Africa in pictures : Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north-east, Liberia to the south-east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south-west. Sierra Leone has a tropical climate, with a diverse environment ranging from savannah to rainforests. Sierra Leone has a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi) and a population of 7,075,641 (based on 2015 national census).

freetown sierra leone photo

by BigMikeSndTechPhoto by BigMikeSndTech

 

freetown sierra leone photo

Daily life in Freetown, Sierra Leone by UNMEERPhoto by UNMEER

Sierra Leone is officially comprises of four geographical regions: the Northern Province, Eastern Province, Southern Province and the Western Area, which are subdivided into fourteen districts.
Freetown (population 1,050,301), located in the Western Area, is the capital, largest city and its economic and political centre. Bo (population 306,000), is the second largest city, and is located in the Southern Province, about 160 miles from Freetown. Kenema (population 200,354), located in the Eastern Province, is the third largest city and is about 190 miles from Freetown. Koidu Town (population 128,074), located in the Eastern Province, is the fourth largest city, and is about 275 miles from Freetown. Makeni (population 126,058), located in the Northern Province, is the fifth largest of Sierra Leone”s five major cities, and is about 85 miles from Frertown.

 

 

 

Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature. Sierra Leone became an independent Nation on 27 April 1961 from Britain, led by Sir Milton Margai, who was elected by landslide as the first prime minister of the new nation under parliamentary government.

freetown sierra leone photo

Madame Fatu Kanu, farmer by kenny lynchPhoto by kenny lynch

 

 

 

 

 

The current constitution of Sierra Leone was adopted in 1991 during the presidency of Joseph Saidu Momoh, though it has been amended several times. Since independent to present, Sierra Leone politics has been dominated by two major political parties; the Sierra Leone People’s party (SLPP) and the All People’s congress (APC). The current president of SIerra Leone is Ernest Bai Koroma, a member of the APC party, who was elected in 2007 and won reelection for his final term as president in 2012.

freetown sierra leone photo

Sierra Leone by Slum Dwellers InternationalPhoto by Slum Dwellers International

 

From 1991 to 2002, the Sierra Leone civil war was fought and devastated the country. This proxy war left more than 50,000 people dead, much of the country’s infrastructure destroyed, and over two million people displaced as refugees in neighbouring countries. In January 2002, then Sierra Leone’s president Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, fulfilled his campaign promise by ending the civil war, with help by the British Government, ECOWAS and the United Nations.
More recently, the 2014 Ebola outbreak overburdened the weak healthcare infrastructure, leading to more deaths from medical neglect than Ebola itself. It created a humanitarian crisis situation and a negative spiral of weaker economic growth. The country has an extremely low life expectancy at 57.8 years.

freetown sierra leone photo

by dpu-uclPhoto by dpu-ucl

About sixteen ethnic groups inhabit Sierra Leone, each with its own language and customs. The two largest and most influential are the Temne and the Mende people. The Temne are predominantly found in the north of the country, while the Mende are predominant in the south-east. Although English is the official language spoken at schools and government administration, the Krio language is the most widely spoken language across Sierra Leone and is spoken by 97% of the country’s population. The Krio language unites all the different ethnic groups in the country, especially in their trade and social interaction with each other.

freetown sierra leone photo

Photo by RNW.org

Sierra Leone is a predominantly Muslim country, though with an influential Christian minority. Sierra Leone is regarded as one of the most religiously tolerant nations in the world. Muslims and Christians collaborate and interact with each other peacefully. Religious violence is extremely rare in the country. In politics, the overwhelming majority of Sierra Leoneans vote for a candidate without regard to whether the candidate is a Muslim or a Christian.

freetown sierra leone photo

Sierra Leone by RNW.orgPhoto by RNW.org

Sierra Leone has relied on mining, especially diamonds, for its economic base. It is also among the largest producers of titanium and bauxite, a major producer of gold, and has one of the world’s largest deposits of rutile. Sierra Leone is home to the third-largest natural harbour in the world. Despite exploitation of this natural wealth, 70% of its people live in poverty. Sierra Leone is a member of many international organisations, including the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Mano River Union, the Commonwealth of Nations, the African Development Bank, and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

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Africa in pictures : Seychelles

Seychelles, is an archipelago and country in the Indian Ocean. The 115-island country, whose capital is Victoria, lies 1,500 kilometres (932 mi) east of mainland East Africa. Other nearby island countries and territories include Comoros, Mayotte (region of France), Madagascar, Réunion (region of France) and Mauritius to the south. With a population of roughly 92,000, it has the smallest population of any sovereign African country; however, it does have a larger population than the British overseas territory Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

victoria seychelles photo

Market Street, Victoria by sky#walkerPhoto by sky#walker

victoria seychelles photo

Court of Appeal, Victoria by D-StanleyPhoto by D-Stanley

Seychelles is a member of the African Union, the Southern African Development Community, the Commonwealth of Nations, and the United Nations. After proclamation of independence from the United Kingdom in 1976, Seychelles has developed from a largely agricultural society to a market-based diversified economy, with agriculture being supplanted by rapidly rising service and public sectors as well as tourism.

 

 

 

 

Since 1976, per capita output has increased nearly sevenfold. In recent years, the government has encouraged foreign investment in order to upgrade these sectors. Today, Seychelles boasts the highest nominal per capita GDP in Africa, excluding the French regions. It is one of only a handful of countries in Africa with high Human Development Index. Despite the country’s newfound economic prosperity, poverty remains widespread due to very high level of income inequality, one of the highest in the world, and low wealth distribution.

victoria seychelles photo

From the harbour, Victoria, Mahé, Seychelles by jmhullotPhoto by jmhullot

victoria seychelles photo

Vendors and produce, Sir Selwyn Clarke Market, Victoria, Seychelles by soseychellesPhoto by soseychelles

victoria seychelles photo

Inner Harbour by D-StanleyPhoto by D-Stanley

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Statement by the Troika and Canada Regarding Continuing Violence in South Sudan

The Troika and Canada are deeply concerned about recent actions taken by the government and by the armed opposition that exacerbate the immense security and related humanitarian crises in South Sudan. As South Sudanese across the country look forward to the Easter holiday, traditionally a time of reconciliation and redemption, they are confronted by an escalation in the conflict and an unprecedented expansion in hunger and malnutrition. Peace is painfully absent during this holy season.

Although President Salva Kiir Mayardit told IGAD Heads of State on March 25, as reflected in the IGAD Summit Communique, that he had agreed to announce a unilateral ceasefire, no such announcement has yet been made and government forces have not ceased military operations. On April 1, armed opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar Teny rejected a request by JMEC Chairperson Festus Mogae to issue a unilateral ceasefire.

We urge all leaders to take action to end the armed conflict in order to stop fighting that endangers civilians, worsens the humanitarian situation, and prevents them from resuming normal livelihoods. We are alarmed by credible reports of the following acts:

  • On April 3, the SPLA and affiliated forces orchestrated an attack on the town of Pajok in the legacy state of Eastern Equatoria, killing civilians, including women and children, and forcing the displacement of thousands across the border to Uganda.
  • On April 10, the SPLA attacked civilians in the town of Wau. The UN Mission in South Sudan reported that civilians were killed and injured in the violence, which also displaced thousands. While this incident followed an attack by armed opposition forces on an SPLA convoy, in which SPLA officers were killed, the government action was disproportionate and targeted civilians.
  • On March 8 and March 18, soldiers affiliated with Riek Machar Teny’s armed opposition faction kidnapped three expatriate oil workers and killed three South Sudanese oil workers.
  • On March 31, in Aburoc in legacy Upper Nile state, armed opposition soldiers affiliated with Riek Machar Teny’s faction assaulted humanitarian workers, while on April 3, in Melut, also in Upper Nile, National Security Service officials detained and severely beat two aid workers.

The Troika and Canada strongly condemn these actions and all other attacks upon unarmed civilians by the warring parties. We reiterate there is no military solution to this political conflict, and strongly supports calls by IGAD for all factions to immediately stop the fighting. A unilateral ceasefire by either side would show the world a serious commitment to peace, to addressing the humanitarian crisis, and to advancing the interests of the people of South Sudan.

Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Embassy in Juba.

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Source:: Statement by the Troika and Canada Regarding Continuing Violence in South Sudan

      

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U.S. Treasury Sanctions Two Central African Republic Militia Commanders

Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Abdoulaye Hissene (Hissene) and Maxime Mokom (Mokom) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13667 for engaging in actions that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the Central African Republic (CAR). As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these individuals within U.S. jurisdiction are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

“The individuals designated today are responsible for prolonging instability in the Central African Republic,” said OFAC Director John E. Smith. “Today’s action underscores our ongoing efforts to target those responsible for fueling violence and human rights abuses in the Central African Republic.”

Abdoulaye Hissene and Maxime Mokom

In September 2015, Hissene and Mokom collaborated as part of a larger alliance between ex-Séléka members and anti-Balaka allies of former CAR President Francois Bozize, who was sanctioned in May of 2014, to encourage violence in Bangui. Their collaboration was part of a failed coup attempt designed to overthrow the CAR Government while then-Transitional President Catherine Samba-Panza was attending the 2015 UN General Assembly. Hissene and Mokom were specifically identified as suspects in the failed coup by the CAR Public Prosecutor’s office.

In addition, Hissene conspired with Mokom to disrupt a constitutional referendum held in December 2015. Mokom’s anti-Balaka forces worked with elements of Hissene’s Popular Front for the Rebirth of the CAR (FPRC) ex-Séléka group to intimidate voters and disrupt polling in the town of Kaga Bandoro during the December 13 vote. Hissene also encouraged retaliatory attacks between different groups. Hissene is specifically accused of orchestrating violence in Bangui’s KM5 district that killed five, wounded 20, and prevented residents from voting in the referendum.

In June 2016, Hissene’s KM5 fighters and Mokom’s anti-Balaka supporters may have planned to disrupt the arrival of CAR President Faustin-Archange Touadéra’s flight to Bangui airport, leading the CAR Government to warn publicly of a possible coup attempt.

On August 12, 2016, Hissene and a group of armed men traveling north from Bangui engaged CAR security forces in multiple gunfights. The UN’s peacekeeping mission in the CAR, the UN’s Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), eventually captured some of the men, but Hissene and several others escaped.

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Source:: U.S. Treasury Sanctions Two Central African Republic Militia Commanders

      

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