2 March 2017

African Press Review 2 March 2017

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Who is Somalia's new prime minister? Will Rwandans accept money from the United Nations to return home? What can be done to help the thousands of refugees, mostly from Burundi, in Tanzania's overcrowded camps? And is there finally hope of an end to the strike by Kenyan hospital doctors?

Somalia has a new prime minister.

According to regional paper the East African, parliament in Mogadishu yesterday confirmed Hassan Ali Kheyre as head of government.

So, who is the new man at the helm, and why was he chosen by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed?

The East African says the choice of Khaire was intended to avoid falling out with the two major Hawiye sub-clans - the Abgal and the Habargidir.

The regional daily says that, while the president was obliged to appoint a Hawiye as prime minister according to the power-sharing formula, lobbying and the pressure from both Abgal and Habargidir forced him to choose someone neutral.

Which opened the door to Khaire who hails from the Morursabe sub-clan. He got massive support yesterday, with only two abstentions depriving him of a unanimous welcome from parliament.

The new prime minister is 49 years old, a prominent businessman and former employee of Soma Oil & Gas, a British energy exploration company. He holds Norwegian nationality. He worked with the Norwegian Refugee Council from 2011 to 2014 as its Horn of Africa regional executive.

He has been given two weeks to form a government.

Paying people to go back home

The United Nations is to spend nearly four million euros to encourage Rwandan refugees to go home.

Rwanda could this year receive the largest number of returnees - refugees who fled the 1994 genocide - in a UN-funded repatriation programme that offers cash to every adult and child who chooses to return home voluntarily.

The UN has agreed to offer a cash incentive to Rwandan refugees who are currently living in exile around the world, but especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Those opting to return home before the December 2017 deadline will each receive 300 euros for adults and 200 for children.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is targeting 20,000 Rwandan refugees in the DRC with the cash scheme, in the hope that it will persuade them to return home before the deadline, after which they will no longer be considered refugees by Rwanda.

The UNHCR representative for Rwandan refugees says that the government in Kigali has sufficient funding to ensure that the returnees are provided with permanent settlement in the country.

Overcrowding leads to health crisis in Tanzanian camps

And there's a health crisis looming in Tanzania's refugee camps.

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders has warned that a recent increase in the number of refugees, over three-quarters of them from Burundi, has left the Tanzanian camps overstretched.

Nduta camp in the western province of Kigoma, is currently home to 117,000 people, more than double its intended capacity. With between 600 and 1,000 new arrivals every day, the population of Nduta is expected to reach 150,000 by the start of next month.

Doctors Without Borders say overcrowded and unsanitary living conditions are contributing to cases of malaria, diarrhoea, respiratory tract infections and skin problems.

South Sudan's President calls for National Day of Prayer for peace

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir has announced a National Day of Prayer for peace and forgiveness and has urged citizens to support the initiative.

The chosen date is 10 March. President Kiir said this event will be held in all state capitals as a preparation for the commencement of the National Dialogue which the president announced in December 2016.

Hope of an end to Kenyan doctors strike

According to the Nairobi-based Daily Nation, Kenyans are hopeful President Uhuru Kenyatta's meeting later today with the heads of the Catholic and Anglican churches and doctors' union leaders will put an end to the misery caused by the 88-day-old dispute.

The Nation says that the crisis meeting, which will be held at an undisclosed location in Nairobi, will bring together the President, Catholic Archbishop John Cardinal Njue, his Anglican counterpart Jackson ole Sapit and the leadership of the striking Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union.

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