Africa Media Review for June 20, 2017

Burundi Refugee Flows Continue to Increase
Instability from Burundi’s political crisis continues to worsen with the numbers of refugees and displaced persons showing no signs of abating. An upward surge in Burundian refugees in 2017 corresponds with a rise in conflict incidents, many of which have been initiated by the Imbonerakure—the ruling party’s youth militia. In June 2017, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Burundi documented mass atrocities on a widespread scale “reinforced by hate speech, sometimes with an ethnic dimension, delivered by certain state officials and members of the ruling party.” Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Suicide Bombers Kill at Least 16 in NE Nigeria
At least 16 people were killed in suicide bomb attacks near a camp for those made homeless by Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria, emergency services said on on Monday. The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said the attacks took place at about 20:45 on Sunday close to the Dalori camp at Kofa village, near the Borno state capital Maiduguri. NEMA northeast region spokesman Abdulkadir Ibrahim said two female suicide bombers tried to get into the camp but were thwarted by security personnel. “Two other female suicide bombers also detonated their explosives at the adjoining Dalori Kofa village, where they killed 16 people,” he added in a statement. News 24

Cameroon Detains 30 of Its Soldiers Fighting Boko Haram
Cameroon has detained 30 of its soldiers fighting Boko Haram in the northern part of the country. The Defense Ministry says the soldiers abandoned their positions in a protest over pay and working conditions. Military officials in Cameroon say the incident happened earlier this month. Several dozen Cameroonian soldiers erected barricades near the country’s border with Nigeria and asked to be immediately replaced. The soldiers were part of the Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram since 2015. Colonel Didier Badjeck, spokesperson of Cameroon’s military, said the protest was “unacceptable.” He said so far 30 of the soldiers who took part have been arrested. VOA

Al-Qaeda-Linked Militants Have Claimed the Attack at a Mali Resort That Killed Five People
An al-Qaeda-linked Islamic militant group said Monday it staged an attack the previous day on a resort area in Mali popular with foreigners, killing five people, including a Portuguese soldier who had been serving in the European Union mission to stabilize this West African country wracked by mounting extremism. The recently formed Mali-based Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen extremist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadi websites. A Malian soldier and three civilians — a Chinese citizen, a Malian, and a French-Gabonese dual national — also were slain in the worst terror attack to strike Bamako since late 2015. Time

Central African Republic, Armed Groups Sign Deal in Rome
Representatives of most of the armed groups in Central African Republic on Monday signed an agreement to honor an immediate cease-fire, after more than three years of sectarian conflict that have left thousands dead. The announcement in Rome followed negotiations between Central African Republic’s nascent government and 13 of the 14 armed groups currently active in the country where more than 500,000 people are internally displaced. A Rome-based Catholic organization, the Sant’Egidio Community, mediated the deal. Negotiators hailed the accord as an important step, although governments in Central African Republic over the past decade have signed scores of deals with various rebel groups only to see them fall apart. AP

UN Refugee Agency: Record 65.6 Million People Displaced Worldwide
A record 65.6 million people are either refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced across the globe, the UN refugee agency said. The estimated figure for the end of 2016 is an increase of 300,000 on 2015, according to its annual report. It is a smaller increase than 2014-15, when the figure rose by five million. But the UN high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi said it was still a disheartening failure of international diplomacy. “The world seems to have become unable to make peace,” Mr Grandi said. BBC

South Sudan Has World’s Fastest Growing Number of Displaced
South Sudan has the world’s fastest growing displaced population and more needs to be done to help them, says the director of the United Nations refugee agency. More than 4 million South Sudanese have fled their homes, nearly 2 million of whom went to neighboring countries, said U.N. and other organizations. The international community should do more to help South Sudan, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, said after visiting a camp for the displaced. “The international neglect that you see here is matched nowhere else in the world,” Grandi told The Associated Press. “Wherever you look there are dead ends.” AP

As Doors Close to Refugees, Ethiopia’s Stay Open
More than 65.6-million people around the world were forcibly displaced by the end of 2016 – the highest level ever recorded. Of these, 84% were hosted in developing countries. This contrasts with the media’s focus on the burden of this crisis on developed countries, especially in Europe. […] Developing countries continue to show the most generosity towards refugees. Ethiopia, for example – one of the poorest countries in the world – already hosts one of the highest number of refugees globally, and maintains its open-door policy. In May this year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that Ethiopia hosted 838,722 refugees from neighbouring Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan. Almost half – 45% – originate from South Sudan due to ongoing internal conflict and violence in that country. This comes as Ethiopia itself struggles to provide for its population. Despite the huge economic progress the country has made over the past decade, it is still one of the poorest globally, ranking 174th in the 2016 Human Development Index. The World Food Programme reported in May that 7.8-million Ethiopians need emergency food aid. Daily Maverick

Uganda Hosting Donor Summit to Raise $8B for Refugees
This week, Uganda welcomes U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and other high-level international guests and donors for the two day Refugee Solidarity Conference (Thursday 6/22 and Friday 6/23). The conference in Kampala hopes to raise $8 billion to support refugees in Uganda for the next four years. At the border separating Uganda from South Sudan, exhausted women and children arrive daily, hungry and dehydrated. Aid workers give them fortified biscuits. Uganda hosts 1.2 million refugees from at least five African countries. Nearly one million have fled the conflict in South Sudan, and most have arrived in the past year. The local food supply is stretched to the limit. VOA

Libya’s Misrata, Tawergha Sign Reconciliation Agreement
Libyans from cities that fought on opposing sides of the 2011 civil war have signed a reconciliation agreement, one that will allow residents of Tawergha to return to their homes after being driven out by militias, mainly from Misrata. The deal, announced in a Monday statement by the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord in Tripoli, should see the government help Tawergha residents relocate to the city from displacement camps elsewhere in Libya. Tawergha was used as a staging ground for attacks on Misrata during the uprising that eventually toppled and killed Moammar Gadhafi. Anti-Gadhafi militias drove out its residents, most of whom were dark skinned, in retribution after repulsing the offensive. It has been a ghost town since. AP

IOM: 126 Refugees Feared Dead after Shipwreck off Libya
At least 126 refugees are feared to have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea after the motor of their boat was stolen, causing it to sink, the United Nations’ migration agency has said. According to testimony from four survivors brought to Italy, the refugees – mainly Sudanese – left on Thursday from Libya trying to make the dangerous crossing to Europe, Flavio Di Giacomo, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Monday. Al Jazeera

Libya: Navy Spokesman Blasts Coastal Communities over Smuggling
Naval spokesman Ayoub Qassem has launched another attack on what he sees as the EU’s plan to turn Libya into a huge migrant camp. But this time Qassem has also struck out at the coastal communities that he says refuse to help to Coastguard stop the people-smugglers. He said that there was a lack of cooperation from locals as well as the failure of the authorities and municipalities to play their role in combating human trafficking. In an interview with Libya Channel TV, he blamed the lack of help on conflicts and local tribal issues. But he warned that 2017 looked as if it would see the highest ever level of migrants attempting to leave the Libyan coast. He claimed that it could take just four hours from launching from a beach to being picked up by an EU naval vessel or NGO rescue ship. The EU was actually boosting the migrant flow through Libya. Libya Herald

Sabha in the Spotlight: the City Where Migrants Are Sold as Slaves
Deep in the Libyan desert at the confluence of several migration routes from sub-Saharan Africa, this oasis city of 130,000 hit the headlines earlier this year. The United Nations migration agency reported that some new arrivals at this staging post to Tripoli and the Mediterranean coast, 400 miles north, were being “sold” at modern day slave auctions. It’s a worrying development for Sabha – always liable to become involved in the modern refugee crisis by its position – and World Refugee Day 20 June serves as a reminder of how vulnerable migrants are in places like this semi-lawless enclave, caught between tribal and political factions in post-revolution Libya. The Guardian

Merkel Calls for Some EU-Africa Trade Contracts to Be Renegotiated
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called some of the European Union’s trade agreements with Africa unfair and said they should be renegotiated. “We’ll speak again at the EU Africa summit in autumn about how we need to renegotiate them,” Merkel said at an event for non-governmental organisations in Hamburg before the G20 summit, which she will host there next month. She said some trade contracts with Africa were “not right”. African governments and NGOs complain that some of the trade contracts between the EU and Africa do not support development but rather increase hardship on the continent. Reuters

Somali Soldier Who Killed Minister Siraji Gets Death Sentence
The Somali soldier who shot dead the country’s youngest-ever cabinet minister last month has been sentenced to death by firing squad. Abas Abdullahi Siraji was in his car near the presidential palace in Mogadishu when he was killed by Ahmed Abdullahi Abdi, who reportedly mistook him for a militant Islamist. The minister’s death caused shock and anger at the time. The military court which sentenced the soldier said he can appeal. BBC

UN Council Urges Eritrea and Djibouti to End Border Dispute
The U.N. Security Council urged Eritrea and Djibouti on Monday to resolve their border dispute peacefully following the withdrawal of peacekeeping troops from Qatar. Djibouti accused Eritrean troops of occupying the Dumeira mountain area shortly after 450 Qatari peacekeepers left last week and lodged a formal complaint with the African Union. Qatar, which is caught up in its own diplomatic clash with other Arab nations, had mediated a territorial dispute between Djibouti and Eritrea. The Security Council said in a statement after a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Taye-Brook Zerihoun that it welcomed the African Union’s intention to deploy a fact-finding mission to the Djibouti border. Council member said they look forward to coordinating with the AU “to maintain an atmosphere of calm and restraint.” AP

South Africa Watchdog to Oppose Zuma Bid to Set Aside Influence-Peddling Report
South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog will oppose a bid by President Jacob Zuma to have a report on claims of influence-peddling by him and his government set aside, Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane said on Monday. Thuli Madonsela, Mkhwebane’s predecessor as Protector, released the report in November. It called for a judicial inquiry into allegations that Zuma, some cabinet members and some state companies acted improperly, but stopped short of asserting that crimes had been committed. In December Zuma, who has denied wrongdoing and faced down calls for his resignation over a series of scandals that have plagued his administration, asked the High Court to set the report aside. In February, Mkhwebane said she was seeking legal advice on how to proceed on the issue. Reuters

South Africa Adds Central Bank Row to Economic and Political Troubles
A major row in South Africa over the independence of its central bank escalated on Tuesday, with both sides trading barbs in a dispute over whether the bank should be more concerned about citizens and less about currency. The issue — triggered by a public watchdog’s recommendation — comes just as South Africa’s economy has sunk into recession, its credit rating downgraded and politics is gripped by questions over President Jacob Zuma’s stewardship. Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane, head of South Africa’s constitutionally-mandated anti-graft watchdog, called on Monday for the central bank’s mandate of maintaining currency and price stability be changed, saying the bank should act in the interests of empowering ordinary citizens. Speaking on 702 Talk Radio on Tuesday, Mkhwebane she said the central bank’s mandate was focused on a “few commercial interests”. Reuters

Nigeria: Adeosun – Only 20% of 69.9 Million Economically Active Nigerians Pay Tax
Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has said only 14 million out of the 69.9 million economically active Nigerians pay tax, reflecting a low compliance of 20.03 per cent. Adeosun, who disclosed this at the NSE-Bloomberg CEO Roundtable at the weekend, lamented that, even among the tax payers, there was widespread malpractice that resulted in only part of the actual income being subjected to tax. This, she added, had degenerated to an unfortunate situation whereby out of the 14 million tax payers only 214 individuals in the entire country pay N20 million or more annually. This Day

Ethiopia’s Coffee Farmers Are ‘on the Front Lines of Climate Change’
Ethiopia gave the world Coffee Arabica, the species that produces most of the coffee we drink these days. Today, the country is the largest African producer of Arabica coffee. The crop is the backbone of the country’s economy – some 15 million Ethiopians depend on it for a living. But the effects of climate change – higher temperatures and less rainfall – could take a toll on the country’s ability to farm this treasured crop. Climate data shows that rainfall in Ethiopia has declined by almost 40 inches since the 1950s. And the frequency of droughts has increased in recent years, affecting coffee growing regions as well. Ethiopia could lose from 39 to 59 percent of its current coffee-growing areas to climate change by the end of the century, according to a new study published in Nature Plants. NPR

Africa’s Got Plans for a Great Green Wall: Why the Idea Needs a Rethink
Africa’s Great Green Wall, or more formally The Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel Initiative, is the intriguing but misleading name of an enormously ambitious and worthwhile initiative to improve life and resilience in the dry lands that surround the Sahara. The idea of a Great Green Wall has come a long way since its inception. Its origin goes back to colonial times. In 1927, the French colonial forester Louis Lavauden coined the word desertification to suggest that deserts are spreading due to deforestation, overgrazing and arid land degradation. In 1952 the English forester Richard St. Barbe Baker suggested that a “green front” in the form of a 50km wide barrier of trees be erected to contain the spreading desert. Droughts in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel from the 1970s onward gave wings to the idea, and in 2007 the African Union approved the Great Green Wall Initiative. Many perceived it as a plan to build an almost 8 000km long, 15km wide, wall of trees across the African continent – from Senegal in the west to Djibouti in the east. Mail and Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones