Africa Media Review for March 16, 2017

South Sudan Gunmen ‘Kill 28’ in Ethiopia
South Sudanese gunmen killed 28 people and kidnapped 43 children in Ethiopia’s Gambella province, an Ethiopian official says. Men from the Murle community, who crossed into Ethiopia, are being blamed. Feuding communities on both sides of the border have been known to attack each other, often carrying away spoils. A similar incident last April prompted Ethiopia’s army to cross into South Sudan in a hunt for kidnapped children. BBC

U.S. Rejects Reported Support for South Sudanese Rebels
The U.S. embassy in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, rejected the local medias’ reports that Washington is in support of the armed opposition groups. The Dawn, an English language newspaper on Monday published a story claiming the U.S is supporting the newly formed rebel National Salvation Front of General Thomas Cirillo. The newspaper quoted an anonymous source on its front page article accusing the U.S Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of hatching a plot to overthrow the government of President Salva Kiir. “This is not out of blue. There are reports that the CIA is intensifying their regime change agenda,” The Dawn anonymous source said. Sudan Tribune

UN Report: Rights Violations, Fighting Spike in South Sudan
In a new report presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council, a top U.N. official warned that conditions in South Sudan have gone from bad to worse in the last few months, and urged the council to launch a new investigation into potential human rights violations. Yasmin Sooka, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan, also said a hybrid court, agreed to in a 2015 peace agreement, should be operational by the end of this year. During a regular session of the Human Rights Council Tuesday, Sooka told observers that unlawful arrests and detentions, torture, rape and killings have become the norm in South Sudan, the world’s youngest country. VOA

UN Expert Warns of South Sudan ‘Population Engineering
South Sudan’s government has begun a campaign of “population engineering” to relocate people over their ethnicity, a United Nations expert said Tuesday, as civil war continues under warnings of genocide. Yasmin Sooka told the U.N. Human Rights Council that a government redrawing of state borders has depopulated ethnic Shilluk and Nuer inhabitants of the Upper Nile region. Aid workers estimate that 2,000 mostly Dinka people were transported to Upper Nile after fighting in Wau Shilluk town there caused Shilluk people to flee, Sooka said. President Salva Kiir is Dinka. The government then asked that the new arrivals get international humanitarian aid “while at the same time denying access to citizens who are starving in opposition areas,” Sooka said. South Sudan’s army has refused the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission access to the Wau Shilluk area, Sooka said. AP

Landslide at Ethiopian Rubbish Dump Claims 113 Lives, 80 Still Missing
The death toll from a landslide at a dump in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa has reached 113, officials said on Wednesday, as the government declared three days of national mourning. Flags flew at half mast to mark the disaster that occurred at the 50-year-old Reppi dump on Saturday evening. “The total number of dead has reached 113, of which 38 are male and 75 are female,” said Dagmawit Moges, a spokeswoman for the city. “At least 80 other residents are missing,” said Temesghen Abraham, a resident at the landfill. “We expect to find their corpses buried here.” Times Live

UN Disturbed By Torture, Forced Disappearances in Burundi
The UN Security Council on Monday said it was disturbed by reports of torture and forced disappearances in Burundi but ignored calls from rights groups for sanctions. A French-drafted statement was adopted unanimously after some wrangling with Russia, China and Egypt, which oppose sanctions. The council noted that the security situation in Burundi “has remained generally calm,” but said it was “alarmed by the increasing numbers of refugees leaving the country and disturbed by reports of torture, forced disappearances, and killings.” Hundreds have died and 390,000 people have fled since the country descended into violence in April 2015 after President Pierre Nkurunziza announced plans to run for a third term, which he went on to win. Daily Nation

700 Dead as Malaria Epidemic Hits Burundi
About 700 people have died from malaria in Burundi so far this year, the health minister said, with the authorities having registered 1.8 million infections in a rising epidemic. “Burundi faces a malaria epidemic,” Josiane Nijimbere said Monday, commenting on a World Health Organization (WHO) report. From January 1 to March 10 this year, 1.8 million infections were registered in Burundi, according to the WHO. According to Nijimbere, the latest figures constitute a 17 per cent increase from the same period last year. “Some 700 deaths” have been registered since January, the minister added. The East African

Libya Government Forces Overrun Tripoli Militia HQ
Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed unity government overran the headquarters of a rival militia on Wednesday as artillery exchanges rocked the capital for a third day, a security source said. Libya has experienced years of violence and lawlessness since the NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011, with rival parliaments and governments trading barbs and militias fighting over territory and the country’s vast oil wealth. Militia loyal to former prime minister Khalifa Ghweil, whose administration was replaced by the UN-backed Government of National Accord last year, have stepped up a campaign of defiance against its authority. But overnight, government forces launched an assault on the militia’s headquarters in the Guest Palace, a complex of luxury villas in the city centre, and overran it after heavy fighting. Al Arabiya

Moroccan King, in Rare Move, Ousts Designated Prime Minister
In a highly unusual move, Morocco’s king ousted the designated prime minister in an effort to settle a five-month deadlock over forming a new government. A surprise palace statement late Wednesday announced that King Mohammed VI had removed Abdelilah Benkirane, the head of the Islamist party PJD that won last year’s parliamentary elections, from his duties. “The king extolled, on several occasions, the designated prime minister to accelerate the creation of a new government,” the statement said The king is expected to name another member of the Party for Justice and Development to replace Benkirane. AP

Nigeria’s Senate Blocks Appointment of Anti-Graft Chief
Nigeria’s Senate on Wednesday rejected the appointment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominee to head the country’s anti-graft agency, in a blow to the government’s war on corruption. Buhari rode to power in 2015 on an anti-corruption platform and appointed Ibrahim Magu as acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). But the Senate refused to approve Magu’s official appointment, citing internal security reports that accuse him of corruption. “Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption stance of the current government,” Senator Dino Melaye said, quoting from a report by the Department of State Services. News 24

6 killed in Nigeria as Teenage Girls Detonate Explosives
Nigerian officials say at least six people have been killed as four teenage girls detonated explosives worn on their bodies on the outskirts of Maiduguri city. The National Emergency Management Agency says the blasts early Wednesday in the Borno state capital killed the four bombers and two others. They also wounded 16 people. The statement says the blasts occurred near Muna Garage, a common target of Boko Haram extremist attacks in recent months. Suicide bombings by teenage girls trained by Boko Haram insurgents have become a strategy of the extremist group in the past couple of years. Daily Nation

Somalia Pirates: Anger Fuels Return of Ship Attacks
Locals say pirate attacks will continue and blame the government in Puntland for granting foreigners fishing permits. A volatile buildup of weapons and resentment along the northern Somali coast culminated in the hijack of an oil freighter this week, the first such seizure by Somali pirates since 2012, experts and locals say. Gunmen hijacked the Aris 13, a small oil tanker, on Monday and are demanding a ransom to release the ship and its eight Sri Lankan crew, the EU Naval Force that patrols the waters off Somalia said on Wednesday. Now shipping companies are scrambling to find out whether the attack is a one-off, or whether pirates could once again threaten one of the world’s most important shipping lanes and cost the industry billions of dollars annually. Al Jazeera

Uganda Says Security Forces Killed More Than 100 in Palace Assault Last Year
Uganda acknowledged on Wednesday that its security forces killed more than 100 people in an assault on a tribal leader’s palace last year, revising the death toll upwards by dozens, but denied a rights group’s accusation that children were among the dead. Security forces killed scores of people in November when they stormed the palace of Charles Wesley Mumbere, a tribal leader of the Bakonzo people, who was later accused of leading a secessionist movement. The palace was torched and Mumbere was detained along with dozens of his guards. He and some of the guards have since been charged with treason, murder, terrorism and other offences, which they deny. He is free on bail. Officials had previously said 62 people died in the assault. Government spokesman Ofwondo Opondo said on Wednesday 103 people had been killed. Reuters

Uganda Slaps 92 New Charges on Former Rebel Commander
The Ugandan government Tuesday has slapped 92 new charges on former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Thomas Kwoyelo. Appearing before the International Crimes Division of the High Court in the capital Kampala, Kwoyelo stood for over six hours as the prosecution read out the charges. The former LRA commander is charged with 46 counts of murder as crimes against humanity, 17 counts of kidnapping with intent to murder, six counts of injury to personal dignity and three counts of rape. Other counts include cruel treatment and other inhumane acts as well as crime against humanity, torture and enslavement. Anadolu Agency

13 Killed in Kenya in Drought-Related Violence
Thirteen people, mostly women and children, have been killed in central Kenya this week in a cycle of violence between rival farming tribes hit by drought, police and the Red Cross said. Police spokesman George Kinoti said the violence broke out on Monday when Ilchamus herdsmen, a sub-group of the Tugen people, launched an attack on members of the Pokot tribe seeking to steal their cattle. Two men died in the fighting in Baringo, which lies some 250 kilometres (150 miles) north of Nairobi. On Tuesday two Pokot women were killed, provoking further anger among the community which organised their own punitive overnight raid. Times Live

‘Aware Migrants’ Campaign Launches in Africa as Arrivals to Italy Soar
A campaign to inform would-be migrants in Africa about the dangers of heading to Europe via the Mediterranean sea aims to reach people in 15 African countries through social media, radio and television adverts, migration officials said on Wednesday. The ‘Aware Migrants’ campaign, which was launched last year by the Italian government and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), features video testimonies of migrants who made it to Europe, but were abused, beaten and raped along the way. The voyage from Libya across the Mediterranean to Italy – most cross the sea on flimsy boats run by people smugglers – has become the main route to Europe for migrants from Africa after a European Union clampdown last year on sea crossings from Turkey. SABC

Russia Confirms Egyptian Ka-52 Deliveries This Year
Russian Helicopters is on track to delivery Egypt’s Ka-52 helicopters later this year, according to state holding company Rostec. “Russian Helicopters, a leading global designer and manufacturer of helicopters, confirms that the first of an eventual 46 Alligators will be handed over to Cairo this year,” Rostec stated on 7 March. […] Egypt will fly its Ka-52s off its Mistral class landing helicopter dock vessels – these were handed over to Egypt in June and September 2016. As they were originally destined for Russia, they were designed to accommodate the Ka-52K helicopter. Each vessel can operate 16 helicopters. DefenseWeb

People With HIV Are Panicking Due To Tanzania’s Crackdown On Gays
“I’m alone in this world,” sobs the woman, tears smudging her black eyeliner as she clutches a handbag with medicine inside — antiretroviral pills for HIV. Wearing a hijab that covers her long hair, a traditional Arabic dress with roses and wedge heels, she sits in the office of a community group that offers support to LGBT sex workers, trying to regain her composure. “Princess Shadya,” as she is known to friends, is transgender and identifies as a woman. And she lives in Tanzania, where LGBT people are increasingly coming under attack from the government. “I’m getting worried if they know I’m transgender they will refuse to give me medicine,” says Shadya, who asked that her real name not be used because of the government’s crackdown. Last August, the justice minister suspended HIV prevention programs, funded by the U.S., that were aimed at gay men — and warned that any nonprofit that supports homosexuality would be suspended. Since then, there has been a continued effort to wind back or stop such programs. NPR

US Funding for the UN – In Charts
The vast bureaucracies of the US government command a budget of about $4 trillion. Most foreign affairs activities are captured in budget line 150 – and amount to about $50 billion annually. […] An annual report to Congress by the State Department summarises US spending on all international organisations. Its report for the last financial year, 2016, records $10.4 billion as the total expenditure. UN-related programmes, funds and agencies account for 84 percent, according to a review by IRIN. Others among the more than 150 grantees are other multilateral bodies such as NATO. Among the smaller items are a conservation body for the Atlantic tuna, and a handsome $6,000 for the Caribbean Postal Union. US contributions to the World Bank, IMF and other multilateral finance bodies are reviewed in a different annual report to Congress. IRIN

Video: Mali Struggles to Save Cultural Artifacts from Trafficking
After fighting erupted in Mali in 2012, a number of the country’s cultural treasures were hidden to protect them from Islamist militants who wanted to destroy them. But now these artifacts face a different threat: trafficking. France 24

Google Ramps Up Investment in Fiber Cable, Training Africans
Google Inc. is scaling up investment in Africa by laying fiber optic cable, easing access to cheaper Android phones and training a workforce in digital skills as the U.S. technology giant seeks to expand on the continent. “We laid about 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) of fiber in Uganda and we are busy doing about 1,000 kilometers in Ghana,’’ Google’s South Africa head Luke McKend said in a phone interview. “We want to make sure that we cover all the bases. We want to train people and make sure that they have the devices and are able to connect to the internet.’’ About 1 million people in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have been trained by Google over the past year, yet many had to complete their courses with limited internet access due to unreliable coverage and high data prices, McKend said. The Mountain View, California-based company is now turning its attention to web-focused skills training for small businesses across Africa. Bloomberg



Photo: Adam Jones