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Africa: Nigeria On Red Alert As Who Declares Ebola Outbreak in Congo

Photo: Premium Times

Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria has beefed up surveillance at the nation's airports following the outbreak of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (file photo).

The Management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has assured Nigerians of adequate surveillance at the nation's airports following the outbreak of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday, saying that at least one person had been confirmed dead due to the virus in the country's north-east.

Mr Henrietta Yakubu, FAAN's Acting General Manager, Corporate Affairs,said on Saturday, saying that there was no direct flight from Congo to Nigeria.

Yakubu also assured that all the preventive measures being put in place at the airports were still in place.

She said that the Port Health officials were at alert at all airports, adding that the authority had also informed them of the need to increase surveillance.

"We don't have direct flights from Congo, we only have from Rwanda but I want to assure members of the public that we still have all preventive measures in place at our airports.

"There are sanitisers at our arrivals with the scanning apparatus called Thermal scanners being installed by the Port Health Services.

"The scanners have camera monitors that display pictures aside the capturing of temperature.

"Passengers still fill that form to ensure that everybody arriving the country through our airports are not potential carriers of deadly diseases.

"The port health officials are always at alert and we will also inform them of the need to increase their surveillance.

"So, there is no cause for alarm," she said.

Nigeria experienced the Ebola virus in July, 2014 when a Liberian American, Patrick Sawyer, who had the disease flew from Liberia to the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos and died five days later.

In response, the Federal Government observed all of Sawyer's contacts for signs of infection and increased surveillance at all entry points to the country.

Nigeria was able to curtail the disease and was subsequently declared Ebola free by WHO.


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‘Just resting my eyes’ Robert Mugabe ridiculed for ‘falling asleep’ at public meetings – Daily Star

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Robert Mugabe: Zimbabwe second-most developed country in Africa

Robert Mugabe: Zimbabwe second-most developed country in Africa

Image copyright AFP/Getty Image caption Robert Mugabe, 93, has governed Zimbabwe since independence in 1980

Zimbabwe is the most highly developed country in Africa after South Africa, President Robert Mugabe has said.

He denied that the country was a fragile state.

"We have over 14 universities and our literacy rate is over 90 [%] - the highest in Africa," he said, adding that the economy was improving.

Zimbabwe has been struggling to pay its civil servants recently and is ranked 24th on the UNDP's Human Development Index for Africa.

Africa Live: More updates on this and other stories Why Zimbabweans are spending the night outside banks

"We have more resources, perhaps more than the average country in the world." Mr Mugabe said, during a panel discussion on fragile states at the World Economic Forum on Africa in South Africa's costal city of Durban.

"We have a bumper harvest, maize, tobacco, and other crops. We are not a poor country," Mr Mugabe added, while acknowledging that Zimbabwe had problems.

Last year, more than four million people were in need of food aid in Zimbabwe after rains failed. The country was once known as the breadbasket of southern Africa.

The opposition accuses Mr Mugabe, who has ruled since independence in 1980, of ruining the economy.

Zimbabwe has faced a severe cash shortage since last year and has introduced so-called bond notes as a substitute for the US dollar, the main currency people use.

Hyperinflation forced the government to abandon the Zimbabwean dollar in 2009.

After Mr Mugabe came to power in 1980, he was widely praised for improving access to education in the country and in the 1990s, it did have among the highest literacy rates in Africa.

However, schools have also been affected by the country's economic problems and rates have now dropped back.

African countries with highest adult literacy rates Rank Country Literacy rate 1 Seychelles 95.3% 2 Equatorial Guinea 95.2% 3 South Africa 94.6% 4 Sao Tome and Principe 91.7% 5 Libya 91.4% 6 Namibia 90.8% 7 Mauritius 90.6% 8 Cape Verde 88.5% 9 Botswana 88.2% 10 Swaziland 87.5% 11 Zimbabwe 86.9% Source: World Bank (2015)

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Africa: Are Locals Starting to Push Back in the "Best Place in the World for Refugees"?

analysisBy Nick Young

Uganda is now home to over 800,000 South Sudanese refugees and the world's largest refugee camp.

At a time in which governments across the world are finding new ways to limit refugees entering their countries, Uganda stands out as an exception.

Since civil war broke out in South Sudan in 2013, 1.6 million people have fled the country. And around half of those have crossed the southern border into Uganda, which has been described as the "best place in the world" for refugees.

The warm welcome story is broadly true. Communities close to the porous border often have kin in South Sudan. Many also sought refuge in southern Sudan during northern Uganda's own two-decade conflict and feel bound to return the hospitality.

Rather than being crowded into camps then, incoming South Sudanese are allocated small plots of land that local family and clan heads offer free of charge. Meanwhile, humanitarian agencies provide food, water, building materials, tools, clinics, schooling, literacy and vocational training.

"They are our brothers," locals routinely declare.

However, this generosity is not easy to sustain, and it is getting ever harder as numbers swell. Since the start of 2017, an average of nearly 3,000 new refugees have arrived every single day.

[As thousands flee South Sudan every day, donors must shell out more than just hollow promises]

It is also now clear that the hosts expect greater benefits in return for their openness. In late-March, locals twice barricaded the gates to the Mvepi refugee settlement in Arua District, blocking entry to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and dozens of NGO contractors.

According to Peter Debele, Resident District Commissioner, the protestors' main demand was for jobs in the aid industry. "We are meeting with them, telling them to be patient, and it will be resolved," he says.

But Pax Saygar, who heads local NGO RICE-West Nile, insists the locals' complaints go beyond this. At a "highly volatile" meeting with demonstrators, he says "people were saying 'Take away your refugees because they are exhausting our land'".

A senior government officer in the town of Arua says that in nearby Adjumani, where refugees outnumber locals, people have been agitating for a long time. "Now it is coming here," he says.

He believes that the influx has strained health and education services, inflated food prices in local markets, and caused an urban housing shortage as NGOs set up offices and better-off refugees rent homes or buy land.

Yumbe gets on the map

Both the strain and hope of gain are clearly apparent in Yumbe District on Uganda's north-western border.

Before South Sudan's civil war broke out in 2013, this was a poor, remote and overwhelmingly rural district with no tarmac roads and only meagre social provision to serve a population of around 500,000. The administrative centre, Yumbe town, was little more than a few ragged streets with just 25,000 residents.

But today, the district is home to what is now the world's largest refugee settlement. Known as Bidi Bidi, the camp stretches for many miles and accommodates over 272,000 people, with each household given a 30×30 metre farming plot to supplement UN rations.

In response to this influx, the population of Yumbe town has doubled according to the district's Senior Planning Officer, Albert Odongo. He says this is the result of "opportunists" looking for jobs, trade, and other spill-over benefits from the refugee boom.

Odongo says that this has brought with it some downsides such as the appearance of street children and sex workers. "I have never before seen this in my 13 years here," he says. He adds that "a study last week by one of our health centres found in random testing that 8 out of 10 patients were HIV positive".

But Odongo also highlights the boost to the local economy. Guest houses and other businesses are "mushrooming", he says, and there has been a "quadrupling" of public transport. "A trickledown effect is going to a lot of people. For example, IRC [International Rescue Committee] alone employs 72 people here, and that is a benefit to all of their families".

Opportunity knocks

The region is also profiting from the activities of aid organisations. According to a formula agreed by the UNHCR and Uganda, humanitarian agencies catering to refugees must extend their services to the host community in a 70:30 ratio. Every borehole or clinic serving 700 refugees should also serve 300 locals.

Odongo sees this as an opportunity to develop facilities in a previously under-served district. He also hopes locals will soon see a bigger cut and says negotiations are ongoing to adjust the ratio to 50:50.

This is confirmed by Uganda's Commissioner for Refugees, David Kasungu. "This is still under consideration, but if it works out, so much the better," he says.

He continues: "We know that an increment of 200,000 people in a district will change the economic dynamics of that area. So, we are calling on the international community to invest in areas that are hosting refugees. When market forces come in, there will be transformation of this district that was not so active before."

Odongo talks with particular enthusiasm about an upcoming European Union project, the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda, which will spend €150 million ($163 million) to improve agriculture, roads and local service delivery across the north.

Bran Ojock, Yumbe's Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, also sees a future full of opportunity. He notes that many of Bidi Bidi's temporary facilities will soon be replaced by permanent structures. "Our agenda now is to sit together with all the UNHCR implementing partners and say can we have the permanent schools." He foresees a new urban centre taking shape and believes the district headquarters will one day relocate there.

The Bidi Bidi settlement land, Ojock adds, is not particularly productive. But he outlines a plan to lease 50-acre plots of better land to groups of ten refugee families who can farm it commercially and eventually become suppliers to the World Food Programme.

He envisages these families improving the land as "an appreciation" for local hospitality before they return to South Sudan. "Home is home and these people will want to go back. After three or four years, or perhaps nine, they will just go," he says.

Given the current situation in South Sudan though, that is an optimistic timeline. As commissioner Kasungu points out, western Uganda continues to host tens of thousands of Rwandan and Congolese refugees, including "some who have been there since the 1960s".

Past lessons

Compared to Uganda's populous south and west, land is less scarce in the north. Yet even in 2013, an Advisory Consortium on Conflict Sensitivity warned that northern Uganda remained "in a state of latent conflict, with increasingly frequent clashes between communities and government over boundaries or resources".

That was before hundreds of thousands fleeing from South Sudan added to these demands. Most of these settled in the West Nile region, but Lamwo District in the Acholi region has now set aside 80 km2 for a new settlement too.

The district chair, John Ogwok, describes Lamwo as extremely poor, with a chronic education deficit and "psycho-social issues" left over from the Lord's Resistance Army insurgency. People are also going hungry, he says, because "they have shared the little food they have with brothers and sisters" from South Sudan.

Lamwo looks set to be one of the next Ugandan districts transformed by the ongoing arrival of refugees, but Ogwok hopes to avoid problems he saw on a visit to West Nile. "There are many doctors in the refugee settlements, yet the Arua regional referral hospital has only two doctors," he says. "We don't want this; we need proper management right from the start."

Like his counterparts in West Nile, Ogwok also hopes the settlement will catalyse humanitarian investments to benefit locals.

This, however, is not the first time this area has had such hopes. In 2012, Gulu, the main town in the Acholi region, was buzzing with NGOs operating under the umbrella of the heavily donor-funded Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP). But European donors suspended aid when it emerged that the Office of the Prime Minister was embezzling much of the funding.

Today, Gulu is hardly thriving. It is often without mains water or electricity. Most of the NGOs have gone. So too has a branch of the Kenyan Nakumatt supermarket chain that opened briefly but, according to a young man who worked there as a trainee - the only job he's ever had - it soon shut down because the demand was too small to sustain it.

The Acholi region's past experiences suggests that relying on sudden attention from humanitarian agencies is not the ideal path to development. But as thousands of refugees continue to cross the border each day, attracting international agencies and creating new opportunities and risks, many are aware that northern Uganda is not spoilt for choice.

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Hot Seat: Mugabe thwarts “coup attempt” says political scientist Ibbo Mandaza – The Zimbabwean

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Behind the Comparison of Zuma’s South Africa and Mugabe’s Zimbabwe – New York Times

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Nigeria: Probe Into Calabar Soccer Fans Electrocutions Begin

By Simon Echewofun Sunday

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) said it has launched investigation into an electrical accident in Calabar, Cross River State where several persons were reportedly electrocuted and others injured last weekend.

In a statement by the spokesman, Mr. Usman Abba-Arabi, NERC said the preliminary report of its investigation indicated that the accident occurred when an 11KV high tension line snapped under a television viewing centre causing the accident.

"Our team of experts have been dispatched to the scene of the accident to investigate the remote and immediate cause of this unfortunate occurrence. Pending the outcome of our investigation, the commission commiserates with the families, friends and relatives of the deceased as well as the government and people of Cross Rives State," it said.

The commission also urged industry operators and electricity customers to strictly observe the health and safety codes for the power industry, noting that the outcome of the investigation would be communicated in due course.


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South Africa: Commission to Meet With ‘Afrikaans Only’ University Residence

The CRL Rights commission on Monday announced it will meet with the management the "Afrikaans only" De Goede Hoop residence for students from the University of Pretoria (UP).

This follows a complaint by civic activists Yusuf Abramjee and Mantoa Selepe that the residence goes against the Constitution for being exclusively for one race. The residence however denied the allegation and said it rather aims to provide a safe space for Afrikaans speaking students.

In a statement on Monday, Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) spokesperson Mpiyakhe Mkholo said the commission also plans to meet with UP and the City of Tshwane.

We are meeting them to get to the bottom of this matter, Mkholo said.

In another incident, the commission said they ruled that a series of social media comments made during the so-called Valhalla Mosque controversy was Islamophobic.

