• New control strategies needed for Zika, other unexpected mosquito-borne outbreaks

    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.

  • Lessons of 1976 Ebola outbreak analysis are relevant today

    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 can offer economic boost to host countries

    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.

  • More mass killings, violent repression in Africa as Islamist groups expand operations

    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.

  • Nigeria has failed to stamp out Boko Haram in Buhari’s first year in power

    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.

  • Claims of mistreatment of Mau Mau rebels “cannot be fairly tried”: U.K. government

    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.

  • Frequency of extreme heat waves on the increase in Africa -- could soon occur annually

    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.

  • Nigerian military accused of covering up mass killing of civilians

    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.

  • EU offers security assistance to Libya

    The EU has responded favorably to a request from the new UN-backed Libyan unity government for security assistance – especially in managing migration, border monitoring, and police capacity building. EU officials stopped short, however, of committing the EU to operate on the Libyan coast and in Libyan territorial waters to block people smugglers. The EU said it would be more effective to build up the capacity of the Libyan security forces to deal with the issue.

  • Boko Haram robs children in northeast Nigeria of education

    Boko Haram’s attacks on schools, students, and teachers in northeast Nigeria have had a devastating impact on education. Between 2009 and 2015, Boko Haram’s attacks destroyed more than 910 schools and forced at least 1,500 more to close. At least 611 teachers have been deliberately killed and another 19,000 forced to flee. The conflict has left nearly one million children with little or no access to school, and Nigeria’s security forces have contributed to the problem by using schools as military bases, putting children at further risk of attack from the Islamist armed group.

  • 10-fold increase in number of children Boko Haram uses in suicide attacks

    The number of children involved in ‘suicide’ attacks in Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger has risen sharply over the past year, from four in 2014 to forty-four in 2015, according to a UNICEF report released yesterday. More than 75 percent of the children involved in the attacks are girls.

  • Boko Haram willing to release kidnapped girls for $56 million ransom

    Boko Haram has said it was demanding a ransom of nearly $56 million for the release of the 219 schoolgirls it kidnapped from the Nigerian town of Chibok two years ago. The Islamist militants conveyed their demand in secret contacts with the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, who, during last year’s presidential campaign, said that if need be, he would negotiate with the militants for the girls’ release.

  • Leader of Nigeria’s Islamist Ansaru group arrested in Nigeria

    Khalid al-Barnawi, the leader of Nigeria’s Ansaru jihadist group, a Boko Haram splinter group ideologically aligned with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, has been arrested, a Nigerian army spokesman said on Sunday. Al-Barnawi, 47, was born as Usman Umar Abubakar in Biu town in northeast Borno state. He is one of three Nigerians listed by Washington in 2012 as “specially designated global terrorists.

  • African parliaments lead the continent's fight against weapons of mass destruction

    By Nicolas Kasprzyk

    Jihadist literature has, for a while, called for the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction — encouraging the production of ricin, botulinum, and sarin. The surge in terrorist acts and violent extremism on the continent should underscore, for all African states, the urgent need to actively prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-state actors. It also confirms the relevance of UN Security Council resolution 1540

  • Al-Shabaab leader in Somalia killed in U.S. strike

    Hassan Ali Dhoore, a senior leader of the Somali al-Shabaab Islamist group, was killed by a U.S. drone strike on Thursday. On 5 March a U.S. air strike killed more than a 100 al-Shabaab fighters in one of the group’s training facilities.