Africa Media Review for October 18, 2023

Sudan Conflict: Ethnic Cleansing Committed in Darfur, UK Says
Analysis of satellite and social media data reveals at least 68 villages in Darfur have been set on fire by armed militias since the civil war began. The UK Minister for Africa, Andrew Mitchell, told the BBC this bore “all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing”…The analysis has been carried out by the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR), a research body partly funded by the British government, which is gathering open-source evidence about the fighting in Sudan. They use Nasa heat-recognition technology to identify fires. They look at satellite images to detect smoke and burned-out buildings. They match all that with images from the ground on social media, which are geolocated using maps and photos…”What we’re seeing is a pattern of abuses, a pattern of villages being burnt, one after the other, specifically in Darfur, which is where we’re seeing some of the heaviest violence outside of Khartoum,” [says Ben Strick, CIR’s director of investigations]…Twenty years ago, hundreds of thousands of people were killed in Darfur amid fighting between non-Arab rebel groups and a militia known as the Janjaweed, which later grew into the RSF…It is feared that similar atrocities are being committed in the region once more, along the same ethnic fault-lines. BBC

Community Hostility in Chad Rising as Refugee and Displacement Crisis Grows
U.N. officials warned Monday that community hostility in Chad is rising as thousands of refugees from conflict-ridden Sudan continue to arrive, putting pressure on limited resources Chadians depend on for their livelihoods and survival…The U.N. refugee agency reports nearly 490,000 Sudanese have sought refuge in Chad since April 15, when armed clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces plunged the country into a catastrophic war. The UNHCR projects more than 600,000 Sudanese refugees and Chadian returnees will arrive in eastern Chad before the end of the year. “Chad is living in an unstable regional situation, bordered by countries in a state of crisis,” said [Madeleine Alingue, secretary of state for economic prosperity and international partnerships in Chad]. “Our border with Libya is in crisis, so is Niger, the Central African Republic and Sudan,” she said, noting that Chad, with its open-door policy, has received many refugees fleeing these surrounding countries in crisis. “This is very fertile ground for social instability and conflict,” [Violet Kakyomya, U.N. resident coordinator and humanitarian coordinator in Chad] warned. VOA

Sudan War Exacerbates Humanitarian Suffering in South Sudan: UN
Since the start of the conflict, South Sudan has received more than 310,000 new arrivals from Sudan as of 13 October, including South Sudanese returnees, refugees and third-country nationals, UN figures show…Poor infrastructure and in particular lack of roads, flooding and funding constraints are severely testing the capacity of humanitarian actors to respond both at the border and in receiving communities, as well as putting pressure on onward transportation, which remains the most critical need in this response. [Marie-Helene Verney, Acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator to South Sudan] said that IOM and other humanitarian partners have assisted approximately 150,000 people to move on to final destinations so far and the Government of South Sudan has also provided transport to thousands, while many others have made their own way to their communities. “This crisis has stretched the humanitarian response in South Sudan close to breaking point. With no end in sight, a global decrease in humanitarian funding and more new conflicts breaking out around the world, humanitarian partners are increasingly forced to deprioritize even life-saving activities. In such a context, the Government of South Sudan is called upon to step up the delivery of basic services in vulnerable communities, with the support of development actors,” underscored the Acting Humanitarian Coordinator. Radio Tamazuj

Congo Election Chief Promises ‘Rebrand’ amid Concerns over December Vote
The head of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s election commission promised to hold an inclusive vote in December during a “rebranding” tour of the United States that aimed to dispel concerns about the body’s past record. The Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) is organizing Dec. 20. presidential, legislative and regional elections in Africa’s second largest country, which is struggling to contain a myriad of armed groups and a rebellion. CENI is undergoing “rebranding” to show people it has changed since past elections that were marred by irregularities and violence, CENI president Denis Kadima told Reuters in an interview in Washington on Friday. “CENI has a very bad reputation. The 2011 elections, followed by the 2018 elections, have left many people so disappointed with the institution,” said Kadima. “It will be an improved process – in terms of inclusiveness first of all”…As President Felix Tshisekedi campaigns for a second term, his administration has had to deny allegations from rights groups and international allies of a crackdown on freedom of expression and political dissent. Reuters

Egypt’s Rafah Crossing: Deadlocks Block Gaza Lifeline
Mada Masr, Egypt’s last major independent news outlet, reported last week that Egypt was setting up tents and security cordons along a 14-kilometer (8.7-mile) buffer zone next to the border crossing. This indicates the country is preparing for incoming refugees despite different rhetoric from the Egyptian government… Still top of mind for many Egyptians is the memory of Gazans storming the Rafah crossing in 2008 in search of food and supplies following a months-long blockade…Consequentially, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi continues to stress that national security is his “primary responsibility” and called on Gazans to stay “steadfast and remain on their land”…”El-Sissi is balancing domestic and regional interests at a critical time,” Sanam Vakil, director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at the UK-based think tank Chatham House, told DW. Egypt is holding a presidential election in December amid a dire economic situation. Whether to open the Rafah crossing, which would allow aid into Gaza and Palestinians into Egypt, could become key to the campaigns in the run-up to the election…However, observers have no doubt that el-Sissi will be re-elected for a third term that will see him in office until 2030. “Although [el-Sissi’s] victory is expected, he is looking to prevent the long-term buildup of refugees in the Sinai,” Vakil said. DW

George Weah’s Failed War Crimes Court
[VIDEO] What happened to the victims of war crimes in Liberia, still waiting for justice, 20 years after two devastating civil wars? Six years ago, President George Weah had pledged to establish an economic and war crimes court, but that now appears to be a facade. DW

Fraudsters Use AI to Impersonate African Union Chief Moussa Faki
The African Union Commission has fallen victim to cybercrime after fraudsters deployed artificial intelligence tools to impersonate the continental body’s head Moussa Faki…Fraudsters faked his voice and placed several video calls to European capitals, ostensibly seeking to arrange meetings. AU Commission has revealed that the cybercriminals used fake email addresses, too, pretending to be the organisation’s deputy chief of staff, seeking to arrange calls between foreign leaders and Mr Faki…Ebba Kalondo, Mr Faki’s spokesperson confirmed that the pranksters then went ahead to hold video calls with several European leaders, while using deep fake video alterations to impersonate the chairperson…It is not yet clear what the intentions of the imposters were, but the AU statement termed their fake emails “phishing,” an indication that they might have intended to steal digital identities to gain access to privileged information. Deep fakes, the technology used by cybercriminals, are increasingly becoming popular and are sometimes used by certain entities to spread misinformation and propaganda. They involve using artificial intelligence tools to develop someone’s image, voice and traits into a video of them doing or saying something they haven’t actually done. Africanews

Mozambique Opposition Denounces Fraud in Local Election amid Unrest
Demonstrations took place in Mozambique on Tuesday called by the opposition to denounce fraud in municipal elections, with police using tear gas in the capital Maputo. While the country awaits the final results from last Wednesday’s vote, the ruling party has been declared the winner in most towns where counting has concluded. But that has been contested by the main opposition party, Renamo, which is claiming victory in Maputo in particular…The ruling party, Frelimo, and Renamo fought a brutal civil war from 1977 to 1992, devastating the economy and leaving almost one million people dead. Frelimo has won every national election since the end of the war and has also had control over a large majority of municipalities in the former Portuguese colony, which became independent in 1975. “There are many credible reports of irregularities on voting day and during the vote tabulation process,” the US embassy in Maputo said in a statement on Monday…A 16-year-old boy was shot and killed by police on Thursday in the district of Chiure in Cabo Delgado province. The incident occurred when Renamo supporters came down to celebrate their victory that was emerging at the ballot box. The police said in a statement that they had “accidentally fatally shot” the boy when they were dispersing protesters. According to the local NGO Center for Public Integrity (CIP), the police also opened fire on gatherings in several other municipalities. Africanews

Floods in Ghana Displace Thousands of People
Flooding after heavy rains in eastern Ghana have forced nearly 26,000 people to leave their homes at the request of the authorities, the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) said Tuesday. Crops have been destroyed and schools shut after two hydroelectric dams overflowed at Akosombo and Kpong…Ghana’s navy said thousands of people had been rescued in the Volta Region, bordering Togo, after the surge of water from the dams…President Nana Akufo-Addo has set up a committee to coordinate ongoing rescue efforts. Ghana’s meteorological service has forecast more rains this year as the West African country experiences a marked increase in the frequency and unpredictability of weather events, amid warnings linked to climate change. AFP

Ivory Coast Appoints Largely Unchanged New Government
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara appointed a new government of 31 ministers on Tuesday with many positions unchanged after unexpectedly removing the prime minister and his cabinet from office earlier this month. Robert Beugre Mambe, a close ally of the president and an influential figure in the ruling party, had been named prime minister on Monday after Ouattara removed his predecessor Patrick Achi and his cabinet on Oct. 6 without explanation. As part of the new appointments announced on Tuesday, Minister of Economic Planning and Development Niale Kaba is now heading a new combined ministry of Economy, Economic Planning and Development. Former Economy Minister Adama Coulibaly was appointed as Finance and Budget Minister, but ministers for Defence, Agriculture and Mines retained their roles. Reuters

Rugby World Cup 2023: Are South Africa Even Better than 2019 World Champions?
England are all too aware of the challenge awaiting them. A Rugby World Cup semi-final with South Africa is a repeat of the 2019 final, in which they were soundly beaten. England attack coach Richard Wigglesworth says the Springboks have developed even further as they look to win a fourth title and become the most successful nation in World Cup history…Reviewing the Springboks’ defensive effort to hold on to their lead in the second half against France, ex-Ireland international Shane Horgan told BBC Radio 5 Live: “It was an intensity and physicality that no other team in world rugby brings. That’s what their game is built on…As well as retaining much of their set-piece power from 2019, this Springboks’ team is slightly more dynamic after learning lessons from their defeat by France in November 2022. [South African Rugby Director Rassie] Erasmus said his side could no longer just rely on “mauling, scrumming and close-contact work” after the 30-26 loss in Marseille. “We had to adapt and score tries through more open, fluent, running rugby,” said Erasmus. “You can see in our try-scoring tally there’s a lot scored by our backs, more than our forwards”…Only New Zealand, France and Ireland have scored more tries than South Africa at this World Cup, while England have scored seven fewer in their five games so far. BBC