Africa Media Review for May 7, 2020

Sudan: Dozens of People Killed in South Darfur Tribal Clashes
At least 30 people were killed, and dozens of others injured in fighting that broke out between Fallata and Rizeigat cattle herders in South Darfur on Tuesday. Military and paramilitary forces were dispatched to contain the situation. Large numbers of people, most of them women and children, fled to Katila, the acting governor of South Darfur told reporters in Nyala on Wednesday. According to Governor Maj Gen Hashim Khalid, the violence started in the early morning of Tuesday, after cattle rustlers stole a number of livestock in Dimsu and took them north, into Tullus locality. This led to heavy fighting between the tribesmen in various areas in Dimsu, Tullus, and Katila. A joint force of army soldiers and militiamen of the Rapid Support Forces in 93 vehicles was deployed to separate the two parties and contain the violence. The governor explained that the forces were sent in three dispatches, on the basis of information about the locations of groups of armed tribesmen provided by an Ababil drone. In addition, a curfew was imposed in the three localities. Radio Dabanga

Kenya and Somalia to Jointly Investigate Cargo Plane Crash
Somali and Kenyan officials have agreed to jointly investigate the crash of a private cargo plane in Somalia on Monday, an incident many thought could further escalate political tensions between the two countries. The Kenyan-registered aircraft was undertaking a humanitarian mission when it crashed in the town of Bardale, in the southwestern Bay region of Somalia. … While members of the Somali militant group Al Shabab remain active in southern Somalia, Bardale and its airstrip are secured by Somali forces, as well as Ethiopian troops who are part of the African Union peacekeeping mission in the country. Somalia’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, invited Kenyan civil aviation authorities to team up with their Somali counterparts to investigate the crash. … Somalia’s transportation minister, Mohamed Abdullah Salad, along with senior Kenyan and Ethiopian officials, visited the site of the crash on Wednesday. The New York Times

New Fighting in South Sudan Threatens Ceasefire
South Sudan’s new violence this week could threaten a precarious peace agreement between the government and rebel groups that have yet to sign on a unity deal. On Tuesday, reports indicated that the National Salvation Front, an armed opposition group under former deputy army leader Thomas Cirilo, clashed with forces under the South Sudan People’s defence Forces, as well as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in Opposition. The National Salvation Front, in a statement, accused SPLA-IO and SSPDF of attacking its military bases in Katigiri and Wonduruba Payam of Yei River County, Central Equatoria State. … The Front is among several groups that did not sign on the peace deal known as the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), a 2018 pact that brought together several factions in South Sudan. … However, the group, as others, indicated their willingness to sign if certain conditions are met. The East African

COVID-19 Brings Abuse and Other Fears to Displaced Women in South Sudan
For Nyaneng Chuol, four months pregnant, COVID-19 restrictions mean she is confined in a camp with an ex-husband whom she says is abusive, often drunk, and increasingly restless, along with thousands of South Sudanese who fled their homes during the civil war. “I’m scared because I can’t manage to fight him back, and now there are no good medical services,” the 30-year-old mother of four told The New Humanitarian by phone. Chuol fled her hometown of Bentiu in the north of the country to a UN-protected camp in Juba, the capital, after fighting erupted in 2014. There is currently no official lockdown in the country. However, there is a dusk till dawn curfew and non-essential businesses are closed as well as sporting events and religious services, and movement in and out of UN-run camps has often been restricted. The New Humanitarian

Tanzania Deploys Troops at the Mozambique Border
The government has sent troops to Tanzania’s border with Mozambique to boost security after insurgents launched attacks in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado. In February this year, the group attacked security forces and civilians in Cabo Delgado, killing people, destroying property and seizing fire-arms and ammunitions. Last month, the group reportedly massacred at least 50 people in Muidumbe district when they over-ran the district’s capital Namacunde and occupied the district police com-mand. Media reports say the United Nations has recorded 28 attacks in the area since the beginning of 2020, which killed up to 400 people and displaced at least 100 000 others. Requesting Parliament to endorse a total of Sh2.1 trillion for the Ministry of Defence and National Service for the 2020/21 financial year, the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled), Ms Jenista Mhagama, said troops were dispatched to the area despite the fact that it was generally calm on the Tanzanian side. …  She said troops have been dispatched to the border close to Mtwara Region to contain security threats posed by Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASWJ) insurgents. The Citizen

