News Briefs 24 June 2020:


Source: Fuel prices in Zimbabwe increase by more than 150%

Zimbabwe’s fuel prices will go up by as much as 152% on Wednesday, the energy regulator said, after the government removed a fixed exchange rate in place since March.

The last time the country saw a similar steep rise in fuel prices, in January 2019, violent protests broke out, leaving 17 people dead after a crackdown by the security forces.

Zimbabwe is already going through its worst economic crisis in a decade, marked by high inflation, food and medical shortages.

The price of petrol will go up to 71.62 Zimbabwe dollars (U.S. $1.25) per litre, from 28.96 Zimbabwe dollars previously, the regulator announced on Tuesday night. The diesel price will now be 62.77 Zimbabwe dollars from 24.93 Zimbabwe dollars.

IOL 24 June 2020

Zimbabwe conducts first foreign currency auction

Zimbabwe on Tuesday conducted its first foreign currency auction in years to boost transparency and efficiency in the forex market.

Last week, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) announced that it will discard the 1:25 fixed interbank exchange rate system, which had been in place since February this year.

The central bank said that the auction system, to be held every Tuesday, was designed to give fair value of the local currency in relation to the U.S. dollar. At the auction system, the Zimbabwe dollar debuted at 57 against 1 U.S. dollar.

The new official exchange rate, however, remains below the parallel market rate which is running at between 80 and 95 per U.S. dollar depending on the method of payment.

CGTN Africa 24 June 2020


Swaziland LGBTI Rights Group Back in High Court in Bid for Legal Recognition

An LGBTI rights group in Swaziland (eSwatini) is back in the High Court to challenge a ruling that it cannot be allowed to operate in the kingdom.

In September 2019, eSwatini’s Registrar of Companies refused to register the organisation eSwatini Sexual and Gender Minorities (ESGM).

The Registrar argued that ESGM’s purpose was unlawful because same-sex sexual acts were illegal in the kingdom. ESGM and its members filed an application to contest these claims. They argued that the Registrar’s refusal violated ESGM members’ rights to dignity, to associate and express themselves freely, to be treated equally and not to be discriminated against.

The Registrar also said that the right to equality in the Constitution did not apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people because sexual orientation and sex were not mentioned explicitly in the Constitution.

All Africa 24 June 2020

Turkey gives embroidery machines to Eswatini government

A Turkish state-run agency has donated embroidery machines to the African kingdom of Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland, to help them produce face masks to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Mehmet Akif Sekerci, the coordinator of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) in South Africa, told Anadolu Agency they were contacted by Eswatini’s Ministry of Tinkhundla Administration and Development asking for embroidery machines to be distributed to their skills centers to produce face mask.

The machines handed over to the ministry will be distributed to Women in Development Training Centers which provide training skills such as basic sewing, food processing, business management and appropriate technology skills.

Anadolu Agency 15 June 2020

Democratic Republic of Congo

Gunmen kill more than dozen civilians in eastern DR Congo attacks

At least 19 civilians have been killed in the restive eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo at the weekend in attacks blamed on a notorious armed group, local officials said.

Nine people were kidnapped on Friday by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), and their bodies were found in the province of North Kivu, which borders Rwanda, regional administrator Donat Kibwana said on Sunday, adding that their burials were under way.

In the neighbouring Ituri region, ADF fighters attacked the village of Bukaka late on Saturday and killed 10 civilians, local official Bananilao Tchabi told AFP news agency.

Aljazeera 22 June 2020

DR Congo: Militias surrender arms to Indonesian troops

Indonesian troops under the UN peacekeeping forces have received more than 100 firearms surrendered by militias in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a military official on Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Victor Hasudungan, commander of the Indonesian Armed Forces Peace Mission Center (PMPP), told Anadolu Agency that 116 firearms were handed to the country’s peacekeeping force.

“Such achievement was made possible thanks to the soft power and humanitarian approach taken by Indonesian soldiers,” he said.

The commander said the force helped the local community to build public facilities, including wells and bridges.

“Thanks to the approach, in 2019 around 1,500 inter-faction militias agreed to make peace and handed their weapons,” said Hasudungan.

Anadolu Agency 24 June 2020

Central African Republic

COVID ‘exacerbating existing vulnerabilities’ in Central African Republic: Lacroix

The Central African Republic (CAR) is making progress as it prepares for presidential and legislative elections in December, but the political situation is still fragile – and security conditions volatile – amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Pierre Lacroix said on Monday.

Briefing the Security Council, Mr. Lacroix strongly condemned Sunday’s ambush in the west of the country, on a joint UN Mission (MINUSCA)-National Defence Forces patrol, by suspected members of the Retour, Réclamation et Rehabilitation (3R) armed group. Two soldiers from the national force were killed, and seven wounded.

“The (coronavirus) pandemic is exacerbating existing vulnerabilities”, said the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, as he presented the Secretary-General’s latest report on the UN Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic.

UN News 22 June 2020

EU supports Central African Republic with €54 million to limit socio-economic risks

As part of the European Union’s response to the COVID-19 crisis in Africa, the European Commission has decided to grant €54 million to the Central African Republic to help the government shore up public expenditure negatively affected by the fight against the virus.

European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: ‘The European Union has long stood alongside the Central African Republic to help the country overcome the crises it has suffered. This additional budgetary support aims to help the country address the socio-economic risks associated with the health crisis and contribute to the gradual restoration of State authority over the country, which is essential for the country’s economic and social development.

Slowing the spread of the COVID-19 virus means that the Central African government must use part of its resources for preventive health measures, which significantly increases pressure on public finances. The EU is therefore intervening with two budget support programmes going towards consolidating the State (€45 million) and reforming the security and governance sector (€9 million).

Relief Web 22 June 2020


Al-Shabab claims suicide attack outside Turkish base in Somalia

A suicide bomber’s explosives were detonated outside a Turkish military training base in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, killing at least two people, police said on Tuesday.

It was the first time the Turkish base in Mogadishu, Turkey’s largest overseas military base, had been attacked by the al-Qaeda-linked rebel group al-Shabab.

The Somalia-based group quickly claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Radio al-Furqan, one of the group’s radio affiliates.

Somali government spokesman Ismail Mukhtar told Anadolu news agency that security guards shot the bomber who was trying to enter the military facility.

Aljazeera 23 June 2020

The goals behind the fresh talks between Somalia and Somaliland

When the Foreign Minister of Somaliland, Yasin Faratoon, mentioned the first official meeting between Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and his Somaliland counterpart Muse Bihi Abdi in February, there was speculation about its purpose. Organised originally through the mediation of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa, we were then surprised by another conference held a few days ago in Djibouti. What are the reasons for these discussions?

The importance of having fresh talks between the two Somalias is agreed by everyone in the West, given that it is not in its best interest for Somalia to be split into North and South. Such a split could lead to Russia or China seizing the opportunity to support one side against the other. This is what Russia has done in Libya for the sake of oil, helping Khalifa Haftar’s forces with weapons and mercenaries and thus making itself a significant party in Libyan politics. For the West, it is time for Somalia to be united as a single state in order to reach major petroleum deals and continue to exercise its influence in this strategically-important area.

Middle East Monitor 23 June 2020


Major aid flight to Covid-stricken Sudan helps reboot humanitarian operation

One of the first major international humanitarian flights to Sudan took place today, since the airport closed in March to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and on the eve of the High-Level Sudan Partnership Conference in Berlin.

Aid supplies to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and relief staff from the Norwegian Refugee Council were flown to Khartoum today on board the European Union’s Humanitarian Air Bridge flight, one of the first major humanitarian flights to the country since lockdown began.

“Today’s historic humanitarian flight is symbolic of the possibility and hope that exists for Sudan in this new political era. The current government has welcomed us back, and shown willingness to put its people first and prioritise humanitarian needs. We hope to see this continue,” said Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

Relief Web 24 June 2020

Coronavirus response: Team Europe support to Sudan through EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flight

Today, the second of two EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights arrived in Sudan, helping humanitarian workers and essential supplies reach people in need and supporting the coronavirus response in the country. This fully EU-funded Humanitarian Air Bridge flight to Sudan was made possible through a coordinated Team Europe approach, bringing together the European Union, Sweden, France and the Humanitarian Logistics Network.

Ahead of the High-Level Sudan Partnership Conference taking place tomorrow, Janez Lenar?i?, Commissioner for Crisis Management and Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Secretary of State to the Minister for European and Foreign Affairs of France, arrived in Khartoum to meet the Prime Minister of the Republic of Sudan, H.E. Mr Abdalla Hamdok, as well as other high-level authorities and representatives of the humanitarian community.

Commissioner Lenar?i? said: “Sudan is at an important juncture in its transition to democracy, as it is implementing reforms that can translate into a better life for its citizens, including the most vulnerable people. The EU is committed to supporting the Transitional Government’s efforts for an inclusive peace in the country. It also welcomes the Transitional Government’s clear message of openness to the international humanitarian community and the commitment to facilitate humanitarian workers’ delivery of aid to remote areas and people in need.”

EU Commission 24 June 2020

South Sudan

Devastating South Sudan coronavirus deaths, ‘a tragedy that can be prevented’, Security Council hears

South Sudan is facing the twin threat of COVID-19 and an uptick in violence that risks unravelling a fragile ceasefire and derailing the peace process, the top UN official in the country says. Briefing the Security Council on Tuesday, David Shearer said that so far, nearly 2,000 cases of novel coronavirus – and 35 deaths – have been recorded in South Sudan.

But limited testing and social stigmatization is likely obscuring the true magnitude of the pandemic, said Mr. Shearer, who heads the UN Mission in the world’s youngest nation (UNMISS).

The Mission’s greatest fear is that the additional pressure of responding to COVID-19 on South Sudan’s weak healthcare system will disrupt vaccinations, maternal health services and treatment for curable diseases like malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia.

The result could be a “devastating” increase in deaths that would likely greater than the loss of life from COVID-19 itself.

UN News 23 June 2020

African Union Sanctions South Sudan for Non-payment

Representatives of South Sudan have been banned from taking part in an African Union meeting after their government failed to pay overdue fees totaling more than $9 million.  

South Sudan diplomats were caught by surprise last Tuesday when they were asked to leave an AU meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The AU sanctioned South Sudan after it failed to pay annual membership dues for the past three years, according to a June 17 letter to the South Sudan Foreign Affairs Ministry signed by Ambassador James Pitia Morgan, South Sudan’s permanent representative to the African Union and to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Voice of America 22 June 2020

Western Sahara

Opinion: The People of Western Sahara Are Africa’s Forgotten Refugees

World Refugee Day falls each year on 20 June and is dedicated to refugees around the globe.

World Refugee Day was held globally for the first time on 20 June 2001, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

It was originally known as Africa Refugee Day, before the United Nations General Assembly officially designated it as an international day in December 2000.

Each year, World Refugee Day is marked by a variety of events in many countries around the globe in support of refugees.

The people of Western Sahara continue to be the forgotten people of Africa and the world.

Little is written about when it comes to the Saharawi refugee crisis, yet this situation is one of the most protracted conflicts in the world. The Saharawi refugee communities endure their 45th year of displacement.

EWN 20 June 2020

Spain must work to end colonialism in Western Sahara

Deputies of the European Parliament called Wednesday the Spanish Government, in a letter sent to the Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, to speed up the decolonization process in Western Sahara and assume its historical and legal responsibilities towards the Sahrawi people.

The European MPs  said in a letter that the recent decision of the Supreme Court which establishes that the fact of being born in Western Sahara before 1975 doesn’t give the right to the Spanish nationality of origin, is “another denial from Spain towards its legal and historical responsibility and of its occupation for several years of Western Sahara which was its 53rd province and which had representatives in the legislature (Curtis), before being deliberately divided by Madrid and illegally given to Morocco,” as part of Madrid agreements of 14 November 1975.

The letter broached the historic decision of the International Court of Justice in 1975 which judged that Morocco doesn’t have any sovereignty over the territory of Western Sahara, which was reaffirmed by the United Nations Office of Legal Affairs in 2002, in a different form, i.e. that “Madrid’s arrangement didn’t transfer the sovereignty of Western Sahara and didn’t grant to any of the signatories the status of the administering power, a situation that Spain can’t transfer unilaterally because it contradicts with the legal and political reality.”

Sahara Press Service 20 June 2020