Africa Media Review for October 18, 2018

Taking Stock of Somalia’s Security Landscape
During the tenure of President Mohammed Farmajo, Somalia has developed a comprehensive transition plan for its security, undertaken reforms of the Somali National Army, and strengthened ties with regional and international security partners. This has been accompanied by a decline in Al Shabaab violence against citizens and the reopening of the Mogadishu Stadium to sporting events. Nonetheless, Al Shabaab remains resilient, regularly mounting attacks on security forces and populated areas alike while maintaining control over large expanses of rural Somalia. In this Africa Center for Strategic Studies roundtable, Somalia’s National Security Advisor, Abdisaid Ali, shares his perspective on the current security environment in Somalia, efforts to curb corruption and promote reconciliation, and means of strengthening institutions to enable the Somali state to meet its security requirements. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

Africa’s Unresolved Conflicts a Key Driver of Food Insecurity
Conflict in Africa continues to be a major contributor to the continent’s food security challenges. Ongoing violence disrupts farming, livelihoods, and market functions, weakening household resilience to drought and other pressures. Conflict also restricts movement, preventing some communities from accessing humanitarian assistance. […] Three quarters of Africans experiencing stressed, crisis, or emergency levels of food insecurity more than 107 million out of 143 million total live in conflict-affected countries. Eleven of the 12 African countries in conflict are experiencing acute food insecurity. Emergency levels of food insecurity in large parts of South Sudan and northeastern Nigeria are nearly entirely a result of the disruptions caused by conflict. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

US Airstrike Wiped Out Al-Shabab Camp, Intel Officials Say
Somali intelligence officials say the largest U.S. military airstrike against al-Shabab extremists in Somalia in nearly a year largely destroyed a training camp where recruits were preparing to graduate and killed more fighters than the U.S. announced. Two officials tell The Associated Press that several missiles were fired on Friday by two unmanned U.S. drones. Some of the freshly trained al-Shabab recruits were “burnt beyond recognition” and the death toll exceeds 75, one official said. The U.S. Africa Command on Tuesday said about 60 extremists had been killed. The U.S. said the strike was meant to deny the al-Qaida-linked extremist group, the deadliest in sub-Saharan Africa, the ability to reconsolidate. Al-Shabab has several thousands of fighters and has proven to be resilient over the years, carrying out suicide bombings on high-profile targets in the capital, Mogadishu, and other cities as well as more conventional attacks against Somali, U.S. and African Union forces. VOA

How Russia Moved into Central Africa
When Central African Republic (CAR) pleaded for help last year to fight marauding militias, former colonial ruler France offered guns it had seized off Somalia. But Russia objected and donated its own weapons instead. By early February, Russia had sent nine planes with weapons along with dozens of contractors to train local soldiers and secure mining projects, marking the start of its highest-profile military foray in sub-Saharan Africa for decades. Muscling in on a country dominated by France for years served as a statement of intent about Moscow’s renewed push for global prestige and influence, and is part of a wider campaign shaking up long-standing power dynamics on the continent.  Reuters

Eritrea Pledges to Address Human Rights Challenges
Eritrea has defended its election to the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), arguing it is party to several human rights treaties and has submitted periodic reports regarding its record. The statement issued by the information ministry, follows an outcry by human rights activists and groups, who challenged the election of Cameroon, Somalia and Eritrea on HRC. The Human Rights Council is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe. While Eritrea routinely jails its dissidents, and has been previously called out by the United Nations itself for arbitrary arrests and detention, the information ministry statement describes such as ‘challenges’. ‘‘Like all Member States, Eritrea faces human rights challenges, and it recognizes the work ahead towards better and higher human rights standards,’‘ reads part of the statement.  Africa News

Ethiopia to Free over 1000 Youth Detained over Sept. Violence
Ethiopian authorities will free over 1,100 young people arrested over violent protests in and around the capital Addis Ababa in September 2018. Police chief Jemal Zeinu confirmed that out of the 1,204 youth were detained – according to Amnesty International, arbitrarily – 83 of them are to be put before courts on suspicion of committing crimes. Zeinu in an interview with state-affiliated FBC disclosed that the soon-to-be released detainees had undergone a month-long training in the area of staying away from crimes and other related issues. “If the necessary logistic are fulfilled, they will be released on Thursday (October 18); or else, they will be freed latest by Saturday,” he added.  Africa News

Ebola Outbreak in Congo Not a Global Emergency, W.H.O. Says
World health officials on Wednesday expressed deep concern over the spread of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but concluded that it did not yet qualify as an international health emergency. At least 139 people have died in the outbreak centered on North Kivu Province, which borders Uganda and Rwanda. Combating the infectious and lethal disease in the region is complicated by sporadic fighting between government forces and armed militias and by attacks on medical workers. The World Health Organization said last month that the risk of the disease spreading from Congo to its neighbors had risen from high to very high. It cited the deterioration in security and said nine countries were at risk of infection.But the expert advisory committee that met Wednesday agreed that this “is not an outbreak of global importance,” the committee chairman, Dr. Robert Steffen, told reporters in Geneva. The New York Times

Troops Kill Two amid Unrest in Comoros over Constitutional Change
Troops shot dead two “criminals” in clashes on Comoros’ Anjouan island on Wednesday, a government official said, amid a wave of unrest against constitutional changes. Protesters have barricaded roads on Anjouan this week, angry at President Azali Assoumani’s plans to extend term limits and end a rotating tenure of his post in a way they say could leave the small island permanently excluded from power in the archipelago. On Wednesday soldiers shot dead two people and wounded four after clashes erupted between soldiers and a group of masked men, an official from the island’s defence ministry told Reuters, calling the group “criminals acting under the influence of drugs”. “All are criminals who participated in these unacceptable acts. They have been identified and will face justice,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to comment to the media. Reuters

South African Riots over Poor Services, Poverty Hit Record in 2018
Riots in South Africa linked to public anger over poor government services and poverty have hit a record high in 2018, data showed on Wednesday, a sign one analyst said the ruling African National Congress should not ignore ahead of elections next year. President Cyril Ramaphosa has pledged to improve governance and kickstart an economy mired in recession, but high levels of public discontent reflect the challenge the ANC faces as it tries to reform Africa’s most industrialised economy. Dubbed “service delivery protests,” the number of such incidents had hit 198 by the end of September, the data from research organisation Municipal IQ showed, surpassing the previous record for a full calendar year of 191 in 2014, when former president Jacob Zuma was in power. Reuters

South Africa Land Reform to Safeguard Property Rights, ANC Says
The South African ruling party’s plans on land reform, which include expropriating land without compensation in certain circumstances, will ensure that property rights are safeguarded, its spokesman on the issue said.This is not going to diminish or wipe out property rights, Ronald Lamola, a member of the African National Congress’s National Executive Committee, said on Bloomberg TV Wednesday. We’ve been very clear that we don’t want to hurt confidence or collapse the economy, he said.The ANC has called for changes to the constitution to clarify under which circumstances it can seize land without compensation to address racially skewed land-ownership patterns dating back to colonial and apartheid rule. Critics say it could erode property rights and fears of Zimbabwe-style land grabs have stoked investor concerns and helped weaken the rand. With general elections looming next year, President Cyril Ramaphosa has embraced expropriation without compensation, but insists there wont be a state-sanctioned land grab. Land reform will be done properly and through the rule of law, Lamola said. Bloomberg

AFRICOM Revamps Strategy to Empower Africa’s NCOs
U.S. Africa Command is pursuing a new strategy to empower the enlisted ranks across the continent as it concentrates efforts on developing regional training hubs where local forces, not American mentors, will be in the lead. “It’s about regionalizing the approach,” said AFRICOM Senior Enlisted Leader Chief Master Sergeant Ramon Colon-Lopez. “We have countries start taking care of other African countries without western influence.” This week, Colon-Lopez is meeting with more than 50 senior enlisted leaders from across Africa who traveled to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, for a three-day AFRICOM conference focused on elevating the stature and role of non-commissioned Officers and enlisted personnel. In many militaries — not only in Africa but also in former Warsaw pact and Soviet states in Europe — NCOs still don’t have the same status they do in the U.S. Armed forces. And over the years, a centerpiece of American military training efforts with partners and allies worldwide has been to cultivate an appreciation for the potential of enlisted leadership. In the U.S. military, NCOs are regarded as the backbone to unit success. Stars and Stripes

EU Moves to Tighten Borders, Boost Africa Ties on Migrants
European Union leaders are set Thursday to push ahead with plans to boost cooperation with North African countries and beef up the bloc’s borders in an effort to stop migrants entering Europe. A draft statement prepared for their summit emphasizes the need to step up cooperation with countries that people leave and transit through to seek shelter or better lives in Europe. They said that work with those countries on “investigating, apprehending and prosecuting smugglers and traffickers should be intensified.” They also called for a joint smuggling task force to be set up. Well over 1 million migrants entered Europe in 2015, most of them Syrians and Iraqis fleeing conflict, but numbers have dropped significantly since the EU began outsourcing the challenge to Turkey. Turkey has been offered at least 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion), ostensibly in Syrian refugee aid, to stop people leaving there for Europe and the bloc wants to reproduce that model elsewhere. AP

Dirty Deals Threaten Kenya’s Food Security, Report Says
A global index has singled out Kenya as one of the countries whose food security is undermined by various forms of corruption, underlining the impact graft has had on taxpayers’ lives even as the government vows to root out the vice. According to a report by think tank Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), land grabbing is another common mechanism of corruption threatening food security, citing instances where public or private entities use backdoor deals to push favourable deals to secure land for themselves while displacing smallholder farmers. “Corruption at the highest levels of politics can affect entire sectors— the Kenyan government, for example, has been plagued by corruption scandals related to national grain reserves and market prices,” the EIU says in its newly released 2018 Global Food Security Index. The East African

The UN Refugee Agency Faces a Big Funding Shortfall
As the refugee crisis continues to worsen, funding for it is steadily shrinking, according to a new report by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR). So far, the agency says it’s only received 45 percent of the $8.2 million it called for at the beginning of the year – more than has ever been needed because of the “unabated levels of displacement.” At the start of the year, there were an estimated 71.4 million people “of concern” to the agency globally, including refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), stateless individuals and those who had just been returned to their home countries. By the end of the year, that number is projected to be 79.8 million. UN Dispatch

Victims of Zimbabwe’s Post-Election Violence Seek Justice
In Zimbabwe, an inquiry is under way into what caused at least seven deaths during a post-election protest. Adrian Munjere, 31, says he is lucky to be alive after a stray bullet from an assault rifle fractured his right hand. Munjere told a commission on Zimbabwe’s post-election violence that he witnessed troops firing live rounds to disperse opposition supporters during the Aug. 1 protest. “I am bitter at the whole system,” he told VOA after giving testimony. “I am looking forward to getting compensation because I feel like I cannot use this hand anymore to [do] anything manual or anything heavy. It is not like the compensation I want is going to cover for this damage — no. It is just so that I can sustain myself.”  VOA

Zika in Africa: Rare Birth Defect on the Rise in Angola
Emiliano Cula starts to cry as his tiny fingers, curled into a tight fist, are stretched by a physical therapist to stimulate motor control. Born in a poor neighborhood of Angola’s capital Luanda, the 10-month old boy has microcephaly, a birth defect marked by a small head and serious developmental problems. He still can’t sit upright and has difficulty seeing and hearing. “They don’t know what caused it,” Cula’s mother Marie Boa says, sheltering under a blue umbrella from the summer rains. “The doctor said it might have been caused by a mosquito, but I don’t know if that’s true.” The 18-year-old does not know whether her first child will ever walk or talk. Cula is one of at least 72 babies born with microcephaly in Angola between February 2017 and May 2018, suspected victims of an emerging Zika outbreak. Reuters

Tourists Back in Tunisia after 2015 Attacks
Tunisia’s tourism industry is back in business, having gone into decline following a series of attacks on tourists by armed groups in 2015. The government says it expects visitor numbers to hit a record 8 million by the end of the year.  Al Jazeera

 



Photo: Adam Jones