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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Africa Africa News From the Associated Press


Rape reaches 'epic proportions' in South Sudan's civil war

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 14:49:10 UT

MUNDRI, South Sudan (AP) — After months of being raped by her rebel captors in the middle of South Sudan's civil war, the young woman became pregnant. Sexual violence has reached "epic proportions," says the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan. Aid organizations blame it on the recent increase in fighting here between rebels and government troops, the latest shift of the war in an already devastated nation. [...] she was abducted by rebels loyal to an opposition group calling itself MTN, after a popular African telephone company. Shifting around in a plastic chair outside a coffee shop, she shyly adjusted her headscarf, covering what little hair she has left. According to a recent Inter-Agency assessment by international and local organizations focused on gender-based violence, 29 rape cases were reported in Mundri between August and October. The group received funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development last year and Labadia plans to seek more, a possibility which may be clouded by President Donald Trump's proposed budget cuts. [...] survivors say what they really want is to rebuild their lives. Since returning to the community, the 23-year-old rape victim has received psychosocial support from MAYA's staff and joined a women's empowerment group.

Congo must help search for missing UN experts: Rights group

Sat, 25 Mar 2017 13:27:16 UT

Uruguayan peacekeepers and Tanzanian special forces who deployed to find the six people, including ones from the United States and Sweden, have faced a lack of cooperation, the rights group said. Large-scale violence erupted in the Kasai region in August when security forces killed the leader of the Kamwina Nsapu militia. Anger has been growing in the country at long-delayed presidential elections, and dozens were killed in December amid protests as President Joseph Kabila stayed on past the end of his mandate. Militia members have recruited large numbers of children, and using crude weapons have attacked security forces and some government buildings in Kasai, Kasai Central, Kasai Oriental, Sankuru, and Lomami provinces, Human Rights Watch said.

Burkina Faso forces kill key jihadist, arrest others

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 15:22:53 UT

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso (AP) — Burkina Faso's government says its military forces have killed a key jihadist and arrested 18 others in the country's north, close to the West African nation's border with Mali. A senior security officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not permitted to speak to the press, said all those arrested Wednesday are linked to Ansaru Islam.

Geologist for Shell says company hid Nigeria spill dangers

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 14:34:35 UT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Royal Dutch Shell's Nigeria subsidiary "fiercely opposed" environmental testing and is concealing data showing thousands of Nigerians are exposed to health hazards from a stalled cleanup of the worst oil spills in the West African nation's history, according to a German geologist contracted by the Dutch-British multinational. The cleanup halted 17 months ago was part of a British out-of-court settlement in which Shell paid $83.5 million to 15,600 fishermen and farmers for damages from two oil spills caused by old pipelines in 2008 and 2009 that devastated thousands of hectares of mangroves and creeks. Holtzmann's letter warns that children bathing in creeks are in danger of harm from toxic substances, as are people who drink from hand-dug wells. Shell has a responsibility to share this information with the community to ensure they can take steps to protect themselves and their children, a statement from the rights group said.

UN's South Sudan inquiry gets wider powers to pursue abuses

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 13:41:08 UT

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The United Nations commission of inquiry for South Sudan now has broader powers to pursue human rights abuses like mass rape and torture in the country's three-year civil war. The U.N. inquiry began a year ago to document human rights violations in South Sudan. [...] a fragile peace agreement there has collapsed and ethnic fighting has spread.

Car bomb near Somalia presidential palace kills 1, hurts 2

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 13:23:22 UT

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A police official says a car bomb blast near a restaurant and hotel in Somalia's capital has killed at least one person and wounded two others. Another car bomb exploded Tuesday at a military checkpoint near the presidential palace, killing at least six people.

Somali pirates seize trawler, likely for hijackings: Police

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 13:09:37 UT

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Police say Somali pirates have seized a fishing trawler owned by a local businessman and forced the mostly foreign crew to disembark. The incident comes shortly after Somali pirates seized an oil tanker and its Sri Lankan crew for several days — the first hijacking of a large commercial vessel in the area in five years.

Gambia to set up truth commission and offer reparations

Fri, 24 Mar 2017 08:53:11 UT

BANJUL, Gambia (AP) — Gambia will set up a truth and reconciliation commission to look into crimes committed by the former regime, and it will offer to pay reparations to victims, Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambedou announced Thursday night. The government of new President Adama Barrow has promised to reverse many of the actions taken under former leader Yahya Jammeh, who was accused by rights groups of overseeing abuses of opponents during his 22-year rule.

British woman faces treason-related charges in Rwanda

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 20:01:20 UT

Rwanda under President Paul Kagame has been praised abroad for social and economic reforms, and Kagame is expected to win another seven-year term in this year's election, but human rights groups say his administration has an iron grip on power and quashes opposing views. Uwamahoro's arrest and other cases of arbitrary detentions "seem designed to quell opposition voices in the run-up to the presidential elections in August," said Sarah Jackson, a deputy regional director for Amnesty International.

Al-Shabab claims to kill 17 soldiers in Somalia attack

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 18:57:39 UT

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — An organization that monitors extremist groups says al-Shabab has claimed to kill 17 soldiers and wound 22 in an attack in southwestern Somalia. The SITE Intelligence Group says in a statement Thursday that the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab's news agency posted a claim on Facebook about attacking the coastal city of Barawe. The extremist group also claimed that it shelled bases of the African Union mission in the city in the Wednesday night assault. Somalia's government says extremists attacked army positions but adds that the assault was immediately repulsed. The government says just two people were killed.

Africa has worst hunger crisis in 70 years amid budget cuts

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:29:25 UT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Africa faces the world's largest humanitarian crisis since 1945, with more than 20 million people facing starvation, and any cut in funding to humanitarian agencies working in famine-affected areas will cause untold suffering, a spokesman for the World Food Program said in Johannesburg Thursday, responding to questions about U.S. President Donald Trump's proposal to cut $10 billion in foreign aid. "Any cuts at this time are extremely significant, not just for us but for any U.N. agencies and any aid organization," said David Orr, WFP's Africa spokesman, at a media briefing in Johannesburg. "The more dramatic cuts in any aid budgets, the more the number of debts, the more suffering there is going to be," Orr said.

Uganda at 'breaking point' as South Sudan refugees pour in

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 14:38:25 UT

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Uganda is at a "breaking point" as almost 3,000 South Sudanese refugees pour into the country every day, the United Nations refugee chief and Uganda's government said Thursday, calling for international help to support over 800,000 people now sheltering there. More than 570,000 refugees have arrived from South Sudan since July — and the number could pass one million by the middle of this year, the joint statement by U.N. refugee chief Filippo Grandi and Uganda's government said. The unprecedented surge in refugee arrivals since fighting broke out in South Sudan's capital in July has placed "enormous strain" on public services and infrastructure, Uganda's Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said. The World Food Program has indicated there will be serious food shortages by June if more supplies are not shipped in, Musa Ecweru, a Ugandan government minister in charge of refugees, told The Associated Press. "The consistent lack of global attention on the South Sudan emergencies is now affecting the ability to respond," Jesse Kamstra, Uganda director for the Lutheran World Federation, warned last month.

At 93 years old, Zimbabwe's Mugabe remains a jet-setter

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 13:12:35 UT

Images of Mugabe struggling to walk on the red carpet, toppling from a raised lectern at the airport in 2015 and, most recently , wearing a loose-hanging, untucked white shirt in Mauritius — a rare break from his usual suit and tie — have trended on social media and become the butt of jokes and memes. [...] he is so well that he beats even the youngest politician, the spokesman said, Former finance minister and now opposition leader Tendai Biti has expressed both disgust at Mugabe's foreign travel spending and concern that the trips will worsen his health. Mugabe spent over $34 million on foreign travel in the first 10 months of 2016, outstripping expenditures by entire ministries such as that of transport and infrastructure development, according to the ministry of finance statistics. Transport minister Joram Gumbo has defended the government's decision to charter a jet from Bahrain for Mugabe's recent trips, saying the Air Zimbabwe plane that Mugabe uses is undergoing maintenance.

Armed groups occupy Central African Republic schools

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 10:57:53 UT

Some 20 percent of schools in Central African Republic are not functioning, and students' and teachers' lives are threatened as armed groups have looted, occupied and damaged the properties in the conflict-torn country, according to a Human Rights Watch report released Thursday. Human Rights Watch, which visited schools between November and January and interviewed children and teachers as well as fighters, has called on the country's government and the United Nations to do more to ensure that armed groups stay far away from classrooms. The Seleka rebels for months used the school director's office as a prison, teachers in Ngadja told the rights group. In November, the U.N. humanitarian office estimated that while 2,336 schools in Central African Republic were operational, at least 461 were not because of insecurity, destruction, occupation and lack of teachers. Progress was made but then undermined when U.N., African Union and French forces in some cases occupied schools themselves, Human Rights Watch said.

Member of counterfeit CD and DVD ring gets 5 years

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 20:27:41 UT

Federal prosecutors in Atlanta say 41-year-old Mamadou Aliou Simakha pleaded guilty in March 2010 to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright infringement, to traffic in counterfeit goods and counterfeit labels. At his plea hearing, he admitted that he burned and helped sell pirated music and movies.

African governments urged to spend more on clean water

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 17:59:58 UT

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Nearly a third of people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to safe drinking water, the World Water Council said Wednesday, urging governments to contribute adequate amounts of their budgets toward projects aimed at making safe water widely available. Africa and Asia are the most affected by scarcity of safe water, with Papua New Guinea, Equatorial Guinea and Angola reporting that clean water is available to less than 50 percent of their populations, the statement said. Han Seung-soo, the U.N. special envoy for disaster risk reduction and water, told Wednesday's opening of The First General Assembly Water Dialogue that "during the past decade, water-related disasters have struck more frequently and have become more severe."

Zimbabwe opposition groups protest over 2018 election

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 13:47:23 UT

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Opposition politicians, activists and outspoken church leaders in Zimbabwe have gathered to protest what they call attempts to rig next year's presidential election. Wednesday's protest followed a demand by opposition parties that the United Nations run the 2018 vote.

8 killed as suicide bombers target Nigerian city: Officials

Wed, 22 Mar 2017 10:44:15 UT

8 killed as suicide bombers target Nigerian city: MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian officials say at least eight people have been killed after five suicide bombers attacked the northeastern city of Maiduguri.

Car bomb kills 6 near Somalia presidential palace: Official

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 19:30:19 UT

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — A car bomb exploded Tuesday at a military checkpoint near Somalia's presidential palace in the capital, killing at least six people, the spokesman for Mogadishu's mayor said. The blast came a few hours after Somalia's new prime minister unveiled a 26-member cabinet, the latest step as the fragile central government tries to further assert itself beyond the capital.

Attack in central Nigeria kills at least 17, official says

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 16:22:38 UT

WARRI, Nigeria (AP) — At least 17 people have been killed in an attack on a community in Benue state in central Nigeria, an official said Tuesday, while residents said the toll was higher. A community leader, Iverem Peters, said the gunmen on Monday stormed the community in cars and on motorcycles, shooting indiscriminately at residents and burning houses.

Western Sahara wants AU to sanction Morocco after no-show

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:13:21 UT

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Western Sahara's top diplomat on Tuesday called on African countries to sanction Morocco after it failed to attend an African Union meeting on the disputed territory. The African Union now must take steps by imposing sanctions against Morocco, the foreign minister said.

1st units of South Sudan protection force arrive soon: UN

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:43:01 UT

The U.N. Security Council last year approved an additional 4,000 peacekeepers to help protect civilians after a series of reported gang-rapes and other assaults when fighting erupted in Juba in July. South Sudan has been devastated by a three-year civil war that has killed tens of thousands and contributed to a recently declared famine in two counties that threatens more than 100,000 people. The peacekeeping mission took the unique decision at the beginning of the civil war to open its bases to civilians fleeing the violence, and tens of thousands continue to take shelter there.

Zimbabwe opposition parties want UN to handle 2018 election

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:33:31 UT

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe's opposition parties are demanding United Nations involvement in next year's presidential election after a preparatory meeting fell apart amid an argument with election officials. The opposition parties have demanded her resignation, saying she is trying to help 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe win another five-year term.

Boko Haram leader in new video vows to establish caliphate

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:33:23 UT

In the 27-minute video seen by The Associated Press, Shekau says his fighters will continue to attack Nigeria's northeastern city of Maiduguri with suicide bombers until the country accepts the ways of Islam and jettisons constitutional rule.

Trees toppled at Ghana waterfall during storm, killing 19

Tue, 21 Mar 2017 08:18:46 UT

Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia led a delegation of officials who visited relatives of those who died to express the government's condolences, state-owned Ghana News Agency reported. Paul M. Agyemang, a fire officer who lives in Kintampo, posted a video on his Facebook page showing rescuers searching in the brown muddied water below a large waterfall while the bodies of 10 young students lay on the grass.

South Sudan plane crashes, all 49 passengers, crew survive

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 20:15:08 UT

U.N. peacekeepers worked with local emergency workers to evacuate passengers from the plane, according to David Shearer, head of the U.N. mission in South Sudan. Most of the passengers were South Sudanese with two foreigners, one each from China and Eritrea. Since 2013, South Sudan has been embroiled in a civil war that has killed at least 50,000 people.

Kenya: 11 people killed in fighting fueled by drought

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 17:43:08 UT

Isiolo County Police Commander Charles Ontita said Borana herders attacked Samburu herders on Sunday and stole about 400 cattle prompting a revenge attack by Samburu leading to the deaths.

PHOTOS: Daily hunt for water affects millions of Africans

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 17:08:16 UT

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — More than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the country's problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. In total about 12 percent of world population lacks clean drinking water and water-related diseases account for 3.5 million deaths each year, more than car accidents and AIDS combined, according to the World Water Council.

Ship hijacked and then freed by Somali pirates, at safe port

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 18:45:13 UT

The ship, which had a crew of eight Sri Lankans, docked at the port of Bossaso, the region's commercial hub, under heavy security by local naval forces who boarded the ship after pirates released it as a result of negotiations with local elders and regional authorities. Somalis living on the Indian Ocean coastal, including some former pirates who quit as international patrols increased and became fisherman, have complained of growing harassment by illegal foreign trawlers.

3 suicide bombers kill 4 in northeastern Nigeria

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 11:02:55 UT

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Three suicide bombers suspected to be members of Boko Haram detonated explosive devices strapped on their bodies Saturday night, killing at least four people in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. The attackers were a male and two teenage girls believed to be working for Boko Haram, Nigeria's homegrown Islamic extremism rebels, said Victor Isuku, spokesman of the Borno state police command.