Africa Media Review for November 30, 2018

UNICEF: Children in CAR Face Lives of Desperation, Deprivation
A new report presents a dire portrait of the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in the Central African Republic. They live in a state of permanent crisis brought on by years of conflict and international neglect, a report by the United Nations Children’s Fund on the “Crisis in the Central African Republic” found. The U.N. children’s fund considers the Central African Republic to be one of the most difficult and dangerous places in the world to be a child. And the statistics bear this out. The new UNICEF report finds that 2 out of 3 children, or 1.5 million children in the C.A.R., need humanitarian aid to survive. It finds that tens of thousands of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition are at risk of death. It says children in this war-torn country live in a constant state of fear of being killed or subjected to abuse and violence.  VOA

Congo’s Ebola Outbreak Now 2nd Largest in History, WHO Says
Congo’s deadly Ebola outbreak is now the second largest in history, behind the devastating West Africa outbreak that killed thousands a few years ago, the World Health Organization said Thursday. WHO’s emergencies chief, Dr. Peter Salama, called it a “sad toll” as Congo’s health ministry announced the number of cases has reached 426. That includes 379 confirmed cases and 47 probable ones. So far this outbreak, declared on Aug. 1, has 198 confirmed deaths, with another 47 probable ones, Congo’s health ministry said. Attacks by rebel groups and open hostility by some wary locals have posed serious challenges to health workers that Ebola experts say they’ve never been seen before. Many venture out on critical virus containment missions only accompanied by U.N. peacekeepers in areas where gunfire echoes daily. Salama this month predicted that the outbreak in northeastern Congo will last at least another six months before it can be contained. West Africa’s Ebola outbreak killed more than 11,000 people from 2014 to 2016.  AP

Gunfire, Threats and Curfews Slow Congo’s Fight against Ebola
When medics tried to reach Ebola patients in a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo during a recent surge in violence, they were blocked by men wielding machetes and axes. Worried about being kidnapped, they turned back, the latest in a series of setbacks in their attempts to contain the central African country’s worst outbreak of the deadly virus. As fighting has worsened between rival militia seeking control of land and natural resources, vaccinations and vital treatments have increasingly been delayed and Ebola has spread. The situation has become so dangerous in eastern Congo that humanitarian workers were temporarily evacuated last month from their base in the town of Beni in the North Kivu region close to Rwanda and Uganda. Reuters

Risks Bubbling beneath Djibouti’s Foreign Bases
The Republic of Djibouti is on any measure one of the most stable countries in eastern Africa. There are no known Islamic radicals here and, unlike its immediate neighbor Somalia and Yemen across the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, it is not plagued by a vicious civil war. The 1998-2018 war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, two other next door countries, significantly did not spill over into Djibouti. [,,,] With all that, combined with Djibouti’s strategic location at the entrance of the Red Sea, it is not surprising that several foreign powers, namely the United States, Japan, France, Italy and, most recently, China, have chosen to establish and maintain military bases here. But underneath the veneer of stability and calm, there are three major issues that could spark turmoil. According to a March 2018 report by Center for Global Development, a US-based think tank, Djibouti has borrowed more money from China to pay for infrastructure projects than it can analysts doubt it can afford. For decades, trade with Ethiopia’s land-locked but fast-growing economy has been conducted through Djibouti’s ports. But a peace deal between Ethiopia and Eritrea, concluded in July this year, could open a new trade route from Ethiopia to the Eritrean city of Massawa, once one of the most important ports on the Red Sea.  Asia Times

Boko Haram Kill More Nigeria Troops as Buhari Visits War Front
The Boko Haram have killed more Nigerian soldiers, making a mockery of President Muhammadu Buhari’s vow to crush the jihadists. Reports indicate the troops suffered three fatalities following an attack on their base in northeast Borno State near Lake Chad late Tuesday. The jihadists from Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) reportedly invaded the Cross-Kauwa military base driving in several trucks. “We lost three soldiers in the fight,” AFP quoted a military officer who asked not to be named. “The soldiers fought the terrorists but were overpowered and had to withdraw from the base,” he added. The East African

