Africa Media Review for June 2, 2020

Jihadists Launch Deadly Attack on Niger Refugee Camp, UN Says
Jihadists carried out a coordinated attack on a camp housing thousands of Malian refugees in western Niger, killing three civilians, abducting a guard and sabotaging the water supply, the United Nations said Monday. Around 50 jihadists launched a “well-planned operation” against the Intikane refugee camp in the Tahoua region on Sunday afternoon, the UN refugee agency UNHCR in Niamey told AFP. The three victims were the head of a refugee committee, the head of a refugee vigilance group, and a representative of a Tahoua nomadic group, the UNHCR said. The town of Intikane is home to some 20,000 Malian refugees and 15,000 internally displaced Niger citizens — all of whom fled their villages due to jihadist violence — as well as the local population. AFP

Libya’s Warring Sides Have Agreed to Restart Peace Talks
The United Nations said Libya’s warring factions have agreed to resume cease-fire talks, following days of heavy fighting and eastern-based forces retaking a key town from their rivals after a string of setbacks. The U.N. Mission in Libya said it hoped the new round of talks would “mark the beginning of calm on the ground,” especially to allow the country’s war-scarred health system to cope with a coronavirus outbreak. Delegates from the rivals, Khalifa Hifter’s east-based forces and militias allied with the U.N.-supported government in Tripoli, will conduct the talks through video calls because of the pandemic, the U.N. Mission said in the announcement late Monday. It didn’t say when the talks would resume or give further details. AP

New Ebola Outbreak Declared in Congo City That Last Saw the Virus in 2018
Congo’s health minister confirmed the discovery of a new Ebola case in the country’s Équateur province, which last saw an outbreak of the highly deadly virus in 2018, ultimately killing 33 people there. The province’s governor, Bobo Boloko Bolumbu, spoke on national radio earlier Monday, saying there were five likely cases and that four of those infected had already died. He said the cases were found in Mbandaka, the provincial capital, which is home to more than 1 million people and is an important port city at the confluence of the Congo and Ruki rivers, which are heavily plied for trade and transport. The World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said later on Monday that six cases had been identified by Congo’s Health Ministry. He said the WHO’s response was underway. The Washington Post

Return Pressure Builds as COVID-19 Hits South Sudan Displacement Camps
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in two of the six UN-protected displacement camps in South Sudan have led to renewed calls for the 190,000 residents to return to their homes, despite safety concerns as new waves of violence grip the country. The UN’s peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, “strongly encouraged” residents in March to leave the overcrowded sites – a call repeated last month after two cases of the virus emerged in a camp in the capital, Juba. UN police officers have withdrawn from the camps to protect themselves from COVID-19, while government security forces have intermittently blocked entry to some sites, ostensibly to stop the spread of the disease. The camps – known as Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites – were set up at the beginning of South Sudan’s civil war, in 2013, when civilians fled to UNMISS bases to escape ethnic violence. The New Humanitarian

Sudan: Darfur Armed Groups Say UNAMID Is Needed to Protect Civilians
Security conditions are not met for the withdrawal of hybrid peacekeeping operation from western Sudan region, said Darfur armed groups participating in the Juba-mediated peace process in Juba. The Security Council is expected to extend the withdrawal of the UNMAID for 31 December as the UN peacekeeping department it was not possible to meet the initial date of 31 October due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 measures on the drawdown schedule. In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, Ahmed Tugod Lissan the Chief Negotiator for the groups of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) participating in Darfur Track said that the UNAMID is needed to protect civilians due to the “fragile” security situation. … He further said that a future peace agreement requires the UNAMID presence to take part in the implementation of the security arrangements. Sudan Tribune

Rape and Murder of Student in Church Sparks Outrage across Nigeria
Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a 22-year-old microbiology student, sought the quiet of her empty church in Benin City, southern Nigeria, as a place to study. Hours later she was raped and killed in a crime that has sparked outrage across Nigeria. Last Wednesday evening, a church security guard found Uwa, as she is known, unconscious in a pool of blood, according to her family. She was rushed to hospital but died on Saturday afternoon. The attack on a university student in a church has horrified many in Nigeria, a deeply religious country. Police have launched an investigation amid an avalanche of calls from rights groups, public figures and government officials demanding a thorough inquiry. On Monday, a group of protesters dressed in black, including students from the university, marched to the state police headquarters in Benin City to demand justice for Uwa. The Guardian

Nigeria: Police Arrest 69 Suspected Kidnappers, Armed Robbers in Adamawa
The Police Command in Adamawa has arrested 69 persons for alleged conspiracy, inciting communal clashes, kidnapping, armed robbery and culpable homicide. The state’s Commissioner of police, Olubenga Adeyanju, disclosed this during a news briefing in Yola on Monday. He said that 25 out of the 69 suspects were members of a local criminal gang called Shila boys, who attacked innocent citizens and robbed them of their belongings. “The exhibits recovered from them include one rifle with seven rounds of live ammunition, locally made revolver pistol with three rounds of live ammunition and two cutlasses,” he said. Mr Adeyanju said 19 of the suspects were arrested for criminal conspiracy, culpable homicide and kidnapping. Premium Times

Nigeria’s Campus Cults: Buccaneers, Black Axe and Other Feared Groups
Roland* was a first-year student when he joined the Buccaneers, a secret, illegal student society in Nigeria. A brutal initiation ritual was held late at night in the forest. Older members, singing, dancing and drinking, formed a ring around him and other blindfolded initiates, beating them severely until the early hours of the morning. The ritual was supposedly to purge the initiates of weaknesses and instill bravery in them. “The moment you go in there and come out, you are a different person,” Roland told the BBC. These societies, also referred to as confraternities and campus cults, have names like Vikings, Black Axe, Eiye (a word in the local Yoruba language for bird), and the Buccaneers. BBC

Sierra Leone COVID-19 Responders Strike over Unpaid Risk Allowances
Work on Sierra Leone’s Covid-19 pandemic was partially paralysed on Monday following a strike by frontline workers who were protesting over non-payment of risk allowances. The aggrieved workers, who are mostly surveillance officers and contact tracers, refused to attend the usual morning briefing, from which the daily update on progress in the national Covid-19 response is collated. As a result, Monday saw one of the lowest recorded number of new positive cases at four. Although officials of the National Covid-19 Emergency Operation Centre (Nacoverc) did not say if the low number of cases had anything to do with the strike, a spokesman expressed concern over the “unacceptable” situation. The East African

On the Road with East African Truck Drivers
Khamis Makaranga did not intend to cause a diplomatic incident. He just wanted to deliver the tomatoes in the back of his truck. Makaranga plies the highway between Dar es Salaam and Nairobi. Those tomatoes, from Tanzania’s central Iringa region, were destined for a market in Kenya’s capital city. They never arrived. When he got to the Namanga border post, Makaranga saw hundreds of trucks waiting to cross into Kenya. Thanks to new Covid-19 restrictions, the backlog was even bigger than usual. Every truck driver entering the country is being tested by Kenyan authorities, adding days to their journeys. Makaranga was tested for the coronavirus with a cotton swab pushed to the back of his throat. Last week, his result came back: he was positive. Mail & Guardian

‘The Water Will Come Back’: Why Kenya’s Struggle against Flooding Is Far from Over
Using a short piece of nylon line with a hook at one end and a long thin stick on the other, a mechanic and a nightclub doorman have only caught one small fish all day. “I’ve never been a fisherman before,” says Erick Ochieng on the edge of a flooded creek in the port city of Kisumu on the banks of Lake Victoria. “I used to work as a bouncer but nightclubs have closed. Sometimes my family sleeps without eating.” As the frequency of extreme weather events increase, climate experts are warning of above normal levels of rainfall in the already saturated region in the coming months. … Around 233,000 people have been affected by the floods in Kenya, and more than 116,000 displaced, according to the Kenya Red Cross, after two consecutive seasons of record rains caused rivers across the country to burst their banks, devastating towns and villages. The Guardian

Kenyan Boy Given State Award for Hand-Wash Invention
A Kenyan boy is among this year’s recipients of state commendations for his invention of a handwashing machine. Nine-year-old Stephen Wamukota used wood to suspend a jerrycan of water and create a pedal to be used to dispense water and soap and avoid contact. He had told his mother that the available hand-washing facilities in his hometown in western Kenya were exposing people to coronavirus through contact. His father, who is a carpenter, helped him build his handwashing machine. The boy is among 68 people who were recognised for steering the country through the coronavirus pandemic. They were conferred with the inaugural Presidential Uzalendo (Patriotism) Award. BBC

Defying All Odds: Zimbabwean Romcom Cook Off Makes Netflix Debut
Zimbabwean film, Cook Off, a romance about a struggling single mother who finds love during a cooking competition, premiered on Netflix on Monday, a debut that its makers hope will propel the country’s small film sector to global audiences. Zimbabwe often grabs headlines for its economic woes and political crises, but producer Joe Njagu said the film sought to project a different image. “I wanted the world to know that there is more to Zimbabwe than what they hear. We also fall in love; we also enjoy nice food. We also have very nice stories,” said Njagu. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones