76 Groups Urge Liberia To Prosecute Human Rights Abuses Committed During War

The George M. Weah Administration in the West African of Liberia is coming under increased pressure to prosecute those responsible for and accused of human rights abuses during the country’s civil war.

Liberia-Guinea Map
Map of Liberia

In a press release issued in Geneva over the weekend and copied to the West African Journal Magazine, 76 local and international groups and non-governmental organizations, in a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee say, “The Liberian government should undertake fair and credible prosecutions of international crimes committed during its two civil wars…”

In its submission, the groups noted that “…Although the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Liberia in 2009 recommended a war crimes court to investigate and try people responsible for grave violations of international law, Liberia has never moved ahead with this recommendation. The few cases addressing civil war-era atrocities have occurred outside Liberia, notably in Europe and the United States…”

In March, the Deputy UN Secretary General, at a program marking the end of the UN Mission to stabilize Liberia following its wars, told President Weah and his government to address the recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Final Report as a way to move forward from its past.

The submission presented by the 76 groups identifies steps to be taken without delay by the Liberian government to help ensure accountability for serious crimes in Liberia, to be considered by the Human Rights Committee. It also makes recommendations for additions and changes to the commission’s proposed court to enable fair and credible trials, the release said.

“The Liberian government should swiftly establish a committee to develop a roadmap for justice for grave crimes,” Ms. Elise Keppler, associate international justice director at Human Rights Watch said, adding,  “Liberia should also support efforts by third countries to bring universal jurisdiction cases for civil war-era crimes.”

Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier
Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier

Liberia’s TRC Final Report contained  major findings related to the root causes of the country’s conflict, the impact of the conflict on women, children and the generality of the Liberian society; responsibility for the massive commission of Gross Human Rights Violations (GHRV), and violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Other findings relate to International Human Rights Law and Egregious Domestic Law Violations (EDLV).

The report also made determinations and recommendations for Criminal Prosecution for these violations, Reparations and a “Palava Hut” Forum address impunity, promote peace, justice, security, unity and genuine national reconciliation.

The statement is a nudge to Liberia to be decisive and commit to implementation its own TRC report which has been ignored since the body completed its work in 2009.

The international community has signaled that it is prepared to assist Liberia with setting up a prosecutorial mechanism for war crimes accused.

President George M. Weah of Liberia
President George M. Weah of Liberia

The Weah Administration has not signaled any commitment to implementation of the TRC report, citing it as a low priority.

According to Nushin Sarkarati, a senior staff attorney at the Center for Justice and Accountability, “People in Liberia are taking to the streets and insisting their leaders take steps to ensure justice for past crimes,” adding, “The victims and families deserve to see perpetrators held to account.”

TRC Final Report – Liberia

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

 

Former Liberian Rebel NPFL Spokesman Tom Woewiyu Facing Prosecution In Philadelphia

A one time close associate of former Liberian rebel leader turned President Charles Taylor is facing federal prosecutors in a court room in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA beginning Monday, July 11th.

Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu

Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu, a former Defense Minster of the now disbanded rebel National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) goes on trial on immigration fraud charges and for failing to disclose his involvement in one of the most brutal civil conflagration in Liberia, West Africa in the 1990s.

Woewiyu allegedly hid critical information from U.S. Immigration authorities when he applied for citizenship in 2006. He traveled regularly to Liberia from the U.S.

Court documents quote federal prosecutors as saying, ““Perhaps no other member of the NPFL save for Charles Taylor was more prominent in the public sphere…”

Woewiyu, a resident of Collingdale since the 1970’s, was a major actor in the rebel invasion which was launched on Christmas eve 1989 in northern Liberia. He is remembered to prosecuting the advance of the war towards the Liberian capital as spokesperson for the NPFL in daily interviews he gave to the BBC Focus on Africa program with Robin White.

Terrified residents across Liberia cowering in fear during curfew hours listened to the BBC for accounts of the rebel advance. Major human rights organizations have recounted thousands of rebel and government troops atrocities in areas under their control.

Former Rebel NPFL Leader Charles Taylor

Five American Catholic missionaries were killed by rebel forces during the rebel invasion in Gardnersville on the outskirts of the capital Monrovia. An estimated 250,000 people were killed and another 1 million others displaced internally and externally, making the conflict one of the worst in human history. Thousands of Liberians and Sierra Leonens were maimed by marauding rebels.

On October 15, 1992, Taylor’s NPFL launched a vicious attack on the Liberian capital and West African peacekeepers with the aim of capturing it and installing himself as President. The sustained attack was beaten back by the peacekeepers with assistance from the a small but highly trained militia group known as the Black Berets who were loyal to the then Interim Government of National Unuty (IGNU) led by Professor Dr. Amos Sawyer.

In their retreat, NPFL forces kidnapped civilians who were taken to their bases in Kakata and Gbarnga. Casualties of the Octopus assault are still unknown.

Map of Liberia

West African countries whose citizens were targeted by the NPFL intervened with the insertion of peacekeeping forces in Liberia to stem the bloodletting and humanitarian disaster in 1990. A number of peace conferences involving the various warring factions ultimately led to a Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the establishment of an interim mechanism to lead the country to national elections which Charles Taylor won in 1997.

However, more instability ensued and Taylor was forced out of power in August, 2003 under pressure from advancing rebels and the international community. Taylor was indicted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL).

In 2006 the Sirleaf administration formally requested Taylor’s extradition from Nigeria.

Taylor was arrested as he fled Nigeria, transferred to the Hague and prosecuted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). He was found guilty on 11 charges including terror, rape, war crimes and crimes against humanity in April, 2012 and sentenced to fifty years in jail. He is currently serving his sentence in a UK jail.

Liberia underwent 14 years of bloody back-to-back conflicts between 1989 – 2003, with spill over of the conflict over into neighboring Sierra Leone.

A UN Mission took over security and provided humanitarian support for Liberia beginning 2003 and successfully completed its mission on March 30, 2018 following the democratic elections.

Another war actor who was residing in the suburb of Philadelphia Mohammed Jabbateh known by the non-de-guerre “Jungle Jabbah” was picked by US Immigration and prosecuted by federal authorities also for immigration fraud charges.

He was convicted and is serving a 30 year jail sentence after which he will be deported to Liberia.

Flag of Liberia

Meantime, the new Weah Administration in Liberia is facing growing calls for fully implementing recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) including the establishment of a local war crimes court to prosecute individuals named as bearing the most responsibility for atrocities committed during the civil wars.

At a program on March 30th marking the closing of the UN Mission in Liberia, the Deputy UN Secretary General told the Liberian government to handle “unfinished business” of national reconciliation and the constitution including the establishment of a war crimes court.

But the current Liberian government and its supporters have signaled that the establishment of a war crimes court is not a priority, citing risk to the fragile “peace” in the country.

Woewiyu has denied the US government allegations against him.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal

UN Pressures Liberia To Implement TRC Report

Liberia – TRC Full ReportThe new Weah administration in Liberia has been put on official notice by a representative of the United Nations regarding the implementation of recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

DSG Amina Mohammed
UN Deputy Sec General Amina Mohammed

Addressing a National Peace Conference in the capital Monrovia on Thursday, the Deputy UN Chief said, “…It is also critical to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation, and for the legislature to pass key bills that will support local inclusion and reconciliation.. These would be timely measures that would assure Liberians that there is strong resolve to see a conclusion to the process…”

Madam Amina Mohammed who is visiting Liberia as representative of the UN to participate in the official end of the UN Mission in the West African country told the conference that, “…To ensure reconciliation and a peaceful and prosperous future, it will be crucial to deepen efforts to address the underlying causes of conflict in Liberia” adding that ” Prevention is critical in averting a relapse into violence.”

The country was plunged into one of modern day’s most brutal armed conflict beginning December, 1989 with a rebel invasion led by now convicted former President Charles Taylor.

An estimated 250,000 people died and another 1.5 million others were internally and externally dislocated. Neighboring counties also saw a spill-over of the Liberian armed strife on to their territories. Thousands others were maimed, raped and mutilated by bands of militias.

UNMIL Peacekeepers From Nigeria
UNMIL Peacekeepers From Nigeria

Following peace talks and cessation of hostilities among warring parties in Liberia, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was set up after UN Security Council Resolution 1509 passed on September 19, 2003.

The UNMIL office was charged with supporting the implementation of the cease-fire agreement and the peace process; protecting United Nations staff, facilities and civilians; supporting humanitarian and human rights activities; as well as assist in national security reform, including national police training and formation of a new, restructured military.

With the gradual consolidation of peace, global body, in 2015, ordered the phased drawn down of peacekeepers. Initial troop strength was 15,000. Total UNMIL fatalities in the Liberian theater was 202 peacekeepers.

UNMIL formally ends its mission on March 30, 2018.

In its final report, the country’s TRC recommended the following leaders of warring factions for prosecution for human rights violations, including violations of international humanitarian laws, war crimes and egregious domestic laws of Liberia and economic crimes:

Charles Taylor – NPFL 

Prince Y. Johnson – INPFL 

*Roosevelt Johnson – ULIMO – J 

Alhaji G. V. Kromah – ULIMO – K 

George Boley – LPC 

Thomas Yahya Nimley – MODEL 

Sekou Damate Konneh – LURD 

*Francois Masssaquoi – LDF 

War lords Roosevelt Johnson and Francois Massaquoi are deceased. LPC militia leader George Boley was picked up by the Federal U.S. authorities in 2010 on immigration charges and subsequently deported to Liberia.

Several alleged human rights violators from the Liberian war have been identified and are facing prosecution in the US and Europe.

Emmanuel “Chuckie” Taylor, son of former President Charles Taylor – sentenced to 97 years  in prison in January, 2009 in a major torture case that grew out of a US investigation into arms trafficking in Liberia.

Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu – a former Defense Chief  and spokesperson for Taylor’s rebel faction and legislator in Liberia. He was picked up in Philadelphia in 2014 and is facing immigration fraud charges. Trial is pending.

Agnes Reeves Taylor – ex wife of former President Taylor was arrested in June, 2017 in the UK and accused of torture and war crime offenses and goes to trial in October, 2018.

Martina Johnson – a former commander in Taylor’s rebel militia who was arrested in Belgium in 2012 and is awaiting prosecution.

Colonel Moses Thomas – a former Presidential guard commander who has had civil suit brought against him in Philadelphia by survivors of a church massacre in 1990 in Liberia.

Alieu Kosiah – a ULIMO rebel commander/ fighter who was arrested in Switzerland in 2014 and accused of war atrocities. He prosecution is pending

Isaac Kannah – charged in an October 2012 indictment with perjury and obstruction of justice for lying in deportation proceedings of George Boley. He was arrested on January 10, 2017, by Immigration and Homeland Security in Philadelphia.

Mohammed “Jungle Jabbah” Jabbateh – former Liberian rebel fighter convicted of immigration charges in October, 2018 in Philadelphia and accused of horrific crimes during the war.

An international investigator based in Washington DC says they are pursuing other alleged perpetrators around the world for arrest and prosecution.

Former President Charles Taylor
Former President Charles Taylor

Among several recommendations  advanced in the 370 page TRC report, several Liberians associated with warring faction leaders, their leaders, political decision makers, financiers , organizers, commanders and foot soldiers were recommended for public sanctions.

These individuals were to be barred from holding public office; elected or appointed for a period of thirty (30) years when the TRC Final Report was issued in June, 2009.

Allen Brown Sr.

Randall Cooper

Ethelbert Cooper

Toga McIntosh Gayewea

Jackson E. Doe

D. Bob Taylor

Dew Mason

Nyan Menten

Clarence Simpson

Harry Yuan

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Isaac Nyenabo

Kabineh Ja’neh

Archie Williams

Tonia King

J. Apollo Swen

Mr. Gayewea is a senior adviser to current President George Weah. Mr. Nyenabo was appointed by former President Johnson Sirleaf in February, 2015 as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary accredited to the Kingdom of Belgium with accreditations to the European Union, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. Associate Justice Ja’neh currently serves on Liberia’s highest court, the Supreme Court.

A current and close advisor in the orbit of President George Weah is Liberian businessman Mr. Emmanuel Shaw who was named in the TRC Report for further investigation.

Also listed for investigation is the current Liberian Ambassador to the United Nations Mr. Lewis G. Brown. Both men are associated with convicted warlord and former President Charles Taylor.

A prominent Taylor associate and militia combatant during the civil war Robert R. G. Bright was this week appointed by President Weah as a Cabinet level Economic Advisor.

DSG Amina Mohammed
UN Deputy Sec Gen Amina Mohammed Meets President George Weah

A prominent international war and economic crime investigator and source says they are concerned about the resurfacing of Taylor associates in the Weah Administration and want to know whether Taylor is still involved in the Liberian political theater.

An ex-wife of Taylor is the current Vice President of Liberia. Madam Jewel Howard Taylor was hand picked by President Weah as his running mate in the 2018 Presidential election. Although President Weah has denied any on-going communication with Taylor, observers says they are puzzled by the stocking of the Weah Administration with Taylor linkages.

A diplomatic source says international partners have privately warned President Weah about any connections he may be entertaining with Taylor.

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia map
Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

Diplomatic and international pressure are being ramped up on the new Weah Administration to be decisive and commit to implementing the TRC recommendations.

The Sirleaf Administration and prior Legislature failed to implement the recommendations, citing risk to national cohesion following years of back to back wars. Observers and activists , however, say, failure to fully implement the recommendations is not an option since they represent the only sure way of holding war perpetrators accountable for their roles and genuine reconciliation.

A former warlord and from the northeastern political sub-division of Nimba County Prince Johnson is a sitting legislator who has vowed to resist any attempt to prosecute him for alleged war crimes. Johnson who led the erstwhile  rebel militia known as the Independent National Patriotic Front (INPFL)  is responsible for the capture, torture of former Liberian President Samuel K. Doe and civilians in September, 1990 at the height of the conflict.

Main rebel leader Charles Taylor who won controversial Presidential elections served between 1997 – 2003 but was forced to step down from office by sustained rebel attacks and international pressure. He fled to Nigeria under a brokered deal but was eventually indicted by the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone War Survivors
Sierra Leone War Survivors

Nigeria, under pressure from the U.S., agreed to turn Taylor over to the Court.

He was subsequently arrested and tried in Netherlands and convicted of ” aiding and abetting, as well as planning, some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history” and sentenced in May, 2012 to fifty years in jail.

Taylor who is serving his sentence at a UK facility, may die in prison due to his age and length of the sentence.

Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier
Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier

In 2017, the former head of Liberia’s TRC and human rights lawyer Counselor Jerome Verdier, who fled Liberia for fear of his life, after issuance of the TRC Final Report released a statement in which he said, “…We are glad that the international arrests, detentions, deportations and travels ban of these war and economic crimes perpetrators will continue until they are eventually prosecuted for their heinous and egregious  crimes against human kind. There will be no hiding place. Not anymore..”

President Weah has not indicated if he will fully implement the TRC recommendations.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Liberia: Airport Management Threatens To Shoot Thieves Then Clarifies And Apologizes

LAA Shoot Order
LAA Shoot Order
LAA Clarification
LAA Clarification

 

 

The new administration in Liberia has been criticized for its latest mis-step- “an authorization to the Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) to shoot at sight, anyone who attempts to steal any of the navigation equipment, within the aerodome or on the airside of the Roberts International Aiport(RIA).”

LAA
Liberia Airport Authority

Under the signature of the Liberia Airport Authority (LAA), the agency of the Liberian Government which is responsible for the supervision and management of all airports and their facilities except Air Traffic Control, Fire and Rescue, Security and Meterology, a public notice issued Tuesday said the agency, in collaboration with the country’s military, was adopting additional security measures to secure the premises of the country’s international airport from unlawful interferences.

The surprising and draconian decision by the Liberian government agency, considered as extra-judicial and having the propensity to draw the military into the potential killing of citizens for alleged theft said that there would be, “stringent patrols by armed men of the AFL at every entry point of the aerodome or airside of the RIA.”

Apparently, there is ongoing theft of airport navigational equipment by unknown individuals.

Security forces in Liberia in the past have been accused of gross human rights abuse and killing of citizens. A new professional national army was trained and stood up with assistance from international partners including the United States and the United Nations, following back to back wars in the 90s in the West African country.

Liberian activists and ordinary citizens took to social media and local call in talk shows to heavily criticize the decision of the country’s airport authority to issue an order to “shoot on sight” would be thieves who would unlawfully enter the premises of the international airport.. Some social media posters described the order as a repeat of past ses and called for it to be rescinded immediately.

Roberts_International_Airport
Roberts International Airport

The Liberian Defense Ministry quickly issued a statement distancing itself from the statement of the LAA, saying, ” …The AFL only take marching order from the AFL Command.”

In less than a day, the LAA clarified its earlier pronouncement saying, “the new security measures at the Roberts International Airport is actually not intended to harm or kill anyone as it has been misconstrued.”

In its attempt to clarify its position, the LAA Management , in a press statement issued late on Wednesday, said, ” These new security meansures as contained in the Announcement are only intended to deter interferences with the aerodome which sometimes lead to thefts of valuable navigational equipment…”

The LAA said, ” Anyone found trespassing within the Security Restricted Areas of the Airport will be arrested and dealt with in keeping with the Laws of Liberia…” and apologized for any embarrassment caused.

Political Map of Liberia
Political Map of Liberia

Some Liberians are calling for the dismisal of the Management of the airport authority; calling the initial statement to “shoot and kill’ reckless.

There has been no reaction from the Executive Mansion on the firestorm of the latest mis-step.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

Amnesty International (AI) 2018 Report Cites West African Countries

AI 2017-2018 Report

The international London based non-governmental organization dedicated to human rights advocacy worldwide has released its 2017-2018 State of the World’s Human Rights Report. Amnesty International (AI), in releasing its report, noted that, ” over the past year, leaders have pushed hate, fought against rights, ignored crimes against humanity, and blithely let inequality and suffering spin out of control. This provoked mass protests, showing that while our challenges may never be greater, the will to fight back is just as strong.”

West Africa Regional Map
West Africa Regional Map

Globally, AI affirmed that world leaders abandoned human rights but that although their report is shocking, people across the world have come together to stand and make their voices heard. Among the 159 countries covered in the report were countries in West African which include Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and the Gambia.

Sierra Leone:

According to AI, “Restrictions were imposed on the rights to freedom of expression, of peaceful assembly and of association. Hundreds of people died and thousands were left homeless following a mud-slide. Prison conditions fell far below international standards. Pregnant girls were excluded from school.”

Sierra Leone President Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma
Sierra Leone President Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma

A human rights campaigner Abdul Fatoma and several local journalists were either arrested or summoned for criticism of the Ernest Bai Koroma Government. Prison conditions in the West African country are below international standards and over-crowded. Pregnant girls are unable to return to mainstream, education and civil society groups have asked the government to resume access for them.

The death penalty continues to be handed down with the conviction of six police officers who were “…sentenced to death by firing squad for conspiracy and robbery with aggravation..”

A mud-slide disaster in the capital Freetown in August, 2017 killed over 400 people. There has been no formal investigation or report on the cause of the disaster and survivors are struggling to make ends meet.

The Sierra Leone government, during the reporting period, rejected over 100 recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission which included the abolition of the death penalty. President Koroma is stepping down in March after two terms as President. The opposition led by a former military officer is hoping to succeed him while the President and the ruling party have hand picked a staunch ally of President Koroma to succeed him.

The international community has warned against campaign violence in the country in the lead up the elections in March.

Guinea:

In Guinea, “The security forces continued to use excessive force against demonstrators.Journalists, human rights defenders and others expressing dissent were arbitrarily arrested. Impunity was widespread. The right to adequate housing was not fulfilled,” AI says.

Guinean Pres Alpha Condé
Guinean Pres Alpha Condé

Freedom of Assembly and right to freedom of speech were curtailed by the government. 18 deaths were reported and dozens others injured by crackdown against demonstrations by the Alpha Conde government.Long delayed local elections were recently held and the government won a majority of the seats with the opposition crying foul.The country’s National Assembly adopted legislation which could effectively abolish the death penalty when it becomes law.

Security members accused of rights abuses were not held accountable, according to the report.

Liberia:

In Liberia, AI reports that, “Domestic violence, and sexual violence against women and girls remained widespread. Impunity for human rights violations persisted. Prison conditions did not meet international standards and individuals were frequently held in prolonged pre-trial detention.” The report cited Liberia for failing to implement the recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) which was set up as part of the Accra Peace Conference to review human rights abuses and war crimes committed during the country’s civil war. To date, there has been no movement towards the setting up of a war crimes commission to criminally prosecute those identified as bearing the most responsibility for atrocities committed.

Liberia President George M. Weah
Liberia President George M. Weah

On Freedom of Expression, the report mentions the introduction of a bill in the National Legislature to de-criminalize libel offences by journalists. Women and girls continue to be subjected to sexual and domestic violence, genital mutilation practices, rape and childhood marraiges. Gay people in Liberia, the report said, continue to experience discrimination, harassment and threats.

The new Weah Administration which was inaugurated in January is under local and international pressure to address the implementation of the TRC recommendations, a declining economy, provision jobs for young people and basic amenities.

Cote d’Ivoire

AI says, “Around 200 detainees, loyal to former President Laurent Gbagbo, awaited trial in connection with post-electoral violence in 2010 and 2011. Killings in the context of mutinies and clashes between demobilized soldiers and security forces were un-investigated. The rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly were restricted; some protests were prohibited. Simone Gbagbo, wife of former President Gbagbo, was acquitted of crimes against humanity and war crimes.The ICC tried Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé.”

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara
Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara

Legislation to clamp down on free and critical expression which offended President Alassane Ouattarra and promoted ” fake news” was introduced and adopted. The government arrested and tried supporters of former President Laurent Gbagbo. They were accused of human rights violations while supporters of the current President faced no account for rights abuses.

Mutinees by security forces including demobilized soldiers led to the deaths of over 10 persons and scores of others were wounded during AI’S reporting period.

Gambia:

In the Gambia, which saw the democratic removal of long time dictator Yahya Jammeh, AI reports that, ” The new government committed to reforming several repressive laws and reforming the security forces. Steps were taken to begin a transitional justice process.” The Barrow Administration cancelled plans by the Jammeh government to withdrawn from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Gambia President Adama Barrow
Gambia President Adama Barrow

Prisons in Gambia did not meet international standards, but the new administration has released scores of political prisoners held by the former government. Progress at loosening restrictive freedom of assembly laws lagged. Same sex marraige is still banned in the conservative West African nation and gay people are discriminated against.

Although Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) laws have been passed, the practice remains wide-spread in the Gambia.

Universal Human Rights Declaration

In citing the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, AI stated in its latest global report that, “… the year in which the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70, it is abundantly clear that none of us can take any of our human rights for granted. We certainly cannot take for granted that we will be free to gather together in protest or to criticize our governments. Neither can we take for granted that social security will be available when we are old or incapacitated; that our babies can grow up in cities with clean, breathable air; or that as young people we will leave school to find jobs that enable us to buy a home.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The battle for human rights is never decisively won in any place or at any point in time. The frontiers shift continually, so there can never be room for complacency.”

Although democratic changes are happening across Africa, the pace of keeping up with with the protection of the rights of ordinary citizens by government remains slow or declining instead.

By Emmanuel Abalo 

West African Journal Magazine 

 

UNHCR Reports $269.6 Million Funding Gap for Its West Africa Operations

The UN office responsible to catering to world refugees says there is a huge funding gap for its West Africa operations.

West_Africa_map
Map of West Africa

According to its 2018 Funding update issued on Tuesday, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) disclosed that of its target of $289.1 million dollars, it has received only $19.4 million representing only 7 percent of its overall target.

The funding gap is $269.6 million for its West Africa sub-regional offices:

Burkina Faso –  8% funded. Gap is $22.9 million
Cote d’Ivoire – 7% funded. Gap is $14.8 million
Ghana – No funding. Gap is $8.1 million
Guinea – No funding. Gap is $653,401
Liberia – No funding. Gap is $11.6 million
Mali – 7% funded. Gap is $19.8 million
Niger – 8% funded. Gap is $79.9 million
Nigeria – No funding. Gap is $80.3 million and
Senegal Regional Office – minor funding. Funding gap – $39.1 million

Germany, the European Union, Italy, Sweden, UN Peacebuilding Fund, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNESCO and private donors in Italy made restricted contributions with Germany making the bulk of the contribution – $1.9 million dollars.

Burkinabe Refugees
Burkinabe Refugees

Their combined contributions to West Africa refugee assistance totaled $19.4 million.

Other international major donors who made un-restricted and regional funding include:

Sweden – $98 million
Norway –  $43 million
Netherlands -$39 million
United Kingdom – $32 million
Denmark – $25 million
Australia – $19 million and
Switzerland – $15 million

Another 26 donors, including  the only African country of Algeria, also made un-restricted and regional funding to the mission of the UNHCR in West Africa.

Food insecurity, migration from conflict hot areas including some early instances of climate change are forcing people into long term refugee situations in the African sub-regional which could be further destabilized unless adequate funding is secured. Donor fatigue and internal economic pressures on donor countries are challenging the ability of the UN to easily raise the needed funds to provide assistance for refugees.

One major donor missing from the UNHCR latest update is the United States.

The UNHCR, which was  founded in 1950, works to protect and assist refugees around the world.

Liberia

In a separate development, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have released their Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response Bulletin for the period between January 29 – February 4, 2018 .

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia map
Map of Liberia

According to the bulletin,  a total of  274 suspected cases of immediately reportable diseases was made with 31 deaths.

Of this number, Nimba County in northeastern Liberia is reported to have a measles outbreak with 202 suspected cases with the next highest occurrence of 58 in Montserrado County, the seat of the capital.

Eight maternal deaths were reported from Bong (2), Montserrado (2), Maryland (1), Nimba (1), Margibi (1) and River Gee (1) Counties.

Reported causes of death were: Postpartum hemorrhage (3), Eclampsia (1), Abrutio placenta (1), Sepsis (1), Pulmonary embolism (1) and Cardiac pulmonary arrest (1)
All eight deaths was reported to have occurred in the health facility.

Of the recent meningococcal outbreak in the West African country, all contacts remain in medical surveillance.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

 

Fallout From Niger Ambush Could Scale Back US Africa Missions, Strip Commanders Of Autonomy

A probe into the Niger ambush that killed four U.S. soldiers is expected to recommend reducing ground missions in West Africa and stripping field commanders of the autonomy that allows them to send service members on risky missions, The New York Times reported.

AFRICOM General Thomas D. Waldhauser
AFRICOM General Thomas D. Waldhauser

According to the Marine Times, an independent news sources for the US Marine community, although the report has not been released, two military officials with knowledge of the findings spoke to the Times on condition of anonymity.

The military investigation focused on the events surrounding the ambush in Tongo Tongo, Niger, on Oct. 4. Four Americans and five Nigeriens were killed near a remote village close to Niger’s border with Mali. The region is flush with activity by militants associated with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, who often engage local authorities and even French forces operating in Mali.

The report also highlights the bad decision-making process that may have led to the deadly ambush, according to those sources.

The investigation found that there was a communications breakdown that resulted from unchecked equipment the soldiers took on their mission.

When the unit came under attack, they were unable to establish direct communication with the French aircraft providing cover. Instead, the soldiers had to relay coordinates through other forces in Niamey, Niger’s capital, roughly 120 miles away.

The report is expected to advise that U.S. troops should continue accompanying partner forces in the region on armed patrols, but the missions should be more thoroughly vetted, the sources said.

US Marines Killed in Niger
US Marines Killed in Niger

One measure to subject ground operations to more scrutiny may include approval from senior leadership at U.S. Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, or possibly the Pentagon, according to the sources.

The investigation is supposedly completed and circulating among Pentagon officials, according to The New York Times’ sources. The public release is being delayed, however, until after Waldhauser appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee to present AFRICOM’s annual “posture hearing.”

That event is scheduled for the last week of February.

Additionally, a more classified version of the report will briefed to families of those slain in the ambush before a public version is made available to the media.

It is also possible some personnel may receive administrative punishments for skirting the rules when the mission was carried out, according to CNN.

Map of Niger
Map of Niger

Currently, roughly 6,000 U.S. troops are deployed across Africa. Most forces, approximately 4,000, are at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, the continent’s primary base of operations for Africa Command, according to the Times.

However, small teams of U.S. special operations forces fan out to other countries on the continent, like Niger, Somalia, Libya and Mali, the Marine Times reports.

Marine Times