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Jul 17, 2015

Amid spat with ICC, Habre trial raises hope for African justice

DAKAR/THE HAGUE (Reuters) – With many Africans denouncing the International Criminal Court as ‘white man’s justice’, the trial of Chad’s former dictator in Senegal on charges of crimes against humanity offers the continent a chance to show it can hold its leaders to account.

The start of the trial of Hissene Habre on Monday concludes a 15-year battle by victims and rights campaigners to bring the former strongman to justice in Senegal, where he fled after being toppled in a 1990 coup.

Jun 23, 2015

Concern mounts over rights abuses in regional fight against Boko Haram

DAKAR (Reuters) – The detention for several months of 84 children in Cameroon has highlighted concern that the regional campaign against Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram is leading to rights abuses.

Amnesty International called on Friday for the release of the children, some as young as five, detained by security forces in a raid in December on Islamic schools in Cameroon’s Far North Region which authorities said were Boko Haram training camps. A government spokesman was not available for comment.

Jun 19, 2015

Graft stalls Niger’s bid to end migrant route to Europe

AGADEZ, Niger (Reuters) – In the desert town of Agadez in central Niger, almost anyone can tell you where to find the smugglers’ compounds concealing African migrants headed for Europe and when the weekly convoy departs across the Sahara.

Almost anyone, except the police.

At a checkpoint on the outskirts of town, police officers turned a blind eye as dozens of smuggler’s trucks packed with migrants drove past at nightfall on a regular Monday convoy, starting a three-day drive across the desert to Libya.

Jun 19, 2015

Insight – Graft stalls Niger’s bid to end migrant route to Europe

AGADEZ, Niger (Reuters) – In the desert town of Agadez in central Niger, almost anyone can tell you where to find the smugglers’ compounds concealing African migrants headed for Europe and when the weekly convoy departs across the Sahara.

Almost anyone, except the police.

At a checkpoint on the outskirts of town, police officers turned a blind eye as dozens of smuggler’s trucks packed with migrants drove past at nightfall on a regular Monday convoy, starting a three-day drive across the desert to Libya.

May 28, 2015

African migrants risk all in Sahara to reach Europe

AGADEZ, Niger (Reuters) – In a sandy compound in the Niger desert town of Agadez, a white-turbaned imam blesses a circle of African migrants, some of them little more than boys, to protect them on the journey across the Sahara toward Europe.

A smuggler then gives a signal and the migrants scramble onto a white Toyota Hilux, jostling for a place on the 1,200-km journey to Sabha in southern Libya – a route plagued by bandits and the pitiless desert sun.

May 18, 2015

Guinea opposition vows more protests unless president backs down

DAKAR (Reuters) – Guinea’s opposition leader pledged to continue the protests in which at least four people have been killed unless President Alpha Conde allows prompt local elections.

Cellou Dalien Diallo said Conde had broken a 2013 U.N.-brokered deal with the opposition to organize long-overdue municipal polls before a presidential vote set for October.

May 15, 2015

Desert as deadly as sea for surge of Europe-bound migrants

DAKAR (Reuters) – At least as many migrants may be dying of hunger and thirst in the Sahara as are drowning in the Mediterranean during this year’s huge surge of human trafficking from Libya to Europe, the International Organization for Migration said on Friday.

The number of people traveling through Niger’s vast desert wastes to reach North Africa and Europe could more than double this year to 100,000, the global migration body’s Niger office said. The migrants are often abused by traffickers who abandon them to die in the desert if they run out of money.

Apr 24, 2015

Weary of poverty, Senegalese migrants head for Europe

THIAROYE-SUR-MER, Senegal (Reuters) – After being repatriated to Senegal on a Spanish military plane having risked his life on a perilous sea crossing to the Canary Islands in 2006, Moustafa Diouf founded an association to warn young Africans of the dangers of illegal migration to Europe.

Last week, the secretary-general of his group gave up and took a bus to Morocco from where traffickers smuggled him to Spain aboard a fishing vessel. He was fed up at working without pay because donors did not provide the support they hoped for.

Apr 13, 2015

Nigeria election raises hope of peaceful West African polls

DAKAR (Reuters) – Nigeria’s relatively peaceful elections have set the bar high for a string of votes this year across West Africa, though tensions in Guinea remain a concern, the United Nations’ top regional official said.

Last month Muhammadu Buhari ousted an incumbent president democratically for the first time in Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country. The results of Nigeria’s governor elections also showed a swing toward Buhari’s party on Monday.

Apr 2, 2015

Analysis – Buhari win means Nigeria, not Chad, to lead Boko Haram fight

DAKAR (Reuters) – When Chadian troops occupied parts of northern Nigeria in the 1980s, Nigerian Major-General Muhammadu Buhari chased them back across the border in a show of strength months before he seized power in a military coup.

    Thirty years later, the 72-year-old former strongman has returned as head of state, defeating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan at the ballot box this week, and once again seems determined to end Chad’s presence on Nigerian soil.