Daily Archives: September 16, 2018

Mass Exodus Underway From Cameroon’s English-Speaking Regions

People fleeing the violence in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon are going through systematic searches before being allowed to enter the French-speaking regions of the central African state after the government claimed fighters were trying to enter with weapons.

It is very busy here at the Mile 17 bus station in the English speaking Southwestern town of Buea, where at least 30 transport buses leave daily for either the French-speaking town of Douala, or Cameroon’s capital city, Yaounde. Many people remain at the station, some with their mattresses, dresses and kitchen utensils, expecting more buses to arrive and transport them.

Gabriel Mbinkar, an official of a bus agency says they have doubled fares from $8 to $16 because their vehicles return from the French-speaking towns empty, since many people are fleeing English-speaking towns and villages and no one is coming in.

“As you will see behind me passengers are there, waiting for vehicles, the vehicles that were there this morning are already gone and we are trying to see what is available if it can get these people by the latter hours of the day so that they can go out in order for people not to fall into trouble,” said Mbinkar.

Among those leaving is businesswoman Philomena Maloke. She says the military searched her luggage and that of her two-month-old daughter at least seven times between Kumba, her town of origin and Buea where she arrived Saturday to continue to Yaounde.

“It is a pity that it is happening here in our country,” she said.

Bernard OkaliaBilai, governor of the English-speaking Southwest region of Cameroon visited the Mile 17 motor park Saturday to plead with people to stop the mass exodus.

He says people are running away because of threats from separatist fighters to disrupt the October 7 presidential election, and because of rumors the military is planning raids against the armed separatists that invaded many towns in the region.

“There is fake news that the army will attack, will launch an attack, no, the army is not launching attacks,” said Bilai. “The army are there to protect the population and their property. Those who are abandoning their homes, you can see here, we have beds, furniture, no, where are they going. No, we want them to stay at home.”

The governor of Cameroon’s English-speaking Northwest, Deben Tchoffo, says thousands are also leaving his region. He says the military has seized weapons some suspected fighters were hiding in their luggage as they left for French-speaking towns. Tchoffo says he is making an appeal for every one travelling to verify their luggage to make sure traffickers are not hiding weapons in their bags.

“I will like to launch an appeal here to ask them to collaborate with security services. To denounce those that are threatening them to the security services, so that together, we fight to bring back the situation back to normalcy,” he said.

Unrest began in Cameroon in November 2016 when English speaking teachers and lawyers demonstrated against the overbearing use of the French language. Separatists took over and started demanding the independence of the English speaking from the French-speaking regions of the bilingual country.

The separatists have on social media insisted that they will disrupt Cameroon’s October 7 presidential election in the English-speaking regions. They say they are an independent nation called Ambazonia and will not allow such an election in their land. The government is assuring the people of security.

The United Nations reports that 300 people including 130 policemen and the military have been killed, hundreds of thousands have fled for their lives to the bushes and towns in the French-speaking regions. At least 20,000 have crossed over to Nigeria.

Source: Voice of America

Two Girls Die After Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia

Despite sustained efforts to stop the practice, Somali doctors and rights activists say two sisters bled to death after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) last week in central Somalia.

Doctors and activist confirmed that the girls died in Bur Salah village about 75km west of Galkayo town, but the mutilation took place near the town of Galladi across the border in the Somali region of Ethiopia. Galkayo hospital is the closest main health facility used by the Somali nomads who live along the border areas between Somali and Ethiopia.

Dr. Mohamed Hussein Aden, who interviewed relatives who tried to save the girls, said the mutilation took place either on September 11 or the day before.

Aden said the victims were aged 10 and 11, adding, “There is no other way to describe it, it’s brutal.”

Aden says the news of the incident is “heartbreaking” and said another emergency call came in Sunday for a young girl who had been circumcised. She was also being brought to Galkayo hospital.

Rights activists Hawa Aden Mohamed is the founder and director of the Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development, which educates about 400 young girls in Galkayo.

She said she sent staffers to visit the girl’s village but was told it will take days to locate parents. Mohamed fears the family may be avoiding contact for fear of prosecution.

Aden said Somali society is conservative and even the mother who lost the children may not tell the whole story.

He also said not all incidents are reported.

“It’s shocking, this month we heard five cases including these two deaths,” he said. “Sometimes a month passes without hearing any incident, but it actually happens at homes, we just don’t hear it.”

Mohamed says incidents of female genital mutilation occur often, but people avoid talking about it because “it’s like a taboo. They often use traditional midwifes, sometimes people who perform are not midwives at all because they believe it’s a tradition they have to do it. It’s a deadly tradition.”

Mohamed says some mothers at her center ask her to give their daughters time off from school in order for them to be circumcised.

“They ask for a week’s holiday saying they want to circumcise, they (mothers) argue ‘If I don’t circumcise she is going to chase men,” Mohamed says. “I try to explain to them, ‘No’, I shout, but when you push them they threaten to remove girls out of the school.”

Mohamed says in a patriarchal society like Somalia, the bulk of responsibility to stop this practice rests with male family members.

“This can be stopped and it should be stopped,” she said. “Mothers have learned this custom from their mothers and foremothers, or they are in remote areas and they have not heard a different opinion,” she said. “If the father stands up, or the brother, and uncles, and say ‘our daughters cannot be touched’ this will change.”

FGM involves removing part or all of the clitoris and labia for non-medical reasons. The World Health Organization (WHO) says cutting, often performed on girls 15 and younger, can result in bleeding, infection, problems with urination and complications with childbearing.

Somalia is in the top three countries in the world for FGM violations, according to the WHO.

Source: Voice of America

‘Shadow’ of persistent inequality is growing, key UN human development report reveals

While health, education, and income levels have improved overall across the globe, wide inequalities both among and within countries, are casting a shadow on sustained human development, a new United Nations report shows.

Looking at the widening gap in real terms, a child born in Norway today � the country with the highest human development index (HDI) � can expect to live beyond the age of 82, and spend almost 18 years in school. But the same child, if born in Niger � the lowest HDI � can expect only to live to 60, with just five years of formal education.

While these statistics present a stark picture in themselves, they also speak to the tragedy of millions of individuals whose lives are affected by inequity and lost opportunities, neither of which are inevitable, said Achim Steiner, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), which released the report today.

Inequality occurs in many countries, including in some of the wealthiest ones, but it ends up taking a much bigger toll on countries with lower HDI levels; with low HDI countries losing almost a third of their human development capacity. For countries with a high HDI, the average loss is 11 per cent.

The striking differences both within and among countries, are stifling progress and the trend can be seen again and again, according to UNDP.

Inequality in all its forms and dimensions, between and within countries, limits people’s choices and opportunities, withholding progress, explained SelimJahan, Director of the Human Development Report Office at UNDP.

Women’s empowerment remains a particular challenge

A key sources of inequality within countries is the gap in opportunities, achievements and empowerment between women and men. On average, the HDI for women is 6 per cent lower than that for men, notes the report.

Inequality in all its forms and dimensions, between and within countries, limits people’s choices and opportunities, withholding progress � SelimJahan, UNDP

Furthermore, while there has been laudable progress in the number of girls attending school, there remain big differences in other key aspects of men and women’s lives � for instance labour force participation rates for women globally are lower than for men � 49 per cent, versus 75 per cent.

And when women are working, their unemployment rates are 24 per cent higher than their male counterparts. Women globally also do much more unpaid domestic and care work than men.

Women’s empowerment remains a particular challenge, underscored UNDP.

Data tells a part of the story, quality of growth matters

The Human Development Report 2018 update also shows tremendous variation between countries in quality of education, healthcare and many other key aspects of life.

This quality-difference can be illustrated by looking at the number of students per teacher, in primary schools. Sub-Saharan Africa has, on average, 39 pupils per teacher while in developed regions, there is an average of one teacher for every 16-18 primary school pupils.

Similar difference exists in terms of health care: OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries and East Asia and the Pacific have, on average, 29 and 28 physicians for every 10,000 people respectively. In South Asia overall, there are only eight per 10,000, falling to less than two, in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Much of the world’s attention is on data that tells only a part of the story about people’s lives, said Mr. Jahan, highlighting that it is clearly not enough simply to count how many children are in the classroom. The important dimension is to know whether they are learning anything.

Focusing on quality is essential to foster sustainable and sustained human development progress.

Looking back over almost three decades, all regions and human development groups have made substantial progress.

The global HDI value in 2017 was 0.728, up about 21.7 percent from 1990. Across the world, people are living longer, are more educated and have greater opportunities.

Source: UN News Centre

Zimbabwe Disperses Vendors in Effort to Fight Cholera Outbreak

Zimbabwe police Sunday clashed with vendors who were resisting being removed from streets as part of the country’s efforts to fight the cholera outbreak, which has claimed more than two dozen lives in the past two weeks.

Vendors were alerting each other of armed riot police and municipality officials coming to confiscate their wares Sunday in Harare. As soon as police officials left, the vendors would resume their business.

One of them is 34-year-old Maria Mange, a mother who three children who says unless she gets employed, she will remain selling vegetables and fruits in Harare’s CBD.

I am refusing to leave the streets on the basis that we cause the spread of cholera,” she said. “Our wares are cleaned or boiled before being consumed. It is dirty water which causes cholera, their failure to collect refuse, plus flowing sewage in the streets and blocked sewer pipes. Why concentrate on vendors and not criminals?

Another vendor is Ronald Takura who says he has to find a way to make a livliehood.

No, vendors are not causing the cholera. You are disturbing [our] search for money in our country,” he said. “I do not have a job and I do not have work to do. So do not send us out. I do not understand what is happening in this city. E.D. Mnangagwa, we supported, we do not see what he is doing for us.

He adds in Shona language, Zimbabweans voted for President EmmersonMnangagwa in the July 30th elections, but he is not supporting the vendors.

But Zimbabwe’s minister of health, ObediahMoyo, says there is no going back.

“The issue of food vending is another issue, we all agreed that has to stop, especially in the area of epicenter [of the epidemic], that the police are helping us to stop the vending of food, he said.

Zimbabwe’s cholera outbreak has since spread to several parts of the country from its epicenter in Harare’s densely populated suburbs.

International organizations such as UNICEF, WHO, and MSF have since moved in with assistance. But critics say the long-term solution is improving water supply, sanitation and regular waste collection by Zimbabwean authorities.

A cholera outbreak is the second since a 2008-09 epidemic claimed almost 5,000 lives.

Source: Voice of America

‘Wind of hope’ blowing through Horn of Africa says UN chief, as Ethiopia and Eritrea sign historic peace accord

There is a powerful wind of hope blowing across the Horn of Africa region, said UN chief AntonioGuterres on Sunday, in Saudi Arabia to witness the signing of a peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, ending decades of simmering conflict.

Saudi Arabia facilitated the agreement, and in a message on Twitter, the Foreign Ministry said that the accord, signed in Jeddah is a historic milestone for the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and will contribute to strengthening security and stability in the region at large.

The signature of the peace agreement between the President of Eritrea and the Prime Minister of Ethiopia is indeed a historic event, said the Secretary-General, speaking at a press conference following the signing in Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city, on the Red Sea coast, with Foreign Minister Adel Aljubeir.

We have seen a conflict that has lasted for decades, ending, and that has a very important meaning in a world where we see, unfortunately, so many conflicts multiplying, and lasting forever – UN chief, AntonioGuterres

We have seen a conflict that has lasted for decades, ending, and that has a very important meaning in a world where we see, unfortunately, so many conflicts multiplying, and lasting forever, added Mr. Guterres.

He expressed his deep appreciation for the role played by Saudi Arabia, before paying tribute on one hand to the courage, the vision, the wisdom of the Prime Minister of Ethiopia – who has had the capacity to overcome enormous resistance from the past and open a new chapter in the history of his country – and also the way the President of Eritrea has promptly responded to his peace initiatives.

The thaw in relations between the neighbouring countries, who fought a bloody, unresolved war in the late 1990s, began in earnest in June, when Ethiopia’s newly-elected leader, Abiy Ahmed, made peace overtures to his counterpart, which have now come to fruition.

Seizing on the implications for the whole region, Mr. Guterres said that the agreement meant that there is a wind of hope blowing in the Horn of Africa. It is not only the peace between Ethiopia and Eritrea � it is the fact that tomorrow and the day after tomorrow we will have, here in Saudi Arabia, the President of Djibouti and the President of Eritrea � two countries that have also been at odds with each other.

According to news reports, Eritrea and Djibouti announced on Friday that they would also normalize diplomatic relations with each other following a falling out on the border, in 2008, which left several dead and resulted in prisoners being taken on both sides.

The UN chief also noted the peace agreement between the President and his former Vice President in South Sudan, that was signed on Thursday � in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa – as another indicator of real diplomatic movement across the Horn of Africa and its borders.

I want to say that this window of hope is enormously important in a world where, unfortunately, hope has been very scarce, added the Secretary-General.

Source: UN News Centre