Tag Archives: Central Africa

16 dead in DR Congo boat mishap.

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The flat-bottomed vessel came aground at the village of Malebo, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the capital.

Rescue workers have recovered 16 bodies from a crowded vessel that capsized on the Congo River at the weekend, sources in DR Congo’s navy and Red Cross said on Wednesday.

The barge, locally known as a “baleiniere” or whaler, overturned on Sunday after leaving the river port of Maluku near Kinshasa, heading for Mbandaka, capital of Equateur province.

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A preliminary toll had given nine dead and an unknown number of missing.

“We have saved 125 people. We have recovered 16 bodies,” rescue operations chief Papy Kamalubanda, who commands a naval unit in the area, told AFP.

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The flat-bottomed vessel came aground at the village of Malebo, about 100 kilometres (60 miles) from the capital.

An AFP team saw rescue workers standing in thick river mud, gathered around the inert body of a baby that had been retrieved from the water.

Farther off were the corpses of a man and a woman, roped together, in a mass of debris.

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“There are still other bodies trapped inside. We are going to continue to recover the bodies tomorrow,” a local Red Cross worker, Sita Faliala, said.

A survivor of the accident, Mado Tshala, said, “There were lots of us (on board), lots and lots of us.

“Several people drowned when the baleiniere overturned, and those who were downstairs found themselves underneath” the vessel, she said.

A vast country the size of continental western Europe, the Democratic Republic of Congo suffers from an acute lack of paved roads and railways, and rivers and waterways are a major form of transport.

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Accidents are common, typically due to vessels that are overloaded or poorly maintained.

Death tolls are tragically high due to a lack of life jackets and the fact that few Congolese learn how to swim.

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#Newsworthy

DR Congo begins Ebola vaccination.

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The WHO’s office in the Democratic Republic of Congo said four people in Biene had been vaccinated and 334 other contacts would also receive the jab.

Health workers in eastern DR Congo have begun an Ebola vaccination drive after four cases, two of them fatal, surfaced just three months after the country’s last outbreak of the disease, the UN said.

“The authorities today… launched an anti-Ebola vaccination campaign in Butembo just a week after the virus re-emerged,” the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a tweet.

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“Workers at Matanda hospital, where the first positive case of Ebola was treated, were the first to be vaccinated,” it said.

The health ministry announced on February 7 that four women in Biene, in the troubled region of North Kivu, had fallen ill with the notorious haemorrhagic fever. Two have since died.

The WHO’s office in the Democratic Republic of Congo said four people in Biene had been vaccinated and 334 other contacts would also receive the jab.

On November 18, DR Congo declared that the country’s 11th documented epidemic of Ebola was over.

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The outbreak, in the northwestern province of Equateur, claimed 55 lives.

On Sunday, the West African state of Guinea said it had confirmed seven cases of Ebola — the first resurgence of the disease in the region since a 2013-2016 epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people.

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#Newsworthy

Angola approves same sex marriage upon US pressure.

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The decriminalization of LGBTQ+ in Angola came a week after United States President Joe Biden began a global push for legislation of LGBTQ+ rights.

Angola has legalised same-sex marriage 133 years after the proscription of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in the country.

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The country’s parliamentarians who voted to overhaul Angola’s criminal statute books did not just remove the passage. They also banned discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The reform has been hailed by human rights activists who have been pushing for equal rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in Angola and other African countries.

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“The law decriminalising homosexuality adopted in Angola in 2019 took effect today,” LGBTQ+ rights advocate Jean-Luc Romero-Michel tweeted. “Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is now reprehensible and even punishable by prison.”

He said it was “a great step forward” in the fight against state-sponsored discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

Proscription of the LGBTQ+ community was included in the country’s penal code in 1888 when the southwest African nation was still a Portuguese colony. The government said homosexuality was one of many “vices against nature”.

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There was a provision in its law that could send same-sex couples to prison for at least 14 years.

The decriminalization of LGBTQ+ in Angola came a week after United States President Joe Biden began a global push for legislation of LGBTQ+ rights.

Biden in a statement on Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World directed American Embassy in Nigeria and other countries to push for the legalisation of homosexuality in their respective countries of residence.

The US president said the memorandum reaffirms and supplements the principles established in the Presidential Memorandum of December 6, 2011 (International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons).

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“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” Biden said.

“Through this memorandum, I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons.”

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#Newsworthy

DR Congo announces Ebola resurgence.

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We have another episode of the Ebola virus in the east,” in the North Kivu province..

Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday announced a “resurgence” of Ebola in the country’s troubled east after a woman died of the disease, just three months after authorities declared the end of a previous epidemic.

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“We have another episode of the Ebola virus in the east,” in the North Kivu province, Health Minister Eteni Longondo told state television RTNC.

“It was a farmer, the wife of a survivor of Ebola, who showed typical signs of the disease on February 1,” he said, adding that she died on February 3.

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#Newsworthy

DR Congo militiamen ‘denied’ over 10 existence, in fresh attack.

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The UN’s human rights office in the DRC said Wednesday that defence and security forces had made “significant efforts to dismantle” the militia.

Fighters believed to belong to the ADF militia have killed at least 12 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s east, local sources said Sunday.

The gruesome attack took place overnight Friday-Saturday after a month of relative calm in the area.

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“Fighters from the Allied Democratic Forces massacred farmers from the village of Mabule in their fields,” Donat Kibuana, the administrator of the Beni region in North Kivu province, told AFP.

At least eight men and four women “had their throats savagely slit in their fields by these ADF terrorists,” said Roger Masimango, from a local network of civil society groups.

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“We’re still searching, because we aren’t hearing from some of the farmers,” he added.

An expert in the area, who asked to remain anonymous, said 14 bodies had been found and more people were missing after the assault.

An army offensive launched in the Rwenzori mountain region had caused a “relative decline” in the number of deadly attacks since early January, administrator Kibuana said.

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He added that “many villages are empty” of people who have fled the fighting.

But the ADF — one of the most violent among dozens of armed groups in the eastern DRC — is believed to have killed 21 civilians on February 5 in Rwenzori.

The UN’s human rights office in the DRC said Wednesday that defence and security forces had made “significant efforts to dismantle” the militia.

Nevertheless, it said 468 deaths in the east were attributed to the group in the second half of 2020, including 108 women and 15 children.

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Originally Ugandan Muslim rebels, the ADF settled in the DRC in 1995.

In recent years they have given up on attacks in neighbouring Uganda, but have carried out repeated massacres in the Beni region of the DRC, killing more than 1,000 people since October 2014.

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#Newsworthy

Police ‘tear-gas’ anti-gov’t protesters in Angola.

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Disenchantment towards the government has been mounting, prompting several marches against Luanda

Angolan police on Thursday fired tear gas at youths rallying in Luanda against police brutality and economic hardship, days after several protesters were killed in a crackdown in the country’s northeast.

Around 100 demonstrators were dispersed in the capital as they gathered on Liberation Day — a public holiday marking the start of armed uprising against Portuguese colonial rule — to stage unauthorised anti-government demonstrations.

In addition to poor living conditions, alleged state corruption and delayed local elections, the activists were also denouncing a violent police crackdown on a separatist protest that left at least six dead.

Security forces on horseback were already on stand-by when the demonstrators gathered for their march, dispersing them with batons and tear gas and arresting dozens of people.

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Some of the protesters hurled stones in retaliation, an AFP reporter said.

The crackdown took place as Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Angolan government to restrain “excessive” use of force and firearms against peaceful demonstrations.

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Security forces have violently dispersed a string of anti-government protests that gained momentum over the second half of 2020, firing live bullets and tear gas into the crowds.

On Saturday, they opened fire on a group of separatists marching in the remote diamond mining town of Cafunfo, around 750 kilometres (470 miles) east of Luanda.

Demonstrators carry an Angola national flag in Luanda on February 4, 2021 during a demonstration against police brutality, days after several separatists were killed in a thwarted protest in the country’s northeast. – Dozens of demonstrators were dispersed as they gathered on Liberation Day — a public holiday marking the start of armed uprising against Portuguese colonial rule — to stage banned anti-government demonstrations. (Photo by Osvaldo Silva / AFP)

HRW claims at least 10 unarmed protesters were killed, 20 injured and 16 detained — higher than the death toll first reported by police, who allege they were acting in self-defence.

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The government has vowed to open an investigation into the incident.

“Accountability for serious abuses by security forces is essential to prevent their recurrence,” HRW Africa researcher Zeinada Machado said in a statement on Thursday.

Public protests were relatively rare in Angola and were often targeted by security forces during the reign of ex-president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who stepped down in 2017.

His successor Joao Lourenco had raised hopes of change after almost four decades marked by graft and nepotism, but that was shortlived.

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Disenchantment towards the government has been mounting, prompting several marches against Luanda, seen as failing on promises to end corruption and revive the economy.

Police are notoriously violent in the southwest African country — the legacy of a 1975-2002 civil war and almost four decades of repressed dissent under dos Santos.

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#Newsworthy

Forces killed 44 rebels – CAR Gov’t reveals.

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When the government says “allies”, it is usually referring to Rwandan troops and Russian paramilitaries which have been sent to the conflict-plagued country to reinforce federal troops.

Central African Republic troops killed 44 rebel fighters participating in a push to encircle the capital Bangui and overturn newly-reelected President Faustin Archange Touadera, the government said Monday.

Together with “allied forces”, the CAR army launched an offensive in the village of Boyali, around 90 kilometres (56 miles) from the capital, with no casualties on the government side and “44 dead including several mercenaries from Chad, Sudan and the Fulani” ethnic group, the government posted on Facebook.

