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Troika Backs IGAD On South Sudan
March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar shake hands.

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar shake hands.

The members of the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) reiterate their strong support for the combined efforts of the African Union (AU), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and United Nations to end the conflict in South Sudan, and join in their recent calls on all armed parties, including the Government of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition, and other armed groups, to commit to a ceasefire. The Troika welcomes the recent commitment by President Kiir to IGAD leaders to announce a unilateral ceasefire by government forces, and it calls upon him to ensure that his order is carried out immediately and in full effect.

The Troika underlines that the dire humanitarian crisis in South Sudan is the direct result of the conflict and demands that all parties cease violence against humanitarian workers and obstruction of humanitarian assistance. Military offensives and the obstruction of lifesaving assistance must stop immediately in order to end the suffering and severe food shortages inflicted upon millions across South Sudan.

The Troika reiterates that there is no military solution to this conflict and that a durable end to the conflict will require a political process involving all the principal parties. An inclusive national dialogue, deemed credible by the South Sudanese people, could provide a means to redress root causes of conflict and build a true national consensus. As President Kiir committed in announcing the planned national dialogue, it should supplement, and not replace, the core elements of the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.

The Troika endorses the ongoing efforts of AU High Representative Alpha Konar and UN Special Envoy Nicholas Haysom to encourage all parties to end fighting and engage in peaceful dialogue. It also fully supports Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission Chairperson Festus Mogae’s work towards a truly inclusive and effective process to implement the Agreement. In addition, the Troika endorses the work of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan, and the deployment of its Regional Protection Force. Lastly, the Troika notes the importance of breaking the cycle of impunity, and encourages further progress by the AU toward the rapid establishment of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan

*The text of the  statement was issued jointly by the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, and Norway.

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China is building a new base in Africa that creates ‘significant operational security’ issues for the US military
March 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Christopher Woody*

The US’s Camp Lemonnier, a special-operations outpost in the sweltering East African country of Djibouti, will soon have a new neighbor.

China will open a new naval base — what it has called “logistical support” facilities — nearby, bringing the US into closer proximity with a rival power than some officers have ever experienced.


“You would have to characterize it as a military base,” Marine Gen. Thomas Waldhauser, chief of US Africa Command, told reporters in Washington this week. “It’s a first for them. They’ve never had an overseas base.”

“We’ve never had a base of, let’s just say a peer competitor, as close as this one happens to be,” Waldhauser told Breaking Defense. “So there’s a lot of learning going on, a lot of growing going on.”

The base, which Waldhauser said would likely be finished sometime this summer, will be several miles away from Lemonnier.

Lemonnier, and Djibouti, are strategically located in the Horn of Africa. They sit on the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, a gateway to Egypt’s Suez Canal, which is one of the world’s busiest shipping corridors.

They’re also close to the restive country of Somalia and a short distance from the Arabian Peninsula — particularly Yemen, where the US has for some time been supporting a Saudi Arabian military campaign and before that was carrying out operations against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Camp Lemonnier, a US military base in Djibouti, is strategically located between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Google Maps

More than 4,000 US personnel are at Lemonnier, the US’s largest permanent base on the continent, and it has long hosted sensitive US drone and air operations. The US also has run drone operations out of East Africa, and China has 2,400 peacekeepers on the continent.

“Yes, there are some very significant operational security concerns, and I think that our base there is significant to US because it’s not only AFRICOM that utilizes” it, Waldhauser told Breaking Defense, but also US Central Command, which operates in the Middle East, Joint Special Operations Command, and European Command.

The French and Japanese militaries are also present in Djibouti. The country has been used as a base of operations against piracy in nearby waters. China has said its ships have escorted more than 6,000 vessels through the Gulf of Aden.

Beijing has described the new facility as a support base for its operations with countries in the region.

“China and Djibouti consulted with each other and reached consensus on building logistical facilities in Djibouti, which will enable the Chinese troops to better fulfill escort missions and make new contributions to regional peace and stability,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said in January 2016, when the Chinese lease was announced.

Concern in Washington and elsewhere may be that the base will eventually take on a larger role in Beijing’s foreign military operations. A 2015 US Defense Department report, cited by The Diplomat, confirmed that Chinese attack and missile submarines were operating in the Indian Ocean.

Countries along the Indian Ocean may also look upon the base warily, suspicious that it could be an anchor in a chain of bases and facilities along the ocean’s coast, supplementing outposts like the port at Gwadar in Pakistan.

“It’s naval power expansion for protecting commerce and China’s regional interests in the Horn of Africa,” Peter Dutton, a professor of strategic studies at the US Naval War College, told The Hindu in February. “This is what expansionary powers do. China has learned lessons from Britain of 200 years ago.”

The US “has spoken to the Djiboutian government about it,” Waldhauser said, “and they know what our concerns are.”

*Business Insider

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Africa has worst hunger crisis in 70 years amid budget cuts
March 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

By STUART GRAHAM*

In this photo taken Sunday, March 19, 2017, Rosa Lyo eats fruit at a camp for those who were previously displaced by fighting, near a church in Rajaf, South Sudan. As the world marks World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 more than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. (Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis via AP)

In this photo taken Sunday, March 19, 2017, Rosa Lyo eats fruit at a camp for those who were previously displaced by fighting, near a church in Rajaf, South Sudan. As the world marks World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22, 2017 more than 5 million people in South Sudan do not have access to safe, clean water, compounding the problems of famine and civil war, according to UNICEF. (Matthieu Alexandre/Caritas Internationalis via AP)

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Africa faces the world’s largest humanitarian crisis since 1945, with more than 20 million people facing starvation, and any cut in funding to humanitarian agencies working in famine-affected areas will cause untold suffering, a spokesman for the World Food Program said in Johannesburg Thursday, responding to questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposal to cut $10 billion in foreign aid.

“Any cuts at this time are extremely significant, not just for us but for any U.N. agencies and any aid organization,” said David Orr, WFP’s Africa spokesman, at a media briefing in Johannesburg. “With the magnitude of needs at the moment is it vital that we continue with a high level of assistance.”

The current hunger crisis is in three African countries, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria, as well as nearby Yemen.

The U.S. is WFP’s largest donor and was one of the organization’s founders. Last year it contributed more than $2 billion, representing about 24 percent of WFP’s total budget, Orr said.

U.N. operations in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria will require more than $5.6 billion this year, he said. At least $4.4 billion is needed by the end of March to avert a catastrophe, he said, but so far the U.N. has only received $90 million.

“The more dramatic cuts in any aid budgets, the more the number of debts, the more suffering there is going to be,” Orr said.

“We have a situation where famine has been declared in two counties in Unity state in South Sudan. That means there are already people dying in those places. This has been caused by a combination of factors including conflict, which prevents access. Humanitarian intervention is very difficult. Huge numbers of people are displaced,” Orr said. “Now famine is threatening in other parts of South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen.”

*AP/Yahoo

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Challenges of the WHO Must be Turned to Opportunities-Ethiopia’s Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyus
March 23, 2017 | 1 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

If elected,Dr Tedros will be the first African to head the WHO

If elected,Dr Tedros will be the first African to head the WHO

Mounting a strong bid to be the next Director General of the World Health Organization, shortcomings must be turned to lessons and new challenges into opportunity, says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyus of Ethiopia.

Currently serving as Minister, Special Advisor to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, and backed by the African  Union, Dr Tedros says a fresh view is needed to efficiently tackle the global health challenges of today. The upcoming elections present an opportunity for WHO to be led by someone who has lived and worked through some of the most pressing health challenges facing our world today, said Tedros a Former Minister of Health in his country.

Dr Tedros is no stranger to facing challenges. With a Ph.D. in Community Health, and a Master of Science in Immunology of Infectious Diseases, Tedros is a globally recognized expert and author on health issues. With stints as Chair for the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria Board, Chair Roll Back Malaria Partnership Board, Co-Chair, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Board, Dr Tedros is supremely confident of his ability to help the WHO reach its potential and create a healthier world.

A few weeks back, Dr Tedros presented his vision and candidacy to the 34 Member States of the Executive Board of the WHO. In the voting to shortlist candidates, Tedros received the highest number of votes in both rounds. Buoyed with such a strong showing and with growing support and endorsements across the globe, Dr Tedros found time off his hectic schedule to discuss his vision, campaign, and more on the WHO and global health issues. Together we can create a healthier world, and every country has a stake in that vision says Tedros.

DR. TEDROS ADHANOM you are running for the office of Director-General for the World Health Organization (WHO), how are things shaping up with that?

I am honoured by the African Union’s endorsement for my candidacy last year and re-affirmation this year. I am motivated by the enthusiastic encouragement I have received from many other governments and global health leaders around the world.  I am humbled by their confidence in me.

Since I launched my campaign over a year ago, I have met with Ministers, Heads of Delegations, and some Heads of States of over 180 of the 194 WHO Member States. These discussions have significantly shaped the priorities that I will pursue if I am elected Director-General. They have enriched my understanding of global health priorities and how these needs manifest themselves differently around the world. I am encouraged by the overwhelming alignment across Member States regarding most of WHO’s priorities, opportunities, and risks. I have also noted some areas of diverse interests and positions.

Several weeks ago, I presented my vision and candidacy to the 34 Member States of the Executive Board of WHO. I was honoured to receive the highest number of votes in both rounds of the short-listing of candidates from six down to three. I am encouraged by this early success and re-energised heading into the final stage of the election.

What is your motivation in seeking the WHO Director-General position and what makes you stand out as the best candidate for the job?

My motivation to become DG boils down to three main themes:

1) My passion for health

2) My belief in the power and potential of WHO; and

3) I have the skills and track record that can help realize WHO’s potential.

My passion for health starts from a personal level, growing up in a poor family in Ethiopia. I saw my own and countless other families in our community suffering because of poor access to health, unsafe drinking water, and food insecurity. My passion is rooted in a refusal to accept that people should live or die because of these things.

I believe in the power of WHO. I have personally seen the impact, WHO can have, as a partner to countries’ health programmes, to support and challenge us so that we can have more impact, on more people’s lives. We must turn WHO’s past shortcomings into lessons, and new challenges into an opportunity to evolve and adapt.

Tedros is a globally recognised expert and author on health issues

Tedros is a globally recognised expert and author on health issues

I believe what I have accomplished can help WHO reach its potential and create a healthier world. I have spent 3 decades learning, planning, innovating, building national capacity, coordinating partners, increasing domestic health spending, implementing comprehensive health sector reform, and managing our programs with accountability. I have remained committed and focused, translating reform into results. My vision for the WHO draws on lessons learned throughout my career: the health successes achieved here in Ethiopia, building international partnerships as Foreign Minister, and the intricacies of global health diplomacy and financing that I learned to navigate through international roles. I have chaired the Boards of the major global health institutions, overseeing their strategies and reforms, and helping to rebuild donor confidence.

A fresh view is needed to efficiently tackle today’s global health challenges. The upcoming election presents an opportunity for WHO to be led by someone who has lived and worked through some of the most pressing health challenges facing our world today.

What assessment do you make of the way the WHO has fared in the last few years and its response when the Ebola crisis struck parts of West Africa?

The Ebola crises shocked WHO to its core. However, it also offered an opportunity that

WHO launch serious reforms aimed at improving its ability to respond more rapidly and effectively to public health emergencies. Those reforms must be implemented with a sense of urgency to yield results and rebuild the confidence.

Though there have been challenges, WHO has been working to address them to be better prepared for the global health issues of today and tomorrow.

Tedros says that his background and experiences transforming the health sector in Ethiopia puts him in unique perspective to help the WHO turn challenges to opportunity

Tedros says that his background and experiences transforming the health sector in Ethiopia puts him in unique perspective to help the WHO turn challenges to opportunity

If elected to serve as DG, a top priority will be strengthening emergency preparedness, particularly in provision of increased support at country level to prevent, detect, and swiftly respond to disease outbreaks.  Going back to your question about Ebola, Nigeria and Senegal were able to contain the outbreak rapidly. This was due to better coordination, incident management systems, robust surveillance platforms and community engagement. This is why country capacity is so important. The relay of information from countries to regions and then to the headquarters is very important for an outbreak to not spread globally. But if there is weak capacity and if International Health Regulations are not fully implemented at the country level, then you cannot get the information flow and rapid response needed. That is why we need, as a global community, to work together to build capacity collaboratively – whether it is through South-South partnerships, gaining access to essential vaccines, and committing to fully implement International Health Regulations.

Can you explain the vision you have for the World Health Organisation? What will the WHO under the leadership of Dr. Tedros look like?

If elected, I will focus on five priorities:

My top priority is Universal Health Coverage. All roads lead to Universal Health Coverage, from Sustainable Development Goals to gender equality to emergency preparedness.

My second is to strengthen the capacity of national authorities and local communities to detect, prevent and manage health emergencies, including antimicrobial resistance.

My third is to put women, children, and adolescents at the centre of the global health development agenda, and to position health as a more powerful contributor to the gender equality agenda.

My fourth is to address health effects of climate and environmental change.

Lastly, in order to accomplish these, we will need to create a transformed WHO: one that is strong, effectively managed, adequately resourced, results- focused and responsive.

You can find out more about my vision for WHO at www.DrTedros.com.

May we know the support you have from the AU or the African bloc and in what other parts of the world are you hoping to get the necessary support to boost your chances of victory?

I am honoured to have received the endorsement of the African Union for my candidacy, and I am grateful for the support I have received.

I am campaigning on a vision that together we can create a healthier world, and every country has a stake in that vision. So in this campaign, I want to listen to and speak with people from every nation. To be successful, we all have to do this together, all 194 Member States.

If we are to build a healthier world together, we must recognize the unique challenges that each continent and each country has to face and not shirk or ignore any of them. This is, after all, a global effort.

You were Minister of Health in your native Ethiopia from 2005-2012, what did your leadership achieve for the health sector in Ethiopia?

When I began as Ethiopia’s Minister of Heath, our country faced extraordinary challenges. We took an honest look at the state of our health care system and at what would be required to expand health to reach all our fellow citizens in need.

We made a conscious decision to address the essential building blocks for health system-wide reform – investing in critical health infrastructure, expanding the health workforce, creating new financing mechanisms, improving service delivery, strengthening pharmaceutical supply, integrating information management, and investing in epidemiology/outbreak preparedness.

We worked with communities to identify health challenges and obstacles and, together, came up with workable and culturally acceptable solutions for each unique context.

As a result of working with teams across the country at each level, we were able to expand healthcare to tens of millions more Ethiopians. Through these initiatives, we were able to dramatically expand access to health services and meet ambitious health targets, translating reform into results: reducing child mortality by 67%; reducing maternal mortality by 71%; reducing malaria mortality by 75%;reducing mortality from tuberculosis by 64%; and reducing mortality from HIV by 70%.

 If you win the election you will be the first African to head the WHO, what would this mean to you?

Together we can create a healthier world, and every country has a stake in that vision says Tedros pictured here at the TANA Forum former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo

Together we can create a healthier world, and every country has a stake in that vision says Tedros pictured here at the TANA Forum former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo

It is one thing to tell countries what they should do, but it is an entirely different thing to have lived it and done it oneself, as I have. I have the ability to say that I designed the health reform, implemented it, and saw the results.

As someone who comes from a region hardest hit by many of the world’s biggest health challenges, I would bring WHO a fresh perspective about how much can still be done with limited resources. If elected, that will be recognition by our peers around the world that this type of frontline experience is paramount to successfully addressing health challenges not only here but around the world.

 Last May, you were presented with the Award for Perseverance during the Fourth Global Conference of Women Deliver in Copenhagen, Denmark; did you consider this an early endorsement for your bid?

That was a great honor. I would not say it is an endorsement of my candidacy, but I would say it is a recognition of the importance of gender equality to us all. I have long been a champion of empowering women since I have found from experience that inclusiveness and different ways of viewing issues tends to prompt innovative thinking and deliver results.

Leading on gender quality is a core value of mine and among my five leadership priorities for WHO. Investments in girls’ and women’s health and rights are investments in a healthy and more prosperous future. We see over and over again the untapped potential of women, because we disempower them, marginalize them, and undervalue them. When we do this, our societies are poorer today. Likewise, when we neglect the health and development needs of our children, our societies are poorer tomorrow. What a shame to lose both today and tomorrow, by not investing in women and children.

Healthy, empowered girls and women have the potential to build stronger communities, economies, and nations, and ultimately transform entire societies. For example, in Ethiopia, we trained over 38,000 women to be health extension workers, who bring local health services to communities across the country, and we built a Health Development Army, a 3-million strong organized women’s network that communicates directly with families to promote health practices and disease prevention across the country. This led to a major expansion of healthcare access.

I accepted the award on behalf of my colleagues and partners who tirelessly work to improve the lives of the girls and women over the last 30 years, and consider it an acknowledgment that similar efforts need to be replicated on a global scale.

The final elections are in May. What plans do you have to better introduce yourself to the world and reassure skeptics about your abilities to provide leadership for such an important global organization?

In May, all 194 countries that are members of the World Health Organization will each get an equal vote for the next Director-General.

I am speaking to people near and far from all regions of the world. Through these conversations, I am deepening my understanding of the needs and opportunities around the world, as well as demonstrating the successes and the lessons from our experiences in the health sector transformation in Ethiopia and my leadership roles with other international organizations. I am confident and hopeful that I will receive the necessary support to be successful in the final election in May at the World Health Assembly.

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‘Aware Migrants’ campaign launches in Africa as arrivals to Italy soar
March 16, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Kieran Guilbert*
Eritrean migrant Minya Mesmer (R) looks at a smartphone with her daughter at a military building in Misrata, Libya, November 6, 2016.

Eritrean migrant Minya Mesmer (R) looks at a smartphone with her daughter at a military building in Misrata, Libya, November 6, 2016.

DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A campaign to inform would-be migrants in Africa about the dangers of heading to Europe via the Mediterranean sea aims to reach people in 15 African countries through social media, radio and television adverts, migration officials said on Wednesday.

The ‘Aware Migrants’ campaign, which was launched last year by the Italian government and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), features video testimonies of migrants who made it to Europe, but were abused, beaten and raped along the way.

The voyage from Libya across the Mediterranean to Italy – most cross the sea on flimsy boats run by people smugglers – has become the main route to Europe for migrants from Africa after a European Union clampdown last year on sea crossings from Turkey.

A record 181,000 migrants made the perilous journey last year, and arrivals in Italy this year so far have risen by two thirds compared with the same period in 2016, IOM data shows. [nL8N1G751V]

The campaign is now targeting potential migrants across West and Central Africa – which account for most arrivals in Italy – with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram, and adverts with local media, said IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo.

“The purpose of the campaign is not to tell migrants not to leave – that is a personal choice,” he said. “But we need to provide them with as much information as possible, and quickly.”

“Many migrants who arrive in Italy are not fully aware of the risks … their journeys were more dangerous and traumatic than they expected,” Di Giacomo told an online press conference.

More than 4,500 migrants drowned in the Mediterranean in 2016, and nearly 500 have died at sea this year, almost a five-fold increase from this time last year, according to the IOM.

African migrants are also prey to abuse, beatings, imprisonment and rape while heading through the Sahara desert and lawless Libya. [nL8N1BE2SO]

Yet many migrants who make it to Italy do not tell their friends and families about the hardships they have endured. IOM officials hope their campaign will highlight the harsh reality.

In one video on the campaign’s website, 23-year-old Ismael talks about being imprisoned with his wife as migrants in Libya.

“They even forced my wife. They slept with my wife. She was pregnant. They used wooden sticks to beat her. She is dead.”

In the latest of a slew of measures pushed by the European Union to stop migrants reaching Europe, Italy launched a 200 million euro ($216 million) fund last month to help African countries control their borders. [nL5N1FM50K]

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience.

*Reuters/Yahoo

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Liberated Africa: Pathways to Self-Transformational Development
March 14, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ehiedu Iweriebor*

Ehiedu Iweriebor

Ehiedu Iweriebor

NEW YORK, United States of America, March 13, 2017/ — In the period since independence in the 1950s, Africa has undergone profound social, cultural, economic and political changes. Some inherited and historically rootless colonialist political and social systems have collapsed, been transcended and reconstituted. Different political systems – single party rule, personal rule and military governments have come and gone. New post-independence political and social systems; economic institutions, professional associations and labour unions, various types – traditional and new and varied cultural expressions have all emerged. Creative efforts to foster effective nation-building, develop a sense of belonging and manage diversity productively have also been made. New political systems, different forms of electoral democracy and democratic government;  political parties and groups, varied social and intelligentsia organizations, confident youth groups, civil society organizations are also emerging. Disruptive and traumatic political and social crises have occurred. These include civil wars, secessionist wars, famines, elite generated manipulative ethnicity and deadly intergroup conflicts, and recently home grown and imported religious terrorism and their destructive wars, spectacular damaging actions, the creation of refugees and internally displaced peoples and the generation of general feelings of insecurity.

Social development institutions like health and educational facilities that barely existed under colonialism have been built. For example, vast numbers of schools at all levels including universities and other tertiary institutions – conventional and specialized have been established and dot various parts of Africa. They have produced millions of educated Africans as never existed before in African history. New physical infrastructures: roads, railways, water ways and airports have been built. This is a rough profile of profound changes in Africa since the 1950s.

However, given Africa’s size and vast unmet human, social and economic needs there is no question that substantial as what has been built is, the extant physical and social infrastructures are not adequate or abundant enough.

At the same time, it is quite clear that the physical and social landscapes of Africa today are vastly different from what they were 60 years ago such that it is unlikely that people from those times will recognize Africa of today.

Yet it is also true that there are some aspects of African realities that have not changed substantively or for the better during this period because Africa did not regain, recover or assert its ownership and use of its autonomous self-direction capacities in some spheres over the past six decades. These are primarily in the areas of economic sovereignty, development capacitation, self-actuated development and ideological self-direction. This failure is manifested in such conditions as persistent underdevelopment, the pre-eminence of primary commodities production and export in its economic interactions with the world, import dependency, development incapacitation and poverty generation. It is also manifested in Africa’s ideological subordination to external diktat through the acceptance and implementation of the economic management dogmas and prescriptions of the multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank, IMF and similar bilateral external agencies. These prescribed non-development dogmas include: privatization, deregulation and African states self-withdrawal from promoting socio-economic development and the simultaneous promotion of the ascendancy of  “MARKET FORCES, FOREIGN INVESTORS, FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENTS and FOREIGN TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER ” as the primary and indispensable engines of African economic growth.

The forceful application of these disempowering dogmas through the active complicity of psychologically programmed and ideologically defeated African leaders and elite over the past three decades has yielded or in fact consolidated Africa in its status as under- developed, under-equipped and incapable of development self-propulsion. With African economies arrested in primary commodity export and the mass importation of manufactured goods they are mired in the same exocentric rut and this inevitably results in the export of jobs and import of poverty, therefore recurrent poverty-generation.

This condition and its persistence over this period suggest that IT CANNOT BE RESOLVED WITHIN ITSELF. It has to be transcended by African strategies of psycho-cultural recovery and development capacitation. Psycho-cultural recovery will entail the self-conscious efforts of liberated Africans to peel off the layers of self-deceit, self-delusion, psycho-ideological incapacitation, diminution of African self-worth, self-marginalization of African agency in African development. It would also require the expurgation from African leaderships and elite of their worshipful dependence on outsiders and preference for all things foreign including pre-fabricated solutions that have been introduced into Africa as dogmas of disempowerment and mechanisms of control from the slave trade era to the present. In its various incarnations, African disempowerment was partially procured through various  seemingly neutral but ultimately destructive external ideological constructs such as “Christianization”, “Islamization”; European “Civilization” during the colonial era; “Modernization” in the neo-colonial period after independence and its latest expression, as multilateral imperialist “globalism” and dictatorial globalization that ideologically and politically dictates a single, global capitalist and liberal democratic system as the only “approved” economic, political and social and order for all times. This would be composite world of the rich and powerful, and the weak and powerless with Africa at the top.

But all these disempowering political, social, cultural and economic constructs and systems of domination were politically and self-consciously created by organized and mission-driven national and racial elites pursuing the objectives of group ascendancy and global domination. They are not divine constructs imposed on the world. In the same way, liberated Africans can self-consciously choose and work to exit from this state of UNFREEDOM AND INDIGNITY by dismantling and reconstituting the extant world order (as Asians have done) and chose to create and enter the realms of FREEDOM AND SELF-DIRECTION through development capacitation, psychological liberation, cultural recuperation, mental freedom and self-actuated development so as to emerge as powerful participants in the world system as actors not subjects. This is the liberatory imperative.

In order for Africa to assume responsibility for its own transformation and elevation, and be able to undertake self-reliant development and create secure domestic prosperity, it has to create its own specific ideology and strategy of self-development. To do this there are a number of irreducible components that have to be designed and put in place. These are: the recovery and application of African agency in African development, the creation of the liberated African state, establishment of an African development capacitation system, the creation and dissemination of the Affirmative Africa Narrative and African comprehensive military empowerment.

The Centrality of African Agency in African Development
The first requirement of this liberated development strategy and process is the emplacement of African Agency at the centre of African thought and action as the primary psycho-cultural foundation, ideological premise and endogenous propellant for Africa’s self-actuated development. In this context African Agency is the endogenously created psycho-cultural software embedded in societies with which African societies train, organize, motivate, self-activate and direct themselves to accomplish desirable ends individually and collectively. It is the absolute psycho-cultural grounding and ideological ownership of the African project devoid of compromises to any external imperatives. African Agency is grounded on the supremacy of African endocentric thought and motive-forces as the propellants of development as a self-directed imperative.

Without contemporary Africans’ psychological internalization of this understanding and ownership of their development vision and their assumption of complete responsibility for self-actuated development, African societies will remain dependent, underdeveloped and insecure. Therefore the new liberated Africa vision must recognize the absolute necessity of the restoration of African Agency to primacy for any successful African actuated process of transformation. This new perspective is critically important because it has to be realized that one of the major challenges and primary impediment to Africa’s development since independence in the 1960s has been the absence of African Agency in African development as the directive force. This was due to the concerted and largely successful efforts of external multilateral imperialist forces (posing as omniscient advisers) working with psycho-ideologically unprepared and even naive African collaborator-leaders to promote exocentric authority and the corresponding marginalization, diminution and de-activation of African Agency in African development. Consequently, without the unquestioned ascendancy, centrality and directive role of African Agency, African development understood as Africans’ self-equipment for total liberation and radical transformation can never occur.

The Liberated African State
Second, is the imperative of the creation of a new Liberated African State through the rigorous ideological cleansing, psychological re-empowerment and administrative reconstruction of the contemporary politically compromised and disabled neo-colonial African states that are more representative of external forces than national interests.

The decolonization of the colonial African state and the evolution and emergence of the liberated state after independence was disrupted in the 1980s when most African states were captured and disabled by the cancerous ideologies, dogmas and prescriptions of the multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank and the IMF and their bilateral supporters in the context of the economic crises of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Embodied in various formulations and policy diktats such as the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), and its unvarying conditionalities: currency devaluation, subsidy removal, trade liberalization and others like deregulation, privatization, poverty reduction; these prescriptions have transformed African states into disabled, compromised, neo-colonial political-administrative contraptions that are responsible to neo-imperialist multilateral institutions and not to Africans. They therefore cannot serve Africa’s interests

This is why it is imperative to create the new Liberated African state. It will be a strong and interventionist developmental state. Its raison d’ etre would be the representation and promotion of national interests. This Liberated African state will be grounded on the affirmation and militant expression of its untrammeled sovereignty; and the absolute non-compromise of national interests to any external agencies, formulations, dogmas and imperatives. It would self-consciously assume and assert uncontested ideological ascendancy. In fact the new liberated state will represent the completion of the decolonization of the African states and the emergence of truly endogenous states. It is only such Liberated African developmental states that can lead to the realization of the African citizens’ expectations for defence and protection, advanced development, material prosperity and freedom from want and colonialist philanthropy, psychological security and empowerment, dignity and equity with all other groups in the world.

The African Development Capacitation System
The third critical requirement is the development and placement of an African Development Capacitation System as the primary motive-force for Africa’s social and economic transformation and creation of advanced societies. This is proposed against the background of the complete failure of the extant neo-colonial economic system inherited and maintained from colonialism. In over five decades of its use and application as the dominant economic management system and growth strategy it has yielded and maintained Africa in a state of development incapacitation, primary commodity exportation, secondary goods importation, dependency, poverty generation, incapacity for self-propulsion, and subjection to the diktat and control of multilateral imperialist agencies – the World Bank and IMF. It is quite clear that the extant exocentric economic system with its development motive forces externally situated is organically defective, un-reformable and inherently incapable of propelling Africa to the highest levels of development.

Therefore in order for Africa to develop and achieve the highest levels of human development it has to own the instruments and systems of self-actuated development. This perspective is partly based on this author’s succinct definition of Development – as a society’s self-equipment with the resources and capacities for its self-reproduction. Consequently, the African Development Capacitation system is the creation and existence within all African societies of the endogenous capacities to conceive, design, construct, manage and operate projects in ALL sectors of the economy. These include the technological, scientific, managerial and operational capabilities for all facets of modern industrial and agricultural production and development self-propulsion.

Practically, the components of the development capacitation system include the domestic possession and ownership of the following capacities: Project Conception and Design capabilities; Technological Production Capacity or Capital Goods Industries comprising : Engineering Industries for the manufacture of all types and levels of machine tools, industrial machinery and equipment, transport equipment, electrical and power equipment;  electronic and professional tools and equipment. Intermediate Goods Industries (Metals, Heavy Chemicals, Petrochemicals, Paper, Rubber etc); Civil Engineering Construction Capabilities for large, medium and small scale projects; and Project management and operation and supervision Capabilities.

This endogenous development capacitation system is found in all successful  global examples of societal self-development as the prime movers of any society’s self-actuated transformation from conditions of UN-FREEDOM: material underdevelopment, mass poverty, indignity and colonialist philanthropy to new empowered conditions of FREEDOM: expressed as self-created material abundance and prosperity, psycho-cultural confidence and dignified existence. This is practically expressed in mass industrialization, modernized mass agricultural production, mass mineral exploitation and beneficiation primarily for domestic use; mass employment, mass prosperity generation; cultural elevation, self-actuation, self-agency, human dignity and societal power. This is in effect the enthronement of the strategy and process of endocentricity and its ineluctable creation and production of a state of development.

The Affirmative Africa Narrative
The fourth basic requirement is the creation and permanent dissemination of a self-elevating paradigm or narrative to be known as the Affirmative Africa Narrative. Currently there is no global African created narrative that conceives, presents, projects and widely propagates a truthful, complex and elevating narrative of Africa and Africans. In its absence there exists a universal externally fabricated, pervasive and routinely propagated perverse perspective on Africa that I describe as the Pathological Africa Narrative. This narrative which evolved from the era of the European slave trade; was expansively propagated and consolidated during colonialism and has been fine-tuned and expanded since independence to the present to include other foreign propagators like Asians and even Africans. It presents an image and impression; perception and narrative of Africa as a world of deficits, lack, deprivation, absence, danger, disease, inaction, native incapacity, immobility and a basket charity case that is rescueable only by the self-assigned salvationary efforts of Western multilateral imperialist agencies – World Bank and IMF – their dogmas, experts and prescriptions. This Pathological Africa Narrative is not only inaccurate but it is also dangerous and damaging as it represents the software of African self-denigration, servility, surrender and incapacitation.

In order to pursue the vision of liberated Africa it is imperative to create and propagate the Affirmative Africa Narrative. This would be a robust and unapologetic statement of African accomplishments in all areas of human endeavor since independence despite all internal and external obstacles. It would provide the psychological props and grounding among Africans for their self-representation. The Affirmative Africa Narrative is intended to confront, combat, degrade, pulverize, defeat, eliminate and replace the Pathological Africa Narrative that currently pervades external and internal descriptions and representations of Africa and Africans. In its place, the Affirmative Africa Narrative should become the primary perceptual representation and imagistic projection of an energetic and boundless; resurgent and self-directed Africa.

Consequently, for Africans committed to racial upliftment and continental advancement and empowerment embodied in the new liberated Africa vision, the requisite framework of self-representation, self-projection and self-activation is the Affirmative Africa Narrative. This is thus a necessary and indispensable accompaniment and organic adjunct to the determined pursuit of the liberated African vision and mission.

The Imperative of African Military Empowerment
A fifth requirement of the liberated Africa vision is the imperative of Africa’s military empowerment through deliberate provisions for continent-wide development of military capabilities. In order to meet the defence needs of a self-conscious people and continent determined to assume responsibility for its own self-advancement,  self-protection, self-projection and emergence as a powerful and dynamic participant in global affairs, two range of actions are minimally imperative.

First is the establishment and development of military industries throughout Africa to ensure that virtually all military equipment from the most basic to the most advanced are manufactured (not assembled) in Africa. This is will free Africa from its current pathetic situation of dependency for military wares from the countries which participated in the past in Africa’s conquest and colonization as well as from new armament producers and traders. To be militarily none self-equipped and self-reliant is to reside in a state of UNFREEDOM.

The second aspect of African military empowerment is the revival, re-steaming and realization of the long-standing grand visions from the 1960s for continental defence institutions and systems. The founding nationalist and pan Africanist leaders of the 1960s and 1970s, had canvassed and proposed the development a comprehensive continental military defence system. This is was to be known as the African Military High Command. These pioneer leaders envisaged it as a powerful continental defence force for self-protection, internal security issues, intra-continental intervention, conflict resolution, contributions to continental and global peace keeping and management as needed and as a force of self-projection that announces Africa’s global presence. It would also be responsible for the security of African geo-political and oceanic spaces against foreign powers desirous of containing, controlling and constraining Africa by the establishment of their military cordon around the continent.

The over-all rationale for the prescription of Africa’s military empowerment is due to the historical purblindness and psychological incapacitation of African leaderships and dominant elite since independence.  In the light of the rapid conquest, colonization and exploitation of African communities after the Berlin Conference between the 1880s-1900s, self-conscious Africans should never have the luxury of forgetting that Africa was conquered primarily because of Western military superiority in arms and armaments. Thus it would seem minimally patriotic, psychologically imperative, behaviourially logical and eminently sensible that such a people and continent should give premium attention to the establishment of a powerful military capacity for defence and offense as indicated by its historical experiences and new status as sovereign states.

Therefore a fulsome strategy for African military self-equipment and a powerful and expansive African Military High Command should be developed and incorporated as part of the liberated development strategy to equip Africa to defend, protect and project itself and to play a dynamic role in global affairs.

Conclusion
The various elements outlined above constitute a new strategy and process of endocentric development or African Liberated Development and their application would produce Liberated Africa. This Africa would be truly self-made: developmentally transformed, ideologically self-directed, politically stable, technologically advanced, industrially developed, socially prosperous, culturally renascent, psychologically assertive, militarily powerful, a globally ascendant continent with self-restored human dignity, an Africa of which all Africans will be duly proud.

*Ehiedu Iweriebor, Ph.d (Columbia) is a Professor and former Chair of the Department of Africana and Puerto Rican/Latino Studies, Hunter College, City University of New York, USA.

 

 

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Experts: African Hunger Crisis Largely Man-made
February 27, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Salem Solomon*

Residents of Ntuzuma collect water from a truck after cuts in water supply were made due to persistent drought conditions, in Durban, South Africa, Jan. 22, 2017.

Residents of Ntuzuma collect water from a truck after cuts in water supply were made due to persistent drought conditions, in Durban, South Africa, Jan. 22, 2017.

This year, more so than usual, hunger is stalking Africa. The United Nations has declared a famine in parts of South Sudan and food insecurity is affecting tens of millions in nearly every geographic region of the continent.

The causes vary, as do the proposed solutions. But, experts say the worst crises are being fueled by war.

“Drought is an exacerbating factor in some contexts but conflict is really, really the major driver in the biggest emergencies,” said Chris Hillbruner, a senior official for the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).

“Drought can result in really severe food insecurity but usually, even when you have a severe drought, there’s an opportunity for recovery that starts with the next rainy season,” he said. “The challenge with conflict is that the conflict persists and persists and persists in many of these cases and so there’s little relief for the people.”

The United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has warned that 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death in just four countries: Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen. All four are in the midst of civil wars or insurgencies.

“Our first call and our first priority is for the warring parties in all these countries to give us the access that we need to reach those children,” said Najwa Mekki, spokeswoman for UNICEF.

UNICEF has 600 therapeutic feeding centers in South Sudan, but much of the affected population is unable to reach them. “Children are dying and we need to get to them soon and we need to get to them as fast as possible to be able to save lives,” Mekki said.

Wide-ranging threat

The number at risk on the continent stretches well beyond the countries identified by UNICEF. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP) reports that 12 million people living in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa are now dependent on food aid.

By all accounts, low rainfall caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon plays a significant role in the crisis. In Mozambique, aid organizations told VOA Portuguese that Tete and Gaza provinces are experiencing a prolonged drought and people have used up all the food they had saved.

In Ethiopia, farmers in the Borena zone told VOA Amharic that their cattle are emaciated and they are having a hard time selling them to buy food. Farmer Guyu Halake said cows that sold for about $440 before the drought are now sold for $17.

Another farmer, Fekadu Jeldeta, said if assistance is delayed, the current drought will shift from affecting livestock to costing the lives of people.

In Somalia, WFP said it is seeing warning signals similar to those seen in 2011, when drought and famine killed an estimated 260,000 people.

Goats with ribs showing crowd around a trough of well water in Somaliland region of Somalia, which is experiencing a devastating drought, on Feb. 9, 2017. (VOA/Jason Patinkin)

Goats with ribs showing crowd around a trough of well water in Somaliland region of Somalia, which is experiencing a devastating drought, on Feb. 9, 2017. (VOA/Jason Patinkin)

In Baidoa, VOA Somali spoke to Muslimo Abdi Abikar, a mother of nine who said she used to have a herd of livestock, including camels, goats and cows. Today, only two goats and a few camels remain, she said, and even the survivors are weak.

But observers say armed conflict plays an equal if not greater role in the hunger crisis. The threat of violence prevents farmers from planting or harvesting crops and prevents food trucks from reaching markets. If a government doesn’t act, it can take only a couple of months for food to become scarce in a particular area, triggering inflation.

In the Somali town of Las’anod, a grocer reported that, within one week, the cost of vegetables nearly doubled. A kilogram of tomatoes, for instance, spiked from $29 to $48.

What is a crisis?

Data such as this is used by FEWS NET to determine how to classify the level of food security across the continent, said Hillbruner. To do this, FEWS NET uses two key tools.

The first tool is called the Integrated Phase Classification, which examines a variety of indicators to determine how severe a food crisis is on a five-tier scale, ranging from minimal problems to humanitarian catastrophe.

The second tool is called “scenario development,” which allows analysts to forecast how food availability might improve or deteriorate in the near future.

“We look at how people access food and income in a typical year and then we look at whether or not there will be any shocks during the coming months,” Hillbruner says. “What is the forecast for rainfall? What do we expect is going to happen with food prices? Is there conflict occurring?”

Recently, FEWS NET warned that South Sudan could soon reach IPC Phase 5, the highest level on the scale. Phase 5 is defined as a famine marked by high levels of excess mortality. The group warned that Unity State in the north of the country is facing the most extreme lack of food.

Joseph Siegle, director of research at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, said the latest food crises, particularly those in South Sudan and northeast Nigeria, show that famines may have climactic roots, but are made worse by man-made factors.

“The difference between the natural factors which create a challenge and then the actual outcome of famine is usually a human-made response or the lack thereof,” he said. “And I think that’s what we’re looking at today.”

*VOA

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Research Calls for New Approach to Youth Employment Training Strategies in Africa
February 17, 2017 | 0 Comments

Youth Livelihood Diaries Shed New Light on Working Lives of African Youth

 

Sarah Bafumba,(right) ,a Youth Researcher in discussion with Hamidah Nyahzi (left), a respondent in Uganda during the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,The MasterCard Foundation

Sarah Bafumba,(right) ,a Youth Researcher in discussion with Hamidah Nyahzi (left), a respondent in Uganda during the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,The MasterCard Foundation

Kigali, Rwanda, February 17, 2017 Innovative research released today by The MasterCard Foundation is making the case for a new approach to youth employment training strategies in Africa. Invisible Lives: Understanding Youth Livelihoods in Ghana and Uganda, released today at the Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, sheds light on the working lives of African youth. The report, produced in collaboration with Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT), argues that international development programs favour skills training for formal sector careers over training that can be applied to multiple jobs in the informal sector. The result is that their efforts fall short of reaching the millions of unreached youth on the continent who engage in mixed livelihoods.

“To reach a critical mass of young people, fundamental shifts in our approach to skills-building, access to finance and entrepreneurship support are necessary,” says Lindsay Wallace, Director of Learning and Strategy, The MasterCard Foundation. “Development efforts must strengthen social, education and economic systems, and promote inclusive growth that will provide the most vulnerable and marginalized young people with opportunities to improve their lives.”

Invisible Lives set out to explore how young people integrate mixed livelihoods into their working lives, what challenges this approach poses, and how best to design interventions for young people in the informal sector. The research used a diaries methodology to document the working lives of 246 youth ages 18-24 from Ghana and Uganda over a one-year period, honing in on questions around behaviour, income, economic activities, and time management. While these data speak to the realities of employment in Ghana and Uganda, the research suggests that these also reflect emerging trends across Africa.

 

Invisible Lives highlights the extraordinary lengths that young people go to in order to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Findings of the Invisible Lives research indicate that:

 

  • Young people in Africa diversify their livelihoods, undertaking a mix of informal sector employment, self-employment, and agriculture-related activities to sustain their livelihood.
  • Agricultural production is central to young people’s livelihoods, but agricultural incomes were meagre. Many young people run small enterprises that can be easily started, stopped, and restarted as needed. The most successful young people in both Ghana and Uganda diversified their income and risk by growing multiple crops, raising a variety of livestock, and pursuing a wide range of additional activities.
  • Both formal and informal wage employment is rare and sporadic, or elusive. While the informal sector, which constitutes about 80 percent of Africa’s labour force, provided more wage employment opportunities for young people, they were by no means abundant.
  • Support networks are critical for young people and they play an extensive role in their lives, not only providing support in the form of advice regarding where to look for and how to find employment, skills development, and business guidance, but also proving instrumental in accessing financial resources needed.
Anne Marie van Swinderen

Anne Marie van Swinderen

“Respondents who participated in this study generously shared experiences from their lives over the course of a full year,” explains Anne Marie van Swinderen, lead researcher on Invisible Lives from Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT). “Data from the study shows us that these young people readily take up all opportunities that come their way, with enormous energy and positive spirit. Through the L-IFT diaries methodology, these young respondents and the young researchers who interviewed them, also grew a great deal, simply through the act of asking and answering questions about their diversified livelihoods.”

In addition to providing new information on the employment and risk-mitigation strategies of young working Africans, the research maintains that youth who participated in this study were largely invisible to both development organizations and their own governments, and did not have any access to support services, training or finance capital.

Nakagubo Manjeri(left) participated in the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,MasterCard Foundation

Nakagubo Manjeri(left) participated in the study.Photo Jennifer Huxta ,MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training, and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006.

The Youth Livelihoods Program seeks to improve the capacity of young men and women to transition to jobs or create businesses through a holistic approach which combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, and appropriate financial services. Through our partnerships, our program is supporting innovative models that help young people transition out of poverty and into stable livelihoods. Since 2010, the Foundation has committed $US402 million to 37 multi-year projects across 19 countries in Africa. More than 1.8 million young people have been reached through the Youth Livelihoods program

 

 

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UAE research programme for rain enhancement science to award grants for research proposals
January 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Research programme for rain enhancement science is to award the most innovative research proposals for rain enhancement science during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability week at a ceremony to be held at the Abu Dhabi national exhibition centre on 17 January, 2017, according to a team spokesperson.

It is reported that the programme  is one of the world’s forefront leaders in finding solutions and innovations for water security challenges.

Organisers  of the event say that with a projected total global population increase of three billion over the next three decades which will severely pressure the limited supplies of fresh water, countries are leading research to find technologies that will offer a viable, cost-effective supplement to existing water supplies.

“The programme  is the first of its kind that aims to build feasible alternatives in arid and semi-arid regions that will serve future generations through international cooperation in science and technology,” according to organisers.

The UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science, an initiative of the UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs and overseen by the National Center of Meteorology and Seismology (NCMS), offers a grant of 5 million US dollars over a three-year period to be shared by up to five winning research proposals. The programme  was launched with the aims of addressing water security challenges and placing the UAE at the international forefront of scientific research into rain enhancement.

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Hunger Crisis Imminent in Africa – FAO
January 7, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Food and Agriculture Organisation warns of imminent food crisis in the horn of Africa as families struggled with knock on effects of drought in the region in 2016

THE Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, has warned that countries in the horn of Africa are likely to see a rise in hunger and further decline of local livelihoods in the coming months as farming families struggle with the knock-on effects of multiple droughts that hit the region in 2016. Growing numbers of refugees in East Africa, meanwhile, are expected to place even more burden on already strained food and nutrition security.

Currently, close to 12 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are in need of food assistance as families in the region face limited access to food and income, together with rising debt, low cereal and seed stocks, and low milk and meat production. Terms of trade are particularly bad for livestock farmers, as food prices are increasing at the same time that market prices for livestock are low.

Farmers in the region need urgent support to recover from consecutive lost harvests and to keep their breeding livestock healthy and productive at a time that pastures are the driest in years. Production outputs in the three countries are grim.

Dominique Burgeon, director, emergency and rehabilitation division, FAO, said, “We are dealing with a cyclical phenomenon in the horn of Africa,” said. “But we also know from experience that timely support to farming families can significantly boost their ability to withstand the impacts of these droughts and soften the blow to their livelihoods,” he said.

For this reason, FAO has already begun disbursing emergency funds for rapid interventions in Kenya and Somalia. The funds will support emergency feed and vaccinations for breeding and weak animals, repairs of water points, and seeds and tools to plant in the spring season. FAO is also working with local officials to bolster countries’ emergency preparedness across the region.

“Especially in those areas where we know natural hazards are recurring, working with the government to further build-up their ability to mitigate future shocks is a smart intervention that can significantly reduce the need for humanitarian and food aid further down the line,” Burgeon said.

Kenya is highly likely to see another drought in early 2017 and with it a rise in food insecurity. Current estimates show some 1.3 million people are food insecure. Based on the latest predictions, the impact of the current drought in the southern part of the country will lessen by mid-2017, but counties in the North – in particular Turkana, Marsabit, Wajir and Mandera – will steadily get worse.

Families in these areas are heavily dependent on livestock. Now, with their livelihoods already stressed – the last reliable rain they received was in December 2015- they will get little relief from the October-December short rains, which typically mark a recovery period but once again fell short this season.

In the affected counties, the terms of trade have become increasingly unfavourable for livestock keepers, as prices of staple foods are rising, while a flood of weakened sheep, goats and cows onto local markets has brought down livestock prices. To ensure livestock markets remain functional throughout the dry season in 2017, FAO is training local officials in better managing livestock markets `cin addition to providing feed, water and veterinary support.

After two poor rainy seasons this year, Somalia is in a countrywide state of drought emergency, ranging from moderate to extreme. As a result, the Gu cereal harvest – from April to June – was 50 percent below average, and prospects for the October-December dry season are very grim. To make matters worse, the country’s driest season – the Jilaal that begins in January- is expected to be even harsher than usual, which means Somali farmers are unlikely to get a break anytime soon.

All indications are that crop farmers are already facing a second consecutive season with poor harvest. Pastoralists, meanwhile, are struggling to provide food for both their families and livestock, as pasture and water for grazing their animals are becoming poorer and scarcer by the day – in the south, pasture availability is the lowest it has been in the past five years.

Some five million Somalis are food insecure through December 2016. This includes 1.1 million people in Crisis and Emergency conditions of food insecurity (Phases 3 and 4 on the five-tier IPC scale used by humanitarian agencies). This is a 20 percent increase in just six months.

The latest analysis forecasts that the number of people in Crisis and Emergency conditions of food insecurity may further rise by more than a quarter of a million people between February and May 2017. Similar conditions in 2011 have resulted in famine and loss of lives, and therefore early action is urgently needed to avoid a repeat.

The FAO calls on resource partners to urgently scale up assistance in rural areas, in the form of cash relief, emergency livestock support and agricultural inputs to plant in the April Gu season. If farmers cannot plant during Gu – which traditionally produces 60 percent of the country’s annual cereal output — they will be left without another major harvest until 2018.

Farming families in Ethiopia, meanwhile, are extremely vulnerable as they have not been able to recover from the 2015 El Nino-induced drought. Some 5.6 million people remain food insecure, while millions more depend on livestock herds that need to be protected and treated to improve milk and meat production. Here, too, better access to feed and water is critical.

The crop situation is relatively stable after the country completed the most widespread emergency seed distribution in Ethiopia’s history. The  FAO and more than 25 NGOs and agencies reached 1.5 million households with drought-resistant seeds. As a result of enabling farming families to grow their own food, the government and humanitarian community saved close to $1 billion in emergency aid, underlining that investing in farmers is not only the right thing to do but also the most cost-efficient.

Somalia and Kenya are among the first countries benefiting from the FAO’s new Early Warning Early Action Fund, EWEA. The fund ensures quick activation of emergency plans when there is a high likelihood of a disaster that would affect agriculture and people’s food and nutrition security. The fund will be part of a larger Early Warning Early Action System that tracks climate data and earth imaging to determine what areas are at risk of an imminent shock and will benefit from early intervention.

*Real News

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Eritrean refugees in Israel sent to Uganda and Rwanda
November 25, 2016 | 0 Comments

Do refugees have a choice in Israel’s continued policy of transferring African arrivals to third countries?

By *

Holot detention facility in the Negev Desert, in Israel housing some 2,500 asylum seekers mainly from Eritrea and Sudan [Jim Hollander/EPA]

Holot detention facility in the Negev Desert, in Israel housing some 2,500 asylum seekers mainly from Eritrea and Sudan [Jim Hollander/EPA]

Kampala, Uganda The sky was still an inky black when the flight from Cairo touched down at Entebbe Airport near Kampala, the capital of Uganda, one morning in mid-January, the fluorescent glow spilling from the small terminal providing the only source of light.

It had been 15 hours since Musgun Gebar left Tel Aviv, and the journey staggered him in its brevity. Four years earlier, when he had travelled the other way – from Eritrea in East Africa to Israel – he had done so on foot, a punishing journey across the Sahara and the Sinai that took more than a month.

Kidnappers stalked the route, food was scarce, and half of the people with whom he had travelled didn’t survive. But this time, he simply sat down in a small cushioned seat and waited, snapping selfies and eating salty meals from aluminum tins until, suddenly, he had arrived.

Gebar had no visa to enter Uganda. He wasn’t carrying an invitation letter or an application form. In fact, he didn’t even have a passport. Though he had crossed many borders in his life, he had never done it through the official channel of queues and customs officials and dated stamps.

He only carried $3,500 in clean, hundred dollar bills in his wallet, a temporary travel document called a “laissez passer”, and a creased letter from the Israeli government. “Passengers are asked to follow instructions and regulations to ensure a safe and pleasant departure from Israel,” it read, with a signature from the Voluntary Departures Unit.

From friends who had come before him, Gebar already knew what would happen next. The man emerged as he stepped inside the terminal, wordlessly ushering him and the nine other Eritreans on the flight away from the passport control line.

Without a glance from the border patrol officers, he led them around the queue, to the baggage claim where their luggage awaited, and then out of the airport’s sliding-glass doors. In the car park, a van waited to drive them to a hotel.

After that, they were on their own.

No choice

Human rights organisations have reported that over the past three years this scene has played out hundreds of times in Uganda and neighbouring Rwanda, where more than 3,000 Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers from Israel have been “voluntarily” resettled as of 2015.

Often, those who were resettled dispute whether they truly had a choice.

Gebar, for instance, says that he was being held in an immigration detention camp in the Negev Desert called Holot, when, he claims, officials there informed him that he had three options. If he liked, he could stay indefinitely in the camp. A second option was to go back to Eritrea, the country he had fled five years before. Or, he could agree to take $3,500 and depart for a third country of the Israeli government’s choosing.

Gebar didn’t hesitate. He took the third option.

Andie Lambe, executive director of the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI), an NGO that has conducted extensive research into the departure of East African refugees from Israel, also questions just how much choice these refugees have.

“What does it mean when an unknown third country is someone’s best option?” he asks. “To me that says they never really had a choice at all.”

Media reports suggest that the three countries have cut a secret, high-level deal in which the African states accept refugees in return for arms, military training and other aid from Israel.

The countries involved have given conflicting responses, however, on their involvement.

Sabine Haddad, Israeli population and immigration authority spokeswoman, told Al Jazeera that Israel does have an agreement with two African countries – which she did not name – for the relocation of unwanted asylum seekers. She did not offer a response regarding the weapons exchange part of the agreement.

Both Uganda and Rwanda, on the other hand, deny they have signed any agreement with Israel. Furthermore, neither country has afforded refugee status to any refugees arriving from Israel.

Ugandan government spokesman Ofwono Opondo told Al Jazeera earlier this year that the reports of a deal were “a rumour circulated by Israeli intelligence”.

“I have disputed that we have received these individuals,” he said.

No rights

Like others around the world, refugees leaving Israel for Rwanda and Uganda find themselves in a precarious position. Their lives straddle two countries, and movement either forwards or backward is nearly impossible.

Tedros Abrahe, an Eritrean midwife who also left Israel under the “voluntary departures” programme earlier this year, says he is “just waiting to be a legal refugee somewhere”.

Like most of the estimated 5,000 Eritreans who flee their country each month, Abrahe first left home in 2011 to escape the country’s mandatory and indefinite national service programme. After a brief stay in Sudan, he paid smugglers $3,000 to take him to Israel, where he figured opportunities would be better and life easier.

But when he arrived, he found that his Eritrean midwifery qualifications were not recognised in Israel, and that the only work available to him as an asylum seeker was an under-the-table job cleaning the kitchen of a Tel Aviv shawarma restaurant.

Israel did not consider him a refugee. Rather, like nearly all of the approximately 42,000Eritrean and Sudanese refugees in Israel, he was labelled an “infiltrator” – a labelpreviously used to categorise Palestinians entering Israel. The only status Abrahe was allowed was a permit granting him temporary reprieve from being deported, which, he says, he had to renew in person every 60 days.

This system, says Anat Ovadia-Rosner, a spokeswoman for Israeli NGO Hotline for Refugees and Migrants, “puts people in a perpetual limbo, without the right to healthcare, to welfare services, to anything that might help them build a permanent life here”.

She thinks that “the whole structure is meant to make people’s lives miserable, so eventually, perhaps, they won’t want to stay any more”.

Between 2009 and 2016, Israel grantedofficial refugee status to 0.07 percent of all its Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers – a total of four people.

When, in late 2015, Abrahe went to refresh his Israeli permit, he was informed that it would not be renewed. Instead, he says, he was told that he had 30 days to either report to an immigration detention centre or leave the country for Eritrea or a location of the government’s choosing.

Believing that he would not be safe in Eritrea, Abrahe chose the latter option.

By the time he boarded a flight for East Africa in January 2016, thousands of Eritrean and Sudanese refugees had already followed the same path.

According to Interior Minister Gilad Erdan, the voluntary resettlement plan had “encourage[d] infiltrators to leave the borders of the state of Israel honourably and safely”.

But just how safe is it really?

According to research by Hotline and IRRI in Rwanda, most of the refugees who arrive in Rwanda are immediately smuggled over the border to Uganda.

Abrahe says that he spent just two days in the country – waiting in a house near Kigali under an armed guard – before being forcibly taken to Kampala.

Those arriving in Uganda are not afforded any further rights. Uganda’s Department of Refugees says there is no deal to accept refugees coming from Israel. Douglas Asiimwe, the department’s principal protection officer, told Al Jazeera that any refugees arriving from Israel were assessed on the individual merits of their cases.

They shouldn’t need Uganda’s protection, he explained, because they weren’t coming from a war zone, but from a “safe” country that had promised under international law to uphold the rights of refugees.

Haddad, the Israeli population and immigration spokeswoman, insists that Israel “ensures that the process of relocation is conducted according to the agreements and in line with international law”.

In her statement to Al Jazeera, she wrote: “Israel makes certain that the refugees are accorded all relevant rights in accordance with the agreements, including receiving the appropriate permits and papers.”

But NGOs and human rights lawyers who have reviewed the refugees’ cases in both Israel and Uganda say that Israel’s official line on the subject is not true.

In late 2015, a coalition of NGOs and human rights lawyers challenged the legality of Israel’s third-country deportations before the Israeli Supreme Court. But a decision is still pending and Israel’s “voluntary departures” continue.

No jobs

Even without legal status, life in Kampala was initially a marked improvement over Israel for both Gebar and Abrahe.

Ugandans were more welcoming than Israelis, they said, and the two melted easily into the city’s large Eritrean population.

Abrahe had spent some of the money the Israeli government gave him on an iPhone, which he used to send smiling selfies to family and friends in Eritrea, Israel, and Europe.

But the $3,500 wouldn’t last forever, and there were few jobs to be had in Uganda, even for someone with medical training like Abrahe. By September, both men had run out of money and were living on handouts from friends and family.

“Time just passes itself,” Gebar said. “You just sit home all day waiting, doing nothing.”

In late October, however, Abrahe decided that he couldn’t wait any longer. He borrowed a passport from a Ugandan friend and flew to Turkey. From there, he made the dangerous journey by boat to Greece, where he is now living in a refugee camp.

“It’s better to take a risk than to live this way for my whole life,” he says. “This year, I want to be a legal person somewhere.”

*Al Jazeera.Ryan Lenora Brown was a fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation in Uganda.

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Eritrean workers can now sue a Canadian mining company for using them as ‘slave labor
October 10, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Abdi Latif Dahir*

A truck arrives to ferry excavated gold, copper and zinc ore from the main mining pit at the Bisha Mining Share Company (BMSC) in Eritrea, operated by Canadian company Nevsun Resources, February 17, 2016. To match Special Report ERITREA-MINING/NEVSUNÊ   REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo      - RTSPGG

A truck arrives to ferry excavated gold, copper and zinc ore from the main mining pit at the Bisha Mining Share Company (BMSC) in Eritrea, operated by Canadian company Nevsun Resources, February 17, 2016. To match Special Report ERITREA-MINING/NEVSUNÊ REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya/File Photo – RTSPGG4

A Canadian court has cleared the way for a labor lawsuit against Nevsun Resources by workers who claim they were forced to work for the company’s Bisha mine in Eritrea. The British Columbia court’s ruling on Thursday (Oct. 6) rejected efforts by the Vancouver-based mining company to get the case heard in Eritrea and not in Canada.

The case marks the first time in history a tort claim for modern slavery will go forward in a Canadian court, according to the Canadian Center for International Justice, whose legal director is a member of the plaintiff’s legal team. The center also said that this would be the first time a Canadian court has recognized a corporation can be taken to trial for alleged violations in overseas operations.

The Eritrean workers are seeking compensation for “severe physical and mental pain and suffering” while working at the Bisha Mining Share Company between 2008 and 2012. Bisha is Eritrea’s first modern mine, and Nevsun, which owns 60% of the company, engaged a state-run contractor to build and manage the facilities. The men allege in their Nov. 2014 lawsuit that they were conscripts in the country’s controversial national service program when they were employed to work under harsh conditions at the mine.

Nevsun denies the allegations and says the mine is run according to international safety standards. In a press statement on Thursday, the company said it was studying the court’s decision and considering an appeal.

“Today’s court decision addresses only preliminary legal challenges to the action raised by Nevsun,” the company said. “The judgment makes no findings with respect to the plaintiffs’ allegations, including whether any of them were in fact at the Bisha Mine.”

The judged however granted Nevsun an application that the case couldn’t go on as a class action, and that each one of the workers will have to file separate lawsuits. The judge noted that this was because the six workers named in the case made slightly different allegations.

Despite that, the plaintiffs’ legal team said they considered the ruling a historic win for victims of forced labor. “This is a big win for us,” Joe Fiorante, one of the lead counsel for the workers, said.

*Quartz

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