West African Countries on Alert for Child Labour Spike Due to Coronavirus
Ivory Coast and Ghana should be on alert for a spike in child labour due to the coronavirus, experts said, with schools closed and monitors unable to access villages in cocoa harvest season. The two West African countries together produce about 65 per cent of the world’s cocoa and child labour has been a longstanding problem in the sector, despite pledges from chocolate companies including Nestle and Hershey to reduce it. Fairtrade Africa said it had received reports of possible cases in Ivory Coast’s eastern and western regions in recent weeks and flagged them to the government. … “In normal circumstances children are already vulnerable, and now they are not going to school,” said Anne-Marie Yao, regional cocoa manager for Fairtrade Africa. … Teachers are often the first to spot child abuse, said Yao, who suggested the state could instruct them to somehow keep in touch with their students and not all leave the communities. Ivory Coast’s national anti-trafficking committee released a statement last week reminding parents that child labour is punishable by law. The East African

Kenya: How Coronavirus Is Changing Daily Life in Nairobi
Since Kenya confirmed its first coronavirus case on March 13, authorities have adopted various measures to curb the spread of the virus while stopping short of imposing a full lockdown. AFP spent a day this week exploring how the measures are impacting the capital Nairobi and its 4.3 million inhabitants, as the health crisis exacerbates social inequalities and batters the economy of the regional powerhouse. The sun has just risen and morning mist envelops a valley on the outskirts of Nairobi. On this road heading north towards the Rift Valley region armed police monitor vehicles and pedestrians. “The only people who can go through are the ones with the authorisation: the lorries carrying food, doctors, etc,” explains police inspector Julius Kariuki Mugo. Edward, a 25-year-old driver, shows a stamped pass from his boss that enables him to continue on his route to deliver flour to a town 75 kilometres northwest. Since April 6 Kenya has blocked movement in and out of Nairobi, three coastal towns, and the northeastern county of Mandera. Two refugee camps have also been cordoned off, as well as one suburb in Nairobi and one in Mombasa.

Nigeria: What It’s Like to Lead the COVID-19 Response in Africa’s Most Populous Country
In late April, as cases of the coronavirus began to rise in Nigeria, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu realised that he had a problem. The director general of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) knew that the country needed to sharply increase its testing capacity – but that it did not have enough of the specialised equipment and supplies to do so. And with the whole world competing for those same supplies, sourcing more was proving difficult. So, he took to Twitter. “We’re desperately looking for more RNA extraction kits as we expand #Covid19 testing,” he wrote, and then braced himself for the criticism that he knew would come – after all, it’s not often that Nigeria’s top infectious-disease expert publicly admits to the country’s shortcomings. Sure enough, the criticism came. But so did the supplies. “I put out that tweet and in an hour, I had the supplies I needed … help comes in surprising ways.” Ihekweazu told the Mail & Guardian in a telephonic interview from Abuja. It’s nearly 10pm at night in Nigeria’s capital, and he’s still in the office. Mail & Guardian

UN Appeals for $6.7 Billion to Fight Virus in Poor Countries
The United Nations announced Thursday it is increasing its appeal to fight the coronavirus pandemic in fragile and vulnerable countries from $2 billion to $6.7 billion. U.N. humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock reiterated that the peak of the pandemic is not expected to hit the world’s poorest countries for three to six months. But he said there is already evidence of incomes plummeting and jobs disappearing, food supplies falling and prices soaring, and children missing vaccinations and meals. Since the original appeal on March 25, the United Nations said $1 billion has been raised to support efforts across 37 fragile countries to tackle COVID-19. The updated appeal launched Thursday includes nine additional vulnerable countries: Benin, Djibouti, Liberia, Mozambique, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Togo and Zimbabwe. Lowcock said “in the poorest countries we can already see economies contracting as export earnings, remittances and tourism disappear.” “Unless we take action now, we should be prepared for a significant rise in conflict, hunger and poverty,” he warned. “The specter of multiple famines looms.” AP

