Africa Media Review for July 31, 2017

Conflict and Food Insecurity in South Sudan
South Sudan is experiencing a humanitarian catastrophe that is nearly entirely a result of conflict, and the situation continues to deteriorate as the violence persists unabated. The number of acutely food insecure people increased from 5.5 million in May to 6 million in June—fully half of the population. In every state in the country, food insecurity is at either crisis or emergency levels. The situation on the ground may even be far worse as access to some of the most hard-hit areas is restricted. The conflict that erupted in December 2013 has killed tens of thousands of people. Countless more have died due to disease, malnutrition, and other factors attributable to the conflict. Four million people have been displaced, many more than once. In South Sudan, conflict and humanitarian need are inextricably linked. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

No End to War in Juba as IGAD Postpones Review of Agreement
Hope for an end to war in South Sudan faded when the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development last week pushed the revitalisation programme to the end of September. The IGAD Council of Ministers held a three-day meeting in Juba beginning July 24, but failed to come up with solutions. The ministers met to discuss how to implement the High Level Revitalisation Forum that was mooted byIGAD on July 2 in Addis Ababa, which involves revising the August 2015 peace agreement to come up with realistic timelines for its implementation. According to Brazille Musumba, the IGAD communications and media advisor, the meeting came up with various activities to be conducted simultaneously, which will lead to convening of the forum by the end of September. The East African

Regional Protection Force Soldiers Soon in South Sudan: UN
The United Nations says peacekeepers with a long-awaited regional protection force soon will arrive in South Sudan nearly a year after they were approved. The 4,000-strong force is meant to protect civilians from the gang rapes and other abuses seen during the fighting that erupted in the capital, Juba, a year ago. Its arrival has faced pushback from South Sudan’s government. South Sudan’s civil war is well into its fourth year, with more than 50,000 people killed. AP

African Union Troops Ambushed in Somalia, al Shabaab Says 39 Dead
Somalia’s al Shabaab insurgents and troops from the African Union peacekeeping mission clashed on Sunday, a senior military officer said, while the group said it had killed 39 soldiers. The incident took place in Bulamareer district in Lower Shabelle region about 140 km southwest of Mogadishu. The al Shabaab fighters ambushed a convoy carrying troops from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Col. Hassan Mohamed told Reuters. “The ambush turned into a fierce fight between al Shabaab and AMISOM. We understand fighting is still going on but we do not have the figure of casualties,” he told Reuters. Reuters

Boko Haram’s Fatal Ambush Destroys Hope of Boost to Nigeria’s Economy with Borno Oil
Nigeria has halted oil exploration in the north after suspected Boko Haram terrorists killed dozens of people, including oil contractors, in a deadly ambush. The attack occurred on Thursday, 28 July, when rescue efforts to free around 10 members of a geological research team, who went missing in a suspected Boko Haram abduction, led to dozens of deaths. The workers, employed at the University of Maiduguri in the restive Borno state, had gone missing earlier this week. IB Times

DR Congo Opposition Unveil Plans to Force Kabila out
The Congolese opposition has unveiled a rolling programme of strikes and civil disobedience aimed at forcing President Joseph Kabila from power. The announcement was made after two days of opposition talks in Kinshasa amid concerns that Kabila, in power since 2001, is seeking to remain in place in defiance of constitutional limits. Elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo are due this year under a transitional deal aimed at avoiding fresh political violence in the sprawling country of 71 million people after Kabila failed to step down when his second mandate ended in December 2016. The Daily Nation

‘I’m a Civilian. I’m Innocent’: Who’s in Congo’s Mass Graves?
They are everywhere. Here next to a house, where a woman is hanging clothes to dry. There in a field, where children are playing. They are graves, filled with hundreds of bodies. In the town of Nganza, in the heart of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the dead have been decomposing for months. Now it may be too late to identify them. The ground that covers them has turned almost smooth again. The only sign that there are people buried here are the government soldiers in red berets and aviator sunglasses, posted nearby with AK-47s. … The slaughter in Nganza was part of a wider conflict that has engulfed the Kasai, a region in the center of this vast country, where government forces are fighting a militia opposed to President Joseph Kabila. NYTimes

Knifeman Attacks House of Kenya’s Vice President
A man armed with a machete attacked the country home of Kenya’s deputy president and injured a guard before holing himself up in an outbuilding, police said on Saturday, 10 days before presidential and legislative elections. Deputy President William Ruto was out with his family at the time of the attack in the town of Eldoret, about 312km northwest of the capital Nairobi. A man armed with a machete attacked the country home of Kenya’s deputy president and injured a guard before holing himself up in an outbuilding, police said on Saturday, 10 days before presidential and legislative elections. Deputy President William Ruto was out with his family at the time of the attack in the town of Eldoret, about 312km northwest of the capital Nairobi. Al Jazeera

Kenya: IEBC’s ICT Manager Goes Missing
Police are searching for a senior employee of the Kenya’s electoral agency who has gone missing. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said on its Twitter page that the whereabouts of Mr Christopher Musando, the Data Centre and Infrastructure manager, have not been established. “The commission wishes to notify the public that one of its ICT managers was last seen on Friday night. “The last communication from him is an SMS text sent to one of his colleagues at around 3am on Saturday morning,” the tweet read. The IEBC, police, and family members are searching for him. The East African

