Africa Media Review for May 9, 2024

An Extremist Group and Ethnic Militias Committed Atrocities in Mali, Human Rights Watch Says
An extremist group linked to al-Qaida carried out mass killings in two villages in central Mali in January, Human Rights Watch said in a report Wednesday, in an apparent war crime that caused thousands to flee their homes. The group known as JNIM killed at least 32 people, including three children, during attacks on Jan. 27 on the villages of Ogota and Ouémbé, and set fire to over 350 homes, the report said, quoting villagers who described the carnage as ethnically motivated. The report also documented a separate incident in which an ethnic armed group killed 13 people and abducted 24 civilians in two other villages in central Mali on Jan. 6. The attacks are part of a cycle of retaliatory killings in central Mali, where extremists and ethnic armed groups operate, Human Rights Watch said. Some ethnic groups like the Fulani have been targeted by Dogon and Bambara militias, who accuse them of backing extremist groups such as JNIM. AP

EU to Close Mali Military Training Mission
The European Union said on Wednesday it would end its military training mission in Mali, reflecting a deterioration in relations between the bloc and the West African country’s military junta. The mission will end when its current mandate expires on May 18 this year, the EU’s diplomatic service said in a statement. For 11 years, the mission trained Malian armed forces and members of the G5 Sahel, a multinational counter-terrorism force, the statement said. The EU suspended the mission in 2022 after the junta said it was pulling out of the G5 Sahel. The EU said it had decided not to extend the mission’s mandate following a strategic review and consultations with the Malian authorities, also taking into account the “evolution of the political and security situation on the ground”. Reuters

Chad Opposition Condemns ‘Threats and Violence’ after High-Stakes Vote
The party of Chadian prime minister and presidential candidate Succès Masra on Wednesday condemned violence and threats against him and his supporters, and alleged electoral fraud this week…Masra, 40, a former opposition figure, is the main election rival of transitional president and junta leader Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno…Masra had ramped up considerable support on the stump in recent weeks and could force a second round of voting, scheduled for June 22. Masra’s party The Transformers said on Facebook that the 40-year-old economist was under “surveillance” and faces “threats to his safety”. The party and the political Justice and Equality Coalition which supports it also denounced “threats and serious violence” targeting their supporters as well as arbitrary arrests since Monday’s vote. AFP

Kenya President Set for Landmark US State Visit 
William Ruto is set to meet his US counterpart Joe Biden this month in the first state visit by an African leader in more than 15 years…Ruto will discuss an extension of a US-African trade pact during his visit. Kenya, east Africa’s economic powerhouse, has been one of the leading beneficiaries of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) — which provides duty-free access to the US market for 1,880 product lines from eligible African countries. The act is due to expire next year…Although Washington has said corruption is a “substantial barrier” to doing business in Kenya, Ruto appears highly regarded by officials in the US. Last week, the House foreign affairs committee put in a formal request to Speaker Mike Johnson to invite Ruto to address a joint session of Congress. Financial Times

Death Toll from Strikes on Eastern Congo Camps Rises to 18
Eighteen people were killed and 32 wounded on Friday when at least five rockets fell on camps sheltering displaced people around the eastern Congolese city of Goma, the U.N. humanitarian agency OCHA said, updating an earlier death toll of 12. The deaths illustrate the worsening humanitarian fallout from the two-year conflict between Congolese forces and the Rwanda-backed rebel group M23, which has moved closer to Goma in recent months, prompting thousands to seek refuge in the city. Democratic Republic of Congo and the United States have said the attacks were launched from territory held by Rwandan troops and M23…OCHA said in a statement that most of those killed in the rockets strikes were women and children. One more woman was killed during a protest at one camp after the attacks, it said. Reuters

Kenyan Government Doctors Sign Agreement to End Strike
Kenyan public hospital doctors on Wednesday signed a return to work agreement with the government meant to end a strike that started in mid-March, union and government officials said. The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), which represents more than 7,000 members, went on strike on March 15 to demand payment of their salary arrears and the immediate hiring of trainee doctors, among other grievances…The doctors’ arrears arose from a 2017 collective bargaining agreement (CBA), the union said. Doctors were also demanding the provision of adequate medical insurance coverage for themselves and their dependants…The end of the strike will provide relief to those seeking services, especially following heavy rains and flooding that has killed 257 people since March, and displaced 293,661 people. Reuters

Zimbabwe Says New Gold-Backed Currency Now the Official Unit
Zimbabwe’s treasury said on Tuesday the newly introduced gold-backed currency is the official unit of exchange for transactions and that it would soon introduce regulations to ensure businesses stick to the official rate. Although it has remained stable on the official market since its launch early April, the Zimbabwe Gold (ZiG) has been off to a nervy start on the parallel market, with traders charging a premium of 65% to the official rate to obtain dollars…The government has been making efforts to keep the ZiG afloat since its launch, with authorities launching a blitz on illegal foreign currency traders last month. This is Zimbabwe’s fourth attempt at having a local currency inside a decade, with the southern African country dumping the Zimdollar last month after it lost 70% value since the start of the year. Reuters

South Sudan: Abyei Security Situation Remains Tense, Says UN Chief
The security situation in the Abyei Area has remained tense, with increased casualties associated with intercommunal clashes in southern and central Abyei, the UN Secretary General said in a report to the Security Council…The main threats to security, according to the report, were related to intercommunal clashes, animal rustling and abductions. These dynamics, it noted, are exacerbated by the proliferation of arms. The relationship between the Ngok Dinka and Twic Dinka communities remained a concern, while new clashes between the Ngok Dinka and Nuer communities in Abyei broke out during the period under review, the Secretary General observed. Sudan Tribune

Sudanese Female Journalists Face Threats, Harassment
Sudanese female journalists are increasingly targeted with online threats, harassment, and even physical attacks. This has driven some to flee the country, while others bravely continue their work amidst the dangers. The Journalists Syndicate is taking action. They’ve documented cases of abuse across various states, including physical assaults, harassment, and death threats. To improve safety, they’re implementing measures for conflict zones and launching a nationwide support hotline within days. The threats come from various sources. Journalists report intimidation by anonymous actors, military intelligence, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in areas under their control. Sudan Tribune

Tunisia Detains a Prominent Activist for Migrants’ Rights
Tunisia’s public prosecutor on Tuesday detained Saadia Mosbah, a prominent activist and head of a nongovernmental group that defends the rights of migrants, human rights groups said, hours after President Kais Saied accused some groups that defend Sub-Saharan migrants of treason. Tunisia has been grappling with a severe migration crisis due to an influx of Sub-Saharan Africans seeking to migrate to Europe in boats. Local media reported that the police began investigating Mosbah, whose group combats racism and defends migrants’ rights, on suspicion of financial crimes…[Saied] that many officials who run civil society groups defending migrants’ rights were “traitors” who receive funds from abroad. Local media said that following Saied’s speech, the judiciary began investigating some groups helping migrants in a move critics say aims to silence them. Reuters

Soaring Number of Migrants Trapped in Yemen Face Abuse and Starvation, Say NGOs
The number of African migrants stranded in Yemen, many of whom endure “horrifying and brutal” violence while trapped there, is reaching critical levels, according to international NGOs and civil society organisations based in the Arab state. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) put out a warning this week about the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, leading a call for urgent funding to support the “safe and voluntary return of migrants to their countries of origin”. The intervention follows a number of fatal boat journeys last month from Djibouti, a major transit point for people leaving the Horn of Africa, many of whom are attempting to get to Saudi Arabia…As new frontlines open and worsening economic woes add strain on African nations, more immigrants – the majority of whom are Ethiopians – are falling victim to traffickers. The Guardian

Africa Should Forge Path for Secure Data Flow across Borders, Experts Say
Digital experts called on African countries Tuesday for laws to protect the data of individuals and businesses, saying that a single digital market in which data can safely flow across borders would help overcome barriers to commerce and trade on the continent. African government information and communications technology representatives, international organizations, diplomats and experts are meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, this week to discuss how data can move freely from one country to another without risking people’s privacy and safety…In its 2023 Londa report, the Paradigm Initiative — an organization that monitors digital rights, environment and inclusion in Africa — said internet shutdowns and disruptions, data protection, disinformation, cybersecurity, surveillance and a lack of freedom of expression and information affect the continent’s digital growth and sustenance. VOA

Africa’s Apes in Peril from Losing Habitat to Mining
High demand for critical minerals to power green energy is driving an alarming threat to Africa’s great ape population, with over one-third of these majestic creatures at risk due to mining activities, a recent study, says. The study published in Science Advances…estimates that more than one-third of the entire ape population — nearly 180,000 gorillas, bonobos and chimpanzees — is at risk…The study also highlights that because mining companies are not required to make biodiversity data publicly available, the true impact of mining on biodiversity and great apes, in particular, may be even higher and may be further obscuring the true impact on great apes and their habitats. Also, there still exists a scarcity of studies assessing the threat of mining to global biodiversity. Using data from operational and preoperational mining sites across 17 African nations, the researchers identified significant overlaps between high ape density areas and mining zones. The EastAfrican