Sunday, December 21, 2014

Still not caring about CAR

 UNICEF, the children's agency, warned on Friday of a "critical funding shortfall" for its programmes in Central African Republic, where more than two million children are in need following a months-long sectarian bloodbath. UNICEF received less than half the funding it required this year, some $42.7 million out of the $81 million requested.

UNICEF said it failed to help 620,000 people with basic healthcare, 250,000 children with access to clean water, 33,000 children with measles vaccines and 5,000 severely malnourished children under five with treatment.

"Two out of five children in urgent need of UNICEF's support are without access to health, water, education or protection due to a critical funding shortfall and insecurity," spokesperson Christophe Boulierac told AFP.

More than 1.5 million people in CAR are suffering from food insecurity, about one third of the population, the World Food Programme said. Due to repeated military raids and the displacement of farming communities, food reserves are now about 40 to 50 percent lower than average levels.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Stateless in Africa

According to United Nations Human Rights for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates, statelessness affected up to 10 million people worldwide leaving them with no identity. Statelessness refers to the condition whereby an individual is not considered as a national by any State under the operations of its law and is, therefore, not entitled to any right or privileges enjoyed by the nationals.


Statistics indicates that about one million people living in West Africa are Stateless. This was disclosed by Madam Emmanuelle Mitte, Senior Regional Protection Officer, UNHCR Country Representation in Senegal.  She said about 60 percent of stateless people were children because the States in which they were born did not register them as their parents were not recognized as citizens by the laws of those States. According to her, statelessness in West Africa occurred for a variety of reasons, including discrimination against specific groups in a country, discrepancies in nationality laws and administrative practices obstructing access to documentation. “Others include the failure to include all residents in the body of citizens when a state becomes independent, or when a part of a territory is annexed to a new state,” she added. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Africa needs to change

Africa accounts for a large share of the world’s people living in absolute poverty. The number of impoverished people has doubled since 1981. Africa’s share of the world’s poor rose from just below 20% to close to 25%. Nearly 50% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa live on less than US$ 1 a day today: the world’s highest rate of extreme poverty. In Liberia, nearly 60% of the population live on less than US$ 2 a day. In the Central African Republic, the figure is 50%. In contrast, North Africa has only 2.2% of the population living on less than US$ 1 a day, and 23% on less than US$2.

Africa is also the world’s second most inequitable region after Latin America. Inequalities have not diminished over time. In 2010, six out of the 10 most unequal countries worldwide were in Sub-Saharan Africa, and more specifically in Southern Africa. Africa's  economic growth is not inclusive or equitable.

Moreover, Africa's growth has largely been an urban phenomenon. Most Africans have low levels of education and limited skills. They often live in remote villages and depend on subsistence agriculture. These Africans lack access to water, electricity and health services. Maternal and child mortality is often high. The debilitating effects of hunger and malnutrition stalk the children that survive. Two-thirds of the under-five deaths in Africa are due to preventable causes, most of which are exacerbated by malnutrition. Undernourished children under five have an increased risk of death, anaemia, fever, respiratory infections and stunting. Research shows that children who are stunted before the age of five will have cognitive impairment and are highly likely to underachieve in school; repeat grades and drop out of school. The number of stunted children in Africa has increased from 45.7 million to 56.3 million between 1990 and 2011. A recent UN report, 'Cost of Hunger in Africa', reveals that child under-nutrition costs the Uganda government $899 million, equivalent to 5.6 per cent of GDP. This includes costs to the healthcare system, to education and losses in labour productivity.

It is very unlikely that the vast majority of Africans will experience the tangible benefits of the so-called “Africa Rising” phenomenon. Under a business-as-usual growth scenario, the gulf between the rich and the poor will only widen. What is more disconcerting is that the horrifying health, nutrition and education outcomes will persist.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Ethiopia: Large Scale Killing and Deportation of Somali-Issa People

 During the recent weeks, the Ethiopian government is perpetrating a crime against humanity against the Somali-Issa people living in the following towns: Gadmaytu, Undufo and Cadaytu, located near the Awash River. More than 300,000 people were asked to clear an area the size of Belgium (30 000 square kilometers), to pave the way for a program designed few years ago, with the prime purpose of leasing or selling lands to foreign investors. 

International institutions such as the World Bank or the African Bank for Development are repeating these past few years that Ethiopia has an annual growth between 8 to 10%; but on the ground, in spite of the few foreign investments in the hospitality industry, or infrastructure projects like the “grand renaissance dam” which damaged the environment, 70% of the 80 million Ethiopians are still living with less than 1 dollar a day. Ethiopia is also well-known with having a very poor record regarding Human rights. Political opponents and journalists are routinely jailed, if not killed. 

According to Reporters Without Borders, a leading NGO in the field, the government has created a climate of fear within the press ahead of the parliamentarian elections in May next year “At least six publications had to close in recent months; and around 30 journalists have fled abroad since the start of the year, as a result of the biggest crackdown on the privately-owned press since 2005”. Prominent journalists like Mr. Temesgen Desalegn, the editor of “Fact” magazine, are jailed with vague charge of “terrorism”. According to another press watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists: “Ethiopia has one of the most restricted media in the world and the highest number of journalists living in exile”

The general elections in May 2005 were marred with frauds and violence, leaving more than three hundred deaths and thousands wounded. Several well-known opponents including blogger Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage paid a huge price for their search of freedom: Mr. Nega was jailed for 18 years while Mr. Arage was sentenced for life. As a result, the current Parliament elected in 2010 comprised only 1 opponent out of 547 Parliamentarians!!! 

During the last five years, the authoritarian Ethiopian government has put in place an ambitious GTP (Growth and Transformation Plan) aimed at attracting international investments. Unfortunately, this Plan is based on the forced eviction of 1.5 million people in the Gambela, Afar, Somali and Benishangul-Gumuz regions. In the Regional Somali State alone, 500,000 people have to be deported. This process is well-known as “land-grabbing”, consisting of selling or leasing large pieces of land in developing countries to international firms, governments (Brazil, India, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, etc.) or wealthy individuals. According to activists monitoring the issue worldwide, who published their findings in “Farmlandgrab.org” and “Survivalinternational.org”; or works undertaken by researchers like Jon Abbink, an anthropologist specializing in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is deeply engaged in this process in a very bad way: « In Africa, Ethiopia is at the forefront of handing out land ». 

Of course the amount paid by foreigners to acquire land is never released and it is very unlikely that this money will ever reach the poor Ethiopians. Several NGO working in the field of Human Rights have reported and documented how the Ethiopian government has removed at gunpoint thousands of indigenous people from their ancestor lands in the OMO River and the Gambela region since 2010. Killing, rapes, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions and beating have been used during the deportation process, according to Human Right Watch, Survivalinternational and the Oakland Institute. 

Those last weeks, the Ethiopian government sent its military forces into the Regional Somali State, besieging the towns and villages of Cadaytu, Undufo, Gadmaytu, and the surrounding area inhabited by Somali-Issa pastoralists and farmers. The violence deployed against the indigenous tribes living in Gambela and around the OMO River is again underway there. Demonstrations have been staged by the Somali-Issa inhabitants. The response was a fierce repression with the army firing indiscriminately. Dozens of people lost their lives, while hundreds have been wounded. All this happened in silence as not one single media – be it national or international- is reporting this slow onslaught on Somali-Issa pastoralists in Ethiopia.

read more here


Ethiopia: Large scale killing and deportation of Somali-Issa people in the Awash River by Galan Waddour During the recent weeks, the Ethiopian government is perpetrating a crime against humanity against the Somali-Issa people living in the following towns: Gadmaytu, Undufo and Cadaytu, located near the Awash River. More than 300,000 people were asked to clear an area the size of Belgium (30 000 square kilometers), to pave the way for a program designed few years ago, with the prime purpose of leasing or selling lands to foreign investors. International institutions such as the World Bank or the African Bank for Development are repeating these past few years that Ethiopia has an annual growth between 8 to 10%; but on the ground, in spite of the few foreign investments in the hospitality industry, or infrastructure projects like the “grand renaissance dam” which damaged the environment, 70% of the 80 million Ethiopians are still living with less than 1 dollar a day. Ethiopia is also well-known with having a very poor record regarding Human rights. Political opponents and journalists are routinely jailed, if not killed. According to Reporters Without Borders, a leading NGO in the field, the government has created a climate of fear within the press ahead of the parliamentarian elections in May next year “At least six publications had to close in recent months; and around 30 journalists have fled abroad since the start of the year, as a result of the biggest crackdown on the privately-owned press since 2005”. Prominent journalists like Mr. Temesgen Desalegn, the editor of “Fact” magazine, are jailed with vague charge of “terrorism”. According to another press watchdog, the Committee to Protect Journalists: “Ethiopia has one of the most restricted media in the world and the highest number of journalists living in exile”. The general elections in May 2005 were marred with frauds and violence, leaving more than three hundred deaths and thousands wounded. Several well-known opponents including blogger Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage paid a huge price for their search of freedom: Mr. Nega was jailed for 18 years while Mr. Arage was sentenced for life. As a result, the current Parliament elected in 2010 comprised only 1 opponent out of 547 Parliamentarians!!! During the last five years, the authoritarian Ethiopian government has put in place an ambitious GTP (Growth and Transformation Plan) aimed at attracting international investments. Unfortunately, this Plan is based on the forced eviction of 1.5 million people in the Gambela, Afar, Somali and Benishangul-Gumuz regions. In the Regional Somali State alone, 500,000 people have to be deported. This process is well-known as “land-grabbing”, consisting of selling or leasing large pieces of land in developing countries to international firms, governments (Brazil, India, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Republic of Korea, etc.) or wealthy individuals. According to activists monitoring the issue worldwide, who published their findings in “Farmlandgrab.org” and “Survivalinternational.org”; or works undertaken by researchers like Jon Abbink, an anthropologist specializing in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is deeply engaged in this process in a very bad way: « In Africa, Ethiopia is at the forefront of handing out land ». Of course the amount paid by foreigners to acquire land is never released and it is very unlikely that this money will ever reach the poor Ethiopians. Several NGO working in the field of Human Rights have reported and documented how the Ethiopian government has removed at gunpoint thousands of indigenous people from their ancestor lands in the OMO River and the Gambela region since 2010. Killing, rapes, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions and beating have been used during the deportation process, according to Human Right Watch, Survivalinternational and the Oakland Institute. Those last weeks, the Ethiopian government sent its military forces into the Regional Somali State, besieging the towns and villages of Cadaytu, Undufo, Gadmaytu, and the surrounding area inhabited by Somali-Issa pastoralists and farmers. The violence deployed against the indigenous tribes living in Gambela and around the OMO River is again underway there. Demonstrations have been staged by the Somali-Issa inhabitants. The response was a fierce repression with the army firing indiscriminately. Dozens of people lost their lives, while hundreds have been wounded. All this happened in silenced as not one single media – be it national or international- is reporting this slow onslaught on Somali-Issa pastoralists in Ethiopia. - See more at: http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/24339#sthash.r2TpUpjr.dpuf

Problems never end

Half a million people in three West African nations rocked by Ebola are going hungry and that number could double by March if food supplies do not improve, two UN agencies warned. In Guinea, 230,000 people are estimated to be facing sever food shortages because of the impact of Ebola. By March 2015, the number is expected to rise to more than 470,000. Nearly 300,000 Liberians are expected to face severe food problems by March, up from 170,000 today.

In Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the countries at the heart of the worst recorded outbreak of Ebola, workers have been staying away from markets and fields for fear of spreading the virus that has killed more than 6,800 people since March. This fear has caused labour shortages on farms for planting and weeding and cut household incomes, compounding an economic slowdown in these three countries. Border closures and quarantines are disrupting supply chains, hindering market access and exacerbating shortages, raising fears that one million people from a combined population of 20 million could be going hungry by March.

"The outbreak has revealed the vulnerability of current food production systems and value chains in the worst Ebola-affected countries," Bukar Tijani, the Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) representative for Africa said in a statement. The FAO said more food needs to be imported into these countries which are facing a financial crunch because exports have dropped and recommended cash transfers or vouchers for affected people to buy food and help stimulate markets.

Denise Brown, a relief coordinator for the World Food Programme, said the situation regarding food supplies could get worse before improvements are seen from international efforts.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Morocco V The Western Sahara

The Western Sahara is a country on the Atlantic Ocean coast of North Africa with the dubious distinction of being the “Last Colony” in Africa. Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 following the withdrawal of the then colonial ruler, Spain. That military invasion was followed by Morocco’s sending of hundreds of thousands of settlers into the country.

The Saharawi people, the indigenous population of the Western Sahara, want an independent nation, while Morocco has offered the Saharawi only autonomy under Moroccan control. It sparked a war with the Saharawi which wound down to a stalemate with Morocco controlling 80 percent of the country, including its fishing rich coast line, vast mineral deposits and major cities. The remainder of the country has been controlled by the Polisario Front, the main political force in the struggle for independence.

“Morocco confiscated our land. Built a wall dividing our country. It violates human rights while plundering our natural resources,” Mohammed Abdelaziz, the President of the Western Sahara.

The United Nations approved a referendum on the future status of the Western Sahara in the early 1990s but Morocco has balked, refusing to permit the U.N. to conduct a vote. Morocco’s occupation is strongly backed by France, and has the tacit support of the United States. While the U.S. does not formally recognize Morocco’s sovereignty over what Morocco calls it’s “Southern Provinces,” it has not forcefully demanded that its ally comply with international law. Morocco enjoys support on Capitol Hill, ranging from conservatives to members of the liberal-leaning Black Congressional Caucus. American human rights activist Susan Scholte, who has worked on the Western Sahara issue since 1993, said most American supporters of Morocco’s position on the Western Sahara either don’t know the facts or are getting paid by Morocco. Morocco spent $3.5-million on lobbying inside the U.S., in 2013 alone.  Morocco contends its claim on the Western Sahara predates Spanish colonization, a position rejected by the International Court of Justice in 1975, months before Morocco’s invasion.


Morocco officially denies brutality in the Western Sahara but a U.S. State Department human rights report released in February 2014 listed violations including “physical/verbal abuses” of Saharawi people “during arrest and imprisonment.” That report also listed a lack of democracy, corruption and “widespread disregard of the rule of law” by Moroccan security forces — violations that report stated also occur inside Morocco — a monarchy ruled by a king. Saharawi people described arbitrary beatings, arrests and torture suffered while they were imprisoned for terms ranging from few months to years.

Monday, December 15, 2014

African middle class: myth or fact?


The modern definition of middle class says Africa is joining the world’s consumers of dishwashers, refrigerators and automobiles. Its emerging middle class is now the subject of optimistic chatter. Several reports on the middle class in Africa paint a picture of an African golden age full of possibilities for driving growth through middle-class consumption. They have unleashed a glee among corporates who are salivating over the opportunity of selling to more than 300-plus million middle-class Africans they had not noticed before. If 327 million middle-class Africans really existed, investors would consider the continent a potentially lucrative market for making deals in real estate, retail, wholesale and communications.

But are there 300 million middle-class Africans? It all depends on how you define the middle class.

The McKinsey Global Institute, a consulting firm, defines middle-class households as those with incomes of $20,000 (about R230,000) a year or more, and says Africa’s middle class outstrips India’s (as few as 15.7 million households). Standard Bank defines the middle class as households that spend between $8,500 and $42,000 a year,

The African Development Bank definition is broader. It says Africa’s middle class ranges from earning $520 to $5,200 (or $2 to $20 a day.) Unlike McKinsey, it ranks those earning more than $20 000 a year as rich. It claims the size of the African middle class, those earning between $2 to $20 a day, nearly tripled to 313million people in 2010, or 34.3 percent of the continent’s population. The continent according to its statistics has moved from stagnation in individual prosperity before 2000 to impressive gains in the numbers of people with middle-class levels of income. Except that the African Development Bank middle class of these projections is not the same as the anecdotal middle class that purchases dishwashers and weekend holidays. For investment banks, multinational corporations, real estate developers and traders, the middle class is defined by purchasing power and signifies a potentially untapped market. For this reason, a more accurate definition of the middle class requires a higher purchasing-power bracket that shows that households are living beyond subsistence

The bank’s category is an amalgamation of a “floating middle class” whose daily consumption levels range from $2 to $4 a day and a stable middle class whose consumption levels lie between $4 and $20 a day. This is a very broad definition and not a conventional middle class. At a maximum of $4 a day, you are unlikely to participate in higher education, live in the suburbs or fulfil the same political and economic role in the life of a nation that the middle classes of developed countries do. Put simply, members of this floating middle class are different politically and economically from the wealthier class.

What about removing the floating middle class ($2 to $4 a day) from the equation and examining instead the gains made by combining the stable $4 to $20 class? Have they grown? When comparing the proportions of this stable $4 to $20 middle class, not much has changed. Although it nearly doubled from 62million in 1980 to 123million in 2010, its share of the continent’s population has decreased slightly from 14.6 percent in 1980 to 13.4 percent in 2010. In terms of proportions, the stable middle class ($4 to $20) appears to have shrunk a bit, while the proportion of the floating class has increased.

Earning a maximum of $4 a day, this floating middle class has little disposable income to spend and is unlikely to be capable of fulfilling the middle-class promise of economic and political stability and remain vulnerable to external food and fuel price spikes, inflation and the spectre of sliding back to sub-$2 levels of poverty. Their share of the population has increased from 14.7 percent in 2000 to 20.9 percent in 2010, according to the African Development Bank. They account for about 200million of the bank’s misleading middle-class definition. They remain barely above the poverty line and have trouble making the transition into the more stable middle-class category of $4 to $20 a day. Just as the floating class may migrate upwards towards becoming a more traditional middle class, so too may it fall back below the $2 a day line in the face of sudden shocks like rises in food and fuel prices, which this group cannot absorb as easily as the richer classes are able to do. The mass mobilisations in Nigeria in January 2012 that brought Lagos to a standstill over the withdrawal of the fuel subsidy, Uganda’s walk-to-work protests in April 2011 and the rioting in Mozambique in September 2010 over an increase in the price of bread are warnings of how volatile an urban floating middle class can be when such shocks occur. The floating middle class amounts to more than a third of the population in 19 countries (a fifth in 26 countries). In Africa’s three most populous countries, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Egypt, more than half the middle class is in the floating category, living on less than $4 a day.

The African Development Bank’s misdefined middle class. Reports on the size of Africa’s middle class highlight presumptions and miscalculations. The African Development Bank’s 2011 report conceded that about 60 percent of Africa’s middle class, about 199 million people, were barely out of poverty. Does Africa’s population really have more spending power? Are fewer Africans hungry? The debate on what constitutes "middle class" turns “philosophical” at times. Some definitions include concepts such as professional status, education, and the variety of cultural and consumption habits. The banks seem to think it is all about dubious income levels. Socialists defines class based on who owns or does not own the means of production. All men and women who because of their lack of property are forced to seek work for a wage or a salary are members of the working class. Whether you work in a factory or an office whether you push a barrow or a pen if you have to seek a wage or a salary in order to live you are a member of the working class.




Sunday, December 14, 2014

News Headlines Deliberately Hide Real Events


Foreign companies buying Africa's fertile land 

According to an ORDAF (The Association of Researchers in Middle East and Africa), political events and terror news are deliberately kept in the headlines to hide African land grabs by Western countries. According to the ORDAF report, terrorist and policital events are at the forefront of African nations while millions of hectares of land are in the hands of foreign governments. More than 60 million hectares of land that belongs to 80% of Africa are quietly being exchanged hands through sales and rentals under the smokescene of political instability and terror crises. In recent years powerful nations' have kept Africa in the headlines with the incidences of Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda, hiding behind these events while trading in international deals. 

Going back to the 19th century, fertile lands was taken away from the indigenous people of Africa and given to poor white farmers and that today modern methods are now being applied on those lands. In particular this exchange of lands between Europe, the US and Asia have been far more widespread in the last 15 years. These mostly have been covered up by keeping the issues of the Christian Sudanese, the activities of Al-Qaeda's Maghreb activites, the Libyan-Egyptian political crisis and the As-Shabab in Somalia in the headlines, distracting from the secret deals and negotiations. As a result, by keeping these news at the front and hiding behind these news, it has been hoped that the purchase of the lands will be completed as soon as possible. 

In the report, very little countries with the exception of North African Saharan countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco but not including Mauritania were the few countries that did not rent out land over 10,000 hectares. The report says, “In some countries, the sales were so high, that there were now groups of observers researching the movement of land sales. At the top of the list was Ethiopia, Sudan, Congo, Cameroon, Guinea, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique were being watched carefully. What was even more striking was that with lands exchanging ownership, Western countries imposed that the land that uses traditional agricultural methods by the local people must be removed from all state authority. 
It was also stated in the report that in recent years China had usage rights of billions of hectares of African land. Whether through rental or sales, China has - irrespective of the price it had to pay – with land in its hand has strongly increased its opposition. China had expressed interest in Ethiopia, Congo, Zimbabwe and Cameroon which had closed off the land.


from here



The Ancient History of the Khoisan

The Khoisan, an indigenous population in Namibia may once have comprised the majority of living humans on the planet, for much of the past 150,000 years. The Khoisan population declined about 22,000 years ago and again during the 17th century's European colonialists' incursions into Africa.

the Khoisan, now numbering about 100,000, are a genetically diverse group because of a large ancestral population in the distant past.  The name ‘Khoisan’ generally refers to the hunters and herders of a number of ethnic groups that speak a distinctive click language, although it is not the name that the population use for themselves. Historically, there were two groups of peoples in the Khoisan language family, the Khoi Khoi pastoralists or herders, and the San, who were hunters and gatherers. Today, they are known collectively as the Khoisan or the Bushmen.

Khoisan-speaking people were decimated by European colonialists, their lands stolen and cultures suppressed. In 2012, South African President Jacob Zuma said the Khoisan suffered the most of any group under European colonialism. "It is important to remember that the Khoisan people were the most brutalized by colonialists who tried to make them extinct, and undermined their language and identity. As a free and democratic South Africa today, we cannot ignore to correct the past," he said.

Khoisan populations were wiped out by war and smallpox. European settlers stole much of their land. As herders and hunters, the Khoisan needed large areas to graze their animals, hunt and gather food. Their population was further decimated by loss of livelihood due to land theft. Though much historical Khoisan territory is now farmed, some Khoisan still live their traditional lives of hunting and gathering or herding.