Media Review for July 20, 2016

Mali Attack: Gunmen Kill 17 Soldiers at Military Base
At least 17 soldiers have been killed and 30 wounded in an attack on a military base in Mali, officials say. Heavily armed men overran the base, in the central town of Nampala, and set parts of it on fire. Two separate groups have claimed responsibility for the attack. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita called a security meeting with the prime minister, defence minister and commanders of the armed forces after being made aware of the deaths. There are a number of armed groups in Mali, encompassing ethnic and jihadist concerns. BBC

Libya Attack: Three French Soldiers Killed
France’s defence ministry says three of its soldiers have died in Libya, reportedly after their helicopter was shot down. A short statement said the soldiers died “while on mission”. Earlier on Wednesday, ministry spokesman Stephane Le Foll confirmed for the first time that French special forces were in Libya. On Tuesday, Associated Press quoted Libyan officials as saying an Islamist militia shot down a French helicopter. The attack on Sunday happened near the city of Benghazi, and left no survivors, AP reported. BBC

African Leaders Eye Bigger Role for AU Forces
After violent gun battles in the capital Juba between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to rebel leader Riek Machar last week killed hundreds of people, the African Union (AU) has proposed a new force to protect citizens and keep the peace. The decision was made at the AU summit in Kigali, Rwanda, in response to a ceasefire between the main forces in South Sudan. At least 300 people were killed, and tens of thousands were forced to flee their homes. “The UN doesn’t have the mandate to impose peace,” said African Union Peace and Security Commissioner Smail Chergui. “They are there where there is peace to keep. African troops are ready to engage in very difficult situations. It is our responsibility,” he added. Deutsche Welle

DRC: Rebels Kill at Least 10 in Troubled Eastern Region
Ten people were killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile east, an army spokesman said, adding that the military had intervened to restore order. “We denounce the killing of 10 civilians and huts being torched,” said Captain Guillaume Djike on Tuesday, adding that the violence broke out overnight in Kibirizi, about 85 kilometres (50 miles) north of Goma, the main city of the troubled Nord Kivu province. Gaston Kakule, a resident of the area, blamed rebels from the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), which is active in the area, of staging the attack. Al Jazeera

The Real Reason the EU Can’t Stop Human Smuggling from Libya
[…] instead of successfully targeting the smugglers and their networks, the whole operation has turned into a search and rescue effort. More than 50 suspected smugglers had been arrested as of June — but they were mainly low-level operatives, not the real ringleaders. Some 80 wooden boats have been confiscated since the operation was launched, but the smugglers have since switched to using more dangerous rubber dinghies. As the weather is improving with summer, thousands of people are expected to try to reach Italian shores. On just one day recently, June 23, the Italian coast guard rescued 4,500 migrants from dozens of boats, many coming from Libya. According to the International Organization for Migration, as of June, more than 18,000 migrants and refugees had reached Italy so far this year, compared with about 10,000 in the same period in 2015. Al Monitor

14 Somali Civilians Killed in Clashes in Southwestern Somalia
At least 14 Somali civilians were killed and three others wounded following a shooting between Ethiopian troops and al-Shabab fighters in southwestern Somalia on Sunday, officials and witnesses said. Officials in Bay region have accused the Ethiopian troops of “indiscriminate” killing after clashing with al-Shabab fighters in Wardinle village, 30 kilometers west of Baidoa town. A Somali lawmaker, Ibrahim Isak Yarow, who visited the village Monday told VOA he counted the bodies of 13 civilians killed at the scene while another died on the way to the hospital. He said all the victims were civilians. VOA

“Time To Restart Your Lives”, UN Tells Ivorian War Refugees in W.Africa
The fate of 40,000 Ivorian refugees living in limbo across West Africa, who fled civil war five years ago, should be resolved this year, the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday. While some 250,000 former refugees have returned to Ivory Coast since the five-month conflict ended in 2011, many of those who remain in exile have fears about going home, while others are unwilling to do so, the UNHCR said “We need to see if we can quickly wind the repatriation effort down, to give those refugees who wish to return home the chance to do so in the coming months,” the UNHCR’s regional representative, Liz Ahua, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It is time for people to go home, restart their lives, and contribute to the development of their country – they don’t want to be left behind,” she said after a regional meeting between the UNHCR and several West African states to discuss the issue. Reuters

28 AU Countries Call for Immediate Suspension of RASD
The 28 heads of State have decided to “act for the immediate suspension of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic from the activities of the African Union and all its bodies, to enable the AU to play a constructive role and contribute positively to UN efforts for a final settlement to the regional dispute over the Sahara”, reads the motion addressed by Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon, on behalf of 28 UA countries. These countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Libya, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sao Tome, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo and Zambia. Morocco World News

AU Approves Request to Increase Troops in South Sudan
The African Union (AU) has approved a request to increase the number of troops to the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), to maintain a ceasefire. The resolution was unanimously made during the 27th AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda on Monday. The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) requested to have an urgent revision of the UNMISS mandate and increase the numbers of troops from the region to Juba after violent clashes broke out on Sunday last week. At least 300 were reported killed including two Chinese peacekeepers and thousands of civilians fled the capital when heavy fighting erupted. The request by AU to increase troops will have to be approved by the UN Security Council before it is implemented, although the timeline is not yet known. The East African

South Sudan Editor Detained for Criticizing Leaders
A South Sudanese newspaper editor has been arrested for writing articles that criticized the country’s leaders over a flare-up in violence earlier this month, a colleague said on Tuesday after meeting security officials. Alfred Taban, founder and editor of the privately run Juba Monitor, was detained on Saturday, drawing calls from journalists’ and rights groups for his release. “They arrested Alfred because of the two articles of 15th and 16th July in his column,” Oliver Modi, South Sudan chairperson of the Union of Journalists, told Reuters. He quoted security officials as saying that “Alfred will be taken to the court, and let the court at the end of the day tell us who is guilty or who is not guilty.” He said it was not clear when the court hearing would take place. VOA

11 Dead in Suspected South Sudan Cholera Outbreak: UNICEF
UNICEF says 11 people have died in a suspected cholera outbreak in South Sudan. The organization said Tuesday there are 72 suspected cases so far, including 36 in the capital, Juba. Others are in Bor and Terekeka counties. South Sudan’s health ministry has not declared an outbreak because samples are undergoing final laboratory testing for confirmation, but a cholera response plan has been launched anyway, said ministry official Dr. Thomas Akim Ujjiga. The ministry issued an alert Sunday after suspected cases started arriving Friday at Juba Teaching Hospital. One suspected case came from inside a United Nations base in Juba, raising fears that it could spread among the 4,000 people sheltering there from fighting this month between opposing army factions, said Ashley McLaughlin, spokeswoman for the International Organization for Migration, which manages the camp. News24

Mugabe: Evan Mawarire Sponsored by Foreign Countries
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has accused a pastor who organised a nationwide strike against the government of being sponsored by foreign countries allegedly trying to destabilise his administration. It was the first time President Robert Mugabe had mentioned Evan Mawarire publicly by name. Mawarire last week was briefly arrested and charged with subverting a constitutionally elected government before being freed by a court in the capital, Harare. Hundreds of cheering supporters greeted his release. His calls on social media for a boycott earlier this month drew a strong response from people frustrated by Zimbabwe’s deepening economic problems. Al Jazeera

Mugabe Tells Leaders of Protests They Are Free to Leave Zimbabwe
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has told leaders of recent protests that they are free to leave the country. He was addressing party supporters during the burial of the first civil servant at the national heroes’ shrine. President Mugabe said not all religious figures are true preachers of the bible. A local pastor Evan Mawarire has launched a series of protests against the veteran leader and his government over the last three months. As President Robert Mugabe led the funeral service of the chief architect of the post-independence civil service, government workers are worried whether this month they will be paid on time.  SABC

EU Launches Two-year Military Mission in the Central African Republic
The European Union has announced the launch of a two-year military training mission in the Central African Republic to be based in the capital Bangui. The European Union Council said in a statement over the weekend that the mission which will be led by a French commander, General Eric Hautecloque-Raysz, will “contribute to the EU’s comprehensive approach and security sector reform in the country”. “Following up an EU military advisory mission (EUMAM RCA), EUTM RCA will work towards modernised, effective, inclusive and democratically accountable Central African Armed Forces (FACA),” the statement said. Africa News

Cameroon Pressured for Accountability in Fight Against Boko Haram
Although Cameroon has received praise for its military action to push Boko Haram out of the northern part of the country and neighboring Nigeria, Amnesty International is criticizing the Cameroonian security forces for crimes including extrajudicial killings, torture and holding prisoners in inhumane conditions. In a report titled “Right Cause, Wrong Means,” published late last week, Amnesty International said more than 1,000 people accused of supporting Boko Haram are being detained in terrible conditions, many in a prison called Maroua in the northern part of the country. Built to house 350 people, it is holding more than 1,500. Amnesty said up to eight people are dying each month in the prison due to poor conditions. VOA

HRW: Kenya Disappearances Linked to Counterterrorism Operations
Dozens of people have disappeared in the past two years at the hands of counterterrorism forces in Kenya, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Wednesday. According to the report, military forces have arrested at least 34 people for alleged ties to the Islamist terror group al-Shabab, but none of them have been charged. Family members say they cannot locate the relatives who were arrested, and have not been informed of their whereabouts, despite reporting the disappearances to authorities. In the same time period, eleven bodies of people previously arrested by state agents have been found, raising concern for those who remain missing without explanation, according to the human rights watchdog.  VOA

How Malawi Reduced its HIV/Aids Infection Rate
Since its first diagnosis in 1985, Malawi has come a long way in the struggle to overcome HIV/Aids. At least 10 percent of the country’s population has HIV. In 2013, some 48,000 people in this country of 16 million died from HIV-related illnesses. But experts across the board agree that the country, nestled deep in southern Africa, has made significant progress. According to UNAIDS, there has been a reduction in new infections. Malawi’s treatment programme, which began in 2004, has reportedly saved 260,000 lives. Crucially, it has seen a 67 percent reduction in the number of children acquiring HIV, the biggest success story across all sub-Saharan nations But the story is far from over. Women and girls, sex workers and men who have sex with men are still very vulnerable. Moreover, young people account for 50 percent of new infections. Al Jazeera

New HIV Vaccine To Be Trialled in South Africa
A vaccine against HIV will be trialed in South Africa later this year after meeting the criteria needed to prove it could help fight the epidemic in Africa. In 2015, 2.1 million new infections were reported — two-thirds of which occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. A small trial, known as HVTN100, took place in South Africa in 2015 to test the safety and strength of immunity the vaccine could provide, ahead of any larger-scale testing in affected populations. CNN

Report: Vietnam is Among World’s Biggest Illegal Ivory Markets
Conservation group Save the Elephants says Vietnam is one of the world’s biggest illegal ivory markets, becoming popular among Chinese buyers. The group says in the past eight years the number of ivory items for sale has increased more than six times. Save the Elephants researcher Esmond Martin said 60 percent of the ivory tusks sold in Vietnam were from African ports located in the Indian Ocean. “About two-thirds of ivory that is leaving the continent is going to the East African ports, mostly Mombasa and Dar es Salam, into a lesser extent in Zanzibar and two-thirds of ivory that leaves Africa is going to China and Vietnam,” Martin explained. VOA

Mystery of Rise in Arson Attacks on Kenyan Schools
Three fires are the latest in a string of arson attacks targeting schools in Kenya, officials said Tuesday. More than 68 fires have been reported so far this year, with most blamed on incidences of school unrest, Education Minister Fred Matiangi said. According to the Red Cross, the latest attack was at the St. Immaculate Secondary School in Kitale, Trans Nzoia county, where a 120-place dormitory was razed to the ground. […] There have been more than 300 cases of arson in schools in Kenya since 2007 with no agreed cause for the rise in attacks. Anadolu Agency



Photo: Adam Jones