Posts tagged ‘Uganda’

AROUND AFRICA: Ethiopia-Tigray Conflict; Into Somalia; Savage Attack in DRC

EAST AFRICA

Ethiopia-Tigray War

A convoy of food and other supplies arrived safely in the capital of Ethiopia’s war-torn region of Tigray on Friday (April 1). It was the first aid to arrive in Mekelle since December, the United Nations said.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) said that more trucks and fuel would follow on Saturday morning (April 2) – a week after a humanitarian truce was agreed between the government and Tigrayan forces.

War broke out in the Tigray region in November 2020, pitting Ethiopia’s government and its allies against rebellious Tigrayan forces loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The TPLF is the political party that controls the Tigray region.

Last week, the federal government declared an immediate, unilateral truce to allow aid into Tigray. Tigrayan forces said they would respect the ceasefire as long as sufficient aid was delivered “within reasonable time”, Reuters reported.

It is unclear how much more aid might follow or how quickly. More than 90% of the 5.5 million people in the northern province of Tigray need food aid, according to the United Nations.

Around 100 trucks of aid per day need to enter to meet the population’s needs. No trucks have been able to enter since Dec. 15, due to a combination of bureaucratic problems and fighting.

WFP Ethiopia said another convoy with more than a thousand metric tons of food would be soon sent to the neighboring region of northern Afar “to communities in dire need”.

This week roads to Tigray from the Afar region had remained closed despite the ceasefire – with the warring parties trading accusations over who was to blame, according to the BBC.

Earlier a senior official of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front welcomed the truce as “a step in the right direction” but said there should be “a system in place to ensure unfettered humanitarian access for the needy.” The government has said it is committed to helping the safe passage of aid.

Malnutrition and food insecurity are rampant in northern Ethiopia, where an estimated 9 million people across the Tigray, Amhara and Afar regions need critical food assistance due to conflict, WFP says.

*** *** ***

Fighting al Shabab from Afar.

More than 13 months after President Donald Trump decided to pull U.S. troops out of Somalia, the head of U.S. Africa Command says the strategy is not working.

Previously, about 700 U.S. troops rotated in and out of Somalia, to train the east African nation’s and help with their operations against al-Shabab, the largest and most well-funded wing of al Qaeda. But now, says Army General Stephen Townsend, AFRICOM troops based in Kenya and Djibouti are only making visits to Somalia, Military Times reported.

Townsend said he believes periodic engagement, “commuting to work,” as some have called it, has caused new challenges and risks for the troops. The AFRICOM chief told a March 15 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that by his assessment the change “is not effective, it’s not efficient, and it puts our troops at greater risk.”

The issue is that though the Trump administration pulled troops out of the country, there was no change to the mission in Somalia, where the U.S. supports that government’s efforts to fight al-Shabab. Though U.S.-led strikes have continued, it’s a harder mission to do when it’s mostly remote, according to Military Times.

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WEST AFRICA

Bloody Attack in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Fourteen people, including seven children, were killed with machetes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the Red Cross, Al Jazeera reports.

The attack took place in a displaced people’s camp in the country’s northwestern Ituri province on March 19, the humanitarian aid group reported.

Jean D’Zba Banju, a community leader in Ituri’s Djugu area, said the attacks belonged to the CODECO armed group, which has been blamed for a string of ethnic massacres in the area.

“CODECO militiamen entered Drakpa and started to cut people with machetes. They did not fire shots in order to operate calmly,” Banju told the news agency AFP March 20. “The victims are displaced people who had fled Ngotshi village to set up in Drakpa,” he said, adding that five others were wounded.

Gold-rich Ituri province has been plunged into a cycle of violence since late 2017 with the rise of CODECO, which has since split into rival factions. The group is a political-religious sect that claims to represent the interests of the Lendu ethnic group.

Ituri and neighboring North Kivu have been under a state of siege since May 6, in an effort to combat armed groups including CODECO and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). The ISIL (ISIS) armed group describes the ADF as its local affiliate.

Despite the crackdown, and support from the Ugandan military since late November, attacks have continued and more than 1,000 civilians have been killed from May 2021 to January this year, figures according to the Danish Refugee Council.

April 1, 2022 at 11:55 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Lord’s Resistance Army, Arms Treaty, Ebola Toll, Algeria Attack, Elections

FLASH POINTS

LRA Commander Capture.

Central African Republic (CIA World Factbook)

Central African Republic
(CIA World Factbook)

Uganda’s military says troops have captured a top commander of murderous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and freed 10 captives held by the notorious rebel group.

A military spokesman said African troops hunting the LRA in the Central African Republic captured Charles Okello, according to the Voice of America website. Most of those recued were children, the spokesman said.

