Media Review for June 30, 2016

In Burundi, UN says 348 ‘Extrajudicial’ Killings in a Year
At least 348 people died in extrajudicial killings in crisis-hit Burundi over the year from April 2015, the UN said Wednesday. The killings were largely blamed on police, intelligence agents, anti-riot officers and militias linked to the ruling party, according to a report issued by UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. The report “details the tragic and comprehensive deterioration in the human rights of the people of Burundi”, Zeid told a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Daily Mail

UN Human Rights Chief: Burundi May Explode Into Ethnic Violence
Burundi’s human rights record is under scrutiny at the U.N. Human Rights Council over the objections and anger of that country’s government. The council said it is alarmed at the rise in rights violations in Burundi since last year’s political crisis. It wants the violations to stop, because it fears an ethnic conflict with devastating consequences for all of central Africa. The United Nations and the government of Burundi have polar opposite views on what is happening in the country, a year after President Pierre Nkurunziza was elected to what his critics call an unconstitutional third term. VOA

Urging Tougher Stance, UN Adds 2,500 Peacekeepers to Mali Mission
The United Nations Security Council agreed on Wednesday to add just over 2,500 peacekeepers to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali, which has been hit by a series of deadly attacks and has become the deadliest place to serve for U.N. peacekeepers. The French-drafted resolution, which was approved unanimously by the 15-nation council, said the Mali peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) should “take all necessary means to carry out its mandate … (and) to move to a more proactive and robust posture.” The increase will bring the force’s maximum size to 13,289 military personnel and 1,920 police. Mali’s government and various separatist groups signed a peace deal last year but it has failed to prevent periodic violence in northern Mali by Islamist militants, who have also staged assaults on high profile targets in the capital Bamako, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. Reuters

A Slow, Steady Siege on ISIS Stronghold in Libya
Below the hovering drones. the actual fight is a decidedly analogue affair. Many of the Libyan militiamen are part-time fighters armed with decades-old weapons. Their commanders scoff at Pentagon estimates of 6,500 Islamic State fighters in Libya — or a figure of 8,000, given by John Brennan, the director of the C.I.A., in testimony to Congress on June 20. The Libyans estimate that no more than 600 fighters are left in the city. But few doubt that the Islamic State fighters cornered in central Surt — mostly from Tunisia, Egypt and Sudan, according to anecdotal accounts, as well as a smaller number of Libyans — make a determined enemy. On the beach front, a handful of fighters walked toward the sea, only to stop in their tracks: A barely visible line was pulled tautly across the sand, suggested land mines had been laid during the night. The fighters retraced their steps, slowly, to the road. Despite the fighting, the Islamic State radio station still broadcasts across Surt, offering a mixture of motivational sermons and threats against its enemies. But predictions that Surt could become Raqqa on the Mediterranean, in a reference to the Islamic State headquarters in Syria, now look highly unlikely.  The New York Times

Algeria Foils Jihadist Mall Attack – Reports
Algerian security services foiled an attempt by ISIS-linked militants to attack a shopping mall in the eastern city of Setif, a government newspaper reported on Wednesday. The Park Mall in Setif, 300km southwest of the capital Algiers, attracts about 40 000 visitors a year, El Massa said. The attack was planned by a group that lost eight members who were killed in a May 31 firefight with the army near Guelta Zerka, 60km east of Setif, the paper said. It quoted security sources as saying the group was linked to ISIS cells active in neighbouring Libya. El Massa said the group had planned spectacular attacks during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which started on June 6. News 24

Congo President: Nothing Can Stop November Elections
Congo’s president says nothing can stop long-awaited elections from taking place even as fears mount of a possible delay. President Joseph Kabila addressed the issue Wednesday, saying nothing more could prevent the vote from going forward. The comments were made in his address to the nation ahead of Thursday’s anniversary of Congo’s independence from Belgium. Kabila, who came to power after his father’s assassination in 2001, has not declared whether he will try to run again later this year. Already though Congo’s main opposition candidate Moise Katumbi has left the country after an arrest warrant was issued for him. AP on The Washington Post

The WHO Faces a Limited Vaccine Supply as the Worst Yellow Fever Outbreak in Decades Hits Africa
Faced with the worst yellow fever outbreak in parts of Africa in decades and running low on vaccine, the World Health Organization plans to use only fractional doses of the vaccine in some areas when it launches an emergency immunization campaign in July. Health experts hope that by using smaller doses they can stretch the limited vaccine supply and slow the spread of the virus. Even in smaller doses — 1/5th the normal dose, in the upcoming campaign — the vaccine still provides full immunity for at least 12 months, health officials say. WHO spokeswoman Sarah Cumberland said in an email that fractional dosing is being considered at this stage only for Kinshasa, the Congolese capital that is home to more than 10 million people. LA Times

Risk of Full-blown Famine in South Sudan: UN
Over a third of South Sudanese face starvation as the war-torn nation runs the risk of a full-blown famine, the UN and government said on Wednesday. Despite a peace deal to end civil war, nearly five million people – more than ever before in the world’s youngest nation – need food aid to survive. “The risk of famine cannot be ruled out,” Minster for Agriculture Lam Akol said, a warning backed by the UN. Civil war erupted in South Sudan in December 2013, but rebel chief Riek Machar returned to the capital in April as part of a peace deal which saw him become vice president, forging a unity government with President Salva Kiir. Aid workers have been able to access some of the hardest hit areas since then, but violence continues between multiple militia forces who now pay no heed to either Kiir or Machar. News 24

Khartoum Informs U.S. Envoy of its Rejection to Amend Peace Roadmap
The Sudanese government on Wednesday told the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Donald Booth, that it sticks to the Roadmap Agreement for peace and dialogue and refuses the supplemental agreement proposed by the opposition. Last March, the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) proposed a roadmap agreement to the Sudanese government and some opposition groups including the National Umma Party, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement /North, Justice and Equality Movement, and Sudan Liberation Movement of Minni Minnawi. However, only Khartoum government signed the framework text while the four groups declined the text, saying the Roadmap would reproduce the regime. Sudan Tribune

More Than 20 Killed in Central Somalia Fighting
More than 20 people were killed Wednesday in fighting between government soldiers and Islamist insurgents in central Somalia, witnesses and officials said. Al-Shabab fighters attacked a Somali National Army base in El-Hareri, a village in the Galguduud region, before dawn. The commander of the base, Colonel Ahmed Mohamed, told VOA’s Somali service that 18 militants, five government soldiers and a civilian were killed during the fighting. “They attacked our base with hundreds of heavily armed fighters and 10 battle wagons mounted with machine guns,” he said. “We managed to repulse the attack, and our troops then counterattacked.” Each side lost a vehicle in the clash, he said. Abulle Idow, a resident contacted via telephone, said locals went to the base after the fighting and saw more than 20 dead bodies. VOA

Kenya Military: 4 Extremists Killed Averting an Attack
A Kenyan military official says soldiers killed four Islamic extremists from Somalia’s al-Shabab rebels suspected to have been planning an attack on the coastal county of Lamu. Military spokesman Col. David Obonyo said Wednesday that Kenyan troops killed the fighters after pursuing them overnight. Obonyo said the extremists launched an exploratory attack on an army base Tuesday. He said a Kenyan soldier was wounded in the gunfight. Obonyo said a cache of weapons was recovered including an improvised bomb. Somali based al-Shabab militants have killed hundreds of Kenyans since Oct. 2011, when Kenyan troops were deployed to Somalia to fight the rebels. Last week al-Shabab killed five police officers in Mandera County in Kenya’s north. AP on Stars and Stripes

Kenyan Filed a Complaint Against the Police, Then He and His Lawyer Disappeared
The day started like any other for Willie Kimani, a Nairobi lawyer. He put on his gray trousers, jungle-green jacket and black shoes. He said goodbye to his wife and two young sons. And he walked out the door. But what came next was like something out of a thriller movie — one with an unsettling end — and has mobilized Kenya’s lawyers, roped in several Western embassies and set off loud alarm bells in Kenya’s human rights community. Last Thursday, Mr. Kimani, who has worked as a human rights defender since he graduated from law school five years ago, accompanied a client to trial in a case involving a police officer. After a couple of witnesses testified, the case was adjourned a little before noon. Mr. Kimani and his client left the courthouse, on the outskirts of Nairobi, in a taxi. Then they disappeared. Mr. Kimani, an investigator with an American legal aid group, had been working on the case of a young motorcycle taxi driver who had been shot in the arm, apparently accidentally, by a police officer last year. The New York Times

Nigerians Sort Through Ruins Left by Boko Haram
The last service at the EYN church in Michika started with prayers and ended with gunfire as Boko Haram fighters stormed the town on a Sunday in September 2014. Those that could ran to the nearby mountains, joining the millions of people that have fled the Islamist insurgency in Nigeria and neighboring countries. More than a year-and-a-half after Boko Haram was routed from Michika and other towns in Nigeria’s northeastern Adamawa state, people are coming back home to rebuild their lives. But the towns, and the livelihoods, they returned to are much changed, residents say. “You become jittery,” Habiba Nasiru, a student in the town of Gombi, told VOA. “There are things you can comfortably do before, that you can’t do now.” VOA

