Africa Media Review for October 14, 2021

Conflict Drives Record Levels of Acute Food Insecurity in Africa
An estimated 106 million Africans face acute food insecurity—an Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) of Phase 3 (crisis) and above. This represents a doubling in the number of people experiencing acute food insecurity since 2018. The FAO and WFP report that 400,000 Ethiopians, 100,000 South Sudanese, and 28,000 Malagasy face Phase 5 (famine) levels of food insecurity. Conflict continues to be the primary driver of acute food insecurity on the continent. Twelve out of the 15 African countries facing the greatest food insecurity presently are also experiencing conflict. [Infographic] Africa Center for Strategic Studies

One Year after #EndSARS Protests, Has Nigerian Police Changed?
Mobilised through social media, the #EndSARS protests shook Nigerian cities for days in October 2020. The government was forced to scrap the unit on October 11, but demonstrators remained in the streets, demanding wider reforms, until the protests came to an abrupt end after 10 people were shot and killed on October 20 at Lekki tollgate in Lagos. Amnesty International said soldiers opened fire to disperse the crowd at the major protest site. The Nigerian army confirmed that soldiers were deployed to the scene but said they had not opened live fire on protesters. The incident sparked global outrage and an investigation amid persistent calls for reforms. But a year later, young Nigerians say they are still victims of police brutality and their demands for systemic changes have not been met. “Yes, there has not been any reform. Police brutality exists till today,” Fisayo Soyombo, founder of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism (FIJ), told Al Jazeera. Soyombo said his platform has reported “scores” of cases of police brutality over the past year. … “Nigeria lost an opportunity to listen to the young people, an opportunity to actually do something that reflects the commitment to systemic change,” Omolara Oriye, a human right lawyer, said. “It is quite unfortunate the government perceived the protests as a threat, rather than a wake-up call.” Al Jazeera

10 Villagers Killed in Mosque Attack in Western Niger
Suspected jihadists killed 10 villagers in an attack on a mosque earlier this week in western Niger’s Tillaberi region, local sources said on Wednesday. The attack occurred Monday in the village of Abankor in the “Tri-Border” region where Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso meet. “The attackers arrived on motorbikes during evening prayers and the victims were in the mosque when they were killed,” an official in Banibangou city told AFP. A resident of the neighbouring town of Tondiwindi confirmed the attack and the death toll. … Authorities on Wednesday re-imposed a ban on motorbikes in several parts of the Tillaberi region. The interdiction, first decreed last year to combat jihadist attacks carried out by gunmen on motorbikes, had been lifted on 1 September. The initial decree also regulated the sale of fuel and shut down markets suspected of feeding the armed groups and hiding their informants. The tougher security measures – which have sparked sometimes violent protests – have had economic repercussions on local people, Tillaberi MPs said in August. … Meanwhile, the United Nations has warned that the Tillaberi region is facing a “major food crisis,” with almost 600,000 people exposed to food insecurity. AFP

eSwatini Police Shoot Protester Dead during Clashes
Police shot a man dead during clashes with a group of commuter bus operators protesting for political reform in the small kingdom of Eswatini on Wednesday, an AFP correspondent witnessed. It was latest protest in Africa’s last absolute monarchy, formerly known as Swaziland, where school students have been boycotting classes and staging low-key demonstrations for the past month, prompting the deployment of soldiers and police. The clashes on Wednesday occurred in the small town of Malkerns, 20 kilometres west of the country’s largest city Manzini, the police said. … Several people were also wounded. The private commuter bus operators had pulled their vehicles off the roads to demonstrate. The protests across Eswatini have mainly been calling for the release of two lawmakers arrested during pro-democracy protests earlier this year. … At least 27 people died as police clashed with protesters in some of the worst unrest in the southern African country’s history. AFP

Ethiopian Attack in Two Northern Regions Intensifies, Tigrayan Forces Say
An air and ground offensive by Ethiopian troops and their allies against rebellious forces from the northern Tigray region is intensifying, a spokesperson for the Tigrayan forces said on Wednesday, claiming “staggering” casualties. Getachew Reda of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) told Reuters by phone that the Ethiopian military and allies from the Amhara region were fighting the Tigrayan forces on several fronts, in both the Amhara and Afar regions which neighbour Tigray. … The fighting has raised fears that it could further destabilise the Horn of Africa nation of 109 million people and plunge Tigray deeper into famine. … World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that in Tigray more than 90% of the population needed food aid and about 400,000 people were living in famine-like conditions, based on the latest U.N. analysis. “We are seeing acute malnutrition rates, at levels comparable to those we saw at the onset of the 2011 Somalia famine,” he said. In that famine in Somalia, 260,000 people died. Tedros said no medical supplies had gone into Tigray since July. Reuters

