Africa Media Review for March 9, 2017

Three Mass Graves Discovered in Central Congo: U.N.
Three mass graves have been discovered in central Democratic Republic of Congo, where hundreds have been killed since July in clashes between security forces and a local militia, the top U.N. rights official said on Wednesday. At least 400 people have died and 200,000 have been displaced since the fighting broke out with the Kamuina Nsapu militia. Police killed its leader, Kamuina Nsapu, last August, causing the violence to swiftly escalate. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein urged the U.N. human rights council in Geneva to set up an inquiry “in light of recurrent reports of grave violations and the recent discovery of three more mass graves”. Zeid gave no additional details about the graves during his remarks to the council, which touched on the human rights situations in dozens of countries. The U.N. rights office in Congo could not immediately provide further details. Reuters

South Sudan Edging Closer to Genocide, Says UN
A United Nations report says South Sudan is experiencing ethnic cleansing and edging closer to genocide.  Findings also included details of armed forces targeting civilians in deliberate attacks and starvation.  The report, which is the result of a seven-month inquiry into human rights in South Sudan, found that since fighting broke out in July 2016, human rights violations and abuses have been on the rise.  It says government forces and other armed groups have been using the conflict as a smokescreen to carry out ethnically-motivated attacks on civilians, deliberate starvation, forced displacement and hate speech.  While both the army and rebel forces were accused of abuses, the report places most of the blame on the governing SPLA, National Security Service, police and other affiliated militia groups. The East African

South Sudan Conflict: ‘Soldiers Will Kill You for No Reason in Yei’
People in Yei are afraid – afraid to speak out, and afraid they might be the next ones to be pulled from their homes in the middle of the night and to turn up dead in the river. The government faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) controls the town of Yei, 150km (93 miles) south-west of the capital, Juba, but not too much around it. A few miles out along any of the roads – to the Juba or to Uganda, they only travel in large convoys as military vehicles are prone to guerrilla attack. The rebels are known as the SPLA In Opposition, or “IO”, but when civil war spread to this previously peaceful part of South Sudan everything became even more complicated. BBC

Huge Scandals Hit S. Sudan Crisis Management Committee
A huge financial scandal threatens to undermine the work of South Sudan’s Crisis Management Committee (CMC) as leaked documents, Sudan Tribune obtained, show how ministers and other senior government officials swindled over SSP 360 million. Formed through a presidential decree issued on 30 April, 2014, the CMC, headed by Vice-President James Wani Igga, was tasked to assess the political, social, economic, security and diplomatic effects of the conflict that broke out in the young nation in mid-December 2013. Part of the committee’s work was to provide strategies for mitigating the consequences of the conflict and formulate an awareness raising strategy targeting the population, region and international community about the government’s version of events and how to better respond to a crisis that has displaced millions of people. A number of senior government officials formed part of the crisis management committee. According to the report, out of the SSP 447 million that was disbursed to the committee’s account, its leadership could only account for SSP 84 million, raising questions on the whereabouts of the remaining funds. Sudan Tribune

UN: 17 Million People Face Hunger East Africa
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Wednesday that East Africans are facing starvation and that the situation might worsen if nothing is done to avert the crisis. The United Nations estimates more than 17 million people are facing hunger in nine countries. Somalia is facing its second famine in less than six years, South Sudan has declared some parts of the country in famine, and Kenya’s government declared the drought there a national disaster. More than 10 million people are going to bed hungry in Ethiopia alone. Guterres, ending a visit to Kenya on Wednesday, discussed the South Sudan political and humanitarian crisis with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. “We had the opportunity to discuss, to find, identify [a] point of view on how to create conditions for South Sudan to have an inclusive dialogue leading to a true peaceful settlement of the problem South Sudan faces, and at the same time with the humanitarian access to be granted to all parts of the territory,” Guterres said. VOA

The Women of Boko Haram: Driven to Extremism
In Nigeria, Boko Haram is recruiting women and girls to carry out suicide bomb attacks. NGOs and the Nigerian government are working to rescue these women and reintroduce them to society and their families. Women and girl suicide bombers, some reportedly aged ten and younger, have recently been used by Boko Haram to target checkpoints, bus stations, mosques, churches, schools and markets to inflict maximum civilian casualties. Boko Haram has been fighting to create a hard-line Islamic state in northeast Nigeria since 2009. The group began using women as suicide bombers in 2014. According to the Foundation for the Defence of Democracies (FDD), since 2014 there have been at least 123 female suicide bombers connected to Boko Haram, many of whom were forced to commit attacks. Deutcshe Welle