The LRA started out as a guerrilla group in Uganda in the 1980s but morphed into a renegade band that has roamed Central Africa from South Sudan to the Democratic Republic of Congo, sacking villages, robbing and killing adults and seizing children to be sex slaves and child soldiers. The LRA’s leader, Joseph Kony, has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the Netherlands for war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 2011, President Barack Obama sent about 100 U.S. special operations forces to advise the military and neighboring countries how to track and capture Kony.

In March, support aircraft and about 150 Air Force personnel were sent to Djibouti to help in the Kony search and capture mission.

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Arms Trade Treaty

With violent conflicts boiling up South Sudan, the Central African Republic and across North Africa, it’s timely to take a look at the effect the international Arms Trade Treaty could have on security issues in Africa. The Center for Strategic and International  Studies in Washington will be holding a panel discussion Wednesday (April 23) on the treaty’s potential impact on conflict.

Last year, the United States signed the ATT, a multilateral agreement to regulate international trade in conventional weapons. Nearly 120 countries have signed the treaty and 31 government have ratified the pact — which has not entered into force yet.

The potential for the treaty to reduce illicit trade could help improve security in areas that need it most — particularly in regions of conflict like Africa, the CSIS said. Speakers at today’s event include: Thomas Countryman, the State Department’s assistant secretary at the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation; Raymond Gilpin, dean of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University; and Jennifer Cooke, director of the CSIS Africa Program.

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Ebola Death Toll

The current outbreak of Ebola virus in West Africa has killed more than 140 people, the World Health Organization.

In a statement Tuesday (April 22), the United Nations health agency said at least 230 suspected or confirmed case of Ebola have been reported in so far in Guinea and Liberia, the Associated Press reported. According to the WHO, there have been 129 deaths in Guinea and 13 in neighboring Liberia that were linked to the disease.

Ebola causes a high fever and external hemorrhaging. There is no cure no vaccine for the disease which has a very high mortality rate.

 *** *** ***

Algerian Troops Killed

Algeria (CIA World Factbook)

Algeria
(CIA World Factbook)

At least 14 Algerian soldiers were killed over the weekend (April 19) when their convoy was ambushed in the mountains east of the capital city, Algiers.

The soldiers were attacked Saturday night in the Tizi Ouzou region, 75 miles east of Algiers. Government officials blamed members of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), an affiliate of the radical Islamist terrorist group, al Qaeda, Reuters reported.

The soldiers were attacked as they were returning from a security deployment for last week’s presidential election[SEE Story Below],  the Algerian Defense Ministry said in a statement. Three militants from AQIM, were also killed in the gunfight.

 

 

ELECTIONS

Algeria

As expected, President Abdelaziz Boutefilka was elected to a fourth term with more than 81 percent of the vote. However, opposition leaders – who boycotted the election – accused Bouteflika and his supporters of widespread voter fraud, the New York Times reported.

The strongest challenger, former Prime Minister Ali Benflis only got 12 percent of the vote. Despite a stroke last year, that has put him in a wheelchair, Bouteflika has kept a strong grip on power, ignoring democratic changes prompted by the Arab Spring uprisings in other parts of North Africa.

Mauritania

Mauritania plans to hold its next presidential election in June.

President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz has not yet announced his candidacy, but his party has asked him to run again, the Associated Press reported. Aziz came to power in a 2008 coup, ousting the West African country’s first democratically elected leader. But he has become a key ally of the West in the fight against terrorism in the Sahara.

The president’s office said elections will be held June 21, with a second round of voting July 5 — if needed.

Nigeria

Nigeria’s elections aren’t until next February, but the Islamist radicals’ campaign of violence has rocked President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration and has politicians bickering as never before, according to the Associated Press.

Attacks on a girl’s school in the north and a bombing at a bus station in the capital have shaken the military’s claims that the insurgents’ war-fighting ability was on the wane.

The country’s two main political parties have each accused the other of supporting the Islamic insurgency for ulterior motives. Some politicians from the predominantly Muslim north say that keeping the insurgency going is a way to weaken the north before the elections. While other politicians accuse some members of the military of keeping the strife going — by colluding with the extremist group Boko Haram — so they can profit financially from the five-year conflict.

Before he dismissed the entire military command in January, Jonathan said he believed there were Boko Haram sympathizers and supporters among his cabinet members and high-ranking military.

Meanwhile, Jonathan will chair a meeting of the National Security Council Thursday (April 24) in Abuja, that will include Nigeria’s 36 state governors and military service chiefs, according to the news site ThisDay Live.

