Monday 20 November 2023

The Racism of the World Health Organization: WHO pays $250 each to 104 Congolese women who were sexually abused by their staff

 Dr Gaya Gamhewage, WHO Director, Prevention of and Response to Sexual Misconduct

WHO pays $250 each to 104 Congolese women who were sexually abused by their staff 


Written by VOA


Earlier this year, the doctor who leads the World Health Organization’s efforts to prevent sexual abuse traveled to Congo to address the biggest known sex scandal in the UN health agency’s history, the abuse of well over 100 local women by staffers and others during a deadly Ebola outbreak.

According to an internal WHO report from Dr Gaya Gamhewage’s trip in March, one of the abused women she met gave birth to a baby with “a malformation that required special medical treatment," meaning even more costs for the young mother in one of the world's poorest countries.

To help victims like her, the WHO has paid $250 each to at least 104 women in Congo who say they were sexually abused or exploited by officials working to stop Ebola. That amount per victim is less than a single day’s expenses for some UN officials working in the Congolese capital — and $19 more than what Gamhewage received per day during her three-day visit — according to internal documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The amount covers typical living expenses for less than four months in a country where, the WHO documents noted, many people survive on less than $2.15 a day. The payments to women didn't come freely. To receive the cash, they were required to complete training courses intended to help them start “income-generating activities.”

The payments appear to try to circumvent the UN's stated policy that it doesn't pay reparations by including the money in what it calls a “complete package” of support. Many Congolese women who were sexually abused have still received nothing. WHO said in a confidential document last month that about a third of the known victims were “impossible to locate.”

The WHO said nearly a dozen women declined its offer. The total of $26,000 that WHO has provided to the victims equals about 1% of the $2 million, WHO-created “survivor assistance fund” for victims of sexual misconduct, primarily in Congo.

In interviews, recipients told the AP the money they received was hardly enough, but they wanted justice even more. Paula Donovan, who co-directs the Code Blue campaign to eliminate what it calls impunity for sexual misconduct in the UN, described the WHO payments to victims of sexual abuse and exploitation as “perverse.”

“It’s not unheard of for the UN to give people seed money so they can boost their livelihoods, but to mesh that with compensation for a sexual assault, or a crime that results in the birth of a baby, is unthinkable,” she said.

Requiring the women to attend training before receiving the cash set uncomfortable conditions for victims of wrongdoing seeking help, Donovan added. The two women who met with Gamhewage told her that what they most wanted was for the “perpetrators to be brought to account so they could not harm anyone else," the WHO documents said. The women were not named.

“There is nothing we can do to make up for (sexual abuse and exploitation)," Gamhewage told the AP in an interview.

The WHO told the AP that criteria to determine its “victim survivor package” included the cost of food in Congo and “global guidance on not dispensing more cash than what would be reasonable for the community, in order to not expose recipients to further harm.”


Gamhewage said the WHO was following recommendations set by experts at local charities and other UN agencies.

“Obviously, we haven't done enough,” Gamhewage said. She added the WHO would ask survivors directly what further support they wanted.

The WHO has also helped defray medical costs for 17 children born as a result of sexual exploitation and abuse, she said. At least one woman who said she was sexually exploited and impregnated by a WHO doctor negotiated compensation that agency officials signed off on, including a plot of land and health care. The doctor also agreed to pay $100 a month until the baby was born in a deal “to protect the integrity and reputation of WHO.”

But in interviews with the AP, other women who say they were sexually exploited by WHO staff asserted the agency hasn’t done enough.

Alphonsine, 34, said she was pressured into having sex with a WHO official in exchange for a job as an infection control worker with the Ebola response team in the eastern Congo city of Beni, an epicenter of the 2018-2020 outbreak. Like other women, she did not share her last name for fear of reprisals.

Alphonsine confirmed that she had received $250 from the WHO, but the agency told her she had to take a baking course to obtain it.

“The money helped at the time, but it wasn’t enough,” Alphonsine said.

She said she later went bankrupt and would have preferred to receive a plot of land and enough money to start her own business. For a visiting WHO staffer working in Congo, the standard daily allowance ranges from about $144 to $480. Gamhewage received $231 a day during her three-day trip to the Congolese capital Kinshasa, according to an internal travel claim.

The internal documents show that staff costs take up more than half of the $1.5 million the WHO allotted toward the prevention of sexual misconduct in Congo for 2022-2023, or $821,856. Another 12% goes to prevention activities and 35%, or $535,000, is for “victim support,” which Gamhewage said includes legal assistance, transportation and psychological support. That budget is separate from the $2 million survivors' assistance fund, which assists victims globally.

WHO’s Congo office has a total allocated budget of about $174 million, and its biggest funder is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The UN health agency continues to struggle with holding perpetrators of sexual abuse and exploitation to account in Congo. A WHO-commissioned panel found at least 83 perpetrators during the Ebola response, including at least 21 WHO staffers. The youngest known victim was 13.

In May 2021, an AP investigation revealed that senior WHO management was told of sexual exploitation during the agency’s efforts to curb Ebola even as the abuse was happening but did little to stop it. No senior managers, including some who were aware of the abuse during the outbreak, were fired.

After years of pressure from Congolese authorities, WHO internal documents note it has shared information with them about 16 alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse and exploitation who were linked to the WHO during the Ebola outbreak. But WHO hasn't done enough to discipline its people, said another Congolese woman who said she was coerced into having sex with a staffer to get a job during the outbreak. She, too, received $250 from the WHO after taking a baking course.

“They promised to show us evidence this has been taken care of, but there has been no follow-up," said Denise, 31.

WHO has said five staffers have been dismissed for sexual misconduct since 2021. But in Congo, deep distrust remains. Audia, 24, told the AP she was impregnated when a WHO official forced her to have sex to get a job during the outbreak. She now has a 5-year-old daughter as a result and received a “really insufficient” $250 from WHO after taking courses in tailoring and baking.

She worries about what might happen in a future health crisis in conflict-hit eastern Congo, where poor infrastructure and resources mean any emergency response relies heavily on outside help from the WHO and others.

“I can’t put my trust in (WHO) anymore,” she said. “When they abandon you in such difficulties and leave you without doing anything, it’s irresponsible.”

Thursday 16 November 2023

When leaders of Neo-liberal Slave states get the guts to answer back their Wicked Bosses: US, UK are world's leading terrorists - Museveni

 President Museveni

US, UK are world's leading terrorists - Museveni 

Written by URN

President Yoweri Museveni has hit out at the United States and the United Kingdom embassies for issuing advisories to their citizens not to travel to Uganda over terrorism concerns.

In a statement, about the just concluded Nyege Nyege festival in Jinja districts, Museveni said if anybody is to issue any advisory it should be the government, not outsiders.  

“I hear that the panicky Americans and British sent out what they call advisories to their citizens not to come to Uganda. These are mistake makers. If the situation was so bad, it would be us to advise people not to come to Uganda; not the British and the Americans. We know what we are doing, always. Even if a mistake occurs, we know how to handle it. These advisories by some of these actors is another form of interference in our internal affairs by these elements,” Museveni said.  

The president noted that even the terrorism that is going on in most of Africa and other places is the handiwork of the West. 

“Part of the terrorism in Africa is either created or conserved by some of the actors that try to be global policemen. The chaos in Libya, and the surrounding countries of the Sahel (Mali, Burkina-Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, etc.) was caused by some of these actors. The terrorism conservation project in Eastern Congo for the past 20 years, is by the UN which is controlled by some of these actors through the undemocratic structures of that body, such as the Security Council. It is amazing how the UN can supervise and co-exist with killers of Congolese and Ugandans in Eastern Congo for the last 20 years and they are not bothered at all,” Museveni said.

Museveni thanked Uganda’s security forces for ensuring that Nyege Nyege festival successfully ended without any major incidents. He however admitted that there was credible information that some elements from outside actually tried to infiltrate the occasion.

“I want to congratulate the security forces for successfully protecting the suspected sinners of Nyege Nyege in Jinja, until their function was over, without a single incident. This shows you the strength of the Uganda security system to be able to guard such a long pre-announced massive public function, the threats of the terrorists notwithstanding. It is true that the pigs of ADF in Congo had sent a few infiltrators to try and disrupt the function of the suspected sinners,” Museveni said.

Meanwhile, on a lighter note, Museveni wondered why the grasshoppers were not coming mid-way into November the month in which they appear.

