News Briefs 3 August 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo

DR Congo ethnic violence stopping refugee returns: UN

Violence and disease have displaced hundreds of thousands of people in the northeast Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the threat of new clashes is stopping civilians from going back to their homes, a United Nations official has warned.

Leila Zerrougui, head of MONUSCO, the UN peacekeeping force in the country, described on Wednesday “simultaneous emergency situations” including outbreaks of Ebola and measles, interethnic bloodshed and rampaging militias.

Zerrougui blasted “spoilers” in Ituri Province for “seeking to play on ethnic tensions” between Lendu farmers and Hema herders that have resulted in violent clashes and forced more than 350,000 people from their homes.


EU Ebola funding to the Democratic Republic of Congo increased

The EU has announced it will contribute an additional €30m in Ebola funding to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak in the region is the second deadliest in history, with more than 1,700 deaths to date. The €30m announced today will bring the total allocation of EU Ebola funding to the Democratic Republic of Congo since the outbreak began last year to €47m; with an additional humanitarian aid funding package worth €3.5m distributed to South Sudan and Uganda in June this year to support prevention and treatment of Ebola.

Ebola response teams operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo have encountered challenges in delivering aid and support due to wider factors affecting the volatile sociopolitical situation in the country, including extensive internal conflict and poor healthcare infrastructure. The new tranche of EU Ebola funding to the Democratic Republic of Congo is aimed at addressing immediate and urgent humanitarian needs in the crisis-hit region, with priorities.

Government Europa


At least 6 killed, mayor wounded in suicide bombing in Somalia’s capital

The mayor of the Somali capital of Mogadishu was wounded and at least six others killed in a suicide bomb attack Wednesday on a government building, the country’s information minister said.

The mayor, Abdirahman Omar Osman, was badly wounded in the blast, Somalia’s Minister of Information Mohamed Abdi Hayir told reporters. Among those killed were two district commissioners and three regional-level directors, he said. In addition to the mayor, five others also were wounded, Hayir said.

Terror group Al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying it targeted United Nations officials who were visiting the government building. CNN has not been able to independently confirm these claims.


UN chief condemns deadly Somalia attacks on offices visited earlier by UN envoy

Mr. Guterres extended his “deep condolences” to the victims’ families and loved ones, and reiterated the full support and solidarity of the UN with the people and Government of Somalia.

According to media reports, the attack was carried out by a female suicide bomber, and was claimed by terror group al-Shabab.

The mayor of Mogadishu, Abdirahman Omar Osman, was one of those injured in Wednesday’s attack. He is reported to be unconscious, and is due to be flown to Turkey for treatment.

The new UN special envoy to Somalia, James Swan, had met the mayor at the offices earlier in the day, to discuss progress and challenges in the capital and surrounding areas.

UN News

Central African Republic

New Court Should Step Up Effort

The Central African Republic’s Special Criminal Court should intensify investigations and urgently recruit additional staff to deliver justice for war crimes and other serious offenses, Human Rights Watch said today. The new court is operating in a tremendously difficult setting after years of brutal conflict and insecurity in the country and needs greater government and international support.

The Special Criminal Court (SCC) is a new court in the Central African Republic’s court system with the authority to try grave crimes committed during the country’s armed conflicts since 2005.

“Central Africans have waited so long to see justice for the many killings, rapes, and other atrocities committed in the Central African Republic,” said Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The Special Criminal Court holds promise but it’s had a slow start and needs to intensify investigations so trials can be initiated based on strong, compelling evidence.”

Human Rights Watch

Silence aggravates the wounds of sexual violence

Olga* describes what happened in a trembling voice: “Yesterday afternoon I left home to go and look for a bit of yucca [plant] in a field near the airport. On my way there, two men armed with machetes intercepted me and told me to sit down. One covered my eyes and the other began to undress me.”

That is how her story begins. It could be that of almost any of the thousands of people who suffer sexual assault in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). Last year, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) assisted 4,000 victims of sexual violence across the country. Our team at Bangui community hospital have treated more than 800 people in the first half of this year alone.

In CAR, as in many other countries, sexual violence is a taboo subject. In many cases of sexual assault, the victims are forbidden from talking about it due to the shame it will bring on their family. Some of the local languages don’t even have a specific word for rape.



Sudan’s journalist union says its head detained by military

A Sudanese editor who heads the country’s main journalist’s union has been detained, the union said.

The Sudanese Journalists’ Union called on the ruling Transitional Military Council to “immediately release” its head Sadiq al-Rizaigi, who is also editor of Al-Sayha newspaper, or that he be put on trial.

A senior journalist with Rizaigi’s newspaper told AFP news agency that security forces took him away from outside the newspaper’s offices.

“We do not know where he is being held or the reasons for his detention,” said Awad Jad Al-Sayid, news editor of Al-Sahya.


Sudan’s generals should be targeted with global sanctions

For years, Omar al-Bashir’s government in Sudan had the sole purpose of keeping the ruling party in power.

Its activities ranged from slowly dismantling the military that brought him into power and replacing it with militias, to allocating almost nothing from the national budget towards education.

The slightest perceived threat to power would immediately be quashed, regardless of the adverse effects it would have on civilians.

Other nations took advantage of the government’s paranoia, while civilians carried the brunt of the repercussions.

Mail& Guardian

South Sudan

African Union Official: South Sudan Must Do More to Protect Women From Violence

An African Union special envoy is urging South Sudan’s leaders to enact and enforce laws to end the pervasive problem of sexual violence in the country. AU special envoy on youth, Aya Chebbi, said authorities must involve men if South Sudan is going to end gender-based violence.

“Men should be doing all these initiatives to end gender-based violence. Why? Because these women are their mothers, their sisters, their daughters, they are not some women out there who are suffering and I don’t care about; these are their communities,” Chebbi told South Sudan in Focus.

During a five-day visit to South Sudan, she said the AU’s plan for ending gender-based violence focuses on eliminating all forms of violence, including genital mutilation and child marriage.  “So, I call on civil society to advocate for legal frameworks that protect women. For the communities, there is also resilience and community policing which means the community must protect itself,” Chebbi told VOA.

Voice of America

32 children released from opposition groups in South Sudan

Yesterday, 32 children were released from armed opposition groups in Leer county, in northern South Sudan. This is the first formal release in former Unity State, one of the areas hardest hit by the conflict. The children are all boys aged between 13 and 17. 

The children were formally separated from the armed group during a ceremony in Leer, witnessed by parents and community members. Some of the children have been used by the armed groups since the conflict flared up in 2016 and have not seen their parents since. 

“Using children in armed groups violates almost every child right that exists,” said UNICEF South Sudan representative Mohamed Ag Ayoya. “These children are deprived of a childhood and have seen things children should never experience. However, it is not too late to give them a future and that future started today.”


Western Sahara

NMLWS condemns Moroccan forces of occupation latest violations in occupied Western Sahara

The Nigerian Movement for the Liberation of Western Sahara (NMLWS) condemns “the bestial attacks on Saharawi civilians on 19th July 2019, in El Aiun –Western Sahara by Moroccan occupying forces,” in a press release signed by Dr. Dipo Fashina, and issued by the organization on Tuesday, of which SPS received a copy.

“The Saharawi people became victims of assault on humanity by Moroccan security forces comprising uniformed policemen, gendarmes, paramilitary and auxiliary forces,” the text reads, emphasizing that NMLWS “condemns the bestiality of all kinds unleashed on the Saharawi people by Morocco’s forces, occupiers of Saharawi territories.”

It further considered that these “Moroccan bestiality”, taking place in the presence of the United Nations Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), “is, and ought to be a matter of grave concern for all peoples in the world who cherish human freedom and dignity.”

Sahara Press Service

Morocco uses Army forces to quell Western Sahara protesters

Foreign Minister of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) Mohamed Salem Ould Salek on Tuesday strongly condemned Morocco’s escalation in the occupied Saharawi territories, especially the latest deadly events in occupied Aaiun, where Morocco “used Army forces to execute its heinous criminal plan,” leaving one young Saharawi girl killed and dozens wounded while 140 Saharawi people have been arrested.

Speaking at a press conference at the SADR embassy in Algiers, the Saharawi minister started by congratulating Algeria’s national football team for the African Cup of Nations (CAN 2019) title they have won in Egypt, before expressing his deep dismay at the abhorrent practices of the Moroccan authorities against Saharawi people who took to the street to celebrate the victory.

“Morocco chocked the joy out of the Saharawi peoples through repressive forces, tightening the noose around the neighborhoods, streets and alleys of the occupied towns,” Ould Salek regretted.

