Friday 23 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...
(The Associated Press 05/22/17)
More than 23,000 Somali students are sitting their final Secondary School exams despite recent militant threats that it will punish parents who send their children to Western-style schools and universities. Somalia’s minister of education, Abdurahman Dahir Osman, said the exams, which began Saturday, will be conducted in 77 centers across five federal states – Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Southwest, Jubaland and Benadir. Launching the exam in Mogadishu, Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire said educating youth was the only way Somalia could come back to its good governance. “For us, having 70 percent youth population is an opportunity for Somalia, and educating them is the only way Somalia can again stand on its own legs,” said Khaire Security has been beefed up,...
(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...
(Xinhuanet 05/19/17)
The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) confirmed Friday that Zambia has joined police contributing countries to AU mission to offer specialized skills to Somali police force. A statement from the AU mission said a contingent of four senior Zambian police officers are part of a team of 22 newly deployed Individual Police Officers (IPOs) to AMISOM, who will train Somali police officers on security matters. "Zambia has deployed to the police component of the AU Mission for the first time, although they have had military presence in Somalia," the AU mission said.
(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...
(AFP (eng) 05/17/17)
At least three members of the Somali security forces were killed Wednesday as they tried to defuse a bomb inside a vehicle in the capital Mogadishu, police said. "The vehicle was seized and the security forces were trying to defuse the bomb inside when it went off," said Ibrahim Mohamed, a police officer. "Three of the security forces were killed in the blast." One of the dead was a member of a specialised bomb squad, the other two regular soldiers. Bombings are a regular occurrence in Mogadishu, often carried out by al-Qaeda aligned Shabaab militants who attack government, military and civilian targets in their fight to overthrow the internationally backed government.
(Reuters (Eng) 05/17/17)
Prompt humanitarian action has kept drought-ridden Somalia from sliding into famine so far but more resources, better security and increased access to remote areas are needed to bring the country back from the brink, experts said on Tuesday. Almost 3 million people are facing starvation in the Horn of Africa nation that is suffering the effects of repeated rain failures and decades of conflict, according to the United Nations. A pre-famine alert was issued in February, a move that U.N. officials credit with helping to avert a repeat of the 2011 famine, when the aid response was slow and more than 250,000 people died of starvation. "After early warning in Feb, the combined actions from donors, humanitarians & Somali gvt...
(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...
(The East African 05/16/17)
World leaders have pledged to support Somalia's new government and its security and economic reforms. However, the government has been tasked with using its support from citizens to deliver on its promises. The three-day Somalia International Conference in London saw President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo's government get new pledges of more than $1.3 billion to help improve stability in the country, mitigate against the famine that has affected 5.5 million people and free the country from the menace of Al Shabaab. The United Kingdom has pledged $27 million, which will be spent over the next two years to provide training and mentoring to the country's army and improving
(The Associated Press 05/16/17)
Gunmen suspected to be al-Shabab Islamic extremists killed an administrative chief in an attack in Kenya's north that left two police reservists missing, an official said Tuesday. The attack took place in Omar Jillo in Mandera county on Monday night, Regional Coordinator Mohamud Saleh said. The county borders Somalia, where al-Shabab is based. Omar Jillo is among several towns in the area under dusk-to-dawn curfew over insecurity caused by the al-Qaida-linked extremists. A police report seen by The Associated Press says four unknown men believed to be al-Shabab members broke into the compound of administrative chief Dekow Abbey Sirat and interrogated him before they shot him dead. Mandera has been hardest hit in recent years by an al-Shabab campaign to...
(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)
Somalia struck a new stability pact with the international community on Thursday, aimed at steadying the fragile state by bolstering its security, staving off famine and rebooting its economy. New President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed hailed a "historic day for Somalia" after concluding the pact between Mogadishu and the international network propping up the crisis-wracked country at a conference in London. "As we begin on this journey in this new era of Somalia's recovery, the commitments made must be followed through," said the president, commonly known by his nickname Farmajo.
(Voice of America 05/12/17)
Somalia needs genuine international support for its reconstruction and stabilization plans to prevent a slide back into anarchy, leaders said at the start of a one-day conference on Somalia in London. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for another $900 million for the drought-stricken country, reports the Associated Press. "Somalia now hangs in the balance between peril and potential,'' Guterres said at the opening of the conference Thursday. "Here in London we can tip the scales from danger to safety.'' Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said his country also needs a "robust economic program" to fully recover from a quarter-century of war and chaos. “The insecurity situation cannot be changed without addressing its root causes, which is abject poverty and mass...
(Xinhuanet 05/12/17)
The UN refugee agency said Friday it has revised funding needs for people displaced inside Somalia and for Somali refugees in the East Africa region. In a statement, the UNHCR said it's seeking some 488 million U.S. dollars to provide continued support to displaced Somalis in 2017. "The updated funding appeal is combined with our call for continued and sustainable international engagement with the government of Somalia and also refugee hosting countries in the region," UNHCR said. The update includes an additional requirement of 91 million dollars for Somali refugees in Ethiopia, Kenya, Yemen and those displaced inside Somalia. The UNHCR appeal also aims to cover needs of some 250,000 most vulnerable among the newly displaced - including those forced...
(AFP (eng) 05/11/17)
Somalia's president Thursday urged world powers to help him fight the "raging enemies" of terror, corruption and poverty, at an international conference aimed at stabilising the crisis-wracked country under his new leadership. Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed told the London gathering that the conflict-ravaged state could thrive on the Somali natural flair for commerce if it can hold off the threats of famine, piracy and Islamic extremism. The one-day conference, attended by world leaders, is looking to strike a new agreement between Somalia and its international support
(AFP (eng) 05/11/17)
International leaders are gathering in London on Thursday to thrash out agreements with Somalia aimed at stabilising the country under its new political leadership. The one-day conference is looking to strike a new compact that will accelerate progress on security, development and the troubled east African country's economy by 2020. Britain's Foreign Office said it was aiming for "a new partnership for Somalia". The meeting is being co-chaired by Somalia's new President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and British Prime Minister Theresa May. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini is also attending, along with US

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