News Briefs 02 July 2020:

Somalia:

Source – After Years as Military Base, Somalia’s Renovated Stadium Reopens

Somalia’s president on Tuesday officially reopened the country’s renovated national stadium, which saw its first football match in 17 years, after serving as a base for Al-Shabaab and later, African Union peacekeeping troops.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, wearing a mask and dressed in a pale blue tracksuit, cut the ribbon and took a few shots at the goal, leaving before a friendly match between two national sides.

This is part of celebrations of Somalia’s 60th anniversary of independence from Italy, which will be marked on Wednesday.

“Thanks to the president who reopened the national stadium today on the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of independence, there will be a football game between two national teams,” Sports Minister Khadija Mohamed Diriye told reporters.

EWN 01 July 2020

World Bank Approves U.S.$40 Million to Support Somalia’s Desert Locust Response

The World Bank Board of Directors today approved a $40 million International Development Assistance (IDA) grant for Somalia as part of the Emergency Locust Response Program, which seeks to respond to the threat posed by the locust outbreak and strengthen systems for preparedness in affected countries in Africa and the Middle East.

The locust invasion has gravely impacted the livelihoods of nearly 2.6 million living in forty-three districts of Somalia. The agriculture sector remains the backbone of the economy and accounts for about 75 percent of GDP.

The Shock Responsive Safety Net for Locust Response (SNLRP) will focus on addressing the immediate impact of the locust infestation on poor and vulnerable households by meeting their short-term food security and consumption needs and protecting their livelihoods and human capital assets through emergency cash transfer. The project builds on the new and Government-led “Baxnaano” (meaning uplifting in Somali) national cash transfer program. It also complements the recently approved Somalia Crisis Recovery Project (SCRP), which focuses on measures to control the spread of locusts and to restore the livelihoods of smallholder households by providing re-engagement farming packages.

All Africa 30 June 2020

Zimbabwe

We are paupers receiving slave wages, say Zimbabwe nurses as union calls for strike

Zimbabwe’s largest nurses’ union has announced that its members are now incapacitated and would be unable to attend work, citing low pay that it said could no longer meet basic needs.

A nurse in Zimbabwe earns an average of Z$3 000 per month (less than R1 000) at the official exchange rate.

This amount, nurses said, is not sufficient to cover basic needs in an economy ravaged by hyperinflation, which came out at 786% at the last count in May.

“The salaries we are currently earning are meagre as to amount to slave wages,” read part of a statement issued on Monday by the Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association.

The association, which represents around 15 000 state nurses, said a nurse in Zimbabwe had been turned into “a pauper.”

News24 01 July 2020

Zimbabwe’s Security Forces Side-line Government as Economy Crashes

Zimbabwe’s security force leaders sidelined the nation’s economic chiefs and forced the government to close the stock exchange and halt most mobile-money transactions, people familiar with the situation said.

The June 26 order that sought to stabilize the nation’s currency came after pressure from the Joint Operations Command and was made without notifying the central bank, which regulates the mobile-money industry through which almost all of Zimbabwe’s commerce takes place, the people said. They asked not to be identified because the role of the JOC hasn’t been disclosed publicly.

The measure is further evidence that senior ruling party and military officials are growing impatient with the administration of President Emmerson Mnangagwa. Inflation has surged to 786%, the currency has crashed and the country is facing shortages of food and fuel.

Bloomberg 30 June 2020

eSwatini

Swaziland Teachers Say Govt. Plan to Reopen Schools from Coronavirus Lockdown Unsafe

Union leaders have urged the Swaziland (eSwatini) Government not to go ahead with plans to reopen schools next week from coronavirus lockdown because it is unsafe to do so.

The Swazi Ministry of Education and Training instructed high school teachers to return to work on Monday (29 June 2020) ahead of a partial reopening of schools starting 6 July.

The Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) reported it had visited 20 schools in rural areas across the kingdom and found none met the minimum safety requirement to reopen. It said government was not assisting these schools to put proper measures in place.

SNAT also reported it found 847 teachers said they had underlying health conditions and should shelter during the present coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

All Africa 01 July 2020

Eswatini bans alcohol for 2 months

Citing a rise in coronavirus cases, the southern African nation of Eswatini on Wednesday announced an immediate ban on the production and distribution of alcohol for two months.

Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, the nation’s prime minister, said the decision was taken after it emerged that alcohol consumption was among the leading causes of the virus’ spread following a recently eased lockdown.

“Over the past two weeks we have seen an unfortunate surge of positive cases in the country, which suggests that we have to review some of the restrictions lifted to avoid overwhelming our health system,” he said.

“We will be monitoring the situation and the public will be updated.”

Dlamini added that large gatherings and house parties remain banned.

Anadolu Agency 01 July 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo vows zero tolerance over child soldiers, human rights minister says

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) must do more to end the use of child soldiers by the military and armed groups, its human rights minister said after the U.S. government commended the country’s progress on fighting human trafficking.

The central African nation was upgraded last week in the U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, moving from the lowest ranking – Tier 3 – to Tier 2 Watch List and avoiding the risk of sanctions from Washington.

The report said DR Congo had increased trafficking probes and prosecutions and undertaken measures to prevent the use of child soldiers – by removing them from armed groups and securing pledges from militia commanders to renounce child recruitment.

Daily Sabah 01 July 2020

Uganda opens border for DR Congo refugees

Uganda has opened part of its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo to allow in thousands of people stuck in no-man’s land for more than a month. At least 3,000 of them fled their homes in May after inter-communal clashes in north-eastern Ituri province. But they were unable to cross into Uganda to seek safety as the country had closed its borders in March to control the spread of coronavirus.

It has been agreed the refugees will be quarantined before being settled. This will happen for 14 days at a new isolation centre, 13km (eight miles) from the border.

The UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) says sample testing will be carried out on the group to see if coronavirus is present amongst them.

This will help authorities decide when the refugees can be transferred to camps.

BBC 01 July 2020

Central African Republic

Peace Operations Chief Urges Central African Republic Actors to Focus on Political Agreement, Inclusive Elections, in Security Council Briefing

Battling the spread of COVID-19 and resurgent militia attacks, the Central African Republic stands at a crossroads, experts said during a 22 June videoconference meeting* of the Security Council, urging the country to stay focused on implementing its landmark Political Agreement and holding credible elections on schedule.

Senior officials of the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union — one of the Central African Republic’s main external partners briefed the 15-member Council and reacted the contents of the Secretary-General’s latest report (document S/2020/545. On the one hand, they spotlighted progress made in expanding State authority and preparing for the country’s presidential and legislative elections in December. On the other, they strongly condemned spiking violence and targeted attacks against civilians, national troops and peacekeepers, including a 21 June ambush reportedly committed by the Retour, Réclamation et Réhabilitation (3R) armed group, which killed two soldiers and injured several others.

Council members welcomed recent progress and praised the Central African Republic Government for its swift response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while demanding that armed groups cease all acts of violence. Many agreed that the 2019 Political Agreement — known formally as the Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation and signed by the Government and 14 distinct armed groups — remains the only viable path forward. Some delegates went further, calling for the imposition of sanctions on signatory armed groups that continue to perpetrate violence and impede the peace process, as foreseen in the Agreement’s terms.

Relief Web 23 June 2020

Sudan

One killed in Sudan as thousands rally for faster reform

One person has been killed and several others injured during largely peaceful demonstrations in Sudan, a government spokesman said, as tens of thousands of people took to the streets demanding faster reform and greater civilian rule in the country’s transition towards democracy.

Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets in Sudanese cities on Tuesday despite a coronavirus lockdown to demand a transition towards democracy after the removal of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir last year.

Waving Sudanese flags, demonstrators gathered in the capital, Khartoum, and its twin cities, Khartoum North and Omdurman, after the government closed roads and bridges leading to the centre of the capital.

Aljazeera 01 July 2020

Ex-Sudan FM arrested for ‘involvement in sabotage operations’

Sudanese media confirmed on Monday evening the arrest of former Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour.

According to informed sources, local media indicated that Ghandour was detained under suspicion of his involvement in planning sabotage operations, according to Rakoba News.

The Sudan’s transitional government announced the arrest of leaders of the National Conference Party and the dissolved Islamic Movement, who were planning hostile operations on Sunday.

Mohamed Diaa El-Din, a leader in the umbrella opposition Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), said that pro-regime military leaders were planning a military coup in the country, issuing calls for demonstrations and several were arrested.

Middle East Monitor 01 July 2020

South Sudan

South Sudan names state governors for unity government

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir announced eight state governors Monday for the transitional coalition government formed four months back in line with a revitalized peace agreement reached in 2018.

The appointments came after months of disagreement which the diplomatic community and civil society said had led to an escalation of inter-communal conflicts in some states due to the absence of governors.

According to a decree read on state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation, Kiir’s camp has six states under the state power-sharing arrangement.

They include the oil-producing Unity State, where Joseph Monytuil has been appointed, and Central Equatoria State, where Emmanuel Adil Wani is now governor.

First Vice President Riek Machar’s party, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLM-IO), has three states, including Upper Nile state, where the appointment of a governor is still pending.

Anadolu Agency 30 June 2020

Covid-19, violence spreading in South Sudan, UN envoy warns

Covid-19 and fighting between ethnic groups are spreading in South Sudan, a United Nations envoy warned on Friday.

David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, pointed to a “steeply increasing rate of infection” from the coronavirus and “a really high increase in sub-national conflict and violence.”

The country is now reporting about 2,000 cases of Covid-19 resulting in 40 deaths, Mr Shearer said at a press briefing. Among those infected are 54 UN personnel working in South Sudan, he told reporters.

The East African 28 june 2020

Western Sahara

Symposium on Western Sahara: call for resumption of UN process

Participants in the political symposium, entitled “Settlement of the conflict in Western Sahara: one year after the resignation of UN Envoy Horst Kohler,” on Wednesday called for the resumption of negotiations between Morocco and the Polisario Front, urging the UN chief to hasten the designation of a personal envoy for Western Sahara.

The symposium, held via videoconference, has been attended by Oubi Bouchraya Al-Bashir Sahrawi ambassador to Europe and the European Union, Pierre Galand President of the EUCOCO, Said Ayachi Head of the Algerian Committee for Solidarity with the Sahrawi People (CNASPS), and Gilles Dover Lawyer of the Polisario before the European courts and Francesco Bastagli former representative of the UN Secretary General in Western Sahara.

In the Final Declaration, a solemn appeal was launched to the UN chief to designate as soon as possible a new envoy for this non-self-governing territory with a view to relaunching the negotiations in a deadlock since Horst Kohler’s resignation in May 2019.

The Participants stressed the importance of the effective implementation of the right to self-determination, and the liberation of political prisoners.

Sahara Press Service 27 June 2020