Africa Media Review for September 15, 2023

Libya Seals Off Flooded City So Searchers Can Look for 10,000 Missing after Death Toll Passes 11,000
Libyan authorities sealed off an inundated city on Friday to allow search teams to dig through the mud and hollowed-out buildings for 10,000 people missing and feared dead after the official toll from flooding soared past 11,000. Authorities warned that disease and explosives shifted by the waters could take yet more lives. … The disaster has brought rare unity, as government agencies across Libya’s divide rushed to help the affected areas. But relief efforts have been slowed by the destruction after several bridges that connect the city were destroyed. … Heaps of twisted metal and flooded cars littered Derna’s streets, which are caked in a tan mud. Teams have buried bodies in mass graves outside the city and in nearby towns, Eastern Libya’s health minister, Othman Abduljaleel, said. But officials worried that thousands of bodies were still hidden in the muck — or floating in the sea, where divers were sent to search. … Imene Trabelsi, a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross, warned that another danger lurked in the mud: landmines and other explosive remnants left behind by the country’s protracted conflict. There are leftover explosives in Libya dating back to World War II, but most of the remaining ones are from the civil conflict that began in 2011. … The Libyan Red Crescent said as of Thursday that 11,300 people in Derna had died and another 10,100 were reported missing. The storm also killed about 170 people elsewhere in the country. AP

Aid Agencies Call for End to Mass Graves after Libya Floods
The World Health Organization (WHO) and other aid groups on Friday called on authorities in Libya to stop burying flood victims in mass graves after a U.N. report showed that more than 1,000 people had so far been buried in that manner since the country was hit by floods. A torrent washed away whole districts of Derna, a city in eastern Libya, on Sunday night after two dams collapsed. Thousands were killed and thousands more are missing. “We urge authorities in communities touched by tragedy to not rush forward with mass burials or mass cremations,” said Dr Kazunobu Kojima, medical officer for biosafety and biosecurity in the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, in a joint statement sent out by the U.N. health agency with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The statement called for better managed burials in well demarcated and documented individual graves, saying that hasty burials can lead to long-lasting mental distress for family members as well as social and legal problems. Reuters

Nearly 7,000 Migrants Arrive on Italy’s Southern Island of Lampedusa within 24 hours
A flotilla of flimsy boats, crowded with migrants and launched from Tunisia, overwhelmed a tiny southern Italian island on Wednesday, taxing the coast guard’s capability to intercept the smugglers’ vessels and sorely testing Premier Giorgia Meloni’s pledge to thwart illegal migration. Compounding the political pressure on Italy’s first far-right leader were vows by France and Germany to rebuff migrants who arrive by sea on Italian shores, and in defiance of European Union asylum system rules, head northward to try to find jobs or relatives in those and other northern countries on the continent. Starting early Tuesday, the unseaworthy, unstable iron boats came one after the other in what appeared to be almost a procession to onlookers on Lampedusa, a fishing and tourist island south of Sicily. Some 6,800 migrants came in a span of just over 24 hours — a number that is a few hundred higher than the isle’s full-time population. Provoking the surge in numbers was a bottleneck in Tunisia’s ports of several days caused by rough seas that meant the smugglers couldn’t launch their boats, according to Italian authorities. AfricaNews

Nigeria: Terrorists Kill Four, Abduct 30 Residents in Fresh Sokoto Attack
Four people were killed while about 30 others were abducted when terrorists attacked Giyawa, a community in the Goronyo area of Sokoto State on Thursday. The attack, which residents said began around 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday, continued until 04:00 a.m. Thursday. “The impunity with which these bandits launch attacks is scary. They stormed the community in the night and only left early morning. They abducted several people in the village after killing four others,” Jamilu Muhammad, a resident of Goronyo town said. He said at the last count, around 4:00 p.m., 30 people had been “abducted.” … Some residents of communities around Giyawa, especially Boyekai and Danhwaru, have been fleeing their villages for safer places with others crossing to the Niger Republic on foot. “Things are becoming unbearable,” a resident of Goronyo told Premium Times via a WhatsApp voice note. He asked for his name not to be published for security reasons. “Many of the villages around Giyawa are now deserted and towns like Goronyo are filled with IDPs. These people don’t go to farms that are far away from their communities because of the terrorists.” Premium Times

