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Archive for October 26th, 2012

ICC Judges throws out appeal: Ex-Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo to remain in detention

Posted by African Press International on October 26, 2012

  • Report by AFRICAN PRESS INTERNATIONAL at The Hague, Netherlands, 26th. October 2012:
Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, 2007

Former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo,

The International Criminal Court has today Friday rejected Laurent Gbagbo‘s appeal against his detention while waiting for trial for crimes against humanity committed in Ivory Coast while he was the president..

Judge Sanji Mmasenono Monageng, in his reaction to the appeal said “It is appropriate to confirm the impugned decision as it was not affected by any error.” The judge was reacting to Gbagbo’s arguments against the initial ruling whereby the Pre-trial chamber in July decided to keep him in detention, even as he claimed his health was deteriorating.

The  67-yer old Gbagbo through his lawyers had filed an appeal on May 1 requesting “interim release” while awaiting trial. He was arrested in his country by his opponents with the help of France and transferred to the ICC, in The Hague in November last year 2011.

He wanted to cause the ICC judges to release him claiming he was of poor health. He told the court he wanted to be out of the prison in order to prepare himself well for his upcoming trial.

He will now remain in custody until his trial date. He faces four counts of crimes against humanity:, – murder, persecution, rape, and other inhumane acts. All these stems from election violence after Gbagbo lost Ivory Coast’s presidential elections in November 2010.

The ICC judges fear if released as he has requested, he will abscond,  with the help of his followers who have since regrouped after he lost power.


>>>>* AFRICAN PRESS will bring you a full interview with Mr Gbagbo next week!


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Children are exposed to cold weather in a makeshift settlement in Kabul

Posted by African Press International on October 26, 2012

Children are exposed to cold weather in a makeshift settlement in Kabul

KABUL, 25 October 2012 (IRIN) – After last year’s Afghan winter – the harshest in 15 years – killed dozens of displaced children in urban settlements, government and aid agencies in Afghanistan are preparing themselves for the coming winter.
As of 30 September 2012, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported 445,856 persons internally displaced due to conflict. Many of these live in informal settlements in and around Kabul, but their numbers can be hard to track.
The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is compiling data on the size of the settlements, where the deaths occurred, to scale up its winter assistance stocks accordingly, the deputy head of the Afghanistan office, Arnhild Spence, told IRIN.
The Afghan National Disaster Management Authority is in the process of collecting and consolidating data on preparedness measures which the various line ministries are undertaking in the provinces.
Natural hazards (from floods, to droughts to avalanches) are recurrent in Afghanistan, making the poorest Afghans – not only residents of informal urban settlements, but also those in mountainous, avalanche-prone areas of the northeast, central highlands and east – even more vulnerable.
The government has transferred 90 million Afghanis (US$1.6 million) to each of the country’s 34 provinces to deal with the possible emergency situation during the winter, according to Afghanistan Humanitarian Country Team winterization preparedness status update on 22 October 2012.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in coordination with the Afghan authorities and other aid agencies, is planning to distribute blankets, plastic sheets, charcoal, and warm clothes to 240,000 people in less-accessible rural areas where internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees who have returned from Pakistan and Iran are living in difficult conditions in isolated remote communities, according to spokesperson Mohammad Nader Farhad.
The Afghan Red Crescent Society is establishing four disaster response units, with about 3,300 volunteers assigned, to provide assistance during winter emergencies.
As the 2012-13 cold season begins, OCHA says 13 provinces are at a high or very high risk of an extreme winter.
Still, Spence said, “we are expecting a slightly less harsh winter than last year in Afghanistan, which was exceptionally cold.”
“Preventable tragedy”
In an open letter on 18 October, a coalition of 30 NGOs, including Amnesty International, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief called for urgent assistance for vulnerable displaced people, pointing to the death last year of at least 100 people – mostly children – in Kabul’s settlements alone.
“What happened last year was a preventable tragedy, and should act as a sharp reminder that emergency assistance must be provided immediately, before the winter arrives,” said Polly Truscott, deputy director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme.

