Wednesday 28 June 2017
(Reuters (Eng) 05/24/17)
When U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders of the world's seven major industrialized nations gather in Sicily on Friday, they will enjoy a spectacular view of the Mediterranean Sea, but won't get any glimpse of boats full of migrants. A common sight off Sicily in recent years, the authorities have banned all migrant landings on the island during the Group of Seven Summit for security reasons, telling rescue vessels that pick them up at sea to take them to the mainland during the two-day meeting. Out of sight does not mean out of mind. Italy chose to host the summit in Taormina, on the cliffs of eastern Sicily, to concentrate minds on Europe's migrant crisis and to seek ways...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/23/17)
Fossils from Greece and Bulgaria of an ape-like creature that lived 7.2 million years ago may fundamentally alter the understanding of human origins, casting doubt on the view that the evolutionary lineage that led to people arose in Africa. Scientists said on Monday the creature, known as Graecopithecus freybergi and known only from a lower jawbone and an isolated tooth, may be the oldest-known member of the human lineage that began after an evolutionary split from the line that led to chimpanzees, our closest cousins. The jawbone, which included teeth, was unearthed in 1944 in Athens. The premolar was found in south-central Bulgaria in 2009. The researchers examined them using sophisticated new techniques including CT scans and established their age...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/22/17)
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa need to get their budgets in order, diversify their economies and look after their poorest people. If they do that, there is no reason why the region cannot have the strong growth needed to meet the aspirations of a young and growing population. That, at least, is the three-pillared prescription from the International Monetary Fund as expressed by one of its top Africa researchers, Celine Allard, in an official IMF blog post and podcast. Allard co-authored the Fund's regional economic outlook, released earlier this month. It found that sub-Saharan economic growth hit only 1.4 percent last year, the lowest level in two decades and well off the 5-6 percent rates normally reached. It was also well...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/20/17)
France will step up the fight against resurgent Islamist militants in north and west Africa and will work more closely with Germany to help the tinderbox region, President Emmanuel Macron said on his first trip outside Europe on Friday. Visiting Mali days after taking office, Macron vowed to keep French troops in the Sahel region until there was "no more Islamist terrorism" there. He said operations would be escalated in response to signs that militant groups were regrouping and uniting. "It is vital today that we speed up. Our armed forces are giving their all, but we must speed up" efforts to secure the Sahel, he told a news conference in Gao, Mali, where he held talks with President Ibrahim...
(AFP (eng) 05/19/17)
A recent attack targeting UN peacekeepers in the Central African Republic was carried out with heavy weapons that have not been used in other outbreaks of fighting, a UN official said Thursday. Deputy UN envoy Diane Corner said the fighters used mortars and grenade-launchers in the May 13 assault in the town of Bangassou, which had until then mostly been spared from violence. The attack targeted a "MINUSCA base deliberately, in a major way, including using some fairly serious weaponry," Corner told reporters by videolink from Bangui. "It looks like someone has been financing this." Corner did not speculate as to who may have bankrolled the offensive, which left at least 115 people dead, including a Moroccan peacekeeper. Five other...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/19/17)
When rich countries wrote off billions of dollars of African debt in 2005, they hoped governments would think twice about borrowing again in costly foreign currencies. Over a decade later, most sub-Saharan African countries still rely on U.S. dollar-denominated debt to finance their economies. Some investors say this is sowing the seeds of future debt crises if local currencies devalue and make dollar debt repayments more expensive. Aside from South Africa and Nigeria, governments have not yet done enough to develop capital markets that would have allowed them to raise more money in their own currencies, investors say. United Nations trade body UNCTAD estimates that Africa's external debt stock rapidly grew to $443 billion by 2013 through bilateral borrowing, syndicated...
(Bloomberg 05/18/17)
Steinhoff International Holdings NV plans to list its African assets separately as the acquisitive retailer seeks a new prize for shareholders following this year’s failed merger talks with Shoprite Holdings Ltd. The company said Wednesday it will seek to list businesses including clothing retailer Pepkor and furniture chain JD Group Ltd. on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, about 18 months after moving its primary listing to Frankfurt from the South African commercial hub. The new business could be worth as much as 60 billion rand ($4.5 billion), said Evan Walker, a money manager at 36one Asset Management in Johannesburg, although the valuation could also be as low as 40 billion rand depending on how much debt Steinhoff puts into the vehicle...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/17/17)
As many as 100 people were killed last week in militia violence in southern Central African Republic and fighting fueled by ethnic and religious rivalries is spreading, the United Nations said on Tuesday. The violence represents a new escalation in a conflict that began in 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka fighters seized power and ousted then-President Francois Bozize, prompting reprisal killings from Christian anti-balaka militias. Clashes intensified on Monday in the town of Bria, about 300 km (180 miles) from the southern-eastern border town of Bangassou during the day, forcing about 1,000 civilians to seek shelter near the U.N. base, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.
(Bloomberg 05/17/17)
The United Nations said it plans to deploy more peacekeeping forces in the Central African Republic diamond-mining town of Bangassou to stem a recent wave of violence. Almost three quarters of the 35,000 inhabitants of the southeastern town need humanitarian assistance following the unrest, Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in an emailed statement Tuesday. The additional forces are being deployed to “neutralize attackers, protect civilians and facilitate critical humanitarian support to the population,” Dujarric said. The Central African Republic has been riven by violence since a coalition of mainly Muslim rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize in 2013. The country was the world’s 10th-biggest diamond producer by value in 2012, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. On...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/17/17)
Gay and lesbian Africans who fled abuse in their home countries face a "culture of disbelief" which makes their experience of seeking asylum in Britain traumatic, a Nigerian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender rights (LGBT) campaigner said. Aderonke Apata, 50, who fled persecution in Nigeria, said the practice of assessing Africans' sexual orientation claims based on Western standards was problematic. "They expect an LGBT person to have used sex toys, to go to gay clubs," Apata, an asylum seeker who founded African LGBT charity, African Rainbow Family, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Apata has been trying to claim asylum in Britain for 13 years, but her case was refused several times after a judge ruled that she was pretending to be...
(AFP (eng) 05/16/17)
Thousands of people fleeing troubled Central African Republic have streamed into DR Congo following an outbreak of sectarian violence in the border city of Bangassou, the UN's refugee agency said Tuesday. A UNHCR statement which described the flow as "massive" said at least 2,750 people arrived during the weekend in northern Democratic Republic of Congo. "The flow continued in some areas early this week," the statement added. A UN peacekeeper was killed at the weekend, the sixth in a week, in an attack in Bangassou by the mainly Christian anti-Balaka group from CAR. The UN mission in that country, MINUSCA
(Xinhuanet 05/16/17)
The United Nations Security Council on Monday "condemned in the strongest terms" a deadly attack over the weekend on UN peacekeepers, civilians and humanitarian workers in the Central African Republic (CAR), which killed one Moroccan peacekeeper. "The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the violence by anti-Balaka elements in Bangassou (Mbomou) which intensified on May 13 and May 14, 2017, and targeted a Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) field office, civilian populations from particular communities, as well as humanitarian personnel," said a press
(Bloomberg 05/16/17)
The United Nations’ rights chief expressed alarm over a wave of militia attacks on civilians and peacekeepers in the Central African Republic that may have left hundreds of people dead since March. In the latest incident, gunmen attacked a UN base and Muslim neighborhood in the southeastern town of Bangassou over the weekend, killing “numerous” civilians and a peacekeeper, the UN Human Rights Office said in a statement on Tuesday. It also cited unverified reports of clashes in the region between so-called anti-balaka fighters and UPC militiamen in early May in which at least 93 civilians may have been killed. The Central African Republic has been riven by violence since a coalition of mainly Muslim rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize...
(Bloomberg 05/16/17)
When the impoverished West African nation of Niger imposed a ban on donkey exports last year, a small community of traders just over the border in Nigeria was devastated. “Before the ban, you could see thousands of donkeys here,” said Mohammed Sani, a 45-year-old trader in the Nigerian town of Jibiya, as he wiped the sweat off his brow. “Now look at them: there’s no more than 50, crippling the business.” Donkeys are being slaughtered at an alarming pace to feed a global trade in donkey hides that’s fueled by soaring demand in China, where the skins are used to manufacture a gelatin believed to have anti-ageing and libido-enhancing properties. The gelatin, known in China as e’jiao, is so popular...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/13/17)
Tackling climate change in Africa could help resolve multiple problems ravaging the continent, from drought to refugees and violence, the head of the African Union said on Friday. The mix of global warming with economic woes and political conflicts keeps peace from taking hold, said Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Union's new chairman, at Chatham House, an international think tank. "There is a link between climate change and prosperity, as well as peace, on the continent," Mahamat said in French with an interpreter. "Africa is among the least polluting continents, and yet it is the continent that suffers most," he said. Mahamat, the former foreign minister of Chad, was chosen to chair the 55-member, Addis Ababa-based organization in January. In Africa's...
(AFP (eng) 05/12/17)
The UN said Thursday another peacekeeper has been found dead in the Central African Republic, bringing to five the toll from an attack this week, the deadliest so far against the mission in the unstable, violence-plagued nation. Suspected anti-Balaka Christian militias attacked the UN convoy of the MINUSCA force on Monday in the southeast of the country near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. "The Moroccan peacekeeper who had been reported missing has now been found dead," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. A Cambodian soldier serving in the MINUSCA
(Dw-World 05/11/17)
The international community wants local forces in Central African Republic to shoulder more responsibility for security. But reform of the nation's defense sector is fraught with problems. Even the name "Training Mission" was a source of bewilderment to local residents in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR). Who was training whom and for what? In theory, the European Training Mission for the Central African Republic (Republique centrafricaine), also known as EUTM RCA, has a clear mission. It is to advise the Central African Armed Forces in strategic questions and matters of training and organization.
(AFP (eng) 05/10/17)
Three more UN peacekeepers have been found dead after an attack on a convoy in the Central African Republic, UN officials said Tuesday, bringing the death toll to four. The UN's MINUSCA mission, which had earlier announced the death of one peacekeeper, said it was "deeply saddened to confirm that three of the four peacekeepers that were missing in action since yesterday’s attack have been found dead." The fourth peacekeeper remains missing after the attack Monday evening. Eight attackers were killed in the crossfire, MINUSCA added, referring to anti-Balaka Christian militias whose confrontation
(Xinhuanet 05/10/17)
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday strongly condemned an attack which killed four blue helmets in the southeastern part of the Central African Republic, calling for efforts to "swiftly bring those responsible to justice." Eight other peacekeepers were wounded in the attack perpetrated on Monday by suspected anti-Balaka against a convoy of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) on the Rafai-Bangassou axis. And one is still missing. "The secretary-general would like to underline that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime," said a statement issued here by Guterres' spokesman. "He calls on the Central African Republic authorities to investigate the attack in order to swiftly bring those responsible to justice."...
(Fox News 05/10/17)
After five years of no major attacks on merchant vessels, piracy around the Horn of Africa seemed to be on hiatus. Acts of piracy in those treacherous waters have fallen sharply since 2012, according to statistics released by the United States Navy. The Navy credits aggressive patrolling by international forces and increased vigilance by the commercial shipping industry for the decrease. However, in the past month, Somali pirates have intercepted five ships, raising concerns that piracy has returned to the Indian Ocean, beginning with the kidnapping of a Sri Lankan crew from the Aris 13 oil tanker on March 13th (they were later released without a ransom). Nobody thinks the problem will end until a stable government is restored in...

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