Thousands of Migrants Head Back to Ethiopia after Deportations as Pandemic Sparks Fears
After two years as a domestic worker for a Saudi Arabian family, Mahlet Wolde Aregay was sent to jail last month. Without taking any tests, she says, the Saudi authorities accused her of being a likely carrier of the novel coronavirus. They bundled her onto a crowded cargo plane with hundreds of other Ethiopian migrants, some of them crying and screaming, and deported Ms. Mahlet to her homeland. She was given no chance to collect her belongings or say goodbye to the family with whom she had lived. “I was humiliated,” she told The Globe and Mail. “What was done to some of us was ugly and cruel. I came back to Ethiopia with almost nothing – not even my cellphone.” More than 5,000 migrants have been forced to return to Ethiopia in a wave of mass deportations from Middle Eastern and African countries in recent weeks as the pandemic provokes a rise in fear and suspicion of foreigners. The Globe and Mail

China Is Virtually Alone in Backing Africa’s Coal Projects
For more than two decades, Zimbabwe has been trying to break ground on a giant coal-power complex by the world’s biggest man-made reservoir. China just agreed to get the $4.2 billion project underway. … But it flies in the face of a growing global consensus that has seen financial institutions from Japan to the U.S. and Europe shun investments in coal projects. That retreat leaves the way open for Chinese companies-many with state backing-even at the risk of undermining the spirit of China’s international commitments to fight climate change. … In fact, the Chinese government promised back in 2017 to green its Belt and Road Initiative overseas construction plan to promote environment-friendly development in line with United Nations goals. … “It’s a fading industry,” said Han Chen, who manages the international energy policy program at the New York-based National Resources Defense Council. “So they are going places where the environmental standards are low so they can use more polluting equipment that is cheaper to operate.” Bloomberg

‘Textbook’ Discrimination: Human Rights Report Accuses China of Mistreating Africans
Human Rights Watch is accusing China of discrimination against African communities during the coronavirus pandemic. Authorities in China’s Guangdong province, home to China’s largest African population, have singled out people of African descent for testing, the rights group alleges. It characterizes the tests as forcible, and says that as many Africans were forced to quarantine, landlords evicted them. … Hundreds of African human rights groups submitted an open letter to the African Union Commission in late April denouncing the “xenophobic, racist and inhuman treatment” of African people in China. They called for an independent investigation into the situation in Guangdong province and throughout China. Kenya said last month that it will help its nationals stranded in China return home starting in May. NPR

Morocco Launches Fleet of Drones to Tackle Virus from the Sky
Morocco has rapidly expanded its fleet of drones as it battles the coronavirus pandemic, deploying them for aerial surveillance, public service announcements and sanitisation. “This is a real craze. In just weeks, demand has tripled in Morocco and other countries in the region,” said Yassine Qamous, chief of Droneway Maroc, African distributor for leading Chinese drone company DJI. Moroccan firms have been using drones for years and Qamous says it “is among the most advanced countries in Africa” for unmanned flight, with a dedicated industrial base, researchers and qualified pilots. … In recent weeks, authorities have employed drones to issue warnings, identify suspicious movement in the streets and disperse illegal rooftop and balcony gatherings. A strict lockdown imposed in March has not been uniformly respected, with local media reporting on nighttime gatherings of neighbours and collective prayers on roofs, beyond the view of street patrols. Last week local authorities in Temara, a town near the capital Rabat, launched a high-precision aerial surveillance system developed by local company Beti3D, which previously specialised in aerial mapping. AFP

COVID-19: Africa’s Health Workers at Risk
Doctors and health workers in various African countries are protesting the poor working conditions, scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the fear of infection from the coronavirus. Some are staying away from work, yet they are urgently needed. In Zimbabwe, doctors and nurses working in public hospitals went on strike weeks ago over lack of PPEs, such as such as protective suits, goggles and sanitizer, to use while treating patients. There are no signs that they’ll return to duty any time soon. Medics in Nigeria and Kenya face a similar situation. So far, ten medical professionals have already been infected with COVID-19 in one of Nigeria’s largest states, Kano, according to DW correspondent Nasir Salisu Zango. With medical staff fearing for their lives, patients are suffering. DW

‘The Virus Comes for Us’: Capturing the COVID-19 Crisis Facing Egypt’s Poor
As the coronavirus lockdown clamps down on the informal economy and tourism dries up, Egypt’s most vulnerable are left without protection or food security. … Fayza Ahmed Ibrahim, 63, is a mother of four and a widow. Queuing outside a food bank on 19 April, she said: ‘God only knows how many of us will die.’ Ibrahim is unemployed and lives in a densely-populated informal settlement in east Cairo. ‘What can we do when the virus comes for us?’ Her eyes are bloodshot from both crying and illness (she has diabetes-related retinal fibrosis). The Guardian