Somalian journalists have become endangered species and are “under siege”, facing bombings, beatings, attacks and arrests, rights group Amnesty International said on Thursday in a report.
The East African nation has long been seen as one of the riskiest places to work as a journalist, with the twin threats of reporting on conflict and draconian restrictions imposed by the authorities.
But now the situation is getting even worse, Amnesty said, in a report titled “We live in perpetual fear”, detailing what it called a “dramatic deterioration” in press freedom, AFP reports.
“A surge in violent attacks, threats, harassment and intimidation of media workers is entrenching Somalia as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist,” Amnesty said, calling on the government to take action.
Journalists face threats on all fronts, from attacks by Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-allied Al-Shabaab fighters, to the internationally backed authorities.
At least eight journalists have been killed since 2017, and at least eight more fled the country fearing for their lives, the report said.
“From barely surviving explosive-wired cars, being shot, beaten up and arbitrarily arrested, journalists are working in horrifying conditions,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty’s head for eastern and southern Africa.
“This crackdown on the right to freedom of expression and media freedom is happening with impunity. The authorities hardly investigate or prosecute perpetrators of attacks on journalists,” Muchena said.
Reporters Without Borders ranks Somalia 164th out of 180 countries on its global list of press freedom, with more than 43 journalists killed over the past decade.
Heavy rains threaten Uganda’s coffee crop quality
Uganda’s coffee crop quality could see a decline in the coming months as heavy rains across the country have reduced the amount of sunshine necessary for bean drying.
Uganda is Africa’s largest exporter of coffee followed by Ethiopia and grows mostly robusta variety.
The country has been pounded by unusually heavy rains that started in August resulting in deaths, displacement and extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure.
Western Uganda, including the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains , some of the biggest coffee growing areas, has received some of the most intense rains.
Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), the state-run regulator, forecasts Uganda’s bean exports will climb 16 percent to 5.1 million 60-kg (132-pound) bags in the current crop year ending September.
The country’s coffee output has surged in recent years, the fruition of a government programme that has been distributing free seedlings to farmers to expand acreage and replace aging trees.
Authorities say their target is to help boost annual production to 20 million bags by 2025.
The beans have traditionally been Uganda’s biggest commodity export but were recently overtaken by gold which now annually earns the country over $1 billion.
Tanzania, France sign water supply loan agreement
Tanzania has signed a loan agreement with France to finance water supply projects that will benefit about 770,000 people in the country’s Morogoro municipality.
The French government will extend the loan worth about $76 million to Tanzania through its French Development Agency (AFD), according to Dotto James, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning who signed the agreement on behalf of Tanzania.
“Upon completion, the water supply in the Morogoro municipality will increase from the current 37,000 cubic meters a day to 108,000 cubic meters a day,” James told a press conference following a signing ceremony in Morogoro.
AFD Country Representative for Tanzania, Stephanie Mouen says the project will improve the well-being of the people in the municipality and it will also improve the environment.
Uganda approves return of over 2,500 nationals stranded abroad
Over 2,500 Ugandan nationals stranded abroad amid the Covid-19 pandemic can now return home as approved by the Ugandan cabinet.
The cabinet on Monday, agreed that Ugandan nationals trapped in 66 countries can return home at their own cost.
The government is making arrangements with the UN World Food Program (WFP) to fly the stranded citizens home, Judith Nabakooba, the country’s minister for information, communication technology and national guidance says, adding that all the returning citizens will have to undergo a 14-day mandatory institutional quarantine.
President Yoweri Museveni last month, directed Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda to study the possibility of evacuating dozens of citizens stranded abroad amid Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions.
To contain the spread of Covid-19, the country on March 22 suspended all incoming flights, except cargo flights.