Earlier this year, police in Niger broke up a complex trafficking and forced-labor ring involved in exploiting dozens of children and hundreds of Ghanaian workers. A catchall term for illicit movement of goods and people, “trafficking” evokes images of drugs, guns, kidnapping, abuse and even slavery — and is often associated with organized crime and human suffering.
Controlling the profits from this type of activity is one driver of violent conflict in many parts of Africa, including West Africa’s Sahel region. In northern Mali, for instance, competing militias battle to control routes used to traffic shipments of illegal drugs.
But my research suggests that ordinary people elsewhere in the Sahel region may experience trafficking quite differently.… Seguir leyendo »
What happened in Niger?
On 10 December, assailants struck a Nigerien military camp close to the settlement of Inates on the border with Mali, killing more than 70 soldiers in the deadliest attack on security forces in the country’s history. The Islamic State’s affiliate in Mali and Niger claimed responsibility for the attack. Its fighters reportedly used mortars and kamikaze vehicles to storm the base. In its statement, the Islamic State said it had captured weapons, ammunition, vehicles and even “a number of tanks”. This claim could not be independently confirmed.
The attack by the Islamic State affiliate, which has escalated its campaign in the area around Inates since April, is part of an emerging trend of large-scale jihadist operations against military outposts in the central Sahel.… Seguir leyendo »
Set deep in the desert outside Tindouf, Algeria, the Sahrawi refugee camps are a remote yet lively political hub. The camps are home to 173,000 refugees of a forgotten conflict: an older generation who remember the war against Morocco from 1975 to 1991, and a younger generation born in the camps since the latter year’s ceasefire agreement. All are active in the struggle for a return to the disputed territory of Western Sahara, a 100,000-square-mile coastal stretch of desert now mostly controlled by Morocco. The camps resemble other Saharan settlements, with trucks threading through low sand-clad structures and herds of camels, goats and sheep grazing the desert bush.… Seguir leyendo »
Uninhabited and less than three miles long, the rocky, flat area known as Guerguerat falls under no formal government rule. It lies near North Africa’s Atlantic coast, some 40 miles north of Nouadhibou, a thriving Mauritanian port city. The main industry — if you can call it that — is smuggling. And it could be the place where Africa’s next war begins.
Since August, this remote area has been the site of a standoff between two enemies that have been at an impasse for more than two decades: Morocco and the Polisario Front. Not since 1991 have they been closer to war.… Seguir leyendo »