Category Archives: Humanitarian Issues

Nigeria – 8 soldiers and 25 suspected militants killed in Boko Haram clash

Al Jazeera

At least eight soldiers and 25 attackers die in separate strikes as armed group continues to hit military targets.

The attacks brought the official death toll of troops killed the past week to 10 [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]
The attacks brought the official death toll of troops killed the past week to 10 [Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters]

Boko Haram has killed at least eight soldiers in two attacks in northeastern Nigeria while more than two dozen fighters also died, according to the military.

The armed group ambushed a convoy late on Sunday near Bama, 70km southeast of Maiduguri, resulting in the deaths of an army officer, three soldiers, and three attackers, an army statement said on Monday.

Earlier in the day gunmen attacked an army position at Logomani, 110km northeast of Maiduguri city, killing four soldiers, it said. The army said at least 22 fighters died in the firefight.

The attacks brought the official death toll of troops killed in the past week to 10 with 24 others wounded.

However, Boko Haram claimed more than 40 soldiers from a multinational army were killed in just one attack last week.

On Sunday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau appeared in a video denying military reports that he was fatally wounded last month. He also insisted he remained in charge despite the fact that ISIL appointed a new leader of Boko Haram, which is also known as Islamic State West Africa Province.

In the video, Shekau taunted parents of the more than 200 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014, saying they will see their daughters only if the government swaps them for detained leaders of the group.

“To the people of Chibok: You have not seen the worst yet,” Shekau said, ending with laughter.

Boko Haram’s seven-year insurgency has killed about 20,000 people and displaced more than two million in its effort to create a state adhering to strict Islamic laws.

Source: News Agencies

Drought in Zimbabwe – the frontline of climate change

IRIN

Two years of drought foretell worse too come

Well

By Obi Anyadike

Editor-at-Large and Africa Editor

The last time Tabitha Moyo’s* borehole went dry was the drought of 1992, a disaster that affected 20 million people across southern Africa. That the 50-metre well is bone-dry now is an indication of just how severe this year has been for farmers in Zimbabwe.

It rained just four times between November and February in Sanyati, a rural hamlet 350 kilometres south of the capital, Harare.

“There’s real hunger in this area. People are suffering,” said Moyo. “The last two years have been the worst in living memory.”

Sixty-five-year-old Gogo Dlamini is partially blind. Together with her frail 72-year-old husband, they lost everything they planted this season and are forced to live off aid handouts. “There’s nothing in my granary,” she told IRIN.

Dlamini’s neighbours planted cotton, which can normally handle dry conditions. But they too had a meagre harvest – just 164 kilos, not even enough for one bale. Charles Shava said he normally produced between 200 and 250 kilos, but explained: “You can’t plough if you don’t have water for your oxen.”

No longer predictable

Moyo knows exactly how bad the situation is because she keeps a rain gauge in the corner of her farm, near the dry bore hole, which she is preparing to deepen by several more metres. The benefit will not just be for her, but for a wider, struggling community.

The lack of rains, the result of a two-year El Niño, means that 4.1 million people – half of Zimbabwe’s rural population – will be in need of food aid next year.

Sinyati is in the country’s communal areas, the historical dumping ground for those kicked off their land by the colonial authorities. The soil is bad at the best of times, a fine white dust that needs plenty of encouragement to coax a crop.

Farmer Zimbabwe
Obi Anyadike/IRIN
It’s been a hard two seasons in Sanyati

Maize is Zimbabwe’s staple. But the three-metre-tall plants are sensitive; they need plenty of moisture at just the right time.

Agriculture here is rain-fed, but with climate change, maize is now a real gamble. The effects of El Niño are only an indication of what people here fear may be much worse to come.

“The weather is no longer predictable for farmers,” said Shava. “People who salvaged something [this year], planted in January [well into the normal planting season]. Neighbours that planted in November failed.”

The farmers in Sanyati have heard about climate change. They know about conservation agriculture and “zero tillage”, the advantages of small grains, and other adaptation techniques to mitigate the impact of rising temperatures and the drier weather in store for southern Africa.

But what they lack is proper support from the government. They are promised seed and fertiliser inputs, but it invariably comes late, and is not enough. A five-kilo bag of fertiliser once a year hardly makes an appreciable difference, especially in the communal areas with their exhausted soils.

But improving the inputs policy, even if the government could afford it, is insufficient.

“We are not addressing the issue of why agriculture is failing, and why farmers remain poor, year in year out,” said Maggie Makanza, a programme manager at Oxfam. “Even in a good year, they make barely enough to survive, and surpluses are very low.”

President Robert Mugabe’s land reform, the forced redistribution of commercial farms to landless black Zimbabweans, is often portrayed as the genesis of the country’s downturn in food production.

But that’s false. Zimbabwe’s black farmers grew the nation’s food, its white farmers the high-value cash crops like tobacco. Land reform was chaotic, and impacted the broader economy, but Zimbabwe’s resettled small-scale farmers in general benefitted.

Deeper problems

The deeper structural problem is the cash-strapped government’s inability to craft and sustain farmer-friendly policies to spur production.

Livestock Zimbabwe
Obi Anyadike/IRIN
Livestock prices are falling as a result of the drought

“Small-holder farmers can’t compete because of the weight of levies and taxes,” said Makanza. “You can’t even sell your goat or cow without paying taxes to the authorities”, which pushes up the cost of production along the entire value chain.

Farmers lack access to credit. The government has favoured the newly resettled lands (the communal areas are regarded as fit only for subsistence agriculture), but more than a decade on, many of these resettled farms are under-utilised – especially those that went to the political elite, who became weekend farmers.

The “letters of offer” issued to the new farmers are still not recognised as collateral by the banks, in an economy where money is already in extremely short supply.

The lack of markets and activity in the rural areas is in marked contrast to what you see in much of the rest of the continent, despite Zimbabwe having the infrastructural trappings of a middle-income country.

“Resilience” is the buzzword for the Zimbabwean government, as well as donors and the rest of the region under the challenge of climate change.

But there appears little real preparation is under way. Farming assistance services remain weak, early warning systems are creaky, and those most at risk – including rural women who shoulder much of the burden – are not being prioritised.

Instead, agricultural policy is highly politicised. Moreover, it is being pushed to the back of the queue of priorities by a government that is so broke it can’t pay all its workers, and whose focus is now on survival.

But the broader question remains: “what is the right type of investment for small-scale farmers in the marginal [dry] areas?” said Makanza.

The development NGO, Action Aid, is piloting programmes around water management – rebuilding neglected dams, introducing drip irrigation, rehabilitating boreholes.

“We have to solve the problem of accessing water, because that’s critical,” said Action Aid’s programme manager, Selina Pasarayi.

Moyo agrees, and believes climate change is the real threat to her community.

“Even if we get inputs that are appropriate and on time, because we lack irrigation, our crops will end up wilting,” she sighed.

*Not her real name

oa/ag

TOP PHOTO: All that’s left in Tabitha Moyo’s well

Kenya – Al Shabaab parade bodies of Kenyan policemen in Somalia

Daily Nation

Kenya Defence Forces soldiers under the Africa Union Mission in Somalia in Kismayo on November 20, 2015. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Kenya Defence Forces soldiers under the Africa Union Mission in Somalia in Kismayo on November 20, 2015. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

In Summary
Their bodies were paraded by al-Shabaab terrorists in their headquarters in Jilib, Somalia.

They have been identified as Constable Job Kibet and Constable Kiprotich Ng’eno.

By ANGIRA ZADOCK
More by this Author
The two police officers who went missing after the Hamey Police Station attack on Thursday morning were killed and their bodies taken to Somalia.

Their bodies were paraded by al-Shabaab terrorists at their headquarters in Jilib, Somalia. They have been identified as Constable Job Kibet and Constable Kiprotich Ng’eno.

Some 4,484 rounds of ammunition, an MG3 machine gun, two G3 rifles and a VHF radio set were also taken by the terrorists in the raid at the camp in Garissa County, according to a brief sent to police headquarters in Nairobi by Dadaab police.

On Thursday last week, National Police Service spokesman George Kinoti said that over 50 terrorists in two Toyota Land Cruisers launched the attack but officers in the camp managed to repulse them.

“The attackers retreated and later returned in bigger numbers in a lorry and fired three bombs into the camp, destroying some tents thus forcing our officers to withdraw for cover,” said Mr Kinoti.

During the attack, Constable Justus Egesa was shot in the head and was later airlifted to Nairobi for treatment.

Constables Robert Kinuthia, Stephen Mutua, and Reuben Kiprono suffered light injuries. They were rescued and taken to Dadaab Hospital for treatment.

Sergeant Godfrey Kailutha and Constable Peter Kambutha escaped without any injuries, according to the police.

After the attack, the terrorists burnt down four tents and drove away in a police vehicle.

“Following subsequent reinforcement, all officers have been accounted for except two,” said Mr Kinoti.

Police also confirmed that the photos doing the rounds on social media were those of the missing police vehicle, a Land Cruiser with the registration number GKA 398Y.

Preliminary investigations indicate that the police officers were caught unawares and that there was no rapid response team to pursue the attackers after the raid.

South Sudan seeking regional help to deny rebels support

Sudan Tribune

September 27, 2016 (JUBA) – South Sudan government has started soliciting for support from countries in the region not to host and provide military support to a rebel groups with ambitions to oust the Juba regime through unconstitutional means.

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Riek Machar sits in his field office in a rebel controlled territory in Jonglei State February 1, 2014. (Photo/Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

The presidential advisor on security affairs disclosed that officials from the world’s youngest nation have approached regional leaders, particularly countries with interest in the country, over the matter.

“There is a peace agreement which is being implemented already. This is the agreement which was mediated by the countries in the region,” Tut Kew Gatluak told Sudan Tribune Monday.

“These countries [in the region] now need to continue to support the implementation of peace and isolate those who are against it. They should host and provide any kind of support, whether be it political and military support to those against the implementation of peace agreement,” he added.

According to the official, South Sudan is now appealing to countries within the region immediately expel rebel groups within its territories.

“They [should] really try their best to discourage such people and convince them to join peace”, stressed the presidential advisor.

Gatluak is the first senior government official to react to a report in which the leadership of armed opposition under the ousted first vice president and leader, Riek Machar, announced resumption of armed struggle after holding a consultative meeting in Khartoum.

Machar, who is currently in Khartoum after fleeing Juba on July 11, has been denied asylum in Ethiopia where he had hoped to take refuge after completing treatment from a Khartoum-based hospital.

Last week, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, told reporters on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, that Addis Ababa “does not need someone who is leading an armed struggle on its soil.”

Ethiopia, after the civil war broke out in Juba in December 2013, played an important role in mediating peace to end conflict in South Sudan and also hosted Machar for most of the two-and-a-half years of the peace negotiations led by the regional bloc (IGAD). However, Addis Ababa is now bowing to pressure from Juba and the dynamics of the deployment of the UN-backed regional protection force.

Ethiopia was supposed to provide the bulk of the 4,000 troops and this was going to complicate their participation, if the country gives asylum to Machar, who is still determined to wage armed struggle.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir removed Machar from his position and replaced him with his former lead negotiator, Taban Deng Gai, as the country’s first vice president, citing his prolonged absence.

Machar is also experiencing difficulties with his political activities in Sudan after authorities stopped him from holding a press conference in Khartoum following a week-long leadership meeting that explored the ongoing political crisis in South Sudan.

Sudan’s information minister, Ahmed Bilal Osman said Machar was in Khartoum for treatment and would not be permitted to conduct political activities.

He, however, said Khartoum was waiting for the implementation of the security arrangements so that Machar returns to South Sudan.

Machar vowed he would only to return to the South Sudanese capital, after the deployment of the regional protection force, which Juba appears to be reluctant to accept as a boost to the 12,000-strong UN peacekeeping force in the young nation.

According to a UN Security Council resolution, the protection force is supposed to act as a buffer between President Kiir’s soldiers and those of Machar as well as secure humanitarian supply lines and key installations.

September 27, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – South Sudan on Monday urged Khartoum to ban political and media activities of SPLM-IO leader and former First Vice President Riek Machar.

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South Sudanese ambassador in Khartoum Mayan Dut Waal

On Monday, South Sudan’s Ambassador to Khartoum Mayan Dut Waal, said he was surprised to see the Sudanese government allowing Machar to declare war against his government.

Machar ’’cannot declare war on the South Sudan’s government from Khartoum,’’ Waal said.

“We were surprised because when Machar arrived to Khartoum it was on the pretext of humanitarian propaganda. Also, a week ago, Khartoum said it would not allow Machar to exercise any media or political activity. However from 20 to 23 September Machar held a meeting for his group in Khartoum, ” he said

“Now we have all the meeting papers and recommendations, Khartoum is the place of meeting indicated in the documents, which are signed by Machar himself,” he added..

The South Sudanese diplomat went further to say that Khartoum is misleading Juba when it pledges to restrict the activities of the opposition leader.

“This means that Khartoum is fooling us,” he said.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has anticipated the South Sudanese accusations and declared his government would not allow the armed opposition to attack the neighboring country from Sudan.

He further stressed that his government is supporting regional efforts to bring peace in the South Sudan.

AMBASSADOR DEMANDS PROTECTION

In a separate development, Ambassador Waal said he has asked the Sudanese government to provide police bodyguards to protect him, pointing that he feels unsafe in Khartoum.

“I have sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting providing personal protection and we wait the feedback,” he said .

Last Saturday, the ambassador was attacked by some South Sudanese while he was shopping in Khartoum’s down town.

The diplomat pointed that he only feels safe inside the embassy which is protected by police.

when reached by Sudan tribune for comment, Foreign Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ambassador Gharib Allah Khidir said said that the request of the South Sudanese ambassador request is “normal’’.

“Any diplomat who feels unsafe requests the ministry of foreign affairs to protect his diplomatic mission and residence,” he said without further details on the response of his government to this demand.

(ST)

Nigeria – man claiming to be Shekau releases video taunting military

Reuters

Man purporting to be Boko Haram leader taunts Nigerian military in video

By Ardo Abdullahi | BAUCHI, NIGERIA

The purported leader of Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram Abubakar Shekau appeared in a video posted on social media on Sunday in which he rejected statements by the country’s military that he had been seriously wounded.

In recent years, the Nigerian military has said it has killed or critically wounded Shekau on multiple occasions, often swiftly followed by video denials by someone who says he is Shekau. Last month Nigeria’s air force said it had killed senior Boko Haram members and that Shekau had been wounded.

While the ensuing videos all show someone sporting Shekau’s distinctive beard, the grainy quality of the footage means it is not always possible to confirm if the person is the same as in the previous videos.

“You broadcast the news and published it in your media outlets that you injured me and killed me and here I am,” said a man purporting to be Shekau in a video addressed to “tyrants of Nigeria in particular and the west of Africa in general”.

“I will not get killed until my time comes,” he added in the 40-minute video posted on YouTube and delivered in Arabic and Hausa, which is spoken widely in northern Nigeria.

A statement issued by army spokesman Sani Usman said the footage showed that the man purporting to be Shekau was “unstable” and came as “another sign that the end is near for him”.

“Boko Haram terrorism as it was known, is gone for good. We are just counting down to the day when all the few remnants will be totally wiped out or brought to justice,” he said.

The statement did not explicitly say whether the army considered the man in the video to be Shekau.

Last month’s announcement by the air force came days after Islamic State, to whom Boko Haram pledged allegiance last year, announced the appointment of a new leader of the West African group in an apparent rejection of Shekau.

That appointment was later dismissed in a 10-minute audio clip on social media by a man purporting to be Shekau, exposing divisions within the jihadist group that has plagued Nigeria and neighbours Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

Boko Haram has killed about 15,000 people and displaced more than 2 million in a seven-year insurgency aimed at creating a state adhering to strict Islamic laws.

It controlled a swathe of land in northeast Nigeria around the size of Belgium at the end of 2014 but was pushed out by Nigerian troops, aided by soldiers from neighbouring countries, early last year.

In a sign the group remains capable of inflicting damage, Usman said four Nigerian soldiers were killed and 16 others were injured on Sunday when they were ambushed by Boko Haram fighters during a patrol in the northeastern state of Borno. He said three militants were killed.

It comes hours after two security sources told Reuters in Chad that suspected militants killed four Chadian troops and wounded six overnight in an attack near the town of Kaiga.

They added that seven of the Islamist militants had been killed in return fire.

(Additional reporting by Muath Freij in Jordan and Madjiasra Nako in N’Djamena and Felix Onuah in Abuja; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram and Tim Cocks; Editing by David Goodman and Sandra Maler)

Nigeria – transcript of Boko Haram leader Shekau

Premium Times

shekau-new-picture

In what is clearly a defiance to the Nigerian government, the Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, vowed not to release the abducted Chibok girls unless his captured members were released by government agencies.

In the 39 minutes video posted on YouTube Saturday, Mr. Shekau also asked the Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to ‘repent’ and follow the ways of the Boko Haram.

Mr. Shekau, who spoke for 27 minutes in Arabic reading from a prepared script, called Mr. Buhari a cow worshiper and a liar.

He also said that until his captured members were released, parents of the Chibok girls should forget about their children.

In the speech, he criticized the use of National Anthem and the National pledge in schools claiming they were ways of making children unbelievers.

“You teach your children the National Anthem in schools morning and evening which is a way of making them unbelievers from school,” he said in Arabic, after which he recited the National Anthem in English. “So also the National Pledge, that also is done morning and evening. They are made to pledge to something other than Allah. And that is not Islam,” he added in Arabic after which he recited the National pledge in English.

He also accused the “West” of introducing secular education, sports and music as a way to deny Muslims time to read their Quran.

“The non-Believers studied the Quran and realized that if the Muslims of the world recite and understand the Quran they will be united. So they introduce some programmes so that they will not have time for the Quran. The programmes include secular education, sports and music. And as a result of that today, many Muslims lost their Islam while others who claim to be Muslims have lost traces of Islam in the name of being educated,” the terror group’s leader said.

The 27-minute Arabic speech basically involved a lot of quotes of the Quran and Hadith, which he interpreted to justify his groups actions and motives.

Speaking in Hausa after the long speech in Arabic, Mr. Shekau warned President Buhari of the likeliness of betrayal from Nigerians. He called Mr. Buhari an unbeliever and a liar.

Read the full text of his speech in Hausa below

“My brothers in Islam, what I want to tell you in Hausa is, all of you unbelievers in Nigeria, Buhari and your likes and Idris Deby ( the President of Chad) with his goat-like eyes and the people of Niger, Africa, and the entire world, listen to me now. I am alive and healthy. But you should know that were my days of living over, you wouldn’t have seen me here.

“So many people live even when they are wanted dead, and so also people die when they should have lived.

“Prophet Muhammad (SAW) have been tested with similar hatred because of the religion of Allah.

“Keep doing all your evil planning with Benjamin Netanyahu (Israeli Prime Minister), keep doing all your evil planning with John Kerry (U.S. Secretary of State), keep doing all your evil planning with Ban Ki Moon (UN Secretary General), keep doing all your evil planning with the people of Geneva. Anything you are planning is not up to one house of a spider. And that is what I believe and stand for and what I intend to tell the world.

“We are not sociologist, we are Quranists, and we follow the Hadith and those who came before us.

“We are fools as people but the Quran is what is guiding us and that is why you couldn’t defeat us and we are sure of that.

“Don’t think you can oppress us with your fighter jets. The Allah we worship lives above your jets and you think you can defeat us knowing fully that it that Allah we worship.

“So you think democracy is a religion. All of you the Hausa people in Nigeria, The Kanuri People in Nigeria and Miyetti Allah (A Fulani association of cattle rearers).

“Buhari you are worshiping cows, you better worship Allah. You think you are a general in the Army but you should know that Allah have said that you are not up the house of a spider in his eyes. What we believe in is the Quran and we do not know 2anything apart from that. Anytime we say Allah all of you will not live in peace.

It is Allah that we believe and trust that makes us live till this day and doing very well in our quest.

“Oh my brother, anywhere you are you should turn to the Quran, turn to the Hadith of the prophet, anywhere you are turn to Allah.

“Prophet Muhammad forbade us from using any plate used by a Jew without washing it first. He also forbade you from wearing the dress of the Jews.

“Buhari, all your actions are fake. You are lying to the people, collecting their money and saying you will free their children and you know you are lying.

“Buhari, Buhari, your people will soon betray you for all this lies.

“I am talking to you Buhari, sit back and think carefully. It is not this small Shekau that is disturbing you. No. It is Allah that is doing everything for us, continue and see.

“You deceived the people and you think you are doing the right thing.

“Continue and see, one day you will not even be able to go to the toilet and stool. But if you repent, then you are a brother. Repent and follow the Quran.

“Buhari let me advise you now, fear Allah.

“People of Chibok, let me tell you today, you still have to prepare for a longer Bring Back Our girls campaign.

“If you want your girls, bring back our brothers.

“(Bragging) This is the same Shekau and I am good and healthy.

“The people of Kano you are in trouble. The Sokoto people have betrayed Usman Danfodio and they must repent.

“People of Kaduna and El-Zakzaky (detained Shiite leader in Nigeria), you should repent. And all of you, the followers of Tijjaniya (a sect in Islam), you should repent.

Gabon – court upholds Bongo victory over Ping

Reuters

By Edward McAllister | LIBREVILLE

Gabon’s Constitutional Court upheld on Friday the election victory of President Ali Bongo, whose family has ruled the central African oil producer for nearly a half century, rejecting a challenge by his main opponent.

The decision, read late at night in an almost empty court chamber, raised the prospect of a repeat of the violence that erupted with the announcement earlier this month of Bongo’s narrow victory over Jean Ping in the Aug. 27 poll.

Six died in riots that caused major damage in the capital, Libreville, and elsewhere in the country of some 1.8 million people.

In a speech immediately after the court ruling, Bongo renewed a call for an open political dialogue to bring together both his allies and his opponents to work together in the country’s best interest.

“When we come out of an election and families are having to mourn their dead, it means we’ve betrayed democracy,” he told a crowd of supporters who minutes later erupted into a rendition of Gabon’s national anthem.

There has been little indication that Ping, who has claimed he won the poll, is ready to enter talks with the government.

At the Libreville residence of the opposition leader – a former African Union Commission chairman – around a dozen of his supporters sat beside a swimming pool, watching in silence as a judge read the court’s decision live on television.

“When the institutions of a country behave like this it is just sad,” said one supporter, who gave his name only as Olivier. “Always it is the strongest who wins. The people’s voice was rejected.”

The government stepped up security in Libreville in the days leading up to the court ruling, deploying extra police and soldiers on the streets in an effort to head off trouble. The communications minister warned Ping on Wednesday that he risked arrest if violence broke out after the decision

In his petition to the court, Ping alleged fraud in Haut-Ogooue province, where Bongo won 95 percent on a turnout of 99.9 percent.

A European Union elections observer mission stated it had uncovered anomalies in the province’s results.

The court refused to accept copies of vote tally sheets provided as evidence by Ping, many of which it said were illegible. Ping’s legal team was absent from the courtroom as the ruling was announced.

Bongo’s allies submitted evidence to the court rejecting Ping’s allegations and countering that the opposition leader had himself orchestrated vote fraud.

The court cancelled results from 21 polling stations in Libreville over irregularities. The decision helped Bongo improve his margin of victory from 49.85 percent of ballots cast to 50.66 percent in the final court-certified result.

(Additional reporting by Gerauds Wilfrieds Obangome in Libreville and Joe Bavier in Abidjan; Writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Leslie Adler)