#AceWorldNews – CONGO (DRPC) – May 23 – Congolese warlord Germain Katanga has been sentenced to 12 years in jail by the international criminal court for arming an ethnic militia that carried out a village massacre in 2003, AFP reported.
“The chamber sentences Germain Katanga to 12 years in prison,” the presiding judge, Bruno Cotte, told The Hague-based court in its second sentencing since opening in 2003.
The almost seven years that Katanga, 36, has already spent in detention will be deducted from the sentence. Katanga was convicted in March of war crimes and crimes against humanity including murder and pillaging for his role in the attack on Bogoro village in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in February 2003.
The court found that he armed fighters of the Patriotic Resistance Forces in Ituri (FRPI), who carried out the village massacre in which more than 200 people died.
#AceNewsServices – NIGERIA – May 06 – (Reuters) – Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped eight girls aged 12 to 15 from a village near one of their strongholds in north-east Nigeria overnight, police and residents said on Tuesday.
“They were many, and all of them carried guns. They came in two vehicles painted in army colour. They started shooting in our village,” said Lazarus Musa, a resident of Warabe, where the attack happened.
A police source, who could not be named, said the girls were taken away on trucks, along with looted livestock and food.
The Islamist rebels are still holding more than 200 girls they abducted from a secondary school on April 14.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau sent a video – obtained by the AFP news agency – in which he said for the first time that his group had taken the girls.
In the video, Abubakar Shekau said the girls should not have been in school in the first place, but rather should get married.
Reports last week said that some of the girls had been forced to marry their abductors, who paid a nominal bride price of $12 (£7).
Others are reported to have been taken across borders into Cameroon and Chad.
President Goodluck Jonathan has said everything was being done to find the girls.
Boko Haram analyst Jacob Zenn says the girls, aged 16 to 18, have probably been split into smaller groups and it will be hard to track them.
“Any effort to rescue them will have to be done in a very piecemeal fashion and might take over a decade,” he told the BBC’s Newsday programme.
Boko Haram Analyst Jacob Zenn
For the past one and half years Boko Haram has been carrying out kidnappings of girls but this one was on a much larger scale than anything else. It should also be noted that Boko Haram began this tactic when the Nigerian security forces also began kidnapping, or rather taking as prisoners, the wives and children of Boko Haram members.
On an operational level Boko Haram is likely using these girls as human shields and keeping them in their camps which will prevent the Nigerian air force from bombing those camps.
Furthermore there is also the potential monetary reward if Boko Haram can sell some of them back to their parents.
It’s very likely that the girls have been split up into dozens of groups – maybe into twos or threes or fours. Any effort to rescue them will have to be done in a very piecemeal fashion and might take over a decade.
When you look at Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA) in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, they took some girls captive more than a decade ago and some of them still remain captive even though most of them have been freed or escaped.
Contributions from Jacob Zenn is the African Affairs analyst at The Jamestown Foundation
REUTERS – BBC – AFP – JAMES TOWN FOUNDATION
#AceNewsServices – GUINEA – April 05 – (ALJ) – Reports from the agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has confirmed that an angry crowd attacked a treatment centre in Guinea where staff from they were working to contain an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus, forcing it to shut down, a spokesman for the medical charity said.
“We have evacuated all our staff and closed the treatment centre,” Sam Taylor told Reuters news agency on Friday, adding that the attackers in Macenta, around 425km south-east of the capital Conakry, had accused MSF of bringing the disease to the south-eastern town.
“We have the full support of the local leaders and we’re working with the authorities to try and resolve this problem as quickly as possible so we can start treating people again,” he said, declining to give further details of the incident.
FEAR AND MISTRUST
Foreign mining companies have locked down operations and pulled out some international staff in mineral-rich Guinea. French health authorities have also put doctors and hospitals on alert in case people travelling to and from countries in the region pick up the disease.
Ebola, which has killed some 1,500 people since it was first discovered in 1976 in what is now Democratic Republic of Congo, causes vomiting, diahorea and external bleeding. It has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent.
Many health systems in West Africa are poorly equipped to deal with an epidemic and aid workers have warned of the difficulty of fighting infections scattered across several locations and in densely populated areas such as Conakry.
