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Archive for September 12th, 2012

US ambassador Christopher Stevens and some of his staff murdered in Libya

Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2012

The US ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, and other 3 embassy staff have been killed in a bomb inside the US consulate in Benghazi.

Many will think the killers are friends of al-Qaeda paying back on what the US has been doing to the al-Qaeda operatives.

There are reports that the killing took place because of hate directed towards the US because of a film being made that the Muslims consider as an attack on the Prophet Mohammed.


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Kenya: Thirty eight more people killed in horror ethnic attack

Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2012 Maurice Alal.API reporter Kisumu.Kenya Maurice Alal.API reporter Kisumu.Kenya

By MAURICE ALAL, reporting from Kisumu. Kenya

A total of 38 people have been killed and several houses torched in Tana River district of coastal region of Kenya in what is reportedly to be revenge attacks following ethnic animosity between the Pokomo and Orma communities.

This is after a group of about 500 people armed with guns, spear and machetes are said to have attacked the police post and killed 9 police officers and burned a vehicle before attacking the area residents killing 28 people in the deadly incident.

It is said that, this is in retaliatory attacked after 17 people were
killed by unknown militia in the area just a few days ago. But the
local administration believed that the attacks are being carried by the Pokomo and Orma militia.

This is barely three weeks when more than 50 people, mostly women and
children were killed in a dawn raid at the Coastal region in castigatory attacks over the grazing pasture.

The attack is said to have carried out by a section of the Pokomo community against the pastoralist Orma community. This has so far seen over 100 people dead in the horror attack.

It also emerged that a section of Pokomo community, armed with guns, spears and machetes, staged a dawn raid on the Orma, revenge of the attacks carried out by the latter three weeks that left around 13 people dead, and many livestock killed.

However, the previous attack was prompted by the defensive mechanism
took by the Pokomo people, when members of the mainly pastoralist Orma
grazed their cattle on the crops of Pokomo community.

This fuels skirmishes between the two community that saw five people dead (Pokomo), including three children and several injuries reported.
It is at this point when the Pokomo resort on a revenge mission against the Orma that left 53 people dead.

Most of the people who were killed on the retaliatory attacked included 31 women, 11 children. This also left more than 100 houses torched rendering hundreds of families homeless.

Some of those killed were burned a live as they slept in their houses during the dawn incident with others were hacked to death by the gang.
Other people were also shot with scores of livestock killed and maimed.

The pasture row between the Bantu and the Cushitic ethnic communities
that reside in the Tana River district of Coastal region is reportedly to have been simmering over the years with skirmishes erupting every now and then.

However, the attack on the Orma by the Pokomo did shocked the whole country thereby billed the worst ethnic violence since the 2007/8 post-election violence.

The Orma, Wardei and Malokote communities belong to the Cushitic group
of tribes and are said to be closely related to Somali community in many ways while Pokomo who are Bantus are mainly farmers.

Reacting over the matter President Mwai Kibaki has issued an ultimatum barring people from walking and getting out at night especially in the affected areas and promised a thorough investigation over the frequent attack.

The local administration and the leaders have been blamed for slow action in resolving the simmering conflict between the two communities.

However, the government had embarked on measures to disarm the two
communities who are said to be in the position of guns. This is according to the Coast Provincial Commissioner, Samuel Kilele. He further said that some of the local administrative officers have been sacked so far especially the area chiefs.

The revenge attack has prompted to pointing of fingers among the leaders in the region with some calling for the sacking of the acting Internal Security Minister who also double as the Defence minister, Yusuf Hajji. This has led to call for an urgent crisis meeting for the Members of Parliament from the coastal region to discuss the way forward over the issue.


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The ABCs of Israeli demolitions in oPt*

Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2012

In 2012 395 Palestinian structures were demolished in the West Bank

RAMALLAH,  – Rasmiyye Hamande has lived in a cave in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) for most of her life, which may have been a blessing in disguise. “This cave,” she says, “can’t be demolished so easily.”

Other places in the village of Al-Mufaqara, in Area C – the 60 percent of the West Bank under Israeli military control – are more easily destroyed.

Some 622 structures were demolished by Israeli forces in the West Bank in 2011, a 42 percent increase from 2010. 2012 could well surpass last year’s numbers, as by the end of July, some 395 demolished structures in oPt were registered by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Al-Mufaqara is one of 12 villages in an area recently declared “firing zone 918” by Israel. The Israeli Ministry of Defense wants to demolish eight of these villages and evacuate their residents to make way for a military training. About 1,500 Palestinians are expected to be forcibly displaced if this demolition is carried out.

The army says the training exercises in firing zone 918 are necessary to deal with shortcomings exposed during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, and the Ministry of Defense has indicated that the villagers will still be allowed to use the land on weekends and Jewish holidays.

Firing zones like this one, all officially intended for military training, make up about 18 percent of the West Bank; 45 percent of all demolitions in the Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank since 2010 have taken place in firing zones.

IRIN takes a look at the circumstances surrounding these demolition orders.

