Bringing Dignity to Somalia’s Victims of War
Amina Hagi Elmi, 60, has spent the past three decades trying to protect other women from the helplessness she felt when the civil war broke out. While a bloody armed conflict, severe drought and attacks by the extremist group Al Shabab have made an estimated 2.6 million people refugees in their own country, Elmi has fought for women’s dignity with sanitary pads, scarves and soaps. She was one of 24 women being honored by the United Nations for World Humanitarian Day on Aug. 19. In 2011, her campaign was recognized by international agencies when her “dignity kits” were included in the emergency package that displaced people receive from the United Nations-led Shelter Cluster. Each kit contains traditional Somali dresses, scarves, underwear, pants, sanitary pads, soap and laundry detergent. Since then, the organization Elmi co-founded and is directing, Save Somali Women and Children (SSWC), has distributed an estimated 70,000 dignity kits to displaced women and girls in makeshift refugee camps in southern and central Somalia. Since its founding in 1992, Mogadishu-based SSWC has expanded and now employs almost 300 people working on projects such as a center for survivors of gender-based violence and campaigns for breastfeeding.SOURCE: OZY
Benin’s Mostly Peaceful Democracy May not be Immune to Terrorism’s Contagion
When Mr. Fiacre Gbédji and two French tourists he was guiding deep within Pendjari National Park were kidnapped by terrorists, the international response to the men involved was far different. The tourists were rescued 10 days later by the French military. Amid the international attention on the kidnapping, Mr. Gbédji disappeared; if he was mentioned at all, it was mostly just “their guide.” He was shot and killed by the kidnappers, officials said, his remains eaten by animals. The incident has become a fearful omen in Benin. It was emerging as a safari destination, and Pendjari, under new leadership, as a jewel of the country. The kidnapping has upended that progress and drawn attention to how the terrorism wracking Burkina Faso and other neighbors could also threaten Benin. Al Qaeda and ISIS-linked groups have pushed toward Benin as they flee military assaults on their former strongholds in Mali and Niger, according to security experts. They have found recruits and refuge under cover of dense parkland.
SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES
Sudan Turns a New Leaf
Sudan’s top general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan has been sworn in as head of a military-civilian council that will run the country until elections are held. Prime minister-nominee Abdalla Hamdok is expected to be sworn in by the end of the day. Burhan is scheduled to lead the Sovereign Council for 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18. The new council was set up under a power-sharing deal between military leaders and protesters who demanded a civilian-led government. According to the agreement, the opposition coalition is allowed to choose five members of the council and the military another five, with the two sides jointly choosing a civilian as an eleventh member. The agreement also provides for a 300-member legislative assembly to serve during the transitional period and a cabinet of technocrats. The main challenge for the new government will be an economic crisis stemming from a shortage of foreign currency, resulting in a cash crunch and long lines for fuel and bread. A power-sharing agreement signed Saturday paves the way for a transitional government and eventual elections. It provides for a sovereign council as the highest authority in the country but largely delegates executive powers to the cabinet of ministers.
Old Wounds Still Hurt South Africans
The country’s equality court has ruled that gratuitous displays of the apartheid-era flag is a form of hate speech, discrimination and harassment. The Nelson Mandela Foundation asked the court to ban “gratuitous displays” after the flag was on show during protests against the murders of white farmers in October 2017. They weren’t asking for a complete ban of the flag. The flag would still be allowed in “museums, documentaries and cathartic creative works”, the foundation explained previously. But the Afrikaner lobby group AfriForum challenged the request, arguing that any restriction would threaten freedom of speech. Judge Phineas Mojapelo ruled in favour of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, saying that the apartheid-era flag “represents racial segregation, separation and oppression”. He went on to say: “Not a single person has suggested feeling embraced by the display of the flag and not a single white person has suggested that the display is a demonstration of love and tolerance towards black people. On the very contrary the evidence of those who oppose the complaint application confirms that the display of the flag has potential to cause harm.” The orange, white and blue flag was first used in 1928, and came to represent white-minority rule during the apartheid era. It was replaced in 1994 by one which sought to represent the entire “Rainbow Nation”, as South Africa came to be called.
New Species Discovery in North Africa
Remains of a stegosaurus, an armoured dinosaur instantly recognisable by the plate-like bones protruding from its spine and spikes on its tails, were studied by a team from the Natural History Museum and belong to a new genus that walked the earth around 168m years ago. Despite the specimen including only a few vertebrae and an upper-arm bone, scientists concluded it was a new species and genus which dates to the middle Jurassic period – much earlier than most known stegosaurs. The team, led by Dr Susannah Maidment, named it Adratiklit boulahfa, meaning “mountain lizard” in the Berber language. Boulahfa is a reference to the area in the Middle Atlas mountains of Morocco where the specimen was found.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
Dirty Tricks in Malawi Democracy
In response to a petrol bomb attack targeting the home and car of Malawian human rights defender and activist Timothy Mtambo, which took place in the early hours of this morning, Muleya Mwananyanda, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Southern Africa, said: “This cowardly and malicious attack on Timothy Mtambo’s property is a clear act of intimidation, designed to deter him from carrying out his human rights work.” Timothy and his family narrowly escaped harm after three petrol bombs were thrown into his compound. One hit and torched his car while the second was thrown at the gate and the last narrowly missed his house. The incident comes weeks after Mtambo received threats for organizing demonstrations, calling for the Malawi Electoral Commission Chairperson Jane Ansah to resign from her position over allegations of mismanaging the of May 21 election. Timothy Mtambo is the Chairperson of the Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC), a local Non-Governmental Organisation working to defend human rights. He is also the executive director of the Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) as well as the vice chairperson of Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network.
SOURCE: AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Pressure is Again Building on the Naira
Faced with the prospect of a weakening naira, the Central Bank of Nigeria is digging out its 2015 playbook to stem the currency’s decline. After losing out then, traders are betting on history to repeat itself. Four years ago, Governor Godwin Emefiele curbed dollar supplies for imports on 41 products from glass to toothpicks. Now, he wants dairy on the list, while President Muhammadu Buhari wants to add food. It’s a last-gasp bid to avoid marking down the naira for the third time since February 2015, when the currency was pegged for 15 months against the dollar. But curbing greenbacks at the height of the 2015 currency crisis and in the face of tumbling oil prices came at a cost. The measures drained Nigeria’s reserves from almost $50 billion in 2013 to below $24 billion in October 2016. It also pushed the inflation rate to an almost 12-year high because it limited supplies, contributing to the economy’s first full-year contraction in a quarter century.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
East Africa Neighbours Kiss and Make Up
Presidents Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Paul Kagame of Rwanda have signed a peace deal to end the tensions between them. They reached the deal on Wednesday on a second meeting in the Angolan capital, Luanda. It was in presence of presidents of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola and the Republic of the Congo who played mediation roles. Political tensions have lasted nearly three years. Rwandan authorities accuse Uganda of illegally jailing and torturing its citizens whilst Uganda accuses Rwanda of spying on its territory. The agreement says that they will “resume as soon as possible the cross-border activities between both countries”. SOURCE: BLOOMBERG
Ex VP Says the Harare Police are Out to Get Him
Zimbabwe’s former Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko has appeared in court on corruption charges and has been granted bail. Mr Mphoko was a co-vice-president under Robert Mugabe. He served alongside current President Emmerson Mnangagwa when Mr Mugabe was ousted by the military in November 2017, but the two former deputies have fallen out. The Mail and Guardian reports that Mr Mphoko was part of a faction that wanted Mr Mugabe’s wife, Grace, to succeed him rather than Mr Mnangagwa. The Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) said on Tuesday they wanted to talk to Mr Mphoko about alleged abuse of office and that he was being treated as a fugitive after fleeing from anti-corruption officials. Mr Mphoko’s lawyer, Zibusiso Ncube, told the BBC that his client had not run away but feared for his life and was concerned that he would be “injected with a poison”. The allegations against him are “sensationalist”, Mr NCube added.
SOURCE: MAIL & GUARDIAN
South Africa’s Lion Man Dies
A man has been mauled to death by his own captive lions in a game reserve in South Africa. Leon van Biljon was killed at the Mahala View Lion Lodge, near the northern town of Cullinan, as he attempted to fix a broken fence in the lion enclosure. Van Biljon offered “exclusive lion lectures, feedings and game drives for guests,” according to the Mahala View Lion Lodge website. The lodge website said three lions — named Rambo, Katryn and Nakita — were kept on the property, which functions as a safari lodge and offers accommodation, game drives and conference facilities. Between 6,000 and 8,000 lions are bred and held in so-called lion farms and sanctuaries in more than 200 facilities in South Africa, according to scientists studying the practice — far more lions than there are in the wild in the country.