Africa Media Review for November 23, 2016

Boko Haram Launches Three Assaults in Cameroon Within 24 Hours
Suspected Boko Haram militants launched three attacks in northern Cameroon within 24 hours, including a thwarted suicide strike on a camp for people who have been displaced by the conflict, security sources said on Tuesday. The Islamist militant group is based in northeastern Nigeria but regularly carries out raids in neighboring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, prompting the four countries plus Benin to create a 10,000-strong joint task force. The frequency of the attacks has dropped in recent months, although more than 1,500 people have been killed in Cameroon by such attacks, International Crisis Group said in a report this month. Attacks were happening on an almost daily basis, but have dropped to between six and eight a month, it said. Only one of this week’s strikes, at a military camp at Darak where six soldiers were killed, resulted in the deaths of people other than the attackers themselves, the sources said. Reuters

Leaders Claim Boko Haram Besieging Villages in Chibok Area
Boko Haram fighters are overrunning villages near the northeast Nigerian town of Chibok, forcing hundreds of people to flee as they loot and burn in the area from which nearly 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped in 2014, local leaders said Tuesday. “Chibok is now under Boko Haram siege,” the chairman of the Chibok local government area, Yaga Yarkawa, told journalists Tuesday in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Nigeria’s homegrown Islamic extremist group 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the northeast. The accounts of Boko Haram violence around Chibok, along with multiple suicide bombings in Maiduguri city and attacks on army outposts in the area, raise doubts about claims by the military and government that the seven-year-old insurgency is nearly defeated. Instead, the insurgents have stepped up attacks as the rainy season ends, making them more mobile. VOA

Up to 1 Mln People Cut Off from Aid by Boko Haram in Lake Chad: U.N
Up to a million people around West Africa’s Lake Chad are cut off from humanitarian aid by Boko Haram despite a regional military offensive against the Islamist militants, a United Nations official said on Tuesday. Boko Haram violence has uprooted more than 100,000 people across the swamplands of Lake Chad, where the borders of Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria meet, and disrupted the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of others, according to aid agencies. Security sources say a regional task force is wrestling back control of the lake – where Boko Haram controls part of the fishing industry in a labyrinth of waterways – with hundreds of militants having surrendered in the past month. Yet many areas are impossible to reach amid the insecurity, said Toby Lanzer, U.N. humanitarian coordinator for the Sahel. Reuters

Buhari ‘begs’ Militants to Stop Destroying Oil Pipelines
Suspected Boko Haram militants launched three attacks in northern Cameroon within 24 hours, including a thwarted suicide strike on a camp for people who have been displaced by the conflict, security sources said on Tuesday. The Islamist militant group is based in northeastern Nigeria but regularly carries out raids in neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger, prompting the four countries plus Benin to create a 10,000-strong joint task force. The frequency of the attacks has dropped in recent months, although more than 1,500 people have been killed in Cameroon by such attacks, International Crisis Group said in a report this month. Attacks were happening on an almost daily basis, but have dropped to between six and eight a month, it said. Only one of this week’s strikes, at a military camp at Darak where six soldiers were killed, resulted in the deaths of people other than the attackers themselves, the sources said. News 24

Shell Sued in UK for ‘Decades of Oil Spills’ in Nigeria
Emere Godwin Bebe Okpabi, leader of Nigeria’s Ogale people, unpacked four bottles of water from his homeland and lined them up on a table to show why his subjects are suing Royal Dutch Shell in a London court. The Nigerian water is contaminated with oil and cancer-causing compounds such as benzene. It is what his people drink every day. Lawyers for more than 40,000 Nigerians are demanding action from Shell to clean up oil spills. Al Jazeera

Banking Fraud Is Costing the Nigerian Economy Dearly
Pervasive electronic banking fraud is affecting Nigeria’s banking system and costing the Nigerian economy dearly. It is also holding back the adoption of cashless technologies and has become an obstacle to financial inclusion in Africa’s second largest economy. Recent data shows that last year electronic fraud in the banking sector accounts for about 16% of total fraud in the industry. The implications of rampant e-fraud are enormous. People who already have a bank account are reluctant to adopt e-banking. And it’s an obstacle to drawing those who don’t have bank accounts into the formal financial system. In Nigeria only 53% of the population is in the banking system. News 24

