Africa starts 2020 battling extremism, Ebola and hunger
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A tragic airline crash with far-reaching consequences, cataclysmic cyclones that may be a harbinger of the future, the death of an African icon and a new leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize. These African stories captured the world’s attention in 2019 — and look to influence events on the continent in 2020.
The battles against extremist violence and Ebola will also continue to be major campaigns in Africa in the coming year.
Cyclone Idai ripped into Mozambique in March, killing more than 1,300 people, making it “one of the worst weather-related disasters ever to hit the southern hemisphere,” according to the U.N. A month later Cyclone Kenneth roared into northern Mozambique, killing more than 50 people.
This was the first time in recorded history that Mozambique had two major cyclones, prompting some to worry that the country, with a 1,000-mile Indian Ocean coastline, may be prone to more storms as a result of climate change.
Across Mozambique more than 2.5 million people remain in urgent need of assistance, according to the U.N. Mozambique also starts 2020 troubled by ongoing attacks on vehicles in the country’s central area and by Islamic extremist attacks in the country’s North.
Extremist violence continues to vex Africa from the east to the west.
2019 began with extremist violence. In Kenya in January, insurgents launched an assault on a luxury hotel and shopping complex in Nairobi that killed at least 14 people.
The year came to an end with extremist attacks across the continent.
A bomb in Somalia killed 78 people, including many university students, in the capital, Mogadishu, on Dec. 28, the deadliest attack in years. Somalia’s al-Shabab, allied to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the bombing.
In Nigeria extremists linked to the Islamic State group circulated a video showing 11 hostages, most of them Christians, being executed. They were thought to be killed on Christmas Day. The extremist group, which calls itself the Islamic State West Africa Province, said the captives were executed as revenge for the killing of Islamic State group leaders in Iraq and Syria in October.
Congo starts the year waging a different kind of war — a campaign against Ebola, which has killed more than 2,200 people since August 2018. The medical effort to control the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history has been severely hampered since the start by the presence of several armed groups in eastern Congo, the epicenter of the epidemic. It was hoped that new vaccines would help control the outbreak more quickly, but the violence has hampered those efforts.
Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi, elected in 2019, said in November that he was optimistic that the Ebola outbreak would be ended before 2020, but the epidemic continues throughout Eastern Congo.
In this April 29 file photo, a woman shows one of her feet after walking in the mud near a site where two houses were crushed by the collapse of a massive, sprawling dumpsite following rains from Cyclone Kenneth, in Pemba city on the northeastern coast of Mozambique.