Africa Media Review for March 13, 2024

Kenya’s Government Puts Deployment of Police to Haiti on Hold after Chaos Grips the Caribbean Nation
Kenya is halting plans to deploy at least 1,000 police officers to Haiti following the unprecedented violence that erupted in the Caribbean nation and the announcement by its Prime Minister Ariel Henry that he would resign once a presidential council is created, a Kenyan official said Tuesday…Kenya’s President William Ruto said that he and Henry had witnessed the signing of the reciprocal agreements between Kenya and Haiti on March 1, clearing the path for the deployment…[Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Koriri Sing’oei] said that without a clear administration in place in Haiti, there is no anchor for an international police force…On Monday, Kenyan Interior Minister Kindiki Kithure said their officers selected to go to Haiti were ready and awaiting deployment after the top court’s requirement’s on bilateral agreements were met. AP

Kenya, South Sudan Vow to Address Sudan Conflict
Kenya and South Sudan have reiterated their commitment to rally regional support to end the more than 10-month conflict in neighbouring Sudan, citing the danger of spillover effects. Kenyan President William Ruto met with Benjamin Bol Mel, South Sudan’s senior presidential advisor, at State House on Monday. Mel delivered a special message from South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir. President Ruto emphasized the strong relationship between Kenya and South Sudan, pledging continued cooperation on matters of mutual interest and regional peace and stability…President Kiir played a role in attempting to mediate the conflict’s initial outbreak in April 2023. Multiple attempts to bring the warring parties to the negotiating table have failed, including initiatives led by the US-Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and regional leaders. Reservations regarding external involvement and concerns about the role of wealthier Gulf countries have been cited as reasons for the continued conflict. Sudan Tribune

Food Aid for Sudanese Refugees in Chad Could End Next Month, WFP Says
Food aid for hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees in Chad, some of whom are close to starvation, will be suspended next month without more funding, the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday. Since conflict broke out in Sudan nearly a year ago, more than half a million Sudanese refugees have fled to Chad across the long desert border and the country is now one of Africa’s main refugee hot spots with more than 1 million in total. But the WFP says it is struggling to feed them all and many are already skipping meals…A supply route from Chad into Sudan’s Darfur, where hunger is worsening, is also at risk due to funding shortages, WFP said. With more resources, WFP would be able to position food stocks ahead of the rainy season when some refugee populations in Chad get cut off from supplies by muddy rivers. Reuters

Nearly 230 000 Children ‘Likely to Die from Hunger’ in Sudan within Months
Without critical action, nearly 230,000 children and new mothers in war-ravaged Sudan are “likely to die from hunger”, Save the Children warned on Wednesday. Nearly 11 months of fighting between the forces of two rival generals has killed thousands and displaced eight million people in Sudan, the United Nations says…The charity said “more than 2.9 million children in Sudan are acutely malnourished and an additional 729,000 children under five are suffering from severe acute malnutrition — the most dangerous and deadly form of extreme hunger”. It warned “about 222,000 severely malnourished children and more than 7,000 new mothers are likely to die” under the current levels of funding which “only covers 5.5%” of Sudan’s total needs. News 24

At Least 61 Kidnapped by Gunmen in Nigeria, Residents Say
Gunmen in Nigeria kidnapped 61 people from a village in northern Kaduna state, days after nearly 300 students went missing in an attack by an armed gang, residents said on Tuesday. Armed groups, known locally as bandits, have wreaked havoc for years in northern Nigeria where they target villagers, motorists on highways and students from schools for ransom. Gunmen attacked Buda community around midnight on Monday, firing sporadically, a tactic used to scare, residents said. The kidnappings often happen in remote communities, leaving residents helpless…Buda is 160 km (100 miles) from Kuriga town, where schoolchildren were seized last week. Reuters

Nigeria Hit by Wave of Food Looting as Economic Crisis Deepens
Nigeria has been hit by a wave of violent unrest over food as its economic and security crisis deepens…Assaults on grain warehouses have been reported across the country in recent weeks after the cost of living reached levels not seen since the mid-1990s and the food inflation rate jumped above 35 per cent at the start of the year. The government has been forced to deploy security forces to warehouses in Abuja after an incident on the outskirts of the capital this month, in which an angry crowd descended on a storage facility in the city and emptied it of grain..The assault followed a stampede last month at the Lagos regional headquarters of Nigeria’s customs service as it sold off bags of rice confiscated from smugglers at a quarter of the market price. The chaos left seven people dead, including a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress party…“People are rebelling against a perceived break in the social contract between the state and society,” said Afolabi Adekaiyaoja, an analyst at the Abuja-based Centre for Democracy and Development think-tank. Financial Times

New US Airstrike in Somalia Kills Three Al-Shabab Fighters
The U.S. military said Tuesday it conducted an airstrike in southern Somalia that killed three al-Shabab militants. The U.S. Africa Command, or AFRICOM, said it made a “collective self-defense” airstrike against al-Shabab on March 10 at the request of Somalia’s federal government. AFRICOM said the initial post-strike assessment indicates that no civilians were harmed as a result of the strike, which occurred in the vicinity of Ugunji in Lower Shabelle region, about 71 kilometers (44 miles) southwest of Mogadishu. It’s the fifth airstrike by the U.S. military in Somalia this year. AFRICOM conducted 18 such airstrikes in 2023. The statement did not say whether the militants targeted were foot soldiers or al-Shabab commanders. U.S. airstrikes have been targeting both. VOA

Somali Pirates Seize Ship as Global Naval Forces Focus on Houthi Threat
Somali pirates on Tuesday seized a ship carrying coal to the United Arab Emirates, stepping up attacks while the focus of international naval forces has turned to Yemen’s Houthis. The capture of the bulk carrier Abdullah off the Somali coast is the first such incident since December, underlining what the industry sees as a growing risk for commercial shipping…There have been widespread concerns in shipping that the shift in focus of naval forces towards countering Houthi rebel attacks on commercial vessels would give space for Somali pirates to increase activity…Somali pirates launched hundreds of attacks a year on commercial ships when the problem was at its worst and scores of vessels were held until ransoms were paid. Financial Times

Mozambique Ratifies Rwanda Extradition Treaty despite Exiles’ Concerns
Mozambique’s parliament ratified an extradition treaty with Rwanda [last week] despite fears that Kigali will use it to persecute exiled dissidents. The agreement was signed in Kigali in 2021 and approved by the Maputo government in March last year, around the same time the Rwandan senate ratified the treaty…Rwandan refugees and asylum seekers in Mozambique have in the past expressed concern that the treaty would be used to hound dissidents seen as opposed to the Kigali government. President Paul Kagame’s government is often accused of targeting opponents in exile, a charge it has always denied…Last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported that at least three Rwandans have disappeared or been killed in Mozambique under “suspicious circumstances” since 2021, while others escaped kidnappings…Several thousand Rwandan refugees live in Mozambique, according to United Nations figures. Most settled in the country after the 1994 Rwandan genocide, which cost the lives of some 800,000 people. AFP

Detained, Trafficked, Exploited: The Plight of Lone Child Migrants Stranded in Tunisia
In Tunisia, almost 1,500 unaccompanied children approached the offices of the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) to seek support and asylum last year. Many had fled conflict in Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Eritrea. Between January and August 2023, 12% of arrivals by sea to Italy – a common destination for migrants in Tunisia – were unaccompanied children. The vast majority of the children experience one or more of arbitrary detention, trafficking, sexual violence and labour exploitation while they are travelling…More than 11,600 unaccompanied children reportedly crossed the central Mediterranean sea between January and mid-September last year, up 60% from 2022. At least 289 of those children are believed to have died or disappeared. The Guardian

How Senegal Elects Its President
Nineteen candidates are vying for the presidency in Senegal’s March 24 election and no clear front-runner has emerged to succeed outgoing President Macky Sall. For the first time in Senegalese history the incumbent is not in the running…To avoid a runoff, one candidate must secure over 50% of the vote. Over 7 million people out of a population of 17 million are registered to vote in the election, which will see about 16,440 polling stations open across the West African country and in the diaspora…Immediately after voting ends, ballots are counted in the polling stations and displayed at each location. Copies are given to representatives of candidates and the national election commission. Vote tallies are transmitted to the Constitutional Council. The national election commission proclaims the provisional results. Any challenge to the provisional results must be filed within 72 hours. If there are no challenges, the Constitutional Council proclaims the final results. If there are challenges, the council has five days to make a ruling. If no candidate obtains an absolute majority of the vote in the first round, the two top candidates go head-to-head in a runoff. Reuters

Key Issues Shaping Senegal’s Presidential Vote
Successive administrations have struggled to curb youth unemployment – an increasingly urgent issue for its fast-growing population, more than 60% of whom are now under the age of 25. The share of young Senegalese not in employment, education or training stood at 35% in 2019. Since then the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic has further squeezed the job market…External shocks including the pandemic, Russia’s war on Ukraine and the appreciation of the dollar have hit growth and helped drive up the cost of living – a major concern in a country where around a third of the population of 17 million live in poverty, World Bank data shows…Many voters hope that whoever of the 19 candidates wins the presidency will make it easier to find work and earn a living in Senegal, curbing the flow of Senegalese risking their lives in the quest for better prospects abroad…The launch of oil and gas production later in 2024 is set to boost the economy, raising questions about whether the natural resource wealth will benefit the wider population and create jobs. Reuters

South Africa: ‘Grave Threat to Our Democracy’ — Parliament Passes Controversial Electoral Legislation
The National Assembly passed the Electoral Matters Amendment Bill on Tuesday, opening the door to litigation before the crucial general election…The Bill seeks to amend the Political Party Funding Act of 2018 and align various pieces of legislation with the Electoral Amendment Act of 2023, which enables independent candidates to contest in elections for seats in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures. It also makes provision for independent candidates to declare their funding sources…The legislation controversially changes the funding formula of how political parties and independents represented in legislatures receive allocations from state coffers…The Bill is likely to be challenged in court due to what opposition parties say is an attempt by the ANC to increase its share of funds and concerns about how it regulates the disclosure threshold and annual upper limits. Daily Maverick

South Africa’s ANC Likely to Lose Parliamentary Majority in May Vote, Survey Shows
South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) is likely to lose its parliamentary majority in May for the first time since Nelson Mandela led it to power at the fall of apartheid 30 years ago, a survey showed, opening up the prospect of coalition rule. South Africans go to polls on May 29 to elect a new National Assembly, which will then choose the next president. A survey of voter opinion in February by Johannesburg-based think tank The Brenthurst Foundation and the SABI Strategy Group estimated support for the ANC at 39%, down from 41% in October and 44% in November 2022. The survey was modelled on the 66% turnout of the last general election in 2019, when the ANC got more than 57% of the vote. A result below 50% in May would mean the former liberation movement would be forced to enter into a coalition with smaller parties to govern the country, a far cry from its best-ever result in 2004 under Thabo Mbeki when it secured almost 70% of the vote. The ANC’s image has been tarnished in the past decade by economic stagnation, rising unemployment and repeated corruption scandals involving its top officials. Reuters

Morocco Secures Land Route to Deliver Aid to Gaza
A shipment of humanitarian aid from Morocco for Palestinians in Gaza began entering the besieged enclave via a land route on Tuesday, the first time the Kerem Shalom border crossing from Israel has been used for aid in five months of warfare, a Moroccan diplomatic source said. The 40 tonnes of aid was being delivered by truck into northern Gaza along a route that the Rabat government has been able to secure as it had established diplomatic relations with Israel, the source said. Morocco resumed diplomatic ties with Israel in 2020…The aid was shipped by air to Israel, before it was loaded at the crossing onto trucks operated by the Palestinian Red Crescent, which will ensure it reaches the needy in northern Gaza, the source told Reuters. The trucks entered the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom crossing to avoid the complexities of the Rafah crossing on Gaza’s border with Egypt or by air drop, said the source, who asked not be named. Reuters