News Briefs 5 July 2019

Democratic Republic of Congo

UN more than doubles food aid to eastern DR Congo

The World Food Programme (WFP) on Wednesday said it was more than doubling aid in eastern DR Congo’s Ituri province, with the goal of reaching 300,000 people forced from their homes by weeks-long fighting.

“Our hearts go out to the latest victims of this senseless cruelty, most of them rural villagers who have had to run for their lives, with little or nothing, right at harvest time,” Claude Jibidar, the WFP’s representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo, said in a statement.

The WFP is already assisting 116,000 internally-displaced people in Ituri each month, providing them with food and small payments of cash to survive.

The agency said many of the newly-displaced were malnourished and had moved numerous times, many seeking safety in towns or in the bush.

New Vision

DR Congo army will remove 2,000 illegal miners from Glencore site

Illegal miners at a copper and cobalt mine run by Glencore in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) defied a deadline to vacate the site on Tuesday, a union official said, raising fears of a potentially violent standoff.

A landslide last Thursday at the Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) concession, majority-owned by a Glencore subsidiary and located in the southeastern part of the country, killed 43 people, prompting the government to vow to remove the miners.

The army’s inspector general, General John Numbi, told Reuters on Monday that an operation to clear the estimated 2,000 miners would begin on Tuesday.



Amisom’s limited resources to combat Al Shabaab in Somalia

The African Union force in Somalia believes it has managed to stabilise areas of the country under its control despite sporadic attacks from the Al Shabaab terrorist organisation. This is a transitional phase for both Amisom and the Somali National Army, as one force downsizes while the other is to increase its troops.

Amisom, the African Union Mission in Somalia, is progressively downgrading its troops ahead of a full withdrawal due in 2021. The Somali National Army is meanwhile attempting to reinforce its forces in order to control the Amisom territories when that deadline falls. This, however, is a delicate phase that Al Shabaab intends to exploit.

Amisom’s Brigadier General Michael Kabango is the commander of 5,000 Ugandan troops deployed in sector 1 which includes Mogadishu, Banaadir and the Lower Shebelle region. He sat down with RFI’s Sébastien Nemeth in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.


Somalia cuts diplomatic ties with Guinea over Somaliland

Somalia’s government announced it is cutting diplomatic ties with Guinea, accusing the West African country of violating its sovereignty.

The decision came after the president of the breakaway northern territory of Somaliland received a red-carpet welcome in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, earlier this week.

Somalia’s foreign minister Ahmed Awad announced the action against Guinea on Thursday in a press conference but declined to give further details. Awad said he sent warnings to other countries that were similarly violating Somalia’s sovereignty.

Washington Post

Central Africa Republic

Continued Conflict in Central African Republic is Creating Severe Food Insecurity

In the Central African Republic (CAR), a country in the heart of the African continent, rebel militias continue to run amok in an estimated 80% of the country. Arbitrary violence, torture, weaponized rape, and displacement have been daily occurrences for the citizens of the CAR, with as many as half a million Central Africans fleeing to neighbouring countries and 700,000 displaced internally. Now the ongoing conflict is creating a severe food shortage in the landlocked nation, according to reports from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) and the World Food Programme (WFP). In a report on the current and projected food situation in the CAR, the IPC estimates that 1.8 million people are in dire need of food. The report highlighted that the country is currently in the “lean” season, which lasts from from May until August, when food stocks are low before the new harvest, a reality which has been made significantly worse by the cumulative years of unrest and anarchy.

A spokesperson for the WFP, Herve Verhoosel, said that internally displaced peoples are entirely reliant on international assistance in order to receive basic food and nutrition. Attacks on aid workers and supply convoys coupled with unsound infrastructure and a general lack of security and stability all contribute to the burgeoning humanitarian crisis. Gian Carlo Cirri, the WFP Country Director, said that currently “we rely on armed escorts to bring in our food.” Speaking specifically of the conditions for children in the CAR, Caryl Stern of UNICEF USA explained that “this is the most dangerous place in the world for children. [It is] the most dangerous [because] the conflict and the violence here prevent supplies from getting through. There is an alarming rate of malnutrition in the country as a result,” adding that as many as two in every three children need humanitarian aid.

