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Views expressed in this geopolitical news summary are those of the reporters and correspondents.

Content supplied by the BBC in London.  You can find the latest BBC World News video here:

Accessed on 22 January 2021, 1209 UTC, Post 919.


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Thanks for joining us today.

Russ Roberts

BBC News World

Latest Updates

  1. UN concern over 'disturbing rape reports in Tigray'

    Serious allegations of sexual violence are being reported in Ethiopia's northern Tigray region, including a high number of alleged rapes in the city of Mekelle, Pramila Patten, the UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict, says.

    Government forces seized control of Mekelle, the regional capital, on 28 November after several weeks of fighting.

    "There are also disturbing reports of individuals allegedly forced to rape members of their own family, under threats of imminent violence," Ms Patten said in a statement.

    "Some women have also reportedly been forced by military elements to have sex in exchange for basic commodities.

    "While medical centres have indicated an increase in the demand for emergency contraception and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) which is often an indicator of sexual violence in conflict."

    The UN envoy said there were also increasing reports of sexual violence against women and girls in a number of refugee camps.

    She called on those parties involved in the hostilities "to commit to a zero-tolerance policy for crimes of sexual violence".

    Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched a ground and air offensive on 4 November to oust the region's ruling party, after its troops captured federal military bases.

    He declared victory in Tigray after a month's conflict, but fugitive TPLF leaders vowed to continue the fight.

    More on the Tigray crisis:

  2. The 'bird scaring lines' saving thousands of Namibia's birds

    Video content

    Video caption: Conservationists say the simple technique has led to 99% drop in the number of birds dying

    Conservationists say the simple technique has led to a 99% drop in the number of birds dying in fishing nets

  3. Mozambique anger over alcohol confiscated from bars

    Jose Tembe

    BBC News, Maputo

    The confiscation of alcohol during raids conducted by Mozambique's police to enforce Covid-19 restriction measures has been condemned by the main opposition party Renamo.

    Last weekend, police raided bars and restaurants and confiscated alcoholic drinks.

    Bars had been ordered to close under new measures and restaurants had their opening hours shortened.

    Renamo spokesperson Ivan Mazanga said as the authorities had not listed where the alcohol had been taken from it would make it difficult for the owners to recover anything later.

    This would affect the livelihoods of business people and their families, he said.

    The body tasked with inspecting business premises said the confiscation of goods was illegal and that it had not been consulted about the raids.

    Rita Freitas, the general inspector at the National Inspectorate of Economic Activities, said any violations by businesses should lead to the revocation of their licences for a period of time - in line with the law.

  4. Rwanda hands out food rations amid lockdown

    Samba Cyuzuzo

    BBC Great Lakes

    Volunteers deliver food rations to families in Kigali
    Image caption: Some 3,000 families will benefit from the programme

    The authorities in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, have started distributing food rations to vulnerable families affected by a 15-day coronavirus lockdown that started on Tuesday.

    All movements outside homes require an approved permit from the police, except for essential service providers.

    Households started receiving sacks of rice, maize flour and beans on Thursday evening, a BBC Great Lakes reporter in the city says.

    Some 3,000 families have been identified as the most vulnerable. The city has a population of about one million people.

    There have been concerns that hundreds of thousands of residents who live hand to mouth would face hunger during the lockdown.

    The authorities have assured that food will reach the most vulnerable, as well as poor Covid-19 patients being treated at home.

    The rations were being delivered by volunteers who had tested negative before the programme started, city officials said.

    A free phone line is available for requests from “those who want and merit the food aid to be delivered at their doorsteps”.

    On Thursday Rwanda reported nine Covid-19 deaths, the highest daily fatalities so far, and 310 new cases.

  5. Video content

    Video caption: Senegal: The life of a 17-year-old in Dakar

    We spend a day with Abdoulaye as he shows us what it's like being 17 in Dakar.

  6. Is Museveni’s grip on Uganda wavering?

    Alan Kasujja

    BBC Africa Daily

    A worker sweeps the ground covered by Yoweri Museveni posters
    Image caption: President Yoweri Museveni has been in power for 35 years

    As the dust settles in Uganda after last week's election, not that much would appear to have changed.

