Africa Media Review for November 16, 2016

Nigeria Boko Haram: 75,000 Children ‘Risk Dying of Hunger’
Some 75,000 children in north-eastern Nigeria risk dying of hunger in “the few months ahead”, the UN says. UN humanitarian co-ordinator Peter Lundberg said that overall 14 million people needed humanitarian assistance in a region that was the former stronghold of Boko Haram militants. He warned that the UN did not have enough funds to avert the crisis. Boko Haram jihadists laid waste to the region before being pushed back by Nigerian forces in recent months. BBC

Burundi ‘Risks Genocide Amid Forgotten Conflict’
The United States has extended the national emergency against Burundi for another one year even as Bujumbura was optimistic about better relations with Washington following the election of Donald Trump. President Barack Obama in a statement on November 9, said that Burundi continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and therefore the emergency that was first declared in November 2015 will continue for another 12 months. In a video message last November, President Obama said: “The future of the land you love has been put at risk, leaders have spilled hateful rubric… terrible acts of violence that have taken the lives of innocent men, women and children …from Burundi’s painful past we know where this kind of violence can lead.” Al Jazeera

Who Can Stop the Threat of Genocide in South Sudan?
[…] The government response to dissent has historically been brutal. It is now fuelling not only an outpouring of refugees from the region, but also increasing local hostility towards the government and the Dinka – the largest ethnic group in the country who Kiir’s forces are seen as representing. “The government appears to be conducting a brutal counter-insurgency campaign in greater Equatoria, including reports of the systematic targeting of civilians, gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian law and widespread sexual violence,” said Kate Almquist Knopf, director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, at the National Defense University, Washington. “In response, Equatorian self-defense forces and armed groups have retaliated by attacking vehicles and targeting Dinka civilians, particularly in central Equatoria,” she told IRIN. IRIN

UN Calls on Sudan and South Sudan to Negotiate over Abyei
The U.N. Security Council is calling on Sudan and South Sudan to immediately resume negotiations on the final status of the disputed area of Abyei, saying it constitutes a serious threat to international order. The 15-member council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend the mandate of the peacekeeping force in the Abyei, underscoring that peacekeepers are charged with taking necessary action to protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence regardless of the source. The resolution extending the peacekeepers’ mandate stressed that future status of Abyei shall be resolved peacefully, through negotiations and not through the unilateral actions of either party. AP on The Washington Post

Thousands Trapped by Fighting in South Sudan Receive Emergency Aid
The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said it is distributing life-saving items to more than 6,000 vulnerable families trapped by fighting in Yei River state over the last six months. Internally displaced persons (IDPs) say they welcome the relief aid but want to be allowed to safely return to their home villages so they can harvest the crops they planted. The food rations they are receiving are not enough to survive on. UNHCR officials said more than 10,000 families were displaced from their homes in Yei County after fighting broke out between government forces and armed opposition groups aligned to former First Vice President Riek Machar. U.N. agencies say humanitarian conditions deteriorated quickly because aid workers were not able to access the area due to rampant insecurity. VOA

Japan Gives Troops in South Sudan New Security Role
Japan’s government decided Tuesday to assign its troops involved in peacekeeping missions in South Sudan a new security duty under a recently implemented law that expanded the Self-Defense Forces’ roles. Japan’s pacifistic constitution had previously been interpreted as prohibiting “collective defense”, or coming to the aid of an ally or peacekeeping partner, until 2012 when it was re-interpreted to permit such measures. The decision undertaken during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday marks the first time that troops have been assigned expanded roles under Japan’s new security laws that came into effect in March. Anadolu Agency

South Sudan Bans Media Interviews with Rebel Leader
South Sudanese government under President Salva Kiir has resumed a drive banning media organisations and journalists from interviewing and disseminating any material associated with the former First Vice President and the leader of armed opposition in the country (SPLM-IO), Riek Machar. A high ranking security officer told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that “no media entity and journalist will be excused from the ban” until a review of the media policy is completed. “There are orders and directives we have received from the above that no media is allowed to talk to Riek Machar and come and broadcast or print it out here inside South Sudan. If you defy these directives, then the violators will not escape the longest arms of the law. They will have to face the full force of the law,” a security officer told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday . Sudan Tribune

SPLM-N Fighters Won’t be Integrated Into the Sudanese Army: Bashir
Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir said any peace deal with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) would not include the integration of the rebel combatants in the Sudanese regular forces. Bashir, who was addressing the forces of the Sudanese Military Intelligence, on Sunday, vowed to restore security to the South Kordofan and Blue Nile state next summer “either through peace or war “, stressing “We want to secure the Sudan, protect all our borders and to clear it from any outlaw.” In a leaked audio recording of his speech in the closed-door meeting, the President stressed that the SPLM-N has missed the opportunity. “In the past, we used to negotiate a (peace) agreement including security arrangements and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process accordingly they are absorbed in the army, the police and security service, but as of today no single outlaw will be absorbed,” he said. Sudan Tribune

DRC: 5 Killed as Gunmen Attack Minister’s Convoy
At least five people were shot dead Sunday when unidentified gunmen opened fire at the convoy of Provincial Interior Minister Etshiba Mboko in the South Kivu province, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), police said Monday. The incident, which took place in a village called Pemba, occurred as a UN security council delegation was visiting the eastern DRC region, which is infested with insecurity and armed gangs. “We are hunting for gunmen who killed five people who were moving in on the convoy of the minister. They opened fire at the convoy without any warning and killed the innocent people,” said South Kivu police investigations officer Benjamin Lingalinga. Anadolu Agency

DRC: Joseph Kabila’s Friend With Benefits
Let’s be honest: being president, of anywhere, doesn’t look like much fun. The pressure is intense, the workload relentless. It’s impossible to please everyone. Sure, there’s usually a nice house and a coterie of fawning apparatchiks, which is great for the ego, but otherwise it’s a merry-go-round of inane speeches, diplomatic platitudes and trying to stay awake in endless summit meetings (failing, if you’re Robert Mugabe or Jacob Zuma). So what exactly is the appeal? In the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Joseph Kabila is following in the recent footsteps of his neighbours – Pierre Nkurunziza in Burundi, Denis Sassou Nguesso in the Republic of Congo, Paul Kagame in Rwanda – in manipulating laws and technicalities to extend his time in the Presidential Palace. His two constitutionally allotted terms expire on December 19, but it is clear that Kabila has no plans to go anywhere yet. Daily Maverick

DRC’s Kabila Shores Up Power Base, Turning Up Heat On International Broadcasters
Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Augustin Matata and the cabinet resigned on Monday as part of a deal that extends the tenure of President Joseph Kabila. Kabila is supposed to step down when his mandate expires on December 19, but his ruling coalition and part of the opposition agreed last month to delay presidential elections until April 2018, citing logistical problems with voter registration. The government’s departure on Monday was expected to make way for a new cabinet which would include some of those opposition figures who agreed to last month’s deal. However, the main opposition bloc Rassemblement (Gathering), which has rallied around veteran politician Etienne Tshisekedi, has rejected the pact. More than 50 people died in street protests in September, which were aimed at increasing pressure on Kabila to resign. Deutsche Welle

Senior Libyan al-Qaida Leader Reported Slain in Drone Strike
A senior al-Qaida leader was reportedly killed in a late-night drone strike that hit his home in Libya’s remote south, a Libyan news agency said Tuesday. The strike was suspected to be the work of a Western military but a Pentagon spokesman denied it was carried out by the United States. The LANA news agency said that Abu Talha al-Hassnawi, a key figure in al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate, was killed in his house in Sabha late on Monday. According to the agency, al-Hassnawi was previously a leading member of al-Qaida’s affiliate in Syria, and was a leading recruiter of fighters heading to fight in Syria’s vicious and complex conflict that has seen rival al-Qaida and Islamic State militants battle each other. AP on The Washington Post

Gaddafi ‘Gave Nicolas Sarkozy €50m for 2007 Presidential Campaign’
A French-Lebanese businessman has publicly repeated claims that the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi gave €50m (£43m) to fund Nicolas Sarkozy’s successful 2007 campaign for the French presidency. In a film published on the investigative news website Mediapart, Ziad Takieddine, who introduced Sarkozy to Gaddafi, insists he handed over cases stuffed with cash to the former French leader and his chief of staff, Claude Guéant. Acting out the scene, Takieddine says in the video: “It was a case like that. It opened like this. And the money was inside.” He told Mediapart: “I have discovered things that should no longer be hidden. I wish to denounce the mafia state in which we are currently living.” The Guardian

Rights Group: Kenya Forcing Refugees to War-torn Somalia
Kenya is coercing residents of the world’s largest refugee camp to leave it and return to Somalia where they risk getting killed or forcibly recruited into the Islamic extremist group, al-Shabab, Amnesty International said Tuesday. Some who voluntarily returned to Somalia from Dadaab camp told The Associated Press they are now facing hunger despite promises that they would be assisted. Kenya’s government announced in May that Dadaab, with more than 280,000 residents, will be closed at the end of this month, saying the camp was creating security problems. AP on The Washington Post

With No Army or Basic Services, CAR Leader Eyes Donors
Though elected early this year, Central Africa’s new president has no army to command or civil service to call on. He still fills in as a university maths lecturer due to lack of teaching staff. But this week could offer Faustin-Archange Touadera a lifeline, as donors come together in Brussels to plot a future for a country strategically positioned at the heart of Africa, but ravaged by three years of intense inter-religious strife. He hopes Thursday’s donor conference generates a massive financial shot-in-the-arm for the around five million residents of one of the world’s poorest nations. “We have come a long way and the country needs to be rebuilt,” 59-year-old Touadera told AFP in an interview. “We’re working in favour of peace but our situation remains extremely fragile.” News 24

IMF Lifts Sanctions Against Zimbabwe – Report
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lifted sanctions against Zimbabwe after the southern African country settled its arrears, a report said on Tuesday. According to New Zimbabwe, the IMF confirmed on Monday that it had removed the remedial measures against the country. The IMF, however, maintained that the move did not mean that it would consider new requests for funding from President Robert Mugabe’s administration. The international lending institution said that Mugabe should implement the reforms first and also repay other international creditors, including the World Bank, and the African Development Bank (AfDB). News 24

Africa Wants Out of ICC But  Lacks Capacity to Hold Trials
African countries advocating withdrawal from the Rome Statute are far from establishing local mechanisms to deal with international crimes as an alternative to the International Criminal Court. Kenya, Sudan, South Africa, Burundi, the Gambia and Uganda have been leading the campaign for mass withdrawal from the Rome Statute, which created the ICC, but lack the political will to deal with crimes against humanity, war crimes and possible genocide. Sudan is not a signatory to the Rome Statute but President Omar Al Bashir has been indicted at the Court for war crimes in Darfur. According to Reed Brody, the human rights lawyer who spearheaded the case against former Chadian president Hissene Habre, there is no political will across the continent to use local mechanisms even in countries where they exist, especially when the crimes are allegedly committed by state actors. The East African

Thousands of Chinese Ships Trawl the World, So How Can We Stop Overfishing?
When I was in Senegal in 2003, the few Chinese vessels fishing along the coast from Mauritania to Liberia were unseaworthy rust-buckets, existing off what licences they could cadge. Then in the past five years shining new trawlers appeared on the horizon, churned out by subsidised Chinese shipyards, earning their owners handsome subsidies if they travel outside China, where they run on subsidised fuel and exploit subsidised freight rates to get their frozen cargo back home. There seem to be unlimited funds available to buy licences to fish in ways that are far from transparent – and which have long been exploited by other Far East fleets and resourceful members of the European Union. China’s distant water fleet is now the largest in the world, with about 3,400 vessels fishing in the waters of nearly 100 countries. Researchers estimate that nearly 75% of all the fish it caught came from African waters with almost 3m tonnes from west Africa. The Guardian

Kenya Sets Fire to 5,000 Illegal Weapons in Crime Fight
Kenya destroyed some 5,250 illegal firearms by fire on Tuesday as part of efforts to fight crimes like cattle rustling, carjackings and to eliminate threats from terrorism. The burning destroyed weapons confiscated by law enforcement officials or voluntarily surrendered to agents collecting illegal small arms and light weapons. “Here in Kenya, small arms are implicated in many deaths, in acts of armed violence, among them inter community conflicts, cattle rustling, violent crimes and poaching,” Deputy President William Ruto said before the weapons were set ablaze. “Their presence has also intensified the threats posed by transnational crimes such as terrorism, human trafficking, piracy and drug trafficking,” he said in a speech. Reuters

What If You Had Ebola And Didn’t Even Know It?
The Ebola virus doesn’t always make people incredibly sick, and some people who are infected don’t even know they have it, according to research published Tuesday in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. “We are finding more and more that there [are patients with] minimally symptomatic Ebola infections,” says Dr. Gene Richardson, lead author of the study. “And why wouldn’t there be? Just about every other virus that causes infections in humans has a spectrum. Here there is a spectrum of illness from minimally symptomatic to death.” In 2014 Ebola hit the village of Sukudu in eastern Sierra Leone. Officially, 34 cases were diagnosed among roughly 800 residents from November of that year until February 2015. Twenty-eight people died and six patients survived. Richardson and his colleagues wondered if more people in the village could have been infected, but they hadn’t checked in at the local treatment center. NPR



Photo: Adam Jones