Thursday 26 April 2018
(AFP (eng) 02/20/18)
Efforts to build a five-nation force to roll back jihadism in the Sahel face a funding hurdle this week, with a surge in rebel attacks providing an urgent reminder of the task in hand. So far more than $350 million has already been pledged for the G5 Sahel force, gathering Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- countries in the frontline of a war against Islamist militants yet which rank among the poorest in the world. The money has enabled the force to set up a headquarters and command structure and carry out two operations, with French support, in the troubled "tri-border" area between Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. But more is needed to help the force reach its...
(AFP (eng) 02/20/18)
Almost 8 million euros ($10 million) of European funding has been pledged to restore and protect a UNESCO world heritage site in Chad, said NGO African Parks on Tuesday. The stunning mountainous landscape of the sandstone Ennedi nature reserve in northeastern Chad, near the border with Sudan, is a water-rich island of biodiversity on the southern fringes of the Sahara desert. It is home to hundreds of species of wildlife including crocodiles, hyenas and gazelles. The European Union and the Dutch national lottery jointly pledged 7.7 million euros ($9.5 million) for the administration of Ennedi, according to African Parks. The NGO said it signed an agreement with the Chadian government to "manage and restore" the nature reserve. "Ennedi represents another...
(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 2015 and 2016," Bukar Tijani, FAO's assistant director general for Africa, said at the regional conference that opened on Monday in Khartoum. "Over the same period, the number of under-nourished rose from 200 million to 224 million in Africa. This...
(AFP (eng) 02/15/18)
"Fear rules over the city," said Mahamat, a resident of the Chadian capital N'Djamena for more than 40 years who did not dare to reveal his real name. "Although people are frustrated, they don't want to be arrested, kidnapped or tortured." In Chad, a large partly-desert nation straddling north and central Africa, taking discontent to the streets is a dangerous game under the stern rule of President Idriss Deby, in power for 27 years. Early in January, a public sector strike over pay and conditions garnered some backing, but once trade unions, students and the political opposition urged people to demonstrate against "bad governance", security forces were deployed across the capital and few chose to protest. The regime, which is...
(AFP (eng) 02/15/18)
Senegalese singer Baaba Maal is quitting his role as global ambassador for Oxfam over the British charity's handling of sexual misconduct allegations concerning its staff, the BBC reported. "What has happened on a human level is disgusting and heart-breaking," he told BBC Newsnight late Wednesday. "It is very sad. Vulnerable people especially children should always be protected. As such I am disassociating myself from Oxfam immediately," he said. Maal is the second ambassador to leave Oxfam after British actress Minnie Driver, who said she was "devastated" by the charity's response to a sex scandal in Haiti that emerged last week. Oxfam has admitted to a lack of transparency over an internal investigation about the use of prostitutes by its staff...
(AFP (eng) 02/15/18)
A former Oxfam country director at the centre of allegations of sexual misconduct embroiling the London-based charity does "not deny everything" but wants to give his version of events, a Belgian daily reported Thursday. Roland van Hauwermeiren, who led Oxfam's team in Haiti, was one of three staff members who resigned over allegations they hired prostitutes following the devastating 2010 earthquake there. "A lot of people, including international media, will be embarrassed when they hear my version of events," Van Hauwermeiren told reporters from the newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, who tracked him down in an unidentified town on the Belgian coast. "Some things are described correctly, but I also have read lots of lies and exaggerations," the 68-year-old said. "The hardest...
(Reuters (Eng) 02/14/18)
LONDON (Reuters) - British aid organization Oxfam faced fresh pressure on Tuesday after a former senior member of staff said her concerns about “a culture of sexual abuse” involving aid workers had not been taken seriously by the charity’s bosses. Helen Evans’ statement deepened the scandal around one of the best-known international NGOs, which has aid programs running across the globe. Separately, the chairman of Oxfam’s international umbrella group, Juan Alberto Fuentes, was arrested on Tuesday in his home country Guatemala as part of a corruption investigation unrelated to the charity’s work. Evans, who was in charge of investigating allegations against Oxfam staff members between 2012 and 2015, told Channel 4 television that abuse cases she had heard of included...
(AFP (eng) 02/09/18)
Chad's finance minister says the country will not impose further cuts on civil servants' pay this year, after strikes and protests erupted over one of the most unpopular measures in an austerity programme. "There won't be further cuts this year," the finance and budget minister, Abdoulaye Sabre Fadoul, told AFP in an interview on Thursday. The government last month reduced civil servants' bonus pay by 50 percent, adding to a previous 50-percent cut in 2016. Income tax was also hiked but "the lowest-income workers are now exempt" from it, Sabre Fadoul said. The impoverished state is enforcing cuts in public spending that the finance ministry says are vital to stave off bankruptcy. But the cuts have increased social tension and...
(AFP (eng) 02/09/18)
The Chadian government on Thursday announced the sacking of culture and tourism minister Mahamat Saleh Haroun, an award-winning filmmaker, but offered no explanation. The minister, who joined the government a year ago, had been "called to other functions", according to a decree read out on national radio. Saleh Haroun won the Prix du Jury at France's Cannes Film Festival in 2010 for "L'Homme qui crie" (The man who shouts) and continued to direct movies as a minister. Former culture minister Djibert Younous was re-appointed to the post and would also hold the youth, sports and tourist development portfolios, the decree said.
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
Plans for a "day of anger" in the Chadian capital failed to materialise Thursday, with just a few dozen protesters marching against austerity amid a large police presence, a day after the government suspended 10 opposition parties. Police said twelve protesters were arrested in N'Djamena during small marches against President Idriss Deby, who has ruled Chad for 27 years. The rallies, which were planned by civil society groups, trade unions and opposition politicians, were banned by the authorities in advance, who cited "security" reasons. But civil society leader Mahamat Nour Ibedou and about 20 other people staged a small demonstration in the city centre, while a separate group of some 10 people also protested in the south of the city,...
(AFP (eng) 02/08/18)
The government of Chad on Wednesday suspended 10 opposition parties for "disturbing public order" and "inciting violence" after they backed trade union calls for a mass protest over austerity measures. The parties' activities "have been suspended for a duration of two months," Security Minister Ahmat Mahamat Bachir said in a statement. Citing security reasons, the authorities also announced on the radio that a march scheduled for Thursday by civil groups, trade unions and opposition politicians had been banned. The impoverished Sahel state is imposing cuts in public spending that the finance ministry says are vital to stave off bankruptcy. The cuts have increased social tension and anger at President Idriss Deby, in power since 1990. The 10 suspended parties include...
(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 interest of China to spy," AU commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat said during a visit to Beijing, where he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to discuss deepening cooperation on a variety of issues, as well as opening a...
(AFP (eng) 02/07/18)
Five countries in the Sahel have made a pitch for further funds for a joint force to fight jihadism in their fragile region. The presidents of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger made the appeal after a summit Tuesday in the Niger capital of Niamey, ahead of a fund-raising meeting in Europe later this month. "Given the pressure that the current security situation is placing on the public finances of member states, the heads of state invite the international financial institutions... to put in place additional resources to face it," their statement said. The five countries, along with Nigeria and Cameroon, are at the brunt of jihadist attacks in west Africa that have left thousands dead, unleashed a humanitarian...
(AFP (eng) 02/06/18)
Leaders of five Sahel countries met with France's defence minister on Tuesday to discuss funding for an unprecedented joint force to combat jihadism in their vulnerable region. The presidents of the so-called G5 Sahel nations -- Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger -- met with French Defence Minister Florence Parly, whose country is the initiative's major backer. On Sunday, Malian Defence Minister Tieman Hubert Coulibaly said the G5 force "will be operational by the end of March." The five countries, along with Nigeria and Cameroon, are at the brunt of jihadist attacks in west Africa that have left thousands dead, unleashed a humanitarian crisis and sapped economies that are already among the poorest the world. The goal is to...
(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 Sabine Haddad told AFP that officials began issuing migrants letters on Sunday advising them that they had 60 days in which to leave the country voluntarily. For now, the notices are being given only to men without families, officials said...
(AFP (eng) 02/03/18)
Megastar Rihanna vowed she would "never stop fighting" to get millions of children back in school on Friday as French President Emmanuel Macron promised a major boost in foreign aid for education in developing nations. Macron co-hosted a conference in Dakar organised by the Global Partnership for Education with Senegalese President Macky Sall, while Rihanna attended as the organisation's global ambassador. "We have made tremendous progress today but of course our work is never done, we have a long way to go, and this is a fight we are never going to stop fighting, until every boy and every girl has access to education," she told the crowd. At ease with the African heads of state gathered onstage, Rihanna put...
(AFP (eng) 02/02/18)
Mauritania has named the commander who will take charge of operations in the western zone overseen by the regional G5 Sahel anti-jihadist force, as it wrapped up its second operation. Colonel Salem Vall Ould Isselmou will head operations in Mauritania and a section of Mali for the force of troops drawn from five countries in Africa's Sahel region, a military source told AFP on Thursday, confirming reports in local media. The force's operations under Ould Isselmou will be based in Nbeikit in Mauritania. The G5 Sahel force -- composed of contingents from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, Mali and Niger -- has just finished its second operation, which lasted two weeks. The force has worked since last year, with heavy French...
(AFP (eng) 02/02/18)
Rihanna on Thursday used her star power to urge key governments to commit to ensuring education for the world's poorest as she takes part in an international conference in Senegal. The chart-topping singer arrived in the capital Dakar where she on Friday will join the Global Partnership for Education talks co-hosted by Senegalese President Macky Sall and French leader Emmanuel Macron. Rihanna, the fourth most followed person on Twitter with 86 million followers, took to social media to urge Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ensure specific funding levels. In her tweet to Macron, Rihanna -- who met with him in Paris in July -- thanked the French leader for leading the conference...
(AFP (eng) 01/31/18)
The UN refugee agency appealed on Wednesday for $157 million (126 million euros) to help over a quarter of a million people affected by the insurgency led by the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. The UNHCR, acting with more than 40 other agencies, said it needed to help 208,000 Nigerian refugees and 75,000 of their hosts in Niger, Cameroon and Chad, where infrastructure has been strained by the influx. Since 2013, the Boko Haram conflict has internally displaced another 2.4 million people in northeast Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, it said. "The Boko Haram crisis lingers on and is far from over," said UNHCR deputy high commissioner Kelly Clements while launching the appeal. "The world should not forget the victims...
(AFP (eng) 01/30/18)
Trade unions in Chad called on Monday for a general strike, as anti-austerity protests grow alongside growing impatience with the regime of President Idriss Deby. "The government has carried out all its wage threats," the unions said in a joint statement as they urged an immediate and "unlimited nationwide general strike" The unions said the impending stoppage meant even their members working in the health sector would only be providing a "minimum service" for the duration. The Union of Teachers of Chad (SET) and Union of Trade Unions of Chad (UST) had earlier held a general assembly meeting on how to proceed, as civil servants protested pay cuts enacted under new legislation hitting bonuses and allowances. Civil organisations used a...

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