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Archive for December 27th, 2008

Fearing to be alive in Yemen: “We now stay at home, and our life has become chaotic and unsafe. How can we live this way?” he asked.

Posted by African Press International on December 27, 2008

YEMEN: Jews in north fear for their lives

Photo: Muhammed al-Jabri/IRIN
Jews in Amran Governorate say they fear for their lives

SANAA, 24 December 2008 (IRIN) – Members of the Jewish community in Amran Governorate, northern Yemen, say they fear being attacked by Muslim extremists, after Moshe Yaish Josef Nahari, a Jewish teacher, was gunned down on 11 December in Raydah District.

“We really live in fear. We fear for our lives. We are mistreated by some Muslims who are demanding that we convert to Islam or leave the area,” said a Jewish community leader who preferred anonymity.

He told IRIN that the more than 250 Jews in Raydah District were unable to lead a normal life and many had stopped work after receiving death threats. Many Jewish men worked as silversmiths or carpenters.

“We now stay at home, and our life has become chaotic and unsafe. How can we live this way?” he asked.

According to him, the Jews are demanding to be moved from Amran Governorate to a safe city such as Sanaa, Ibb or Taiz, “where people are educated and men do not carry guns”. However, they do not want to be relocated hastily: They fear losing their property, as happened to the Jews of Saada in 2007.

Photo: Muhammed al-Jabri/IRIN
Tribesmen carrying their guns in Raydah District

On 16 September, President Ali Abdullah Saleh met Jewish community leaders and suggested the Jews move from Amran to Sanaa city, and that each family be granted a small piece of land in the city.

“But how can we leave our homes, businesses and land and come to Sanaa? There was no talk of financial assistance. We were told to sell our property and come to live in Sanaa,” said the Jewish leader.


Four days after the killing of Nahari, a grenade was thrown at the house of a Jewish man in Raydah, further raising fears. The authorities have not managed to identify the perpetrators.

On 20 December, Abdul-Aziz al-Abdi, a 39 year-old former military pilot, confessed in court to killing the Jewish teacher in order “to get closer to God”.

He said he had warned the Jews a month ago to convert to Islam or leave the area, and that he had informed the authorities six months ago about his intention to commit a crime if the Jews were not deported. “The Jews are creating problems and worries in the country and have relations with Britain and Tel Aviv,” he said.

Relatives of al-Abdi said he had psychological problems and had killed his wife a few years ago, prompting Nahari’s relatives to ask how it was he had been allowed to carry a gun in such circumstances.

Photo: Google Maps
A map of Yemen highlighting Saada and Amran provinces

The victim’s sister, Malakah, told IRIN that going to court without protection was dangerous as al-Abdi’s relatives “carried guns”.

“We had to take a detour to reach the court. The al-Abdi family threatened us, saying they would not allow any Jew to live safely, and would kidnap Jewish women. If their relative was executed, they would kill 20 Jews,” she said.

According to her, Nahari had nine children and was the family bread-winner.

The Jewish minority in Amran Governorate has been there for centuries, though thousands left for Israel in or after 1948.

Currently some 270 Jews live in Amran Governorate, all in Raydah District – a district well-known for its gun markets and where carrying a gun is considered normal.

In early 2007, scores of Jews in Saada Governorate, northern Yemen, received death threats from Shia rebels and were moved to Sanaa city.


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Handling landmines in Somalia: Kosar said Somaliland was one of five unrecognised nations to have signed the international landmine ban treaty

Posted by African Press International on December 27, 2008

SOMALIA: Somaliland records drop in landmine accidents

Photo: Mohamed Amin Jibril/IRIN
A de-mining official uses a metal detector to check for landmines in Somaliland

HARGEISA, 26 December 2008 (IRIN) – The self-declared republic of Somaliland recorded a sharp drop in landmine-related accidents in 2008 compared with 2007, a mine clearance organisation official has said.

Hassan Ahmed Kosar, operations officer for the Halo Trust, the only international mine clearance organisation currently operating in Somaliland, said 15 accidents – down from 45 in 2007 – were recorded in Somaliland in 2008.

“Most of the accidents were caused by unexploded ordnance [UXO] and anti-tank mines planted in roads during the confrontation between the SNM [Somali National Movement – the liberation organisation in Somaliland between 1981 and 1991] and [former Somali President] Siyad Barre’s regime in the late 1980s, as well as during the Ogaden war between Somalia and Ethiopia in the late 1970s,” Kosar told IRIN on 22 December in Somaliland’s capital, Hargeisa.

Kosar said Somaliland was one of five unrecognised nations to have signed the international landmine ban treaty, adding that the government had destroyed 3,014 anti-personnel mines in its stores in 2003.

He said the Halo Trust had destroyed more than 3,614 landmines or UXO, 90,694 small arms, and 37,760 anti-tank mines since 1999.

According to the Somaliland Mine Action Centre (SMAC), a government body, over two million mines were planted in Somaliland between 1964 and 1990.

Abdirahman Yusuf, a SMAC operations officer, said: “According to the last survey – conducted in collaboration with international mine clearance organisations, particularly the Halo Trust – over 600 roads were mined during the war; there are also 300 minefields scattered throughout the country.”

Photo: Mohamed Amin Jibril/IRIN
The wreckage of a truck that hit a landmine in Somaliland

International demining efforts

Demining operations have been going on in Somaliland since 1991.

Rimfire, a UK-based mine clearance organisation, began its first demining project in Somaliland in 1992-1993, clearing over 64,000 landmines and UXO.

We are much bigger than Rimfire in terms of manpower and we also use modern demining equipment,” the Halo Trusts Kosar said.

In 2003 the Danish Demining Group (DDG) cleared landmines from 300 roads. Santa Barbara, an international mine clearance organisation, was also active in Somaliland 2000-2002.

The Halo Trust is carrying out a new landmine survey due for completion in late 2009. Kosar made a plea for more international funding to speed up mine clearance operations.


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The DRC office of the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that investigations had shown the first case in the latest outbreak was a premature baby.

Posted by African Press International on December 27, 2008

DRC: Nine die, dozens infected by suspected haemorrhagic fever

Photo: BBC
Medical personnel have to take extra precautions when treating haemorrhagic fever patients (file photo)

KINSHASA, 24 December 2008 (IRIN) – An outbreak of a suspected haemorrhagic fever has killed nine people and infected 92 more in Kasai Occidental, according to medical personnel.

The outbreak occurred in the health zone of Mweka, where a confirmed outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever killed several villagers in 2007.

“There are signs that could be associated with haemorrhagic fever but we have to wait for laboratory results to confirm this because there is also a gastro-enteritis outbreak in the area, Edmond Mulamba, the Kasai Occidental provincial health inspector, told IRIN.

He said those infected had presented symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pains and eventually developed vomiting and diarrhoea.

Franois Dumont, an official of Mdecins sans Frontires (MSF-Belgium), said the cause of death would be confirmed once the results of blood and stool samples sent to laboratories in Kinshasa, Gabon and South Africa had been received.

Mulamba said the patients were from villages around Kampungu area where a serious outbreak of the Ebola virus was reported in 2007. During that outbreak, from September to October 2007, MSF emergency medical teams attended to 46 patients.

The DRC office of the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that investigations had shown the first case in the latest outbreak was a premature baby. The 18-year-old mother, grandparents and others who attended the funeral died after experiencing headaches, fever, muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Dumont said a five-member team from MSF’s Congo Emergency Team, based in Kinshasa, had been deployed to Kasai Occidental to respond to the outbreak. The team, comprising a doctor, nurse, water and sanitation specialist, logistician and health promoter, is to assess the situation in the region.

“The team has special protection equipment needed for this type of outbreak and they will also build an isolation ward for potential patients,” Dumont said.

He said MSF was also sending a team of four haemorrhagic fever specialists to the area.

Haemorrhagic fevers of the Ebola or Marburg type are contagious viral diseases without a cure. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle pains, and later vomiting and diarrhoea. In the course of the disease, patients start bleeding.

Health officials say it is crucial to contain the disease as quickly as possible and prevent its spread as, depending on the strain of the virus, up to 90 percent of those infected die.

In 2007, 264 people were affected and 187 died of haemorrhagic fever in Kampungu village.


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Posted by African Press International on December 27, 2008

SOUTH AFRICA: Children of fire

Photo: Children of Fire
Tapera Jani, in the early days of his treatment

JOHANNESBURG, 26 December 2008 (IRIN) – A few months ago, Tapera Jani, a three-year-old Zimbabwean boy who lived with his parents on a farm outside Bulawayo, walked into a fire. The fire left severe burn injuries on his feet.

With a non-existent health system, there was little chance of the toddlers survival in Zimbabwe. The farm owner, who heard about the incident, got in touch with the South African office of Children of Fire International (CFI), a charity, which helps provide specialised care to children with burn injuries.

Bronwen Jones, a writer and former journalist who founded the charity, said they had budgeted for treating Janis burns, but were not quite prepared for what was in store – the toddler had kwashiorkor, a nutritional disease caused by inadequate protein consumption, whichcan result in death if not treated.

If Tapera had not died of his burns, he would have died of starvation in Mugabes country, said Jones, as she kissed the grinning Jani, now a healthy child. He weighed 8.5kg when he arrived. We expected him to weigh double that for his biological age.

The charity has come to expect complications in each case it takes up. There is poverty and HIV/AIDS in the region – as we help to heal the children, we have to deal with all their problems.

''If Tapera had not died of his burns, he would have died of starvation in Mugabes country''

Since it was set up over a decade ago, CFI, which is registered in the UK as a charity, has helped 70 children with severe burns and 200 from across Africa who required less complicated surgery. We continue to help the 70 children who need complicated surgery, Jones said.

Reconstructive surgery is expensive. It can cost anywhere between R40, 000 (about US$4,123) to R1 million (about $103,095) per child, explained Jones. The charity, therefore, takes on few cases, and the ones we do, we know no one else would help, for example if the child is also HIV positive.

CFI works with a network of doctors, surgeons and health care specialists, most of whom volunteer their services. The charity has never received any government aid and operates entirely on public donations, using volunteers from across the world.

