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Archive for August, 2012

Sarah Elderkin, a mistress or mouthpiece?

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2012

REPUBLISHED DUE TO PUBLIC DEMAND: Posted by African Press International for the first time on February 5, 2012

  • Published here by Chief Editor Sammy Korir

 

Authored By Onyango Oneka, California – USA

Jeff Koinange
< Photo: Jeff Koinange of K24 TV Kenya
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Sarah Elderkin, in her article in the STAR- Nairobi, dated 4th February bearing the title “Jeff Koinange On A Mission?” accuses him of being on a negative a mission.
The recent pathetic vitriol by one-time journalist-turned-Raila Sympathizer, Sarah Elderkin on Emmy award-winning journalist, Jeff Koinange, has elicited nothing short of a Tsunami of chatter on social media both for and against. But the one thing that came out of the convoluted three-page mumbo jumbo of false accusations is the fact that either Elderkin has been paid to ‘rubbish’ Koinange or she has some kind of deluded axe-to-grind with one of Africa’s most celebrated journalists and his interview techniques. Without going through and dissection the ‘ridiculous rhetoric’, let’s take a minute to see exactly where this ‘tirade’ could be coming from.

Let’s face it- Koinange has brought a kind of interviewing skills unseen in Kenya period. He asks the kinds of questions we all want answered and he does it with such smoothness and ease that the guests don’t realize what they’re saying until Capital Talk airs to Millions of homes in Kenya, Africa and the world every night. More than fifteen-hundred shows later in four-and-a-half years of sitting daily on a rock-hard park bench, and Sarah Elderkin has decided to ‘grossly attack’ just two shows…two shows that allegedly were too ‘close to home’ for her Client, the country’s Prime Minister, Raila Odinga. Clearly Koinange touched a nerve and the response is either guilt or simple ignorance on the part of this dinosaur of a journalist who was once well known as a Personal Assistant and part-time Mistress to the Prime Minister.

Sarah Elderkin cut her teeth during the dark days of One-Man rule under then President Daniel Arap Moi. She worked for the famous ‘Weekly Review’ which was ably run by Nuclear Scientist-turned journalist, Hilary Ng’weno.  Ng’’weno was good at picking holes in a subtle way at Moi’s government and was successful for a while. The magazine was eventually forced to shut down and some like Elderkin jumped ship to support the ‘burgeoning opposition’ then under leading lights like Kenneth Matiba and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga. She grew close to Odinga and worked her way to become one of his key speech writers and campaign strategists. This is probably when she met his son, Raila, and the relationship grew both professionally and personally. Her loyalty to the Odinga family is therefore unquestionable. Somewhere along the way, she fell out with the younger Odinga, perhaps more to do with personal than professional etiquette.

So when Capital Talk began exploring various aspects of The ICC and who might be the ‘possib;e hand behind it,’ it was only a matter of time before the ‘Geriatric journalist’ saw her chance to win back favour with the man who may just one day be President. She decided to pick on two out of fifteen-hundred Capital Talk shows where the interviewees boldy and fearlessly questioned what the Prime Minister’s role was in the lead-up to the ICC. She didn’t even mention the fact that Koinange had been ten-times more caustic when it came to President Mwai Kibaki’s role in the Planning and Execution of the Post Election reaction to the near-civil war that was raging across the country in those few weeks following the declaration of the winner of the highly disputed election. In fact, numerous guests on the Bench like Political Scientist, Mutahi Ngunyi and Publisher, Barrack Muluka, as well as others like former Law Society of Kenya Chairman who’s also the Publisher of the Nairobi Law Monthly, Ahmednasir Abdullahi and former Vice Chair of the Kenya National Commission for Human Rights, Hassan Omar Hassan, all of whom categorically stated that the ‘Buck Stops’ with Kibaki and that he was nowhere near being ‘out of the woods’ just yet. Why didn’t Elderkin see the need to ‘castigate’ Koinange when it came to Kibaki’s alleged role and only concentrated on what she saw as ‘perceived attacks’ on her former Boss, the Prime Minister? More importantly, why didn’t the seat of power, Harambee House, the Official Office of The President, issue a statement or for that matter, write an Op Ed defending ‘their man’?

What Elderkin has done in three pages of what can only be described as ‘childish ranting and raving’ is nothing short of ‘juvenile jingoism’. She needs to be reminded that long gone are the days of one-man Dictatorship and if any “Expert’ or ‘Analyst’ wants to talk about this or that, they should be given the platform and NOT be silenced just because someone doesn’t agree with what’s being said. Elderkin is NOT the authority when it comes to ‘Journalistic Ethics and Standards’. If she’s working for Raila she should state it plain and simple, not use a ‘Rag’ of a newspaper to ‘pathetically defend’ her paymaster.

Knowing Koinange, he’s used to controversy and being undermined by ‘weak and gutless’ individuals. He will probably make light of his ‘Human Cartoon’ reference and let everything else ‘roll down his broad shoulders’. Most other journalists in Kenya would have probably quit and gone into other ‘less threatening’ professions. This is not the time to ‘Kill The Messenger’ but instead, promote Free Speech because that’s what the New Constitution says is a basic Human right.

But because Elderkin is White and a Woman, her ‘written word’ is immediately seen as the ‘Gospel Truth’ making ‘gullible and inferior-minded’ Kenyans run to her support like Slaves in a Plantation trying to gain her favour and acceptance. It’s these ‘inferior-minded’ Kenyans that have been jumping on the Elderkin ‘band-wagon’, calling the ‘messenger’ all kinds of name in a veiled effort to ‘Discredit and Undermine’ a show that’s undoubtedly the ‘Most-Watched, Most-Popular, Most-Informative and Most-Educative’ on Kenyan and for that matter on African Television.

Wake up, Kenyans. By Elderkin ‘pulling wool’ over your eyes, you’re blindly walking back to the days you fought so hard to escape from. But if that’s where you ‘belong’, then who are we to stop you from getting what you deserve.

End

The article above is a reaction to the article below published by The STAR, Nairobi on the 4th of February 2012.

The fight is all about the interview of Miguna Miguna by Jeff Koinange of K24 TV:
Watch the interview Part 1 to 4 below and judge for yourself:
Part 1
 

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

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Posted in AA > News and News analysis | 9 Comments »

A Norwegian man who mishandled his mother aged 89 has been sent to jail for 7 months.

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2012

The Supreme Court has ruled that a man who pulled his 89-year-old mother in the ears until she developed called cauliflower ears, must serve seven months in prison.

The 59-year-old’s appeal from a lower court was dismissed by the Supreme court.

It is reported that the man used to pull his mother’s ears in his efforts to put her to sleep whenever she refused to do so. Before her death in January 2011, the man had mistreated, twisting her ears for at least eight times.

He lived with his mother. The court describes their relationship as a dependency one. When her mother became more deaf and disoriented and started to get up at night, the son started using the ear-pulling method to discipline her in order to get her to sleep.

This must have been a painful time for the mother – enduring pain without help from the neighbours.

The 59-year-old testified that he had tried other methods to get her to sleep but when that did not work he resorted to the ear-pulling-twisting painful method.

Due to the violence by the son his mother developed deformities on both ears. Both ears were filled with some fluid and partly clotted blood.

According to the judgement, the Court has assumed that the man wanted to punish her ​​mother because of being awakened. The man told the court that he had to have night sleep before work.

The lower court had earlier sentenced him to 5 months, but on appealing to the Supreme court he thought he would either be acquitted or given a lesser sentence. That was not to be. The Supreme court added 2 more months to the five and sent him to jail for 7 months..

Mistreating a mother this way is the worst thing a son or daughter should do. Old parents should not suffer this way in their last days on this earth. It is like if the mother had mistreated him when he was a one year old helpless kid, and could only suffer silently without help until he succumbed to death.

Is there any blessings for this man in heaven? The beating of the aged in their homes by their own sons and daughters, who are at the same time waiting in the wings to take over the properties when their parents die, is something the Norwegian society should worry about.

End

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ICC Day 8 case 2: Uhuru Kenyatta is qualified for the presidency; says Minister Beth Mugo in an interview with API at the ICC, Hague

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2012

REPOSTED DUE TO PUBLIC DEMAND: Posted by African Press International for the first time on September 29, 2011

By API

The Minister for Public Health and Sanitation Hon. Beth Mugo arrived at the ICC in the Hague yesterday to give moral support to Hon Uhuru Kenyatta, a family member. She also said her moral support goes to all the suspects in the case.

During our interview with her, the minister stated that the suspects in this case are innocent people who should not be at the ICC. There are those who called for demonstrations and yet they are not here; said the minister.

Video: CLICK to view interview part 1;

Video: CLICK to view interview part 2;

When asked if she could name those who she thinks should bear the responsibility of the post-election violence,  Hon Mugo said the ODM leaders who called for mass action should be the ones to answer the charges, because we all know that our people are not good in handling mass demonstrations when invited to go to the streets.

In most cases, it always turns violent and those who called for such demonstrations are not blind to the fact that our people will exploit the opportunity; says the minister.

On elections, Mugo told API that the Kenya diaspora should register, and vote either at home or wherever they are and should do so in large numbers in order to be part of the new order at home. She advised them to make a good choice for the presidency, now that they can enjoy the fruits of the new constitution that allows dual citizenship.

When asked who she would want the diaspora to vote for, the minister wasted no time in answering the question. She wants Uhuru Kenyatta to be the next President. She, however, stated that if Uhuru does not become the flag bearer she knows he will support any other strong candidate, even if it is from the G7 alliance, where Hon. William Ruto features as one of the strong candidates, and not necessarily a candidate from PNU. Kenya should move forward and not be hindered by tribal inclinations.

End

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william ruto, mass demonstrations, election violence, dual citizenship, and mugo.

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Norway: The Oslo Islamic Fatwa against Female Genital Mutilation signed by religious leaders

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2012

REPOSTING DUE TO PUBLIC DEMAND: Posted by African Press International for the first time on November 20, 2011

By API

www.africanpress.me - PAWA President in Norway at the conference during the signing of Fatwa Against Female Genital Mutilation in Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania in Oslo, Norway on the 19th November 2011

http://www.africanpress.me – PAWA President in Norway at the conference during the signing of Fatwa Against Female Genital Mutilation in Clarion Hotel Royal Christiania in Oslo, Norway on the 19th November 2011

PAWA’s President Regina Adahada who originally comes from Nigeria, now living in Norway, openly displays signs of satisfaction after her group managed to organise a very successful conference on FGM in Oslo, Norway this weekend. The Oslo Islamic Fatwa against female genital mutilation (FGM) was signed at the end of the conference by a group of religious leaders, among others. The conference was organised jointly by Pan-African Women’s Organization (PAWA) and Musukubeng Kaffo (MKBK).

Before the signing of the Fatwa there was a presentation of the declaration for signatures by the President of Pan-African Women’s Organization Regina Adahada and the President of Musukubeng Kaffo(MKBK) Fotou Dampha.

Issuing a Fatwa is serious step, one that is used by Muslims world over who view Sharia law as a guide to good Muslim-hood. By signing a Fatwa, the organizers of the conference say Female genital Mutilation must be stopped by all means globally.

Female genital mutilation has been practised by Muslims, Christians and other faith communities. Whether this tradition is religion or not, the practice is disastrous to those who go through it willingly or forcefully. This is a form of violence against women and young girls.

The  whole day conference that started at 9.00, ending 16.00 was officially opened by Her Excellency the Ambassador of South Africa to Norway Ms. Beryl Rose Sisulu who called on other ambassadors in Norway to engage in the good work already started by the conference organizers to protect the rights of the women.
VIDEO interview with the South African Ambassador to Norway Ms Beryl Rose Sisulu:

Leaders who graced the occasion came from the US, Nigeria and Somalia.

Guest speaker Imam (Dr) Sheik Daud Bojang from the Islamic council of Atlanta in the USA emphasised on the consequences of female genital mutilation on women and girls from the perspective of a diaspora leader. He gave examples of how the mutilation does harm to the women and her pride as a complete human being.

At the start of the conference, Imam (Dr) Muhammad Nuruyan Ashafa and Pastor (Dr) James Movel Wuye from the Interfaith Mediation Centre Kaduna in Nigeria  gave their perspectives on FGM. The two leaders are championing the fight against this harmful tradition in the Northern parts of Nigeria. They told the conference of the struggles they undergo to actualized their goals.

Poem on the empowerment of women globally, by a Kenyan poet:

The audience became deeply involved in the contents of the poem, some even to tears, when a Kenyan writer and poet Philo Ikonya read a poem on the empowerment of women. She is a human rights activist and had no trouble gearing and engaging the conference delegates during the 15 minutes she had the floor by bringing the reality of the woman’s need for freedom closer to them.

Her poem was a spirited demand for a woman’s freedom through empowerment in order to enable her to prosper and be proud of herself.

Presentation of a book on the empowerment of foreign women in Norway:

After the poem read by the Kenyan writer and poet Ms Ikonya, the conference was treated to a book presentation on women empowerment by Elizabeth Urassa. She made a  presentation of her book on the empowerment of foreign women living in Norwegian society took the centre stage. She told the conference participants of the challenges many African women face and the difficulties they go though in the Norway. Urassa emphasised on the need to empower the African woman in Norway so that they may be able to stand tall and make her own decisions without having to depend on their men in everything.

Her book may stand as a challenge to married men in Norway who may view her points as a direct challenge to their role as the head of the family. However, she reiterated that the men should be aware that women have a place in the society and should be encouraged to find their own way to solidify themselves whereby their status is respected and given room to exercise freedom of thought and action without any hinderance.

The morning session of the conference was led by Amina Mahama – PAWA After the morning session and a one hour lunch break, the conference resumed. Another guest speaker Imam Seddy Janneh of Gambian origin living in Sweden took the delegates through the  consequences of female genital mutilation and expounded on the challenges he and other leaders face in this journey to understand and stop the practice. He told the audience of his experiences in The Gambia and in Scandinavia  summing up the positive sides if one adhered to the fatwa that seeks to stop the practice once and for all in order to avoid further harm to the women. Guest speaker from Norway, Mamadi Jobarteh gave his views on FGM and his expressed concern on its impact on young girls in Africa and Norway.He told the conference that he has daughters and will not allow anybody to circumcise them, while warning those who take the children of their relatives and force them to be circumcised without the knowledge of the parents.He said it was time to stamp out the practice completely. He caused laughter in the conference hall when he narrated a story from his home country The Gambia where he had a serious conversation with his mother about the need to stop circumcision of women. According to him, his mother was not ready to accept his suggestions, accusing him of being Westernised by his many years stay in Norway. He managed, however, to continue the discussion with his mother ending up winning her to accept his thoughts. He reiterated the need to be patient and go slow on those who are no yet ready to understand that the practice is primitive and has to end. The last speaker to take the floor, before the conference delegates were treated to the closing remarks by PAWA’s vice President Benter Adhiambo, was Professor Yahya Amir from Somalia who also signed the Fatwa alongside the religious leaders. Professor Amir told the conference of the cruelty young girls go through in Somalia, where most of them are exposed to health hazards thereafter. He stated that some of the girls being circumcised easily get infected through germs generated by the use of dirty instruments used. The Professor sent a chilly cloud to the delegates in the hall when he narrated how some who perform the practice caring less about the health hazards are using sharpened wood from fallen trees from the forest to mutilate the private parts of the girls when they do not access knives or any other sharp instruments. He stressed his opposition to female circumcision, saying he has 8 daughters of his own, with one wife – the eldest one being 16 years of age, while the youngest is 6 months old. His statement to the effect that he will not accept to have them to undergo such torture was well received with chorus clapping of hands by the delegates. Fatwa against FGM signatory Professor Yahya Amir from Somalia addressing the conference in Oslo

Declaration

The final act at the conference was the presentation of the declaration on Fatwa against genital mutilation in an effort to eliminate the violation of women’s bodies world-wide.
VIDEO Presentation:
The Presentation of the declaration for signatures
Discussion – Debate
After the signing ceremony of the Fatwa against FGM, the guest speakers sat in a row and engaged in an open discussion – debate with eager conference participants. Here below are three videos resulting from the panel session.
Video Part 1 of 3

Video Part 2 of 3

Video Part 3 of 3

Closing statement by PAWA’s Benter Adhiambo

In her closing statement PAWA’s vice President Benter Adhiambo thanked the delegates and guest speakers for their participation, but not before telling them of the need for equality between man and woman in the home. She emphasized, however, that equality in the home must not be driven by greed and force, but through respect and understanding the needs of a partner.

She told the gathering that women are now activating themselves and performing duties that the men have failed to do. She added that although the man is still powerful in the home, it must be made clear to all that working together in order to achieve the necessary goals in life acceptable to both man and woman must be given priority and attention required in every situation.

She ended her remarks by thanking the conference sponsors – the Norwegian Directorate of Health, FOKUS organization, (Growth and development for children, youth and families) – Child/Youth  and family department in Oslo City Council.

 

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CONFERENCE MODERATORS:
PAWA ORGANIZATION – MODERATOR MORNING SESSION:
www.africanpress.me. PAWA member - FGM conference moderator morning session Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me. PAWA member – FGM conference moderator morning session Oslo 19.11.2011

MKBK ORGANIZATION – MODERATOR AFTERNOON SESSION:

www.africanpress.me. MKBK member - FGM conference moderator morning session Oslo 19.11.2011

SOME CONFERENCE DELEGATES TOOK TIME FOR FREE PHOTO OPPORTUNITY AS MEMORY:
CLICK TWICE DIRECTLY ON THE PHOTO TO VIEW A LARGER SIZE:

www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

http://www.africanpress.me photo: Delegates take time for free photo opportunity with African Press International at the end of FGM Conference: Oslo 19.11.2011

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ICC Day 8 case 2: Hon Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga should answer for the murders during post-election violence; says Hon. Kioni in an interview with API at the ICC, Hague

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2012

REPOSTING DUE TO PUBLIC DEMAND: Posted by African Press International for the first time on September 29, 2011

By API

Honourable Member of Parliament Jeremiah Kioni is at the ICC to give moral support to the three suspects in Kenya case 2, among them Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta.

During this interview with API, Hon. Kioni did not hide his feelings. He stated clearly that the suspects in this case are innocent, and have nothing to do at the ICC facing confirmation of charges hearings.

CLICK video to view Interview:

Kioni told API that the right person to be at the ICC to face the charges is non other than Hon the Prime Minster Raila Amolo Odinga. He is the one who caused mayhem by calling for mass demonstrations instead of following the right channels provided by the law. Accepting defeat is decency; said Hon Kioni.

End

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la amolo odinga, prime minster, mass demonstrations, kioni, and honourable member.

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Recently jailed for 21 years: Will the Norwegian terrorist Breivik suffer while in Prison?

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2012

Those who do not know the Norwegian system will think there is a possibility that Anders Breivik will suffer while serving his sentence. The International media who were in Oslo during the trial did not even understand the Norwegian court system.

During the trial, Norway was ambushed by world media who jammed Oslo in search of a juicy story after the bombing that took the lives of 77 innocent people. Most of them were very disappointed when they realised they could not be allowed by the court and the prison management to take the terrorist’s photo.

The Norwegian system was thinking differently. They said if the world media was allowed to take Breivik’s photos, that would enable the terrorist’s message to reach all corners of the world.

Does the court that tried Breivik think that by refusing the media open coverage of such a cold-blooded murderer, – a man who went on a bombing spree killing innocent young people, that the spreading of his evil message will not reach the masses?

The court should have allowed the media to cover the story the way they felt fit so that the killer’s mind is exposed.

Breivik has now got 21 years in a Norwegian jail.

Does that really mean 21 years of suffering behind bars? The answer is categorically no. He will get facilities, while in there, better than some people who are not convicts will ever dream of. He can even choose to study law, medicine etc; while serving time, and after his 21 years in jail he emerges with a PhD degree.

During his prison time, he will have training facilities so that he can build his muscles if he wants to do so. He will have his own room.He will also have a TV room where he can receive visitors. Visitors who will be allowed to visit him include his close family members, admirers, and even girlfriends. Should he get a visit by one of his many admirers (women) or girlfriend(s), he will be entitled to get sex from them – they say it is his human right.

The Norwegians should modify their prison system so that when people are jailed they do not take it as if they have been sent on a long and paid holiday, because that is what it is – many people in jail in Norway are having a good time – only that they miss the life outside the prison walls.

