News Briefs 29 November 2019


Zimbabwe facing ‘man-made’ starvation, UN expert warns

Zimbabwe is facing “man-made” starvation with 60% of the people failing to meet basic food needs, a UN special envoy said Thursday after touring the southern African country.

Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, ranked Zimbabwe among the four top countries facing severe food shortages outside nations in conflict zones.

“The people of Zimbabwe are slowly getting to a point of suffering a man-made starvation,” she told a news conference in Harare, adding that eight million people would be affected by the end of the year.


Zimbabwe President U-Turns on Scrapping Grain Subsidies – State Media

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government will scrap its plan to remove grain subsidies next year, a move it says will protect impoverished citizens from rising food prices, state media reported on Thursday.

The country is experiencing its worst economic crisis in a decade, marked by soaring inflation and shortages of food, fuel, medicines and electricity.

Half of Zimbabwe’s population needs food aid after a devastating drought across the southern Africa region, worsened by an economy expected to shrink by 6.5% this year and month-on-month inflation at a four-month high of 38.75%.


Zimbabwe Govt Gives Almost 450 Fired Doctors 48 Hours to Unconditionally Return to Work

The Zimbabwean government has given about 450 fired junior doctors two days to report to work without facing any further disciplinary action, according to the state-controlled Herald newspaper.

The newspaper quoted President Emmerson Mnangagwa as saying the fired doctors, who have been on strike for more than three months demanding a salary raise and improved working conditions, would re-join the civil service with no questions asked.

Mnangagwa made the remarks Thursday soon after holding a meeting with Catholic bishops at State House in Harare.

Voice of America


Swaziland Editor Writes Absolute Monarch Is ‘Unhinged’ and ‘A Narcissist’ and Has Assumed ‘Godly Status’

Bheki Makhubu, a magazine editor in Swaziland (eSwatini), has written that absolute monarch King Mswati III is ‘unhinged’. He also called the king ‘a first-class narcissist who no longer identifies with his people’.

Makhubu made his comments in the November 2019 edition of the Nation, a magazine that supports democracy in the kingdom.

Makhubu gained international attention in 2014 when he and writer and human rights lawyer Thulani Maseko were sentenced to two years in jail after writing and publishing articles in the Nation that were critical of the Swazi judiciary.


Five Starve to Death in Swaziland As Drought and Maize Restrictions Bite

Five elderly women in the Nsalitje area of Swaziland (eSwatini) have starved to death and many more are said to be quietly being killed by hunger.

An ongoing draught and restrictions on importing cheap mealie maize from neighbouring South Africa are being blamed.

One resident told the Times of eSwatini, ‘We are dying silently here while the government is only concerned with protecting local produce, but not the lives of people who can’t afford local prices of mealie meal. People are dying and others are flocking the local clinics with ailments associated with hunger.’


Democratic Republic of Congo

Is DR Congo on the brink?

Residents of the north-eastern city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo woke up on Monday to yet another massacre by rebels.

Angered by the failure of security forces to stop the attack that killed eight people, they quickly stormed the headquarters of the UN peacekeeping mission in DRC – MONUSCO – to protest their “failure to act”.

The protest snowballed into a deadly confrontation, first with government forces who tried to disperse them and later with UN forces who tried to prevent irate demonstrators from breaking into the facility, which they attacked and damaged.


Dead and injured following attacks on Ebola responders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Two attacks in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have killed 4 workers responding to the Ebola outbreak and injured 5 others.

The attacks occurred overnight on a shared living camp in Biakato Mines and an Ebola response coordination office in Mangina.

“We are heartbroken that people have died in the line of duty as they worked to save others,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director-General. “The world has lost brave professionals.”

The dead include a member of a vaccination team, two drivers and a police officer. No WHO staff are among those killed, one staff member was injured.


Central African Republic

Central African Republic: Council agrees on a future CSDP mission to support security sector reform

The Council adopted a crisis management concept for a new civilian CSDP Advisory Mission in the Central African Republic (EUAM RCA).

The mission will support the reform of the internal security forces to enable the CAR authorities to mitigate the current security challenges in the country. EU experts will support the Ministry of the Interior and the internal security forces, the police and the gendarmerie, with the aim of helping in their deployment throughout the country.

The mission will provide advice to the CAR authorities at the strategic level to support the sustainable transformation of CAR internal security forces into a coherent and accountable security provider operating under national ownership. The mission will coordinate closely with the military EU Training Mission (EUTM RCA), the UN MINUSCA mission and the international community.

EU Council

UN extends peacekeepers in Central African Republic

The U.N. Security Council has voted unanimously to extend the U.N. peacekeeping force in Central African Republic for a year, with a mandate to protect civilians, support peace efforts and assist in preparing for elections starting in 2020.

The French-drafted resolution adopted Friday welcomes the Feb. 6 peace agreement signed by the government and 14 armed groups. But it condemns “in the strongest terms” violations and violence perpetrated by some armed groups and militias throughout the country.

The resolution also condemns “incitement to ethnic and religious hatred and violence, violations of international humanitarian law and human rights violations and abuses, including those committed against children and those involving sexual and gender-based violence in conflict.”

New York Times


Extending UN arms ban hinders war on terror

A Somali senior official warned that a UN Security Council resolution earlier this month to extend an arms embargo on the country would prolong the survival of terrorist organizations in the Horn of Africa region.

The extension of arms embargo on Mogadishu would support the two terrorist organizations of al-Shabaab and Daesh/ISIS in Somalia and “undermine the war against them [terrorists],” despite governmental and African efforts to defeat them, National Security Adviser Abdisaid Mohamed Ali told Anadolu Agency.

On Nov. 15, the UN Security Council passed a resolution extending more than a decade-long arms embargo on Somalia by one year, saying the move was aimed at preventing al-Shabaab from acquiring arms, chemicals and bomb-making components.


UNHCR welcomes Somalia’s ratification of the Kampala Convention

Somalia’s ratification of a key convention to protect internally displaced people in Africa is a landmark achievement for the country and the African continent, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said today.

The African Union (AU) Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Africa, known as the Kampala Convention, was signed on 26 November 2019 by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, “Farmaajo”, after being passed with a near-unanimous vote by parliament last week. Somalia is the 30th African Union Member State to ratify the convention since 2009.

“The ratification of the Kampala Convention cements the Government’s commitment to the millions of highly vulnerable internally displaced people living in Somalia, and to finding solutions for the issue of displacement,” said UNHCR Somalia Representative, Johann Siffointe. “Today, Somalia serves as a regional model for others to follow, and UNHCR is eager to continue supporting the government in implementing its treaty obligations.”



Sudan: Decision to repeal public order laws a step forward for women’s rights

Reacting to the Sudanese government’s decision to repeal the public order laws, which governed among other things, women’s presence in public spaces, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, Seif Magango, said:

“This is a big step forward for women’s rights in Sudan. The repeal of the public order laws was long overdue. Many women were arbitrarily arrested, beaten and deprived of their rights to freedom of association and expression under this discriminatory law.

“The transitional government must now ensure that the entire oppressive public order regime is abolished. This includes repealing the articles dictating women’s dress code that are still in the criminal law, disbanding the public order police and the dedicated courts, and abolishing flogging as a form of punishment.

Amnesty International

Sudan approves new law ‘dismantling’ Omar al-Bashir’s regime

Sudan’s transitional authorities approved a law late on Thursday to “dismantle” the regime of former President Omar al-Bashir, including the dissolution of his political party and confiscation of all its properties – in response to a key demand of protesters that helped overthrow his government in April.

The law was passed during a joint meeting of Sudan’s sovereign council and cabinet that lasted several hours, during which the body also scrapped a law regulating women’s dress and behaviour.

The Sudanese Professionals Association (SPA), which spearheaded the protests against al-Bashir, welcomed the law, saying it was “an important step on the path to building a democratic civilian state.”


South Sudan

South Sudan: Free Arbitrarily Detained Journalist

South Sudanese authorities should immediately release a journalist who has been arbitrarily detained, Human Rights Watch said today.

The National Security Service (NSS) arrested and detained Emmanuel Monychol Akop, the managing editor of The Dawn newspaper after he answered a summons on October 21, 2019 to appear at the security service headquarters in Jebel neighborhood of Juba. Credible sources told Human Rights Watch that Monychol’s arrest appears to be linked to an October 15 Facebook post in which he poked fun at the dress worn by the foreign affairs and international cooperation minister, Awut Deng Achuil.

“Emmanuel Monychol’s detention is just the latest act of harassment by South Sudanese authorities in response to criticism or perceived dissent,” said Mausi Segun, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities should immediately release him unless he has been charged with a recognizable offense.”

Human Rights Watch

South Sudan Criticizes US Recall of Ambassador

The South Sudanese government said Wednesday that it was disappointed with the State Department’s decision to recall the U.S. ambassador to the country.

Ambassador Thomas Hushek was recalled Monday in what was widely viewed as a signal of Washington’s displeasure over South Sudan’s failure to meet an extended deadline for forming a unity government, a critical component of a peace deal aimed at ending a bloody five-year civil war in the eight-year-old nation.

South Sudan Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Mawien Makol called the U.S. diplomatic move “a double standard,” adding that South Sudan’s president and opposition party had agreed that “outstanding issues

[in the peace process]

have to be given time.”

Voice of America

Western Sahara

Spain warns of possible terror attack at Sahara camp

Spanish authorities have issued a warning of the serious possibility of a terror attack against Spanish citizens visiting or working in the Saharawi refugee camps in the Western Sahara.

Defense Minister Margarita Robles told Cadena Ser radio Thursday that foreign intelligence services operating in the area have conveyed to Spain that the threat is “real” and “imminent,” and the government is advising people against traveling to the zone.

Dozens of Spaniards work in the camps situated in southwestern Algeria, while many others travel each year to visit Saharawi families and friends.


Saharawi Republic Criticises Spanish Government’s Attempts to Distort the Reputation of the Saharawi Refugee Camps

The Ministry of Information of the Saharawi Republic, issued an official communiqué on Thursday, criticising the irrelevant Spanish government’s warning to its citizens not to visit the Saharawi refugee camps because of a so-called raise in terrorism in the Republic of Mali, knowing that the camps are situated in Algeria.

The Saharawi government considered the Spanish statement to be suspicious especially that it was issued by the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately after a meeting between the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and his Moroccan counterpart.