Africa Media Review for October 22, 2019

Shifting Borders: Africa’s Displacement Crisis and Its Security Implications

Africa has been experiencing record levels of forced displacement (refugees, internally displaced persons, and asylum seekers) in recent years. While there has been much attention given to the plight of African migrants trying to reach Europe, 95 percent of forcibly displaced Africans remain in Africa–two-thirds within their own countries. In the latest Africa Center Research Paper, Wendy Williams highlights the role of conflict and repressive governance as the two primary drivers of forced displacement in Africa. The paper also draws a direct link between the surge in population movements and insecurity. Africa Center for Strategic Studies

9 Killed in Burkina Faso Attack
Nine people were killed in northern Burkina Faso late on Sunday, in the latest attack in a region struggling with a jihadist revolt, a security official said. “Armed individuals carried out an attack on the village of Zoura, killing nine people, all of them civilians,” the source said on Monday. A resident in the nearby town of Kongoussi said the assailants “arrived in the village before the start of curfew (at 18:30) and opened fire shortly afterwards. They also ransacked a shop and made off with cattle.” “Not a day goes by without an gun attack, and the number of displaced people arriving in Kongoussi just keeps going up,” the resident said. … The attacks – typically hit-and-run raids on villages, road mines and suicide bombings – have claimed around 600 lives nationally, according to an AFP toll. Out of 486 000 who have fled their homes, 270 000 are in the north, according to the government figures. AFP

Thousands Protest in Sudan, Call to Disband Ex-Ruling Party

Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets across Sudan on Monday to call for disbanding former President Omar al-Bashir’s party, the political organ he used to control the country during his 30 years of autocratic rule before being ousted in April. Separately, Sudan’s transitional government and a main rebel faction signed a political declaration amid peace negotiations that began last week, taking a new step toward ending the country’s yearslong civil wars. The two sides also renewed a nationwide cease-fire for three months. The protests in Khartoum and other parts of the country coincided with the anniversary of an uprising in 1964. That push ended six years of military rule in Sudan following a wave of riots and strikes. … There were no reports of any clashes with police or casualties during Monday’s protests. The marches renewed demands for independent investigation into the deadly break-up of a protest camp by security forces in June. AP

Nigeria Border Closure Aimed at Curbing Weapons, Drugs: Minister

Nigeria’s decision to close its borders is aimed at preventing weapons and drugs from entering the country and not just to stop food smuggling, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed said. In August, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the partial closing of Nigeria’s boundary with Benin to curb smuggling of rice, a staple. His administration further clamped down in October by restricting the trade of all goods across the land borders to curb smuggling from Benin and Niger into the continent’s most-populous nation. It’s not only about illegal food shipments, Ahmed said Friday in an interview at the International Monetary Fund annual meetings in Washington. … The initial shutdown of the Benin border has already caused food inflation in Nigeria to accelerate for the first time in four months, pushing up the headline number. Bloomberg

The Fight against Nigeria’s Northeast Terrorism Is Also a Battle against Climate Change

Shortly before mid-August, an armed group blocked the highway that links Maiduguri with the Nigerian capital Abuja-in broad daylight. No one here believes the conflict will end anytime soon. Quite the contrary: More and more people have to flee from their hometowns. In total, Nigeria already counts around 2 million internally displaced persons. They look for shelter in towns such as Monguno-hosting already around 130,000 refugees, and every month brings new arrivals. … Between 1970 and 1990, 90% of the lake disappeared, a tragic memory for many. While Lake Chad hasn’t been shrinking anymore in recent years-it has even regained slightly in size-the consequences of climate change are devastating: During the rainy season, there are more and more floods, during the dry seasons, severe droughts have become more frequent. Farmers fight against harvest shortages, herders have to go further in the search of pastures for their animals. … “Even if the conflict is going to end at some point, the consequences of climate change destroy our livelihood.” Quartz Africa