Nigerian Governor Raises Alarm over Increasing Attacks by Bandits
Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed, has expressed concern over the increasing attacks of terrorists, locally referred to as bandits in the state. Mr Mohammed called for urgent intervention of the the federal government. He said the terror gangs from other states are increasingly attacking defenslceless communities in the state. Mr Mohammed made the call for assistance during a meeting with traditional rulers in the state at the Government House on Wednesday. He told the traditional rulers that terror gangs from neighbouring states fleeing increased military operations are relocating to the state. “Because of the Federal Government’s sustained war against bandits and terrorism in other zones of the country, the state is becoming a hiding place for the unscrupulous elements who are beginning to disturb the peace of the citizens. … Goronyo, located in the eastern part of Sokoto State, is one of the most vulnerable areas in terms of terrorist activities. Other areas in eastern Sokoto like Isa, Sabon Birni, Gada, Rabah, Wurno, Illela, and Gwadabawa have all been witnessing a series of terrorist activities for almost a decade. Premium Times

Power Being Restored in Nigeria after Nationwide Grid Collapse
Nigeria experienced a nationwide power outage for about 10 hours after the country’s electrical grid collapsed due to a fire, authorities and the nation’s electricity distribution companies reported. The grid has collapsed multiple times in recent years, and the latest outage on Thursday affected all of Nigeria’s 36 states and the capital city of Abuja before electricity was restored in most parts of the country. A fire in one of the country’s power plants led to “sharp drops in frequency” that resulted in grid failure early Thursday, Adebayo Adebulu, Nigeria’s minister of power, said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The fire has been fully arrested, and over half of the connections are now up and the rest will be fully restored in no time,” Adebulu said Thursday afternoon. … Power generation fell to zero early on Thursday and had risen to 273 megawatts (MW) by 10:30 GMT, well below the daily average of 4,100MW, data from the Transmission Company of Nigeria showed. … Grid power supply is erratic in Nigeria, a major oil and gas producer, forcing households and businesses to use diesel and petrol generators. … Nigeria has 12,500MW of installed capacity but produces about a quarter of that. Al Jazeera

Zimbabwe Headed into Dark Cloud of Uncertainty, Says CCC after Arrest of Three Leaders, Barely Two Weeks after Mnangagwa’s Inauguration
The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has warned of a dark period ahead which it argues is evidenced by the arrest of three opposition leaders within two weeks of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s swearing-in. Already Sunningdale Member of Parliament (MP) Maureen Kademaunga has spent a night in police cells on charges of attempted murder and malicious damage to property which the State has since withdrawn. Party Deputy Spokesperson Ostallos Siziba is expected in court Friday on charges of having incited violence that led to the abandonment of the Dynamos versus Highlanders premier league match at Barbourfields on Sunday. On Thursday Harare Deputy Mayor Kudzai Kadzombe who was sworn into office Monday was arrested on assault charges. She is also expected in court on Friday. CCC’S Chirumanzu South candidate Patrick Cheza is locked up at Whawha Prison on assault charges too. Speaking to, Siziba said this was evidence of ‘a scared and illegitimate government.’ “The recent attacks, persecution and illegal arrest of our Councillors and MPs is a clear sign that the regime is petrified,” said Siziba. “We just came out of an election, our people are being punished for rejecting Zanu PF on the ballot. … “The closure of democratic space, and attack on dissenting voices will soon show its ugly face on the economy. A disputed and discredited election cannot produce a legitimate leadership.” New Zimbabwe

Credible Reports of at Least 13 Mass Graves in Darfur: UN
he United Nations Joint Human Rights office received credible reports about the existence of at least 13 mass graves in El Geneina, a city in Sudan’s Darfur region, and its surrounding areas, Volker Perthes, head of the UN mission in the country (UNITAMS) said on Wednesday. The mass graves, he told the UN Security Council, contained victims of attacks by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and allied Arab militias on civilians, the majority of whom were from the Masalit community. “UNITAMS and UN colleagues are documenting these violations and recall that these acts, if verified, may constitute war crimes,” explained Perthes. The official, who announced his resignation from his role in Sudan, said ethnically targeted violence in the city of El Geneina, has escalated sharply since conflict between the RSF and Sudan’s army erupted in the capital Khartoum in mid-April. He also cited acts of sexual violence and other forms of violence against women. Sudan Tribune

UN General Assembly to Hold Sideline Meeting on Sudan Crisis
A meeting aimed at mobilizing support and strengthening humanitarian response to the Sudan crisis will take place on the sidelines of the United Nations General assembly later this month. Amiera AlHefeiti, the Deputy Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the UN, said it is important for international community to urgently focus on responding to Sudan’s humanitarian situation. AlHefeiti was addressing the Security Council meeting on Sudan on Wednesday. … The diplomat specifically commended Sudanese organizations and community groups that have continued delivering aid under very challenging circumstances. She appealed for the establishment of new partnerships at the local, regional, and international levels in order to achieve a tangible impact on the ground. According to AlHefeiti, a lasting and immediate ceasefire is essential to protect civilians and humanitarian workers and mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Sudan. … According to the UN official, lack of funding for humanitarian operations “will leave millions without the assistance that they need”, adding that only 26% of the $2.6 billion revised Humanitarian Response Plan for Sudan is funded. Sudan Tribune

Cameroon, CAR Blame Rebels for Kidnappings
Government officials in Cameroon and the Central African Republic say the number of civilian kidnappings has spiked along their borders, with armed gangs and rebels demanding as much as $50,000 in ransom. In addition to the abductions, the rebels and armed gangs loot markets and ranches and send villagers fleeing for safety, said officials in Cameroon’s eastern border with the Central African Republic, or CAR. Abdoulahi Bobo, a cattle rancher, said his two wives, three children and elder brother have yet to be found a week after they were taken to the bush by armed men. He said the abductors called him and demanded payment of about $10,000 to secure his family’s freedom. Bobo spoke to VOA by messaging app on Thursday from Cameroon’s eastern district of Ngaoui, which borders Mont Ngaoui, the highest point in the Central African Republic. He said his family may have been taken to the mountain or neighboring forests. Cameroon and CAR said rebel attacks are reported on both sides of the border almost daily. VOA

Mali Cancels Independence Day Celebrations after Attacks
Mali’s ruling junta has cancelled festivities planned for the anniversary of the country’s independence celebrated on September 22. The announcement was made public Wednesday following a council of ministers. Last year, Guinea’s ruling military leader attended the military parade organized for the festivities of Mali’s 62nd independence anniversary. During Wednesday’s council of ministers, Mali’s military leader ordered the government to allocate the funds planned for this year’s festivities to help victims of a series of recent attacks and their families. The council also discussed the possible mobilisation of reservists. The announcement of “sober” independence anniversary coincides with a renewed military activity by the Tuareg separatists, and a succession of attacks attributed mainly to the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist alliance Support Group for Islam and Muslims (GSIM). AfricaNews/AFP

DR Congo Again Sounds Alarm over Rwandan ‘Aggression’
Kinshasa again sounded the alarm Thursday over the humanitarian tragedy being caused by Rwandan “aggression” inside the Democratic Republic of the Congo, ahead of the U.N. General Assembly next week. Communications Minister Patrick Muyaya and Justice Minister Rose Mutombo set out their case against Kigali in a news conference in the capital. They repeated allegations that DRC’s eastern neighbor Rwanda has been backing the Tutsi-led M23 rebels, which Kigali has repeatedly denied. The force has seized swaths of territory in North Kivu, on the two countries’ border, since taking up arms again in late 2021 after years of dormancy. Muyaya referred to “irrefutable proof of criminal activities run by the Rwandan army with its M23 supporters.” Presenting an update of a previous white paper on the issue, he said the conflict had forced more than 2.3 million people to flee their homes and left hundreds of schools destroyed or occupied. … U.N. experts have also accused Rwanda of supporting the rebel force, and in July, the EU condemned the country’s military presence in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA/AFP

Sex Slaves or Child Soldiers? Schooling in African Conflict Zones in Jeopardy, Says Aid Group
The future of entire generations of children is in jeopardy in central and west Africa, unless governments and other critical actors take urgent action to get them back into schools, an aid group has warned. And in Burkina Faso, the problem is particularly severe. That country, under a coup military regime, accounts for almost 50% of schools that have been shut down due to insecurity in eight central and west African countries, a report by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) established. In certain instances, the NRC said, armed non-state groups attack schools. Between January and August 2023, 147 incidents were reported in the region. In some instances, schools stand empty as a result of forcible population transfers, or families and teachers leave an area when there is unrest. … In total, “the education of 2.5 million children is directly endangered”, the NRC said in a statement. To prevent the situation from getting worse and allow reconstruction, the NRC called on stakeholders in armed conflict to avoid turning schools into war zones or military bases. … Hassane Hamadou, the NRC’s regional director in central and West Africa, is worried that children who are forced out of school will end up taking up arms if they are not forced into slavery or used for sexual exploitation. News24

China Welcomes Cambodian and Zambian Leaders as It Forges Deeper Ties with Global South
China and Zambia upgraded their relationship to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership on Friday, the latest move by America’s chief global rival to forge deeper ties with the Global South. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Zambian counterpart announced the agreement shortly after Xi had exchanged cordial words with another visitor, the new prime minister of Cambodia. … The trio of leaders from Africa, Southeast Asia and Latin America speak to China’s growing role in those parts of the world and China’s ambitions to be a global leader. Facing growing pressure from the U.S. and its partners, which fear China’s rise could disrupt the existing international order, the world’s second largest economy is trying to project itself as a powerful nation standing up for the interests of the Global South. … “China aspires to shape a system that aligns with its interests and recognizes its status as a great power,” said Edward Chan, a China studies fellow at Australian National University. “Achieving this goal requires enhancing its ability to influence global discourse, which can be accomplished through garnering more international support.” … Development loans from China and others have saddled some countries, including Zambia, with extremely high debt levels, sometimes sparking debt crises that can stymie economic development. AP

How Morocco Asserts Its Sovereignty by Its Choice of International Aid
Three British Chinook helicopters arrived in Morocco on Wednesday, September 13, from Gibraltar. They will be assisting the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces mobilized in the villages of the High Atlas, south of Marrakech, which were hit by the earthquake on the night of September 8, which has left an estimated 3,000 dead and 5,600 injured. This aid is in addition to the official assistance already provided by three other countries – Spain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar. These are the only four countries whose offer of services has been accepted by Rabat, publicly, with Israeli organizations also working unofficially. Subscribers to the X account (ex-Twitter) of the British Embassy in Rabat will not miss a thing of the efforts of British rescue workers on the ground. They’ll even know that “Vespa,” “Dave,” “Corie” and “Collin” are the names of the sniffer dogs at work in the rubble. Officially, simple technical reasons – the quality of expertise that can be deployed quickly and meets Moroccan needs – have been put forward to explain such a selection. In reality, geopolitics – the map of friendships and enmities, suspicions and misunderstandings – is not completely absent from the picture, even if it does not explain everything. Be that as it may, Morocco has decided on “sovereignty,” as the key word that keeps coming back to dismiss out of hand any speculation about Morocco’s ulterior motives. “Sovereignty means not appearing to be a failed state,” emphasized Abdelmalek Alaoui, president of the Moroccan Institute of Economic Intelligence and a communications expert. “Morocco has institutions, civil protection and an army. Sovereignty means that the state is on hand.” Le Monde

Nigeria, US, France to Boost Security in Gulf of Guinea
Lagos (Nigeria) The Nigerian Government will in conjunction with the United States and France address the security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea during the 2023 Lagos International Maritime Week. The organizers of the International Maritime Week, Zoe Maritime Resources Limited, said in a statement that port development, transportation, law and arbitration, training and education as well as environment and women in maritime would be discussed at the event. It added that the LIMWEEK will be a week of activities, showcasing the best of the maritime industry and that it will include the 8th International Maritime Business to Business Conference scheduled to take place on September 19, 2023. According to the statement, the conference’s theme, which is ‘MARPOL at 50 – Pollution from Ships, Africa’s Commitment to Clean Oceans, Seas, Inland Waters and the Marine Environment’ will give stakeholders and experts the opportunity to address maritime challenges in Africa. APA

Pan-African Parliament at War with Itself
The Pan-African Parliament is, yet again, thrust in bad light over leadership wrangles and financial strains that have become a routine punctuation on its work. This week, the perennial crisis is threatening the upcoming 2nd Ordinary Session due in October in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. And the source of the problem is a power struggle between the Parliament’s 2nd Vice President Ashebir Gayo from Ethiopia and President Chief Fortune Charumbira of Zimbabwe. Since August, Ashebir declared himself Acting Vice-President as Charumbira flew back home to face an electorate where he serves as a senator. The Pan-African Parliament has since 2014 acted as a platform for discussions on the challenges that African Union members face. But its members, rather than being elected directly by the people, are designated by their home legislatures, meaning that they are first domestic legislators. The AU says it plans for this parliament to be voted in directly in future by respective universal suffrage, giving it teeth to pass laws. For now, it is just a consultative, advisory and budgetary oversight body of the AU. Nation

How Africa Weathers the Climate Storm
In Nairobi last week, African leaders gathered alongside some of this continent’s smartest minds for the first-ever Africa Climate Summit. Their goal: to figure out how African countries are going to survive in a much warmer world. And what it will cost. The summit was, in part, a reaction to the failure of the developed world to take meaningful responsibility for causing the climate crisis (Africa is responsible for just 4% of global emissions). Despite repeatedly promising action, rich industrialised countries have not delivered much in the way of action or funding. A pledge to pay $100 billion per year to those countries most affected by climate change has gone almost entirely unfulfilled. In Nairobi, experts, activists, government officials and politicians repeatedly said that the continent needs at least $277 billion per year in climate finance, which works out to $2.8 trillion in the decade from 2020-2030, according to the Climate Policy Initiative. It has so far been getting about 12% of that — which means that we are already playing catch-up. This money should be used to repair the damage caused by extreme weather events, adapt to a warmer world, and build economies that don’t make the situation worse. The consensus is that Africa cannot afford to wait for rich countries to come to the rescue, because they won’t. So any plan to raise this money will have to come from the African continent itself. But how? Participants came at the $277-billion-a-year figure with a dizzying array of ideas on how to raise it. Mail & Guardian