Monday 23 October 2017
(Voice of America 06/15/17)
NIAMEY — Authorities in Niger said on Wednesday they have rescued over 100 migrants in the past week abandoned by traffickers in the Sahara desert as they tried to cross into neighboring Libya. The impoverished West African country is a way station for migrants heading to Europe and some experts believe that more African migrants die in the Sahara than at sea. Soldiers rescued 25 migrants on Wednesday morning near a well in northern Niger, the local prefect, Fatoumi Goudou, said. It was not immediately clear what their nationalities were. Another 92 migrants, most of them Nigerian, were rescued on Friday by a team from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Niger Republic soldiers, Giuseppe Loprete, head of the...
(AFP (eng) 06/14/17)
Around 100 Libya-bound migrants, including women, have been rescued from the Sahara desert in Niger after being abandoned by their smugglers, a security source told AFP. The migrants are believed to have been hoping to travel on to Europe and were discovered by a military patrol several days ago, the source said on Tuesday. "The migrants were subjected to terrible torture by their smugglers, before being abandoned without food or water," reported the online newspaper Air Info, based in the remote town of Agadez, citing a security source. The migrants were saved close to the arid dusty town of Achegour, the paper said, a transit point for migrants seeking work in Libya or trying to reach the sea to sail...
(AFP (eng) 06/14/17)
Wild-eyed with matted hair after four days in the searing Sahara sun, Ibrahim Kande climbs out of the pick-up truck he has ridden from Libya back to dusty Agadez in central Niger. Currently the smuggling capital of Africa, Agadez is a crossroads of hope and shattered dreams where would-be migrants headed for a better life in Europe cross paths with others who failed to make it and are heading home. Last year, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) recorded 335,000 migrants heading northwards out of the country, and another 111,000 travelling in the opposite direction. Some head for Algeria, but most are bound for Libya in hope of either finding work there or boarding a boat to Europe. In a...
(AFP (eng) 06/14/17)
With tens of thousands of migrants flooding into the desert city of Agadez en route to Europe, Africa's smuggling capital enjoyed a surge in business which boosted the local economy. But a government ban on the transportation of migrants has hit business badly, leaving disgruntled locals out of pocket. "It's as if you smacked a child without saying what it had done wrong," explains Issouf Maha, mayor of Tchirozerine, a town in central Niger which lies on the edge of the Sahara, just north of Agadez. In May 2015, the government in Niamey adopted a law banning the illegal trafficking of migrants with those found guilty facing a prison sentence of between one and 30 years, and fines of up...
(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)
As Africa's smuggling capital, a dusty city in central Niger has found its local football team boosted by an unexpected influx of new players: migrants in limbo awaiting passage to Europe. Located on the edge of the Sahara, Agadez is a major transit point for migrants hoping to travel north to seek work in either Libya or Algeria or to try to risk the hazardous boat journey to Europe. But hundreds have been stuck here after running out of money, or have returned after a first failed attempt to get to Europe. Cooling their heels, many of them turn to what they know best -- playing football. And here that means playing for Nassara Agadez, a team in Niger's second...
(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) 06/10/17)
Niger said on Saturday it had recalled its ambassador to Qatar in solidarity with Arab countries that have cut ties with Doha over allegations it sponsors Islamist militants and Iran. Some African countries have cautiously come out in support of attempts to isolate Qatar. Mauritania, an Arab League member, cut ties on Tuesday and central African oil producer Gabon condemned Qatar for failing "on counter-terrorism.". Senegal has said it would recall its ambassador in Qatar and expressed its "active solidarity". (Reporting by Boureima Belima; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Alexander Smith)
(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...
(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...
(Bloomberg 06/07/17)
Festus Ogbonnah used to supplement his teacher’s salary by working as a part-time farmer in southeastern Nigeria until an armed band of herders moved their cattle through his field two years ago and destroyed his crops. He decided to quit working the land. “I had borrowed money to grow corn and cassava, and I lost everything,” Ogbonnah, 40, said by phone from the town of Opanda. “The herdsmen were armed with assault rifles and we couldn’t do anything about it.” After clashes in April in the nearby town of Nimbo saw dozens of people killed, he said he knew he had made the right decision. Battles over land and water are intensifying in Nigeria and other West African countries such...
(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...
(AFP (eng) 06/06/17)
The EU is giving 50 million euros to set up a joint African military force in the Sahel region to fight jihadists, the bloc's foreign affairs chief said Monday. The funds will help pay for the troops to fight terrorism, cross-border crime and illegal immigration, European Union diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini said in the Mali capital Bamako. "Stability and development of the Sahel region are crucial not only for Africa but also for Europe," said Mogherini. "This contribution will arrive very quickly and I hope (it) will set out the right path to other partners of the Sahel G5". Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad and Burkina Faso -- dubbed the Sahel G5 -- in March approved plans to build the force...
(Xinhuanet 06/06/17)
Delegates of an African conference in solidarity with Cuba on Monday called on the United States to lift its over 50-year economic blockade against Cuba. "We applaud the positive development in this respect and we commend the U.S. government and Cuba for their efforts towards normalizing of ties," said Namibian President Hage Geingob, officially opening the fifth Continental Africa Conference in Solidarity with Cuba here on Monday. "However, there is still much ground left to cover to ensure the complete lifting of the blockage against Cuba," said Geingob. According to Geingob, the conference will lead to the development of the common African strategy in terms of support to Cuba. The delegates also called for the return of the Guantanamo Bay,...
(AFP (eng) 06/05/17)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday joined West African leaders at a summit in Liberia, where they hailed peacekeeping efforts in the region but warned about threats to stability. Netanyahu, who had visited east Africa in July 2016, vowed that they had "no better partner" than his country after he was received by Liberian President and outgoing head of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. "Israel is coming back to Africa and Africa is coming back to Israel. I believe in Africa. I believe in its potential, present and future. It is a continent on the rise," said the Israeli leader. "Africans are seizing the future. Israel wants to seize this future with you...

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