Africa Media Review for June 12, 2020

At Least 10 Soldiers Killed in Attack on Ivory Coast Border Post
At least 10 soldiers have been killed and six wounded in an attack on an Ivory Coast military post near the country’s border with Burkina Faso, according to the army. It was not yet clear who carried out the predawn attack on Thursday, which was the deadliest in Ivory Coast since gunmen from al-Qaeda’s North African branch stormed the beach resort of Grand Bassam in March 2016, killing 19 people. The head of the armed forces, Lassina Doumbia, said in a statement that 10 soldiers were killed and six wounded. He added that one of the attackers was also killed. … Thursday’s attack took place in the same zone where Ouagadougou and Yamoussoukro last month launched a ground-breaking joint operation to flush out fighters. So-called “Operation Comoe”, named after a river that flows through the two countries, has led to the death of eight fighters, the capture of 38 others and the destruction of a “terrorist base” at Alidougou in Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast army said on May 24. Al Jazeera

COVID-19 in Africa: WHO Urges Constant Vigilance as Cases Top 200,000
Africa recorded its first case of the new disease in mid-February. While it took nearly 100 days to reach 100,000 cases, the jump to 200,000 cases occurred in less than 20. “For now, Africa still only accounts for a small fraction of cases worldwide,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “But the pace of the spread is quickening. Swift and early action by African countries has helped to keep numbers low but constant vigilance is needed to stop COVID-19 from overwhelming health facilities.” The rising caseload is being driven by 10 countries, which account for nearly 80 per cent of all cases. … WHO said public health measures have helped to slow the spread of COVID-19 on the continent. Many governments took steps such as implementing lockdowns, promoting physical distancing, and conducting contact tracing. UN News

UN Expresses ‘Horror’ over Reports of Libya Mass Graves
The United Nations mission in Libya (UNSMIL) on Thursday voiced “horror” over recent reports of eight mass graves discovered in and around the town of Tarhuna. “International law requires that the authorities conduct prompt, effective and transparent investigations,” said the UN mission. The graves were found after the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) retook control of Tarhuna when military general-turned-warlord Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) withdrew from the region. About 160 bodies found were transferred from Tarhuna’s public hospital to Tripoli and Misrata, the director of Tarhuna’s hospital told news agency AFP. However, the GNA has not yet reported the official number of bodies found. The GNA said the Justice Ministry had set up a committee to investigate the graves and identify victims. DW

54 Dead in Tunisian Migrant Shipwreck; Search Ongoing
The death toll in a migrant shipwreck off Tunisia’s coast has climbed to 54 people as more and more bodies are discovered, and the search is continuing. The boat sank last weekend amid a recent spike in efforts to smuggle African migrants to Europe via Tunisia in recent months. The sinking has revived concerns in Tunisia about migrants fleeing tensions in neighboring Libya, despite hundreds of millions of euros in European aid to Libya to stop migrants from leaving. Tunisian search teams recovered the bodies of 13 men and women Thursday, according to the Defense Ministry. Earlier in the week, the bodies of two toddlers and 20 adults washed up on the beaches of Kerkennah Island off the Mediterranean coastal city of Sfax, and 19 other bodies were found floating in nearby waters. AP

‘Capture Not Possible’: France’s Desert Operation against Al-Qaeda Chief
In a desert wilderness in Mali, close to the Algerian border, pitted with isolated rocks and weighed by oppressive heat, French special forces and combat helicopters begin an operation. At its climax, they claim one of the greatest successes of France’s deployment in the Sahel region of north Africa — the killing of the head of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) Abdelmalek Droukdel. The French military, for the first time, provided details on Thursday of how late last week it “neutralised” the man it has called “the third deputy” of Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Officials describe the death of the Algerian Droukdel as the fruit of meticulous intelligence work. AFP

Burundi Cabinet Meets on Way Forward after President’s Death
Burundi convened an emergency cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss a way forward after the sudden death of President Pierre Nkurunziza, who took office following a bloody civil war in 2005. Nkurunziza, who died on Monday aged 55, had been due to step down in August after his surprise decision not to run in an election last month won by the ruling party’s handpicked successor. But his death has raised uncertainty and fears of a power struggle in a country that has witnessed violent political upheaval, a refugee exodus and a bloody civil war in its recent history. The government called a ministerial meeting to discuss “the management of the situation following the unexpected death” of Nkurunziza, who according to the government, died of a heart attack after feeling unwell for two days. Al Jazeera

Ethiopia Races to Stave Off Coronavirus in Refugee Camps
Tens of thousands of refugees from Eritrea are at risk of contracting the coronavirus after the first case was found in one of Ethiopia’s largest refugee camps. Experts and humanitarian workers say conditions in four northern camps holding approximately 100,000 Eritrean refugees are ideal for the virus to spread with people living close to each other in confined spaces. Authorities in Ethiopia are racing to improve health facilities and water levels at the country’s 26 refugee camps after the government confirmed that a 16-year-old girl from Eritrea had tested positive for the coronavirus last week. The patient has since been transferred to a government hospital where she is in stable condition, said Ann Encontre, country representative for the U.N. refugee agency in Ethiopia. VOA

Three Cameroon Soldiers Charged with Murder in Anglophone Village Massacre
“The three Cameroonian soldiers have been placed in provisional detention in Yaounde military prison,” army spokesman Colonel Cyrille Atonfack Guemo told AFP news agency, adding that they had been charged with murder. At least 23 civilians, including 15 children and two pregnant women, were killed on 14 February in Ngarbuh. The United Nations described it as “a shocking episode in the ongoing crisis that has afflicted the country’s Northwest and Southwest regions for the past three years.” The Cameroon authorities initially denied the soldiers’ role in the killings, describing allegations against security forces as “fake.” They claimed the deaths resulted from an “unfortunate accident” when fuel containers exploded in the crossfire between separatists and troops. RFI

Three Kenyan Police Held after Dragging Woman behind Motorbike
Three Kenyan police officers have been arrested after a widely circulated video showed the men dragging a woman behind a motorcycle and whipping her. The arrests on Thursday came after the video taken the previous day in Kuresoi South, west of the capital, Nairobi, sparked outrage among social media users, activists and others. … The Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) issued a statement saying it had launched an investigation into the matter. … The incident came amid an outcry over police brutality in Kenya, where law enforcement officers have often faced accusations by rights groups of using excessive force, especially in poor neighbourhoods. On Monday, protesters poured onto the streets of Nairobi after the IPOA said police officers were involved in the killing of at least 15 people since the enforcement of a dusk-to-dawn curfew to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Al Jazeera

In New Video, Boko Haram Executes Abducted Soldier, Policeman
In the video, members of ISWAP, the breakaway Boko Haram faction, executed the two security personnel. In the 49 seconds video, the two security personnel who were abducted last week while travelling between Maiduguri and Monguno introduced themselves after which they were summarily shot dead. According to the slain security personnel, they were on a trip from Maiduguri to Monguno when they were ambushed and abducted by the insurgents whom they described as “Tilafa army.” … It is not clear when the video was shot. But it was released three days after suspected Boko Haram insurgents attacked a village in Gubio local government killing at least 81 residents. Premium Times

Democracy Day: [Nigerian President] Buhari Promises to Respect Press Freedom, Rule of Law
President Muhammadu Buhari Friday pledged respect for the rule of law and press freedom. Mr Buhari also said his administration appreciates the role of the media in Nigeria, despite the media’s imperfect relationship with successive governments. “I must admit that the relationship between the media and successive governments has not always been perfect,” the Nigerian president said in a televised broadcast to mark the annual Democracy Day. … Mr Buhari also said his administration is focused on guaranteeing press freedom and upholding the rule of law. The Buhari government has been criticised for serially disobeying court orders and violating the rule of law. Premium Times

Where Jaguars Are Killed, New Common Factor Emerges: Chinese Investment
Now, a study published this month in Conservation Biology provides a more complete overview of the illegal trade, bringing together data from all of Central and South America. The findings confirm that seizures of jaguar parts have increased tremendously throughout the region, and that private investment from China is significantly correlated with trafficking of the species. … The findings suggest a parallel with poaching patterns seen in Southeast Asia and Africa, in which an increasing presence of businesses from China working on large development projects coincides with increasing legal and illegal wildlife trade, including of big cats. … The pattern may be like one observed on the African continent. In a report published last year, Alfan Rija, a conservation ecologist at Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, found that East Africans often hunt to fulfill Chinese demand, and that the majority of the 45 species they reported hunting – from elephants and rhinos to sea horses and hyenas – are purchased solely or primarily by Chinese individuals. The New York Times

Coronavirus Poses Leadership Test for Africa’s Heads of State
… Tolbert Nyenswah, senior research associate at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and former deputy minister of health in Liberia, said early, aggressive action by leaders is key. He says the countries where leaders were proactive in instituting testing and contact tracing will be better off. “You’ll find the countries with a high number of cases, like Senegal, Ghana, South Africa, are some of those countries that are very good at doing testing,” Nyenswah said on VOA’s Straight Talk Africa. “Testing, contact tracing, isolation, social distancing, hand-washing, are the tools that we have right now and are the tools to control COVID-19. And so, countries that are doing high levels of testing are on a path to continue back.” VOA

Sudan: Revolutionaries Turn to Healthcare
Few countries in the world were well-prepared for the coronavirus. … Sudan is less prepared than most. Its government spends less than $100 per capita every year on healthcare. It has 10 times fewer doctors per person and eight times fewer nurses than Italy and Spain. In the whole country, there are fewer than 200 intensive care beds, for a population of 42-million people. But Sudan has one factor that doesn’t appear on World Health Organisation databases and that most countries don’t have – neighbourhood resistance committees. There are hundreds of these committees around the country, typically comprising 40 or so volunteers ranging in age from 17 to 70, although most are in their twenties. They came to prominence early last year during the country’s revolution, when they organised local protest marches against the brutal 30-year rule of dictator Omar al-Bashir. Mail & Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones