News Briefs 27 September 2019

Central African Republic

Central African Republic President says country ‘remains fragile’, despite progress on peace deal

President Faustin-Archange Touadéra of the Central African Republic (CAR), addressing the UN General Assembly’s annual general debate, spotlighted “modest but sure” progress in implementing the landmark peace agreement signed by his Government and 14 armed groups on 6 February 2019.

“We are mobilized for the implementation of this Agreement, with the support of the guarantors [African Union and the Economic Community of Central African States] and the Facilitators, foremost among which are the United Nations. through the [UN integrated peacekeeping mission in the country, known as MINUSCA],” he told UN Member countries.

“With the support of all our partners in the subregion and around the world, we are making progress, albeit modest, but sure, in extending State authority throughout the country, as well as on national security and defense reforms,” he said.

This, he explained, would facilitate the gradual redeployment of the Defense and Security Forces and the continuation of the national disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation programme, known as DDRR, already underway.

UN News

Central African Republic’s agonising road to peace

entral African Republican President, Faustin-Archange Touadéra has participated in an international conference organised by the Community of Sant’Egidio in cooperation with the Archdiocese of Madrid in Spain. The theme of the conference was “Madrid 2019 – Peace without borders.”

The two-day conference that ended Tuesday evening brought together more than 300 leaders of the world’s religions. Also invited were leaders from leading cultural institutions and international NGOs.

Organisers said the meeting had been convened in the “Spirit of Assisi.” Pope John Paul II gathered the first World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, Italy, on 27 October 1986. In all, 160 religious leaders attended the 1986 Day of Prayer.

Vatican News


Zimbabwean doctor who survived suspected kidnapping leaves for South Africa

A Zimbabwe doctor who survived a suspected kidnapping by state authorities last week has left the country for medical treatment in South Africa, a rights group said on Thursday.

Peter Magombeyi, a doctor’s union leader, was found 30km (18 miles) from his house in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare last week. He was in a dazed state and had been missing for five days.

Doctors accuse security forces of kidnapping Magombeyi for his role in organising strikes to demand better pay and working conditions.

Hundreds took to the streets last week to demand the authorities investigate their colleague’s disappearance


Zimbabwe has the highest inflation rate in the world

Annual inflation in Zimbabwe was 300 percent in August, according to new data released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). At that level, the troubled southern African nation’s inflation rate is the highest in the world.

Annualised inflation in Zimbabwe was measured at 175.66 percent in June, up from 97.85 percent in May. In a statement released on Thursday, IMF head of delegation Gene Leon said Zimbabwe was experiencing what he described as severe economic difficulties.

Leon was a part of an IMF delegation that was recently in the country to assess progress on the implementation of a Staff Monitored Program (SMP) that measures economic performance and Zimbabwe’s commitment to reforms. The programme is a key step towards unlocking IMF funding.


Amnesty: Denying ‘abducted’ Zim doctor travel for medical treatment cruel

Zimbabwe authorities have denied travel the to doctor, who was “abducted” by unknown men and released days later.

In response to the authorities’ failure to allow Dr. Peter Magombeyi to travel to South Africa to seek medical attention following his abduction and the deterioration of his health, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa said: “Not allowing Dr. Magombeyi to travel to seek medical treatment outside Zimbabwe is a cruel denial that puts his health at risk.

“That anyone can be treated this way by the state is unbelievable – and is made worse by the fact that he’s already faced a terrible ordeal and abduction. This ill-treatment at the hands of the authorities is now endangering his health.


WFP: Zimbabwe Facing Worst Food Insecurity in Memory

Zimbabwe is facing its worst food insecurity in recent memory, with more than five million people in need of assistance until the next harvest begins in April, the World Food Program says.

Eddie Rowe, head of the WFP in Zimbabwe, says the need for food assistance was once confined to rural areas, but now some 2 million people in urban areas also need help.

“We are talking of urban poverty where you have not just food insecurity but high rates of unemployment,” he said. “So, when you look at it now, what we are trying to do is for us to come together for us to be able to intervene in an integrated manner. So, it’s not just addressing food insecurity, but addressing urban poverty.”

Voice of America

Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa calls for end to US, EU sanctions

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa appealed for patience Wednesday for his efforts to pull his country out of an economic collapse and called on the U.S. and Europe to lift “illegal sanctions” that he blamed for slowing down the recovery.

Mnangagwa made no mention during an address to the U.N. General Assembly of alleged political repression under his rule, which has diminished hopes that Zimbabwe had been on the brink of change following the ouster of longtime leader Robert Mugabe, who died in Singapore earlier this month.

More than 50 government critics and activists have been abducted in Zimbabwe this year, at times tortured and warned by suspected state security agents to back off from anti-government actions. Critics have accused Mnangagwa of resorting to strong-armed tactics as opposition to his government grows amid crippling inflation, debilitating water shortages and chronic power cuts.



Chaos in eSwatini as anti-monarchy protests turn violent

Violent clashes erupted in eSwatini on Wednesday after police cracked down on civil servants protesting against low pay and rising living costs in Africa’s last absolute monarchy.

Teachers and workers went on strike last week in the four main towns of eSwatini — a tiny southern African kingdom until recently known as Swaziland, surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique.

They accuse King Mswati III of draining public coffers at the expense of his subjects, and flocked to the capital Mbabane from Friday to discuss action with opposition pro-democracy groups.


Cosatu to block border posts in support of eSwatini public servants’ strike

The Congress of SA Trade Unions in Mpumalanga will on Wednesday protest and block Mahamba and Matsamo border posts in solidarity with striking eSwatini public servants.

Public servants in neighbouring eSwatini embarked on nationwide protests this week demanding better remuneration from King Mswati’s government.

“The border blockades are convened in solidarity with the eSwatini public sector unions who are currently fighting for a cost of living adjustment,” Sizwe Pamla, a spokesperson for Cosatu said.

“Mpumalanga Cosatu supports the strike by eSwatini’s National Public Services & Allied Workers Union [NAPSAWU] and other public sector unions of Swaziland and holds a strong view that their demand for a living wage is a genuine one which must be acceded to by the government of Swaziland. Cosatu will be leading border protests alongside its national affiliate NEHAWU.”


Democratic Republic of Congo

Signs DR Congo Ebola outbreak finally ‘on the retreat’ but risk of international spread, ‘still high’

The second worst Ebola outbreak in history is “on the retreat” said the UN’s health agency chief on Wednesday, warning however that there is no room for complacency, with dozens of new cases each week still being recorded in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“It’s not over, until it’s over” said Tedros Adhanom Gheybreyesus, speaking to reporters at UN Headquarters in New York, after a meeting co-hosted by WHO and the DRC Government, on the margins of the UN General Assembly, bringing together regional ministers for health, on Ebola preparedness and response.

Latest figures show that more than 2,100 lives have been lost to the haemorrhagic fever since August last year, with 57 new cases recorded in the week up to 19 September; although around 1,000 have recovered from the disease, with more than 3,150 cases overall.

UN News

Aid Group Says Vaccine ‘Rationing’ in Congo Hampering Ebola Fight

The World Health Organization is “rationing” Ebola vaccines in Democratic Republic of Congo, with access controls meaning too few people at risk are being protected in an outbreak of the deadly disease, the aid group MSF said Monday.

The medical charity Medicins Sans Frontiers (MSF) accused the WHO of using a rigid system of eligibility for vaccination, and said the restrictions are allowing the viral disease to resurge in communities previously thought to be protected.

“The WHO is rationing Ebola vaccines and hampering efforts to make them quickly available to all who are at risk of infection,” MSF said in a statement. “As a result, the outbreak keeps coming back to areas that have supposedly been covered by vaccination.”

Voice of America


Kenya, Somalia agree to normalise relations

Somalia and Kenya have agreed to normalise ties, following months of tension over a maritime border dispute.

In talks mediated by Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Kenyan and Somali heads of state agreed ‘to restore relations to previous status’ and ‘take diplomatic steps to build confidence between the two governments.

Kenya and Somalia have been at loggerheads over a maritime and territorial dispute, that is currently before the International Court of Justice, ICJ, in The Hague.

Since February this year, when Somalia accused Kenya of auctioning oil and gas fields in the disputed maritime area, relations between the two countries have gone cold.

Africa News

AU lauds Burundi troops for stabilization efforts in Somalia

The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has hailed Burundi troops for their stabilization efforts which have resulted in the opening of the main supply routes crucial for delivery of humanitarian aid to Somalis.

Tigabu Yilma, AMISOM force commander in a statement issued on Wednesday attributed the success in operations to the coordination between AMISOM, Somali security forces and the local people.

Yilma lauded the Burundi troops for their hard work in clearing main supply routes, training and mentoring Somali forces and cooperating with members of the community in civil-military activities in the areas they operate.

The AU mission said Yilma visited the troops from the Burundi National Defense Force (BNDF) in south-central town of Jowhar on Monday, where he assessed the progress made in executing AMISOM’s mandate.

News Ghana


UN Human Rights Office to be opened in Sudan

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet signed a deal with Sudan to open a UN Human Rights Office in Khartoum and field offices in Darfur, Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan and East Sudan.

“We have witnessed with admiration the persistence of the women, men and youth in Sudan in asserting their human rights. The road ahead promises to be full of challenges, but we are ready to assist to ensure human rights permeate the transition,” Bachelet was quoted as saying in a statement on Wednesday.

Bachelet said with this “milestone agreement”, the OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) will offer all its support to make Sudan’s transition a success for the human rights of all Sudanese people.

She added the Office seeks to support the transition particularly in four critical areas, such as combatting inequality, legal and institutional reform, transitional justice, and strengthening the opening of democratic and civic space.


Minister of Finance: sanctions against Sudan will not be lifted within a year

Minister of Finance Ibrahim El Badawi announced that it is not possible that the economic sanctions against Sudan will be lifted within a year. During a press briefing yesterday, he said that Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdouk will seek $ 2 billion in support from the World Bank.

Badawi stressed that the transitional government will launch a nine-month economic rescue plan, in order to stabilise the economy.

He pointed out that the economic measures of the government will include rationalisation of spending and addressing inflation. He also said that subsidies for bread and petrol will exist until June 2020. He announced wage increases and institutional reform in the second half of 2020.

Dabanga Sudan

South Sudan

Demands for Sanctions as Global Links to South Sudan War Exposed

The international community must do more to tackle networks of global corruption that are fueling violence in South Sudan, according to campaigners.

The call follows the publication of a report detailing how corporations have profited from the country’s civil war. The investigation by The Sentry organization — co-founded by actor George Clooney — shows the links among armed groups involved in the civil war, global oil giants, and British and American citizens.

May 2013 in Upper Nile State, South Sudan. Celebrations are staged to mark the reopening of the Palouge oil field. Government ministers pose alongside Chinese workers and executives from Dar Petroleum — as the oil pumps are switched on in the world’s youngest nation.

Voice of America

Government forces hand over captured child soldiers

Last week, nearly two dozen children were officially released by armed groups in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal region and handed over to the National Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration Commission (NDDRC).

“My heart is full of joy and my face is shining brighter than the moon,” said 17-year-old Ring Ring, one of the boys set for a return to civilian life.

The children had been captured during recent clashes between government and opposition forces in the region. They were imprisoned at military headquarters for five weeks without adequate healthcare and food.

“I was forcefully recruited in Abyei, near the South Sudanese border with Sudan,” said Ring, who was wearing a new t-shirt reading “children not soldiers” given to him by peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), who helped facilitate the hand-over in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners. “I was trained and later deployed to the front line, where I was captured.”

Relief Web

Western Sahara

Labour Party Conference gives unanimous support for Western Sahara

Thousands of Labour Party members erupted into spontaneous applause and cheering for an independent Western Sahara at Labour Party Conference today.

Addressing the Conference, Jdeiya Mohammed Salem spoke of the brutal Moroccan occupation of her country Western Sahara.  She also demanded the UK government use its role on the UN Security Council to set a date for a referendum on the independence of the territory, which is also Africa’s last colony.

Speaking on the main platform, Jdeiya Mohammed Salem said:

“People are raped torture and murdered as part of Morocco’s occupation of my homeland. We need your solidarity to protect human rights and to set a date for a referendum in Western Sahara.”

Sahara Press Service

Spain’s Pedro Sanchez Reiterates Support for UN-Led Process

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has reiterated his country’s firm position on Western Sahara. Spain views the United Nations as the only party with legitimate rights to help find an agreed upon political solution to the dispute over the conflict.

 During a speech at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York, Sanchez underlined his country’s stance on Western Sahara.

Maghreb Arab Press (MAP) reported today, September 25 that Sanchez defended the” centrality” of the UN to reach a “political, just, lasting and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara conflict.

Morocco World News

Africa in General

UN Warns Libya Moving Toward Full-Scale Civil War

The United Nations warns escalating violence and a deepening humanitarian crisis in Libya is pushing the country closer toward a return to the full-scale civil war that overthrew former dictator, Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The United Nations warns progress toward achieving a more stable, effective, and humane government has been shattered.  It says the military offensive of rebel leader General Khalifa Haftar on the Libyan capital, Tripoli, in April has brought the political process to a standstill.

Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore says she fears the chaos, the unbearable suffering of the civilian population, and widespread human rights violations in the country will continue unabated.

Voice of America