The Organisation for World Peace

Central African Republic to receive €18 million from EU for humanitarian crisis

The EU announced €18.85 million in humanitarian assistance for the Central African Republic for 2019. This additional support brings EU humanitarian assistance in the country to more than €135 million since 2014.

Despite the new peace agreement signed in February, people continue to be affected by violence. The funding aims at helping conflict-affected people, preventing violence, tackling the food and nutrition crisis and supporting the delivery of aid.

Attacks against civilians led to mass displacements and breaking of their means of subsistence, mainly agriculture. Almost two thirds of the population have no access to health care, while access to basic social services depends largely on humanitarian actors.

New Europe


Sudan Power-Sharing Deal Reached by Military and Civilian Leaders

Sudan’s military and civilian leaders announced on Friday that they had reached an agreement to share power until elections, promising an end to the standoff that has paralyzed the African country since the ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April.

The two sides, which resumed talks this week after a monthlong hiatus that included a bloody crackdown by the military, have agreed to form a joint military-civilian authority to run Sudan during an interim period of just over three years, a senior protest leader said.

Power will rotate between military and civilian leaders during the transitional period, a mediator from the African Union, Mohamed Hassan Lebatt, told a news conference in Khartoum. Then, elections are to be held and the military is to return to its barracks, ushering in democratic rule.

New York Times

Sudanese refugees in South Sudan yearning for home

Khamis Abdallah doesn’t make eye contact when he speaks, nor does his voice rise above a whisper. Two years ago, his older brother was hacked to death with a machete when fighting erupted in Abdallah’s hometown in Sudan’s Blue Nile state.

Visibly traumatised, the 25-year-old now lives in the squalid Kaya Refugee Camp across the border in South Sudan, longing for the day he can return home.

“Life is very hard here,” he said hanging his head.

More than 147,000 Sudanese refugees, mostly from the marginalised Blue Nile region, shelter in four camps in South Sudan’s northern town of Maban.


UN: Civilians brutally targeted in South Sudan violence

The United Nations has said that conflict had intensified in a region of South Sudan since a peace deal was signed last year, with hundreds of civilians raped or murdered by warring factions.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) on Wednesday said civilians had been “deliberately and brutally targeted” in the Central Equatoria region since the agreement was inked in September.

In its latest human rights report, UNMISS has documented 95 separate incidents of violations and abuses in the period from September 2018 to April 2019.

At least 104 people have been killed in 30 attacks on villages in the southern region, it said.


South Sudan on High Alert for Ebola Virus

South Sudan’s health officials are ramping up efforts to prevent the deadly Ebola virus from entering the country following a confirmed case some 70 kilometers from the border, in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr. Pinyi Nyimol, South Sudan’s director general for disease control and emergency response services, said the health ministry has sent seven personnel to the Yei River state, which borders Congo.  “The aim is to strengthen the surveillance and preparedness for Ebola,” Nyimol told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus.

“We are more worried because it is coming nearer because people are moving, so anybody, a contact can cross to South Sudan and the only thing we can do is to enhance our surveillance and screening and also to alert our health care workers about this and anybody coming, they have to start with traveling history and ask whether this person has been in DRC or not,” Nyimol said.

Voice of America

Western Sahara

Conference in Geneva On Sahrawi People Rights Abuse

The UN Human Rights Council hosted Wednesday a conference on the Moroccan occupation attacks on the economic, social and cultural rights in Western Sahara and the negative role of some European countries, which hinders the settlement of the conflict, contribute directly to perpetuate the sufferings of the Sahrawi people.

The said conference organized by the Geneva Support Group for Western Sahara, saw the participation of the Sahrawi Minister Delegate for Europe, Mohamed Sidati, as well as the City Council of Vitoria and the ambassadors of the countries, friends with the Sahrawi people and Sahrawi human rights activists.

During this meeting, coinciding with the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, participants discussed the retaliation policy conducted by the Moroccan occupation in the occupied Sahrawi territories, stressing that this policy “spares none of the fundamental rights of the Sahrawi people,” guaranteed by international law and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Support for Morocco’s Western Sahara Autonomy Proposal Reiterated at UNHRC

At a Tuesday meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, support for Morocco’s Western Sahara Autonomy proposal, an initiative first proposed in 2006, was reiterated in a joint statement of Middle Eastern and African countries.

The proposal is Morocco’s hoped-for solution to the Western Sahara conflict and would grant autonomy to the region, though it would remain under Moroccan sovereignty and Morocco would control defense and foreign affairs.

Western Sahara is a sparsely-populated area of mostly desert, situated on the northwest coast of Africa. It was a Spanish colony before it was annexed by Morocco in 1975. Since then, it has been a disputed territory, mostly situated on the northwest coast of Africa, between Morocco and its indigenous Sahrawi inhabitants, who are led by the Polisario Front. Both Polisario and Morocco have sought international recognition as sovereigns of the region. The Polisario are largely supported by Algeria while Morocco is backed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia and France.



One in Five of Swaziland’s Rural Population Need Urgent Humanitarian Assistance Against Hunger

More than 200,000 people in Swaziland / eSwatini which is one in five of the rural population are experiencing severe food shortages and require urgent humanitarian assistance, a report published on Tuesday (2 July 2019) stated.

And, hunger has got worse since last year. There are about 157,000 people in a ‘crisis situation’ and another 47,000 in an ’emergency situation’.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) snapshot for the period up to March 2020 stated, ‘In comparison with last year, the situation has deteriorated.’ It added, ‘This deterioration can be attributed to the anticipated drought, which led to farmers choosing not to plant their fields, reducing casual labour opportunities and food availability, with one-fifth of households depleting their assets or engaging in crisis or emergency coping strategies to mitigate moderate to large food gaps.



Zimbabwe president says the country needs to import 800,000 tonnes of maize

Zimbabwe needs to import 800,000 tonnes of maize following a drought that reduced the harvest by more than half, President Emmerson Mnangagwa said on Wednesday, adding that no one in the country would go hungry.

A United Nations agency has said up to 5 million Zimbabweans, a third of the population, would need food aid this year following the El Nino-induced drought.

“Overall, we need to import around 800,000 tonnes because our principle is that no one should die of hunger,” Mnangagwa was quoted as saying by state-owned The Herald newspaper.

Citizen TV

Former British PM Tony Blair ‘keen to meet Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa’

According to Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is keen to meet with him.

Mnangagwa made the assertion at Kigali International Airport after attending the Rwanda Liberation Celebration Day at Amahoro National Stadium on Thursday, Pindula News reported on Friday.

Blair, who is currently an advisor to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, was reported to have said that he wanted to meet the Zimbabwean leader in Kigali.

Mnangagwa said he had no objection to the meeting but that the former British premier had failed to arrive on time before the Zimbabwe delegation was due to leave Rwanda to return home, so the meeting never took place.


Africa in General

Fresh protests over disputed elections in Malawi

Thousands of people gathered in the Malawian capital Lilongwe on Thursday to demonstrate against the re-election of President Peter Mutharika, which protestors say was due to fraud.

About 3 500 marchers headed towards parliament where a two-day vigil is planned against the result of the May 21 presidential vote.

Many shops were closed and police were heavily deployed, AFP journalists saw.

In Blantyre, the financial capital, protesters said they had been attacked and forced to disperse by people wearing T-shirts showing support for the ruling Progressive Democratic Party (DPP).


Ethiopia faces more conflict with ethnic group’s push for region

Ethiopia’s destabilizing regional frictions may worsen this month if the small Sidama ethnic group carries out a threat to unilaterally declare a new semi-autonomous region in defiance of the federal government, a global think-tank said on Thursday.

The Sidama, who make up about 5 percent of Ethiopia’s 105 million people and are the largest of more than half a dozen ethnic groups in the Southern Nations region, say they will declare their own region on July 18 unless granted a referendum.

Ethiopia already has nine regional states, mainly along ethnic lines, with considerable autonomy which the Sidama also want.


Dozens of African migrants die off Tunisian coast after boat capsizes

One of four African survivors rescued by the Tunisian coast guard, after dozens of others perished when their boat capsized off the Tunisian coast as they were trying to reach Europe, has died in hospital.

The boat sank off the town of Zarzis on Wednesday after the group set out from Zuwara in Libya, the Red Crescent and government sources confirmed on Thursday.

At least 65 migrants heading for Europe from Libya drowned in May when their boat capsized off Tunisia.

African refugees hoping to reach Europe use Libya’s west coast as a main point of departure. Many of the unseaworthy boats they travel in, run by human traffickers, have overturned at sea leading to hundreds of deaths.