Shifting from Peacekeeping to Peacebuilding in Darfur
Sudan has called on the United Nations Security Council to lift its suspension of troop withdrawals and ensure all peacekeepers leave Darfur by June 2020 as well as end restrictions on the government’s movement of arms and troops in and out of the region. However, the African Union said overall security in the vast western region “remains volatile.” The UN currently has almost 5,600 so-called Blue Helmets in Darfur, though plans had been in place to reduce the force’s size to 4,050. The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination. In late June, the Security Council voted unanimously to put the brakes on the withdrawal of the joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force from Darfur, as the country dealt with a political crisis. It extended the mandate of the force, known as UNAMID, until October 31, and it asked the UN and AU to make recommendations by September 30 on what the council should do about continuing the withdrawal.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA
Calls to Make South Africa’s Booming Food Delivery Market Safer
Migrants around the world have long signed up for dangerous jobs, but experts warn that the gig economy makes it even harder for the authorities to monitor working conditions and enforce labor laws. According to the Motorcycle Safety Institute, a local organization that collects accident statistics, at least 70 delivery riders — most of them food couriers — have died in South Africa over the past year. Hundreds more have been injured. In South Africa, the dangers of being a food courier are particularly acute. The country is infamous for its high rates of traffic mortality, with more than twice as many fatalities per 100,000 people in 2016 than in the United States, according to the World Health Organization. Last year, Uber Eats introduced free insurance coverage in South Africa, including for emergency medical care and payouts for death and disability. But the payouts are capped at about $13,000 — and riders qualify for them only when they are on active trips, not if they are returning from a delivery.
SOURCE: THE NEW YORK TIMES
Nigeria Called Out for Treatment of Former Trafficked Victims
In a new Human Rights Watch report titled ‘You Pray for Death:’ Trafficking of Young Women and Girls in Nigeria, reserachers said many rescued victims on their return are kept in “abhorrent” conditions in Nigerian shelters similar to those they faced when they were trafficked. The report said though Nigeria has taken steps to address trafficking problems in the country by signing on to international laws and creating shelters, authorities have failed to provide adequate resources that survivors need to rebuild their lives. Some of the women told HRW they were detained in government-owned shelters run by NAPTIP for months without adequate food, toiletries and medical care. Others said they were kept in closed shelters and denied access to their families. They also told HRW they were kept in the dark about their rehabilitation process and officials did not give them information on when they would be reunited with their families. HRW said the report was based on field research between 2017 and 2018, which included interviews with 76 trafficked victims, experts, NGOs and authorities working with survivors in Nigeria. However, officials from NAPTIP’S public education unit said the report did not capture many aspects of their work in rehabilitating trafficked victims.
SOURCE: CNN | HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Kenya’s Wonder Source of Biofuel
Currently, there are about 50 biogas digesters slated for Kenya, these machines transform a mix of water hyacinth and cow dung into biogas for cooking, as well as material for other household tasks such as incubating chicks and purifying water. In Dunga, some are connected to multiple family stoves so that altogether they produce enough gas to serve about 60% of the village’s population. Water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), an aquatic plant native to South America, first appeared in countries in Africa in the early 1900s. Scientists there dubbed it the “world’s worst aquatic weed”, after it spread from the Cape in the early 1900s and started clogging up major dams and rivers. In east Africa, the nefarious invader arrived with Belgian colonists in Rwanda, who liked the look of its glossy leaves and delicate purple flowers floating in their garden ponds. It turns out the floating plant isn’t just good at being abundant – its foliage also contains a high ratio of carbon to nitrogen. It’s a magic combination that has captivated researchers’ imaginations since as early as the 1980s when, across the world, they began to explore its potential as a biofuel. Just about 4kg of the dried plant was enough to cater for a large family’s daily energy needs, early research predicted.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
Cape Verdean Singer Remembered in a Google Doodle
Cesária Évora, the Cape Verdean singer who became known as the “Barefoot diva”, is being remembered in a special Google Doodle on what would have been her 78th birthday. Born on 27 August, 1941, Évora took up singing as a girl, and as an adult began her career by performing at bars in her hometown of Mindelo. After several years of singing without financial success, she was eventually spotted by former musician and record producer José da Silva, who urged her to record her music in France.Genre-wise, Évora specialised in morna, the traditional music style of Cape Verde. Her songs typically had melancholic, poetic undertones. One of her most famous songs is a recording of the coladeira song “Sodade”, which encapsulates the nostalgia of emigrants from Cape Verde. Évora was an ambassador for the United Nations’ World Food Programme, a humanitarian food-assistance initiative that delivers food in emergency situations and works to improve nutrition in communities around the world.
