28 April 2022

Nigeria: Whoever pays ransom to free a kidnapped person will go to prison for at least 15 years according to a law passed by the Nigerian senate which is yet to be passed by the lower house and signed by the president.
BBC Africa Live 28 April 2022. 4:33

Rwanda: With international funding diminishing (not only for Rwandan refugees), self-reliance becomes an attractive guiding concept. But becoming self-reliant is not straightforward by any means – “while refugees in Rwanda have the right to freedom of movement and work”, in practice there are “challenges and discrimination in accessing them”, e.g. because of bureaucracy (permits to leave camps may take up to a month) and also because of the remote location of some of the camps. Also, unlike in Uganda, there is not enough land to allow refugees access to land.

Uganda: In the early 1940s, Uganda hosted Polish refugees who fled from Nazi-occupation, in the 1950s Sudanese refugees fleeing civil war. It “has hosted significant numbers of refugees ever since”. Today’s 1.5 million refugees living in Uganda make it the top refugee-hosting country in Africa. And it is renowned for “being progressive on refugee issues” – refugees have the right to work, freedom of movement and the right to the same social services as Ugandans (incl. health and education). Yet many refugees still struggle. This is partly due to their refugee status not being officially recognized. But the most important lack is that of land – refugees’ main source of income being agriculture and they do get plots of land, but often not enough: “liberal refugee policies (…) must be backed with adequate resources”. Yet “donor funds have not often matched the praise” of Uganda’s refugee policies.

Eritrea/migration: At least before the Tigray conflict, Ethiopian refugee camps offered safe space, but not a desirable future, that is why Eritrean refugees “risk falling prey to human traffickers, abuse, detention and death” in trying to reach Europe. The article’s authors undertook research from 2016 to 2019 and “discovered that although refugees are aware of the risks of leaving, there are risks to staying, including the despair of being stuck in ‘camp time’ with no prospects for a future.” In Ethiopia itself, the refugees are mostly restricted to camps with little real-life perspectives.

Kenya: According to the authors’ research, cash transfers are more beneficial to recipients when unrestricted than when subject to spending rules (e.g. only for food items at certain retailers). But cash transfers also encourage the extension of credit to refugee beneficiaries (“the technologies required for receipt of cash assistance” like SIM cards or ATM cards “can be retained by shopkeepers as a form of collateral”) and thus contributed to higher levels of debt than conventional food aid. To deal with refugee debts, community safety nets and schemes for debt repayment may be necessary.

University education in refugee camps: Online is the obvious choice, with technology and reliable internet connections the most important resources necessary – in places where electricity, food or smart phones are not a given. “Refugees also face the challenge of learning non-contexualised material, in extremely inhospitable surroundings, with little or no support.” Care should be taken to adapt courses to refugee students’ contexts, “localisation” is necessary and “culturally appropriate pedagogical practices” should be applied.

27 April 2022

South Sudan: Peace “hinges on forging a unified military”. Putting this into practice is difficult and according to the article’s author, it is not surprising that it takes time – more time than laid down in the 2018 peace agreement. Comparisons with other countries (Mozambique, South Africa, Côte d’Ivoire) show how difficult this can be. Yet Salva Kiir and Riek Machar need to keep progressing towards it for a solid basis for peace to be achieved.

Uganda/Mozambique: With Filipe Nyusi on a three-day state visit to Uganda, Yoweri Musevene had said that Kampala may deploy “a large force” to fight terrorists in Cabo Delgado in Mozambique’s north. So far, Ugandan troops have been deployed in Somalia and in Congo-Kinshasa.
BBC Africa Live 27 April 2022. 17:13

South Africa: A quarter century after the advent of democracy, life has not improved for the majority of South Africans and there continues to be lack of equality of opportunity, exclusion and marginalization. So people have become disillusioned with democracy which has not delivered. Only 32% are now satisfied with democracy – in 2004 there were almost twice as many, 59%. In the article’s author’s view, “stronger populist and anti-democratic rhetoric are likely to take root in the future.”

South Africa: Tomorrow Thursday is a public holiday, “Freedom Day” – on 27th of April 1994, South Africans voted in their first democratic elections. But is it worth celebrating? “A good society creates opportunities for its people.” Yet with poverty affecting about 30 million, unemployment standing at 35.3%, huge socioeconomic disparities persisting – 10% of the population (now including a few black elites and middle class) owning 80% of its wealth making South Africa the world’s most unequal society – indicate that there is a lot of unfinished business. What is necessary is no less than “reinventing the state in order to shore up its capacity to exist for the good of society”.

South Africa: Seen the continuing (albeit reduced) dominance of the ANC in elections, the usual democratic way of influencing politics the way one wants to: by voting and switching to another party if the one in power does not do what’s needed, the usual democratic mechanism of voting may not deliver. According to the article’s author, pressure groups are the best way out: e.g., the environmentalists building up and sustaining public pressure; or the “Defend our Democracy Campaign”; the Abahlali baseMjondolo Movement (Shack Dwellers’ Movement) to Afriforum. “Abahlali focuses on street-by-street organisation of informal settlement residents to defend their rights and improve their lot. Afriforum is a civil rights organisation that ‘mobilises Afrikaners, Afrikaans-speaking people and other minority groups in South Africa and protects their rights’.” And there are many more NGOs and initiatives.

Nigeria: Stolen crude oil was brought by boat to a clearing on a creek in the Niger delta where crude oil was refined or “cooked” in two big, rusting metal cauldrons by means of a fire lit in a pit under the cauldrons. The heated oil is condensed into different petroleum products such as kerosene or diesel. Then, the heated oil is then to be funnelled into a cooling chamber – but something may go wrong and this can cause explosions. In 2021, more than 3bn USD worth of oil are thought to have been siphoned off from pipelines and refined in the bush, then sold on the black market inside or outside the country. This is big business – with highly organised enterprises that involve technical, logistical and financial expertise. Lots of people make their living from illegal refining. Lots of bribes are being paid to prevent prosecution. Currently, a senior police officer in Rivers State is being investigated for alleged operation of an illegal refinery. The resulting pollution is, in any case, horrendous.

Sudan/Darfur: The article explains why tensions are rife between arabs and non-arabs and atrocities are being committed again in West Darfur. After the withdrawal of the UN mission, a joint force made up of police, army, Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the rebel groups which signed a peace deal in 2020 are supposed to look after peace and security. But each of these pursues its proper interests. The police has many Massalit members, the RSF many former Janjaweed members. And Massalits against arabs/Janjaweed was the conflict that killed almost 200 in Kreinik and the Massalit capital Geneina of late. The RSF has a lot of influence in the junta in Khartoum – with Hemeti the junta’s number two (and maybe the strong man in the shadow).