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slave trade eye witness account

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Slave Trade:

 

the African Connection, ca 1788

 

The labor-intensive agriculture of the New World demanded a large workforce. Crops such as sugar cane, tobacco and cotton required an unlimited and inexpensive supply of strong backs to assure timely production for the European market. Slaves from Africa offered the solution. The slave trade between Western Africa and the America’s reached its peak in the mid-18th century when it is estimated that over 80,000 Africans annually crossed the Atlantic to spend the rest of their lives in chains. Of those who survived the voyage, the final destination of approximately 40% was the Caribbean Islands. Thirty-eight percent ended up in Brazil, 17% in Spanish America and 6% in the United States.

 

Young boys wait to be loaded
aboard a slave ship

It was a lucrative business. A slave purchased on the African coast for the equivalent of 14 English pounds in bartered goods in 1760 could sell for 45 pounds in the American market.

A slave’s journey to a life of servitude often began in the interior of Africa with his or her capture as a prize of war, as tribute given by a weak tribal state to a more powerful one, or by outright kidnapping by local traders. European slave traders rarely ventured beyond Africa’s coastal regions. The African interior was riddled with disease, the natives were often hostile and the land uncharted. The Europeans preferred to stay in the coastal region and have the natives bring the slaves to them.

“Most of the Negroes shipped off from the coast of Africa are kidnapped.”

Dr. Alexander Falconbridge served as the surgeon aboard a number of slave ships that plied their trade between the West African coast and the Caribbean in the late 1700s. He described his experiences in a popular book published in 1788. He became active in the Anti-Slavery Society and was appointed Governor of a colony established for freed slaves on the coast of modern-day Sierra Leone. His service was brief as he died in 1788 shortly after his appointment. We join his story as he describes the process through which the native African looses his freedom:

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“There is great reason to believe, that most of the Negroes shipped off from the coast of Africa, are kidnapped. But the extreme care taken by the black traders to prevent the Europeans from gaining any intelligence of their modes of proceeding; the great distance inland from whence the Negroes are brought; and our ignorance of their language (with which, very frequently, the black traders themselves are equally unacquainted), prevent our obtaining such information on this head as we could wish. I have, however, by means of occasional inquiries, made through interpreters, procured some intelligence relative to the point. . . . From these I shall select the following striking instances: While I was in employ on board one of the slave ships, a Negro informed me that being one evening invited to drink with some of the black traders, upon his going away, they attempted to seize him. As he was very active, he evaded their design, and got out of their hands. He was, however, prevented from effecting his escape by a large dog, which laid hold of him, and compelled him to submit. These creatures are kept by many of the traders for that purpose; and being trained to the inhuman sport, they appear to be much pleased with it.

I was likewise told by a Negro woman that as she was on her return home, one evening, from some neighbors, to whom she had been making a visit by invitation, she was kidnapped; and, notwithstanding she was big with child, sold for a slave. This transaction happened a considerable way up the country, and she had passed through the hands of several purchasers before she reached the ship.

 

A man and his son, according to their own information, were seized by professed kidnappers, while they were planting yams, and sold for slaves. This likewise happened in the interior parts of the country, and after pass­ing through several hands, they were purchased for the ship to which I belonged. It frequently happens that those who kidnap others are themselves, in their turns, seized and sold.

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. . . During my stay on the coast of Africa, I was an eye-witness of the following transaction: a black trader invited a Negro, who resided a lit­tle way up the country, to come and see him. After the entertainment was over, the trader proposed to his guest, to treat him with a sight of one of the ships lying in the river. The unsuspicious countryman read­ily consented, and accompanied the trader in a canoe to the side of the ship, which he viewed with pleasure and astonishment. While he was thus employed, some black traders on board, who appeared to be in the secret, leaped into the canoe, seized the unfortunate man, and dragging him into the ship, immediately sold him.

