Africa Media Review for May 27, 2022

Spain, Britain Call on NATO to Look at Russian Threat from Africa
Russia’s expanding influence and activity in Africa pose a “worrying” threat to the security of NATO countries along with its invasion of Ukraine and must be addressed by the military alliance, the Spanish and British defence ministers said Wednesday. At a joint news conference in Madrid, Spain’s Margarita Robles said the expansion of operations by the Russian state and Russian private security companies such as the Wagner Group in countries like Mali and Libya was “very clear” and accused them of fomenting organised crime and terrorism. “NATO cannot remain indifferent in this situation,” she added. Britain’s Ben Wallace, in Madrid for a bilateral meeting ahead of Spain’s hosting of a crunch NATO summit in late June, said rising instability coupled with hunger in Africa could significantly impact Europe. “If (Russia) can use migrant flows as a weapon at one end of Europe, they can certainly use it at the other,” he said. Reuters

AU Leaders Seek Home-Grown Solutions for Continent’s ‘Alarming’ Humanitarian Situation
Around 20 heads of state as well as donors are expected in the Equatorial Guinean capital, Malabo, to raise funds at the AU’s first “extraordinary humanitarian summit” taking place this Friday. According to AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, 113 million Africans need urgent humanitarian assistance this year, including 48 million refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced people (IDPs). The AU said 15 particularly hard-hit countries required urgent aid, with climate shocks and conflicts rauiring humanitarian assistance to increase “exponentially”. The war in Ukraine has also exacerbated food shortages. Of the more than 30 million internally displaced Africans, more than 10 million are children aged under 15, it added, pointing to inter-ethnic conflict in certain regions plus food insecurity. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says around 282 million of Africa’s 1.4 billion inhabitants are under-fed – an increase of 49 million compared to 2019…A second meeting on Saturday will tackle “terrorism and unconstitutional changes.” Countries like Libya, Mozambique, Somalia, the Sahel region, West Africa’s Lake Chad basin and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are all facing rebellions and jihadist insurgencies. RFI

Youth Take Seat Ahead of the AU Extraordinary Summit
In here, the youth are also pledging conference ahead of the scheduled African Union Extraordinary Summit to be held in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea from the 25th to the 28th of May 2022. Chido Mpemba, the African Union Chairperson’s Youth Envoy commented: “It is my sincere hope as the Youth Envoy, that at the end of this summit, we have deliberated a youth-centric humanitarian architecture, a protocol on the free movement of persons and come up with a definitive, sustainable political resolution. This resolution statement will incorporate our ideas and solutions and become a plan of action to integrate the youths in the overall summit outcomes.” Organisers explain that the key objective of this forum aligns with Aspiration 6 of the African Union Agenda 2063 and article 11 of the African Youth Charter, by providing young people with the opportunity to have their voices heard by key decision makers on key issues that are to be deliberated at the summit. Modern Ghana

‘Unwise’ Denial of UNITAMS Advisor’s Sudan Visa Risks ‘Severe International Repercussions’
The decision by the Sudan government not to renew the residency visa of senior international advisor, Dame Rosalind Marsden, is ‘unwise’, and could lead to ‘severe repercussions from the international community”, a respected Sudanese political scientist warns. In an interview with the Sudan Today programme on Radio Dabanga, Dr Azza Mustafa, a professor of political science at Sudanese universities, said that Tuesday’s briefing to the UN Security Council by Volker Perthes, UN Special Representative for Sudan, and head of the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), “accurately reflects what is happening in the country”. Dr Mustafa laments the decision by the Sudan government not to renew the residency visa of senior international advisor, Dame Rosalind Marsden, advisor of the UNITAMS mission, as “unwise”. She predicts that “it could lead to severe repercussions from the international community.” Dabanga

UN Security Council Renews Arms Embargo on South Sudan
The UN Security Council on Thursday adopted a resolution to renew for a year, till May 31, 2023, an arms embargo against South Sudan. Resolution 2633 also renews targeted sanctions of travel ban and asset freeze against individuals and entities and extends the mandate of the Panel of Experts, which assists the work of the South Sudan Sanctions Committee, till July 1, 2023. South Sudan has repeatedly called for the arms embargo to be lifted. However, earlier this month, the U.N. panel of experts monitoring sanctions against South Sudan recommended that the Security Council extend the arms embargo due to “persistent cease-fire violations” and intensifying violence in the country’s regions. The experts said the South Sudan government’s purchase of approximately 25 new armored personnel carriers for the police, shown in a March photograph, was a violation of the U.N. arms embargo yet the civilians’ conditions worsened due to violence, floods, displacement, and food insecurity. The resolution was approved by 10 out of the 15 council members, late on Thursday. Meanwhile, China, Russia, India, Gabon, and Kenya abstained from voting on the US-drafted resolution. Radio Tamazuj

Thirteen Ethiopian Journalists Arrested in over a Week
Two more journalists have been detained in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, increasing the number of reporters and media workers jailed since last week to 13. The move has been seen by some as a crackdown on critical voices. The arrests have coincided with the launching of what authorities called a “law enforcement operation” in Amhara region where thousands have been arrested. Last year the US-based lobby group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, called Ethiopia one of the worst jailers of reporters. And now a new wave of arrests has seen more than a dozen journalists and media workers detained in a little over a week. But it’s not only journalists who are being targeted. On Monday, the authorities in Amhara, Ethiopia’s second most populous region, said they had jailed more than 4,500 individuals. Among them were activists, military and militiamen, and academics. The arrests have since continued. BBC

Burkina Faso: Gunmen Kill 50 Civilians in Flare-Up of Violence
Around 50 people were killed by armed assailants in eastern Burkina Faso, authorities said on Thursday. The area has been struggling with Islamic extremist violence but it was not immediately clear who was behind the latest attack. The victims were residents of the rural commune of Madjoari, according to Colonel Hubert Yameogo, the governor of the East Region. They were traveling to a town in the nearby commune of Pama, which is close to the country’s borders with Benin and Togo. They had been trying to escape a blockade set up by extremists. “The people were intercepted and executed by the terrorists,” one survivor told news agency AFP. “All the dead were men.” Authorities said the army was securing the area but no more details on the perpetrators were provided. Militants with links to al-Qaida and the Islamic State (IS) group have made inroads into large parts of Burkina Faso in recent years, as a part of a wider insurgency across West Africa’s restive Sahel region. DW

How Ex-Gambia President Yahya Jammeh’s US Mansion Was Seized
Some amateur sleuthing and a chance encounter helped uncover how the former president of The Gambia had laundered his money by buying a luxurious property in the US. Now a court has ruled that the $3m (£2.4m) mansion in the state of Maryland, near Washington DC, should be seized from a trust set up by ex-Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh. Funds raised by the sale of the house should benefit those who were harmed by the former president’s “acts of corruption and abuse of office”, the US authorities say. An investigation by the department of justice (DOJ) found that the money used to buy the six-bedroom house was raised through corruption. “Maryland real estate is not a shelter for funds for corrupt rulers who have stolen from their countrymen,” said Selwyn Smith, one of the agents overseeing the case. But it was investigations by campaigners a decade ago that first highlighted the issue. BBC

‘Protracted Political Impasse’ Further Polarizing Libya
“We are concerned that the protracted political impasse is having an increasingly negative impact on security,” said Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo. “A coordinated and constructive effort is required to prevent further polarization and end the political stalemate.” Last week, UN Special Advisor Stephanie Williams convened a second round of consultations of the Joint Committee of the House of Representatives and High State Council, in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, reviewing a reformed constitution for a democratic way forward for the country, the 2017 Constitutional Draft. The delegations reached agreement in several areas, including basic rights and freedoms; the structure and powers of a two-tier new parliament; and the prerogatives of the President and Prime Minister. Under UN auspices, members will reconvene on 11 June for a final round to reach consensus on finalizing constitutional arrangements to hold key national elections – delayed from last December – as soon as possible. The Special Adviser also met Presidency Council members, who expressed their intention to continue working on a national reconciliation process with UN and African Union support. UN News