 

 

April 22, 2014 at 11:59 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Hunting Kony, Ebola Outbreak, Pirate Activity

Hunt for a Warlord

The Obama administration is sending military aircraft and support personnel to assist the efforts of African Union troops to hunt down renegade warlord Joseph Kony and his vicious rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

CV-22 Ospreys liked these in Bamako, Mali  in 2008, will be aiding the hunt for Josph Kony and the Lord's Resistance Army.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Bryan Purtell)

CV-22 Ospreys liked these in Bamako, Mali in 2008, will be aiding the hunt for Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army.
(U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Bryan Purtell)

At a press briefing Monday (March 24) the Pentagon’s press secretary confirmed the Defense Department was deploying four CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, as well as two C-130 Hercules transport planes and a KC-135 aerial refueling tanker to northern Uganda to aid the counter-LRA effort and “specifically to support the air transport requirements of the African Union Regional Task Force.”

The spokesman, Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby, said the aircraft along with 150 aircrew and support personnel will be conducting periodic deployments to Uganda to support the counter-LRA effort.  All the aircraft and personnel are based in the East African nation of Djibouti, home to the only fixed U.S. military base in Africa.

They join about 100 U.S. Special Operations troops that have been posted in Central Africa since October 2011 to advise African militaries pursuing senior LRA commanders and protecting civilians. The aircraft deployment was first reported by the Washington Post.

Kony, who is being sought by the United Nations on human rights violation charges, has been leading the LRA on a rampage of pillage, rape, murder and kidnapping across Central Africa for decades, according to the U.S. State Department. U.S. strategy in the area has been to help the governments of Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) and South Sudan as well as the African Union and the United Nations  “end the threat posed to civilians and regional stability by the LRA.” In addition to military advisers and air transportation, since 2010, the United States has provided $87.2 million to support food assistance, humanitarian protection and other relied activities in areas affected by the LRA.

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Ebola Outbreak

Guinea's location in Africa (CIA World Factbook)

Guinea’s location in Africa
(CIA World Factbook)

The death toll in Guinea from a rare Ebola virus outbreak has risen to 63, according to health officials in the West African nation. International aid workers have set up quarantine centers in the country’s south to isolate patients with the deadly and highly infectious disease, the Associated Press reported.

United Nations agencies and medical charities such as Doctors Without Borders are scrambling to help Guinea – one of the world’s poorest countries – to cope with the virus, amid fears that it could spill over borders into neighboring countries, according to Reuters. Five deaths from the suspected infection were reported in Liberia, which borders southeastern Guinea. And in neighboring Sierra Leone officials said two deaths are suspected to be linked to Ebola.

Guinea and its neighbors (CIA World Factbook)

Guinea and its neighbors
(CIA World Factbook)

Ebola is one of a handful of diseases so deadly and contagious that they pose a risk to national security, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bloomberg reported. The CDC lists Ebola as a Category A bioterrorism agent, along with anthrax and smallpox. The virus identified as the one causing the Guinea outbreak is known as the Zaire strain, the most common and the most deadly variety.

There is no known cure or vaccine for the hemorrhagic fever which is spread by close personal contact with people who are infected. The disease killed between 25 and 90 percent of its victims. Symptoms include internal and external bleeding, diarrhea and vomiting, according to the BBC.

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Pirate Activities Shifting

While pirate activities have dwindled off the Horn of Africa there are concerns about an increase in illegal activity in the waters of West Africa.

In its latest ‘Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly Report,” the Office of Naval Intelligence OPINTEL report lists two kidnappings from tugboats off the coast of Nigeria, but zero incidents off the Horn of Africa, according to MarineLink.com

Gulf of Guinea via Wikipedia

Gulf of Guinea via Wikipedia

But officials in Ghana are becoming increasingly concerned about piracy off their coast. At a three-day conference on coastal and maritime surveillance in Accra last week, a Ghana Navy official said that while Ghana’s waters were spared pirate activities, there were 50 incidents of ship hijackings in West African waters in 2013.

Captain Issah Yakubu, the director of Naval Administration, said the incidents included ships being taken hostage, their cargo stolen, the crew molested, sometimes even killed. “Fortunately we (Ghana) haven’t suffered any of these insecurities, but then we are not complacent,” he told the Ghana website myjoyonline.com.

Yakubu said security chiefs in the countries around the Gulf of Guinea are also concerned about drug trafficking, citing a recent seizure of a ship carrying 400 kilograms of cocaine from South America to Ghana’s waters, the website noted.

 

 

 

March 26, 2014 at 8:48 pm 1 comment

AROUND AFRICA Update: Sectarian Violence in C.A.R., Nigeria; Piracy Report; Uganda’s Oil,

FLASHPOINTS

Updates with new information about EU contingent, planning, proposed use of surveillance drones.

Christian Vs. Muslim CAR

Central African Republic (CIA World Factbook)

Central African Republic
(CIA World Factbook)

France is sending 400 more troops to former colony Central African Republic (CAR) as a wave of sectarian violence sweeps across the Texas-sized country.

The first task of European Union troops, who are also being committed to peacekeeping in the CAR, will be to create a safe haven area in the capital city, Bangui, the commander said Monday (February 17), Reuters reported.

Major General Philippe Ponties told a Brussels news conference that the EU force also plans to use surveillance drones in the CAR — provided EU governments are prepared to supply them. In previous  United Nations peacekeeping missions to Africa, Irish and Belgian troops have used unmanned reconnaissance aircraft. The U.N. last year authorized the purchase of two unmanned air vehicles for deployment with peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The surge in French troops will boost their number to about 2,000, according to the Voice of America. There are also about 5,000 troops from various nations belonging to the African Union. The United States has provided airlift support to bring some of those forces into the country. Last week, the European Union voted to send about 500 troops to bolster peacekeeping efforts in CAR, where thousands may have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled into neighboring Cameroon and Chad, creating an international refugee crisis, according to the United Nations.

French and African troops began a major operation last week to disarm local militias, known as the anti-balaka. The militias are accused of revenge attacks against Muslim neighborhoods in the capital Bangui and elsewhere around the country.

The chaos began last March when a largely Muslim rebel coalition known as Seleka came down from the northern part of the CAR, overthrew the government, and began brutal attacks on the neighborhoods and villages of the majority Christian population, killing and looting as they went.

That sparked a backlash by the Christians who formed vigilante groups called anti-balaka (for anti-machete). The anti-balaka degenerated into revenge killers who looted and burned Muslim areas. Now some two thousand people are dead and tens of thousands, mostly Muslims, have been driven out into the countryside or over the border.

Muslim Vs. Christian Nigeria

Nigeria's location (CIA World Factbook)

Nigeria’s location
(CIA World Factbook)

There have been renewed attacks and mass killings in two villages and a town in northeastern Nigeria, where the government has been battling an insurgency by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram.

Authorities and villagers say the group was responsible for an attack Saturday (February 15) on the village of Izghe, near the border with Cameroon, that left more than 100 slain – either shot or hacked to death, according to the BBC.

Boko Haram fighters attacked the town of Konduga earlier this month and killed 51 people, Reuters reported. President Goodluck Jonathan ordered extra troops into northeast Nigeria to try and crush the insurgents, who want to create an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, which is largely Muslim, but Boko Haram retreated into a remote area, bordering Cameroon, from where they have mounted numerous attacks, said Reuters.

And CNN reported that militants also attacked Doron Baga, a fishing village along Lake Chad. A survivor told CNN gunmen fired indiscriminately, stole foodstuff, fish and vehicles before setting fire to the village. A Nigerian official confirmed the attack but couldn’t give details, saying it occurred in an area under the jurisdiction of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MJTF). Consisting of troops from Nigeria, Niger and Chad, the MJTF was created in 1998 to battle weapons proliferation in the region but is now also battling the Boko Haram insurgency, CNN said.

Boko Haram, which means, “Western education is forbidden” in the north’s Hausa language, has killed hundreds of Christians and Muslims in the north since it launched its campaign of mass violence against the government in 2009. The U.S. State Department labeled Boko Haram a terrorist group last year. The continuing violence and the Army’s inability to eliminate Boko Haram as a threat poses a major political headache for Jonathan, who faces re-election next year, Reuters noted.

Nigeria is the most-populous nation in Africa and one of its biggest oil exporters.

TRANS-NATIONAL CRIME

Piracy Update

East Africa (Map courtesy of WikiSpaces.com)

East Africa (Map courtesy of WikiSpaces.com)

Piracy at sea has dropped to its lowest level in six years – largely because of a decrease in incidents off the Horn of Africa, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

IMB’s annual global piracy report says there were 264 pirate attacks reported around the world in 2013, a 40 percent drop since Somali piracy peaked in 2011. Only 15 incidents were reported off Somalia in 2013, down from 75 in 2012 and 237 in 2011.

Pottengal Mukundan, the director of the IMB, says “the single biggest reason” for the drop in worldwide piracy in 2013 “is the decrease in Somali piracy off the coast of East Africa.” IMB says Somali pirates were deterred by a combination of factors including patrols by international navies, building anti-pirate features into vessels, the use of private armed security teams and increased stability (a relative term here) brought by Somalia’s central government.

For more than two decades, Somalia has been considered a failed state with widespread lawless activity, warring factions and extreme poverty.

While the situation is improving on the East Coast of Africa, piracy has been on the rise of the West Coast of the continent. Nineteen percent of worldwide pirate attacks last year occurred off West Africa. In 2009 there were 48 actual or attempted attacks in the waters off West Africa. That rose to 62 in 2012 and dropped slightly to 52 last year.

Gulf of Guinea via Wikipedia

Gulf of Guinea via Wikipedia

In 2013, Nigerian pirates and armed robbers committed 31 of the region’s 51 attacks, taking 49 people hostage. Worldwide, more than 300 people were taken hostage. Nigerian pirates have ranged as far south as Gabon and as far west as Ivory Coast. They were linked to five of the region’s seven vessel hijackings. Just a few days after IMB issued its report in January, a Greek-owned, Liberian-flagged oil tanker was reported hijacked off the coast of Angola by pirates who allegedly stole a large part of the cargo. But the Angolan Navy disputes the crew’s story.

The IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre has been monitoring world piracy since 1991.e

ECONOMICS/BUSINESS

Oil Deal

Uganda has reached an agreement with three international oil companies to develop the East African country’s petroleum resources.

Uganda's location (CIA World Factbook)

Uganda’s location
(CIA World Factbook)

After years of negotiations, officials in Kampala earlier this month (February 7), signed a memorandum of understanding with Britain’s Tullow Oil, France’s Total and China’s Cnoc. Gloria Sebikari, of the ministry’s petroleum department said the memorandum goes behind simply developing oil fields, the Voice of America reported. “The plan provides for use of petroleum for power generation, supply of crude oil to the refinery to be developed in Uganda, and then export of crude oil to an export pipeline or any other viable option to be developed by the oil companies,” Sebikari said, according to VoA.

Uganda, East Africa’s third-largest economy, discovered hydrocarbon deposits in the western part of the country in 2006. But commercial production has been delayed and is not expected to start until 2016 at the earliest. Analysts blame the delay on negotiations over the planned refinery, according to Reuters.

Uganda has agreed to build a pipeline that will run to neighboring Kenya’s planned Indian Ocean port at Lamu, which is expected to become an export terminal for crude oil from Uganda, Kenya and other regional states, Reuters said.

Uganda has sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth-largest oil reserves, behind South Sudan, Angola and Nigeria with an estimated 3.5 billion barrels of crude oil, according to Oilprice.com. The oil and energy news website said East Africa has been identified as the next big oil and gas production area with more than four countries – including Kenya and Ethiopia – announcing oil and gas finds.

February 17, 2014 at 4:17 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: South Sudan, Central African Republic, Tunisia

South Sudan

Ugandan authorities are struggling with the increasing number of people fleeing the continued fighting in neighboring South Sudan, the BBC reports.

Sudan and South Sudan from CIA World Factbook

Sudan and South Sudan from CIA World Factbook

More than 20,000 South Sudanese are now crammed into a refugee camp meant to hold 400. And the numbers keep growing as more than 2,000 arrive every day. Food is inadequate, there is no shelter and hardly any water. The BBC’s the camp’s health centre is overflowing with pregnant women, children and the elderly.

There are also reports of ethnic fighting between the Dinka and the Nuer at the camp which is only a transit centre, so authorities cannot separate the warring ethnic groups yet.

Meanwhile, South Sudan’s army is advancing on the key rebel-held centres of Bentiu and Bor, as rebels strengthen defences in Bentiu. Reports say hundreds have fled violence in Bor and at least 1,000 people have been killed in fighting since December 15.

Thousands have fled Bentiu, capital of oil-rich Unity state. The city was said to be a ghost town with even the hospital reportedly deserted, the Guardian said.

And in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, peace talks between the rival South Sudanese factions appear deadlocked, the Voice of America reported Thursday (January 9). The stumbling block appears to be

P

Central African Republic

Central African Republic (CIA World Factbook)

Central African Republic
(CIA World Factbook)

The entire transitional assembly of the Central African Republic (CAR) has flown to Chad to attend a summit aimed at restoring peace in the country, the BBC reports. Regional leaders said the 135 member-assembly had been summoned because only they could decide the fate of their country.

The CAR’s interim leader, Michel Djotodia, is facing pressure to step down at a summit of regional leaders on Thursday because of his inability to halt the bloodshed that has forced about a million people to flee their homes, according to The Guardian.

Djotodia, who seized power in March at the head of the Seleka rebels, already lacked legitimacy in the eyes of other African governments. But he is considered an even greater liability as the country has descended into chaos amid reprisal attacks from mainly Christian militias against the largely Muslim rebel group. However, the VoA says Djotodia’s spokesman insists he will not resign.

The fighting in the CAR is neither a jihad nor a crusade, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The battle is over political power and the capital city of Bangui is the prize.

Tunisian Shift

Tunisia in Africa (CIA World Factbook)

Tunisia in Africa
(CIA World Factbook)

Tunisia’s Islamist prime minister resigned Thursday (January 9). The action by Ali Larayedh of the Ennahda Party, ends the two-year-old rule of his party, which has dominated the country’s political scene since the popular uprising that initiated the Arab Spring, the New York Times reported.

The resignation makes way for an interim government of independents under a plan to end months of political deadlock and mounting social unrest, the state news agency said, according to Aljazeera America.

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January 10, 2014 at 1:02 am 2 comments

AROUND AFRICA: China-Nigeria Deal, Obama-Africa, Food Security,

Billion Dollar Deal

Nigeria (CIA World Factbook)

Nigeria
(CIA World Factbook)

China has agreed to provide $1.1 billion in low interest loans to oil-rich Nigeria to pay for much-needed infrastructure in Africa’s most populous country.

The money will help build roads, airport terminals in four cities and a light rail line for Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. China is investing heavily in Africa as a source of oil and other natural resources, according to the BBC. Chinese companies, under contracts worth $1.7 billion, are already building roads across Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer.

The agreement was signed Wednesday (July 10) by Nigerian Prersident Goodluck Jonathan and Chinese leader Xi Jinping during Jonathan’s four-day visit to Beijing.

The Associated Press reported that China’s demand for crude oil produced in Nigeria is expected to rise tenfold to 200,000 barrels a day by 2015, according to information provided by a team accompanying Jonathan.

Zang Chun, an expert on Africa at the Shanghai Institute of Foreign Studies, told the AP that Nigeria is important to China because it has the largest economy in West Africa and because it has oil.

* * * *

Obama in Africa

Crowds watch President Obama's motorcade in Tanzania. (White House photo)

Crowds watch President Obama’s motorcade in Tanzania. (White House photo)

During his three-nation tour of Africa earlier this month, President Barack Obama pledged U.S. investment in a plan to double electrical capacity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Obama, who visited Senegal in West Africa, South Africa and finally the East African nation of Tanzania during his eight-day trip, spoke about food security and announced a $7 billion investment to double electrical capacity in sub-Saharan Africa.

On his last day in Tanzania, Obama visited the Ubungo Symbion Power Plant near Dar es Salaam, to focus on the lack of electrical power for most residents of sub-Saharan Africa.  investing $7 billion in financial support for an initiative called “Power Africa.” Tanzania is one of the initial six participating countries where the government hopes to add 10,000 megawatts of generation capacity and reach 20 million households that lack electricity.

“Public and private resources will be matched with projects led by African countries that are taking the lead on reform,” Obama said. “In this case, African governments commit to energy reforms.  And the U.S. is committing some $7 billion in support, and private sector companies have already committed more than $9 billion.  And this is just the beginning,” he added “because we look forward to even more companies joining this effort.”

Speaking to U.S. and African business leaders in Dar Es Salaam, Obama announced that new U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker would lead a “major trade initiative” to Africa in her first year at the Commerce Department, the New York Times reported.

* * * *

Food Security Threat

Uganda via CIA World Factbook

Uganda via CIA World Factbook

A deteriorating food security situation in northeastern Uganda could affect an estimated 1.2 million people, according to reports from the government and aid agencies.

A June 2013 analysis, led by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, revealed that up to 975,000 people in the semi-arid Karamoja region face “stressed” levels of food insecurity, while 234,000 more cannot meet their minimum food needs, according to IRIN.

Food security – or the lack of it – is considered a potential security issue by U.S. Intelligence officials. In their 2013 Worldwide Threat Assessment, the U.S. Intelligence Community says “terrorists, militants and international crime organizations can use declining food security to promote their own legitimacy and undermine government authority. Growing food insecurity in weakly governed countries could lead to political violence and provide opportunities for existing insurgent groups to capitalize on poor conditions, exploit international food aid and discredit governments for their inability to address basic needs.”

Meanwhile, African leaders meeting in Ethiopia earlier this month pledged to make agriculture a higher priority in their national policies and increase spending witrh a goal of ending hunger across the continent by 2025, The Guardian reported.

At the conclusion of meeting at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, ministers committed to working with the private sector, farmers’ groups, civil society and academia to increaase productivity – while addressing the underlying causes of malnutrition.

Despite strong economic growth across many parts of Africa over the past 10 years, nearly a quarter of the population – about 240 million people – are undernourished, of whom more than 40 percent are children under five, according to the Guardian.

Of the 20 countries in the world suffering from prolonged food shortages, 17 are in Africa, according to José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

In an interview with the news agency Inter Press Service, da Silva said Africa is entering a new era “with greater investment in agriculture, and that stronger coordination between governments, civil society organizations and the private sector would make the goal of zero hunger in Africa realistic by 2025.”

 

July 12, 2013 at 4:31 am Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Pirates and Militants in Nigeria, Congo’s Rebels

Pirates Seize 7 Off Nigeria

West African piracy incidents
(International Maritime Bureau)

Seven European sailors have been kidnapped by pirates who attacked a French company’s ship off the coast of Nigeria, the company said today (Oct. 17).

Paris-based Bourbon SA – an oil and gas services company – said in a brief press release on its website that the seven seamen  – six Russian nationals and an Estonian – were taken after their ship, Bourbon Liberty 249 (click here for photo), was boarded on Oct. 15 in Nigerian waters. Nine other crew members remain aboard the oil rig support vessel, which is bound for the port of Onne in Nigeria, the company said.

According to the Associated Press, the assault took place off Nigeria’s oil rich delta region. A military spokesman told the news service that forward deployed units have been ordered to comb the area for the pirates and their hostages.

Nigeria is the largest oil producer in Africa but the poverty-stricken delta region has been rife with violence and unrest. While oil has made billions for Nigeria, inhabitants of the delta have complained they have seen little benefit in money or services such as education and health care. For years, pipelines and oil rigs have been attacked by militants and foreign oil workers have been kidnapped, although most are released unharmed after a ransom is collected. The AP said gunmen attacked another oil supply company’s vessel in August, taking four workers who were later released unharmed.

The International Maritime Bureau’s Piracy Reporting Centre lists several locations along West Africa’s coast as piracy-prone areas including: Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ivory Coast.

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Sectarian Violence in Nigeria

Nigeria
(CIA World Factbook map)

At least 24 people have been killed by explosions and gunfire in what appears to be another outbreak in sectarian violence in northern Nigeria, according to the Voice of America.

Nigeria’s Joint Task Force says it has killed 24 suspected Boko Haram terrorists in the city of Maiduguri on Monday (Oct. 15). Boko Haram, the name means “Western education is sinful,” has been battling local governments and the Nigerian federal government since 2009. The group wants Nigeria – where Muslims predominate in the north while Christians are the majority in the south – to adopt strict Islamic law.

Nigerian officials blame Boko Haram for more than 1,500 deaths since 2009, but some human rights groups say both the authorities as wsell as the militants may be responsible for crimes against humanity.

— —

Congo Wars

A confidential United Nations reports says Rwanda and Uganda are arming rebels against the government of  neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The report, according to Reuters which got a look at the secret document, goes so far as to say that Rwanda’s Defense Minister, Gen. James Kabarebe, is directing the M23 rebels in the eastern DRC. The rebels have been battling Congolese troops for six months and the 44-page report, written by experts serving the UN Security Council, says both Rwanda and Uganda have been violating an arms embargo and supplying the rebels with weapons and other support.

The DRC and its neighbors Rwanda (RW) and Uganda (UG).
(CIA World Factbook)

Both Rwanda and Uganda deny the allegation and Ugandan officials angrily claim the U.N. is trying to undermine their efforts to bring peace to the DRC, which has been wracked by civil war, insurgencies and roaming bands of marauders like Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army.

More than 200,000 villagers have fled their homes in the DRC’s Kivu Province since the M23 uprising began in April. The M23 group — an outgrowth of a Congolese Tutsi rebel army created to fight Rwanda Hutu rebels who fled to the Congo – claims the DRC broke a 2009 peace deal that would integrate them into the regular DRC Army, the Associated Press reports.

October 17, 2012 at 5:29 pm Leave a comment

AROUND AFRICA: Nigeria, South Sudan, Botswana, Uganda

Suspected Militants Killed

CIA World Factbook map

Nigerian security forces say they have killed 20 suspected members of the militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, during a shootout in the northeast corner of Africa’s most populous country.

An Army captain told CNN that tone soldier was also killed in the gun battle that erupted when troops moved in on a meeting of the militant group, which has been linked to other violent Islamist groups operating in Africa.

But AFP reports that Boko Haram is denying the Army’s claim, saying none of its members were at the meeting in Maiduguri, and thus couldn’t have been killed.

Boko Haram, which opposes all things Western, has been blamed for numerous attacks on Christian churches in the Muslim dominated north of Nigeria, according to the BBC. Those attacks have sparked reprisal violence and hundreds have been killed. Boko Haram is also blamed for an attack on the United Nations headquarters in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, that killed more than 20 people. Boko Haram wants to overtrhow the Nigeria government and replace it with an Islamist state governed by Sharia law.

Nigeria, which is Africa’s largest oil producer, is split between the largely Muslim north and the mostly Christian south. Boko Haram has been linked to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a north African group tied to al Qaeda; and al Shabaab, another radical and violent group based in Somalia.

Food Airdrops

The United Nations says it has begun making emergency food airdrops to refugees in South Sudan. More than 170,000 people have fled South Sudan since fighting broke out between the Army and a rebel group, SPLM-North, last year.

Reuters reports that the food is need to feed people who have migrated to Sudan because of the violence near the border. U.S. officials and aid groups have warned there is a risk of famine in the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Southern Accord 12

More than 700 U.S. Military personnel are winding up a 17-day joint exercise in Botswana with about 700 troops from the Botswana Defence Forces (BDF).

U.S. Marines from Anchorage, Alaska, exit a Hawaii Army National Guard CH-47F Chinook helicopter with Botswana Defense Force soldiers at Thebephatshwa Air Base in Botswana, during Southern Accord 2012. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Adam Fischman)

Known as Southern Accord 12, the exercise is taking place in and around Thebephatshwa Air Base. Activities include humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, anti-poaching, peacekeeping and convoy operations. Also: aero-medical evacuation and explosive ordnance disposal.

The United States has conducted similar joint military exercises over the last two years in South Africa, Mozambique, Tunisia, Uganda, Mali and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Missing Helicopters Found

Three Ugandan military helicopters on their way to Somalia have crashed in Kenya. At least two are reported dead and more than a dozen crewmen and passengers are reported missing.

The three helos crashed in bad weather on and around 17,000-foot Mount Kenya. A fourth helicopter, a Russian-made Mi-17 landed safely in the eastern Kenyan town of Garissa, a major base for Kenya’s military incursion inside neighboring Somalia, according Reuters.

The helos were on their way to join an African Union peacekeeping force battling Somali rebels aligned with al Qaeda. Somali insurgents have killed and kidnapped several people – including tourists – in Kenya.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, but the New York Times reports that the Ugandan military has a reputation for buying and flying worn out aircraft.

August 15, 2012 at 11:38 pm 1 comment

AFRICA: The Kony Viral Video

Public Enemy No. 1?

If he isn’t there already, crazed African warlord Joseph Kony is well on his way to being the most hated man in the world thanks to a video that has gone viral on the Internet.

In a little more than three days, the video “Kony 2012” has been viewed more than 50 million times on YouTube. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, P. Diddy and Justin Bieber have mentioned it on Twitter and Facebook. And money is rolling in to the San Diego, California-based activist group, Invisible Children, which produced the 30-minute video.

Kony is the enigmatic leader of a renegade rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army which has been terrorizing parts of Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and the Central African Republic for more than two decades.

Uganda in Africa (CIA World Factbook)

In October, President Barack Obama dispatched 100 special operations forces to help Ugandan troops – mostly through training – end Kony’s 26-year reign of terror.

The 4GWAR Blog first wrote about Kony — who is under indictment by the International Criminal Court — and his killer cronies back in April 2010.

At that time Human Rights Watch said the LRA had killed 321 people in a raid on a part of northeast Congo. And 250 other people were abducted including 80 children. The United Nations and other authorities have said LRR turns kidnapped boys into child soldiers forced to kill and girls are turned into sexual slaves.

While the video has raised awareness about Kony’s depredations, and lots of money, critics in both the U.S. and Uganda question Invisible Children’s motives and strategy. They say the video campaign oversimplifies the problem, noting that Kony’s band is just one of the many militias, rebel armies and national troops ravaging Central Africa for years. They also question what Invisible Children is spending its money on since its financial reports indicate only just over a third of its $8.9 million 2011 budget  actually went to African programs. The charity addressed many of these points on its Webpages.

March 8, 2012 at 10:18 pm 4 comments

AFRICA: Kenya’s Somalia Incursion

Future Quagmire?

Kenya’s leaders may have committed a strategic blunder by sending troops into neighboring Somalia to eliminate the threat of militant Islamists, some experts say.

Map courtesy of University of Pennsylvania African Studies Center

Diplomats, former officials and analysts cited in the New York Times say the Kenyan military may not be up to the job that has stymied the United Nations, the United States, Ethiopia the African Union over the last two decades. They also caution that the incursion by hundreds of the East African nation’s troops, assisted by artillery bombardments and air raids is becoming bogged down as seasonal rains turn Somalia’s dirt roads to mud.

Questions about Kenya’s exit strategy have been raised. There is also the threat of reprisal attacks in Kenya by the al Shabab terrorist group and the effect they could have on Kenya’s economy – especially tourism.

Kenya citied recent attacks and kidnappings of European tourists and aid workers as the main reason for the Oct. 12 cross-border invasion. But a spokesman for the government appeared to contradict that Thursday, indicating that Kenya had been planning action against al-Shabab inside Somalia for months, according to the Associated Press. Alfred Mutua said the goal of the Kenyan military operation is to destroy the al-Qaida-linked militant group, within the shortest time possible.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan military says nine al-Shabab fighters were killed and four Kenyan troops wounded Thursday (Oct. 27) in an al-Shabab attack. The group’s leaders have called for attacks inside Kenya. One person was killed and more than 20 wounded in two separate grenade attacks in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, on Monday (Oct. 24.) A Kenyan man arrested for the attacks told a court he was a member of al-Shabab.

Another grenade and machine gun attack Thursday (Oct. 27) on a civilian vehicle near the Kenyan-Somali border left eight people dead, Britain’s The Guardian  reported.

October 27, 2011 at 5:39 pm 1 comment

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