Africa Media Review for July 3, 2019

Airstrike Hits Migrant Detention Center in Libya, 44 Killed
An airstrike hit a detention center for migrants in the Libyan capital early Wednesday, killing at least 44 people and wounding more than 130, the U.N. mission to the war-torn country said. The airstrike raises further concerns about the European Union’s policy of partnering with Libyan militias to prevent migrants from crossing the Mediterranean, which often leaves them at the mercy of brutal traffickers or stranded in squalid detention centers near the front lines. It could also lead to greater Western pressure on Khalifa Hifter, a Libyan general whose forces launched an offensive on Tripoli in April. The Tripoli-based government blamed his self-styled Libyan National Army for the airstrike and called for the U.N. support mission in Libya to establish a fact-finding committee to investigate. AP

Security Forces Arrest Sudan’s Opposition Activists: SPA
The Sudanese Professional Association (SPA), the spearhead of opposition protests in Sudan, said two of its members have been arrested by the security apparatus on Tuesday. “In an open confrontation with the SPA’s membership, security forces arrested Yassin Hassan, chairman of the Teachers’ Committee from his home in Khartoum, and arrested Abdel Majid Aidreous, a lawyer in Atbara,” said the group in a statement on Tuesday. The statement further said that a joint force from National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) sought to arrest Gambara Omer but she was not present at the house in Haj-Youssef suburb. “They seized some documents and frightened the family before to leave,” said the opposition group. In a similar move, joint NISS-RSF forces raided the houses of Abdel-Khaliq al-Tayeb and member of the Teachers’ Committee and Dr Ihsan Fakiri, a known opposition activist. Sudan Tribune

Sudan Protesters Ready to ‘Pay Price of Change’ as Military Attempts Provocations
As tens of thousands of pro-democracy protestors took to the streets of Sudan on Sunday to urge military leaders to hand over power to a civilian-led government, the Rapid Support Forces fired live ammunition at them in an attempt to provoke a violent clash, Mohammed Khader, a member of the United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, told The Globe Post on Tuesday. During the protests, at least seven people are reported to have been killed, with three of them being military personnel. Additionally, 181 people were reportedly injured with 27 of those being from gunshot wounds according to the state-run media, SUNA. … [S]peaking with The Globe Post, Khader said the RSF fired live ammunition at peaceful protestors in a failed attempt to provoke them. Globe Post

Mediation calls for direct talks over Sovereign Council between Sudanese parties
African Union envoy and Ethiopian mediator said on Tuesday they sent invitations to the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Forces for Freedom and Change to join the negotiating table for direct talks on the disputed leadership of the Sovereign Council. In a joint press conference held in Khartoum, Ethiopian and AU special envoys Mahamoud Dirir and Professor Hacen El Lebatt told reporters they had received “positive” responses from the two sides on the draft agreement made to settle the ongoing dispute over the transitional institutions. The envoys made a joint proposal providing to form a 15-member Sovereign Council including seven from each side and additional individual picked by the two sides by consensus. The proposal, however, delayed the formation of the legislative council for three months, as the military junta retracted from a previous agreement giving the FFC 67% of the parliament’s members. Sudan Tribune

Abandoned by the UAE, Sudan’s Bashir Was Destined to Fall
[…] Reuters interviewed a dozen sources with direct knowledge of events leading up to the coup to piece together how Bashir finally lost his grip on power. These sources, including a former government minister, a member of Bashir’s inner circle and a coup plotter, portrayed a leader who was skilled at manipulating and controlling rival Islamist and military factions in Sudan, but increasingly isolated in a changing Middle East. They described how Bashir mishandled one key relationship—with the United Arab Emirates. Oil-rich UAE had previously pumped billions of dollars into Sudan’s coffers. Bashir had served UAE interests in Yemen, where the Emirates and Saudi Arabia are waging a proxy war against Iran. But at the end of 2018, as Sudan’s economy imploded and protesters took to the streets, Bashir found himself without this powerful, and wealthy, friend. Reuters

UN Expert: No Rights Improvements in Eritrea after Peace Deal
The human rights situation in Eritrea shows no sign of improvement since it signed a peace agreement with neighbouring Ethiopia last year, ending two decades of war, a UN expert said in a report. UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, Daniela Kravetz, on Tuesday expressed her regret the peace deal failed to bring widespread abuse and violations to an end. “The dividends of peace are not yet benefiting ordinary Eritreans, nor are there any signs to suggest they will,” said Kravetz, who was appointed to the position last October. “Eritrean authorities remain unwilling to tolerate any expression of dissent,” she added, pointing out that “hundreds continue to flee the country every month”. Al Jazeera

South Sudan Still Africa’s Biggest Refugee Crisis: UNHCR
South Sudan remains Africa’s biggest refugee crisis, the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Monday. South Sudan, UNHCR said, accounts for 14 percent of the total number of displaced persons, second only to Syria which accounts for 40 percent. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi released these figures while opening the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Resettlement (ATCR) in Geneva. “Given the record numbers of people needing safety from war, conflict and persecution and the lack of political solutions to these situations, we urgently need countries to come forward and resettle more refugees,” he said. Sudan Tribune

Ebola Case Reported near DR Congo’s Border with South Sudan
Authorities have confirmed an Ebola case not far from the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) border with South Sudan, a country with a healthcare system weakened by years of civil war, making it vulnerable to the potential spread of the deadly virus. The case was registered in the town of Ariwara, situated in northeastern Ituri province and about 70km from the border with South Sudan’s Yei River State, according to a report from South Sudan’s health ministry that was viewed on Tuesday by The Associated Press news agency. The victim, a 40-year-old woman, had travelled nearly 500km from Beni, in North Kivu province in the DRC, despite having been identified by health officials as having been exposed to Ebola and warned not to travel. Al Jazeera

How Congo’s Ebola Epidemic Became the World’s Second Deadliest
More than 11 months after an Ebola outbreak was declared in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the viral disease has claimed more than 1,500 lives, infected 2,244 people, and spread across the border into neighbouring Uganda, where two deaths and three suspected cases were reported mid-June. A new confirmed case just 43 miles from South Sudan’s border was reported Monday. … Health officials say the Congo outbreak – which was officially announced last August – could have been stopped earlier if cases stretching back to April had been detected before transmission. Early detection and response was hampered, however, by a lack of diagnostic equipment in North Kivu – which had never previously experienced an outbreak – and poor or non-existent roads, among other factors. New Humanitarian

DR Congo Army Will Remove 2,000 Illegal Miners from Glencore Site
Illegal miners at a copper and cobalt mine run by Glencore in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) defied a deadline to vacate the site on Tuesday, a union official said, raising fears of a potentially violent standoff. A landslide last Thursday at the Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) concession, majority-owned by a Glencore subsidiary and located in the southeastern part of the country, killed 43 people, prompting the government to vow to remove the miners. The army’s inspector general, General John Numbi, told Reuters on Monday that an operation to clear the estimated 2,000 miners would begin on Tuesday. Al Jazeera

‘There Is No Comfort’ in Mauritania: Freed Slaves Continue to Face Barriers
M’Barka Mint Yarba doesn’t know how old she is. Eight years ago, M’Barka moved with her family to the capital of Nouakchott from the city of Atar, where she was born into slavery. Although she has been freed, she has no official papers and no ability to acquire documentation required to attend school or work most jobs. … M’Barka is one of an unknown number of Haratin in Mauritania born into slavery. Technically made illegal in the 1980s, modern slavery remains a pressing problem in the Sahara Desert country, an allegation the government denies. “Life is still difficult—there is no comfort,” she says, sitting on the floor of her family’s still unfinished house. … According to the U.S. State Department’s 2018 Trafficking in Persons Report, the Mauritanian government only investigated three cases of hereditary slavery between the springs of 2017 and 2018. VOA

Thousands of Ethiopian Israelis Protest Police Violence
Thousands of Israelis protested Tuesday against alleged police brutality toward Ethiopian Israelis across the country after police shot dead an Ethiopian Israeli teen. Demonstrators blocked highways around the country, including a major thoroughfare through central Tel Aviv and the main highway into Jerusalem, snarling traffic late into the night. Protesters burned tires and held signs calling for justice. In Tel Aviv, a protester set a car on fire and demonstrators clashed with police. Police said officers arrested 60 people believed involved in disturbances and at least 47 officers were wounded in clashes with protesters. The protesters, led by activists from the country’s Ethiopian minority, demonstrated against perceived systematic discrimination by police toward the community after an off-duty officer shot and killed Solomon Teka, an 18-year-old Ethiopian Israeli, in a Haifa suburb on Sunday. AP

