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Archive for October 5th, 2013

The dangers faced by immigrants are many

Posted by African Press International on October 5, 2013

The dangers faced by migrants such as these, near the Italian island of Lampedusa, were highlighted by the deaths on 4 October of more than 100 people when their boat capsized barely a kilometer from the island (file photo)

NEW YORK,  – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened a High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development at the UN General Assembly on Thursday by outlining an eight-point agenda to “make migration work” for the world’s 232 million migrants, as well as their countries of origin and destination.

The meeting brings together migration experts and delegates from 150 countries to discuss ways to support the developmental benefits of international migration while reducing its economic and social costs.

Ban described migration as “a fundamental part of our globalized world” and “an expression of the human aspiration for dignity, safety and a better future”. His eight-point agenda included ending the exploitation of migrants, addressing the plight of stranded migrants, improving public perceptions of migrants and protecting their human rights.

The opening of the meeting coincided with news that more than 100 migrants had lost their lives after the boat they were travelling on caught fire and sank just off the coast of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa. The boat was carrying an estimated 500 passengers, many of them believed to be Eritreans, from Libya. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that 150 migrants had so far been rescued, leaving some 250 of the passengers still missing. Earlier this week, another 13 migrants drowned while trying to reach Sicily. UNHCR estimates that in 2011 alone, 1,500 migrants died trying to reach Europe from Libya.

Ban and several other speakers at the meeting referred to the latest tragedy as further evidence of the need to commit to addressing the challenges arising from migration, particularly as the political climate in many countries remains hostile to migrants.

Research needed

“Too often, migrants live in fear,” Ban told delegates. “We need to create more channels for safe and orderly migration.”

Ian Goldin, professor of globalization and development at Oxford University, referred to the meeting as “a ray of light… in what is otherwise an extremely cloudy environment for migration and development.”

Goldin cited a World Bank study that found that changes in national migration policies that increase the flow of migrants even minimally bring significant economic benefits to sending and receiving countries, in addition to transforming the lives of individual migrants and their families.

Photo: IOM
Syrian refugees on a flight to Germany

But both Goldin and Ban, in his list of recommendations, highlighted the need to strengthen the evidence-base on the positive benefits of migration as one way to combat the political rhetoric that fuels negative perceptions of migrants.

“Migrants contribute greatly to host societies…They are doctors, nurses and domestic workers and often the unheralded heart of many service industries,” said Ban. “Yet far too often they are viewed negatively. Too many politicians seek electoral advantage by demonizing migrants.”

Fuelling development

Much of the discussion on the first day of the meeting made a case for incorporating migration into whatever new set of goals replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which are due to expire in 2015.

One compelling reason why migration matters for development is the estimated US$550 billion that migrants remit to their families back home annually, according to the World Bank. The figure is more than three times higher than global aid budgets but could be larger still if transaction fees, which are often exorbitant, were lowered.

However, at a side meeting devoted to how to incorporate migration into the post-2015 agenda, speakers warned against framing migration and development as a purely economic issue.

“Migrants are not just commodities or conduits for financial remittances,” said the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. “We must look beyond the dollar value of global remittance flows and pay more attention to the conditions in which this money is being earned. Development won’t work where it’s accompanied by inequality, injustice and repression.”

While there is a greater understanding of the role migration plays in contributing to development now than in 2000, when the original MDGs were formulated, several speakers also pointed out that many people still view migration as a threat rather than a boon to development.

“From a political point of view, it’s a very hard sell,” said a delegate from the Bahamas. “What do you do when people feel the economy is being under-cut and their identity swamped?”

The migration community has come late to the debate over the post-2015 development agenda, and there is unlikely to be a stand-alone goal associated with migration. Deputy Director General of the International Organization for Migration Laura Thompson advocated instead for trying to incorporate migration and the rights of migrants into a series of existing goals. “This would reflect the reality of migration as a cross-cutting issue,” she said.

ks/rz source


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Nigeria: Boko Haram – like the Al Shabaab target innocent people

Posted by African Press International on October 5, 2013

School destruction in the wake of Boko Haram attack

KANO, 4 October 2013 (IRIN) – Thousands of students and teachers across northern Nigeria have been forced to abandon their schools due to increasingly brazen attacks by radical Islamist group Boko Haram (BH), officials say.

In the latest school attack, on 29 September, BH gunmen on four-wheel-drive vehicles and motorbikes stormed student dormitories at a college of agriculture in the town of Gujba, in the northern Yobe State, opening fire on sleeping students and killing 40, according to police and government officials.

“They just opened fire indiscriminately on students in their hostels. They all wore army uniforms and were heavily armed. One of them stood by the door, shooting at students who made for the door to escape,” Musa Bade, who works at the college, told IRIN.

Officials are unable to give the exact number of students forced out of school by the attacks, due to lack of access to remote parts of Yobe and Borno states where BH insurgents are active.

However, Abdullahi Bego, Yobe governor’s spokesman, told IRIN that BH has destroyed 209 schools in Yobe. In Borno, governor Kashim Shettima said in August that the Islamist rebels had destroyed 825 classrooms. A Bono education official told IRIN in May that some 15,000 were out of school in that state alone.

In a 4 October report, Amnesty International said that at least 70 teachers and more than 100 school children and students have been killed or wounded.

“The attacks have generally crippled the education system in northeastern Nigeria. There is a lot of fear among students, teachers and parents. Teachers are not only targeted in schools, but also at home. We know of a case where a teacher was killed at home before his children,” said Makmid Kamara, Amnesty International’s researcher for Nigeria.

“Parents are afraid to send their children to school because they fear that their children may not return home,” Kamara told IRIN. “If these attacks continue, they will further cripple the education system in that part of the country.”

Rising toll

BH began attacking schools in February 2012, when its gunmen burned down three schools in Maiduguri town using home-made bombs. Abul Qaqa, the group’s spokesman at the time, claimed responsibility, saying it was in retaliation for the indiscriminate arrests of students in Islamic schools by government forces.

Initially, the gunmen carried out attacks on schools at night or in the early morning hours before classes so as to not “kill innocent pupils,” according to Qaqa.

But the strategy changed this year. In March, BH killed four teachers and gravely injured three students in three separate attacks on schools in Maiduguri.

On 6 July, the Islamists opened fire and threw explosives into dormitories in a boarding secondary school in Mamudo Village in Yobe, killing 41 students and a teacher. In a 16 June attack on another boarding school, also in Yobe, BH gunmen shot dead seven students and two teachers, according to Lt Lazarus Eli, the state’s military spokesman.

BH also carried out attacks on schools in Kano City, including arson in at least three schools and the targeted shooting of teachers in two others. But the Kano attacks stopped following a heavy security crackdown that drove the rebels from the city, according to security sources.

Security measures

Bego said the Yobe government would not be intimidated into closing schools following the Gujba student killings, as it did following the July slaughter in Mamudo.

“These terrorists want to intimidate us into closing schools and stopping children from attending school. We will not be intimidated, and Yobe State will not be defined by criminals, insurgents or terrorists,” the governor’s spokesman said.

“The attacks have generally crippled the education system in northeastern Nigeria. There is a lot of fear among students, teachers and parents. Teachers are not only targeted in schools, but also at home.”

The government deployed soldiers to all boarding schools in the state to guard against BH attacks.

But Musa Idrissa, a school teacher in Damaturu, told IRIN the troop deployment to schools could not effectively counter the BH attacks or its emotional and psychological effects on students.

“The presence of soldiers in schools only heightens fear among teachers and students because it is a constant reminder of the danger they are in, which affects them psychologically and emotionally and negatively affects teaching and learning. No effective learning takes place in an atmosphere of fear and anxiety,” Idrissa said.

Idrissa noted that BH gunmen dress in military uniforms, which makes it difficult distinguish them from troops. “How can the students differentiate between BH and soldiers in the event of an attack on their school?” he asked.

“We are fighting an unconventional war and an unconventional enemy, which shifts form and strategy and is very mobile. We need public support in reporting any suspicious movement in the community to effectively tackle the terrorists,” Eli said.

Why attacks on schools?

In a video message on 12 August 2013, BH leader Abubakar Shekau said he backed the Mamudo school attack, but fell short of claiming responsibility.

“We did say we were going to burn down schools offering Western education because they are not Islamic schools. They are schools primarily established to wage war on Islam. We fight teachers who teach Western education. We will kill them before their students, and we will tell the students to henceforth go and study the Koran. This is what we do. We will continue carrying out such school attacks till we breathe our last breath,” he said.

However, military authorities say that BH resorted to attacking schools as soft targets following military operations launched in May of this year that they say have weakened the group. The school attacks are also an attempt to scare off youth vigilante groups fighting the Islamists, particularly in Borno State, which BH considers its stronghold and birthplace, says the military.

New military strategy

President Goodluck Jonathan said in 1 October national broadcast that the government would employ new strategies against BH following the deadly school attacks, but did not divulge details. Nigerian troops responded to the latest school raid with aerial bombardments and a ground offensive against a BH camp near Gujba where the gunmen retreated to, military spokesman Eli told IRIN.

The Nigerian government declared a state of emergency in northeastern Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states on 14 May and heavily deployed troops to neutralize BH and dislodge them from areas they had taken over, especially in northern Borno on the border with Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

The strategy has failed to stop the attacks, which have become more frequent and deadlier despite the shut-down of telephone signals to prevent BH from coordinating attacks.

“Although there is increase in troop movement and military hardware deployment in the northeast, people were yet to see the kind of action on the ground that effectively nips criminal and terrorists activities in the bud,” Bego said in a 29 September statement.

Amnesty International’s Kamara called on the Islamists to unconditionally halt school attacks and urged the government to provide better protection for schools. “Attacking schools and killing teachers and pupils is a crime against humanity. The government of Nigeria has a responsibility to protect the right to life and to education.”




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Exports of defence-related products from Norway in 2012

Posted by African Press International on October 5, 2013

The Government is today presenting the annual white paper to the Storting on Norwegian exports of defence-related products, export control and international non-proliferation efforts.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ processing of applications for the export of defence-related products has become more stringent. Decisions are now based on even more thorough assessments of conditions within potential recipient countries than was the case before,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs Espen Barth Eide.

In 2012, the total value of exports of defence-related products, technology and services for military purposes, production rights, brokering, and dual-use items for military use was almost NOK 4.6 billion. Of this amount, exports of defence-related products accounted for around NOK 3.9 billion.

The main recipients of defence-related products from Norway are Norway’s allies and other European countries.

Norwegian defence industry companies are dependent on good and predictable conditions. They play an important role in value creation and technology development. The Government intends to facilitate continued exports by having strict and clear regulations,” said Mr Eide.

One area in which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ practice in this area has become more stringent is the risk assessments that are made concerning the use of defence-related products for internal repression in the recipient country concerned. The requirements for documentation identifying the end-user have also been made stricter. Altogether, 18 applications for export licences for defence-related products were refused in 2012.

Updated guidelines for the Ministry’s processing of applications to export defence-related products were published on 16 September. The white paper that is now being presented describes the work to further tighten export control procedures.

“In recent years, the Government has increased transparency on exports of defence-related products. This is important for maintaining confidence in Norwegian export control legislation, and for ensuring support for companies that are vitally important for our national security and defence capability,” said Mr Eide.

The white paper provides detailed information on the types of military goods that have been exported, the countries they have been exported to, and the value of the exports. It also contains information on the export licence applications that have been refused.

The white paper also discusses Norwegian legislation and multilateral cooperation on export control and non-proliferation.

The total value of sales of weapons and ammunition (Category A materiel) was NOK 3.3 billion in 2012, while the value of sales of other goods that have been specifically developed or modified for military purposes (Category B materiel) was NOK 574 million. The value of exports of these goods increased by around 8 % from 2011 to 2012.

The main recipients of defence-related products from Norway are NATO countries, and Sweden and Finland. In 2012, 78 % of Norway’s total exports of Category A materiel and 90 % of Norway’s total exports of Category B materiel were to these countries.


End source mfa.norway


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