Africa Media Review for July 29, 2019

Myths about Human Trafficking in Africa

Human trafficking remains a significant problem in Africa, exploiting vulnerable individuals-children, women, and men-for forced labor as well as prostitution. Human trafficking involves taking control of people, through duplicity or force, for exploitation or economic gain. At any given moment 3.5 million Africans are being trafficked. Many aspects of trafficking in Africa are misunderstood. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Dozens Killed at Funeral by Boko Haram Fighters in Nigeria

More than 60 mourners leaving a funeral in north-east Nigeria have been killed by the militant group Boko Haram, according to Nigerian officials and other sources in the area. Ten years after the group’s founder, Mohammed Yusuf, was murdered in police custody after a crackdown on his followers, Boko Haram’s factions are continuing to wage a bloody insurgency against the Nigerian security forces and civilians, defying government attempts to destroy the group. In the latest attack, a group of men were walking back to their village after the funeral prayers for a relative when armed men turned up on motorcycles and opened fire, the head of the Borno Hunters Association, Bunu Bukar, said. Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, re-elected this year, has repeatedly vowed to “decimate” Boko Haram. However, the number of attacks have increased in recent months leaving millions of displaced people dependent on aid that is rarely sufficient. The Guardian

Nigerian Court Grants Permission to Declare Shi’ite Group Terrorists

A Nigerian court has granted the government permission to label a local Shi’ite Muslim group a terrorist organisation, the solicitor general told Reuters on Saturday. Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) have been marching in the capital Abuja calling for the release of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been in detention since 2015 despite a court order to release him. The protests have often turned violent. An IMN spokesman said at least 20 of the group’s members were killed this week during demonstrations. … A court in northern state of Kaduna is set to decide on Zakzaky’s bail application on Monday. The Shi’ite group can appeal the order. Reuters

At Least 15 Killed in Jihadist Attack in Burkina Faso
Suspected jihadists have raided a village in Burkina Faso’s restive north region, killing 15 people, plundering and burning shops and motorbikes, a regional governor has said. The raid took place on the night of Thursday to Friday with “around 20 individuals attacking the village of Diblou,” in Sanmatenga province a security source said Saturday. … Most attacks in the former French colony are attributed to the jihadist group Ansarul Islam, which emerged near the Mali border in December 2016, and to the JNIM (Group to Support Islam and Muslims), which has sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Those groups are believed to be responsible for around 500 deaths since 2015. AFP

Tunisia’s Democracy Is Tested, and Pulls Through, After a President’s Death
The death this week of Tunisia’s first democratically elected president accelerated the timetable for choosing his successor, placing new strain on a political system in which power is shared among several parties, many voters are disillusioned and leaders are confronting a struggling economy. But if the death on Thursday of President Béji Caïd Essebsi, at age 92, shook up the only surviving democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring, the system worked as planned. The usually divided Parliament made a swift, orderly transfer of power, voting with little drama or opposition to make its leader, Mohammed Ennaceur, the interim president. “Everyone was sad but at the same time proud to be Tunisian,” said Watfa Belaid, an adviser to Prime Minister Youssef Chahed. “I think we showed the entire world that the institutions which were born from our revolution are rock solid and that they work. We did this in a peaceful way.” The New York Times

Air Strike on Libya Hospital Kills Five Doctors

An air strike has killed five doctors in a hospital in the southern outskirts of Libya’s capital Tripoli, an official from the UN-backed government says. A warplane belonging to Khalifa Hafta, the rogue general who commands the Libyan National Army, carried out the attack, the health ministry spokesman added. The LNA has not commented. Saturday’s bombing also wounded seven people, including some rescuers, Lamine al-Hashem, the spokesman from the health ministry, said. “It was a direct hit against the field hospital which was packed with medical teams,” Mr Hashemi added. The attack was the third to target a hospital in the capital’s south, AFP reports. BBC

UN-Recognised GNA Attacks Key Haftar Airbase in Central Libya

Libya’s internationally-recognised government has said it has struck an airbase used as a key staging post by forces loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar in transporting troops and supplies. “The air force struck a gathering of mercenaries at the Al-Jufra base, destroying a hangar for drones belonging to a hostile country,” the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) said in a Facebook post late on Friday. The GNA said its forces also destroyed a munitions depot and hit an Ilyushin Il-76 military transport aircraft. Pro-Haftar television channel, Libya Alhadath, confirmed the base was attacked, but gave no further details. Al Jazeera

U.S. Air Strike Kills Suspected IS Coordinator in Somalia
A U.S. airstrike killed a facilitator for an Islamic State-aligned militia in northern Somalia, a statement from the American military’s Africa Command said on Sunday. There were no further details given about Saturday’s hit in the northern Golis mountain region. Somalia’s main Islamic insurgency, Al-Shabaab, has sworn allegiance to al Qaeda and has frequently fought with a splinter militia in the north that has pledged allegiance to IS. Reuters