Police Rescue Nigerian President’s In-Law from Kidnappers
Police in the northern Nigerian city of Kano said on Tuesday they had rescued an in-law of President Muhammadu Buhari from kidnappers, freeing him after an overnight gunfight with his abductors. Special police operatives on Monday evening stormed a hideout on the outskirts of Kano, where Musa Umar had been held since he was captured on May 2. After hours of gunfire, Umar was “rescued unhurt, arrests were made and arms and ammunitions recovered”, Kano police spokesperson Haruna Abdullahi said. … Kidnapping for ransom is widespread in the oil-rich southern delta region, where criminal gangs seize expatriate oil workers and wealthy Nigerians in exchange for large payments. But in recent years the practice has surged in northern areas, particularly in the northwest of the country. Umar’s kidnap was the first in Buhari’s home city and the second time someone linked to him has been targeted. AFP

Limited U.S. Military Assistance to Resume to Some Somali Troops
The United States is resuming some assistance to a unit of the Somali military that is not working directly with U.S. forces, U.S. officials said on Tuesday, around 18 months after aid was suspended to such units over widespread corruption concerns. The assistance, part of U.S. military aid to the country aimed at helping the government fend off Islamist insurgents, was suspended in December 2017 after the Somali military was unable to account for food and fuel. U.S. and Somali investigators visiting bases also found far fewer soldiers than had been reported. Many of the men present were missing their guns, indicating they were not ready for active duty. The resumption of assistance of units not working directly with U.S. forces will be on a pilot basis, a press release from the U.S. embassy in Mogadishu said. Reuters

Zimbabwe’s Moves to End Dollarization Challenged in Court
A Zimbabwe human rights lawyer asked the High Court on Tuesday to overturn a government decision to ban the use of foreign currencies, a move that could potentially derail plans for a new currency if the court finds in his favor. The government has introduced an interim currency, the RTGS dollar, in a bid to end a decade of dollarization. On June 24 it renamed the new currency the Zimbabwe dollar and declared it Zimbabwe’s sole legal tender. For many Zimbabweans, the name Zimbabwe dollar brings unpleasant memories of 2008, when the local currency was wrecked by hyperinflation of 500 billion percent, which wiped out pensions and savings and forced authorities to adopt the U.S. dollar and other foreign currencies the following year. Godfrey Mupanga, a member of the group Zimbabwe Lawyers For Human Rights, petitioned the court to reverse the decision to ban other currencies. In his court application seen by Reuters, Mupanga said the decision by the national treasury and central bank was “grossly unreasonable” and should be declared unconstitutional. VOA

Zimbabwe President Says Needs to Import 800,000 Tonnes of Maize — Media
Zimbabwe needs to import 800,000 tonnes of maize following a drought that reduced the harvest by more than half, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday, adding that no one in the country would go hungry. A United Nations agency has said up to 5 million Zimbabweans, a third of the population, would need food aid this year following the El Nino-induced drought. “Overall, we need to import around 800,000 tonnes because our principle is that no one should die of hunger,” Mnangagwa was quoted as saying by state-owned The Herald newspaper. Grain imports will put pressure on the country’s meagre dollar reserves, which have seen the country grapple with shortages of fuel, medicines, bread and electricity. Reuters

UN: African Population Projected to Grow Steadily
Sub-saharan Africa’s population continues to grow steadily, at 2.5 times faster than the rest of the world, thanks to reduced mortality rates, increased fertility levels and international migration. According to the 2019 United Nation’s World Population Prospects Report, the region’s population is projected to increase from 1.06 billion in 2019 to 1.4 billion in 2030 and 2.12 billion in 2050. And by 2050, while Tanzania will be among the nine countries (including DR Congo, Ethiopia, and Egypt) expected to add the most people in the world, Nigeria will be the most populous in sub-Saharan Africa but second most in the world after India (with 273 million added people) with projections showing that it will add 200 million people to the world population. The report says the sub-Saharan Africa region has grown at an average 2.3 per cent annually from 2015. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones