Africa Media Review for June 1, 2020

Dozens Killed in Separate Burkina Faso Attacks
At least 10 people were killed when an aid convoy was ambushed in Burkina Faso, the government said on Sunday, bringing to at least 50 the death toll from a string of attacks blamed on armed groups. The ambush occurred on Saturday near the northern town of Barsalogho, it said in a statement, adding that an attack on a livestock market in the village of Kompienga in the eastern part of the country earlier in the day had killed 25 people, according to a provisional toll. Saturday’s attacks came a day after a convoy of mostly shopkeepers escorted by a local self-defence unit came under fire in the north of the West African country, killing 15 people. That attack, in Loroum province, was also blamed on armed groups. The humanitarian convoy was returning from the northern town of Foube after delivering food in Barsalogho, the statement said. Al Jazeera

Armed Bandits Kill at Least 18 in Nigeria’s Katsina State
Armed bandits in Nigeria’s northwestern state of Katsina killed at least 18 people, including a local official, and stole thousands of livestock on Sunday, two witnesses and a police spokesman told Reuters. The eyewitnesses said as many as 500 men riding motorcycles, some brandishing assault rifles, charged into the Faskari local government area on Sunday afternoon. “At least 18 person were confirmed killed by now and many others were suspected to be killed,” local resident Isma’ila Ya’u told Reuters by telephone. The men went on to the nearby village of Sabon Garin where they killed local leader Abdulhamid Sani, 55, after attempting to kidnap him, the witnesses and a police spokesman said. Reuters

Somalia: 10 Killed as Minibus Hits Roadside Bomb Near Mogadishu
A roadside bomb has struck a minibus near Somalia’s capital, killing at least 10 people and wounding 12 others, the government said. The deadly explosion occurred near Lafole village along the Afgoye-Mogadishu road where the passenger bus was travelling early Sunday. “At least 10 civilians were killed in an explosion at Lafole area this morning, those who died were all civilians,” the information ministry said in a statement, adding that the victims were on their way to a funeral. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which occurred on a road used frequently by government and security vehicles. Al Jazeera

Killing of Seven Health Workers, Shop Owner Shocks Somalia
The bodies of seven health workers and a civilian were found Thursday in a village north of Mogadishu, shocking residents, local authorities and elders said Friday. “We found the dead bodies of the seven young health workers and a shop owner outside Golaley village near Balad district, 30 kilometers north of Mogadishu, a day after they were abducted by men in Somali military fatigues,” Ahmed Mohamed Muse, a local elder, told VOA Somali. … U.N. Resident Humanitarian Coordinator Adam Abdelmoula said in a statement Thursday that he was shocked by the killings of the health workers. “Attacks against medical facilities and personnel are unacceptable and a breach of international humanitarian law and any common decency,” he said. Abdelmoula who also is the deputy U.N. head in Somalia, called for a “transparent and thorough investigation” into the incident. VOA

UN Security Council Extends S. Sudan Arms Embargo to May 2021
The UN Security Council on Friday approved a resolution extending an arms embargo and sanctions against South Sudan for one year. The resolution extends the arms embargo and the targeted sanctions to May 31, 2021, but authorises a mid-term review of the measures by December 15, 2020. The Council first slapped an arms embargo on South Sudan in 2018 and subsequently renewed it in 2019 to prevent a continuation of civil war. The arms embargo empowers all UN member states to prevent arms and related equipment-including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and any spare parts-from entering South Sudan. In a video conference meeting on Friday, the Council adopted resolution 2521 (2020) by a vote of 12 in favour and none against the resolution. China, Russia, and South Africa abstained from the vote. The East African

Congo Militia Leader Arrested in 2017 Murders of UN Experts
A Congolese militia leader accused of involvement in the murder of an American citizen and a Swedish national working with the United Nations has been arrested more than three years after their brutal slayings, a prosecutor said Saturday. Trésor Mputu Kankonde was apprehended in Katole, 15 kilometers (9 miles) north of Kananga late Friday and was being interrogated Saturday by Congolese authorities. “We have tried many times to arrest him since 2017 but he escaped us,” said Lt. Col. Jean-Blaise Kuzola, the senior military prosecutor in Kasai-Central province. The bodies of American Michael Sharp, Swedish national Zaida Catalan and a local interpreter, Betu Tshintela, were found in March 2017 after they went missing while investigating human rights abuses in central Congo. AP

Mozambique May Have Killed Jihadist Leaders: President
Mozambican security forces may have killed the leaders of the Islamist militants who have terrorized communities in the central and northern districts of Cabo Delgado, President Filipe Nyusi said. In an interview late Saturday on state television channel TVM, Nyusi said top officials were still trying to confirm their deaths which appear to have occurred after Thursday’s attack and occupation of the Macomia district headquarters. “We have information that senior officers of this force have been slaughtered, which we can consider to be the leadership, but the Defence and Security Forces will confirm this at a proper moment,” President Nyusi said. “We are learning how to deal with that force and we are encouraging the Defence and Security Forces to fight them.” … Outnumbering the government troops, the militants launched a fresh attack last Thursday, striking Macomia district in an early morning assault. … Clashes have been raging in the area since. The Defense Post

Thousands of Malian Refugees Flee Burkina Faso Camps after Attacks
When Abdoulaye fled violence in Mali in 2012, he crossed the border to a refugee camp in then-peaceful Burkina Faso. But in March this year his camp came under fire from extremists, leaving the 37-year-old and his family unsure where next to turn. … Attacks by self-defence groups and extremists linked to so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda have increased dramatically in Burkina Faso, displacing almost 850,000 people – all but 80,000 since the start of 2019 – and leaving two million in need of humanitarian assistance. The violence has also upended the lives of some 25,000 Malian refugees who, like Abdoulaye, have been depending on the country for security but are now weighing their options following attacks that have emptied their camps and yanked away the little assistance they were receiving. The New Humanitarian

Traffickers Dump South Africa-Bound Immigrants in Zimbabwe
Frustrated by lockdowns imposed by countries to slow down the spread of coronavirus, human traffickers are dumping illegal immigrants destined for South Africa in Zimbabwe at a time the southern African country is battling to bring the pandemic under control. Zimbabwe, a transit country for immigrants from countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Malawi and the Horn of Africa region, is already overwhelmed by the number of its nationals returning from neighbouring countries where they had sought economic refugee before the outbreak of Covid-19. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) this week said it had assisted 100 stranded Malawian immigrants return home. The situation had reached crisis levels, it added. The East African

South Africa Loosens Lockdown in Economic Recovery Effort
South Africa sought to revive its stuttering economy on Monday with the partial lifting of a coronavirus lockdown, letting people out for work, worship or shopping, and allowing mines and factories to run at full capacity. President Cyril Ramaphosa was widely praised when he ordered a strict lockdown at the end of March, but the measures have battered the economy of Africa’s most industrialised nation, which was already in recession before the coronavirus. South Africa’s central bank expects the economy, which has been hard hit by the impact of power cuts at crisis-hit state energy firm Eskom, to contract by 7% this year. But moving to “level 3” lockdown so soon has been questioned by some who say it will inevitably increase the number of coronavirus cases, which jumped above 30,000 over the weekend. Reuters

Egypt Says 19 Suspected Militants Killed in Restive Sinai
Egypt’s military said on Saturday it killed 19 suspected militants in targeted ground and air operations as part of its battle to quell a long-running insurgency in north Sinai. In a video statement replete with a dramatic score released on its social media, the army said troops killed three “extremely dangerous” militants as well as 16 others in precision airstrikes on their “terrorist hideouts.” Troops found troves of automatic rifles, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenades in possession of the militants, the army added. Security forces have been battling a long-running Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula – in Egypt’s northeast – that is spearheaded by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group. AFP

Ethiopia and Sudan Urge Cooperation to Stop Border Violence
Ethiopia says a recent violent incident that flared up along the border with Sudan should be addressed by diplomatic discussions. For its part, Sudan’s military says that the two countries should deploy a joint force to patrol the border to prevent any violence. The statements from Ethiopia and Sudan came Sunday after Sudan summoned Ethiopia’s diplomat in Khartoum over the cross-border attack last week that was allegedly carried out by a militia backed by Ethiopia’s military. At least one Sudanese army officer and one child were killed in an attack on Thursday by an Ethiopian militia group in Sudan’s eastern al-Qadarif province, according to Sudan’s military. Another Sudanese officer and three civilians were wounded in the incident, according to the Sudanese statement. AP

New Report Accuses Envoy of Running Down Amisom
The head of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) is fighting off allegations of corruption, mismanagement, harassment and political interference. This follows a series of accusations that could damage the credibility of Amisom. An internal report by the African Union (AU) criticises Francisco Madeira for mistreating employees – including refusing to provide sanitary towels – using abusive language, hijacking Amisom donations to gain political mileage and taking sides in situations where the mission is expected to be neutral. The revelations came as some Somali politicians petitioned the AU to have the Mozambican diplomat recalled. The East African

Malawi Court Dismisses Ban on Call-In Shows
Malawi’s Constitutional Court on Friday put a stop to a government directive banning call-in shows. The government accused broadcasters of careless and unethical coverage of protests following the disputed 2019 elections. Presiding Judge Chifundo Kachale, on behalf of a three-judge panel, said the ban infringed on freedom of expression as guaranteed in Malawi’s Constitution. The judge also said a regulatory authority didn’t consult broadcasters before the directive took effect. Broadcasters called the ruling a victory for a free press and democracy. VOA

Niger Adopts New Wire-Tapping Legislation on Curbing ‘Terrorism’
Niger’s parliament has passed legislation authorising wiretapping as a means of curbing “terrorism and transnational criminality” despite criticism from the opposition. The law adopted on Friday allows “research of information” which notably may “threaten state security” or “prevent the fight against terrorism and organised transnational crime.” It was passed despite an opposition protest walkout over concerns that it undermines the country’s constitution which holds that “secrecy of correspondence and of communications is inviolable.” An opposition statement decried “the will of those in power to deprive Nigeriens … of all privacy in their communications.” It added “this law will allow surveillance of all Nigeriens, as well as all those who live in Niger under the false pretexts” of maintaining security and fighting “terrorism.” Al Jazeera

COVID-19 Could Double Africa’s Food Insecurity, WFP Chief Warns
The head of the World Food Program tells VOA the number of people suffering from acute food insecurity in Africa could more than double due to COVID-19. Executive Director David Beasley says the impact of the virus on the economy and the flow of supplies could affect more than 40 million people in East Africa alone. The head of the World Food Program has warned a failure to keep food supply chains open during the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic could result in more people dying of hunger than of the virus itself. During a four-day trip to Africa, Beasley told VOA there are already grave problems distributing food because of curfews, long delays for truck drivers at border crossings and mandatory quarantines affecting pilots. The WFP has identified 28 hot spots in Africa where trade is slow due to coronavirus restrictions, says Beasley. VOA

From Fighting with Guns to Fighting the Pandemic
In countries suffering from conflict, readjusting to life in a peaceful society is a challenge, both for former fighters and the wider community. Since the spread of the COVID-19 crisis, the UN is having to refocus many of its programmes, aimed at reducing violence in communities, and rehabilitating combatants. “Before I did not have a trade but, thanks to this training, I am becoming a valuable asset to my country,” says Nassira Zakaria, from Kaga Bandoro, a northern market town in the Central African Republic (CAR). Ms. Zakaria, a trainee seamstress in a Community Violence Reduction programme, run by the UN peacekeeping mission in CAR, MINUSCA, says that she is glad to be able to turn away from armed conflict, learn new skills and, above all, be of use to her community. “By making face masks, I can contribute to the fight against COVID-19.” UN News



Photo: Adam Jones