• Biosecurity

    The Defense Threat Reduction Agency and United States Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (DTRA/SCC-WMD) have selected CH2M to lead efforts in West Africa to broaden its Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) on the African continent and reduce the threat of infectious diseases. The CBEP, developed by the Department of Defense to address global health security issues, was used in 2014 to support international efforts to combat the Ebola virus outbreak and other threats to global health security.

  • Ebola

    A research team determined that 25 percent of individuals in a Sierra Leone village were infected with the Ebola virus but had no symptoms, suggesting broader transmission of the virus than originally thought. These individuals had antibodies to the virus, suggesting they had been infected at one time — yet said they had had no symptoms during the time of active transmission in the village. Theresearch confirms previous suspicions that the Ebola virus does not uniformly cause severe disease, and that people may be infected without showing signs of illness.

  • Water security

    Water experts believe by 2050 almost half of the world’s population will live in countries with a chronic water shortage. The shortfall is the result of population growth, which leads to a greater demand for food, increased pollution, and climate instability. At the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev’s (BGU)’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water Research, eighty scientists and 250 graduate students are working on ways to tackle the problem using cutting-edge science in partnership with academics around the world.

  • African security

    As the conflict in northern Mali endures, another hot spot south of the Niger River is attracting increasing attention. It involves two main areas in the center of the country: the Macina heartland (Fulani historical-political region, between Mopti and Segou) and the Hayré (northeast of Mopti). However, it would be false to attribute political violence in this region solely to groups embracing jihad. At least two more rationales exist. One is about community self-defense. The other involves a struggle led by Fulani herdsmen, more vulnerable than other Fulani communities of the area. The situation shows how the presence of armed jihadi actors stirs up local political tensions. It also shows that political developments in this area intimately depend on specific social configurations. It is essential that those who claim to want to help rid Mali of the jihadi threat recognize the diversity of these configurations and of the social experiences deriving from them in times of crisis.

  • African security

    Over the past few weeks the United States and France have pledged considerable extra funds to strengthening their military presence in Africa’s Sahel region – a narrow, arid band of land stretching across the continent from west to east just south of the Sahara desert. This has been prompted by growing Western fears of destabilization. There has been concern that Islamist groups were establishing themselves in the vast spaces between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea. But Western interest in the Sahel region is not merely about security. It has also been linked by some to the West’s desire to protect vital natural resources such as oil, gas, and uranium. One geographer and Africa specialist has called this a new scramble for Africa.

  • African security

    Libya’s remaining chemical weapons left over from the Gaddafi regime are now being safely disposed of in a German facility. This eliminates the risk of them falling into the wrong hands. But can these same hands acquire weapons of mass destruction from the rest of Africa? The disposal of Libya’s chemical weapons has lowered the risk of weapons of mass destruction in Africa. But we have seen how far non-state actors are willing to go to either produce or steal such weapons. For example, analysts envision militants known as “suicide infectors” visiting an area with an infectious disease outbreak like Ebola purposely to infect themselves and then using air travel to carry out the attack. Reports from 2009 show forty al-Qaeda linked militants being killed by the plague at a training camp in Algeria. There were claims that they were developing the disease as a weapon. The threat WMD pose cannot be ignored. African countries, with help from bilateral partners and the international community, have broadened their nonproliferation focus. They will need to keep doing so if the goal is effectively to counter this threat.

  • African security

    UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon the other day released a follow-up note to the 2015 report of an Independent Panel of Experts that was established to examine and assess new information regarding the 1961 death of former UN secretary-general Dag Hammarskjöld. Hammarskjöld’s plane crashed in September 1961 near Ndola, in what was then the British colony of Northern Rhodesia, and is now Zambia. He was on his way t negotiate an end to the war between Congo, which was supported by the Soviet Union, and the breakaway, mining-rich region of Katanga, which was supported by Belgium (openly) and the United States (covertly).The UN is especially frustrated with the United Kingdom for not releasing more intelligence documents which would shed light on the question of whether Hammarskjöld’s plane was brought down by Western intelligence services who wanted Katanga to remain independent of Congo.

  • African security

    Nigeria claims to have “fatally wounded” Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, in an air strike targeting a meeting of the commanders of the Islamist group. The Nigerian military says that Shekau and other senior leaders of the group gathered for prayers on Friday, and that they were hit by an “air force raid.”

