Migrant crisis continues in the Mediterranean Sea

The bodies of 74 migrants were found in a beach near Zawiya, a town in western Libya last Monday. Rescuers affirmed that bodies came from an inflatable boat which sank when they were trying to reach Italy.

The raft is believed to have left Libya last Saturday and has been wandering without an engine for some days until it has submerged. From the 74 bodies, three are women. However, it seems that death toll will rise regarding the capacity boat could hold.

Activists assume that the tragedy is anticipating what may happen in the following months, with the start of the main migration season in Libya, which starts in April and lasts until October.

Libya is the one of the most important starting points for African migrants who try to reach Europe and escape war and poverty. Indeed, the so-called Mediterranean route left at least 4,579 people died last year.

Morocco readmitted to the African Union

Morocco, the only country in Africa which was not a member of the African Union, has rejoined the organization after more than 30 years. The country left the organization when the majority of member states recognized the independence of the territory of Western Sahara in 1984.

Western Sahara was annexed by Morocco in 1975, and since then it has been the focus of conflict between the country and indigenous people led by the Polisario Front. This week thirty-nine countries supported the readmission of Morocco into the African Union while nine voted against it.

All in all, Morocco’s return to the organization brings hope of peacebuilding in the territory. The foreign minister of Western Sahara, Mohamed Salem Ould Salek, has affirmed that it is a “positive step” for the population of Western Sahara.

A new research study shows alarming data about air pollution in Africa

A global policy forum has launched a determining study which reveals that Africa’s air pollution is provoking more premature deaths than unsafe water or childhood malnutrition.  This disquieting situation could create a health and climate crisis similar those happening in countries like China or India.

This has been the first major attempt to evaluate both human and financial costs of the continent’s pollution and it underlines that dirty air could be killing up to 712,000 people a year, compared with approximately 542,000 from unsafe water, 275,000 from malnutrition and 391,000 from unsafe sanitation and lack of hygiene.

Outdoor air pollution from traffic, power generation and industries is increasing more rapidly, especially within the fast-developing countries of Africa such as Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria. The main problem is that there is not nearly enough knowledge of the sources of air pollution and its impact in much of Africa.

Sufficient economic and social developments in countries like China have allowed them to concentrate on solving environmental problems. However, most African states have the need to face other urgent issues such as pandemics and malnutrition, and this does not enable them to give a total focus on pollution problems.

Consequently, the report calls for urgent international action in order to help most African countries deal with such serious issue.

Burundi aims to exit the International Criminal Court

Burundi’s lower house of parliament has voted in support of a withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), after the court’s chief prosecutor had announced last April a preliminary investigation of the ongoing situation in Burundi, where hundreds of people have died in violent street protests and political killings.

This has been the first step towards a full investigation in which the government has been blamed for murder, torture, rape and forced disappearances. In August, Burundi also rejected the proposed deployment of more than 200 United Nations police officers to monitor the country’s social instability.

Burundi has been plagued by violence since April 2015, when the current president Pierre Nkurunziza tried a third term despite massive protests by citizens who defined the move as unconstitutional. Hundreds have been killed in the uprisings.

Many African leaders see the court as a European postcolonial tool to beat up on Africa and have repeatedly threatened withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC. Nevertheless, no country has ever withdrawn from the ICC.

Under the Rome Statute, a country that seeks to exit its jurisdiction must formally write to the United Nations secretary general stating its intention. The formal process that comes after could go on as long as a year.