Foreign News

 
 
 

Nigerian insecurity requires urgent attention, U.N.warns

 

ABUJA (Reuters)

Nigeria’s multiple security problems have created a crisis that requires urgent attention and could lead to instability in other African countries if it is not addressed, a United Nations rapporteur said on Monday.

Security forces in Africa’s most populous country are trying to tackle a decade-long Islamist insurgency in the northeast, banditry in the northwest and bloody clashes between nomadic herdsmen and farming communities over dwindling arable land in central states.

Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said Nigeria was a “pressure cooker of internal conflict”.

“The overall situation I have found is one of extreme concern,” she told a news conference in the capital, Abuja, where she presented her preliminary findings following a 12-day visit to the country.

Callamard said the police and military had shown an excessive use of lethal force across the West African country which, combined with a a lack of effective investigations and meaningful prosecution, caused a lack of accountability.

She said the country required changes in the judiciary, police and military to stop people resorting to violence in the absence of justice.

“The lack of accountability is on such a scale that pretending this is nothing short of a crisis will be a major mistake. If ignored, its ripple effect will spread in the sub-region given the country’s important role in the continent,” she said.

Spokesman for the ministries of justice, military and police did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on Callamard’s findings.

The Islamist insurgency waged by Boko Haram began in northeast Nigeria in 2009 but has spread to parts of neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger where members of the group and militants allied to Islamic State carry out attacks.

The rapporteur also condemned what she said was the “arbitrary deprivation of life” and the excessive use of lethal force in the case of processions held by banned Shi’ite Muslim group the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.

Callamard said the move to ban the group appeared be based on what the authorities thought IMN could become rather than its actions. She said she had not been presented with any evidence to suggest the group was weaponised and posed a threat to the country.

 
 

Zimbabwe state doctors go on strike over pay

 
 
 

 

HARARE (Reuters)

Zimbabwe’s public sector doctors went on strike on Tuesday after the government failed to meet their demand to have their wages benchmarked in the U.S. dollar.

“We met with the government representatives yesterday and they promised to expedite other allowances for health personnel but so far it has just been empty promises,” Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association president Peter Magombeyi told Reuters.

 
 

Former Congo health minister questioned over Ebola spending

 
 
 

 

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters)

Democratic Republic of Congo’s former health minister has been questioned by police over his management of funds in the country’s response to the Ebola epidemic, his lawyers said on Monday.

They denied any wrongdoing by Oly Ilunga and said no formal accusations had been made against him relating to the Ebola response. Any allegations, they said, would be “unfounded (and) without basis in evidence”.

Ilunga oversaw the government’s response to the outbreak, the second deadliest in history, for nearly a year. He was stripped by the presidency of that responsibility in July and resigned from the government days later.

In his resignation letter, he sharply criticised the new government team overseeing the response and what he said was pressure by health officials and outside groups to introduce a second vaccine to combat the epidemic.

Ilunga’s lawyers, Guy Kabeya and Willy Ngashi, said their client was first summoned by the police in July to respond to accusations by a health official that Ilunga had abused his authority and misappropriated funds unrelated to Ebola.

Then, late last month, after three of the advisers had been detained for unknown reasons, they said, Ilunga was questioned about his role managing the Ebola response and the circumstances of his resignation, the lawyers said in a statement.

They said police asked Ilunga to provide documentation regarding payments made to village chiefs in return for work they did spreading information about Ebola as well as monthly bonuses distributed to ministry employees.

A police spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Foreign donors have provided more than $150 million in funding to the Ebola response over the past year, but the United Nations has said hundreds of millions of dollars more are needed.

Speaking during a visit on Sunday to the town where the current outbreak started, U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said only 15% of pledges made to the response had been paid out so far.

“That means there is a liquidity problem in the response, which is extremely serious. And when there is no cash, even if there are promises, the Ebola response stops,” Guterres said.

The outbreak has so far killed 2,031 people and infected 1,000 more. Only the 2013-16 epidemic in West Africa, which killed more than 11,300, was deadlier.

 
 

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