Africa
North Mara

Tanzania villagers sue Barrick Gold over rights abuses

A group of Tanzanian villagers filed legal action with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice against Canadian mining company Barrick Gold over human rights violations at its North Mara Gold Mine. It marks the first time that the mining company has faced legal action in Canada for rights violations abroad. The plaintiffs, members of the indigenous Kurya community in northern Tanzania, allege that special “mine police” assigned by the security forces to protect the facility use extreme violence against local residents. The mine has been the site of repeated protests over environmental degradation and forced displacement of villagers. The legal action includes claims for five deaths, five incidents of torture and five injuries from shootings. (Map via Semantic Scholar)

Planet Watch
Chad

Podcast: climate change and the global struggle II

In Episode 147 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes the recent statement from the UN Environment Program that “only a root-and-branch transformation of our economies and societies can save us from accelerating climate disaster.” Studies from similarly prestigious global bodies have raised the prospect of imminent human extinction. An International Energy Agency report released last year warned that new fossil fuel exploration needed to halt by 2022 in order to keep warming within the limits set by the 2015 Paris Agreement. Adoption of new technologies and emissions standards does mean that CO2 emissions from energy generation (at least) are likely to peak by 2025. But the IEA finds that this would still lead to global temperatures rising by 2.5 C above pre-industrial levels by century’s end—exceeding the Paris Agreement limits, with catastrophic climate impacts. And the catastrophic impacts, already felt in places like Chad and Cameroon, win but scarce media coverage. Climate-related conflict has already escalated to genocide in Darfur. Climate protests in Europe—at oil terminals and car shows (as well as, less appropriately, museums)—do win some attention. But the ongoing resistance to oil mega-projects in places like Uganda and Tanzania are comparatively invisible to the outside world. The dire warnings from the UN and IEA raise the imperative for a globalized resistance with an explicitly anti-capitalist politics. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo of Tantaverom region of Chad via UNDP)

Africa
maasai

Tanzania: troops fire on Maasai herders

Tanzanian security forces fired on Maasai herders in a dispute over seizure of traditional grazing lands for a new game reserve. The trouble started when hundreds of troops of the Field Force Unit arrived at the village of Wasso, to demarcate a 1,500 square-kilometer area for the new reserve. Maasai gathered to protest, and were met with bullets. Some 30 were reportedly shot, and two killed. Afterwards, troops went house-to-house in Maasai villages, beating and arresting those they believed took part in the protests or distributed images of the violence on social media. Thousands of Maasai fled their homes into the bush following the raids. UAE-based Otterlo Business Company, which runs hunting excursions for the Emirates’ royal family, is reportedly to operate trophy-hunting concessions in the new reserve. (Photo: Survival International)

Africa
cabo delgado

Rwanda’s quick win in Mozambique: how real?

Rwandan and Mozambican troops retook the port city of MocĂ­mboa da Praia from Islamist militants—their last stronghold in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province. The 1,000 Rwandan troops, who arrived in the country last month to help the government battle a four-year insurgency, have proved their effectiveness in a series of skirmishes. They are also being joined by units from regional neighbors Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. But analysts are warning that the insurgents—known colloquially as al-Shabab—are choosing not to stand their ground, preferring to retreat into the countryside. Military force doesn’t address the drivers of the conflict, nor does it prevent ill-disciplined Mozambican troops—who often struggle to distinguish between insurgent and civilian—from stoking further tensions through abuses of the populace. More than 3,000 people have been killed and 820,000 displaced by the conflict. (Map via Moscow Times)

Africa
Djibouti

Djibouti: Horn of Africa’s next domino?

At least three people are dead following an outbreak of inter-communal violence in Djibouti. Fighting erupted in several areas between members of the Afar ethnic group, which straddles Djibouti’s borders with Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the Issa, the country’s other main ethnicity, which is a sub-group of the Somali people and straddles the borders with Ethiopia and Somalia. Issa protesters blocked the rail line and road connecting Djibouti’s port to Ethiopia, a key artery for the landlocked Horn of Africa giant. The violence came in response to a deadly attack on Somali Issa civilians four days earlier within Ethiopia. Fighters from Ethiopia’s Afar region raided the town of Gedamaytu (also known as Gabraiisa) in neighboring Somali region, reportedly killing hundreds of residents. The two regions have long been at odds over three contested kebeles (districts) on their shared border, which are predominately inhabited by Issa but located within the regional boundaries of Afar. (Map: ISS Africa)

Africa
lake victora

Pipeline project threatens Lake Victoria

More than 260 organizations issued an open letter to banks and financial institutions involved in the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), which would carry oil from fields in western Uganda to a port on the northern coast of Tanzania, passing near critical wetlands in the Lake Victoria basin. The human rights and environmental organizations say the line’s construction poses “unacceptable” risks to communities in the immediate 1,445-kilometer (898-mile) path of the project and beyond. They are calling on banks not to fund the $3.5 billion project, and asking government leaders to shift funding from infrastructure for fossil fuels to renewable energy. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons via Mongabay)

Africa
Cabo Delgado

Mozambique conflict draws in neighboring countries

Jihadist insurgents variously calling themselves “al-Shabaab” or the “Islamic State Central Africa Province” are fast escalating brutal attacks in Mozambique’s oil-rich Cabo Delgado province, in the north of the country. In twin attacks last week, more than 50 residents were beheaded in Muatide village, where militants turned a football field into an “execution ground,” and several more were beheaded and houses put to the torch in Nanjaba village. Last month, hundreds of insurgents crossed the Ruvuma River into Tanzania, and attacked the border village of Kitaya, beheading 20 residents. Landlocked Zimbabwe, which depends on unimpeded passage through Mozambique for access to the sea, has broached military intervention, and is seeking approval for joint action from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). (Photo via ISS Africa)

Africa
tanzania

Post-electoral repression in Tanzania

Opposition presidential candidate Tundu Lissu was arrested two days after disputed presidential elections in Tanzania. Incumbent John Magufuli won the election by a landslide according to official results following a contest dismissed by the opposition as a “travesty” because of widespread irregularities. Lissu joins a growing list of opposition leaders who have been rounded up since the results came in, as authorities move to head off post-election demonstrations. Lissu’s center-right Chadema party and the left-wing ACT Wazalendo have jointly issued a call for people to take to the streets and demand fresh polls. They accuse Magufuli and his long-ruling Revolutionary Party, or Chama Cha Mapinduzi, of seeking to establish a “one-party system.” (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library)

Africa
Sudan

SCOTUS: Sudan liable for terrorism damages

The US Supreme Court ruled in Opati v. Republic of Sudan that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act permits a punitive damages award against Sudan for the role it played in the 1998 bombings at the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Plaintiffs in the case argued that Sudan had harbored al-Qaeda leaders who plotted the attacks, including Osama bin Laden. Officials in Khartoum have been seeking a settlement with the victims outside the court. Sudan is in a precarious economic situation following the ouster of long-ruling strongman Omer Hassan al-Bashir, now exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trump administration made it clear that Sudan must settle all terrorism-related claims to get off the US list of “state sponsors of terrorism”—a precondition for Washington’s support for debt relief for the African country. (Map: Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection)

North America
travel ban

Court hears arguments on Trump’s travel ban

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit began hearing oral arguments in International Refugee Assistance Project v. Donald Trump, a case challenging the administration’s travel bans. The plaintiffs argue that, despite the Supreme Court ruling in Trump v. Hawaii, their case is not barred. They contend that the high court simply addressed the preliminary injunction, and not the merits of the overall travel ban, while the administration argues that Trump v. Hawaii settled the constitutionality of the proclamation. (Photo: Syria Solidarity NYC)

Planet Watch
Africa fires

Central African forests burning faster than Amazon

Central Africa’s rainforests are currently being consumed by a vast system of forest fires dwarfing even those that are ravaging the Amazon. Hundreds of thousands of hectares have been engulfed by flames over the past weeks—to comparatively little notice in the world media. French newspaper La Voix du Nord states, “In Angola, the Congo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Zambia, thousands of fires consume phenomenal amounts of vegetation.” Since the beginning of 2019, it is the DRC that has recorded the most fires, far ahead of Brazil. NASA attributes the fires to “widespread agricultural burning,” as farmers employ slash-and-burn methods to clear land for crops. (Photo: FIRMS)

Planet Watch

Refugee resettlement hits 10-year low

Some 50,000 to 60,000 people fleeing war and persecution will start a new life and be on track for a new passport in 2018, but it will be the fewest number of refugees resettled globally any year since 2007, UN figures show. The drop is mainly due to President Donald Trump’s administration slashing the US quota. The United States took in 68% of the 770,000 refugees permanently resettled in the last 10 years, according to the UN—an average of about 51,000 per year. But, this calendar year, fewer than 10,000 had made the journey to the United States by the end of July. Developing regions host 85% of the world’s refugees, according to the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR. (Photo: IRIN)