When and why are Palestinian structures in Area C considered illegal by Israel?

All structures need government-approved permits; those without can be demolished. But acquiring a permit from the Israeli Civil Administration – a military body tasked with overseeing oPt – for Palestinian construction in Area C is close to impossible.

According to OCHA, the Civil Administration rejected 94 percent of Palestinians’ building permit applications in Area C between 2000 and 2007. In 2010, only 4 out of 444 building permit applications in Area C were approved. The Civil Administration told IRIN that there is no set time period for the review of requested building permits, and that every applications is examined differently.

In villages outside firing zones, the main problem is restrictive Israeli planning. Requested building permits must fit into spatial plans that have not changed since they were drawn up in the 1930s, when the area was under British administration.

Inside closed military zones, access is prohibited without a special permit, unless one is a permanent resident. Permits for construction are only available if the Israeli commander in charge issues a special order.

Structures are also prohibited on land considered by Israel to be archeological sites. This is the case in Susiya, in the South Hebron Hills; 70 percent of the existing structures in the community have pending demolition orders.

All told, 70 percent of Area C is off-limits for Palestinian construction and another 29 percent is heavily restricted.

Demolition orders can target solid houses, tents or other structures including school, water wells, solar panels, electricity grids and animal shelters. Out of the 622 structures destroyed by Israeli forces, 222 were homes, 170 were animal shelters, two were classrooms and two were mosques.

What can affected communities do against demolition orders?

The Civil Administration first issues a so-called “stop-work order” to the owner of the structure. In the order, the date and place of the hearing and the relevant sub-committee of the Civil Administration is noted. Those affected may raise their objections to the order during the sub-committee hearing, with the theoretical option to acquire a permit retroactively.

After the hearing, the Civil Administration usually issues a final demolition order, against which a new petition is possible. If the court rules in favor of the affected communities, or suggests modifications, the demolition is suspended. Once the court legally backs the demolition, it can be executed.

Guy Inbar, spokesman for the Civil Administration, told IRIN that in the cases of the Susiyah community and firing zone 918: “The court initially told us to wait with the demolition.” As such, neither of these communities has been entirely evacuated following the most recent government plans, although both communities have a long history of demolition end expulsion. But the court also found that building in these areas was illegal, citing previous court rulings prohibiting construction.

Are the demolitions legal under international law?

Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that “any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons, or to the State, or to other public authorities, or to social or cooperative organizations, is prohibited, except where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary by military operations.”

Article 46 of the Hague Convention states that “the lives of persons, and private property, as well as religious convictions and practice, must be respected.”

The Israeli government holds the view that the West Bank is not under occupation, but has the status of “disputed territory”, which limits the applicability of the provisions of International Humanitarian Law.

What responsibility does Israel have towards Palestinians living in structures set to be demolished? 

Ramesh Rajasingham, head of OCHA in oPt, said that Israel as an “occupying power has an obligation to protect Palestinian civilians and to administer the territory in a manner that ensures their welfare and basic needs. The ongoing destruction of civilian homes does not meet that obligation.”

In the case of the Palestinian village of Zanuta, which is built on an Israeli archeological site, the court asked the state to provide alternatives for those living in homes set to be demolished.

According to a report in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “The state representative responded saying that it was not the responsibility of the military authority to find a solution.”

What happens after a demolition is carried out?

Humanitarian organizations often provide emergency shelters for Palestinians whose homes have been destroyed. But even these emergency shelters, if built without permits in Area C, may be considered illegal by the Israeli Civil Administration.

In many cases, such as in firing zone 918, Palestinians reconstruct their homes after demolition. Others might live with family members until finding a new home. A minority among them also have second homes in Areas A or B, the 40 percent of the West Bank under full or partial administration of the Palestinian Authority.

For the residents of the eight villages still designated for demolition in firing zone 918, expulsion is still hard to imagine.

Khalid Jabareen, from one of the villages, told IRIN: “We see in the media how the world lives, how Israelis live. Compared to this, I can say that we don’t live.”

ah/kb/rz/oa  source


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Involve communities specially in informal settlements: A helping hand for the urban poor

Posted by African Press International on September 12, 2012

Involve communities specially in informal settlements

JOHANNESBURG,  – With more than half the world now living in urban centres, city residents’ quality of life, vulnerability to natural hazards and diets are matters of growing importance, drawing significant attention at the World Urban Forum in Naples, Italy, this week.

Two major studies launched to coincide with the Forum explore these issues. Both focus on the role of local governments and community initiatives in shaping sustainable policies for poor urban dwellers:Growing Greener Cities in Africa, a report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO); and the Making Cities Resilient Report 2012, produced by the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) for the UN Office for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR).

Improving urban food production

Food, its production, supply and sale are rarely considered when designing, planning and managing cities, said FAO Assistant Director-General Alexander Müller in a position paper by Food for the Cities, a multidisciplinary initiative started by FAO in 2000. “The perception has been because food is there and one can easily buy it in the supermarkets or along the streets, that food will always be there.” But when prices peaked in 2007/2008, and more than 20 countries faced food price-related riots, this perception began to change.

By the end of this decade, 24 of the world’s 30 fastest-growing cities will be African, noted Modibo Traoré, Assistant Director-General at FAO, in Growing Greener Cities in Africa. “Within 18 years, the urban population of sub-Saharan Africa is projected to reach almost 600 million, twice what it was in 2010. African cities already face enormous problems: More than half of all residents live in overcrowded slums; up to 200 million survive on less than US$2 a day; poor urban children are as likely to be chronically malnourished as poor rural children.”

And as cities expand, so does the length of the rural-urban food supply chain, increasing food losses and negatively affecting safety and quality of food products. Bruce Cogill, from Bioversity International, suggests bridging the gap by encouraging urban dwellers to consume more local and traditional fruits, vegetables and food ingredients.

In fact, Growing Greener Cities in Africa reports that most African cities are already green and growing food. Forty percent of urban residents in sub-Saharan cities are farmers. In the Senegalese capital, Dakar, 7,500 households grow their own vegetables in micro-gardens. In Malawi, 700,000 urban residents practise home gardening to meet their food needs and earn extra income. Low-income city gardeners in Zambia make US$230 a year from sales.

''Most African cities are already green and growing food. Forty percent of urban residents in sub-Saharan cities are farmers''

Yet some of this might not be sustainable, the report points out. “Most gardeners in urban centres have no title to their land; many lose it overnight. Land suitable for horticulture is being taken for housing, industry and infrastructure. To maximize earnings from insecure livelihoods, many gardeners are overusing pesticide and wastewater.”

Sustainability can be improved with planning by the local government and with the involvement of a variety of sectors, said Florence Egal, co-secretary of the Food for the Cities initiative, during a discussion hosted by the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (UNSCN) in Naples.

The FAO report suggested these easy ways to improve urban diets:

– Cities should plan clean, decentralized markets, which will save poor households time and money and offer an alternative to unhealthy street food. A UNSCN statement notes that consumption of processed foods combined with a sedentary lifestyles creates a “perfect storm” for heart diseases, diabetes and certain forms of cancer.

– FAO suggests city authorities facilitate loans for farmers who want to process their produce, form co-operatives, negotiate better prices, and improve the management of their harvests.

– Large areas of land could be zoned for horticulture. For instance, the Rwandan capital, Kigali has reserved 15,000 hectares for agriculture and wetlands. Lagos, Nigeria, has 4,400 hectares of such suitable land.

– Adopt a ‘circular’ approach in urban water management: Treated wastewater is safe and can supply most of the nutrients needed for horticulture.

– Provide access to agricultural extension services. “The increasing use of synthetic pesticides in African market gardens is linked to poor cultivation practices,” noted Growing Greener Cities in Africa.

Preparing for disaster

The urban poor must also be included in cities’ growth plans to better enable cities to absorb and recover from disasters, said the IIED report.

Many of the world’s mega-cities – those with populations exceeding 10 million, are in locations prone to major earthquakes and severe droughts, or are along flood-prone coastlines. The cities’ poorest dwellers live in areas most vulnerable to hazards. Making Cities Resilient finds that wealthier cities are preparing disaster risk reduction plans, constructing infrastructure that can withstand natural disasters and running campaigns to raise awareness about disaster vulnerability. But political will and good leadership can also turn things around for poorer urban centres.

Photo: Salla Himberg/IRIN
Kale seedlings planted in a sack by urban farmers in Mathare, a slum in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi

IIED’s David Satterthwait, the lead author of the Making Cities Resilient report, has five pointers for cities that are vulnerable to disasters but have limited resources:

– City governments must work with inhabitants, especially those in informal settlements, to review hazards that have caused problems in the past. Satterthwaite cited Cuttack, a city in eastern India, where women from Mahila Milan, a federation of women’s collectives, spoke to residents of informal settlements about the risks they faced. The women then turned their findings into digital maps and a geographic information system.

– After discussions with community organizations, identify what needs to be done, how and by whom. If local governments lack the capacity, they can work with grassroots organizations or partners. Satterthwaite found, for instance, that in many places, when local authorities provide water pipes to communities, people manage to install connections to their own households.

– When planning to upgrade homes, infrastructure and services (e.g., piped water, healthcare, emergency services, all-weather roads) start in different communities and review where households may have to be moved. He suggested doing this hand-in-hand with affected communities.

– City governments should see the value of partnerships with the community organizations when designing and managing interventions. “As has happened in many cities in Asia, where there are strong savings groups formed by inhabitants of informal settlements, consider setting up a City Fund to support grassroots initiatives, with the fund co-managed by these savings groups and their federations,” wrote Satterthwaite.

– “Celebrate every successful community initiative,” he noted, adding that members of other communities and local government should visit these initiatives. Representatives of the urban poor should also be encouraged to sit in key government committees.

jk/rz source


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