Africa Media Review for March 17, 2022

Africa: Misinformation That Omicron Is ‘The Last COVID-19 Variant’ Fueling Uptick Worldwide: WHO
A combination of factors, including misinformation that the pandemic is over, the lifting of mask mandates, ending physical distancing – and a more transmissible Omicron BA.2 variant – are causing an increase of COVID-19 cases globally, the World Health Organization warned on Wednesday. “After several weeks of declines, reported cases of COVID-19 are once again increasing globally, especially in parts of Asia,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus told journalists in Geneva. In the past week, the agency has seen an 8 per cent increase in detection of COVID-19 cases, with more than 11 million positive test results. AllAfrica

France’s RFI Radio, France 24 Television to Be Suspended in Mali
The ruling military junta in Mali has launched a procedure to suspend broadcasts by French state-funded international RFI radio and France 24 television, accusing the news outlets of reporting “false allegations” of abuse by the Malian army. The allegations were made by the head of the United Nations rights commission Michelle Bachelet and rights group Human Rights Watch, then reported in news reports by RFI and France 24 this week, the junta said in a statement published on Thursday. Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday that Malian soldiers were responsible for killing at least 71 civilians since early December. RFI

Sudanese Official Confirms Rape Case by Security Forces
The young woman was indeed gang-raped by the security forces, confirmed the head of Sudan’s Combating Violence against Women Unit (CVAW) Selima Khalifa Ishaq on Wednesday. The confirmation comes after reports saying the security forces on March 14 “attempted to rape” the student. Also, the UN expert on human rights in Sudan Adama Dieng spoke about “allegations” of mass rape. “Survivals of sexual assaults find difficulties to share and speak about the rape. However, the student was actually raped,” the Sudanese official said. The student whose identity was not disclosed is a South Sudanese national, the Sudan Tribune has learnt. The embassy of South Sudan in Khartoum has formed a team of lawyers to support the survival to file a lawsuit against the security forces. Sudan Tribune

Teenage Detainees on Hunger Strike in Sudan
The defence team of Mohamed Adam ‘Tubak’ (17) and Mohamed El Fateh (18) said in a statement on Tuesday that the defendants went on hunger strike because they were subjected to inhuman treatment and excessive violence by the police and the prosecution’s “cover-up.” The lawyers pointed out that they were forced to register judicial confessions under pressure, terrorism, and torture, forced to confess the crime at gunpoint, seized the crime instrument and represented it after two in the morning in the intense presence of the security forces, prevented them from meeting their families and lawyers, and concealed their location from family and lawyers. … Mohamed Adam, nicknamed ‘Tubak,’ and Mohamed El Fateh, nicknamed ‘El Nana’, have been held without charges since they were violently arrested on January 14 in Khartoum in connection with the stabbing Brig Ali Bereima during the January 13 Marches of the Millions. For the first three weeks of their detention, they were held incommunicado without access to their families, lawyer, or a doctor. Throughout their detention, both activists were subjected to torture. Dabanga

Ukraine Invasion Sparks Fears of Hunger in Eastern DR Congo
Rising prices for food, sent soaring by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are stoking fears of hunger and turmoil in a troubled corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo… But precarity is especially keen in the DRC’s northeast, where the economy is hobbled by geographical remoteness and decades of violence. “The authorities need to see what they can do, otherwise we are going to die of hunger,” said Pascaline Buhume, a food hawker in Bukavu, a city on the southern flank of Lake Kivu which separates the DRC from Rwanda. The local price of corn meal, rice, sugar, oil and tomatoes have all shot up, posing a mighty challenge for those who have to survive on a couple of dollars a day. News 24

Egyptians Count Rising Bread Costs as Ukraine War Disrupts Wheat Exports
Food prices in Egypt were already climbing before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now bread, a politically symbolic staple on which many Egyptians are heavily dependent, is also getting costlier as Black Sea wheat exports are disrupted and global prices surge. That is piling financial pressure on families who have already endured years of austerity, in a country where nearly a third of the 103-million population live below the official poverty line and many more struggle to get by. Shoppers say the cost of a packet of unsubsidised loaves has risen by a quarter in the three weeks since Russia’s invasion of its neighbour, while prices of oil, eggs, pasta and other widely consumed foods are also climbing. Reuters

Sanctions ‘Not Hitting’ Russian Mining Firm in Guinea
Russian aluminium manufacturer Rusal has denied that it is facing difficulties meeting its financial obligations in Guinea. Its statement follows reports that Rusal was to cease operations in the West African nation after sanctions were imposed on Russia for invading Ukraine, threatening the jobs of 4,000 workers there. Guinea is one of the world’s main exporters of the aluminium ore bauxite. “Despite the temporary reduction of bauxite exports from Guinea due to events in Ukraine, Rusal does not plan to cease any of its operations in Guinea,” Guinean news website Guineenews quotes Rusal’s head of public relations as saying. The company insists that it is not subject to any international sanctions. BBC

Ethiopia: ‘Nowhere on Earth Are People More at Risk than Tigray,’ Says WHO Chief
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the world not to forget the humanitarian crisis in Tigray, saying that even amid the war in Ukraine there is “nowhere on Earth” where people are more at risk than the isolated region of northern Ethiopia. Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, is from Tigray and has incurred the wrath of the Ethiopian government in the past after accusing it of placing the region under a de facto blockade. Prime minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has accused him of bias, and of spreading misinformation. At a press conference in Geneva on Wednesday, Tedros implicitly addressed those concerns. He said such was the scale of the crisis, it would be a dereliction of his professional duty not to speak out. Guardian

Ethiopia: ‘Finish Them Off’: Aid Workers, Found on Battlefield, Executed by Soldiers
As the fight intensified in northern Ethiopia in June last year, three aid workers from Doctors Without Borders jumped into their four-wheel drive and raced across the battle-scarred landscape, searching for casualties. Hours later they vanished. The aid workers stopped answering their satellite phone. A tracking device showed their vehicle making a sudden U-turn, then stopping. Colleagues frantically tried to locate them. The next day they were found dead, their bullet-riddled bodies sprawled on a dusty roadside near their burned-out vehicle: María Hernández, a 35-year-old Spaniard and conflict veteran, in a bloodstained white bib with the Doctors Without Borders logo; Yohannes Halefom, a 32-year-old Ethiopian medic, face down in the dirt; and their Ethiopian driver Tedros Gebremariam, 31, lying on the road about 300 yards away. New York Times

Nigeria: Buhari Speaks on Fuel, Electricity Shortages Says Challenges Will Be over Soon
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed sincere regrets for the inconvenience caused to citizens of the country following a prolonged shortages of petroleum products and electricity supply. In a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, on Wednesday in Abuja, the President believed that the issue of shortage of petroleum products was something that the administration had successfully averted in its seven years in office. Scarcity of petrol has lingered in many parts of the country in the last one month. Similarly, the nation was thrown into darkness following the collapse of the national grid twice in the last few days…”An action plan agreed earlier this month is being implemented to address the scarcity. Working together with the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), this plan is now bearing fruit. Premium Times Nigeria

African Youth Activists in French National Assembly over Total’s Oil Pipeline in East Africa
Ugandan environmental activists hit out at a mega oil project by TotalEnergies in East Africa. Four leading youth activists were received by the French National Assembly yesterday (Wednesday) to pressure the government to take a stance on the project. Vanessa Nakate, nicknamed the “African Greta Thunberg,” was among them… The EACOP, which is currently under construction is also known as the Uganda–Tanzania Crude Oil Pipeline. Its purpose is to transport crude oil from Uganda’s oil fields to the Port of Tanga, Tanzania on the Indian Ocean. Once completed, the pipeline will be the longest heated crude oil pipeline in the world. RFI

Africa’s Whistleblowers Pay a High Price for Their Courage
Babita Deokaran was shot dead in broad daylight outside her home in Johannesburg on August 23. She had just dropped her daughter off at school when a car full of men pulled up next to her and opened fire. As the acting chief financial officer at the Gauteng Provincial Government Department of Health, the 53-year-old South African had repeatedly acted as a whistleblower. The South African Special Investigating Unit (SIU) confirmed that she was a key witness in an ongoing investigation into the overpriced procurement of COVID-19 protective clothing…Whistleblowers in South Africa often pay a high price for their actions. Yet they are key to fighting corruption in a country that ranks 70 out of 180 on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). DW