ICC to Probe Libya Migrant Trafficking
Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court will probe the trafficking of migrants out of Libya to see if there is evidence of war crimes, the chief prosecutor told AFP on Tuesday. With the situation in Libya “deteriorating,” Fatou Bensouda said “my office is planning to make Libya a priority in investigations” in the coming year. “One of the areas I intend to look into is the issue of the migrants, and the fact that we see hundreds of thousands of migrants being trafficked across from Libya, coming into Europe,” she said. She was speaking in an interview with AFP in the ICC’s new permanent home on the outskirts of The Hague, just as Italy was on the verge of a record number of migrant arrivals for the year. News 24

Surrender Calls as 37 Terrorists Perish in Shrinking Sirte Enclave
Bunyan Marsous fighters are slowly blasting their way through the remaining properties in Sirte’s Marine Giza district in which IS terrorists are holed up. According to the BM operations room, 37 fighters have been killed in the course of the last 48 hours, a number of them found wearing suicide vests. Photographs of some of the corpses appeared to show blast injuries, almost certainly from the 13 American air strikes that went in today.  The US African command said that 50 “fighting” positions had been targeted. American have now launched 411 air attacks since the start of August. Libya Herald

War Comes to Yei: South Sudan’s Safe Haven No More
Yei was a beacon of relative stability in South Sudan’s long conflict. A place where people sent their kids to study and neighbours lived unscathed by the trouble outside. Not any more. War has reached Yei, and South Sudan’s civil war has turned this once-peaceful town upside down. When my colleague and I arrived in Yei in October, we found a town in utter disarray. Once bustling neighbourhoods deserted. Sky-rocketing inflation at the market. Government soldiers patrolling the streets, Kalashnikovs in hand. No-go zones controlled by rebels. And a deep sense of fear among civilians: fear of murder, of rape, of arrest, of disappearing into detention. A few months ago, Yei was considered one of the safest places in South Sudan.  Daily Maverick

Some 1,400 Migrants Rescued, 8 Bodies Recovered: Italy Coastguard
Some 1,400 boat migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa to Europe have been rescued so far on Tuesday, Italy’s coastguard said, after at least 11 overcrowded boats set out from Libya amid calm seas. Rescuers have also recovered eight dead bodies. The coast guard ship Diciotti took seven corpses from a rubber boat, while one body was recovered from another rubber vessel by the Topaz, a ship run by humanitarian group Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS). Italy’s coastguard coordinated the rescues off the Libya coast, including helicopter airlifts of three migrants in need of immediate hospital care, a spokeswoman said. One was being evacuated because of a heart attack, while two others were suffering from severe hypothermia, she said. Reuters

South Africa’s Unemployment Rises to Highest Since 2003
South Africa’s unemployment rose to its highest in 13 years in the third quarter, with manufacturing, mining and agriculture sectors all shedding jobs, the statistics agency said on Tuesday. Africa’s most industrialised economy has grown lethargically over the last six years, making it hard to recoup the one million jobs lost during a 2008/09 recession. The jobless rate rose to 27.1 percent of the labour force in the three months to September, from 26.6 percent in the second quarter, Statistics South Africa said on Tuesday. “Unemployment is the highest since 2003. The highest unemployment rate prior to 2003 was probably around 30 percent in 2000,” Statistician-General Pali Lehohla told a news conference. Reuters

The New Debate Over Bed Nets
Have bed nets lost their power to protect people from malaria-carrying mosquitoes? That’s the subject of debate among researchers looking for ways to cut down on malaria cases and deaths. Over the last two decades, the insecticide-treated bed net has been one of the most powerful tools against malaria. The nets work in two ways. They block mosquitoes from biting people while they sleep, and the insecticide kills mosquitoes that try to penetrate the webbing and fail. So the nets not only provide protection for a single individual, they reduce the overall number of malaria-carrying mosquitoes in a community. Since the year 2000 more than a billion insecticide-treated bed nets have been handed out in Africa alone. Aid groups have also distributed them in impoverished malarial zones in Southeast Asia and the Americas. NPR

Cameroon: Clashes Between Protesters & Security Forces as Anglophone Tensions Rise
The Cameroonian city of Bamenda was calm on Tuesday morning, a day after skirmishes broke out between protesters and security forces. Demonstrators took to the streets on Monday following the start of a teachers’ strike against a perceived lack of educational provision for Anglophone children. Security forces were deployed to the north-western city and fired tear gas to disperse demonstrators who joined teachers in voicing their grievances with the Francophone administration. RFI

