Sunday, February 26, 2023

Wagner in Africa

Russia seeks greater influence in Africa, and the Wagner Group is likely to be as much a part of this.

 In the Central African Republic, for example, 1,890 "Russian instructors" are supporting government troops in the ongoing civil war.

 In Libya, up to 1,200 Wagner mercenaries are believed to be fighting on the side of rebel leader Khalifa Hifter.

 In Mali, the pro-Russian, anti-Western military junta has also brought hundreds of Wagner fighters into the country, where they are also accused of serious human rights violations.

In Chad, The Wall Street Journal, citing US intelligence sources, reported that the Wagner group was working with local rebels to plan a coup.

The Wagner group has been raking in massive profits with precious tropical timber from the Central African Republic. According to the report, the government in Bangui granted a subsidiary unrestricted logging rights across 187,000 hectares (722 square miles).

In the case of the Ndassima gold mine a concession was withdrawn from a Canadian mining company in favor of one from Madagascar that appears to be a Wagner subsidiary. 

The First Industrial Company, which produces beer and spirits in Bangui, is apparently registered to a Russian businessman tied to Wagner.

For African governments, it can be quite attractive to pay for Wagner's services with mining rights or market access, 

A representative of the All Eyes on Wagner research collective said. "You don't have to withdraw money from your account. You can just say, 'Here, for 25, 50 or 100 years, you can exploit this mine without any problems.' "

Wagner Group offshoots spread Russian influence in Africa – DW – 02/26/2023

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Frontier-Free Africa

 In January 2018, the African Union assembly adopted the Protocol to the Treaty establishing the African Economic Community relating to the free movement of people and rights of residence and establishment.

If ratified by every member state, this protocol would allow Africans to work and live in any African country without needing a work permit. Rather disappointingly, however, only 32 out of 55 countries in Africa have signed it to date, and just four – Rwanda, Niger, São Tomé and Principe, and Mali – have ratified it.

Friday, February 24, 2023

Polluting Kenya.

 The EU and UK export a combined 74 million items of waste clothing to Kenya every year, an investigation by two NGOs has found. These useless textiles are often burned or dumped in landfills, despite most of them being made of toxic synthetic materials, the report claimed.

Published last week, the report found that of the 149 million items of used textiles exported to Kenya every year by the EU and UK, 74 million are instantly classified as waste upon arrival. Furthermore, almost 50 million of these waste items are plastic-based, meaning they cannot be easily disposed of.

Germany sends more of this waste clothing than any other European country, shipping 25 million waste items to Kenya every year. Poland is in second place, sending 18.5 million, with the UK sending 18.3 million. These three countries, along with Hungary, Italy, Belgium, Lithuania, Estonia, France, and Ireland, are responsible for 95% of all second-hand clothing exports from the EU to Kenya.

These statistics were compiled by Clean Up Kenya and Wildlight on behalf of the Netherlands-based Changing Markets Foundation. In researching the report, teams from these NGOs found plastic-based clothing piled four storeys high in a dump in Nairobi, with items spilling into a river.

Items that aren’t piled into similar landfills are often burnt for fuel, the report claimed. Burning polyester clothes – which account for more than two thirds of textiles produced worldwide – “is highly toxic and contributes to air pollution as well as a myriad of health problems,” the report’s authors stated.

Importing used clothing is a thriving industry in Kenya that employs up to 2 million people. However, while the report says that “the lion’s share” of imports from Europe are waste, an industry spokesperson told Euronews that this is “misinformation.”

"This European report assumes that [clothing] traders in Kenya spend their money importing 50 per cent waste," the spokesperson said, adding that importers would be “fools” to do this. "This report is demeaning and an insult to all who work in the second-hand clothes trade across the continent and by spreading misinformation it further threatens millions of livelihoods,” she added.”


RT 21\2\23

Dave C.

Looming Disaster in Horn of Africa

 Large swathes of the Greater Horn of Africa region will not likely see much rain until June, the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center has warned. The organization says that countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda may be on course to experience a drought more severe than that of 2010 to 2012, which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.

The IGAD regional bloc issued the alarming forecast on Wednesday, saying in a statement that “in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda that have been most affected by the recent drought, this could be the 6th failed consecutive rainfall season.

Rwanda, Burundi, eastern Tanzania, and western South Sudan are likely to face similar adverse weather conditions in parts, they added.

With the March-May period contributing up to 60% of the total annual rainfall in parts of the Greater Horn of Africa, “the current trends are worse than those observed during the drought of 2010-2011,” the weather monitoring organization said.

The Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), co-chaired by IGAD, and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, estimated that approximately 23 million people are currently facing severe food shortages in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. They added that any changes for the better in the weather during the early summer will have a delayed effect on food security in the region.

IGAD’s executive secretary, Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu, called for an “immediate scaling-up of humanitarian and risk reduction efforts.” He urged national governments, as well as humanitarian and development organizations, to “adopt a no-regret approach before it’s too late.

Mohammed Mukhier of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) for Africa expressed concern that the expected drought could further exacerbate “humanitarian challenges in the region, including the ongoing hunger crisis, the impacts of COVID-19 and internal displacement.

According to UN estimates, 260,000 people, half of them children under five, died of drought-induced starvation in Somalia alone between October 2010 and April 2012.
Speaking in 2013, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, argued that a lack of early action despite indications of a looming drought was in part to blame for the massive death toll.”

RT 23\2\23

Dave C

Tunisia's president plays the race card.

 Tunisia's beleaguered president plays the racist immigrant card. Tunisia’s vulnerable migrant community is the target of Saied

 Kais Saied told a meeting of security officials that migrants are part of a wider campaign to change the demographic makeup of the country and make it “purely African”.

 Saied called for urgent action to halt the flow of sub-Saharan migrants into the country. “The undeclared goal of the successive waves of illegal immigration is to consider Tunisia a purely African country that has no affiliation to the Arab and Islamic nations,” he said, going on to accuse unnamed parties of complicity in a “criminal arrangement made since the beginning of this century to alter the demographic structure of Tunisia”.

“It is a racist approach, just like the campaigns in Europe,” Romdhane Ben Amor, spokesperson for the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES), was reported as saying by Reuters. “The presidential campaign aims to create an imaginary enemy for Tunisians to distract them from their basic problems,” he said.

The little-known Nationalist party has been campaigning in recent weeks for the authorities to identify and expel undocumented migrants from the country. The message was gaining momentum before being adopted by the president. Many see the president’s campaign as an attempt to distract people from the problems of daily life and the state of the Tunisian economy and to deflect anger from his own role since he suspended the country’s fractious parliament in July 2021.

Tunisia’s president calls for halt to sub-Saharan immigration amid crackdown on opposition | Global development | The Guardian

Thursday, February 23, 2023

South Africa’s Energy Crisis

 “South Africa’s state-owned electricity provider, Eskom, was forced to further slash power output on Tuesday, spokesman Sikonathi Mantshantsha said in a tweet.

According to Mantshantsha, the company cut 7,045 megawatts from the grid, in a move known as load shedding, with the total available electricity distributed across the country, effectively leaving large parts of it without power. Earlier cuts removed no more than 6,000 megawatts. The spokesman confirmed that the company had to increase the intensity of the cuts because it cannot meet demand.

Eskom supplies most of South Africa’s electricity from coal-fired plants. The company has been slashing production because more than half of its capacity in unavailable due to frequent breakdowns at its ageing power stations. Eskom earlier said that the country needs an additional 4,000 to 6,000 megawatts of generating capacity to eliminate the supply-demand gap. However, initiatives to add capacity from private producers have been stalled by legal troubles.

The country has suffered power outages every day this year, according to a report from Bloomberg. The South African Reserve Bank recently said the blackouts cost the country about 899 million rand ($49 million) per day.

Earlier this month, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster over the electricity crisis. The declaration is expected to enable the government to exempt essential services such as hospitals and water treatment plants from power cuts, and allow the country to buy additional power from its neighbours on an emergency basis, among other measures.”


Dave C




Wednesday, February 22, 2023

More Bad News

 The IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Center said on Wednesday that below-normal rainfall is expected during the rainy season over the next three months.

“In parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda that have been most affected by the recent drought, this could be the 6th failed consecutive rainfall season,” it said.

Drier than normal conditions have also increased in parts of Burundi, eastern Tanzania, Rwanda and western South Sudan, the centre added.

Already 11 million livestock that are essential to many families’ health and wealth have died, Wednesday’s statement said. Many people affected across the region are pastoralists or farmers who have watched crops wither and water sources run dry.

Close to 23 million people are thought to be highly food insecure in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Drought in Horn of Africa worse than in 2011 famine | Climate News | Al Jazeera

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Blood Diamonds

 Africa holds mineral wealth with diverse commodities that are sought after the world over. In the diamond industry, local communities miss out on the benefits. The clandestine market for buying and selling the precious stones — particularly diamonds mined by the garimpeiro (informal miner) — is largely dominated by foreigners: Senegalese, Chinese, French, Eritreans, Guineans and Congolese intermediaries, who are not invested in lifting up the local communities.

In diamond-rich parts of Africa, the revenue generated from mineral extraction does little to improve the quality of life for the people who live in those countries. Instead of uplifting communities through mineral riches, many people find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle of exploitation and abuse.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, said African Diamond Council President M'Zee Fula Ngenge, there's a history of conflict brought about by "pervasive greed, postcolonial secessionism, as well as a customary erosion of public sector accountability and government management." 

Ngenge believes only a select few get to directly benefit from the hard labor of miners, keeping the workers barely surviving in order to continue exerting power over them. Regional conflicts not only add to this mix of control and illicit oppression but actually benefit the big names in the diamond trade, allowing them to set the going rate for labor according to how desperate miners are to make money.

This scenario of conflict in Congo is similar in other African countries with large mineral riches as well, said Ngenge, highlighting that many nations in the region are "deliberately targeted [by the diamond industry] for their political and social instability."

What Congo, Angola, Mozambique and many other mineral-rich countries in Africa have in common is the fact that there are two markets for the exploitation of mineral resources: there is a formal extractive industry, which is subject to at least some level of oversight, and a clandestine one, which is dominated by mining corporations.

The African Diamond Council indicates that in the case of smuggled rough diamonds of African origin, an estimated 28% to 32% of revenue out of the total African diamond production is lost. 

"So the 'developed world,' certainly guilty of turning a blind eye, ear and mouth to this kind of omission,"  Ngenge said.

Another expert in the trade described how "Sometimes diamonds are stolen from mines in Angola and transported to the DRC, and then exported to Dubai with documents stating that these diamonds come from the DRC, while originally they are from Angola."This way, custom tariffs and other fees are evaded, the provenance of the gems is concealed, labor standards are circumvented and the dynamics of an entire industry built on the principle of supply and demand are manipulated.

Rafael Marques de Morais, an Angolan author of "Blood Diamonds," believes the multilateral Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, established in 2003, is being abused as a pretense to appease critical voices. According to Marques de Morais, the protocol amounts to little more than window dressing to make it look like something is being done about reducing the impact of the looting and transfer of mineral resources from poor countries, while in truth it safeguards the interests of countries buying the precious stones.

"This is the problem with the Kimberley Process — it acts according to the strategic interests of some countries," Marques de Morais told DW. Locals in diamond-rich communities in Africa, he said, are far from seeing any benefits as the rocks are taken to international diamond hubs like Antwerp and Dubai. "It is enough to say that the diamonds are presented as clean to justify everything. But they are not clean because they continue to be violently exploited." 

Why Africa bleeds diamond revenues – DW – 02/20/2023

Further Reading


Monday, February 20, 2023

The Price of a Job

 Sexual exploitation has been uncovered on tea farms that supply some of the UK's most popular brands, including PG Tips, Lipton and Sainsbury's Red Label.

More than 70 women on Kenyan tea farms, owned for years by two British companies, told the BBC they had been sexually abused by their supervisors.

BBC's Tom Odula spoke to women who worked on tea farms run by both companies. A number told him that because work is so scarce, they are left with no choice but to give in to the sexual demands of their bosses or face having no income.

"I can't lose my job because I have kids," said one woman.

Another woman said a divisional manager stopped her job until she agreed to have sex with him.

"It is just torture; he wants to sleep with you, then you get a job," she said.

One woman also told the BBC that she had been infected with HIV by her supervisor, after being pressured into having sex with him.

True price of a cup of tea: Sexual abuse on Kenyan tea farms revealed - BBC News

The Nigerian Elections and the Cashless Economy

 The poverty rate in India is about 16%, and that of Nigeria is about 46.4% - 2022 Global Multidimensional Poverty Index

The latest estimates are that Nigeria has 71 million people in extreme poverty (living on less than $1.90 per day) compared with India's 44 million.

In just five years between 2015 and 2020, the number of fully employed people dropped by 44% - from 55 million to 31 million people.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it redesigned the higher denomination notes - 200, 500 and 1,000 naira - to replace the cash in circulation, to tackle inflation, curb counterfeiting and promote a cashless society. When announcing the redesign, the CBN said the new notes would begin circulating from 15 December and the old notes would cease to be legal tender at the end of January. The bank then extended the deadline.

It hoped the redesign would bring some of the money being hoarded by individuals and companies back into the financial system.

The reform has created something like a cashless society - but not in the way the CBN had planned.

"The whole idea was to limit how much cash people have access to, in order to encourage them to make digital payments, so they [CBN] can monitor where money goes," says Paul Alaje, a senior economist at management consultants SPM Professionals. "But Nigerian banks don't have the capacity or structure to make digital payments work seamlessly."

"The government has been trying to move the country into a cashless economy for ages," argues policy analyst and economist Dr Yemi Makinde. "Its intention is good, but it is just not feasible, the banking systems were not ready and Nigeria is just used to cash." He continues, "The banks are not doing a good job distributing the money. Bank managers have been keeping a lot of the money aside for people with connections and for the rich, misusing the central bank's policy," Dr Makinde says.

Nigeria's naira shortage: Anger and chaos outside banks - BBC News

Saturday, February 18, 2023

A Fossil-Fuel Free Africa


As diplomats and political leaders headed to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for an African Union summit, civil society groups from the continent argued that "rather than doubling down on the obsolete and dirty energy systems," the A.U. must "move away from harmful fossil fuels towards a transformed energy system that is clean, renewable, democratic, and actually serves its peoples."

African groups are also circulating to heads of state and ministers attending the A.U. summit a report launched by Don't Gas Africa, in cooperation with the Fossil Fuel Treaty Initiative, at COP27—the United Nations climate conference hosted by Egypt in November that critics called "another terrible failure" because attendees refused to agree to rapidly phase out fossil fuels.

"The idea that gas will bring prosperity and opportunities to Africans is a tired and overused fallacy, promulgated by those that stand to benefit the most: multinational fossil fuel firms and the elite politicians that aid and abet them," the report states. "It is a huge gamble to pursue these gas projects throughout Africa in the hope that they will bring development, wealth, and industry. It is highly likely that they will not and, instead, will burden African governments and citizens with vast debts, stranded assets, environmental degradation, and more broken promises."

Dean Bhekumuzi Bhebhe, campaigner for Don't Gas Africa, echoed those messages, declaring that “African land is not a gas station. Millions are losing their homes, don't have access to food, have their health threatened, and are slipping into higher levels of extreme poverty because of the fossil fuel industry. Instead of selling away fossil fuel extraction rights to big multinational companies," he said, "African leaders should invest in clean, renewable energies that will directly benefit people across the continent without damaging their health."

African Climate Reality Project Courtney Morgan similarly warned that "gas is a bridge to nowhere and will not address energy access challenges on our continent. Decision-makers and policymakers should be supporting sustainable solutions; for a fossil-free Africa."

"The Africa we want is one where the energy system is clean and sustainable and brings real access to African people," Morgan stressed. "The neocolonial gas project on our continent will not serve our needs and will exacerbate the climate crisis, we need African-led sustainable solutions."

Africa Climate Movements Building Spaces coordinator Lorraine Chiponda agreed that "we should not allow further colonial and extractive systems to put Africa on a destructive path," and called on the continent's leaders "to co-create a just development path together with African people that is clean, pan-African, and champions people's regenerative economies away from fossil fuels." regional director Landry Ninteretse said "There is no place for the expansion of fossil gas in the energy transition in Africa, as it would crowd out resources for renewable energy and dull any hopes for the transition," Ninteretse added. "We urge African leaders to reject the push for gas production in Africa and instead galvanize resources from developed nations to support renewable, community-centered, and accessible clean energy systems vital to achieving a just energy transition in the region."

Civil Society Calls On African Union to Foster Fossil-Free Future for Continent (

Friday, February 17, 2023

DRC - Drastic Conditions

 The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to experience one of Africa’s most complex and long-standing humanitarian crises.

More than one million Congolese refugees and asylum-seekers are hosted across the African continent, the majority in Uganda (479,400), Burundi (87,500), United Republic of Tanzania (80,000), Rwanda (72,200), Zambia (52,100), the Republic of the Congo (28,600) and Angola (23,200).

Uganda remains the largest host country of refugees from the DRC on the African continent. In 2022 alone, attacks by armed groups in eastern DRC led to the exile of some 98,000 refugees to Uganda, where a total of almost half a million Congolese refugees are now hosted.

Camps have reached or exceeded capacity in many refugee host countries, and available basic services such as healthcare, water and sanitation are either stretched to their limits or too costly. Food insecurity is a growing concern as people struggle to afford necessities due to rising prices linked to the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine.

Inside the DRC, more than 5.8 million women, men, girls and boys are internally displaced by conflict. In the eastern provinces, more than 132 non-state armed groups operate.

A fragile socioeconomic and political context - exacerbated by the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – combined with continuous insecurity due to recurring attacks by non-state armed groups, inter-communal violence, and serious human rights violations are limiting opportunities for displaced people to return to their homes and former livelihoods. These drivers are expected to cause continued flows of refugees into neighbouring countries in 2023.

As security worsens in DR Congo, UNHCR and partners seek US$605 million to assist Congolese refugees across Africa - Democratic Republic of the Congo | ReliefWeb

More Suffering for Somalis

 More than 60,000 Somalis, mainly women and children, have fled to Ethiopia’s Somali region in the past few weeks to escape clashes and insecurity in the city of Laascaanood, in Sool region.

They arrived with very little, only taking what they could carry. Women told staff from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, that they had to sell their belongings to pay for transportation to reach safety. Many of them have lost loved ones in the clashes or have been separated during flight.

The refugees are hosted in some of the areas in the country worst hit by the drought and the impact of climate change, following five consecutive failed rainy seasons, where resources are already overstretched. With limited options, many newly-arrived refugee families have resorted to sheltering in schools and other public buildings while others have no choice but to sleep outside. Many urgently need food and nutritional support, water and sanitation facilities, as well as specialized support for people with specific needs.

Inside Somalia, more than 185,000 people have been displaced from Laascaanood town and its surrounding areas since early February. According to local authorities, displaced families have settled in 66 sites within Somaliland while others have crossed into the Puntland region in northern Somalia and other villages bordering Ethiopia.

Tens of thousands arrive in Ethiopia, fleeing recent clashes in Somalia - Ethiopia | ReliefWeb

Thursday, February 16, 2023

Nigeria's Economic Woes

 Nigeria is Africa's biggest oil producer. The state of Lagos alone has a bigger economic output than Kenya. Moreover, Nigeria generates a larger gross domestic product (GDP) than all other West African states combined. But despite the natural wealth, experts warn of rising poverty and social unrest.

According to Nigerian economist Afolabi Olowookere, whom The Guardian Nigeria cited, the oil sector's share of government revenue dropped from nearly 47% in 2017 to a meager 7.4% in the first half of 2022. 

Nigeria has failed to benefit from the global oil price boom. As a result, the oil sector's share of Nigeria's GDP has also virtually halved since 2010, from more than 13% to just under 6%.

Nigeria's problem is that it relies almost entirely on expensive imports to meet its gasoline needs. Nigeria has four state-owned refineries, but they have become dilapidated and idle due to mismanagement.

The government pours billions of dollars into fuel subsidies yearly to cushion the social consequences. However, consumers then feel the costs at the pump. This has even led to the smuggling of cheaper gasoline from neighbouring countries. Much of the oil and fuel shortage is due to theft. 

The country's foreign exchange reserves are also in dangerous waters. They continue to shrink with each passing year. 

"Nigeria is in a difficult economic situation that continues to deteriorate," World Bank experts wrote. Experts have long called for Nigeria to move away from oil dependence.

Transparency International's ranking shows how corruption continues to cripple Nigeria's economic activity. It is ranked 154 out of  180 countries surveyed in 2021, significantly deteriorating from position 144 in 2018.

Nigeria: Rich in oil but poor in refining – DW – 02/15/2023

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

CAR in Crisis

 The humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) continues to be exacerbated by violence against civilians and insecurity in locations outside urban centers, forcing more than one in five Central Africans to move in and out of the country.

In CAR, the crisis for which civilians continue to bear the brunt intensified in 2022 with an increase in violations and abuses of human rights and international humanitarian law, and an upward trend in reported cases of gender-based violence and increased incidents involving explosive devices. Every two days in 2022, violence and other security incidents affected humanitarian workers, killing one and injuring 24 others.

 Millions of people are experiencing increased vulnerability, eroded livelihoods, and severely limited access to basic services such as health care and water.

 3.4 million people – 56 per cent of the population - need humanitarian assistance and protection, a 10 per cent increase compared to 2022. 

Of these, 2 million people have needs so severe and complex that their well-being depends on humanitarian assistance. 

Central African Republic: US$465 million required to address ever-growing humanitarian needs in 2023 - Central African Republic | ReliefWeb

South Sudan's NGOs Ignored

 South Sudan has 7.7 million people facing acute malnutrition or starvation as it enters its fifth year of severe food insecurity. Floods, droughts and conflicts have fuelled the crisis. 

South Sudan is facing the world’s most severe food insecurity crisis, yet the local groups most effective at delivering aid are not being directly funded, according to a new report.

Only 0.4% of humanitarian funding meant for food is directly channelled towards South Sudanese NGOs, despite them being the most effective at tackling hunger, according to the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (Cafod).

According to Cafod, local organisations have been best placed to serve hard-to-reach populations. They often continue to work in high-risk areas, even after international organisations withdraw, while building more trust with the populations they serve.

“The local organisations, who are on the frontline in responding to crises in areas where no one else can go, are too often ignored. If we are ever going to tackle entrenched humanitarian crises, we need to properly fund those on the frontline,” said Gloria Modong Morris of Titi Foundation in South Sudan. “The UN and international NGOs talk a good game about the best model to responding to a crisis being as local as possible, but the reality couldn’t be more different.”

Local NGOs are usually given only short-term grants, which makes it hard for them to plan projects with lasting impact or invest in staff and systems for delivering support. The report said that while NGOs are often asked for information on conditions, they have only limited involvement in decision-making. This played a part in humanitarian responses failing to create long-term resilience, it concluded.

Howard Mollett, Cafod’s head of humanitarian policy, said that in the 11 years since South Sudan’s independence, international aid groups should have given more say to local NGOs.

“Local organisations work in the most dangerous parts of South Sudan, which international agencies cannot reach. Yet instead of having their back, it feels like local groups’ willingness to take on the risk of getting aid to these areas is being taken advantage of,” said Mollett.

Prof Dennis Dijkzeul, who focuses on humanitarian studies at the Institute for International Law of Peace and Armed Conflict, said local organisations deliver aid effectively because they often live closer to the people they are supporting, building trust and a better understanding of the conditions.

“Localisation is about working with the people, for the people. Their local expertise, local acceptance or local trust can really help, and that can lead to higher efficiency or quality,” said Dijkzeul. More money and power should be given to local organisations to build their capacities, he said, but this does not happen because of a power imbalance between the richer “global north” and developing countries and a lack of incentive to shift away from relying on international groups. “Most of the money comes from the global north, and those who pay the piper call the tune. So even though there’s a lot of lip service to localisation, it’s hard to change the incentives of the global humanitarian system.”

Humanitarian funding for food in South Sudan has been cut by 38% since 2020, according to the report, with the UK government alone cutting its budget for South Sudan by 59% in 2021.

South Sudan ‘failed’ by international aid system as food crisis intensifies | Food security | The Guardian

Poverty not religion causes terrorism

 In 2021, nearly half of the global deaths attributed to terrorist groups took place in sub-Saharan Africa. Terrorist attacks in sub-Saharan Africa have more than doubled since 2016. But violent extremism has also spread or worsened in other parts of the continent, such as Mozambique.

A new report by the UN Development Programme surveyed thousands of people in eight African countries, including Mali, Nigeria and Somalia. Researchers interviewed more than 1,000 active or recent militants in the pioneering study.

The results suggest the most common factor driving people to join extremist groups in sub-Saharan Africa is not religion, but poverty and the need for work. 

It found that a quarter of voluntary recruits to extremist organisations cited job opportunities as their reason for joining.  Militant groups pay salaries to fighters and almost all ensure the basic needs of their members are met. They also offer status and protection.  Islamic State, long seen as the most extreme of factions active in sub-Saharan Africa, has made efforts to win community support and recruits through provision of basic services such as food distribution, administration of justice and rudimentary healthcare.

Only 17% of respondents said that religion was the reason for joining radical groups, whereas 40% said poverty was their main motivation.

Education is also important, with one extra year of education significantly reducing a person's likelihood of joining an extremist group.

Human rights abuses committed by security forces were also among the most important drivers of recruitment to extremist groups in Africa.

Currently, about 70% of the United Nations counter-terrorism budget is spent helping states build capacity to combat terrorism, often through expanding and equipping security services, compared with just 24% that goes to “addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism”.

Achim Steiner, the UNDP administrator said: “Security-driven counter-terrorism responses are often costly and minimally effective, yet investments in preventive approaches to violent extremism are woefully inadequate..."

Rights abuses often ‘tipping point’ for extremist recruitment, UN study finds | Africa | The Guardian

Friday, February 03, 2023

Germany's Genocide Apology Rejected

 The Herero and Nama people have gone to Namibia’s high court, rejecting an apology made in 2021 after years of talks between Namibia and Germany, which they say falls short of atoning for the 1904 to 1908 genocide. The German empire unleashed a campaign of killing and torture after the tribes rejected colonial rule in 1904. An estimated 80% of all the Herero people and 50% of Nama were killed. They are now politically marginalised minorities in Namibia.

“We were not involved at any stage. The government set the agenda, it discussed what it discussed and never disclosed it until we saw a joint declaration last year,” said Prof Mutjinde Ktjiua, chief of the Herero.

Germany pledged of €1.1bn (£980m) in development projects over 30 years but Ktjiua said the tribes want direct reparations to address the poverty and marginalisation that resulted from the genocide.

“It is critical because we know without any doubt that we have in this country a government that is misappropriating resources. A government that has for all these years denied that Hereros and Namas were [subject to genocide] – now you trust them to manage this?” said Ktjiua.

Gaob Johannes Isaak, chair of the Nama Traditional Leaders Association, said reparations needed to address the loss of 80% of Nama ancestral land – much of it now occupied by farmers of German descent – as well as generational damage to livelihood and identity.

Henning Melber, president of the European Association of Development Institutes, said,  “One of the most scandalous parts of the whole joint declaration for me, it’s not only the money, it’s that it says Germany will apologise to the Namibians and then it continues to say the Namibians accept their apology. Come on. Can it be more colonial as an agreement? They are not even given the opportunity to reject the apology. ” 

Descendants of Namibia’s genocide victims call on Germany to ‘stop hiding’ | Global development | The Guardian

The Hell that is Shell


Shell reported Thursday that its profits more than doubled in 2022 to a record $40 billion.

All the money Shell has made from exploiting the Niger Delta's people and environment since it discovered oil in the area in 1956 "is blood money," Okpabi, the king of Ogale, told The Intercept. "And we are going from courthouse to courthouse."

11,317 residents from Ogale—a rural community in Nigeria home to roughly 40,000 people—and 17 local groups filed individual claims against Shell at the High Court of Justice in London, where the company is headquartered. They joined 2,335 of their fellow citizens from Bille—an island community of around 15,000 people where fish have virtually disappeared—who had already filed individual claims against the oil giant at the High Court in 2015.

Individual claimants are seeking compensation for loss of livelihoods. In addition, class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of Ogale and Bille inhabitants in October 2015 and December 2015, respectively, are seeking compensation for damages to communally owned property, including waterways, farmland, and public infrastructure.

British law firm Leigh Day, which is managing all four cases together, said Thursday in a statement that the communities want Shell to clean up their mess and pay up for destroying local residents' ability to farm and fish, which has left many with no source of income.

Matthew Renshaw, a partner at Leigh Day who represents the Nigerian claimants, lamented that "instead of engaging with these communities, Shell has fought them tirelessly through the courts for the past seven years."

"At a time when Shell is making unprecedented profits, it is high time that it addressed the ongoing pollution caused to these communities by its operations," said Renshaw. "The question must be asked whether Shell simply plans to leave the Niger Delta without addressing the environmental disaster which has unfolded under its watch?"

"This case raises important questions about the responsibilities of oil and gas companies," said Leigh Day partner Daniel Leader. "It appears that Shell is seeking to leave the Niger Delta free of any legal obligation to address the environmental devastation caused by oil spills from its infrastructure over many decades," Leader observed. "At a time when the world is focused on 'the just transition,' this raises profound questions about the responsibility of fossil fuel companies for legacy and ongoing environmental pollution."

'People Are Dying': Nearly 14,000 Nigerians Sue Shell Over Devastating Oil Spills (

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

The Dire Conditions in DRC

 The DRC is awash with minerals and precious stones, from gold, diamonds and coltan to tin, copper and cobalt. 

Harbouring the Congo River -- the second-largest in Africa after the Nile -- the DRC also has huge hydroelectric potential

It has 80 million hectares (197 million acres) of arable land. 

But little of the country's enormous wealth goes to its 100 million people.  

Two-thirds of the Congolese population survive on under $2.15 a day.

The DRC's mineral-rich eastern provinces are plagued by dozens of armed groups and civilian massacres are common. 

Poverty, but also rumba and resilience: Five things to know about DR Congo (

Fact of the Day

 Sudan is the second largest asylum country in Africa, hosting about 1.1 million refugees and asylum-seekers from South Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Syria, Yemen and other countries.

 South Sudanese refugees continue to make up the largest group of refugees in the country, with approximately 5,500 arriving in December of 2022 alone, and with up to 800,000 individuals total in Sudan today.

The Pope in the Congo - A “pilgrimage of peace”?

 Pope Francis has described “economic colonialism” in Africa, denouncing the “poison of greed” for mineral resources, condemning “terrible forms of exploitation, unworthy of humanity” in Congo, where vast mineral wealth has fuelled war, displacement and hunger, as he began a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Political exploitation gave way to an economic colonialism that was equally enslaving,” he said. “As a result, this country, massively plundered, has not benefited adequately from its immense resources,” he told an audience of Congolese politicians and other dignitaries. “It is a tragedy that these lands, and more generally the whole African continent, continue to endure various forms of exploitation,” he said. “The poison of greed has smeared its diamonds with blood,” he said, referring to Congo specifically.

The pope criticised rich countries for closing their eyes and ears to the tragedies unfolding in Congo and elsewhere in Africa. “One has the impression that the international community has practically resigned itself to the violence devouring it [Congo]. We cannot grow accustomed to the bloodshed that has marked this country for decades, causing millions of deaths,” 

“Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa! Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered,” he said.

Despite its vast reserves of minerals, timber and freshwater, the DRC remains one of the poorest countries in the world. About two-thirds of the population lives on less than $2.15 a day. An estimated 5.7 million people are internally displaced in Congo and 26 million face severe hunger.

Pope Francis condemns ‘economic colonialism’ in Africa on visit to DRC | Pope Francis | The Guardian