Gambia Vows To Crackdown On Traffickers After Death Of 60 Migrants

This image grab taken from an AFP video shows boats in the water at a beach, in Barra on December 5, 2019, after at least 62 people died on December 4, 2019 when their makeshift vessel capsized off the coast of Mauritania, including migrants from Gambia. Romain CHANSON / AFPTV / AFP

 

Gambian President Adama Barrow on Saturday vowed to punish people traffickers as he mourned the deaths of 60 Europe-bound migrants who drowned off Mauritania when their boat capsized.

“To lose 60 young lives at sea is a national tragedy and a matter of grave concern to my government,” he said on national television.

“A full police investigation has been launched to get to the bottom of this serious national disaster. The culprits will be prosecuted according to law”, he added.

Barrow said 60 people were confirmed dead in Wednesday’s tragedy.

He said funds had been sent to Mauritania to cater to the immediate needs of the survivors admitted to hospital and to finance their repatriation.

The boat was attempting to reach Spain’s Canary Islands — a perilous and poorly monitored route along West Africa’s coast — when their boat hit a rock.

Barrow pledged to “fast track prosecution of cases involving human trafficking.

“Law enforcement officials are also instructed to increase surveillance and arrest… criminals involved in human trafficking”, he said.

“Also, I have been informed that 189 people have been intercepted by the Mauritanian authorities. Arrangements have been made to transport them back to Banjul,” the Gambia capital, he added.

On Friday, Mauritanian authorities intercepted a vessel carrying 192 Gambian migrants headed for Spain, a Mauritanian security source told AFP.

The boat left Banjul on Monday and was intercepted in the high seas off Mauritania. The passengers were brought back to Nouamghar, about 150 kilometres (95 miles) north of the capital Nouakchott and were given food and blankets.

The sinking off Mauritania is the largest known loss of life along the so-called western migration route this year, and the sixth deadliest migrant capsize globally, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Mauritanian authorities said the boat had been carrying between 150 and 180 people when it sank.

Eight-three people survived the disaster by swimming ashore.

Migrant passages along the route from West African countries to the Canary Islands have increased recently as authorities clamp down on crossings to Europe from Libya.

Some 158 people are known to have died trying to reach the Canary Islands so far this year, according to the IOM, against 43 last year.

 

AFP

Dozens Of Migrants Drown As Boat Sinks Off Mauritania

 

 

 

At least 58 migrants drowned as their boat sank near the Mauritanian coast after a week at sea, the International Organization for Migration said Thursday.

The UN agency said another 83 people swam to shore, while survivors said at least 150 people including women and children were aboard the vessel, which had set sail from The Gambia on November 27.

They said the boat was running low on fuel as it was nearing the coast of the northwestern African nation.

“The Mauritanian authorities are very efficiently coordinating the response with the agencies currently present in Nouadhibou,” said Laura Lungarotti, IOM’s chief of mission in Mauritania.

“Our common priority is to take care of all those who survived and bring them the support they need,” she added.

READ ALSO: Six Dead, Two Missing After Gas Explosion In Poland

The injured are being treated in hospital in Nouadhibou, Mauritania’s westernmost town on the Atlantic coast, the IOM statement said.

Mauritanian authorities are in contact with Gambian consular services “to ensure that the necessary support is provided to the migrants”, the statement said.

The Gambian Ambassador to Mauritania is headed to Nouadhibou, it added.

Mauritania Sets Aside $550m For The Poor

Mauritania ranks among the poorest countries in the world despite rich deposits of gold, iron and copper. 

 

Mauritania’s president has pledged the equivalent of 500 million euros ($550 million) to fight poverty ahead of a key state anniversary, after coming to power four months ago on vows to help the poor.

In remarks broadcast on the eve of Thursday’s independence celebrations, Mohamed Ould Cheikh El Ghazouani said the sum, which will be allocated over five years, would fund a specialised anti-poverty agency.

The former general took office in August, in the first transition of power between two elected leaders in the West African state’s history.

He swept to a first-round victory in elections on June 22 on pledges to strengthen the military and attack poverty.

Mauritania ranks among the poorest countries in the world despite rich deposits of gold, iron and copper.

On top of the money for the anti-poverty agency, Ghazouani promised the government would offer “free legal assistance” to the destitute in Wednesday evening’s broadcast.

About 33 percent of Mauritanians lived below the poverty line of $1.90 (1.7 euros) a day in 2014, according to the World Bank, compared to 44.5 percent in 2008.

But poverty remains endemic in the capital Nouakchott, the bank said, and women and children are marginalised.

Vast and mostly desert, the conservative nation has suffered a string of military coups in its history, with the latest occurring in 2008.

The leader of the 2008 putsch, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, won elections in 2009 and again in 2014, and was suspected by opposition leaders of wanting to stay for a third term.

However, he decided instead to pass the baton to his longtime ally Ghazouani.

Annual festivities commemorating Mauritanian self-rule take place in a different place each year.

Thursday’s celebration — marking 59 years of independence — was held in Akjoujt, a gold-rich town in the west of the country which is also the birthplace of Aziz.

Aziz was notably absent, however. He and Ghazouani are rumoured to have fallen out.

Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi — the ex-president deposed in the 2008 coup — was present.

 

AFP

Nigeria Rout Mauritania 5-0 To Qualify For 2019 U-20 AFCON

Nigeria Rout Mauritania 5-0 To Qualify For 2019 U-20 AFCON

 

Nigeria’s Flying Eagles have thrashed Mauritania to qualify for the 2019 U-20 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) hosted by the Republic of Niger.

The Eagles turned in a commanding performance on Saturday as they demolished the visiting side 5-0 at the Agege stadium in Lagos State.

It was a one-sided contest as the Nigerian team dominated from start to finish.

Enyimba Winger Wasiu Alalade put set the Eagles on the lead after 11 minutes while Nazifi Yahaya doubled the advantage 22 minutes later.

Yahaha consequently extended the lead a minute after the restart when he headed home off a corner.

Aniekeme Asuquo scored Nigeria’s fourth goal before the Afeez Aremu sealed the victory in the 87th minute from the penalty spot.

The seven-time champions advanced 6-1 on aggregate.

President Buhari Returns To Abuja After AU Summit

President Muhammadu Buhari has returned to the country after attending the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) in Mauritania.

The President, who travelled to Mauritania on Saturday, departed Nouakchott on Monday and arrived in Abuja hours later.

AU Summit: Buhari Calls For Repatriation Of Stolen Assets Without Legal Obstacles

In the course of his three-day trip, President Buhari addressed the summit on the theme: ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption, A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation’.

He called on nations where looted assets have been stashed to release them without the usual long technicalities involved in the process of repatriation.

“We must all collectively work to place high on the agenda the need for open and participatory government, as well as the repatriation of stolen assets without procedural technicalities and legal obstacles,” President Buhari had informed country leaders at the meeting.

He had also revealed that three different regional consultative workshops were organised, in line with his campaign programme to sensitise Africans on the evil effects of corruption on the society.

“The scourge of illicit financial flows continues to bite, eating back the gains and militating against the attainment of our aspirations under Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda,” the President had added.

On the sidelines of the summit, President Buhari met with French President Emmanuel Macron, as well as the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mrs Amina Mohammed, among others.

He was accompanied on the trip by the Nasarawa and Edo state governors, Tanko Al-Makura and Godwin Obaseki, as well as ministers and heads of government agencies.

AU Summit: Buhari Calls For Repatriation Of Stolen Assets Without Legal Obstacles

President Muhammadu Buhari and other African leaders at the 31st AU Summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania on 1st July 2018.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari at the AU Summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania called on nations where looted assets have been stashed to release them without the usual long technicalities involved in the process of repatriation.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina disclosed this in a statement on Sunday.

President Buhari in his introductory remarks as the leader of the African Union theme of the year, Winning the Fight against Corruption, A Sustainable Path to Africas Transformation, said all hands must be on deck to achieve this.

“We must all collectively work to place high on the agenda the need for open and participatory government, as well as the repatriation of stolen assets without procedural technicalities and legal obstacles,” he said.

President Buhari also appraised the anti-corruption efforts noting that workshops were organised in different regions to create awareness on the war against corruption.

“During the last 6 months, we have engaged in multi-sectoral dialogue with a broad range of actors including parliamentarians, national anti-corruption agencies, civil society, media, youth and women groups and development partners. We have convened three different regional Consultative Workshops in line with my campaign programme to sensitise our people on the evil effects of corruption on our societies.

“These workshops will be extended to other regional blocs as we continue the fight against corruption in a bid to transform our continent.”

AU Summit Host Warns Of ‘Security Failings’ In Sahel Amid New Mali Attack

President Muhammadu Buhari (3rd left) among other African leaders during the official opening of the 31st Session of African Union (AU) in Nouakchott, Mauritania on Sunday, July 1.

 

The African Union summit opened on Sunday with host Mauritania warning of regional security failings in the face of jihadist violence, as French soldiers were targeted in a fresh attack in Mali.

A bombing aimed at French soldiers on patrol in the country’s troubled north killed four civilians and injured over 20 people, Malian authorities said.

On Friday, a suicide bombing hit the Mali headquarters of the five-nation force known as G5 Sahel, adding to concerns about how it can tackle the jihadist groups roaming the region.

It was the first attack on the headquarters of the five-nation force, which was set up with French backing in 2017 to fight jihadist insurgents and criminal groups in the vast and unstable Sahel region.

In total, four separate attacks killed 15 people in Mali in three days, as the West African nation prepares to go to the polls on July 29.

The leaders of the G5 Sahel states — Mali, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Niger and Chad — held a meeting on Sunday on the sidelines of the AU summit, according to a diplomatic source from one of the member countries.

The meeting was aimed at preparing discussions between French President Emmanuel Macron and his G5 Sahel counterparts, the same source said.

Security is high on the agenda at the AU summit in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott being attended by more than 40 African heads of state and government as well as Macron, who will meet G5 leaders to focus on progress made by the force.

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz said the Friday bombing “hit the heart” of the region’s security and lashed out at a lack of international help.

The Al-Qaeda-linked Support Group for Islam and Muslims, the main jihadist alliance in the Sahel, claimed the attack in a telephone call to the Mauritanian news agency Al-Akhbar.

‘UN doors closed’

“It was a message sent by the terrorists at this precise moment when we are getting organised to stabilise and secure our region,” Aziz told France 24 television.

“If the headquarters was attacked, it is because there are so many failings we need to fix if we want to bring stability to the Sahel.”

The G5 aims to have a total of 5,000 troops from the five nations but has faced funding problems.

It operates alongside France’s 4,000 troops in the troubled “tri-border” area where Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso meet, and alongside the UN’s 12,000-strong MINUSMA peacekeeping operation in Mali.

Underscoring the regional insecurity, four Malian soldiers were also killed on Saturday when their vehicle drove over a landmine in the central Mopti region.

Aziz said the G5 was a “sovereign initiative” of Sahel states that face not only security problems but drought, poverty, unemployment and trafficking.

“We are not at all satisfied with the help we are getting. We also feel that the doors of the United Nations are closed.”

Free trade, migration

African leaders will also look at a planned ceasefire in South Sudan’s civil war and at the detente between Ethiopia and Eritrea, whose relations have been poisoned for decades.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, who holds the presidency of the 55-nation AU, will make a call to promote free trade.

Currently, African countries only conduct about 16 percent of their business with each other, the smallest amount of intra-regional trade compared to Latin America, Asia, North America and Europe.

Meanwhile, discussing the flow of migrants from Africa to Europe, Aziz told France 24 it was a “result of the ‘destruction’ of Libya by Western strikes”.

“I am not saying that all responsibility lies with Europe, we must deal with the problem upstream,” said the former general who took power in a coup in 2008 and has since been elected twice.

AFP

PHOTOS: President Buhari Attends AU Summit In Mauritania

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday attended the opening of African Union (AU) summit. 

The summit of African leaders is the 31st Session of AU and is currently taking place in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

Federal government officials including Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu; Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Nassarawa State Governor, Alhaji Tanko Almakura; Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki and Director General NIA, Rufai Alkali were also with President Buhari at the summit.

The session will hold from today, June 30, to July 2 and President Buhari will speak on the theme: ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption, A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation’.

See photos below:

President Buhari In Mauritania For AU Summit

President Muhammadu Buhari and his Mauritanian counterpart, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, on his arrival for the 31st AU Summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania, on June 30, 2018.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari arrived Mauritania on Saturday ahead of the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU).

He was received in the capital city of Nouakchott by the Mauritanian President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, and other top government officials in the country.

At the session, which holds from today, June 30, to July 2, President Buhari will speak on the theme: ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption, A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation’.

According to a statement on Friday his Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, President Buhari will also take part in other activities on the sidelines of the session.

It’s the first time Mauritania is hosting the AU Summit since the birth of the union.

President Buhari is being accompanied on the trip by the Nasarawa and Edo state governors, Tanko Al-Makura and Godwin Obaseki, as well as other top government officials.

See photos of the President’s arrival in Mauritania below;

President Buhari Travels To Mauritania For AU Summit

President Muhammadu Buhari and his Mauritanian counterpart, President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, on his arrival for the 31st AU Summit in Nouakchott, Mauritania, on June 30, 2018.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has travelled to Mauritania for the 31st Ordinary session of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

The President left the country on Saturday after a paying a one-day condolence visit to Katsina State over the havoc wreaked in parts of the state by a windstorm.