Nigerian Leader: Islamic Extremists Are Now Using Drones
Islamic extremists in Nigeria have begun using drones, the country’s president said Thursday, opening a worrying new front in the region’s nearly decade-long fight against Boko Haram and an offshoot linked to the Islamic State. President Muhammadu Buhari announced the development during a meeting of countries contributing troops to a multinational force combatting the extremists. This appears to be the first confirmed use of drones by an extremist group in Africa, according to the World of Drones project run by the Washington-based New America think tank. Its section on non-state actors notes that Libyan rebels are reported to have used drones for surveillance in that chaotic North African nation. Deadly attacks against Nigeria’s military are on the rise, with 39 soldiers killed this month alone and another 43 wounded. The extremists’ use of drones for surveillance in the country’s northeast has proven to be a “critical factor” in the resurgence of attacks, the president said.  AP

Nigerian Super Tucano Contract Awarded
The United States Department of Defence has placed a $329 million contract with the Sierra Nevada Corporation to manufacture 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft for the Nigerian Air Force (NAF). The contract was announced on 28 November and is worth $329 076 750 for the aircraft, although the total not-to-exceed amount is approved at $344 727 439 and is to include Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) systems for six of the aircraft. These systems will be funded soon after the initial contract award. In addition to the 12 aircraft, the contract provides for ground training equipment, mission planning systems, mission debrief systems, spares, ground support equipment and support services. The Department of Defence said that work will be performed in Jacksonville, Florida, and is expected to be completed in May 2024. DefenceWeb

Cameroon Activates Village Militias
Cameroon has reactivated village militias on its northern border with Nigeria after twin suicide bombings Wednesday wounded 29 people. Authorities say the bombers were Boko Haram terrorists who crossed over from Nigeria. It is hoped the armed locals can prevent further attacks. A group of 200 young men, drawn from 20 villages around the town of Amchide, sing a song about initiation into the local militia. In the lyrics, they vow to defend their communities from all intruders who would disturb the peace they had enjoyed for the past five months. That peace was shaken on Wednesday when two suicide bombers attacked a food market in Amchide, wounding 29 people,nine of them critically. The women bombers — the only ones killed — are suspected of having crossed over from the neighboring Nigerian town of Banki. Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of this far northern region of Cameroon, which borders Nigeria., said the bombings prompted him to reactivate the village militias, known as self-defense groups. VOA

Guinea Police Use Tear Gas to Break up Opposition Demo
Policemen fired tear gas and used batons on Thursday to break up an anti-government protest by hundreds of opposition supporters in the heart of the Guinean capital Conakry. The political opposition has been demonstrating against what it considers a violation by the authorities of an agreement reached in August over the appointment of local government officials elected in a hotly disputed vote on February 4. An AFP correspondent said police cordoned off the area around parliament in the morning and warned demonstrators that they would be tear-gassed if they breached the barricades. Some 500 mostly youth demonstrators tried to force their way in but were beaten back with batons and had tear gas fired on them. Four of them suffered light injuries, an AFP correspondent said.  AFP

Giulio Regeni: Italy Names Egyptian Agents as Murder Suspects
Italian prosecutors have named several members of Egypt’s national security agency as suspects in the alleged murder of Italian doctoral student Giulio Regeni – the first Egyptians to be named by the Italian side in connection with the case after almost three years. The move comes after a meeting, the 10th of its kind, between Rome’s deputy public prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco and Egyptian authorities in Cairo. The prosecution in Rome decided to proceed on its own, listing several members of Egypt’s national security agency as potentially responsible for the alleged torture and murder of the student, Italian prosecutors told the Guardian. Reports in multiple Italian news outlets detail how the Italian prosecutors were frustrated by a lack of progress in the investigation following Colaiocco’s visit to Cairo. On his return to Italy, they added the names of Egyptian security officials to the preliminary list of suspects.  The Guardian

How European and Chinese Arms Diverted to South Sudan Fueled Its Civil War
A four-year-long investigation has revealed how arms and equipment from European Union member states and China funneled into East Africa and a web of front companies have fueled the deadly conflict in South Sudan. The new report, released by the London-based Conflict Armament Research organization, shows how South Sudan’s neighbors sidestepped international arms embargoes to re-transfer weapons to both sides in the country’s devastating civil war, which has killed an estimated 383,000 people and sparked one of the world’s worst humanitarian emergencies. Researchers analyzed hundreds of weapons and over 200,000 rounds of ammunition, the vast majority of which were manufactured in China. The report highlights how a vast global supply chain of arms exporters and companies spanning Europe, Asia, and Africa have sustained South Sudan’s five-year civil war, and paints a forensic picture of how international arms embargoes were thwarted. It also brings new scrutiny to Uganda, which potentially violated European Union arms embargoes to funnel ammunition from Romania, Bulgaria, and Slovakia to South Sudan’s military—although Kampala now paints itself as a neutral broker in South Sudan’s latest peace talks.  Foreign Policy

Tanzania Snubs Uganda’s Invitation for Bilateral Talks
Tanzania has ignored multiple requests from Uganda for a bilateral meeting to address trade concerns. Uganda in September petitioned Tanzania over dipping trade relations on a number of issues that have negatively impacted trade between the two countries. Ms Hadija Nakakande, the Ministry of Trade public relations manager, had in September confirmed they had petitioned Tanzania to address issues related to Ugandan exports into Tanzania. However, the bilateral would have given opportunity for both countries to relay their concerns. Key among the issues, she said, would include resolving the issue of road user fees, which require Ugandan exporters to pay for using Tanzania roads, retesting products that have already been certified by Uganda National Bureau of Standards, free movement of people and charging Ugandan traders’ business visas. Ugandan clearing and forwarding agents have also been raising concerns over the fact that they have been denied an opportunity to open outlets in Tanzania. Daily Monitor

Lesotho MPs Demand to Double Their Pay
Members of parliament in Lesotho are demanding to double their salary despite already being among the best-paid people in the country. MPs earn 37,000 loti (£2,091) a month, which is more than 18 times the average factory worker’s salary of 2,000 loti. They also get 500,000 loti (£28,000) in interest-free loans at the beginning of each parliamentary term. One legislator told the Lesotho Times: “There have been negotiations between us and the government through the deputy prime minister over salary increments. Our entry point in these negotiations is a 100% increment.” Another said salaries should be doubled if the interest-free loans were scrapped. The Guardian

South African Arms Company Needs Partners Soon to Survive, Official Says
South Africa’s defence industry is facing a crisis as the state-owned arms maker Denel struggles to survive, and rapidly agreeing equity partnerships is the only way to save it, one of the country’s top defence officials told Reuters. Denel’s woes put at risk an industry estimated to directly employ around 15,000 people and which is one of the most advanced sectors of Africa’s most developed economy, said Kevin Wakeford, CEO of Armscor. Armscor is responsible for procuring military hardware for South Africa’s armed forces. It also serves as custodian for South African defence-related intellectual property. “The defence industry is the beachhead for high-level engineering and technological jobs in the South African economy,” Wakeford said. “We are at an inflection point. If Denel collapses those capabilities could be lost forever.”  Reuters

South Africans Are Taking the Law into Their Own Hands
In recent years, with violent crime spiraling across South Africa, mob justice attacks have become increasingly commonplace in neglected communities like Blikkiesdorp, as ragtag vigilante groups fill the void left by a chronically under-resourced police force. (In September, National Police Commissioner Lt. Gen. Khehla Sitole told South African members of Parliament that there is a deficit of 62,000 police officers across the country.) Like Johnson, many of the victims are burned to death, a grisly throwback to the political violence that engulfed South African townships in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when suspected apartheid collaborators and police informants regularly met the same fate. In a process known as “necklacing,” angry crowds would force a tire doused in petrol over a victim’s chest and arms and set it alight. According to the latest national crime statistics released in mid-September, 849 people were killed in cases the police classify as mob justice in the 12-month period from April 2017 to March 2018. Foreign Policy

China’s ‘Belt and Road’: The Noose around Africa’s Neck
Africa is the continent least responsible but most vulnerable to climate change, which means that Beijing’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, the largest development plan of the modern era, could easily send its fragile ecosystems over the edge. Is the Chinese government truthful when it says the BRI is eco-friendly? […] Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a deal with the Chinese government to build a 4,600-megawatt coal-fired power station in Limpopo. Although it’s not included in South Africa’s new Integrated Resource Plan, this doesn’t matter, apparently, because the plant—earmarked for development between Makhado and Musina—won’t feed into the national power grid. Instead, the energy it produces will be exclusively used by a massive new Chinese-controlled industrial park, called the South African Energy and Metallurgical Special Economic Zone, or EMSEZ. The polluted air and water, meanwhile, will directly affect the communities in South Africa’s far north. Like the road that runs through Kenya’s far north, such infrastructure projects are a mixed blessing at best. The economic benefits of the Addis Ababa-Nairobi-Mombasa corridor were claimed last week as a BRI victory by Ambassador Lin, even though the project was launched years before Xi’s grand plan was ever conceived, but the dead elephants of Samburu did not get a mention.  Daily Maverick

Concerns over Eritrea’s Role in Efforts by Africa and EU to Manage Refugees
Early in 2019 the Eritrean government will take over the chair of the key Africa and European Union (EU) forum dealing with African migration, known as the Khartoum Process. The Khartoum Process was established in the Sudanese capital in 2014. It’s had little public profile, yet it’s the most important means Europe has of attempting to halt the flow of refugees and migrants from Africa. The official title says it all: The EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative. Its main role is spelled out as being: primarily focused on preventing and fighting migrant smuggling and trafficking in human beings. Chairing the Khartoum Process alternates between European and African leaders. In January it will be Africa’s turn. The steering committee has five African members – Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Sudan. A number of others nations, such as Kenya to Tunisia, have participating status.  News 24

Spain Ignores Pleas to Not Send Rescued Migrants Back to Libya
The Spanish government is maintaining its decision to leave the fate of 12 migrants in the hands of Libyan authorities after the former were rescued in the Mediterranean Sea last Thursday by a Spanish fishing boat. The Ombudsman has asked the Foreign Ministry to consider taking them in for humanitarian reasons, underscoring that the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) does not consider Libya a safe harbor for migrants, even though it is the closest country to the spot where the group was rescued. The office of the Spanish deputy prime minister, which is in charge of negotiations with Libyan authorities, claims that Libya, being the nearest port, is therefore also the safest. The law defines as a safe harbor any port where it is possible to dock, remain and depart from without putting the ship at risk. “This is not just about the risk to a ship, we’re talking about people. We’re talking about pushback policies. El Pais

What Do African Aid Recipients Think of Charity Ads?
It’s a question that charities often debate: How should their fund-raising ads portray the people they’re trying to help? If the ads display graphic human suffering to elicit donations, they run the risk of exploiting the subjects or making them look helpless. If the ads are more upbeat — showing aid recipients who are smiling, for example — they may ignore the subject’s strife and put the power to transform the subject’s life in the hands of rich, Western donors. While this dilemma is often discussed among charity professionals, the debate hasn’t always included the people in the images — the aid recipients themselves. So a group of researchers wanted to turn the tables. What do those who are supported by aid think? That’s the topic of a new survey, “Which Image Do You Prefer? A Study Of Visual Communications In Six African Countries.”  NPR



Photo: Adam Jones