End

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Benefit from tax-payers’ money: Norwegian Government cancels part of Guinea’s debt

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2012

The Norwegian Government agreed to cancel USD 7.3 million of Guinea’s debt to Norway.

The agreement is based on a multilateral framework agreement concluded in the Paris Club, a forum for creditor countries, in April this year. Guinea’s debt treatment in the Paris Club is part of the international initiative to reduce the debts of the poorest and most indebted countries, known as the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.

In accordance with the Norwegian Debt Relief Strategy, the debt was cancelled without taking any funds from the development budget. The cancellation does not therefore affect the development assistance provided to other poor countries.

Guinea’s remaining debt to Norway will be cancelled when the country reaches the completion point defined under the HIPC initiative.

“A reduction in debt will make it easier for Guinea to improve its economy and rebuild the country after the conflict. I hope that Norway will be able to cancel the rest of the debt later this year,” said Minister Holmås.

 

End

 

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Deadlock over parliamentary elections

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2012

Youths run alongside opposition leader Cellou Dalein Diallo. The opposition accuses the government of planning to rig delayed parliamentary elections

CONAKRY, ) – Political battles have intensified in Guinea after the government thwarted an opposition rally to demand free parliamentary elections, raising fears that a return to stability and development after years of dictatorship and misrule could be in jeopardy.

Security forces on 27 August surrounded a residence in the capital, Conakry, where opposition leaders had gathered, and blocked them from holding a planned march. Witnesses said the forces also threw tear gas canisters into the courtyard of another opposition leader earlier in the day. Interim government spokesman Damantang Camara said the authorities had stopped the march to avoid chaos.

“Given the tense socio-political context in Guinea and in the sub-region, we had announced that this march would not be allowed at this time,” Camara told IRIN. “The risk of violence was high. Be it a rally of the opposition or of government supporters, this is not the moment.”

In response, opposition groups announced that they would pull out of government institutions, including the transitional parliament and the independent electoral commission. Their march was intended to call attention to the urgency of holding free and transparent legislative elections, which by law should have taken place within six months of the 2010 presidential poll. Opposition leaders accuse President Alpha Condé’s camp of planning to rig the legislative polls.

“We cannot possibly cooperate with this government until we see some indication that it has the political will to respect the rule of law,” said Faya Millimouno, a member of the opposition movement who was among those blocked from holding the march.

“Nowhere in the world would this behaviour be accepted. We are more and more convinced that we are dealing with a rogue government.”

Arsène Gbaguidi, Guinea director of US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI), said blocking the opposition march was likely to deepen Guinea’s political problems at a time when the country can least afford it.

“The events of 27 August could force both the government and the opposition to harden what are already rigid stances… This at a time when the authorities must face the tough development challenges of this country,” Gbaguidi told IRIN.

“Today, from a social, political and even military point of view, we’ve got the impression that all the warning indicators are at red. It’s an explosive situation and we can’t know when it’s going to boil over.”

Veteran protester

President Condé himself was once a veteran opposition leader and is known for his decades-long fight for democracy in Guinea, which held its first democratic election in 2010, two years after a military junta seized power following the death of Lansana Conté, who had ruled the country for 24 years also after a military coup.

“The sequestration of opposition leaders is humiliating and is a blow to Guinea’s image and to that of Alpha Condé, who worked for decades to bring democracy to Guinea,” said NDI’s Gbaguidi.

Thierno Madjou Sow, the head of the Guinea Human Rights Organization and a long-time rights activist who worked with Condé in the past, said the current wrangling portrayed the difficulty of introducing democracy in a society where the leader has always ruled supreme.


Photo: Nancy Palus/IRIN
Some supporters of President Alpha Condé are now backing the opposition, saying they are disappointed with the president

“Even people who are in the opposition today – they cannot say they would not conduct themselves in the same way once in power,” Sow said. “In the Guinean constitution, the people are sovereign. But the reality – here and in other African countries – is that the chief is sovereign…

“We need a new vision of what is a `chief’,” he said, adding that citizens perpetuate the trend by failing to demand their rights.

Ethnicity

Guinea has also been plagued by ethnic conflict. Condé’s rival in the 2010 presidential elections, Cellou Dalein Diallo, is from the Peulh community, one of Guinea’s two main ethnic groups, while Condé is from the other large group, the Malinké. The president is seen as promoting Malinké at the expense of other groups.

Diallo claims that eight of his supporters have been killed by security forces since Condé came to power and says the Peulh feel increasingly snubbed by Condé’s government.
“Because of this frustration, among my supporters, moderates are becoming hardliners, and that’s very dangerous for Guinea,” Diallo told IRIN.

A Conakry resident, who identified himself only as Eugene, said he is dismayed by what he calls “ethnocentrism” by Condé’s government. He cited a recent incident in which security forces allegedly killed villagers in Zoghota area in Guinea’s forest region. The incident followed an uprising by residents over a local mining company’s policies which they said sidelined locals in favour of Malinké workers.

Opposition leaders and human rights activists say the killings are simply a continuation of the impunity that has reigned in Guinea for decades – a phenomenon, they say, they had hoped would end with the transition.

Government spokesperson Camara said they have fervently condemned the incident in Zoghota and that the local leader had been sacked and an investigation was under way. The UN resident/humanitarian coordinator in Guinea, Anthony Ohemeng-Boamah, said reforming the police and the army was urgent.

Belt-tightening

President Condé has been praised by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for initiating economic reforms which have seen inflation fall to 15 percent in June (from 21 percent at the end of 2010), but many say they have not seen improvements in their lives.

“This good performance is the result of strong efforts to restore budget discipline and avoid the need for bank-financing of the budget by keeping expenditures in line with available resources, supported by tight monetary policies of the central bank,” the IMF said in an 8 August statement.

“We understand belt-tightening but the belt is ready to pop,” said Entraineur Kaba, a Conakry resident who preferred to be identified by his nickname.

Kaba said that only two in every 10 families in Conakry eat three meals a day. A man sitting next to him butted in: “Three meals a day! Who? Guineans have forgotten what it’s like to have three meals.”

Guinea, which has the world’s largest reserves of bauxite – the raw material for aluminium – also has gold and diamonds, but its people remain among the poorest in the world.

“Guinea has everything and Guineans have nothing” is a common refrain, said Perrussot, also a resident of the capital city.

Conakry residents told IRIN it would be easier to tolerate belt-tightening if they saw more positive efforts from Condé’s government to avoid ethnic divisions, protect human rights and tackle impunity.

np/ob/cb source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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Politics, pastureland and conflict

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2012

Pouring fuel on the fire…Clashes between rival communities are increasingly being triggered by political motives

ISIOLO,  – Thousands of people have fled their homes amid renewed clashes between rival communities in Kenya’s North Eastern Province, in which some 17 people were killed, according to officials.

