"So that they may have life" is the motto of this year's Africa Day of the aid organizations missio Aachen and missio Munich. A pious wish? In some countries on the continent, death reaps rich harvests.
Shortly before the turn of the year, the World Food Program WFP sounded the alarm. Southern Sudan faces famine catastrophe. Severe flooding has brought the already politically unstable country to the brink of the abyss, it was reported.
Food shortages, mismanagement and fighting – South Sudan, which started out in 2011 as the "youngest country in the world" with high hopes, is not alone in this situation. News from Africa is often not good news – this was the case in 2019 and will most likely continue in 2020.
Zimbabwe: Dramatic price increases have made food and gasoline unaffordable for many inhabitants. There is ferment in the country that got rid of its permanent ruler Robert Mugabe two years ago.
His successors do not seem to be doing any better. The Catholic bishops accused the political leaders around President Emmerson Mnangagwa of inaction.
Poor situation in the Sahel states
The situation in the Sahel states of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, where various terrorist groups are active, has worsened considerably. They are increasingly networking and, according to observers, also exchanging fighters. Rallying movements like Jama'at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin (JNIM), an amalgamation of three Malian militias, thus succeed in operating across borders.
JNIM has spread mainly to Burkina Faso, where terrorist attacks have multiplied since the beginning of 2016. More than 486.000 people are currently on the run. At the end of October, the UN emergency office OCHA counted 268.000 children unable to attend school. Targeted attacks deepen a split in society.
Until now, Burkina Faso has been regarded as a model for the coexistence of different ethnic and religious groups. Terrorists are deliberately stirring up mistrust with attacks on churches, for example.
The situation around Lake Chad and in northeastern Nigeria also remains precarious. The group Boko Haram and its offshoot, the "Islamic State" in the West African province (ISWAP), are not currently carrying out any major attacks. In the meantime, however, ISWAP has been able to establish itself in remote rural regions. Among other things, the organization controls local markets and partially takes over basic services for the population – because the Nigerian state is conspicuous primarily by its absence.
One of Africa's forgotten crises is that in the English-speaking part of Cameroon, where about one fifth of the 25.6 million inhabitants live.
Nobel Peace Prize goes to Africa
The region has long felt neglected by the French-speaking central government in Yaounde. Separatists demand the founding of their own state Ambazonia. According to information from the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the ongoing violence has left nearly 680 people displaced.000 people on the run.
According to recent reports by Human Rights Watch, clashes have increased again recently, including when ten leaders of the separatist movement were sentenced to life in prison. The widely announced national dialogue by long-term president Paul Biya (86) has so far brought no improvements. Although more than 100 opposition members and government critics have been released from prison. The real questions remain unresolved.
Are there rays of hope? In the past two years, the Nobel Peace Prize has gone to Africa. Just recently, Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepted the award in Oslo for his commitment to resolving the border conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia. In 2018, the Nobel Committee honored Congolese physician Denis Mukwege. It treats the victims of sexualized violence in the war-torn regions in the east of the huge country.
"The brutality continues to increase," the 64-year-old said recently in an interview with the Catholic News Agency (KNA). In the province of North Kivu alone, more than 680 are waiting, according to Doctors Without Borders.000 displaced persons on aid. When aid organizations like missio Aachen and missio Munich ask for donations with their Africa Day now approaching, the long-suffering civil society on the continent can use it well.