• LRA

    Joseph Kony, the genocidal leader of the murderous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), claimed to have been sent by God to liberate the people of Northern Uganda. From the start of their insurgency in 1987, Kony’s LRA claimed as their major objective the establishment of a government based on the Ten Commandments. How do former Lord’s Resistance Army soldiers – men, women, and children who have used the Bible as a weapon of war – learn to reread the scriptures once they return home? This is the puzzle facing researchers from Uganda and Cambridge.

  • Food security

    Climate change will likely have negative impacts on food production in West Africa, with crop yields and grass for livestock grazing likely to decline in the future. A new study provides insights on how strategic planning by decision makers could ease or exacerbate food security challenges in the region.

  • Western Sahara

    U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says he wants to revive negotiations to resolve the Western Sahara conflict, which has seen Morocco and the Polisario Front independence movement go at each other for forty 40 years. In a report to the UN Security Council this week, Guterres proposed relaunching the negotiations “with a new dynamic and a new spirit.” He said the goal should be reaching “a mutually acceptable political solution” that would include “an accord on the nature and form that the exercise of self-determination” would take for the disputed and mineral-rich Western Sahara area. Morocco annexed Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, in 1975 and fought the Polisario Front, which wanted to create an independent state in the territory. The UN negotiated a cease-fire in 1991 and established a peacekeeping mission to monitor it and to help arrange for a referendum on the territory’s future – but the referendum has never taken place.

  • Boko Haram

    Nigeria’s security services said Wednesday that they had prevented a plot by Boko Haram militants to attack the British and U.S. embassies in the capital Abuja. A statement from the Department of State Services said that the security services broke up a cell late last month – a cell which had “perfected plans to attack” the embassies along with “other Western interests” in Nigeria’s capital. The statement said five suspects who had been based in Benue State and the Federal Capital Territory were arrested. The U.S. State Department issued an updated travel warning for Nigeria on 5 April, advising travelers that Boko Haram had targeted government installations and other venues in the Federal Capital Territory and elsewhere.

  • Boko Haram

    UNICEF said on Wednesday that an “alarming” number of children, most of them girls, have been used by Boko Haram as suicide bombers in the first months of 2017. The Islamists have increasingly been using children to attack crowded markets, mosques, and camps for internally displaced people in northeast Nigeria and the broader Lake Chad region. Experts said the number of children used in suicide attacks by Boko Haram surged to twenty-seven in the first quarter of this year, compared to nine over the same period in 2016. Since 2014, 117 children — the “vast majority” of them girls — have been used to carry out attacks in public places across Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, the UN children agency said.

  • Niger

    The university campus of Niger’s capital Niamey was shut down “until further notice” on 10 April in the wake of violent clashes between students and security forces. Twenty students were reported injured in the protests in which security forces fired tear gas. Students demonstrations are now allowed in Niger, but tens of thousands of students took to the streets to demand better living and studying conditions. The Union des scolaires nigériens (Niger Students Union, USN) called on some 23,000 students to join demonstrations both in Niamey and elsewhere in the country. In Niamey, pupils and students quickly occupied roads and blocked traffic near the campus, erecting barricades with tree trunks and rocks and setting fire to tires.

  • Migrants

    West African migrants are being bought and sold openly in modern-day slave markets in Libya, survivors have told a UN agency helping them return home. Trafficked people passing through Libya have previously reported violence, extortion and slave labor. But the new testimony from the International Organization for Migration suggests that the trade in human beings has become so normalized that people are being traded in public. “The latest reports of ‘slave markets’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages [in Libya],” said Mohammed Abdiker, IOM’s head of operation and emergencies. “The situation is dire. The more IOM engages inside Libya, the more we learn that it is a vale of tears for all too many migrants.”

  • Morocco

    Les autorités marocaines ont annoncé ce mercredi avoir démantelé une “cellule terroriste” qui était en charge du recrutement de jeunes pour le compte du groupe jihadiste Etat islamique (EI). Cette cellule “affiliée” à l’EI est composée de sept membres et était active dans les villes de Fès et Moulay Yacoub (centre-nord), précise le ministère marocain de l’intérieur, dans un communiqué. Elle recrutait et envoyait des volontaires marocains dans les bastions jihadistes en Irak et en Syrie, ajoute le ministère, précisant que les perquisitions ont permis de saisir des armes blanches, des uniformes militaires, des sommes d’argent et des équipements électroniques.

  • Senegal

    Le sinistre s’est déclaré en pleine retraite spirituelle, appelée “Daaka” à Médina Gounass, dans la région de Kolda. Les causes de l’incendie ne sont pas encore connues. Le feu s’est déclaré dans l’après-midi du mercredi, ravageant plusieurs tentes dressées sur ce site où des milliers de personnes convergent chaque année. Le bilan est lourd mais encore provisoire, selon un communiqué du gouvernement sénégalais confirmé par le commandant Khalil Mbathie, du groupement national des sapeurs-pompiers, chef des opérations de secours sur place.

  • Senegal

    Deux Marocains et un Nigérian, “présumés terrorists,” ont été arrêtés entre fin mars et début avril à Dakar, où ils demeuraient détenus en attendant la fin d’enquêtes en cours, selon un communiqué de la police sénégalaise reçu mercredi par l’AFP. Dans le communiqué, daté de mardi, le Bureau des relations publiques de la police sénégalaise parle d‘“un Nigérian et deux Marocains présumés terroristes arrêtés.” Le 29 mars, selon le texte, des agents de la police de l’air et des frontières ont appréhendé à l’aéroport international de Dakar “deux ressortissants marocains supposés liés à l’Etat islamique (EI),” groupe jihadiste ayant pris en 2014 le contrôle de vastes régions en Irak et en Syrie mais ayant, depuis, subi d’importants revers.

  • Nigeria

    Just hours after the Dutch police raided the offices of Royal Dutch Shell last year as part of an investigation into a controversial $1.3 billion Nigerian oil deal, Ben van Beurden, the chief executive of the oil giant, placed a worried call to its chief financial officer. The investigators were “quite forceful and brusque” and “rattled a few people,” van Beurden told the finance chief at the time, Simon Henry, when Henry returned his call. But van Beurden said he was also worried about something else: Shell’s own investigators had discovered internal emails that could cast the company in an even more negative light and widen the investigation by drawing in the United States law enforcement authorities. In what he called “loose chatter,” van Beurden told Henry — who had been on leave — that the emails among employees contained language like, “I wonder who gets a payoff here.”

  • Morocco

    De violents affrontements ont éclaté jeudi à Fès, dans le centre du Maroc, entre forces de l’ordre et étudiants de la gauche radicale, faisant plusieurs blessés des deux côtés, a-t-on appris de source officielle. Ces affrontements ont eu lieu jeudi aux abords de la cité universitaire de Fès et devant le tribunal de la ville, après une intervention des forces de l’ordre pour disperser un sit-in “illégal” d’étudiants d’une fraction estudiantine de la gauche radicale, ont indiqué les autorités locales, citées par l’agence officielle MAP. Ces étudiants “basistes”, terme qui désigne les militants de la gauche radicale, étaient venus soutenir deux étudiants gauchistes devant le tribunal où se tenait leur procès.

  • Morocco

    Morocco was once merely a stepping stone for those desperately trying to migrate from Africa to Europe, but the north African country has now become the destination of choice for many migrants. The Moroccan government has implemented two legalization programs — in 2014 and again last year — encouraging sub-Saharans to apply for residency papers. The most recent initiative saw nearly 20,000 migrants apply. Migrants who decide to settle in Morocco compare Morocco favorably to countries such as France, where they say it is more difficult to gain legal status and where racism is rife.

  • Côte d'Ivoire

    Une cour d’assises d’Abidjan a condamné jeudi à des lourdes peines de 6 à 20 ans de prison les principaux accusés dans l’affaire des “Disparus du Novotel”, dont le général Brunot Dogbo Blé, ancien chef de la Garde Républicaine ivoirienne. Le 4 avril 2011, au plus fort de la crise postélectorale en Côte d’Ivoire, un commando venu de la présidence, alors aux mains des partisans de Laurent Gbagbo, avait fait irruption à l’hôtel Novotel d’Abidjan, capitale économique en proie aux combats, s’emparant de quatre personnes, dont deux Français.

  • Mali

    L’idée d’une négociation avec les groupes islamistes maliens a été évoquée à l’issue de la Conférence d’entente nationale qui s’est tenue à Bamako. Les gouvernements français et malien s’y opposent. C’est un sujet embarrassant pour Bamako qui a resurgi ce mois-ci. Faut-il dialoguer avec les jihadistes maliens? Cette suggestion, contenue dans une discrète ligne du rapport de la Conférence d’entente nationale qui s’est tenue du 27 mars au 2 avril, a fait couler beaucoup d’encre dans la foisonnante presse locale. Comment interpréter autrement cette recommandation, inscrite au chapitre 7.3, de «promouvoir une culture de paix et de dialogue avec tous les fils de la nation, y compris avec des islamistes maliens une fois que leurs préoccupations, comprises, n’entament pas l’unité nationale et les fondements de la République»? La question est, en réalité, évoquée depuis longtemps par les responsables politiques et religieux à Bamako.

  • Egypt

    Egypt on Wednesday named the suicide bomber who attacked a cathedral in Alexandria as 31-year-old Mahmoud Hassan Mubarak Abdullah, a fugitive with links to militant Islamist cells that carried out previous strikes in the country. Abdullah detonated his explosives at the entrance to Saint Mark’s Cathedral, the historic seat of the Coptic Pope, killing seventeen people as mass was being conducted. Hours earlier, another bomb tore through a church in Tanta, a city in the Nile Delta. … The interior ministry said Abdullah had links with the Islamist militant cell behind the December suicide bombing on Cairo’s main Coptic cathedral, an attack also claimed by Islamic State. Authorities are still trying to identify the Tanta attacker, the ministry said.

  • Egyp

    An Egyptian court has sentenced a human rights lawyer to ten years in prison and five years of house arrest, and also banned him from using social media, for using Facebook to “destabilize the general order” and “harm national unity and social peace.” The court, in sentencing Alexandria-based lawyer, Mohamed Ramadan, used a controversial 2015 counter-terrorism law, days after President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi declared a 3-month state of emergency. The law determines terrorism to include a wide range of actions including propagating ideas and beliefs calling for the use of violence via social media.

  • Famine

    La famine menace de faire un nombre massif de victimes dans la Corne de l’Afrique et au Yémen faute de moyens suffisants. Selon l’ONG Solidarités International, la réponse politique est essentielle pour mettre fin aux crises alimentaires chroniques. Des images de corps décharnés, de visages émaciés. Des populations contraintes de se nourrir de feuilles ou de semences. Au Soudan du Sud, en Somalie, au Nigeria, jusqu’au Yémen, la situation humanitaire ne cesse de se dégrader depuis quelques mois. Favorisée par la sécheresse, la violence et les conflits armés — et parfois la conjonction de ces trois facteurs — la famine est telle que d’aucuns craignent un bilan humain bien plus grave qu’en 2011, où 260 000 personnes perdirent la vie dans la Corne de l’Afrique.

  • South Sudan

    A civil society activist in Yei town accused government troops and allied militia of killing five youth based on their ethnicity and raping more than 15 women over the past two weeks. Speaking to Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday, Hawa Adam said government soldiers have been continuously committing atrocities against Yei citizens. “The cases of rape are many here. On March 25, a 20-year-old woman was raped in Hai Leben and she was taken to the hospital. A 17-year-old girl and another woman who was pregnant were raped. In Mukaya Payam, a 90-year-old woman was also raped,” said Adam. Adam urged the state government to protect it civilians and prevent such atrocities in the state.

  • South Sudan

    A senior British official says she believes the violence in South Sudan is now genocide which is being perpetrated along tribal lines. Priti Patel, the U.K. secretary of state for international development, said in an interview late on Wednesday that there are “massacres taking place, people’s throats being slit.” She said there is a “scorched earth policy,” with villages being burned down, women being raped, and food being used as a weapon of war. She described the situation in South Sudan as “absolutely abhorrent and inhumane.”