The preparations made at Bonny by the black traders, upon set­ting out for the fairs which are held up the country, are very consider­able. From twenty to thirty canoes, capable of containing thirty or forty Negroes each, are assembled for this purpose; and such goods put on board them as they expect will be wanted for the purchase of the number of slaves they intend to buy.

When their loading is com­pleted, they commence their voyage, with colors flying, and music playing; and in about ten or eleven days, they generally return to Bonny with full cargoes. As soon as the canoes arrive at the trader’s landing place, the purchased Negroes are cleaned, and oiled with palm-oil; and on the following day they are exposed for sale to the captains.

A device used to control
unruly slaves

When the Negroes, whom the black traders have to dispose of, are shown to the European purchasers, they first examine them rela­tive to their age. They then minutely inspect their persons, and inquire into the state of their health, if they are afflicted with any infirmity, or are deformed, or have bad eyes or teeth; if they are lame, or weak in their joints, or distorted in the back, or of a slender make, or are narrow in the chest; in short, if they have been, or are afflicted in any manner, so as to render them incapable of much labor; if any of the foregoing defects are discovered in them, they are rejected. But if approved of, they are generally taken on board the ship the same evening. The purchaser has liberty to return on the following morning, but not afterwards, such as upon re-examination are found exceptionable.

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The traders frequently beat those Negroes which are objected to by the captains, and use them with great severity. It matters not whether they are refused on account of age, illness, deformity, or for any other reason. At New Calabar, in particular . . . the traders, when any of their Negroes have been objected to, have dropped their canoes under the stern of the vessel, and instantly be headed them, in sight of the captain.

As soon as the wretched Africans, purchased at the fairs, fall into the hands of the black traders, they experience an earnest of those dreadful sufferings which they are doomed in future to undergo. . . . They are brought from the places where they are pur­chased to Bonny, etc. in canoes; at the bottom of which they lie, hav­ing their hands tied with a kind of willow twigs, and a strict watch is kept over them. Their usage in other respects, during the time of the passage, which generally lasts several days, is equally cruel. Their allowance of food is so scanty, that it is barely sufficient to support nature. They are, besides, much exposed to the violent rains which frequently fall here, being covered only with mats that afford but a slight defense; and as there is usually water at the bottom of the canoes, from their leaking, they are scarcely ever dry.”

References:
   This eyewitness account appears in Falconbridge, Alexander, An Account of the Slave Trade on the Coast of Africa (1788); Curtin, Phillip D. Atlantic Slave Trade (1969); Matheson, William Law, Great Britain and the Slave Trade, 1839-1865 (1967).

How To Cite This Article:
“Slave Trade: the African Connection, ca 1788” EyeWitness to History, www.eyewitnesstohistory.com (2007).

 

 

 

Middle East

Hebron Terror Attack, IDF Demolish 17 Palestinian Homes

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IDF begins demolition of 17 Silwan homes

Yesterday, a terror attack took place in Hebron in which an Israeli civilian was murdered and multiple people were injured. Following the attack, the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers and security forces conducted a survey of the terrorist’s residence to examine the potential demolition of the house.

This morning, dozens of Israeli soldiers and 40 bulldozers arrived in the Bustan neighbourhood in Silwan to begin demolishing 17 homes. The move came after the passing of the deadline for self-demolition, which was imposed by the Israeli authorities.

The practice of demolishing the homes of suspected terrorists has been controversial and has been criticized by human rights groups for punishing the families of the suspected terrorists, including women and children, and not being an effective deterrent to terrorism. However, the Israeli authorities argue that the demolition of homes serves as a deterrent and also punishes those who aid and support terrorism.

The demolition of homes in Silwan has sparked international reactions, with many human rights organizations condemning the practice. They argue that the demolition of homes constitutes a form of collective punishment and violates international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

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On the other hand, some countries and organizations support the actions of the Israeli authorities. They argue that Israel has the right to defend its citizens against terrorism and that the demolition of homes is a legitimate measure to combat terrorism.