Video: Train in Deadly Cameroon Derailment Was ‘Overloaded’
One month after the train crash in Cameroon that killed 79 people and injured hundreds, victims are still waiting for an inquirey into what went wrong. However, FRANCE 24 has obtained documents showing that the train exceeded weight regulations. The train tragically derailed on October 21 as it sped between the capital of Yaounde and the central African country’s port city of Douala. Authorities and rail company officials have determined that the train was travelling at least 40 kph (kilometres per hour) too fast when it came off the tracks. France 24

4th Africa-Arab Summit to Call on UNSC to Face JASTA
Countries participating in the 4TH Africa-Arab Summit will call on the United Nations Security Council to counter the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, know as JASTA, which was passed by the U.S. Senate earlier this year. The law, which enables families of Sept. 11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia’s government for damages, was strongly rejected worldwide, as several countries have described it as a violation to the principles of international relations and sovereign immunity. Well-informed sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that a unanimous decision will be issued at the Africa-Arab Summit to call on the UNSC to counter JASTA as it violates the universal jurisdiction. Ashark al Awsat

UN Preparing for Crisis in DRC
The United Nations is making contingency plans to respond to a sudden increase in humanitarian needs should the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s political situation turn violent. The U.N. has been warning for several months that without a serious national political dialogue, tensions in the DRC could deteriorate into a severe and possibly violent crisis. The U.N. has 20,000 peacekeepers in the country’s volatile east and has been conducting military contingency planning to protect civilians if the situation escalates. VOA

Kismayo Under Pressure as Somali Refugees Return From Kenya
Some 18,000 former refugees have poured into the Somali city of Kismayo this year, with most struggling to find adequate shelter, food, health care and jobs. Abdullahi Mohamed, a former refugee in his 20s, is hoping he can buck the trend. Unlike most other youths, he’s received training with a local mechanic at a Kismayo garage. “At least here I have got something to learn and do,” he says. “Back in Dadaab camp [in Kenya], I was not able to get an opportunity like this one I have here today.” His training, originally scheduled to end in a month, has been extended through February. VOA

Land Mine Casualties Jump 75% as Funding for Their Removal Declines
Despite a global treaty that bans land mines, casualties from those weapons and other unexploded munitions lurking in current and past war zones rose sharply last year to the highest point in a decade, a monitoring group said Tuesday in its annual report. The group, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, also said that financial contributions toward efforts to remove land mines plunged by nearly a quarter last year. It was the third consecutive annual decline in funding, imperiling a pledge by treaty members to complete mine clearance by 2025. In another setback to the treaty’s goals, the number of countries and areas where land mines are known to exist rose to 64 last year, from 61 in 2014, the report said. It attributed the increase to the use of antipersonnel mines in Nigeria, including improvised mines, and to new data on mines that had already been present in Palau and Mozambique. The New York Times

Africa’s Biggest Windfarm Sparks Controversy in the Desert
Last week’s Marrakech climate summit shone a light on Morocco’s clean energy plans, which have drawn praise from around the world. At the heart of King Mohammed VI’s ambitions is a windfarm in the country’s south-west region, which, due to an expansion over the summer, has seen off an array of challengers for the title of Africa’s biggest. Built in just two years and launched in 2015, the Tarfaya complex stretches more than 100 square km across the Saharan desert, its 131 wind turbines grinding out enough electricity to power a city the size of Marrakech every day. But the renewable energy project is also controversial with some Saharawi – the people who live in the west of the Sahara desert – who complain that it will deepen what they say is the occupation of their land. The Guardian

Morocco Wants to Build a New City from Scratch—With China’s Help
Morocco is working on a $10 billion project with the Chinese group Haite to develop an industrial city that will host some 300,000 locals. The project envisions a large Chinese-style industrial park on the edge of the Mediterranean, built on about 2,500 acres with room to expand up to nearly 5,000 acres. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI has been personally involved in the improvement in Moroccan-Chinese ties that preceded the deal. The King met with president Xi of China during an official visit to Beijing this year, which led to the signing of a strategic partnership. Like those in China, the park will include both industrial sites and apartment towers. The site will host 300,000 Moroccan employees many of whom will live on site. The plan draws a lot from Chinese development strategy. China’s reform and opening of the 1980s began “special economic zones” like Shenzhen in southeastern China, slowly opening the Chinese economy to outside investment. Morocco hopes to follow a similar path to growth. Quartz



Photo: Adam Jones