Daily Archives: July 7, 2017

Funding, Suicide Attacks Remain Challenge for African Force Fighting Boko Haram

YAOUNDE � Boko Haram has lost as much as 70 percent of its war equipment and fighters. That’s the assessment of defense officials from the five countries involved in the joint task force fighting the militants. But the officials, who gathered in Cameroon this week to discuss the war effort, admit their own troops face challenges, mostly involving funding.

Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin contribute the 7,000 soldiers that make up the multinational joint task force battling Boko Haram.

Defense officials from the five countries said this week that economic challenges caused by the global slump in commodity prices are taking a toll on the war effort.

They said it has become difficult to mount attacks on Boko Haram locations, as they lack the resources to keep adequate standby troops stationed at frontline bases, like Mora in northern Cameroon.

Cameroonian General Donatien Melingui Nouma, speaking on behalf of the group, said they are a sub-regional force and do not have the same resources as a U.N. peacekeeping mission. But he said they will not relent because the Lake Chad Basin Commission member states are suffering from severe terrorism threats. He said they received contributions from the international community like the European Union and the United Kingdom and are expecting more.

The Lake Chad Basin Commission created the regional force in 2015 with an anticipated budget of $700 million. But the defense officials said less than 50 percent of the promised money has been delivered.

In June, Cameroon arrested 30 of its soldiers in the task force after they protested over salary, saying they are not being paid enough.

This week, the defense ministers resolved that each country will negotiate salary agreements with their respective militaries, while the regional force will provide additional weapons to the troops.

The joint task force has succeeded in retaking much of the territory Boko Haram once held in Nigeria. However, that success has brought fresh challenges, said General Ahmen Mohammed, who is in charge of training and operations at the Nigerian defense headquarters.

“They have been degraded substantially, but because of that they had now broken into smaller sprinters and it is becoming much more difficult to harness our resources to deal with them decisively,” Mohammed said.

The defense chiefs said these factions lack coordination and have resorted to regular suicide attacks in recent months, which have caused more people to flee their homes, intensifying the regional humanitarian crisis.

Source: Voice of America

Department dismisses fake news about brain cancer

Pretoria – The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has reassured members of the public that Minister Angie Motshekga has never said that too much studying causes brain cancer.

This after the department noted a recent spate of fake news doing the rounds on social media.

The department on Friday said despite the ridiculous nature of the statements, some members of the public have expressed concern over the fake reports.

The fake news article quotes the Minister as saying: Learners must take care of themselves and rest these holidays. I would advise them not to touch their books so they can rest their brains because studying too much causes brain cancer.

The department said anyone who follows the Minister’s interventions would know that the Minister is a passionate advocate of reading, as well as an avid reader herself.

She has on numerous occasions urged learners to use their free time to discover the magic of books, and she encourages parents to buy books for their children instead of toys.

She has also launched the Read to Lead Campaign which is a reading advocacy initiative that urges learners and parents to drop all and read for 30 minutes a day.

Another fake news doing its rounds is that the Minister of Basic Education wants to help school drop outs get employment by giving them Matric certificates as long as they are able to read and write.

This is not true, the Minister has said no such thing and there are no plans to give anyone who does not pass the National Senior Certificate examinations a Matric Certificate.

We urge members of the public to be vigilant about verifying they read before they share it on social media. This type of malicious content is created with the express intent to cause confusion and to cause the public to lose confidence in Government, said the department.

The department has condemned these reports in the strongest possible terms.

Source: South Africa Government News Agency

President Jacob Zuma extends condolences on the passing of former rugby captain Salie Fredericks

President Zuma extends condolences on the passing of former SARU Captain Fredericks

President Jacob Zuma has expressed deep sadness and extended heartfelt condolences on the passing of the legendary former South African Rugby Union (SARU) Captain Salie Fredericks, who passed on yesterday, 06 July 2017, at the age of 74 and is being laid to rest today, 07 July 2017.

Mr Fredericks was an exceptional lock in nine in non-racial rugby in the 1960s and 1970s and played in over 200 games for Western Province and nine games for the SARU national team between 1963 and 1974, with his last match at Athlone Stadium in September 1974.

The country has lost one of its best ever rugby players who made an indelible contribution to rugby and fought for non�racialism in sport. He was a remarkable player who selflessly chose to make a difference in South Africa’s sporting code, especially in teaching black youngsters. We wish to convey our condolences to the Fredericks family and the sports fraternity at large. May his soul rest in peace. said President Zuma.

Source: Government of South Africa

Sudan sanctions, Mosul, and Marawi: The Cheat Sheet

Check out the topics on IRIN’s radar and trawl through our curation of the best humanitarian reports, opinion, and journalism you may have missed:

Will US relax 20-year-old sanctions on Sudan?

Sudan’s diplomacy is on a roll: the international criminal court has decided not to pursue South Africa for allowing indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to visit, and the size of the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (a watchdog for Khartoum’s abusive counter-insurgency) is being slashed. Next, the country’s leadership hopes US economic sanctions against it will be dropped. In January, then-president Barack Obama announced a six-month suspension of certain US sanctions on Sudan � some dating back to 1997. The executive order allowed US businesses to transact with individuals and entities in Sudan, and unblocked Sudanese government property frozen by the United States. The order argued that Sudan had improved on several fronts, including improved humanitarian access, and that merited recognition. On 13 July, the United States will announce if the measures will be reimposed or lifted. Conflict analyst International Crisis Group is in favour of lifting sanctions, pointing out that Washington would still retain targeted sanctions on individuals associated with the Darfur conflict and Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism. Opponents say Sudan’s human rights record remains dismal, and the move rewards an abusive regime. Sudan is the fifth most fragile country in the world, according to the Fund for Peace, scoring a perfectly negative 10 out of 10 on the “group grievance” indicator. It pays $40,000 a month to DC lobbyist Squire Patton Boggs mainly to help make the case against sanctions.

Iraq’s post-Mosul challenges

The battle for Mosul is coming to an end. But as so-called Islamic State’s area of control is reduced to an ever-shrinking enclave in the Old City, the horrible cost civilians are paying is becoming all too clear. As we reported this week, those attempting to flee are wounded, desperately thirsty, and face the threat of suicide bombers even after they make it away from the front line. Watch this short IRIN film to see for yourself the scale of the destruction.

So what now? When the Islamist extremist group is finally ousted from the city, Iraq’s troubles are far from over: reconstruction will cost time and money; there are serious concerns about vengeance against suspected IS members and their families; and there’s not much evidence of planning for reconciliation or transitional justice. And Iraq’s troubles are bigger than Mosul, of course. An attack on Sunday at a transit site for IDPs west of Ramadi killed a reported 14 people and wounded 13. The IDPs killed were fleeing IS-controlled areas in western Anbar Province, where IS still controls territory and civilians are fleeing under the cover of desert sandstorms. The UN estimates that some 50,000-60,000 people remain under the group’s control in Hawija, a town to the west of Kirkuk that strategists once believed would be taken from IS before Mosul. Watch this space for more on what the delayed liberation of Hawija means for its civilians.

See also our in-depth page: Beyond Mosul � Iraq’s longer-term obstacles to peace

What next for Marawi?

After more than a month, fighting is winding down in the southern Philippines city of Marawi, where government forces have been waging urban warfare against Islamist militants. But much of the city is in ruins, and ACTED warns that it will likely not be accessible for a long time, due to risks related to the presence of armed groups and explosive devices. That raises the question of what will happen to the 351,000 people who the UN says fled their homes and are now living with host families or in evacuation centres. To make matters worse for the minority Muslim population, who frequently find themselves caught between state and militant forces, some government officials are proposing a mandatory Muslim only identification card. Human Rights Watch condemned the suggestion, noting that the Philippines is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits discrimination based on religion.

Did you miss it?

Damned if you fish, damned if you don’t

Near the beginning of this beautifully shot eight-minute film about the degradation of Lake Victoria, 63-year-old local environmentalist Peter Mirere says it all: It is through the fish that we get capital for all other activities we can do. For centuries, communities on the banks of Africa’s largest lake have made a healthy living off its rich waters. They have relied upon the fish as the basis for their livelihoods. Now the picture, captured expertly by documentary maker Benj Binks, is far murkier and the future more uncertain. A drone’s eye view of the heaps of human garbage betrays the population boom around the lake’s shores. But this is nothing compared to the pollution in the water. Years of mismanagement, environmental changes, deforestation, illegal cultivation that leaks fertiliser into the water have all contributed to dwindling catches. Diversification into palm oil causes yet more damage to the breeding grounds: There are no easy choices on Lake Victoria anymore.

Chad’s guns for hire

Within the post-Gaddafi maelstrom of the Chad-Sudan-Libya triangle, there’s one group that has escaped international attention despite having a key role to play in regional security. They are the Teda people, who inhabit the Tebesti Massif in Chad’s far north, as well as parts of southern Libya and northeastern Niger. Since Chad gained independence in 1960, the Teda have lived mostly under the yoke of rebel groups. More recently, since 2011, they have been an important source of guns for hire, offering their services as militiamen, rebels, mercenaries, traffickers, and bandits in Libya. This paper from the Small Arms Survey and Conflict Armament Research explains how the repeated failures of peace agreements and rebel reintegration processes, together with a dearth of economic opportunities in northern Chad, ongoing instability in Libya, and chronic violence in Sudan’s Darfur region, have helped armed factions in the triangle become more internationalised. The paper also flags up the important effects of recent regional gold rushes and the prospects for a renewed rebellion in northern Chad. Looking forward, it warns that the guns-for-hire phenomenon is likely to worsen unless peacebuilding measures in long-marginalised Tebesti are boosted with socio-economic interventions.

Source: IRIN

SOUTH AFRICAN BEEKEEPERS BEGIN REBUILDING COLONIES AFTER RECENT FIRES

CAPE TOWN, July 7 (NNN-SABC) — Beekeepers in the Southern Cape region of South Africa’s Western Cape Province have begun to rebuild their colonies after hundreds of hives were destroyed by recent fires.

With little foliage left, they are now attracting bees with a sugar-syrup solution and pollen substitute.

The humanitarian aid organization, Gift of the Givers, has also come on board and donated 250,000 Rand to assist local beekeepers. A spokesperson for the Hope for the Honeybees group of beekeeper, Owen Williams, says the sugar-syrup solution is not the most nutritious food, but is helping to attract new colonies.

He says a pollen substitute is also being distributed to beekeepers to make up for the lack of foliage.

These beekeepers are currently distribution points for other beekeepers to come and get feed — the sugar syrup and we now have the pollen substitute. The aim is not to strengthen the bees but to help them recover and maintain till such time that the vegetation restores. There’s also a planting programme which people can get hold of through the Facebook page of Hope for the Honeybees, he said.

A beekeeper at Rheenendal near Knysna, Stephanus Ludtz, lost seven beehives in the fires. He says with the assistance of Hope for the Honeybees he is now able to ensure the survival of his remaining hives. They are giving me the sugar-syrup and pollen substitute to help the bees. We are planning to plant flowers so the bees can thrive again.

Williams says that they are urging the public not to donate any bees, honey or hives from other regions in order to prevent the spread of American Foulbrood (AFB) Disease to the area.

He says the Southern Cape is currently free from the disease, which can wipe out whole colonies. If we throw one more curveball at the Cape Honeybee at this time, like AFB, it could cause a major and long-term catastrophe for the Cape Honeybees in this area,” he adds.

“The best way people can help, because there’s a structured plan in place and run by experienced beekeepers and by no means are we just winging it along, we have scientists behind us giving input based on research as to do what, where and how. So the best place is join the team of Hope for the Honeybees.”

Apart from the fires destroying foliage, the current drought in Western cape Province is also making it difficult for nature to recover. Williams says they are hoping for rain soon, to ensure the bees can forage on their own again.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK