Africa Media Review for November 30, 2023

Somali Maritime Police Intensify Patrols as Fears Grow of Resurgence of Piracy in the Gulf of Aden
Somalia’s maritime police force on Thursday intensified patrols in the Gulf of Aden following a failed pirate hijacking of a ship earlier this week. The commander of the maritime force in the semiautonomous region of Puntland, Abdullahi Mohamed Ahmed, told The Associated Press that patrols in the waters had doubled and were on a 24-hour rotation to deter pirates…On Sunday, the U.S. military said it had captured five men who had attempted to hijack an Israeli-linked tanker off the coast of Yemen…U.S. and British militaries said the armed attackers seized the Liberian-flagged Central Park, managed by Zodiac Maritime, in the Gulf of Aden. The pirates had attempted to escape using speedboats but surrendered after being pursued by American destroyer the USS Mason, a statement from the U.S. Military’s central command said…That is the first in many years and has led the Somali government to appeal for International support to deter a resurgence of piracy in the Horn of Africa. AP

EU Donates €1 Million for Military Hardware in Somalia
The European Union [EU] has donated €1 million to the Federal Republic of Somalia, a senior government official has confirmed, with the country to purchase modern military hardware for the Somali National Army [SNA] which is involved in operations against Al-Shabaab. Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, the Defence Minister, said the donation comes at a crucial time when the national army is battling against Al-Shabaab militants, who have continued to cause havoc in central and southern regions of Somalia for decades…This is the first time the EU is donating towards strengthening the Somali National Army by banking on sophisticated weapons…The European Union is a major financial partner of the country and has invested resources in the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia [ATMIS] peacekeepers. It is expected that by December 2024, the peacekeepers will have handed security responsibilities to the national army. Garowe Online

Armed Men Abduct 8 in Northern Nigeria State, Residents Say
Gunmen kidnapped at least eight people in an attack on the Dan Honu community in Nigeria’s northern Kaduna state, residents said on Thursday. Kidnapping for ransom is rife in northwest Nigeria where armed gangs, often referred to locally as bandits, have targeted schools, villages and travellers, making it unsafe to travel by road or to farm in some areas. Kaduna police spokesperson Mansur Hassan said the police are investigating the incident, which occurred late Tuesday in Chikum local government area of the state…Attacks in northern Nigeria are part of widespread insecurity in the country that include a 14-year Islamist insurgency in the northeast and deadly clashes between farmers and herders in the central region. Reuters

Sudan’s Warring Sides Forcibly Recruit Civilians, Even Refugees Who Return
The two warring sides in Sudan have been forcibly recruiting civilians to join the fight, and conditions in some refugee camps outside the country are so awful that some men who fled have returned to Sudan, only to be captured and pressed into combat, refugees said. Thousands of Sudanese began flooding across the eastern border into Ethiopia in July, the U.N. refugee agency reported, mainly young men who said they were fleeing forced recruitment. Many have ended up in the U.N.’s Kumer camp in the Amhara region. With humanitarian assistance in the camp running short, Fatna Ibrahim said she saw her youngest, 15-year-old Mustafa, return to Sudan and into the grasp of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group fighting the Sudanese military. The RSF had already forcibly recruited her husband and eldest son just days after the civil war broke out on April 15, she recounted…Inside Sudan, medical staff are especially at risk of being abducted. Ali Basher, of the Sudanese Doctors Syndicate, said 39 medical personnel had been taken by armed groups. Some had been accused of helping the opposite side and tortured, many forced to treat wounded fighters, he said. The Washington Post

Risks of Sexual Exploitation, Trafficking on the Rise in Sudan: UNFPA
Risk of sexual exploitation and trafficking in Sudan has increased due to low operating capacity of public services and economic hardships, a report shows. A gender-based violence (GBV) responders report from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) reveals a significant and long-lasting impacts of GBV on physical and mental health – including injury, unintended pregnancy and pregnancy complications, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and death in war-torn Sudan…More than four million women and girls in Sudan are at risk of sexual violence, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Women’s Future Organisation recorded 103 incidents of rape in South and West Darfur as of August 2023, according to the report issued by the ACJPS. Meanwhile the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office in Sudan said it received credible reports of more than 50 incidents of sexual violence linked to hostilities by November 2, impacting at least 105 victims, with 70 per cent of confirmed incidents attributed to men in RSF uniforms. Sudan Tribune

From Ethiopia to South Africa: The Human Cost of a Neglected Migration Route
The southern route to South Africa is one of three major migration corridors transporting people out of the Horn of Africa. But unlike the two better-known routes – going east to the Gulf states, or north to Europe – it is both sketchily documented and poorly understood. As a result, the dynamics and casualties of this covert business tend to be overlooked by migration experts, aid agencies, and government authorities…It’s difficult to gauge how many use the route to arrive in South Africa – one of the continent’s most sophisticated economies. The volume of people travelling along it is believed to be larger than those taking the northern route to Europe, but much less than those heading from the Horn of Africa to the Gulf states…Many, perhaps most, of the undocumented Ethiopians and Somalis that make it to South Africa apply for asylum. In the first six months of this year, just over 23,000 Ethiopians and 2,600 Somalis sought asylum in South Africa, according to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR. This suggests the numbers of people travelling the southern route annually could be approaching 50,000. The New Humanitarian

AU, ECOWAS, CSOs Strategise against Democratic Backsliding in Africa
Top officials of the [AU and ECOWAS] spoke in Accra, Ghana, on Wednesday, the first day of the second annual conference of the West Africa Democracy Solidarity (WADEMOS) Network, a body of civil society organisations from across the sub-region…[ECOWAS Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security Abdel-Fatau Musah] said the ECOWAS Commission management is consolidating engagements with CSOs for “advancing democracy, good governance, and sustainable development as a pathway to accelerating the realization of the ECOWAS Vision 2050″… which replaces the expired Vision 2020 proclaims that ECOWAS must, within 30 years, become a community of peoples and economic integration. [Bankole Adeoye, the AU’s Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security], said the AU plans, in 2024, “to revamp the implementation of the Accra Declaration on unconstitutional changes of government”. The Accra Declaration emphasises “zero tolerance for the overthrow of constitutionally elected governments, including manipulation of constitutions by incumbents and all other forms of unconstitutional changes of government, as well as his advice that a stable period of constitutional government and proper management of the economy can lead to inclusive prosperity for Africa.”Premium Times

Algeria Passes Law to Protect Media Freedom. Others Used to Imprison Journalists Remain on the Books
Algeria’s National Council passed a new media law that…repeals the country’s “press offense” law and enshrines new protections for journalists to ensure they will not face arrest or imprisonment for doing their jobs. However, two prominent journalists remain behind bars and the laws that authorities have used to prosecute journalists — including one banning foreign funding for media outlets — remain on the books…The overture to Algeria’s once vibrant, now fledgling journalism sector comes a year before Tebboune campaigns for reelection…Repealing Algeria’s “press offense” law has been under discussion in parliament for more than a decade. It was first enshrined into national law in 2011 but put on hold as the country continued to use it to prosecute journalists who wrote critically of the government…The new law will take effect when it’s published in the country’s official bulletin, at which time courts will no longer arbitrate what journalists can write. Afterward, the country’s professional journalism organizations — the Council of Ethics and Conduct, the Print Media Regulatory Authority and the Audiovisual Regulatory Authority — will regulate the profession. AP

EU Cancels Congo Election Observation Mission
The European Union has cancelled its election observation mission for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Dec. 20 general election, saying it would not be able to deploy people across the country for security reasons…EU spokesperson Nabila Massrali told Reuters on Tuesday that election observers were already in Kinshasa and were supposed to be deployed across the country on Nov. 21, but that they were not able to go for security reasons. Tensions are running high in the run-up to presidential, legislative and regional elections in Africa’s second-largest country, which is also struggling to contain a myriad of armed groups in its mineral-rich east…The EU said it was exploring other options with the Congolese authorities, including the possibility of maintaining a mission of electoral experts to observe the electoral process from the capital. Reuters

Cyril Ramaphosa Kicks Off Campaign as South African Voters Lose Faith in ANC
Cyril Ramaphosa kicked off the long road to South Africa’s most consequential election since the end of apartheid with a walkabout in the Soweto heartland of his African National Congress. The South African president went door-to-door in Meadowlands, a suburb of Johannesburg’s largest township, officially to encourage voters to register ahead of next year’s contest. But it was also an attempt to drum up enthusiasm for the ruling party that has governed Africa’s most industrialised nation since the advent of democracy in 1994 — now facing the real prospect of losing its grip on power…The 71-year-old Ramaphosa is part of that Mandela generation: an anti-apartheid stalwart turned business tycoon who came to the party’s rescue when he replaced the corruption-marred rule of Jacob Zuma in 2018. More than five years on, economic chaos is trumping nostalgia. As the months tick down to a vote expected by May 2024, Ramaphosa is battling to overcome issues ranging from rolling power blackouts and clogged ports to rampant crime and a rate of joblessness that stands at more than 32 per cent…Support for the ANC, which won 57 per cent of the vote in the last election in 2019, has fallen below 50 per cent in recent polls, raising the prospect that it will have to haggle with other parties to form a coalition. Financial Times

Climate Change Is the Biggest Human Health Risk, Says Africa’s Disease Boss
Climate change is the biggest threat to human health in Africa and the rest of the world, the head of the continent’s public health agency said. Mitigating that risk was top of his agenda, Jean Kaseya, the director general of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told Reuters as he headed to the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, which begins on Thursday. The measures needed, Kaseya said, would include funding to help countries in Africa trying to contain outbreaks of disease…Since the start of this year, Kaseya said Africa has tackled 158 disease outbreaks…Speaking on the sidelines of the international conference on public health in Africa, taking place in Lusaka, Zambia, until Thursday, Kaseya said that the mistakes of COVID-19 must not be repeated, particularly concerning equal access to vaccines and treatments…he said the CDC was encouraging regional vaccine manufacturing initiatives as well as a pooled procurement mechanism for African countries to lower prices. In addition, he said he expects the African Medicines Agency, the first continent-wide regulatory body, will be operational by 2024. Reuters

Who Are the Women Working for Change and Peace in Cameroon?
In the village of Makolo, in the far north of Cameroon, pupils are streaming into the classrooms. Lawyer and women’s rights activist Marthe Wandou has come to talk to them. “My dream is for every girl and boy to have the opportunity to go to school to the level they want,” she says. Wandou is an affilitate of 1st National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon, the 2023 recipient of the German Africa Prize. The grouping of 77 organizations campaigns for change and an end to the crisis in Cameroon. Wandou and her counterparts in 1st National Women’s Convention for Peace in Cameroon are calling for an immediate ceasefire in Cameroon, where separatist groups fighting for independence of the English-speaking territories since 2017. The conflict has claimed more than 6,000 lives and displaced over 712,000 people…In the fishing village of Debundscha, in the southwest of Cameroon, Esther Omam has set up a day clinic. Her NGO, Reach Out Cameroon, offers advice and free medication to thousands of patients weekly…In the town of Bamenda, in northwestern Cameroon, the services of Sally Mboumien and her all-woman team are in high demand. Common Action for Gender Development offers reproductive health counseling and helps survivors of sexual violence. DW