Archive for February, 2012

29/02/2012

Millions of Urban Children at High Risk of Violence, Exploitation and Trafficking

Human Wrongs Watch

One billion children live in urban areas, a number that is growing rapidly. Yet disparities within cities reveal that many lack access to schools, health care and sanitation. These children are at “high risk of exploitation and trafficking, as well as becoming victims of violence.”

*Afghan girl begging in Kabul. Credit:Evstafiev | Wikimedia Commons

The world is undergoing the largest wave of urban growth in history, says the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) in its flagship report, ‘The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World’, which was launched on 28 February in Mexico City.

The report stresses that despite growing up in close proximity to modern facilities and basic services, “many children in urban areas lack access to electricity, clean water and education. They are also at high risk of contracting diseases due to unsanitary conditions and suffering from malnutrition.”

28/02/2012

Iraq: No Care, No Protection for Millions of Homeless at Home

Human Wrongs Watch

Today there are more than 1.3 million internally displaced Iraqis, with 500,000 of them “living in extremely precarious conditions.”

Displaced Iraqi families in Um Al-Baneen camp in Baghdad | Credit:UN

This is just one of the consequences of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq, started in 2003 and ended -only officially- few weeks ago.

In addition, the UN says despite the return of some one million internally displaced persons (IDPs) since 2003, large numbers of displaced Iraqis remain unable or unwilling to return to their places of origin.

The total figure of over 2,3 million internally displaced Iraqis -one million of them returned to their homes- is to be added to around two million Iraqi refugees outside their country, making a total of more than 4,3 million Iraqis (or one fifth of the entire population) living far away from their relatives, workplaces, towns and villages.

“These people are living in dramatic circumstances. They are homeless or living in slums and feel a high level of despair,” said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), António Guterres.

27/02/2012

Military Court Hears Evidence in Egyptian “Virginity Tests” Case

Human Wrongs Watch

By 

Cairo — A Cairo military court on Sunday [26 Feb.] heard witness testimony in a case against a soldier who allegedly performed “virginity tests” on seven female protesters on 10 March 2011. 22-year-old Samira Ibrahim filed a lawsuit against the military doctor whom she accuses of conducting the tests on her and six other female detainees near Tahrir Square.

Samira Ibrahim

Samira Ibrahim

In December, Ibrahim won an earlier case against the Supreme Council of the Armed Force (SCAF) when a Cairo Administrative Court ruled that virginity checks should not take place again in military prisons. According to human rights lawyer Hossam Bahgat the landmark ruling was the first of its kind against the military and was “the first crack in the SCAF’s impunity.”

26/02/2012

Israel – “Thou Shalt Not Kill”… (Thyself)

Human Wrongs Watch

By Uri Avnery* –  TRANSCEND – After the founding of Israel, God appeared to David Ben-Gurion and told him: “You have created a state for my chosen people in my holy land. This merits a great reward. Tell me what you wish, and I will grant it.”

**Israeli and Palestinian flags and the words peace in Arabic and Hebrew | Makaristos | Wikimedia Commons

Ben-Gurion answered: “Almighty God, I wish that every person in Israel shall be wise, honest and a member of the Labor Party.”

“Dear me,” said God, “That is too much even for the Almighty. But I decree that every Israeli shall be two of the three.”

Since then, if a wise Israeli is a member of the Labor party, he is not honest. If an honest Israeli is a member of the Labor party, he is not wise. If he is wise and honest, he is not a member of the Labor Party.

This joke was popular in the 1950s. After 1967, another much less funny formula took its place.

24/02/2012

“Eat It Up Monsanto!”

Human Wrongs Watch

By Caroline Jacobsson*Greenpeace So it turns that Monsanto, one of the world’s largest profiteers of genetically engineered (GE) food, has banned GE food from its own corporate canteens!

GMOs - No Thanks

Monsanto recently had its pants pulled down by Friends of the Earth, who revealed that the company refuses to serve to its own staff the very same GE food that it incessantly foists upon impoverished nations on the premise that it will save populations from starvation. Although it has never been proved, Monsanto constantly claims that GE food is harmless – so why doesn’t it serve it in its own office?

In one canteen, run by external provider, Sutcliffe Catering, a notice reads that a decision has been taken to remove, as far as practicable, GE soya and maize from all food products served in the canteen. “We have taken the above steps to ensure that you, the customer, can feel confident in the food we serve”, the provider says.

24/02/2012

The Terror of Unarmed Women Facing Armed Men

Human Wrongs Watch

“Conflict-related sexual violence is not specific to one country or continent: it is a global risk [...] Wars have entered the marketplaces where women trade; they follow children en route to school; and haunt the prison cells where political activists are detained.”

Credit:UN

This is the spine-chilling summary of the UN annual report on conflict – related sexual violence around the world, was presented on Feb. 23 by secretary-general’s Special Representative Margot Wallström to the Security Council in New York.

Wallström’s report names for the first time some of the military forces, militia and other armed groups that are suspected of being among the worst offenders.

23/02/2012

Uganda – Foreign Corporations Plan Massive Oil Production

Human Wrongs Watch

By Tony Otoa*, Think Africa Press - Tullow Oil plc announced that it has completed the farm-down of two thirds of its Ugandan licences to China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC) Limited and French oil major Total for $2.9 billion earlier today. The news that British firm Tullow has finally brought in partners to develop its oil fields in Uganda paves the way for commercial oil production to begin in the country.

A Tullow oil camp in Uganda | ThinkAfricaPress.com

Tullow’s sale of much of its stake in Ugandan oil fields follows the recent signing of Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) and the Kingfisher production licence with the government of Uganda.

21/02/2012

Syrians – From Assad’s Hell to Refugees’ Limbo

Human Wrongs Watch

By Abeer S. Abusaud

Amman – For a whole year now, there have been many conflicting reports and official statements about the numbers, status and aid provided to Syrian refugees in Jordan, mostly watering down their real situation.

**Image Credit: http://khaberni.com

But their presence in Jordan is becoming a fact that can hardly be ignored; especially as increasing numbers are fleeing their country everyday due to the continuing rise in violence.

According to local sources in Mafraq on the Jordanian-Syrian borders, (quoted in A’Dustour newspaper last week) Syrian refugees are facing increasingly difficult and complex challenges related to severe shortage in daily needs, as well as health, education and housing needs in the absence of effective aid from the international community.

The sources pointed out that cases of chronic disease and disabilities and mental illness, were recorded among these refugee families.

21/02/2012

Drones in U.S. Skies Spying Upon American Citizens?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Bill Van Auken, WSWS* - A little-noted amendment to a $63 billion Federal Aviation Authority appropriations bill has ominous implications for democratic rights in the United States.

**Photo credit:SSGT REYNALDO RAMON, USAF. Source | Wikimedia Commons

President Barack Obama signed the bill, the “FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012”, into law on February 14. It clears the way for a vast expansion of the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, over US territory.

The legislation, passed earlier this month, underscores the link between the explosive growth of US militarism abroad and the steady advance of police state repression at home.

Drones have become infamous the world over as instruments of US military aggression and assassination in the “global war on terror”.

19/02/2012

Arms Trade: ‘Political Chess Games Risk Millions of Lives’

Human Wrongs Watch

While rights groups stress that the brutal crackdown on protesters in Syria and other Middle East and North Africa countries underlines the absence of a global regulation on the trade of conventional arms, a number of states –including U.S., China, and Russia– are rejecting the Inclusion of strong human rights safeguards in an international Arms Trade Treaty.

*Image: mekfouldji abdelkrim. Source | Wikimedia Commons

“Leaders currently seeking a veto over an Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) must stop playing chess with millions of innocent lives,” Amnesty International (AI)  in a report.

The call came in the wake of a week-long meeting at the United Nations, hammering out details for the final ATT negotiation in July.

A UN preparatory committee concluded a final round of talks on Friday 17 Feb. to define the rules of procedure for the ATT). It issued a report that includes a “non-paper” that will be the basis of this summer’s talks.

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