Daily Archives: January 3, 2019

Cameroon’s English-Speaking Areas Becoming Deserted

KUMBO, CAMEROON Towns and villages in Cameroon’s restive Anglophone regions are being deserted as battles rage between separatists and the country’s military. The fighting intensified after President Paul Biya’s New Year’s message in which he insisted that his military would neutralize separatists who refuse to lay down their arms.

A senior Cameroon military official, who did not wish to be named, warns in a report that visiting the mostly deserted northwestern town of Kumbo he will need military protection.

He says separatist fighters have been launching heavy attacks in the area and may be among the few people left on the streets.

On a ride through the streets of Kumbo, under military protection, it’s clear that most houses, markets and public places are abandoned while some homes and schools have been torched.

But Kumbo resident Mbiybe Tatah says that many locals are fleeing because they are afraid – not of separatists but of the military. They accuse Cameroon troops of burning their houses and shops in retaliation for failing to inform on separatist fighters hiding in their villages, he says.

“These armed military men just shoot at random and they term (call) people in Kumbo terrorists,” he says.

Tatah says people began fleeing after President Paul Biya’s New Year’s speech.

Many observers had expected Biya to announce the release of some separatist leaders in a bid for peace. But, he instead repeated a vow to eliminate all those who refuse to stop fighting and lay down their weapons.

The governor of the English-speaking northwest region, Deben Tchoffo, refutes claims that the military retaliates against civilians.

But he says they cannot allow separatists to terrorize people and destroy what Cameroon has built since independence.

“The head of state is still asking those that were misdirected to lay down their weapons. If not, they will be neutralized. I am therefore launching an appeal to those of the northwest region to heed to the call of the head of state. If not, they will be neutralized.”

Tchoffo says there have been many casualties since fighting intensified after Biya’s speech but he did not give figures.

Abdoul Jinguil Mussa, a crisis management expert with the Lake Chad Basin Commission, says Cameroon needs an independent body to lead peace negotiations with the separatists.

“People have died on both sides of the conflict. A lot of families have been displaced, property has been destroyed. That is why we say the best solution is when both parties have agreed that they are both losing. We need both parties to sit together in good faith, let the mediator be someone neutral, someone who is going to be there for peace to reign,” Mussa said.

Cameroon’s unrest began in November 2016 when English-speaking teachers and lawyers demonstrated against the growing dominance of French in the officially bilingual country.

Separatists took over the movement and started demanding independence for the English-speaking North West and South West regions.

In October 2017, Cameroon’s separatists declared what they called the English-speaking Republic of Ambazonia and vowed no cooperation with the government in Yaounde.

Cameroon says over 1,000 people have been killed in fighting since, including 200 policemen and troops, while hundreds of thousands have fled to French-speaking regions.

Source: Voice of America

Cameroon’s English-Speaking Areas Becoming Deserted

KUMBO, CAMEROON Towns and villages in Cameroon’s restive Anglophone regions are being deserted as battles rage between separatists and the country’s military. The fighting intensified after President Paul Biya’s New Year’s message in which he insisted that his military would neutralize separatists who refuse to lay down their arms.

A senior Cameroon military official, who did not wish to be named, warns in a report that visiting the mostly deserted northwestern town of Kumbo he will need military protection.

He says separatist fighters have been launching heavy attacks in the area and may be among the few people left on the streets.

On a ride through the streets of Kumbo, under military protection, it’s clear that most houses, markets and public places are abandoned while some homes and schools have been torched.

But Kumbo resident Mbiybe Tatah says that many locals are fleeing because they are afraid – not of separatists but of the military. They accuse Cameroon troops of burning their houses and shops in retaliation for failing to inform on separatist fighters hiding in their villages, he says.

“These armed military men just shoot at random and they term (call) people in Kumbo terrorists,” he says.

Tatah says people began fleeing after President Paul Biya’s New Year’s speech.

Many observers had expected Biya to announce the release of some separatist leaders in a bid for peace. But, he instead repeated a vow to eliminate all those who refuse to stop fighting and lay down their weapons.

The governor of the English-speaking northwest region, Deben Tchoffo, refutes claims that the military retaliates against civilians.

But he says they cannot allow separatists to terrorize people and destroy what Cameroon has built since independence.

“The head of state is still asking those that were misdirected to lay down their weapons. If not, they will be neutralized. I am therefore launching an appeal to those of the northwest region to heed to the call of the head of state. If not, they will be neutralized.”

Tchoffo says there have been many casualties since fighting intensified after Biya’s speech but he did not give figures.

Abdoul Jinguil Mussa, a crisis management expert with the Lake Chad Basin Commission, says Cameroon needs an independent body to lead peace negotiations with the separatists.

“People have died on both sides of the conflict. A lot of families have been displaced, property has been destroyed. That is why we say the best solution is when both parties have agreed that they are both losing. We need both parties to sit together in good faith, let the mediator be someone neutral, someone who is going to be there for peace to reign,” Mussa said.

Cameroon’s unrest began in November 2016 when English-speaking teachers and lawyers demonstrated against the growing dominance of French in the officially bilingual country.

Separatists took over the movement and started demanding independence for the English-speaking North West and South West regions.

In October 2017, Cameroon’s separatists declared what they called the English-speaking Republic of Ambazonia and vowed no cooperation with the government in Yaounde.

Cameroon says over 1,000 people have been killed in fighting since, including 200 policemen and troops, while hundreds of thousands have fled to French-speaking regions.

Source: Voice of America

Seychelles to ban importation of plastic straws in February; complete ban to follow

In another step to help protect the environment of Seychelles, the island nation’s ministry of environment will ban the importation of single-use plastic straws into the country as of February 1.

A total ban on straws will follow in June.

The ban will include straws used in cocktails and other drinks but will exempt plastic straws attached to juice packets, said a top official.

The ban on plastic single-use straws will be implemented in phases. Following the ban on importation, a total ban will be implemented on June 1, 2019, said Nanette Laure, the director general at the waste enforcement and permit division at the environment ministry.

She explained that a total ban means that no individual or company will be able to import, sell, process or manufacture plastic straws in Seychelles � a group 115 islands in western Indian Ocean.

It is not clear if there is any company producing straws in the country, however, manufacturing was included in the policy so as to cover all aspect of such a ban.

One type of straw to be exempted from the ban will be those found on small packets of juice and milk.

We understand the concerns of other partners and NGOs on the use of straws that come with juice packets. Looking at all the factors, we will need to do the ban in phases as the straws on juice packs fall in another category, but this does not mean that it won’t be banned, said Laure.

It was in June 2018 that the minister of environment announced that a ban will be implemented on the use of plastic straws. The announcement coincided with World Environment Day. A few days later, the Cabinet of Ministers approved the ban.

The public will be able to use paper, pasta or bamboo straws as alternatives. Paper straws are currently the most popular alternative being used.

The Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association lobbied the relevant ministry in regards to the ban in May this year. The association brought onboard many tourism establishments and many of them are already using alternatives in their restaurants.

In an interview with SNA, the chairperson of the Seychelles Tourism and Hospitality Association, Sybille Cardon, had said: For 2018, our association’s main objective is waste management. We want this to be top on our agenda as there was no mention of waste management in this year’s State of the Nation Address by the president.

Straws are easy, but we acknowledge that this will also take time as we have to also educate people on why do we need to use more environmentally friendly alternatives, said the chairperson.

The hospitality group that owns Carana Beach has extended the ‘Refuse the Straw’ campaign to its other properties on Denis Private Island and the Indian Ocean Lodge on Praslin.

The ban on plastic straws is part of an ongoing strategy to reduce and manage the amount of waste that is ending up on the landfill. Laure said that plastic is the main type of waste that is making its way to the landfill.

To tackle this, the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change a ban on the importation of Styrofoam takeaway boxes, and plastic items such as carrier bags, plates, cups and cutlery took effect in January 2017.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

4 frogs in Seychelles, including the world’s smallest

Seychelles is home to an endemic family of frogs called Sooglossids consisting of four species found only on the granitic islands. Due to the extended isolation of the species on a few granitic islands, these amphibians are globally significant and of high conservation value.

SNA presents the four different types of endemic Sooglossid frogs.

This is the third smallest frogs in the world, reaching a maximum length of 11 millimetres. Adult males are 8 millimetres long. The Gardiner’s frog is brown in colour and has a dark stripe running from its mouth to its legs. Newly hatched frog measure only 3mm in length. The species is notable for its ability to hear despite the absence of a middle ear cavity. Research has shown that the species is able to use its mouth cavity to amplify sound and transmit it to the inner ear.

This species is endemic to Silhouette, the third biggest island of Seychelles. The Seychelles palm frog lives in forests higher than 150 metres above sea level. Most of the palm frogs are found in axils of the palm. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has reassessed the species in 2012 and concluded that the frog should be considered as “critically endangered” because of its small area of occupancy.

It is a species of frog found on the main island of Mahe, Praslin and Silhouette. The Seychelles frog lives on the floor of damp at altitudes from 150 to 991 metres above sea level. Higher altitude sites are considered to be more climatically stable and more suitable. The species is present in the Morne Seychellois National Park, Silhouette National Park and Praslin National Park.

The reproductive biology of this species is unusual. Eggs are laidon the ground and guarded until they hatch. The tadpoles are thereafter carried on one of their parent’s backs.

This species is distinct from others due to the fact it has vomerine teeth which are small projections in the top of mouth that function in holding captured prey. The dorsal surface of the species is reddish-brown to golden. Legs and toes are banded with black bands lines and a thin yellow or white line travels dorsally down the back and along the back of the thighs.

In 1996, this species was listed as ‘Endangered’ but is now listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN red list because it is no longer considered as on a very high risk of extinction. It is thought to be threatened by habitat degradation, such as fire and invasive species. This species is also vulnerable to climate change.

Source: Seychelles News Agency

BURKINA FASO: ETHNIC VIOLENCE KILL 13 AS SECURITY WORSENS

OUAGADOUGOU, Thirteen civilians have been killed in the latest ethnic violence in Burkina Faso, the government said, echoing a rise in inter-communal conflicts in neighbouring Mali linked to Islamist violence.

Burkina has seen a spike in attacks in recent months as jihadists seek to increase their influence across the Sahel. On Dec. 31, the government declared a state of emergency in several northern provinces bordering Mali.

Attacks this week show how that violence may be fuelling ethnic clashes for the first time in Burkina.

After nightfall on Dec. 31, armed men on motorbikes descended on the village of Yirgou, made up largely of people of Mossi ethnicity, and killed six people, including the village chief, government spokesman Jean Paul Badoun said.

The following day, Badoun said, Yirgou residents killed seven Fulani herders in apparent retaliation. The residents blamed the herders for sheltering the men who attacked them the day before.

The ethnic violence echoes problems seen in neighbouring Mali where Fulani have been accused of hiding Islamists who have carried out attacks across the region in recent years. Armed men killed 37 Fulani civilians there on Tuesday.

Ten gendarmes were shot dead near the Malian border last week in an attack claimed by Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), an umbrella group for al Qaeda-linked militants in the Sahara.

JNIM claimed responsibility for other attacks this year, including one in the capital Ouagadougou in March that killed about eight security agents and wounded dozens of others.

Thousands of people have fled their homes due to the attacks and reprisals by security forces.

Source: Nam News Network