Africa Media Review for March 21, 2017

Conflict and Famine in South Sudan
While much of East Africa suffers from severe food shortages due to a historic drought, in South Sudan, it is conflict, rather than lack of rain, that has been the cause of a widespread humanitarian disaster. Five million people are experiencing food insecurity, including at least 1 million at risk of starvation and 100,000 living in famine. The areas of greatest need overlap with the areas experiencing the most intense conflict. Intensified fighting in the past year has displaced and isolated communities, disrupted markets and farming cycles, and prevented humanitarian assistance from reaching the hardest-hit communities. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

East Africa Summit to Focus on Refugees, Food Concerns
East African leaders attending the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Kenya this week are expected to talk about Somali refugees and regional security. However, there are doubts that IGAD has what it takes to ease the crisis in the region. The Kenya State House spokesperson, Manoah Esipisu, said the repatriation of Somali refugees will be the main agenda item at the summit. “It will focus largely on the questions of Somali refugees and creating a conducive environment in their own country so that they can feel safe to go back and to contribute to their country’s development as well as their country’s growth,” he said. Kenya plans to shut the Dadaab refugee camp by the end of May. Dadaab is home to more than 300,000 refugees, most of them Somalis. Tens of thousands have already returned to Somalia. VOA

African Region to Receive $45 Billion in Development Aid
The World Bank reports Africa will receive the bulk of the $75 billion the International Development Association, or IDA, will spend to finance life-saving and life-changing operations over the next three years mainly in 30 of the world’s poorest, most fragile countries. The IDA is a part of the World Bank which supports anti-poverty programs in the most poor developing countries through long-term, no interest loans. The World Bank reports the African region will receive $45 billion of the $75 billion allocated for development purposes. It says other recipients will include small Pacific island states threatened by climate change and fragile countries in the Western Hemisphere, such as Haiti. The fund, which runs from July 1 through June 30, 2020, also will support specific development projects in 82 additional fragile states, including Guinea, Nepal, Niger, and Tajikistan. VOA

1.6 million People Flee South Sudan In the Past 8 Months – UN
South Sudan has been named as the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis by the United Nations refugee agency after 1.6 million people are displaced or have fled to neighbouring countries in the past eight months. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said last Friday that the rate is alarming as majority of the refugees are fleeing to Uganda where new arrivals spiked in February from 2,000 per day to 6,000. “The rate of new displacement is alarming, representing an impossible burden on a region that is significantly poorer and which is fast running short of resources to cope … The situation is now critical,” spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Babar Baloch, told journalists in Geneva. The UN agency is still seeking funding to aid the South Sudanese refugees as only 8 per cent of the estimated $781.8 million needed has been realised. Africa News

South Sudan Needs Peace as Much as Food
[…] The famine was declared for Mayendit and Leer counties of southern Unity State, an area populated by various clans of the Nuer ethnic group. These clans are politically loyal to Riek Machar, who leads South Sudan’s main rebel group, the SPLA-IO, and hails from Leer. According to a February survey that food security experts analysed as part of the data used to declare famine, 4.1 in 10,000 people died per day across Mayendit county. That’s above the famine threshold of two hunger-related deaths per 10,000 people, which itself is about 10 times the average global death rate. But 73 percent of those deaths in Mayendit were from conflict, not starvation. That means more than two people per 10,000 died per day – the same catastrophic, out of control death rate of a famine – but the immediate cause was because they had been shot. Other surveys tell a similar story. In Leer, there’s no recent available mortality data, but a survey from February 2016 found that of the more than three people dying per 10,000 per day there, 57 percent were from conflict rather than starvation. IRIN

Africa Aid Officials Concerned at Proposed US Aid Cuts
As the U.S. government proposes severe cuts in foreign aid, Africa and its neighbors are experiencing a massive hunger crisis, with 20 million people facing possible starvation in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen. Aid officials say the proposed cuts would have a deep and disastrous impact in those countries and others. The United States is the largest single donor to the United Nations’ World Food Program, contributing just over $2 billion last year. In dire times like these, says WFP East Africa spokeswoman Challiss McDonough, the aid agency needs more help than ever. Famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, and in one remote village of 20,000 people, McDonough says, WFP’s meager food drops — consisting of a bit of sorghum, a handful of split peas and a few spoonfuls of vegetable oil — serve as a lifeline. VOA

Pope Francis Asks for Forgiveness for Church’s Role in Rwanda Genocide
Pope Francis has asked for forgiveness for the Catholic church’s role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which 800,000 people were slaughtered in 100 days of violence. The “sins and failings of the church and its members” had “disfigured the face” of Catholicism, he said. Speaking after meeting the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, the Vatican acknowledged that some Catholic priests and nuns had “succumbed to hatred and violence” by participating in the genocide. According to the Vatican, Francis “expressed the desire that this humble recognition of the failings of that period, which unfortunately disfigured the face of the church, may contribute to a ‘purification of memory’ and may promote, in hope and renewed trust, a future of peace”. The Guardian

UN Concerned at ‘Disproportionate’ Force by Congo’s Forces
The United Nations says it’s concerned at what it calls “disproportionate use of force” by Congolese forces as well as attacks by Kamwina Nsapu militia fighters during renewed violence in the Kananga region in the country’s southwest. U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters Monday that the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo expressed “grave concern” over reports of the fighting in Kananga, where it has received “credible reports of high numbers of deaths.” A Congolese official said Saturday seven soldiers have been arrested following an online video that appeared to show men in Congolese uniforms fatally shooting more than a dozen alleged militia members armed with sticks. Days earlier, the U.N. expressed grave concern about reports of more than 100 people killed during clashes between soldiers and militia fighters. AP

Congo Sees Trump Roll-Back of Dodd-Frank Stoking Insecurity
The Democratic Republic of Congo warned that proposals by the Trump administration to rollback laws on so-called conflict minerals from central Africa risks stoking violence by armed groups in the region. The suspension of Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act “in the long run, will jeopardize the stability and security of the DRC” by encouraging an “escalation in the activities of non-state armed groups,” Mines Minister Martin Kabwelulu said in a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission dated March 13 and seen by Bloomberg. Kabwelulu confirmed March 18 by text message that he sent the letter, and said a Congolese delegation will meet with the head of the SEC and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday and Tuesday in Washington to discuss his government’s position. Bloomberg

Rwandan Opposition Chooses Candidate for Presidential Polls
The head of Rwanda’s opposition Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, Frank Habineza, has been selected as his party’s candidate for the country’s 2017 presidential election. Rwandan President Paul Kagame is widely expected to stand for a third term in the polls – he was elected in 2010 with 93 per cent of the vote. Habineza’s Democratic Green Party of Rwanda acts as the only registered opposition party to Kagame’s government. RFI

Somalia: Turkey Will Open Its Military Base in Somalia in April
According to the Yeni Safak newspaper, the Turkish Army will train Somalia troops and troops from other African countries at the base, which has been under construction near Somalia’s airport in Mogadishu since March 2015. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and General Staff’s Chief Gen. Hulusi Akar are expected to take part in the official opening ceremony, which is due to take place in April. The construction costs reportedly make up $50 million. About 500 soldiers will be able to train at the same time, the base occupies 400 hectares and includes three military schools, dormitories and depots. Somalia has been mired in an armed conflict with Islamist militants for about two decades. Shabelle Media Network

Will AU Members Manage to Pay Their Dues?
This year, the African Union (AU) is meant to launch its new funding model through a 0.2% import levy on eligible goods: a fresh opportunity towards financial self-reliance. However, many obstacles lie ahead of implementation in 2017 – the deadline set by the architects of the plan. Also, closer scrutiny shows that the existing regional funding models, on which part of the AU plan is based, have faced huge setbacks. According to the AU’s factsheet related to the financing plan, drawn up by former African Development Bank chief Donald Kaberuka, a number of countries have already started to implement the plan. This includes Kenya, Rwanda, Chad, Ethiopia and the Republic of Congo. Yet this is far from adequate on a continent with 54 countries. The effectiveness of the new funding mechanism clearly depends on a timely response from all AU member states. ISS

As Trash Avalanche Toll Rises in Ethiopia, Survivors Ask Why
At the moment when she lost her home and family, Hanna Tsegaye was spending her Saturday night with a neighborhood friend. Around 8 p.m. on March 11, Ms. Hanna, 16, heard a strange sound, like rushing wind, and felt the ground shake beneath her feet. She rushed outside and saw that an enormous pile of garbage at a nearby landfill had collapsed. Her home, which had been a couple of hundred yards from the trash heap, was buried. So were her parents and two siblings. At least 113 people, according to the latest government estimate, were killed when part of the Repi landfill, in the southwest of  Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, collapsed. In the days since, grieving survivors have been tormented by a pressing question: Could this tragedy have been prevented? The disaster is at odds with the image Ethiopia wants to project as a rapidly developing country. Poverty rates have decreased by more than 30 percent since 2000,  according to the World Bank, and government officials have claimed economic growth in the double digits over the last decade. The New York Times

Morocco’s King Fired and Hired a Prime Minister in the Same Week But Still Has No Government
[…] The Moroccan monarch’s swift decision to fire Benkirane and name El Othmani, who served as foreign minister from 2012-2013, in the same week ensured that his country’s political stability is not rocked under his watch. Even though Morocco’s King ceded some power with his constitutional reforms in 2011, he still remains the ultimate authority as this power move shows. “Both constitutionally and in practice, the king is the final arbiter and has tremendous power”, Issandr El Amrani, International Crisis Group’s North Africa director, told Quartz. “He is a real executive monarch.” PJD increased its share of the vote to 32% in the latest elections but has been in a political deadlock with Aziz Akhannouch, a billionaire leader of the centre right party and a close of friend of the king. Akhannounch has been open about his desire to weaken the Islamist party’s grip on power lobbying for more parties to enter into a coalition. Quartz

