Archive for April, 2012

16/04/2012

Kenya – Gold Fever Creates Harsh Working Conditions, Few Local Benefits

Human Wrongs Watch

By Brian Dabbs, Lolgorien, Kenya, Think Africa Press – Kenya’s gold mining industry creates harsh working conditions, environmental degradation and few local benefits.

A gold miner at an informal mine in Migori.

A few steps from an archaic, poorly-reinforced goldmine shaft plunging three hundred feet into the abyss, Christene Adongo toils away at her own small repository along Kenya’s Migori gold belt.

Weathered and fatigued by the early afternoon heat, the 52-year-old strikes stones hour after hour with a metal hoe to locate the elusive, glistening gold particles.

Adongo will not be reaping the benefits, however, of the highly lucrative, largely untouched reserves in southwest Kenya’s Nyanza Province. Her repository, her livelihood for the day, is a four-feet in diameter pit on the site of the unlicensed goldmine. With few other options for income, Adongo is targeting $3 in wages after 12 hours of excruciating labour.

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14/04/2012

Karem, the Iraqi Refugee Who Teaches Art to Other Refugees

Human Wrongs Watch

By Leo Dobbs, Choucha Transit Centre, Tunisia (UNHCR)* – Mohammed Karem wants to become a roving art teacher for refugees around the world. “I would like to travel with UNHCR or any other organization,” he says.

Karem holds a piece of art created by one of his students at the Choucha Transit Camp. © UNHCR/L.Dobbs

For now, the 55-year-old Iraqi is content to pass on his knowledge to other refugees in a desert camp near Tunisia’s main border crossing with Libya, where he worked for almost 15 years.

“They have a lot of time, so I try to give them something useful to do,” he explains. Their new skills could prove valuable in the future.

It’s a welcome respite for teacher and students alike from the hours and days of waiting for news about resettlement. Mohammed’s four adult children have been accepted by the United States, but he and his wife have heard nothing yet and are understandably concerned. Most of the people in Choucha are likely to be resettled, but not all. Moreover, the process can take months.

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11/04/2012

Alarming Reports of Extreme Sexual Violence against Malian Women, Girls

Human Wrongs Watch

A senior UN official has strongly condemned the reported acts of sexual violence committed against Malian women and girls amid renewed fighting. Allegations include “abductions, public rapes and subjecting women and girls to acts of sexual violence in front of family members.”

 Malian refugee women wait with their children to receive relief items from UNHCR in Gaoudel, Ayorou district, northern Niger. Photo: UNHCR/H.Caux
“As unrest continues in northern Mali, an alarming number of acts of sexual violence have been reported,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström on 10 April.
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Wallström stressed that any party to the conflict credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence can be publicly named and shamed by the Secretary-General as a basis for Security Council action.

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11/04/2012

Does Any One Care About 15 Millions Human Beings Starving in Sahel?

Human-Wrongs-Watch

Geneva-The world, in particular rich industrialized countries, is apparently unwilling to save the lives of 15 million human beings affected by the drought and conflict-related crisis in the Sahel region, with about 1.5 million are children who face the prospect of severe acute malnutrition. 

Photo: WFP/Daouda Guirou
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In fact, UN agencies and partners last December appealed for $724 million to fund the humanitarian response to the crisis in the Sahel, but only 50 per cent of that funding requirement has so far been received.
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Senior United Nations officials on 10 April made impassioned appeals to the international community to make more resources available to assist millions of people affected by the severe food and nutrition crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa, cautioning that global inaction could lead to a humanitarian disaster, the UN reports.

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10/04/2012

New Israeli Plans To Grab More Palestinian Lands

Human Wrongs Watch

By Jean Shaoul, WSWS* — Recently released documents show that Israel’s Civil Administration, part of the Defence Ministry, has long earmarked up to 10 percent of the West Bank for new settlements or the expansion of existing ones. This is in contravention of international law, which bans the construction of towns and villages by the occupying power on territory captured in war.

**Israeli soldiers and settlers guarding a settlement. Author: ISM Palestine | Source | Wikimedia Commons

Under the 1993 Oslo Accords, which was supposed to lead to a separate Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza, with minor land swaps between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), Palestinian land was divided up pending the final agreement into three areas: Area A, under PA control; Area B, under joint Israeli and PA control; and Area C, under Israeli control.

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09/04/2012

“A Prayer by Indians”

Human Wrongs Watch

A poem by S. P. Udayakumar*, TRANSCEND – S P Udayakumar has been leading nonviolent, peaceful protests by thousands of villagers around Koodankulam in South India, asking for transparency and re-thinking of the commissioning of a nuclear power plant that poses risk to thousands of poor, unprivileged villagers who live around the site.

Kumar’s message is intense because he wishes to prevent the poor from a Fukushima like disaster. Our Indian Constitution guarantees the right to free speech and peaceful protest – a right that has been abused in hands of dirty politics for Kumar and thousands of villagers, who have been blocked food supplies and to be heard by Indian or foreign media.

Below is Kumar’s poem in protest of this abuse of their collective fundamental rights and for being treated violently by police forces. Several unjust arrests have been made and the international peace community is watching our dirty “democracy”. Sumeet Grover

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With Due Apologies to St. Francis, Reinhold Niebuhr and St. Patrick

Oh, Prime Ministerial Lord, make me a sports authority of your games;
where there is common, let me steal wealth;
where there is contract, commission;
where there is agreement, kickbacks;
where there is deal, cut;
where there is pact, brokerage;
where there is bill, fee.
Oh, Apolitical Master!
grant that I may not so much seek to be taxed as to tax;
to be assessed, as to assess;
to be looted, as to loot;
for it is in plundering that we receive,
it is in funding that we are funded,
and it is in boot-licking that we are born to Powerful Life.

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07/04/2012

More Elderly Than Children … Within Just Five Years

Human Wrongs Watch

Geneva, 7 April – Within the next five years, for the first time in history, the population of people aged 65 and older will outnumber children under the age of five.

Photo:UN

The World Health Organization (WHO) also informs that in the middle of the last century there were 14 million people in the world aged 80 years or older. 

However, by 2050, there will be almost 400 million people in this age group – with 100 million of them in China alone.

On 7 April this year, the world marks the 60 anniversary of the founding of the WHO and each year a theme is selected that highlights a priority area of concern for the UN’s health agency.

This year’s theme, Good health adds life to years, focuses on promoting good health throughout individuals’ lives “to improve their chances of remaining health and productive in later years.”

UN officials stressed the importance of “providing adequate health services to older citizens” and called on countries to commit resources to help their ageing populations lead a healthy and active life.

In this regard, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged “governments, civil society and the private sector to commit attention and resources to ensuring that people everywhere have the chance to grow older in good health.” But “an increase in worldwide longevity is putting pressure on countries’ health services,” he warned. 

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06/04/2012

God, What a Future!

Human Wrongs Watch

In 2050, world energy demand will be 80% higher; urban air pollution is set to become the top environmental cause of mortality worldwide; global biodiversity is projected to decline by a further 10%; global water demand will increase by some 55%, and 2.3 billion more people than today –over 40% of the global population – will be living in river basins under severe water stress.

*Diesel spill on a road. By John | Wikimedia Commons

These are some of the projections announced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which groups 34 industrialised countries spanning the globe, from North and South America to Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

In fact, the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction, presents the latest projections of socio-economic trends over the next four decades, and their implications for four key areas of concern: climate change, biodiversity, water and the health impacts of environmental pollution.

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06/04/2012

Urban Population in 2050: 1.2 Billion in Africa, 3.3 Billion in Asia

Human Wrongs Watch

New York – Africa’s urban population will increase from 414 million to over 1.2 billion by 2050 while that of Asia will soar from 1.9 billion to 3.3 billion. Both regions together will account for 86 per cent of all increase in the world’s urban population according to a new report.

*Shanty housing, Hong Kong|Stephen Codrington|Wikimedia Commons

This unprecedented increase in urban population will provide new opportunities for improving education and public services in Africa and Asia, as more concentrated populations are easier to reach, says the UN 2011 Revision of the World Urbanization Prospects, launched on 5 April.

However, this will also pose new challenges of providing urban jobs, housing, energy and infrastructure to mitigate urban poverty, expansion of slums and a deterioration of the urban environment.

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05/04/2012

Media Blackout of Nonviolent Protest at Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant

Human Wrongs Watch

By Antonio C. S. Rosa* , TRANSCEND  The non- violent struggle by the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) to stop construction of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in India is proving to be a best kept secret as not a word is said or written by the corporate, alternative, Internet or traditional western media to date. Why is that? Some background information (from PMANE):

Residents of the southern districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala have been struggling against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) since its inception in the 1980s.

The KKNPP reactors, already obsolete, are being built without the government presenting to the people, their representatives, or the press, the required Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Site Evaluation Study, and the Safety Analysis.

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