Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed holds a national flag during a handover ceremony at the presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, Feb. 16, 2017 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Somalia, once seen only as a war-ravaged failed state, is preparing to achieve a momentous accomplishment. Later this year or early next, for the first time in more than half a century, the fragile nation in the Horn of Africa will hold something very close to a democratic election. Somali officials, backed by Western diplomats and the United Nations, hope that millions of citizens will participate in the electoral process, even as the country’s weak central government and embryonic state apparatus, constantly tested by terrorist attacks and political dysfunction, continues a slow and disjointed recovery from a brutal military dictatorship […]

The “Wall of Welcome” in front of European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Sept. 14, 2015 (Photo by Wiktor Dabkowski for dpa via AP Images).

In 2015, more than 1 million people, mostly from Syria but also Eritrea, Sudan and other countries wracked by conflict and economic turmoil, found their way to Europe in search of asylum, where they struggled to rebuild their lives, often in the face of xenophobia and exclusion. Those were the lucky ones. Thousands of other refugees and migrants died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean and Aegean seas, a tragic waste of human life that was symbolized in a photograph of the lifeless body of a four-year-old Syrian boy, Alan Kurdi, which washed up on the shore of a beach […]

A billboard is installed on an apartment building in Cape Town, South Africa, March 25, 2020 (AP photo by Nardus Engelbrecht).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. With more than 3,200 cases and 83 deaths now reported across Africa, in 46 different countries, experts are warning the continent’s leaders that they are rapidly running out of time to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. Governments are under pressure to take radical steps to contain the pandemic. South Africa, the continent’s second-largest economy, entered a strict, 21-day lockdown Thursday. Governments across the continent appear poised to follow suit. While these measures are seen as critical to slowing the spread […]

Outside the Yaba Mainland hospital in Lagos, Nigeria, Feb. 28, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. After a delayed arrival of the novel coronavirus, there are now more than 720 confirmed COVID-19 cases and at least 20 related deaths across Africa. With the head of the World Health Organization warning the continent to “prepare for the worst,” African leaders are turning to extraordinary measures to try and slow the pandemic’s spread before it can overwhelm their fragile health systems. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 on the continent came only in mid-February, weeks after the outbreak had spread […]

Migrants stand outside their makeshift tents on the perimeter of the overcrowded Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece, Jan. 28, 2020 (AP photo by Aggelos Barai).

In mid-February, the United Nations issued a statement calling for the immediate evacuation of the Moria refugee camp, on the Greek island of Lesbos. Initially designed to hold fewer than 3,000 people, the camp’s population had increased from 5,000 last July to roughly 20,000. With ships bringing new arrivals every day, medical experts feared a looming public health crisis. Malnutrition was widespread, hygiene impossible to maintain and health care workers completely overwhelmed, leading many residents to die of treatable conditions. A regional government official called Moria “a powder keg ready to explode,” and a volunteer doctor told The Guardian that […]

Vigilantes and local hunters armed with locally made guns patrol on the street in Yola, Nigeria, Feb. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Africa’s Sahel region, the long stretch of scrubland that extends from Mauritania to Sudan, has emerged as a critical global hotspot in recent years, as national governments struggle to contain growing insecurity, rampant criminality and waves of violent extremism. But efforts to stabilize this transcontinental belt just south of the Sahara have largely overlooked one critical driver of tensions: the centuries-old but increasingly violent disputes between nomadic herding and sedentary farming communities. A recent influx of weapons has given these conflicts new and deadly force, with grave implications for international security. The scale of the recent violence stemming from herder-farmer […]

Sudan’s prime minister, Abdallah Hamdok, center, is welcomed upon his arrival in Juba, South Sudan, Sept. 12, 2019 (AP photo by Charles Atiki Lomodong).

The transitional government in Sudan announced last month that it will extradite former dictator Omar al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he is wanted on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Sudan’s Darfur region. The move was a sign that the new government in Khartoum, which took over last year after Bashir was ousted by the military amid popular protests, is trying to present itself as a responsible member of the international community. It also wants to draw a clear line under the Bashir era domestically and undertake serious peace negotiations with rebel […]

Bangladeshi children sit on garbage piled up by the Buriganga River in Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 4, 2018 (AP photo by A.M. Ahad).

By 2050, hundreds of millions of people in developing countries will have left their homes as a result of climate change—a mass displacement that will make already-precarious populations more vulnerable and impose heavy burdens on the communities that absorb them. Unfortunately, the world has barely begun to prepare for this impending crisis. Those displaced by climate change are neither true refugees nor traditional migrants, and thus occupy an ambiguous position under international law. The world needs to agree on how to classify environmental migrants, as well as what their rights are. It also needs to strengthen its capacity to manage […]

The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, at a press conference at EU headquarters in Brussels, March 9, 2020 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. The European Union unveiled a new strategy this week for building a closer relationship with Africa that looks to move beyond the focus on migration that has dominated Europe’s engagement with the continent since 2015. Observers cautioned that despite new rhetoric from Brussels about adopting a shared response to climate change and improving trade relations, migration was likely to continue to dictate the EU’s relationship with African countries, and its spending across the continent. “Our growth and security depend on what happens […]

Gambian President Adama Barrow, right, drives with Senegalese President Macky Sall in Banjul, Gambia, Jan. 21, 2019 (AP photo).

BANJUL, Gambia—In late February, eight political activists were released on bail from the Mile 2 maximum security prison outside Banjul, the capital of this small West African country. They had been arrested along with more than a hundred others for participating in a demonstration in January calling on Adama Barrow to follow through on his earlier promise to step down as Gambia’s president this year. The protest’s organizers had received authorization from the government. But as a crowd gathered on the outskirts of Banjul to start the march, police fired teargas and charged the would-be protesters with batons. Dozens were […]

Newly approved Tunisian Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh, right, and outgoing Prime Minister Youssef Chahed during the handover ceremony in Tunis, Tunisia, Feb. 28, 2020 (AP photo by Hassene Dridi).

TUNIS, Tunisia—Tunisia’s parliament voted late last month to approve a new government under Prime Minister Elyes Fakhfakh, ending months of political limbo. While a new president and a fresh crop of lawmakers were sworn in after elections last fall, the ballot produced a highly divided parliament that had been unable to agree on a government until recently. In Tunis when the new government was announced, many of the Tunisians I spoke with were breathing a sigh of relief that the country narrowly avoided fresh elections, which would have been likely had Fakhfkakh failed to win support. However, others, from young […]

A man rides a bicycle past election posters of Togo’s president, Faure Gnassingbe, on the street in Lome, Togo, Feb. 21, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Faure Gnassingbe was reelected late last month for a fourth term as president of the small West African country of Togo. The result was no surprise. Faure, as he is known locally, and his father before him, Gnassingbe Eyadema, have ruled Togo and its 8 million inhabitants for over five decades combined. Despite a lighter touch than his notoriously brutal father, Faure has effectively hollowed out ostensibly democratic processes like elections to perpetuate his family’s long reign. Togo’s Constitutional Court this week certified that Faure won the Feb. 22 election with more than 70 percent of the vote to former […]

Shoppers and vendors at Bandim Market in Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, May 27, 2012 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. As a political crisis escalates in Guinea-Bissau over its disputed December presidential vote, a West African regional bloc is warning the country’s military against intervening in the standoff. The roots of the crisis trace back to New Year’s Day, after the National Electoral Commission declared opposition leader Umaro Sissoco Embalo the winner of the second-round run-off election with nearly 54 percent of the vote. Embalo defeated Domingos Simoes Pereira, the candidate of the long-ruling PAIGC party. A clean election with a clear […]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, center, attends the military funeral of former President Hosni Mubarak, Cairo, Egypt, Feb. 26, 2020 (photo by Gehad Hamdy for dpa via AP Images).

When I landed in Cairo in late January 2011 to cover the growing wave of demonstrations that had mobilized Egyptians, I was unsure whether or not the protest movement could topple then-President Hosni Mubarak. After all, he had been ruling for almost three decades, enjoyed Western backing and commanded a robust security apparatus. But as I drove through downtown Cairo from the airport, I saw the headquarters of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party in flames. It was difficult to see at the time just how much that burning building would come to symbolize about post-Mubarak Egypt. In the end, it took […]