Kenya Election: Fake CNN and BBC News Reports Circulate
A fake news report about Kenya’s election that is made to look as if it is from broadcaster CNN has been circulating on social media. It comes after a fake video imitating the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme was also distributed on Friday. Both videos had bogus surveys showing President Uhuru Kenyatta well ahead in polls ahead of August’s election. In fact, recent opinion polls suggest neither he nor rival Raila Odinga have enough support to win outright. A recent survey suggested that 90% of Kenyans had seen or heard false news in the run-up to the poll. BBC

Libya Committee Votes in Favor of Constitutional Draft
A committee tasked with writing a constitution for Libya voted in favor of a draft, paving the way for parliament to approve a referendum and causing uproar among opponents. Critics, including secessionists and people in favor of the country’s 1951 constitution, called for a redo of Saturday’s vote. Protesters broke into the committee’s building in the eastern town of Bayda, according to two committee members, who said they called on the committee to reconvene Sunday. It was not immediately clear whether the committee met again. Committee members opposing the decision issued a signed statement saying that voters failed to consider amendments proposed by opponents to articles in the draft. VOA

Senegal Parliamentary Elections Marred by Voting Problems
At least hundreds of Senegalese voters were prevented from casting their ballots in parliamentary elections on Sunday because of delays in issuing identity cards, voters and officials said. In an embarrassing turn for one of West Africa’s most stable democracies, voters were left off voting lists at polling stations or told they did not have the right documents to vote. Opposition leaders have criticised President Macky Sall for trying to stamp out political opposition in a contentious campaign. Political demonstrations in Dakar are routinely halted by a heavy police presence and the liberal use of tear gas. And Khalifa Sall, the popular mayor of the capital, Dakar, and one of Sall’s main competitors, was jailed in March for embezzling public funds, charges that Sall says are politically motivated. The central problem in Sunday’s vote was the delay in issuing biometric identity cards. Interior Minister Abdulaye Daoudada Diallo said early last week that 30 percent of the cards had still had not been distributed. Reuters

African Migrant Women Face “Shocking Sexual Abuse” on Journey to Europe
Up to 80 per cent of Nigerian migrant women and girls arriving on Europe’s shores in Italy could potentially be sex trafficking victims, spotlighting the horrific levels of abuse and violence migrants face along their arduous journeys for a better future, according to a UN study. In its report, “Human Trafficking through the Central Mediterranean Route” (in Italian), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) highlights the plight of those who have been assisted by the UN agency and calls for urgent action against the “market” which are supplied these victims was well as what is called is a “growing demand” for paid sexual services. … According to the UN agency, over the past three years, its office in Italy has witnesses an almost 600 per cent increase in the number of potential sex trafficking victims arriving in Italy by sea. The upward trend has continued during the first six months of this year, with most victims arriving from Nigeria. IPS

Burundians, Fleeing Political Violence, Find Welcome in Canada
In the days since six Burundian students slipped away from a robotics competition in Washington, D.C.—with at least two of them making their way across the border to Canada—many have questioned what propelled the teenagers to avoid returning home. Yet, Justine Nkurunziza is not among those who are wondering. Like the teenagers and hundreds of other Burundians, Ms. Nkurunziza, 57, followed a well-trod path north last year into Canada, the final stop in a desperate journey to escape the violence that is racking their tiny central African nation. … Over the past two years, the United Nations has documented hundreds of summary executions, assassinations, torture and other crimes. The Burundian government has denied the findings, and responded by becoming the first country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, The Hague-based tribunal responsible for trying crimes against humanity. NY Times

Unwelcome Stranger: An African Asylum Seeker in Israel
This short documentary tells the story of Anwar, a Sudanese anti-government activist who fled his home in Darfur in 2003. As many as 300,000 people have fallen victim there to government-led ethnic cleansing and violence by rebel groups. Anwar survived and eventually sought haven in Israel, but it’s not been an easy journey. His experiences, especially of detention and injustice, are telling and this film offers a rare window into the difficult and uncertain lives many African refugees face today in Israel. African asylum seekers began crossing Israel’s border with the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula more than a decade ago, many having survived human smugglers and harsh desert conditions. … As the numbers of asylum seekers have grown, so tensions have heated up in South Tel Aviv, where many Africans live side-by-side with Israelis. IRIN

By Hosting the Dalai Lama, Botswana Risks a Vital Block of Business and Trade with China
Botswana’s standing with China may be on the rocks. The Dalai Lama, who Beijing views as a separatist for his advocacy of Tibetan independence from China, is expected to visit Gaborone next month for a human rights conference. Botswana officials have been quick to say the government is not hosting the spiritual leader. The visit will be “purely private,” the country’s permanent secretary in the ministry of foreign affairs, Gaeimelwe Goitsemang, said last month. The Dalai Lama will give a speech at the event hosted by a Virginia-based NGO, the Life and Mind Institute. He is also expected to meet Botswana’s president Ian Khama. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones