Africa Media Review for September 1, 2021

Libya’s Neighbors Meet, Urge Foreign Fighters to Leave
Countries neighboring Libya wrapped up their meeting Tuesday in Algeria, with calls for foreign fighters and mercenaries to be pulled out from the conflict-stricken North African nation. The two-day meeting also urged Libyan parties to stick to a political road map that ended hostilities last year and set parliamentary and presidential elections in December. The meeting, hosted by Algeria, was attended by foreign ministers of Egypt, Tunisia, Sudan, Chad and Niger. Those countries have for years been concerned over the chaos in Libya. The U.N. envoy for Libya, Jan Kubis, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and a representative of the African Union also attended. “The question of the withdrawal of mercenaries, terrorists and irregular forces is a fundamental question that conditions the success of the elections,” said Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra at a news conference. “Libya is the first victim of these irregular elements and the risk is real that neighboring countries also become victims if the withdrawal is not handled in a transparent, organized way.” … The U.N. estimated in December there were at least 20,000 foreign fighters and mercenaries in Libya, including Syrians, Russians, Sudanese and Chadians. AP

Firefight at Libyan Government Building Shows Continued Insecurity
Clashes erupted at a government building in central Tripoli on Tuesday after a dispute over the leadership of a state institution, its head said, underscoring the volatility and insecurity in Libya here months before a planned election. Pickup trucks carrying fighters rushed to the street where the Administrative Control Agency (ACA) is based, a Reuters witness said, amid the sound of gunfire and as black smoke rose overhead. ACA head Sulaiman al-Shanti said the fighters were affiliated with his deputy. The two were appointed by different political entities and there have been recent disputes over the position of each. Although open hostilities in the civil war stopped last summer, armed groups continue to operate across Libya, vying for territory and control of state institutions that remain divided despite a peace push. Libya has had little security since the 2011 NATO-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi and was split after 2014 between warring eastern and western factions. Moves towards a peace process last year were accelerated after forces of the eastern-based commander Khalifa Haftar were pushed back from an assault on Tripoli, culminating in the appointment of a unity government in March. However, although both sides publicly backed the new unity government and agreed a ceasefire, there has been little progress in unifying state institutions or preparing for a fair and free election amid accusations of obstruction. Reuters

17 People Killed in Nigeria Jihadist Attacks
At least 17 people, including a soldier and aid worker, were killed in the latest attacks by Islamic State-aligned jihadists in northeast Nigeria’s Borno state, security and militia sources said Tuesday. Hundreds of fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) stormed the town of Rann on the border with Cameroon on Monday, pushing troops out of a base and occupying the town for several hours. The attack prompted a mass exodus of residents towards Cameroon before ground troops reclaimed the town with aerial support. ISWAP which split from Boko Haram in 2016 has been consolidating its control since the death in May of Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau in clashes between the two rival factions. Heavily-armed fighters “came in around 01:30 on foot like a swarm of locusts and overwhelmed soldiers who had to abandon their base,” said an anti-jihadist militia leader in the town. … A United Nations security source in the region said a soldier and a local volunteer with a foreign aid agency were among the dead. The Nigerian military confirmed the attack on the base, saying troops restored calm after they were initially dislodged. Earlier on Monday the jihadists attacked nearby Ajiri town, killing six residents, the two militia sources said. Rann, home to 35 000 people displaced by the jihadist violence, has been repeatedly targeted by ISWAP and rival Boko Haram. AFP

Super Tucano Officially Inducted into Nigerian Air Force
The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has officially inducted into service the first six of 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft on order from the United States. US Department of Defence officials took part in the ceremony in Abuja on 31 August along with Nigerian Minister of Defence Bashir Salihi Magashi. The first six Super Tucanos arrived in Nigeria on 22 July as part of a nearly $500 million Foreign Military Sale (FMS), with the aircraft manufactured by Brazil’s Embraer and the United States’ Sierra Nevada Corporation. The remaining six will be delivered later this year. The US Embassy pointed out that the Nigerian Super Tucano deal is the largest FMS programme in sub-Saharan Africa. It includes spare parts for several years of operation, contract logistics support, munitions, and a multi-year construction project to improve Kainji Air Base infrastructure. … A total of 64 pilots and maintainers from the Nigerian Air Force trained to US standards with the US Air Force’s 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Base in Georgia, USA. Training also emphasized the Law of Armed Conflict and civilian casualty mitigation, which are fundamental principles of the Nigerian military’s professional education and training, the US Embassy said. Precision targeting, air-to-ground integration, and human rights training are all included in the partnership between the US and Nigeria, the US Embassy emphasised, following previous criticism of the Nigerian military’s human rights record in combating Boko Haram terrorists. defenceWeb

11 Children Abducted by Suspected Islamist Militants in DR Congo
Eleven children aged nine to 17, including five girls, have been kidnapped by presumed Islamist rebels in northeastern DR Congo, a local official said. The rebels, thought to be members of the Islamic State-linked Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), abducted the group in a village in Ituri province on Sunday evening, according to Dieudonne Malangayi, acting chairman of the chiefdom of Walese Vonkutu. The rebels erupted into the Bundingili area where the village is located, and kidnapped “all the civilians who were there, men, women and children,” he said by phone. More than three kilometres away in the bush, the militants “freed the men, women and some young children,” but kept the 11 other children. “We don’t know what happened” to them, said Malangayi, who is also a representative of civil society. … On August 18, a contingent of US special operations forces arrived in the area to help the Congolese army in their fight against the ADF, US and Congolese sources said at the time. AFP

U.S. Agency Says Tigrayan Forces Looted Aid Warehouses in Ethiopia’s Amhara Region
Forces from Ethiopia’s Tigray region in recent weeks looted warehouses belonging to the U.S. government’s humanitarian agency in the Amhara region, USAID’s mission director in Ethiopia said on Tuesday. War broke out in the mountainous region last November between Ethiopian troops and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which controls the region. The conflict has killed thousands and caused a humanitarian crisis. After retaking control of most of Tigray in late June and early July, Tigrayan forces pushed into the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions, displacing several hundred thousand more people from their homes. “We do have proof that several of our warehouses have been looted and completely emptied in the areas, particularly in Amhara, where TPLF soldiers have gone into,” mission director Sean Jones told state broadcaster EBC in a televised interview. “I do believe that the TPLF has been very opportunistic,” he added. Representatives for the TPLF and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. “Any interference or theft of humanitarian aid is unacceptable and prevents critical assistance from reaching people in need. Unfortunately, since the beginning of the conflict in northern Ethiopia, we’ve seen instances of looting from all parties,” a USAID spokesperson said. Up to 900,000 people in Tigray are already in famine conditions, while five million others are in desperate need of humanitarian assistance, USAID estimates. Reuters

Kenya Sets Up COVID-19 Vaccination Centers
Kenya is stepping up its COVID-19 vaccination campaign by setting up inoculation centers in public spaces like malls, markets, and bus stops. Authorities hope the extra convenience will lift a vaccination rate that stands at just 2%. At a bus terminal in Nairobi, hundreds of people wait to get vaccinated. It’s an exercise that has saved them long-distance travel to the designated vaccination centers. Walter Juma, a public bus conductor, is getting ready to receive his first COVID-19 jab. He said because of the demanding nature of his job, he could not find the time to go for vaccination at the health facilities. “The vaccination is now near my place of work and home,” Walter said. “This has helped a lot. There are other people who cannot walk for long, the elderly and some are sick.” Health officials said the number of people turning up for their vaccinations has doubled since more inoculation sites opened a month ago. … Kenya is receiving more vaccine doses from the U.S. government and other nations, so the supply is much better than during the first phase of the vaccination program. With its new vaccination strategy, Kenya’s vaccination taskforce chairman, Dr. Willies Akhwale, says they are hoping to vaccinate at least 10 million people by the end of the year. VOA

Lesotho Murder Rate Ranked Sixth Worst in World as Judicial System Breaks Down
The tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho has the sixth highest murder rate in the world, according to a recent World Population Review report. The global average murder rate is seven per 100,000 people, found the report, and Lesotho had a rate almost six times higher at 41.25. The report ranked Lesotho as only safer than El Salvador (82.84 per 100,000 people), Honduras (56.52), Venezuela (56.33), Virgin Islands (49.26) and Jamaica (47.01). Lesotho, with a population of just over 2 million people, has more homicides than countries in conflict such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Mozambique. DRC has a homicide score of 13.55, and Mozambique 3.4. Lesotho’s much more populous neighbour, South Africa, has 33.97 murders per 100,000 people and is the only other Southern African Development Community country in the top 10 for highest rates of murder. In the past three months, six police officers have been killed in Lesotho, three of them in the past three weeks. … Contributing to Lesotho’s unenviable position are the unresolved killings of women and children that have rocked the country in recent years. Analysts say Lesotho’s underfunded judiciary is sitting on thousands of untried cases. The Guardian

Bribery to Get Public Services Is Increasing in Parts of Africa
Bribery by any name — gift, pot- de-vin, kitu kidogo … — is money out of our pockets, and quite a few people are shelling out. According to Afrobarometer research institute, half of all Ugandans, Cameroonians, Sierra Leoneans and Guineans say they paid at least one bribe in the past year to get a basic public service from a school, health clinic or state documents office or to get help from or avoid a problem with the police. Across 33 countries, almost three in 10 respondents (28%) said they had paid a bribe. That’s 28% of all adults, not just of those who tried to get those services. And since Afrobarometer only asked about selected services, the total across all public services is probably higher. The poorest group of respondents was twice as likely (35%) as the wealthiest (17%) to have paid a bribe for services, according to Afrobarometer. The problem is getting worse. Across 30 countries where Afrobarometer has data dating back to 2014-15, the proportion of people who paid a bribe for one of these services has increased from 16% to 28%. Only two countries – Morocco and Sudan – report lower levels of corruption, while 20 countries report increases of 10 percentage points or more. Mail & Guardian

S. Sudan Low Internet Access Makes Mockery of Social Media Curbs
On Sunday and Monday, the country experienced an internet blackout, described by officials as a technical problem. South Sudan has the lowest access to the internet across the East African region, in spite of fears it could be used to destabilise the unity government. … It came as Surfshark — a privacy protection company — said that South Sudan had now become the 67th country in the world that experienced restricted social media access over the last six years. … So far, 31 countries in Africa have blocked or heavily restricted social media access since 2015, said Surfshark in a statement on Monday evening. Research shows that in 2021 alone, there were eleven political cases of internet disruption across the world in Uganda, Russia, Myanmar, Senegal, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Cuba, Zambia, and recently in South Sudan. “Internet censorship has seen prominent growth worldwide, especially in Asian and African regions, and even more so recently during elections and other political events. “These governments usually go after communication apps like WhatsApp, Skype, Facebook Messenger, Viber, and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram,” Surfshark said. “Most internet censorship and social media restriction cases in Africa have to do with riots, protests, elections, and other events of political nature,” the company added. Nation

Hundreds of Thousands Affected by Heavy Floods in South Sudan, Says UN
Heavy flooding has affected about 380,000 people in South Sudan, with overflowing rivers submerging homes and displacing families in the impoverished country, the UN’s humanitarian agency OCHA said Tuesday. Nearly three-quarters of those affected are in two states—Unity and Jonglei—OCHA said in a briefing note, warning of “more heavy rains and flooding expected in the coming months.” “Access is a major challenge, with the majority of flood-affected areas inaccessible by road,” the agency said, with aid workers struggling to deliver supplies to displaced populations. Michael Gai, who fled with his family to Jonglei’s capital Bor, said many people were unable to move to safer areas. “The flooding is coming from all directions—east south, north and west,” he told AFP. … Around 100,000 of those displaced in last year’s disaster have still not returned home, while the relentless rainfall has left some agricultural land submerged for well over a year, OCHA said. The devastation has also caused prices to skyrocket, with the damage to roads having sharply slowed down agricultural production and obstructed transport, said Bol Deng, a resident of Bor. “The local production is very low… (transport) is kind of blocked so nothing is coming to the local markets,” he told AFP. “So as a result things have become very expensive,” he added. AFP

UN: Weather Disasters Soar in Numbers, Cost, but Deaths Fall
Weather disasters are striking the world four to five times more often and causing seven times more damage than in the 1970s, the United Nations weather agency reports. But these disasters are killing far fewer people. In the 1970s and 1980s, they killed an average of about 170 people a day worldwide. In the 2010s, that dropped to about 40 per day, the World Meteorological Organization said in a report Wednesday that looks at more than 11,000 weather disasters in the past half-century. The report comes during a disaster-filled summer globally, including deadly floods in Germany and a heat wave in the Mediterranean, and with the United States simultaneously struck by powerful Hurricane Ida and an onslaught of drought-worsened wildfires. “The good news is that we have been able to minimize the amount of casualties once we have started having growing amount of disasters: heatwaves, flooding events, drought, and especially … intense tropical storms like Ida, which has been hitting recently Louisiana and Mississippi in the United States,” Petteri Taalas, WMO’s secretary-general, told a news conference. “But the bad news is that the economic losses have been growing very rapidly and this growth is supposed to continue,” he added. “We are going to see more climatic extremes because of climate change, and these negative trends in climate will continue for the coming decades.” AP

How Nigeria Plans to Meet Low Carbon Pledge by 2030
With the submission of an updated Nationally Determined Contribution(NDC) document to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on July 2, Nigeria affirmed its pledges to follow the path of low carbon development by 2030 as enshrined in the Paris accord endorsed in 2015. The NDC is a document embodying ambitious pledges and actions set by countries that have endorsed the Paris Agreement in order to effectively and efficiently reduce carbon emissions, thus mitigating the devastating impacts of climate change in their respective countries. It also contains actions countries intend to take in order to build resilience to adapt to the impacts of the rising temperatures. The submitted NDC document shows that Nigeria has proposed stronger and more ambitious targets than it last did in the 2015 sequel to the endorsement of the Paris agreement. According to Climate Action Tracker, an independent global scientific analysis organisation tracking climate action since 2009, 84 countries have submitted new NDC targets. Of this, Nigeria is one of the five countries (China, Japan, Nigeria, South Africa and South Korea) that proposed stronger NDC targets, 17 countries submitted stronger targets, nine countries did not increase their ambitions, five proposed new targets, while 75 countries out of the 196 parties that signed the Paris pact have not updated their targets as of August 27. Premium Times



Photo: Adam Jones