LAGOS, Aug 2 2015 (IPS) – Nigeria seems in no haste to unveil its climate pledge with just four months to go before the U.N. Climate Conference scheduled for December in Paris.
However, unlike Gabon, Morocco, Ethiopia and Kenya – the only African nations yet to submit their commitments – Nigeria has just commissioned a committee of experts to draw up targets and responses for its “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs).
INDCS are the post-2020 climate actions that countries say they will take under a new international agreement to be reached at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in Paris, and to be submitted to the United Nations by September.
Jihadist camps made up of nearly 1,500 children as young as nine have been uncovered in central Africa, according to reports received by a leading Catholic charity at work in the region.
Sources close to Aid to the Church in Need – who cannot be named for security reasons – stated that poverty-stricken youngsters are being lured off the streets of the Democratic Republic of Congo and taken to remote camps where they are being brutalised and indoctrinated by Islamist militia.
Boys, spread across at least three camps in the Ruwenzori Mountains of eastern DRC, were sighted in camouflage kit doing military exercises watched over by soldiers with guns.
The reports describe up to 60 girls huddled together in the camps wearing burkhas, being prepared for marriage to Islamic fighters.
Maria Lozano, ACN vice-director of communications, said: “We have been given access to a variety of materials that shows the nature of these camps. The reports show soldiers wielding rifles, watching over the children aged nine to 15 in military outfits carrying out military exercises. The images we have seen are very disturbing.”
One of the camps is in Medina, about 50 miles from Beni city in the region of which nearly 500 people have been killed in a string of massacres which have taken place since October.
Ms Lozano said: “We are very concerned for the children as they have been lured off the streets with the promise of an escape from poverty. Some of the children are orphans but others have left their families after being deceived by recruiters who build up their hopes by offering them the chance to study in the Middle East, Europe or Canada. The information we have is that the girls are being forced into marriages in which they will be treated as sex slaves.”
The sudden emergence of the jihadist camps is being linked by the ACN sources to UN peace keeping forces with concerns that they are complicit in the camps and that they are intentionally failing to take action against them.
It is alleged that some members of the Mission of the United Nations Organisation for the Stabilization of DR Congo are fundamentalist Muslims from Pakistan who in their spare time in the African country are setting up Quranic schools and working on mosque construction sites.
The ACN contacts have claimed that the mosques have been built in areas where virtually no Muslims were living.
Ms Lozano said: “People don’t feel protected by the UN soldiers; the information we have received suggests that they are supporting the jihadist camps or at least they are not taking action against the indoctrination of children and the barbaric treatment of them.”
According to the 2014 Journal of International Organisations Studies, 28 of the 44 mosques (63 percent) in the Medina region of DRC were erected between 2005 and 2012.
Reports have stated that within a few years Muslim numbers in eastern DRC have risen from one percent to 10 percent.
The Catholic bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Bukavu, in eastern DRC, sent an open letter last May to the country’s President, the UN and international leaders denouncing an upsurge of jihadist fundamentalism in a region traditionally dominated by Christianity and where there have been very few Muslims until now.
Ms Lozano stated: “It has already been one month since the Bishops’ Conference sent their urgent appeal to the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other leaders but nobody has acted.”
For most people in the southern African nation, where unemployment tops 80 percent and the economy continues to feel the after-effects of billion percent hyperinflation a decade ago, the uproar had all the hallmarks of a ‘First World Problem.’
As social media exploded with outrage this week at the killing of Cecil the lion, the untimely passing of the celebrated predator at the hands of an American dentist went largely unnoticed in the animal’s native Zimbabwe.
“What lion?” acting information minister Prisca Mupfumira asked in response to a request for comment about Cecil, who was at that moment topping global news bulletins and generating reams of abuse for his killer on websites in the United States and Europe.
The government has still given no formal response, and on Thursday the papers that chose to run the latest twist in the Cecil saga tucked it away on inside pages.
One title had to rely on foreign news agency copy because it failed to send a reporter to the court appearance of two locals involved.
In contrast, the previous evening 200 people stood in protest outside the suburban Minneapolis dental practice of 55-year-old Walter Palmer, calling for him to be extradited to Zimbabwe to face charges of taking part in an illegal hunt.
Local police are also investigating death threats against Palmer, whose location is not known.
Because many of the threats were online, police are having difficulty determining their origins and credibility.
Palmer, a lifelong big game hunter, has admitted killing Cecil with a bow and arrow on July 1 near Zimbabwe’s Hwange national park, but said he had hired professional local guides with the required hunting permits and believed the hunt was legal.
For most people in the southern African nation, where unemployment tops 80 percent and the economy continues to feel the after-effects of billion percent hyperinflation a decade ago, the uproar had all the hallmarks of a ‘First World Problem’.
“Are you saying that all this noise is about a dead lion? Lions are killed all the time in this country,” said Tryphina Kaseke, a used-clothes hawker on the streets of Harare.
“What is so special about this one?”
As with many countries in Africa, in Zimbabwe big wild animals such as lions, elephants or hippos are seen either as a potential meal, or a threat to people and property that needs to be controlled or killed.
The world of Palmer, who paid $50,000 (Sh5.1 million) to kill 13-year-old Cecil, is a very different one from that inhabited by millions of rural Africans who are more than occasionally victims of wild animal attacks.
According to CrocBITE, a database, from January 2008 to October 2013, there were more than 460 recorded attacks by Nile crocodiles, most of them fatal.
That tally is almost certainly a massive underrepresentation.
“Why are the Americans more concerned than us?” said Joseph Mabuwa, a 33-year-old father-of-two cleaning his car in the centre of the capital.
“We never hear them speak out when villagers are killed by lions and elephants in Hwange.”