– NEWS –
Negotiations for release of Nigerian schoolgirls: 317 schoolgirls have been abducted in north-west Nigeria, the third mass kidnapping of students in three months in an escalating wave of rural attacks blamed on groups of armed bandits. Officials in Nigeria’s Zamfara state are in touch with the gunmen who abducted the schoolgirls last week and are negotiating their release, two state officials told Reuters on Monday. Zamfara Information Commissioner Sulaiman Tanau Anka told Reuters via phone that officials knew where the girls were being held and who had them, but would not send in armed security forces for fear of harming the girls. Anka added that “repentant” bandits who had participated in a state government amnesty program were serving as interlocutors between the kidnappers and the government. Meanwhile, dozens of students abducted from a school in northwest Nigeria last week have been rescued, the state government announced Saturday. The victims, members of the Government Science College of Kagara, had been abducted February 17 by gunmen in military uniforms. One student was shot and killed in the attack. Nigerian schoolchildren have increasingly become the targets of armed gunmen, who kidnap them in the hopes of securing large ransoms.
theguardian.com, reuters.com, npr.org
Amnesty International uncovers massacre in Tigray: Eritrean troops fighting in Ethiopia’s Tigray state systematically killed hundreds of unarmed civilians in the northern city of Axum on November 28-29 of last year, opening fire in the streets and conducting house-to-house raids in a massacre that may amount to a crime against humanity, Amnesty International said in a report. The human rights organization spoke to 41 survivors and witnesses – including in-person interviews with recently arrived refugees in eastern Sudan and phone interviews with people in Axum – as well as 20 others with knowledge of the events. They consistently described extrajudicial executions, indiscriminate shelling and widespread looting after Ethiopian and Eritrean troops led an offensive to take control of the city amid the conflict with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in mid-November.
Mass protests against the Tunisian government: Supporters of the Islamic conservative Ennahdha party took to the streets of the capital, Tunis, on Saturday to throw their weight behind the ruling party in its ongoing feud with President Kais Saied. The Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party called for the protest after the president criticized a cabinet shuffle carried out by Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi in mid-January and supported by the parliament. Saied claimed that some new ministers were under suspicion of corruption and conflicts of interest. The protest aimed at strengthening the prime minister’s hand after Saied threatened to block some ministerial appointments.
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Covid-19 in Africa – a problem for the whole world: For a long time it looked as if the African continent would be spared the worst devastation of the Covid pandemic. But the virus mutation B.1.351, which first appeared in South Africa, hit many countries on the continent hard. What many experts feared from the beginning is now coming to fruition – the virus is hitting societies that are barely able to organize effective protective measures due to financial problems and a lack of hygienic standards. African vaccination campaigns are also getting off to a slow start. In Africa, for example, only 0.16 vaccine doses were administered per 100 inhabitants, and vaccination coverage for the continent will likely not be completed until 2024. This is also due to the unwillingness of many Western countries to call on vaccine manufacturers to lift their patents.
Chaos in the Congo after murder of Italian ambassador: Following the assassination of Italian ambassador Luca Attanasio in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the actors in the country have begun to blame each other. Attanasio was killed along with his bodyguard and a World Food Program driver when their convoy was attacked in the east of the country. The assailants stopped the convoy by firing warning shots, killed the Congolese driver and were leading the passengers into the forest when park rangers opened fire, the governor of North Kivu province, Carly Nzanzu Kasivita, told Reuters. Attanasio was hit in the abdomen and died several hours later at the UN hospital in the regional capital Goma. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Congo’s interior ministry blamed a Hutu militia called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). But the Rwandan Hutu rebel group denied involvement in the killing and said the shooting happened in an area where both DR Congo and Rwanda had a military presence – so any investigation should take that into account.
jungewelt.de, reuters.com, bbc.com
Libyan coastguard rescues almost 100 migrants: Almost 100 migrants were rescued off the west coast of Libya on Sunday as they made failed attempts to reach Europe, while around 20 were missing, AFP reporters and the coastguard said. The migrants were brought to a naval base in the capital Tripoli, where they were met by a team from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). On Saturday, German charity Sea-Watch said it had saved nearly 150 migrants off the Libyan coast in two operations.
Protests over economic crisis in Morocco continue maghreb-post.de
Former employee of Germany’s Federal Press Office accused of espionage for Egypt welt.de
Trade in drug Khat is booming in Djibouti spiegel.de
Government candidate Bazoum elected new president in Niger dw.com
– BACKGROUND –
Bad marks for German security policy in Africa: According to a study by political scientist Wolfram Lacher on behalf of the Berlin think tank Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, German and French involvement in the North African crisis regions of Libya and the Sahel is tantamount to a disaster. Even after years of deployment, including the presence of troops on site, the countries of Libya, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso could slide into chaos at any moment. The German Libya policy is a „disaster“, the operation in Mali „unsuccessful“, says Lacher. In his study, he primarily criticizes the strategic approach of the missions. Germany and France are primarily concerned with waging the war on terror in a publicly effective manner, while sustainable stabilization is a subordinate goal. In addition, the two leading powers of the EU are not doing a good job at coordinating with each other. The Germans are inactive, the French overactive – that’s how Lacher sums up the commitment in Africa.
History: When Italy’s colonial dreams burst: On March 1, 1896, the Italian dream of colonial power in Africa ended. On this day Ethiopian freedom fighters crushed the Italian troops at the Battle of Adua and caused a defeat that was unique in this dimension in the history of European colonialism. The Italians invaded the Ethiopian province of Tigray in 1895, which led the Ethiopian emperor to declare war on the colonialists. The Ethiopian troops relied entirely on advanced weapons technology and surprised the European enemy time and again. During the Battle of Adua, the Ethiopian troops threw the Italian invaders out of the country for four decades.
China: Africa’s main partner in the fight against Covid: At the current rate of vaccination and the global distribution of vaccines across countries, the African continent is forecast to have finished vaccinating nearly everyone by 2023 at the earliest. While most countries in Europe and the USA distribute the lion’s share of the vaccine among themselves through preliminary contracts with western manufacturers, vaccination has not even started in some African countries. China, of all places, seems to be filling this gap more and more. The People’s Republic distributes the majority of its own vaccines abroad – a focus is on African countries. Beijing is successfully presenting itself as a worldwide savior in times of need. For the countries supplied by China – including Algeria, Zimbabwe, Morocco and Uganda – diplomacy plays a subordinate role. For them, the only thing that counts is hope in the fight against the virus.
Former pirate hotspot safe again? For years, Somalia’s Horn of Africa was a piracy hotspot. Until 2011, the number of robberies on international merchant ships in the busy Gulf of Aden rose continuously to up to 237 per year. But not a single attack has occurred in the waters off East Africa since 2018. The reason for this is likely to be the European Atalanta mission. Several European countries, including Germany, have been on site in naval operations since 2008. With regular coastal patrols, the piracy problem seems to be under control there – and could serve as an example for the new hotspot in the Gulf of Guinea.
– NUMBER –
South Africa reports a decrease in the 7-day incidence rate to less than 1,200 new Covid-19 infections. As recently as January, the value was over 20,000.
– QUOTE –
„You have come to the situation which is militarily and human rights-wise, humanitarian-wise very out of control.“
Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has warned that the crisis in Ethiopia’s conflict-hit Tigray region appears out of control, after visiting the country on behalf of the EU.
– AT LAST –
Soccer is back in Libya: A decade-long ban on international football matches being played in Libya has been lifted. The decision comes less than a month after the Confederation of African Football sent a delegation to inspect facilities and the security situation in the north African country, beset by civil strife over the last decade. Libya’s national team and its clubs competing in African club competition have been forced to stage home matches outside their borders, in countries like Egypt, Mali, Morocco and Tunisia, since the ban was imposed.