Thursday, 20th January 2022

Central Africa

Articles related to Central Africa

Groupe Castel has started an inquiry into a report that said a unit of the French beverage maker aided militia accused of "mass atrocities" in the Central African Republic in exchange for the security of its sugar assets.

The announcement by Castel came after The Sentry, a Washington-based anti-corruption group co-founded by actor George Clooney, published a 28-page investigation into the sugar-producing unit on August 18. 

Once "general management of Castel became aware of the serious allegations made," it decided to start a probe "in accordance with its internal procedures” and will "communicate on the outcome of this investigation," the company, which also sells beer in a number of African countries, said in a statement. 

The Central African Republic, one of the world’s least-developed countries despite diamond and gold deposits, has been beset by conflict since 2013, when President Francois Bozize was ousted in a coup. Rebels are now pitted against a government backed by Russia, which has provided some military support.

In late 2014, African Sugar Refinery of the Central African Republic, a unit of Paris-based agro-food company Somdiaa, in which Castel is a significant shareholder, allegedly negotiated a security arrangement with an armed group, according to The Sentry. The Sentry said Castel owns 87% of Somdiaa. Castel didn’t respond to a question from Bloomberg about its shareholding. 

Through the pact the sugar producer secured its factory and cane fields and ensured free movement on key roads necessary for the provision of supplies, The Sentry said. 

The arrangement also reinforced the company’s monopoly on distribution in several regions, including through the seizure of smuggled sugar, The Sentry said.

A "sophisticated, informal system" was established to fund the militia "through direct and indirect cash payments, as well as through in-kind support in the form of vehicle maintenance and fuel provision," The Sentry said its research showed. 

The pact was active through March, "but its future remains uncertain due to the deployment of governmental and Russian forces in territories formerly controlled" by the armed group Union for Peace in the Central African Republic, known as UPC.

UPC, formed in 2014, has been linked to mass killings, abductions, torture, child soldier recruitment, and sexual and gender-based violence, The Sentry said, citing interviews with witnesses. Human Rights Watch has linked the group with civilian displacements and the United Nations issued a report that detailed attacks on villages by UPC and the recruitment of children as soldiers.


The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Tuesday said it is working to relocate thousands of Central African refugees to safe locations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

In a statement, the agency said it will relocate refugees from Central African Republic who are currently in dangerous conditions to remote border areas of the DRC.

At least 100,000 people have been displaced within the country by recent violence. Another 107,000 fled to neighboring countries – Cameroon, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo – according to the UNHCR.

Congolese authorities estimate that 92,000 refugees have arrived from the Central African Republic after election-linked violence erupted in December.

Fighting between a coalition of non-state armed groups and government forces continued over the past two months, plunging the country into a new cycle of violence.

The statement said the UNHCR and DRC’s National Refugee Commission (CNR) “will prepare four relocation sites for some 35,000 refugees to live alongside local communities and grow their own crops, attend local schools, and benefit from other services that serve their Congolese hosts. Settling refugees in local communities will allow them to live with greater dignity and independence.”

“Most Central African refugees are now living along riverbanks in hard-to-reach border areas, among host communities with extremely limited resources.

“Conditions are dire, with many refugees sleeping in makeshift shelters. Most have little to no access to drinking water, sanitation, or food. Some have been welcomed by host families, sometimes with up to three refugee families living in a single home,” the statement said.


Head of the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo held Wednesday her last press conference in Kinshasa as she prepares to hand over the baton at the end of her three years as the head of the UN mission.

"Today, even if the conflict persists, it is still contained in three eastern provinces," said the head of the UN Mission in DRC.

For the Algerian, the situation is far from being terribly bad in the country. "Congo is not burning," she said.

Leïla Zerrougui welcomed the organization of elections that allowed a peaceful transition of power for the first time in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "There is no one who claims to be from an armed group to say "I am taking power," she said.

Zerrougui though warned that "the risk of going backwards is not excluded".

A highly criticised mandate

The diplomat leaves with a taste of incomplete work on certain points. For example, she regrets not having been able to move forward with the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration projects at the community level.

While refusing to consider this as a failure, she explains all wasn't in place to get started. Her critics point to the "inefficiency" of the mission's Rapid Intervention Brigade in the Béni region.

Zerrougui is also criticized for having proposed in October 2018 the opening of negotiations with the ADF rebels.

-Africa News

The Ebola virus has killed two people in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Ministry of Health announced mid this week.

The second victim is a 60-year-old woman who died on Wednesday, Feb 10 in the district of Biena, Northern Kivu.

The DRC’s health ministry said that a team has been deployed to trace more than 100 contacts of the two women in the health zones of Biena and Katwa, both located in Northern Kivu Province.

On Thursday 11, Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organizations (WHO) regional director for Africa said that the organisation was working in coordination with the DRC’s government to prevent further spread.

The latest Ebola outbreak was confirmed in Northern Kivu, DRC  on 1 August 2018. The virus spread quickly where 3470 cases and  2287 deaths were registered until the virus was contained on 25 June 2020. 

According to WHO, the new Ebola cases could complicate efforts to eradicate Covid-19, which has infected 23,771 people and killed 684 in DRC.

Besides the effort to fight Covid-19, the WHO has alerted another possible wave of the Ebola virus in DRC, asking governments to reinforce preventive measures.

On 8 February 2021, WHO conducted an urgent meeting with the DRC’s Minister of Health, and a team led by the Provincial Minister of Health of North Kivu was deployed to Butembo near Kwata and Beina district to organize immediate Ebola response activities.

Investigation is going on in Katwa, Biena, and Musienene Health Zones to identify the source(s) of transmission, identify contacts, and conduct active case finding, according to WHO. 

A survey by the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ that started in 2015 has revealed that Ebola virus may remain in men’s semen for more than two years. 

The survey reveals that some men who survived Ebola their semen later tested positive.

However, the new findings only show some men carry Neural Representational Assembly (RNA) or genetic material from Ebola long after recovering from the disease. It does not necessarily mean that all men who test positive for Ebola RNA are still capable of transmitting the virus.

WHO recommends that people who recover from Ebola virus be tested for any lingering presence of Ebola RNA three months after recovering, and then again until the test is negative on two consecutive monthly tests.

If men have not been tested, they should abstain from sex for 12 months, or use condoms every time they have sex, according to WHO guidelines.


The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC) parliament has voted to authorise a motion to remove the House speaker, a move that, if successful, would hand President Felix Tshisekedi a major victory in his power struggle with his predecessor, Joseph Kabila.

More than half of the body’s 500 representatives on Tuesday authorised a vote on the motion for Thursday, which would force out Jeannine Mabunda, an ally of Kabila, as speaker and pave the way for the formation of a pro-Tshisekedi majority.

That would mark a monumental shift in power towards Tshisekedi, who took office in January 2019 but has been handicapped by a coalition government with Kabila’s allies, who won parliamentary majorities in the same election.

By controlling a majority in Parliament, Tshisekedi would be able to nominate a cabinet of his choosing after two years in which Kabila’s allies have dominated the major ministries, frustrating the president’s ability to push through his agenda.

Following weeks of consultations with political leaders and others, Tshisekedi announced on Sunday he would try to form a new majority in parliament by winning over members of Kabila’s coalition and other, smaller parties. 

On Tuesday, Tshisekedi’s supporters, some in suits and stylish shoes, hurled chairs, wooden batons and plastic buckets up a staircase in the parliament building towards Kabila partisans who launched the objects back.

One man was carried away bleeding from the head. The police eventually dispersed the crowd with tear gas.

The standoff has raised fears of fresh instability in the DRC whose economy has been badly rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic, and whose recent history has been marked by repeated civil wars and political upheaval.

Kabila, who came to power in 2001, stepped down last year after bowing to domestic and international pressure not to seek a third elected term. He is eligible to run again in 2023.


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