July 31st, 2015
Weekly News Round Up (31/07/15)
News from HART:
- Julie Marangé has written a blog post called “If you were the Prime Minister of India, what would you do to improve the women rights situation in that country and how would you do it?” which was a shortlisted entry to the HART Prize for Human Rights. Read it here.
- Guest blogger, Talia Augustine, discusses shortfalls in mental healthcare in Uganda and the role of NGOs in bridging this gap, as well as avenues for policy improvement. Read her full article here.
- Our first HART Ambassadors meet-up took place on Tuesday, 28th July, at the London South Bank Centre. It was an evening full of joy and excitement, discussing ideas and proposals of fellow Ambassadors. We are grateful for the commitment and dedication of our fantastic supporters. If you are interested in joining our HART Ambassadors Programme, you can find all relevant information here.
- The World Food Programme has confirmed that it will cut food rations to internally displaced people (IDPs) in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin States, apparently because of the “improved household food security situation”. The cut has been severely criticised by NGOs, civil society organisations and IDP representatives, who say that the situation for many victims of Burma’s ethnic conflicts is worse than ever before.
- Concerns have been raised over the arrest of the leader of the Myanmar Farmers Union, Daw Su Su Nway. Su Su Nway had been meeting with villagers to discuss land confiscation issues, and refused to seek bail because she said the Government was misusing the law.
- A coalition of Burmese aid groups have called for urgent help for displaced civilians following more heavy fighting in Kachin State.
- A new report has highlighted concerns about the continuing imprisonment of human rights defenders in Burma, claiming that despite the Burmese Governments show of being committed to reform, the human rights situation in the country is worsening.
- 6,966 prisoners have been granted amnesties by the Burmese Government ahead of the elections later this year, but there has been criticism that only 13 political prisoners were among those freed.
- The Speaker of the Burmese Parliament, Thura U Shwe Mann, has dismissed a petition thought to be supported by military members of his constituency, to impeach him for his failed attempt to amend the constitution earlier this year. The amendments would have lessened the military’s grip on political power.
- Azerbaijan has reported that 5 Armenian soldiers and 1 Azeri were killed during clashes over the border as tensions have once again escalated.
- Azerbaijan also says it has shot down an Armenian drone near the border with Nagorno-Karabakh, but Nagorno-Karabakh officials have denied the reports.
- The French central Government has banned French local authorities from co-operating with Nagorno-Karabakh and other bodies not recognised by the central Government.
- On Wednesday this week, President Buhari travelled to neighbouring Cameroon to hold meetings with President Paul Biya on the increasing regional Boko Haram insurgency. Buhari and Biya announced that an 8,700 troop strong Multinational Joint Task Force, mandated by the African Union and comprising soldiers from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin, will be deployed to defeat the Islamists. The headquarter will be based in N’Djamena, capital of Chad. Buhari has not yet specified when the task force is set to begin its operations. On Tuesday, the United Nations Security Council appealed to international donors to back the regional campaign against Boko Haram.
- Critics argue that Buhari’s visit failed to bring about significant progress to current issues in Nigeria’s and Cameroon’s relations, specifically the Boko Haram counterinsurgency campaign. The absence of a specific start date of operations of the regional task force has been heavily criticised by observers, especially when taking into account that it was initially planned to start on July 31st, 2015 (which failed because of lack of funding and political disputes). In addition, critics refer to “vague pledges” to improve sharing of intelligence for Boko Haram operations and security cooperation along the border between Nigeria and Cameroon.
- The increasing cooperation between Nigeria and its neighbours is both a cause and a consequence of cross-border Boko Haram attacks in the past months. Boko Haram violence killed 60 people in Cameroon this month alone. In Chad, ten fishermen from three different villages were killed this Monday. Within Nigeria, almost 900 people were killed because of Boko Haram attacks in the past two months.
- Earlier today, at least 10 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Maiduguri, the birthplace of the Boko Haram insurgency.
- Last Friday, the African Union released a report that investigated allegations of atrocities and human rights abuses committed in South Sudan during the initial start of the conflict. Benjamin Marial, South Sudan’s foreign affairs minister, stated on Thursday that the African Union report found no evidence of genocide and that it “reflected truth and reports about real events. As the government we welcomed it and assure our commitment to fully implement its recommendations, especially on the issues of peace and reconciliation”.
- On Monday, an attack on the Dablual village in South Sudan’s Unity state, carried out by SPLA soldiers and their militia, caused more than 35,000 people to flee into the bush (including villagers and displaced people seeking refuge in Dablual). According to John Riek, head of the local relief commission, “It’s serious. They have burned the area completely. People are going to die because of hunger”.
- On Thursday this week, according to Sudan Tribune, President Salva Kiir stated that he does not intend to sign a peace proposal with the opposition group, headed by former vice President Riek Machar, which was brought forward by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and aims to end the violent conflict that erupted two years ago. The proposal envisages to give 53% in Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei states to the SPLM in opposition. Oil resources – accounting for 98% of total government revenues – are located in Unity and Upper Nile State. According to President Kiir, “any agreement that gives [Greater] Upper Nile region to Riek Machar will not bring peace to this country”.
- Food shortage and poor sanitary provisions make life unbearable for displaced people in Kalma camp, South Darfur. Relief workers are alarmed about malnutrition rates of children in the camp, stating that food supply is dependent on support from the World Food Programme (WFP), which has stopped its food rations two months ago.
- On Wednesday, the African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies reported that a man in West Darfur has been tortured to death by members of the Sudanese army. According to ACJPS, the victim has been accused of providing intelligence to the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). Two other men were also detained and, according to the human rights organisation, “immediate steps should be taken to guarantee the safety of the two men, who face an ongoing risk of torture and have been detained incommunicado without charge in military custody in West Darfur since 17 July“.
- On Sunday, Sudan’s President al-Bashir arrived in Mauritania to attend a summit together with leaders from Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania. This is al-Bashir’s second visit to Mauritania since he was accused of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, which issued arrest warrants for him in 2009 and 2010. Mauritania is not a state party to the Rome Statute of the ICC. It was his first trip outside of Sudan after his escape from arrest in South Africa last month.
- Ahmed Hussain Adam, Visiting Fellow at Cornell University, published an opinion article on “Will the Obama administration fix its Sudan policy?”. Read the full article here.
- On Thursday, New Vision Uganda reported that a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office of the Prime Minister, whereupon Uganda agreed to host more refugees. Currently, Uganda’s neighbouring countries in the Great Lakes region are getting lost in violent conflict, political turmoil and civil unrest – and thousands of people from Burundi, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo are seeking refuge in Uganda. The ongoing escalation of violence in Burundi contributes to a current daily influx of 144 persons from Burundi alone since the beginning of June and is likely to increase.
- The MoU was also signed by Yunus Social Business, which aims to assist refugees with long-term development support for their livelihoods. Therefore, the MoU envisages a combination of humanitarian and development assistance for refugees, and aims to increase self-reliance for incoming forced migrants. Support for business start-ups and innovative projects in refugee camps is ought to decrease dependency on Uganda as a host country and restore sustainable livelihoods of refugees.
- On Thursday, All Africa reported that Uganda government officials are aiding human trafficking, according to the recently released 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report by the US Department of State. “In some of these cases, there is complicity of government officials. This official complicity hindered government oversight of labour recruitment agencies”, according to the report. Vital Voices has published an interview with Agnes Igoye, Uganda National Anti-Trafficking Task Force Deputy Coordinator, discussing her experience growing up during the Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency and her opinion on how to combat human trafficking.
- On Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Uganda, Scott H. DeLisi, published a statement discussing the country’s proposed NGO Bill. Read the full version here.
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