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Archive for May 19th, 2007

Norway: Refugees in the Nothern Norway planned the celebrations

Posted by African Press International on May 19, 2007

Many had never even celebrated Norway’s Constitution Day on the 17th of May before, but residents of an asylum center in northern Norway were more than willing to help organize local festivities after the town’s more traditional organizer dropped out.

More than 100 asylum-seekers became members of the 17th of May Organizing Committee.

PHOTO: ANNE GRETE NORMANN

The local chapter of the Lion’s Club in Finnsnes, Troms County, had organized the town’s 17th of May program for years. The club abruptly withdrew, however, after reportedly being offended by a local newspaper’s portrayal of its work.

That left Finnsnes’ organizing committee without members, and calls went out for help. Residents and staff of a nearby asylum center volunteered their services.

“We think that was great,” Mayor Arne Bergland told newspaper Aftenposten. With the help of a Norwegian consultant, the refugees got a crash course in the history of the Norwegian constitution and how its signing on May 17, 1814 paved the way for the country’s patriotic celebrations ever since.

Anne Grete Normann, who helped the refugees organize the event, promised “many Norwegian flags, a good mood and colourful party clothes.” Everyone at the center, she said, was intent on arranging a nice party for the town on what many consider to be the biggest holiday of the year.

Parade practice
The refugees, many from Somalia, were reportedly eager to learn about Norway’s history and traditions, and get acquainted with the country’s patriotic songs. They practiced marching in a parade and also learned how to sing Norway’s national anthem.

Groups from the asylum center also helped tidy up downtown Finnsnes, and ultimately influenced the food that would be served at the party. In addition to the traditional sausages and ice cream, Finnsnes residents were being treated to sambosa and Somalian finger food after the parade.

“It’s an honour and a sign of confidence in us that the township chose the center (to lead the organizing committee),” said Normann, noting that other groups had volunteered as well. “We’re making the most of this opportunity.”

By Ole Magnus Rapp and Nina Berglund

Lifted and Published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenpostenEng

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World Bank Boss Resigns, a tumble due to a girlfriend

Posted by African Press International on May 19, 2007

Norway’s cabinet minister in charge of foreign aid and international development welcomed the news on Friday that Paul Wolfowitz would leave his post as head of the World Bank.

Paul Wolfowitz, a former US deputy defense secretary and architect of the US invasion of Iraq, failed to hang on to his job as head of the World Bank.

PHOTO: AP

Minister Erik Solheim, who earlier had called for Wolfowitz to step down in the midst of corruption allegations, called the pending resignation “right and necessary.”

“For me, the most important thing is that heads of international organizations such as the World Bank conduct themselves in a way that inspires the confidence of the member countries and staff,” Solheim said. “The situation at the Bank had progressed to the point that it was difficult to see (whether) confidence in the current leadership could be restored.”

The Nordic and Baltic countries hold one of the 24 seats on the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors. The seat is currently held by Norway, represented by Svein Aas.

Wolfowitz got in trouble for allegedly arranging a high-ranking position at the bank for his girlfriend, and ensuring that she got a large pay raise. Wolfowitz, a conservative long supported by US President George Bush, had taken over his top post on an anti-corruption platform, so the appointment was viewed as hypocritical and violating bank regulations.

He had fought hard to keep his job at the bank, and initially refused to step down. The bank’s board finally announced that he would be leaving the bank next month after weeks of debate and speculation.

“Now it is important to put this behind us,” Solheim said. “We must do what we can to ensure that confidence in the World Bank as an institution is rapidly restored, so that the bank can once more concentrate on the work of combating poverty.”

On a conciliatory note, Solheim noted that it also was important “that we continue to build on what Paul Wolfowitz has helped to achieve, putting corruption high on the agenda and focusing on development in Africa.

“This necessary change of leadership must not be allowed to change these priorities.”

Lifted and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525.source.aftenpostenENG

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Norway/Iran: Whipped for drinking alcohol

Posted by African Press International on May 19, 2007

Mamand Mamandy is still receiving treatment for the public lashing he received.

PHOTO: PRIVAT

Norwegian-Iranian Mamand Mamandy had a brutal meeting with police after drinking two beers while on holiday in Iran. “It’s getting better now, but I am still in great pain,” Mamandy, 35, told Aftenposten.no. “My brother is a doctor, and treated me after the whipping. I was in great pain and could not sleep.”

Mamandy, a Kurd, explained that he was visiting his mother in Baneh, Iran in April when he was arrested by police.

“We were on an outing with family and friends, six or seven in the evening, and were having a barbecue and enjoying ourselves. Altogether I drank two beers. The police happened to drive by,” Mamandy said.

He said that he was immediately arrested and taken to the police station where he was sentenced to 130 lashes. This sentence, for beer drinking, was carried out publicly according to news agency Iran Focus.

“I received 130 lashes on the back of my body. Police whipped me,” Mamandy said. He came to Norway as an asylum seeker in 1999. He lives in Drammen with his wife and they are awaiting Norwegian citizenship.

Mamandy traveled home to Norway shortly after his punishment and has been since treated by his family doctor here.

Aftenposten.no has been in contact with the Foreign Ministry, who said that they had not been contacted by Mamandy or his family in connection with the matter.

ByRandi Johannessen and Jonathan Tisdall

Liftedand published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenpostenEng

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Norway: Norwegian minister of Justice saves toddler in Spain

Posted by African Press International on May 19, 2007

Norway’s Justice Minister Knut Storberget dove into a swimming pool in Spain on Thursday when noticed that a two-year-old boy was about to drown.

Justice Minister Knut Storberget was a reluctant hero in Spain on Thursday.

PHOTO: AUD I. HELDAAS

Storberget was in Spain to deliver Constitution Day speeches to the large Norwegian community living in and around Torrevieja, on Spain’s east coast.

He was accompanying his own two children to a swimming pool when he noticed that a little boy was in the process of sinking to the bottom.

Storberget jumped into the water, scooped up the boy, and brought him to the surface.

The boy, who was British, wasn’t breathing but Storberget also managed to resuscitate him.

“Everyone who has small children knows how glad you become in your soul when such things go well,” Storberget told newspaper stlendingen, adding that he didn’t want to be held up as a hero.

The little boy’s British parents were grateful that Storberget saved their son. Storberget went on to hold three different speeches on the 17th of May, with an eye to starting a Labour Party chapter in the area, which is best known for its conservative supporters of Norway’s Progress Party.

Lifted by Korir and published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525 source.aftenpostenEng

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A reaction by Muthoni Kabara

Posted by African Press International on May 19, 2007

Muthoni Kabara reactsin a direct address to Korir, the Chief Editor, APN in connection with an earlier article titled: https://africanpress.wordpress.com/2007/01/31/kibera-slums-densely-populated-is-in-raila-odingas-langata-constituency/

To Korir,

Making Kibera a better place through upgrading the slums into more habitable housing units does not squarely lie upon Raila who is the current local Member of Parliament (MP). There are so many slum dwellings in Kenya including Othaya (President Kibakis constituency). Ugrading Kibera is the responsibility of the Kenyan Government in conjuction with the right authorities like the United Nations city agency UN-Habitat. President Kibaki has now focused upon the Kibera upgrading project and around 600 housing units will soon be put in place. Meanwhile read the following to understand the process of upgrading Kibera cited from http://www.globalexchange.org/countries/africa/kenya/kibera

One man believes it can be done.

He is Amos Kimunya, Kenyas lands minister. Away from the stench and the despair of Kibera, he spoke of the Kenya governments commitment to providing better housing for Kibera residents.

We have committed 500m shillings ($6.6m) in our current budget to sort out the lives of people living in Kibera.

We want to do more than just converting their cardboard boxes into concrete boxes – what we want to do is a comprehensive programme of upgrading the slum beyond just putting up new houses.

Its about improving the lives of the people, job opportunities, HIV/Aids prevention and protection, education facilities, playing grounds – and so its a comprehensive upgrading of the slum.

Easy part:

Mr Kimunyas optimism is echoed by Anna Tibaijuka, executive director of the United Nations city agency UN-Habitat.

Her organisation is charged with the responsibility of making life better for slum dwellers around the world.

For the past four years, we have been working with residents of Kibera, she says at the UN-Habitat headquarters located in, Gigiri, a posh leafy suburb of Nairobi.

If you really want to benefit the poor, you have to spend time on what we call social organisation, otherwise you might upgrade the slum and people who have better incomes will come and take over.

Indeed, it takes a long time and very little seems to be happening, but a lot has been happening in terms of preparations.

Physical construction is actually the easiest part of it.

By Muthoni Kabara

Published by African Press in Norway, apn, africanpress@chello.no tel +47 932 99 739 or +47 6300 2525

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