Sudan Says 87 Killed When Troops Broke Up Protest, Critics Say Too Low
The head of an official Sudanese investigation said on Saturday 87 people were killed when security forces broke up a protest on June 3, a figure that prompted demonstrations across the capital as opponents of Sudan’s military rulers dismissed it as far too low. Fath al-Rahman Saeed, the head of the investigative committee appointed by the public prosecutor, said members of the security forces fired live ammunition at protesters in Khartoum who were demanding the military cede power. … Saeed told a news conference three officers had violated orders by moving forces into the sit-in area outside the Defence Ministry, a focal point during protests that led to the ouster of long-time President Omar al-Bashir on April 11. … Saeed gave the ranks and initials of eight officers charged with crimes against humanity, which is punishable by death or life imprisonment under military law. He did not give full names. Reuters

Sudan Extends Ceasefire with Southern Rebels
Sudanese and South Sudanese officials agreed late on Saturday with the leader of an alliance of armed factions operating along their joint border to extend a ceasefire and grant humanitarian access to some areas affected by conflict in Sudan. Sudan says neighbouring South Sudan has been giving refuge to Malik Agar, one of many rebels in Sudan. The two countries share a long and porous border, and have a history of supporting armed groups on each others’ territories after oil-rich South Sudan became independent in 2011. Sudan and Agar signed a ceasefire on April 17 covering the Blue Nile and South Kordofan regions, a week after Sudanese President Omar al Bashir was overthrown after 30 years of rule. That agreement was due to expire at the end of July. Reuters

South Sudan: Igad Pushes for Kiir, Machar Meeting
The regional body that negotiated the South Sudan peace agreement is now lobbying for a face-to-face meeting between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar to build confidence. The Intergovernmental Authority for Development noted that lack of meetings between the two leaders has been cited as one of the challenges impeding the implementation of the peace agreement. David Shearer, head of UN in South Sudan, said lack of face-to-face meeting between the two leaders is one of the unresolved issues, even though the peace agreement has had reduced fighting over the past four months. The East African

South Sudan Tries to Protect Wildlife After Long Conflict

Charles Matthew secures his beret, slings a rifle over his shoulder and prepares a team for an overnight foot patrol in Bire Kpatous, one of South Sudan’s game reserves that survived the country’s civil war but are now increasingly threatened by poachers and encroaching human settlements. Matthew, 45, said he’s proud of his work after years of being a soldier and has learned a lot about wildlife. … But he worries about the reserve: “When poachers come and are well-armed, we can’t get there in time.”South Sudan is trying to rebuild its six national parks and 13 game reserves, which cover more than 13% of the country’s terrain, following the five-year civil war that ended last year after killing nearly 400,000 people. A fragile peace deal still has key steps to carry out. AP

In Congo, a New Plan to Fight Ebola Follows a Government Power Struggle
Faced with a lethal Ebola outbreak threatening eastern Africa, public health officials are conceding that their battle plan is failing and have proposed a comprehensive new strategy for containing the virus. It envisions reframing the epidemic as a regional humanitarian crisis, not simply a health emergency. That may include more troops or police to quell the murders and arson that have made medical work difficult, as well as food aid to win over skeptical locals. The Democratic Republic of Congo also plans to deploy a second vaccine to form a protective “curtain” of immunity around outbreak areas. The outbreak … has persisted in part because of a fierce but hidden power struggle within Congo’s government for control of the response, according to documents obtained by The New York Times and interviews with Ebola experts. The New York Times

Stemming the Flow of Illicit Arms in Africa
An analysis of Africa’s illicit arms flows has revealed the extent of the illegal weapons trade across the continent. The study, entitled Weapons Compass: Mapping Illicit Small Arms Flows in Africa, which was compiled by the Small Arms Survey in collaboration with the African Union Commission, comes just weeks after the African Union (AU) met to outline its ambitious goal of a total ceasefire in Africa by 2020. The African Union Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in Africa by Year 2020 was conceived back in 2016. However, with just one year left before the deadline, turning this vision into reality is looking increasingly unlikely. … The illicit weapons trade in small arms has been at least partially blamed for the persistence of wars across the African continent. Currently, approximately 30 million firearms are being circulated through Africa. DW