Some blame the government for not immediately quarantining an individual who carried the virus to the capital from the remote south, where the bulk of the 137 cases are concentrated.
Al Jazeera – Business Insider – Reuters
#AceWorldNews – UGANDA – 24 March – At least 98 people died when a boat capsized on Lake Albert, which lies between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on Monday.
“Based on information UNHCR has received so far from the authorities and refugees, 41 people were rescued and 98 bodies recovered” after Saturday’s disaster, AFP said, citing the refugee agency’s statement.
As many as 250 people may have been on board the boat,” the UNHCR said.
The vessel had been transporting Congolese refugees returning to their homeland from Uganda.
BBC: leaked report shows alleged corruption – involving tens of thousands of dollars – was discovered by investigators working for the Global Fund.
When the final report on the case was published, all but one of the allegations had been removed. The Global Fund says it is “transparent and has zero tolerance of corruption”. The Global Fund is one of the biggest providers of international aid and fights malaria, Aids and tuberculosis in the developing world.
In 10 years the fund spent £13.5bn and saved millions of lives, the UK government recently announced it was giving the Global Fund £1bn according to an Internal draft. One official report looking at corruption in projects funded by the Global Fund in Cambodia was published two weeks ago.
But Panorama has obtained a leaked copy of an original internal investigation report from inside the fund.
There are significant differences between what the investigators wrote in the initial, leaked report and what the official one says.
Some of the allegations relate to money sent to a non-profit health organisation called Medicam by a British charity working for the UK government.
In the internal draft seen by Panorama they were accused of double billing for staff and computers, charging more than £61,000 for consultants who were never employed and charging thousands for hotels that were never used.
The leaked report also detailed how investigators found allegedly falsified documents on the office computer of the director of Medicam, Dr Sin Sumony.
In the final report, just one of the four allegations remains.
Bea Edwards, from the Government Accountability Project in Washington, said: “The fact that a report is suppressed for almost a year and then is somewhat less detailed than the original version, that is a cover-up.”
The Global Fund said that “procedural due process made this report take longer than usual” and that only “evidence that can be confirmed as fact is included in the final version”.
The scope of Global Fund investigation reports “should be limited to Global Fund grants”, they said.
Panorama spoke to the director of Medicam, Dr Sumony, who sits on the Global Fund committee that oversees its projects in Cambodia.
“Number one, we did not commit that corruption, number two, through the Global Fund support, their financial management system has improved,” he said.
Dr Sumony confirmed they were about to receive more money from the Global Fund: “This year it is over $720,000.”
Mosquito net ‘scam’
Panorama also obtained an unpublished Global Fund report into corruption in Burkina Faso.
It details an alleged scam involving an £8.3m contract that might have left two million people more vulnerable to malaria.
The BBC’s leaked copy reveals how a company with apparently no experience of supplying mosquito nets won a contract to provide two million of them.
The company took the £8.3m but bought cheaper nets from China that had not been properly treated with insecticide to kill mosquitoes.
The Global Fund announced it was replacing the nets last year and stressed that the nets “while untreated, still give protection”.
The fund said it had “since distributed replacement nets to replace all untreated bed nets“.
It said the investigation would be published when it was complete.
The leaked report shows that the investigation was completed a year ago but still has not been published.
Panorama has seen details of a series of investigations that were started more than a year ago but which have not been published. They reveal potential fraud of £16.5m.
The countries investigated are Niger, Ghana, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Global Fund says it doesn’t comment on open investigations and it expects to report on its findings.
It says the fund is transparent and has zero tolerance of corruption: “Twenty-seven reports have been published in the last 12 months. Standards of disclosure remain exceptionally high.”
Many of the investigations were initiated by the fund’s former inspector general.
In November 2012, John Parsons was sacked for “unsatisfactory” performance.
A year earlier his department had been described in an independent report as “the only risk-mitigation strategy within the Global Fund that has worked”.
Panorama can reveal that before he was dismissed, Mr Parsons wrote to his bosses complaining about “harassment, intimidation and retaliation”.
“Your true intention is to weaken the function, simply because you don’t like what we find and report upon,” he wrote.
Documents from inside the fund show the inspectors felt they were being undermined, saying they were repeatedly told “not to look so deep”.
One said: “The organisation, while parading ‘transparency’ and openness, in practice views disclosure of results as negative, harmful and unwanted.”
The Global Fund says it is “committed to a strong and effective office of the inspector general, and has not tried to weaken it at all”.
Panorama: Where’s Our Aid Money Gone?, BBC One, Monday 2 December at 19:30 GMT and then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.
- Fund suspends contracts over ‘bribes’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Tahir Contributes $65 Million to the Global Fund (newstimeafrica.com)
- Malaria Graft in Cambodia Forces Global Fund to Cancel Mosquito Nets Contract With Two Suppliers (medindia.net)
- Global Fund Reveals Network Of Bribery in Health Ministry (cambodiadaily.com)
- Cambodia: Corruption in the Ministry of Health (crofsblogs.typepad.com)
- Global Fund Bribery Rumors Confirmed (euzicasa.wordpress.com)
- CPP Says ACU Will Investigate Global Fund Corruption (cambodiadaily.com)
- Little Will Be Learned From Global Fund Scandal (cambodiadaily.com)
#AceHumanRightsNews says reiterating its strong condemnation of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its use of children in armed conflict, the Security Council today demanded that the group immediately cease all hostilities, release all abductees’, and disarm and demobilize.
Issuing presidential statement the Council urged the United Nations Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), the UN political and peacekeeping missions in the region, and the Organization’s other relevant presences, to enhance their support for the implementation of the UN Regional Strategy to address the threat and impact of the activities of the LRA. It called on the international community to support the implementation of the Strategy where possible.
The LRA, notorious for carrying out massacres in villages, mutilating its victims and abducting boys for use as child soldiers and forcing girls into sexual slavery, was formed in the 1980s in Uganda and for over 15 years its attacks were mainly directed against Ugandan civilians and security forces, which in 2002 dislodged it. It then exported its activities to Uganda’s neighbours, such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan.
The 15-member body reiterated its strong support for the African Union Regional Cooperation Initiative against the LRA, commending the “significant” progress by the African Union Regional Task Force. It urged all regional Governments to fulfil their commitments under the Initiative and provide basic provisions for their security forces.
Welcoming steps taken to deliver an enhanced, comprehensive and “more regional” approach to the humanitarian situation, the Council underlined the primary responsibility of States in the LRA-affected region to protect civilians. In that context, it welcomed efforts by the DRC, South Sudan, Uganda and the CAR, in coordination with the African Union, to end the LRA threat, urging additional efforts from those countries, as well as others in the region.
Further, the Council expressed serious concern that the increased security vacuum in the CAR continued to negatively affect counter-LRA operations. As LRA attacks have reportedly taken place outside the Task Force’s principal area of operations, it emphasized the need for strong coordination among the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA), the Task Force, and the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA) in the context of protecting civilian activities and counter-LRA operations.
Regionally, the Council encouraged the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) to reinforce efforts to address the LRA through improved responsiveness to imminent civilian threats, training and capacity-building of the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) and implementation of the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation, reintegration, and resettlement programme to encourage further LRA defections.
In addition, the Council urged MONUSCO and the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to enhance their cooperation with the Regional Task Force to coordinate operations, patrols and protection of civilians strategies, and to provide logistical support within their existing mandates and resources. It took note of reports of a LRA base in the disputed enclave of Kafia Kinga, on the border of the Central African Republic, and between South Sudan and Sudan.
New York, Nov 25 2013 7:00PM
- Over 3500 people sign anti-LRA petition (sudantribune.com)
- South Sudan Blames LRA for Deadly Attacks (voanews.com)
- UN Council calls for new fight against Kony’s LRA (nation.co.ke)
- UN Security Council Condemns ‘War Crimes’ Committed By Lord’s Resistance Army (eurasiareview.com)
#AceWorldNews says four people have been arrested for alleged witness tampering in the war crimes trial of former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba, the International Criminal Court (ICC) today announced.
The four men are accused of “corruptly influencing witnesses before the ICC and presenting evidence that they knew to be false or forged,” according to a <“http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/press%20and%20media/press%20releases/Pages/pr962.aspx“>news release from The Hague-based Court.
It is alleged that the suspects were part of a network for the purposes of presenting false or forged documents and bribing certain persons to give false testimony in the case against Mr. Bemba, whose trial started in November 2010.
The four men, arrested today and yesterday following a warrant issued on 20 November by Judge Cuno Tarfusser, include Mr. Bemba’s Lead Counsel Aimé Kilolo Musamba taken into custody by Belgian authorities, and Jean-Jacques Mangenda Kabongo, a member of Mr Bemba’s defence team and case manager, who was arrested in the Netherlands.
The two other men are Fidèle Babala Wandu, a member of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Parliament and Deputy Secretary General of the Mouvement pour la Libération du Congo – who was taken into custody in the DRC – and Narcisse Arido, a Defence witness, who was arrested by French authorities.
“On behalf of the Court, the Registrar of the ICC, Herman von Hebel, expressed his gratitude to the States’ authorities for their cooperation,” the ICC said, adding that these are the first arrests made in relation to such charges before the Court.
Mr. Bemba is the alleged President and Commander-in-Chief of the Mouvement de libération du Congo being tried for two counts of crimes against humanity (rape and murder) and three counts of war crimes (rape, murder and pillaging) allegedly committed in the Central African Republic (CAR).
Established by the Rome Statute of 1998, the ICC can try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002. The Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor or a State Party to the court can initiate any proceedings, and the ICC only acts when countries themselves are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute.
New York, Nov 24 2013 6:00PM
- Bribery suspects held in Bemba’s ICC case (nation.co.ke)
- ICC announces arrests for falsifying evidence in Congo rebel leaders’ war crimes trial (jurist.org)
- Bemba faces trial at the ICC for crimes against humanity (grantgarland520.wordpress.com)
A new £6.3 million grant to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) follows a sharp increase in the number of refugees who have fled fighting and unrest in the North Kivu and Orientale provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo since the start of the year.
Existing aid supplies in the region have been severely depleted following a sharp rise in refugees in the region.
In total, since the beginning of 2012, over 115,000 new Congolese refugees have been assisted in Uganda, with more arriving on a daily basis.
International Development Minister Lynne Featherstone said:
Thousands of families who have fled into Uganda could face hunger and destitution unless aid agencies get the supplies they need. Our support will help families to survive and begin to rebuild their lives.
The UK’s funding will allow UNHCR and WFP to continue their support to refugees in in Bundibugyo, Kisoro and Koboko districts in western Uganda along the border with DRC, including transit centres and settlements.
UNHCR and its partners have provided shelter, household items, healthcare and nutrition, water and sanitation services, and various protection activities for children and adults while the WFP has provided food rations.
Britain’s support will enable the UNHCR and WFP to continue their support into the first quarter of next year. This will include:
- Purchase of full food rations for 105,000 refugees for a period of 3 months.
- Registration, transport, shelter, health services and clean water for 40,000 new arrivals.
- One health centre and one school constructed and opened in Kyangwali refugee settlement.
WFP provides food that is cooked for refugees while they are at the transit centres, and then provides monthly family rations when they are relocated to settlements.
UNHCR supports refugees countrywide through five transit centres and eight settlements in north and southwest Uganda and in Kampala. Over 65 per cent of the more than 234,000 refugees in Uganda are from the DRC with most of the remainder originating from South Sudan, Somalia, Rwanda and Burundi. About 70 per cent of refugees have arrived in the last five years.
- Rwanda charges ex-presidential guard (bbc.co.uk)
- Dr Congo: Hit by Funding Shortfall, Un Agency to Cut Some Food Relief Operations (acefoodnews.com)
- Rwanda charges ex-presidential guard (bbc.co.uk)
- WFP cuts food rations to Kenya’s refugee camps (theeastafrican.co.ke)
- Half a million Somali refugees in Kenya to return home over three years (trust.org)
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently welcomed a declaration, adopted jointly by Governments from Africa’s main timber producing countries, timber industry representatives and civil society organizations, to curb illegal logging in the Congo Basin.
