen were killed and nine wounded when their armoured vehicle was hit by an explosion in the Sinai on Saturday, Egypt’s state news agency MENA said. Saturday’s attack came a day after at least 23 soldiers were killed when suicide car bombs tore through two military checkpoints in the region in an attack claimed by Islamic State. It was one of the bloodiest assaults on security forces in years. Reuters

Nine Kenyans Beheaded by Somali Al-Shabaab Terrorists
Al-Shabaab extremists from neighbouring Somalia beheaded nine civilians in an attack on a village in Kenya, officials said, adding to growing concerns that the Islamist militant group has taken up a new strategy. The attack occurred on Saturday in the village of Jima, south-east Kenya, said James Ole Serian, who leads a task force of security agencies combating al-Shabaab, which is linked to al-Qaida. Beheadings by al-Shabaab have been rare in Kenya even as the group has carried out dozens of deadly attacks over the years. Beheadings are not uncommon in Somalia, where the group carries them out on people who are believed to be their enemies and to terrorise local populations. The Guardian

DR Congo Opposition Decries Kabila Election Delay as ‘Declaration of War’
Corneille Nangaa, the president of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s electoral commission, said on Sunday that the 12-month deadline since the end of Kabila’s tenure was unlikely to be met for logistical reasons. “The parameters at our disposal give us, more or less, reason to think that, in December, it will probably not be possible to stick to that date,” Nangaa said in an interview on France’s TV5Monde. Kabila refusal to step down at the end of his second elected term last December, sparking protests in which dozens of people died. Deutsche Welle

Kiir Cancels South Sudan Independence Celebration Due to Economic Crisis
South Sudan President Salva Kiir said on Sunday his administration was forced to call off the celebration of 6th Independence Day because of the economic crisis with which the country was battling to address since the eruption of the armed conflict in December 2013. “We did not feel that it was appropriate to spend whatever little funds we may have to celebrate when our people are hugely affected by the economic crisis that has made it difficult for many people to afford even one meal per day,” announced President Kiir in a message issued in commemoration of the sixth anniversary of South Sudan’s Independence. “Although the famine, which was declared in some parts of our country, has now been contained, still thousands of our citizens are under threat of food insecurity,” he further said. No military parade or other public events took place as war ravages the economy and inflation hits almost 300 percent. The young nation is struggling to stop rising inflation caused by the war, rampant corruption and the near collapse of the oil industry, which accounts for 98 percent of government revenues. Sudan Tribune

South Sudan’s Troops Said to Advance on Rebel Stronghold
Thousands of South Sudanese have been displaced and aid workers evacuated as rebels on Saturday accused government troops of advancing on their stronghold and killing civilians along the way. Opposition spokesman William Gatjiath Deng told The Associated Press that government troops have stepped up attacks in the past week in Mathiang in Longochuck county. The rebels have kept the troops from entering the rebel stronghold of Pagak but the fighting is getting worse, he said. “The government is killing civilians, they’re burning down houses,” Deng said. The reports of an offensive come as South Sudan prepares to mark its sixth anniversary of independence on Sunday. AP

For Sudan, a Looming Deadline on Possible Lifting of U.S. Sanctions
Shortly before he left office in January, President Obama did something that surprised many human rights activists. He suspended some trade sanctions on Sudan, a government notorious for human rights abuses and which the U.S. once accused of carrying out a genocide. The Trump administration has to decide by July 12 whether to stick with this approach. The first U.S. sanctions were imposed some 20 years ago, during the Clinton administration, to punish Sudan for its role in international terrorism. Osama bin Laden lived in Sudan before he settled in Afghanistan in 1996. Additional sanctions have been added over the years. NPR

US Giving $638 Million in Aid to Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria, South Sudan
The United States on Saturday announced more than $630 million in aid for Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and Nigeria, where conflict has helped to cause what the United Nations calls the world’s largest humanitarian crisis in more than 70 years. The announcement came as President Donald Trump attended the Group of 20 summit in Germany. “This is truly a life-saving gift,” said David Beasley, the new American director of the U.N.’s World Food Program. While the United States is the world’s largest humanitarian donor, Trump’s proposed deep cuts to foreign aid — more than 30 percent — have caused widespread concern. “We welcome President Trump’s attention to the global humanitarian crisis, but he was announcing aid that Congress approved months ago and that his administration has delayed,” Rev. David Beckmann, president of the Washington-based Christian organization Bread for the World, said in a statement. AP

Heavy Clashes Break out East of Libya’s Capital
Heavy clashes erupted on Sunday between rival factions on the coastal road east of the Libyan capital Tripoli, according to a witness and local reports. The clashes broke out when an armed group opposed to the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli tried to approach the capital and were confronted by forces that have aligned themselves with the GNA, the witness said. The fighting exposes the GNA’s vulnerability to militias that gained influence during and after Libya’s 2011 uprising. The anti-GNA forces, which are aligned with a previous, self-declared government, were driven from Tripoli late in May and have been trying to regroup. The GNA recently issued a warning about a counter-attack on the capital. Reuters

Three Presidential Candidates Barred from Standing against Rwanda’s Incumbent Kagame
Rwanda’s electoral commission has barred three candidates from running in next month’s presidential election, while allowing two opposition figures to stand against incumbent President Paul Kagame. Amnesty International, meanwhile, warned that the election would be held under a “climate of fear” and repression. Diane Shima Rwigara – hitherto the only female contender – Gilbert Mwenedata and Fred Sekikubo Barafinda have been barred from running. Rwigara, who was standing as an independent, said last week that local leaders threatened her supporters while they were collecting signatures for her nomination. France 24

