Africa Media Review for July 20 2022

Record 36 Million Africans Forcibly Displaced Is 44 Percent of Global Total
The number of forcibly displaced people (internally displaced, refugees, asylum seekers) in Africa continued its uninterrupted escalation over the past decade—expanding by 12 percent (3.7 million people) in the past year. The record 36 million people currently displaced is triple the figure of a decade earlier. Forced displacement is an outcome of conflict, violence, and persecution. Roughly 75 percent of all forced displacement in Africa are internally displaced people. This displacement then causes strains on surrounding communities and countries that must absorb these sudden, unplanned population movements. Seven countries were responsible for the lion’s share of the past year’s increase. The biggest single increase in forced displacement in Africa in the past year occurred in Ethiopia. This continues the fallout from the conflict in Tigray, which has also swept up the Amhara and Afar regions. As a result, some 1.7 million Ethiopians were displaced in the past year, contributing to the total 4.7 million Ethiopians who are forcibly displaced. This represents a 56 percent increase from the previous year. The upsurge in displacement in Ethiopia comprises 45 percent of the total increase in forced displacement recorded in Africa over the past year. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Migrants in Morocco Are Sentenced in Attempt to Cross into Spanish Enclave
A judge in the northeastern Moroccan city of Nador sentenced 33 migrants to 11 months in prison on Tuesday and ordered them to pay small fines in connection with a mass attempt to cross into the Spanish enclave of Melilla last month, defense lawyers said. The defendants were part of a group of 65 people, mostly from Sudan and South Sudan, who were prosecuted over the crossing attempt, during which at least 23 migrants died and scores of security officers were injured, according to Moroccan authorities. The men were sentenced on charges including “violence against law enforcement officers” and “illegal entry.” A defense lawyer, El Kbir Lemseguem, said after the sentencing that the prosecution had been marred by irregularities and that an appeal would be filed. “According to the police statements, all 33 defendants supposedly admitted to their crimes,” Mr. Lemseguem said. “But all the statements had the same language; they were copy pasted; it was one same statement used for each defendant.” The rest of the group is being prosecuted for more serious crimes, he said. Their next hearing is scheduled for July 27. Many defendants “are young, and poor,” he added. “They’re allowed to aspire to a better life.” Moroccan authorities have said that during the attempted crossing on June 24, at least 23 migrants fell to their deaths after trying to scale a high border fence. In the chaos, the authorities said, dozens of migrants and an estimated 140 Moroccan security officers were injured. New York Times

After 246 Years, Marines Set for Their First Black Four-Star General
More than three decades later, Langley will be under the microscope yet again after being nominated to lead all U.S. military forces in Africa as chief of U.S. Africa Command. His Senate confirmation hearing is Thursday, and if he’s confirmed, Langley would become the first Black person to receive four stars since the founding of the U.S. Marine Corps 246 years ago. Over that time, more than 70 White men have risen to the Marines’ highest ranks. Aside from Bailey, a handful of Black men have become three-star generals in the Marine Corps. Other Black officers have attained four stars in the Army, Air Force and Navy. But in the Marine Corps, Black servicemembers saw no one who looked like them in the top echelons of leadership and sometimes doubted whether it was possible. Washington Post

Tunisian Opposition Party Leader Free After Questioning
The leader of Tunisia’s main opposition party was freed after being questioned by the country’s counterterrorism unit Tuesday on suspicion of money laundering and terrorism financing through an association charity. Rached Ghannouchi, 81, the leader of the Islamist Ennahdha party was allowed to return home after over nine hours of hearings. Critics feared that it would lead to his arrest and outside the hearing in the capital, Tunis, Ghannouchi’s supporters decried the proceedings as a sham orchestrated by authorities. Angry demonstrators held placards reading: “No to political trials,” “Down with the putsch” and “Saied get out,” in allusion to the exceptional measures taken by President Kais Saied that he claimed were to “cleanse the country of corruption that plagues all the cogs of the state.” Saied suspended parliament last year and seized broad powers in a move that he said was necessary to “save the country” from a political and economic crisis. This prompted criticism from the opposition, which accuses him of shunning democracy and a slide toward totalitarianism. Ghannouchi was among a dozen top party officials whose bank accounts the north African country’s central bank froze earlier this month. Ennahdha vehemently disputes the accusations of money laundering and terrorism financing. AP