In Rome, EU and North African Ministers Hold ‘Migration Summit’
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni is to meet with interior ministers from a number of EU countries and from three Northern African states on Monday in Rome. The interior ministers of Libya, Tunisia and Algeria are to meet with their German, Italian, French, Austrian, Maltese, Slowenian and Swiss counterparts. The EU commissioner for migration, Dimitris Avramopoulos, is also attending. Italy’s Interior Minister Marco Minniti wants to form a permanent “contact group” between European and North African countries that addresses migration issues. Following the closure of the so-called Balkan route and an EU deal with Turkey, more migrants have attempted the hazardous route from North Africa across the Mediterranean towards Italy. Deutsche Welle

High-Level Police Official Gunned Down in Ugandan Capital
Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Kaweesi served as the force’s spokesman and was one of the country’s most high-profile officers. He and his guards were gunned down on Friday as they left Kaweesi’s home in Kampala, government spokesman Ofwono Opondo said. “He (Kaweesi) was waylaid this morning by yet unknown gunmen. All the occupants of the vehicle were killed,” Opondo said. “He was shot dead this morning as he was leaving his home coming to work,” Inspector General Kale Kayihura said. “Kaweesi had two police officers guarding him who were also killed. The motive is yet to be established.” Police killings are rare in Uganda, but the killing was similar to the assassinations of an army officer last November and senior public prosecutor Joan Kagezi in March 2015. Both victims were gunned down by assailants on motorcycles. Mail and Guardian

South Sudan Plane Crash: All on Board Survive ‘Miraculous’ Landing
A commercial plane on Monday made a crash landing in poor weather at an airport in South Sudan, causing several injuries among the 43 on board. “It is miraculous, completely,” said Ateny Wek Ateny, the South Sudanese presidential spokesperson. “There are only minor injuries. There was no single death.” The incident took place at the airport in Wau, in the nation’s northwest. Ateny said the pilot overshot the runway, dropping onto an unpaved ground. The plane’s right wing hit a car and a fire started on the right side of the plane, Ateny said. The pilot opened the door near the tail, which was not on fire. “The crew managed to evacuate everyone,” Ateny said. CNN

Africa’s New Sovereign Debt Crisis
Mozambique is the first major African nation in recent times to become unable to meet obligations to international creditors. A decade after the last major debt write-down, African states are again in difficulties. […] On analyzing World Bank data of African nations’ indebtedness with foreign countries, it quickly becomes apparent that a large number of African economies have recently acquired dramatic levels of new debt. Between 2005 and 2015 – the most recent year for which figure are available – Angola, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa have witnessed a threefold increase in their debt levels. Smaller countries such as Cape Verde also borrowed fresh capital during this time frame. Deutsche Welle

No African Citizens Granted Visas for African Trade Summit in California
An annual African trade summit in California had no African attendees this year after at least 60 people were denied visas, according to event leaders. The African Global Economic and Development Summit, a three-day conference at the University of Southern California (USC), typically brings delegations from across Africa to meet with business leaders in the US in an effort to foster partnerships. But this year, every single African citizen who requested a visa was rejected, according to organizer Mary Flowers. Some are now questioning whether the denials to the Los Angeles event could be tied to the anti-immigration policies of Donald Trump, who is pushing forward with a travel ban against six Muslim-majority countries despite ongoing legal challenges. Flowers said roughly 60 to 100 people from at least a dozen nations were denied entry to the summit, which went on as planned with a much smaller group last Thursday through Saturday. The Guardian

Zimbabwe: ‘Flying’ Mugabe Now in Mauritius… His 4th Foreign Trip in 19 Days
‘Flying’ Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has made his fourth foreign trip in 19 days, this time to Mauritius, according to a report on state ZBC radio. Mugabe’s frequent foreign trips during a time of economic difficulty in Zimbabwe have provoked criticism back home. Since March 1, the 93-year-old has visited Singapore, Ghana, Swaziland and now Mauritius. Said ZBC on its website on Sunday: “President Robert Mugabe has arrived in Port Louis, Mauritius to join other heads of state and government, captains of industry and intellectuals for the inaugural African Economic Platform (AEP).” “President Mugabe was warmly welcomed at Ramgulan International Airport by the Prime Minister of Mauritius, Mr Provin Jugnauth, several ministers from the government of Mauritius, and representatives from the African Union (AU),” the report said. News 24

Guardian of the Girl-Child
[…] Since founding the Marsabit Women’s Advocacy Development Organization (MWADO) in 2003, Gollo has made it her mission to bring justice to every victimized woman in her community. A former teacher, she is also a trained paralegal but her work now is far more involved and multifaceted. On any given day, she is a detective, cop, lawyer, mediator, therapist, or social worker. Gollo takes on dozens of cases each week, ranging from sexual assault and domestic violence to disputes over child support, land rights, and cattle raiding. In recent years she has crashed a child marriage ceremony to rescue the underage bride, exposed a school principal who was setting up his female students for marriages with local men, and tracked down women who were illegally arranging to mutilate young girls’ genitals. The one who was paid to perform the cutting is now serving a five-year term behind bars. Foreign Policy

 



Photo: Adam Jones