Uganda Opposition Cries Foul On Electoral Reforms
Amendments to electoral laws tabled this past week have caused a storm within Uganda’s opposition and civil society, with many questioning the government’s willingness to conduct free and fair elections in 2021. … Delivering the verdict on the presidential election petition filed by former candidate Amama Mbabazi against President Yoweri Museveni in 2016, the supreme court said electoral reforms would improve the running of the 2021 general elections and beyond. But the amendments that the government tabled are different from those recommended by the court and also from those that the opposition and civil society have for over a decade been pushing for. The proposed amendments contain provisions that include prohibiting cameras and mobile phones from polling stations, banning political parties from having links with pressure groups, and banning independent presidential candidates from seeking alliances with political parties. The East African

In Burundi, Fears That Next Year’s Vote Will Be Bloody Again
It made history as the first country to quit the International Criminal Court. Then it kicked out the United Nations human rights office. Even as Burundi’s vice president asserts in a rare interview that the troubled country is now peaceful, reports of abuses are up ahead of next year’s election as some people worry President Pierre Nkurunziza will run for a fourth term. An Associated Press visit this month witnessed a government intent on portraying an image of calm while some citizens said they live in fear that the upcoming vote could be bloody, like the one in 2015 in which Nkurunziza won a third term and sparked political turmoil that still simmers today. AP

Kenya Governor of President’s Home Area Held for Corruption
A lawyer says the governor of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s home region has been detained by authorities. It is the latest of a series of arrests of top government officials in a push by Kenyatta to crackdown on runaway graft. Lawyer Kipchumba Karori representing Governor Ferdinand Waititu said his client surrendered himself Sunday to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission following prosecution orders issued Friday by the Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji. Waititu is accused of irregularly awarding a project of $5.6 million to construct a road in his Kiambu county. AP

S. African Land Reform Panel Recommends Seizures without Pay in Certain Circumstances
An advisory report on land reform in South Africa has recommended changing the constitution to allow the government to seize land without compensation but only in certain circumstances. The report by a presidential panel of experts, released on Sunday, poured water on wholesale land seizures without payment – as feared by some farmers, investors and foreign governments. It recommended that expropriation without compensation be applied under specific circumstances, including abandoned land; land held purely for speculative purposes; land already occupied and used by labour tenants and former labour tenants; and inner city buildings with absentee landlords. Parliament is due to start debates on proposed changes to the land expropriation bill in October. Reuters

Air Traffic Between China and Africa Has Jumped 630% in the Last Decade
On an average day, eight direct flights operate between China and African nations, a huge increase from less than a decade ago: In 2010, airlines averaged less than one flight a day. The expansion of air traffic between the African continent and China coincides with a period of rapid expansion of Chinese investment. Chinese firms have been voraciously bidding on and winning infrastructure projects in Africa. Chinese firms have helped build airports in Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nigeria, the Republic of Congo, Togo, Sierra Leone, among others in recent years. Quartz Africa

Africa’s Booming Cities Face a Severe Toilet crisis
As Africa faces a population boom unmatched anywhere in the world, millions of people are moving to fast-growing cities while decades-old public facilities crumble under the pressure. Sewage is a scourge for residents of this community on the outskirts of Uganda’s capital, Kampala. … “Less than 50 percent of the fecal sludge generated in Kampala safely reaches a waste treatment plant,” said Angelo Kwitonda, a sewage engineer with the government. “The rest of the volume is kept in our homes.” Outbreaks of cholera and other water-borne diseases are common. Poor sanitation costs Uganda $177 million annually in economic losses linked to disease treatment and lost productivity as people search for places to relieve themselves, according to a World Bank report in 2012. Some 650,000 toilets need to be built to avoid open defecation, it said. It could get worse. Africa’s urban areas contain 472 million people, a number that is expected to double over the next 25 years, according to a 2017 World Bank report. AP

‘Please, Save My Life.’ A Bomb Specialist Defuses Explosives Strapped to Children
A 14-year-old girl in a black veil walked onto the road, raised her hands and made a plea to the soldiers nearby. She had been strapped to a suicide bomb and didn’t want to die. It was explosives specialist Randy Iljeseni’s turn to defuse the girl, one in an army of child bombers deployed across northeast Nigeria by jihadist group Boko Haram. He grabbed a pair of fabric scissors, mouthed a brief prayer and slowed his breathing. He began to slice into her bomb-strapped belt. Some of his closest friends had died this way. “You must do it gently. Most of them you first cut with scissors,” said Mr. Iljeseni, a tall and wiry 35-year-old with an intense stare, recalling the episode. “If this thing explodes, you will be gone.” On the sharpest edges of the global war on terror, behind the multibillion-dollar endowments of jet fighters, armored cars and drone feeds, lurks a U.S.-aided program that is low in technology but high in effectiveness: bomb squad training. … This year, U.S. Army trainers will travel to 22 countries to conduct 52 courses. More than half will take place in the Lake Chad region. WSJ


Photo: Adam Jones