Africa Media Review for May 10, 2022

Ivory Coast: President Ouattara Sets the Agenda at COP15 Summit in Abidjan
The COP15 against desertification began Monday in Abidjan in the presence of several African heads of state, to try to take concrete action against the rapid degradation of land and respond “to the climate emergency. Less known than its “big sister” on climate, this 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), addresses issues just as crucial at a time when the UN estimates that 40% of land is degraded in the world. “Our summit is held in a context of climate emergency that severely impacts our land management policies and exacerbates the phenomenon of drought,” said Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara at the opening of the COP15. “Our people are pinning a lot of hope on us. We have no right to disappoint them. Let’s act quickly, let’s act together to give a new life to our lands!”, he continued…Several of them took the floor, Mr. Bazoum deploring, for example, “the agricultural yields that are decreasing year after year”, while Mr. Tshisekedi pointed to “the lengthening of the dry seasons” and “the advance of the Sahara and Kalahari deserts” on the continent. The leaders pledged to “continue to give the highest priority to the problems of drought and desertification. AfricaNews

At Least 14 Dead in East DR Congo Refugee Camp Attack
At least 14 people were killed in an overnight attack on a displaced persons camp in east Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri province, the latest violence in an area overrun by militants, the army and a civil society leader said on Tuesday. Rebels raided a site outside the eastern town of Fataki where hundreds of civilians have sought refuge in recent months, killing 14 people including children, army spokesperson Jules Ngongo Tsikudi said. Civil society leader Dieudonne Lossa gave a provisional death toll of 15 and blamed a militant group known as CODECO, accused of staging another attack on a nearby artisanal mining site on Sunday that killed at least 35. Reuters was not able to reach CODECO for comment on Tuesday. The group is one of several armed militias, including an Islamic State affiliate, wrangling over land and resources in Congo’s mineral-rich east – a conflict that has claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions over the past decade. Congo’s government declared martial law in Ituri and neighbouring North Kivu province a year ago in an effort to quell the violence. But deadly raids have surged since then. CODECO is renowned for targeting civilians, killing 18 people at a church in April and another 60 at a displaced persons camp in February. News24

DR Congo: UN Chief Calls for Probe Into Deadly Armed Attacks on Mining Site
At least 38 civilians, including women and children, were killed in the attacks carried out by the Coopérative pour le développement du Congo (CODECO) at the Blakete-Plitu mining site. More civilians were displaced and reported missing when the attackers set fire to nearby Malika village, where they also reportedly raped six women. The UN mission in the country, known by the French acronym MONUSCO, conducted a medical evacuation on Monday, transporting severely injured civilians to medical facilities in the provincial capital, Bunia. The Secretary-General has expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wished a swift recovery to the injured, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said in a statement. “He calls on the Congolese authorities to investigate these incidents and bring those responsible to justice. The Secretary-General also urges the authorities to ensure MONUSCO’s immediate, free and unimpeded access to the areas of the attacks to facilitate efforts to protect civilians,” it said. The UN chief has also called for all armed groups in the DRC to halt their “callous attacks” on civilians. Combatants were also urged to participate unconditionally in the political process in the country, and to lay down their weapons through the Disarmament, Demobilization, Community Recovery and Stabilization programme. Mr. Guterres underlined the UN’s continued support to the Congolese Government and people in their efforts towards peace and stability. UN News

UN Experts: Many Worry South Sudan May Return to Conflict
Many political leaders and civilians in South Sudan are “deeply skeptical” a 2018 peace agreement can deliver stability to the world’s newest nation and worry it may be heading back into conflict, U.N. experts said in a report circulated Monday. The experts pointed to political disputes between former rivals now leading the government — President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar — that have gridlocked much of the peace deal they signed more than 3 1/2 years ago. “Almost every component of the peace agreement is now hostage to the political calculations of the country’s military and security elites, who use a combination of violence, misappropriated public resources and patronage to pursue their own narrow interests,” the report said. “Far from delivering transformational change to the predatory political system of South Sudan, the peace agreement has itself become a lucrative venue for elite power politics.” In the report to the U.N. Security Council, the panel of experts monitoring sanctions on South Sudan said warnings about the agreement’s prospects from civilians and many political, military and civil society leaders have grown more urgent as the unity of key opposition signatories “has frayed” and outside deals have proliferated. AP

France Puts Ex-Rwanda Official Bucyibaruta on Trial for Genocide
A former senior Rwandan official has gone on trial in Paris, accused of complicity in the African nation’s genocide, the most senior figure yet to face justice in France over the 1994 massacres. The trial of Laurent Bucyibaruta, which opened on Monday, is expected to last two months and feature more than 100 witnesses, including survivors from Rwanda who have flown over or will appear via videoconference. The case of Bucyibaruta is the fourth from the Rwandan genocide to come to court in France, which had long been under pressure from activists to act against suspected perpetrators who had taken refuge on French soil. An estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus perished in 100 days of slaughter in 1994 in which Hutu militiamen massacred Tutsis taking cover in churches and schools. Standing trial on charges of genocide, complicity in genocide and in crimes against humanity, the 78-year-old Bucyibaruta faces a life sentence if convicted. At the heart of the case are several “security” meetings, either ordered by Bucyibaruta or in which he participated. The accusation says they were session to plan the slaughter. In particular, the former prefect of the southern province of Gikongoro is accused of persuading thousands of people to take refuge in the Murambi Technical School, by promising them food and water – and protection. But days later, in the early hours of April 21, tens of thousands of Tutsis were massacred in one of the genocide’s grimmest episodes. Al Jazeera

Angolan Diamond Mine Says Russia Sanctions Could Hurt Operations
Angola’s state-run diamond miner Endiama could face a hit to its operations as Western sanctions on Russia could delay supplies of parts and machinery, according to a government brochure. The government publication was made available at the Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town on Monday. Western nations have unleashed crippling economic sanctions against Russia after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in late February. Endiama, which holds the exclusive concession for diamond mining rights in Angola, has already flagged an almost one-third reduction in diamond output to 10.05 million carats this year, from a forecast 13.8 million carats. The company expects revenue of about $1.42bn from the sale of its diamonds this year. “One of the great challenges for 2022 will certainly be to maintain the sustainability of the mines while the war between Russia and Ukraine lasts,” said the government brochure, “since the sanctions that the United States and Western countries have imposed on Russia may affect some national mining companies, delaying the supply of some machinery, parts and spares.” Endiama has signed contracts with Rio Tinto to explore its Chiri mine in the Angolan province of Lunda Norte, while another project, Luaxe, was also expected to begin pilot production, it added, without providing a timeline. Al Jazeera

IMF Resumes Mozambique Aid After ‘Tuna Bond’ Scam
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved financial assistance for Mozambique, the first such aid by the fund to the country after a six-year suspension. The suspension was imposed after the country was found to have more than $2.7bn (£2bn) of undisclosed state debts – money which the government borrowed to set up a sophisticated tuna industry – to buy trawlers and military patrol boats, but much of it was allegedly diverted to corrupt officials. The son of Mozambique’s ex-president and 18 others went on trial last year over the “tuna bonds” affair. They have not yet commented on the charges. The IMF board on Monday approved a three-year $456m (£369m) aid that will support economic recovery and help reduce public debt. “With this programme, the decision taken today to approve the agreement negotiated with the government, we will also obtain additional resources for the financing of the economy, not only the resources in the agreement financed by the fund, but it also opens the window of opportunities for funding by other partners,” Mozambican Prime Minister Max Tonela said. BBC

Cameroonian Villagers Protest Renewed Boko Haram Violence
Villagers along Cameroon’s northern border with Chad and Nigeria have been holding daily protests in front of government offices demanding that the military intervene and deploy troops in areas where attacks by Boko Haram have increased. Protesters say in the past three weeks alone, at least 35 villagers were killed after an alleged attack by the Islamist militant group Village leaders blame Islamist fighters with the terrorist group Boko Haram for killing at least 35 people in the past three weeks and stealing livestock and food. They raised money for villagers to travel to the regional capital, Maroua to seek help from authorities. Pastor Joseph Bayoha of the Evangelical Church of Cameroon in Tourou, a village on the border with Nigeria, said villagers came to tell the governor that a day hardly goes by without reports of Boko Haram fighters abusing or killing civilians and stealing their food and cattle. Bayoha said villagers in Cameroon’s north want the government to immediately deploy troops to protect them and their property and bring back peace, adding they feel abandoned by Cameroon’s military and government to face Boko Haram alone. Voice of America

Goodluck Jonathan: Nigeria’s Former President Rejects APC Nomination
Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has rejected a presidential nomination form, saying it was bought without his consent. The form was for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) that defeated Mr Jonathan in 2015 after he had been in power for five years. A supporters’ group bought the nomination form on his behalf on Monday, continuing the trend of aspirants using proxies to purchase the form. But a statement by the former president’s spokesman said Mr Jonathan “was not aware of this bid and did not authorize it”. “We want to state that if the former president wanted to contest an election, he would make his intentions clear to the public and will not enter through the back door,” it said. Nigeria’s main political parties are expected to hold their primaries later this month to meet the election commission’s dateline of 3 June for the submission of their candidates for the February 2023 election. BBC

African Airlines Join Forces To Stave Off Jet-Fuel Price Crisis
African airlines are clubbing together to negotiate better prices and a steady flow of jet fuel, a move to help stave off a potential crisis caused by supply issues and soaring costs. A committee has been formed — including major carriers such as South African Airways and Kenya Airways — to secure deliveries for 12 months starting in July, African Airlines Association Secretary-General Abderahmane Berthe said during a briefing in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi. “We are in the last round of negotiations, the process will end in June,” he said. The talks started even before a weekend of turmoil in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, where airlines threatened to stop flying until further notice in response to surging fuel prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They later called off the plan after the government agreed to hold talks with The Airline Operators of Nigeria trade group to try and seek a resolution. Nigeria has 23 carriers, mostly very small. In South Africa, the country’s airports operator said some airlines have been cancelling flights due to fuel-supply issues and pledged to remedy the situation. Jet-fuel prices have escalated to an average of almost 30% of operating costs for African airlines from 20% previously, Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Allan Kilavuka said during the Nairobi briefing. Bloomberg

Ex-Facebook Moderator in Kenya Sues Over Working Conditions
A former Facebook moderator has filed a lawsuit against its owner, Meta Platforms, alleging that poor working conditions for contracted content moderators violate the Kenyan constitution. The petition, also filed against Meta’s local outsourcing company Sama, alleges that workers moderating Facebook posts in Kenya have been subjected to unreasonable working conditions including irregular pay, inadequate mental health support, union-busting, and violations of their privacy and dignity. The lawsuit, filed by one person on behalf of a group, seeks financial compensation, an order that outsourced moderators get the same health are and pay scale as Meta employees, that unionisation rights be protected, and an independent human rights audit of the office. A Meta spokesperson told Reuters: “We take our responsibility to the people who review content for Meta seriously and require our partners to provide industry-leading pay, benefits and support. We also encourage content reviewers to raise issues when they become aware of them and regularly conduct independent audits to ensure our partners are meeting the high standards we expect.” Sama declined to comment before seeing the lawsuit but has previously rejected claims that its employees were paid unfairly, that the recruitment process was opaque, or that its mental health benefits were inadequate. Guardian

The Kenyan Mothers Fighting To End Police Brutality
Victor was the first to be shot. The bullet entered his stomach, exiting from his back; his intestines fell out. He screamed his brother Bernard’s name. When Bernard raced over to save him, he too was shot. His head exploded, killing him instantly. In just seconds, the world of their mother Benna Buluma collapsed. It was August 9, 2017. The two youths, aged 24 and 22, were returning from work to their home in Mathare, one of Nairobi’s largest slums. Victor worked in construction and Bernard as a tailor. A massive protest had erupted at the time, against alleged fraud in Kenya’s general elections and had made its way to Mathare. Victor and Bernard struggled to make it home amid the tensions. The brothers stopped to speak with other youths in Mathare, when suddenly police opened fire with live bullets, sending them frantically running. Victor and Bernard joined the dozens of victims of police killings in the capital city during election violence that season. “My life was torn apart,” says 50-year-old Buluma, known locally as “Mama Victor”. A photo of Victor hangs next to a worn stuffed bunny, on the metal sheets that serve as walls in her tiny home in Mathare, nestled within a narrow alleyway. “My sons’ lives were taken as if they meant nothing,” she says, eyes glassy, as her leg shakes. For three weeks, Buluma was unable to retrieve their bodies from the morgue, lacking funds for the burials. Her sons left behind two small children, who Buluma now cares for after their young wives, overwhelmed from the stress, deserted them. Buluma’s traumatised daughter also disappeared, while her son remains too distraught to work, years after the tragedy. Al Jazeera



Photo: Adam Jones