Category Archives: East Africa

South Sudan Machar fires Taban Deng

Sudan Tribune

July 23, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan’s First Vice President, Riek Machar, has dismissed Taban Deng Gai from the party of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-IO), accusing him of having defected to President Salva Kiir’s faction.

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SPLM-IO Chief Negotiator, Taban Deng Gai, speaking to journalists at Juba airport upon his return from Pagak with his team, 22 January 2016 (ST Photo)

Machar also asked President Kiir to relieve Gai from his position as Minister of Mining in the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU), to which he nominated him.

“In exercise of my powers, as First Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan, as per the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, Article 6, I hereby withdraw and recall Gen. Taban Deng Gai as Minister of Mining in the Transitional Government of National Unity as from today, 22nd of July, 2016,” partly reads the letter addressed to President Salva Kiir and copied to JMEC and IGAD.

“I am asking Your Excellency to relieve him with immediate effect,” Machar said in the letter extended to the media.

He told the President that he will nominate Gai’s replacement as soon as he returns to Juba once the security arrangement is put in place by a third party force as per the Communique of the IGAD Council of Ministers meeting in Nairobi, on 11 July 2016.

Machar, who is also the Chairman and Commander-in-Chief of the armed opposition faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/SPLA-IO), also relieved Gai from his party positions and dismissed him from the membership of the SPLM-IO.

“This is to declare to all members of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) that Taban Deng Gai has defected to the SPLM-IG under President Salva Kiir Mayardit,” he further explained.

He said he had “therefore relieved him from his positions as member of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) Political Bureau and as Chairman of the National Committee for Reconciliation and Healing.”

“By this, Taban Deng Gai is hereby declared dismissed and no more a member of the SPLM/SPLA (IO),” he added.

Gai, who was chief negotiator for the opposition faction until April this year, has been going publicly against the position of the SPLM-IO’s leadership, including the deployment of a third party force, despite his boss’ declaration that the leadership welcomed the regional troops’ deployment.

The minister who belonged to the SPLM-IO has instead been supporting President Kiir’s arguments against his leader.

He has been also reportedly campaigning to replace his chairman in his position as First Vice President in the Republic of South Sudan, accusing him of staying away from Juba.

Machar who fled the capital and relocated his base outside Juba due to recent clashes between his forces and the forces loyal to President Kiir, said he is willing to return to the capital as soon as a third party force is deployed to separate their rival forces.

(ST)

Kenya – ivory “kingpin” Feisal Mohammed found guilty and given 20 years

Star (Kenya)

Ivory Kingpin Faisal Mohamed with his lawyer Gikandi Ngibuini during the ruling on Friday. 
Photo/Jacob

Ivory Kingpin Faisal Mohamed with his lawyer Gikandi Ngibuini during the ruling on Friday. Photo/Jacob

A Mombasa court has sentenced Feisal Mohammed to 20 years in jail after he was found guilty of possessing ivory worth Sh44 million.

Principal magistrate Diana Mochache said considering the circumstantial evidence tabled in court, Mohammed is guilty of the offence.

She also fined Mohammed Sh20 million, adding that he must serve as an example for those behind the poaching menace in the country.

Mohammed was arrested by Interpol agents in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in December 2014.

The magistrate acquitted the other four accused persons saying they had been caught up in Mohammed’s dealings unknowingly.

She said there was no evidence showing that the four accused persons were in possession of the ivory.

“The prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt and therefore found the sixth accused person guilty of the offence”, Mochache said.

 

Kenya – President under pressure to investigate killings by police

Star (Kenya)

Lawyers and Civil Society members match past Administration Police officers with a coffin at Uhuru Park castigating the brutal murder of Lawyer Willie Kimani, his client boda boda rider Josephat Mwendwa and taxi driver Joseph Muiruri on July 4, 2016. Photo/Jack Owuor

President Uhuru Kenyatta is under pressure to form a commission of inquiry to investigate increasing cases of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances linked to security operations.

Human Rights Watch, an international lobby group, is the latest organisation to pile pressure on the President to form the commission on executions and disappearances.

