Archive for June, 2012

30/06/2012

South Sudan: “People are Dying, People are Suffering—This Is a Crisis”

Human Wrongs Watch

(MSF*) – Water has already run out in one of the temporary gathering places for around 30,000 newly arrived refugees in South Sudan. Because the existing refugee camps in the area are full, the new refugees initially settled at a new temporary gathering point. As water supplies ran out, refugees began to move to a second site as well.

A mother prepares a meal for her children on the outskirts of Fertait, a village in Jonglei which was burned during the ethnic clashes. UN Photo/I. Billy

They are sleeping under trees, with no shelter, virtually no food, and a quickly diminishing water supply. In this field news update, Erna Rijnierse, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) medical team leader, describes the situation and the urgent need for the refugees to be relocated to a better place.

There is nothing that is not difficult here. In just one morning at the first refugee site we witnessed six deaths. We had one woman who was so dehydrated that when she came into the clinic she died on the spot. It is certain that people are dying, it’s very certain that people are suffering, it’s very certain that this is a crisis. We cannot watch as this unfolds—we have to push as hard as we can to improve the living conditions of these people.

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30/06/2012

Egypt: What Will Morsi Mean for Free Speech?

Human Wrongs Watch

By *

Cairo’s Tahrir Square exploded in joyous revelry and fanfare on Sunday afternoon after Counsellor Farouk Sultan, the Head of the Elections Commission announced the results of the presidential run-off vote in a nationwide televised address.

Celebrating Morsi’s victory. Photograph by Lorenz Khazaleh. Source: Thinks Africa Press.

Counsellor Sultan named Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi the winner with 51.73 per cent of the vote and by a slim margin of 800,000 votes. The announcement ended days of speculation over the results of a vote that has polarised Egypt and accentuated a decades-old secularist/Islamist divide.

Supporters of Morsi’s opponent Ahmed Shafik meanwhile expressed their anger and shock at his defeat. Some insisted that “the result was incorrect” while others said they would pack and leave Egypt altogether. Most people in Shafik’s camp were secularists who had voted for the former regime man (the last prime minister under Mubarak) out of fear that Islamist rule would mean intolerance and the stifling of freedoms.

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29/06/2012

Sudan – Arab Spring or Just More Repression?

Human Wrongs Watch

The United Nations human rights chief called on the Sudanese authorities to ensure that protests planned for Friday 29 June are allowed to proceed peacefully, without security forces resorting to violent measures and mass arrests as was seen in recent weeks.

*Sudan President Omar al-Bashir. Photo Credit: Prince jasim ali

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, noted that dozens of individuals, including human rights defenders, journalists, students and political opponents, have been arrested since the protests began in the capital, Khartoum, on 17 June, the UN reports.
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“I urge the Government to immediately and unconditionally release those who have been detained for merely exercising their rights to freedom of assembly and expression. Reports of ill treatment in detention are very worrying and must be investigated promptly,” she added in a news release.

“Tear gas, rubber bullets, live ammunition and other heavy-handed suppression will not resolve the frustrations and grievances of the people regarding shortcomings in their enjoyment of economic, social, civil and political rights,” Pillay said.

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29/06/2012

UN to Israel: ‘Stop Tearing Down Palestinian Homes… Now’

The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories demanded that Israel immediately stop tearing down Palestinian homes, noting that the number of people affected by the demolition of Palestinian buildings has risen by 87 per cent compared to last year.
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Israeli settlement viewed from the Um-al-Kher bedouin community in the West Bank | Photo: OCHA

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“Already this year, Israeli authorities have demolished over 330 Palestinian structures, including homes, animal shelters, water cisterns and roads,” Richard Falk, said in a news releaseHe stressed that half of the 536 Palestinians who have been displaced in 2012 are children, noting that “such demolitions amount to violations against 2,100 Palestinians,” the UN reports.
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Falk described as “deeply troubling” the situation in the West Bank community of Susiya, where over 160 Palestinians, including 120 children, will be forcibly displaced if the demolition orders are executed by Israel.

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29/06/2012

Egypt: Military Junta Seizes More Powers

By Andrew Friedman*, Think Africa Press – After all of the legal and electoral wrangling, Egypt has produced its first democratically-elected president. On June 25, Mohammed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, moved into the office that Hosni Mubarak previously occupied, where he will serve as the transitioning country’s head of state.

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Celebrating Morsi’s victory. Photograph by Lorenz Khazaleh. Source: Thinks Africa Press

One of the major worries of analysts and scholars alike throughout the electoral process was the lack of a defined role for the president.

Based on the barebones format of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ (SCAF) Constitutional Declaration of March 2011, it was difficult to know what an Egyptian president would actually be able to do.

In response to this concern, on June 17, 2012, SCAF issued an addendum to the original constitutional declaration that did a great deal to clarify the powers of the office of president.

While it was important for the progress of the burgeoning democracy that these powers are spelled out, the particular clarifications that were offered have been met with extraordinary criticism.

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29/06/2012

Syria – 10.000 Killed; 100.000 Uprooted; 850.000 Affected… and the World Just Watching

The United Nations estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria and some 100,000 uprooted, living as refugees in neighboring countries.
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Members of a Syrian family register as refugees in northern Lebanon. Photo: UNHCR/F.Juez

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To have this dramatic situation, the UN humanitarian agencies and their partners appealed for $193 million to help the growing number of Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, the UN reports.
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“The Governments and host communities of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey have shown tremendous generosity and hospitality to Syrian refugees,” said Panos Moumtzis of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

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22/06/2012

Manhunt: This is Racism, Pure and Simple

Human Wrongs Watch

By Uri Avnery* (TRANSCEND) – “We shall not be a normal people, until we have Jewish whores and Jewish thieves in the Land of Israel,” our national poet, Haim Nahman Bialik, said some 80 years ago.

**Photo: Tamar Dressler/IRIN – South Sudanese children at a protest against Israeli government directive to return home by the end of March

This dream has come true. We have Jewish murderers, Jewish robbers and Jewish whores (though most prostitutes in Israel are imported by international slave traders from Eastern Europe through the Sinai border).

But Bialik was too unambitious. He should have added: We shall not become a normal people until we have Jewish Neo-Nazis and Jewish concentration camps.

The central news item nowadays in all our electronic and print media is the terrible danger of “illegal” African migrants.

African refugees and job seekers are drawn to Israel for several reasons, none of which is an ardent belief in Zionism.

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22/06/2012

S. Sudan Returnees Complain of ‘Harsh Treatment’ in Israel – UN

JUBA, (IRIN*) – The first batch of 700 South Sudanese have returned to Juba from Israel, as part of a policy to deport Africans and protect the state’s Jewish identity.

**Photo: Mya Guarnieri/IRIN – African migrants eating in a park in Tel Aviv.

Israel and its military ally South Sudan, which gained independence in July 2011 after decades of civil war, both claim that the process has been one of “voluntary repatriation”.

While some among the first planeload of 124 people were very guarded about their feelings of returning to their new but still extremely impoverished nation, several people said the South Sudanese are being forced out.

“We had a problem with the minister of interior saying that South Sudanese should go back to their country,” said Paul Ruot Wan at a transit site outside Juba where the returnees were registered on 18 June.

Ruot worked in hotels across Israel for five years before being told he had to go back to his new country.

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22/06/2012

Climate Change Drives Millions of People From Their Homes

Climate change can play a role in driving people from their homes into areas of conflict and potentially across borders, according to a new United Nations report.
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Millions of people lost their homes after massive floods devastated Pakistan in summer 2010 | Photo: UN

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“Climate Change, Vulnerability and Human Mobility,” based on discussions with around 150 refugees and internally displaced people in Ethiopia and Uganda in 2011, is published by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN University (UNU).
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“This report confirms what we have been hearing for years from refugees,” said the High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, who introduced the report while attending the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“They did everything they could to stay at home, but when their last crops failed, their livestock died, they had no option but to move; movement which often led them into greater harm’s way,” he stated.

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22/06/2012

Ethiopia: ‘Pastoralists Forced off Their Land for Sugar Plantations’, HRW

Human Wrongs Watch

The Ethiopian government is forcibly displacing indigenous pastoral communities in Ethiopia’s Lower Omo valley without adequate consultation or compensation to make way for state-run sugar plantations, Human Rights Watch said in a report*.

**Photo: Sacca – Source: Flickr | Wikimedia Commons

The report contains previously unpublished government maps that show the extensive developments planned for the Omo valley, including irrigation canals, sugar processing factories, and 100,000 hectares of other commercial agriculture.

The 73-page report, “‘What Will Happen if Hunger Comes?’: Abuses against the Indigenous Peoples of Ethiopia’s Lower Omo Valley,” documents how government security forces are forcing communities to relocate from their traditional lands through violence and intimidation, threatening their entire way of life with no compensation or choice of alternative livelihoods.

Government officials have carried out arbitrary arrests and detentions, beatings, and other violence against residents of the Lower Omo valley who questioned or resisted the development plans, according to Human Rights Watch report.

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