Category Archives: North Africa

Less armed conflict but more political violence in Africa

Institute for Security Studies

Conflict data sources show fewer armed conflicts, but are we getting the full picture?

Political violence in Africa is rising and it is more complex than before. But it is significantly less deadly than in previous decades, according to a number of conflict data sources.

Open-source conflict data is increasingly used to supplement reporting and analysis of trends in instability in Africa. A number of recent global reports, including the OECD States of Fragility 2016: Understanding Violence, use conflict data to show changes in conflict type, actors, tactics and intensity across and within countries over time.

While Africa accounted for only 16% of the global population in 2016, more than a third of global conflict took place here last year. Leading conflict data projects such as the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) and the Uppsala Conflict Data Program (UCDP) show that conflict incidents in Africa rose significantly between 2010 and 2014, but have been declining since 2015.

Levels of high-intensity conflicts and wars (where over 500 people are killed) in Africa, as measured by the Center for Systemic Peace and the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK), are lower than during the 1990s.

Current armed conflicts in Africa are clustered in four regions: North Africa and the Sahel, West Africa, the Horn, and the Great Lakes region. ACLED reports that between 2010 and 2016, the highest number of politically violent events occurred in Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Across both UCDP and ACLED, in 2015 conflict killed the most people in Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Libya and the DRC.

Despite ongoing brutal conflicts since the early 2000s, violence in Africa has been moving away from armed conflicts to higher levels of riots, protests and social violence, such as homicide and violence associated with organised crime. The evidence base for social violence is however weaker – typically drawn from nationally reported homicide statistics. These sources provide little information about for example actor types, tactics and association with criminal gangs, limiting our ability to understand the relationship between political and social violence.

The three-fold increase in ACLED-reported incidents since 2010 is largely explained by the steady rise of protests and riots, spread across the continent as seen in Figure 1 below. South Africa had the highest number of protest events in 2016, followed by Tunisia, Ethiopia and Egypt.
Figure 1: Map of event types, 2010-2016

https://issafrica.org/frame/58c7dda254f9f

Source: ACLED, Version 7.0, January 2017.
Remote violence refers to incidents where the tool used doesn’t require physical human presence, for example, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and mortar and missile attacks. Most battle events were fought in Somalia, Libya and Nigeria.

While these arcs of conflict (North Africa/Sahel, West Africa, the Horn and Great Lakes) seem to hold over time, dynamics within conflicts tend to change, as seen in the rise of remote violence. ACLED reports that Somalia saw the highest number of remote violence incidents in Africa in 2016. IEDs have become ‘the weapon of choice’ for al-Shabaab. Remote violence typically targets civilians, while battle actors target each other.

Civilian targeting is on the rise. According to ACLED, the deadliest incidents of civilian targeting in 2016 occurred in Nigeria and Ethiopia and were carried out by militias and state forces. In many settings, there is also a greater number of conflict agents than before. ACLED reports that there were 66 distinct actors in Libya in 2016, for example – almost twice as many as in 2013.

The types of actors and groups involved in conflicts are also changing. Historically, rebel groups and state forces are the most common actors across Africa, but increasingly, political and communal militias and unidentified armed groups dominate. This shift is indicative of changing motivations. Political militias differ from rebel groups in that they don’t seek to directly overthrow the governing regime.

The HIIK Conflict Barometer 2016 finds that most high- and low-intensity wars are shifting away from coup attempts and power grabs compared to previous years, and the continent is witnessing more ‘violent crises’, which are associated with fewer deaths, refugees and internally displaced persons.

But politically motivated violence is only part of the story. In 2013, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Study on Homicide estimated that 31% of global homicides occurred in Africa. So to get the full picture, data is needed on both political/conflict-related violence and criminal violence – a point made by the OECD report and a new report by Rachel Kleinfeld of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

For starters, governments need the capacity to better collect data and regularly release crime statistics. These should be disaggregated by gender and include important information, such as links with organised crime. Different data sources also need to be standardised and made compatible with each other so that they can be compared.

This is necessary, as Kleinfeld points out, if African countries want to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to ‘significantly reduce all forms of violence and related deaths everywhere’.

Ciara Aucoin, Researcher, African Futures and Innovation, ISS Pretoria

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African migrants sold in Libyan “slave markets”

BBC

Gambian migrants who returned voluntarily from Libya stand in line with plastic bag from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as they wait for registration at the airport in Banjul, Gambia April 4, 2017Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Reports of African migrants being bought and sold mark a new low in the crisis

Africans trying to reach Europe are being sold by their captors in “slave markets” in Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

Victims told IOM that after being detained by people smugglers or militia groups, they were taken to town squares or car parks to be sold.

Migrants with skills like painting or tiling would fetch higher prices, the head of the IOM in Libya told the BBC.

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 Nato-backed ousting of Muammar Gaddafi.

Hundreds of young sub-Saharan African men have been caught up in the so-called slave markets, according to the IOM report.

A Senegalese migrant, who was not named to protect his identity, said that he had been sold at one such market in the southern Libyan city of Sabha, before being taken to a makeshift prison where more than 100 migrants were being held hostage.

Women, too, were bought by private Libyan clients and brought to homes where they were forced to be sex slaves, the witness said.

Map showing Central Mediterranean migrant routes

The IOM’s chief of mission for Libya, Othman Belbeisi, told the BBC that those sold into slavery found themselves priced according to their abilities.

“Apparently they don’t have money and their families cannot pay the ransom, so they are being sold to get at least a minimum benefit from that,” he said.

“The price is definitely different depending on your qualifications, for example if you can do painting or tiles or some specialised work then the price gets higher.”

A migrant hangs from a boat as they wait to be rescued as they drift in the Mediterranean Sea, some 12 nautical miles north of Libya, on October 4, 2016.Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many thousands of migrants each year try to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean

An IOM staff member in Niger said they confirmed the reports of auctions in Libya with several other migrants who had escaped:

“They all confirmed the risks of been sold as slaves in squares or garages in Sabha, either by their drivers or by locals who recruit the migrants for daily jobs in town, often in construction.

“Later, instead of paying them, [they] sell their victims to new buyers.”

Some migrants, mainly Nigerians, Ghanaians and Gambians are forced to work “as guards in the ransom houses or in the ‘market’ itself”, the IOM employee added.

The organisation has called the emergence of these markets “a disturbing new trend in the already dire situation for migrants in Libya”.

No winner again for Mo Ibrahim’s African leadership prize

Reuters

African leadership prize fails to find a winner – again

 

JOHANNESBURG Sudanese telecoms magnate Mo Ibrahim failed to award a $5 million African political leadership prize on Tuesday, the second year running the gong designed to foster regional democracy has gone begging due to a lack of suitable candidates.

Since its launch in 2006, the Ibrahim Prize has only been awarded four times – to Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano, Botswana’s Festus Mogae, Cape Verde’s Pedro De Verona Rodrigues Pires and Namibia’s Hifikepunye Pohamba in 2014.

Candidates have to be democratically elected African heads of state or government who have left office in the previous three years at the end of their constitutional terms.gerontocrats, a peaceful departure after years of plunder does not guarantee the prize as the hopeful’s record while in office is also considered.

“The Prize is intended to highlight and celebrate truly exceptional leadership, which is uncommon by its very definition,” prize committee chairman Salim Ahmed Salim said in a statement accompanying the 2016 non-award.

The prize is meant to set the winner up for life, with $5 million paid out over 10 years followed by a $200,000-a-year pension. However, it does not appear to be gaining much traction with Africa’s ruling elite.

Congo Republic’s Denis Sassou Nguesso and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame have recently pushed through changes to their respective constitutions to extend their stays in power, while Democratic Republic of Congo’s Joseph Kabila has gone nowhere since his mandate expired in December.

One surprise late entry could have been eccentric Gambian autocrat Yahyah Jammeh, who stunned his 1.8 million countrymen – and most of the rest of Africa – when he accepted defeat in a December election after 22 years in charge.

However, he then changed his mind and only left power a month later after an invasion by thousands of Senegalese, Ghanaian and Nigerian troops.

(Reporting by Ed Cropley; Editing by Ed Osmond)

South Sudan – Sudan’s Bashir says Egypt providing South Sudan’s Kiir with arms

Sudan Tribune


(KHARTOUM) – Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir has ruled out the direct involvement of the Egyptian arm in South Sudan’s conflict but said Cairo provided President Salva Kiir with weapons and ammunition.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (Photo Reuters)

Speaking to reporters aboard the plane returning to Khartoum from Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, al-Bashir denied that Egypt had conducted any air attacks on the positions of the SPLM-In-Opposition in Kaka town of Upper Nile state, as it was claimed by the rebels on 3 February.

However “We have intelligence that they supported the South Sudanese government, and continue to support the government with arms and ammunition,” he disclosed in his answer to a question from a journalist.

“But I do not expect to fight in the South Sudan,” he further said.

Last January President Salva Kiir visited Cairo where he held talks with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Egyptian officials.

At the time, officials in Juba said the purpose of the visit was to thank Egypt for its diplomatic support to Juba government at the level of the United Nations Security Council.

Sudan as the rest of the IGAD countries including Uganda vowed to not support the warring parties in South Sudan’s festering conflict. They also agreed to keep the former Frist Vice-President Riek Machar out of the region.

Also, Washington called to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan, pointing to UN reports about “strong risk of violence escalating along ethnic lines with a potential for genocide”.

(ST)

Africa – why are there still famines?

BBC

Women hold their babies as they wait for a medical check-up at a Unicef-supported mobile health clinic in Nimini village, Unity State, South SudanReuters

The United Nations has declared a famine in parts of South Sudan, the first to be announced anywhere in the world in six years. There have also been warnings of famine in north-east Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. Why are there still famines and what can be done about it?

What is happening in South Sudan?

UN agencies say 100,000 people are facing starvation in South Sudan and a further 1 million there are classified as being on the brink of famine. This is the most acute of the present food emergencies. It is also the most widespread nationally. Overall, says the UN, 4.9 million people – or 40% of South Sudan’s population – are “in need of urgent food, agriculture and nutrition assistance”.

“Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive,” says the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization representative in South Sudan, Serge Tissot.

The basic cause of the famine is conflict. The country has now been at war since 2013 and more than 3 million people have been forced to flee their homes.

As World Food Programme country director Joyce Luma says: “This famine is man-made.”

“The people are predominantly farmers and war has disrupted agriculture. They’ve lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch,” says Mr Tissot.

Crop production has been severely curtailed by the conflict, even in previously stable and fertile areas, as a long-running dispute among political leaders has escalated into a violent competition for power and resources among different ethnic groups.

As crop production has fallen and livestock have died, so inflation has soared (by up to 800% year-on-year, says the UN) causing massive price rises for basic foodstuffs.

This economic collapse would not have happened without war.

What does the declaration of famine mean?

The UN considers famine a technical term, to be used sparingly. The formal famine declaration in South Sudan means people there have already started dying of hunger.

More specifically, famine can be declared only when certain measures of mortality, malnutrition and hunger are met. These are:

  • at least 20% of households in an area face extreme food shortages with a limited ability to cope;
  • acute malnutrition rates exceed 30%;
  • and the death rate exceeds two persons per day per 10,000 persons.

Other factors that may be considered include large-scale displacement, widespread destitution, disease outbreaks and social collapse.

The declaration of a famine carries no binding obligations on the UN or anyone else, but does bring global attention to the problem.

Map showing scale of malnutrition

Previous famines include southern Somalia in 2011, southern Sudan in 2008, Gode in the Somali region of Ethiopia in 2000, North Korea (1996), Somalia (1991-1992) and Ethiopia in 1984-1985.

The possibility of three further famine declarations in Nigeria, Somali and Yemen would be an unprecedented situation in modern times.

“We have never seen that before and with all of these crises, they are protracted situations and they require significant financing,” World Food programme director of emergencies Denise Brown told the Guardian. “The international community has got to find a way of stepping up to manage this situation until political solutions are found.”

What can be done in South Sudan?

In the immediate term, two things would be necessary to halt and reverse the famine: More humanitarian assistance and unimpeded access for humanitarian agencies to those worst affected.

Camp for displaced people in South SudanAFP   Many South Sudanese are living in makeshift camps, having been displaced by the fighting

UN agencies speak of handing out millions of emergency livelihood kits, intended to help people fish or grow vegetables. There has also been a programme to vaccinate sheep and goats in an attempt to stem further livestock losses.

But, says Ms Luma, “we have also warned that there is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security”.

The areas where a famine has been declared are in parts of Unity State seen as sympathetic to the rebels.

Unity state, South Sudan

Some UN officials have suggested President Salva Kiir’s government has been blocking food aid to certain areas. There have also been reports of humanitarian convoys and warehouses coming under attack or being looted, either by government or rebel forces.

Although it denies the charges, President Kiir has now promised “that all humanitarian and development organisations have unimpeded access to needy populations across the country”.

But apart from that, there has been no indication that the huge suffering of civilians will prompt South Sudan’s warring parties to stop fighting.

Why are there food security crises elsewhere?

The common theme is conflict.

Yemen, north-east Nigeria and Somalia are all places where fighting has severely disrupted stability and normal life.

In Yemen, a multi-party civil conflict has drawn in regional powers, causing widespread destruction, economic damage and loss of life.

Nigeria and Somalia have faced insurgencies by extremist Islamist groups Boko Haram and al-Shabab, respectively, leading to large-scale displacement of people, disruption of agriculture and the collapse of normal trading and market activities.

Yemenis collect water from a donated source amid continuing disruption of water supply in the impoverished coastal village on the outskirts of the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah, on February 20, 2017AFP   Yemenis have suffered disruption to water supplies

In some cases, conflict has compounded pre-existing problems.

Yemen has long-standing water shortages and successive governments have been criticised for not doing more to conserve resources and improve the country’s ability to feed itself. (Even before the conflict started, nearly 90% of Yemen’s food had to be imported, Oxfam says.)

In other cases, shorter term climatic factors may be relevant.

South Sudan and Somalia have both been affected by a months-long drought across east Africa.

How is it different for more stable countries?

In Kenya, the government has declared a national disaster because of the drought and announced a compensation scheme for those who have lost livestock.

The Kenya Red Cross has been making cash payments, distributing food vouchers and aid and helping livestock owners sell off weakening animals before they die.

In pictures: Kenyans share their dinner to save livestock

This kind of ameliorative action is much less possible or likely in countries riven by war.

A mother feeds her malnourished child at a feeding centre run by Doctors Without Borders in Maiduguri, NigeriaAP   The Islamist insurgency in north-east Nigeria has left the area on the brink of famine

UN assistant secretary general Justin Forsyth told the BBC: “Nobody should be dying of starvation in 2017. There is enough food in the world, we have enough capability in terms of the humanitarian community.

“In South Sudan, [the UN children’s agency] Unicef has 620 feeding centres for severely malnourished children, so the places where children are dying are places we can’t get to, or get to only occasionally. If there was access, we could save all of these children’s lives.”

The US-based Africa Center for Strategic Studies says 19 African countries are facing crisis, emergency, or catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

Of these, 10 are experiencing civil conflict. Eight of these are autocracies and the source of 82% of the 18.5 million Africans who are internally displaced or refugees, the ACSS says.

UN allocates $21 million to Sudan Humanitarian Fund

Sudan Tribuneseparation


WFP food assistance being offloaded from a truck at a distribution site in the South Kordofan capital Kadugli (File Photo WFP)
February 20, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations has contributed $21 million to the 2017 Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF) to help address growing humanitarian needs in Sudan.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune Monday, the UN said “the humanitarian challenges in Sudan are diverse and complex, including in Darfur where over 3 million people are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance”.

“Funds to the SHF for this allocation have been donated by the governments of Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom,” read the statement.

UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Marta Ruedas, said the SHF “will continue to support the frontline responders in Sudan, the organisations working to provide relief every day, especially to the most vulnerable, such as women and children”.

The statement pointed that SHF plays a vital role in ensuring an effective, coordinated, prioritised and principled humanitarian response in Sudan.

“Since 2006, the SHF has received and granted over $1 billion to international and national NGOs, and UN agencies, funds and programmes, enabling these entities to provide relief to people in need,” it added

According to the statement, in 2016, the SHF allocated $38.8, which represented about eight percent of the overall funding available to humanitarian partners.

(ST)

Sudan – foreign nationals arrested as police investigate Khartoum explosions

Sudan Tribune


A picture of a yellow building where foreign nationals fabricated a bomb in Arkawit suburb, south of Khartoum on 12 February 2017 (ST Photo)
February 12, 2017 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese police on Sunday has arrested several foreigners from some Arab countries after an explosion at a residential building where it uncovered base ingredients for fabricating a bomb.

Police official spokesperson Lt. Gen. Omer al-Mukhtar earlier Sunday stated that “police investigations are underway to find out the details and motives of the crime”.

Also Sky News TV, reported the police apprehended foreign Arab nationals and seized quantity of weapons and explosives.

In a statement on Sunday night, Sudanese police confirmed the explosion, saying a police officer who was stationed near the incident’s site informed the rescue police that he “heard a small blast at Arkawit suburb, south of Khartoum,”. The police underscored that it was later made certain that it came from one of the buildings in the area”.

The statement added that “police force backed by forensic and explosive specialists besides a dedicated team from the National Intelligence and Security Service was dispatched” to the incident’s scene, pointing the teams “stormed the apartment and found local materials used in making crude explosives and foreign passports”.

“The investigations revealed that a suspect began to make an explosive device but it detonated and caused him minor injury that forced him to seek treatment in a nearby hospital. [However] they refused to treat him without informing the police which made him leave without treatment,” read the statement.

The statement said that the police would resolve the case and captures the suspects within hours, stressing the seized materials are not highly explosive.

It is noteworthy that the police on Sunday morning has closed down a street in the 46th neighbourhood of Arkawit area and set up blocks 80 meters along the street and positioned its vehicles on both sides of the street.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that police found explosives in an apartment at the residential building; saying one of them exploded on Sunday morning and hit one of the residents, where traces of blood were seen at the scene.

According to the eyewitnesses, the police evacuated large number of yellow paper bags containing holdings that have been collected from the apartment.

They pointed out that they heard gunshots at 2:00 am (local time), saying the area was then cordoned off by police with sniffer dogs.

The same eyewitnesses added that the four-story building includes a number of apartments inhabited by Arab nationals.

Khartoum has remained a safe place for foreign diplomats and organisations also there was no terrorist attacks on the Sudanese government institutions despite the regional troubles, its collaboration in the war against Daesh and involvement in the Yemeni war.

The last terrorist attack in Khartoum was in 1993 when the Palestinian Black September Organization carried out