The violence follows a massacre earlier this month of 52 people in a coastal village in Tana River District. While the incidents, which have resulted in mass displacement, take place amid a long-standing competition over resources, they are increasingly being triggered by political motives as well.

Revenge killings

In the latest incident in the northwest, five people in the Banissa area of Mandera District were shot dead on 26 August.

“The raiders were out on a revenge mission. They raided our country from Ethiopia, killed five and crossed back,” said a local government official, who asked not to be identified.

According to the Kenya Red Cross, 12 people were killed in clashes in Banissa and nearby Rhamu earlier in August.

“At least 3,500 households have been internally displaced in Banissa and Rhamu. The families have been forced to live in deplorable conditions without water, food, medicine and shelter,” the Red Cross said in a statement.

Red Cross spokeswoman Nelly Muluki said the total number of displaced was likely to be much higher. “We are told many have moved far away to grazing fields they feel are safe,” she said.

“The displaced families have been forced to live in deplorable conditions without water, food, medicine and shelter… The attacked communities have suffered destruction of property and shelter as a result of the clashes,” the statement added, noting that livestock had been stolen in large numbers during some of these incidents.

“The Rhamu District Hospital is strained with a shortage of medical supplies and medical personnel to manage the increasing casualties from clash-prone zones around the area. There has also been a lack of ambulances to carry out timely referrals of casualties to the Mandera District Hospital,” the Red Cross said, adding that many schools in Banissa had been vandalized.

Commercial activities in Mandera have also been affected and a curfew is in place. “We have no more taxis, shops or hotels that operate at night. We are losing a lot of money. Insecurity has affected many of us. We can’t afford to sustain our families,” said Mukhtar, a Mandera taxi driver.

Some civil servants have fled the area. “I am now in Wajir. I arrived on Sunday [August 26] from Mandera after being threatened. Many civil servants, including health workers and technical staff, have left Mandera,” one civil servant told IRIN. Some of the villages in the Mandera North and Banissa areas have also been deserted.

The Wajir area itself has itself not escaped the violence, with clashes between Garrey and Degodia communities on 23 August leading to the destruction of property and the displacement of almost 100 households to a temporary camp at the local police station.

Tensions high

Meanwhile, tension remains high in the coastal area near the site of the of 21 August killings. Some 600 households from the pastoralist Orma community remain displaced from the area for fear of a new attack, according to County Chairman Salim Golo.

“We are worried by the heavy presence of Pokomo fighters. They are camping at an island in Tana River. We have informed the administration and the police, but it’s sad no action has been taken,” he said.


Photo: Kenya Red Cross
Hundreds of people have been displaced after a recent massacre of 52 people in the coastal Tana River District

A team of government doctors and Red Cross personnel visited one makeshift camp in the area and found “there was no standing shelter or pit latrine. The IDPs had no food and had to feed on coconuts solely. The children were quite exposed to the cold weather and had to sleep on the wet and swampy terrain with no warm clothing.”

The team delivered plastic sheeting, collapsible jerricans, mosquito nets, soaps, water purifiers, kitchen sets, rice, cooking oil and beans.

Speaking after the Tana River killings, Red Cross Secretary General Abbas Gullet said more than 200 people had lost their lives during clashes between communities since the start of the year, a phenomenon he linked to general elections scheduled for March 2013.

“Our country was rocked by pre-election induced violence in 1992, 1997 and 2002. In 2008, we experienced the worst post-election violence. It’s clear we have not learned or made any commitment to end this pattern of political-related violence, killings, suffering and loss of properties,” he said.

“As we continue for the next six to seven months before the election it is clear that this pattern will continue unless something is done drastically, now and not tomorrow,” he warned, calling for the speedy prosecution of those orchestrating the violence.

Politics and scarcity fuel violence

Since a new constitution was passed in 2010, considerable political power and associated financial resources have been devolved from the capital to Kenya’s regions in the form of positions in newly-created administrative areas.
“While the violence appears on the surface to be a long-standing conflict driven by competition for resources such as water and pasture, there is evidence to suggest the killings have a political component related to redrawing of political boundaries and next year’s general elections,” Aeneas, Chuma, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Kenya said in a recent statement.

Still, other, more long-standing and less localized drivers of conflict should not be discounted entirely, according to Choice Okoro-Oloyede, outreach and advocacy officer at the East Africa branch of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, a partner in the multi-agency Security in Mobility initiative.

“Pastoralists communities across the Horn of Africa have become regions of low-intensity conflict, begging for sustainable and sustained conflict-prevention interventions,” she told IRIN.

“Kenya’s regional positioning makes it particularly vulnerable. Cattle rustling incidents have increased in the region as owners seek to restock herds badly affected by the recurrent searing droughts. The country’s geographical positioning places it squarely at the epicentre of pastoralists’ resource-based conflict in the Horn of Africa,” said Okoro-Oloyede.

“Depleted livestock, limited pasture, and water from the cumulative effect of cyclic drought, and the availability of small arms are conditions that have seen an increase in pastoralists’ cross-border movement in search of pasture and water in ways that are triggering violent armed cross-border conflict,” she said.

In 2011, for example, 370 conflict-related deaths were recorded in the drought-affected areas of north-eastern Kenya. A majority of those affected were pastoralists caught up in ethnic clashes over livestock and pasture. In 2010, 179 such deaths were recorded.

“Freedom and flexibility of movement within national borders and beyond is essential to the viability of mobile pastoralism – more so in the face of climate change,” said Okoro-Oloyede.

“However, much evidence points to mobility being restricted on various grounds, increasing pastoralists’ inability to minimize risks and cope with climatic and other shocks. Administration borders are being drawn without bearing in mind pastoralists’ mobility needs, leading to conflict and insecurity. Consequently, pastoralists are increasingly being pushed to the periphery as other livelihood systems encroach on their land,” she said.

na-aw/am/rz
source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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IITA and AfeBabalolaUniversity sign MoU to help Africa

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2012

The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) and Afe Babalola University Ado-Ekiti (ABUAD) today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that will see the two institutions joining efforts to unlock the potential of Africa’s human, agricultural, and natural resources.

IITA and ABUAD have a common interest in improving the nutrition and income of the rural and urban poor. The MoU provides a ‘bridge’ that will link the two institutions and foster cooperation to complement each other’s research efforts.

“We are very excited in signing this MoU and we are also confident that together we can work to tackle the challenges to hunger and poverty,” said the Director General of IITA, Dr Nteranya Sanginga.

According to Dr Sanginga, the MoU between IITA and ABUAD will help in building the critical human capital that will address the present and future challenges of not only agriculture but also development.

“Today, if you take agriculture for instance, you will discover that the sector is faced with several constraints such as climate change, emerging pests and diseases, etc. These constraints can be tackled if we develop the human capacity that will provide solutions to them,” he explained.

Under IITA’s revised strategy; research, partnerships and capacity building are key drivers for IITA’s success as the Institute aims to lift 20 million people out of poverty and free 25 million hectares of degraded land in the next decade.

IITA Deputy Director General, Partnerships and CapacityBuilding, Dr Kenton Dashiell said the MoU between IITA and ABUAD would help tap the potential of youths that are important stakeholders for rural and economic development.

“This is one way of meaningfully engaging the youths…giving them the tools to be productive,” Dr Dashiell added.

Specific areas of interest for the two institutions in the MoU include:

  • Collaboration in research and development on topics of mutual interest,
  • Development of joint research and development project proposals for submission to prospective donors for funding,
  • Organization of joint research activities,
    • Organization of joint conferences and workshops,
    • Linkages between IITA and ABUAD scientists,
    • Placement and/or exchange of students,
    • Exchange of research materials, publications, and other materials of common interest.

Dr Dashiell said both IITA and ABUAD would work to implement the ‘areas of interest’ according to the terms spelt out in the MoU.

Established in 1967, IITA remains a leader in crop improvement and the fight against biological threats and environmental sustainability in Africa. Improved crop varieties from IITA have revved up productivity in several African countries with Cameroon doubling cassava yields, and Nigeria becoming the world’s top producer of the root crop.

But more importantly, in its 45 years of existence as Africa’s leading research partner, more than 74,000 people in Africa and elsewhere have received training in IITA. Some of these beneficiaries today occupy strategic positions in Africa.

In her contribution, the Vice-Chancellor of ABUAD, Prof. Sidi Osho, explained that the MoU which is of great interest to the university would also help in increasing food production and food security.

According to her, the MoU will confer tremendous benefits on the university in terms of international linkages, exchange programs, organizing and strengthening research and proffering qualitative strategies for administrative capacity.

Located in southwest Nigeria, ABUAD aims at producing highly skilled and socially relevant graduates capable of applying scientific knowledge for the resolution of social and technological problems. The University is equally committed to transforming students into expert thinkers, innovative managers, and resourceful technocrats in all fields of learning. This vision is guided by the need to produce professionals who are sound and agile, and who could become future leaders in Nigeria and Africa.

 

###

Background:

Godwin Atser,  informs that; CGIAR (www.cgiar.org) is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centers who are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations. IITA is a member of the CGIAR Consortium.

 

IITA (www.iita.org) is an international non-profit research-for-development organization established in 1967 and governed by a Board of Trustees. We work with partners in Africa and beyond to enhance crop quality and productivity, reduce producer and consumer risks, and generate wealth from agriculture. Our award-winning research for development is anchored on the development needs of tropical countries.

IITA is a member of the CGIAR Consortium.

 

End

 

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AU troops kill 42 Al-Shabaab militias

Posted by African Press International on August 30, 2012

According to Defence Forces spokesman Emmanuel Chirchir Amisom is now closer to taking on Kismayu, the last stronghold of Al-Shabaab.

Amison is reported to have destroyed some Al-Shabaab technical vehicles,  water bowser, one lorry and other important support items.

Al-Shaabab is reportedly forcing women in Kismayu to provide their fighters with water and food. It is not known how many women are willing to assist them. Some fear if they ignore their request, they may become targets.

According to the Kenya media, Amisom troops have now surrounded Kismayu, Marehan. There are some clans who support the Al-Shaabab and have vowed to fight alongside Al-Shabaab. Some clans, however, have refused to support them in the fighting.

 

End

 

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Protection in crisis and conflicts remains the domain of local people

Posted by African Press International on August 30, 2012

Protection in crisis and conflicts remains the domain of local people

LONDON, – The UN recognizes the international community’s Responsibility to Protect (R2P) civilians during conflict, and this philosophy has quickly become embedded in peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions, but a new report questions some basic humanitarian assumptions.

R2P evolved in the 1990s in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide in realization that states could no longer be relied on to protect civilians, so the onus was placed on the international community to prevent gross human rights abuses, a belief that has since been cited as a reason to intervene in places like Libya and Syria.

Yet the reality – reinforced by a new study from the UK’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) entitled Local to Global Protection in Myanmar (Burma), Sudan, South Sudan and Zimbabwe – is that in conflicts and crisis people almost always have to provide their own protection, for themselves, their families and their villages.

ODI’s Humanitarian Practice Network set out to see what protection there was for communities facing real and serious crises in two areas of Myanmar, in the Sudanese province of South Kordofan, in Jonglei State in South Sudan, and in Zimbabwe. Their researchers asked people what they saw as the most serious threats they faced, what they themselves could do about the threats, and what they thought of any outside help which might have been available.

Nils Carstensen, who coordinated the project (known as Local to Global Protection) said at the London launch of the report on 8 February: “We had an annoying sense of disconnect on several levels; a sense of disconnect between much of the talking and writing about humanitarian protection, and the impression that this… was not being mirrored by any actual improvement for those in need of protection. Also there was a disconnect between our own international efforts at protection, and then a multitude of local, or community based local activities aimed at protection which seemed to be running in a different stream.”

The threats faced were many and various: aerial bombardment in Kordofan, cattle raiding in Jonglei, being trapped in the middle of a long insurgency in Karen regions of Myanmar, hunger and destitution in areas hit by Cyclone Nargis, political harassment and impoverishment in Zimbabwe. But they also cited threats that did not fall into the normal humanitarian categories of rights abuse – threats to their cattle, for instance, or other aspects of their livelihoods, or threats to their solidarity and life as a community.

They also all considered their own actions to protect themselves as more important than anything done by outsiders. “They saw official efforts,” said Carstensen, “as rather modest, in fact non-existent, or even counter-productive.”

Get out of the way

The most widespread protection strategy was also the simplest – people got out of the way. Karen villagers took refuge in the jungle, people in South Kordofan fled into the Nuba Mountains. There they survived using their knowledge of wild foods and medicines, and crops and livestock which would tolerate difficult conditions. Elsewhere people moved to towns, to refugee camps on even to neighbouring countries to look for work.

Being prepared for the worst was important, staying alert to threats and having enough savings or cattle or stocks of food. And people relied on each other, on sharing and solidarity and mutual help.

The weak also sought protection by trying to ally themselves with the strong. Community leaders and religious leaders with good connections could negotiate concessions or protection for their people. Individuals might rely on family connections or pay bribes to officials. Zimbabweans bought ruling party cards regardless of their actual political affiliations.

In the conflict areas of Myanmar, having a son join an armed group might help. “My nephew became a Peace Council (PC) soldier in order to protect the family,” one Karen villager told the researcher. “As someone connected to the PC we can travel freely and get no trouble at checkpoints.”

Some of these strategies had significant and negative consequences, Carstensen said.

Others could be actively supported by outside agencies, but might lead to places where they would be reluctant to go. Promoting alliances with armed actors would be anathema to many humanitarian actors. And how should they respond to victims who want to arm themselves for their own protection? Some villages in Myanmar have even taken to laying their own landmines to keep intruders out, which the country researcher Ashley South said was a “dilemma” of risk for protection.

Give us guns

Protection issues have been particularly fraught in South Sudan where government disarmament programmes have left villages feeling vulnerable to those without guns. Drum warnings and unarmed patrols can only do so much. Dinka interviewed by the author of the Jonglei study, Simon Harrigin, were baffled by being offered capacity building workshops to discuss protection issues. “If you want to help us,” they responded, “provide us with guns.”

Harrigan argued conventional systems rely on a law structure which is currently non-existent in this part of South Sudan, and that disarmament might not be the best solution in the present security vacuum. “Everyone is saying disarmament, disarmament, disarmament, but who is providing security?”

Asked by IRIN what the consequences of compulsory disarmament might be where voluntary disarmament had failed, Harrigan said: “People have been fleeing to the marshes since 1991, and know exactly where to hide weapons when forced disarmament comes along. So they will be off like a shot to the `toich’ [low lying lands suffering seasonal flooding] to hide their guns [with any forced disarmament programme].”

What the report highlighted was that full-scale peacekeeping missions were seldom the answer to protection at village level.

Nuba representatives at the launch event were particularly critical of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), comparing it unfavourably with the much more modest Joint Military Commission which preceded it. Salaam Tutu, of Nuba Mountains Solidarity Abroad, told IRIN: “UNMIS don’t have direct connection with local people. We look on them as foreigners, not as people who have come to give us protection. The JMC, if there was any problem in a village they would try to solve it, but UNMIS don’t do the same.”

Hair extensions and conflict

The report recognized effective protection as understanding what local people see as priorities, and being flexible enough to respond even to unconventional requests, like demands, in South Kordofan, for guitar strings, beads and hair extensions so that, even in the middle of protracted war and hunger, the community could still celebrate weddings and other occasions with music and dancing.

Justin Corbett, author of the South Kordofan/Nuba section of the report, said at the launch: “Psychological needs came up again and again… What I mean is the needs that go beyond food and water.”

''You don’t give hair extensions when people are dying in a war, say we [the humanitarian community]''

“The reason why NGOs were worried about this [hair extensions] was donor compliance and how this might look publicly. How strange – isn’t it – that the very people who are protecting themselves and identify what they think might help them, we [then] find the mainstream humanitarian mechanism can’t actually deliver that, because it doesn’t fit into our [humanitarian] box. You don’t give hair extensions when people are dying in a war, say we [the humanitarian community].”

The head of ODI’s Humanitarian Policy Group, Sara Pantuliano, said the report’s findings were a “very damning account of the ineffectiveness of international effort…

“The structures we have set up,” she said, “have moved us, as international aid actors, more and more away from the people… They have made the response not nimble enough, more risk averse, more constrained and less able to engage with the specificity of the local situation, where there may be initiatives which we could strengthen.”

eb/go/cb
source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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“Gene chip technology” deployed in fight against malaria

Posted by African Press International on August 30, 2012

Administrating a blood test for malaria in Cambodia

BANGKOK,  – Scientists in the USA are looking to use “gene chip technology” to reduce or contain drug resistance to malaria, an increasing problem globally but particularly in Southeast Asia.

Researchers from the US University of Notre Dame’s Eck Institute for Global Health are developing a “gene chip” which could contribute to identifying drug resistance in blood samples.

The goal is to “see resistance as it is emerging, respond in real time and modify strategies to save a drug, such as protecting it with new formulations and combinations tailored to the specific location of emergence,” said the lead researcher, Michael Ferdig. “We now have markers for emerging resistance and new hypotheses that we will use to track down the resistance mechanism.”

Genetic markers or “signposts” are any alteration in the DNA that helps to identify the presence of a specific disease.

Artemisinin is a natural plant product that represents the first-line treatment for malaria, after resistance to chloroquine, an antimalarial previously widely used, forced treatment to change in the early 1970s. Growing resistance to artemisinin in the greater Mekong sub-region – including Cambodia, the southern provinces of China, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam – means treatment is taking longer to clear parasites.

“Southeast Asia, and in particular western Cambodia, is the region where all resistances in [the parasite] plasmodium falciparum have emerged,” said Francois Nosten, director of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit along the Thai-Myanmar border, a region which has reported longer treatment times in the past eight years for patients taking artemisinin-based drugs to cure malaria.

However, experts warn that gene chip technology is years away from practical application.

“The gene chip is only at the stage of being developed and not there yet,” said Nosten. “Several groups are competing to find the molecular markers of resistance to artemisinin, but it will take several years before something is usable in the field and we do not have this time to waste.”

According to the World Health Organization, four out 10 people globally who are at risk of becoming infected with malaria live in Southeast Asia.

Migration from highly endemic malarial areas, counterfeit anti-malarial drugs, and the misuse of artemisinin have all contributed to worsening drug resistance, says the agency.

fm/ds/cb
source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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WOMENS WING OF CST CALLED FOR ONE WEEK SEX STRIKE ACTION IN TOGO TO BACK UP THEIR DEMANDS

Posted by African Press International on August 30, 2012

By Blamé Ekoué, Lomé

The womens wing of Togo’s civil rights associations Sauvons le Togo (CST) or “Let Us Save Togo” and their opposition allies embark one week sex strike action starting from Monday 27th of August 2012 to back up demand for the outright resignation of President Faure.
The call was made on Saturday by the Womens Wing leader of the pressure group Madam Isabelle Ameganvi during a mammoth protest march followed by a rally attended by over 100,000 opposition militants in Lomé.
She said that they are inspired “by the example of last year Nobel Prize winners Madam Leyman Gbowee and Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who did the same thing in 2003 in Liberia to bring peace in their country”.
She also warned that “if men refuse to hear our cries, we will hold another demos that will be more powerful than a simple sex-strike action”.
During the sex strike action, Togolese women are asked to refuse to have sexual intercourses with their husbands.
This call for one week sex-strike followed series of demos in Togo by the opposition pressure group to ask President Faure Gnassingbé to withdraw newly adopted electoral amendments by the ruling party dominated Parliament in may this year. The pressure claimed that the adoption was “unilateral without any consensus and favoured President Faure”.
For many sociologists the call for one week sex strike action may find it difficult to be respected because “it is not in Togolese culture to make sex a public affair as it is still a taboo subject”.
The civil rights associations and their political allies of the sauvons le Togo are also planning to hold another demos on Thursday described as “half nude strike action” during which women will march wearing “Red Pants” on various streets of Lomé to the Lomé Civil Prisons to ask for the release of the detained opposition militants of last week’s protests which turned nasty.
According to last year’s census, women represent 51,4 per cent of the Togolese population which is estimated at about 6 million.
end

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JUBA: Many people affected by mental health problems, roaming the streets,” Lugor said.

Posted by African Press International on August 29, 2012

A nurse at the military hospital in South Sudan’s capital Juba prepares an injection for one of the new nation’s many traumatized soldiers

JUBA,  – In South Sudan, decades of civil war have resulted in widespread trauma, and the chronically underdeveloped nation is struggling to provide facilities, staff and treatment for those in need of mental healthcare.

