Daily Archives: December 17, 2017

Former Boko Haram Fighters Wait for Rehabilitation Facility

MORA, CAMEROON The multinational joint task force fighting the Boko Haram insurgency in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria says it will hold some 200 former terrorists until Cameroon can construct a rehabilitation center where they will be socially integrated before returning to their communities. The ex-terrorists are currently at the barracks of the multinational joint task force in Mora, on Cameroon’s northern border with Nigeria.

Soldiers of the Mora camp of the Multinational Joint Task Force fighting Boko Haram sing what is now their regular song after a successful operation. They have just returned from the border with Nigeria with 12 fighters whom they say handed themselves over to the military. Among them is Soule Bupaga, a 22-year-old Nigerian.

He says his wish is to return to his village (at Sanda Wajiri, near Kerawa) in Nigeria and that he regrets all the killings even though they were forced to carry them out. He says what he did was not good.

There are nearly 200 former fighters detained in the camp. Some were arrested during fighting and others handed themselves over to the military. Cameroonian ex-fighter, 26-year old Gouma Wamwha, says he decided to report to the military after he escaped from a Boko Haram training camp in the Nigerian border town of Gambarou, but was barred from entering his village in the Cameroon town of Kolofata.

He says he escaped from a Boko Haram camp with a motorcycle he was given to monitor and report to his former superiors each time a suspected group of people or a strange vehicle was seen approaching.

Midjiyawa Bakari, governor of Cameroon’s far north region says the government will continue to protect the ex-fighters. He says they have secured land in the border town of Meme were all former fighters will be assisted in reintegrating to society.

He says the ex-fighters have committed to assisting the military in bringing back their peers who are still either hiding in the bush because they are afraid of the military or are still under Boko Haram control.

200 other former Boko Haram fighter are taken care of in the Mozogo local council by the government of Cameroon and UN agencies. Their relatives are not ready to accept them in their villages for fear they may once again be infiltrated by the terrorists. The population says some of them may be spies or have been brainwashed with Boko Haram ideology.

Source: Voice of America

2 Danish Journalists Violently Attacked in Gabon

LIBREVILLE A man stabbed two Danish journalists in Gabon’s capital, declaring it was in retaliation for U.S. attacks against Muslims and leaving one reporter in serious condition, Gabon’s defense minister said.

The attack Saturday occurred while the journalists were shopping at an artisanal market, a site popular with tourists. It is the first of its kind in this West African country where Muslims and Christians coexist peacefully.

The stabbing was carried out in Libreville by a 53-year-old Niger national who screamed “Allah Akbar,” said Gabonese Minister of Defense Etienne Massard Makaga. The attacker, who has lived in Gabon for 19 years, was immediately arrested.

When questioned by the police, he said he acted “in retaliation for the attacks of the United States against the Muslims and the American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” said Makaga.

“Everything will be done to ensure that the author and his possible accomplices are punished with the utmost rigor that the law allows,” said the minister who denounced “an act abominable, cowardly and ignoble.” Makaga said such acts are contrary to the Gabonese way of living together and “detrimental to social peace.”

The journalists, one male and one female reportedly working for National Geographic, were rushed to a hospital.

The man was operated on and is currently in intensive care, said government spokesman Alain Claude Bilie By Nze.

Oil-rich Gabon is known for its wildlife, including most of Africa’s remaining forest elephants, which are being heavily targeted by traffickers.

Gabon is ruled by President Ali Bongo Ondimba, whose family has been in power for nearly half a century.

Source: Voice of America

South Sudan Inches Closer to Hybrid Court on Conflict’s Four-year Anniversary

CAROL VAN DAM A court to try alleged war criminals in South Sudan’s conflict was one step closer to reality Friday, the fourth anniversary of the day hostilities began.

South Sudan’s Council of Ministers and the African Union agreed last week to the contents of a document that defines the roles of the so-called “hybrid” court, according to Elizabeth Deng, a Nairobi-based researcher for Amnesty International.

This is the document that would specify the criminal jurisdiction of the court, that would define the crimes that the court has the competency to investigate and prosecute. The statute would describe the structure and the composition of the court and the appointment procedure for the courts staff, Deng told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus.

A 2015 peace deal between South Sudan’s government and rebel groups called on the AU Commission to establish the court to investigate and prosecute individuals accused of violating international or applicable South Sudanese law since the conflict erupted in the capital, Juba. Progress has been excruciatingly slow.

Over the past two years, the feeling of Amnesty International has been that the government of South Sudan has been a significant factor in delaying the court’s establishment. They have been dragging their feet and reluctant … to ensure it is established quickly, Deng said.

Parliament is expected to deliberate on the hybrid court statute next. It is not clear when a vote will take place.

Jehanne Henry, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the step by the Council of Ministers appears to be progress, but the parliament must act next and act quickly.

Sending the document to parliament is a step, but it is not necessarily a step that moves this thing forward unless it is followed up by a lot of other steps, Henry told South Sudan in Focus.

‘We must learn lessons’

A policy analyst at the Juba-based Sudd Institute said the conflict has dragged on far too long and cannot continue.

Zachariah Diing Akol said all South Sudanese must stop and reflect on what the nation has gone through and learn from it.

If it was just the individuals — two, four or 100 — we would not be where we are today. What is the power of a few individuals? All of us have fought in one way or the other. All of us must learn lessons, Akol said.

Akol said the suffering caused by the war has robbed South Sudanese of their livelihoods and dignity.

Lives have been lost and they continue to be lost. Sources of livelihood of people are destroyed, people don’t do what they used to do; they are relying on others and that is not a comfortable position to be in,” Akol said.

Calls for peace from refugees

Meanwhile, hundreds of South Sudanese living in Uganda gathered Friday in Kampala to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the fighting and called on the warring parties to end the conflict.

Martha Nyayiey Gatluak, 22, said she fled to a camp run by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) when war erupted in December 2013. Gatluak spent a year in the camp and later fled to Uganda with her family.

I am calling on our leaders to bring us back together, Gatluak said. “From 2013, we don’t party together, we sit in our separate ways. There is a lot of hatred in us, we don’t love each other the way we used to. We should have peace in our country so we can go back as South Sudanese, not as tribes.”

The fighting that erupted in Juba in late 2013 quickly spread to other parts of the country and took on ethnic overtones. The International Crisis Group said at least 100,000 people were killed during the first weeks of fighting.

The conflict led to a humanitarian crisis that has forced more than 4 million South Sudanese to flee their homes, with many relocating to Uganda, Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia.

Peaceful dialogue urged

Elizabeth Nyakui Yien, 44, one of those who gathered in Kampala, urged South Sudan’s leaders to end the war through peaceful dialogue.

My message to the government or the [rebel] IO is that they should think twice because our life is at stake, we are not able to get the basic needs. My children do not go to school and there is not enough food that we get from the U.N., Yien told South Sudan in Focus.

And as the country’s leaders gather next week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to try to revive the peace deal, South Sudanese refugees at Uganda’s Morobi settlement say they want their leaders to hear the cries of the more than one million South Sudanese refugees and work towards genuine and lasting peace.

Modi Charles Sekwatoloko, a refugee leader at the settlement, said the refugees want peace more than anything else. He said the country’s leaders must cast aside their differences and be prepared to make concessions.

They [the refugees] have experienced the suffering here, so they feel if our leaders could really come down and reconcile themselves, then they give us that peace, we shall rejoice, Sekwatoloko said.

Source: Voice of America

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikos Kotzias, to meet with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, Salahuddin Rabbani (Athens, 18.12.2017)

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias will meet at the Foreign Ministry, at 12:15 on Monday, 18 December, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan, Salahuddin Rabbani, who will be carrying out a visit to Greece.

The two Ministers will focus on the upgrading of bilateral cooperation, marked by the opening of the Embassy of Afghanistan in Athens.

Following their meeting, at about 13:00, they will make joint statements to the press.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Hellenic Republic

MEC Dan Plato conducts oversight visits to youth holiday programmes in Bishop Lavis and Gugulethu, 18 Dec

Minister Plato to visit youth holiday programmes in Bishop Lavis and Gugulethu

On Monday, 18 December 2017, Western Cape Minister of Community Safety, Dan Plato, will conduct oversight visits to some of the youth holiday programmes in in Bishop Lavis and Gugulethu, funded by the Department of Community Safety through the Youth Safety and Religion Partnership.

The Youth Safety and Religion Partnership (YSRP) Programme is a flagship initiative of the Department of Community Safety aimed specifically at increasing safety through implementing targeted anti-social behaviour and youth initiatives in partnership with the religious fraternity of the province.

The Department of Community Safety has made R2.4 million available for the YSRP implementation for the December 2017/January 2018 festive season school holiday which will see an estimated 9000 youths benefitting from safer recreational and development opportunities.

Source: Government of South Africa