African Overview – September 22, 2017

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Credit: Community Journal

Source: Notas Periodismo Popular / The Dawn News / September 17, 2017

The Red Cross Suspends Help Missions in South Sudan

Sudan del Sur

After the murder of Lukudu Kennedy Laki Emmanuel, member of the Red Cross in South Sudan last September 8, the international assistance organism has decided to stop all activities in the Sudanese state of Western Equatoria. The victim, who worked as a driver, was shot to death during an attack on a convoy of 10 vehicles that transported elements of humanitarian assistance.

The decision made by the Red Cross affects 22 thousand people, including over five thousand farmers who were expecting to be delivered seeds for the next sowing cycle.

The Red Cross insisted on the need to respect the safety of the personnel working in the management of humanitarian aid, which should be “the main priority” and emphasized that it won’t resume its activities until it meets “the necessary guarantees of safety”.

For its part, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned that this restriction is the biggest one since war erupted in South Sudan in December 2013.

Laki Emmanuel’s death is not the only one; 85 collaborators of the Red Cross have died violently since 2013, 18 of them in 2017. This makes South Sudan the most dangerous country for workers of humanitarian organizations.

On the other hand, we must take into account that thousands of people were affected by the recent droughts. The South Sudanese subsecretary of Humanitarian Affairs, Gatwech Peter Kulang, commented that over 100 thousand people have been internally displaced by this catastrophe. He also warned about the potential spreading of new cholera outbursts–a disease that killed over 300 and infected around 20 thousand people in the last year.

Due to the war, only 5% of South Sudan’s land is being cultivated. This causes a situation of hunger for 7 million of the 11 million inhabitants of the country, while 5.5 million have been displaced for reasons related to the conflict.

South Sudan also holds the tragic record of being the country with the biggest increase in internally displaced people over the last year: around 3.3 million people had fled their homes in 2016.

The civil war in the youngest country in the world began when current president Salva Kiir denounced an attempted coup by his vice president, Riek Machar (currently in exile), in late 2013.

Nigerian soldiers kill five separatists in Biafra

Nigeria

Last week the Nigerian army conducted operations in several regions in the south east of the country that included an assault with an armored vehicle on the house of separatist leader Nnamdi Kanu, in Biafra. Five people died and 30 were injured when supporters of Kanu, who fought for the independence of the region, confronted the military.

After a video became public where soldiers abuse Biafra citizens, the Military Staff announced investigations on the “excesses” of its troops. The images depict armed soldiers forcing people to swim and drink contaminated water and hitting protesters and activists with canes as they lied face down.

“The investigation will determine the source and the actors of the video. Our Code of Conduct and Rules of Commitment are very clear and if any soldier or officer is found guilty of violating any of these norms will face the wrath of the whole military justice system”, the institution stated in a communiqué. However, they warned that the video might be “a falsification made by activists to disinform and discredit the army’s work”.

In late August the Nigerian government announced it would forbid hate speech in media after a concerning surge in those kind of messages—which were mostly aimed at one particular group: the Igbo ethnic community, located in Biafra.

Nigeria’s population is made up of over 250 ethnic groups, the four largest ones being the Hausa-Fulani in the North, the Yoruba in the South-west, and the Igbo and Ijaw in the South-West. The latter live in the place where the Biafra war unfolded between 1967 and 1970, which involved an attempted breakaway by some provinces of the area.

The conflict became internationally known due to the tactic the Nigerian troops used: they intentionally induced famine by burning the crops and blocking the entrance to food in the region. In total, the war caused 3 million deaths, and 3 million Igbo people fled to Cameroon. The sequels of that conflict still persist.

Constitutional Reform to Enable Re-election of the President in Uganda

Uganda

In early September, the Ugandan government had launched a “national dialogue” with the intention of reforming the country’s Constitution. The main goal, as they publicly announced, is modifying Article No. 102-b, which establishes an age limit for presidential candidates that are over 75 years old.

This clause currently prevents the head of State, Yoweri Museveni, from seeking a re-election once his term is over in 2021. However, last September 12, legislators of the governing National Resistance Movement (NRM) of Uganda unanimously voted for a project bill to eliminate the age limit.

The NRM has the majority in Parliament and therefore the reform is expected to be passed without the need for a Constituent process.

Museveni, who presides over Uganda since 1986, had declared: “Some people think that being in government for a short period of time is good, but I don’t think so, because you don’t have time”.

Ghana establishes mandatory secondary education

Ghana

The Ghanese government gave a huge step a few days ago by declaring secondary education to be obligatory and free throughout the national territory. Only primary school was mandatory, since 1996.

In 2008, the governing New Patriotic Party had promised to implement this measure.

The reform is estimated to cost 480 million cedis (108 million dollars), for the 2017/2018 period. With this decision, Ghana joins other states of the continent where children are obliged to complete secondary education, such as Rwanda, Uganda and Namibia.

Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Vice President of the African Union Commission, congratulated the government and added: “we’d like to have an alphabetized Africa”, where illiteracy is “a problem of the past”.

“A well-educated continent would be ready to absorb technology, apply science and find solutions”, Quartey added.

 

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