Representatives of six countries – the Republic of the Congo, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon – adopted jointly with timber industry representatives and civil society the “Brazzaville Declaration,” named for the capital city where an international conference on sustainable forestry in the region was held from 21-22 October.
According to FAO, which estimates the net loss of forest in the Congo Basin at some 700,000 hectares per year from 2000-2010, the newly agreed declaration marks an unprecedented commitment towards the sustainable and legal development of the wood industry in the region.
“The Brazzaville Declaration could help slow down the pace of deforestation in the region,” <“http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/203295/icode/“>said Olman Serrano, a forestry officer from FAO.
The Congo Basin, covering an area of 300 million hectares, harbours the world’s second largest rainforest after Amazonia. As a key resource for stabilizing the global climate, however, it is also a major supplier of illegal timber.
According to FAO-backed studies, Congo Basin tree species are generally larger in height than their Amazon counterparts. This suggests that the African rainforest may be a larger carbon storehouse and a crucial resource for productive and sustainable forest management.
“We must ensure that our forest resources contribute to the development of the countries in this region,” said Raymond Mbitikon, Executive Secretary of the Central African Forest Commission (COMIFAC). “This is what the Brazzaville Declaration sets out to achieve.”
An outcome of a long-term debate with key stakeholders in the forest and wood industry, as well as regional and international partners, the Brazzaville Declaration aims to implement measures that improve timber tracking, transparency and forest governance.
- what is really happening in Congo? (emp213563501.wordpress.com)
- Environmental Issues: Dr. Congo ~ Illegal Logging (butterfliesdragonspeace.blogspot.com)
- Rn climate2050-forests (slideshare.net)
- EU to block illegal Indonesia timber (bbc.co.uk)
- Help for Orang Utans, too: Indonesia EU seal pact to stop illegal timber exports! (spiritandanimal.wordpress.com)
- Working wood locally in Congo basin poses challenge (africareview.com)
The Security Council today condemned “in the strongest terms” the attacks by M23 rebels against the United Nations Mission in North Kivu in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), resulting in the death of a Tanzanian peace keeper.
In a statement to the press, the members of the Security Council expressed their condolences to the family of the peace keeper killed in the attack, as well as to the Government of Tanzania and to the UN mission, known by the French acronym, MONUSCO.
Council members also called on the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo swiftly to investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“They also expressed their condolences for the loss of civilian lives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and in Rwanda following shells landing on its territory,” the statement says, stressing that the members of the Council reiterated their full support for MONUSCO and called on all parties to cooperate fully with the mission.
The Council in its statement echoes a similar expression of condemnation by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon who yesterday pledged the Organization’s ongoing commitment to take “all necessary actions” to protect civilians in the country.
According to UN chief’s statement, the attacks occurred as MONUSCO supported action being carried out by Congolese Government Forces (FARDC) to protect civilians on the Kiwanja-Rutshuru axis, 25 kilometres north of Goma, which the main city in the vast country’s eastern region.
Further to the statement, Mr. Ban said the UN remains committed to taking all necessary actions in line with Security Council resolution 2098 (2013) to protect civilians in eastern DRC.
By that resolution, adopted in late March, the Council approved the creation of its first-ever “offensive” combat force, intended to carry out targeted operations to “neutralize and disarm” the notorious M23, as well as other Congolese rebels and foreign armed groups in the east.
In the past year, clashes have continued sporadically throughout the DRC’s eastern region, with rebels briefly occupying Goma, in November 2012. The fighting has displaced more than 100,000 people, exacerbating an ongoing humanitarian crisis in the region which includes 2.6 million internally displaced persons and 6.4 million in need of food and emergency aid.
- UN to hold emergency DR Congo talks (skynews.com.au)
- UN Envoy Says M23 Is Weakened Militarily in Eastern Congo (voanews.com)
- UN Council to hold emergency DR Congo talks (africareview.com)
- Rebels retreat from eastern Congo base (worldbulletin.net)
- U.N. peacekeeper killed in Congo (edition.cnn.com)