EU Crackdown Takes Toll on Niger Smuggling Hub
Many people trying to get to Europe from sub-Saharan Africa pass through Agadez, in central Niger. It’s long been a haven for smugglers willing to get people across the desert to Libya, from where they try to cross the Mediterranean. But the numbers trying that journey are now falling, due to an EU-funded government crackdown. Al Jazeera’s Mohamed Vall reports from Agadez. Al Jazeera

Spike in Migrant Boats to Spain May Signal Shift in Africa Exodus
The number of migrants crossing into Spain by sea from North Africa has doubled in 2017 from last year, outpacing the Libya-Italy route as the fastest growing entry point to Europe. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says the spike in migrant boats is already putting a lot of stress on Spain’s insufficient migration structures. Escaping poverty and conflicts, more than 360,000 refugees and migrants arrived on European shores across the Mediterranean last year, according to the UNHCR. More than 85,000 have reached Italy so far this year. Spain’s interior ministry did not return calls and emails seeking comment. While the Italian sea route remains the most popular overall with 59,000 migrants between January and May, up 32 percent from last year, the Spanish route further west has gathered steam with 6,800 migrants using it in the same period, a 75 percent increase from 2016. Times Live

Number of Nigerian Refugees Spiral as Herdsmen Disputes Surge 
At least 6,000 people and 2,000 cattle fleeing conflict in Nigeria’s Taraba state have been trapped under difficult humanitarian conditions in Cameroonian border villages. Dozens of the refugees are reported to have died and Cameroon medical staff are calling for assistance to care for the survivors. Twenty refugees have just arrived at the Atta Catholic health center. They look tired, hungry and thirsty after travelling long distances on foot from Nigeria’s Taraba state. Their spokesman, 53-year old Bello Dewa Oumarou, said they are fleeing violent conflicts between the Mambilas and Fulani Muslim herdsmen. “Most of my people have ran off to Cameroon. The Mambila people wanted to wipe out the Fulani in the whole of Jos plateau. We tried to calm our people. We didn’t think this thing would escalate to this extent. We didn’t think Mambila people, people that we have stayed with for hundred years, we don’t think these people would hurt us to that extent and say they will wipe us out completely,” he said. VOA

Terrorism Deaths in Africa Falling after Hitting Record Highs
In the past five years, terrorist attacks have killed nearly 20,000 people across Africa. Two groups, Boko Haram and al-Shabab, accounted for 71 percent of reported incidents and 91 percent of fatalities. But, while these and other militant groups remain active, fatal terrorist attacks across the continent are on pace to fall for a second straight year, and the total number of attacks is running far below 2012 highs. […] To conduct its review, VOA analyzed a portion of the full ACLED dataset by comparing the primary perpetrator of each attack to a list of 34 terrorist organizations. Those groups are named on the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations and Terrorist Exclusion lists, or in a separate analysis conducted by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies. All known aliases were included, accounting for more than 100 group names. Since ACLED doesn’t identify terrorist attacks or groups, this step was necessary to remove other kinds of violence from the analysis. VOA

Self-Immolation, Catalyst of the Arab Spring, Is Now a Grim Trend
[…] Seven years after Mr. Bouazizi’s desperate and dramatic protest helped start revolutions across the region, frustration at the failed promise of the Arab Spring is widespread. Authoritarian rule has returned to Egypt. Libya is a caldron of chaos. Syria and Iraq are torn by civil wars. The gulf monarchies are essentially unchanged. Neighboring Algeria is paralyzed. Yet it is a paramount irony that in Tunisia — cradle of the Arab Spring and the one country that has the best hope of realizing its aspirations for democracy and prosperity — Mr. Bouazizi’s once-extraordinary act has become commonplace, whether compelled by anger, depression or bitter disappointment, or to publicly challenge the authorities. Tunisia has advanced more than any other country in the region toward freedom and democratic governance, yet it has been largely unable to provide hope and opportunity for a better life. Thousands of young people have abandoned the country to work abroad or to join the Islamic State. The frustration at that failure has no more gruesome expression than Tunisia’s tide of self-immolations. The New York Times

Angola, SA and Eritrea Sites Added to UNESCO List
Sites in Angola, South Africa and Eritrea have been added to the Unesco World Heritage list. Mbanza Kongo city in Angola, the Khomani Cultural Landscape in South Africa and Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, were added to the list announced on Saturday. The decision was made during the 41st session of the Unesco World Heritage Committee in Warsaw, Poland. Mbanza Kongo is currently the capital of northwestern Zaire Province. The East African

Facing Cancer Is Even Tougher If the Only Radiation Machine Is Broken
If you happen to be a cancer patient needing radiation in Senegal, getting past the shock of the diagnosis and onto treatment is a major hardship at the moment. The country’s only radiotherapy machine — indeed for a long while the only one in French-speaking West Africa — is broken. That’s the machine whose radiation is used to treat primarily breast, head and neck tumors and bone cancer. Aristide Le Dantec teaching hospital, one of the oldest and largest in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, buzzes with activity. Dozens of mainly female patients are waiting to be seen at a cancer outpatient clinic. NPR



Photo: Adam Jones