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Archive for July 28th, 2013

Kenya: Press statement by Nyanza Council of Church Leaders

Posted by African Press International on July 28, 2013

We the Church Leaders in this Region view the turn of event of some other Jubilee Leaders trying to taint the Good Name of our former Prime Minister Raila Amolo Odinga that he wanted to overthrow the Government, those were analogue tactics of old reign to divide the attention of people of Kenya, Former Prime Minister  has done a lot in this Country  and he is a man of Peace all along.

We want Jubilee Government to fulfill their pledges they made to Kenyans during their campaign.

Beside that, he was the Co-Principal with the Former President H.E. Hon. Mwai Kibaki.  He should be given same treatment as the Former Head of State.

Now we are appealing to Jubilee Government, to accord him respect he deserve as the Former Prime Minister, and the six Government Vehicles should remain in his custody. By History, Kenyan people are more free because of the suffering of His Father and Himself, by steering freedom of speech and devolution, that now created County Governments.

We want a united Kenya, not confusion and suspicion among the leadership of this Country.

Let Government to give maximum Security to Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the Former Vice President Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka for the great work they have done and maintaining peace in Kenya.

The Government Spokes Person Muthui Kariuki should not speak with a lot of bitterness while trying to address issues of Government. He should not be too personal.

God bless Kenya.

Signed on behalf of Nyanza Bishops By:

Bishop Dr. Washington Ogonyo Ngede


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USA: Angered Kickboxing Champion in a Brawl Over Raila Odinga-led CORD Governors Visiting Memphis

Posted by African Press International on July 28, 2013

—–Main mrssage—–
From: Anthony Elmore []
Sent: 28. july 2013 16:56
To: ‘African Press International’ and many others
copy: many
subject: Kenyan Governor visit cause Bickering in Memphis, Tennessee


Dear African Press International

How are you?  It has been a while since we last communicated.  We are still working at developing the “Safari Initiative.”  I was in Kenya in May of 2013.  On July 29, 2013 4 Kenyan governors will visit Memphis, Tennessee.  The Governors visit is a direct result of our “Safari Initiative” proposal.  A group of Kenyan appropriated our ideas in regards of the “Safari Initiative” and put those ideas in the banner of the “Ramogi Economic Forum.”  In our age of “Social Media” it is not good to steal ideas or mislead or misdirect others. 

Kenya Governors will be in Memphis tomorrow on July 29, 2013.  They are not coming to Memphis with “Clean hands.”  The backstabbing, political bickering that you have in Kenya is quite different in America.  Before they even arrive in Memphis they backstabbed me, defaulted on an agreement and they are political in nature.  This group has cause fights in Memphis before they make the 1st speech in Memphis.

Please read my News Release. We wrote a letter to the Kenyan Embassy in America and this nonsense will reach the Kenyan President.

Mr. Thomas Mwangi will you please forward our News Release to the Kenyan Press


Here below is a press release – in full – sent out to the media by the Kickboxer Mr Elmore who is critical about the visit accusing those who organised the trip to Memphis: Kickbox Champ in Brawl Over Kenya Governors Visit to Memphis



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The Killing of Seven UN Peacekeeping Personnel in Darfur

Posted by African Press International on July 28, 2013

African Press International (API)

All evidence to date strongly suggests that the armed force responsible for the killing of seven Tanzanian members of the UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is a Khartoum-allied militia force led by Hamouda Bashir (seventeen peacekeeping personnel were wounded, some very seriously).  Radio Dabanga reports today (July 18, 2013), on the basis of a series of interviews with witnesses on the ground, the following (all emphases have been added; there are a few very small edits for clarity, chiefly punctuation):


• The UN says the identity of the armed group that ambushed a UNAMID patrol in South Darfur on Saturday morning “has not yet been established”; however, witnesses have told Radio Dabanga that “UN vehicles” were spotted in the area being driven by members of a known government militia.

• During his daily press briefing in New York on…

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The Syrians fleeing creating refugee problem in northern Iraq

Posted by African Press International on July 28, 2013

ERBIL,  – On an empty plot of land in northern Iraq next to a beauty salon and opposite a hotel on Erbil’s busy Shoresh Street, Mohammed Hassan sits on a patch of crumpled purple carpet with his wife and their two-year-old son.

Above their heads is a sloping roof of cardboard and blankets, draped over sticks. It offers scant shade from the searing midday sun and their faces are flushed.

Gesturing to a pair of metal crutches on the floor, 24-year-old Hassan peels back his left trouser leg to reveal a reddened, scarred stump.

“I was hit by a bomb in Aleppo,” he said, matter-of-factly. “I had the amputation surgery there and then we decided to leave to come to Iraq. There was nothing left and too much violence.”

Hassan, who travelled with his brother and family in a group of 11, has joined 153,000 Syrians who have fled across the border to the northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region of Iraq.

Many have settled at Domiz Camp, around 60km from the border.

But beyond the gates of Domiz, there are an estimated 100,000 Syrian refugees living in towns and cities, around one third of whom live in the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil.

More than two years into the Syrian crisis, the cost of rent in Erbil is soaring due to demand from both refugees and expatriate oil workers, and savings and job opportunities are dwindling. As a result, some refugees are being pushed out onto the streets – creating an urban refugee problem that aid agencies warn needs an urgent response before it gets out of hand.

Overcrowded camp

Close to the city of Duhok, Domiz Camp was initially planned for 25,000 people but is now home to more than 60,000, testing sanitation and other services to the limit.

Due to the overcrowded conditions at Domiz, even those in the most desperate conditions in Erbil say they do not want to go back to the camp.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in some ways enables this by offering its Syrian refugees renewable six-month work and residency permits. This gives the new arrivals permission to work, access to public health care and education, and freedom of movement, so they are legally allowed to settle in regular communities.

Many of the Syrians arriving in Kurdistan are professionals and most have found work, enabling them to pay for accommodation, or they have found lodgings with friends and family.

Begging for scraps

But according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), in Erbil alone there are around 650 families living rough in partly-constructed buildings and makeshift shelters. Many more are sharing rooms in small apartments, bed-hopping between shifts.

“We have people living in unfinished houses, with no doors, walls, windows or roofs, and sometimes there are three families in each room,” explained Wiyra Jawhar Ahmed, the manager of the Protection Assistance Reintegration Centre (PARC) in Erbil, run by Swedish NGO Qandil, but mainly funded by UNHCR.

“They are collecting rotten food from outside shops and begging at restaurants for scraps. They are also being in some cases exploited by people here who are giving them work but for very low wages,” he added.

Hassan’s brother, whose wife and five children occupy a similar stick and blanket shelter 100m away, has found work on a construction site. But Hassan, who was also a labourer in Syria, says he cannot work because of his leg.

For now he is relying on charity from host communities, who on the whole have responded generously to TV and radio campaigns by supporting the refugees with food and bedding.

A KRG official acknowledged that some of the urban refugees may have been equally vulnerable in Syria, but he said they still had the same right to assistance as other refugees.

Stop-gap solutions

A new refugee camp was supposed to have opened just outside Erbil in May to accommodate people like Hassan and his family, but funding and planning bottlenecks mean it is not likely to be ready until September.

In the meantime, UNHCR, in conjunction with Qandil, is compiling a database of the most vulnerable urban refugees to whom one-time cash payments of US$225 (paid in two separate installments) are being made available.

So far, of the 250 Erbil refugee families classified as “extremely vulnerable”, due to physical disability, chronic illness and other problems, 156 have received money to help pay for healthcare and other basic needs.

Acknowledging this is only a temporary stop-gap, Qandil’s Ahmed told IRIN: “It is critical that we get these families into a camp as soon as possible so we can provide them with food, shelter and health care.”

He added: “We already have other groups of internally displaced persons (IDPs) here, many from the disputed Nineveh Province, and there are growing tensions with people begging.”

Oil-rich Kurdistan?

Rizgar Mustafa, mayor of Khabat, the district where the new camp will be located, blamed a lack of money for the delayed opening. He said the central government of Iraq in Baghdad had failed to support KRG and that international donor funding had also been slow to arrive.

“There is an assumption that Kurdistan is rich in oil and therefore rich in resources so we can provide for the refugees ourselves,” he sighed.

Kurdistan’s economy is booming, thanks to a raft of new oil discoveries and a rush of foreign investment, but the oil industry itself is yet to earn money for KRG, amid a long-running dispute about revenue rights with the central government in Baghdad. Kurdistan’s current oil production – around 200,000 barrels per day – is one tenth of Nigeria’s.

As such, Khabat said, KRG needs donor funding like any other country dealing with the spillover of the Syrian crisis: “The voice of our government is not as strong as that of Turkey and other established states and we have not received the same response as other places,” he said.

As of 22 July, the aid operation in Iraq had received 22 percent of needed funding, compared to 22 percent in Egypt, 25 percent in Turkey, 36 percent in Lebanon and 45 percent in Jordan, according to the latest funding update.

Strategic approach

But funding is just one part of the picture. Both KRG and UNHCR have come in for criticism for how they have responded to Iraq’s urban refugees.

In a report published last month, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) warned that while Iraqi Kurdistan started with a “positive, durable approach” to protect and integrate Syrian refugees, the lack of funding and political and technical support was “presenting substantial economic and social challenges”.

Sara Eliasi, a protection and advocacy adviser with NRC, told IRIN: “The government was very willing to receive these refugees but they didn’t necessarily envisage or understand the implications and the commitment that it would imply.

“They didn’t prepare and they didn’t plan for it and unfortunately the international community and international NGOs did not come in and fill that gap and provide a strategic approach.”

Prioritizing urban refugees

One UNHCR staff member admitted privately: “Urban refugees were not seen as a priority, even though they numbered far more than those in camps, but now we are all working together on a new strategy going forward to address the issues.”

Aurvasi Patel, acting head of UNHCR’s North of Iraq office, said: “In consultation with the Kurdish authorities, we implemented a joint response to the refugees living in camps as a strategic priority…

“However, in recognition of the fact that the needs get bigger and that the non-camp refugees were as vulnerable as those living in camps, we started to proportionally direct assistance to ensure an equal response.”

Border closures

Since mid-May, according to UNHCR, the main river crossing point into Iraqi Kurdistan at Peshkapor has been largely restricted.

Dindar Zebari, a senior KRG Foreign Ministry representative, denied the unofficial crossing was totally closed but admitted security had been enhanced.

“There must be clear evidence; those who are crossing the border are very much in need of protection and support,” he said.

Al-Qa’im border crossing, controlled by the central government based in Baghdad, has been closed for months.

The closures have sparked outrage from rights groups but officials at Domiz camp have quietly welcomed the time to catch up with camp extension plans that had been constantly on the back foot due to the sheer volume of daily arrivals.

The new camp, known as Dara Shakran, is about 30 minutes’ drive north of Erbil and will have an initial capacity of around 10,000, though the final details are still being worked out.

Mayor Mustafa insisted the camp will have no fences and is aimed at providing basic services, not containing the refugees. But some urban refugees may want to stay put.

Community workers have warned this may test the patience of host communities that are increasingly unhappy about the rise in begging and other harmful coping responses such as sex work.

Hassan’s sister-in-law, Sharda, a mother of five with the youngest just three months, told IRIN: “If my husband has work here in Erbil, then I won’t go to the camp.”

lr/ha/cb source

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On guard: Cholera down but officials vigilant

Posted by African Press International on July 28, 2013

DAKAR,  – Some 1,700 people in West Africa have contracted cholera since mid-June, a significant decline compared to the same seven-week period in 2012 when 11,834 were affected.

Overall, 50,439 people contracted cholera in West and Central Africa in 2012, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Sierra Leone and Guinea saw 30,000 people infected and 400 deaths.

This year, most of the cases are in Guinea Bissau (652), Sierra Leone (367) and Niger (354).

“It seems we are winning the fight thus far, but we must strictly monitor the West African coastal countries [Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone] since they were so affected by cholera last year,” said François Bellet, West Africa cholera focal point for UNICEF.

Cholera often follows two-year cycles, with immunity building following an epidemic.

In Guinea-Bissau between 11 March and 8 July, 158 cases were confirmed and 18 people died of cholera. Despite fatality rates of 11 percent, Guinea’s health minister declared on 11 July “there is no scientific evidence about a cholera outbreak.”

In Mali, where no new cases have been reported in the past five weeks, the government and aid agencies launched aggressive prevention actions when cholera broke out across the border in Niger.

Guinean health officials have worked with Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) and UNICEF to vaccinate 3,740 people in the Mènyingbé Islands, near Conakry, to prevent cholera from spreading. Last year MSF launched the vaccine in Guinea for the first time. Guinea has registered 115 cases and seven deaths since 19 March.

The cholera caseload may be higher than reported, said Bellet. “Some deaths are not reported in order to avoid high fatality rates or for political reasons. But if they’re not identified, we can’t provide adequate response,” he told IRIN.

Further, the caseload usually peaks towards the end of the rainy season (in September) so health workers must remain alert, said Bruno Ngandu Kazadi, information focal point for cholera for the West Africa office of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). “If rains are as strong as in 2012, we risk similar outbreak spikes,” he said.

Correctly diagnosing transmission contexts, reinforcing risk reduction strategies in the most affected zones, national planning, and promoting an intersectoral approach are also essential for prevention and treatment, say aid agencies and health officials.

cr/aj/cb source

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