My son Tristan calls us a boot-camp for spoilt European students, said Jones. Children come and go out of the house which serves as a home and office for the charity in Johannesburg. A school near the main building with a staff of three teachers ensures the children have access to education while undergoing treatment.

Burning problem

More than 90 percent of burn injuries occur in developing countries and 70 percent of these are in children, according to statistics compiled by the Welsh Centre for Burns & Plastic Surgery in the United Kingdom and the Dow University Medical College Burns Centre, Pakistan. Paediatric burn statistics in Africa are hard to find.

At least 15,000 children in South Africa get burnt every year, according to CFI estimates. The figures are higher in winter when the chances of children rolling half asleep into open fires lit to warm their rooms are higher.

In the five biggest cities in South Africa an average of 200 people die in shack fires every year, according to Abahlali baseMjondolo, a South African shack dwellers’ movement.

It was the story of a little girl burnt in one such shack fire in Johannesburg in 1991 which drew Jones into the cause of helping children with burn injuries.

A visit to see the little girl, Dorah Makoena, was to change Joness life forever. Makoena’s face was a mass of melted flesh, but Jones could see the little girl inside and raised funds for reconstructive surgery. Makoena, now a teenager and a permanent member of Joness family, has a nose, lips, can communicate and loves to dance.

Prevention matters

Besides helping children with burn injuries, CFI also tries to educate communities on how to prevent fires.

These are simple measures such as not cooking on the ground [because children often walk into openstoves placed on the ground] and not allowing children to sleep alone with an open fire, said Jones. The charity also helps communities affected by fires rebuild their lives with construction materials and other household essentials.

Jones has also been trying to get the authorities to implement a ban on the use of a particular brand of unsafe cooking stove which leaks paraffin oil. These [unsafe] stoves cost only about R40 (about $4), while the safer ones cost about R200 (about$20), which few residents in informal settlements can afford – I wish someone could help with cheaper, safer versions.

But the biggest challenge remains to get people to perceive children with burn injuries not as victims but just children. I often end up being rude to people who stare at my children, despite my telling them not to do so as it upsets them, said an exasperated Jones. Acceptance and getting people to see the child inside is perhaps the most difficult thing.


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On Obama election and the legality to serve the Americans questionable

Posted by African Press International on December 27, 2008

Part 41 Of Certifi-Gate, Our Special Report On Barack Obama’s Legal Eligibility To Serve As President Of The United States
By Robert Jay March
It’s an old truism that the oppressed will emulate their oppressors at their earliest opportunity (or, as the late Steve Allen put it in an address to a Chinese audience, “Under Capitalism, man exploits man; under Communism, it’s the other way around”).
In November, we saw centuries of white racism swept aside, allowing Obama to prevail in a clearly color-blind vote on the part of the majority. Regrettably, such appears not to be the case in certain segments of the minority community. Last month, in my interview with Dr. Douglas Schell, Chair Of Democratic Disaster, I discussed an event I witnessed on July 2, 1964, the date the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, wherein a group of young black children, thinking that the law turned the then-state of race relations upside-down, violently attacked an elderly caucasian woman, screaming “You used to be on top — we’re on top now!”
How that horrific misunderstanding is being played out now in segments of the electorate is detailed wonderfully in Lynn Stuter’s article, “The Mentality Of The Obama Voter,” which we present below.
The growing convergence of Certif-Gate and the Blago-Sphere-of-Influence controversy, as I predicted last week, is becoming more and more apparent. Barack Obama, who promised to be a model of transparency, has three law firms on retainer to avoid having to produce his birth certificate. Yesterday, his staff did a “document dump” about his contacts with Blagojevich and his people. The “document dump” technique is normally employed on national holidays, long weekends, or times when the news media is understaffed or preoccupied with something else, so as to claim information was released, but to do so when that very information is likely to be ignored because our “watchdogs” in the mainstream media (which has largely degenerated into a rip-and-read public relations service for the far left) are home fighting with their families over who gets the drumstick or whether it’s safe for Uncle Leo to be left alone with the children.
The “internal review,” conducted by Obama’s lawyers, says that neither Obama or anyone close to him suspected that the governor might be trying to sell his Senate seat. I knew nothing! I saw nothing! NOTHING, Herr Kommandant! Shades of Sergeant Schultz. Nothing to see here, move along now, move along.
How do you think the press would have reacted to such a situation had John McCain won the Presidency? “Keep the cranberries cold and the giblets hot, Matilda! I’m off on a quest for the truth!”
It’s 15 days until the Supreme Court has another chance to do the right thing and actually uphold the Constitution. Unless I’m very wrong, they won’t. Our only consolation is that, with the number of centrists the usurper-in-chief is selecting to serve in his regime — I mean, administration — it’s becoming apparent that he conned the lefties, too. If revenge for a rich person is “living well,” then consolation for a strict constructionist is watching the electorate vote for Che Guevara and seeing them end up with Herbert Hoover. (Wasn’t he president at the start of the last Depression?) Mwah-ha-ha-haha!


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