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Archive for June 28th, 2013

Afro-Cuban All Stars accompanied by the stunning voice of Solveig Kringlebotn, one of Norway’s leading opera singers, delivers magnificent performance at the Arts Festival of North Norway

Posted by African Press International on June 28, 2013

Catching a glimpse of Cuban music in the future, and enjoying the historic lines in the latin rhythms was to the satisfaction of the audience that filled the hall to capacity Friday 28th June 2013 at 18.00 hours Norwegian time, when Afro-Cuban All Stars performed during the  Arts Festival of North Norway. Accompanied by the stunning voice of Solveig Kringlebotn, this was a unique and memorable event!

Listen to Afro-Cuban All Stars concert at the Arts Festival Of North Norway 2013 in AUDIO by clicking on the link below:

www.africanpress.me/ – Afro-Cuban All Stars accompanied by the stunning voice of Solveig Kringlebotn, one of Norway’s foremost opera singers, delivers a magnificent performance at the Arts Festival of North Norway 2013

Afro-Cuban All Stars lay the basis for the hugely successful Buena Vista Social Club, which many will remember from the film and record releases.

Several of the members of Buena Vista made the trip to Harstad and this concert during this season.

Afro-Cuban All Stars consist of the most talented and skilled musicians in Cuban music, but during recent years they have also added new, younger talents to the project, so that the music gives a reliable indication of what Cuban music has to offer in the future.
Solveig Kringlebotn is well-known in Norway as one of Norway’s leading opera singers, but her repertoire stretches far beyond that. This concert wat the Arts Festival of Norway was a good proof!

The Audience at the cultural hall in Harstad got what they expected for their money
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3rd annual Iberoamerican week of International Justice and Human Rights to open in The Hague on 8 July 2013

Posted by African Press International on June 28, 2013

On Monday, 8 July 2013, at 09:00, the 3rd annual Iberoamerican Week of International Justice and Human Rights will kick off with an Opening Ceremony at The Hague University’s main auditorium, with speeches by Ambassador Tiina Intelmann, President of the Assembly of States Parties, and Mr Herman von Hebel, Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC), among others.  

The week of events, organised by the International Criminal Court and the Iberoamerican Institute for Peace, Human Rights and International Justice (IIH), is held annually to bring together students and experts from the Iberoamerican region and practitioners in The Hague. This year’s activities are supported by the Embassies of Argentina, Ecuador and Mexico.

From 8 to 12 July, a number of events and activities will take place throughout The Hague to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experience in the field of international law and human rights. Experts and interested members of the public are welcome to participate.

The week’s activities will conclude on 12 July 2013 with the final round of the ICC Trial Competition 2013 – Spanish version, starting at 09:30 in Courtroom I of the International Criminal Court. The top three universities from the regional competitions will compete on a fictional case in an open session of Court. The competition is open to the public and will also be webstreamed live on the ICC website (www.icc-cpi.int). ICC Trial Competitions play a critical role in galvanising interest in the Court’s work with academic communities and enhancing global respect for international criminal law.

 

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source ICC

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JSO INTERVIEW, with PIUS NYAMORA, PART 1 and 2: Kenyan man’s spirited struggle for democracy and freedom of speech

Posted by African Press International on June 28, 2013

A JSO interview with Pius Nyamora, a Kenyan journalist who, with the help of the US embassy in Kenya, managed to escape from Kenya to the United States during the time Kenyans were struggling for democracy and freedom of speech.

Part 1:

Part 2:

This is a touching story of a man who had it all, lost it all and recovered – but had to live far away from his home country Kenya.

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Malaria-causing mosquitos are increasingly gaining resistance to insecticides

Posted by African Press International on June 28, 2013

Photo: Wikipedia
Malaria-causing mosquitos are increasingly gaining resistance to insecticides

KISUMU,  – A new interactive online mapping tool will help track insecticide resistance (IR) in malaria-causing mosquitoes.

The tool, the IR Mapper, “consolidates reports of insecticide resistance in malaria vectors onto filterable maps to inform vector-control strategies”. Data consolidation for the programme was conducted by the Swiss company Vestergaard Frandsen and a partnership between the Kenya Medical Research Institute and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KEMRI/CDC). The map interface was developed by ESRI Eastern Africa.

The system, which was launched in April, allows users to view new data from tests on insecticide susceptibility and resistance mechanisms, and to retrieve existing published data, including historic information from as far back as 1952. These data can be used to generate tailored maps from 51 countries.

“IR Mapper is a tool used to view results from insecticide studies (WHO susceptibility tests) using malaria mosquitoes collected from sites throughout the world,” Willis Akhlwale, head of disease control at the Kenya’s Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation, told IRIN. “It can also be used to view results from investigations of insecticide-resistance mechanisms (molecular and biochemical assays) in malaria mosquitoes collected from the same or different sites.”

The data on the interactive site is extracted from scientific articles and reports and from IRBase, an existing database dedicated to storing data on the occurrence of insecticide resistance in mosquito populations worldwide.

According to Akhlwale, the tool will help inform policy on malaria vector-control strategies: “Although the site is accessible to all, most users are likely to be decision-makers for mosquito-control strategies and policies, research scientists, and those involved in vector-control product development.”

IR a serious threat

Current malaria-control mechanisms are heavily reliant on insecticide-based interventions. These include indoor residual sprays and the use of long-lasting insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

In 2012, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) launched a strategic planto help fight insecticide resistance in malaria vectors.

WHO estimated that the world might see 26 million more new cases of malaria if insecticide resistance was not adequately dealt with.

According to WHO, insecticide resistance is widespread and is reported in nearly “two-thirds of countries with ongoing malaria transmission. It affects all major vector species and all classes of insecticides.”

WHO’s strategic plan said: “Current monitoring of insecticide resistance is inadequate and inconsistent in most settings in which vector control interventions are used.”

Malaria, a preventable and treatable infectious disease, remains one of the world’s biggest killers. There are an estimated 219 million malaria infections and 660,000 deaths annually; many of the fatalities occur in children under five years old.

ho/ko/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

 

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The unfolding impact of extreme climate variability ‘is just a sample of the catastrophe

Posted by African Press International on June 28, 2013

By Jaspreet Kindra 

A hot meal for the people displaced by floods in India’s Uttarakhand state

JOHANNESBURG,  – The floods in India’s Uttarakhand State, which may have claimed as many as 5,000 lives, were prompted by an unusually high amount of rainfall. The disaster, possibly the largest so far this year, underscores what is at stake in the UN’s upcoming climate talks in Warsaw, Poland.

“We do know that in warmer climate situations, we expect the atmosphere to be able to hold more moisture, and therefore that heavy rainfall events will become more common in the future,” said Andrew Turner, a monsoon expert with the Walker Institute for Climate System Research at the University of Reading.

The extreme event also puts a spotlight on loss and damage caused by climate change and the need for resources for help poor countries adapt – issues to be negotiated at the 19th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which will be held from 11 to 22 November. Discussions on these matters have been moving slowly; some important related issues were not even raised at the recently concluded talks in Bonn.

Harjeet Singh, ActionAid‘s international coordinator for disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation, said the unfolding impact of extreme climate variability “is just a sample of the catastrophe our children will witness if we do not dramatically reduce emissions and prepare to deal with it.”

IRIN has asked experts from NGOs and governments what they would like to see happen in Warsaw and what they believe is realistically possible.

Major deals

The upcoming talks will be considering two major deals: first, a new global regime for 2020 and onwards to curb the emission of harmful greenhouse gases and help poor countries adapt to climate change – this should be ready by the 2015 UN climate talks to be held in Paris – and, second, a pre-2020 deal to reduce emissions.

“The unfolding impact of extreme climate variability ‘is just a sample of the catastrophe our children will witness if we do not dramatically reduce emissions and prepare to deal with it'”

The current legal instrument to reduce harmful emissions, the Kyoto Protocol, has been extended to 2020. But the International Energy Agency warned this monththat the world is not on track to meet its goal of limiting the global rise in temperature to 2 degrees Celsius by the turn of the century. An increase of over 2 degrees would be catastrophic, leading to a rise in sea levels and threatening the existence of small island states and low-lying countries.

The experts IRIN consulted identified three key issues they want to see addressed: Loss and damage, funding for adaptation, and preventing forest loss.