The situation in Hebron and Silwan remains tense, as the demolition of homes continues. The impact of this action on the local population and the potential for further conflict is yet to be seen. The international community remains divided on the issue, with some supporting the actions of the Israeli authorities and others condemning the demolition of homes as a violation of international law. Regardless of one’s position, it is clear that the situation in the region requires a peaceful and negotiated solution to end the cycle of violence.

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Djibouti

President Guelleh, Etal hail Somalia’s Anti-Terrorism Efforts

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President Guella and His Somalian Counterpart at AU Summit

The President of Djibouti, Mr. Ismail Omar Guelleh, traveled to Mogadishu this week to participate in a summit with his counterparts from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. The summit focused on ratifying measures aimed at eradicating terrorism in Somalia and bringing peace to the country.

Welcomed by Somali Diplomacy Head

Upon arrival at Aden Abdille airport in Mogadishu, President Guelleh was greeted by the head of Somali diplomacy, Mr. Abshir Omar Djama. The summit brought together the leaders of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, who are at the forefront of the fight against terrorism in Somalia.

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Regional Leaders Unite to Combat Al-Shabab

During the summit, President Guelleh and the leaders of Ethiopia and Kenya discussed the continuation of efforts to eradicate terrorism in Somalia. They also hailed the tireless efforts of the Somali authorities to overcome the terrorist movement Al-Shabab and bring peace to the country.

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Minister of Defense Precedes Presidential Visit

The visit of President Guelleh was preceded by that of the Minister of Defense, Mr. Hassan Omar Mohamed, who was leading a large delegation including the Chief of General Staff of the Djiboutian armed forces, General Zakaria Cheick Ibrahim.

High Stakes for Stabilizing Somalia

This summit meeting was an opportunity for regional leaders to come together to address the critical issue of terrorism in Somalia and work towards stabilizing the country. The international community will be closely watching the outcome of the summit and the progress made in the fight against terrorism.

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Conflicts

Wagner Group linked to African prisoner recruitment

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The US has warned African countries against working with the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary outfit, due to its role in recruiting prisoners, including Africans, to fight in Ukraine. Last week, the US sanctioned people and entities linked to the Wagner Group for their involvement in this recruitment.

In response, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group, sent a letter to US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen proposing to open a branch in the US. Despite the letter’s apparent trolling, the US is determined to continue its sanctions in order to “degrade Moscow’s capacity to wage war against Ukraine”.

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US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has designated three individuals, as heads of the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service, under E.O. 14024, for their role in facilitating the recruitment of Russian prisoners into the Wagner Group. One such case was that of Zambian student Lemekhani Nyirenda, who died in battle in Ukraine in September. Russian officials only informed Zambian authorities about his death in November. A Tanzanian student, Nemes Tarimo, was also buried in Dar es Salaam recently. Tarimo was reportedly recruited from prison with the promise of payment and commuting his seven-year term for an undisclosed offense.

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Although some African countries have not directly condemned Russia for recruiting their nationals to fight in Ukraine, only Tanzania has officially warned its citizens against fighting in foreign wars. Meanwhile, Russia’s foreign affairs minister, Sergey Lavrov, has visited several African nations, including South Africa, Angola, and Eritrea, in an effort to secure support for Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

At a White House briefing on Friday, Vedant Patel, the US State Department’s principal deputy spokesperson, warned that African countries that work with the Wagner Group are compromising regional peace and security. He stated that countries that partner closely with Prigozhin and the Wagner Group “find themselves susceptible to deeply destabilizing activities” that can harm not only their own country but also the wider region.

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The US sanctions against the Wagner Group also include five entities that form part of the group’s key infrastructure, including an aviation firm, a propaganda organization, and front companies based in the Central African Republic, China, Luxembourg, and the United Arab Emirates.

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Ambazonia

Ambazonia – Cameroon’s denial of Canadian mediation criticized

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Tibor Nagy, a former US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa and a long-term US diplomat, has expressed his disappointment at the government of Cameroon’s denial of authorizing Canadian mediation in the Ambazonia crisis. In a tweet, Nagy wrote that the denial shows a split in the Biya regime and indicates that both sides are positioning for a post-Biya government.

