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UN Security Council to hold first meeting on Cameroon this month

Rights groups have accused the United Nations of ignoring the conflict in Cameroon

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cameroon crisis
Cameroonian general Donatien Nouma Melingui, in charge of military operations in the South-West Region of Cameroon

The UN Security Council will hold a first informal meeting on Cameroon this month to discuss a worsening humanitarian crisis that has left three million people struggling for food.

The United States is organizing the May 13 meeting after persuading African countries on the council to drop their initial reluctance to talks on the two-year separatist conflict in Cameroon’s west.

South Africa, a non-permanent council member, had expressed reservations, arguing that the African Union was leading the international response to the crisis, according to diplomats.

“It’s long past time for the Security Council to address what’s going on in Cameroon, where we’re seeing a devastating humanitarian crisis,” a spokesperson for the US mission to the United Nations said Saturday.

“We hope this meeting will draw more attention to this disaster and encourage a more robust regional and international response by member states, the UN, and civil society in order to prevent the situation from deteriorating even further.”

Cameroon is wracked by a conflict between separatists and government forces in its English-speaking regions, combined with an influx of refugees from the Central African Republic and Nigeria.

More than one in six people in Cameroon — 4.3 million — need humanitarian aid, an increase of 30 percent from 2018, according to UN aid officials.  

The meeting will have a particular focus on the separatist conflict, according to a note sent by the US to the council on Friday and seen by AFP.

More than 560,000 people have been driven from their homes since 2017 including 32,000 who have fled to Nigeria, the note said.

Starving children

Rights groups have accused the United Nations of ignoring the conflict in Cameroon, where separatists in English-speaking regions are pushing for independence from the majority French-speaking country.

The government has responded with a crackdown, deploying thousands of soldiers.

More than 200 members of the security forces and at least 500 civilians have been killed, according to figures from the International Crisis Group think-tank.

Cameroon is also reeling from the spillover violence in neighboring Nigeria, which is battling Boko Haram insurgents and from ongoing turmoil in the Central African Republic.

Three million people are in need of food aid, tens of thousands of children are out of school and 220,000 children are suffering from acute malnutrition, according to the US note.

In February, the government and aid groups launched an appeal for $299 million to fund humanitarian needs, but only 11 percent of that amount has been raised.

“Cameroon has not witnessed a humanitarian emergency at such a scale, and the causes of the different crises are but intensifying,” said the UN’s humanitarian coordinator for Cameroon Allegra Baiocchi in late April.

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Central Africa News

Measles is a bigger threat in DR Congo than Ebola – NGO

Last year, cases more than doubled to almost 350,000 from 2017, according to the World Health Organization

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Measles has killed 2,758 people in DR Congo since January, more than the Ebola epidemic in a year, medical NGO Doctors Without Borders said, and called Saturday for a “massive mobilisation of funds.”

The disease, preventable with a vaccine, has infected over 145,000 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo between January and early August, it said in a statement.

“Since July, the epidemic has worsened, with a rise in new cases reported in several provinces,” said the NGO that goes by its French acronym MSF.

“Only $2.5 million has been raised out of the $8.9 million required for the Health Cluster response plan  — in stark contrast with the Ebola epidemic in the east of the country, which attracts multiple organisations and hundreds of millions of dollars in funding,” it added.

MSF tweeted that without a “massive mobilisation of funds and response organisations, the current measles outbreak in #DRCongo could get even worse.”

The NGO said it has vaccinated 474,860 children between the ages of six months and five years since the beginning of the year and provided care to more than 27,000 measles patients.

In the country’s east, Ebola has claimed more than 1,900 lives since erupting last August.

Measles is a highly-contagious diseased caused by a virus that attacks mainly children. The most serious complications include blindness, brain swelling, diarrhoea, and severe respiratory infections.

Last year, cases more than doubled to almost 350,000 from 2017, according to the World Health Organization, amid a rise in “anti-vaxxer” sentiment in some countries that can afford the vaccine, and lagging resources for the preventative measure in poor nations.

DR Congo declared a measles epidemic in June.

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76 people survive shipwreck in DR Congo

The motorised boat was carrying around 100 passengers when it capsized on the lake, near the eastern city of Bukavu.

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DR Congo boat accident claims 11 lives, dozens missing

76 people have survived a shipwreck on Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a regional official said Saturday. However, more than a dozen people are feared to have drowned in the same incident.

The motorised boat was carrying around 100 passengers when it capsized on the lake, near the eastern city of Bukavu. 

“We have already registered 76 survivors,” said Swedi Basila, the regional transport minister for South Kivu province, adding that up to 20 people were still missing.

“No body has been found until now,” he told AFP.

The vessel had been on its way to the island of Idjwi when it hit a large rock and capsized, Basila said.

River transport is one of the most used in DR Congo with its numerous waterways. Boat mishaps are common, typically caused by overloading of passengers and cargo.

Tolls are often high because there are no life jackets and many Congolese do not know how to swim.

In April, at least 167 people were killed in two accidents, prompting President Felix Tshisekedi to make it mandatory for boat passengers to have life jackets. 

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DR Congo authorities ban rallies in Kinshasa as tensions rise

Tensions rose in the capital after youths announced they would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister

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UDPS opposition party leader Felix Tshisekedi gestures to supporters as Authorities bans rallies

DR Congo authorities have banned political rallies this week in the capital Kinshasa because of tensions between supporters of President Felix Tshisekedi and those of former leader Joseph Kabila, police said Sunday.

Tshisekedi was elected in December to replace Kabila who presided over sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest country for nearly two decades.

Tensions rose in the capital after the youth wing of Tshisekedi’s Democracy and Social Progress party (UDPS) announced it would hold a protest against the candidacy of a former justice minister for the senate presidency.

In response, the pro-Kabila Red Berets movement said it would hold a counter-march to support the candidacy of Alexis Thambwe, who is considered by many a hardliner from the Kabila regime.

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Kinshasa police chief General Sylvano Kasongo told state television that given the tensions in the capital, Kinshasa’s governor had banned all political rallies for this week. “He instructed the police to take all appropriate measures. Anyone who attempts to march or disturb the public order this week will find the police in their way,” he said.

UDPS youth wing spokesman Fils Mukoko told reporters they wanted to protest against seeing “the same faces in charge of the country’s institutions or in the government.”

Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC) coalition won comfortable majorities in both houses of parliament as well as provincial assemblies, and his supporters also dominated elections for the governorships across the country.

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None of the candidates the FCC presented for seven key Senate posts is from Tshisekedi’s CACH alliance in the legislature despite an agreement to work together between the two political blocs.

Six months after Tshisekedi’s inauguration and more than a month after the appointment of Prime Minister Ilunga Ilunkamba, who was proposed by Kabila, CACH and FCC negotiators are still struggling to agree on the composition of the government.

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