Loss and damage mechanism

When poor countries walked away from the 2012 climate change talks in Doha, it seemed possible that a mechanism addressing climate change-related loss and damage could be formalized in the upcoming Warsaw talks. The mechanism would open the door for poor countries to receive compensation should they experience loss and damage from climate change.

What should happen

Saleemul Huq, lead author of the chapter on adaptation in the fourth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says he would like to see the adoption of the proposed “Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage”. He says countries need not work out the details, but rather they should accept the skeleton of a mechanism in Poland.

This sort of arrangement has worked in the past. A green climate fund was accepted in principle, as were discussions around adaptation, in previous climate change meetings; both these elements were fleshed out in subsequent meetings and have a permanent place in the main negotiation text of the talks.

Joe Aitaro, a negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States representing the Pacific island of Palau, says he would like to see the mechanism agreed upon and operationalized.

What is likely to happen

Aitaro and Huq are pessimistic about the issue moving forward in Warsaw.

But ActionAid’s Singh, Germanwatch’s climate policy advisor Sönke Kreft and Asad Rehman, international climate head at Friends of the Earth, are more hopeful. A stalemate on a procedural issue stalled talks around loss and damage in Bonn, Kreft said, but he expected the issue will find a permanent home under the UNFCCC in Warsaw. At the moment, he said it was unclear where the issue will be placed under the new regime.

Singh says that, despite the glitches in Bonn, “negotiators worked informally to detail out functions and modalities of the international mechanism, which is a step in the right direction.”

Rehman says, it might require Poland, as the host of the talks, to provide “extra political space as necessary to reach the agreement” on the mechanism.

Funding for adaptation

In 2009, developed countries promised to provide US$30 billion by 2012 to help poor countries adapt to climate change. They also promised to provide $100 billion a year from 2020 onwards. Developed countries reported in Doha that they had reached the $30 billion target, but this was disputed by academics and civil society.

What should happen

Rich countries should make clearer commitments about how they intend to scale-up their funding until 2020, said Sven Harmeling, the lead on climate change policy at Germanwatch. Countries should also make a commitment of $150 million to the Adaptation Fund set up under the UNFCCC, he said.

Current amounts pledged by rich countries are considered much lower than what is required. The UNFCCC has estimated that by 2030, poor countries will need between $28 billion and $59 billion a year to adapt. The World Bank thinks between $20 billion and $100 billion should help.

Heavy rains in India – an unusual event
The heavy rainfall which prompted massive floods in Uttarakhand State were caused by an unusual interaction between the westerly jet stream and the monsoon- laden easterly winds, according to Andrew Turner, a climatologist with the Walker Institute for Climate System Research at the University of Reading.

“The jet stream snakes across the northern (and southern) hemisphere and meanders north and south. Sometimes the jet stream gets stuck in one position, and this can cause extreme heat and drought in some regions and heavy rainfall in others,” according to the Walker Institute website.

“This appears to have led to much more intensive rainfall than usual, as it interacts with the moist surface flow from the Indian Ocean,” Turner told IRIN.

A similar situation occurred in Pakistan in 2010, leading to some of the most devastating floods in recent memory. Such events may be increasing in frequency.

The monsoons in India also arrived a month earlier than usual, Turner told IRIN. “In northern India, the states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand had received between three and four times as much rainfall as normal in the 1-22 June period, and Uttarakhand in particular received almost 10 times as much rainfall as normal in the week 13-19 June,” he said.

The Adaptation Fund says that over the past two years, it has given out more than $180 million to increase climate resilience in 28 countries around the world. Two other funds under the UNFCCC – the Least Developed Countries Fund (LDCF) and the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) – recently said they have received a combined $198 million in new pledges, bringing total international commitments to more than $1 billion.

What is likely to happen

Harmeling is pessimistic. He says developed countries are unlikely to make clearer commitments; the global economic downturn has made countries tighten their purse strings.

REDD+

Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) is a UNFCCC programme to prevent the increase of greenhouse gases through deforestation; its successor, REDD+, additionally aims to reverse forest loss. REDD+ is currently designed to provide financial incentives for forest preservation, attaching a monetary value to carbon captured by forests, but questions over funding have stalled its implementation.

Some of the sticking issues have included the rights of indigenous forest communities and the protection of biodiversity, conditions, or “safeguards”, that counties were required to meet to qualify for REDD+ funding. No policies have yet been developed to implement these safeguards. There have also been questions about monitoring and addressing drivers of deforestation and forest degradation, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature. In particular, activists want to know when and how often information will be presented about the safeguards’ implementation.

What should happen

Vera Coelho of Wetlands International says the organization wants both developed and developing countries to report back on actions to reduce deforestation and peatland degradation.

Rosalind Reeve of the REDD+ Safeguards Working Group (R-SWG), an alliance of NGOs, would like more clarity about the safeguards.

What is likely to happen

Reeve says some developments in Bonn were encouraging, as countries were asked to provide “submissions on lessons learned and challenges with developing safeguards’ information systems, since this will enable the improvement of systems.” She said the outcome on the timing and frequency of when information will be provided “to demonstrate that safeguards are being addressed and respected is disappointing.”

Donald Lehr, spokesperson for R-SWG, says the current negotiation text for Warsaw, as” currently formulated, causes a problem for indigenous peoples, since it implies they are causing deforestation and forest degradation as opposed to be being good stewards of the forest whose traditional practices need to be recognized”.

He continued, “Several countries, including the Philippines, Tuvalu and Australia for the Umbrella Group [an informal coalition of non-EU developed countries] expressed concern about the ‘drivers’ language, so we expect that it and text on safeguards reporting will be negotiated further in Warsaw.”

jk/rz source http://www.irinnews.org

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Settling in for the long haul: PTP camp in eastern Liberia, home to 12,000 Ivoirian refugees

Posted by African Press International on June 28, 2013

PTP camp in eastern Liberia, home to 12,000 Ivoirian refugees

ZWEDRU, 25 June 2013 (IRIN) – Though Côte d’Ivoire has officially been at peace for over two years, many of the nearly 60,000 refugees who remain in Liberia are settling in for the long haul, citing continuing instability, violence and fear of political persecution in their home country. Indeed, two years after the end of the conflict, camps like PTP, near Zwedru in eastern Liberia, are still growing.

At 3am on the 21 March 2011 rebel fighters affiliated with the current Ivoirian president, Alassane Ouattara, overran the town of Blolequin in western Côte d’Ivoire. Among the thousands who fled in the early hours of the morning, most with little more than the clothes they were wearing, was Gibao Jerome. His younger brother was killed during the escape as he and his family trekked for two weeks through the forest to become refugees in eastern Liberia. Two years on, they have no intention of returning home.

“This is my house, number B3-1,” said Gibao, gesturing to a small structure of mud, sticks and tarpaulin in the monotonous grid of PTP camp (formerly the Prime Timber Production company). Once a simple white tent provided by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), Gibao’s house is slowly becoming a home. Piles of construction materials lie in a small extension at the front, as he talks of his plans to shore up the building.

The problem, Gibao told IRIN, is that western Côte d’Ivoire remains unsafefor supporters of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo – who awaits trial by the International Criminal Court in the Hague – or anyone from the Guéré ethnic group, among others. He and many other refugees cite post-conflict justice as having been one-sided, and he points out that instead of disarming the rebel forces, many of them (also responsible for atrocities in the west of the country) now effectively form the national army.

“When you go back, they will say “this man voted for Gbagbo’,” said Tahr, another refugee who fled the March 2011 attack on Blolequin. His neighbours chip in with stories of returnees who were imprisoned or killed by `the Burkinabés’, as the alliance of northern pro-Ouattara groups are generically known by the Guéré.

Underlying the animosity is the long-running conflict over land. Post-independence president Félix Houphouët-Boigny, during his three decades in power, promoted a policy of inclusion, encouraging migrant workers to Côte d’Ivoire’s rich cocoa plantations. After his death in 1993, successive regimes have used ethnicity as a political tool, stirring up ethnic rivalries and igniting underlying tensions.

“The Burkinabés have guns, and when they see you they get rid of you to take your land,” said Gibao, whose wife, Victoire, said her farm was taken away from her. Many feel that members of the northern and migrant groups used the conflict to drive away local landowners and take over their properties.

Burkinabés have lived in Côte d’Ivoire for many generations, yet are still treated by many Ivoirians as outsiders. Some 100,000 Burkinabés in Côte d’Ivoire were pushed off their land and fled the post-election violence in 2010-2011.

Looking forward

Repatriations are continuing, but slowly. All that they can hope for, say many of the remaining refugees, is that Ouattara loses the next general election in 2015. With this mindset, the refugee camps in eastern Liberia are slowly morphing into more permanent settlements.

Lisa Quarshie, a UNHCR protection officer, sees PTP camp becoming more entrenched.

“More and more people are daubing their houses with mud, and we’re hoping to be able to get more resources to even give zinc sheeting for the shelters.” UNHCR is also looking to increase efforts to create livelihoods in the camp, while basic services like schools have shifted from cramped tents to smartly painted concrete buildings. The refugees also have access to an on-site health clinic.

Bahi Martine spent two weeks trudging through the forest to get to Liberia. Her brother was shot in the leg as they escaped, and four of those they travelled with were killed. For two weeks – without access to clean water – she made her children drink urine to survive. Now she has invested in a small restaurant at the front of her shelter in PTP camp, serving rice and cassava-leaf sauce to refugees on elaborate bamboo tables and benches.

“I will never return to Côte d’Ivoire,” she said. Another woman has started to make a living selling doughnuts to the refugees; while in a separate camp, UNHCR has supported the creation of a snail farming business. Across eastern Liberia, refugees are putting down roots and investing in their new lives.

“You can’t keep people in limbo,” Quarshie told IRIN. “The least that we can do is to make sure that they have a dignified life here.”

From communities to camps

One of the reasons the camp is growing is due to a Liberian government policy of encouraging refugees living with local communities to move into the camps. Initially, this was to help centralize services given to refugees who were scattered across the remote villages of eastern Liberia.

At the UN office in Zwedru, Quarshie notes that the policy has its downside. “It’s always better to live in communities, in the sense that you integrate faster… If you’re in a community and you’re not getting food from WFP, you’re most likely going to find a piece of land and try and do some farming and feed yourself or your family. If you’re in a camp. you then might become very dependent on food handouts. I think it has its advantages and it has its disadvantages – personal and physical security is better monitored than when you’re in a community,” she said.

Wonsea Norbert is chairman of the Ivoirian refugees living in a mixed refugee and local population in Toe Town, near the border with Côte d’Ivoire. He said the refugees in the town are split on how to proceed. Living without any assistance has been tough, but Norbert says it is still better than moving to a camp.

“We like to work on our own. In the camp you are tied – you cannot work,” he said. Relationships with the local community are cordial. Some Toe Town residents, like Fasu Keita, were themselves hosted during Liberia’s own conflict by the same Ivoirian families now residing in the town – and there is plenty of work to do. But without farming tools and a little seed-rice, they find it impossible to support themselves: the UN has stopped providing support to refugees who opted to stay in local communities.

“They like to work on the farm for themselves,” said Norbert. “But we have had no support. We can’t support ourselves here.” Despite the fear of reprisals in Côte d’Ivoire, some refugees in the town are now going home, preferring insecurity to the restrictions of camp life.

Security concerns

“It was also the issue of security,” said UNHCR’s Quarshie. Amid continuing insecurity along Liberia’s porous border with Côte d’Ivoire, ex-combatants now living in Liberia are seen as a potentially destabilizing force if allowed to roam freely in the settlements near the border.

There are also concerns that the camps themselves, with their politically and ethnically homogenous populations of refugees, and the presence of ex-combatants, could become breeding grounds for anti-government movements. “As much as we are concerned, we do not expect that we have fighters in the camp. We may have ex-combatants. But as the name goes, they are ex-combatants. Yes, it could create problems if it’s not properly managed, but I feel that so far it’s been managed quite well,” said Quarshie.

None of the refugees spoken to by IRIN favoured the overthrow of Ouattara. Rather, with quiet resignation they look to settle into life in Liberia, and cross their fingers for the 2015 elections. “Until they are all gone,” said Gibao “I can never go back.”

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

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