Nigeria’s Constitution Holds the Key to Protecting Internally Displaced People
The internal displacement of people has become a significant concern in Nigeria. More than two million people have fled their homes because of the Boko Haram insurgency in the northeast. Millions more have been displaced by other causes, including natural disasters and development projects. The rise in the problem has led to calls for concrete rights-based solutions to protect and assist internally displaced persons. This is why the absence of a national legal framework for dealing with the crisis is receiving increased attention. The problem of internal displacement is serious enough to require amendments to Nigeria’s constitution. The rising wave of displacements in the north has far-reaching implications for national political stability. Given that the constitution obliges the government to safeguard the welfare of all Nigerians, it becomes imperative that there be constitutional protection for displaced people. News 24

Egypt President Calls for Reforms to Counter Extremists
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who came to power after a bloody crackdown on political Islamists, called on Wednesday for religious reforms to counter extremists in a speech to Muslim clerics. Sisi has often warned that Islamist extremism presents a vital threat to the region, which he suggested lags in development and women’s rights. Not enough work, he added, has been done to confront the ideology of extremists who have roiled the region and are waging a bloody insurgency in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. “We are on a mission, during one of the most difficult periods not only for Egypt, but for Egypt and all Arab and Muslim states,” Sisi said in the televised speech. News 24

Egypt Receives First Mistral Class Vessel, to Get Molniya Missile Corvette from Russia
The first Mistral class landing helicopter dock has arrived in Egypt after participating in an exercise with the French Navy, while the Egyptian Navy will in July receive an R-32 Molniya missile corvette from Russia. The landing helicopter dock (LHD) Gamal Abel Nasser arrived in Alexandria on 23 June after a 14 day journey from France, with the second, Anwar Sadat, to arrive in September after its crew has completed training. Gamal Abdel Nasser took part in the Franco-Egyptian Exercise Cleopatra 2016 prior to delivery. The exercise began on 20 June. DefenceWeb

Southern Africa: SADC Maps Security Reforms for Lesotho
A Sadc-appointed committee will oversee the implementation of constitutional and security sector reforms in Lesotho, a major step towards ensuring political stability in that kingdom. The eight-member panel has representation from Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, and Tanzania which all constitute the sadc Double Troika. It will visit the Mountain Kingdom periodically, provide expertise in key reform areas, and then report to the Summit of Heads of State in Swaziland this August. Further, the sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation and the facilitator, South Africa’s Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, will oversee the return of Lesotho opposition leaders from exile and their participation in constitutional reform. The Herald on allAfrica

UN Food Aid in Drought-Hit Zimbabwe Stalls on Dollar Shortages
The United Nations’ World Food Programme has stopped giving some people money to buy food in its initiative that helps 300,000 people affected by drought in Zimbabwe because of the nation’s lack of dollars. The institution is the latest organization to be hit by the shortage that has prompted the government to delay paying salaries to civil servants and compelled banks to limit the amount of money that can be drawn from cash machines. The WFP gives a household of four $36 monthly, WFP country director Eddie Row said in an interview Friday in the capital, Harare. Beyond that number, it caps the amount spent on each family at $45 and the program costs about $1 million a month. It planned to increase its distributions this year until the cash shortages began. Bloomberg

When Botswana Sells Its Big Diamond, Who Will Benefit?
Today Sotheby’s attempted to auction the largest diamond discovered in over a century — a hunk of transparent rock the size of a tennis ball. It was found last November at an open-pit mine in the southern African country of Botswana. At 1,109 carats it’s second in size only to the storied “Cullinan” diamond found in South Africa in 1905 and cut down into nine of the gems in the United Kingdom’s Crown Jewels. […] How much do sales like this benefit the country? After all, in many parts of Africa, the discovery of diamonds hasn’t been a blessing. The history of the diamond industry has been fraught with worker exploitation, environmental destruction, government corruption and squandering of revenues. And that’s not even mentioning all the “blood diamonds” used to pay for civil wars in countries ranging from Sierra Leone to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Yet Botswana’s diamond story is different, notes Keith Jefferis, an economist and former deputy governor of Botswana’s Central Bank. “I sometimes class Botswana’s history over the last 40 years as well-managed good luck,” he says. NPR

Tunisian Doctor Killed in Istanbul Attack Was Trying to Retrieve Son from Isis
A Tunisian military doctor seeking to retrieve his son who had joined Islamic State in Syria was among those killed in Tuesday’s suicide attack at Istanbul airport, according to security sources. Three suspected Isis suicide bombers opened fire and blew themselves up in Istanbul’s main airport on Tuesday evening, killing 41 people and wounding 239, in what is the deadliest of a series of suicide bombings this year in Turkey. The Tunisian defence ministry confirmed that Brigadier General Fathi Bayoudh, a military hospital doctor, was among those killed. A senior security source and local media said he had been in Turkey to try to convince his son to leave Isis. “Bayoudh travelled to Turkey in an effort to meet his son, who joined the Islamic State in Syria a few months ago with his girlfriend,” the Tunisian security source said. The Guardian



Photo: Adam Jones