Category Archives: Central Africa

DR Congo – UN to start investigation of Kasai killings

Reuters

By Stephanie Nebehay and Aaron Ross | GENEVA/KINSHASA

GENEVA/KINSHASA The United Nations opened an investigation on Friday into killings in central Democratic Republic of Congo, though some Western countries and campaign groups said they had hoped it would have a stronger mandate.

Kinshasa has been fighting insurgents in the Kasai region since August, triggering fears of a wider conflict in the large central African country, a tinderbox of ethnic rivalry and competing claims over mineral resources.

Congo’s Catholic church said this week the violence had killed more than 3,300 people since October, with both government forces and the militia responsible for hundreds of

The U.N.’s Human Rights Council, composed of 47 member states, adopted by consensus the resolution calling for an investigation, brought by African countries.

Congo’s Ambassador Zénon Mukongo Ngay, addressing the Council, said President Joseph Kabila’s government would cooperate to shed light on atrocities. But the Congolese justice system would be in charge of the joint investigations, with the U.N. providing “technical or logistical support”, he said.

U.N. rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who is to name fact-finding experts to the investigation, had called repeatedly for an international inquiry into events in Kasai, an opposition stronghold.

“We fully support the establishment of an international investigation …as a step forward in identifying the perpetrators of gross violations and bringing them to justice,” Zeid said in a statement.

His office counted on the “full cooperation” of the government and on the experts having unfettered access to all sites, files, people and places.

“The team will conduct investigations in a fully independent manner, in accordance with international standards,” he said.

Zeid told the Council on Tuesday that a militia linked to the government has committed a string of ethnically-motivated attacks in recent months, including cutting off toddlers’ limbs and stabbing pregnant women.

Kinshasa has repeatedly denied that security forces systematically use excessive force and insists it is capable of conducting its own investigations.

Several government officials have said in recent days that they were pleased a European Union proposal for a fully-independent international investigation into the violence had been withdrawn. But diplomats said elements of that had been incorporated into the African text.

In a statement to the council, Jason Mack, a representative from the U.S. delegation, said Washington welcomed the resolution but retained doubts about the Congolese government’s commitment to a transparent investigation.

Paul Nsapu, the deputy secretary-general of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), a French NGO, said investigators might not have sufficient authority to identify perpetrators of rights abuses.

“This resolution risks not being enough to stop the massacres,” he said.

Human Rights Watch’s Leila Matar, however, said in a statement that the inquiry “brings hope of uncovering the truth about the horrific violence”.

(editing by Richard Balmforth and John Stonestreet)

Donors pledge $352 million to help Uganda’s South Sudanese refugees

Reuters

By Elias Biryabarema | KAMPALA

KAMPALA About $352 million has been pledged to help Uganda cope with an influx of refugees fleeing conflict in South Sudan, donors said on Friday.

Uganda needs some $2 billion for its surging refugee population. The money would fund operations for the next 12 months .

About 1.3 million refugees have fled to Uganda, of whom an estimated 950,000 have come from South Sudan, displaced by the country’s escalating civil war.

Most of the South Sudanese are crammed into about five camps in Uganda’s northwest. One of them, Bidi Bidi is among the world’s largest refugee settlements, hosting about 270,000 people.

“I don’t think anyone ever anticipated that we would be dealing with one million refugees out of South Sudan alone,” David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme, told Reuters.

Food for the refugees will run out in July without more help, Beasley said.

Fighting erupted in Africa’s youngest nation in December 2013 between forces allied to President Salva Kiir and his then- deputy, Riek Machar. A peace pact in 2015 briefly halted the conflict, but it exploded into war again last July.

“The international community needs to step up and needs to give to the Ugandan people and to the refugees hosted by the Ugandan people the kind of support that is absolutely needed because the circumstances in which these sacrifices are being made are extremely, extremely challenging,” U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by George Obulutsa, Larry King)

 

Dr Congo – twelve reported dead in fighting with rebels in N-E Congo

Reuters

At least 12 killed in heavy fighting in northeastern Congo

By Aaron Ross | KINSHASA

KINSHASA At least 12 people were killed in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo in heavy firefights between the army and militia fighters on Thursday, and several students sitting exams were wounded in an explosion at a school, local activists said.

The fighting in and around the city of Beni between Congo’s army and what is believed to be a new coalition of armed groups, the National Movement of Revolutionaries (MNR), killed at least eight militiamen and four soldiers, said activist Teddy Kataliko.

The clashes, some of which occurred near the mayor’s office, broke out early Thursday morning but the army had driven back the militias by mid-afternoon, he added.

Gilbert Kambale, another local activist, told Reuters that at least 13 militiamen and three soldiers had died in Thursday’s fighting.

The mayor and a local army spokesman could not be immediately reached for comment on Thursday afternoon.

The fighting followed a breakout by more than 900 inmates, many suspected militiamen, from Beni’s main prison this month – one of a series of mass jailbreaks that have undermined security in Congo since President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate in December.

Worsening security in the vast central African nation has raised fears of a return to the civil wars of the turn of the century that killed millions, most from hunger and disease, and sucked in more than half a dozen neighbouring countries.

Kataliko and Kambale also said unidentified assailants set off an explosive device at a local secondary school, wounding several students sitting exams. A hospital source said at least three students were injured in the blast.

Eastern Congo contains dozens of armed groups that prey on locals and exploit mineral reserves. Hundreds of civilians have died near Beni since October 2014 in a series of overnight massacres, mostly carried out with hatchets and machetes. It is still not clear who is responsible for most of the attacks.

(Reporting by Aaron Ross; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Toby Davis)

Central African Republic – disabled still at very high risk

Human Rights Watch

Central African Republic: People with Disabilities at High Risk

UN Security Council backs West African states to fight Sahel insurgencies

Reuters

By Michelle Nichols | UNITED NATIONS

UNITED NATIONS The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday unanimously backed a West African force to combat militant groups as well as arms, drug and human trafficking in the Sahel region after diplomats said France softened the resolution’s language to secure the support of the United States.

The vast, arid region has in recent years become a breeding ground for jihadist groups – some linked to al Qaeda and the Islamic State – that European countries, particularly France, fear could threaten Europe if left unchecked.

Last year, the nations of the Sahel – Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania – proposed establishing specially-trained units of around 100 soldiers each, which would be deployed in areas where jihadist groups are known to operate.

“We cannot let the Sahel become a new refuge for terrorist organizations of the whole world. In the Sahel, all of our security is at stake, not just the security of the … five states,” said French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre.

The United States, however, did not believe a resolution was warranted and did not want the world body to help fund the force, diplomats said. The United States is one of council’s five veto powers, along with France, Britain, Russia and China.

The first draft resolution authorized the force to “use all necessary means” to carry out its operations, but following council negotiations, the language was revised to “welcome the deployment.”

The resolution also encourages countries to provide support. The European Union has already committed $56 million to the Sahel force.

The United States is trying to cut the cost of U.N. peacekeeping and is reviewing each of the 16 missions as they come up for Security Council renewal. Washington is the largest contributor, paying 28.5 percent of the $7.9 billion (6.24 billion pounds) peacekeeping budget.

Special units proposed by the five Sahel nations would complement the efforts of regular armed forces, a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali and France’s “Operation Barkhane,” which has deployed around 4,000 troops across the region.

France first intervened in early 2013 to drive out militants who had seized northern Mali a year earlier. But militants continue to attack in Mali and its neighbours.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, editing by G Crosse)

Tax evasion and dirty money harming African economies

Mail and Guardian

Tax evasion and dirty money are draining Africa

Africa loses far more than it receives in aid and foreign direct investment.
Africa loses far more than it receives in aid and foreign direct investment.

Tax evasion benefits individuals to the detriment of society, wiping out state services. It also hampers the achievement of the eight United Nations millennium development goals (MDGs), which were designed to meet the needs of the world’s poorest people.

If tax evasion takes place in the grey area between legality and illegality – such as when companies shift their headquarters to tax havens – tax fraud involves the overt breaking of laws. It is often combined with dirty money from illegal activities (trafficking, terrorism, etc.) and thus weakens the gross domestic product (GDP) of African states. The organisation Global Financial Integrity estimates that Mauritania loses 12% of its GDP to such activity, Chad 20%, and the Republic of Congo 25%. As a result, illicit financial flows both damage African states and hold back their industrialisation and development.

Tax evasion, a major obstacle to the development of Africa

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/UoKMN/1/The chart shows that fraud and tax evasion weigh heavily on the timing of countries that want to achieve their millennium development goals. Source: Global Financial Integrity.

Illegal financial flows bleed Africa dry

https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/s75cm/1/“PIB” stands for gross domestic product (GDP). The chart shows illicit financial flows as percentage of GDP. Africa loses far more than it receives in aid and foreign direct investment.

Adam Abdou Hassan, Enseignant chercheur, Université de Rouen Normandie

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Conversation

Adam Abdou Hassan

South Sudan no longer considered to be suffering famine

BBC

 

Tens of thousands of people have died and millions displaced since fighting erupted in the country more than three years ago.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report says that 1.7 million people are still facing emergency levels of hunger, one step below famine.

The IPC adds that the number at risk of starvation has increased to six million, up from 5.5 million last month.

“I do urge caution, as this does not mean we have turned the corner on averting famine,” UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told a meeting in Geneva.

“Across South Sudan, more people are on the brink of famine today than were in February.”

The United Nations says the world is facing its biggest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War Two, with a total of nearly 20 million people facing starvation in north-east Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, as well as South Sudan.

Grey line

Help still needed: James Copnall, BBC News

Bags of sorghum have been airdropped into some of the most remote parts of the country, medical aid provided in temporary clinics far from recognised hospitals, pressure has been exerted on the government to allow this vital help to reach those in need.

It has worked.

Today, the UN and South Sudanese officials have announced that conditions in the two affected counties no longer meet the technical definition of a famine.

One risk now is that funding for humanitarian aid slows down, if donors believe that the worst is now over.

That’s one reason the UN is so keen to stress that people are still in desperate need of help.

Six million people throughout the country still struggle to find food every day – the highest ever total in South Sudan.

All this largely man-made suffering will continue as long as the civil war rumbles on.

Grey line

When is a famine declared?

The Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system classes a famine as:

  • At least 20% of the population has access to fewer than 2,100 kilocalories of food a day
  • Acute malnutrition in more than 30% of children
  • Two deaths per 10,000 people, or four child deaths per 10,000 children every day