“Government forces are back on the offensive,” government spokesman Ange-Maxime Kazagui told AFP.

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He added that troops had captured the village of Boda, 124 kilometres from Bangui, with support from Russian fighters.

The country’s six most powerful armed groups, which control two-thirds of the CAR’s territory in an eight-year conflict, joined forces in December, calling themselves the Coalition of Patriots for Change (CPC).

On December 19, they announced an offensive on Bangui aimed at preventing Touadera’s re-election in December 27’s presidential election.

But the capital was protected by a well-equipped, 12,000-strong force of UN peacekeepers from the MINUSCA mission, as well as CAR troops and the Russian and Rwandan reinforcements.

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Monday’s government announcement about the successful attack, which AFP was unable to confirm with independent sources, is the first time authorities have issued such a precise statement about casualties among any forces other than the UN peacekeepers.

The UN has warned of the rebels trying to “strangle” the capital by cutting off the three major roads leading there.

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#Newsworthy

DR Congo police clashes with protesters.

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The Rwandan Ambassador is Not Welcome
A violent clash broke out in Kinshasa on Friday, near the Supreme Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as police subdued a rally of protesters demanding the immediate expulsion of new Rwandan ambassador, Vincent Karega.

Many Congolese want Karega out
They are accusing the ambassador of being a history revisionist claiming he has denied Rwanda’s role in the numerous massacres of Congolese citizens by the Banyamulenge militia — i.e. Rwandan Tutsi Congolese, during the wars in the Congo which occurred between 1996 and 2003.

Many Congolese believe these militiamen are supported by Rwanda to control the eastern region of the country whose land is rich in natural resources. Allegations that Kigali denies.

The Famous Doctor Has Local Support
The demonstrators also called to stop the death threats targeting locally celebrated laureate, Dr Denis Mukwege since July after he called for the establishment of an international court to prosecute the perpetrators of the massacres committed in eastern DRC.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner —- whose work with victims of sexual violence in war saw him obtain the honour, continues to provide medical care of the same nature in his hospital near Panzi.


#Newsworthy…

Denis Mukwege calls on EU action against criminalities in DR Congo.

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Congolese Nobel Peace Prize winner Dr. Denis Mukwege is calling on the European Union to implement a system that would allow people to raise the alarm “to prevent atrocities.”

Mukwege spoke to EU lawmakers on Monday via video-link.

“We need to create a system which allows people to raise the alarm. These individuals who are in different parts of the country do fantastic work to protect their populations and communities and to prevent atrocities,” Mukwege said.

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He also called on human rights defenders to be protected themselves.

Mukwege is known for founding that is renowned for its work treating survivors of sexual violence.

Congolese Nobel Laureate, Dr. Denis Mukwege

He has faced death threat.

The United Nations human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, called for a quick investigation into the death threats against Mukwege last week.

He praised him as a “true hero” for his work,

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The DRC’s eastern region has seen separate conflicts involving armed groups and government forces for the past year.

Thousands have been killed and half a million people have fled the violence.

In November, the International Criminal Court passed its highest ever sentence when it sent a Congolese warlord known as “The Terminator” to prison for 30 years for crimes including murder, rape and sexual slavery.

Bosco Ntaganda was found guilty of 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role as a military commander in atrocities during a bloody ethnic conflict in a mineral-rich region of Congo in 2002-2003.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Angola to increase tests for taxi drivers.

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Angola is perhaps one of countries best coping with coronavirus pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa.

Of recent, authorities organised a ceremony to sign an online contract with the Chinese company, BGI Group of Shenzhen organised last Thursday a to reinforce the detection capacity of COVID-19 in the country.

It is believed taxi drivers are most exposed to virus.

Five laboratories will be built with a daily capacity of 6,000 tests.

A state of emergency imposed by the government in early July to curb the spread of Covid-19 was later replaced by a state of calamity.


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#Newsworthy…

Congo opposition leader, Mokoko returns from Brazzaville

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Congo’s opposition leader Jean-Marie Michel Mokoko returned to Brazzaville on Sunday after a month’s medical attention in Turkey.

The 73-year-old general, who ran against President Denis Sassou Nguesso in the 2016 polls, was imprisoned for 20 years in 2019 on charges for compromising national security and unlawful possession of arms and ammunition.

On July 2, Mokoko was first admitted to a military hospital in Congo due to overall fatigue and loss of appetite. The authorities then allowed him to fly to Ankara on July 30, following weeks of negotiations. A prison source said he would be returned to his cell after being checked by doctors.

Prosecutors had accused Mokoko and several co-defendants of amassing arms as far back as 2005 in the aim of overthrowing Sassou Nguesso’s government. He was arrested later in June 2016 and subsequently tried.

For many of Mokoko’s supporters and observers, the prosecution was an attempt by Sassou Nguesso, who has ruled the central African nation for all but five of the past 38 years, to use the courts to stifle dissent.


#Newsworthy…