Category Archives: West Africa

Gulf of Guinea: Russian anti-piracy drills

Brussels 13.10.2021 The Russian Northern Fleet task force deployed on an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Guinea in the Eastern part of the Atlantic Ocean practised freeing a vessel simulating a situation of being seized by pirates, the Fleet’s press office reported on Wednesday, October 13.

“The crews of the large anti-submarine warfare ship Vice Admiral Kulakov, the medium sea tanker Academic Pashin and the rescue tug Altai held drills for freeing a notional vessel seized by pirates in the Gulf of Guinea of the Atlantic Ocean near the coast of the African continent,” the press office said in a statement.

Under the scenario of the drills, the pirates captured a tanker whose crew managed to hide in the vessel’s machinery compartment and send a distress signal. The Russian naval sailors successfully stormed the vessel and freed its crew. A Ka-27PS helicopter that took off from the deck of the anti-submarine warfare ship Vice Admiral Kulakov provided fire support for the drills from the air, the press office said in a statement.

Following the drills for releasing the captured vessel, the crew of the large anti-submarine warfare ship practiced firing a 100mm AK-100 artillery gun and a Kinzhal surface-to-air missile system against the target that simulated the pirates boat.

Mali: france ends Barkhane operation

Brussels 10.06.2021 At a press conference, Emmanuel Macron announced this Thursday, June 10, afternoon, June 10, the end of the anti-jihadist military operation Barkhane in the Sahel, at least in its current form.(Image: illustration)

Reports citing military and diplomatic sources had indicated that an “adjustment” in the French presence would depend on the involvement of other European countries in the Takuba Task Force fighting armed groups in the Sahel alongside the Malian and Nigerien armies. Those forces have ramped up in recent months.

At the February summit, the leaders of the G5 countries had warned Macron against the dangers of a rapid pullout. Since then, the veteran leader of Chad and close French ally, Idriss Deby Itno, has been killed, while Mali has suffered a second coup that has badly strained relations with Paris.

Speaking of a “profound transformation”, the President of the Republic evoked “the end of Operation Barkhane as an external operation to allow an operation of support, support and cooperation to the armies of the countries of the region. who wish ”. The modalities of this new international cooperation will be worked out at a coalition gathering by the end of June.

“The lasting presence in the framework of France’s foreign operations cannot substitute for the return of the state and state services to political stability and the choice of sovereign states,” the president finally clarified.

“At the end of consultations (..) we will initiate a profound transformation of our military presence in the Sahel”, he said during a press conference, announcing the “end of Operation Barkhane as a ‘foreign operation’ and the implementation of ‘an international alliance bringing together the states of the region’.

The “time has come” to initiate “a profound transformation of our military presence in the Sahel”, declared the head of state during a press conference at the Elysee Palace.

Believing that France’s role had never been to replace African states, Emmanuel Macron indicated that discussions would take place in the coming weeks to set the “new framework” for intervention in the Sahel.

The “transformation” of Operation Barkhane will include the closure of French army bases and the priority given to the fight against the jihadists by the special forces.

The fight against terrorism will be carried out “with special forces structured around (operation) Takuba with obviously a strong French component – with several hundred more soldiers – and African, European and international forces”, which “will have vocation to make interventions strictly in the fight against terrorism, ”the French president said during a press conference.

These announcements are part of the political will already outlined by Emmanuel Macron to reduce the French military presence in the area in the medium term. Paris is deploying some 5,100 soldiers against jihadists affiliated with the Daesh group and Al-Qaeda, a major support for the weakened armies of the Sahel states who are struggling to fight them alone.

In mid-February, during a summit in N’Djamena with G5 Sahel partners (Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania), the French president announced that Paris did not intend to reduce “in the immediate” Barkhane workforce. However, he had outlined an exit strategy, in favor of European reinforcements ready to join them, while France has been fighting massively the jihadists in the Sahel since early 2013.

Malian commitments
The situation has become more complicated in recent weeks, on the one hand with the brutal death of President Idriss Déby in Chad, and especially the second coup d’etat in eight months in Mali, the central country of Operation Barkhane.

In this regard, Emmanuel Macron also deplored that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) “recognized” Colonel Assimi Goïta as president of the transition in Mali, after a second putsch, including seeing a “bad case law” for Africa and a “mistake”.

