News Briefs 08 September 2017


Democratic Republic of Congo

Democratic Republic of Congo: Government must deliver on pledge to end child mining labour by 2025

In response to the commitment made this week by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to eliminate child labour in the mining sector by 2025, Seema Joshi, head of Business and Human Rights at Amnesty International, said:

“This commitment could mark a significant step on the road towards eradicating the scourge of children as young seven working in the mines of the DRC. If delivered, it means future generations of Congolese children won’t spend their childhoods mining materials for our smartphones and electric cars, in dark, dirty and dangerous conditions.

Amnesty International

Democratic Republic of Congo army general profits from illegally mining conflict gold

As gold continues to fuel the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a UN report says Major General Gabriel Amisi Kumba with a history of serious human rights abuses is illegally running a gold mining operation.

The northeastern corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is home to some of Africa’s richest goldfields. From 1998 to 2003, the mineral helped fuel the deadliest conflict in the history of the continent.

Today, armed groups, from government forces to rebel militia, continue to benefit from illicit trade in gold, finds a new United Nations report.

Deutsche Welle


US says airstrike kills 3 al-Shabaab extremists in Somalia

The US military says it has killed three members of the al-Shabaab extremist group with a “precision airstrike” in Somalia.

A statement from the US Africa Command says the airstrike was carried out on Tuesday morning local time in the Bay region, about 75km west of the capital, Mogadishu.

The statement says the strike was carried out in support of Somali army forces and African Union forces that were operating in the area.


Somalia remains volatile, problematic

The commander of Uganda’s contingent deployed under the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), Brig. Kayanja Muhanga, has said Somalia remains a volatile state with a number of challenges for citizens and the peacekeepers.

In a brief to Simon Mulongo, the newly appointed deputy special representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia, Muhanga also said lack of air capacity by AMISOM troops, expanded area of operation, poor conditions of infantry fighting vehicle and the poor road network are some of the major challenges that have complicated peacekeeping in Somalia.

New Vision

Central African Republic

Central African Republic: Civilians Facing Atrocities in Basse-Kotto As UN Protection Proves Ineffective

A wave of brutal attacks in the Central African Republic, including the systematic rape and murder of civilians, highlights the urgent need for stronger UN action to protect civilians, Amnesty International said today.

On-the-ground research by the organization in August 2017 also uncovered a horrifying surge in torture, pillage, and forced displacement by a Seleka off-shoot, the Union for Peace in Central Africa (UPC).

“Communities living in Basse-Kotto have been left at the mercy of the UPC. Women have been raped, men murdered, villages destroyed, and the region’s UN peacekeeping force has proved ineffective in stemming these abuses,” said Joanne Mariner, Senior Crisis Response Adviser at Amnesty International.

Amnesty International

‘People are dying’: violence forces aid workers out of Central African Republic

The lives of thousands of people across Central African Republic are at risk because aid workers are being forced to withdraw from cities and villages due to escalating violence.

Médecins Sans Frontières is among the organisations unable to provide vital healthcare, preventing treatment for malaria during the disease’s high season, with the result that “people are dying for sure”, according to Caroline Ducarme, MSF’s head of mission in the country.

Ducarme said the situation was having a particularly alarming impact on pregnant women. She described how, in the town of Bakouma, women had been denied a safe place to give birth because the health centre was “not functional” and had not received any deliveries since early June.

The Guardian


UN hopes donors continue offering aid to Sudan

A UN official on Monday called on donors to provide more assistance to Sudan after the world body received only a fraction of the $804m it needs for humanitarian aid.

Marta Ruedas, the UN resident humanitarian coordinator, told a news conference in Khartoum that only 23% of the humanitarian aid for Sudan in 2017 had been raised.

The United Nations and its aid agencies had so far managed to raise only about $182m, she said.

“We look forward to the continued generosity of donors to ensure that critical needs can be addressed in a timely manner,” Ruedas said at the news conference to mark World Humanitarian Day.


Sudan’s FM, Norwegian envoy discuss South Sudan crisis

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour and the visiting Norway’s Special Envoy to South Sudan and Sudan, Erling Skojonsberg Thursday discussed the ongoing regional efforts to end the four-year crisis in South Sudan.

“The meeting dealt with the issues of peace in South Sudan, especially the role of Sudan through the IGAD gate to bring peace to the (neighbouring country), said a statement released by the foreign ministry spokesperson.

With the USA and UK, the Norway is part of the Troika countries that support the regional efforts to bring peace in South Sudan.

Sudan Tribune

South Sudan

US sanctions senior South Sudan officials

The United States slapped sanctions on Wednesday against three senior South Sudan officials accused of fomenting and profiting from the four-year civil war in Africa’s youngest country.

Washington was South Sudan’s key foreign sponsor as it won its independence from Sudan in 2011, but US officials have become frustrated by its descent into chaos and infighting.

The latest measures target information minister Michael Makuei, who is in particular accused of having “engaged in or been complicit in” attacks on the UN mission in South Sudan.


As South Sudan plans 2018 elections, UN expresses concern

The United Nations says it is concerned by South Sudan’s announcement to hold elections next year as the country is gripped by civil war.

Haile Menkerios, the U.N. secretary-general’s special envoy to the African Union, says the elections planned for July 2018 risk “deepening and extending” the conflict.

The envoy spoke Friday during a U.N. Security Council visit. He says the election can only be held in a stable environment where “people are not displaced by violence and hunger and in which they are able to express their political views free from intimidation.”

