Nigeria

Lockdowns, Crackdowns, Diaspora: COVID-19 Seen From Africa

When Lesotho recently discovered its first coronavirus case, it marked the arrival of the pandemic in every country in Africa. Already, 70,000 people have been infected across the continent and the World Health Organisation warns of upwards of 190,000 deaths in Africa this year from COVID-19. The economic impacts are also forecast to be devastating: The World Bank estimated 20 million jobs will be lost in 2020, and as other health issues are pushed to the side, a "hunger pandemic" could follow.


Still, there is hope that Africa might actually wind up relatively well-protected from the pandemic. It is the world's youngest continent, with 60% of the population under age 25, a group that is less susceptible to coronavirus's deadliest impacts. Many African countries have also become accustomed to handling diseases including Ebola, HIV/AIDS and malaria. But a lack of more developed health care systems combined with the difficulty of social distancing in crowded urban centers and multigenerational households might prove to be a lethal combination. Here's how three countries across the continent are tackling the pandemic.


Morocco, Shutdowns & Crackdowns: Since mid-March, the North African kingdom has enforced strict containment measures that have limited the spread of coronavirus. Although, the heavy police surveillance and arrests of more than 85,000 violators has created what one UN operational officer described to Le Monde as a "culture of toxic lockdown" for human rights. Starting during Ramadan, the country has deployed drones to monitor potential social distancing violations and share alert messages. Morocco has also used the pandemic as an excuse to crack down on the limited rights of NGOs and independent journalists, with a drafted March law calling for increased restrictions on free speech, La Croix reports. On the positive side, the country is producing its own innovative PPE: It became an exporter of masks within a few weeks and a group of engineers and computer scientists created a prototype for a smart respirator that can tell if the user is sick. The Moroccan news outlet Yabiladi even reported that more Moroccans in the global diaspora have died of coronavirus than in the country itself. Aid packages have been created for both formal and informal workers, with the government distributing a basic income of around 100 euros a month. But the country's sub-Saharan migrant population has largely been forgotten, with at least 20,000 people facing an humanitarian emergency.

A health worker disinfects a building in the countryside of Sale in Morocco — Photo: Chadi/Xinhua/ZUMA

Nigeria, Oil Fallout & Covid-19 Humor: Despite an increasing number of coronavirus cases, Africa's largest economy is beginning to reopen, with the hope that informal and formal sectors will pick up again. Less than 20,000 people have been tested and social distancing measures including wearing masks and overnight curfews are still in place. While only 10 coronavirus deaths were reported in April, that number is expected to grow exponentially. Over 600 people have reportedly died in the northern state of Kano, raising suspicions of a widespread outbreak. Economically, Nigeria" dependence on its oil industry in lieu of more diversified development has proven fatal with prices collapsing. The country is set to enter its second recession in four years. With schools having been closed since March, remote learning is largely nonexistent, with only one in four Nigerians having internet access. But education is continuing: Nigerian filmmaker Niyi Akinmolayan released an animated video to teach kids about the importance of staying inside and comedians are creating humorous sketches to inform the public.


Ethiopia, Diaspora & Democracy: Plagues of locusts and the coronavirus might prove a deadly combination for Africa's second most populous country. Although only 250 cases have been reported, a coronavirus outbreak in Ethiopia could be devastating, with a ratio of only one doctor per every 10,000 people, according to the World Bank. The country's only ventilator expert is trying to train as many medical professionals as possible. The many Ethiopian doctors who are now working around the world, including in pandemic hotspots like New York City, are also calling into a popular weekly radio show to share their experiences. They provide medical tips and advice on acquiring PPE as well as combat widespread superstitions in the religious country that God will save them from illness. Those with resources including pop star Hamelmal Abate donated their homes to be used as quarantine centers in Addis Ababa. Politically, the country might be gearing up for government upheaval, having decided to indefinitely postpone the August presidential election and its parliament ending its five-year term in October.

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Watch: OneShot — UNICEF: Back To School, Bravo Teachers

Holidays are over, and it's back to school. Frightening or fun, this week marks the beginning of a new adventure for millions of children around the world who will be given a great opportunity to learn, make friends and thrive. This opportunity is made possible by the skills and commitment of teachers who dedicate their life to education and helping kids to build a future, for themselves and society at large.

With this OneShot for the start of September, UNICEF France celebrates the singular mission of the world's teachers.

UNICEF: Back To School — ©UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson

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Lagos Postcard: When EU Pushes Migrants To Go Back Home

Nigerian painter Isaac sold everything and left Lagos, in the hope to make it to Germany. After barely surviving in Libya, he gave up and went back.

LAGOS — In the midst of a heavy night, in the spotlight of the cargo airport of Lagos, a Nigerian politician gives a blazing speech. "You should be grateful," she says to the 160 migrants who have just gotten off a Libyan plane. "Some of you came back with only one leg. Others with only one eye. But you have everything you need to live with God's help. Never forget: Hope comes on quiet feet."

Isaac is sitting on the edge of the hangar and is too tired to tune into this quiet hope. He is lean, about 15 kilograms lighter than before leaving Nigeria for Europe last year. In the morning, before boarding the plane back to his home-country, the 29-year-old was in the Libyan port town of Zuwarah, void of any illusion. Then came the return flight with the help of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) — over the route that almost killed him 14 months earlier overland. Too much to tune into an ode to life.

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Nigeria

Watch: OneShot — Service At Megachurch

OneShot — Service at megachurch, 2013 (©Robin Hammond/NOOR)

OneShot is a new digital format to tell the story of a single photograph in an immersive one-minute video.

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Nigeria
Nicole Macheroux-Denault

Nigerians Trade Europe's Greener Pastures For Rice Farming At Home

After a drop in oil prices left the Nigerian economy reeling, new government policies have boosted rice and other agricultural production. It's a boost to stay home for Nigerians eyeing emigration to Europe.

