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Archive for October 29th, 2010

Was Idi Amin really bad when he chased the Asians out of Uganda?

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2010

By Korir, Chief editor, API

One thing is clear. Although many people suffered during his rule, Ugandan blacks learned to be independent. The Asians enjoyed their stay in Uganda before Idi Amin took over as President because they treated the black Ugandans like their slaves at all times. They characterised them as number 3 and Europeans number 1. The Asians believed they were number two in rank just one rank below the Europeans.

 This type of ranking, putting the black person behind every other race must never be allowed to continue.

After watching a clip from a film “on YouTube” today, I am saddened to learn that the Asian mentality has not changed even many years after Idi Amin threw them out of Uganda in 1972. They still want to sit on the Africans in Uganda. The short documentary titled “Return to Uganda” is very disturbing because one sees a daughter of a family who was thrown out of Uganda trying to justify the way Asians treated the black Ugandans.

In the film, her parents are expressing their love for Uganda, how they miss the country and their house there. The shame one gets by watching it is the fact that the same people are not saying anything about how Africans were being mistreated. They only want the world to know that Idi Amin destroyed their big plans – plans that they had at the time, for themselves to be successful and have a good life in the country, while mistreating the black Ugandans, using them as their slaves while they sit down and party.

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They should be reminded that there are  good things that has happened to Uganda and the Ugandan people after they were thrown out. Ugandans went through hardship during some periods Amin was in power, but they have also learnt to be independent and they have progressed business-wise and do not need the Asians to get back and disrupt their lives.

It is easy to say Idi Amin was a very bad man. As has been reported many times, Amin during his rule is said to have murdered many people who were opposed to his rule. Opponents were arrested and killed. It should not be forgotten that the same has also happened in many African countries because of leaders thirsty to hold on to power. We are not excusing the act. The mentality to cling to power by some African leaders leads them and their henchmen to kill people who they consider as challengers. Africa needs mature leaders who leed by example and not through terror.

In the question of  Idi Amin chasing the Asians out of Uganda, this is something very difficult to be the judge, because when one talks to black Ugandans they say the Asians were very oppressive. The Asians in Uganda during Amin and even those in other African countries have a problem because they consider themselves to be above the Africans. They want Africans to do dirty jobs for them.

Asians who do not even have education do enjoy mistreating educated Africans. This kind of behaviour is not healthy for their stay in the African countries. It is debatable if Amin did the right thing throwing them out of Uganda, but it must not be forgotten that some of the Asians, even now those who have returned to Uganda tend to think Ugandans they left behind in 1972 when they were thrown out are still the same and will serve them the way they use to do in a slavery manner. This is a dream they would love to have coming true so that they mistreat them again.

Ugandans should not allow the returning Asians to dictate them anymore. They should, anyhow, let them go back and resettle, but on the present conditions whereby they must respect the black Ugandans as equals and not to continue thinking they are better than them for the simple reason of their lighter colour. Travel to some Asians countries and you will meet Asians so black that you will not believe they are from Asia. Some have very black-skin than the black man and woman in Africa.

Those who do not know Asians should travel to Asia and study them and the way they operate. In India. for example, if you are an African walking on the street you will be ambushed by poor Asians who want a penny, begging for one rupee to buy themselves food. The same people, if they get the opportunity to be in Africa will pretend to be above the African. It is a sad reality. Africa and Africans must wake up and get informed that the Asians are not better than them just because they manage to start businesses in the African continent.

African leaders should not sit down and let such Asians misbehave and harass the community, and the Asians must wake up to the reality that Africans are not junior to them in any way.

A big problem is the fact that the Asian community in Africa stick to themselves, even in marriage, and as Idi Amin said, they are not ready to be integrated with the Africans. They seemingly fear to intermarry with Africans because they want to protect their businesses from the African community. They know if they inter-marry, business sharing may also catch up with them when they get children with the Africans.

President Museveni may have done the right thing to allow them to return. They should be welcomed as long as they understand that the black Ugandan is no longer going to be their slave.

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Judge Fred Otieno finally rules against himself after being accused of bribery to favour Simon Mbugua, the Kamukunji MP.

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2010

A Nairobi Judge Fred Otieno who over two weeks ago refused to disqualify himself from hearing the Kamukunji  petition has now ruled against himself.

The Daily Nation newspaper reported earlier that the Judge was angered by the accusation and declined to step down.

Today, the Standard newspaper has reported that he has finally removed himself from hearing the case and send back the file to the Chief Justice who will now determine what will happen with the case.

The area MP Simon Mbugua must be happy at the decision because it will take time to get another judge to take the case. This may mean that the MP will be representing the people for another year before the case is determined. The petitioner Ibrahim Ahmed (ODM) is the one suffering because even if at a later date the petition succeeds, he will have less than a year to serve the constituency if he is elected during a by-election.

While refusing to step down 2 weeks ago the judge was quoted saying; ” I see no reason to step down because I have no personal interest with either of the parties.”

Justice Ochieng told the court that disqualifying himself would continue to serve the MP’s interest. He made the comments after being accused by the sitting MP Simon Mbugua that he was biased.

He further said; If anyone thinks I have acted in a manner that was inconsistent they will have their opportunity to demonstrate it during the vetting exercise.”

According the Standard newspaper, ” Petitioner Ibrahim Ahmed (ODM) allegedly made a statement insinuating the MP had bribed the judge to adjourn the case early. Ahmed denied making such remarks and all lawyers in the petition expressed confidence in Justice Ochieng’. But Mbugua, through his lawyer Kibe Mungai, insisted he disqualifies himself. In June, Lady Justice Kalpana Rawal withdrew from hearing the petition, citing threats from anonymous people. The latest remarks of bribery were allegedly made soon after Wednesday adjournment. Other people in court also made them inadvertently. Justice Ochieng’ was then informed by an independent source and raised the issue immediately the case came up yesterday. One by one, he questioned the three lawyers Stephen Owino for the petitioner, Mungai and Stephen Adere for the IIEC. Owino and Adere tried to explain the remarks were made on a light note. “It is not a joke to insinuate that a judge has received money for bribe,” Justice Ochieng’ responded.

After the matter turned ugly this way the judge found reason to step down from the case. The serving MP will now continue earning his salary undisturbed and without worry because starting the case with a new Judge will take time. Even if a new Judge is appointed this month early next month by the Chief Justice, a new judge must take time to go through the file and may be in a position to start hearing the case early next year. That will be 2011 and such a case will take months before its conclusion. If Mbugua will lose the case, a new by-election organised, another election will be towards the end of 2011 a year to the end of the parliament term. It is only wise to let the serving MP continue now and serve the people in peace. The petitioner should wait and come back probably stronger next election because he will get the sympathy of the people and may then get elected.

 

Chief editor Korir, African Press International

Related story:

Kenya’s Kamukunji MP Simon Mbugua to loose his parliamentary seat, says a court official in Nairobi

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Displaced residents may lack land tenure, or have no identity card or documentation demonstrating their right to land

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2010

GLOBAL: Taking on the land-grabbers

This was a home – West Aceh after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami (file photo).

LONDON, 26 October 2010 (IRIN) – Property developers in Indonesia and Thailand moved in quickly after the 2004 Tsunami, snapping up land from those relocated into resettlement camps to build luxury resorts, further squeezing the livelihoods of the poor.

Land grabbing happened after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the Haiti earthquake, and after cyclones and floods in the Philippines, according to the World Disasters Report 2010 (WDR).

It can involve outright violence, or carefully orchestrated legislative measures – as after Katrina – says David Satterthwaite of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), and one of the WDR report’s authors.

In New Orleans, public officials pushed through planning and zoning legislation which changed housing ownership patterns across the city, orchestrating what Sara Pantuliano, head of the Humanitarian Policy Group at UK think-tank the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), describes as “one of the starkest examples of a disaster accentuating inequalities between city residents”.

Deepening inequality

Displaced residents may lack land tenure, or have no identity card or documentation demonstrating their right to land, making it difficult for housing associations and NGOs to help them, says WDR.

“Unless disaster aid quickly learns to work with the untitled, the unregistered, the unlisted and the undocumented, it can support and even reinforce the inequalities that existed prior to the disaster,” said the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights in WDR.

Shifting the power balance in favour of the vulnerable is notoriously difficult, admits Pantuliano, but is a cause that NGOs should take up more forcefully. “Too often we focus on the quality of shelter we can provide, but struggle to get past the more challenging questions of how to shift power balances in emergencies, and how not to exacerbate the vulnerability of the worst-off.”

Some 2.57 billion urban dwellers in low and middle-income countries are vulnerable to unacceptable levels of risk, fuelled by rapid urbanization, poor local governance, poor services, rapid population growth and rising urban violence, said WDR.

A team of researchers at the ODI is looking at the impact of displacement and urbanization in Sudan, Kenya Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Gaza, Somalia and possibly Iraq.

Depression, isolation

Governments often overlook the social implications of forcing people to move, said Pantuliano. “Planned settlement can isolate communities; it can lead people to depression, to isolation and more vulnerability… driving youths to join gangs or to take up prostitution” she told IRIN.

It can also cut them off from jobs: Displaced communities in Manila, the Philippines capital, for instance, were pushed out of the city centre, meaning thousands could not easily access their jobs servicing the many businesses in the area.

In Haiti, reconstruction plans to move communities to “new, safe cities”, meant moving people to distant camps, outside the capital, Port-au-Prince, where they did not want to be, said Alfredo Stein, an urban planning expert at the Global Urban Research Centre at the University of Manchester. Ex-residents continually attempt to return to the centre to try to re-claim their land.

Response challenges

Local authorities often struggle to respond quickly to resettlement challenges because of strict land-use regulations; lack of money to fund relocation; delays in getting official permission from regional or national authorities; and the high cost of building materials, said the IIED’s Satterthwaite.

After a disaster the national government may decide to improve building standards, as was the case in Pakistan following the 2005 earthquake, which can further delay rebuilding.

Local advocacy groups and housing associations are often best-placed to help communities, said ODI’s Pantuliano, as international NGOs often get confused about what role to play in resettlement.

But international agencies can also play an important role, she said. “We do not propose NGOs get involved in land reform, but they should intervene in issues that fall squarely in the protection mandate, such as documenting land rights or advocating for access to temporary and permanent land.” This work may involve land surveys, research, advocacy, and providing legal aid to vulnerable people to avoid land grabs, she told IRIN.

“We are trying to put this more at the heart of humanitarian organizations’ work… Post-tsunami NGOs woke up too late to these issues, despite local organizations pushing them to do something,” said Pantuliano.

What works

Cassidy Johnson, a lecturer in building and urban design in development at University College London, identifies two factors that can help displaced people exercise their right to their land: the presence of strong community action groups, such as slum-dwellers’ associations, which collectively rebuild and which have strong links to local government to enable them to lobby for their rights; and the existence of residents’ joint savings schemes which means there are funds to draw on for rebuilding.

This was the case in the Philippines, which is regularly affected by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, typhoons, storm surges, landslides, floods and droughts. Here the Homeless Peoples Federation has helped communities resettle following five disasters from 2000 to 2008: Its 70,000 individual members collectively saved to rebuild post-crisis, and swiftly organized themselves into rebuilding committees, post-crisis, said WDR.

Local branches of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, with support from the British Red Cross, have also been active in securing land tenure rights for families post-disaster in the Philippines, said Pete Garatt, disaster response manager at the British Red Cross.

“The most successful [land rights] work is done by local groups – we have seen this in Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and Khartoum – as these issues were already on communities’ radar screens,” he told IRIN at the launch of WDR.

Wherever possible, communities should be encouraged to take the lead themselves, rather than waiting for others to respond, said Pantuliano. After the 2001 Gujarat earthquake, communities successfully reoccupied their old land because they got on with rebuilding permanent houses themselves, rather than waiting for government permission. “They left the government with little choice but to allow them to stay put,” she said.

Moving forward, the idea of “building back better” which has become standard government parlance after an emergency, must be redefined, said WDR. Rather than addressing purely better quality infrastructure, it should describe “land for the landless and homes for the homeless”.

And building back better must also stress that resettlements, if they must occur, are well-placed, added Pantuliano.

aj/cb/oa source. http://www.irinnews.org

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Women at the war front: A female Maoist rebel in 2005

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2010

GENDER: Ignoring women with guns

A female Maoist rebel in 2005

Johannesburg, 27 October 2010 (IRIN) – The perception that women are only ever victims of conflict ignores the large numbers of female combatants, which can result in their exclusion from disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) report, State of the World Population 2010: From Conflict and Crisis to Renewal: Generations of Change, released on 20 October 2010, acknowledges the role women play in forging peace, but cautions against the assumptions of women as nurturers and “natural peace-makers … [choosing] non-violent solutions rather than conflict whenever possible”.

Megan MacKenzie, a fellow of Harvard University’s gender and security programme and now teaching at Victoria University in the New Zealand capital of Wellington, states: “Little is written about women and girls as agents within the civil conflict.

“However, there is evidence that women — particularly female soldiers — were both perpetrators and empowered through their roles in the [Sierra Leonean] conflict,” she wrote in an article published in 2009 in the Cambridge Review of International Affairs: Empowerment Boom or Bust? Assessing women’s post-conflict empowerment initiatives.

During Sierra Leone’s 11-year civil war between 1991 and 2002, which witnessed wide-scale atrocities against civilians, women played a significant role as soldiers and not just as “camp followers” or abducted “sex slaves”.

MacKenzie said women and girls carried arms, killed, commanded armed groups, looted and spied, among other activities, and “there are stories of powerful female commanders such as Adama Cut-Hand, who was said to be among the most brutal RUF [Revolutionary United Front led by Foday Saybana Sankoh] members who headed the amputation campaigns”.

DDR campaigns

Helen Basini, a doctoral student researching female combatants in post-conflict Liberia at Ireland’s University of Limerick, told IRIN that DDR programmes had taken the line of “add women and stir”, and although “in theory”, women were catered for in new approaches to DDR, “it is much more complicated than guidelines suggest”.

Women, like men, were faced with the same problems of DDR, in that “when the R [reintegration] comes around, there are money shortages”, but there was also a heavier bias towards former male combatants as they were seen as more of a security threat in the post-conflict state than demobilized female soldiers, she said.

''Because of these stigma issues many women choose to ‘self-demobilize’ and slip back into a community quietly''

However, for female combatants, war has a profound effect because of the trauma as well as the break from social conventions and norms, making their reintegration difficult.

In a 2009 article, Securitization and Desecuritization: Female Soldiers and the Reconstruction of Women in Post-Conflict Sierra Leone, MacKenzie writes: “By returning girls to a ‘normal’ environment, DDR processes risk entrenching gender inequality. A truly progressive or developmental post-conflict reconstruction programme would include more radical change in the area of women’s status in society.”

Many women in Sierra Leone, Mackenzie said, avoided DDR for various reasons, including distrust, stigma and fear of retaliation. In addition, former female combatants complained of being “treated as housewives and sex slaves” or held the view that they were “above” DDR and could make it on their own.

“For some women who had achieved higher ranks within the warring factions, the notion of attending the DDR with lower-ranking soldiers was insulting,” she said.

Basini said former female combatants in Liberia were often shunned by communities as “tainted” – by rape or having children with militia members – and were viewed as “impure”, damaging their marriage prospects.

“Because of these stigma issues many women choose to ‘self-demobilize’ and slip back into a community quietly… Not having had access to the money, training and benefits of DDR may make these women more vulnerable to poverty and [present] difficulties in trying to survive,” she said.

“The reluctance of international aid agencies, the UN, the World Bank, and other international organizations to name female soldiers as soldiers rather than ‘females associated with the war’, ‘dependents’ or ‘camp followers’, ignores and depoliticizes their roles during the conflict,” MacKenzie said.

The Nepal experience

The UNFPA report, marking the 10th anniversary of UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, which addresses the equal participation of women in all peace and security issues within conflict and post-conflict states, notes that “the image of women with guns was a new reality in Nepal that challenged the age-old perception of women as subservient members of society” during the country’s decade-long Maoist insurgency.

The role of women was recognized in the 2006 peace agreement and the interim constitution acknowledged women’s rights as fundamental and a “parliamentary resolution was passed to reserve 33 percent of seats for women in all state bodies”, the report states.

It is estimated that women and girls comprised a third of the Maoist forces.

From her experiences with Maoist ex-combatants in Nepal, Sarah Dalrymple, a conflict and security adviser for Saferworld, said in an internet discussion hosted by UN Women that many women felt empowered in their “male” roles. However, female combatants had also been stigmatized as “violent and sexual” and “reintegrated women have been rejected by women who remained in the community during the conflict”.

Recommendations

Getting it Right, Doing it Right: Gender and Disarmament, a chapter in the UK Department for International Development’s security sector handbook, makes several recommendations, from utilizing gender expertise in DDR to adequate financing of gender components by UN peacekeeping budgets “not through voluntary contributions alone”, and a review of DDR benefits for women.

The handbook notes: “There are too few trained women peacekeepers, civilian police and experts engaged in DDR processes. Donors should facilitate the establishment of a regionally balanced group of women and gender DDR experts.”

go/mw http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Health experts fear an explosion of waterborne diseases in Benin after severe flooding countrywide

Posted by African Press International on October 29, 2010

BENIN: Water recedes, health concerns mount

Health experts fear an explosion of waterborne diseases in Benin after severe flooding countrywide

DAKAR, 26 October 2010 (IRIN) – As the floodwaters begin to recede in parts of Benin, the new threat is a major outbreak of infectious diseases, particularly cholera and malaria.

The worst flooding in nearly half a century in the country of some 9 million people has cut many communities off from health centres, “paralysing access to health care in a situation that lends itself to a potential outbreak of waterborne disease,” the NGO CARE in Benin said in a communiqué.

“This situation hits hard, especially in the case of children with infections or diarrhoea,” CARE’s Loetitia Raymond told IRIN.

An early government and interagency assessment found that 92 health centres across the country were flooded; in many areas clinics are totally inaccessible, a local health official said. Those still on dry ground are inhabited by people whose homes crumbled in the floods, which the UN says had two-thirds of the 112,000-sq km country under water. Flooding has affected some 680,000 people and killed at least 46, the UN says.

“Health centres that should be there to help people suffering from diarrhoea and infections linked to the water and sanitation conditions cannot function,” Yevi Magloire, head of medicine and paediatrics in the southeastern department of Ouémé, told IRIN.

CARE’s Raymond said: “Even for people who are near a functioning health centre they do not have the means to pay for care; they are worrying about how they’ll eat. People have lost everything.”

The most urgent needs for flooded communities are water purification tablets, mosquito nets, malaria medicine and antibiotics, said Bonou Isidore, a Red Cross volunteer who recently did an assessment around the capital, Porto Novo, in the southeast.

Aid workers stress that malaria is a considerable worry, given the standing water everywhere. Cholera had already hit the country prior to the flooding; the economic capital Cotonou has some 500 of the 846 reported cases, with seven deaths.

In addition health experts are concerned about other diarrhoeal infections, acute respiratory problems and skin infections, Léon Kohossi with the World Health Organization in Benin told IRIN.

“The disease risk is imminent and means solid epidemiologic surveillance will be paramount,” Kohossi warned. “This is what we are working on now with national and international partners.”

Residents say the water is beginning to recede in many areas. “But the damage is done,” CARE’s Raymond said.

np/oa http://www.irinnews.org

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