Africa Media Review for June 27, 2019

Suicide Attack Targets Police Car in Downtown Tunis
A suicide bomber targeted a police vehicle in the Tunisian capital Tunis on Thursday, wounding several people. Reuters news agency, citing witnesses, reported the blast occurred on the central Charles de Gaulle street not far from the French embassy. Two police officers and three civilians were injured, according to the interior ministry. Body parts were strewn in the road around the police car, an AFP news agency correspondent said. The loud explosion, for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility, was heard throughout the surrounding neighbourhood. The incident came four years after scores of people were killed in a spate of attacks claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) group. Al Jazeera

Egypt Says 7 Policemen Killed in Sinai Jihadist Attack
Seven police officers have been killed in a jihadist attack in restive North Sinai, Egypt’s interior ministry said on Wednesday. The attack near the regional capital El-Arish targeted an “assembly centre” for police, according to the ministry. Four assailants died “during clashes” following the attack, one when he detonated an explosives belt, it said. North Sinai has long been a centre of insurgents and Egyptian authorities last year launched an offensive against the jihadists. Hundreds of militants have been killed along with dozens of soldiers, according to official figures which cannot be verified as Sinai is largely cut off to journalists. AFP

Islamist Insurgents Kill at Least 20 Civilians in Northeast Nigerian Village – Security Agent, Source
Islamist insurgents killed at least 20 civilians in a northeast Nigerian village, a government-allied vigilante who helped evacuate corpses and a security source said on Wednesday. The militants struck the village of Ngamngam in Borno state, near the border with Niger, on Tuesday, said Bakura Kachallah, a member of the pro-government vigilante group Civilian Joint Task Force. A security source, requesting anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to media, confirmed the attack and death toll. Reuters

Libya Crisis: UN-Backed Government ‘Retakes’ Key Town of Gharyan
Libya’s internationally recognised government says it has retaken the strategic town of Gharyan following clashes with insurgent forces. Gharyan was the main supply base for an offensive on the capital, Tripoli, by fighters led by Gen Khalifa Haftar. His Libyan National Army (LNA) has not yet confirmed the loss, and details are still emerging. Libya has been torn by violence and division since long-time ruler Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed in 2011. Dozens have died since the LNA began its campaign earlier this year against the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which is led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serra. BBC

“Dozens” Killed in Foiled Ethiopia Coup Attempt – Regional Government
Dozens of people were killed in fighting during a foiled coup in Ethiopia’s Amhara region at the weekend, the regional government spokesman said on Wednesday, the first official report of significant clashes and a much higher toll than earlier reports. A rogue regional militia unit attacked the police headquarters, president’s office and the ruling party headquarters in Amhara’s regional capital of Bahir Dar on Saturday, Asemahagh Aseres told Reuters on the sidelines of a state burial for three top regional officials who were killed. The militia was made up of members of a recently recruited unit of the region’s security services, and had appealed for others to join its take-over but been rebuffed, Asemahagh said. Reuters

South Sudan Peace ‘Frustratingly Slow’ – UN
The implementation of South Sudan’s peace deal is frustratingly slow and many benchmarks are still to be met, a senior UN official said. President Salva Kiir and opposition leaders failed to form a new government as stipulated in the deal by May 12. The formation of the government was extended by six months to November in order to implement key provisions such as creating a unified army and determining the number of states. “More compromise is needed, particularly from the government which holds the much stronger position,” said David Shearer, the head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). Mr Shearer made the remarks while briefing the UN Security Council on the situation in South Sudan on Tuesday. Shearer said the ceasefire deal has largely held. Radio Tamazuj

UN Extends DRC Sanctions as Refugee Flows Increase
With civilians fleeing a spate of inter-ethnic violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday extended its arms embargo, asset freeze and a travel ban on the country until July 2020. The sanctions prohibit countries from selling or supplying weapons to rebel groups in the DRC, which has been wracked by conflict since the early 1990s and has seen a recent spike in violence in Ituri province. A French-drafted resolution, which was passed unanimously at a brief meeting, requires governments to block the travel of designated militia leaders and politicians and to freeze their bank accounts and other assets. Al Jazeera

20,000 Migrants Rescued from Sahara in Three Years – IOM
Nearly 20,000 migrants have been rescued from the Sahara desert in Niger over the past three years, the International Organization for Migration said on Tuesday. The IOM said that on June 15 alone it rescued 406 migrants from 14 West African countries, including seven women and four children. “We walked for hours under the scorching desert sun with no water or idea where we were heading,” the IOM quoted Amadou, a 27-year-old from Mali, as telling rescuers. The UN organisation said the most recent rescues had mainly included people from Ivory Coast, Guinea-Conakry and Mali. AFP

Ebola Epidemic ‘Should Be a Wake-Up Call for Peace in DRC’
Over 2,230 people have been infected with Ebola and at least 1,510 have died over the past year. “We know how to address the crisis,” says German church-based NGO Difaem, “but the unrest is making this impossible.” Previous Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) usually lasted just a few weeks or months. But the current epidemic in the country’s northeastern North Kivu and Ituri provinces has raged on for over a year. This is mainly due to the presence of militia groups and frequent fighting in the affected region. DW

Inside Somalia’s Mental Health Emergency
Despite high rates of mental illness in Somalia, the country is unable to provide the most basic of care to those in need – many of whom are isolated, chained to hospital beds, or even jailed. One in three Somalis are affected by some form of mental illness, a far higher rate than the one in five expected among communities living in war zones, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Somalia has been at war for close to 40 years. It has suffered three famines, waves of displacement, and currently 5.4 million people – more than one third of the population – rely on aid to survive. Despite these trauma-inducing conditions, Somalia has only five WHO-recognised mental health centres – basic at best – and just three psychiatrists for the entire country. The New Humanitarian

Gambian Ex-Dictator ‘Handpicked’ Women for Rape, Abuse, Human Rights Watch Says
Former Gambian president Yahya Jammeh “handpicked” women whom he would rape or sexually coerce, offering cash, gifts and other privileges in exchange, international rights groups said on Wednesday. “Yahya Jammeh treated Gambian women like his personal property,” said US attorney Reed Brody of Human Rights Watch (HRW). “But rape and sexual assault are crimes, and Jammeh is not above the law, and no woman is beneath it.” Jammeh ruled the tiny West African state for 22 years before fleeing to Equatorial Guinea after losing elections to opposition candidate Adama Barrow in December 2016. His regime was notorious for its brutality and corruption, but this is the first time that his sexual abuse of women has been extensively and publicly documented. AFP

Confusion Marks Zimbabwe’s Return to Own Currency
Businesses stayed shut and banks limited withdrawals as Zimbabwe’s entered a transitional period of trading in a notional currency after the central bank stopped transactions in foreign money. The move by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government aims to stabilise the markets in the face of inflation that has hit 100 per cent, the highest level since the hyper-inflation days a decade ago. On the face of it, having the electronic RTGS dollar and bond notes as Harare’s interim legal tender should end the ten-year dominance of the US dollar and the South African rand in the economy. However, initial outcomes suggest that the two currencies could actually thrive more in the black market hitting confidence in the local instruments that now represent a Zimbabwe dollar yet to be printed. The East African

Somalia Maritime Case Hearing Starts in September
The hearing of the maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia will start on September 9 and run through to September 13 at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague, Netherlands. The court Tuesday released a schedule of the trial on a day the Foreign Affairs Cabinet secretary Monica Juma appeared before the National Assembly Defence and Foreign Relations committee to update Parliament on the status of the dispute. However, Ms Juma requested that the briefing be held in camera because of the sensitivity of the issue that has strained diplomatic relations between the two countries. … Late Tuesday evening, the Hague-based court released a dispatch indicating a schedule of the hearing in the case in which Mogadishu is seeking to claw back authority over Somalia’s territorial waters, including the area bordering Kenya that is potentially rich in oil and gas deposits. Somalia took the dispute to the United Nations’ top court in August 2014, accusing Kenya of having annexed part of its maritime territory. Goobjoog News

Opioids in Africa: Cheap and Accessible
Cheap painkillers are the new drugs for the people. On the African continent, more and more people are becoming addicted and the illicit trade in pharmaceuticals is on the rise. Heroin, cocaine, cannabis or alcohol – these are the kind of drugs most people think about on June 26, the United Nation’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Fewer people think of the legal opioids such as cough syrup or painkillers, which can induce effects similar to those of heroin. The non-medical, recreational use of such drugs has risen dramatically in the last 10 years worldwide. Around the African continent, the drugs are easily accessible and are often smuggled across borders without any medical control. DW

Death in the Water: African Rivers Awash with Fatal Antibiotics
As people increasingly turn to antibiotics, the drugs are finding their way into water resources, resulting in pollution and related health complications. In a study conducted by the University of York in the UK, researchers found that rivers in countries such as Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya have antibiotic levels that have surpassed the safe limit. The York study analysed levels of 14 commonly used antibiotics in rivers of 72 countries. Sixty-five per cent of them were found to have varying levels of antibiotics. These include metronidazole, which is used to treat skin and mouth infections; clarithromycin, which is used as a treatment for respiratory tract infections like bronchitis; and Ciprofloxacin, which treats infections of the skin and urinary tract. … Nairobi River, for example, is filled with vaccines owing to dumping of raw sewage into it. The river’s antibiotic levels were 100 times the safe level, the study found. The East African



Photo: Adam Jones