After a 2005 peace deal with Khartoum, aid agencies poured into southern Sudan to provide the bulk of health and education services. Since the area gained independence in 2011, the fledgling government has been attempting to build a state from scratch, leaving health services largely provisional and mental health programmes all but non-existent.

“The situation is very rudimentary in terms of mental health, but there are so many people suffering because of post-war trauma and because of frustrations that some people may find themselves in and also because of some people that take drugs,” said Deputy Minister of Health Yatta Yori Lugor.

The South Sudan Medical Journal reports that depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and substance abuse are major mental health issues affecting the country. The only recent prevalence data derive from a 2007 survey of 1,242 adults in Juba, which found that 36 percent of respondents met symptom criteria for PTSD and half met symptom criteria for depression

No psychiatrists or drugs

“There are so many people who are affected by mental health problems, and if you go about in [the capital] Juba, you will see a lot of them roaming the streets,” Lugor said.

He says the lack of understanding about mental health in a country with 27 percent adult literacy, poor communications infrastructure and very few roads means that mental, emotional and behavioural disorders are often reported to traditional healers or the police rather than health clinics.

George Wani is in charge of Juba Teaching Hospital, the only public medical facility in the country that treats mental illness. Its mental health ward has just 12 beds. He says South Sudan has had no psychiatrists since the only one left to work in Tanzania.

Although it treats the severest cases, the ward has only a handful of nurses with the barest of training. It has no psychiatric drugs, and even sedatives are hard to come by.

“In all of the medical emergency kits, you’ll find one or two tranquilizers. So we have to remove these and use them in the department of psychiatry. But the drugs for psychiatry are not there,” he says.

Records show that patients are given regular doses of diazepam, a sedative and anti-anxiety drug.

Some, like Mathew, whose mother brought in him for treatment, have been handcuffed to their beds.


Photo: Hannah McNeish/IRIN
A patient at the military hospital in South Sudan’s capital Juba, where many men with post-traumatic-stress-disorder (PTSD) recover from physical and emotional wounds

“Look at me; I am bound down, bound down,” he said, dragging his wire-frame bed into the corridor. Weary staff say they cannot cover the large open wound on his wrist as they have no gauze or cotton.

Sedation or prison

Wani explains that it’s either this or prison for patients the hospital cannot control.

“The sanatorium of Juba is inside the prison. We have no alternative,” he said. “In an open space, the patient would be very destructive, very harmful to others, very violent, aggressive, and people on the outside cannot right that.”

In June Human Rights Watch denounced South Sudan’s “harsh, unacceptable prison conditions” and unlawful detention, and found that scores of inmates were incarcerated “solely because they appear to have mental disabilities.”

Wani, who regularly visits the prison, acknowledges that that situation is very bad, with patients almost permanently shackled to the floor. But he says the 50 or so mentally ill patients currently inside the capital’s prison have nowhere else to go.

“The only solution is to build a sanatorium outside the prison… because the hospital does not have the capacity to take all the mentally sick,” he said.

An overwhelming problem

Meanwhile, violence continues to take its toll on the population’s mental health. Disputes over cattle raiding recently turned into a massive ethnic conflict affecting over 140,000 people. Mental health services are extremely hard to come by in the country’s camps for refugees and internally displaced people.

“It’s that daily frustration coupled with past trauma that generates more trauma” and violence, said a senior international aid worker who asked not to be named.

“I think there needs to be a shift in how aid organizations address health issues in South Sudan. Mental health issues crop up in normal health programmes and are simply undetected or health structures address [only] the physical manifestations.”

But the government says there is no funding for mental health services.

“Resources are the issue. They are spread over all of what is needed and, you know, much of it is used on emergencies,” said Lugor of the health ministry.

Soldiers in the national Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), who were at the frontline of the country’s long war, are badly affected by the health system’s incapacity to handle mental health issues. The director of Juba’s military hospital, Peter Ajak Bullen, says that the problem in the army is overwhelming.

“The number of soldiers that have been traumatized – there’s so many. And you cannot just neglect them because the SPLA form a formidable part of the country,” he said.

The SPLA has an estimated 140,000 soldiers, according to the research group Small Arms Survey.

Despite having better facilities than other hospitals, the military hospital only has three staff members trained in psychology who carry out basic counselling.

“We don’t have a mental health hospital, we don’t even have a well-established mental department, neither in Juba military hospital nor in Juba Teaching Hospital,” Bullen said.

William survived an aerial bombardment as troops advanced towards the disputed area of Heglig during Sudan and South Sudan’s brief clash over oil and land in April. He is now at the Juba military hospital.

“He was confused. He lost consciousness a bit, but when he came here he regained a bit of it. He did not sustain any injury, but he was confused,” Bullen said as William stared into space.

After being sedated for four days, William could sit up, eat and talk. “But later on, he relapsed.We put him on the same tranquilizers, the same sedatives. We don’t have more than this. These are basic mental health medicines we have, plus the counselling.”

Difficult cases are referred to the public hospital, and if that doesn’t work, they are sent on to Uganda.

If all else fails, Bullen says that patients like William, who has a wife and five children, are kept on the payroll and transferred to the “wounded heroes” programme for disabled veterans to learn new skills.

Perpetuating the cycle of violence

Violence borne of mental illness must also be addressed.

“We haven’t the statistics but we have heard of people taking their own lives,” said Lugor, citing a recent example of a husband killing his wife and then turning the gun on himself.

“These things happen, and they happen everywhere in South Sudan. It’s not only for the military, it’s all over the place,” he continued.

Officials say soldiers are taking their own or others’ lives on a weekly basis. “Shooting civilians is common, being violent towards civilians is also common,” said Bullen.

“I’m a general surgeon. I’m not a psychiatrist, but we do see cases of schizophrenia – very few, maybe one or two a year. But most of them are depressive patients,” he said.

Building capacity

In an effort to address the severe shortage of mental health professionals, one programme – a collaboration among the University of Oslo, the Norwegian NGO SINTEF Health, South Sudan’s University of Bahr El Ghazal and Khartoum’s Ahfad University for Women – is training students and medical professionals in mental health issues.

“There is a huge gap between the need and the health services available, and a very poor knowledge and understanding of mental health issues,” said Lisbet Grut, senior scientist with SINTEF Health.

“We are trying to get to a point where health workers can recognize the symptoms of mental health problems, correctly diagnose them and refer them to specialists who can provide treatment.”

The programme, which has been running since 2007, has so far enrolled nine bachelors-, masters- and doctorate-level students in mental health programmes at the University of Bahr El Ghazal and has provided short-term training in mental health to 72 health workers.

The government also plans to develop a mental health strategy “that will include advocacy, legislation and human rights, planning, financing and organization of services, quality, the use of psychotropic medicines”.

hm/kr/am/rz
source www.irinnews.org

 

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