On 22 October, the national IDP task force, which brings together government and aid partners, met in Kabul to discuss among other things preparations for winter assistance for the displaced. Another coordination forum, the Kabul Informal Settlement Task Force, has agreed to meet every month from now throughout the winter to better respond to the needs of the displaced.
Thanks to increasing acceptance by donors that a response is needed to the plight of urban IDPs, and thanks also to the work of aid agencies, the condition of IDPs has slightly improved compared to two years ago, Nassim Majidi, co-director of Samuel Hall Consulting, a research and consulting organization based in Kabul, told IRIN. But she said their housing – mud homes and tents – was still not adapted to Kabul’s harsh winter conditions. Accusations that community leaders are not distributing relief items properly have not helped, she added.

“Families are naturally very worried about the upcoming winter.”
The Ministry of Refugees and Repatriations is drafting a national IDP policy, planned to be released in March 2013. Aid agencies say it is an important step in acknowledging the scope of the IDP problem and expanding attention beyond Kabul and its informal urban settlements to the needs of IDPs nationwide. Amnesty says what is needed now is urgent action. “We urge the Government of Afghanistan, international donors and relevant humanitarian organisations to immediately launch a winter assistance campaign to help ensure adequate planning and preparedness to safeguard the lives of hundreds of thousands of IDPs across Afghanistan over the next few critical months,” the open letter said.




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Town clerk under siege – Kisumu, Kenya

Posted by African Press International on October 26, 2012


Kisumu Town Clerk Christopher Rosana is a man under siege. Demoralised Council workers are accusing him of being arrogant,a fault finder, egocentric  who hardly consults with his Chief Officers. Rosana who was fished from a tiny Kehancha council late last year is also being accused by his Chief Officers for usurping their roles thus stalling almost the Fourteen key Departments. “How dare is this man to operate this Council without proper Council resolutions”, a councillor from one of the slam areas quipped to the press.

They are bitter with the Clerk for recently going on an employment spree where he recently employed his own brother Kennedy Odhiambo Rosana without laid down procedures not even an interview was conducted.Besieged Clerk is also being accused for dishing out Council plots to wealthy individuals without a single Council resolution. They singled out  Kisumu Social Hall Parking as an example. Mush rooming of Kiosks all over the town is also attributed to him they alleged.On the arbitrary usurping of Chief Officers roles theyre alleging that town development generally has stalled due to stringent and draconian approach he has put in place.

For instance he has taken upon himself to solely approve any building plans which should be the work of Town Planner and Town Engineer to the chagrin of potential investors and residents. “If we are lying let him show you what he has done to encourage both local and foreign investors since he came to the throne”the workers who talked on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals said. Rosana is also alleged to be behind dishing a public utility-Kisumu Social Hall Parking to a Nakuru Tycoon without Council approval. The fencing of the plot was early this week pulled down by bitter residents.

The travel happy Clerk who is hardly found in the office is also facing further protests from workers who are accusing him of personal vendetta. Early this week the temperamental Rosana suspended an employee for selling his plots to his would be “customer” It all started when the Clerk went for an outing in one of the Night Clubs in Kisumu owned by his native from Migori.

Stung by financial demands he approached the man that he had plots to sale at affordable rates.Suddly the native waved to him two copies of plots which the junior Council Officer Mr Samwel Orimba Hongo  had sold to him to his chagrin. In an apparent vengeance towards the junior Officer coupled with lust for cash, Rosana the following day immediately suspended him via letter Ref MCK-TC-PF-3259 Dated 22 Oct 2012. The letter read in part, some times between the month of July and September this year you forged letters of offer for plots No A-70-10 and A-70-11 both in Kanyakwar to your self and one for Ms Agnes Adhiambo and the said letters bore fake signature of S. O Owande – the former Deputy Town Clerk.

But according to beleaguered Orimba he was a beneficiary of two plots just like any other Council employee where he balloted and paid the rates as required. “What crime have i committed to dish out my plots to help me offset my financial woos”, said the suspended Orimba.Interestingly Owande whose signature appears controversial said that he’s the one who sanctioned the same. Its imperative to note that Orimba is one of the suspects who recorded statements with the Kisumu Police last year that they were plotting to harm Rosana but they amicably settled the matter ultimately.

Owing to the foregoing, its apparent that no meaningful project will take off including the multi Billion Kisumu urban project and workers morale is also said to be at its lowest ebb. Hasty refurbishment  in town where staggering millions are siphoned like the one facing the Council Hall is also raising eyebrows. Cronies of high ranked Chief Officers are religiously given jobs routinely without laid down procedures. The Town Clerk could not be reached for comment, he’s said to be away in South Africa by the time of going to press.



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Posted by African Press International on October 26, 2012

BY MAURICE ALAL, reporting from Kisumu Kenya - Kisumu county chiefs fight for their rights

Over 200 Chiefs and Assistant chiefs of Kisumu County took to the street of Kisumu City protesting to petition the government on their fate of work under the new Constitution.

“We want to know our job security from President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga who were the team leaders during the referendum campaigns”, said the chiefs.

Lead by  the Chairman of Kisumu County Chiefs ,Senior chief Mr. Peter Akeyo Nyambok claimed that the fate of provincial administration is yet to be restructured but the government have not declare whether the local chiefs will retain their jobs or not.

According to the new constitution, the law indicate that the “Provincial Administration system will be restructured”. This, however have not been clearly explained in the constitution whether the local administration system will be abolished or not.

“We were convinced and cheated by politicians during the referendum to mobilize the public to vote for the new constitution promising that our work will be safe,” said Nyambok.

The chiefs threatened to join national strike if the government fails to assure them of their work under the new constitution. “We demand the National Administration and Coordination Bill of 2012 be amended in parliament within 14 days,” they argued.

Nyambok said the provincial administration system should remain in the National Government to facilitate and coordinate effective work in the 47 counties.

“It is the chiefs who enable service delivery to reach residents up to the village level,” they argued adding that if the system is abolished then ordinary people especially the physically challenged persons will be marginalized.

The chiefs challenged politicians to desist from discussing provincial administration issues in public rallies and funeral gatherings to gain mileage but urged them to amend the issues in parliament.

“We are aware that the public overwhelmingly supported the retention of the local administration for effective service delivery,” said the chiefs.

Nyambok further accused some members of committee of experts who have fixed negative opinion on the roles of provincial administration terming it bad taste on the line of their duty and department.

“Our detractors should know that we are also voters and have direct link with the Kenyan votes,” he said, adding that members of the public should be left to decide on their fate than few individuals with vested interest.

However, the Secretary General of Kenya Civil Servant Union, Kisumu County Mr. David Osodo said the union is fully behind the chiefs in demand to know their fate of work in the new dispensation.

Osodo said the government should come out clearly and address the plight of the Provincial Administration instead of giving conflicting statements over the matter.

“Let the government prepare for nationwide strike if the provincial administration issue is not well addressed before the end of strike notice issued,” Osodo reiterated.





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Fifty shades of aid – love in the field

Posted by African Press International on October 26, 2012

Love on location

DUBAI, – If there is one topic that gets humanitarians and other aid workers talking – apart from the obvious discussions about capacity-building and food aid – it is the challenge of finding a prospective partner in the field.
In the last 20 years aid work has become more dangerous, and security restrictions have made it harder for aid workers to meet their significant other.
“You are sitting in a compound; every day you see the same people – working together, living together with the same 10-15 people. Of course, that influences the chances to find a partner in very negative ways,” Lala Ahmadova, staff counsellor at the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told IRIN.
“Aid work always looks very glamorous from the outside. Everybody expects that they will meet somebody amazing like the French MSF [Médecins Sans Frontières] doctor with whom they will have these wonderful romance travels around the world,” said Julia*, an aid worker who just left Haiti after a lengthy tour of duty and is ready to start a stable relationship. “Occasionally that happens, but looking at my colleagues in the business, many are feeling isolated and torn apart. These are the much more likely stories.”
While there might be reason enough to date an aid worker – the popular blog WhyDev lists the most obvious (your partner will never make you listen to Bono – after all, what does he know about aid?) – the aid worker life makes it difficult to maintain a relationship.
In countries like Afghanistan, where life is restricted to guarded compounds, a new face – potential dating-material – is always noticed quickly.
“The problem is the choice. Sometimes you don’t get what you want. I have a female colleague arriving soon; could this work?” asked Giaco*, an Italian in northern Afghanistan.
Security considerations do not only affect the chances of meeting someone: “If you are aid workers in Gaza, want to spend the night together and do not live in the same house, you will have to check in with security so that they know where you are. A bit of an odd moment,” said John*, a UN worker in the occupied Palestinian territory.
There is always the option of “going local”, but that can raise an additional set of problems around the dynamics of class and race, and issues of exploitation.
Humanitarian Dating
Robert Simpson started the dating portal “Humanitarian Dating” as a spoof on his satirical blog, but soon realized there was a real need. In 2007 the website went online and has since attracted thousands of people looking for soulmates.
The authors of the book Emergency Sex, a tale of three UN staffers in peacekeeping missions, and read by many an aid worker, describe the heightened need for human intimacy that many people feel when facing stressful situations in the field. Rebecca,* who spent eight of the last 10 years in the field and currently works in Afghanistan, knows it quite well:
“I have started a lot of relationships in the field that I only realize in retrospect probably wouldn’t happened under “normal” circumstances. I’ve been convinced that we would get married and have babies. But then it only takes one or both people leaving the environment… to realize that it’s not really a great match. In the field we tend to be more lonely and feel more outcast, and we grab onto things faster than we would otherwise.”

''Everybody expects that they will meet somebody amazing like the French MSF doctor.''

She terms these unlikely pairings “locationships”, as they are tied to a specific place in the field, where it is often just their common experience which keeps couples together.
“The life that we are having here is quite artificial. Maybe that is why people, when leaving from here, they want to detach themselves as much as possible,” said Ahmadova.
Even under the best of circumstances dating fellow aid workers creates additional problems – beyond dealing with the gossip that can happen in small, closed expatriate communities.
“You are quickly confronted with serious decisions,” John said. “It leads you to come together more quickly, but it also shows the limitations more quickly. One of us is leaving. So does it end here? Should one quit his job? Are we moving together?”
Constantly changing duty stations is not easy, and finding an appropriate job for your partner is not always possible. Often one partner has to put the career on hold.
“Times are changing. You see that with diplomats as with aid workers. Twenty years ago your wife would follow you. You still have such cases but less and less,” said John.
Skype doesn’t help
Modern communication can sometimes make up for a partner not coming along, said Martin Knops, staff counsellor at Oxfam GB. But it is “no real substitute for sharing your daily lives,” Ahmadova remarked. And often aid workers seem to feel that it is better to find a partner who is in a completely different profession.
According to Ahmadova, many aid workers give up and leave the profession. Julia stayed with her organization, but just moved back to her country because she felt there was no chance of meeting a partner in the field and making a family.
“Relationships I had in the field were with people who are just too much like me,” Julia told IRIN. “My partner now is in a very different field of work and I really, really like that. We cover things from a different perspective. We always have things to talk about. We haven’t talked about work at all, it’s just fantastic.”
Deciding to have children is especially difficult in the field. Aid workers are often hired for a limited period to complete a specific project. Long maternity/paternity leave or part-time work is difficult to organize. John believes that sooner or later men face the same problems as women.
“I see the women who have stayed in the field for too long and then realize that it is too late to have children or find a partner. Men can keep it off a bit longer but at the end of the day they will also have to make some life decisions.”
And while many aid workers look for a stable relationship with a partner who might accompany them around the world, others do not want that kind of stability. Does the job change the person, or is the person drawn to the job because of his attitude?
Many aid workers might be caught between the two extremes, idealizing the one they currently do not have.
“I get jealous of my friends who went into some kind of boring industry,” Rebecca said. But in her last relationship outside the aid field, “in the end I bailed [out] because if I stuck around, then I would probably resent the guy and blame him for giving up all these adventures – that I hate to love and love to hate – for a suburban life probably on a shitty cul-de-sac in small town America. That thought was unbearable.”
*not a real name



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