Nigeria: NGO Faults Government Anti-Corruption Campaign
Nigeria’s anti-corruption campaign appears hobbled by a lack of legislation backing the efforts as well as concerns that the crusade is skewed against the opposition, a local NGO’s report said Wednesday. “Evidence is yet to be seen under the present administration of punitive measures meted to public officials who are non-compliant to procedures of declaring their assets and liabilities with constituted authority,” according to the report by Buharimeter, a prominent NGO dedicated to tracking the campaign promises of President Muhammadu Buhari. “The credibility of the anti-corruption war seems to be withering following the president’s approach to unravelling corrupt allegations against Babachir David Lawal (secretary to the government of the federation) and Abba Kyari (chief of staff to the president),” it added. The report, however, acknowledged the president’s efforts to tackle corruption as evidenced in the recovery of at least 150 billion nair ($492 million) in looted public funds, and commended the administration for its policy offering whistle-blowers cash rewards to expose corruption. Anadolu Agency

South Africa Asked to Appear at ICC in April over Sudan’s Bashir
South African authorities have been asked to appear at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 7 over the failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir during a visit two years ago, a senior official said on Wednesday. Ayesha Johaar, the acting chief state law adviser, said Pretoria was asked to appear at the Hague-based court for failing to comply with a cooperation request from the tribunal, contrary to the provisions of the treaty establishing the court and which came into force in 2002. “It concerns an order of non-compliance by South Africa as a member state of the ICC and Sudan’s president,” she said. Pretoria announced its intention to leave the ICC in 2015 after the tribunal criticized it for disregarding an order to arrest Al-Bashir, who is accused of genocide and war crimes. Bashir has denied the accusations. Reuters

Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir Pardons 259 Rebels
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on Wednesday pardoned 259 rebels captured in fighting with government forces, including dozens who had been sentenced to death.”Bashir’s order came three days after a prominent insurgent group freed dozens of prisoners, mostly soldiers, it had captured in fighting with government forces. “The decision to pardon 259 rebels aims at preparing the environment for achieving lasting peace in the country,” Bashir’s office said in a statement. Those pardoned include 66 rebels who had been sentenced to death. Al Jazeera

EU Border Management Agency to Set Up African Base in Niger to Tackle Migration Crisis
On an official visit to Niger last week, the director of Frontex, Fabrice Leggeri said this would be the first liaison office in Africa. Niger’s desert city of Agadez is a popular waystation for migrants attempting to get to Libya and eventually Europe via Italy. “There has been an increase in the influx of migrants who arrive in Libya. We had 180,000 arrivals from Libya. The numbers have increased from 20% between 2016 and 2016. This can be explained by the current situation in Libya, the political and security situation there because the criminal groups that organise the traffic of migrants act with impunity in Libya,” Leggeri said. In December 2016, the European Union offered $635 million to Niger to keep a lid on migration from Africa through the Mediterranean to Europe. The EU has also offered increased assistance to Senegal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mali, as well as Afghanistan, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, among others, in similar money-for-migration deals. The Africa Report

Libya’s Waha Oil May Halt Production as Clashes Keep Ports Shut
Production from Waha Oil Co., a venture between Libya’s state oil company and foreign partners, may be suspended Wednesday as clashes in the country’s eastern oil region keep the main export terminals out of service. “Output from Waha Oil Co. continues to be reduced and may reach a complete halt within coming hours,” Jadalla Alaokali, a board member at National Oil Corp., said by phone. The Petroleum Facilities Guard, a United Nations-backed force, said Tuesday it took control of oil installations at Es Sider and Ras Lanuf, the country’s largest and third-largest oil ports, following their seizure by the Benghazi Defense Brigades militia in early March. The ports had previously been controlled by eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar. Bloomberg

Botswana: Africa’s Model Democracy?
September 30 is a day of rejoicing for people in Botswana,” says author and political analyst Ndulamo Anthona Morima who lives and works in the capital Gaborone. He was referring to the day when Botswana announced its independence from Great Britain in 1966. Unlike other African countries, the southern African nation’s road to independence was peaceful. There was no civil war, no shedding of blood. This peaceful atmosphere has remained until today. “From the beginning we had free and fair elections in a multi-party democracy. Opposition parties were never forced to hide,” Morima said in an interview with DW. He also praised the country’s independent legal system. “Several judges have pronounced verdicts against the government in sensitive cases and the government accepted this,” he said. For years Botswana has occupied a place in the top fifth of Transparency International’s Anti-Corruption Index. It is currently ranked 35th, making it the highest-placed African country by far. In Botswana, a wealth of raw materials – which in other countries breeds corruption – seems to have had a positive effect. The revenue earned from diamond production has been put into improving the health service and diversifying the economy. Deutsche Welle

Rights Groups Urge UN Sanctions for Burundi Officials
Rights groups on Wednesday urged the UN Security Council to impose “targeted sanctions” on Burundian officials over alleged human rights violations there, in an open letter published online. The letter, penned by Human Rights Watch and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) among others, was published on the eve of a meeting of the UN’s top decision-making body to discuss the crisis in the Great Lakes nation. “We… write to urge the UN Security Council to impose targeted sanctions against individuals responsible for ongoing serious human rights violations in Burundi,” the 19 international and local rights group said. “Such measures, including travel bans and asset freezes, would send an important message to Burundian leaders who have faced little consequence for continuing to perpetrate gross abuses against their own people,” the statement added. News 24

‘We Want Bread’: Subsidy Cut Sparks Protests Across Egypt
Some of Egypt’s major cities have been paralysed by rare protests in response to a cut in bread subsidies. The country’s ministry of supply reduced the state-sponsored provision of bread of up to 4,000 to 500 loaves per bakery, according to local news reports. The move is designed to replace an earlier and more controversial proposal to cut the supply from five loaves per person per day to three. But while the cuts are unlikely to have a dramatic affect on the bread rations of the average citizen, the suggestion struck a nerve among the Egyptian public. In response to the decision, hundreds of Egypt’s poorest citizens filled the streets in the cities of Alexandria and Giza, and the towns of Kafr el-Sheikh and Minya. Roads were blocked and residents surrounded government buildings. The Guardian

Horn of Africa: Mapping Six Months of Hunger
More than 20 million people face starvation in four countries and immediate action is needed to avert a humanitarian disaster, officials warn. Famine was declared in two counties in South Sudan last month and famine warnings were issued for Somalia, Nigeria, and Yemen. Somalia is at risk of its third famine in 25 years, the World Health Organization said last week. The last famine in the world was in Somalia in 2011, which killed an estimated 260,000 people.  This map outlines where hunger has hit hardest in the Horn of Africa, and where it will strike in the coming months. Al Jazeera

Trump’s Call to Kenyan President Focuses on al-Shabaab and Closer Cooperation
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta spoke with US President Donald Trump via telephone on Tuesday evening, the Presidency has confirmed. Trump affirmed bilateral relations between the two countries and also lauded Kenya’s regional efforts especially in the area of fighting the al-Shabaab insurgents who continue to threaten the Horn of Africa’s peace. This is Trump’s fourth phone chat with an African leader. Weeks ago he spoke to President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Before the two he had spoken to Egypt’s Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, according to Egyptian media reports. Africa News

Kenya to Hire Foreign Doctors as Strike Talks Fail Again
Kenyan authorities said Wednesday they would hire foreign doctors to get public hospitals running again after talks failed to end a strike that has crippled healthcare for 94 days. The government has threatened repeatedly to fire striking doctors and has even gone so far as to jail union officials in a bid to end the country’s longest-ever medical strike, but the doctors are digging their heels in. Peter Munya, the chairman of the council of governors, said the government was “working on contingent measures to return the health sector to where it was by looking for services wherever they are available in the continent or outside the continent.” “We decided that doctors who have failed to resume work should consider themselves sacked,” he added. The East African

We’ve to Shut Dadaab for Security, Uhuru Kenyatta Tells UN 
President Uhuru Kenyatta says the Dadaab refugee complex will have to be closed for the good of the region, in spite of incessant campaigns by rights groups to have the plan abandoned. At a joint press conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President Kenyatta argued the camp as it is today no longer serves its original purpose of offering temporary shelter. “Our policy has been clear for some time: The events that led to the establishment of Dadaab are terribly tragic and the best response to that tragedy is to help refugees to return and rebuild their nation,” he said at State House, Nairobi. “And that is Kenya’s policy and our efforts to hasten repatriation and resettlement of refugees. But as always, these efforts shall remain guided by relevant domestic and international laws.” Daily Nation

KDF Soldier Killed, Five Injured in al Shabaab Attack Near Kenya-Somali Border
A KDF soldier has died and five others injured after two IEDs exploded in different locations in Lamu near the Somali border. The explosions also destroyed armoured vehicles that the soldiers were using for patrols near Sirira and Ishakan on Tuesday afternoon. KDF said the explosive devices have been planted on the roads by the Al Shabaab. More officers have been deployed in the area to reinforce surveillance and patrols. Last night, US President Donald Trump spoke with President Uhuru Kenyatta on how to overcome terrorism and other regional security challenges through close cooperation. President Trump expressed appreciation for Kenya’s significant contributions to the African Union Mission in Somalia and recognised Kenyan troops’ sacrifices in the fight against al-Shabaab. The Nairobi Star

US Embassy Assures Nigerians They Are Welcome to Travel
The US embassy in Nigeria said on Wednesday that Nigerians were welcome to travel to the United States following confusion over President Donald Trump’s new immigration rules. A foreign affairs adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday warned citizens against non-essential travel to the United States, as some Nigerians had been denied entry at the border. “The US embassy in Abuja wishes to clarify that there is no reason for Nigerians with valid visas to postpone or cancel their travel to the United States,” said the embassy in a statement. “There is no prohibition against Nigerian lawful permanent residents or persons with a valid visa or other US government authorisation from entering the United States.” News 24

 



Photo: Adam Jones