KURA — Like many of his fellow Nigerians, Abubakar Sani had big dreams to emigrate to Europe. But he never made it out of Libya. After finally returning to Nigeria, he decided to try rice farming, which has become a booming industry in the West African nation. Now, if anyone he meets talks about emigrating, he urges them to follow his example, rather than to try to leave the country in search of a better life.

But there is one hurdle.

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Nigeria
Stéphane Bussard

The Woman Who Stared Boko Haram In The Eye, And Didn't Flinch

GENEVA She didn't expect the enthusiasm with which she was honored. When she received the 2017 Sergio Vieira de Mello Award, which is named after the former High Commissioner for Human Rights who was killed in Iraq in 2003, it was followed by a spontaneous roar of applause. Rebecca Dali, 56, was being feted at the Palace of Nations in Geneva on Aug. 19 — World Humanitarian Day — for her work in Nigeria. At that moment, she felt she experienced a "miracle of God."

Dali runs the Center for Caring, Empowering and Peace Initiatives (CCEPI), which was created in 1989 to help Nigerian women, children and orphans. Despite the radiant smile on her face, she typically works in the shadows.

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Nigeria
Joan Tilouine

Black Gold's Shadow, How Oil Poisoned The Niger Delta

OGONI REGION — Stanley, 40, once considered becoming a fighter. He says he already has a small stash of Kalashnikov assault rifles hidden somewhere. He's not boasting. That's just how things are in the creeks of the Niger Delta. The youth have easier access to weapons than to schools and jobs. But instead of becoming a fighter, Stanley chose a more lucrative industry: oil.

"This oil doesn't belong to foreign multinationals. It's ours. So I became an oil producer," he says as he drives his motorbike by night on a dirt road in the Ogoni region, a 1,000-square-kilometer territory in southern Nigeria's oil-rich Rivers state.

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Nigeria
Jacques Hubert-Rodier

No More Marshall Plans, Africa Needs A New Development Model

Public development assistance has not achieved its objective of reducing entrenched poverty in Africa. Its scarcity requires the use of new forms of co-financing and investment.

PARIS — Why didn't the $1 trillion of aid destined for public development over the past 50 years improve the quality of life for most Africans? This was the question at the heart of Dambisa Moyo's book, published eight years ago, Dead Aid.

The Zambian economist left Oxford and Harvard behind to advocate for a gradual abandonment of the development aid model that accounted for nearly 15% of African GDP. According to Moyo, and a growing number of other economists, this model has had many negative side-effects: a distortion of competition, corruption of the ruling classes, a cumbersome bureaucracy and even the aggravation of ethnic tensions brought on in the divvying up of the "booty."

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Nigeria
Sruthi Gottipati

Caught In The Crossfire In Nigeria

-Analysis-

With the violence that ISIS has sown in the West, it's sometimes easy to forget about Boko Haram, another Islamist terror outfit, which while pledging allegiance to ISIS has confined its horrors to western Africa. There, it has killed an estimated 20,000 people since 2009, with methods of murder that have included using young girls as suicide bombers, establishing itself as one of the bloodiest insurgencies in the world.

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Nigeria

ISIS Resists, Another Cologne-Like Attack, Trump In Pyongyang

SPOTLIGHT: GOOD AND BAD NEWS FOR THE PLANET

Breathe in ... Last year, an estimated 147 gigawatts was added to the world's renewable power capacity — the largest such global rise ever recorded, making it an "extraordinary" year for renewable energies. According to the Renewables 2016 Global Status Report, investment in green energies around the world also reached a new high, with $286 billion in 2015, for a sector that now employs 8.1 million people.

But hold that breath: If change is afoot, it's still considerably spotty. Data recently released by the World Health Organization shows for instance that air pollution levels are rising in many of the world's poorest countries, with cities in Nigeria and Pakistan beating usual suspects like Beijing or New Delhi. Onitsha, a fast-growing economic hub in Nigeria, has earned the infamous designation as this year's "most-polluted city in the world," with particle concentrations exceeding up to 30 times the WHO recommendations. Breathe out ...

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Nigeria

Nigerian Daily On Girl Rescued From Boko Haram

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Vanguard, May 19, 2016

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Nigeria

Boko Haram Razes Nigerian Village, Killing Dozens

Islamist terrorists from Boko Haram razed a small village and two camps nearby Saturday in northwestern Nigeria, bombing and setting fire to huts in an attack that killed at least 86 people, officials say.

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Nigeria

Extra! Boko Haram 'Begs For Dialogue'

Vanguard, August 5, 2015

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Nigeria
Maureen Grisot

The Complicated Recovery Of Former Boko Haram Hostages

More than 270 women and children who were held captive by Boko Haram have been rescued and are recovering in Nigeria, but treatment and taboos are tricky to navigate.

YOLA — These women, whose eyes were shadowed by sorrow and resignation when they arrived in Yola in early May, are little by little smiling again. It was to this eastern Nigeria town, near the Cameroon border, that the Nigerian army brought them after rescuing them from the Sambisa Forest, where Boko Haram fighters held them captive for months. Seventy women and more than 200 distressed and scrawny children, their bellies swollen from malnutrition, ended up in this camp sheltering hundreds of people who fled villages attacked by Islamists.

Fatima was not able to leave her house near Maiduguri in time, before the men with the black flags started shooting and burning everything in their path in December 2014. She was taken prisoner with her 18-month-old daughter. "We went through several towns before arriving in the forest," she says. "In addition to my daughter, I had to take care of seven children from my neighborhood, who were separated from their parents when we were kidnapped. It wasn't easy because we didn't have enough food. I often didn't eat. The children were my priority."

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