Media Review for July 6, 2016

US Warning: Possible Attacks in Lagos
The United States on Tuesday warned of possible attacks against expatriates and foreign visitors in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos, during public holidays marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “The US Mission in Nigeria advises that groups associated with terrorist activity might be planning attacks against hotels in Lagos frequented by international visitors, including those located on waterfronts, during the Eid-al-Fitr holidays,” it said. Tuesday and Wednesday are public holidays in Nigeria and the traditional end of a month of fasting and prayer is marked by celebrations across the country. The US warning, posted on its embassy’s website, is unusually specific but not the first about possible attacks in locations frequented by expatriates. News 24

Why Nigeria’s Military Make Bad Aid Workers: Militarisation of IDP Camps has Become a Licence for Abuse
[…] The theft of relief materials for the 20,000 displaced people in Dalori is criminal and reprehensible. One aid worker at the camp, who has witnessed such behaviour repeatedly, remarked that it was like “stealing from a corpse”, in light of how little assistance the IDPs receive. It also points to a larger problem over the management of the 244,000 displaced people who have fled Boko Haram violence and settled in 75 government-run sites. According to the UN’s Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the management of IDP camps is usually vested in “existing government agencies with relevant mandates”. In Nigeria’s case, that would be the Emergency Management Agency at the individual state level. But, in reality, IDP sites are effectively under military control. Armed soldiers, police, and a paramilitary vigilante group known as the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) protect the camps, and the military provides the final authorisation on who is allowed to enter. IRIN

Katumbi Still in the Race to Become President of the DRC
Congolese opposition leader, Moise Katumbi has said he is still in the race to become the next president of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In an interview with the Reuters news agency in Paris, the former Governor of the mineral-rich Katanga province said he had recovered from an attempt on his life by the police in the DRC, a claim the government has rejected. “I’m going back to Congo. I’ve got a fight, a peaceful fight for our country to have the first peaceful transition,” he told Reuters. Katumbi who has been out of the country since May has been accused of recruiting foreign mercenaries, a charge he denies. Last month, he was sentenced in absentia to a 3-year prison term for selling a building he did not own. Africa News

DRC Civil Society Calls for Dialogue Ahead of Disputed Poll
Civil society organizations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has urged the country’s political class to participate in dialogue convened by President Joseph Kabila to ensure forthcoming polls are peaceful. “We, members of civil society groups, have met in Kinshasa to reflect on the way forward regarding the proposed national dialogue, and appeal for patriotism from the political class who should start engaging in dialogue as soon as possible,” the groups said in a statement issued in Kinshasa. The civil society actors further urged parliament to quickly pass electoral laws to complete the electoral legal framework. At the same time, they asked the government and administrative authorities to allow political groups to freely carry out their activities in order to create a climate of trust, which is ideal for holding political dialogue. Mail and Guardian

U.N. Peacekeepers Preparing for Possible Congo Political Violence
Political uncertainty over Democratic Republic of Congo’s next presidential election could spiral into a severe crisis and United Nations peacekeepers are developing contingency plans for widespread violence, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned. In a report to the U.N. Security Council released on Tuesday, Ban said that under those plans peacekeepers in Congo might need to ask for help from other U.N. missions. “I am concerned that in the absence of a credible and meaningful political dialogue among Congolese stakeholders, tensions could degenerate into a severe crisis, with a high risk of relapse into violence and instability,” Ban said. The Congolese government has said it is unlikely it will be able to hold elections in November for logistical reasons but opponents of President Joseph Kabila accuse him of trying to cling to power. The government has denied the claim. Reuters

Congo’s Illegal Gold Trade Seen Benefiting Foreign Companies
Foreign companies and armed groups are profiting from an illegal trade in gold in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo despite international regulations intended to clean up the sector, Global Witness said. One Chinese company that operates gold-dredging boats in the region smuggled as much as $17 million worth of the metal out of the country during a 12-month period between 2014 and 2015, the London-based advocacy group said in a report published Tuesday. Armed groups made as much as $25,000 a month in illegal taxes extorted from artisanal diggers and received at least two assault rifles and $4,000 from the company over a two-year period, it said. Bloomberg

Libya PM Says UN-Backed Unity Deal Unworkable
Libya’s prime minister said Tuesday that the United Nations is trying to impose an unworkable agreement on the country’s various factions that is “screwing up” the political process and will never be accepted by parliament. Abdullah al-Thinni is the head of a weak, interim government based in eastern Libya that answers to its internationally recognized parliament. In Tripoli, the capital, his rival Fayez Serraj runs a U.N.-brokered presidency council and a designated government, which has failed to win parliament’s endorsement. The international community has rallied behind the U.N.-brokered government, hoping it can unite the country and its various militias against an Islamic State affiliate and other extremist groups, which have gained a foothold in the chaotic years since the 2011 uprising that toppled Moammar Gadhafi. AP on ABC News

Amisom Divisions Threaten Somalia’s Fragile Stability
By general consensus, the African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia is about the only thing keeping that country from falling apart. Except that the mission is struggling to keep itself together, with internal tensions threatening to explode ahead of September’s make or break presidential election. Daily Maverick

Islamist Violence Strains a Poor Nation’s Warm Welcome for Refugees
Unlike many victims of Islamist violence fleeing to Europe, Aba Ali found a warm African welcome closer to home. But even in southern Niger, where a local family accepted him as a brother, hospitality for refugees is now reaching its limits. Ali, a 45-year-old mechanic, lost his home in neighbouring Nigeria two years ago when he fled Boko Haram fighters who massacred his friends and neighbours. Crossing into Niger, the world’s fifth poorest nation, he became one of the many refugees living with local people who themselves often have barely enough to feed their own children. A surge in violence since last month, however, has displaced tens of thousands more, testing that spirit of open-armed acceptance in Niger’s Diffa region as shortages of food and water put communities under severe strain. Reuters

Suspected rebels hack nine people to death in Northeast Congo – Army
Suspected rebels hacked to death at least nine people in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday, the army said, the latest in a string of massacres that have killed more than 500 civilians since October 2014. Poor intelligence and insufficient resources have hampered efforts by Congolese and U.N. peacekeeping forces to stamp out repeated killings, most carried out at night with machetes and hatchets, near the town of Beni. Rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a Ugandan Islamist group, snuck into a village near Oicha, 30 km (19 miles) north of Beni, under cover of a heavy morning rainfall to attack civilians in their homes, said Mak Hazukay, a local army spokesman. The victims included five women, Hazukay said. Lawless eastern Congo is plagued by dozens of armed groups that prey on the local population and exploit mineral reserves. Millions died there between 1996 and 2003 as regional conflict caused hunger and disease. Reuters

Press Under Pressure from Algeria’s ‘Draconian Drift’
The director of a television station is arrested… a court blocks the sale of an opposition media group… parliament passes a law to stop retired army officers commenting on politics. Despite a new constitution in Algeria guaranteeing freedom of the press, criticising the government is becoming increasingly risky. Producers at KBC TV, a privately owned channel which airs a talk show that regularly criticises the government, know that only too well. In late June, a court placed two of the channel’s executives in pre-trial detention. The order came five days after security forces shut down a studio producing talk shows for KBC. News 24

Algeria, Sudan Reject US Report on Human Trafficking
Algeria and Sudan have criticised a US report listing them among states that do not exert sufficient efforts to fight human trafficking. According to the report, Sudan and Algeria are not fully committed to the minimum criteria stipulated by the laws in place to protect human trafficking victims. In a statement, the Algerian foreign ministry said the report was based on sources that lack credibility and contained false information.  Middle East Monitor

Violence Erupts Again in South Sudan as Faith in Peace Deal Flounders
Attacks against civilians, rather than direct confrontations between armed groups, have been a defining feature of South Sudan’s civil war, which began in December 2013. But the spread of violence to Western Bahr el Ghazal – a region that was spared during much of the conflict – raises doubts whether a peace deal signed in August last year can address the country’s ethnic conflict over land and power. The violence in Wau comes two months after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and rebel leader Riek Machar, a Nuer, formed a new power-sharing transitional government. The deal, which divided up control of the presidency, the cabinet and the 10 states, is regarded by some as merely settling the scores between the two men and their loyalists, while failing to address the root causes of violence or to safeguard the rights of dozens of other ethnic groups. “There is no peace deal, only delaying tactics by the government. They are counting on the international community to release money in support of implementing the peace agreement,” said a researcher who has worked in South Sudan for several years and asked not to be named.  The Guardian

S. Sudan Armed Opposition Say Targeted by State Agents
South Sudan’s armed opposition officials allied to the country’s First Vice-President, Riek Mahcar have listed five incidences in which their officers were allegedly shot and killed by state agents, contrary to provisions of the peace agreement. Such acts, they warned, could sabotage the “shaky” peace deal signed in August 2015. “National security agents shot [at] our cars and [were] firing random bullets even near the residence of the 1st Vice President,” wrote Colonel William Gatjiath Deng, the armed opposition (SPLM-IO) spokesman in an email to Sudan Tribune on Tuesday. In one such incident, Deng claimed, “National Security [agents] shot the car of the 1st Vice President at Gudele road” on 16 June, 2016. Sudan Tribune

Rights Group Seeks Accountability as Ethiopia Wins 2-Year UNSC Term
Human rights groups are using Ethiopia’s recent election to a non-permanent United Nations Security Council seat to push for a humanitarian agenda inside the east African nation. Ethiopia has a strained relationship with human rights groups which have criticized it for stifling political dissent and jailing journalists and political opponents. The country has not allowed a U.N. special rapporteur inside the country to investigate allegations of abuse since 2007. The two-year appointment on the Security Council is more of a political prize than a reward for good behavior, said the Human Rights Watch deputy director at the United Nations, Akshaya Kumar. “We, as human rights activists, always like to use the opportunity of these elections to draw attention to the gaps that we see sometimes between the rhetoric that these states use when they are running for the election and when they are promising what kind of approach they’ll take as a council member and the situation back home, because all of them say that they’ll use their seat on the Security Council to promote human rights globally,” she said. VOA

Israel, Kenya Share Terrorist Threat – Netantahu
Israel and Kenya should work hand-in-hand against terrorism, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in Nairobi on Tuesday during the second leg of a four-nation Africa tour. Saying Kenya and Israel “face the same challenges” of terrorism, Netanyahu cited the 2013 attack on the Israeli-owned Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi in which at least 67 people were killed by four jihadist gunmen. “We have also experienced similar attacks in our country,” Netanyahu said. “Working together will help us defeat the scourge of this terror even faster.” On Monday the prime minister visited Uganda to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Israeli raid on Entebbe airport in which his brother Yonatan was killed rescuing hostages held by German and Palestinian hijackers. News 24

Uhuru, Netanyahu Agree Deals in Security, Health, Agriculture
Israel has agreed to help Kenya to fight terrorism by sharing intelligence. The Jewish state will also assist in the construction of a border security wall with Somalia to stop the flow of fighters who cross over to conduct terror attacks. President Uhuru Kenyatta and visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also struck a deal to allow Kenyan diplomatic passport holders — top government officials and prominent personalities — to travel freely to Israel. Israeli top officials will also enjoy free entry into Kenya. These are among agreements reached by the two leaders on Tuesday during bilateral talks at State House, Nairobi, aimed at strengthening the relations between the two countries. Daily Nation

#ThisFlag Calls for Zimbabwe Shutdown
The latest call by the social media civic activist group #ThisFlag, for Zimbabweans to shut down the country on Wednesday, comes after police engaged taxi drivers in running battles in the capital Harare at the start of the week. The drivers were protesting against roadblocks leading to the city center. The founder of #ThisFlag, Evan Mawarire, told DW in an interview that the response to his call has been outstanding. “As far as we can see, there is a huge response and tomorrow (Wednesday) will be a success,” said Mawarire, who has 14,000 people following him on Twitter. “We believe that we will be able to shut down the entire country, as people stay at home in protest against corruption, poverty and injustice that the government has allowed to carry on,” Mawarire said. Deutsche Welle

WhatsApp Outage in Zimbabwe as Protests Intensify
Zimbabweans woke up to no WhatsApp connectivity through their mobile phones on Wednesday, a rare occurrence in the country over the past few years. The unavailability of WhatsApp coincided with nationwide protests which has fueled suspicion that government asked telcos to cut WhatsApp connectivity. Econet Wireless, the biggest of Zimbabwe’s three mobile operators, confirmed around midday on Wednesday that WhatsApp was down on its network. Econet, though, did not disclose the reason for the downtime. “Econet would like to confirm that WhatsApp is currently down. We will notify you once it is working again,” Econet’s customer care department said in numerous Twitter responses to subscribers. There was no clarification from NetOne and Telecel Zimbabwe, the other mobile operators in Zimbabwe. Fin24

UN Begins Verifying Dadaab Refugees Amid Repatriation Efforts
The United Nations on Monday launched a “verification exercise” to determine how many residents of the Dadaab complex are actually Kenya citizens posing as Somali refugees. “We are aware of Kenyans falsely registering as refugees in order to get free services and food,” UN refugee agency spokesman Duke Mwancha told the Nation. The UN currently has no estimate of the size of this segment of Dadaab’s population of 340,000. But Mr Mwancha says his agency is aiming to specify within two months the number of Kenyans living in the camps under false pretences. This effort to compile a “clean register” is part of a recent agreement involving the UN and the governments of Kenya and Somalia to facilitate the return of 150,000 Somalis to their homeland by the end of the year. The East African

Let There Be Work: Italian Ministry of the Interior Announces Initiative on Employment of Refugees
Thus far, 2016 has proved fatal for the thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean in a bid to find safety in Italy. Alarmingly, between January and March, a spiralling death toll was recorded among refugees and migrants attempting to reach Italy by boat from North Africa. According to William Spindler of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) “Some 2’510 lives have been lost so far, compared to 1’855 in the same period in 2015 and 57 in the first five months of 2014.” Ironically, many migrants would regard risking their lives on the exceptionally treacherous sea route as the easiest part of their journey to Italy. Upon arrival, they are, in most cases made subject to unemployment, homelessness, legal disenfranchisement, arrest, and detention in Centers for Identification and Expulsion (CIE). In many ways, life appears bleak and opportunities limited for the thousands of displaced people willing to stop at nothing in their search for a peaceful home that will grant them the fundamental human right to safety and security. IPS



Photo: Adam Jones