Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Lies Russia Tells

 Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov five-day tour of his four-nation expedition – covering Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda and the Republic of the Congo – promptly reminded the world that the regime he represents simply cannot tell the truth. Throughout his visit, none of the African political leaders or civil servants he came face to face with even attempted to challenge Lavrov’s lies. Sadly, Africa’s seemingly enthusiastic acceptance of Russia’s “alternative truths” during this visit was not in any way surprising.

Africa became one of the main targets of Russia’s post-Cold War offensive on the truth. Between 2019 and 2022, for example, Twitter and Facebook removed Russian disinformation networks that targeted Madagascar, the Central African Republic (CAR), Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Sudan, Libya, South Africa, Nigeria, the Gambia and Zimbabwe.

Since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine, Russian efforts to gain favour in Africa through false narratives went on overdrive.

 In March, for example, a photograph supposedly showing a young Putin training Mozambican freedom fighters in a Tanzanian military camp in 1973 conveniently emerged on African social media and generated undeserved praise and excitement. The image was also posted on Twitter by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s son. Of course, the photo is not really from the 1970s, and the man purported to be Putin is not the Russian leader. 

According to Dmitry Gorenburg, an associate at the Harvard University Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Russia has established 10 main narratives that inform its strategic messaging around the world. And for a multitude of historical and cultural reasons these narratives seem to resonate especially well in Africa.

Among these, portraying Russia as “a bastion of traditional values”, in contrast to a “decadent” West, for example, appeals to conservative and homophobic segments of African society that regard sexual liberties promoted and protected by Western nations as “immoral”.

Russia’s frequent use of “whataboutism”, as explained by Gorenburg, to deflect attention from its war crimes in Ukraine and beyond also play well with audiences in Africa. This is because an overwhelming number of Africans hold the West, and only the West, responsible for the wars, conflicts and instability devastating the Global South. Many Africans, for example, view the US-led invasion of Iraq, which reminds them of similar assaults by the West on their nations as a crime and welcome what they see as Russian efforts to prevent Western whitewashing and counter Western hypocrisy.

Another messaging tool Russia uses in its war of narratives against the West, namely calling attention to the US’s history of intervening in the domestic affairs of sovereign states, also resonates well with Africans who are still suffering the results of Washington-instigated or supported coups across the continent, or mourning the US-assisted assassinations of their independence heroes, such as the DRC’s founding Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.

And presenting Russia as a champion of “multipolarity” in the world also sits well with Africans who had suffered massively under US dominance and are keen for their nations to have their voices finally heard in the international arena.

All in all, there are many reasons why Africans support narratives pushed by Russia that underline the West’s historic and current crimes, aggressions and missteps towards the rest of the world.

Nothing can legitimise or justify Africa’s acceptance of Russia – a colonial belligerent in its own right that has inflicted and is still inflicting incalculable pain on nations within its immediate region and beyond – as an anti-colonial saviour.  Africans also need to realise how harmful their uncritical acceptance of Russia as a benevolent force for good could be for the continent.

As it expands its economic and political influence over the continent, there is little reason to expect Russia would behave differently here than it does in its traditional zone of influence. 

It is already heavily involved in domestic politics in Sudan, CAR, DRC and Mali. Russian paramilitaries, particularly from the infamous Wagner Group, are fighting in several African conflicts. Strengthening ties with Russia, at a time when it is clearly in need of new “friends” to exploit to feed its war effort, would not be good news for Africa.

All this, of course, is not to say only Russian propaganda poses a threat to Africa. Africans have every reason and right to be suspicious of the narratives pushed by the West. Western propaganda and manipulation have been a major source of grievance for many African nations since independence. And the West is still working hard to spread its false or incomplete narratives on the continent to further its interests to the detriment of Africans – and the truth. For example, the state-run Voice of America (VOA), supposedly overseen by the “independent” United States Agency for Global Media, has recently been accused of blatant pro-government bias in its coverage of Ethiopia’s civil war by its own African journalists.

 But this should not lead to the uncritical acceptance of Russian narratives and whitewashing of the Kremlin’s many well-documented atrocities. It is time for Africa to learn not to be manipulated by the West and Russia – for the benefit of Africans themselves, and all the other peoples of the world who have been suffering from either the West or Russia’s neo-colonial ambitions.

Taken from here

Russia (just like the West) is no true friend to Africa | Opinions | Al Jazeera

Saturday, July 30, 2022

No more coups

  Insecurity in the West African countries of Mali and Burkina Faso paved the way for the military to remove failing governments.

"There's no more room for mistakes," said Mali's coup leader as he seized power in August 2020.

"We have more than what it takes to win this war," echoed Burkina Faso's new leader in charge earlier this year.

Many people in Sahelian countries who are desperate for solutions do believe that military governments can handle insecurity better than democratically elected ones, but analysts warn that this popular support could soon sour.

So are citizens now safer? No.

In both countries, attacks by Islamists on civilians have only increased. The same is true of civilian deaths - more ordinary people are being killed by Islamists, militants and the military.

Former Burkinabè soldier-turned-analyst Mahamoudou Sawadogo tells the BBC since then under the new junta the armed forces have been promised better conditions, more resources plus an anti-terrorism strategy review - "but that hasn't fixed the problem".

"Attacks are on the up, there's more violence against civilians and more territorial control has been lost to armed groups - so the putschists' strategy isn't adequate against the threat," he adds.

"The tallies for each year are increasing year by year," says Héni Nsaibia, a senior researcher covering West Africa's Sahel region for the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project (Acled). Nsaibia says tracking violence is particularly hard in the Sahel because of "Russian-driven disinformation, and the states themselves often feed the media with fake reports to make them appear more successful than they really are". He explained, "This is a classic problem, sometimes referred to as the issue of the 'missing dead'," says Mr Nsaibia of Acled. "State-sanctioned violence goes unreported, but sometimes even framed as being perpetrated by someone else."

Malian authorities are fully in control of as little as 15% of the country's territory, according to a recent UN report. Meanwhile in Burkina Faso only about 60% of the country is under state control, says the West African regional bloc Ecowas.

"It's warfare between an army and a clandestine army" and in large swathes of these countries "the staying power of the state is not there", argues political scientist Abdourahmane Idrissa, from the University of Leiden.

International Crisis Group (ICG) Sahel project director, Richard Moncrieff, said that in Burkina Faso as well as Mali, Islamists engage in "classic asymmetric warfare where they don't take control of any cities. They do increasingly encircle cities and cut them off in order to flex their muscles, and otherwise have become very rural."

Mali has been the epicentre of Islamist violence in the Sahel for the past decade, with jihadists enabling ethnic Tuareg rebels to seize control of much of the north in 2012.

French troops were called in to tackle the insurgency the following year, with Malians initially welcoming the intervention by its former coloniser. But after nine years they are leaving Mali after falling out with junta, and Mali has also decided to quit the multi-national G5 Sahel force that was jointly created to fight the jihadists.

As the French-led Barkhane force has shifted the central hub of its anti-jihadist operation to Niger, militants from Islamic State in the Greater Sahara have "exploited the void left behind" to wage "unprecedented levels of violence" in the regions of Menaka and Gao, according to Mr Nsaibia.

The Mali junta's activities since taking power - including hiring troops from Russian security contractor Wagner and buying a large number of arms from Russia - have failed for lack of coherent strategy.

In recent years as their influence has waned in the Middle East, the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda have increasingly focused their efforts on the Sahel. They have exploited existing tensions in communities, says Mr Moncrieff, with "climate change and declining agricultural resource adding to that very violent mix".

"It's a vicious circle," he adds, with "people being excluded from their fields by insecurity, when that makes them more likely to join groups that are either jihadist in nature or simply criminal gangs who aim to steal cattle and so forth."

The spread of jihadist violence from northern to central Mali over the past seven years, and its emergence in Burkina Faso in the last two years, has implications elsewhere in West Africa.

"We also see it in the coastal states, especially Benin, and more recently Togo," says Mr Nsaibia. "So far it's only really Ghana that has been untouched, so to speak, even though there are strong indications that militant groups are using Ghanaian territory as a place of rest and recuperation."

Says Mr Sawadogo, "Any involvement of the army in political affairs worsens the nation's social and security situation... It's a last resort. Every coup in Burkina Faso has set back the country's progress."

"Acclaim fades when people become aware that the army in power have no greater leverage in peripheral areas than civilian governments," agrees Mr Moncrieff.

 Ghana's President and Ecowas leader Nana Akufo-Addo, told the BBC that "the initial evidence doesn't point to the fact that Mali is doing anything better about the insecurity and the fight against the jihadists than the civilian government."

Says political scientist Idrissa, the show of military might, such as raids and crackdowns on armed groups, are ultimately not enough to establish the staying power of the state, he adds. For that you need a reformed state, able to keep control of its territory.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Elephants Dying of Thirst

 In Kenya, drought has become an even bigger threat to elephants than poaching .

Kenya’s cabinet secretary for wildlife and tourism Najib Balala told the BBC this week that climate change kills 20 times as many elephants as poaching.

The dry conditions have been so devastating that the outlet reports that nearly 180 elephants have died in the country this past year from drought. In comparison, less than 10 have been poached. Elephants can go through dozens of gallons of water per day — and more when it gets warm out, a 2020 study found. The study estimated that elephants would need to drink every two or three days to avoid “critical water loss” in hotter weather.

Parts of Kenya are currently experiencing extreme drought. The drought, which is also hitting parts of Ethiopia and Somalia, has affected 15 million people. Three million livestock have died as many areas face the threat of malnutrition.  Footage from the BBC taken in December 2021 showed dead giraffes and dead cattle, while wildlife like warthogs and doves clustered around livestock watering holes.

This new report highlights the growing risk to wildlife from the climate crisis. As the climate crisis accelerates, droughts will generally get both drier and more common. 

The climate crisis is killing 20 times more elephants in Kenya than poachers | The Independent

Fossil Fuel Fools

 The executive director of South Africa's Presidential Commission on Climate Change called the country's coal industry "delusional", saying the market for the fossil fuel is going to dwindle rapidly in the next decade.

South Africa, which gets most of its electricity from coal-fired power plants, is grappling with rolling blackouts, while coal miners are exporting more of their product to take advantage of sky-high prices.

Crispian Olver explained, "The transition is coming, but it's going to be impossible to have a conversation with the industry if we can't get past the basic denialism," 

Increased use of coal was the main factor driving up energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by over 2 billion tonnes in 2021, their largest ever annual rise in absolute terms, according to the International Energy Agency.

Coal industry is 'delusional', South Africa climate change official says (

Don't Neglect HIV

 Data from UNAids,  The Global Aids Report titled “In Danger”, has revealed that girls and young women in sub-Saharan Africa are three times more likely to acquire HIV than adolescent boys and young men.

In 2021, the report found that the Aids pandemic took a life every minute and over 650 000 Aids-related deaths were recorded. 

“Progress against the HIV pandemic has faltered, resources have shrunk, and millions of lives are at risk as a result,” the report reads.

UNAids Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said the report shows far too many instances where not enough is being done to end the inequalities that drive pandemics.

“Faltering progress meant that approximately 1.5 million new HIV infections occurred last year—more than 1 million more than the global targets,” she said.

Young women in sub-Saharan Africa three times more likely to acquire HIV than men, UN report (

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Insecurity in North-east Nigeria

 Food insecurity means not knowing when or where your next meal will come from. It means, in essence, not being able to meet the basic needs for yourself or your family. As a result, countless families are forced to make alarming sacrifices to survive. Many vulnerable people have little choice but to resort to negative coping mechanisms to obtain food, such as survival sex, child marriages, begging, child labor or recruitment into armed groups.

Today in north-east Nigeria, millions of people are facing the painful consequences of a deteriorating food security and nutrition crisis. 

This year, 8.4 million people need humanitarian assistance, of which about 80 per cent are women and children.

1.74 million children under five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition across the north-east.

 Due to the violence of armed groups like Boko Haram, 2.2 million people have left their homes and are displaced. 

Surviving the Food Crisis in North-east Nigeria | Inter Press Service (

In January, the Borno state government closed Teachers Village, it had become a home of sorts for Aisha and more than 30,000 other internally displaced people (IDP) on the grounds of improved security in conflict hotspots. Its residents were plunged into uncertainty and they were  not consulted on the camp closures prior to the announcement.

At least 100,000 displaced people around Maiduguri face evictions, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), but aid groups say most families are unwilling to return to their ancestral lands, especially in northern parts of Borno, which they deem unsafe.

The future of IDPs is so uncertain. By allowing them to return to danger zones, authorities are ... cutting them off the support they need to be able to stand on their own," said Salome Gambo from the Caprecon Development And Peace Initiative. "There's no concrete plan in place and I fear things may become worse for IDPs in their home towns than they were while in camps in Maiduguri," said the project supervisor, whose charity supports abuse and trafficking victims in IDP camps.

Caught in limbo and cut off suddenly from government and humanitarian aid agency support, former camp residents are at high risk of labour exploitation as well as homelessness and extreme poverty, experts warn.

Uprooted again, Nigerians who fled Boko Haram face new dangers (

"Our lives are not the same; their lives are worth more than ours"

 World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has now officially declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC).

Before a PHEIC was declared, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, told Scientific American that earlier action would have drawn additional attention to the disease and spurred countries to assess the risks and be better prepared. She added that it would also have made more funding and resources available to African countries—where monkeypox has been endemic for decades—to respond to the disease.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), additional resources could have helped expand response efforts to many provinces that had suspected cases but were not being supported by current partners, according to Justin Masumu, dean of the faculty of veterinary medicine at DRC’s National Pedagogical University.

Christian Happi, director of African Center of Excellence for Genomics of Infectious Diseases, disagrees with some aspects of the WHO’s handling of the monkeypox outbreak, describing them as shameful.

 According to him, there was no talk of using the world’s stockpile of smallpox vaccine for monkeypox when cases were only being reported in African countries.

“But today, now that they have monkeypox in the Global North, they’re now mobilizing stuff, and it’s a shame for the WHO to do that,” he says.

In Nigeria, monkeypox reemerged in 2017.

Ahmed Ogwell Ouma, acting director of the Africa CDC, revealed in a press briefing on July 21 that there are no smallpox vaccine doses on the continent. In sharp contrast, the U.S. government has already distributed more than 191,000 doses of vaccines in response to monkeypox. On July 15 it added 131,000 doses of Bavarian Nordic’s JYNNEOS monkeypox vaccine to its stockpile, and 786,000 more doses are expected by the end of the month. The country also has about 100 million doses of ACAM2000, a Food and Drug Administration–licensed vaccine for smallpox that also works against monkeypox. A similar vaccination rollout is also underway in the U.K., which has recently acquired an additional 100,000 vaccine doses.

“Our lives are not the same; their lives are worth more than ours,” Happi says, referring to people in African nations versus those in wealthy Western countries. “But unfortunately for them, because you think you’re only neglecting some other people, you will keep having the disease in your backyard, you will keep struggling with it. Any outbreak anywhere should concern the whole world, which is not how they are dealing with it now.”

'Their Lives Are Worth More Than Ours': Experts in Africa Slam Global Response to Monkeypox - Scientific American

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Crisis in Zimbabwe (2000)


From the June 2000 issue of the Socialist Standard

Independence anniversaries in post-colonial countries used to be a time of celebration for those workers who believed they were commemorating their freedom. Zimbabwe’s 20th anniversary of independence fell on April 18th. For the great majority in this southern African country, caution, not cheer was the order of the day.

As well as widespread political unrest, the newspapers that day reported the reality of everyday life for Zimbabwe’s exploited majority, hardly mentioning the 15 year liberation war: a war in the Congo that President Mugabe has committed Zimbabwean troops to at a cost of $1 million per day, fuel shortages, an Aids epidemic, rampant inflation, rising interest rates and soaring unemployment.

Neither was Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF government in a celebratory mood, having a month earlier suffered defeat in a constitutional referendum intended to enhance the powers of the state, and a defeat that hinted he would lose his power to the newly-formed Movement for Democratic Change in the coming elections.

Ever the opportunist and desperate to win the rural vote – some 65 per cent of the population – Mugabe set about orchestrating mass occupations of white-owned farms. For 20 years, Mugabe had all but reneged on his promise of land and jobs for the veterans who fought the liberation struggle— only 70,000 families ever having been resettled. Now his government was paying the veterans to occupy white-owned farms, evict the farmers and to attack demonstrations by the nascent MDC.

Not only was he urging the veterans to occupy the land of the white farmers of the profit-hungry Commercial Farmers Union – a capitalist outfit he had always sucked up to – but also keeping from these same landless veterans the story of a land scam involving his government and many of its hangers on.

In the last few years, under Zimbabwe’s land resettlement programme, the majority of state owned commercial farms have been given to individuals connected to the Mugabe regime. Most of these absentee land-lords have no agricultural experience and have been given 98 year leases at knock-down prices. These leaseholders include cabinet ministers, provincial governors, civil servants and members of Mugabe’s office.

Whilst one provincial governor pays £1000 per year for 2,800 acres of land, a defence secretary can be found renting 780 acres for £1.00. All in all, the 500,000 acres of these commercial farms have been divided up into 253 separate units for those loyal to Mugabe, and all land that was initially set aside as part of the governments plan to resettle 150,000 families by 2003.

Similar stories of corruption and cronyism have been the hallmark of Mugabe’s reign in Zimbabwe since 1980 and provide plenty of ammunition for Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change that is widely expected to take over from Mugabe in elections planned for late June.

Ostensibly an organisation with a pro-working class agenda, emerging from the popularity afforded the Zimbabwean Confederation of Trade Unions during their struggles of the late 90s, the MDC is in fact just another party that will be charged with running the country in the interests of its capitalist elite.

Claiming to be able to restore “investor confidence”, Tsvangirai clearly nails his colours to the capitalist mast. Although the MDC manifesto (which can be viewed at is perhaps well intentioned and far surpasses anything Mugabe and Co could dream up, a lengthy section stating its economic agenda nevertheless is fused with the jargon the master class drool over and use to great effect at election times: “stronger currency”, “poverty alleviation programmes”, “progressive taxation systems”, “the MDC will interact with international financial institutions”. If this is not the MDC clearly advocating reformist policies then why does Tsvangirai take on board Eddie Cross, a lead player with the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry, as an economic adviser?

Without a doubt the elections that will be fought out in Zimbabwe on June 24 and 25 will, as in elections the world over, be little more than a contest between various parties each believing they can run the capitalist system more profitably than the others. Nothing in the MDC manifesto suggests they, rather than ZANU-PF, can alleviate poverty or address the myriad social ills that capitalism gives rise to.

Perhaps Tsvangirai said it all when he described the MDF as “social democrats… though driven by working class interests… who can never be ideologically pure.”

There is hope, though, for the Zimbabwean working class. Whilst we foresee no significant and immediate change in their circumstances, socialism will one day be on the agenda in Zimbabwe. The WSM already has a number of members and supporters there in recent years.

Hopefully in the near future, the voters of Zimbabwe will have a real choice at election time—the chance to vote for a system this journal has been arguing for 95 years

John Bissett

World View: Sierra Leone (2000)

From the June 2000 issue of the Socialist Standard
(We publish below an email we received on 9 May from a political party in Sierra Leone (the SPSL—Socialist Party of Sierra Leone—with which we have some contact) and which provides some first-hand information on what has been happening there.)
I am afraid we have lost a comrade, Abu Koroma. He died early this morning as a result of multiple wounds sustained during a peace demonstration we had yesterday with all other political parties and civic organizations. Two other members, comrades Nim Dixon and Opah Thomas are still recovering. Dixons case is a bit serious and all is being done to save their lives. British forces are here and I saw them around the beach taking position today. They are only providing security for the diplomatic and wealthy areas, we the poors are left to the mercy of the rebels. There is still lots of shooting going on in the city and no one seems able to stop it. We have locked the office and we have removed all our little belongings for safe-keeping around the beach, to be exact at Cape Sierra hotel.
Hope to keep in touch if there is power and if I can get to a computer.

Army shoots schoolkids in Gambia
(A correspondent in West Africa writes about an incident in Gambia in April during which at least 16 school students were shot down by the security forces and which went virtually unreported in the press.)
Perhaps, for a country considered to be the Lilliputian of sub-Sahara Africa, Gambia was the most unlikely place for such mayhem to have occurred. Commentators had concluded that, with the military coup in Ivory coast, the last haven of Africa had lost its decorum. In the words of Achebe, the Nigerian writer, things had fallen apart and the centre could no longer hold.

Gambia, the lowest spot in West Africa, almost below sea level, had until now seen itself as the haven of peace in Africa. For decades it has used as its national slogan “Gambia No Problem”, meaning the land and its people were at peace with one another.

In Gambia today questions are piling up as to why the darling of peace let go its steam almost without notice. On the morning of 10 April students called attention to the years or decades of wrongs handed out to them by the capitalist system. Two pivotal events highlighted their case: the rape of a female student by a paramilitary officer during the inter-school athletics meet at the National Stadium and the broad-day killing of a schoolboy by six fire service officers.

In the opinion of the students, there was something seriously faulty with a system that allows a security officer to openly rape a student and proudly walk away dusting his uniform. But then, they said, a system is morally moronic that allows a teacher to go beyond the confines of his school in reporting a male student to the fire service and not to the school principal.

Six fire service officers then took it upon themselves to punish the boy by first physically assaulting him, then they made him carry bags of cement for long periods. As a result of the brutal punishment the boy was pronounced dead upon arrival at the hospital. The students demanded justice, and then came the pathologist’s long-awaited report, “the boy died from natural causes”. For the aggrieved students that was not only a miscarriage of justice, it was equally a denial of justice. The writing was on the wall; everyone saw it except the capitalist masters who thought a show of strength would be sufficient to calm the protesting students.

The authorities got their calculations woefully wrong. By 8 am the students had stamped their willingness to protest and their loss of confidence in a system that reduced them to anything but human. The Head of State was in Cuba attending the Group of 77’s summit hosted by Fidel Castro. The protest started peacefully with students chanting their displeasure, carrying placards and banners.

The security operatives went into full gear by firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Instead of dispersing the students, this hardened their resolve to defend and die for what they believed in. The security forces were rudely awakened from their nest of slumber. More troops were brought to beef up their strength, they used live ammunition to shoot students, they beat them and molested female students. But amidst the armament employed against them the students stood their ground.

They went on the rampage, burned down four police stations; they caused physical harm to public and private properties including transportation, telephone outlets, stores and shops. What actually baffled the custodians of the capitalist system was how unarmed students were able to withstand the firepower of the security forces and still wreak such destruction–unique in the country’s history–to property.

The message was clear, from Beijing, Berlin, to Seattle, to Banjul, the days of the totalitarian era are over. Man cannot rule man against his will. The breeze of change was blowing across the face of Gambia and it was high time its capitalist leaders took note.

Unfortunately, and as expected, afterwards came the time for the capitalist leaders to apportion blame. The opposition came in for a blasting, they had “instigated and motivated” the students to demonstrate in an effort to bring the government down. But did the students have to demonstrate, did 16 of their colleagues–according to a government estimate–have to die with dozens wounded in all shape and form? Was it politically motivated or were the students only trying to vent their frustration with a rotten system?

To better understand the dynamics of everyone collaborating in the death of those students, it needs to be appreciated that, irrespective of where it occurs, the lords of capitalism are never at ease with themselves when the working masses venture or attempt to take their destiny into their own hands. Every and all effort will be exhausted to muzzle and nip it in the bud.

The problem was a Gambian one, but has a universal appeal. Masters are uneasy when servants are awake.

Daniel Wah

Monday, July 25, 2022

Post-Capitalist Society (video)


Climate Change and Child Deaths

 The annual death rate of children under five years old in Africa could double to about 38,000 by 2049 compared with the decade 2005-2014, without cuts to rising carbon emissions, a study published in Environmental Research Letters, estimates.

 It predicts that keeping temperature rise at 1.5 degrees Celsius through to 2050 as targeted by the Paris Agreement on climate change could prevent about 6,000 heat-related child deaths in Africa.

Researchers analysed under-five population data from WorldPop and the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, and national data on death rates of children under five from UNICEF for the years 1995-2020. Using different climate change scenarios, they estimated the number of child deaths through to 2050.

Heat-related child mortality in Africa rose to 11,000 deaths annually between 1995 and 2004, of which 5,000 were linked to the negative impacts of climate change, the study showed. In the 2011-2020-decade, heat-related deaths swelled from 8,000 to 19,000 per year, the study revealed.

The researchers say the increase may have undermined gains made in other areas of child health and dented global development progress. The UN's Sustainable Development Goals seek to end preventable deaths of children under five and reduce under-five mortality to "at least as low as 25 deaths per 1,000 live births" by 2030.

"Our results suggest that if climate change is not kept to 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming, rising temperatures would make meeting the SDG target increasingly difficult," the study says.

John Marsham, a co-author of the study and professor of atmospheric science at Leeds University in northern England, explains, "Our results highlight the urgent need for health policy to focus on heat-related child mortality, as our results show it is a serious present-day issue, which will only become more pressing as the climate warms." 

Bernard Onyango, director of population, environment and development for the BUILD project at the African Institute for Development Policy in Kenya, says that the evidence from this research "brings to the fore the health impacts of climate change". Without action to slow the rise in global temperature as a result of climate change, thousands of African children's lives will be lost annually from heat-related deaths.

Africa: Climate Action 'Could Prevent 6,000 Child Deaths a Year' -

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Congo can't beat capitalism


The hopes of environmentalists took another disappointment when the DR of Congo authorised oil drilling in supposedly protected forests. The sale raises concerns about the credibility of a forest protection deal signed with the country at Cop26. President Felix Tshisekedi signed a $500m (£417.6m) deal to protect the forest with Boris Johnson on the first day of Cop26 last year.

