Africa Media Review for June 14, 2022

Britain Plans to Fly Refugees to Rwanda on Tuesday
The British government planned to proceed on Tuesday with flying immigrants to Rwanda for processing and resettlement, after a court blocked two appeals to the contentious plan on Monday, according to Care4Calais, one of the aid groups involved in the appeal. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government announced in April that it would send some asylum seekers to Rwanda for an initial payment of 120 million pounds, or about $157 million. The ruling Monday, which was decided by a three-judge panel on the appeals court, came after the High Court failed to pass an injunction against the proposed plan last week. Lord Justice Rabinder Singh of the Court of Appeal said in a statement that “applications for interim relief in this context must be considered on an individual basis and not a generic basis,” in other words, case by case. Care4Calais said that 23 people who were scheduled to leave on the first flight Tuesday have had their tickets canceled. After the ruling, eight passengers were still scheduled to leave, but based on how quickly the passenger list had slimmed over the past week, aid workers were hopeful that the remaining deportations could be reversed in the 24 hours before the flight’s departure. New York Times

Togo Declares State of ’Security Emergency in the North
Togo’s government on Monday declared a “state of security emergency” in its northern border region to give the armed forces more flexibility to deal with the threat of jihadist attacks. Eight Togolese were killed in May in a northern town near the border with Burkina Faso, in an attack claimed by Mali-based Al-Qaeda militants. Jihadist groups in the Sahel nations have been expanding and increasingly threatening the coastal West African states of Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin and Togo. After a Monday ministerial meeting, the government said a state of security emergency had been declared in the Savannah region which covers the country’s most northern provinces. “It will enhance the speed of decision-making and facilitate greater agility for public services and defence and security forces,” the statement said. Government spokesman Akodah Ayewouadan told reporters the measure would last three months and could be extended by the national assembly. The Mali-based Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM) group had claimed responsibility for the attack in May. AfricaNews

Africa’s Middle Class Struggles to Keep Pace with Rising Inflation
The covid-19 pandemic that first hammered South Africa in early 2020 brought hard lockdowns, record unemployment and economic dysfunction as global supply chains shut down. Russia’s war in Ukraine this year has led to spikes in fuel prices and the cost of everyday commodities such as wheat, barley and sunflower oil. Stories like Koen’s are happening throughout the world, but the crisis is especially acute in sub-Saharan Africa, where inflation is the highest it has been since the 2008 global financial crisis, according to the International Monetary Fund. Families already on the brink are slipping further into poverty, while many who had joined the region’s fast-growing middle class are falling behind. The savings Koen built slowly over the years are dwindling. Her husband, who works in the auto industry, hasn’t had a wage increase since the start of the pandemic. Earnings from his second job repairing cars on weekends once paid for family outings and vacations; now they are spent on groceries…At the dawn of the 21st century, Africans were seeing unprecedented upward mobility. By 2011, the African Development Bank estimated that the continent’s middle class had tripled over three decades to 313 million people, or more than 34 percent of the population at the time. Years of strong economic growth allowed many people to transition away from traditional agriculture to more stable, salaried jobs. From South Africa to West Africa, that stability is now threatened by the lingering impacts of a global health crisis and galloping inflation. Senegal was forced to close its borders during the pandemic and suffered a massive loss of tourism revenue. Exploration on new oil and gas fields, which was supposed to help power the country’s economic future, was delayed. Washington Post

Long-Awaited Africa Free Trade Area Takeoff Delayed by Six States
Six countries drawn from three regional economic blocs are yet to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), delaying its implementation more than a year after it was formally launched in January 2021. The AfCFTA, a brainchild of the African Union’s integration and prosperity Agenda 2063, was supposed to create one large market for its member states. But more than a year after inception, some countries are still dragging feet in adopting its legal framework in domestic laws. In the East African Community (EAC), South Sudan is yet to ratify the AfCFTA and in Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Botswana is yet to ratify and deposit its instrument of ratification. A second coordination meeting of the Heads of Regional Economic Communities held in Arusha on June 7 also revealed that Benin, Guinea Bissau and Liberia, members of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), are yet to become State Parties. SACU comprises Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. East African

UN Names Five Armed Groups Behind Current DR Congo Violence
The United Nations (UN) named five groups behind what it calls a deteriorating security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), manifested by an increasing number of attacks on civilians, notwithstanding “impartial and robust” protection efforts by MONUSCO. Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, attributed attacks to the Co-operative for Development of the Congo (CODECO) and M23 as well as the ongoing presence of other foreign armed groups, including the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), Red Tabara and the Forces Démocratique pour la libération de Rwanda (FDLR). All continue to pose a threat to regional stability, he said in an update on DRC, MONUSCO and various efforts – nationally and regionally – to disarm armed groups. “In North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri, MONUSCO is impartially and robustly protecting civilians and helping neutralise armed groups, as mandated by the Security Council. DefenceWeb

Ugandan Mission in DR Congo Aimed at Shielding Oil: Report
Uganda’s crackdown on ADF rebels in eastern DR Congo, a mission launched jointly with Kinshasa, was driven in part by a desire to protect Ugandan oil interests, researchers said on Monday. But the joint operation also “rankled” Rwanda and became a factor in the resurgence of another rebel group, the M23, which DR Congo says is being supported by Kigali, they said. The report, by the Congo Research Group (CRG) at New York University and Ebuteli, a Congolese research institute, delves into the unprecedented crackdown, Operation Shujaa, which the two countries launched in late November 2021. Ugandan troops crossed the border in a joint operation with Democratic Republic of Congo forces that targeted strongholds of the Allied Defence Forces (ADF) — a rebel group blamed for thousands of deaths in eastern Congo and a string of bombings in the Ugandan capital Kampala. Military officials on both sides have proclaimed Operation Shujaa to be a success. But the report says the sketchy information available suggests the ADF have been fragmented into “three or four clusters” and moved further inland away from the DRC-Ugandan border. East African

DRC: Malawian Peacekeepers Bring Normality Back to North Kivu
Seven months after Malawian soldiers were deployed to the North Kivu town Beni in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) life has – by and large – returned to normal for the local population. The soldiers, part of the Malawi Battalion (MALBATT) contribution to the UN peacekeeping mission in the central African country, mount motorised and foot patrols 24/7 to ensure civilians are safe from opportunistic attacks by armed rebel groups. Support for the soldiers is in the form of FARDC (Forces armées de la république démocratique du Congo) elements with the Congolese National Police also contributing a MONUSCO communique reports. “Regular patrols by the Malawian battalion have a significant deterrent effect in the area on armed group activities. A local traditional leader said ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) were everywhere. ‘They used to attack and chase us from our fields. Today, the village has regained its former tranquillity’. “There is a gradual return of the civilian population who fled actions by armed groups to seek safety. People are gradually resuming their rural and economic activities,” the communique states adding Malawian Major Flao Mwale’s comments. He is reported as saying: “The situation was disastrous when we deployed. Most localities were in a ghostly state because inhabitants abandoned them. We went to work immediately to make sure people were convinced they were protected.” DefenceWeb

Refugees in Rwanda Warn of Challenges for Arrivals from UK
As Britain plans to send its first group of asylum-seekers to Rwanda on Tuesday amid outcries and legal challenges, some who came to this East African country under earlier arrangements tell The Associated Press the new arrivals can expect a difficult time ahead. “Sometimes I play football and in the evening I drink because I have nothing to do,” said Faisal, a 20-year-old from Ethiopia who was relocated to Rwanda from Libya in 2019 in the first group of refugees resettled under a deal with the United Nations. “I pray daily to God that I leave this place.” Giving only his first name out of fear of retaliation, he remains at the Gashora center built to house refugees who had languished in Libya while trying to reach Europe. Gashora is called a transit center, but some like Faisal see nowhere to go. A British court on Monday refused to stop the government from deporting asylum-seekers to Rwanda despite arguments by rights advocates that the planned flights would undermine the “basic dignity” of people escaping war and oppression. The U.K. government’s deportation plan has been widely criticized, including by Prince Charles, according to newspaper reports. Rwanda is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and still among the least developed despite its focus on modernizing since the country’s 1994 genocide. The migrants who sought better lives in Britain are expected to find fewer chances to pursue their dreams here, even as Rwandan officials describe their country as having a proud history of welcoming those in need. AP

Nigeria Orders Facebook, Twitter, Others to Provide Information on ‘Harmful Accounts’
The Federal government has announced new regulations for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other internet platforms operating in Nigeria. Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) released the regulations five months after a six-month ban on Twitter. A draft copy of the Code of Practice mandates internet platforms to act promptly in obeying “court order directing a Platform to provide any information under its domain or any assistance to any authorised government agency for the purpose of carrying out an investigation, combating cybercrime, or prosecuting an offence.” NITDA said the objective of the ‘new code’ is to “set out best practices that will make the digital ecosystem safer for Nigerians and non-Nigerians in Nigeria.” The government agency said the guidelines were “developed in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), as well as input from Interactive Computer Service Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, and Tik Tok amongst others.” Guardian Nigeria

U.S. Top Diplomat for Africa Presses Sudanese Military to Restore Civilian Government
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee pressed the Sudanese military leaders to restore the civilian-led government adding that it was crucial for the resumption of economic aid. Phee was on a five-day visit to Khartoum from June 5-9 to encourage the Sudanese stakeholders to engage in a dialogue process to establish a framework for a civilian-led transitional government. In a statement released on Monday, the US embassy in Khartoum said that the senior diplomat met with Sudanese political parties civil society groups and peace signatory groups. In her meeting with the coup leaders, she urged to implement the confidence-building measures and to hold accountable the security agents who killed over 100 protesters and perpetrators of sexual assaults. “She also underscored the urgent imperative of ceding power to a civilian-led transitional government and made clear there would be no resumption of U.S. assistance until the democratic transition is restored,” reads the statement. The U.S. top diplomat for Africa and the Saudi Ambassador Ali bin Hassan Jaffar brokered a meeting between the military rulers and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) on June 9, to discuss ways to end the current crisis. She is pressed by Congress to take measures against the Sudanese military who make pledges without implementing them. “The time for constructive dialogue and action to establish a civilian-led transitional framework is now,” stressed the statement. Sudan Tribune

UN: Death Toll from Week of Darfur Clashes Now at Least 125
The death toll from tribal clashes over the past week in Sudan’s Darfur region has reached at least 125, the United Nations said Tuesday. The violence, the latest in the war-wracked region, erupted following a land dispute between Arab and African tribes in the town of Kulbus in West Darfur province, with local Arab militias then attacking multiple villages in the area. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the dead included over 100 from the African Gimir tribe and 25 Arabs. It said the clashes injured more than 130 others, mostly Africans. OCHA said at least 25 villages in the Kulbus area were attacked, looted, and burned and that at least 50,000 people were forced to flee their homes in West Darfur and neighboring North Darfur province, where the clashes spread. The fighting was the latest bout of tribal violence in Darfur. It came as Sudan remains mired in a wider crisis following an October military coup — a takeover that upended Sudan’s transition to democracy after a popular uprising forced the removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. AP

SADC Forces Suffer Casualties in Raid on Insurgents in Mozambique
A soldier with the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) was killed and six others were injured when SAMIM forces raided insurgents in the gas-rich Cabo Delgado Province. The causalities occurred during a joint operation conducted by SAMIM, Mozambique’s Special Police, and the country’s Defence Armed Forces (FADM) on 9 June. “SAMIM forces, together with friendly forces, suffered seven casualties – one fatality and six injuries. The injured members are recuperating and are on their way to recovery,” SAMIM said in a statement. Without giving figures, the mission said its forces had killed insurgents and recovered guns during the raid in an area called Fifth Congresso, or Quinto Congresso, in the Namambo forest of Macomia…On Friday, insurgents with links to the Islamic State (IS) group claimed that they had ambushed a patrol of government security forces in the area, killing two soldiers. It is not clear if it’s the same clash on which SAMIM reported. IS also claimed to have burnt down 20 homes and killed two civilians in another part of the province. On Saturday, a day after the raid by joint forces in Macomia, in the town of Chiure, the local media reported that insurgents were not backing down after four people were killed and a church burnt. News24

Can MENA Countries Fight Climate Change the Same Way?
Global climate talks are coming to the hottest and driest part of the planet. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region will host the next United Nations climate change conference where decision-makers from around the world will come together to agree on actions required to limit rising temperatures. Last year, governments made a pact during COP26 – the climate summit that took place in the United Kingdom’s city of Glasgow, to prevent the planet from heating more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by mid-century, a threshold that if surpassed could have catastrophic results for humans and ecosystems. At the same time, Egypt was selected to host COP27 this November in Sharm El-Sheikh, a resort town located between the desert of the Sinai Peninsula and the Red Sea. Incidentally, COP28 will also happen in MENA in the United Arab Emirates the following year. Since the UN meetings began back in 1995, the region has accommodated the international climate change conferences known as COPs only a few times – twice in Marrakesh, Morocco, and once in Doha, Qatar, almost a decade ago. Climate meetings are where leaders present national targets and proposals for cutting back emissions of greenhouse gases. The main objective is to get governments to prevent the release of large quantities of emissions into the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. Al Jazeera

What Has Triggered New Fighting in DR Congo?
[Video] The Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda have accused each other of firing rockets across their shared border. More than 25 years after the First Congo War, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda are engaged in dispute. The Central African neighbours have accused each other of firing rockets across their shared border, including a strike that killed two Congolese children. This seems to have been triggered by fighting between the M23 rebel group and state forces in the country’s east. Both Congo and the United Nations have accused Rwanda of supporting the M23 movement. So, could this escalate into a full-blown war between the two neighbours? Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones