There have been over 9 million refugees and internally displaced people from conflicts in Africa. Hundreds and thousands of people have been slaughtered from a number of conflicts and civil wars. If this scale of destruction and fighting was in Europe, then people would be calling it World War III with the entire world rushing to report, provide aid, mediate and otherwise try to diffuse the situation. This article explores why Africa has been largely ignored and what some of the root causes of the problems are.
Into mid-2011, the world’s worst food crisis is being felt in East Africa, in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.
Despite successive failed rains, the crisis has been criticized as avoidable and man-made. This is because the situation had been predicted many months before by an international early warning system. Both the international community and governments in the region have been accused of doing very little in the lead up to this crisis. In addition, high food prices have forced food out of the reach of many people, while local conflicts exacerbate the situation.
As the international organization Oxfam describes: 12 million people are in dire need of food, clean water, and basic sanitation. Loss of life on a massive scale is a very real risk, and the crisis is set to worsen over the coming months, particularly for pastoralist communities.
This page also presents news coverage from Inter Press Service on this crisis.
A wave of protests has erupted throughout the Middle East and North Africa. A combination of the global financial crisis, rising costs of living, high unemployment — especially of educated youth, frustration from decades of living under authoritarian and corrupt regimes, various document leaks revealing more details about how governments around the world are dealing and viewing each other, have all combined in different ways in various countries, leading to a wave of rising anger.
Some protests have become revolutions as governments such as those in Tunisia and Egypt have been overthrown. Others have not got that far but have sometimes been peaceful, other times met with very brutal repression.
Is this a wave of democracy that cannot be stopped, and will forever change the region, and the global power politics?
The crisis in Libya comes in the context of wider unrest throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The surge of what looks like spontaneous and ground up pro-democracy protests has been spreading throughout a region long controlled by authoritarian regimes from left and right of the political spectrum, and both pro and anti-West.
Peaceful protests against the long-running oppressive Qadhafi regime in February resulted in a violent crackdown. As the situation quickly escalated ordinary citizens took up arms to help free themselves from Qadhafi’s brutal regime. Despite some military defections, the opposition has generally been a disorganized and out-gunned rebel force.
As Qadhafi’s forces increasingly targeted civilians the opposition appealed to the international community for a no-fly zone to limit or prevent the bloodbath that Qadhafi threatened.
The West appears to have responded with what looks like a genuine humanitarian intervention attempt. Yet, when looked at a bit more deeply, there are many murky — often contradictory — issues coming to the fore that complicate the picture.
These mixed messages make the future for Libya uncertain. Civil war is how some commentators have already started to describe the conflict, which would imply a long drawn out conflict, not a quick fix that the West hoped for.
Following elections in Cote d’Ivoire in October 2010, both President Laurent Gbagbo and opposition candidate, Alassane Ouattara, claimed victory. International observers agreed that the Ouattara had won, but Gbagbo refused to accept this.
Negotiations failed and while the world’s attention was elsewhere, the situation became volatile and violent outbursts turned into the country’s second civil war. Forces supporting Ouattara have swept through the country and Gbagbo’s position looks precarious while he remains defiant.
At the same time, possibly a million people are thought to have fled their homes, about 100,000 of which have crossed over into neighboring Liberia. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what observers have found to be mass human rights violations. There have also been reports of massacres and mass graves. UN personnel on the ground have been targeted. There are accusations of violence by both sides.
This situation had been brewing for a long time, and yet, the international community has been comparatively silent compared to how they have reacted to the situation in Libya.
This page presents news coverage from Inter Press Service on this crisis.
The conflict in the DRC (formerly known as Zaire) has involved seven nations. There have been a number of complex reasons, including conflicts over basic resources such as water, access and control over rich minerals and other resources and various political agendas. This has been fueled and supported by various national and international corporations and other regimes which have an interest in the outcome of the conflict.
The Niger Delta in Nigeria has been the attention of environmentalists, human rights activists and fair trade advocates around the world. The trial and hanging of environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other members of the Ogoni ethnic minority made world-wide attention. So too did the non-violent protests of the Ogoni people. The activities of large oil corporations such as Mobil, Chevron, Shell, Elf, Agip etc have raised many concerns and criticisms.
Sierra Leone has seen serious and grotesque human rights violations since 1991 when the civil war erupted. According to Human Rights Watch, over 50,000 people have been killed to date, with over one million people having been displaced. There have been numerous factors contributing to problems such as the the diamond connection, the gross abuses committed by both rebel and government forces, and the problems of the current peace treaty.
30 years of war and conflict as Eritrea attempted to gain independence, finally resulted in an April 1993 internationally monitored referendum, where 98.5% of the registered voters voted. 99.8% of the votes were for independence, although the borders were not defined clearly. While the two nations seemed to get on fairly well, relations deteriorated into war a couple of years after Eritrea introduced its own currency in 1997. War again resulted over what seemed to be a minor border dispute in May 1998.
It seems that the cause of the Rwanda genocide has typically been explained in simplified terms, such as ancient tribal hatreds, omitting many of the deeper and also modern causes, such as international economic policies, power politics and corruption of the elite, etc. which are also common contributing causes of problems elsewhere in the world today. This article explores the deeper causes of genocide in Rwanda.
AIDS in Africa is said to be killing more people than conflicts.
It causes social disruption as children become orphaned and it affects many already-struggling economies as workforces are reduced.
As an enormous continent, various regions are seeing different results as they attempt to tackle the problem. Numerous local, regional and global initiatives are slowly helping, despite significant obstacles (such as poverty, local social and cultural norms/taboos, concerns from drug companies about providing affordable medicines, and limited health resources of many countries that are now also caught up in the global financial crisis).
An overview of the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa that has been described by the World Health Organization as the largest, most severe and most complex outbreak in the history of the disease.
The epidemic began at the end of 2013, in Guinea. From there it spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Senegal. Many of the affected countries face enormous challenges in stopping its spread and providing care for all patients.
Thousands of people have died and many are at risk as the fatality rate from this virus is very high. As the crisis worsens, as well as the enormous health challenges involved, the social and economic consequences may set these countries back, reversing some gains a number of these countries have made in recent years.
The international media, NATO leaders and others were very vocal about the plight of the ethnic Albanians in Kosovo and insisted on a new humanitarian based model of military intervention. Because the western mainstream media had so much rhetoric about this new humanitarian nature of NATO, it is worth making some comparisons here to see if and how that has been applied to Africa.