“This is Museneene…Where are they? Climate change? I do not eat the Nseneene. However, I always wish the Nseneene, the fish eaters, etc. good luck. Inform me when the Nseneene appears. How about the enswa (the flying ants)? October is Kashwa- the month of the enswa. Did they appear?” 


Tuesday 14 November 2023

Latvian woman ‘withdraws’ rape case against Pastor Joseph Collins Twahirwa of Epikaizo Ministries International in Bugoloobi: Cites forgiveness as the reason to withdraw the rape charges

 Pastor Joseph Collins Twahirwa


Ugandan Prosperity Pastor Joseph Collins Twahirwa of the Bugolobi-based Epikaizo Ministries International accused by Saulite Anda, a Latvian national of rape: 3 detectives arrested for bungling rape case involving pastor Twahirwa 


Ugandan pastor Joseph Collins Twahirwa of the Bugolobi-based Epikaizo Ministries International charged with raping Latvian tourist, remanded: Lady in Latvian tourist rape saga fears for her life 


Pastor Joseph Collins Twahirwa alias prophet TJ Collins of Epi Kaizo Ministries-Bugolobi who was accused of rape wins humanitarian award 

Latvian woman ‘withdraws’ rape case against city pastor 

Written by Ernest Jjingo

Saulite Anda, the Latvian national who earlier this year accused a city pastor of luring her into the country before he allegedly raped her, has since withdrawn the case, The Observer has learnt.

According to the withdrawal letter dated July 18, 2023 that The Observer has seen, Anda cites forgiveness as the reason to withdraw the rape charges against Pastor Joseph Collins Twahirwa of Epikaizo Ministries International in Bugoloobi.

The withdrawal letter is addressed to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the director of the police’s Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID).

“I humbly submit my application to withdraw the above-mentioned case after forgiving Mr Twahirwa Joseph Collins wholeheartedly,” reads in part the withdrawal letter addressed to the office of the DPP.

Adding; “I hope from today (August 23, 2023) and onwards, he will live freely since I have no other grievances in reference to the above case.”

According to the stamp on the withdrawal form of the Criminal Investigations Directorate, the same letter was received on August 28. When contacted, Irene Nakimbugwe, the deputy spokesperson of the office of the DPP, acknowledged receiving the withdrawal letter which she says was dropped off by an unknown person at Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s court and they cannot ascertain whether it was really written by Anda or not.

Nakimbugwe added that they told the person who dropped off the letter to tell Anda to go and see the DPP personally to understand her reasons of withdrawing the case but they have never heard from her and currently don’t even know her whereabouts.

“We have failed to get in touch with either the person who dropped off the letter or Anda herself. If she was indeed intending to withdraw the case, she should have come and approached us because we took so much interest in her case. At the time the case was ongoing, she came personally, met the DPP and told her the ordeal she had gone through. The DPP went over and above to ensure that the pastor is apprehended and the case is sanctioned and then from nowhere we receive a letter that she is no longer interested in the case,” she said.

Because the DPP has failed to verify the authenticity of this letter allegedly from Anda withdrawing the case, Nakimbugwe says that the state will still go ahead with prosecuting the pastor for the alleged crime since he was already committed to the High court pending trial and only waiting for the High court to give them a day for the hearing and proceed.

Speaking about the matter, Pastor Twahirwa, 28, a lawyer by profession, claimed witch-hunt, wondering why the DPP continues to prosecute him when the complainant has since lost interest in pursuing the matter.

“I am being witch-hunted and I have been deliberately denied justice in my own country for the past one year. I have made losses and many things yet many people depend on me,” Twahirwa said, adding that he was the first to file a case of cyber harassment against Anda on January 1 this year but no action was ever taken.

Monday 23 October 2023

When the Rich in Uganda Plot to kill the Poor in order to Snatch their land: 100-year-old widow living in fear after surviving attempted arson attack

 100-year-old woman living in fear after surviving attempted arson attack |  Monitor

22 “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless. Exodus 22:22-24

100-year-old woman living in fear after surviving attempted arson attack |  Monitor

100-year-old woman living in fear after surviving attempted arson attack 

Tuesday 10 October 2023

Anglican church of Uganda in crisis

 Archbishop Kazimba Mugalu

Anglican church in crisis




Namirembe, Luweero dioceses crises deepen intrigue, fraud in bishop elections

The Anglican church in Uganda is facing a stern test of integrity following the recent controversies arising from two botched elections of bishops for the influential dioceses of Namirembe and Luweero.


