News Briefs 06 December 2019


Babies Born on Floor as Zimbabwe’s Health System Totters

The floor is dusty, the walls filthy and the furniture decrepit, but for two weeks last month a tiny flat in a Harare township was transformed into a maternity clinic where scores of babies were born.

Its owner, 69-year-old Esther Gwena, says she helped to deliver 250 infants as Zimbabwe’s health sector tottered — a feat that earned comparisons to Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of modern nursing.

Hundreds of junior medics at state hospitals began a strike three months ago because their salaries — less than $200 a month — are not enough to live on in a country gripped by 500% inflation.

Nurses are only working two days a week.


UN to deliver food aid to Zimbabwe, fears ‘major crisis’

The United Nations said it was procuring food assistance for 4.1 million Zimbabweans, a quarter of the population in a country where shortages are being exacerbated by runaway inflation and climate-induced drought.

Zimbabwe, once the breadbasket of southern Africa, is experiencing its worst economic crisis in a decade, marked by soaring inflation and shortages of food, fuel, medicines and electricity.

“We are very much concerned as the situation continues to deteriorate,” Eddie Rowe, World Food Programme (WFP) country director, speaking from Harare, told a Geneva news briefing.

“We believe if we do not reach out and assist these people then the situation would blow up into a major crisis,” he said.


Protesting Student Leaders in Swaziland Forced to Give Up Exams

Student leaders of the Southern Africa Nazarene University (SANU) in Swaziland are being prohibited from sitting for their semester examinations which began on Monday, December 2. The students remain suspended until the completion of the disciplinary hearings initiated against them for leading a strike in November. They were demanding the release of allowances owed to students by the government.

On November 11, the university administration had suspended the entire Student Representative Council (SRC), the student body of SANU consisting of nine student representatives. Another student, who is not part of the SRC but took an active part in the strike, was also suspended. The student union has alleged that the university administration is deliberately delaying the disciplinary process against the student leaders, in order to force them to miss their examinations

On November 27, seven of the 10 suspended students were called for a hearing before a tribunal. They were also assured that its verdict would be given by the end of the week, before the commencement of their semester exams. However, the verdict is still pending.

News Click

Swedish Companies Willing to Invest in Eswatini

SWEDISH companies are willing to invest, share their knowledge and expertise but they need local support.

This was expressed by the Sweden Ambassador to Eswatini Marie Anderson de Frutos, who said the support should be both from the embassy and Emaswati.


She was speaking at the occasion of welcoming the newly-appointed Anita Jones who has been in the country for over 25 years, and is the owner and director of AM Group of Companies at Ngwenya yesterday.

In the same event, outgoing Swedish Consular Per Noddeboe was bid farewell. He has served the country in the same position since 2008. He was awarded with the honour of Knight of the Polar Star. “We are here today to celebrate the end of Per Nöddeboe’s time as Honorary Consul. Per has been a great representative for Sweden during these years.

Swazi Observer

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo anger grows over deadly unrest

All 28 people killed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo this week have finally been buried.

The funerals in the village of Oicha were initially postponed with crowds demanding the military leave the area.

They say the army and United Nations peacekeepers have not done enough to protect them from armed groups operating there.


MSF Pulls Staff from DR Congo’s East After Incident

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Wednesday it was pulling its non-local staff from an eastern region of Democratic Republic of Congo after it said an armed group tried to enter its compound.

The NGO becomes the latest aid agency to withdraw its staff from the Biakato region after an unclaimed attack last week saw three Ebola workers killed at an accommodation camp in Biakato Mines in Ituri province, causing the World Health Organization to withdraw its staff from the area.

MSF and an Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC), which is treating two people with confirmed cases of Ebola and nine suspected cases, decided to stay in the Biakato region despite last week’s incident.


Central African Republic

UN High Commissioner for Refugees starts visit to Central African Republic, welcoming home refugees

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, kicked off a three-day visit to the Central African Republic by welcoming 200 refugees newly returned from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In a meeting with President Faustin-Archange Touadéra, the High Commissioner discussed the efforts needed to create conditions that would facilitate the voluntary returns of Central African refugees and of those forced to flee within their own country.

Grandi also acknowledged the generosity of the Central African Republic in welcoming some 7,500 refugees, despite the many challenges the country faces.

“Peace, security and development are essential to support the decision of refugees to return,” said Grandi. “By working together with the Government, humanitarian and development actors must ensure identified areas of return become more stable and self-sufficient for returnees and host communities. This means security, access to education, to health and to economic opportunities.”



Trump Administration Moves to Upgrade Diplomatic Ties with Sudan

The United States said on Wednesday that it would begin exchanging ambassadors with Sudan after a 23-year gap, a sign the countries intend to strengthen diplomatic ties.

The announcement by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was the Trump administration’s vote of confidence in a new Sudanese civilian-led government installed in August after a sweeping revolution ended military rule.

Mr. Pompeo said the move could help transform Sudan’s political and economic systems, bolstering changes demanded by protesters who filled the streets of the country’s major cities over the summer and withstood harsh crackdowns — including killings — by security forces.

New York Times

Sudan’s Prime Minister Is on A Mission to Show the World His Country Has Changed

NPR’s Ailsa Chang speaks with Sudan Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who is the first Sudanese government leader to visit Washington, D.C., in three decades.

National Public Radio

South Sudan

South Sudan Creates Tribunal to Try Security Operatives

South Sudan’s government has opened a special tribunal to try National Security Service (NSS) operatives accused of committing crimes.

The head of the NSS legal directorate said Thursday the tribunal is an attempt to end impunity and restore the image of the service, damaged by numerous reports of human rights abuses.

Five years ago, President Salva Kiir signed into law the controversial National Security Service Act, which gave security agents the right to arbitrarily arrest, detain and investigate citizens or confiscate the property of any suspect deemed to be a threat to national security. 

Voice of America

UN peacekeepers intervene after violent clashes in South Sudan

UN peacekeepers have been sent to South Sudan’s northern Lakes region after a series of clashes in which 79 people were killed and more than 100 injured.

With roads impassable due to heavy rains and flooding, the Nepalese blue helmets travelled by helicopter on Tuesday from Rumbek, the state capital, to Maper, about 100km north, according to the UN mission in the country, UNMISS.

Vehicles and other heavy equipment have also been flown into the area to support the force. The 75 soldiers are expected to remain in the area over the next few weeks after the outbreak of violence between the Gak and Manuer communities, the agency said.

The Guardian


Kenya to Remain with AU Mission in Somalia Amid Tensions

Kenya’s president has said his forces will remain part of the African Union Mission in Somalia and leave the country when it’s secure and stable. The president’s statement came at a time Kenya’s forces are facing hostility in parts of Somalia for their support of the Jubaland administration, which the Somali government has refused to recognize.

This month Kenya and Somalia agreed to normalize relations after months of diplomatic tensions between the two countries, which had differences on many issues, including the disputed Jubaland elections.

Kenya has been the only country in the region to recognize the outcome of the contest in which Ahmed Madobe was re-elected for another four years. The Somali government is planning another election for Jubaland regional state.

Voice of America

UN seeks 47.5 Million USD to scale up flood response in Somalia

The United Nations humanitarian agency said Thursday it needs an additional 47.5 million U.S. dollars for emergency humanitarian assistance to help Somalia deal with severe flooding.

The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that since the UN agency and Somalia launched a three-month $72.5 million Flood Response Plan on Nov. 23 to mobilize additional resources, only 25 million dollars has been made available.

“The rains have inundated 207,000 hectares of land along Shabelle and Juba rivers, raising concerns about food security and livelihood losses,” OCHA said in its latest report on flood response.


Western Sahara

Pandor: African Countries Must Condemn Morocco’s Occupation of Western Sahara

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor on Monday said African countries should join South Africa in stressing that Morocco’s continued illegal occupation of Western Sahara was unacceptable.

She was speaking at a memorial service she hosted for the Western Sahara ambassador Radhi Bashir who died last week.

Tributes to the late Bashir came from Pandor and the dean of the diplomatic corps, Congolese ambassador Bene M’poko, among others.


Western Sahara Rights Activist Awarded Major Peace Prize

The Right Livelihood Award, widely known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ goes to five human rights activists this year. Among them is Aminatou Haidar of the Western Sahara.

Ms. Haidar receives the Right Livelihood Award “for her steadfast nonviolent action, despite imprisonment and torture, in pursuit of justice and self-determination for the people of Western Sahara”, according to organizers of the event in Stockholm, Sweden on December 4.

It is the first time that a Right Livelihood Award goes to a Laureate from Western Sahara.

Aminatou Haidar commented:

“I feel very honoured to receive the renowned Right Livelihood Award. This is a recognition of my non-violent struggle and the just cause of the Sahrawi people. Despite military occupation and violations of fundamental human rights, they continue their peaceful struggle. The Sahrawis deserve to be supported by all so that, one day, they will achieve independence and freedom.”

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