Saturday 19 August 2017
(AFP (eng) 07/11/17)
As West Africa declares war on the market for expired and counterfeit medicines, start-ups are putting quality control in the hands of patients to stop them risking their lives trying to get well. Not only can such drugs fail to treat the diseases they are bought to combat, experts say, but they may encourage resistance to antibiotics and even cause death as diseases continue to course unchecked through the body. At an April meeting in Liberia, the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) announced a region-wide investigation into the trafficking of expired and counterfeit drugs, and a public awareness campaign. Traffickers in bad medicine prey on some of the world's poorest and most in need, who also face...
(Voice of America 07/11/17)
In the past five years, terrorist attacks have killed nearly 20,000 people across Africa. Two groups, Boko Haram and al-Shabab, accounted for 71 percent of reported incidents and 91 percent of fatalities. But, while these and other militant groups remain active, fatal terrorist attacks across the continent are on pace to fall for a second straight year, and the total number of attacks is running far below 2012 highs. These findings are part of VOA’s original analysis of data from ACLED, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. ACLED tracks political violence, protests and terrorist events across Africa. Their reports include attacks since 1997 based on data collected from local news media, government statements, non-governmental organizations and published research...
(Bloomberg 07/10/17)
Many cell phone companies are rethinking their headlong rush into the continent. Only Orange is staying the course. Back when African countries were auctioning off mobile licenses by the boatload to serve the region’s young, tech-savvy population, investing in the continent’s fast-growing economies seemed like a no-brainer. Some of the world’s biggest wireless carriers rushed in. Now they’re wondering if they made a mistake. Increasing government and regulatory scrutiny, as well as a lack of expansion opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, are making it harder for operators such as Vodafone Group Plc, Orange SA and Bharti Airtel Ltd. to grow. Their choice: Pull back or double down. Two companies beating at least a partial retreat are Millicom International Cellular SA, which...
(AFP (eng) 07/06/17)
Clashes between armed groups killed three people in northeastern Mali on Thursday, a security source told AFP, as the United Nations condemned repeated ceasefire violations by the combatants. Mali's north is controlled in parts by armed groups loyal to Bamako and in others by former rebels who want greater autonomy for the region, while the state is absent from much of the territory. "At least three people were killed on Thursday in clashes between the Platform and the Coordination of Movements of Azawad (CMA)," a foreign security source told AFP on condition of anonymity. The Platform is a coalition of pro-government militias, while the CMA represents the former rebel alliance which last mounted a uprising in 2012 that was hijacked...
(AFP (eng) 07/06/17)
Mali's constitutional court Wednesday dealt another blow to embattled President Ibrahima Boubacar Keita over a controversial referendum, saying changes his government wants to make to the national charter require "corrections". A referendum on Mali's national charter was due on July 9 but was postponed indefinitely in the face of internal opposition in government and following protests by thousands of Malians. The project is controversial as it would establish a Senate with a third of the seats appointed by Keita himself, leading critics to accuse him of consolidating his own power. In a decision issued Wednesday, the court noted that senators had a clear mandate of five years...
(AFP (eng) 07/06/17)
The African Union's new chair Moussa Faki Mahamat on Wednesday questioned US commitment to fighting terrorism on the continent after it blocked efforts to get UN funding for an anti-jihadist force in the Sahel. "This is a specific case of a certain number of African states taking the initiative to create a dedicated force to fight terrorism. So, we don't understand how the United States could hold back or not engage in the fight against terrorism," Faki said in an interview with AFP. Faki's January election as chairperson of the AU commission came days after the inauguration of US President Donald Trump, who has proposed slashing US funding for aid projects and multilateral institutions like the UN. The former Chadian...
(AFP (eng) 07/06/17)
The costs of diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa could double to almost $60 billion annually just 13 years from now, as obesity fuels an explosion of the disease, a report said Thursday. In 2015, the overall diabetes cost in the region was nearly $20 billion (18 billion euros), or 1.2 percent of total economic production, according to research published by The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology. This included medication and hospital stays, and loss of labour productivity due to illness or death. About half of all treatment costs were paid for by patients themselves.
(Voice of America 07/05/17)
More than 7 million children in West and Central Africa are displaced every year, the United Nations children's agency said in a report released Wednesday. Lack of economic opportunities, wars and climate change are forcing more than 12 million people in West and Central Africa to migrate annually, the report said. "Children in West and Central Africa are moving in greater numbers than ever before, many in search of safety or a better life," UNICEF regional director Marie-Pierre Poirier said. Climate change is already a harsh reality in many parts of Africa, where rising temperatures and increasingly erratic rainfall have disrupted food production, fueled widespread hunger and forced farmers to abandon their land. A half-million people have crossed the Mediterranean...
(Voice of America 07/04/17)
GENEVA — The U.N. children’s fund warns tens of thousands of malnourished children are at great risk in Yemen, Somalia and South Sudan, which are on the brink of famine. UNICEF reports an estimated 4.7 million children in the cholera-stricken countries are malnourished. Of these, UNICEF spokesman Christofe Boulierac tells VOA, more than one million are suffering from severe acute malnutrition. “Let me remind you that a child who is suffering from severe acute malnutrition are nine times more likely to die of disease than a well-nourished child," he said. "So, having cholera and diarrhea in countries where so many children are so fragile because of malnutrition among other things because of such a bad access to safe water is...
(RFI(EN) 07/04/17)
Al Qaeda's branch in Mali has released a video of six foreign hostages, including French naitonal Sophie Pétronin, just before a visit by France's President Emmanuel Macron to finalise the establishment of a Sahel anti-jihadi force with the leaders of five Afican countries. The undated video by Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, also known as the Group to Support Islam and Muslims, was released on Telegram on Saturday, US-based monitoring group SITE said. It featured Pétronin, the head of an NGO that works with children, who was abducted by armed men in Gao, northern Mali, in December 2016 and says she hopes Macron will help her return to her family. The other hostages are: Australian surgeon Arthur Kenneth Elliott, 82, who...
(RFI(EN) 07/04/17)
New tax rules in Israel could leave hundreds of African migrants worse off than they are. In May, the government introduced a new deposit law, enabling the governemnt to take 20 percent of migrants' salaries each month and place it out of reach. The money can only be accessed once they leave the country. Rights groups say the policy is designed to force them out of the country. "We're not pressuring you to leave but will make your life miserable so you decide to leave," Anwar Suliman, a Darfuri refugee living in Israel since 2008, told RFI . "Every time the state makes a different law, different pressure, but we said we can't go back right now." Suliman fled Darfur...
(The Associated Press 07/03/17)
DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- An al-Qaida-linked group in Mali has released a proof-of-life video showing six foreign hostages, a group that monitors jihadist communications says, shortly before the French president arrived in the West African country for an anti-terror summit. The recently formed Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen issued the video Saturday on Telegram, the SITE Intelligence Group said. The video shows Stephen McGowan of South Africa, Elliot Kenneth Arthur of Australia, Iulian Ghergut of Romania, Beatrice Stockly of Switzerland, Gloria Cecilia Narvaez of Colombia and Sophie Petronin of France.
(Reuters (Eng) 07/03/17)
African powers launched a new multinational military force to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel on Sunday, which French President Emmanuel Macron told a regional summit should be fully operational by the autumn despite its current budget shortfall. Some observers see the initiative of the G5 Sahel bloc - Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad - as forming the basis of an eventual exit strategy for around 4,000 French troops now deployed to the volatile region. But Macron said Paris had no plans to withdraw them. Islamist militant groups, some with links to al Qaeda, seized control of Mali's desert north in 2012. Though they were driven back a year later by a French-led military intervention, they continue to...
(The Associated Press 07/03/17)
BAMAKO, Mali (AP) -- France's president on Sunday promised strong support for a new multinational military force against extremists in Africa's vast Sahel region, saying the "terrorists, thugs and assassins" need to be eradicated. President Emmanuel Macron, meeting in Mali with leaders from the five regional countries involved, said France will provide military support for operations as well as 70 tactical vehicles and communications, operations and protective equipment. The 5,000-strong force will be deployed by September, and its funding will be finalized by then, Macron said at a press conference. The leaders of Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad - known as the G5 - must clarify their roles and contributions for the force to attract more support from...
(AFP (eng) 07/02/17)
French President Emmanuel Macron, making a lightning visit to Mali, on Sunday threw his weight behind a planned Sahel force to fight jihadists but told countries their efforts had to bear fruit. The so-called "G5 Sahel" countries -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- have pledged to set up a joint force to combat the wave of Islamist bombings, shootings and kidnappings south of the Sahara. Macron, joining the heads of state in the Malian capital Bamako for a special summit, hailed the initiative as "a dynamic, a groundswell which France is proud to back". But, he said, "it will be up to you and your armed forces to demonstrate that the G5 can be effective, while respecting...
(AFP (eng) 07/02/17)
Al-Qaeda's Mali branch has released a proof-of-life video of six foreign hostages, including elderly Australian surgeon Arthur Kenneth Elliott and Frenchwoman Sophie Petronin, US-based monitoring group SITE said. The 16 minute, 50 second video by Nusrat al-Islam wal Muslimeen, also known as the Group to Support Islam and Muslims, was released on Telegram on Saturday, SITE said. The other four hostages shown are South African Stephen McGown, Romanian Iulian Ghergut, Swiss missionary Beatrice Stockly and Colombian nun Gloria Cecilia Narvaez Argoti. No group had previously claimed responsibility for kidnapping Frenchwoman Petronin, who was abducted in late 2016 by armed men in the northern Malian town of Gao, where she ran an organisation for malnourished children. After a video clip showing...
(AFP (eng) 07/01/17)
About 2,000 people rallied Saturday in conflict-torn Mali against a constitutional referendum over concerns the proposed changes hand the president too much power, an AFP correspondent said. During the demonstration in the capital Bamako, which organisers say attracted 10,000 people, protesters held signs reading "Don't touch my Constitution", "No, means no" and "No to the referendum". The protest, which authorities said was not authorised under the state of emergency, took place on the eve of the so-called "G5 Sahel" summit aimed at consolidating Western backing for a regional anti-jihadist force. French President Emmanuel Macron is due to fly in Sunday for the summit, joining leaders from the "G5 Sahel" countries just south of the Sahara -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali,...
(AFP (eng) 06/30/17)
President Emmanuel Macron is due in Mali on Sunday to consolidate Western backing for a regional anti-jihadist force, as France beefs up its counter-terror operations in the area. The so-called "G5 Sahel" countries just south of the Sahara -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- have pledged to fight jihadists on their own soil, as instability and Islamist attacks rise. With its base in Sevare, central Mali, the 5,000-strong G5 Sahel force aims to bolster the 12,000 UN peacekeepers and France's own 4,000-strong military operation known as Barkhane operating in the region. Macron will attend a summit on July 2 with leaders of the African nations involved, "marking a new step" as the force is formally launched, a...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/30/17)
President Emmanuel Macron heads to Mali on Sunday to throw France's weight behind a new West African military force he hopes will lay the basis for an exit strategy for its own troops; but its prospects for success look slim. Mali is hosting a heads of state summit with Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania - known as the G5 Sahel - who could ultimately deploy thousands of troops into the vast, arid Sahel region that remains a breeding ground for militants and traffickers that Paris considers a threat to Europe. Four years after intervening in its former colony to ward off a jihadist offensive, there is no sign of France withdrawing its 4,000-strong regional Barkhane contingent as they, alongside...
(RFI 06/30/17)
French troops will work with the new force from five Sahel countries fighting armed Islamists in west and central Africa, Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced Thursday. "This force is first going to secure the borders, particularly in the areas where terrorist groups have developed," the newly appointed minister said in an interview with Le Monde newspaper. "Accompanying them is the priority for the Barkhane operation." France has deployed soldiers in the region since January 2013, when it spearheaded an international military initiative against Al-Qaeda jihadist groups allied to Tuareg separatists occupying northern Mali. Whole areas are still beyond the control of the Malian, French and UN forces working in the sub-Saharan region. Deadly attacks and tense relations have...

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