Wednesday 18 April 2018
(AFP (eng) 03/27/18)
Inside a sprawling former "imperial palace" near Bangui, Russian instructors have set up a camp where they are training soldiers of the Central African Republic (CAR) in using Russian weapons. Since late January, the former home of president Jean-Bedel Bokassa -- who took over in 1966 and later declared himself emperor before being overthrown in 1979 -- has been transformed into a hive of activity. Over the past two months, more than 150 instructors have been brought in, according to a diplomatic source. They are training soldiers to use Russian arms at this 40-hectare (100-acre) site 60 kilometres (35 miles) from the CAR capital. Bloodily divided by ethnic and religious strife between rival armed gangs,...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
Forty-four African countries have signed an agreement establishing a free trade area seen as vital to the continent's economic development, the head of the African Union said Wednesday. "The agreement establishing the CFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) was signed by 44 countries," said Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU commission. The creation of a free trade area -- billed as the world's largest -- comes after two years of negotiations, and is one of the AU's flagship projects for greater African integration. However, the agreement will still have to be ratified at a national level, and is only due to come into force in 180 days. The full list of countries which did not sign the agreement is...
(AFP (eng) 03/21/18)
Armed gangs in the troubled Central African Republic have routinely taxed cargo boats on the southern Ubangi River since 2014, causing food price hikes that hit the poor hard. "All you need is a weapon, you install a toll post on the river," one boatman says. "Then goods become too costly and some people have given up trading because of that." Armed groups that emerged when the CAR plunged into crisis after a 2013 coup started late the following year...
(AFP (eng) 03/20/18)
For a few months each year, the Ubangi, a tributary of the mighty River Congo, dries up and a cluster of ephemeral islands emerge from its torrents before the skies darken and seasonal downpours return. The river, also spelled Oubangui, marks the border between Central African Republic (CAR) and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and most of the islands are barren and deserted. But a handful host temporary communities, with dozens of makeshift straw huts and tarpaulins stretched out along their sandy banks, as villagers, displaced from their homes in CAR, take refuge on their isolated, transient shores. Fisherman Matthias Kongba is one of the hundreds to have sought sanctuary.
(AFP (eng) 03/14/18)
The EU warned African and other countries on Wednesday that their citizens will find it harder to get visas to Europe if they refuse to readmit economic migrants under the bloc's efforts to curb migration. Brussels has been seeking greater cooperation from such countries to take back irregular migrants since Europe was hit in 2015 with its worst migration crisis since World War II. "I cannot understand how a country can refuse to take back its nationals" when they have...
(AFP (eng) 03/10/18)
Gabon is to withdraw its forces from the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, a force known by its initials of MINUSCA. The cabinet on Thursday endorsed a request by the defence ministry to pull out the country's troops in MINUSCA, "given the progressive return to peace and stability" there, according to a report of the meeting issued Friday. Gabon contributes 444 troops to the 12,500 in MINUSCA, one of the UN's biggest peacekeeping missions. The CAR has...
(AFP (eng) 03/10/18)
Every morning, Joseph gets on his motorbike to tend to his field of manioc, in the thick bush surrounding the Obo, in southeastern Central African Republic. This day, though, is not ordinary. Joseph is tense with worry. There are rumours that the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), one of Africa's most notorious and longest-surviving militias, is in the area. "They recently attacked hunters just 15 kilometres (nine miles) away," said Joseph, who, despite his fears, picks up his tools to work...
(AFP (eng) 03/10/18)
By his own admission, former militia man Patrick Kidega spent half of his life as a plunderer -- guarding his leader, stealing from locals and kidnapping children as his group rampaged across central Africa. But he himself was a stolen child, abducted at the age of 15 and forced to join one of Africa's most notorious armed groups: the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). "One evening, in Uganda, I was coming back home after school and as I arrived men from...
(AFP (eng) 03/09/18)
A thousand artists from over 50 countries will gather in Ivory Coast on Saturday for a week-long festival of African music, theatre, dance, comedy, slam poetry and storytelling. The 10th edition of the biannual Market for African Performing Arts, known by its French initials as MASA, will mark the 25th anniversary of the event. This year's crop of artists come from all over Africa and the African diaspora in Japan, Haiti and Canada, performing in the economic capital Abidjan and...
(AFP (eng) 03/08/18)
The sound of drums rips through the air in a dusty alley scorched by the afternoon sun in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic. Passersby stop in their tracks, entranced by the hypnotic rhythm pounded out by the musicians of the national dance company. In a country bloodily divided by ethnic and religious strife, the National Central African Ballet is a rare unifying factor -- a melting pot, professing no favouritism or allegiance to any group or sect. For...
(AFP (eng) 03/01/18)
Unknown attackers have killed six humanitarian workers including one from the United Nations children's fund UNICEF in the northwest of the Central African Republic, the UN said Wednesday. The world body's Minusca mission "condemned the attack which led to the death of the six humanitarian workers including one from UNICEF," on Sunday at Markounda. Markounda has been plagued with violence since the end of last year as the National Movement for the Liberation of Central Africa and the Revolution and...
(AFP (eng) 02/27/18)
Among the bunk beds in a dimly lit cell deep inside a women's prison near the Central African Republic capital Bangui, religious murmurs take on an almost mystical aura. Huddled around a cluster of icons, inmates jailed for "practices of charlatanism and sorcery" (PCS) pray the rosary, mustering the last of their strength as if the only recourse left to them is the divine. Almost half of the 42 women held in the Bimbo prison facility have been accused of...
(AFP (eng) 02/26/18)
The government of Central African Republic deployed troops alongside United Nations peacekeepers Saturday to a flashpoint district on Bangui after clashes between rival groups left at least three people dead. "The government must restore peace," said security minister General Henri Wanzet Liguissara in a speech broadcast on national radio. Peacekeepers from the UN's MINUSCA force were deployed with government forces in the fractious PK5 and KM5 districts of Bangui "to take out all those who don't want peace and want weapons to sound out," throughout KM5, the minister said. Three people were killed and at least seven others wounded in clashes in the PK5 neighbourhood late Thursday.
(AFP (eng) 02/23/18)
Three people were killed and at least seven others wounded in clashes which erupted overnight between armed groups in a flashpoint district of Bangui, Central African Republic's capital, medical sources said. An AFP correspondent saw two bodies at the mosque in PK5, the last Muslim enclave in Bangui, while another eight injured people were taken to two different hospitals in the capital, medical workers said, adding that one had later died of injuries. Once a Muslim rebel bastion, PK5 is now home to several armed groups that have taken advantage of the weakness of the state since the end of a sectarian conflict pitting mainly Muslim rebels against nominally Christian militias.
(AFP (eng) 02/19/18)
About 224 million people are suffering from malnutrition across Africa as climate change and conflicts heighten food insecurity across the continent, a top UN food agency official said Monday. The official, speaking at a conference on Africa organised by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the situation was a "cause of concern" as the continent's population was expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030. "Under-nourishment appears to have increased from about 21 percent to nearly 23 percent between...
(Reuters (Eng) 02/16/18)
BANGUI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Tucked away on the University of Bangui campus in the capital of Central African Republic, a portacabin surrounded by palm trees shelters neat rows of test-tubes filled with green shoots. Here scientists are running a laboratory using advanced nuclear-derived techniques to find a solution to one of the war-torn country’s most urgent and deadliest problems: hunger. But the conflict has hit their work too. In 2013, as the government was toppled and fighting erupted on...
(AFP (eng) 02/09/18)
About 7,400 people have been forced to flee their homes as fighting raged between rival militias in northwest Central African Republic, the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Thursday. The internally displaced people in the area of Markounda since late December have faced living conditions that "are extremely difficult,", according to the ICRC, which is working alongside the Central African Red Cross and the NGO Doctors Without Borders. "Families are confined to makeshift huts. The only health...
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
A stash of drugs and ammunition was found hidden in a truck chartered by a private company under contract with the UN in Central African Republic, the UN's mission in the country MINUSCA said on Thursday. "MINUSCA has opened an investigation," after Blue Helmets discovered several hundred shotgun cartridges hidden in containers, and an unspecified drug, in Ippy in central CAR, mission spokesman Vladimir Monteiro told AFP. All UN materials transported by private companies in CAR are in sealed containers marked "UN", but Monteiro said "these goods were not in the sealed containers", but "under" the cargo.
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
The African Union's chairman dismissed during a visit to Beijing on Thursday a French newspaper report alleging that China had spied on the continental body as "lies" intended to derail cooperation. The report published by Le Monde in January claimed technicians at the AU's Chinese-built headquarters in the Ethiopian capital discovered last year that the contents of their computers had been regularly copied to servers in Shanghai since 2012, citing unnamed AU sources. "I don't see it is in the...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
Israel began warning thousands of African migrants Sunday that they must leave by the end of March, officials said, under a plan that could see them jailed if they refuse. On January 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced implementation of a plan to deport about 38,000 migrants who had entered the country illegally, mainly Eritreans and Sudanese. The controversial plan gives them until the end of next month to leave voluntarily or face jail and eventual expulsion. Immigration authority spokeswoman...

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