Libyan PM Makes Alliance with Ex-Enemy to Cement Ceasefire
Libya’s prime minister, Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh, has made an unexpected alliance with his former enemy, the eastern warlord Khalifa Haftar, in a bid to cement a fragile ceasefire and end a months-long oil blockade. Less than three years ago, Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) besieged Tripoli in a failed attempt to capture the capital. On Monday, in a highly symbolic gesture, LNA’s chief of staff, Abdulrazek al-Nadoori, was invited to visit the city for talks. The prospect of Dbeibeh and Haftar burying their differences may be welcomed by the United Nations as it struggles to maintain a ceasefire that ended a six-year civil war in 2020. Dbeibeh had already made a powerful gesture to Haftar’s supporters, with his sacking last week of the director of the state-owned National Oil Corporation, Mustafa Sanalla. Sanalla had been at odds with pro-Haftar protesters who had been blockading eastern oil ports for months, sending oil exports into a downward spiral. Those protests ended within hours of Sanalla’s removal, raising the prospect of Libya returning to full oil production. Guardian

Morocco, Israel Continue to Strengthen Military Ties with Army Chief Visit to Rabat
Israeli army chief Aviv Kohavi met with the Inspector General of the Morocco’s Royal Armed Forces Belkhir El Farouk on Monday, as well as the country’s minister delegate in charge of defence administration, Abdellatif Loudiyi, and intelligence chief Brahim Hassani, During the discussions, Morocco noted an “interest in jointly setting up industrial defence projects in Morocco”, the kingdom’s army chief said in a statement. “The meetings discussed opportunities for military cooperation, both in exercises and training, as well as in the operational and intelligence fields,” a statement said. Encouraged by the United States, Morocco re-established ties with Israel in 2020, after cutting them off two decades earlier during the second Palestinian intifada in 2000. As part of the deal, the US agreed to recognise Morocco’s sovereignty over Western Sahara, a disputed territory, where the Algeria-backed Polisario Front has long demanded an independence referendum, but which Rabat considers an integral part of the kingdom. The decision inflamed a long-standing rivalry between Morocco and Algeria, which in August last year cut diplomatic ties with Morocco. RFI

Somaliland Suspends BBC for ’Undermining the State
Authorities in Somaliland, a breakaway region of Somalia, on Tuesday suspended the operations of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), accusing the broadcaster of “undermining the credibility of the Somaliland state.” Information minister Saleban Yusuf Ali Kore told a press conference in the northwestern region’s capital Hargeisa that “the BBC failed to recognise Somaliland as a democratic country that has stood on its feet for 30 years.” “Starting from today, I have commanded all functions related to BBC in Somaliland to be suspended,” he said. “The ears of the Somaliland people do not deserve the statements which the BBC uses to describe Somaliland.” Somaliland declared independence from Somalia during the 1991 civil war and has thrived as a comparative beacon of stability, but is not diplomatically recognised by any other nation. East African

UK Officials Raised Concerns over Rwanda Policy, Documents Show
The Home Office pushed through its policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda despite repeated concerns from UK government officials, it has emerged from documents submitted to a high court hearing. The government disclosed the documents, which raise numerous concerns about the Rwanda plans, ahead of a full hearing later this year into the lawfulness of the policy. Claimants in the legal challenge include the charities Care4Calais and Detention Action and the PCS union, which represents many Home Office staff. They are working with several individual asylum seekers from countries including Iraq, Sudan, Syria and Albania who were threatened with removal to Rwanda on a flight on 14 June, which was grounded after legal action. Guardian

Why the Spoils of War May Outweigh Incentives for Peace in Cameroon
Five years into a deadly separatist conflict in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions, hopes of finding a negotiated settlement seem more distant than ever as both the government and secessionist rebels dig in, according to civil society activists. It’s a conflict marked by spikes of extreme violence that invariably target civilians. The latest high-profile incident was last month, when government soldiers killed nine people in Missong village, in the anglophone Northwest region. Rights groups accuse both the security forces and secessionist fighters of serious abuses that include extrajudicial killings, rape, kidnapping, and torture. The root of the conflict is the central government’s historical marginalisation of the two English-speaking regions, the Northwest and Southwest, home to about 20 percent of the population. But the dynamics of the violence have changed with the growth of a lucrative “war economy”, typically involving kidnapping and the broader extortion of the civilian population. The political and economic spoils of the war have reduced the incentive to find a negotiated settlement. New Humanitarian

Amnesty Urges Probe into Killings in Southeast Nigeria
Amnesty International has called on the Nigerian authorities to probe the death of seven young men in the country’s restive southeast, where separatist tensions are on the rise. Operatives of a government-backed security unit called Ebubeagu are alleged to have killed the seven on Sunday in the Oru area of Imo state, Amnesty said in a statement on Tuesday. The watchdog said the victims had gone to attend a wedding and were returning from the ceremony when they were shot dead. “It is horrifying that unarmed young men who clearly posed no threat to anyone were gunned down, in utter disdain for the right to life,” said Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria. “Such killings cannot be justified under any circumstances whatsoever.” Amnesty called for an investigation, prosecution of those responsible and compensation for the victims’ families. Nigeria’s state security services, known as the DSS, has claimed responsibility for the killings. AFP

Zimbabwe Chokes Under Weight of $13 Billion China Loans
Zimbabwe is choking under mounting international debt as it begins to pay the price for borrowing heavily from China for infrastructure projects at the tail end of Robert Mugabe’s rule. Beijing funded the expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport and that of the southern African country’s main source of electricity, the Kariba Hydropower Station on the Zambezi River, among other major projects. Ongoing big infrastructure projects funded by Chinese financiers include the expansion of the Hwange Thermal Station with a loan of $1.2 billion, upgrading of Robert Mugabe International Airport and construction of dams. The loans saw Zimbabwe’s public and publicly guaranteed external debt stock rise to $13.35 billion as of the end of December 2021. It excludes $5 billion President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government committed to pay white Zimbabweans whose commercial farms were seized during the country’s controversial land reform programme that began at the turn of the millennium. East African

Africa Is Being Left Behind as Wealthy Nations Push 4th COVID Booster Shots
Institutional racism, greed, and a broken global health system are all working against African nations to ensure that people are dying from COVID in silence, according to a scathing assessment from the co-chair of the African Union’s African Vaccine Delivery Alliance, Dr. Ayoade Alakija. More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, wealthy nations like the U.S. are preparing for yet another vaccination campaign. The Biden administration is examining plans to open up a fourth booster shot to all adults. And the FDA has asked vaccine manufacturers to prepare another set of boosters in the fall for the omicron subvariants that now dominate new cases in the U.S. On the African continent, however, only one in every five people has received the initial two shots. In an interview with All Things Considered, Alakija said it was time to rebuild the global health architecture and address the systemic inequality. NPR

Things to Know About the Dreaded Marburg Virus Disease
Health authorities in Ghana have officially confirmed two cases of the highly infectious Marburg virus in the country, after two people who later died, tested positive for the virus on July 10. A total of 98 people identified as contact cases are currently under quarantine, the Ghana Health Service said, noting that no other cases of Marburg had yet been detected in the country. In Africa, previous outbreaks have been reported in Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, South Africa and Uganda. Other outbreaks have also been reported in Europe and the United States. Here is what we know about the disease. According to the CDC, the Marburg virus disease is a severe hemorrhagic fever that is caused by the Marburg virus. First identified in 1967 in Germany and what was then Yugoslavia after research on imported African green monkeys, the Marburg virus is from the same family as Ebola. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), infection with the virus disease “initially results from prolonged exposure to mines or caves inhabited by Rousettus bat colonies.” Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones