News Briefs 23 June 2017

Democratic Republic of Congo

Catholic Church slams ‘killings and plundering’ by security forces in Kasai

The Catholic Church has condemned the “killings and plundering” allegedly committed by security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)’s restive Kasaï-Central province.

Kasaï, in the heart of the DRC, has been plagued by violence between the Congolese security forces and a local militia, Kamuina Nsapu, who are seeking to avenge the death of their leader, who was killed in Tshimbulu by Congo’s security forces in August 2016.

International Business Times

Fighting Kills More Than 3,000 In Congo’s Kasai Region – Catholic Church

Congolese security forces and a militia fighting them have killed at least 3,383 people in the central Kasai region since October, the Catholic church said on Tuesday, in the most detailed report to date on the violence.

Church officials, citing their own sources in the remote territory bordering Angola, said the army had destroyed 10 villages as it sought to stamp out an insurrection.

They also accused the Kamuina Nsapu militia of killing hundreds of people, destroying four villages and attacking church property in a campaign to drive out central government troops.



7 dead in suicide blast at police station in Somalia capital

At least seven people are dead and a dozen wounded after a suicide car bomb blast at a police station in Somalia’s capital, police and an ambulance service said on Thursday.

The bomber was trying to drive into the Waberi district’s police station gate but detonated against the wall instead, Captain Mohamed Hussein told The Associated Press.

Ambulance sirens echoed across Mogadishu, with dozens of soldiers at the scene. Aamin Ambulance Service said it had transported seven bodies and 12 wounded.


Blackwater founder’s FSG signs security deal with Somali region

Frontier Services Group (FSG) , co-founded by Erik Prince who created the U.S. security firm Blackwater, said on Thursday it would provide logistics, aviation and security services for a regional development project in Somalia.

Hong Kong-listed FSG said the deal was signed with the Free Zone Investment Authority of the South West State of Somalia, one of the federal regions set up under efforts in the Horn of Africa nation to rebuild its political structures and economy.

The president of the South West State region, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, said in a statement that the project was part of the region’s move to attract local and foreign investors.


Central African Republic

CAR stuck between racism and exploitation

In a camp for internally displaced people outside Kabo, in the Central African Republic, I meet a group of Muslims displaced from their homes for the past two years. The camp, home to some 2 600 people, mostly Muslims chased from various parts of the country, is in a horrific state. One of the camp’s elders, Ousmane Bouda, a thin man in a white kurta, says everyone here has a similar story. Their homes ransacked and occupied, their families beaten, their cows stolen. Bouda’s own son was murdered in 2014. He left behind a five-bedroom house to live in a wooden hut made of sticks and dried leaves. When it rains, he and the camp’s other inhabitants stand up, and wait for the water to pass.

The crisis in the CAR has taken a sharp turn towards the dangerous; an accelerating emergency that shows no signs of abating. Whatever gains might have been made after the elections of 2016 have long dissipated. Bouda’s story is fast becoming the norm.


Spiraling Violence in Central African Republic Isolates Neediest

Escalating violence between rival armed factions in Central African Republic is cutting off humanitarian access to civilians most needing help, while emboldened fighters are now infiltrating camps for the displaced, agencies said on Thursday.

As many as 100 people may have been killed on Tuesday in the diamond-mining town of Bria, 580 km (360 miles) northeast of the capital Bangui, one day after militias signed a peace deal aimed at ending years of bloodshed.

Voice of America

Central African Republic foes sign Church-mediated peace accord

The government of the Central African Republic and 13 of the 14 armed groups in the country on Monday signed an accord aimed at ending an ethic and religious conflict that has killed thousands of people.

The deal, which was mediated by the Roman Catholic Sant’ Egidio peace group and signed at their headquarters in Rome, calls for an immediate end to hostilities and recognition of the results of last year’s presidential elections.

The country has been plagued by inter-religious and inter-communal conflict since 2013, when the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, prompting reprisals from the anti-Balaka militia, many of whose fighters are nominally Christian.



Sudanese scientist battles climate change in Africa

She’s seen it before. The images of dry, cracked lands; dead trees; animal corpses; hungry children and lines of people waiting for food assistance are not new to her.

The current drought and resulting food crisis affecting millions across the Horn of Africa are painful reminders of the importance of her work.

But that’s not all that bothers her. Across the Atlantic, the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement and proposed policies to reverse the United States’ contribution to the fight against climate change dishearten her. They add insult to injury.


Sudan: Enough Project Pleads for New U.S.-Sudan Policy Framework

In a pamphlet entitled The Missing Track, published in anticipation of the Trump administration’s imminent decisions on Sudan sanctions, the Enough Project, which aims to counter genocide and crimes against humanity, has urged for a re-think of the policy framework between the USA and Sudan.

“In early July, the Trump administration is due to make a pivotal decision concerning Sudan: the administration could fully remove sweeping sanctions that were suspended in the waning days of the Obama administration, reinstate those sanctions, or delay that decision in order to gather more information and allow new appointees to take their seats before any conclusions are reached,” the plea reads.


South Sudan

South Sudan must end war, UN chief says on refugee visit

South Sudan’s leaders must end a civil war that has killed tens of thousands and displaced millions, the United Nations secretary-general said on Thursday while visiting what has become the world’s fastest-growing refugee crisis.

“The leaders of South Sudan have not deserved the people they have,” Antonio Guterres said after touring a refugee reception center in northern Uganda. More than 900 000 refugees are sheltering in Uganda, most of them women and children. Most have arrived in the past year.

“The people (are) suffering enormously with this endless war,” Guterres said. “It is time for the war to end.”


International community urged to support South Sudan refugees

The international community had the opportunity to express its solidarity with refugees at the two-day Solidarity Summit, co-hosted by Uganda and the UN, which wraps up on Friday in Kampala, Uganda.

The event aims to rally international support for refugees and host communities in the form of donations, investments and innovative programmes.

With Uganda hosting almost one million South Sudanese refugees “as sisters and brothers and sharing with them their land and everything they have”, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged the international community to show solidarity with those that had fled their homes, as well as with the Ugandan government and people.

“In a world where so many people are selfishly closing their doors, closing their borders, not allowing refugees to come, this example deserves praise and admiration from the whole international community,” Guterres told reporters at the Imvepi Refugee Reception Centre in the Arua district of northern Uganda on Thursday.

The Citizen

Western Sahara

SA court orders Moroccan ship held over Western Sahara

A South African court on Thursday ordered the further detention of a Moroccan vessel laden with phosphate mined from the disputed Western Sahara pending a trial to determine the owner of the cargo.

The 34 000-tonne vessel from Western Sahara and destined for New Zealand was last month blocked from sailing off due to a court motion seeking that the vessel return its cargo.

The motion argued that transportation of goods from disputed Western Sahara is illegal and in violation of international principles.

“The court has basically found that the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic and the Polisario Front have established, on a prima facie basis, that effectively the people of Western Sahara own the cargo,” Andre Bowley, the complainants’ lawyer told AFP.

The Citizen

UN Chief to Name ex-German President as Western Sahara Envoy

The head of the United Nations will name former German president Horst Koehler as his new envoy for Western Sahara, in charge of restarting talks between Morocco and the Polisario independence movement over the disputed territory.

The United Nations Security Council in April backed attempts to re-enter negotiations over Western Sahara, which has been contested since 1975 and where Morocco and Polisario fought a war until a 1991 ceasefire.

“Following the usual consultations, I intend to appoint Horst Koehler of Germany as my personal envoy for Western Sahara,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in a letter to the Security Council released by the U.N. on Friday.

Voice of America


SACU summit set for Swaziland

Delegates from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) member states are in Swaziland for a five-day meeting of SACU institutions.

The meeting which runs from the 19-23 June is the 44th SACU gathering. On June 19, the meeting was on the Finance and Audit Committee which was chaired by Botswana. Today there is a SACU Commission which is being chaired by Swaziland in Ezulwini.

In a press statement, the Executive Secretary of SACU Paulina Elago said the 31st meeting of the Council of Ministers will take place on June 21st.

The Southern Times

 Swaziland: Senate Snubs LGBTI Health Report

Senators in Swaziland threw out a motion to make a report on access to health facilities for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and/or intersexual (LGBTI) people because it was ‘discrimination’ in favour of them.

The Swazi Observer reported, on Tuesday (13 June 2017), ‘Senator Phumelela, who was very critical of the motion, said she wanted to know from the mover if people of the LGBTI community suffered sicknesses different from heterosexual people.

‘”Is their flu different from our flu, because I don’t understand why they would need special treatment if they get sick the same way that we do,” she said. She further urged senators to be wary of this motion because it would come back to haunt the nation one day.’



Zimbabwe appeals for $10.9m aid for refugees

Financially hamstrung Zimbabwe joined UN agencies and charities on Wednesday in appealing for $10.9m of aid for thousands of refugees in the country including families fleeing violence in neighbouring Mozambique.

Zimbabwe, grappling an economic crisis including a cash crunch which has had a toll on social services, is host to 17 500 refugees, official statistics show.

“Governments and humanitarian organisations are left to deal with the consequences while at the same time struggling to save lives on limited budgets,” Robert Tibagwa, the resident representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Zimbabwe, said at the launch of the appeal.


Voter registration should be free, fair to avoid chaos: ZimRights

RIGHTS watchdog, Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has warned the country of possible chaos if the soon-to-be-rolled-out voter registration exercise is not handled in a free and transparent manner.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is soon to roll out a new biometric voter (BVR) registration process after it awarded a $4 million tender to supply BVR kits to a Chinese company early this month.

The process would require a fresh voter registration exercise for the 2018 watershed polls.

But addressing human rights defenders at a peace and conflict resolution workshop in Bulawayo yesterday, ZimRights director, Okay Machisa said if the pre-voter registration process was not handled properly, it could culminate into chaos that could result in people being displaced.




Africa in General

Uganda and UN to convene ‘solidarity summit’ amid fast-growing refugee emergency

Facing a fast-growing refugee crisis, Uganda is set to host in its capital, Kampala, a ‘Solidarity Summit’ with the support of the United Nations, to rally international support for refugees and host communities in the form of donations, investments and innovative programmes.

The two-day Summit, which opens Thursday, 22 June, comes as the UN estimates that in just one year, largely due to an influx of people fleeing violence and instability in South Sudan, the refugee population in Uganda has more than doubled – from 500,000 to more than 1.25 million – making the country host to the world’s fastest growing refugee emergency.

Hosted by President Yoweri Museveni and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the event, which is expecting 30 Heads of State and international donors, looks to raise $2 billion to meet the humanitarian needs of refugees and to support the hosting communities over the next four years.

UN News

EU announces €85 million as Uganda faces world’s fastest growing refugee crisis

Uganda is now facing the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis, due to a continuous and unprecedented influx of people fleeing conflict in neighbouring South Sudan among others. The country is now hosting over 1.27 million refugees and asylum seekers.

“To help Uganda deal with this unprecedented situation and support the most vulnerable refugees, the European Commission has today announced €85 million in humanitarian aid and longer term development assistance. Many refugees have fled conflict in South Sudan, seeking sanctuary from violence, hatred and hunger. Uganda’s example of helping vulnerable people cope with displacement is an example for the whole region and the world. However, no country can deal with such a high number of refugees on its own. The EU funding announced today will help our humanitarian partners working in Uganda bring some relief to those who have lost everything,” said Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

The announcement comes as Commissioner Stylianides is attending the Uganda Solidarity Summit on refugees taking place in Kampala on 22 and 23 June, on behalf of the European Commission.

EU News

Army warns Mugabe over wife Grace’s ‘ambition to succeed him’ – report

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has reportedly moved to stop his wife, Grace’s ambition to succeed him.

According to Bloomberg, this came after the country’s intelligence chief warned that “her campaign may stoke political violence”.

Quoting three members from the ruling Zanu-PF party’s politburo, Bloomberg said that Grace’s ambition faced opposition from the military, who backed Mnangagwa as next leader.

“Mugabe asked his wife Grace, 51, to tone down her public criticism of veterans of Zimbabwe’s independence war who’ve supported the president since he took power in 1980 and back her main rival, Deputy President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 74,” the politburo members were quoted as saying.


Angolan VP to be tried for corruption in Portugal

Angolan Vice President Manuel Vicente will face trial in Portugal over allegations he bribed a magistrate to drop two investigations against him, according to a Wednesday ruling cited in Portuguese media.

Vicente, who was the president of Angolan national oil company Sonangol at the time of the alleged crimes, is accused of bribery, money laundering and document falsification, the public prosecutor’s office said, according to Portugal’s main news agency Lusa.

Lisbon’s trial court has also ordered former Portugese prosecutor Orlando Figueira, who was arrested in 2016, to be tried on suspicion of receiving money from Vicente.