Nagy’s statement comes amid growing concerns about the ongoing conflict in the Ambazonia region of Cameroon, which has resulted in widespread human rights abuses, displacement, and political unrest. The conflict, which began in 2016, has been fueled by decades of marginalization and neglect of the English-speaking regions of the country by the predominantly French-speaking government in Yaoundé.

As a seasoned diplomat with years of experience in African affairs, Nagy is well-acquainted with the complexities of the Cameroonian conflict. His statement reflects the views of many observers who believe that the government’s denial of Canadian mediation is a disappointing and concerning development in the ongoing crisis.

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The denial of Canadian mediation is particularly significant because it demonstrates the government’s unwillingness to engage in a constructive and meaningful dialogue with the people of Ambazonia. It also indicates that the government is not interested in finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict and is instead opting for a more confrontational approach.

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Nagy’s statement also highlights the importance of international pressure in bringing about change in Cameroon. He suggests that without significant pressure, the regime is unlikely to make any voluntary changes. This highlights the crucial role that international actors can play in promoting peace and stability in the region.

In conclusion, Nagy’s statement serves as a wake-up call for the international community to pay closer attention to the Ambazonia crisis and to take action to support the people of the region. As a former US diplomat, Nagy’s perspective carries weight and serves as a powerful reminder of the need for the international community to take a more proactive role in addressing the ongoing conflict in Cameroon.

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Conflicts

Islamic State-affiliated ADF kills 15 in DR Congo

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Soldiers fighting in DR Congo

Bunia, DR Congo – A series of violent attacks on villages in eastern DR Congo, believed to be carried out by Islamic State-affiliated ADF rebels, have left at least 15 people dead, according to local officials. This latest round of violence comes just one week after a similar attack that resulted in the deaths of over 20 people.

“There were simultaneous attacks this Sunday between 4:00 and 5:00 am on three villages…,” said local official Dieudonne Malangai. “In Manyala village we found seven bodies… at Ofay, there were eight dead, including seven women,” Malangai reported to the press, and indicated that the final death toll might be higher. A humanitarian source confirmed seven fatalities in Manyala and “at least eight” in Ofay.

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Despite the efforts of local security forces, these attacks have continued to occur on a regular basis in the region. Many local residents have grown increasingly frustrated and tired of the ongoing violence, with Malangai stating, “We are tired of giving the death toll day after day.”

ADF fighters have also been blamed for last week’s raids in the neighboring province of North Kivu, which cost at least 23 lives. In the same province, at least 14 people were killed in a bomb blast at a pentecostal church.

Islamic State portrays the ADF, which has its roots in Rwanda, as its central African incarnation. In an attempt to stem the violence, the government in May 2021 declared a state of alert in North Kivu and Ituri, replacing civil administrators with police and troops. However, despite these efforts, the attacks continue to occur with regularity, leaving local residents feeling vulnerable and unprotected.

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In addition to the loss of life, the attacks have also had a devastating impact on the local economy, with many businesses and farms being destroyed. This, in turn, has led to widespread poverty and food insecurity in the region.

The ADF, which has been active in the region since the 1990s, is known for its brutality and indiscriminate attacks on civilians. The group’s tactics have been widely condemned by the international community and human rights organizations, but the government’s efforts to combat the group have so far been ineffective.

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The continued violence in eastern DR Congo is a tragic reminder of the urgent need for a sustainable solution to the ongoing conflict. The government must take immediate action to protect civilians and bring an end to the violence. The international community must also provide support to help stabilize the region and provide aid to those affected by the conflict. Only by working together can we hope to bring peace and stability to this troubled region.

