Africa Media Review for November 1, 2018

56,800 Dead and Missing: The Hidden Toll of Migration
As migration rises worldwide, so has its toll: The tens of thousands of people who die or simply disappear during their journeys. Barely counted in life, these migrants rarely register in death — almost as if they never lived at all. A growing number of migrants have drowned, died in deserts or fallen prey to traffickers, leaving their families to wonder what on earth happened to them. At the same time, anonymous bodies are filling cemeteries in South Africa’s Gauteng province , or in the coastal Tunisian town of Zarzis. Similar cemeteries dot Italy, Greece and Libya. An Associated Press tally has documented more than 56,800 migrants dead or missing worldwide since 2014 — almost double the number found in the world’s only official attempt to try to count them, by the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration . The IOM toll as of Oct. 1 was more than 28,500. The AP came up with almost 28,300 additional dead or missing migrants by compiling information from other international groups, forensic records, missing persons reports, death records, and examining data from thousands of interviews with migrants.  AP

South Sudan Celebrates New Peace Accord amid Joy – and Scepticism
South Sudan celebrated a new peace deal on Wednesday as fervent hopes of an end to a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people were tempered by widespread scepticism that the fragile agreement will hold. The deal, which is meant to end a civil war that began in 2013, commits forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, and the rebel groups fighting them, to sharing power. Speaking at a ceremony in Juba, the capital, Kiir offered an unprecedented apology for a conflict that “was a complete betrayal to our people and the liberation struggle”. “As your president, I want to apologise on behalf of all the parties for what we have caused you, our people … I deeply regret the physical and psychological wounds you have had … Today marks the end of the war in the Republic of South Sudan,” he said. The Guardian

Nigerian Shi’ite Group Says 42 Killed When Security Forces Fired upon Protests
The movement of a jailed Nigerian Shi’ite cleric whose followers have repeatedly been targeted by the authorities said on Wednesday security forces had killed 42 of its members during two days of violent crackdowns on protests in the capital Abuja. Security forces opened fire with live ammunition on members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) who had marched in their hundreds to demand the release of their leader Ibrahim Zakzaky, jailed since 2015 when the army killed hundreds of his followers at his compound and a nearby mosque and burial ground. The IMN raised its death toll on Wednesday from the two previous days’ violence to 42 from an earlier figure of 25. The toll included seven people who died of injuries received on Tuesday and 35 killed the previous day, said Ibrahim Musa, an IMN spokesman.  Reuters

Nigeria Arrests 400 Shia Muslims after Deadly Clashes
Nigerian police have arrested 400 members of a Shia Muslim sect after days of deadly protests in the capital. The pro-Iran Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) protesters demanded the release of their leader Ibraheem Zakzaky, in custody for 34 months. The army admits that three people were killed in clashes in Abuja on Monday, but the IMN says that dozens died. In 2016, a judicial inquiry found that the army had killed more than 300 Shia Muslims during clashes in the north.  BBC

Egypt Hosts Arab Military Exercises in What Could Develop into an ‘Arab NATO’
Armed forces and observers from eight Arab countries are converging on Egypt for exercises starting on Saturday, the Egyptian military said on Wednesday, in a move that could evolve into a regional pact to counter Iran’s influence. President Donald Trump’s administration has been quietly pushing for Gulf Arab countries, together with Egypt and Jordan, to start putting together what some White House officials have called an “Arab NATO” of Sunni Muslim allies to stand against Shi’ite power Iran. A Saudi-led coalition of Arab states is already intervening in Yemen’s war, staging air strikes against Iran-aligned Houthi forces which control much of the country’s north, including the capital Sanaa.  Reuters

Gabon Suspends Cameroon TV over Ali Bongo Death Report
Gabon’s communications watchdog, the High Authority of Communication, HAC, has suspended a privately-run Cameroonian channel for reporting the fake death of President Ali Bongo Ondimba. The Vision 4 channel last weekend reported that Bongo had died in a Saudi Arabia hospital whiles on admission. The suspension is to last six months. HAC has subsequently directed that Vision 4’s broadcast on all satellite TV bouquets on the Gabonese territory be suspended. The main broadcasters with the channel’s signal in Gabon are Canal +, Sat-Con and TNT Africa. The regulator holds that that Cameroonian television has threatened the lives of others and disseminated information tending to disturb public order. Africa News

New Mauritanian Cabinet Announced
Mauritanian presidency on Tuesday announced the formation of the country’s new Cabinet, local news agency reported. Mohamed Ould Cheikh Mohamed Ahmed Ould El Ghazouani, who was serving as the country’s army chief, is also among the Cabinet members and has been named as the country’s defense minister. The new Cabinet also included the President of the ruling Union for the Republic (UPR) party Sidi Mohamed Ould Mahamed, who has been named as a government spokesman. On Monday, Mauritania’s president assigned Mohammed Salem Ould Al-Bashir to form the country’s new government, who succeeded the resigned Prime Minister Yahya Ould Hademine.  Anadolu Agency

EU to Renew Sanctions on Congolese Officials including Presidential Candidate, Diplomats Say
The EU imposed sanctions last year on Shadary, who served as interior minister, and 15 other Congolese after a crackdown on protesters who opposed a delay in holding elections. The delay has let President Joseph Kabila stay in office two years past his legal mandate, although an election is now set for Dec. 23. Congo’s government has said the sanctions, which include travel bans and asset freezes, are illegal, and renewing them is pointless because Kabila plans to step down after the election. Renewal requires a unanimous vote from the EU’s 28 member states, with a decision expected just 11 days before the election in Congo. Two diplomats said the EU had agreed on renewal despite initial opposition from Spain, which proposed to take Shadary off the list.  Reuters

DR Congo Soldiers, Militias ‘Execute’ 92 in September: UN
A UN rights group said on Wednesday that armed groups and security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo had carried out 92 “extra-judicial executions” in September. The Joint UN Office for Human Rights (BCNUDH) recorded 623 human rights violations in the sprawling central African country last month, up from 620 in August and 515 in July. “State agents are responsible for 52 percent of the documented violations, including the extra-judicial executions of at least 25 people,” the BCNUDH’s monthly report said. It added that 48 percent were perpetrated by fighters from armed groups, including the summary executions of at least 67 people. Most were committed in the conflict-wracked eastern provinces of North and South Kivu, Ituri and Tanganyika. AFP

In Congo’s Ebola Outbreak, Experimental Treatments Are Proving Effective  
Experimental new treatments for Ebola appear to be working effectively in the most recent outbreak in Central Africa, an expert reported at a medical conference here on Wednesday. The death rate was 43 percent among patients in the Democratic Republic of Congo who received one or more of four experimental treatments, said Dr. William A. Fischer II, an emergency care specialist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. If the count excluded Ebola patients who were within hours of death when they arrived at the hospital, the fatality rate would be 32 percent, he added. By contrast, about 68 percent of Ebola patients in hospitals before the new treatments were approved had died.  The New York Times

State Department Believes Missionary ‘Caught in Crossfire’
Cameroon’s defense minister warned foreigners Wednesday to be take precautions in the country’s restive English-speaking regions after an American missionary was mortally wounded amid fighting between armed separatists and soldiers. “If you must be there, immediately inform the military so we can assure your safety,” Defense Minister Joseph Beti Assomo said, adding that the northwest and southwest regions where separatists are fighting for an independent state were dangerous for people not from Cameroon. Charles Trumann Wesco, a missionary from the U.S. state of Indiana, died Tuesday after he was shot in the head while sitting in his car. Wesco had been in the northwest region of Cameroon with his wife, Stephanie, and their eight children for nearly two weeks before he was killed. Dave Halyman, the assistant pastor at a Baptist church in Warsaw, Indiana, where Stephanie Wesco’s father is the senior pastor, said Don Williams spoke with his daughter by phone after the shooting. ABC News

CAR Defense Minister: Efforts to Rebuild National Army Continue
Throughout nearly six years of civil war, the Central African Republic’s military has struggled to restore peace. Fighting with rebels and militias has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, while accusations of human rights abuses and ethnic bias have left some civilians in fear of their protectors. The CAR minister of defense, Marie-Noëlle Koyara, hopes to change course. She’s leading efforts to rebuild the military’s reputation and restore the country’s security. “We want a professional army that will truly be of service to the people,” Koyara told VOA’s French to Africa service in a recent interview. Koyara said the country is working on various reforms: background checks on soldiers, training and troop deployments across the country. Military leaders also plan to establish four garrisons in key areas of the CAR. VOA

UN Welcomes Moves to Restart Negotiations on Western Sahara
The U.N. Security Council has approved a resolution welcoming stepped up efforts to try to restart negotiations to end the 42-year conflict over the mineral-rich Western Sahara between Morocco and the Polisario Front. Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975 and fought the Polisario Front until the U.N. brokered a cease-fire in 1991. A peacekeeping mission established to monitor it was also mandated to help prepare a referendum on the territory’s future that has never taken place. Wednesday’s vote on the U.S.-sponsored resolution extending the mission’s mandate until April 30, 2019, was 12-0 with Russia, Ethiopia and Bolivia abstaining. Bolivia’s U.N. Ambassador Sasha Llorentty Soliz welcomed an upcoming roundtable of key parties but complained that the resolution neglected the crucial issue of self-determination of the people of Western Sahara.  VOA

African Investigative Journalists Say Threats Mounting — from Near and Far
Anonymous threats. Police harassment. Hostile officials. The constant, hovering cloud of self-censorship, social exclusion and forced exile. And to top it all off: low pay. Welcome to the life of a typical African investigative journalist. In recent years, intrepid African reporters have played a key role in uncovering corruption, human rights abuses, gang violence, drug and wildlife crimes, and other unsavory dealings; but, says South African journalism professor Anton Harber, that’s come at a cost. “There’s a tale of repression, assassination, harassment, jailing,” he told VOA. “It’s pretty rough out there.”  VOA

Ethiopia Supreme Court Gets Its First Woman Head, Meaza Ashenafi
The women-led wave in Ethiopia shows no signs of abating as the country welcomed its first Chief Justice, i.e. President of the Federal Supreme Court, on Thursday morning. Meaza Ashenafi, was approved unanimously by the lawmaking chamber, House of Peoples Representatives, HoPR, she had been nominated by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. Ashenafi, who is the founder of the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, EWLA, is to serve as President of the federal Supreme Court. Lawmakers also approved the appointment of Solomon Areda as Vice president of the Federal Supreme Court. Africa News

Tanzania: Anti-Gay Crackdown in Dar Es Salaam
A Tanzanian governor has announced the creation of a surveillance squad dedicated to hunting down gay people. Paul Makonda, governor of the economic capital Dar es Salaam, told reporters round-ups would begin next week. The team will scrutinise social media in order to track down and arrest people in same sex couples, he added. Homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania, where anti-gay rhetoric has been on the rise since President John Magufuli’s election in 2015. Many gay, lesbian and transgender people are forced to hide their sexuality as a result.  BBC

Chinese Business Tycoon Reveals How He Helped Fund Politicians in Lesotho – but Denies Claim of State Capture
Lesotho-based Chinese business tycoon Yan Xie has lifted the lid on his extensive generosity to Lesotho’s political elite, saying that he helped fund Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s lavish wedding in 2017 and has donated money to ‘almost every party in the country’. In an exclusive interview in Johannesburg, Chinese tycoon Yan Xie said that the Prime Minister lived in his mansion in the exclusive Maseru suburb of Hillsview after returning from exile in 2017. […] Most major parties dismissed Xie’s party funding claim. However, Basotho National Party (BNP) spokesperson and current home affairs deputy minister Machesetsa Mofomobe revealed that the businessman has funded both him and other individual party members. Daily Maverick

Forensic Scientists Battle to Identify South Africa’s Dead
After handling the body of a man who died from blunt force trauma in an apparent vehicle crash, forensic anthropologist Trisha-Jean Mahon turned to the next gurney in the neon-lit room of the mortuary in Johannesburg, South Africa. Like many corpses there, this one had no identity. Oh, he has tattoos, she said, peering closely at the crudely sketched letters on the young mans left leg. Tattoos, DNA and scars are vital clues that Mahon, 28, and her mainly female team of forensic scientists collect in a bid to identify the thousands of people who are buried anonymously in South Africa each year. Most of them are believed to be migrants who’ve come to Africa’s most industrialized nation in search of work, in particular to Johannesburg, its economic hub. The huge number of unidentified bodies passing through South Africa’s mortuaries is a burden on the state and presents a moral dilemma to forensic scientists. Once people are buried in grasslands outside the city, after three months at most, their chances of ever being identified are close to zero.  Bloomberg

‘Fish Are Vanishing’ – Senegal’s Devastated Coastline
Foreign trawlers and an expanding fishmeal industry are increasingly threatening the livelihood of Senegalese fishermen, forcing many to migrate to Europe, writes the BBC’s Alfonso Daniels. Mor Ndiaye, 34, has lived all his life in St Louis, a bustling fishing town in northern Senegal. Its sandy streets are crammed with children and roaming goats. Life here was good until a few years ago when everything changed. “The fish just vanished, what can we do? We used to catch enough fish in a day or two. Now we need to go out at sea for weeks to catch the same amount. It’s terrifying, we can only rely on God,” he says, standing next to men carrying fish in large plastic crates over their heads from the few traditional wooden boats arriving ashore. St Louis, a former French West African colonial capital, lies at the heart of one of the world’s richest fishing areas.  BBC

A Cheaper, Innovative Design Structure Could Be the Key to Better Roads in African Countries
One of the fastest growing economies in Africa, Ethiopia, has an ambitious plan to cut a green, sustainable path to becoming a middle-income country by 2025. Along the way, the country faces growing urban migration and rising demand for food—challenges that are linked by, and depend on, roads for access, supply and mobility. In 1997, the total road network in Ethiopia was 26,550 kilometers. By 2014 it reached 99,522 km. For the country to reach its ambitious growth targets it’s aiming to double this to over 200,000 km by 2020. But new roads in Ethiopia and across sub-Saharan Africa often change the landscape, bringing dust, flooding and erosion. The impact is felt most by rural communities. Roads can negatively affect water flows to wetlands, block fish movements and cause landslides, as well as impact the livelihoods of millions of people. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones