Showing posts tagged as "africa"

Showing posts tagged africa

10 Sep
Northern Nigerians live in fear of Boko Haram | Hilke Fischer
At night he lies awake and hears gun shots from a distance. “Nobody can sleep anymore,” explained a DW listener from Maiduguri, who wanted to remain anonymous. Over one million people live in the city of the northern Nigerian state of Borno and Boko Haram fighters are moving ever closer.
Gwoza, Bama, Gulak, Michika, Duhu, Shuwa, Kirshinga – the Islamists have been capturing new cities on an almost daily basis. They arrive in hijacked army vehicles, fight off the Nigerian troops and terrorize the residents. “Boko Haram are committing all kinds of atrocities killing and raping. At the same time they are taking young girls in batches and the city is littered with dead bodies,” says Ahmed Zanna, a member of the Nigerian Senate for the town of Bama says. Bama is just 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from Maiduguri and fell to the Islamists four days ago. Zanna recounts how the soldiers who were supposed to defend Bama, refused to advance any further. “They were ill equipped and they just stayed in Kondudga.”
FULL ARTICLE (Deutsche Welle)
Photo: OxfamNovib via European Commission DG ECHO/flickr

Northern Nigerians live in fear of Boko Haram | Hilke Fischer

At night he lies awake and hears gun shots from a distance. “Nobody can sleep anymore,” explained a DW listener from Maiduguri, who wanted to remain anonymous. Over one million people live in the city of the northern Nigerian state of Borno and Boko Haram fighters are moving ever closer.

Gwoza, Bama, Gulak, Michika, Duhu, Shuwa, Kirshinga – the Islamists have been capturing new cities on an almost daily basis. They arrive in hijacked army vehicles, fight off the Nigerian troops and terrorize the residents. “Boko Haram are committing all kinds of atrocities killing and raping. At the same time they are taking young girls in batches and the city is littered with dead bodies,” says Ahmed Zanna, a member of the Nigerian Senate for the town of Bama says. Bama is just 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) from Maiduguri and fell to the Islamists four days ago. Zanna recounts how the soldiers who were supposed to defend Bama, refused to advance any further. “They were ill equipped and they just stayed in Kondudga.”

FULL ARTICLE (Deutsche Welle)

Photo: OxfamNovib via European Commission DG ECHO/flickr

5 Sep
Gulf of Guinea: A Regional Solution to Piracy? | Thierry Vircoulon & Violette Tournier
Acts of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea represent more than a quarter of worldwide reported attacks. Steadily increasing since 2007, maritime insecurity in this region affects the trade of 455 million people. It affects the shipment of five million barrels of oil per day (Africa’s total is nine million), accounting for forty per cent of European and twenty-nine per cent of American imports. In its December 2012 report The Gulf of Guinea: The New Danger Zone, Crisis Group analysed the emergence of this problem and recommended a two-pronged, long-term response: building a regional maritime security architecture and improving the economic and security governance of the states in the region. While the region is working to develop the security architecture, it also needs to tackle the illicit economic dimensions of the overall situation. In addition, lessons learned from the securing of the Straits of Malacca (which inspired a similar effort in the Gulf of Aden) should be shared with African countries.
FULL ARTICLE (Crisis Group Blog)
Photo: The Maritime Regional Architecture in the Gulf of Guinea/CRISIS GROUP

Gulf of Guinea: A Regional Solution to Piracy? | Thierry Vircoulon & Violette Tournier

Acts of piracy and armed robbery in the Gulf of Guinea represent more than a quarter of worldwide reported attacks. Steadily increasing since 2007, maritime insecurity in this region affects the trade of 455 million people. It affects the shipment of five million barrels of oil per day (Africa’s total is nine million), accounting for forty per cent of European and twenty-nine per cent of American imports. In its December 2012 report The Gulf of Guinea: The New Danger Zone, Crisis Group analysed the emergence of this problem and recommended a two-pronged, long-term response: building a regional maritime security architecture and improving the economic and security governance of the states in the region. While the region is working to develop the security architecture, it also needs to tackle the illicit economic dimensions of the overall situation. In addition, lessons learned from the securing of the Straits of Malacca (which inspired a similar effort in the Gulf of Aden) should be shared with African countries.