In March 2014, 3000 residents in Valhalla in Centurion signed a petition against the construction of a mosque in the neighbourhood.

The commission will be meeting with representatives of Facebook South Africa to discuss the matter and what the company plans to do with the social media accounts in question, Mkholo said.

Freedom Front Plus councillor Sakkie du Plooy told News24 at the time that residents in the area have no problem with Muslims but were concerned with Muslims "taking over".

"This is a Christian Afrikaaner community... We have no problem with people moving in but if there is an effort to take over then we have a problem," du Plooy said.


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Boko Haram terrorists kill 11 soldiers in Borno attacks

N igerian troops fighting Boko Haram terrorists have suffered major setbacks, with the terror group sacking an Army Battalion, killing eight soldiers and wounding 11 others in two separate attacks in three days, reliable military insiders have said. The army formations involved in the incidents also lost several arms and ammunition, and were yesterday calling for urgent restocking of their armouries, according to reports.

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‘The enemy is ever ready to pounce’ – Mugabe – News24

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South Sudan: Fresh Fighting Erupts Across Nation

A senior United Nations official in South Sudan has called for restraint and underlined the need to ensure the protection of civilians as fresh fighting has erupted between Government and opposition forces in a number of locations across the country.

According to a news release issued by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), clashes between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition groups have taken place in Raga (western South Sudan), Waat (Jonglei state, eastern South Sudan), and in Wunkur and Tonga towns (northern, Upper Nile state).

"[The warring parties] must once and for all silence the guns, return to dialogue, reconcile their differences and bring the peace the South Sudanese people want and deserve," said Moustapha Soumaré, the acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the country.

"During this holy celebration of Easter, which for many symbolises reconciliation and the rebirth of hope, I call on all parties to prove their commitment to peace," he added.

The escalation of violence follows recent fighting in Pajok (near the border with Uganda) that caused some 6,000 to flee across the border as well as in Wau that displaced many civilians and also claimed the lives of three workers contracted by the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

According to UNMISS, the Protection of Civilians site adjacent to its base in Wau has received some 13,500 newly displaced persons, taking the total number of the displaced sheltering there to 38,746. Around 3,000 others are also reportedly seeking refuge at other non-UN compounds.

SEE ALSO: 'Horrible attack' in South Sudan town sends thousands fleeing across border - UN refugee agency

The Mission also noted that it continues to push for access to areas affected by the conflict and that, despite challenges in reaching some parts of the country, it has successfully deployed a number of peacekeeping patrols to deter violence and protect civilians.

It also continues to monitor the human rights situation in line with its mandate.

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Nigeria: Chibok – Where Are the Remaining 197 Kidnapped Children? Parents Ask Buhari

Photo: Premium Times

President Muhammadu Buhari with released Chibok girls in October 2016.

By Marama Ndahi

Soldiers stood in strategic locations as residents went about their businesses. In a corner of the town, scores of other soldiers surrounded what you would think was a national asset. But you will be mistaken to find that what the soldiers were looking after were mostly rubbles. Welcome to the site which used to be Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok in Chibok Local Government Area of Borno State.

This was the site attacked by fighters of the terror group, Boko Haram, on April 14, 2014 and captured about 219 students - all girls. The girls, in boarding house, were writing their final examination at the time of the attack.

21 of the captives were released in October 2016 after government negotiated with the terror group. Also, on May 17, 2016, one of the girls, identified as Amina Ali, with her four months old baby, named Safiya, and purported husband, said to be a member of Boko Haram, were rescued by the military in what was described as "Operation Crackdown' in Baale village around Sambisa forest. But three years after the midnight attack, about 197 of the girls are still in the custody of Boko Haram, with some of them said to have been married off to the group's fighters or turned into sex slaves.

When Sunday Vanguard visited Chibok last week ahead of the third anniversary of the Boko Haram attack (next Friday), the sight everywhere was one of uneasy calm.

To the residents, the third anniversary is one of mixed feelings. Yes, some of the kidnapped schoolgirls have either been released or rescued. But most of the girls remain in captivity. And to make matters worse, residents said Chibok communities of Kantikari, Pwarangiliim, Kopchi and Takwilashu still come under Boko Haram attacks.

The parents of some of the 197 schoolgirls still in captivity were still pained that three years on, their children had still not been rescued.

They spoke about their anguish to Sunday Vanguard in unmistakable terms. Mr Amos Mustapha is one of such parents. Mustapha gave the name of his abducted child as Ruth. "The parents of the kidnapped schoolgirls would seem to have been scarred for life. Some of us still have our children in captivity. But even those whose children have been rescued or released by Boko Haram are also scarred because the parents will carry the stigma for the rest of their lives," he stated.

"My daughter is the type any parent would wish to have. Brilliant, obedient and dutiful. Since the abduction, we have not heard from her. It is now three years since the incident happened. We don't even know whether she is still alive or dead.

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"All we can say as parents is that God should have mercy. As we speak, our communities of Kautikari and Paya Yesu are still unsafe as Boko Haram continues to attack at will.

"And since the 2014 attack, our children have stopped going to school because no school operates here anymore. No hospital either. Even the little foodstuff we managed to produce have been looted."

Another parent, Mr. Modu Usman, lamented the continued absence of her abducted daughter (name withheld). He said, "Now that Easter is fast approaching, I still reflect on the fact that my daughter will not celebrate the festive period with me as it has been in the last two years.

"My daughter was brilliant and dedicated to God. At a point, she was the choir mistress in our church in Chibok. How I wish I can see even her dead body and bury it, rather than to continue thinking of her condition in the hands of the insurgents on daily basis".

Usman's wife also spoke. She said: "It is even better for me to have had a miscarriage when I was pregnant and I was expecting to be delivered of our abducted child than to experience what we are going through. The incident has affected my health. I became hypertensive two days after the abduction; and, since then, my BP has been on the upswing. There is nothing I can say; it has happened. It is bad, but there is nothing we can do as parents".

Another mother of one of the abducted girls, who gave her name as Habiba Chiroma, said she had never attended any meeting of affected parents with government officials either in Chibok or outside the town, insisting that she would only do so when she was convinced that her only daughter had been rescued.

"Since the abduction of our daughters, we the parents have been invited to Maiduguri or Abuja, but there was never a time my husband and I honoured the invitations. This is because we learnt that some people were using the opportunity to make money. And so we will only go to a meeting with anyone when we are told our daughter has been rescued", Habiba said.

"Although there is no way we the parents can blame the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the inability to rescue our missing daughters, because the incident took place when this government was not in place, the fact remains that government is a continuous process, and all what we can tell the President is that we need our daughters back home".

The District Head of Chibok, Zanna Modu Usman, said that his people, especially the parents of the abducted school girls, will never feel the impact of the military in the fight against insurgency until the girls still held by Boko Haram are rescued and reintegrated into the society.

"It is unfortunate, pityful and disheartening that three years after insurgents stormed Government Girls Secondary School, Chibok and went away with the girls, government and security agencies were yet to live up to expectation", Usman said, lamenting that no amount of government delegations visit to Chibok or assistance to the community will cushion the trauma of the parents and relatives of the abductees.

The traditional ruler spoke during a function organized by Women Peace and Security Network (WPSN), a non-governmental organization (NGO), in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, in remembrance of the missing girls.

Representing the Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Abubakar Ibn Garbai Elkanemi, at the event, he said statistics had shown that in less than four weeks of last year 2016, over 11,000 women and children abducted by the sect were rescued by the military. He stressed: "Unless the 219 schoolgirls are released or rescued, the parents of the girls and the people of Chibok will never understand the superiority of the military over the Boko Haram sect as claimed in some quarters".

Also speaking on the fate of the girls, the Catholic Bishop of Maiduguri Diocese, Most Rev. Oliva Dashe, said security forces should not relent in the operation to rescue the victims.

Meanwhile, the Caretaker Chairman of Chibok Local Government Area, Hon. Yaga Yarakawa, has appealed to the Federal Government and security forces to intensify efforts to rescue the remaining kidnapped girls.

Yarakawa commended President Muhammad Buhari for his commitment towards the fight against insurgency, adding that the negotiation with Boko Haram leaders, which led to the release of 21 of the abducted girls, should be renewed in freed the remaining ones in captivity.

He also commended Governor Kashim Shettima for sponsoring most of the rescued girls, including the 51 others that managed to escape from the terrorists and are now schooling in a schools within and outside the country.

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Mujuru spindoctor injured in brawl with top party colleague – Independent Online

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