Turkey Expands Armed Drone Sales to Ethiopia and Morocco – Sources
Turkey has expanded its exports of armed drones by negotiating sales deals with Morocco and Ethiopia after their successful use in international conflicts, according to four sources familiar with the agreements. Any drone shipments to Ethiopia risk stoking friction in already strained relations between Ankara and Cairo, which is at odds with Addis Ababa over a hydropower dam on the Blue Nile. Two Egyptian security sources said Cairo had asked the United States and some European nations to help it freeze any deal. A third Egyptian source said any agreement would have to be raised and clarified in talks between Cairo and Ankara as they try to repair ties. Turkey, Ethiopia and Morocco have not formally announced any armed drone deals but several sources familiar with the arrangements provided details to Reuters. … Official data show Turkey’s defence and aviation exports rose sharply to Morocco and Ethiopia in the past two months but do not provide details of drone sales. Reuters

UN Says Sudanese Migrant Beaten, Shot and Killed in Libya
A Sudanese migrant was beaten, shot and killed in Libya after escaping from a government-run detention center in the North African country, the U.N. refugee agency said on Wednesday. The 25-year-old who arrived in Libya two years ago was detained and held in the Mabani detention center in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, one of more than 5,000 migrants detained in a massive crackdown earlier this month. The man, from Sudan’s war-wrecked Darfur region, was beaten and shot before masked armed men took him to a hospital. He was then transferred to another hospital where he died late Tuesday. The UNHCR has called for an investigation into the killing and for holding those responsible to account. Libya holds migrants in overcrowded detention centers where torture, sexual assault and other abuses are rife. Guards at Mabani shot and killed at least six migrants and wounded at least 15 as hundreds staged a breakout and fled the detention center, according to the U.N. migration agency. AP

In Libyan City, Mass Graves Evoke Stakes of Faltering Peace Push
Workers in the Libyan city of Tarhouna have spent more than a year exhuming bodies from mass graves that show the cost of a decade of conflict and the high stakes of a fragile peace plan that has left victims on the sidelines. Tarhouna was held by the local Kaniyat militia from 2012 until its capture last year by pro-Tripoli government forces, leaving a grisly legacy that symbolises the North African country’s lost decade of anarchy and violence. As a peace process has unfolded this year aimed at holding both presidential and parliamentary elections, the people of Tarhouna know they stand little chance of justice if Libya remains divided between warring factions. But some also fear that the compromises required to stop the process falling apart could mean forgetting past crimes or even elevating those who ordered or abetted them. “They killed all who refused to cooperate with them. They left no children or women. They left no one,” said Mabrouka Saleh Abu Kleish, 76… Though Kaniyat leader Mohammed al-Kani was shot dead in July in Benghazi by an LNA unit, U.N. investigators have said, most of his comrades remain at large, and analysts have said they are in the east under LNA protection. … Meanwhile, LNA leader Haftar, who is seen by some Tarhouna townspeople as ultimately responsible for the later years of the Kaniyat’s bloody reign, has indicated he plans to run for president. It is a contingency that Abu Kleish cannot brook – showing how a peace process that has allowed prominent war leaders to retain power may do little to heal Libya’s divisions. Reuters

Sudan Security Service Slaps Travel Ban on Top Civilian Politicians -Sources
Sudan’s security service has slapped a travel ban on members of a task force overseeing the country’s transition to democracy, government sources said, as tensions between civilian and military leaders threaten to boil over weeks after a failed coup. The political crisis erupted on Sept. 21, when Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said rogue troops still loyal to Omar al-Bashir had sought to derail by force the revolution that removed the ousted president from power in 2019. Two senior civilian government sources said on Wednesday that the General Intelligence Service’s (GIS) travel ban affected 11 civilian officials, most members of the Committee tasked with dismantling Bashir’s financial and political legacy. In a statement later on Wednesday the GIS denied reports that it banned officials from travel and said that was not within its powers. … The sources said the list included Mohamed al-Faki, who at a news conference last month accused the military of using the failed coup as an excuse to try to seize power. Al-Faki is also part of the ruling Sovereign Council, on which both civilian and military officials sit and which has run Sudan since Bashir’s overthrow. Since the coup attempt, military leaders have withdrawn protection for the task force and demanded changes to the civilian coalition with which they share power. Reuters

Guinea Strongman Mamady Doumbouya Sacks 42 Military Brass
Guinea’s strongman Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, who seized power last month, has sacked 42 generals and admirals in an apparent purge of the military top brass. … The heads of all the wings in the armed forces were retired and replaced with low-ranking officers. The announcement was made on Tuesday, via statements from the presidency, invoking presidential decrees. In a separate statement, Col. Doumbouya also appointed 28 of the retired generals to the High Council of National Defence, the body in charge of national security matters. … Political analysts see the move to retire the generals as an attempt by Doumbouya to assert control on the army, which is thought to be loyal to Conde. Most of the top generals who were retired are known to be allies of the former president. Among those appointed to the High National Defence Council is General Konate, who had earlier endorsed the coup. Nation

Biden Hosting Kenyan President at White House
U.S. President Joe Biden is welcoming his first African leader to the White House on Thursday as he hosts talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. The White House said the meeting would include discussion of democracy and human rights issues, as well security, accelerating economic growth and addressing climate change. Biden and Kenyatta will also talk about “the need to bring transparency and accountability to domestic and international financial systems,” the White House said. That is expected to include revelations about the offshore holdings of Kenyatta and his family. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said in recent reports about the Pandora Papers that Kenyatta’s family had stowed away about $30 million in offshore wealth. There is no evidence that the Kenyatta family stole any state assets. … Thursday’s meeting also comes as conflict and a humanitarian crisis continue to unfold in Kenya’s neighbor, Ethiopia. Kenyatta told reporters Tuesday at the United Nations that the warring sides in Ethiopia need to reach “a political resolution, because we do not believe that there is any military solution.” VOA

US Announces Aid Package for War-Torn Tigray
The United States said Wednesday it was providing an additional $26 million to address the humanitarian crisis in northern Ethiopia. The assistance will enable humanitarian agencies to help many of the estimated 6 million to 7 million people in need in the north, “including some of the 900,000 who are facing famine-like conditions, and over 48,000 refugees who have fled from northern Ethiopia to Sudan,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. The humanitarian situation “will continue to worsen without a political solution,” Blinken said. The Ethiopian federal government has been engaged in an armed conflict with forces of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front for nearly a year. … Blinken called for “immediate, full, safe, and unhindered access for humanitarian organizations and workers” in Tigray. The United Nations has said few humanitarian aid trucks are getting through to the region. At the U.N. Wednesday, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the situation in northern Ethiopia “continues to be highly unpredictable and volatile. The delivery of humanitarian supplies into Tigray remains heavily constrained through the only road access route from Afar.” VOA

UN Starts Vaccinating People against Ebola in Congo
The World Health Organization said Wednesday that officials have begun vaccinating people in eastern Congo against Ebola, after it was confirmed last week that the disease killed a toddler. The U.N. health agency said in a statement that people at high risk of catching the disease, including the young boy’s family members and health workers, would receive first doses of the vaccine made by Merck. WHO said about a thousand doses of the vaccine arrived in Goma, the capital of Congo’s North Kivu province, and 200 doses were sent to Beni, a city near the area where the first case was identified last week. The new Ebola outbreak that started Oct. 8 comes after a devastating epidemic that began in 2018, when the disease killed more than 2, 200 people in the conflict-ridden region – and when more than 80 Ebola responders working under WHO were found to have sexually abused people during the agency’s efforts to stop the disease. AP

Nigeria Faces a Tough Time Diversifying from Oil
When the price of crude oil is lower than government projections, gaping holes emerge in the federal budget. Though this has been a problem in Nigeria for at least the past decade, the coronavirus pandemic has made it worse. The slump in global oil prices at the beginning of the pandemic meant Nigeria’s oil revenues were around 65% lower than anticipated in the first half of 2020, causing a massive budget shortfall. Furthermore, diminished oil sales means less money circulating in the country, making it tough for Nigeria’s manufacturers to import the raw materials or components they need. There are additional reasons why the nation of 206 million people should reduce its dependency on oil and gas, Taiwo Oyaniran, the associate director of the global consulting company PwC in Nigeria, told DW. … Oyaniran said Nigeria’s growing insecurity was one of the biggest threats to economic-diversification efforts. … “Unless we are able to effectively curtail the security issue, the expected outcome from all the investment in infrastructure might not be realized,” Oyaniran said. DW

Mali Maestro’s Message of Peace to Sahel Region’s Youngsters Drawn to Extremism
An ambitious project to raise awareness about rising insecurity and mass displacement in the Sahel has resulted in an original musical score from Mali songwriter Vieux Farka Touré. In partnership with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Mr. Toure’s A Song For The Sahel, highlights the crisis in many countries of the region, while also spotlighting its rich musical heritage. In an exclusive interview with UN News, the respected musician described how he no longer felt comfortable driving across the country to perform, as he used to do. Malians now “sleep with one eye open”, he said, in reference to the insurgency led by extremists, who have taken advantage of the lack of opportunities for the country’s youngsters. “The youth must show courage, strength and fight against this crisis,” he said. “Peace and solidarity are the tools. If peace is built now, our children tomorrow will thrive. Music is a fantastic tool to share messages. Sharing awareness is of paramount importance. It has a strong impact on what happens in our countries.” UN News



Photo: Adam Jones