Africa Week in Review – October 18

  •  UPI reported that the U.S. deployed 200 Marines to the Naval Air Station at Sigonella, Italy to facilitate special operations in North Africa. Tom Dispatch noted that this naval air station is a “crucial component of U.S. operations in Africa,” from which the Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Africa operates. Amongst their recent deployment have been Botswana, Liberia, Djibouti, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Tunisia, and Senegal. Oxford Analytica noted that the reinforcement may reflect a strategy of increased small troop deployment across the continent, which commits “the United States to an ‘intervention-led’ foreign policy in Africa.”

 

  • Amnesty International (AI) released a report on deaths of alleged Boko Haram supporters in Nigerian detention. The report cites credible sources indicated that an estimated 950 detainees died in custody due to maltreatment and abhorrent prison conditions in the first six months of this year alone. The International Red Cross reportedly is still attempting to gain access to Nigerian prisons.  As we noted previously on this blog, the U.S. considers Nigeria a vital strategic partner and provides Nigeria with security assistance to stabilize the Niger Delta. The U.S. State Department responded to the newest human rights concerns saying that

We share Amnesty International’s grave concerns about the human rights situation in Nigeria, and in this case, about detainee treatment. We note our full support for access of international humanitarian organizations to all Nigerian detention facilities, and it’s also worth noting that we engage Nigerian leaders on, of course, a range of issues, but specifically on this all the time.

  • Council for Foreign Relations (CFR) expert John Campbell blogged that these revelations compliment the data from CFR’s Nigeria Security Tracker, indicating that the Nigerian government “may be involved in nearly as many deaths in Nigeria as Boko Haram.” He concluded that the Nigerian security forces were “out of control.”

 

  • According to multiple intelligence warnings, al Shabab remains a regional threat. The U.S. embassy issued a warning that a Westgate-style attack may occur in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. In response, the Ugandan government issued a red alert, calling all police officers to work–the first time the country did so since the 2010 suicide bombings. Additionally, the UN is investigating “credible” terror threats against their compound in Mogadishu. In response, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a deployment of thousands of additional African troops to reinforce the peacekeeping force in Somalia and to guard UN compounds. The African Union endorsed an expansion of its peacekeeping force, AMISON, of thirty-five percent.

Quick Hits from Africa

  • Human Rights Watch released a report documenting that the Ethiopian regime tortures and abuses political prisoners. The report “‘They Want a Confession’: Torture and Ill-Treatment in Ethiopia’s Maekelawi Police Station,” focuses on illegal interrogations methods, poor prison conditions and other human rights abuses by detention authorities.  
  • Nigeria and Chad both won coveted UN Security Council seats, despite opposition by human rights organizations, which argued that the countries’ poor human rights records should ban them from making decisions on international peace and security, including peacekeeping operations. Human Rights Watch criticized Chad for recruitment of child solders and called on Nigeria to “end chronic abuse by security forces and better protect civilians in the north”
  • The UN mission in Mali said that the recent mutiny and conflict in the North should be seen as a “wake up call” and called for a troop increase for the UN peacekeeping mission, MINUSMA. Agence France Press reported that a corrupt police in Mali is suspected of cooperating with jihadist.
  • South Sudanese president Salva Kiir addressed its military, warning against military abuses. In the same speech, he indicated the military could use force to support the police in their work.
  • The U.S. Navy rescued stranded migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, after the Maltese government spotted the ship. The rescue mission comes after an estimated 550 migrants died in two separate incidents of sinking boats in the Mediterranean Sea.
  • M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo threatened they would withdraw from peace talks lest the UN stop the offensive against them. 
  • According to the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Maritime Bureau (IMB) piracy on the world’s seas has dropped to the lowest third-quarter level since 2006. Nevertheless the Chamber warns that violent pirate attacks continue off the East and West coasts of Africa. Off Nigeria’s coast, pirate attacks reportedly increased by a third this year. In response, the Dutch Navy is pursuing a training partnership with the Nigerian navy. Piracy also made a come back of the coast of Somalia, according to Dryad Maritime.
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