• Egyptian lawyer sentences to 10 years for Facebook posts

    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 en Afrique et au Yémen: "Il faut une résolution politique des conflits"

    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: Government troops accused of rape, murder in Yei

    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 violence is tribal genocide: British official

    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.”

     

  • Families flee from South Sudan to Uganda in Africa’s biggest exodus since 1994 Rwandan genocide

    At least 832,000 South Sudanese refugees have arrived in Uganda since fighting erupted in July last year, in the biggest cross-border exodus in Africa since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Overall, the fighting has uprooted more than three million people, and by July 5.5 million – nearly half the population – are unlikely to have a reliable food supply, according to the United Nations.

  • Burundi government bans opposition party for 6 months in continuing crackdown

    In line with the Burundian government’s crackdown on dissenting voices and political opponents, the nation’s Interior Ministry has suspended the statute and activities of opposition Movement for Solidarity and Democracy (MSD) party, whose leader Alexis Sinduhije is in exile. After a failed coup led by a disloyal faction within the army’s high command in May 2015, the government intensified its bloody crackdown on dissident and forcing the majority of the nation’s stifled opposition in exile. Recent reports increasingly points to a regime shifting towards totalitarianism: populations are forced to pay “voluntary” contributions to fund public works including buildings for the ruling CNDD-FDD, whose youth league Imbonerakure have in areas taken over the role of a para-military security force. The United Nations describe the Imbonerakure, who have been accused of committing serious violations of human rights, as a “militia.”

  • U.S. sanctions against militia leaders “send strong message to armed groups in CAR”

    Human rights groups have welcomed United States sanctions on two top Central African Republic (CAR) militia commanders who have been conspiring and stoking deadly sectarian violence to defend their own political and economic interests. Impunity in the CAR remains one of the main challenges in addressing past and ongoing atrocities, as the vast majority of suspected war criminals, who date as far back to December 2012, have never been held accountable. On 12 April, the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) imposed financial sanctions on two warlords and high-profile leaders, Abdoulaye Hissène, a key leader of the former mainly Muslim rebel group Seleka, and Maxime Mokom, a top commander of the Anti-Balaka militia made up largely of animists and Christians.

  • Acting fast: Two months to stop pandemic X from taking hold

    Over the past several years, DARPA-funded researchers have pioneered RNA vaccine technology, a medical countermeasure against infectious diseases that uses coded genetic constructs to stimulate production of viral proteins in the body, which in turn can trigger a protective antibody response. As a follow-on effort, DARPA funded research into genetic constructs that can directly stimulate production of antibodies in the body.

  • Disease “superspreaders” were the driving cause of 2014 Ebola epidemic

    A new study about the overwhelming importance of “superspreaders” in some infectious disease epidemics has shown that in the catastrophic 2014-15 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, about 3 percent of the people infected were ultimately responsible for infecting 61 percent of all cases. The issue of superspreaders is so significant, scientists say, that it’s important to put a better face on just who these people are. It might then be possible to better reach them with public health measures designed to control the spread of infectious disease during epidemics.

  • World still “grossly underprepared” for infectious disease outbreaks

    The world remains “grossly underprepared” for outbreaks of infectious disease, which are likely to become more frequent in the coming decades, warn a team of international experts. They reviewed reports on the recent Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa and say better preparedness and a faster, more coordinated response could have prevented most of the 11,000 deaths directly attributed to Ebola and also the broader economic, social, and health crises that ensued. “We will not be ready for the next outbreak without deeper and more comprehensive change,” they conclude.

  • Improving biosafety, biosecurity in West Africa

    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.

  • People with Ebola may not always show symptoms

    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 resources for developing countries

    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.

  • Central Mali gripped by a dangerous brew of jihad, revolt, and self-defense

    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.

  • Why it’s not all about security as West beefs up military in Africa’s Sahel

    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.