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Ambazonia

Cameroon – Ambazonia Silent War May Escalate -JIHA

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Dead bodies of Ambazonians killed by Cameroon soldiers

The Anglophone crisis in Cameroon is one of Africa’s newest struggles for liberation. The crisis emerged from legal and education grievances in 2016 and rapidly escalated into a secessionist political conflict that is threatening the unity of the country, with the potential to degenerate into a complex emergency. The crisis has been intensifying and has raised concerns about the potential for it to evolve into a “Complex Disaster Emergency” (CDE) in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

In an exploratory, qualitative, analytical, and descriptive case study research tradition involving document/content analysis, the Robert Strauss Centre’s complex emergency framework was applied to investigate the potential of the Anglophone crisis. The research found that 72.5% of the variables in all the complex emergencies fall within the relevant to extremely relevant ranking criteria. Furthermore, the establishment of a nexus between the Anglophone crisis and a natural hazard-induced disaster suggest an escalation of the crisis to an unbearable level.

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The Anglophone crisis has been compounded by the high probability of a novel eruption at Mt. Cameroon coupled with the eminent threat of the spread of the COVID-19 virus. This further heightens the potential for the crisis to cumulatively evolve into a CDE in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. The existential challenges in providing humanitarian assistance in the conflict region are immense, and by applying the Robert Strauss Centre’s complex emergency framework, this article concludes with an early warning for an impending CDE that could heighten humanitarian challenges unless there is foresight and goodwill by relevant actors to immediately commence a process of adequate contingency planning.

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In conclusion, the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon is a complex and rapidly evolving situation that has the potential to degenerate into a “Complex Disaster Emergency” (CDE) in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon. The crisis has been intensifying and has raised concerns about the potential for it to evolve into a CDE. It is important for relevant actors to take immediate action and begin adequate contingency planning to mitigate the potential humanitarian challenges that may arise.

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Biafra

MNK Speaks From Captivity Urges IPOB To Remain Resolute

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Barrister Aloy Ejimako visited the detained leader of IPOB Mazi Nnamdi Kanu at DSS headquarters in Abuja earlier today. According to him, incarceration is tough but Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is tougher. He said Kanu urges Biafrans to be tough and maintain their ground. In his own words, I had the opportunity to visit with #MNK, and the topics covered during our meeting were incredibly enlightening. Firstly, we discussed the appeal that is currently pending before the Supreme Court. MNK shared his thoughts on the matter and his hopes for a favorable outcome.

Furthermore, I was able to update MNK on the latest cases I had filed on his behalf last week. The situation of detention can be incredibly difficult, but MNK’s strength and determination in the face of adversity is truly impressive. He urged all of us to maintain our positions and be just as tough as he is.

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It was particularly striking to hear Onyendu express his steadfast commitment to the Biafra restoration movement. He emphasized the importance of continuing to push for this cause, even in the face of obstacles and challenges.

Additionally, I filed a suit against the Attorney General of the Federation, Malami, last week. The suit aims to put an end to any further defamatory publications that Onyendu #MNK jumped bail. Such publications are highly prejudicial and injurious to MNK’s other cases pending in various courts, and it is essential that they come to an end.

Overall, my visitation with MNK was incredibly valuable, and I left feeling inspired and motivated to continue fighting for his rights and the Biafra restoration movement. It is clear that Onyendu is a remarkable individual who is dedicated to his cause and determined to overcome any obstacles in his path.

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Furthermore, MNK also spoke about the importance of unity and solidarity within the Biafra restoration movement. He emphasized that it is essential for all members of the movement to work together and support one another in order to achieve our common goal. He also urged us to be vigilant and stay informed about the latest developments in the movement, and to take action when necessary.

MNK’s words were incredibly powerful and provided a much-needed boost of inspiration and motivation. His determination and resolve in the face of adversity is truly admirable and serves as a reminder of the importance of standing up for what we believe in.

It was a privilege to be able to speak with MNK and hear his thoughts on the current state of the Biafra restoration movement. His words will undoubtedly inspire others to join the cause and fight for the rights of the people of Biafra.

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In conclusion, the visitation with MNK was a valuable and enlightening experience. It was clear that MNK is a strong and determined individual who is committed to the Biafra restoration movement. His words were powerful and inspiring, and serve as a reminder of the importance of standing up for what we believe in. The fight for Biafra restoration is one that requires unity, solidarity and determination, and with a leader like MNK at the helm, we can be confident that we will eventually achieve our goal.

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Central Africa

Mass graves of 49 civilians found in DR Congo

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Congolese mass grave of 49 civilians

UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo have uncovered mass graves containing the bodies of 49 civilians following a series of attacks blamed on a local armed group, Cooperative for the Development of Congo (CODECO). The graves were found in two villages in northeastern Ituri province, about 30km (19 miles) east of the town of Bunia.

Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for the United Nations, told reporters in New York on Wednesday that 42 victims, including six children, were discovered in a mass grave in the village of Nyamamba, while the bodies of seven other men were found in another village, Mbogi.

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“Peacekeepers launched a patrol to the area immediately after receiving reports of attacks on civilians by the CODECO militias over the weekend. This is when they made the gruesome discoveries,” he said. The UN is calling for an investigation to establish if the mass graves and the attacks are linked. The UN regional peacekeeping operation, MONUSCO, is also supporting the Congolese judicial system to investigate the attacks and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

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Ituri, a restive province bordering Uganda, has seen a spate of violence in recent weeks, after the killing of a teacher belonging to the Lendu community triggered reprisal attacks from CODECO, which claims to represent the ethnic group. The Lendu and Hema communities have a longstanding feud, which led to thousands of deaths between 1999 and 2003 before an intervention by a European peacekeeping force.

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Haq also warned of a “significant deterioration of the security situation” in Ituri, saying that at least 195 civilians have been killed, 68 wounded and 84 people abducted since December during attacks attributed to the CODECO and Zaire militias. More than 1.5 million people in Ituri province have also been displaced by the fighting. The UN is urging for the protection of civilians and for all parties to respect human rights.

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Burkina Faso

Armed groups in Burkina Faso target civilians, 50 women kidnapped

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50 woman kidnapped burkina faso

Armed groups in Burkina Faso are increasingly targeting civilians, according to the country’s military leader, Captain Ibrahim Traore. He made the statement after about 50 women were kidnapped in the restive Soum province in the West African country on January 12 and 13.

Some of the women managed to escape and have recounted their ordeal, which included being forced to walk through the bush for a whole day, and being made to shepherd stolen sheep to disguise the kidnappings.

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According to the escapees, the gunmen forced them to walk through the bush for a whole day, and assembled them again the next morning, it was at this moment that some of them decided to take a risk and managed to escape.

One of the survivors said, “I managed to hide in a ravine with another [woman],”. “We got back to the village at nightfall. Others returned the following morning.”

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Captain Traore also said that the terrorist groups are switching tactics and focusing on civilians. He said, “Today, another phase has been launched by the terrorists,”.

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Biafra

Fulani Terrorists Continues Their Genocidal Massacre In Ebonyi

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People slaughtered by Fulani Terrorists in Ebonyi State on 4th of june 2021

Again, Fulani Terror herdsmen sponsored, armed, and guarded by Nigeria Fulani-led federal government has continued their genocidal massacre of Biafrans in Ebonyi.

According to a  viral video online, a reporter can be heard saying that the Fulani Terrorists are not relenting in the quest to kill everyone in Ebonyi state.

This is about the 4th time in the last 6 months that Fulani terrorists have gone on the large-scale slaughter of Ebonyi people.

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He called on Eastern Security Network(ESN) to come to the aid of the Ebonyi people.  ESN was formed by the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu to safeguard Biafrans against marauding Fulani terrorists.

However, the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi has been against the formation of ESN and has been working assiduously to eliminate ESN personnel from Ebonyi instead of supporting them.

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This led to the creation of the Ebubeagu Security Network to fight the ESN in Ebonyi and other Eastern states. Ebubeagu has never and does not have the capacity to confront Fulani Terror Herdsmen wielding automatic assault rifles given to them by the Nigerian government.

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