  • Public health

    The largest Yellow Fever epidemic for decades is now sweeping the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola and could soon spread to the Americas, Asia, and Europe. The outbreak has all but emptied global emergency stocks of vaccine. There are only seven million emergency vaccines available for the current vaccination campaign — too few to even fully cover the city of Kinshasa, let alone the whole of the DRC.

  • African security

    The West African nation of Togo is taking the lead in organizing an Israeli-African “security and development” summit, which it offered to host in its capital next year. Israel has a long history of sharing its economic and security expertise with countries on the continent, and Jerusalem hopes that increased ties with African nations will lead to a shift in their voting trends at the UN and other global for a. Israel’s relations with many African countries were disrupted by Israeli-Palestinian tensions, but African countries which had severed diplomatic relations with Israel in the early 1970s are now resuming relations. Last month, the Muslim-majority Republic of Guinea restored diplomatic ties with Israel after a 49-year break.

  • African security

    Urgent action is needed to provide farming and livelihood support to 385,000 people in parts of Nigeria’s northeast where food insecurity is rampant, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said. The UN agency noted that more than three million people are affected by acute food insecurity in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa States. Failure to rebuild the rural economy will translate into lack of employment opportunities with possible harmful consequences including youth radicalization and enrolment into armed groups, resulting in continued civil unrest.

  • Public health

    The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) alerted Western and Central African governments to be vigilant, and to continue their raised surveillance and prevention efforts after H5N1 avian influenza outbreaks were recently confirmed in chicken farms in Cameroon. The UN notes that the recent outbreak in Cameroon has brought the number of countries that have battled bird flu in West and Central Africa to six, also including Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Niger, and Nigeria.

  • Public health

    A recent spate of unexpected mosquito-borne disease outbreaks — most recently the Zika virus, which has swept through parts of the Americas — have highlighted the need to better understand the development and spread of little-known diseases and for new strategies to control them, researchers say. They say that despite the discovery of Zika in Uganda in 1947 and the identification of the first confirmed human infection in Nigeria six years later, few cases were reported in humans until 2007. Even then, no one understood the grave risk the disease posed to pregnancies until the recent outbreak in Brazil, which began less than two years ago.

  • Ebola

    With the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa reviving interest in the first outbreak of the deadly hemorrhagic fever 40 years ago, scientists have released a report highlighting lessons learned from the smaller, more quickly contained 1976 outbreak. “Key to diagnosis in 1976 was the relatively quick clinical recognition of a severe, possibly new disease by national authorities,” according to one of the researchers.

  • Refugees

    Refugees are often considered an economic burden for the countries that take them in, but a new study indicates that refugees receiving aid — especially in the form of cash — can give their host country’s economy a substantial boost. The researchers found that these economic benefits significantly exceeded the amount of the donated aid. The findings come as refugee numbers around the world are growing.

  • African security

    Africa dominates the list of states that have risen most prominently in the Peoples Under Threat index this year as conflicts involving Boko Haram, al-Qaeda, and ISIS-affiliated forces affect more states, while numerous old conflicts are reactivated. While a significant rise in the Peoples under Threat index provides early indication of risk in the future, the mass killing of civilians is already under way in the African states at the top of the index.

  • African security

    When Muhammadu Buhari — a former general and, for a year-and-a-half in the early 1980s, the military ruler of Ngeria — was sworn in as Nigeria’s president on 29 May 2015, he promised to “stamp out” Boko Haram within twelve months. Security analysts note that despite some progress, he has failed to do so. Critics of Buhari say that while Boko Haram has been pushed back and has lost large swaths of territory it used to control, Buhari’s heavy-handed approach to unrest or dissent of any kind in Nigeria has created more problems.

  • African security

    The British government told a court in London that claims from 40,000 Kenyans that they were beaten, raped, and mistreated during the British campaign against the Mau Mau rebellion cannot be fairly tried sixty years later. Responding to a lawsuit which opened at the high court in London this week, and which is expected to go on continue for more than a year, Guy Mansfield QC, representing the Foreign Office, said those accused of having inflicted the violence are now dead or untraceable.

  • Emerging threats

    Climate analysis shows that periods of unusually hot weather are on the rise for one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change, even if the increase in global average temperature remains at a modest level.Longer, hotter, more regular heat waves could have a damaging effect on life expectancy and crop production in Africa warn climate say scientists.

  • African security

    Mass killing of hundreds of men, women, and children by soldiers in Zaria and the attempted cover-up of this killing demonstrates a contempt for human life and accountability, said Amnesty International as it publishes evidence gathered on the ground showing how the Nigerian military burned people alive, razed buildings, and dumped victims’ bodies in mass graves.