Controversial elections of bishops are not new in the Anglican church but in this case, especially that of Namirembe, the stakes are so high they transcend pastoral leadership to include influences in key appointments and finances. At the centre of the impasses are nomination committees, elders, petitioners and an uncompromising House of Bishops, something that has placed the church integrity at stake.

Typically, the election of a bishop is considered a sacrosanct process. However, in the cases of Namirembe and Luweero, it has transformed into an intense campaign, with supporters of various candidates investing millions. On October 4, the House of Bishops convened to decide between Canon Moses Banja and Canon Abraham Muyinda to determine the successor to the retiring Wilberforce Kityo Luwalira as the bishop of Namirembe diocese, with the consecration planned for December.

Yet, the House of Bishops chose to annul the nominations of both candidates. This decision followed a last-minute petition by some prominent diocesan elders, who pointed out significant flaws in the process led by the nominations committee. Earlier, on June 25, the same House of Bishops, through Canon William Ongeng, the provincial secretary of the Church of Uganda, had nullified the election of Canon Godfrey Kasana as the bishop elect of Luweero due to concerns about his integrity.

Adams Sadiki, the provincial spokesperson for the Church of Uganda, stated that the House of Bishops has formed a committee to probe the circumstances leading to these issues. This committee will also provide guidance to the nominations committee on how the new selection process should be conducted.


Tensions in Namirembe are palpably high, with various influential figures from religious and business sectors vying to have their chosen candidate succeed.

“Namirembe is more than just a diocese. It stands as a colossal business empire, rivaling only the Kabaka of Buganda in assets and influence. Hence, the intensity surrounding the bishop’s position,” revealed a senior cathedral warden who wished to remain unnamed.


Another informant suggested that the influence over Namirembe extends from the Buganda kingdom establishment, involving certain royals and venerable families that have deep-rooted histories.

“The kingdom plays an indirect yet significant role, with many pivotal decisions being made after consulting with them. The kingdom has vested interests in the bishop’s appointment,” he remarked.

While eleven candidates presented themselves to succeed Luwalira, the primary contenders are Canon Moses Kayimba, Canon Edward Stephen Kabanda, and Canon Banja. It’s evident that the incoming bishop of Namirembe will wield significant power, not just in spiritual realms but also in land management and overseeing numerous diocesan initiatives.

Such intense races for the position aren’t novel for Namirembe. However, an elder noted that this particular race garnered public attention mainly due to the outgoing Bishop Luwalira’s indecision on his successor.


“In the past, the incumbent bishop’s preference for his successor was evident, and alignments formed accordingly,” he commented.

Inside sources from the diocese speculated that Luwalira initially leaned towards the young and rising Kayimba, while others believed Kabanda was being prepped for the role. Yet, by the time nominations came around, Banja seemed to have gained Luwalira’s favor. However, Namirembe isn’t a typical diocese. With parishioners already thinking post-Luwalira, his sway over the nominations committee, appointed by the reigning bishop, appears to be diminishing.

One notable point was the elders’ petition to the House of Bishops, which featured testimonies from seven members. They challenged the way Fred Mpanga, the diocesan chancellor, finalized the nominations for Banja and Muyinda. Attempts to contact Mpanga, Banja, and Muyinda for comments were unsuccessful. With all the undercurrents and displayed discord, it’s uncertain how the selection will unfold, but it’s clear that the diocese is facing challenging times ahead.


In April 2023, the House of Bishops declared Canon Godfrey Kasana as the successor to the bishopric of the Luweero diocese. Despite his triumph over eight competitors, the election process was clouded with allegations of deception, bias, and fraudulent practices. The nomination committee for the Luweero diocese, headed by attorney Apollo Makubuya, thoroughly evaluated all candidates, ultimately forwarding Canon Kasana and Rev. Abel Sserwanja Merewooma to the House of Bishops for the final selection.

Notably missing from this shortlist was Canon Geoffrey Muwanguzi, the provost of St. Mark Cathedral - the principal church of the Luweero diocese. Muwanguzi was placed third in the preliminary assessments. This set the stage for the unfolding controversy. A subsequent petition by diocesan elders, fronted by Kenneth Kikabi, revealed that Merewooma lacked two critical qualifications for the bishop’s role. He neither met the age criteria of 45 years nor had the required decade-long priesthood experience, as dictated by the Anglican Church canon laws.


Yet, Merewooma maintained his eligibility, with insiders suggesting his close affiliations with the upper echelons of Uganda’s Anglican church could be influencing factors. The nomination committee’s attempts to interrogate Kikabi hit a snag when he evaded personal appearances to substantiate his claims.

Moreover, suspicions arose around the veracity of Kikabi’s identity, leading some to believe it was a pseudonym adopted by discontented petitioners. Nevertheless, due to the undeniable evidence against Merewooma, the House of Bishops excluded him from the final consideration.

This pivot paved the way for Kasana’s unchallenged ascendancy. In a surprising move, Can Muyinda, initially eliminated during the vetting stage, was reintroduced as a potential candidate for the bishopric of Luweero. This twist intensified the prevailing tensions. Ultimately, Kasana clinched the coveted position, securing 25 of the 36 votes cast. Notably, Muyinda subsequently emerged as one of the contenders for the recently contentious Namirembe diocese bishop election.


Shortly after the decision, Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba presented Kasana with an official letter of confirmation, marking his election as the fourth bishop of the Luweero diocese. Following this, Kaziimba dispatched another letter to Kasana, outlining preparations for his consecration set for July 9.

This communication, a copy of which The Observer acquired, advised Kasana to engage in fundraising efforts among Christians and patrons. It also highlighted the necessity for Kasana to acquire his vestments and mace. However, this celebratory atmosphere was disrupted when another petition spearheaded by Kikabi emerged, challenging Kasana’s election.

The dispute centered around allegations of an illicit affair with a woman named Milly Nakyomu, claiming that two children, Kibaya and Gubi, were born from this liaison. In subsequent communications on June 25, Kasana informed Kaziimba of having amassed Shs 200m for the consecration, with Shs 50m already expended on the robes and mace.

But just three days later, Canon Ongeng made a public announcement on the Church of Uganda’s Family Television. He declared that the House of Bishops, after convening at the Kabalega resort hotel in Hoima, had decided to annul Kasana’s election due to concerns regarding his integrity.

Ongeng’s statement read, “This exceptional decision was reached after receiving credible evidence suggesting that the bishop-elect’s integrity was misrepresented during both the nomination and election processes, which rendered the election null and void. The House of Bishops has mandated the diocesan nominations committee to initiate fresh nominations within the next month, concluding by July 31, 2023. The subsequent election will take place on August 1, 2023, and the consecration and enthronement of the new bishop will occur on August 6, 2023, at St Mark’s Cathedral, Luweero.”

In the wake of this development, retired Bishop James Ssebaggala was appointed as the interim bishop of Luweero, representing the archbishop. Efforts to reach Archbishop Kaziimba proved futile as he remained unresponsive to numerous call attempts. In contrast, Adams Sadiki, the communications officer of the Archbishop’s office, requested more time to provide a statement.

In the background, six bishops, who wished to remain unnamed, expressed their concerns to our reporters. They indicated that their apprehensions arose from printouts of messages between Kasana and Nakyomu. These messages revealed consistent communication and occasional monetary transfers even post-election. One bishop from Kigezi remarked on the unusual nature of the evidence, saying,

“We based our decisions on this circumstantial evidence, which we found perplexing.”


Following the sudden reversal, Kasana contested the decision. Given the delicate nature of the allegations, both parties agreed that an external investigation was necessary to validate the claims against him. Over three months, investigators interviewed key figures including Kasana, Nakyomu, Kikabi, and Kaziimba.

The preliminary findings of the investigation, which The Observer has reviewed, are shocking. Kasana’s defense hinged on a professional relationship with Nakyomu. He shared that she worked as a matron and bursar at his Sekamuli SS from 2016 to 2018. According to Kasana, he began making installment payments to Nakyomu to settle outstanding salary arrears upon her resignation in 2018. He vehemently denied any romantic or personal relationship with her.

“He affirmed he was simply settling her dues and nothing more,” the draft report reveals.

When challenged to produce the alleged children stemming from their supposed relationship, Kasana retorted that the accusers should furnish evidence of their existence. The investigative report indicates that during subsequent interviews with both Kikabi and Kaziimba, neither could provide concrete evidence of the existence of the children. However, Kaziimba told investigators the decision to nullify Kasana’s election was rooted in concerns over integrity.


Sources informed The Observer that in July, Kaziimba summoned Kasana and his wife for a meeting. Kaziimba reportedly emphasized the need to uphold the church’s integrity. He then proposed that Kasana take a three-month hiatus in the USA to recuperate from the unfolding scandal.

This gesture was rebuffed by Kasana. When pressed for concrete evidence supporting the allegations, Kaziimba allegedly could only produce call records showing frequent communication between Kasana and Nakyomu. The draft report reveals an oversight; there was no internal disciplinary action or investigation undertaken before the annulment of Kasana’s bishopric appointment.

Kaziimba’s subsequent establishment of a diocesan disciplinary tribunal to examine the allegations was deemed irrelevant by Kasana, but it has never summoned him. This perceived injustice led Kasana to file two lawsuits in the High court: one challenging his unfair dismissal and the other accusing Kaziimba of defamation. The plaints suggest that despite the issuance of letters validating his bishop-elect status, Kasana never received any formal dismissal.


Investigations unearthed that incendiary dossier, originating from a number associated with Kikabi, were first circulated in the WhatsApp group of St Mark Cathedral. The group’s administrator was Can Geoffrey Muwanguzi. When questioned, Muwanguzi acknowledged his role but emphasized the platform’s neutrality. As investigators delved deeper, it became apparent that ‘Kikabi’, the supposed 20-year-old petitioner, might be a fictitious character. The draft report posits, “Our probe suggests that ‘Kikabi’ is a facade operated by Geoffrey Saku.”


Sources reveal that the unfolding drama has taken a toll on Bishop Ssebaggala, who has reportedly informed Kaziimba of his intention to vacate his position due to growing unrest in the diocese. Financial ramifications are already evident, with some parishes reportedly withholding funds from the diocese. As tensions rise, there are fears of violent confrontations.

“The sooner the House of Bishops resolves this situation, the better. The current stalemate is fueling hostility,” warned a cathedral warden.

On September 24, Ssebaggala was forced to flee from angry Christians that accused him of conniving with Kaziimba to frustrate Kasana. A source claimed that Ssebaggala gets a weekly allowance of Shs 1m on top of a monthly salary of Shs 5m but in the wake of the Kasana debacle, some parishes have since withheld remitting finances to the diocese.

“This crisis is about to reach boiling point that will create bloodshed,” warned a warden at St Mark’s cathedral.
“The earlier the House of Bishops sorts to confusion, the better, otherwise the continued delay is only serving to fuel tension and bloodshed.”


The Observer has acquired a letter from Kaziimba directing a restart of the nomination process for the next Luweero bishop. However, this move is seen by some as a ploy to favor certain candidates, particularly Merewooma, who will soon meet the canon law requirements on age and service.

A recent petition demands the suspension of the current nomination process until Kasana receives an official annulment letter. As the saga unfolds, it remains to be seen how Archbishop Kaziimba will restore order to the beleaguered Luweero diocese. One thing is clear: the unfolding drama threatens to plunge the Anglican church into deeper turmoil.

Hypocritical Babylon USA has been a Disappointment as a Global leader: First French troops withdraw from Niger as US cuts aid: Russia’s Putin says Israel-Gaza conflict shows US ‘failure’ in Middle East

 US Officially Declares Niger Change a Coup, Cuts Aid

Niger: First French troops withdraw as US cuts aid 

 Tuesday, October 10, 2023 


The first French soldiers left Niger on Tuesday in an overland convoy under local escort, possibly to Chad, just as the United States announced the withdrawal of its aid to the country, which has been ruled by a military regime since late July.

The withdrawal of the French troops was quickly demanded by Niger's generals after they came to power, and French President Emmanuel Macron announced their departure at the end of September.

Until now, some 1,400 French soldiers and airmen have been deployed in the country to fight jihadists alongside the Nigeriens, including around 1,000 in Niamey and 400 at two forward bases in the west, at Ouallam and Tabarey-Barey, in the heart of the so-called "three borders" zone with Mali and Burkina Faso.