PHOTOS: President Buhari In Mauritania For AU Summit

At the session, which holds from today, June 30, to July 2, President Buhari will speak on the theme: ‘Winning the Fight against Corruption, A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation’.

According to a statement on Friday his Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, President Buhari will also take part in other activities on the sidelines of the session.

For instance, the President and other African leaders will take part in an interactive session with President Emmanuel Macron of France on Financing AU-led Peace Support Operations authorised by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Dominant issues affecting the continent such as peace and security, HIV/AIDS, regional cooperation, climate change will also form part of discussions of the African leaders.

Beyond that, President Buhari will also hold series of high-level bilateral sessions on issues of shared common interests to the country, Africa, and the world.

Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State, his Edo State counterpart Godwin Obaseki, and other top government officials were part of the President’s entourage.

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, and President Muhammadu Buhari at the Katsina Airport
Governor Tanko Al-Makura of Nasarawa State, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, and other officials interact with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Katsina Airport

Nigeria’s Apex Bank Boss, Emefiele Elected President Of AACB

Godwin_EmefieleThe Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has been elected as the President of the Association of African Central Banks (AACB).

Mr Emefiele was elected at the 39th ordinary meeting of the Assembly of Governors of the AACB in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He succeeds Mr Lucas Nchama who is now the Governor of the Bank Of Central African States.

Mr Emefiele would be President of the AACB from 2016 to 2017.

The Governor of Central Bank of Burundi was elected Chairman of the East African sub-region while the Governor of the Central Bank of the Kingdom of Swaziland was elected Chairman of the Southern African sub-region.

Others elected are the Governor of the Bank of Ghana as Chairman of the West African sub-region and Governor of the Central Bank of Mauritania as Chairman of the North African sub-region.

Reading a communique at the end of the meeting, the new AACB President told the gathering that the nomination for the Vice Chairman of the AACB, which was zoned to the South African Sub-region, would be made known in due course.

The Assembly of Governors also chose: “Prospects for monetary integration in Africa: Lessons learned from the experience of monetary and financial integration of Europe,” as theme for the 2017 symposium.

The Assembly of Governors further stressed the necessity for African countries to diversify their economies and improve exports, while limiting imports.

They also emphasised the urgent need for coordination between monetary and fiscal policy across all African countries.

The Assembly further urged African countries to strengthen efforts at implementing structural reforms in order to diversify their respective economies, improve the business environment and promote intra-regional trade as a way of strengthening their resilience amidst external shocks.

The meeting was attended by 27 member Central Banks and the African Union Commission (AUC).

U.S. Supports U.N. Resolution On Boko Haram Regional Force

Boko haram counter-terrorism forcesAn official at the U.S. defence says the United States supports the creation of a West African force of up to 10,000 troops to fight Nigerian Islamist group, the Boko Haram.

The 54-nation African Union has approved the force and has asked the United Nations (UN) to endorse it urgently, subsequent to attacks by the islamist group in north-east Nigeria and neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon, seeking to carve out an Islamic state.

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for African Affairs, Amanda J. Dory, said on Wednesday, during a visit to Cameroon that Washington, one of five veto-holding members of the U.N. Security Council, would back a U.N. resolution.

“The U.S. is providing diplomatic support in terms of engagement in the U.N. Security Council for the awaited resolution authorizing the deployment of a Multinational Joint Task Force by the African Union against Boko Haram,” she said.

If approved, the new force would receive U.N. funding and would likely turn out to be a bigger and better resourced operation than the present offensive being mounted against the militants by Nigeria and its neighbours.

However, a perception that Nigeria was failing to deal with the militants alone, and a growing number of cross-border attacks, prompted Nigeria, Chad, Niger, Cameroon to launch their existing operation to try to hold the militants.

Meanwhile, Nigerian Coordinator of the National Information Centre, Mr Mike Omeri, told reporters earlier on Wednesday, that the attempt by the Boko Haram insurgents to seek assistance from ISIS, was a confirmation of the kind of pressure the group was receiving from multi-national forces.

Mr Omeri appealed for support from Nigerians in the fight against the Boko Haram, noting that so far, 36 towns had been reclaimed from the insurgents.

Diplomats said the African Union Peace and Security Council was due to discuss on Thursday, the text of a possible resolution that could then be circulated to the 15 U.N. Security Council members.

However, Diplomats said France, which holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council, had been seeking to rally support for the resolution in time for a vote by early April.

The United States had already helped Cameroon’s army security equipment to fight Boko Haram and France on the other hand, is increasing its own West African counter-insurgency force to support regional troops fighting Boko Haram.