Government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe said they take great exception in the casual manner in which allegations are being made, reported and broadcast.

“The only defence Kenyans have against terrorism is the security forces and such blanket accusations and the tone of that report is out to bog down their morale,” he said.

This follows the presentation on Wednesday by HRW of an 87-page report documenting extrajudicial killings of 11 people and the disappearance of at least 34 people in the last two years during “abusive” counter terrorism operations in Wajir, Garissa and Mandera counties.

HRW executive director Kenneth Roth said research showed the abductions and killings are sanctioned by top government officials, given the coordination between the Kenya Defence Forces, National Intelligence Service, National Police Service and Kenya Wildlife Service rangers.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta should publicly acknowledge the scope and gravity of the numerous allegations and condemn any such abuses by security forces. He should direct security forces to comply with international human rights law, and end enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture, and direct the security agencies and prosecutors to take all necessary steps to hold those responsible to account,” the report says.

“He should establish an independent and credible multi-agency commission to investigate and report on the scope of abuses in counterterrorism operations countrywide,” it adds.

Roth said even though complaints have been made about missing persons, authorities have always ignored or deflected attention by blaming the abductions on al Shabaab or other rival gangs, which he said isn’t the case.

Kenya – dozens dead or missing as a result of crackdown on “militants”

Reuters

Dozens of people have died or disappeared without a trace after being detained by Kenyan security forces during operations against Islamist militants in the capital and on the border with Somalia, Human Rights Watch said.

Kenya launched a crackdown on jihadist groups last year after Islamist militants, including the Somalia-based al Shabaab, stepped up attacks in the East African country. In one of the worst, gunmen killed 148 people at a university in the north eastern town of Garissa.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report late on Tuesday that it had documented 34 cases in which people suspected of having ties to al Shabaab went missing after their homes were raided and they were detained by security forces.

“Months, and in some cases over a year, later, suspects have not been charged with any crimes and families cannot locate them,” HRW said in a statement.

There were also at least 11 cases in the past two years in which the bodies of people previously arrested by state agents had turned up, sometimes far away from the location of their arrest, HRW said.

Mwenda Njoka, the spokesman for Kenya’s interior ministry rejected the allegations and said the report should be forwarded to the country’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority for investigation to determine any culpability.

“These are just claims,” he told Reuters on phone.

HRW said Kenyan security forces should stop carrying out abuse in the communities living in the northeast near the border with Somalia.

“Rounding people up and refusing to disclose their whereabouts is a serious crime and only compounds fears and mistrust in the security forces,” said Ken Roth, the group’s executive director.

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by George Obulutsa and Raissa KAsolowsky)

 

South Sudan – newspaper editor Alfred Taban detained for criticising leaders

East African Standard

Reuters

Wed, July 20th 2016

South Sudan President Salva Kiir

A South Sudanese newspaper editor has been arrested for writing articles that criticised the country’s leaders over a flare-up in violence earlier this month, a colleague said on Tuesday after meeting security officials.

Alfred Taban, founder and editor of the privately run Juba Monitor, was detained on Saturday, drawing calls from journalists’ and rights groups for his release. “They arrested Alfred because of the two articles of 15th and 16th July in his column,” Oliver Modi, South Sudan Chairperson of the Union of Journalists, told Reuters.

He quoted security officials as saying that “Alfred will be taken to the court, and let the court at the end of the day tell us who is guilty or who is not guilty”. He said it was not clear when the court hearing would take place. In the articles, Taban said President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar had been unable or unwilling to control their troops in the latest spasm of violence, in which at least 272 people were killed.

The fighting erupted on July 7 in the capital Juba between followers of Kiir and Machar, a former rebel leader who became vice president under a deal to end a two-year civil war.

Journalist rights groups Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists, as well as Amnesty International, have called for Taban’s release. “We urge the South Sudanese authorities to free Alfred Taban without delay and to ensure that his rights are respected and that he has access to a doctor,” RSF said in a statement. “This leading journalist’s arrest constitutes yet another violation of media freedom in a country that has endured extensive violations of civil liberties since the start of the civil war.”

It said another Juba Monitor editor, Anna Nimiriano, had been released after questioning on Saturday. Journalists often complain of persecution by the security services of the African state, which seceded from Sudan in 2011. In 2015, at last seven journalists were killed in South Sudan. In the latest flare-up of fighting, another was killed in Juba.
Read more at: http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/article/2000209230/south-sudan-newspaper-editor-detained-for-criticising-leaders

Kenya – advantages of Enonskishu’s mobile predator-proof bomas

Daily Nation

The introduction of predator-proof mobile bomas has significantly reduced the number of attacks on  livestock by lions.

The cow pens that can be dismantled and reassembled have made it easy to keep cattle in one place. The predator-proof mobile bomas has significantly reduced the number of attacks on  livestock by lions. PHOTO | COURTESY

 

EOPOLD OBI

For a minute, Evelyn Nampaso turns away and gestures to a group of men tending a herd of more than 300 cattle on the grassy Enonkishu plains, a conservancy in the north of the Maasi Mara National Game Reserve in Narok County.

Then, as if in response to my unvoiced question she explains: “I’m telling them to divide themselves into groups so that some can assemble the mobile boma (cow pens) and put the young calves in it while others take care of the older cattle.”

Looking after cattle at the game reserve is no longer a big problem for the pastoralists of Enonskishu (which means place of healthy cattle in Maa), thanks to the introduction of predator-proof, mobile cattle-pens made of metal bars. The mobile bomas which can easily be dismantled and reassembled as they move from one area to another with the livestock, has significantly reduced the number of attacks on  livestock by lions, as well as the  retaliatory killing of lions by the Maasai pastoralists.

Unlike in most conservancies in the Mara, which have only patches of grass and eroded land, the signs of uncontrolled grazing and land degradation, Enonkishu Conservancy is luxuriant, with knee-high savannah grasses, a boon to both the livestock and other grazers like gazelles and wildebeests.

The conservancy, which is owned by 30 farmers, sits on 4,000 acres of land that has been subdivided into 12 grazing blocks, to  which the cattle are driven on a rotational basis; they spend 10 days in one block before moving on to the next.

At Enonkishu, wildebeests, gazelles and zebras, among other wild animals, graze on the red oat grass, just like the cows. The scene is alluring, and tourist vans make occasional stopovers to let the visitors admire the wonders of the Mara.

After surviving a devastating drought that posed the most serious threat yet to their livestock and tourism — their main source of livelihood —  seven years ago, the pastoralists of  Enonkishu adopted a new approach to conserving land by creating a viable livestock enterprise through a holistic management initiative that includes paddocking, rearing fewer and better cattle, cattle fattening and market-oriented ranching.

TRAIL OF DEVASTATION

 

Evelyn Nampaso, a member of the Enonkishu Conservancy. PHOTO | LEOPOLD OBI

Evelyn Nampaso, a member of the Enonkishu Conservancy. PHOTO | LEOPOLD OBI

The initiative was introduced to the pastoralists in 2010 through the Mau Mara Serengeti (MaMaSe) Sustainable Water Initiative, a consortium of international and local partners led by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation-Institute for Hydraulic Engineering (Unesco-IHE) aimed at improving water safety and security in the Mara River Basin.

“Back then we would experience two droughts in a year, which was unbearable. Our livestock would die and the wild animals would also move to other places in search of water, so no tourists would visit the conservancy,” recalls Nampaso, a mother of four.

Indeed, August 2009 is one month that undoubtedly left a bad taste in the  51-year-old’s mouth for, so severe was the drought that parts of the famous Mara River dried up. Consequently, some herders lost their entire herd; Nampaso lost 20 of her 56 cows, which remains the highest number she has lost.

“We were so hard hit that we decided to come together as landowners in Enonkishu to establish this conservancy in 2010. Every member donated 100 acres of land. We also brought our cattle together,” offered Nampaso who, in addition to the 100 acres, also donated 30 cows to the common effort.

The 2009 drought left a trail of devastation. The Mara River for instance, where wildebeest cross from Tanzania, creating a spectacle that is known worldwide, dried up completely. It also made the local pastoralists rethink the culture of owning more than 100 heads of cattle as had been the trend.

“We sold off most of our cattle and restricted our herds to 30 per individual at most, since that was what the grazing blocks could support at the time,” explains Daniel Sayialel, a cattle owner and member of the Enonkishu Conservancy.

Now that the land has healed, the pastoralists have become careful not to damage it again, rearing fewer heads of superior breeds of cattle, which is more  profitable.

“We have two herds; 150 steers in the commercial herd and 300 cows in the breeding herd. The steers are jointly owned by the members, who pool resources to buy them,” Siyialel offers.

The farmers buy second-generation Boran steers from neighbouring markets which, after deworming and three months of proper grazing, are sold to Mara Beef Company, which is also located within the conservancy.

A second-generation Boran steer goes for Sh27,000 but after three months of proper treatment it is sold for Sh60,000.

They sell 50 steers to the beef farm every month, and part of the proceeds are saved while the rest goes to the famers.

“Mara Beef also donated five Boran bulls to us, which we are using to improve our breeding herds.  Zebu and Boran cross-breeds have admirable features and can weigh up to 500 kilos compared with the Zebu breeds, which weigh 250 kilos,”  Sayialel offers, adding that they plan to introduce the Sahiwal breed next year.

The lush grass is also attracting several wild animals, which is a bonus to the conservancy owners as tourists pay to visit the place.

SEVEN BROKERS

“Due to paddocking, we no longer have cases of diseases such as East Coast Fever, which is caused by ticks,” Sayialel adds.

“We came in here so that we could add value to the farmers’ products. We train them on proper husbandry and grazing. Nowadays, we buy 400 cows every month from local pastoralists within the Mara,” offers Tom Keywood, the director of Mara Beef Company, adding that  they have helped farmers avoid brokers, who used to take advantage of them.

A cow would go through seven brokers before reaching the market back then, and a farmer would earn just about Sh17,000 instead to Sh30,000 for a second-generation steer.

Mara Beef supplies its products to various supermarkets in Nairobi, Nakuru and Narok.

Ms Frida Gacheri, a market access adviser with the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV), which has been training the Enonkishu pastoralists on value addition and market access, notes that the country’s livestock market is so disorganised that the flow of information between the producers and the market is hampered.

“Farmers have no idea of what the market wants, while  buyers do not know where to find the producers, which causes a disconnect between the two parties,” she says.

When farmers failed to find better prices on the market, Ms Gacheri says, they would hold on to their livestock waiting for better prices, only to find themselves  in the middle of a drought so they would end up losing everything.

“Basically, the price matches the quality of the cow so we encourage farmers to stock good cattle breeds which can convert grass into meat and fetch good  prices at the end of the day,” Ms Gacheri says.

******

PARTNERS IN CONSERVATION

Reeds are planted around the water purification plant to enhance the water quality. PHOTO | COURTESY WWF

Reeds are planted around the water purification plant to enhance the water quality. PHOTO | COURTESY WWF

Hotels treating waste water  to conserve environment

IN 2009, the Maasai Mara Game Reserve felt the devastating impact of climate change, which nearly brought the area’s tourism sector, its main source of revenue, to its knees.

However, people living within the game reserve have come up with a number of environmental initiatives to conserve streams and rivers, which are the heartbeat of the famous tourist destination.

The shocking news that the River Mara was drying up first came to the limelight in 2009, when both the local and international media reported the drought was ravaging the River Mara and its tributaries.

“This is the first year we’ve ever seen the river this low, an officer who works with the Mara Conservancy, a not-for-profit organisation told the British newspaper, The Independent.

“The Mara River, where wildebeest cross from Tanzania, dried up completely in 2009,” a tour guide working in the Maasai Mara told another British newspaper, The Guardian.

In April 2015, The Daily Nation carried out a survey which revealed the death of several crocodiles and hippos as rivers dried up as scores of residents, wildebeests and zebras crossed a dry river bed.

Treating wastewater in a constructed wetland, whereby hotels and lodges biologically pre-treat sewer water before discharging it into the environment, is among the initiatives Enonkishu residents are using in their efforts to conserve the environment.

The Mara River sustains one of the greatest spectacles of the natural world – the annual migration of huge herds of wildebeests, zebras and antelopes arriving in the Mara Basin during the dry season in search of water and grass.

Through the Mau Mara Serengeti Sustainable Water-MaMaSe programme, a consortium of international and local partners is led by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation–Institute for Hydraulic Engineering (Unesco-IHE) aimed at improving water safety and security in the Mara River Basin,  both pastoralists and hoteliers in the Mara have become champions of conservation.

Researchers believe that biologically pre-treating water before discharging it into Mara River will enhance the quality of the river’s water, making it safe and attractive to wild animals.

Asby Mwalili, the lodge engineer at the Mara Sarova, says the process is cheaper and more environmentally friendly compared with a mechanical treatment system.

In the biological method, which is done via a constructed wetland system, used water from the kitchen, guestrooms or sewage flow through pipes into a septic tank where it is held for a  few days to biodegrade. Thereafter,  the water  flows from the tank through outlet pipes into a shallow pit filled with gravel, which acts as a sieve, letting the liquid through while retaining any solid matter.

The gravel also acts as bio filters, removing sediments and pollutants such as heavy metals from the water. Papyrus reeds are also planted within the wetland  to enhance the water treatment.

“From the gravel pit, the water flows into a pond-like structure; this is what is known as a constructed wetland. We have included some plants to enhance the ambience of our constructed wetland,”Mwalili explains, adding  that they use 90 cubic metres of water every day, 80 per cent of which ends up in the sewer.

The Mara Sarova Hotel was the first institution to  adopt the technology in the early ’80s but upgraded it three months ago to meet the World Health Organisation (WHO) and National Environment Management Authority (Nema) effluent discharge standards.

Joseph Tira, 33,  the owner and manager of G&G Hotel in Talek Town within the game reserve, says he prefers the treatment of the wastewater in a wetland because he will no longer need to dig several pits within his premises to hold used water.

“We use 600 litres of water every day. Currently, we treat our water before discharging it into the environment but in future we plan to use it for fish farming,” he says.

Mr Kennedy Bwire, a project officer at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), notes that there are more than 200 lodges, hotels and camps in the Maasai Mara Game Reserve, all located along the Mara River or its tributaries.

Since the Mara River is not big, untreated or chemically treated waste water will eventually degrade the riverine ecosystem serioualy and even impinge the most basic needs of the people, livestock, wildlife and the overall basin’s economy, the expert noted.

“Therefore, used water that ends up in the river will affect its  quality. However, if treated, the quality of water improves, which is handy in supporting the ecosystem,” he adds.

Ingrid De Loof, project coordinator at Unesco-IHE, says they have trained all representatives from all the hotels on the construction of the wastewater management system.

“The irregular flow of the Mara River could, for instance, lead to a decline in the wildebeest population, thereby hampering the entire migration cycle that sustains the Maasai Mara-Serengeti ecosystem,” De Loof said, emphasising that institutions that pollute water should clean the water before releasing it back into the environment.

South Sudan – cholera threatens to add to problems of rape, attacls on UN, hunger and looting

UN News Centre

UN staff in South Sudan facing harassment, obstructions – UN Mission reports

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) provides protection to civilians fleeing recent violence in Wau. Photo: UNMISS

19 July 2016 – The situation around South Sudan remains tense, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the country today said, calling on all parties to uphold their responsibilities to protect civilians – including UN staff.

At a briefing for reporters at UN Headquarters in New York, Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq said the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is encountering harassment of its personnel and increased levels of obstruction of its operations, including denial of flight clearances.

In Bor, restrictions are being placed on UNMISS patrols outside of Bor town and Bor market, the spokesperson said.

UNMISS has also received “deeply disturbing” reports of sexual violence, including rape, by soldiers in uniform against a number of civilians around UN House in the capital, Juba. The Mission is looking into these reports, which, if true, may constitute a war crime, Mr. Haq said.

“UNMISS calls on all parties to uphold their responsibilities to protect civilians and underscores that those perpetrating these entirely unacceptable attacks will be held accountable,” the spokesperson said.

In addition, the spokesperson said that UNMISS is calling for an immediate release of the journalist Alfred Taban, who was arrested by the National Security Services, and for protection of freedom of expression. Mr. Taban is the founder and editor in chief of a leading independent newspaper in the country.

Meanwhile, in the capital city of Juba, UN peacekeepers are continuing to patrol in and around UN House, where some 29,000 civilians have taken refuge; there are some 3,000 civilians in the adjacent Tomping compound.

South Sudan – which this month marked its fifth anniversary since splitting from Sudan – has spent much of its short life at war with itself, riven by a political face-off between President Salva Kiir and his then former Vice-President Riek Machar. Some 2.4 million people fled their homes in fear, before an August 2015 peace deal ended the major offensives that erupted into a full-blown conflict in late 2013.

Despite the August 2015 peace agreement that formally ended the war, conflict and instability has spread to previously unaffected areas in the Greater Equatoria and Greater Bahr-El-Ghazal regions. This past month, deadly clashes in Wau resulted in the deaths of more than 40 people, while up to 35,000 fled their homes. Such fighting is characteristic of the trend that produced fresh refugee outflows this year.

 

Reuters

Dozens of people have fallen ill with suspected cholera in South Sudan’s capital of Juba, while a U.N. food warehouse was looted and destroyed, incurring $20 million of damage, the United Nations said on Tuesday.

“We expect a huge humanitarian crisis. Even before the current crisis, the health system in South Sudan was facing a crisis due to near economic collapse,” World Health Organization spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said.

Cholera is a type of acute watery diarrhoea which kills fewer than 1 percent of sufferers if there is proper treatment with oral rehydration salts, according to the World Health Organisation.

But conditions in Juba, where fighting erupted on July 7 between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to his deputy, Riek Machar, are far from ideal, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

The fighting uprooted about 36,000 people who sought shelter at U.N. compounds, and 14,900 are still displaced, IOM said.

Other parts of the country have subsequently reported clashes, and the U.N. has recommended aid agencies reduce staff in hotspot locations.

Over 5,000 people fled to Uganda, almost all women and children who had walked for days, the U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said.

The violence in Juba prompted many traders and markets to shut down, and insecurity along supply routes meant food supplies were likely to dwindle further, the U.N.’s World Food Programme (WFP) said.

South Sudan has 4.8 million people who are severely short of food, and about 1.6 million people who have been displaced since a civil war broke out in December 2013. A further 743,000 have fled the country, a number the U.N. expects to reach 1 million in the coming months.

WFP lost 4,500 tonnes of commodities as well as vehicles, fuel, office and IT equipment when its warehouse was looted. The losses included specialised foods aimed at reducing “unprecedented” rates of malnutrition.

Two U.N. aircraft were also damaged in the fighting.

WFP is now considering moving food stocks to safe locations and airdropping food to some areas outside Juba, but the government is restricting its helicopter movements.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization also said seeds and tools had been looted from its warehouse, just weeks before harvesting of the main maize and sorghum crop and a second planting season.

IOM, which is mapping potential disease hotspots and setting up oral reydration stations, has a health care clinic at Tong Ping, where one suspected cholera case was identified on July 16. IOM teams are building additional latrines.

“As more people continue to arrive at the site, concerns are increasing over the impact of the rainy season and the spread of other waterborne diseases. Without proper drainage, the rainy season can lead to flooding and extremely muddy conditions for IDPs (internally displaced persons),” an IOM statement said.

Chaib said estimates of the suspected number of cholera victims ranged from about 30 to 70, including six or seven deaths, but laboratory confirmation of the disease was pending.

(Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Stephanie Nebehay and Catherine Evans)

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