Monday 21 August 2017
(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...
(AFP (eng) 06/28/17)
The generic version of the most advanced drug against HIV has been introduced in Kenya, a first in Africa where more than 25 million have the disease, the NGO Unitaid said Wednesday. The drug, Dolutegravir (DTG) is the anti-retroviral drug of choice for those living with HIV in developed countries, but its high price has put it out of reach for most struggling with the disease in Africa. "The generic DTG has two advantages: on the one hand, it is very good from a pharmaceutical point of view. On the other hand, it is much cheaper," said Robert Matiru of Unitaid, which works to reduce the costs of medicines treating AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. He described the drug as "the...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/23/17)
DAR ES SALAAM (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Sadick Thenest remembers how his 8-year-old daughter had a narrow brush with death two years ago, when she contracted cholera after drinking contaminated water. “She was so gaunt, weak and had terrible diarrhea,” said the refugee from Burundi. “A slight delay in rushing her to hospital would have meant something else - but with God’s grace she survived.” The father of four, aged 35, is among thousands of refugees grappling with frequent outbreaks of waterborne diseases in the crowded Nyarugusu camp in western Tanzania, due to poor sanitation. “Living in a refugee camp is a constant struggle. You either stick to health rules or contract diseases,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by...
(The Associated Press 06/21/17)
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Thursday welcoming the deployment of a 5,000-strong African force to fight the growing threat from extremists in the vast Sahel region after it was watered down to meet U.S. demands. France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre called it "a landmark resolution" that brings "strong and decisive support" from the U.N.'s most powerful body to the five countries contributing troops - Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. The United States is trying to cut $1 billion from the U.N. peacekeeping budget and wanted to ensure that the measure did not open the possibility of new costs. So the final resolution eliminated several key provisions that would have given teeth...
(AFP (eng) 06/21/17)
The UN Security Council will vote Wednesday on a draft resolution that would pave the way for the deployment of a five-nation African military force to fight jihadists in the Sahel region. The vote was scheduled for 1400 GMT after France reached a deal with the United States on the proposed measure, which welcomes the deployment but does not give it full UN authorization, according to the agreed text seen by AFP. Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- which make up the so-called G5 -- agreed in March to set up a special counter-terrorism operation of 5,000 troops for the Sahel region. In a first text circulated two weeks ago, France had requested that the Security Council authorize...
(Voice of America 06/21/17)
UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council is set to vote on Wednesday on a draft resolution to back a West African force to combat terrorism and arms, drug and human trafficking in the Sahel region after France weakened the language in a bid to appease the United States. The vast, arid region has in recent years become a breeding ground for jihadist groups - some linked to al-Qaida and Islamic State - that European nations, particularly France, fear could threaten Europe if left unchecked. Last year, the Sahel nations - Niger, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania - proposed establishing special units, each of around 100 well-trained soldiers, which would be deployed in areas where jihadist groups are...
(Voice of America 06/21/17)
WASHINGTON DC — On June 5, Saudi Arabia and its allies, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of funding extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic State. In response, Qatar said it was the victim of a policy of “domination and control” by its larger neighbor and that Saudi Arabia was, in fact, the one responsible for backing extremism. So what is the truth? Fundamentalist strains of Islam, including Saudi-born Salafism and Wahhabism, form the ideological bedrock for most terror groups. According to a study by Leif Wenar of King’s College London based on the Global Terrorism Database, three out of four terror attacks in the last 10 years...
(AFP (eng) 06/16/17)
France's foreign minister said Thursday he was confident "we will get there" in convincing a reluctant United States to give United Nations backing to an anti-jihadist force drawn from five African countries. Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, which make up the so-called G5 Sahel, have agreed to set up a special counter-terrorism operation of 5,000 troops, but want UN logistical and financial support. "We think that it is necessary to support them in this endeavour, because the security of Africans will not come, in the end, only from Africans themselves," said Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking in the Senegalese capital of Dakar as part of a west African tour. France has presented a draft resolution to the Security Council...
(AFP (eng) 06/14/17)
Extortion, corruption and fear; violence, hunger and sometimes even death: for west African migrants dreaming of reaching Europe, the road to get there can be an absolute minefield. - Departure - Whether it's The Gambia, Ivory Coast, Senegal or Nigeria, everything starts with the "hustlers" -- slang for the middlemen or fixers who organise the trip. Their honesty and prices vary, with the would-be migrant usually deceived about the welcome expected in Europe. Many possess no official documents from their home country, and do not understand illegal status in Europe. Most are ignorant about the extreme difficulties they will encounter en route. "We didn't know we were risking our lives," said Kante Sekou...
(AFP (eng) 06/14/17)
Maria gave smugglers all her family savings and crossed three countries and the searing Libyan desert, but when she finally boarded a boat for Europe her dream was swiftly shattered. She was 24 and pregnant with her second child when she left Liberia with her husband and their three-year-old son. The family passed through Guinea and Mali before crossing southern Algeria to reach the Libyan desert. "The smugglers took all our money" -- more than $2,150 (2,000 euros), she said. "We spent four days in the desert. People died of thirst and the sun in the back of the truck." They finally arrived on the beach at Sabrata, 70 kilometres (45 miles) west of Libya's capital Tripoli, a key departure...
(AFP (eng) 06/13/17)
Uche's real journey had yet to begin but he had already spent four days in the northern Nigerian city of Kano after travelling on public buses and potholed roads from Imo state in the southeast. He planned to go to Agadez, a transit town on the southern edge of the Sahara desert in central Niger, take a truck to Sebha, in southwestern Libya, and from there to the capital Tripoli, and then to Italy or Spain. But his contact, who was supposed to drive him and three women across Nigeria's northern border, was arrested on suspicion of people smuggling. "His house had been under surveillance," explains the 38-year-old electrician in Kano's bustling Sabon Gari district. "The movement of the three...
(RFI 06/12/17)
France on Friday tried to convince the US to back a call for the UN to endorse an African military force to fight jihadists, drug smugglers and people traffickers in the Sahel region after American diplomats claimed the mandate was too vague. Following an African Union request for UN backing, France presented a draft resolution on Tuesday to back a decision by Africa's G5 - Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger - to set up a 5,000-strong counter-terrorism force in the Sahel region. It would give a UN mandate to the G5 troops ...
(AFP (eng) 06/12/17)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will on Monday meet African leaders in Berlin on initiatives aiming to reduce the poverty and conflict driving a mass migrant influx to Europe. The idea is to team up African nations willing to reform with private investors who would bring business and jobs to a continent where instability or graft often scare off foreign companies. Merkel is hosting the initiative as part of Germany's presidency of the Group of 20 powerful economies, whose leaders meet in the northern port of Hamburg a month later. Invited to Berlin are Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the leaders of Ghana, Ivory Coast...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/08/17)
France on Tuesday proposed that the United Nations Security Council back a West African force to combat terrorism, drug and human trafficking by "eradicating the actions" of Islamist militants and organized crime groups in the Sahel region. The vast, arid zone has in recent years become a breeding ground for jihadist groups - some linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State - that European nations, particularly France, fear could threaten Europe if left unchecked. "We cannot afford to let the Sahel region become a new safe haven for terrorists across the world," French U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters. France circulated a draft Security Council resolution on Tuesday to the 15-member body to authorize the West African force to use...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/08/17)
More girls are completing secondary school across sub-Saharan Africa as attitudes change and state spending rises, but some of the most marginalized girls — like those married young or forced to work — are still missing out, education experts say. The percentage of girls completing secondary school has risen in all regions of Africa since 2005, said a recent report by the African Development Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the U.N. Development Program. Almost twice as many girls in East Africa and three times as many in Central Africa completed secondary education in 2014 as in 2005, according to the annual African Economic Outlook report, which was published at the end of last month. Yet more...
(AFP (eng) 06/07/17)
France on Tuesday asked the UN Security Council to authorize the deployment of a five-nation African military force to fight jihadists in the Sahel region. A draft resolution circulated to the 15-member council would give the Sahel force a UN mandate to "use all necessary means" to "combat terrorism, drug trafficking and trafficking in persons," according to the text obtained by AFP. The Security Council could vote on the draft resolution as early as next week, diplomats said. Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- which make up the G5 -- agreed in March to set up the special counter-terrorism operation of 5,000 troops for the Sahel region. The force will have its headquarters in Mali, but will be...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/07/17)
The West African country of Mauritania, a member of the Arab League, severed ties with Qatar on Tuesday over allegations it "supports terrorists", the state news agency reported, and OPEC member Gabon also condemned the small Gulf Arab state. The Arab world's biggest powers, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, cut diplomatic relations with Qatar on Monday, accusing it of supporting Islamist militants and Iran. Qatar vehemently denies the claims. "The state of Qatar has linked its policies ... in support of terrorist organizations and the propagation of extremist ideas," the Mauritanian ministry of foreign affairs said in a statement published in Arabic by the Mauritanian Information Agency.
(AFP (eng) 06/07/17)
France will ask the UN Security Council to authorize an African military force for the Sahel region that will be sent to root out jihadists and drug traffickers, the French ambassador said Tuesday. A French-drafted resolution is expected to be presented this week to the Security Council, which could vote on the measure as early as next week. Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- which make up the G5 -- agreed in March to set up the force of 5,000 troops for the Sahel region. The force will have its headquarters in Mali, but will be under a separate command from the UN peacekeeping force MINUSMA, which has been deployed in the country since 2013. "France is going...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/07/17)
Building a network of African women leaders in fields ranging from business to politics could galvanize female leadership across the continent and boost peacebuilding efforts and good governance, the head of U.N. Women said on Tuesday. The African Women Leaders Network, which was launched last week in New York by the United Nations and the African Union Commission, hopes to drive more women into leadership roles, through mentoring, peer learning and harnessing contacts. By supporting women's leadership in Africa, the platform aims to galvanize their contributions to building and sustaining peace, improving political processes and driving social change, and realizing the U.N. global goals, according to U.N. Women. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), adopted in 2015, include targets on...

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