GOMA, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Reuters) – A military plane leaving eastern Congo bound for Italy on Tuesday loaded the bodies of the Italian ambassador and bodyguards in coffins wrapped in the Italian flag, a day after they were shot dead in an ambush at the United Nations Convoy.
Ambassador Luca Attanasio, 43, and his bodyguard Vittorio Iacovacci, 30, died while traveling in a World Food Program convoy to visit a school feeding project. WFP driver Mustapha Milambo also died.
The two crates were loaded onto an Italian military cargo plane in the city of Goma in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, near the Rwandan border. The plane then took off for Rome.
According to the Congolese presidency, a two-car convoy was stopped on the road north of Goma by six gunmen, who killed the Milambo driver and took the other six passengers away. Soldiers and park rangers tracked the group and a gun battle ensued, during which the kidnappers shot the two Italians.
RWANDAN REBELS DON’T BLUE
Congo’s interior ministry blamed Rwandan Hutu rebel militias called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) for the attacks. The FDLR, one of about 120 armed groups operating in eastern Congo, has denied responsibility for what it called the “cowardly killings”.
“The FDLR stated that they were not at all involved in the attack,” the group said in a statement.
The local governor said that the attackers spoke the Rwandan language Kinyarwanda.
The FDLR, set up by former Rwandan officers and militia blamed by the United Nations and others for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, has been blamed for previous kidnappings, including two British tourists who were detained for several days in May 2018.
President Felix Tshisekedi sent his top diplomatic adviser to Goma to support an investigation by local authorities, and the Congolese envoy in Rome will hand over a letter from Tshisekedi to Italian President Sergio Mattarella, the Congolese presidency said.
Dario Tedesco, an Italian volcanologist living in Goma, pays tribute to his friend Attanasio.
“He was able to talk to all of us, very differently because, he adapted to each of us, (made) us feel we were important,” said Tedesco. “He believes in what he is doing and this shouldn’t be his last trip.” (This story corrects the number of passengers to six, in paragraph 4)
Reporting by Fiston Mahamba and Hereward Holland; written by Hereward Holland; editing by Nellie Peyton, Philippa Fletcher, Giles Elgood and Peter Graff
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) – For South African winemaker Vergenoegd Löw, the pandemic could be catastrophic, but a fierce trade war between China and Australia has cost the 325-year-old plantation its toll.
Its red, white and rose bottles pile up as South Africa bans the sale of alcohol under tight lockdown and visitors who once flock to vineyards near Cape Town to sip wine and snap photos of the notorious Indian Runner duck disappear.
That changed when Beijing imposed tariffs of up to 212% on Australian wines in November after Canberra led a call for an investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan.
Not just wine. Beijing hit various Australian goods with customs, created a new layer of bureaucracy and outright banned some Australian imports, giving a boost to African suppliers of anything from coal to beef to copper.
“We can now get a much larger volume of sales,” said Shaun McVey, marketing manager at Vergenoegd Löw, which has signed the new deal in China. “Instead of shipping maybe three or four containers a year, we’ve increased that to 15 to 20 containers.”
Chinese drinkers bought nearly 40% of Australia’s wine exports before long-burning tensions between Beijing and Canberra peaked and brought trade to a sudden halt.
Over the past three months, South African wine exports to China have surged 50%, according to trading agency Wines of South Africa, and hopes are high for more sales after Australian stocks waned during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday.
Martyn Davies, Deloitte’s managing director for emerging markets and Africa, said a protracted trade war would create a wide window of opportunity for miners and other sectors such as agribusiness, although exploiting that potential would require work.
The Chinese market presents a variety of constraints, from incomprehensible language and bureaucratic barriers to tailoring marketing to its unique social media ecosystem, analysts say.
“Many African companies are significantly behind the curve,” said Davies Deloitte. “Australian companies have engaged China for 35 years.”
The lack of a trade agreement between China and countries in sub-Saharan Africa also means exporters may face an uphill battle.
Despite its increasingly important role as an investor in the continent, China only signed its first free trade agreement with the African nation, the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, in January.
Thus, while some African products may overtake Australian goods in the pecking order, they remain at a disadvantage when competing with exports from countries with preferential Chinese trade terms such as Chile, Peru or New Zealand.
In the mining sector, China has spent the last decade scaling up projects in Africa to maintain the flow of raw materials to the manufacturing giants.
The investment is now paying off and African producing countries are pocketing royalties as exports to the world’s second largest economy get a boost at the expense of Australia.
Last year, state-owned Aluminum Corp of China Ltd, known as Chalco, shipped the first cargo of bauxite from the Guinea project, and a prolonged trade war between China and Australia will only help the West African nation’s economy.
Australia’s shipments to China of the stone used to make aluminum fell 22% in the last quarter of 2020 while imports from Guinea jumped 70%, according to Chinese customs data.
That’s after Guinea tripled its bauxite production between 2015 and 2019 when mining projects began operating, with most of it shipped to China. During the same period, Guinea’s gross domestic product jumped 40%.
Graph – China turned to Guinean bauxite because it avoided Australia:
Meanwhile, Chinese copper concentrate imports from Australia plunged to zero in December 2020. At the same time, exports were up 17% from the Democratic Republic of Congo, another country where Chinese companies such as China Molybdenum have invested heavily to secure major mineral supplies.
The South African coal industry has also received a much needed boost. Sales of Australian thermal coal to China, which is mainly used in power generation, and metallurgical coal for steelmaking, slumped to zero in December.
South Africa’s first shipment of thermal coal to China in five years landed last month and exporters expect sales to pick up further in 2021.
Graph – China’s copper imports from the DRC soar:
‘INNOVATIVE AND BEAUTIFUL’
To address the lack of a trade agreement with China, Standard Bank South Africa, which is partly owned by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, has sought to equalize.
Africa’s biggest bank measured by assets uses online platforms and events to match its customers with Chinese buyers in a bid to boost exports.
However, those efforts now face unique challenges for the coronavirus pandemic, such as shipping pressure due to global trade distortions that have sparked a bidding war for container space and pushed prices to record highs.
“You get a lot of interest. And then when people look at the current logistics costs, they end up not completing the transaction, ”said Philip Myburgh, head of Standard Bank’s African-China banking.
However, wine is one of the African exports that Standard Bank considers a good bet. So was Edouard Duval, chief executive of East Meets West Fine Wines, one of China’s largest wine importers.
If South Africa could capture just 1% of Australia’s 38% share of the import market share quickly emptying out, that would double its exports to China, he said. “The potential is there … this is a very dynamic and fast-moving market.”
South Africa typically exports less than half of its wine and raised 9.1 billion rand ($ 616 million) in overseas sales last year, with Britain buying the most. Sales to China totaled only $ 19 million.
Although Chinese tariffs removed sales of Australian wine in November and December, its exports to China alone still totaled A $ 1.01 billion ($ 779 million) last year.
At the “Cheers” wine shop in Beijing, Lin Lulu doesn’t really care about the impact of the trade war with Australia.
“South African wines now have a big advantage over Australian wines because of the new fare situation,” he said, filling his shelves with South African red wines. South African wines are more innovative and beautiful.
($ 1 = 1.2962 Australian dollars)
($ 1 = 14.7621 rand)
Additional reporting by Mike Hutchings in Cape Town, Helen Reid in Johannesburg and Thomas Suen, Tom Daly and Muyu Xu in Beijing; Edited by David Clarke
NAIROBI / LAGOS (Reuters) – The number of deaths from malaria in Sub-Saharan Africa could double to 769,000 this year, as efforts to curb the disease are disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization warned on Thursday.
FILE PHOTOS: A logo is pictured at the World Health Organization (WHO) building in Geneva, Switzerland, February 2, 2020. REUTERS / Denis Balibouse
The region has more than 25,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with more than 1,200 deaths, and governments working with partners such as WHO focus on pandemic prevention.
WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti called on all countries to ensure that important malaria prevention work continues.
“A recent analysis has found that if the distribution of mosquito nets treated with insecticides stops, and case management is reduced, malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa can double compared to 2018,” Moeti said at a briefing.
“This will be the highest number of deaths seen in this region since 2000.”
He pointed to statistics from the African ebola outbreak which showed that more people died from other diseases, than malaria, from ebola itself, due to lack of access to treatment.
“Don’t repeat it again with COVID-19,” he said.
In 2018, there were 213 million cases of malaria and 360,000 related deaths in Africa, accounting for more than 90% of global cases.
The WHO says that if the focus on slowing the spread of the new corona virus leads to a reduction of three quarters of access to anti-malaria drugs, deaths could double to 769,000.
“Countries throughout the region have a window of critical opportunity to minimize disruption in malaria prevention and treatment and save lives at this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak,” the WHO said in a statement.
Doubling the number of deaths is the worst case scenario, which also assumes the suspension of all distribution of mosquito nets treated for a pandemic, WHO said.
Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone and Chad have all initiated anti-malaria programs during the pandemic, the WHO said, adding that this should be a model for other countries on the continent.
Reporting by Duncan Miriri in Nairobi and Libby George in Lagos; Editing by Giles Elgood
BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo (Reuters) – Five new Ebola infections have been recorded in eastern Congo since last week in a new turmoil right when the government will end a deadly epidemic, the World Health Organization said. Friday.
PHOTO PHOTO: Kavota Mugisha Robert (left), a health worker who volunteered in Ebola’s response, stood with decontamination equipment when her colleague prepared to enter a house where a woman, 85, was suspected of dying by Ebola in the eastern Congo city. Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, October 8, 2019. REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra / Photo file
Small outbreaks or one-time transmission often occur towards the end of the epidemic. Health workers can often prevent the virus from spreading out of control by quarantining and vaccinating new case contacts.
On April 9, a 26-year-old electrician died of dengue fever in the eastern city of Beni, two days before the Democratic Republic of Congo planned to end the Ebola outbreak, which has killed more than 2,200 people since its appearance in August 2018.
The two most recent cases are a 43-year-old woman and a 28-year-old motorcycle taxi driver who has brought an electrician to the hospital, according to Boubacar Diallo, deputy incident manager for WHO’s Ebola response operation.
It was not clear if the woman was linked to other cases in the new transmission chain, he said, but the new cases forced the Congolese national government to postpone declaration of an end to the epidemic.
Two new vaccines have a big impact on controlling Ebola, but public distrust and militia attacks have prevented health workers from reaching several areas affected by the virus.
Protesters blocked the road in Beni with stones on Thursday morning, protesting the authorities’ handling of the latest Ebola burning and demanding that all Ebola test results be verified by laboratories in the main city of Goma in eastern Congo and in the capital city of Kinshasa in the western part of the city. vast Central African country.
The health team was delayed by the protesters but were finally able to continue their work tracking down people who were in contact with those newly infected by Ebola, Diallo said. The police said they arrested four people.
Late last year, deadly attacks on health centers in and around Beni forced aid groups to suspend operations and withdraw staff from the stronghold of the last epidemic.
Congo, one of the poorest countries in the world where most people have little access to modern health care, has also reported 287 new cases of corona virus and 23 deaths from global pandemics.
Reporting by Erikas Mwisi Kambale in Beni and Hereward Holland; Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Juliette Jabkhiro and Mark Heinrich