Africa Media Review for June 25, 2021

WHO: Africa Facing Rapidly Spreading Third COVID Wave

The World Health Organization said Africa is facing a third wave of COVID-19. WHO said cases have risen for five consecutive weeks, with 474,000 new cases since June 20. The increase indicates a more rapid spread than the continent’s second wave, which started at the beginning of the year, the organization said. WHO blames “weak observance of public health measures, increased social interaction and movement, as well as the spread of variants” for the new wave. The so-called delta variant, first detected in India, has been reported in 14 countries, WHO said. A lack of vaccines is also driving the wave. WHO said 18 countries have already exhausted nearly 80% of their supplies, while eight have completely run out. Only 1% of the African population has been fully vaccinated, WHO said. VOA

17 Soldiers Killed in Helicopter Crash near Nairobi, Police Say

Kenyan police said 17 soldiers died in a helicopter crash on Thursday. The victims were on a training exercise when the helicopter came down in Kajiado County outside the capital, Nairobi. Six people on board were seriously injured. “This plane came when we were under the hill there. It started making a funny noise, not that of the propeller, it sounded like an ambulance. After 10 seconds it turned and tried to land but it couldn’t. I think it hit that hill and after hitting the hill, it suddenly turned and hit the ground”, said Morris Kirai Emerit, a Kajiado County resident. Emerit said he helped to rescue two injured soldiers. Kenya’s military confirmed the crash but did not give further details. According to the police official, there were 23 soldiers aboard the helicopter when it crashed. AfricaNews

Refugee Influx Chokes East and Horn of Africa

In 2020, Uganda hosted the largest number of refugees in the region, with South Sudan accounting for 1.4 million of displaced persons. According official data, South Sudan remains the biggest originator of displaced people in the region accounting for 2.2 million refugees out of the total 82.4 million globally. In a report released on June 18, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), says the East Africa, the Horn of Africa and Great Lakes region had 4.5 million refugees by the end of 2020, an increase of three per cent or during the year under review. Uganda currently hosts 95 per cent of refugees in the region coming to 887,400 (in 2021), followed by Sudan (736,700), Ethiopia (365,000) and Kenya (123,900). Daily Monitor

Violence towards Refugees at Libyan Detention Centres Forces MSF to Pull Out

Increasing violence towards refugees and migrants held in Libyan detention centres has forced Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to suspend its operations at two facilities, the medical charity said. MSF said its teams witnessed guards beating detainees, including those seeking treatment from MSF doctors, during a visit to the Mabani detention centre in Tripoli last week. It also said its doctors treated 19 patients suffering from fractures, bruises, cuts and blunt trauma from beatings reported to the organisation, which has also suspended operations at Abu Salim detention centre. … Detention centres in Libya have been the repeated focus of allegations of abuse and violence by human rights organisations and charities. … On Sunday, Associated Press reported allegations that minors were being sexually assaulted by guards at a centre run by Libya’s EU-backed department for combating illegal immigration. The Guardian

Ethiopian Army Denies Hitting Tigray Market with Bombs

The Ethiopian army on Thursday denied carrying out deadly airstrikes targeting civilians at a busy market place in Togogo, a town in the Tigray region. “We haven’t carried out air strikes on a market place. How can this be? The army has the capability to hit targets with precision,” said Colonel Getnet, a spokesman for the Ethiopian Defense Forces. He, however, admitted that there were air strikes carried out that only targeted rebels operating near Togogo town. “Therefore, the allegations of market attacks are completely false” He told reporters Thursday that the airstrikes targeted only rebels who had been gathered to celebrate Martyrs’ Day. … Eyewitnesses and hospital sources, however, yesterday told Nation.Africa that over 50 civilians had been killed in Tuesday’s aerial attack. … According to eyewitnesses, the Ethiopian army on Wednesday blocked ambulances belonging to NGOs including Red Cross medics from reaching victims in the town which is about 25 kilometres North West of the regional capital, Mekelle. The Nation

Civilians Fear Abductions as Sudan-Ethiopia Border Row Deadlocked

For more than 15 years, Ahmed Dafie has been earning a living by selling wood he gets from the forests in Gallabat in Gadarif state, near Sudan’s eastern border with Ethiopia.But he says increased fighting near the border in recent months has affected his livelihood. Worse, he adds, he and two farmers were abducted “by Ethiopian militiamen who had crossed the border”. … The logger’s village is one of several in Gadarif that lie along the border, in an area where Ethiopians do not need paperwork to cross and come to trade and make money. But the ease of movement has led to fear, with dozens of people in the state reporting being abducted by Ethiopian militias for ransom since the start of the year. … Late last year, Sudan’s military moved to take over a fertile borderland running about 100 square miles (259 square kilometres) known as al-Fashaga that Khartoum claims under a colonial agreement dating back to 1902. But its boundaries were never clearly demarcated, and ethnic Amhara farmers from Ethiopia say they have been farming it for nearly 50 years and it belongs to them. Al Jazeera

SADC to Deploy Troops in Mozambique

SADC member states have resolved to deploy a force to help Mozambique contain insurgency in its northern provinces where terrorists have left a trail of destruction that also threatens regional peace. The decision was adopted at the 16-member regional bloc Extraordinary Summit that was held in Maputo, Mozambique, yesterday. More than 3 000 people are estimated to have been killed by the insurgents with 800 000 displaced from their homes in the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province since four years ago. … Apart from deploying an army, SADC, Dr Tax said, will in collaboration with Humanitarian Agencies continue providing humanitarian support to those affected by the terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado. The Herald

Libya Conference: Russia, Turkey to Start Removing Their Foreign Mercenaries

Libya’s transitional government renewed its commitment to holding elections in December at a UN-sponsored conference in Berlin, where Russia and Turkey reached a tentative plan to start withdrawing their foreign mercenaries from Libya. At the Berlin conference on Wednesday, Libya’s transitional government underlined its commitment to holding elections on 24 December, and Germany said it would continue keep up pressure until all foreign forces have been withdrawn from Libya. … Russia and Turkey back opposing sides in Libya, which has been split between two rival administrations backed by foreign forces and countless militias. The internationally-recognised Government of National Accord in Tripoli is supported by Turkey, which in October helped it repel an offensive from Khalifa Haftar, who rules large parts of the east of Libya, and is backed by Rusisa, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. In October the two sides agreed a ceasefire in Geneva. The agreement involved the withdrawal of all foreign mercenaries by January. RFI

Tanzania Kept Covid-19 Data All Along, Says Official

A senior Tanzanian government official says the country never stopped keeping track of the Covid-19 pandemic despite halting release of data to the public in May last year. Deputy Health minister Godwin Mollel told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle that coronavirus data was always there. “Statistics have always been there. If there were no statistics or updates on what was going on, then everybody would have been very worried,” he said. The government, he said, had its own way of communicating with relevant bodies, including the World Health Organization (WHO), regarding various diseases. The government, under late President John Magufuli, took the denialism approach to the pandemic while the rest of the world openly shared its data. Consequently, techniques for combating Covid-19 including lockdowns, wearing of face masks and social distancing were not adhered to strictly, with emphasis being put on use of traditional remedies such as steam inhalation. Much of this has since changed after President Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in on March 19 this year, taking over from Dr Magufuli, who died on March 17. The Nation

Child Soldiers Carried out Burkina Faso Massacre, Say UN and Government

A massacre in northeast Burkina Faso in which more than 130 people were killed this month was carried out mostly by children between the ages of 12 and 14, the United Nations and the government said. Armed assailants raided the village of Solhan on the evening of June 4, opened fire on residents and burned homes. It was the worst attack in years in an area plagued by jihadists linked to Islamic State and al Qaeda. Government spokesman Ousseni Tamboura said the majority of the attackers were children, prompting condemnation from the U.N. … Despite interventions from U.N. peacekeepers and international armed forces, attacks by Islamist extremists continue unabated across West Africa’s Sahel region, including neighbouring Mali and Niger. Local officials in Burkina Faso’s north, where jihadists control large areas, said child soldiers have been used by Islamist groups over the past year, but this month’s attack was by far the highest profile case. Reuters

Northeast Nigeria Conflict Killed More than 300,000 Children: UN

A 12-year-old conflict in northeast Nigeria has caused, directly and indirectly, the deaths of some 350,000 people, the vast majority of which are children below the age of five, the United Nations found in a new report. The death toll, given by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in a new study on the war and its effect on livelihoods published on Thursday, is 10 times higher than previous estimates of about 35,000 based only on those killed in fighting in Nigeria since violence broke out. The armed group Boko Haram launched an uprising in 2009 displacing more than two million from their homes and spawning one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, with millions of people dependent on aid. The conflict shows little sign of ending. Children younger than five account for some 324,000 deaths, more than nine out of 10 of those killed, with 170 dying every day, the UNDP said. Of nearly 350,000 deaths from the conflict, it estimated 314,000 to have resulted from indirect causes. Insecurity has led to declines in agricultural production and trade, reducing access to food and threatening the many households that depend on agriculture for their livelihood, the UN said. Al Jazeera

Nigeria’s Human Rights Record ‘Very Poor’, Worse than Average in Sub-Saharan Africa

Nigeria’s human rights record is “very poor” and is “worse than [the] average in sub-Saharan Africa,” a new report by an international organisation states. The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) said, in the report, that Nigeria’s score for economic and social rights falls within a ‘very bad’ range. The report, which tracked the human rights performance of most countries, stated that Nigeria’s mismanagement of resources is largely responsible for the country’s unfortunate human rights crises. … “The civil and political rights data, and the people’s risk responses were collected in February and March 2021, about events in the year 2020,” HRMI said, an indication the Nigerian government’s clampdown on EndSARS protesters in October 2020 may have counted against the country. “The economic and social rights data are based on figures from international databases and provide scores for every year from 2007 – 2018,” HRMI said. Sadly, the report noted, Nigeria’s scores for all four of these “economic and social rights” fall within the ‘very bad’ range.” Premium Times

Mass Demolitions, Evictions as Nigeria Continues Housing Push

Demola Adeleye and his family were sleeping in their three-bedroom bungalow when they were awoken by the sound of bulldozers demolishing the homes around them. In February a task force sent by Lagos state’s New Towns Development Authority (NTDA) started bulldozing all the structures in the coastal neighbourhood of Oke-Egan and evicting the occupants. … Olakunle Aboyeji, general manager of the NTDA, confirmed the demolitions to the Thomson Reuters Foundation and said it had acquired the land in Oke-Egan from the traditional owners, who were compensated with 20 hectares (50 acres) nearby. The demolitions were the latest in a string of evictions that have ramped up over the past five years as the Lagos government clears slums, homes built on lagoons and other informal settlements to house a rapidly growing population. Residents say in its push to create more housing the government is destroying their homes without relocating or compensating them. Reuters

Zimbabwe: Chinese Bank ‘Ditches’ Sengwa Coal Project

A top Chinese bank with a global portfolio including fossil fuel extraction, has tentatively agreed to stop financing the controversial Sengwa coal project in Gokwe after bowing to civic pressure. In a communique following the postponement of a meeting by Affected Communities of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China ICBC’s Coal Finance, Go Clean said it had recorded marked progress in negotiations with the bank. “There have been some major campaign developments regarding our engagement with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC). These developments include the Bank’s continued dialogue with the Go Clean ICBC coalition to chart a clear road map for ICBC to stop funding coal. … ICBC also confirmed that they will not fund the Lamu coal project in Kenya as well as the Sengwa coal project in Zimbabwe. 263Chat

Cote d’Ivoire’s Former PM Guillaume Soro Handed Life Sentence

Former Prime Minister of Cote d’Ivoire, Guillaume Soro, has been sentenced to life imprisonment for his role in planning a coup against President Alassane Ouattara, the man he helped to take power about a decade ago. A court in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, gave the verdict on Wednesday, following a trial of Mr Soro in absentia. He was accused of “conspiracy…attempt to undermine the authority of the state…and dissemination and publication of false news discrediting the institutions and their operation, resulting in damage to public morale,” the charge sheet filed by the state prosecutor, Richard Adou, read. Soro was prosecuted alongside 19 other co-defendants, all of them members of his Generations and Solidarity Movement. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones