• As emerging diseases spread from wildlife to humans, can we predict the next big pandemic?

    Viruses have been moving between organisms for millions of years. And not always in a way that causes harm: Animals and humans alike host millions of different microorganisms, many of which are beneficial. For those that do harm humans, the first step is to come in contact with us. And that’s becoming more and more likely as we invade pristine forests in search of food, building materials, space for commercial developments or land upon which we can create new grassland for our livestock — or catch critters for bushmeat, pets or the “wildlife selfie” trade. Two ambitious projects aim to understand when and how the next human disease will emerge from wildlife, and what we can do to minimize harm when it does.

  • Hotter temperatures will accelerate asylum-seekers migration to Europe

    New research predicts that migrants applying for asylum in the European Union will nearly triple over the average of the last fifteen years by 2100 if carbon emissions continue on their current path. The study suggests that cutting emissions could partially stem the tide, but even under an optimistic scenario, Europe could see asylum applications rise by at least a quarter.

  • Self-help vigilante groups are reshaping security against Boko Haram

    Boko Haram militants have killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than two million others in north east Nigeria since 2009. The militants left government and its security forces looking powerless and people in the region helpless. No place was safe. Rather than flee, join the insurgents, or risk being killed, some chose a fourth option – self- defense. People began to organize into emergency community vanguards to defend themselves. The involvement of vigilantes in counter-insurgency operations in Nigeria has been a subject of contentious debate. It’s apparent that they have contributed to improving security for some communities. But there are also concerns that in the long run they could pose a threat given their heavy-handed approach. Examples include extra-judicial killings, violation of human rights, extortion and criminal impunity.

  • U.S. may veto France’s plan to create a UN-backed African anti-terrorism force

    According to U.S. officials and U.N.-based diplomats, the Trump administration is considering vetoing a French Security Council resolution authorizing the 5,000-man African counterterrorism force, the G-5, to operate in the Sahel. In principle, the United States, supported by the United Kingdom, backs the French - African counterterrorism commitment but does not see the need for the U.N. to authorize it. France, to fill the security vacuum created by the fall of Muammar al-Qaddafi’s government in 2011, has led international counterterrorism efforts in the Sahel, and now wants countries in the region to make more of a contribution to these efforts.

  • In the headlines

    Al-Shabaab attack in Puntland region kills at least 70 soldiers| Famine used as a weapon of war in South Sudan | EU commits $50 million to combat terrorism in West Africa | Fleet anti-terrorism security team completes first exercise in Africa | France urges UN backing of West Africa force to tackle terrorism, trafficking | Netanyhu proposes Africa-Israel coalition against terrorism | Morocco king skips W. Africa summit after Israel attends | Trump targets Africa: Inside America’s quiet war against terror | Moroccan government seeks calm after northern protests | French soldiers kill 20 jihadis in Mali near Burkina Faso | Zambia to fast-track cyber security bills | FAO worries about impact of disasters on food security | Ex-wife of Liberia’s former leader appears on torture charge

  • West African nations seek $56 million for rapid-response anti-Islamist force

    The countries of West Africa’s Sahel region have requested $56 million from the EU to help set up a multi-national force to take on Islamist militant groups across the vast, arid region. The sparsely populated region has attracted a growing number of jihadist groups, some affiliated with al Qaeda and Islamic State. The G5 Sahel countries — Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Mauritania — have proposed the creation of a capable and mobile regional task force, the mission of which would be to tackle the cross-border Islamist threat.

  • ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council reviews region’s security challenges

    Liberia’s Foreign Affairs Minister and Chairperson of the Council of Ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Marjon Kamara, applauded the positive results the regional organization achieved in recent years with regard to the consolidation of peace and security in West Africa. “Currently, our organization enjoys great recognition for both the decisive and key positions of responsibility assumed by ECOWAS leaders, and equally for the strategic use of military resources in the interest of peace, stability and security of its citizens,” noted Kamara.

  • Terrorist groups pose a challenge across Africa: AFRICOM commander

    The United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is maintaining a consistent presence across Africa in order to address security concerns. But terrorist groups continue to pose a threat in many countries with weak governance. “One of the key parts of what we try to do at AFRICOM is to develop the capacity and capability of African partner nations which will allow them to take on these problems themselves – in other words Africans solving African problems,: says AFRICOM commander.

  • U.S. intensifies fight against terrorism in Africa

    The Trump administration is in the process of revising U.S. strategy in Africa, and one of the first indications of this new approach is the greater freedom given to military commanders on the ground to conduct operations against Islamist groups. The most visible demonstration of this approach so far has been in Somalia, where the United States has intensified its involvement with the campaign against al Shabaab. Critics of the administration argue that in many ways the policy still relies on relying too heavily on corrupt and incompetent partners, and that it suffers from not paying sufficient attention to the non-military aspects of the fight against extremist terrorism.

  • Morocco’s exports from Western Sahara hang in the balance

    South Africa has been accused of “sabotaging” Morocco’s commercial interests in Africa by seizing a vessel carrying phosphate mined by Morocco in Western Sahara. According to Moroccan media reports, the legal action against the NM Cherry Blossom, seized on its way to New Zealand with 55 000 tons of phosphate on board earlier this month, is seen as a reaction to Morocco’s recent economic and diplomatic successes on the continent. Morocco was re-admitted to the African Union (AU) in January this year and has concluded business deals with several countries on the continent – notably involving fertilizer plants using Moroccan phosphate.

  • France and Africa: Macron’s rhetoric shouldn’t be confused with reality

    The 2017 French election was watched with great nervousness by millions across Francophone Africa. That’s because the French president remains a pivotal figure in about twenty former French colonies on the continent. Over the past sixty years France has maintained disproportionate influence over its former African colonies. This has included control over their military and currencies. Despite being led by different presidents over the past six decades, the French government’s policy on Africa has been faithful to its neo-colonial roots and grounded in a yearning for the lost Empire. But will Emmanuel Macron’s presidency herald a significant change to France’s relationship with its ex-colonies?

  • African Studies Association: Proposed FY2018 “challenges the very core of the ASA’s mission”

    The African Studies Association (ASA) said that the president’s proposed FY2018 budget, by eliminating many programs and institutions, challenges the very core of the ASA’s mission. Among other things, FY2018 budget proposes the elimination of the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, African Development Fund, Institute for Library and Museum Services, National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

  • Fifty years on, Nigeria is yet to talk openly about the horrors of the Biafra war

    The war over Biafra started on 30 May 1967, after the southeastern region of Nigeria broke away, declaring the independent Republic of Biafra. The Nigerian government refused to accept Biafra’s secession, and a bloody 30-month war ensued. Successive Nigerian governments have refused to release official figures of those who were killed, but historians estimate that there were about 100,000 military casualties, while between 500,000 and 2 million Biafran civilians died from starvation. Nigeria is still struggling with how to talk about, and remember, the 50-year old war.

  • Descendants of 1904 Namibia genocide seek reparations from Germany

    More than a century after a genocide took place in Namibia while it was under German colonial rule, descendants of the victims, for the first time, earlier this spring got their day in court in New York. Historians agree that this was one of the darkest chapters of African colonial history, as tens of thousands of Herero and Nama people were killed from 1904 to 1908 by German soldiers and settlers. Germany and Namibia have been negotiating over a joint declaration on the massacres, but Germany has refused to pay direct reparations, stressing that Germany has given Namibia development aid worth hundreds of millions of euros since Namibia’s independence from South Africa in 1990.

  • HHS secretary Tom Price visits Liberia

    Two weeks ago, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D., traveled to Liberia as the first stop in a three-nation tour to highlight the U.S. role in and commitment to global health security. Ebola survivors who met with the secretary described the significant stigma associated with the virus and the continuing discrimination they face. Price shook hands with survivors, an important public gesture.