Media Review for June 3, 2016

Dozens of Refugee Bodies Wash Up on Libyan Beaches
The bodies of at least 85 people who drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea were found washed up on beaches near the Libyan city of Zuwarah, a Red Crescent official has said. Al-Khamis al-Bosaifi said on Thursday that most of the victims appeared to be from sub-Saharan Africa, though their bodies were decomposed and it was not clear when they had drowned. The bodies of two children were among those recovered, he said. On Tuesday, the UN refugee agency said at least 880 people drowned over the past week following a series of shipwrecks as departures from the North African coast towards Italy surged. Many of the boats are believed to have left from the shore around Zuwarah and Sabratha in Libya’s northwest. Al Jazeera

Burundi: Civil Society Urges Authorities to Shed Light on Fate of Two Young Activists
According to the country’s civil society, the families of two young men—Clovis Ntukamazina and Emmanuel Kamanahave—have been without news since the two were arrested on 21 October 2015 in Kinindo, in the Burundian capital of Bujumbura. The international community has called on the Burundian government to protect prisoners’ human rights and stop abuses, raising concerns on the treatment of prisoners in an African nation rocked by deadly political violence for over a year. … On 2 June, the Focode, one of the 300 civil society groups that backed protests, demanded that the authorities shed light on the forced disappearances of Ntukamazina and Kamana, two young men aged 28 and 32 respectively who have been missing for over seven months. The pair were known as members of the opposition Mouvement pour la solidarité et le développement (MSD) party for Kinindo suburb—a stronghold for opposition supporters of Bujumbura. … Both families claim they have been living an ordeal, after they told Focode they have “searched (for the young men) in vain in Bujumbura’s official prisons”. They also alleged they were forced to abandon the search after receiving death threats. IBTimes

Burundi’s Nkurunziza Asks Criminal Gangs to Surrender in Next 15 Days
President Pierre Nkurunziza has given armed gangs in Burundi 15 days to surrender to authorities and hand in their weapons or face unspecified action. Nkurunziza was speaking during a visit to Mugamba district, some 65 km southeast of the capital Bujumbura, where many local officials have been killed in recent weeks. Tit-for-tat attacks between Nkurunziza’s security forces and his opponents have escalated since April 2015 when he announced a disputed bid for a third term. He won re-election in July. “We give them 15 days to surrender,” Nkurunziza said of the armed gangs on Wednesday. “On the 15th (of June) we will put a stop to (the violence). I came to tell you that we won’t rest until security is restored.” The government conducted a similar arms mop-up in the capital in November. Reuters

WFP Presses Panic Button over Burundi Refugee Crisis
The World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Wednesday that it is struggling to feed more than a quarter-million Burundi refugees who have fled to Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. The UN agency said it requires $57 million during the next six months to feed the 265,000 Burundians currently living in refugee camps as well as 1,000 more who arrive each week in neighbouring countries. Needs are particularly acute in Rwanda and Uganda, the World Food Programme (WFP) noted. WFP said it expects Tanzania to be hosting 170,000 Burundi refugees by the end of the year compared to 140,000 at present. The number of Burundians fleeing to Rwanda is projected to rise to 100,000 from a current total of 78,000. And WFP anticipates a total of 60,000 Burundi refugees will have reached Uganda and DRC at the end of 2016. Daily Monitor

Tunisia’s President Backs National Unity Government
Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi on Thursday said he would support a government of national unity, as long as it included Nobel Prize-winning groups the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) and the Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (Utica). Any change of government would require the decommission of the current government, then negotiations between all the groups involved, including political parties, unions and employers. Prime minister Habib Essid was already forced into a broad reshuffle in January, when the country witnessed its worst violence since the Arab spring uprisings of 2011 that toppled president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. BDLive

Six Dead in Attack in Nigeria’s South—Report
Six people have been killed after militants attacked a boat belonging to Nigeria’s state-run oil firm, the army says in the latest violence to hit the country’s increasingly restive oil-producing region. The Niger Delta Avengers group, which has been attacking pipelines and facilities since early this year, denied involvement but claimed a separate strike and vowed to bring crude output to a halt.  The deadly attack on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) boat happened in the Warri area of Delta state, which has seen a spate of attacks recently. “During the deliberate attack two soldiers were killed, one wounded, one soldier has gone missing while four civilian staff attached to the house boat were shot dead,” says army spokesperson Captain Jonah Unuakhalu. No specific group was mentioned as being responsible and Unuakhalu said only “suspected militant … disguised as ordinary commuters” in five speedboats carried out the attack. News24

Niger Delta Avengers Strikes Again, Restates Vow to Bring Nigeria’s Oil Production to ‘Zero’
Niger Delta Avengers, the new militant group that has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks on oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta, continued its disruption of Nigeria’s oil production with the bombing of more crude oil pipelines Thursday. The group announced the latest attack via its Twitter handle on Thursday evening, saying it blew up “Ogboinbiri to Tebidaba and Clough Creek to Tebidaba crude oil pipelines in Bayelsa State.” “At about 2:00am today @NDAvengers blew up the Ogboinbiri to Tebidaba and Clough Creek to Tebidaba crude oil pipelines in Bayelsa State.” The Avengers added that the latest disruption is “in line with our promise to all international oil companies and indigenous oil companies that Nigeria oil production will be zero.” The group did not say which oil company is operating the pipelines. Premium Times

Shell Oil Spill: Nigeria’s Ogoniland Clean up Could Take 30 Years to Restore Ecosystem, Says UN
The decision of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to cancel a visit to Ogoniland, in the oil-rich Niger Delta, has overshadowed the launch of a much-awaited clean-up operation of territories damaged by years of oil spills. Buhari was supposed to travel to south-eastern Nigeria to announce the launch of the operation. … Following the cancellation, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo travelled to the restive southern region to launch the $1bn (£691m) clean-up operation. A 2011 report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) found that oil spills contaminated clean water and damaged the fishing industry—stating immediate action was needed. The operation—which the report said could be the “most wide-ranging and long term oil clean-up exercise”—aims to restore drinking water, land, creeks and important ecosystems such as mangroves. The UN report estimated that the clean up of Ogoniland could take up to 30 years. IBTimes

Nigeria Land Disputes Fuel Surge in Herdsmen Violence
[V]iolence has surged this year as advancing desertification, overgrazing and lower rainfall drive the mainly Muslim pastoralists towards more fertile land in Nigeria’s predominantly Christian south, farmers and activists say. Raids by Fulani herdsmen armed with guns, bows and machetes on communities in Benue and Enugu state since February have destroyed villages, killed hundreds of people and forced tens of thousands to flee, according to the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR). The UNHCR said at least 340 people have been killed so far this year, 70 more than the number of deaths inflicted by the Islamist militants Boko Haram in Nigeria in 2016, according to the Council on Foreign Relations’ Nigeria Security Tracker. Reuters

UN Chief Seeks 2,500 More Peacekeepers for Mali
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is seeking some 2,500 more peacekeepers to reinforce the United Nations mission in Mali, which has seen 12 of its members killed in May alone. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday the troops would include a rapid reaction force, an aviation unit and specialists in high security convoys among other things. “I think it’s clear to everyone that the security situation in parts of Mali have deteriorated. I think the U.N. staff have paid for it in blood,” he said. Associated Press

UNHCR Urges Sudan to Stop Deporting Eritreans
The UN refugee agency on Thursday urged Sudan, a key transit route for migrants bound for Europe, to stop “forcibly” deporting hundreds of Eritrean back to their country. Many of those sent back were arrested as they tried to enter Libya from Sudan, with which the European Union is trying to work to manage the flow of migrants hoping to cross the Mediterranean. UNHCR’s concerns over “collective expulsions” of Eritreans came a day after Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the deported Eritreans were likely to face abuse from a repressive government in their country. The East African

South Sudan Presidency Agrees to Review 28 States
In unexpected move which is described as a breakthrough, the South Sudan’s presidency has agreed to review the 28 states and come up with a recommendation on the number of new states within 30 days. The resolution came out after a joint meeting of the President, Salva Kiir, First Vice President, Riek Machar and Vice President, James Wani, at the presidential palace on Wednesday. In a joint statement to the press by the two deputies after the meeting, a committee of 15 members will be constituted from all the parties to the August 2015 peace agreement and from the international partners to come up with recommendation on new states. Sudan Tribune

Kenyan Court Frees 43 Accused of Being Secessionist Group Members
A court in Kenya’s port city of Mombasa released 43 men on Thursday who had been charged with being members of a group that seeks the independence of the Coast region from the hinterland. The Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) accuses the government of decades of social and economic marginalisation of the Coast region, and wants it to secede and form its own government. The 43 were arrested in 2014, in Kilifi, north of Mombasa, for stepping up the activities of the movement. Authorities say this involved attacks on police and polling stations, and killing security personnel and individuals perceived to be non-natives. In a government crackdown, the movement’s top leaders and supporters were arrested and charged with offences including murder and being members of an outlawed group. The MRC denied involvement in all the incidents. Reuters

EAC Institutes Reforms after Magufuli Caution
The new secretary general of the East African Community, Liberat Mfumukeko, has instituted stringent expenditure reforms that seek to eliminate wastage at the EAC secretariat. Mr Mfumukeko, who took over from Dr Richard Sezibera at the end of April, noted that the EAC secretariat was experiencing financial strain due to delayed contributions by partner states and donors. In a financial management circular issued at the end of last month, Mr Mfumukeko said the measures were a product of intense consultations with staff and heads of departments. The reforms come after Tanzania president John Magufuli cautioned the secretariat during the heads of State Summit in March that “it will not be business as usual under his chairmanship”. Daily Monitor

Rights Group: Gambia Must End Brutal Crackdown
Gambian activists and politicians have called on West Africa’s economic body to take actions against Gambia for its brutal crackdown on rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the run-up to elections later in the year. The calls come as Amnesty International released a report Thursday that says amid opposition protests, peaceful demonstrators and bystanders were beaten and arrested in April and May. The group says 51 people, including the leader and executive members of the opposition United Democratic Party, await trial and at least 36 others have been detained without charge. Opposition party secretary Solo Sandeng died in custody after torture, the group said, demanding accountability for President Yahya Jammeh, who has been in power since 1994. Associated Press

Angola President Appoints Daughter as Head of State Oil Firm
Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos appointed his daughter and Africa’s richest woman, Isabel, as chairwoman of the state oil company, tightening his family’s control over sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest economy. Dos Santos, 73, fired Sonangol’s entire board and replaced it with new executives as part of a plan to restructure the business so it runs more efficiently, he said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday. Paulino Fernando de Carvalho Geronimo was appointed chief executive officer, it said. Angola vies with Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer and also produces diamonds. Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has ruled the country since 1979, has already appointed one of his sons to head the state sovereign wealth fund and his family is now taking control of an industry that accounts for about two-thirds of state revenue at a time when the oil price has fallen. That’s prompted his government to seek funding from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and China. Bloomberg

Mozambique: ‘Hidden Debt Scandal’ Might Crush One of the World’s Poorest Countries
After about a decade of strong growth, Mozambique has hit a snag. In April, the southeast African nation admitted that it had hidden over $1.4 billion in debt from the International Monetary Fund and other investors—after which the IMF, the World Bank, and the UK promptly suspended aid to the country. And before that, there was another controversy “involving a state-backed $850 million bond that was ostensibly issued to set up a tuna fishing company … even though $500 million of the debt was spent on naval vessels and other security equipment,” as reported by the Financial Times. Since then, S&P Global Ratings slashed Mozambique’s credit assessment to CCC from B-, noting an increased risk of defaulting on debt either because of higher than expected debt-service obligations or acceleration clauses in the government’s external commercial debt. The S&P now estimates that Mozambique’s net general debt is at 90% of GDP for this year. Business Insider

Swaziland King Mswati to Become SADC Chairman in August
Swaziland’s King Mswati III is set to become the next chairman of the Southern African Development Community at the regional heads of state and government summit to be held in Swaziland’s capital, Mbabane, in August. But the kingdom’s pro-democracy groups say the country’s absolute monarch should not be allowed to lead the regional body. They argued the king’s administration continuously violates the fundamental rights of citizens by preventing freedom of speech and association. King Mswati recently told an SADC parliamentary forum that the kingdom’s monarchical democracy—which his administration established—is “a new democratic ideology that works.” Political parties are banned from participating in elections organized by the Swaziland Electoral Commission—the only institution mandated to organize official polls in the southern African kingdom. VOA

Turkey Seeks Greater Role in Africa
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is being accompanied by a huge commercial delegation on his two-nation tour of Africa. Hundreds of business representatives have joined him on his trip to Uganda and Kenya to explore ways and means of intensifying economic ties with these two countries. The meeting with his Ugandan opposition number Yoweri Museveni was even branded “historic” as it was the first official visit ever to Uganda by a Turkish president. The Turkish side appears to be bristling with self-confidence. “The political working visit to Africa by the president is gaining momentum,” trumpeted the website of president’s press office. … “Erdogan is not guided solely by economic concerns. He is focusing specifically on African countries with a strong Sunni presence. Both Uganda and Kenya have growing Sunni Muslim communities,” Henrich said. DW



Photo: Adam Jones