• In West Africa, investment key in adapting to climate change

    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.

  • UN chief: New talks needed in 40-year Western Sahara Impasse

    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.

  • Nigerian security services thwarts Boko Haram plan to hit U.S., U.K. embassies

    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.

  • Rise in Boko Haram Child Suicide Bombers ‘Alarming’: UNICEF

    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 government shuts down top university amid violent clashes over student protest

    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 from West Africa “sold in Libyan slave markets”

    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.”

  • Une nouvelle cellule terroriste démantelée Maroc

    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.

  • Sénégal: au moins 20 morts dans un incendie

    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.

  • Sénégal: deux Marocains, un Nigérian "présumés terroristes" arrêtés

    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.

  • Recording shine harsh light on Shell’s Nigerian oil deal

    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.”

  • Maroc: violents affrontements entre policiers et étudiants

    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.

  • Sub-Saharans prefer Morocco to Europe

    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/Disparus du Novotel: 18 ans de prison pour l'ex-chef de la Garde républicaine

    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.

  • Parler avec les jihadistes ? Le dilemme qui agite le 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: Alexandria church bomber fugitive with militant ties

    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.