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Africa

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A group of displaced Somali women residing at the Ifo Two Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya, which is supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees:UNHCR. Image: UN:Evan Schneider. ‽: 190516

Justice Carole Lewis
The Supreme Court 
of Appeal South Africa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

University of South Africa

Africa Arkive

 

Africa is made of countries: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mayotte, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Réunion, Rwanda, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Somaliland, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland:Eswatini, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe

Sudan: Lives of Traumatised and Displaced Women in West Darfur Under Threat

 

 

|| Thursday: January 16: 2020 || ά. On-going instability in Sudan’s West Darfur region has left the lives, health and safety of thousands of women hanging in the balance, according to the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA. Since December 28, inter-communal disputes in camps for internally displaced persons:IDPs have left more than 40,000 civilians displaced, of whom an estimated 10,800, are women of reproductive age. 

More than 50 were killed and 60 others injured, the UN has reported and in recent weeks thousands of civilians crossed the border into Chad, seeking refuge. Citing two flash reports this year, the UN agency shone a light on a serious lack of adequate reproductive health services and protection.  “Following the recent attack on the camps in West Darfur, women had to flee, leaving behind their burnt houses and all of their personal belongings.” said Mr Massimo Diana, UNFPA Representative in Sudan.

“The attack has left them traumatised and in need of psychological support. As they have no private shelter, the women continue to feel unsafe and are very vulnerable towards violence and harassment.” Mr Diana said.

Based on data from the Ministry of Health and Social Development, there are an estimated 3,442 pregnant women in dire need of adequate reproductive health services, some 700 women of whom are in their ninth month of pregnancy, living in 41 different IDP sites.

Some 373 deliveries took place in the past 10 days alone. UNFPA stressed that immediate action is needed to save lives and ensure women’s health and safety. “The unavailability of obstetric services for pregnant women and the lack of access to safe delivery is the reason for loss of lives both for mothers and newborns.” said Mr Diana.

“Overcrowding at hospitals during instability is common and in the case of current events in West Darfur means that women are delivering babies in shared rooms or open squares.” While an estimated 160 midwives have been deployed, the availability of safe delivery facilities remains inadequate, leaving women to give birth in makeshift spaces, including classrooms in the presence of other women and children.

UNFPA is supporting the State Ministry of Health and other partners in establishing sexual and reproductive health clinics in 31 IDP sites, which will include the services of 60 midwives. The UN agency has, also, shipped 31 different emergency reproductive health kits from Khartoum to El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, to cover the needs of pregnant women. 

“Having no access to emergency obstetric care leads to an increase in maternal and neonatal deaths so this is a life-saving intervention.” Mr Diana said. Credible information, including, from rapid assessments, also, indicates that amidst rising displacement, gender-based violence is being perpetrated on a large scale and in different forms, especially, for women and girls.

The Population Fund noted that a team of GBV and reproductive health co-ordinators were deployed to El Geneina and emergency reproductive health kits were dispatched to support the humanitarian response. Moreover, prevention and response efforts are being strengthened, including, by co-ordinating and providing psychosocial support and other services.

“Gender-based violence is one of the most pervasive human-rights abuses in the world.” Mr Diana said. “Both priorities must always be treated with immediate attention, regardless of whether it is an emergency or not.”

::: Caption: UNFPA has been supporting pregnant women in West Darfur following an increase in instability in the region: Image: UNFPA :::

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Nigeria: The Rise in Cult Related Killings in the Rivers State: Amnesty International Calls on the Nigerian Authorities to Take More Robust Action to Bring an End to These Attacks

 

 

|| Monday: January 13: 2020 || ά. The failure of Nigerian authorities to protect people from attacks and intimidation by violent gangs is leading to loss of lives and rising impunity, that is making life precarious in some communities across the Rivers state, said Amnesty International. At least, 60 people were killed in 2019 alone in various communities of the Rivers state, especially, Khana and Gokana local government areas.

“The authorities have failed to bring those responsible for these horrific crimes to justice and have allowed a climate of impunity to fuel further violence. We call on the Nigerian authorities to take more robust action to stop these attacks by investigating every clash and bringing perpetrators to justice.” said Mr Osai Ojigho, the Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“The government has an obligation to defend and protect the people; its failure to provide security for people in Rivers state, especially, in Emohua, Khana and Gokana local government areas and its failure to investigate and prosecute those responsible for these killings created an atmosphere of fear and bloodshed in the region.”

An investigation by Amnesty International shows that the rise in cult related violence is as a result of government’s failure to investigate, arrest and prosecute perpetrators, as the culture of impunity continues to embolden further attacks. Residents, also, alleged that influential politicians, often, provide arms and protections to violent youth groups. In few cases where the Nigerian security agencies did respond to the armed gang clashes, their response was always slow and inadequate. Residents informed Amnesty International that gang clashes usually last for two to three hours while security forces always arrive hours after the clashes ended.

Communities affected by these clashes said that despite fatalities authorities have not taken any concrete actions to protect them from violent gangs. ‘’Whenever there is an attack by the armed gangs, we usually call the police and other security agencies to come to our rescue but, they only arrive when the gangs have left.’’ A resident of one of the affected communities said.

‘’When they come, they will arrest innocent villagers, mount road blocks and send security men to the villages but, after two weeks they dismantle the road blocks and leave the community until another violent gang attack.” People have been linking the rise in violence to arming of youths by politicians for electoral purposes.

A youth leader in Khana community blamed politicians for providing arms to the youths during elections. “Different political parties use different criminal cult groups for their selfish interests. If, they think their group is not strong enough to deliver, they empower them with more weapons. But they don’t think about the aftermath of everything. They don’t care what happens after elections.”

At least, 49 people have been killed in different communities in Khana local government area in series of attacks between April and September 2019, according to villagers and community leaders. On April 09, 2019, a criminal gang invaded Bere community and shot dead nine people, residents told Amnesty International. Mr Sorle Deekae and Chief Lucky Micah were some of those killed. At least, 20 other people were reported to have been killed in other communities including, Kaani-babe in series of attacks. In May 2019, 20 people were murdered in an attack on Kono-boue community, according to villagers and community leaders.

The invasion of Kono-boue community in May 2019 forced the community, especially, women and children, to flee their villages. After gang members operated for hours unhindered, killing and burning houses and looting shops locals told Amnesty International that their children could not go to school, shop owners had to flee and people were forced to leave their homes and take refuge at an IDP camp set up by  churches in Bori, Rivers state.

At Bodo community, in Gokana local government, a villager told Amnesty International, “The armed gangs operate around here all the time, whenever they start, we all go in and lock our doors, they don’t normally come after villagers on purpose but rather in search of rival cult groups. But when a bullet moves, it does not ask questions, it brings down anybody on its path.”

Residents told Amnesty International that on August 04, 2019, three people were shot dead in Bodo, when armed gangs attacked the community. An environmental activist Baribefe Bornu, 39, was one of the victims, killed alongside two others; Giobari Thomas Eele and Barivale Amos.

Eye witnesses and relatives of the deceased told Amnesty International that Baribefe was shot at close range at about 22:00 in front of his house as he begged for his life. Baribefe Bornu played a key role in Bodo’s battle to seek justice from the oil company Shell, following two devastating spills, caused by operational failure, in the area in 2008. Their case was eventually heard in the High Court in London. Shell acknowledged responsibility and agreed to pay £55m as compensation to the community and, also, to clean-up the affected areas in 2015.

Bodo became the only community in the Niger Delta to be subjected to an internationally recognised clean-up operation, the Bodo Mediation Initiative, sponsored by the Dutch Government. Baribefe was involved in the clean-up process until he was murdered.

According to locals about 11 persons, all men, have been killed in Bodo in three separate attacks this year. “These gangs should not be allowed to be killing people wantonly. Those, who killed Baribefe Bornu and others must be brought to justice and security measures stepped up to protect the people of Bodo and other communities.”

In Bodo, families of victims complained of being left with the burden of burying their loved ones without hope for justice since authority rarely investigate attacks by the armed gangs. In Bodo and other communities visited by Amnesty International, residents said the police did not do anything concerning the killings and no investigation was carried out after the death of their loved ones.

‘’The police station is not far from here but, they never came during or after the attack. They didn’t even come to investigate attacks”

“The Nigerian authorities must perform their duty of providing security and must ensure justice through impartial and independent investigation and adequate reparations for the victims of this violence, including the families of those killed.” said Osai Ojigho.

The year started in a bloody way for Rumuodogo community. Ongoing spate of killings left, at least, five people dead in Rumuodogo community in Emohua Local Government Area. The killing and beheading of members of the government backed vigilante group OSPAC on January 06, led to retaliatory killings by OSPAC operatives.

Amnesty International Nigeria was informed that most communities in Emohua local government area decided to engage the service of a local vigilante group in the state, ONELGA Security Planning and Advisory Committee:OSPAC to help restore peace in their communities due to the rise in gang related crimes in their communities.

A villager informed Amnesty International that “On January 06, 2020, three OSPAC members, including, the bike man carrying them were killed in Rumuodogo and most of the villagers are on the run because OSPAC came to the village, picking up people, who are related to known gang members and killing them.”

Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the authorities are doing little or nothing to address the ongoing violence. “The Rivers state authorities should as a matter of urgency put an end to the ongoing unrest in Rumuodogo community and take all feasible measures to restore peace in the community.” said Mr Osia Ojigho

Background: The frequent fight for supremacy by rival armed groups has created an atmosphere of fear in different communities in the Rivers state, especially, in Khana and Gokana local government areas.  Clashes between the gangs are frequent and people, as well as, gang members have been killed.

The Governor of the River state signed the anti-cultism bill into law in March 2018. The bill proscribes the death penalty for any cultist, who kills during a cult activity and life imprisonment for any cultist apprehended. While Amnesty International continues to oppose death penalty in all circumstances, it is necessary to state that despite these stringent measures, cultism is in the rise in the state.

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Deaths From Measles Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Reach Over 6,000: Another $40 Million Needed to Upscale the Vaccination Programme

 

|| Sunday: January 12: 2020 || ά. With the death toll from the world’s worst measles epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:DRC surpassing 6000, the World Health Organisation:WHO is calling for more funding to stop the outbreak. Under the leadership of the DRC Ministry of Health, WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and other partner aid agencies vaccinated more than 18 million children under five across the country in 2019.

However, in some areas, routine vaccination coverage remains low and 25% of the reported measles cases are in children over the age of five, who are the most vulnerable. “We are doing our utmost to bring this epidemic under control. Yet, to be truly successful, we must ensure that no child faces the unnecessary risk of death from a disease, that is easily preventable by a vaccine. We urge our donor partners to, urgently, step up their assistance.” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

Since the start of 2019, around 310,000 suspected measles cases have been reported. The epidemic has been aggravated by low vaccination coverage among vulnerable communities, malnutrition, weak public health systems, outbreaks of other epidemic-prone diseases, difficult access by vulnerable populations to health care and insecurity, that has hampered response in some areas.

Lack of funding remains a huge impediment to, successfully, curbing the outbreak. So far, US$27.6 million have been mobilised. However, a further US$40 million are required for a six-month plan to extend the vaccination to children between six and 14 years and to reinforce elements of the outbreak response beyond vaccination, including, improving treatment, health education, community engagement, health system strengthening, epidemiological surveillance and response coordination.

“We recognise the Government’s engagement in the efforts to end the outbreak and we are grateful for the generosity of our donors. But we still need to do more.” said Dr Amédée Prosper Djiguimdé, the Officer in charge of WHO office in the DRC. “Thousands of Congolese families need our help to lift the burden of this prolonged epidemic from their backs. We can not achieve this without adequate finances.”

The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, Médecins du Monde, Médecins Sans Frontières, United Nations Children’s Fund, WHO and other partners have been supporting the Government to bring the long-running epidemic under control. In December 2019, WHO trained 60 health professionals from the Ministry of Health to conduct a range of services, including, community engagement, health education and surveillance. These health professionals are being deployed this week as part of the response.

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Sudan: Inter-communal Clashes Displace Tens of Thousands in Volatile Darfur Region of the Country

 

 

|| Sunday: January 12: 2020 || ά. Around 40,000 people have been displaced in Sudan’s West Darfur State in recent days, following intercommunal clashes, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs:OCHA said on Tuesday, citing Sudanese Government data.

There have, also, been reports of attacks on camps for internally displaced people and homes being burned. Humanitarian partners are closely monitoring the situation and gathering information on the needs to respond as soon as the security situation allows. “Violence between communities in and around El Geneina, the capital of West Darfur State, had reportedly killed at least 54 people, injured 60 and displaced 40,000, since December 28”, OCHA Spokesperson Mr Jens Laerke told reporters in Geneva.

During the Darfur conflict between the Government, their militia allies and rebel groups, which began in 2003, the UN estimated that around 300,000 were killed, and around 02.7 million were forced from their homes. Former President Al-Bashir was indicted for war crimes, including, genocide, nine years ago.

“Thousands of people had crossed the border into Chad, seeking refuge in villages near the border.” Mr Laerke said. He added that the displaced within West Darfur had taken refuge in schools and government buildings, while the UN and its partners were supporting the government response and that of national partners.

For his part, Mr Andrej Mahecic, the Spokesperson for the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, added that UNHCR teams had identified, at least, 3,700 people, including, more than 2,000 women and 500 children under-five, who had crossed the border between West Darfur and Chad.

“The conditions were dire and most refugees were staying out in the open; food and water were urgently needed.” he said. According to OCHA, shelter, food, water, health services and non-food items are the most urgent priorities.

Amid security concerns, the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur:UNAMID has helped to relocate 32 aid workers to Zalingei, Central Darfur. “The situation in the affected area was currently calm and seemed to be stabilising.” The OCHA Spokesperson said.

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Unprecedented Terrorist Violence in West Africa’s Sahel Region

 

 

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