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Archive for July 29th, 2013

Kenya patriotic song in Kiswahili: Tushangilie Kenya by Thomas Wasonga

Posted by African Press International on July 29, 2013

Kenya is a country consisting of 42 different tribes, each tribe with their language, customs,  and traditions. Kiswahili language that unites them is the National language while English is the official language. This is a patriotic song sang in Kiswahili urging the Kenyan populace to put their efforts into loving the country and working for preservation of peace. love and unity for all.

The country has so far had 4 presidents including the present one. The first president was Jomo Kenyatta, followed by Daniel Arap Moi, Mwai Kibaki and now Uhuru Kenyatta being the fourth president. Uhuru is the son of the first president Mzee Jomo Kenyatta.


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Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees costs $500,000 a day to run

Posted by African Press International on July 29, 2013

Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees, seen here in the foreground of Jordanian villages and towns, costs $500,000 a day to run

ZA’ATARI,  – Just on the other side of Jordan’s Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees, now one of the world’s most notorious camps, lies another Za’atari: a poor village inhabited by some 12,000 Jordanians.

“If I were given a tent like this, I would cherish it and protect it,” said villager Hamda Masaeed, while pointing at the ever-growing mass of tents with the logo of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) stretching from the Syrian camp into the heart of the village of Za’atari, from which the camp got its name.

The seventy-year-old lives with two sons and seven grandchildren, also in a tent – but she built hers herself using pipes, blankets and the remains of wheat bags. It is old and tattered; one side was recently burned; and she does not own the land it sits on.

What she does own are three worn-out mattresses, a one-ring stove, and an old fridge that works only when there is electricity. Masaeed siphons electricity from her neighbour for six Jordanian dinars (US$8.50) a month, but if often cuts out.

She and other residents of the village have watched as the Syrian camp has grown over the past year to become home to some 120,000 refugees.

“It is a massive city in the heart of our little village now,” she told IRIN.

According to the social council of the municipality, the village itself has so far taken in 3,000 Syrian refugees.

Refugees do not by any means live lives of luxury: camp life is harsh and unlike the locals, they have had to endure the long journey of displacement and the psychological trauma of losing loved ones.

But only one main road divides the two Za’ataris; and while trucks carry food, blankets, clothes and medicine to Syrian refugees in the camp, the other Za’atari remains “forgotten”.

“Don’t they realize that we need help too?” Masaeed asked.

It is not only donations that pass by Masaeed’s tent, but also international journalists, aid workers, diplomats, and the world’s top officials.

One taxi driver told IRIN he deliberately drives visiting journalists through Za’atari village before dropping them at the camp, to show them that poverty also exists on the other side of the camp.

“People come from all parts of the world to write about the conditions of Syrian refugees, but these people [villagers] are also living in miserable conditions,” said Iyad Salhi, a driver from the capital Amman.

In the village, there is one mosque, two schools, and a small charity – the Za’atari Charitable Society – that “operates occasionally in Ramadan”. Its office doors were shut when IRIN passed by and no one answered the phone.

While complaints about a perceived shortage of water by residents of the Syrian camp have made it to local and international media, residents of the other Za’atari have to beg truck drivers to stop to sell them water. As in many other parts of Jordan, government-supplied water is not regular.

“They drive past us every day. Although we are paying for water, they do not sell it to us. They prefer to [sign contracts with] the camp,” said Mohammad Masaeed, Hamda’s son.

“Some promise us to come back, but they never do,” he added.

Protest in Za’atari village

This month, local media reported that gendarmerie forces quelled a protest by residents of Za’atari village when they went to demand jobs inside the camp.

Hamda Masaeed sits in her makeshift tent in Za’atari village

UNHCR says the local community has benefited, if insufficiently, from the camp economy: some people have been hired as contractors and workers in the camp.

But Nadia Salameh says she was recently laid off from a cleaner’s job at the camp to be replaced by refugees.

“They recruited us on a temporary basis, but then they gave the jobs to Syrians,” she said.

“It is so unfair when they [Syrians] receive everything for free, but we have to pay for food, gas, clothes, and rent,” she told IRIN.

Aid agencies working with poor Jordanians say they struggle to help them now.

“Donors’ attention has been focused on Syrians. They ignored the locals, who have always lived in poverty,” said Abdullah Zubi, programme coordinator at the Hashemite Fund for Human Development. “Keep in mind numbers of needy Jordanian families are increasing.”

He said his organization, a semi-governmental development organization, has been gradually reducing the number of needy families they are helping during Ramadan, when Muslims usually increase their charitable giving.

“We were able to help some 1,800 Jordanian families with packages of food every Ramadan, but as donors have been reducing their donations, we can only help 500 families this year,” he told IRIN.

International aid agencies are increasingly looking to provide assistance to local communities to avoid tensions with Syrian refugees.

UNHCR, through International Relief and Development (IRD), has provided services in the community, including improved public transport facilities and sanitation equipment. UNHCR has also supported the Ministry of Health in providing health services there.

The NGO Mercy Corps has set up community dialogues to try to address social cohesion and peaceful coexistence. It is also implementing a $20 million project – funded by the US Agency for International Development – to improve water delivery in northern Jordan, including Za’atari village.

But the needs are large – the most cited are a waste water network, a new school and better health facilities. Humanitarian agencies responding to the Syrian crisis are already having to prioritize due to rising refugee needs and insufficient funding and aid workers says donor funding for host communities is always hardest to come by.

Sad twist

In a sad twist, some Syrian refugees are now donating to poor Jordanians, or selling them extra food they receive from aid agencies at a discounted price. In Mafraq, the governorate in which the two Za’ataris are located, food blankets, tents, and other items with UNHCR logos are publicly for sale.

That is how Um Saleem, a Jordanian resident of Mafraq, has coped over the last two years, as previous donations from generous Jordanians have slowed.

Um Saleem’s kitchen

IRIN visited her as she was cooking a chicken given her by a Syrian woman living in her neighbourhood. It was the first time she had eaten meat in a month.

When Hajjar Ahmad, a Syrian refugee who lives in Za’atari camp, visited her sister in a village in Mafraq, she was “astonished” how much poverty she saw. She gave her sister extra food and blankets to distribute to Jordanians.

“We are living better than them,” Ahmad said.

aa/ha/cb  source



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Voters faced frustration before the voting day in Mali

Posted by African Press International on July 29, 2013

Photo: IRIN
Timbuktu in northern Mali. (file photo)

BAMAKO,  – Malians voted yesterday on 28 July in the first ever polls since a military coup and an insurgency 16 months ago, but complaints of missing voting cards and worries that the elections are rushed marred the run-up to the ballot.

Some 6.8 million Malians have been registered to vote. Two days to the poll, electoral officials scrambled to issue voting cards amid complaints of disorganization. Other voters nonetheless looked to the elections hoping they will set the country back on the path to recovery.

“Mali has suffered political and military instability these past months,” said Aboubacar Hamidine, a refugee in neighbouring Niger. “I am going to vote to end this instability.”, he said before the voting day.

Forty-year old Hamadikane Maiga, who was also forced to seek refuge in Niger told IRIN: “We hope that these presidential elections will bring lasting peace to our country. This will usher a new era in Mali.”

According to Mariam Sangaré, a teacher in the Malian capital, Bamako, “The top priority for the new president must be the reconciliation between all Malians, because we are divided, south versus north and vice versa.”

While Bamako shop-keeper, Oumar Oulk Mammouny, stressed the economy must come first. “The economy is in pieces. Everything has stopped…the new president has to give us confidence that we’ll be able to eat three times a day.”

Malian authorities have made plans for refugees in next-door Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger to take part in the election. However, only 19,000 registered to vote out of 73,000 refugees of voting age, said the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), which is helping with voting in the camps. The delay in issuing voters cards has affected many within Mali as well.

“I was here two weeks ago. I waited for two hours, before I gave up,” said Mariam Guindo, who had gone to Bamako to pick up her card. “I hope I will have my card today so I don’t have to come back a third time.”

France, which sent troops in January to beat back Islamist militants who threatened to march onto Bamako from Mali’s north, pressed for the vote to be held. Observers have raised concern over the timing of the elections, arguing that while they are important in helping Mali back on its feet, their credibility were as equally critical.

A UN peacekeeping force is currently rolling out in Mali, taking up from African troops who have been in the country for some months, but have largely been off the combat scene.

“Disastrous” process

Tiébilé Dramé, a former minister and chief negotiator between Mali’s interim government and Tuareg rebels, termed the elections preparations “disastrous”. He withdrew from the presidential race after his attempt to have the courts move the election date was rejected.

“Organizing elections without the full participation of the population in the [northern] region of Kidal, and possibly Gao and Timbuktu will only deepen the divide between the north and the south and possibly lead to new rebellions,” he said.

“What other country would accept an imperfect vote. If this is only to have an elected government in Bamako, why not wait two, three months until the situation has stabilized,” said Ousmane Maiga, who was displaced from his home in Mali’s northern Gao region and is now living in Bamako.

Disgruntled troops overthrew then president Amadu Toumani Touré in March 2012 on charges that his government had failed to tackle a Tuareg rebellion in the north. The coup however, eased the way for the Tuaregs to seize swathes of territory before being ousted by Islamist rebels, some linked to Al-Qaeda, who imposed strict Islamic law during their occupation of the northern half of the country.

The violence and insecurity has left more than 175,000 Malians living across the borders and 353,455 others displaced within the country, according to UNHCR.

In Mauritania and Burkina Faso only about five percent of the refugees had received voting cards by voting day.

“We made lists of all refugees who are eligible to vote and sent them Bamako. Out of 4,161 names on our list, the authorities could only identify 932 people,” said UNHCR’s Charlotte Arnaud.

“We were registered in Bamako in 2010 and I should be having my card, but I don’t,” said Ousmane Ag Dalla, the head of Tuareg refugees in Burkina Faso. “Things have been rushed and people are not ready.

“Mali is not ready to hold proper elections, but it’s better to do it because we will never be ready as there are so many problems. We from the north are hoping to have a president so that the underlying problems can be tackled by a legitimate president,” he said before the voting day.

The Malians expect results on Friday, a week after the vote..

kh/bb/bo/ob/aj/oa source



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Norway condemns the use of violence in Egypt

Posted by African Press International on July 29, 2013

Norway condemns the use of violence in Egypt. The transitional government and the army carry a heavy responsibility to stop a downward spiral of violence,” commented Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

Norway is following the situation in Egypt closely and is very concerned about the latest developments. Since the army removed President Morsi from power, Norway has emphasised that the transitional government must ensure that the democratic process is put back on track as soon as possible.

“Political detainees must be released and all political groups must be given a real opportunity to participate in the democratisation of Egypt,” said Mr Eide.

“In these dramatic days for Egypt, we urge all sides to show restraint.”

“The developments over the next days will decide how Norway will view the removal of president Morsi. We are very concerned about the use of force against the protesters. The Army and the transitional government must respect the right of the Egyptian people to demonstrate in support of their views,” said Mr Eide.





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