Sahara Press Service


Cosatu calls for South Africa to isolate Swaziland

Cosatu has accused King Mswati of abusing his power by exploiting the people of the Kingdom of eSwatini (Swaziland).

Swaziland is an absolute monarchy, meaning King Mswati wields absolute power and is not restricted by written laws nor does he have to answer to parliament.

What’s more, Cosatu accused the African Union and Southern African Development community of being a party to the abuse.

“We will not sit idle while the monarchy ill-treats its people. What makes this more sad is that both the African Union and SA Development Community are colluding with the regime and condoning this subjugation,” Cosatu in KwaZulu-Natal said in a statement.

“People of eSwatini deserve institutions that will represent their aspirations of freedom of choice and freedom of speech.”

The South African


Anti-corruption body detains Zimbabwe’s tourism minister

Zimbabwe’s tourism minister, Prisca Mupfumira, has been detained for questioning by a newly formed Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission it said on Thursday.

Mupfumira is the first senior government official to be detained by the commission, which was appointed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa on July 15 after he promised tough action against graft.

Transparency International says corruption costs Zimbabwe’s economy at least $1bn annually.

“We can confirm that the minister of tourism is currently in our custody for questioning and possible due processes,” the commission said in a brief statement. It did not give any details.

Business Day

Zimbabwe attaches great importance to economic diplomacy: FM

Zimbabwe is attaching great importance to economic diplomacy as it seeks to boost foreign direct investment and help revive the ailing economy, Foreign Affairs Minister Sibusiso Moyo said Monday.

He told a portfolio committee of parliament that the country’s ambassadors had been given economic targets to achieve for the country, including on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and tourism.

“We are saying whatever diplomatic forces we deploy outside the borders of this country; they must be focused on ensuring that firstly there is FDI which comes into the country,” said Moyo.


Africa in General

Botswana endorses Kenya’s bid for UN Security Council seat

Kenya’s bid for a seat on the UN Security council (UNSC) when a seat becomes vacant later in the year has received endorsement from Botswana.

Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi, during a visit to Nairobi, said his country would back Kenya on the basis of trust and in return Gabarone expected support from Nairobi in other international bids, the East African reported.

“Botswana will vote before Kenya votes itself in. This is out of a desire to further nourish our friendship because we trust you with your willingness to engage with our issues that need broad discussions at the United Nations,” he said during a briefing with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.


Federal forces take over security in protest-hit Ethiopian region

Ethiopian federal authorities temporarily took over security in a region where at least 17 people were killed in clashes between security forces and activists seeking a new autonomous enclave for the Sidama community, a broadcaster reported on Tuesday.

On Saturday, a local district official told Reuters that at least 13 people were killed in a town near Hawassa city, 275 km (170 miles) from the capital Addis Ababa, while hospital authorities said on Friday that four protesters had died of gunshot wounds in the city itself.

State-affiliated Fana Broadcasting said that the Federal Security Council had decided to put security in the Hawassa city administration and some districts of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ (SNNP) region under a temporary federal security force-led command post.


Beji Essebsi, Tunisia’s first democratically elected president, dies at 92

Beji Caid Essebsi, Tunisia’s first democratically elected president, died on Thursday at a military hospital in the capital Tunis, after being admitted the night before.

The 92-year-old took office almost five years ago.

Essebsi died at 10:25 am (0925 GMT) on Thursday, the presidency said in a statement.

Hours later, parliamentary Speaker Mohamed Ennaceur was sworn in as interim president. The 2014 constitution states that the parliament head can take office for a maximum period of 90 days.


Mozambique threatens Zimbabwe with sanctions

Mozambique has threatened Zimbabwe with sanctions, after repeatedly warning Harare against imposing trade sanctions on a variety of goods exported from Maputo including alcohol, according to a report in the Zimbabwe media.

Pindula News reported that Mozambique’s Minister of Trade and Commerce, Rajendra De Sousa allegedly told Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa that the ban could be met with retaliation.

During a business seminar in Maputo, De Sousa told Mozambican industrialists that Zimbabwe had placed bottlenecks for trade between the neighbours in clear violation of the SADC Free Trade Protocol agreement.

The minister said that he told Mnangagwa that Mozambique could also close its border with Zimbabwe for three days which would complicate life for Harare.

The Citizen