Index

Index
The153 Club
The Agades Cross
People of the Sahara
Saharan Landscapes
Books on the Sahara(1)
Books on the Sahara(2)
Books on African Art
Saharan Salt Trade
The Gundi
Illizi Festival 2000
Sahara Freeze-up
Camel Cheese
153 Club Newsletter
153 News Update
Join the 153 Club
Today's African News

Père de Foucauld
L'Arbre du Ténéré 1
L'Arbre du Ténéré 2
Saharan Forts 1
Saharan Forts 2
Saharan Rock Art
Giraffe Engravings
Leo Africanus
Battuta's Saharan travels
Shabeni's Timbuktu
Timbuctoo the Mysterious
Heroditus & Pliny on Libya
Timbuktu, a poem

Joliba Trust
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 1
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 2
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 3
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 4
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 5
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 6

Old Michelin Maps
Early NW Africa Map 1
Early NW Africa Map 2
Early NW Africa Map 3
Early NW Africa Map 4
Early NW Africa Map 5
Saharan Exploration

Henry Barth 1
Henry Barth 2
Henry Barth 3
Denham & Clapperton 1
Denham & Clapperton 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 1
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 3
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 4

External Links

Jim Mann Taylor's Home Page
___________________________

 

 

 

Index

Index
The153 Club
The Agades Cross
People of the Sahara
Saharan Landscapes
Books on the Sahara(1)
Books on the Sahara(2)
Books on African Art
Saharan Salt Trade
The Gundi
Illizi Festival 2000
Sahara Freeze-up
Camel Cheese
153 Club Newsletter
153 News Update
Join the 153 Club
Today's African News

Père de Foucauld
L'Arbre du Ténéré 1
L'Arbre du Ténéré 2
Saharan Forts 1
Saharan Forts 2
Saharan Rock Art
Giraffe Engravings
Leo Africanus
Battuta's Saharan travels
Shabeni's Timbuktu
Timbuctoo the Mysterious
Heroditus & Pliny on Libya
Timbuktu, a poem

Joliba Trust
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 1
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 2
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 3
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 4
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 5
Ibn Khaldûn quotes 6

Old Michelin Maps
Early NW Africa Map 1
Early NW Africa Map 2
Early NW Africa Map 3
Early NW Africa Map 4
Early NW Africa Map 5
Saharan Exploration

Henry Barth 1
Henry Barth 2
Henry Barth 3
Denham & Clapperton 1
Denham & Clapperton 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 1
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 2
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 3
Haardt & Audouin-Dubreuil 4

External Links

Jim Mann Taylor's Home Page
___________________________

 

 

 

153 News Update, Apr. - Jul. 2017

This update has been compiled by Christer Wilkinson from a variety of sources.

News update:

Steven McGown is free and back in South Africa.

Early in August news came through of his release. This was accompanied by a claim that some 4.32M$ had been paid.

The charity 'Gift of the Givers' declined to comment on the ransom but did admit that they facilitated the negotiations and did arrange contacts, and that the last phase of the negotiations would not have been possible without the support of the army and the use of private helicopters and planes.

They also stated that talks between the governments of South Africa and Mali, as well as their intelligence services, had been essential.

David Mahlobo the States Security Minister for South Africa said that there were no conditions for the release of McGown and added that along with government and NGOs, President Jacob Zuma had played a big role in his release.

Tchad
Tchad, compared with Mali has been very quiet this period, at least in the south. But the economic situation there is giving increasing concern given the continuing low price of oil, an issue which is facing many other oil producing states.
There are a steady series of articles about the situation, including curiously some from other African countries news sources. All have their point of view. But even the president has pointed out how much he has been spending on counter terrorism (500m$), and how he has had to cut back on civil servants benefits and he now has a budget deficit of some 550m$ out of a GNP of 9.6B$ (less than Mali).
The dispute with Glencore and its participation in the Tchad oil industry rubbles on, and is of impenetrable complexity, with totally varying and occasionally contradictory reports.
The parliamentary deputies of Tchad whose mandate expired some time ago are still in place due to a position of the president that elections are not economically viable.
Of course every country has issue with the probity of its officials, and Tchad is no exception. In this period the press reports included two ministers dismissed, and some 110m$ recovered by state prosecutors.
In addition, the dispute with the unions rumbles on and on with the occasional strike and demonstration mainly in the capital, N’Djamena as it has for nearly two years.
In the east there are still a large number of refugees. Some are planning to return due to the ameliorated conditions in Sudan, but there are still 400,000 reported in camps by the UN. There are also 100,000 in the south near the CAR and 100,000 in the Lake Tchad area as refugees from Boko Harem from which there are still occasional deadly raids and kidnapping despite the military successes against them earlier this year.
Indeed as the period ended there was a report of an ambush just over the border in Nigeria with some 80 plus casualties.
In this period a most interesting study was published about northern Tchad which demonstrated that a lot of violent incidents, particularly with regard to gold prospective activity in the north and central Tchad was just not being reported in the normal press nor African sources.
The reference details of this report are listed at the end of this news summary. This report paints a rather different picture of the recent activity in Northern Tchad, which on the surface has been quiet for several years.
The one hostage taken in the east of Tchad in the last period was freed and returned to Tchad from Sudan. It is not clear if a ransom was paid. No new hostages were reported in this period.

Niger
The news this period has been full of regular reports of migrants either being rescued or found dead in the desert trying to go northward to Libya or Algeria. Some are on the conventional route via Dirkou and some on the route to southern Algeria via Arlit despite the fact that the border is reported effectively closed most days of the week.
The reports are all vague and indicate that some trucks carrying migrant are avoiding normal routes (presumably because of checkpoints). The statistics on this traffic are not clear. Some are in fact contradictory: for example one states that most of the people leaving Niger are Niger nationals (who by this definition are not migrants till they leave Niger). But the statistics of arrivals into Libya in another source state that the majority are Nigerian. Not Nigerien. The traffic could be increasing or decreasing. But whatever it is deadly. The number of deaths from this traffic reported in the press rivals that from the conflict in Mali.
More details of the individual prospector gold mining in the north near the Algerian border are emerging and confirming that whilst these activities near Djado have been stopped, and are now being done by approved commercial enterprises, those near Algeria are still an open territory. The details vary and the amount of gold reported recovered seems surprisingly large. This prospecting has to a large extent been made possible by the new generation of metal detectors available at a reasonable price.
There are ongoing but sporadic demonstrations against the current government in Niamey and regular complaints from the opposition parties claiming unconstitutional treatment.
Bolo Harem raids continue in the Diffa area in the south east of the country near Lake Tchad, despite the military success against Boko Harem further south. Unfortunately these raids are not all that Niger has to endure. There are also raids from groups in the south west near Burkina Faso and also some raids in the north west from groups coming over the border from Mali. There are of course still many refugees near the Mali border and numerous displaced people near Diffa in the south east. There are claims that the Niger military sometimes does not distinguish correctly between Boko Haram rebels and refugees.
To make matters worse during this period were reported two disease outbreaks: of hepatitis and meningitis respectively. And then there were floods. About 200 people were affected in Agades.
No new hostages were taken in Niger in this period.

Mali
Again, I regret that I cannot report positive news on Mali.
The north of this country still has continual violent and deadly clashes of one type or another, almost every week, and the focus of these clashes is moving southwards and spilling over into Niger. The majority of these clashes are attacks by Islamic rebel groups against the Mali government forces or installations, but some are inter rebel group or inter militia clashes. The statistics reported in one source estimate some 600 deaths so far this year.
The attacks have spread even to the capital area Bamako, and there have also been some attacks from rebel groups across the border in Burkina Faso.
There have been some widely reported integration and confidence building moves between the secular rebels and the government in the north, but the end results on the ground seem meagre.
Macron, the new French president has made no less than two visits to Mali since taking over. He has pledged continued French support: but will it have any long term effect?
A plan was announced by the president of Mali, (the so called IBK) to spend large sums of money in the north. A figure of 3B$ was quoted, but the time period was unclear. This, from a country with a GNP of less than 14B? Perhaps they hope to get overseas donors to pitch in? In the past such initiatives have proved to be phantoms, and the funds do not arrive or are not spent appropriately.
There are still a large number of displaced people after the revolts of 2012. The UN reports:
* 57,000 In Mali
* 50,000 in Mauritania
* 25,000 in Burkina
* 55,000 in Niger
And the reduction rate of these refugee camps is now minimal. The recent upsurge in violence has stopped returnees. Meanwhile the GDP of Mali has stopped growing after a spurt in the 2010 period: a common issue across much of West Africa, both Tchad and Niger have the same issue.
No new hostages were taken in Mali in this period.

Western Hostages
Some good news at last. One of the two long term hostages, the Swede Johan Gustafsson was released. His co-hostage, Steven McGowan, remains in captivity: over 2000 days and rising.... The release of the Swede even made it to the mainstream BBC news.
His release came suddenly, just after a report that the African charity “Gift of the Givers “ had given up, having made no progresses except to reduce the ransom demand , and had met with an intermediary in Qatar earlier in the year to no effect, and had appealed to the head of Qatar for assistance.
There was also a video released via Gulf sources of the remaining long term hostages, including an appeal from Steven McGowan
Hostages left in captivity are:
* French: Sophie Pétronin
* South African: Steven McGowan
* Australian: Ken Elliott
* Swiss: Beatrice Stockly
* Columbian: Gloria Nevarez
* Romanian: Iulian Ghergut,
Curiously there was no news and specifically no mention in the video about the other hostages released in earl July about the hostage from Niger, Jeffery Woodke taken from near Abalak last year, probably by another rebel or Islamic group. His wife made a video appeal in July just for the kidnappers to contact her. The lack of any contact is alarming.
In addition to western hostages, there are also a number of Mali hostages taken by various Al Qaeda groups. But reports on these hostages are limited. I cannot even confirm a number.

Reference:
“Tubu Trouble: State and Statelessness in the Chad– Sudan–Libya Triangle”
By Jérôme Tubiana and Claudio Gramizzi
A co-publication of the Small Arms Survey’s Human Security
Baseline Assessment for Sudan and South Sudan and the Security
Assessment in North Africa with Conflict Armament Research
http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/about-us/highlights/2017/highlight-hsba-wp43.html


Have you yourself travelled in North West Africa? Then you should be interested in joining us. Join. See Newsletter for details of our all colour Newsletter issued three times a year to members. We have been going since 1978.