SOURCE: THE INDEPENDENT
Malawi’s Initiative to Nurture and Encourage Future Female Scientists
One hundred teenage girls from high schools in Malawi recently attended a “Girls in Science” camp at the Malawi University of Science and Technology, known as MUST. The nine-day yearly camp, which has taken place since 2016, aims to develop their interest in fields long considered male-dominated. “The science camp has been organized in the background that in Malawi we have a lot of girls. Actually when we go to the population, 52 percent of Malawi population is female, but when we go through the landscape of science and technologies and innovation, you find that the number of females is lower,” said Davies Mweta who chairs the committee which organized this year’s camp. During this period, female science students and other role models at the university shared their experiences with the campers. The campers developed skills in water resource management, making traffic robots, manufacturing and computer applications.
U.S. Disillusioned with the State of Zimbabwe
A senior State Department official said, “The disappointment just keeps getting worse and worse, unfortunately. The government seems to be getting even more violent in their response to any form of opposition.” The official said Washington had made clear to the government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa what it would take to improve relations between Zimbabwe and the United States. Officials have previously called on Mnangagwa to change Zimbabwe’s laws restricting media freedom and allowing protests. In March, President Donald Trump extended by one year U.S. sanctions against 100 entities and individuals in Zimbabwe, including Mnangagwa, saying his government had failed to bring about political and economic changes.
SOURCE: REUTERS AFRICA
Algeria Feels the Pinch of Protests
On the face of it, Algeria’s state-dominated economy has weathered six months of turmoil well, with flightloads of public sector workers heading abroad for holidays even as protesters who ousted the veteran president in April now target his allies. But business, and leisure, as usual for the North African country’s army of state employees masks a growing economic drama behind the standoff between political, business, labour and military elites and those determined to force them out. The country’s rich oil and gas resources are still flowing, but thousands of jobs are on the line and growth is stuttering in an economy where official data shows one in four of the under-30s, who form 70 percent of the population, is unemployed.
SOURCE: AFRICA NEWS
Bringing Back a Species from the Brink of Extinction
Najin is one of the last two northern white rhinos on the planet. As part of an ambitious plan to bring back the subspecies, her eggs were successfully harvested, to be used in IVF with the sperm of a deceased northern white rhino male. An international team that included the Dvůr Králové Zoo, the Kenya Wildlife Service, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, and Avantea, an Italian animal reproduction lab, devised a scheme to regenerate the northern white rhino population through in vitro fertilization, a process in which egg and sperm are fertilized outside the body. In preparation for attempting the procedure on Fatu and Najin, the team honed their extraction skills by practicing extracting eggs from scores of southern white rhinos. It’s a delicate process because of the risk posed by anesthesia and the presence of nearby large blood vessels. Upon completing the procedure, the team rushed the retrieved eggs to a mobile laboratory fashioned from a shipping container. The team will now wait to see which egg cells mature and fertilize them with frozen northern white rhino semen. Should the fertilized eggs develop into embryos, the scientists will cryopreserve them until they perfect their technique for transferring them into a southern white rhino surrogate.
SOURCE: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Uganda Airlines Takes Off
The country relaunched its national carrier hoping to take a slice of the East African aviation business that is dominated by Ethiopian Airlines. Officials are banking on its emerging oil industry and the traditional tourism sector to generate international traffic to sustain the airline. “We undertake to be a world class airline that will exceed customer expectations through high quality service,” Ugandan Airlines Chief Executive Ephraim Bagenda said at a ceremony at Entebbe, the country’s sole international airport. Though air traffic in Africa is forecast to grow 6 percent a year, twice as quickly as mature markets, over the next two decades, most state-owned flag carriers on the continent are losing money. The airline will initially fly to seven regional destinations in Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, South Sudan, and Burundi.