‘You Hear Bullets, You Run’: Congolese Refugees Stream over Uganda’s Border
Uganda is home to 1.5 million refugees, the most hosted by any African country. An open-door policy allows refugees to live freely and settle anywhere. Most choose to stay in settlements where they are given land to farm by the government. New arrivals, such as those coming in from DRC, live in holding centres. Here they wait to see if the situation in their countries is improving, and they can return home. Or if they must start a new life in a new country. Nsengiyuava leans on the metal pole that marks the Uganda-DRC border in Bunagana, 12 miles (20km) from her destination at Nyakabande. If the clouds send rain, it will drive four of her children from wherever they are playing, and she will get on the United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) truck early. If the rain holds off, the children will enjoy their games until the evening. Only the darkness will bring them back to their mother. She waits, rocking their baby brother on her back, and hopes that her older children will appear. “This is how they were, even in DRC. They would go and play and return in the evening to find I already went to the garden, got food and prepared it,” Nsengiyuava says with a slight laugh. Guardian

Zimbabwe President Praises China, Slams West in Column
If there’s a new cold war brewing and both China and the United States are trying to get African countries on their side, it’s clear where Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s allegiance lies. In his latest column in the local Sunday Mail newspaper, the 79-year-old president slammed the West and lavished praise on Beijing. “Unlike Western interests which have been exploiting our continent even well before its formal occupation,” the Chinese “have now come back to the continent they helped liberate as new, non-traditional investors,” he said, referring to Beijing’s backing of Zimbabwe’s independence war against white minority rule. “Here in Zimbabwe, China has helped fund and implement several projects in the sectors of energy, air transport, water, real estate, industrial value addition, mining and defense,” the president said. “All these have secured and bolstered our independence while changing the structure of our economy in this season of punitive Western sanctions.” Voice of America

African Nations Leading the Way on ‘Food Systems Transformation’: Guterres
António Guterres was addressing the start of a high-level policy dialogue at UN Headquarters in New York, part of the Africa Dialogue Series 2022, convened to strengthen resilience in food supplies across the continent, at a time when “decades of progress on hunger are being reversed.”…Building resilience also requires addressing the climate crisis.  “African farmers are on the frontlines of our warming planet, from rising temperatures to droughts and floods,” he said.  “Africa needs a massive boost in technical and financial support to adapt to the impact of the climate emergency and provide renewable electricity across the continent.” He added that developed countries must deliver on their $100 billion climate finance commitment to developing countries, with the help of international financial institutions, so African countries, in particular, can invest in a strong recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, on the tide of renewable energy. Food systems, said the Secretary-General, “connect all these challenges”, as highlighted at last September’s UN Food Systems Summit. “Many African Member States led the call for fundamental change, through inclusive transformation pathways, which aim to address – simultaneously – food security, nutrition, social protection, environmental conservation and resilience to shocks.”  He welcomed the African Union (AU) decision to designate 2022 as the Year of Nutrition – a pledge to act on the strong commitments made at the Summit. UN News

Climate Change Robbing Ethiopia’s Pastoralists of Traditional Livelihood
[Video] The persistent drought drying out the Horn of Africa is a reflection of severe weather intensified by climate change. For Ethiopia’s pastoralists who have seen more than a million livestock perish, it is a signal their way of life cannot be sustained by the next generation. Linda Givetash reports from Gode, Ethiopia. Camera: Michele Spatari. Voice of America

Sudan Women’s Activist Wins Human Rights Prize
Sudanese women’s activist Amira Osman Hamed has won a Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, the organisation announced Friday. The activist and engineer, now in her forties, has been advocating for Sudanese women for two decades, and was detained this year in a crackdown following the country’s latest coup. She was among defenders from Afghanistan, Belarus, Zimbabwe and Mexico who also received the 2022 award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk. Osman “never deterred from her mission”, Dublin-based Front Line Defenders said in its awards announcement, “consistently (advocating) for democracy, human rights, and women’s rights.” After first being charged for wearing trousers in 2002, she drew international support in 2013 when she was detained and threatened with flogging for refusing to wear a headscarf. Both charges fell under morality laws during the rule of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir who took power in an Islamist-backed coup. Osman told AFP at the time that the morality laws had “changed Sudanese women from victims to criminals” and targeted “the dignity of Sudanese people.” In 2009 she established “No to Women Oppression”, an initiative to advocate against the much-derided Public Order Law. It was finally repealed in 2019 after Bashir’s ouster following a mass uprising. Women were at the forefront of protests that toppled Bashir, and hopes were high for a more liberal Sudan as restrictions were removed that had stifled their actions and public lives. AFP

 



Photo: Adam Jones