AROUND AFRICA: Nairobi Fire, C.A.R.’s “catastrophic” state, Zanzibar attack

August 8, 2013 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

Nairobi Airport Fire

Kenya (CIA World Factbook)

Kenya (CIA World Factbook)

Some international flights have resumed at Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport, which was severely damaged by a fire that raged out of control for several hours, the BBC reported Thursday (August 8).

The busiest airport in East Africa and the 6th busiest on the continent was hard hit by the early morning blaze Wednesday (August 7) which destroyed the terminal for international flights. There were no reported deaths or injuries.

Some responding fire trucks were reportedly caught in morning traffic jams and other trucks ran out of water, the BBC said.

However, there were embarrassing reports that foreign exchange bureaus at the airport were broken into and robbed — possibly by some emergency responders, who were criticized for a slow response to the inferno, the Los Angeles Times reported. ATMs and safes were also reported targets of looting.

By late in the day domestic and cargo flights were operating again and international flights were moved to a different part of the airport. The damage is expected to have a serious effect on Kenya’s economy which relies heavilly on tourism and the export of cut flowers – two industries heavilly reliant on air transportation, according to the New York Times.

The Nairobi airport is a regional hub serving more than 16,000 passengers daily and its closure caused widespread disruption.

The massive fire occurred on the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on U.S. Embassies in Kenya and neighboring Tanzania, which killed more than 200 people. Officials in Nairobi said there was no evidence of terrorist sabotage.

— — —

C.A.R.’s Woes

Central African Republic (CIA World Factbook)

Central African Republic
(CIA World Factbook)

Back in March, a rebel group known as the Seleka drove into Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic (C.A.R.), launching a wave of murder, theft, abduction and rape.

Now, even the prime minister, handpicked by the rebels, calls the landlocked country’s condition “catastrophic,” according to the New York Times.

The current unrest has set off alarms, the Times reports “with humanitarian groups warning of a looming disaster of widespread malnutrition and disease because the economy has shut down, aid has stopped, international aid workers have fled the countryside and violence outside the capital has prevented farmers from tending their crops.”

The C.A.R. has been ravaged by years of instability and fighting which picked up again in December when the rebels first launched a series of attacks. A peace agreement was reached in January but the rebels invaded the capital again in March.

Following a visit to the C.A.R., Ivan Simonovic, the United Nations Assistant Secretary General  for Human Rights, said “security is virtually non-existent and people live in constant fear,” according to the UN News Service (via AllAfrica).

Zanzibar Attack

Tanzania (CIA World Factbook)

Tanzania
(CIA World Factbook)

Two young British women who were doing volunteer work at a school on the island of Zanzibar were attacked with acid by men on a motorbike, Reuters reported.

The women, both 18, sustained burns to the face, chest and back and were taken off the island and transported to a hospital in Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. The island, part of an Indian Ocean archipelago that is a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania, has suffered a wave of deadly protests last year as supporters of an Islamist group repeatedly clashed with the police.

But police described the attack as “an isolated incident”, and refused to link it to rising religious tension between majority Muslims and Zanzibar’s Christian population.

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Entry filed under: Africa, National Security and Defense, News Developments. Tags: , , , .

FRIDAY FOTO (August 2, 2013) FRIDAY FOTO (August 9, 2013)

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