    After 35 years in office, Yoweri Museveni remains in power with a mandate to serve his sixth term as president.

    But, as his critics point out, it is hard to ignore his age: he’s now 76. So many are right to wonder: could this be Mr Museveni’s last dance?

    And what to make of some significant blows his party was dealt in parts of Uganda?

    What to make of the ministers who failed to keep their seat in parliament?

    There can’t be a better time to reflect on what the future holds for Ugandans.

    Listen here to Africa Daily’s latest episode.

    Subscribe to the show on BBC Sounds or other podcast providers.

  7. Kenya's 4G internet balloon project scrapped

    Giant internet-enabled balloon
    Image caption: Loon's balloons float 20km (12.4 miles) above sea level

    A pilot project in Kenya meant to provide internet access to remote areas will be discontinued from March - six months after its launch.

    The move comes following a decision by Google's parent-company Alphabet to close its sister firm, Loon, which was set up to build giant balloons to beam the internet to rural areas.

    The internet-enabled balloons were to provide 4G internet service so people could make voice and video calls, browse the web, email, text and stream videos.

    But the project failed to make costs low enough to make it sustainable, Alphabet's chief executive said in a blog post on Thursday.

    Loon had signed a major deal with a Kenyan telecommunications company, Telkom, to bring 4G to remote parts of the country.

    The idea had been to have 35 solar-powered balloons - which were the size of tennis courts and self-navigating - in constant motion in the stratosphere above eastern Africa.

    Telkom has said the pilot technology will end on 1 March following the announcement that Loon is being wound down.

    "Over the coming months, the Loon team will work closely with Telkom to ensure the operations of the technology’s pilot service are wrapped up safely and smoothly," it said in a statement.

  8. SA Covid-19 variant found in four African countries

    Rhoda Odhiambo

    BBC Africa Health, Nairobi

    Image caption: The spread of the variant is attributed to movement of people

    Botswana, Zambia, The Gambia and Kenya have detected a variant of the Covid-19 virus that was first identified in South Africa last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

    The WHO's Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, attributed the spread to the movement of people across the continent.

    “It may also be that the new strain is circulating in different African countries but have not been identified. We are now working with scientists in different laboratories with the capacity to determine the complete DNA of the virus to boost their surveillance," Dr Moeti told journalists in a virtual press conference.

    Kenya’s Health Director General Patrick Amoth told the BBC that two South African passengers who had travelled to Kenya a month ago had it.

    “Through routine testing for anyone coming into the country, we were able to detect the new strain from samples collected. The two men are already back in South Africa," he said.

    South Africa is the country worst-hit by the pandemic in Africa.

    A team of researchers from three South African Universities working with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases found that the current vaccines being used may not be effective against this new strain.

    More on coronavirus:

  9. Senegal student 'missing in France' makes contact

    A talented Senegalese student studying in France, who had not been seen since 4 January, has made contact with the authorities after a hunt was launched to find her.

    Diary Sow wrote a letter to Water and Sanitation Minister Serigne Mbaye Thiam to say she was on "a little break to regain her senses".

    When she did not return to school after the Christmas holidays, it caused concern in Senegal and France. She studies at a prestigious Paris school.

    Described as "the best student in Senegal", Ms Sow has won several national academic prizes and published her first novel last year.

    In a thread on Twitter, the minister shared extracts of her letter - with her permission.

    She said she was "not the victim of any kind of pressure" and apologised to those worried about her.

    "It is not about overwork, or madness, or the desire for freedom," she said.

  10. Kenya defends Naomi Campbell's tourism role

    Kenya's Tourism Minister Najib Balala and British model Naomi Campbell
    Image caption: British model Naomi Campbell was named tourism international ambassador

    Kenya's Tourism Minister Najib Balala has defended the decision to name British model Naomi Campbell as the country's international tourism ambassador.

    During a public event, Mr Balala acknowledged that many Kenyans had questioned why Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong'o had not been picked for the position.

    He said Ms Nyong'o had been unreachable for the last five years.

    The Kenyan Oscar-winning actress was proposed by many Kenyans on social media as the perfect choice.

    Mr Balala said Ms Campbell had taken up the role pro bono and that the government was working on the details on how to use her influence to promote tourism.


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