EU calls for liberation of Mali president

Brussels 25.05.2021 During the press-conference in Brussels the President of the EU Council Charles Michel called for the immediate liberation of the kidnapped Mali President and Prime Minister. “We have followed the situation in Mali, the recent developments, we condemn what has taken place in Mali in recent hours, the kidnapping of the President and the Prime Minister, and we support the declaration made by the ECOWAS and the African Union, we are calling to the return to the transition, which should have been civilian. What has taken place is grave and serious, and we are prepared to take the necessary measures”.

The composition of the new government had barely been announced on ORTM airs when the situation in Bamako, Mali capital, suddenly became tense. Troop movements were observed at the Kati military camp, about 15 km from Bamako, as well as in several points of the capital.

According to our information, the President of the Transition, Bah N’Daw, as well as the Prime Minister, Moctar Ouane, were taken under military escort to Kati. Sources within the National Transition Council (CNT), Minusma and a West African diplomat confirmed this to Jeune Afrique online.

This sudden rise in tension comes after the announcement of the sidelining, in the Moctar Ouane II government, of two influential members of the former National Council for the Salvation of the People (CNSP), which led the putsch. of August 18, 2020 against Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK).

Nyiragongo volcano: no victims reported

Brussels 23.05.2021 The volcanic eruption seems to have subsided, according to the Goma Volcano Observatory, which monitors the volcano. Authorities in the city activated an evacuation plan as a precaution.
The volcano’s last major eruption in 2002 killed 250 people and displaced thousands.
Goma is on the edge of Lake Kivu on the Democratic Republic of Congo’s border with Rwanda. The current urban area population of Goma in 2021 is 670,000, according to a projection by the UN, World Bank and others.

Peyre-Costa from Norwegian Refugee Council, who is residing in Goma, said a number of nongovernmental organisations in the region believe Goma’s population is closer to one million.

Volcanologist Honore Chiraba of the Goma Volcano Observatory told CNN there are two fractures in the volcano. Chiraba is following the volcanic activity closely with the governor of North Kivu, the province where the city of Goma is located. “The lava is flowing but not very fast,” Chiraba said. “At this stage we don’t think anyone is injured but we can’t know for sure.”

DRC: Nyiragongo volcano erupted

Brussels 23.05.2021 02:30 UPDATE: UPDATE: according to ICCN officials, the lava has slowed down drastically.

Brussels 23.05.2021 The Mount Nyiragongo volcano burst into activity Saturday, May 22, spewing red fumes into the night sky, said an AFP reporter in the nearby Democratic Republic of Congo city of Goma. Power was cut in the city and some residents began leaving their homes and heading towards the nearby border with Rwanda.

The last time Nyiragongo erupted was January 17, 2002, killing more than a hundred people and covering almost all of the eastern part of Goma with lava, including half of the airport’s landing strip.

Hundreds of thousands fled the city. The deadliest eruption of the 3,000-metre high volcano was in 1977, when more than 600 died. The Goma region, which lies in North Kivu province, bordering Rwanda and Uganda, has six volcanoes, all higher than 3,000 metres.

A lava flow from the Nyiragongo volcano, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), reached the airport in the city of Goma, on the southern slope of the volcano, an official said on Saturday (May 22nd). local. “The situation has worsened,” noted in a message to his staff, an official of the Virunga National Park, where the volcano is located.

The sudden eruption caused panic among the population, who fled en masse to neighboring Rwanda, or heading west, to the Masisi region. On the night of Saturday to Monday, impressive images circulated on social networks, but not independently verified, showed homes on fire, slowly swallowed and then engulfed by glowing molten lava, in the northeastern outskirts of Goma. , especially in the Buhene district.

The deadliest eruption occurred in 1977 with over 600 deaths. According to a scenario that may turn out to be similar to the eruption on Saturday, lava slowly flowed towards the city, which it cut in two to flow into Lake Kivu.

Nigeria: kidnapping at rise

Brussels 20.05.2021 Оne killed, 12 kidnapped as culprits numbering more than 40 invaded Kwankwashe Suleja Area of Niger State of Nigera. The attack which began about 12 AM lasted more than two hours in spite of the efforts of the local vigils. The attackers were repelled later when the the police unit arrived.

This incident follows the day after the suspected “bandits” have killed at least eight worshipers in another attack in Kaduna State on Wednesday, May 19.

The armed bandits also burnt down Assemblies of God Church and several other buildings in Ungwan Gaida community, near Kurmin Kaso, Chikun Local Government Area of the state.

The state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs confirmed the attacks to newsmen.

Abduction and forced disappearance events more than doubled in Nigeria last year. ACLED Nigeria Senior Researcher Dr.Olajumoke Ayandele and Research Analyst Curtis Goos revealed the data on the the kidnapping crisis, mapping the key players, targets, and trends.

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation. In spite of its oil wealth, about two-thirds of its estimated 203 million population lives on less than one US dollar per day. The development of the country is held back by poor overall governance, widespread corruption, weak and complex institutions, massive inequality and very limited access for most of the population to basic services.

EU €210M budget for Sahel

Brussels 11.05.2021 The EU is reaffirming its solidarity with vulnerable people in countries in the Sahel and Central Africa through a humanitarian budget of €210 million in 2021. The funding will be allocated to humanitarian projects in the following eight countries: Burkina Faso (€24.3 million), Cameroon (€17.5 million), the Central African Republic (€21.5 million), Chad (€35.5 million) Mali (€31.9 million), Mauritania (€10 million), Niger (€32.3 million) and Nigeria (€37 million).

“Worsening instability and armed conflicts, together with the COVID-19 pandemic and natural hazards, are having a devastating impact in the Sahel and countries in Central Africa. The EU remains committed to help reduce suffering among people in need in the region. While humanitarian aid is there to bring emergency relief, longer-lasting improvements can only be brought about through the political will of national governments and good governance” Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said.

The EU’s humanitarian funding in the Sahel and Central Africa countries is targeted to:

provide life-saving assistance to the people affected by conflict and to the communities hosting people who had to flee;
provide protection to vulnerable people and support the respect of International Humanitarian Law and the humanitarian principles;
support measures to address food crises and severe acute malnutrition among children under 5;
enhance the immediate response in terms of basic services to most vulnerable population, especially as concerns health care for all or education for children caught up in humanitarian crises; and
strengthen fragile communities’ preparedness for crises, such as mass displacements of people, or recurrent food or climate-related crises.
This assistance is part of the wider EU support provided to the region, including through the ´Team Europe´ contributions to the Coronavirus Global Response, support to the vaccine distribution effort through the COVAX Facility, and other actions providing longer-term support to strengthen fragile health systems.

As part of the EU’s Coronavirus Global Response and its target to make COVID-19 vaccines a global public good, Team Europe provided €2.2 billion to the COVAX Facility. The COVAX Facility is supporting the delivery of 1.3 billion doses of vaccines to 92 low and middle-income countries by the end of 2021 and has recently decided that up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines will be made available for use in humanitarian contexts.

In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems.

The EU is a leading, long-standing humanitarian donor in the Sahel and Central Africa, one of the world’s poorest and most fragile regions. In 2020, the EU supported humanitarian interventions in the region with more than €213 million. More than 19 million people in need benefitted from EU-funded humanitarian operations initiated in 2020 in West and Central Africa, including around 6.3 million people who were provided with food security and livelihood support, more than 3 million people assisted on disaster preparedness and risk reduction, around 2.8 million people offered access to health services, and almost 1.8 million people receiving protection support.

In order to support longer-term achievements, the EU is working to build effective synergies between humanitarian, development and peace initiatives. The life of many in the Sahel and Central Africa countries continues to be disrupted by conflict, poverty, climatic changes, recurrent food crises, or a combination of all. It is estimated that there are more than 35 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the eight priority countries covered by the EU’s 2021 Humanitarian Implementation Plan for West and Central Africa. The major humanitarian needs relate to shelter, emergency food aid, access to health care and clean water, treatment for malnourished children, and protection for the vulnerable.

Against this backdrop, the coronavirus pandemic is posing additional challenges, both as concerns the pressure on already fragile health systems but also the effects of the containment measures on vulnerable people’s access to food and livelihoods.

At the same time, humanitarian actors are facing the combined challenges of delivering humanitarian assistance in an increasingly insecure context, where access is further restricted due to the pandemic.

CHAD: FACT ready for ceasefire

Brussels 25.04.2021 The rebels, known as the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), intruded over the northern border from Libya on April 11 calling for an end to Deby’s 30-year rule. They came as close as 200-300 km (125-185 miles) from the capital N’Djamena before being pushed back by the army.
“FACT is ready to observe a ceasefire for a political settlement that respects the independence and sovereignty of Chad and does not endorse a coup d’etat,” FACT spokesman Kingabe Ogouzeimi de Tapol said.

Deby was killed on Monday, April 19, while visiting troops at the frontline, just after he won an election one more time. His death shocked the Central African country, which has long been a Western ally against Islamist militants. However the circumstances of his death remain unclear.

The air force has since bombarded rebel positions, the military and rebels said. The military said on Saturday it had “annihilated” the rebels.

After Deby’s death, a military council headed by his son, Mahamat Idriss Deby, seized power and said it would oversee an 18-month transition to elections. Opposition politicians called this a coup, and the rebels said they would not accept a “monarchy”.

Borrell arrives to Deby funeral

Brussels 23.04.2021 The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has arrived to N’Djamena, the Republic of Chad, to attend the funeral of late President Idriss Deby. In a statement issued by the European External Action Service, Borrell expressed his views on the situation in this Sahel country, namely “…the need to guarantee the stability of Chad, and at the same time to return to constitutional normality as soon as possible. These two goals: stability, to ensure that the transition is going to take place in an orderly fashion and that this transition lasts as little as possible and that this leads again to constitutional normality”.
The diplomat has also underlined that the role of the neighbour Niger’s is fundamental.  In general, all the Sahelian countries are committed, “all together and the European Union, also to help this transition, by guaranteeing stability and the return to normality, I repeat, constitutional” he added.

The EU, France and the G5 Sahel countries, which together are fighting the jihadists in this region, expressed their “common support for the civil-military transition process” to the son of the late Chadian president Idriss Déby Itno killed by rebels.

According to official sources, Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno died on Tuesday April 20 at around 1 a.m., following fighting between the Chadian army and the rebellion of the Front for Alternation and Concord in Chad (FACT), not far from Mao in the Kanem region, in the center of the country. In power for 30 years, Déby had just been re-elected for a sixth consecutive term. His death was announced at 11 am on national television by army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa.

Some observers doubt this version of events and offer other, unconfirmed hypotheses about the circumstances of his death, including that of a negotiation meeting with FACT members that allegedly turned into a shooting.

It is no surprise that President Déby himself went to the battlefield. Coming to power in 1990, following a coup d’état against President Hissène Habré, whose army he had commanded, Déby has always made his military status his main political force. His armed forces had succeeded in repelling rebel assaults in 2006 and 2008, and most recently in 2019, thanks to the support of the French military, and he was not hesitant to go into combat himself.

In April 2020, he took the lead in a counter-offensive against a faction of Boko Haram, which had just killed nearly 100 Chadian soldiers on the shores of Lake Chad. Its commitment on the ground enabled it to mobilize and galvanize its troops and, at the same time, to stand as a guarantor of the integrity of the national territory. His death is therefore causing concern among many Chadians and plunging the country into uncertainty.

SAHEL: Deby death events arcane

Brussels 20.04.2021 President Idriss Deby has died of wounds suffered on the front line in the country’s north, while visiting soldiers battling insurgents, the Chad armed forces said.
The exact circumstances of Deby’s death remain arcane. As a Commander-in-chief Deby had been leading his army during the weekend as it battled rebels who had launched a major incursion into the north of the country on election day on April 11.

Recognised as a brilliant military strategist who has been able to survive numerous coup d’état attempts and rebellions, Deby never hesitated to lead soldiers on the battlefront. Last year, he took the title of Field Marshal of Chad.

On Monday, April 19, the army had claimed a “great victory” in its battle against the rebels intruding from neighbouring Libya, claiming it had killed 300 fighters, with the loss of five soldiers in its own ranks during eight days of combat.

The rebel raid in the provinces of Tibesti and Kanem was carried out by the Front for Change and Concord in Chad (FACT), based in Libya. The group has a neutrality pact with Marshal Khalifa Haftar controlling Libya’s oil-rich East.

FACT, a group mainly made up of the Saharan Dazaga (sometimes referred to as Gourane, an Arabian exonym Goran people), said in a statement Sunday, April 18, that it had “liberated” the Kanem region. The events in the remote desert combat zones are hard to verify.

A military council led by the late president’s 37-year-old son, four-star General Mahamat Idriss Deby, would take a lead for the next 18 month transition period. A curfew has been imposed in the capital N’Djamena and the country’s borders have been shut in the wake of the President’s sudden death.

Deby, 68, “has just breathed his last defending the sovereign nation on the battlefield” over the weekend, army spokesman General Azem Bermandoa Agouna said in a statement read out on state television on Tuesday, April 20, a day after Deby was declared the winner of a presidential election.

Deby was a herder’s son from the Zaghawa Sahelian Muslim ethnic group who took the classic path to power through the army ranks, and relished the military culture.

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