Central African Republic

Dozens killed in attack in CAR

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

Map of Central African Republic
BBC

Reports from the Central African Republic say at least 37 people have been killed in an attack on the northern town of Ndele.

Three rebel groups stormed the main market then attacked other parts of the town, setting up a base in a Catholic church.

United Nations peacekeepers and another militia, which previously controlled Ndele, failed to fight off the attackers.

Numerous rebel groups have been operating in the CAR since President Francois Bozize was overthrown seven years ago.

Coronavirus cases climb to 400 across Africa

Chi Chi Izundu

BBC News, Lagos

There are now more than 400 known cases of coronavirus across the continent, with nations imposing a range of measures to try to prevent the spread.

According to the latest data, the breakdown is as follows: Algeria - 60; Benin - 1; Burkina Faso - 15; Cameroon - 5; Central African Republic - 1; Congo-Brazzaville - 1; DR Congo - 2; Egypt - 126; Eswatini - 1; Ethiopia - 5; Equatorial Guinea - 1; Gabon - 1; Ghana - 6; Guinea - 1; Ivory Coast - 3; Kenya - 3; Liberia - 2; Mauritania - 1; Morocco - 37; Namibia - 2; Nigeria - 3; Rwanda - 7; Senegal - 26; Seychelles - 4; Somalia - 1; South Africa - 62; Sudan - 1; Tanzania - 1; Togo - 1; Tunisia - 24.

While many countries are closing schools, banning large gatherings and shutting borders, in Kenya telecom companies have slashed the cost of mobile money transfers in a bid to encourage people to go cashless.

An anti-corruption court in Nairobi has relocated and set up outside the capital.

There is increasing concern about the potential economic impact in Africa.

People working in other parts of the world are likely to have less money available to send to their families back home so there is likely to be a drop in these remittances.

'Death toll rises' after CAR clashes

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

The number of people killed in clashes between rival armed groups in the Central African Republic has risen to 40, local media report.

Most of the dead were civilians - a dozen have reportedly been buried in a mass grave.

The United Nations said the fighting began early on Wednesday after a faction of the Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central Africa attacked the northern town of Ndélé, clashing with the CAR Liberation Movement for Justice.

A year ago a peace deal was signed between the government and 14 armed groups, but fighting continues.

Thirteen die in Central African Republic clashes

Will Ross

Africa editor, BBC World Service

A map of the Central African Republic, showing the location of Ndélé in relation to the capital, Bangui.
BBC

At least 13 people have been killed during clashes between rival armed groups in the Central African Republic.

A UN official said the fighting began on Wednesday morning after a faction of the Popular Front for the Rebirth of Central Africa (FPRC) attacked the town of Ndélé, in the northern province of Bamingui-Bangoran.

A civil war that began in 2013 has displaced more than four million people in the country.

A year ago a peace deal was signed between the government and 14 armed groups, but there have been frequent outbreaks of violence since then as rival groups compete for control of mineral resources.

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Congo basin trees 'absorbing less carbon dioxide'

Scientists say that trees in the Congo basin are absorbing less carbon dioxide (C02) than they were in the past.

The Congo basin, which reaches across parts of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo and Gabon, is the world's second-largest rainforest after the Amazon.

A study published in the journal Nature said that we rely on the trees in the Congo Basin to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), something which fights against climate change, but that the trees had now reached their maximum growth rate.

One of research team, Aida Cuni-Sanchez, told BBC Newsday:

Because there's more CO2 in the atmosphere - which is the food of the plants - the faster they grow. But we discovered the last time we went that they were not growing faster because... they had reached the maximum growth rate.

This happened about 30 years earlier than was predicted.

Rising temperatures and changes in rainfall has [also had] the effect of more trees dying.

Therefore trees are growing a little more slowly and they're dying more, so the overall conclusion is that they're absorbing less CO2 than in the past."