The Congo basin is the only major rainforest that sucks in more carbon than it emits.  The Congo basin rainforest spans six countries and regulates rainfall as far away as Egypt. Eco-experts have described it as the worst place in the world to explore for fossil fuels.

Hydrocarbons minister Didier Budimbu said the DRC was expanding an auction of oil exploration blocks to include two sites that overlap with Virunga national park, a Unesco world heritage site home to Earth’s last remaining mountain gorillas. Budimbu acknowledged environmental concerns but defended his country’s right to exploits its natural resources. He said revenue from the oil and gas projects was needed to protect the Congo basin forest and to economically develop the country.

“We have a primary responsibility towards Congolese taxpayers who, for the most part, live in conditions of extreme precariousness and poverty, and aspire to a socio-economic wellbeing that oil exploitation is likely to provide for them,” he said, in a piece of hypocrisy and cant. We know it will be only DRC's privileged elite who will benefit. All other Congolese will be ignored as evidenced by the current experience of the pillaging and plundering of the country's natural resources. DRC is one of the poorest countries in the world, with nearly three-quarters of its 60 million people living on less than $1.90 a day in 2018. 

The planned sale already included permits in the Cuvette Centrale tropical peatlands in the north-west of the country, which store the equivalent to three years’ global emissions from fossil fuels.

Irene Wabiwa, international project lead for the Congo forest campaign at Greenpeace Africa, said the auction made a mockery of DRC’s efforts to identify itself as a country with solutions for the climate crisis.

“The neocolonial and ever-growing scramble for oil and gas in DRC, which now threatens the Virunga national park, in addition to water sources, peatlands and protected areas, is an eerie example of the unhinged obsession to monetise nature,” she said.

Simon Lewis, professor of global change science at University College London and global expert on the DRC’s peatlands, said, “Opening these forests to oil development will lead to hunting, deforestation, oil pollution, carbon emissions and social conflict. The oil auction is an auction to begin a wildlife, health, climate and human rights catastrophe.” 

Lewis continued, “Oil development risks social unrest, as seen in the Niger Delta. Conflict in the centre of DRC, just a river trip from Kinshasa, could threaten the stability of the government and the whole country. Given that the 1998-2003 Congo war and its aftermath killed more than 5 million people, everything possible should be done to avoid conflict in Congo. The auction should be cancelled.”

DRC to auction oil and gas permits in endangered gorilla habitat | Democratic Republic of the Congo | The Guardian

Friday, July 22, 2022

Who cares about Africa's atrocities?

 More than 5.6 million people are displaced in the DRC, making it the largest population of internally displaced people on the African continent and among the largest worldwide.

UNHCR’s operation in DRC has received just 19 per cent of the US $225 million required to respond to the increasing needs of refugee and displaced people with urgent and life-saving support. This budget was based on the needs at the start of the year. Significant additional resources are urgently required to match the soaring needs of newly displaced populations.

This month, simultaneous attacks by armed groups in Ituri Province have left 11 people dead and 250 homes looted and burned.

Between February and June this year, UNHCR and partners recorded over 800 deaths from firearm attacks and machete raids on local communities in Ituri. At least 715 of these victims had been sheltering in internal displacement sites or were killed as they returned home having previously fled violence. In June alone, 97 returning or displaced people were killed in attacks that included abductions, looting and burning of homes.

More than 20,700 people have been driven from their homes by such raids, which are also fuelling acute food insecurity in Ituri, a fertile region where development has been halted by decades of intercommunal clashes, stealing livelihoods from families and future generations.

In North Kivu, the Kashuga settlement for internally displaced people in Masisi territory was torn apart in June by armed men in a raid that left eight dead and at least seven others grievously injured by firearms.

In recent weeks, fighting between the Congolese Army and the M23 group in North Kivu Province has displaced more than 160,000 people across Rutshuru and Nyiragongo territories. The redeployment of government troops to this conflict has created power vacuums and a fragile security environment in both Ituri and North Kivu. Strings of coordinated attacks by multiple militia groups are terrorizing communities on a daily basis in the eastern provinces.

UNHCR gravely concerned by death toll of displaced in DR Congo’s east - Democratic Republic of the Congo | ReliefWeb