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Feb 17, 2015

Interview – U.S. army to provide equipment, intelligence to fight Boko Haram

DJAMENA (Reuters) – The United States military will provide communications equipment and intelligence to help African nations in the fight against Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, the commander of U.S. Special Forces operations in Africa said.

West African military commanders have long complained that cross-border operations against Islamist groups, from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in Mali to Boko Haram in Nigeria, have been obstructed by lack of compatible communications equipment, making it hard to swap information and coordinate.

Feb 16, 2015

Chad begins U.S.-backed military exercise as warm-up for Boko Haram

DJAMENA, Feb 16 (Reuters) – Chad launched a U.S.-backed
counter-terrorism exercise on Monday with 1,300 soldiers from 28
African and Western countries, billing it as a warm-up for an
offensive against Nigeria’s Islamist insurgent group Boko Haram.

The “Flintlock” manoeuvres unfolded as Chad and four
neighbouring states prepare a task force to take on Boko Haram,
the biggest security threat to Africa’s top oil producer Nigeria
and an increasing concern to countries bordering it.

Jan 30, 2015

Africa looks to extend new disaster insurance to Ebola-like epidemics

DAKAR (Reuters) – African countries want to extend a new catastrophe insurance fund, which made its first payout of $25 million this month, to include protection against epidemics in the wake of the devastating Ebola outbreak.

The African Risk Capacity (ARC) agency, a specialized body of the African Union, launched a scheme last year to insure against natural disasters. It is an effort to break Africa’s reliance on foreign aid and address the impact of climate change by using innovative financial techniques.

Jan 15, 2015

African states must overcome distrust for Boko Haram force to work – U.N.

DAKAR, Jan 15 (Reuters) – The four African nations most
threatened by Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram must put aside
mutual distrust and agree on a command structure and strategy
for a fledgling regional force if they want to defeat the
militants, a top U.N. official said.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, U.N. Special Representative for West
Africa, said the international community could only help Nigeria
and neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon once they clearly laid
out the assets they lacked to fight Boko Haram.

Dec 15, 2014

France urges African nations to take charge of their security

DAKAR (Reuters) – France urged African nations on Monday to step up cross-border cooperation to tackle security challenges from Islamist groups in southern Libya to Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, as it seeks to scale back its military commitments on the continent.

Amid budgetary pressures at home, France is looking to reduce security commitments in Africa. It is scaling back the 2,000 troops it deployed a year ago to curb Christian-Muslim violence in Central African Republic, a former colony.

Dec 1, 2014

Ukraine urges greater military aid from Europe, U.S.: minister

DAKAR (Reuters) – Ukraine’s foreign minister urged Europe and the United States to begin supplying arms to his country, saying it would help deter pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s eastern provinces and restore peace.

Pavlo Klimkin said that, although a ceasefire deal agreed in Minsk in September with Russia and rebels was being violated daily, it remained the best blueprint for ending violence in which more than 4,300 people have died since mid-April.

Nov 14, 2014

Exclusive: MSF should have called for Ebola vaccine earlier, says aid group veteran

DAKAR/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Medecins Sans Frontiers “wasted time” by waiting too long to call for vaccines to fight an unprecedented outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, a veteran of the medical charity told Reuters.

The group’s response to the epidemic which has so far killed more than 5,000 people has been widely praised by governments and the World Health Organization. While Western donors dithered and other aid groups pulled out, MSF deployed hundreds to the Ebola “hot zones” and treated more than 3,000 patients.

Nov 6, 2014

Ebola surging in Sierra Leone amid lack of treatment centers: U.N

DAKAR (Reuters) – The number of Ebola cases is surging in Sierra Leone due to a lack of treatment centers, the United Nations said, while scarcity of food may also be forcing some people to leave quarantined areas, risking further spread of the virus.

The warning by the U.N. Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) came as Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Health said Ebola had so badly damaged confidence in the West African country’s health system that many people were dying from other diseases as the sick refused to come to clinics for treatment.

Nov 4, 2014

Gold, diamonds fuelling conflict in Central African Republic- U.N. panel

DAKAR, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Gold and diamond sales are being
used to finance conflict in Central African Republic and United
Nations peacekeepers should monitor mining sites to clamp down
on illicit trade, a U.N. panel of experts said.

In a report, the panel also said the peacekeeping mission
(MINUSCA) should deploy troops to the remote north of the
country and use drones to monitor the rebel-controlled region to
put an end to simmering violence there.

Oct 21, 2014

MSF aims to start drug trials in Ebola clinics next month

DAKAR (Reuters) – The medical charity Medecines Sans Frontieres (MSF) intends to start trials of experimental Ebola drugs in its treatment centers in West Africa next month, as it steps up measures to tackle the worst outbreak of the disease on record.

Bertrand Draguez, medical director of MSF Belgium, said academics and the World Health Organization (WHO) were currently assessing which drugs to include in the tests. Meanwhile, a team of experts in West Africa was assessing which treatments should be tested in which MSF clinic, he said.