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Mann Taylor's Home Page
Sahara News Update, July, 2019
update has been compiled by Christer Wilkinson from a variety
Conflict Group Report
Readers are reminded that the Crisis Group
(www.crisisgroup.org) publishes a detailed monthly report on all rebel
attacks and other violent incidents in the three countries covered
in this news summary.
This month there was yet again no news on the western hostages, but
in the south east of Niger, there was the reported return of 10 ex-Nigerien
hostages including a 2-year-old girl, kidnapped and kept in captivity
in neighboring Nigeria for a month and a half after negotiations with
The IOM DTM site reports for all three countries were available in
time for this report.
DTM Niger (June 2019)
The flow back from Libya continues to be greater than the flow
out. The average flow per day by this route is now only 126 of which
about 70 are returnees. The largest single outward flow northwards
is now to Algeria, at about 150 a day. In the south there are larger
movements due to the problems with Boko Harem.
DTM Tchad (June 2019)
The monitoring stations in the north of Tchad are still inoperative.
The IOM reports a total of only 500 migrants a day with the largest
number passing through Sarh the south. This may be a result of the
inoperative monitoring points.
DTM Mali (June 2019)
There was a rather confusing period statistically, reflecting
the fact that there was an increased number of internally displaced
people. (One report puts the total 150,000).
The migrant flow excluding these figures is about balanced in and
out, but with a noticeable shift in migrants heading north-west to
head for Europe via Spain rather than Libya.
But another IOM report indicates that more refugees in Niger appear
to be heading back to north Mali and specifically Gao, Tombouctou,
and Menaka with the reduction in attacks there. But the total number
of refuges left in Niger is still over 50,000.
A Canadian group GoviEx announced that it had agreed with the government
to start uranium mining at a site north of Arlit in Niger.
Mamane, a Nigerien comedienne famous for his imaginary country of
Gondwana was reported to have returned to Niger.
The prominent activist Abdourahmane Lirwana was released from prison
after a one year sentence, reportedly for having organized an illegal
demonstration in Niamey, the capital.
At a checkpoint outside Niamey a number of arms were seized as a result
of a routine traffic stop.
It was reported that 11 died from a sinking of a rowing boat on the
Goulbi, a temporary water course and lake during the rainy season
The opposition party of Hamad Amadou was reported to be suffering
from internal rifts.
It was reported that ARCEP, the Niger regulatory authority, has identified
Moov, Airtel and Niger Telecom as having committed telecoms fraud
for its use of provided infrastructure. The actual cause is not clear
from the reports.
Somair, the major uranium company based in Niger, announced that it
was to continue mining operations in some of the existing extraction
areas despite the close down of others as report in the last news
Seven local Tuareg leaders were reported killed by EGIS (an Islamic
rebel group) in west Niger, near the Mali border in July.
There was a survey reported in mid-July by the Economist magazine,
which highlighted the amount of debt to China incurred by the West
African states as a result of the recent Chinese economic initiatives.
These debts do not all figure in the IMF debt raking. According to
the article Niger was one of the most indebted country in this region
with somewhere between 75% and 90% of its GNP being owed to China
via its various trade deals. This of course does not allow for any
net revenue from these trade deals so strict comparisons with conventional
debts is tricky.
President Deby went to Saudi Arabia to meet the king. It is clear
that he is looking for more help from the Middle East and specifically
the Gulf States and Saudi to support Tchad, which has significant
debts. This is despite its oil revenue, which is less than expected
due to the low price of oil worldwide.
After sixteen months of limited access, the internet was unblocked
in Tchad. Previously it could only be freely accessed via private
There was an internal dispute reported between Tchad customs and justice
over the role of intermediaries in customs clearance.
There is concern expressed in Tchad of an overspill from the revolt
in Sudan, which was still underway at the time of this report.
A cholera outbreak was reported in southern Tchad: 15 people affected
in a region close the border with Cameroun.
In the north increased tension was reported in the gold mining area
of Miski in the southern Tibesti, which was the scene of some conflicts
between the government force and self-protection militias earlier
An accord was announced late in July between various militia groups
in central Mali and close to Mauritania. However the IOM reported
an increasing numbers of people are becoming IDPs, presumably due
to the recent fighting in central Mali.
The government of Mali signed a military cooperation agreement with
Russia in late June: this is part of an initiative by Russia to make
agreements with African states.
There was an attack on the French military base at the town of Gao
on the Niger river in the north of the country: it did not penetrate
the base itself but there were several casualties.
The USA has added several top members of AQIM and related rebel groups
to its terrorist list.
The UK is to send some 200 soldiers to Mali in 2020 to take part in
the UN peace keeping force in the north.
The MSA (the secular rebel movement in the north) has moved to closer
cooperation with the Mali government.
There was yet another demo in Kidal, the main rebel town in the north
which is still not in Mali government control. The demo was, as before,
against the Mali government, and its failure to satisfy the demands
of the Alger’s peace agreement.