FULL ARTICLE (Crisis Group Blog)

Photo: The Maritime Regional Architecture in the Gulf of Guinea/CRISIS GROUP

Back to the future: the challenges facing Somalia’s returning diaspora | Samira Shackle
“Whenever you move around, you worry about what will happen to you,” says Abdullahi Nur Osman, who recently moved back to his home country, Somalia. “The security situation is a big worry.”
For the past 20 years, Somalia has been a byword for chaos. In 1991, after the central government fell, the entire economy and political system collapsed. Anarchy and civil war ensued. For years, the capital Mogadishu – once a vibrant seaside resort – has been home to bombed-out facades of buildings. Houses and shopfronts, though painted in bright colours, are pocked with bullet holes.
However, if Somalia’s government is to be believed, the country long known as the world’s most failed state is making tentative steps towards recovery. A permanent federal government has been in power since autumn 2012, and the country is gearing up for democratic elections in 2016. Al Shabab, the hardline Islamist rebel group, no longer controls Mogadishu, although terrorist attacks are frequent. Government buildings are the main focus – recent incidents included an attack on the intelligence headquarters and a major prison, and the president’s residence is often targeted. Foreigners and wealthy citizens face the risk of kidnap by terrorists or armed groups.
FULL ARTICLE (The National - UAE)
Photo: Charles Roffey/flickr

Back to the future: the challenges facing Somalia’s returning diaspora | Samira Shackle

“Whenever you move around, you worry about what will happen to you,” says Abdullahi Nur Osman, who recently moved back to his home country, Somalia. “The security situation is a big worry.”

For the past 20 years, Somalia has been a byword for chaos. In 1991, after the central government fell, the entire economy and political system collapsed. Anarchy and civil war ensued. For years, the capital Mogadishu – once a vibrant seaside resort – has been home to bombed-out facades of buildings. Houses and shopfronts, though painted in bright colours, are pocked with bullet holes.

However, if Somalia’s government is to be believed, the country long known as the world’s most failed state is making tentative steps towards recovery. A permanent federal government has been in power since autumn 2012, and the country is gearing up for democratic elections in 2016. Al Shabab, the hardline Islamist rebel group, no longer controls Mogadishu, although terrorist attacks are frequent. Government buildings are the main focus – recent incidents included an attack on the intelligence headquarters and a major prison, and the president’s residence is often targeted. Foreigners and wealthy citizens face the risk of kidnap by terrorists or armed groups.

FULL ARTICLE (The National - UAE)

Photo: Charles Roffey/flickr

5 Aug
Pentagon confronts militant dilemma in Africa | William Wallis in Washington and Katrina Manson in Nairobi
The hum of US drones is becoming more familiar over African skies.
From Nigeria to Somalia, US military presence on the continent is a creeping reality. US troops may be thin on the ground, with the Pentagon preferring to rely on training and financial support to allied forces, but special forces are now operating at any given moment.
The trend has its most recent roots in the aftermath of the September 2001 attacks on the US, when US officials scoured the globe for “ungoverned spaces” with the potential, like Afghanistan, to foster anti-American extremists. Several African countries cropped up on the radar, notably Somalia. In the semi-desert underbelly of the Sahara, Mali was identified among other weak states vulnerable to jihadi influence spreading south from the Maghreb. Nigeria, too, soon featured in assessments of threats.
These were either prescient musings by US spies or a self-fulfilling prophecy coaxed partly into reality by US meddling – there are subscribers to both camps. Either way, Islamist extremism in Africa has metastasised just as the Pentagon and the CIA assessments predicted.
FULL ARTICLE (Financial Times)
Photo: United States Marine Corps/flickr

Pentagon confronts militant dilemma in Africa | William Wallis in Washington and Katrina Manson in Nairobi

The hum of US drones is becoming more familiar over African skies.

From Nigeria to Somalia, US military presence on the continent is a creeping reality. US troops may be thin on the ground, with the Pentagon preferring to rely on training and financial support to allied forces, but special forces are now operating at any given moment.

The trend has its most recent roots in the aftermath of the September 2001 attacks on the US, when US officials scoured the globe for “ungoverned spaces” with the potential, like Afghanistan, to foster anti-American extremists. Several African countries cropped up on the radar, notably Somalia. In the semi-desert underbelly of the Sahara, Mali was identified among other weak states vulnerable to jihadi influence spreading south from the Maghreb. Nigeria, too, soon featured in assessments of threats.

These were either prescient musings by US spies or a self-fulfilling prophecy coaxed partly into reality by US meddling – there are subscribers to both camps. Either way, Islamist extremism in Africa has metastasised just as the Pentagon and the CIA assessments predicted.

FULL ARTICLE (Financial Times)

Photo: United States Marine Corps/flickr

29 Apr

Sudan and South Sudan: The Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan (Part 4)

Casie Copeland, Crisis Group’s Consulting Analyst and Jérôme Tubiana, Crisis Group’s Sudan Senior Analyst, discuss the relationship of China, the biggest consumer of South Sudanese oil, with both Sudan and South Sudan.

crisisgroup.org

Sudan and South Sudan: The Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan (Part 3)

Casie Copeland, Crisis Group’s Consulting Analyst and Jérôme Tubiana, Crisis Group’s Sudan Senior Analyst, stress the increasingly regional nature of the conflict in South Sudan.

crisisgroup.org

Sudan and South Sudan: The Humanitarian Crisis in South Sudan (Part 2)

Casie Copeland, Crisis Group’s Consulting Analyst and Jérôme Tubiana, Crisis Group’s Sudan Senior Analyst, highlight the growing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, recently declared a “Level 3” global emergency by the UNOCHR, a distinction shared only by Syria and the Central African Republic. The UN has worryingly issued a warning of famine in a country where perhaps 1 million people have been displaced in the last 3 months.

crisisgroup.org

25 Apr
"The CNDD-FDD leadership is so power-hungry and insecure that it wants to reduce the political space as much as it can before the 2015 elections"

—Thierry Vircoulon, Central Africa Project Director for the International Crisis Group on Burundi’s upcoming election, Al Jazeera

11 Apr
Guinea-Bissau: the challenge of economic recovery | RFI
Lamine came to drink tea with his old friend Felix. At Diolo their neighborhood, there is no water or electricity. Poverty is everywhere. It’s harder every day. ”  I was married, I worked in boats. When there was the coup (in April 2012, ed) , the boss, a Spaniard, stopped its activities. Now we are unemployed. So I find myself here to beg, I’m doing door to door for the whole family. It’s not easy.  ”
Today, nearly two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Since the coup of April 2012, international donors have suspended most of their cooperation. Even trade cashew first income countries is in crisis.
FULL ARTICLE (RFI)
Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

Guinea-Bissau: the challenge of economic recovery | RFI

Lamine came to drink tea with his old friend Felix. At Diolo their neighborhood, there is no water or electricity. Poverty is everywhere. It’s harder every day. ”  I was married, I worked in boats. When there was the coup (in April 2012, ed) , the boss, a Spaniard, stopped its activities. Now we are unemployed. So I find myself here to beg, I’m doing door to door for the whole family. It’s not easy.  ”

Today, nearly two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line. Since the coup of April 2012, international donors have suspended most of their cooperation. Even trade cashew first income countries is in crisis.

FULL ARTICLE (RFI)

Photo: Gabor Basch/Flickr

10 Apr
South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name
Addis Ababa/Juba/Nairobi/Brussels  |   10 Apr 2014
Refocusing international engagement as well as the peace negotiations is essential to stop South Sudan’s raging civil war from claiming ever more lives. 
South Sudan’s four-month civil war has displaced more than a million and killed over 10,000; an escalating humanitarian crisis threatens many more. In its latest report, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name, the International Crisis Group looks at the longstanding political and military grievances behind spiralling violence and examines the steps necessary for peace and reconciliation. Communal conflicts cannot be separated from political disputes, and resolving both requires sustained commitment from South Sudanese and international actors.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
The dispute within the governing Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) that led to the conflict was primarily political, but ethnic targeting and communal mobilisation quickly led to appalling levels of brutality against civilians. As peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A in Opposition stalled, both sides sought gains on the battlefield to strengthen their position in negotiations.
Peace talks and reconciliation efforts must expand considerably beyond deals between political elites to include other militarised actors as well as community-based organisations, religious groups, women’s associations and others.
To address the rapidly growing humanitarian crisis, armed actors must permit unconditional humanitarian access to civilians in areas they control. Aid providers must prepare to scale up humanitarian service delivery to prevent an avoidable famine.
Plans by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy a Protection and Deterrent Force raise the prospect of even greater regional involvement. IGAD should only do so with a clear mandate that supports a political resolution of the conflict. 
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is called upon to be an impartial actor in conflict-affected areas and to carry out state-support tasks in others. This dual mandate creates confusion and should urgently be amended to focus on the protection of civilians, human-rights reporting, support for IGAD’s mediation and logistical help to the African Union Commission of Inquiry.
“Many communities are aligning themselves with military factions, giving the conflict a dangerous ethno-military nature”, says Casie Copeland, Consulting South Sudan Analyst. “To prevent further catastrophe, South Sudan’s leaders and its international partners need to consider a radical restructuring of the state. New constituencies have to be admitted to a national dialogue, including armed groups previously not included, civil society actors and disaffected communities”.
“The conflict that broke out on 15 December 2013 was decades in the making. Resolving it requires not a quick fix but sustained domestic and international commitment”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “The democratic space that was closed after independence in July 2011 must be reopened to enable peace and reconciliation processes to take hold”.
FULL REPORT

South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name

Addis Ababa/Juba/Nairobi/Brussels  |   10 Apr 2014

Refocusing international engagement as well as the peace negotiations is essential to stop South Sudan’s raging civil war from claiming ever more lives. 

South Sudan’s four-month civil war has displaced more than a million and killed over 10,000; an escalating humanitarian crisis threatens many more. In its latest report, South Sudan: A Civil War by Any Other Name, the International Crisis Group looks at the longstanding political and military grievances behind spiralling violence and examines the steps necessary for peace and reconciliation. Communal conflicts cannot be separated from political disputes, and resolving both requires sustained commitment from South Sudanese and international actors.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

The dispute within the governing Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) that led to the conflict was primarily political, but ethnic targeting and communal mobilisation quickly led to appalling levels of brutality against civilians. As peace talks between the government and the SPLM/A in Opposition stalled, both sides sought gains on the battlefield to strengthen their position in negotiations.

Peace talks and reconciliation efforts must expand considerably beyond deals between political elites to include other militarised actors as well as community-based organisations, religious groups, women’s associations and others.

To address the rapidly growing humanitarian crisis, armed actors must permit unconditional humanitarian access to civilians in areas they control. Aid providers must prepare to scale up humanitarian service delivery to prevent an avoidable famine.

Plans by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to deploy a Protection and Deterrent Force raise the prospect of even greater regional involvement. IGAD should only do so with a clear mandate that supports a political resolution of the conflict. 

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is called upon to be an impartial actor in conflict-affected areas and to carry out state-support tasks in others. This dual mandate creates confusion and should urgently be amended to focus on the protection of civilians, human-rights reporting, support for IGAD’s mediation and logistical help to the African Union Commission of Inquiry.

“Many communities are aligning themselves with military factions, giving the conflict a dangerous ethno-military nature”, says Casie Copeland, Consulting South Sudan Analyst. “To prevent further catastrophe, South Sudan’s leaders and its international partners need to consider a radical restructuring of the state. New constituencies have to be admitted to a national dialogue, including armed groups previously not included, civil society actors and disaffected communities”.

“The conflict that broke out on 15 December 2013 was decades in the making. Resolving it requires not a quick fix but sustained domestic and international commitment”, says Comfort Ero, Africa Program Director. “The democratic space that was closed after independence in July 2011 must be reopened to enable peace and reconciliation processes to take hold”.

FULL REPORT