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Archive for May 28th, 2012

UK YOUTH IN PARTNERSHIP WITH LOCAL KENYAN COUNTERPART.

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2012

ODHIAMBO DICKSON reporting from KISUMU,KENYA
 
 
 YOUTH from United Kingdom {UK} are partnering with a section of youth from western Kenya region with an aim of volunteering in helping to identify the problems facing the locals.
 
The partnership under an organization known as Volunteer Services Oversees {VSO} – Jitolee under the Britain’s Youth Action will enable ten youth from United Kingdom to work closely with 9 youths from Kisumu and Kakamega alongside national volunteers on a 12 week program with a range of community Based organizations.
 
Speaking during a meeting held recently to brief the two teams at Kisumu Simba Club on the Project, VSO-Jitolee Project Supervisor Lydia Radido said they will be working within several Community Based Organizations in Kisumu
during the period.
 
She said some of the organizations which have been identified are Family Health Options Kenya, Kisumu Medical Education Trust, and Child First among others.
 
“Both teams from the UK and Kenya will be expected to do a social Action Project after the twelve weeks and the projects are supposed to address and try solve the challenges that they have identified facing their communities,” She said.
 
She said some of the areas the youth will look at are health, Nutrition among others.
 
The Program Supervisor said the project also aimed at unlocking potential through flexible and creative exchanges developed to meet the needs of particular communities with the areas it being piloted.
 
Youth Action is a global volunteering pilot program which supports young people from all backgrounds to make a real difference to some of the world’s poorest people.
 
This new initiative was launched by the Britain Prime Minister David Cameron in March 2011, and is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID).
 
ENDS:

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President Obama accused of fraud in connection with his birth certificate

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2012

If this is true then President Obama must resign and be tried for having fooled the American people. There are forces fighting for his removal

Why does he not come out with his real birth certificate so as to put things to rest?

End

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Property worth billions of shillings was destroyed in the post-election violence

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2012

Property worth billions of shillings was destroyed in the post-election violence (file photo)

LAIKIPIA,  – Most of those displaced by post-election violence mainly in Kenya’s Rift Valley Province five years ago have been resettled, but those whose relatives were killed or who lost their property are seeking justice and further compensation.

With few perpetrators of the violence having been bought to book, “the compensation they need is not only in monetary terms, but also in accessing justice for lost lives,” said Collins Omondi, an official with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR).

“Even though most of the IDPs [internally displaced persons] may have gotten some financial support from the government, the money was so little, considered by not only [the] average losses, but [also] the time wasted in displacement.”

Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced at the height of the 2007- early 2008 post-polls violence into squalid camps.

The government provided 10,000 shillings (US$120) in family assistance to 157,908 of the displaced households, with a further 37,843 households receiving 25,000 shillings ($300) to help them rebuild houses burnt down in the violence, Special Programmes Minister Esther Murugi told IRIN.

“But we discovered most of them would not spend the money on reconstructing their houses so we stopped giving the 25,000 shillings,” added Murugi.

Instead, the ministry started constructing houses for those who were ready to return to the areas they had been displaced from, building 17,916 homes. A further 3,000 houses have also been built for IDP families that have been resettled elsewhere, with 1,300 more units under construction. 

“If I buy you land and build for you, what else would you want from me? That itself is more than justice enough,” said Murugi.

Appropriate compensation?

For IDPs who previously ran businesses, the land alone is inadequate.

“I am happy that I will get a piece of land, not necessarily for my own, but [as] an inheritance for my grandson. But I wish the government gave me money to restart my business which was burnt down during [the violence],” 80-year-old Elishiba Muthoni, told IRIN, in the Wiyumiririe area of the central Laikipia County.

Muthoni, whose daughter was killed in the turmoil, was a second-hand clothes seller in the Rift Valley town of Kericho. She received 10,000 shillings ($120) from the government yet her business stock was worth at least 150,000 shillings ($1,807).

“The single-track approach of buying agricultural land and resettling IDPs, and sometimes assisting them to build houses is not feasible,” noted a September 2011 report by the UN Development Programme and the UN Office of The High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). 

“The diversity in terms of socioeconomic occupation within the IDP population needs to be acknowledged. Some of these IDPs ran businesses, and have no farming skills whatsoever,” said the report.


Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced into IDP camps

According to KNCHR’s Omondi, the government should have evaluated the financial losses incurred by the displaced during the post-election violence and repaid them in full.

Justice

The prosecution of the perpetrators of the violence is also key. 

“If people who are responsible for the evictions and displacement of persons are not held to account or punished for atrocities they committed such as arson, murder, rape, among other criminal acts, there will be no closure of the issue,” he said.

While four suspects who are said to bear the greatest responsibility for the 2007-2008 poll violence are to be tried by the International Criminal Court, thousands of other perpetrators remain free, making it impossible for some IDPs to return to their areas of displacement.

HRW concerns

Human Rights Watch (HRW) in a December 2011 report called for a special judicial mechanism to deal with this issue. It noted that in most cases the police arrested suspects hurriedly, without adequate investigations. 
 
In the Kiambaa church attack at the peak of the violence in which at least 28 people were killed, HRW said that while the court had been told 4,000 people had attacked the church, only four were arrested and charged. “For Kiambaa survivors, the fact that no one has been convicted of the crime is an emblem of injustice,” it said.

HRW also reported on a case in which a suspected rapist was acquitted by a court in the Rift Valley capital, Eldoret, because when the victim first reported the crime she did not give the suspect’s name (she could only recognize him). 
 
“We cannot go back to Nandi [in Rift Valley] because there is no justice. How can we live with people who did this?” asked the father of the rape victim quoted in the HRW report. 
 
IDP resettlement has also been resisted by local communities in some areas, making it difficult for former IDPs to re-establish livelihoods.

Land and reconciliation

Meanwhile, human rights officials are calling for more government action, with civil society groups, such as the Internal Displacement Policy and Advocacy Centre (IDPAC), educating IDPs on the need to seek justice.

They are also urging the government to help IDPs still affected by political violence in 1992, 1997 and 2002, and those displaced in fights over water and pasture in northern Kenya, as well as by foreign militia incursions. 
 
Kenya still has an estimated 250,000 IDPs, according to Nuur Sheekh of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. 
 
Reconciliation, as well as addressing the land issue, is also vital.

“The competition for control of land, particularly in the Rift Valley, has been protracted, resulting from mutually exclusive claims based on property rights by migrant groups and assertion of cultural heritage rights by indigenous groups. This has made the Rift Valley the theatre of the most vicious episodes of violence and displacement, particularly since the transition to democracy in the early 1990s,” notes a case study on internal displacement in Kenya.

“The relationship between political affiliation, ethnic identity and land ownership form the basis for contestation, whereby members of ethnic groups associated with rival political opinions are labelled `outsiders’ and violently ejected from their farms,” it said.
 
rk/aw/oa/cb
source www.irinnews.org

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Increases emergency relief to drought victims in Africa

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2012

Norway is providing an additional NOK 40 million to assist the victims of the drought in the Sahel. “I have seen with my own eyes how important it is that help reaches those in need,” commented Minister of International Development Heikki Holmås.

This week, Mr Holmås has been visiting Niger, one of the drought affected countries in the Sahel Belt south of the Sahara.

“More than 18 million people are at risk of food shortages in this region. As many as one million children under the age of five could be affected by malnutrition. We are therefore increasing our assistance to NOK 185 million this year,” said Mr Holmås.

The drought has led to poor harvests, ruined pasture land and food shortages. The food that is available has become too expensive for most people. This has created an extremely difficult situation for the people of Niger, Mali, Chad, Gambia, Senegal, Cameroon, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Nigeria.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre commented, “The food crisis is being exacerbated by the reverberations of conflict in the region. Armed conflict with Tuareg rebels in the northern parts of Mali have caused 320 000 people to flee their homes. In addition, 400 000 migrant workers have fled back home from the conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya, and are putting further pressure on limited resources.”

Climate change has increased the frequency of drought in the region, which means that people do not have time to recover between crises. This is also causing a long-term decline in public health.

Earlier this year, Norway provided NOK 145 million to assist the victims of the crisis in the Sahel. The Government has now decided to provide an additional NOK 40 million to help prevent more serious food shortages and avoid a full-scale crisis. This amount includes funding for the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

“This is a tragic situation, especially for the youngest children. It is vital that the international community takes the crisis seriously, and responds accordingly,” said Mr Holmås.

End

source mfa.norway

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Sexual harassment is on the rise

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2012

Sexual harassment is on the rise in Nepalese cities

KATHMANDU,  – Sexual harassment is an everyday issue for women in Nepal, particularly in urban areas. Although exact numbers are unavailable, activists say the problem is on the rise and are demanding change.

“Harassment is all over Nepal against women and the problem is big. It’s more of a problem where more people live, but it really is everywhere, and it is growing,” said Pratiya Rana, 22, a university student and an organizer of the country’s recent “Walk for Respect” demonstration, the Nepali version of Toronto’s SlutWalk, the international protest movement.

Rana was harassed by a gang of local men in a village an hour from the capital, Kathmandu. “They pushed and shoved me and one man grabbed my breasts and asked me for sex,” she told IRIN.

Women dressed in short skirts and leggings carried signs demanding change toward sexual harassment in public spaces and in the workplace. 

“The country is in two worlds – young and old – and we young women want change. We demand the government protect the rights of women,” Rana said.

This will prove difficult in Nepal, a male-dominated, patriarchal society of 30 million where there is no real legislation to protect women, gender divisions are traditionally rigid and female empowerment initiatives are limited.

In April, around 500 women marched through central Kathmandu to publicize the rights of women. Their goals, published in a statement, were “to sensitize the greater problem among youths as well as other people, [of] teasing and sexual harassment”.

The women talked of verbal harassment, being solicited for sex, groping, pushing, and sexual violence, including rape.

They also called for greater awareness of the few existing laws and policies to protect women, citing the Nepal Public Offences and Penalties Act of 1970, which says that “any activities or action that carries in it a sexual nature both verbally or physically” is harassment. The penalty is a US$120 fine and sometimes jail, but the legislation is rarely enforced.

A new bill, proposed in 2012, which states that perpetrators of sexual harassment in the workplace could face up to three months in jail and a fine of nearly $300, is waiting to be discussed by lawmakers.


Photo: Joseph Mayton/IRIN
Some lawmakers say women should cover up

Nepal has yet to agree on a new constitution and with a 27 May deadline fast approaching – the 5th to date – many believe it will be some time before the bill on sexual harassment in the workplace is passed.

“I think people will see this [workplace legislation] as minor and it will be pushed back until we have new elections, and who knows when those will be,” said Rana.

Commentators say even with new legislation convictions will prove difficult. Many legislators in the Himalayan nation blame the growing sexual harassment problem on women and what they are wearing.

“If one wears vulgar dresses and appears unnatural and gets stared at by people around, who is to be held guilty?” lawmaker Sunil Prajapati asked in response to a question about the bill.

“First, they attract and excite others, and then if comments are passed they call it sexual harassment – it is not fair. The outfits and behaviour the society cannot digest should also be considered punishable,” he argued in a speech in parliament.

Female lawmakers who give credence to the idea that what a woman wears is a matter of debate, makes things worse for women, said Rana.

“What if we are wearing short skirts and no leggings? Does that mean we can be groped, touched and violated? This is ridiculous thinking, and something that should not even be discussed,” she said.

Lawmaker Yashoda Subedi noted the importance of greater public awareness and said she believes a middle ground can be achieved in order to create legislation against the perpetrators of sexual harassment.

“We must be aware of what we are wearing, and Nepali society is not the West. I understand this,” Subedi said. “But at the same time, if a woman is dressed inappropriately, words from people on the street and stares are not something she should get angry at.”

jm/ds/he
source www.irinnews.org

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Education or labour?

Posted by African Press International on May 28, 2012

School children attending class at Noor Model School in Shamshatoo, Pakistan

SHAMSHATOO,  – Widespread poverty and ignorance, negative attitudes to the education of girls, and the lack of proper documents for children of Afghan migrants are some of the obstacles to school enrolment in a poor suburb of Peshawar in Pakistan, say local officials.

In Shamshatoo on the outskirts of Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, many children were born of Afghan refugee parents. The camp where they used to live is now closed, but a sizeable number of Afghans still live in the area. Jobs are hard to find and many of the most vulnerable families end up working as bonded labourers in nearby brick kilns.

Poverty means they cannot give their children’s education the priority they would like to.

“The families here are very poor and for them every working hand counts. When you have to deliver 1,000 bricks to earn Rs 300 (US$3) a day with two hands, how much can you do?” said Obaidullah Khan, a director at the charity Abasseen Foundation Pakistan, which, together with Abasseen Foundation UK and Austrian NGO Hope 87, decided to do something to help and set up a school.

Noor Model School in Baghbanan village, Shamshatoo, opened its doors in January 2009, after a local donated the land. It charges school fees of Rs 25 (27 US cents) per month.

“When the school started, there were 44 boys and four girls. So far not many boys have dropped out. We do see girls leaving the school before finishing class two,” said Inamullah Khan, the school principal. “People here don’t like to send their girls outside and once they cross a certain age, the first priority is to get them married.

Visiting the school, IRIN found over 150 boys and some 70 girls enrolled in five classes (nursery to class four). “Many parents reluctantly sent their children to school after I personally convinced them. I am a Hafiz-e-Quran [a respected Koran memorizer] and they know it,” said the principal.

“I want to be a teacher or a doctor,” said Sabir, aged nine. The son of a driver, Sabir and his younger brother are luckier than the other boys around them. Despite their limited means, they do not have to work in the brick kilns which line the road leading to Shamshatoo.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has some of the lowest school enrolment rates in Pakistan. According to data at the provincial offices, gross enrolment for girls ranges from 58-72 percent for ages 5-10, compared to 77-97 percent for boys in the same age group.

The situation is compounded by insecurity, which continues to displace people. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, some 149,440 families (683,550 individuals) are displaced in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas due to ongoing insecurity and sectarian violence.

Wasted lives

Many of the children in the Shamshatoo area, especially those who don’t attend school, work from an early age. Naseer* helps his father make bricks after school. “It is hot and I don’t like it but I cannot say no to my father. If I work fine, I get sweets,” said the six-year-old.

Thirty-eight boys out of the 150 boys in the school work in brick kilns after school, their tiny fingernails stained by pigment from the bricks. The girls fare no better than the boys. They might be spared working in the kilns, but many are married off at an early age, some as young as 12.

The parents whose children go to Noor school said they wanted them to get a good education. “I want my children to study and do something good with their lives,” said Razia.* Two of her daughters and three sons are students at the school. The wife of a daily wage-earner, she sees education as way out of poverty.

“I have seen many families collect loans and then try to pay them back the rest of their lives. The loans at times are for medical expenses, maybe operations, or even wedding meals,” she said. “When putting together two meals a day is a tough task, you have to make tough choices.”

New law may help

Government officials say the situation will improve when a new constitution guaranteeing free education for young children is passed.

“After the passage of the 18th Amendment in the Constitution, the insertion of Article 25-A guarantees that children aged 5-16 are provided free education by the state. This will help in achieving our MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] but what we must realize is that the province lacks infrastructure and resources,” said an official who requested anonymity. “This is complicated by the traditional norms and culture, where girls’ education is looked down upon.”

Data available from the provincial elementary and secondary education department shows that 525 primary schools were built in the province in 2009. Of these, 50 percent were set up as girls’ schools.

“Girl students in public schools are given a stipend as an incentive to continue with their studies from class six onwards to class 10, while free text books are provided to all students from nursery to intermediate level (grade 12),” the official added. Despite this, enrolment rates have remained very low.

“First there is the issue of fees, then mobility, especially those of females,” said Obaidullah Khan. “We don’t have many committed teachers in the public sector and they always prefer staying in urban areas, rather than serve in rural sector. Even for the private sector or NGOs, getting good teachers is a big challenge, as not many women are willing to work in rural areas.”

sj/eo/cb source www.irinnews.org

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