Listen to the interview in full:

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Poor diet and climate pose 'immediate threat' to all children - UN

Every child in the world is at risk from ecological degradation, climate change, migration and "predatory" marketing practices that push heavily processed food, warns a joint report by the UN, the World Health Organization and the Lancet medical journal.

Ranking 180 countries, child and adolescent health experts from around the world said that children in Norway, South Korea, and the Netherlands had the best chances to "survive and thrive".

Children in the Central African Republic, Chad, Somalia, Niger and Mali had the worst chances, it found.

"While some of the poorest countries have among the lowest carbon dioxide emissions, many are exposed to the harshest impacts of a rapidly changing climate," said Minister Awa Coll-Seck from Senegal, Co-Chair of the Commission.

The report also found that childhood obesity had increased 11-fold over four decades. Adverts for alcohol and e-cigarettes, as well as fast food and sugary drinks, are increasingly reaching children, it adds.

"The big message is that no single country is protecting children's health today and for their future," Anthony Costello, professor of International Child Health and Director of the Institute for Global Health at University College London, told AFP.

A child plays in the city of Gao, Mali, in 2013
AFP
The report says children in Mali, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic and Somalia face the worst odds

Diamond-rich area hit by deadly clashes in CAR

Mary Harper

Africa editor, BBC World Service

The Kotto River near Bria, eastern Central African Republic
AFP
The area around Bria is rich in diamonds

Officials in the Central African Republic (CAR) say about 50 people have been killed in ethnic clashes in the east of the country.

The fighting, in the town of Bria, was between members of the Runga ethnic group on one side and the Gula and Kara on the other.

Aid workers said most of the Runga had left the town.

UN peacekeepers have been sent to the area, which is rich in diamonds.

About a quarter of the population of the CAR has been displaced by conflict, which started seven years ago.

US warns against foreign influence in the Central African Republic

BBC World Service

A senior US State Department official has warned against potential destabilisation in the Central African Republic (CAR) ahead of presidential elections scheduled for December.

On his first visit to the country, the US Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Tibor Nagy, said he wanted to know more about the Russian presence there "in their formal and informal capacities".

He had earlier told reporters that the US believed more than 700 Russian soldiers were deployed in CAR.

Ex-rebel returns to CAR as 'man of peace'

Former Central African Republic president Michel Djotodia (C) is received in Bangui by his political supporters - 10 January 2020
AF
Michel Djotodia (C) was given an escort by the security services on his return

Michel Djotodia, a former rebel leader who became president of the Central African Republic (CAR) for 10 months during the civil war, has returned home exactly six years after going into exile.

He led the Seleka rebel group that propelled him to power to become CAR's first Muslim ruler in September 2013.

But the country was plunged into a conflict between the Muslim minority and Christian majority as a band of mostly Christian militias, called the anti-balaka, rose up to counter Seleka.

Michel Djotodia pictured when he was a rebel leader
AFP
Michel Djotodia was a Soviet-trained civil servant and government minister before becoming a rebel leader

In January 2014, at a meeting in Chad organised by regional leaders to try to end the violence, Mr Djotodia resigned and headed into exile in Benin.

More than 14,000 UN peacekeepers are in the country, where armed groups still hold sway.

According to the AFP news agency, Mr Djotodia was welcomed at a hotel in the capital, Bangui, by some of his supporters and was given an escort by the security forces on Friday morning.

He is quoted as telling journalists:

2020 will be a year of peace. I am no longer a man of war, I am a man of peace.”

Afterwards he told AFP:

I urge all the rebels to be patient. There is a peace agreement which has been signed. It is time for all of us, fighters and all Central Africans, to stand up to pacify the country."

The most recent peace deal was signed in February last year, which has lessened the intensity of the violence but not ended it, AFP reports.

He is expected to meet President Faustin-Archange Touadera, who won elections in 2016, later on Friday, the agency says.

The next presidential elections are scheduled to take place in December.