West and Central Africa Correspondent
David's Feed
Jul 9, 2014

Dutch special forces in Mali tackle changing threat: minister

DAKAR (Reuters) – Dutch troops have joined a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Mali to meet a growing security threat from the region to the Netherlands, and Europe as a whole that “softer” approaches can no longer contain, the Dutch foreign minister said.

The Netherlands has deployed some 450 Special Forces troops, intelligence operatives and attack helicopters to a U.N. force rolling out across northern Mali, where al Qaeda-linked Islamists occupied swathes of the country before being driven back last year by French troops.

Jun 23, 2014

West African Ebola epidemic “out of control” – aid group

ACCRA/DAKAR, June 23 (Reuters) – An Ebola epidemic in
Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is out of control and requires
massive resources from governments and aid agencies to prevent
it spreading further, medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières
said on Monday.

In its latest report on the crisis, the U.N. World Health
Organisation said the regional death toll had reached 350 since
February. The crisis is already the deadliest outbreak since
Ebola first emerged in central Africa in 1976.

Jun 13, 2014

West African leaders not taking drug problem seriously enough: Annan

DAKAR (Reuters) – Governments in West Africa are not taking the challenge posed by drug trafficking seriously enough and inaction has allowed high-level criminals to escape, forcing foreign involvement, former U.N. chief Kofi Annan told Reuters.

Over the past decade, West Africa’s string of poor, weak nations have become a major transit zone for Latin American cocaine headed to Europe. The flow of Asian heroin is up and experts say there is evidence of amphetamine-type stimulants being made in and exported from the region.

Jun 12, 2014

Decriminalize drugs in West Africa to avoid failures of past: report

DAKAR (Reuters) – Governments in West Africa should decriminalize drug use and treat the issue as a health problem, because a “war on drugs” will fail in the region as it has elsewhere, a new report by regional experts said on Thursday.

The West Africa Commission on Drugs report says a time of fewer civil wars, booming economies and increased democracy risks being spoiled by the “destructive new threat” of drug trafficking.

May 15, 2014

Special Report: Despite deaths, crackdown, Sahara migrant trail thrives

AGADEZ, Niger (Reuters) – After 92 people died of thirst attempting to cross the Sahara in late September, the government of Niger moved to shut down its decades-old desert migrant routes.

“We cannot remain indifferent in the face of this tragedy,” Colonel Garba Maikido, the governor of the country’s main northern town of Agadez told national radio. “We must take measures so that this type of tragedy never happens again on our territory.”

Apr 11, 2014

Africa must back entrepreneurs: Omidyar Network

DAKAR (Reuters) – Entrepreneurs are central to bridging Africa’s widening inequality gap but most governments on the continent are not doing enough to help them, the regional head of billionaire Pierre Omidyar’s philanthropic arm said.

The Omidyar Network, set up by the founder of eBay and his wife, works through grants and equity investments to maximize the social impact of organizations in sectors like technology, entrepreneurship and government transparency.

Mar 19, 2014

Niger fears contagion from Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists

DIFFA, Niger, March 19 (Reuters) – A proverb in the Hausa
language, spoken on both sides of the border between Niger and
Nigeria, warns: “When your neighbour’s beard is on fire, fetch
water and soak your own.”

With conflict in Nigeria’s north between the army and the
Islamist militants of Boko Haram killing hundreds every month,
many in southern Niger fear not enough is being done to stop it
spreading.

Mar 13, 2014

With training and partnerships, U.S. military treads lightly in Africa

DIFFA, Niger (Reuters) – On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. “Speed, aggression, surprise!” an instructor barks as two Nigeriens wrestle a U.S. adviser out of a car.

The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara’s southern flanks that the United States organizes each year. Washington’s aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light.

Mar 13, 2014

Analysis – With training and partnerships, U.S. military treads lightly in Africa

DIFFA, Niger (Reuters) – On a dusty training ground in Niger, U.S. Special Forces teach local troops to deal with suspects who resist arrest. “Speed, aggression, surprise!” an instructor barks as two Nigeriens wrestle a U.S. adviser out of a car.

The drill in the border town of Diffa is part of Operation Flintlock, a counter-terrorism exercise for nations on the Sahara’s southern flanks that the United States organises each year. Washington’s aim is to tackle Islamist militants in the Sahel region while keeping its military presence in Africa light.

Jan 31, 2014

Insight: Surge in cocaine trade undermines Conde’s bid to revive Guinea

CONAKRY (Reuters) – A surge in cocaine trafficking has transformed Guinea into West Africa’s latest drug hot spot, jeopardizing President Alpha Conde’s efforts to rebuild state institutions after a military coup and attract billion of dollars in mining investment.

Locals and Latin Americans long-accused of smuggling are operating freely in the country, some with high-level protection from within Conde’s administration, according to Guinean and international law enforcement officials and internal police reports seen by Reuters.