Western Sahara

United Nations: Need to resolve conflict in Western Sahara

Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Antonio Guterres stressed the need to put an end to the conflict in Western Sahara, expressing his commitment to starting the negotiation process between the two parties of the conflict (the Frente  POLISARIO and Morocco) for a new impetus to reach a political settlement guaranteeing the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination.

In his report on the issue of Western Sahara presented during the 72nd UN General Assembly, Guterres stressed the need to put an end to the conflict in Western Sahara as soon as possible to allow the region to face security threats, economic challenges and human sufferings in a coordinated and human way.

Sahara Press Service

BRICS leaders hail efforts for resolution of Western Sahara conflict

he leaders of BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) expressed, during their Summit in China’s Xiamen, their support to Africa’s efforts for the resolution of conflicts in the continent, including in Western Sahara.

“We commend the efforts of African countries, the African Union and sub-regional organizations in addressing regional issues and maintaining regional peace and security (…) We support efforts towards comprehensively resolving the issues in Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Somalia, Central Africa Republic and Western Sahara,” they said Tuesday in their final declaration.

Sahara Press Service


Swaziland church takes lead in fighting human trafficking, violence against women

The Catholic Church in the small African nation of Swaziland has taken a lead role in southern Africa in raising awareness on two important justice issues: gender-based violence and human trafficking. For the second time in two months the church has helped coordinate nationwide awareness marches, and the country’s police commissioner, Isaac Magagula, has publicly thanked the church for its efforts in what he calls “the fight against crime.” Most Swazi adhere to Christianity, but only about 20 percent of the population is Roman Catholic.

On July 1, the Justice and Peace Commission of the nation’s only diocese, in Manzini, organized a march against gender-based violence. Speaking at the march, the interim mayor of the town of Hlatikulu, Maduduza Zwane, described gender-based violence as “one of the most pervasive violations of human rights in the world, one of the least prosecuted crimes, and one of the greatest threats to lasting peace and development in Swaziland and the entire world.”

Zambia’s Lungu joins King Mswati III at Swaziland’s Reed Dance ceremony

Zambian President Edgar Lungu was the guest of Swaziland’s King Mswati III at the annual Umhlanga or Reed Dance ceremony held on Monday at Ludzidzini Royal palace near the capital Mbabane.

This year’s traditional chastity rite was participated by about 40,000 maidens who sang and danced for the King at the climax of the week-long event.

Edgar Lungu donned traditional Swazi outfit and joined the King and his regiment of Swazi men during the kudlalisela session which is a procession around the dancing arena to appreciate the maidens.

African News





Zimbabwe businesses warn Mugabe growing deficit could destabilise banks

Zimbabwean business leaders told President Robert Mugabe on Thursday that his government’s expanding fiscal deficit was unsustainable and that financing it through local borrowing could destabilise the banking sector.

At the first such meeting in 10 years, executives from the mining, manufacturing, banking and farming sectors and representatives of foreign airlines told Mugabe and his cabinet ministers they must exercise fiscal discipline.

“The current levels of the fiscal deficit and the mode of financing, against diminished fiscal revenue sources, is measurably unsustainable,” said Charles Msipa, who represented the business leaders at the meeting in Harare.

Money Web

Some white farmers still hope to return to Zimbabwe

Some of the thousands of white Zimbabwean farmers evicted from their land in the early 2000s by President Robert Mugabe’s supporters continue to hold out hopes of one day receiving compensation and returning to the country.

“I know friends who have gone to Zambia, Britain, South Africa and Australia. They’d love to come back to Zimbabwe,” Peter Steyl, President of Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), told Reuters in an interview in Harare. The CFU represents white and black farmers.

Senior figures in Zimbabwe’s ruling ZANU-PF party acknowledged publicly that white farmers should be compensated for their losses two decades ago, although talks with farmers have yet to produce any major breakthrough. Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa told parliament in July that Harare had paid $134-million (R1.73-billion) in compensation last year; farmers disputed this.




Africa in General

As US weighs lifting Sudan sanctions, South Sudan a concern

As the United States considers lifting sanctions on Sudan, one of the most sensitive issues is on display in these tense borderlands: weapons. South Sudan’s government accuses its neighbor of supplying arms to rebels fighting its bloody civil war.

On a visit last month, The Associated Press spoke with opposition fighters who recently defected to the South Sudan government side. They described how weapons flow in from Sudan — and how rebels flee there to find safe harbor.

Washington Post

Violence Flares in Zimbabwe as Mugabe Readies Election Bid

Political violence has flared in Zimbabwe as the southern African nation gears up for elections next year that may see a united opposition seek to end President Robert Mugabe’s near four-decade rule.

The Zimbabwe Peace Project recorded attacks on 745 people last month, up from 435 in July. The ruling party, military, police and intelligence services were responsible for 94 percent of the assaults, according to the human-rights group, which is based in the capital, Harare, and has 420 observers in the 10 provinces.

“The nature of the human-rights violations, mainly politically motivated violence, makes disturbing reading,” Jestina Mukoko, the head of the group, said in an interview. The attacks point “to a festering culture of political intolerance that potentially spells trouble for the 2018 elections,” she said.


Burundi committing crimes against humanity, says report

Crimes against humanity are being committed in Burundi, according to a United Nations commission of inquiry.

Killings, torture, sexual violence, degrading treatment, enforced disappearances and arbitrary arrests have been taking place since April 2015, according to the report published Monday.

“We were struck by the scale and the brutality of the violations. We also noted a lack of will on the part of the Burundian authorities to fight against impunity and guarantee the independence of the judiciary. As a result, there is a strong likelihood that the perpetrators of these crimes will remain unpunished,” said Fatsah Ouguergouz, president of the commission.

The Philadelphia Tribune