Hundreds of Children Rescued from ‘Torture’ Schools in Nigeria

The students had come to study the Koran. Instead, officials said, they faced beatings, shackles and dormitories that looked more like jail cells. Police in Nigeria have freed about 1,000 children and adults from four Islamic schools over the past month, calling conditions in the loosely regulated institutions inhumane. The crackdown has increased pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to tighten oversight on traditional private schools known as Almajiris, which teach millions of children in the country’s predominantly Muslim north. … Although Buhari’s office applauded Ni­ger­ian police for carrying out the raids, officials stopped short of announcing policy changes to more closely regulate the facilities. … But the crackdown has revealed what appears to be an exploitation of the system. The Washington Post

Cameroon Separatist Fighter Names Himself ‘King’ of Southwest District

There is outrage in Cameroon after a separatist fighter who chased several traditional rulers from the English-speaking Lebialem district enthroned himself as king. Raids by the military to capture the fighter and ensuing battles led to the deaths of 11 suspected fighters and the beheading of a police officer. Heavily guarded by his fighters and accompanied by several women he said are his wives, Lekeahka Oliver, dressed in local traditional regalia, announces that he is the only king of Lebialem. Recently, Oliver’s fighters attacked and chased away many local traditional rulers and notables. He said they supported the central government in the war to make the North-and Southwest regions independent from the rest of Cameroon and its French-speaking majority. At least two of the traditional rulers were killed. VOA

Starvation Kills 55 Elephants in Zimbabwe’s Biggest Park

At least 55 elephants have starved to death in the past two months in Zimbabwe’s biggest national park as a serious drought forces animals to stray into nearby communities in search of food and water, authorities said on Monday. “The problem is real, the situation is dire,” said National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority spokesman Tinashe Farawo. Other animals such as lions at Hwange National Park have been affected. This is the worst drought in years in the southern African nation that also suffers from a collapsing economy. Massive food and water shortages have resulted. As animals stray from Zimbabwe’s wildlife parks they destroy crops and sometimes kill people, Farawo said, adding that more than 20 people have been killed this year alone. AP

Eritrean Refugees Defy Border Closures Only to Find Hardship in Ethiopia

The long-dormant border crossings re-opened with such fanfare between Eritrea and Ethiopia last year as a symbol of warming relations are all now closed – but that isn’t stopping a steady flow of Eritrean refugees from fleeing across the heavily militarised frontier. According to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, around 300 people continue to cross each day, using remote paths to avoid arrest by Eritrean border guards. They are prima facie refugees, typically escaping compulsory national service, repression, and joblessness, or looking to reunite with family members who have already made the journey. New arrivals join roughly 170,000 Eritrean refugees already in Ethiopia, staying in overcrowded camps, or living in nearby host communities. … The Ethiopian government’s “open-camp” policy means refugees don’t have to stay in camps and can work or continue with their education. But most Eritreans here have no proof of their academic qualifications. The Eritrean government doesn’t issue them to those who haven’t completed national service or can’t show evidence of an exemption. The New Humanitarian

Egypt’s Options Dwindle as Nile Talks Break Down

The latest breakdown in talks with Ethiopia over its construction of a massive upstream Nile dam has left Egypt with dwindling options as it seeks to protect the main source of freshwater for its large and growing population. Talks collapsed earlier this month over the construction of the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is around 70% complete and promises to provide much-needed electricity to Ethiopia’s 100 million people. But Egypt, with a population of around the same size, fears that the process of filling the reservoir behind the dam could slice into its share of the river, with catastrophic consequences. Pro-government media have cast it as a national security threat that could warrant military action. In recent weeks there have been calls by some commentators in Egypt’s pro-government media to resort to force. Abdallah el-Senawy, a prominent columnist for the daily newspaper el-Shorouk, said the only alternatives were internationalizing the dispute or taking military action. AP

Exercise Mosi Will See Chinese, Russian and South African Navies Work Together

Ahead of the first joint naval exercise between China, Russia and South Africa, the main planning conference was held at SA Navy fleet headquarters in Simon’s Town. More than 40 senior officers, including Rear Admiral Tskhui Yuzhong from the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) and Rear Admiral Vladimir Zemskov from the Russian Federation Navy (RFN) were present and welcomed by South Africa’s Flag Officer Fleet (FOF), Rear Admiral Bubele Mhlana. … According to the SA Navy website the exercise goal is to develop and strengthen relations and friendly co-operation between the armed forces of the three countries. The theme, agreed by all nations involved, is “Joint actions to ensure safety of shipping and maritime economic activity.” defenceWeb was previously informed by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Directorate: Corporate Communications, that the tri-nation naval exercise would focus on the maritime economy, inter-operability and improving relations between participating navies. defenceWeb

Russia to Send Strategic Bombers to South Africa for Visit

The Russian military says two of its nuclear-capable bombers will visit South Africa in what appears to be the first-ever such deployment to the African continent. The Russian Defense Ministry said Monday that sending the Tu-160 bombers is intended to help “develop bilateral military cooperation” and reflects a “strategic partnership” with one of Africa’s most developed economies. The mission comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to host the first-ever Russia-Africa summit this week with 43 of the continent’s 54 heads of state or government in attendance. The remaining 11 countries will be represented by foreign ministers or other officials. As part of efforts to expand its clout in Africa, Russia has signed military cooperation agreements with at least 28 African countries, the majority in the past five years. AP

Russia Follows Old Path in New Scramble for a Piece of the Continent

Russian president Vladimir Putin is this week set to host dozens of African leaders in the scenic city of Sochi at a summit that marks the erstwhile global power’s biggest foray into the continent since the collapse of the Soviet Union. More than 50 African heads of state have been invited to the two-day forum, which is seen as Russia’s counter to Chinese, US, Europe and Japanese influence on the continent. Mr Putin, who has been Moscow’s power centre for more than two decades-during which he once swapped roles with his Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev-will be eyeing military and trade deals to power Russia’s economy in the coming years. … After exerting influence in his backyard through active involvement in regional diplomatic and territorial conquests, Russia’s hosting of the inaugural summit with Africa on October 23 and 24 signals Moscow’s determination to get a piece of the continental pie in the post-Cold War era. The inaugural summit is seen as a counter to Washington’s US-Africa Summit, China’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, and Japan’s Ticad conferences as well as EU’s Europe-Africa meetings. The East African

Tanzania Gives Chinese Firm Conditions for Bagamoyo Port

The government of Tanzania has issued an ultimatum to the Chinese investor in the $10 billion Bagamoyo port project to either accept and work with its terms and conditions of the contract or leave. Tanzania Ports Authority chief executive Deusdedit Kakoko said the government rejected and revised five stringent demands made by the investor-Beijing-based China Merchants Holdings International-because they were not beneficial to the country. The Chinese investor has now been offered a 33-year lease instead of the 99-year one asked for. … The Bagamoyo port development project was initiated late into the tenure of retired president Jakaya Kikwete. But President John Magufuli ordered an immediate suspension of the project in January 2016, saying the conditions set by the investor were tantamount to selling Tanzania to China. The East African

Spain Initiates Balanced Relations with African Partners

Spain has recently adopted a new comprehensive strategy, III Africa Plan, which seeks to establish a balanced relationship with their African partners based on trust, dialogue and shared responsibilities around four common objectives. Under the first objective, ‘Peace and Security’, Spain is contributing actively to the fight against violent extremism and terrorism from the Horn of Africa to the Sahel, as well as piracy and all forms of organised crime, including in the Gulf of Guinea where they deploy a vessel that carries out training exercises with the Ghanaian Navy twice a year. The second objective is ‘Sustainable Development based on inclusive economic growth that is capable of generating decent employment for the youth,” the Spanish Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs Alicia Rico Perez del Pulgar has announced. Graphic Online

South African Cities Week

This year marks 25 years since the end of apartheid in South Africa, a brutal political system that enforced the segregation of people of different races. From 1948 to 1994 the division was formalised by law, ensuring the minority white population controlled wealth and power, while black people were oppressed and stripped of basic rights, such as the right to vote. The country and its cities were sharply divided. The Group Areas Act dictated that people of different races lived in separate areas, with black people forced to live in townships far from the centre of cities. Public spaces such as parks and beaches were segregated, and there were white-only schools and hospitals. The government restricted the type of jobs black people could do and controlled their movement. Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress party came to power in 1994, ushering in a new era for the country. A quarter of a century on, how has life changed for those living in its cities? The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones