February 20th, 2015

Weekly News Round Up (20/02/15)

News from HART

– HART has released a new briefing on the political and humanitarian situation in Nigeria over the last two months. Read it here.

– In a new blog post this week, Ivaylo Hristev discusses the postponed elections in Nigeria and the implications this has for democracy and stability, locally and regionally. You can read the blog entry here.

– A network of ethnic and community-based health organisations produced a survey and follow-up report on the health care situation in Burma; ‘The Long Road to Recovery: Ethnic and Community-Based Health Organizations Leading the Way to Better Health in Eastern Burma’. They found that 70% respondents accessed healthcare from ethnic and CBO health workers, whilst only 8% access to government healthcare. 75% had to walk for an hour and a half to reach the health centre.

 

Burma

– The Irrawaddy reports that the Burmese government has declared martial law in the Kokang region following intense fighting which has escalated since the 9th February which has seen people on both sides killed and forced tens of thousands to flee to the borders and into China.

– A convoy from the Myanmar Red Cross Society (MRCS) was ambushed whilst attempting to transport civilians away from fighting in Laukki on the Chinese border. Amnesty and UN have issued statements saying that these unprovoked attacks may amount to war crimes. DVB has released a video of footage from the ambush.

– Burma Link has posted a report on life in refugee camps. To find out more, follow this link.

 

India

– On Tuesday Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to protect all religious groups after a string of attacks on churches in Delhi. Since December, five churches have been attacked, but this is the first time Mr Modi has commented on the issue. Critics say his Hindu nationalist BJP government has not been doing enough to stop Hindu zealots targeting minorities.

– That same day, the PM was urged by the Archbishop of Delhi Anil Cuoto to extend affirmative action, known in India as ‘reservation’, to Christian Dalits

– It was revealed last weekend that the Indian government blocked a Greenpeace activist from travelling to the UK, preventing her from boarding a flight in January. Priya Pillai, an activist who had been fighting coal mining in the Mahan forest, was due to speak to Parliament on the impact mining was having on indigenous communities in central India. However, she was stopped by immigration control and barred from traveling on the grounds that her visit would be “prejudicial to the national interest”.

– On Wednesday, the government announced they will let her fly only so long as she ‘doesn’t embarrass India’

– Right wing Hindu groups provoked an online backlash on Valentine’s Day after they announced they will be “requesting” unmarried couples caught kissing in public on Valentine’s Day to marry on the spot.

 

Nagorno-Karabakh

– Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarifannounced that Iran is ‘ready to play a mediatory role’ in helping to end the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh whilst noting the importance of a strengthening relationship between Iran and Azerbaijan.

 

Nigeria

– A teenage suicide bomber blew herself up on Sunday 15th, at a crowded bus station in Damataru, capital of Yobe state. This is the first such attack in the city of Damataru.

– Nigerian troops have recaptured two towns from Boko Haram on Monday, amidst the start of joint exercises of regional troops preparing to fight against the radical group.

– Nigerian military said on Wednesday that it has killed over 300 Boko Haram fighters and captured many others as part of the ongoing efforts to provide security to north-eastern residents for the upcoming elections in March.

– Nigeria’s army has expanded their activities in the north-east after their successful gains on Wednesday. Aljazeera reported on Friday Nigerian air force units have bombed Boko Haram strongholds.

 

South Sudan

– A British aid work was killed in Juba on Tuesday night as he was returning to his compound. The worker is believed to have worked for Carter Center, an NGO set up by the former US President Jimmy Carter.

– SPML factions have signed another document as part of the Arusha agreement implementation. The agreement gives the SPML factions 45 days to return to Juba.

– UN Secretary General’s Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict praised on Wednesday efforts to ensure accountability for sexual violence in South Sudan.

 

Sudan

– The Sudanese government has reaffirmed that presidential and parliamentary elections in April will not be postponed. Sudan’s minister of Justice said constitutional amendments do not allow for a delay in the elections.

– UN agencies in Sudan said on Thursday that the number of new IDPs in Darfur region has reached more than 41,000 people, as the Sudanese army continues its war against the rebels in the region.

 

Timor-Leste

– The new Prime minister and unity government were sworn in on Monday as the next generation prepares for power over a decade after the country’s independence. The former health minister Rui Araujo, a New Zealand-trained doctor and popular opposition Fretilin figure, will lead the new government. “We can do better by working together,” Araujo declared Monday in the capital Dili.

– Some of the big issues that will dominate the political agenda for the new PM include the country’s high unemployment, the need to diversify the economy and reduce its dependence on dwindling oil supplies, a host of human rights and corruption issues as well as the ongoing legacy of the Indonesian occupation and conflict.

 

Uganda

– An Australian-based doctor who wants to stand in the presidential elections to be held next year has denied as absolute nonsense allegations he is funding the assassination of Muslim clerics in his home country. Cardiologist Dr Aggrey Kiyingi says the allegations are part of an orchestrated government harassment of his political organisation that has seen members imprisoned in the lead-up to the 2016 election.

– The speaker in the Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has resurrected the Marriage and Divorce Bill. If passed, the bill would update marital laws by making marital rape explicitly illegal and promote gender equality in marriage. It has been met with hostility from conservative Christian sections of society.

– Internal Affairs minister Gen. Aronda Nyakayirima has asked Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to train police to ensure they are respecting human rights when carrying out their duties. “We have seen some video clips of police officers beating up and manhandling people on television yet they are supposed to keep law and order,” Aronda said.

– The U.S has ‘donated’ 23 military vehicles to the Ugandan army. In making the presentation, Lt Col Haddock said the donation from the US Department of Defence is part of his government’s commitment to support the UPDF to build its capacity and to make it more professionalised and efficient in its operations

– Victor Ochen, a Ugandan lawyer, has been nominated for the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Award for his work in founding the African Youth Initiative Network in 2005 to help children afflicted by the war in the north and to mobilize the youth and communities to participate in promoting peace and justice.


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