US cuts Niger aid by more than $500 million as France starts troop pullout

A convoy of soldiers from Tabarey-Barey arrived in Niamey at midday on Tuesday, along with heavy goods vehicles carrying equipment and armoured vehicles, according to an AFP journalist.

The final destination of the French convoys has not been officially communicated, but according to sources close to the matter, they should then head for the Chadian capital N'Djamena, 1,600km away, where the command of the French Forces in the Sahel is located.

"The first departures are taking place, in accordance with the planning and coordination underway", AFP learned earlier from the French armed forces.

A plane with French equipment and a first group of priority military personnel (medical evacuations, in particular) also took off from Niamey on Monday, another military source said.

The Niger regime had announced on Friday that the withdrawal of the French soldiers would take place "in complete safety".

"Coup d'état"

On Tuesday, the United States, which has some 1,100 troops in the country and a major drone base in Agadez (central Niger), formally described the military takeover of power on July 26 as a "coup d'état", and consequently announced the withdrawal of some $500 million in economic aid.

"We are taking this step because over the past two months, we have exhausted all available avenues to preserve constitutional order in Niger," said State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

"Any resumption of U.S. aid will require steps" by the regime "to restore democratic governance in a timely and credible manner", added Mr. Miller.

For the time being, however, the US will keep its troops in Niger.

Another US official indicated that these soldiers were no longer actively assisting and training Nigerien forces, but would continue to monitor the jihadist threat.

Dangerous journey

Following France's departure from Mali and then Burkina Faso over the past 18 months, Niger had become a key partner for French anti-jihadist operations in a region where armed groups affiliated to the Islamic State and al-Qaeda are rampant.

This latest withdrawal presents the French with a dual logistical and security challenge.

Travel options are limited, if not dangerous, with the risk of anti-French demonstrations, but also the presence of jihadists linked to Boko Haram and the West African branch of the EI (Iswap) in the Diffa area (eastern Niger).

Niger's land borders with Benin and Nigeria have been closed since the coup. And the Nigeriens have forbidden French civilian and military aircraft from flying over their territory, unless an exemption has been granted.

On the other hand, borders have been reopened with Algeria, Libya, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad.

After concluding a combat partnership with Niger against jihadist groups, France had discreetly beefed up the Niamey compound, with armoured vehicles and helicopters, to reinforce the five-armed Reaper drones and at least three Mirage fighter jets already on site.

Computer equipment, modular shelters for aircraft, cockpits for drones and engineering bulldozers are also on site: all equipment that the French army has no intention of leaving behind.

 Russia’s Putin says Israel-Gaza conflict shows US ‘failure’ in Middle East

 The Russian leader made the comments while meeting Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani in Moscow, days after Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel. (Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

Russia’s Putin says Israel-Gaza conflict shows US ‘failure’ in Middle East  


  • Russian leader: US had ‘tried to monopolize regulating (the conflict) but, unfortunately, were not preoccupied with looking for compromises that would be acceptable for both sides’

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday the Israel-Gaza conflict showed the “failure” of Washington’s Middle East policy and called the creation of “an independent sovereign Palestinian state” a “necessity.”

The Russian leader made the comments while meeting Iraq’s Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani in Moscow, days after Hamas launched a massive attack on Israel.
“I think many people would agree with me that it’s a clear example of the failure of US politics in the Middle East,” Putin said.

He spoke of the “necessity to implement the decisions of the UN Security Council on the creation of an independent sovereign Palestinian state.”

Putin said the US had “tried to monopolize regulating (the conflict) but, unfortunately, were not preoccupied with looking for compromises that would be acceptable for both sides.”
The West had “not taken into account the fundamental interests of the Palestinian people,” he said.
A day earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the creation of a Palestinian state was the “most reliable” solution for peace in Israel.

The Kremlin said earlier on Tuesday that a visit by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, planned before the Hamas attack on Israel, to Moscow was in preparation but did not give a date.
Moscow has said it was concerned that a foreign player could enter the conflict after the US moved warships closer to its ally Israel.


Monday 9 October 2023

M23 Fighting flares in DR Congo, forcing 50,000 to flee: Congolese MP ordered to pay $100m in 8 days, sentenced to death over M23 rebels

 Fighting flares in DR Congo forcing 50,000 to flee | Monitor