Category Archives: Education

WHO Quick-Starts Efforts to Tackle New Ebola Outbreak in Congo

The World Health Organization says expert staff and equipment have been sent to northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo to quick-start the process of combating a new outbreak of Ebola.The last outbreak of this fatal virus in Congo was declared over just a week ago.

Ebola is a constant threat in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the virus thrives in heavily forested areas. This latest outbreak is the 10th since the first one was discovered in 1976.

The World Health Organization says this new outbreak in North Kivu province is 2,500 kilometers away from Equateur Province, the site of the previous outbreak, and there is no link between the two.

WHO spokesman TarikJasarevic says the DRC Ministry of Health informed WHO Wednesday that four of six samples taken in North Kivu tested positive for Ebola virus.

He says it is crucial to gain access to the area as quickly as possible.He says having people and material in the country from the outbreak in Equateur is very helpful in tackling the outbreak.

“We really need to get into the area to do epidemiological investigations, try to find cases, try to work with health workers, to strengthen infection prevention and control measures and also to start with the contact tracing,” he said. “It is, on the other hand, worrying that this area is a conflict zone.It is an area with lots of displacement, so the access can be hampered in that way.”

The virus was discovered in a village near the city of Beni in North Kivu, which hosts more than one million displaced people. The province shares borders with Rwanda and Uganda, with a lot of cross border movement due to brisk trade.

Jasarevic says WHO will work with these neighboring countries to try to prevent the virus from crossing over.

He says identifying the type of Ebola virus that is circulating is a priority, as that will tell scientists whether the vaccine used to help contain the outbreak in Equateur province can also be used in North Kivu.

Source: Voice of America

Kenya’s Slum Justice Centers Give Voice to Victims

Residents in Kenya’s informal settlements, also known as shantytowns or slums, are often wary of police and authorities because of their precarious legal status and past abuse. Local activists have started social justice centers as part of grass-roots efforts to give voice to victims. But justice for slum dwellers is often elusive.

Ruth Mumbi grew up in Mathare, one of Kenya’s informal settlements, commonly known as slums, where the poor and undocumented live, and where their legal status makes them vulnerable to abuse.

Mumbi’s brother-in-law, Stephen Gichuru, paid the ultimate price.

Stephen Gichuru was a 17-year-old boy who was an acrobat, and before he was profiled by some police officers stationed at Huruma police station as a gangster who had been robbing the community. So one early morning – 17 May 2015 – he came across the two police officers and he was shot without them even wanting to know what he was doing in Kiamaiko because they had already warned him to leave the community,to go far away,” said Mumbi.

Gichuru is one of hundreds of victims of alleged police violence in Kenya’s slums.

Rights activists say most police killings, as many as 800 in the past few years, have yet to see justice.

Kenya government spokesperson Eric Kiraithe questions such high figures, but acknowledges police killings have occurred.

It is a fact that suspects have died while in contact with the police. But each individual case should be dealt with in its own merit. … figures like 800 � I have not seen the individual cases they have listed and the grounds in which they list such. I would not want to dispute a figure that I have not been able to interrogate, but basically let every case of murder be dealt with in its own merit – that is our stand, he said.

Social justice centers seek to fill the gap in data, said GachekeGachehe, a founder of Mathare Social Justice Center.

We ask ourselves, if we do not do this, if we do not come here and station ourselves here, and put some poster there that says stop exclusion. What will happen? This will become permanent. If we do not do it, we will lose the whole generation, from Kayole, Mathare, Dandora, Kibera, said Gachehe.

A 2017 Mathare Social Justice Center report indicates police killed 156 men between January 2013 and December 2016 in Mathare.

Kiraithe said it is dangerous for police in slums � where high unemployment, law-breaking, and violence are common.

I can tell you as a police officer, the challenges of policing in such areas are very high. The unemployment rate, the lack of organized settlement, the environment itself exposes the youth to deviant behavior and what we train the police to do and ask them to do is however the challenges, police must remain professional, said Kiraithe.

The more than 100 social justice centers in Kenyan slums pass along daily complains of harassment, abuse, and corruption.

Communication and outreach officer Denis Oketch of Kenya’s Independent Police Oversight Authority said they help investigations of police misconduct.

What these groups also do, because they are at the grassroots level, when this complaint comes, because the people at the grassroots trust them they are able to direct witnesses to come and lodge their statements with us. They are able to report that this happened in our area of jurisdiction, but after we get that information from them we take up our investigations independent of any external factor, he said.

But justice for Kenya’s poor and undocumented is often elusive.

In the Stephen Gichuru case, the Oversight Authority identified police officers it believed were responsible, but the case has been stalled at the Office of Public Prosecution and-three years later no court date has been set, and the two officers remain on active duty.

Source: Voice of America

Militant Groups Look to Exploit Somaliland-Puntland Tensions

As fighting and fiery rhetoric increase between the Somali region of Puntland and the self-declared independent state of Somaliland, some analysts fear that Islamist militant groups may try to exploit any instability to plant deeper roots in the area.

Our concern is that were there to be a direct conflict between Somaliland and Puntland, the security forces will be preoccupied with that, and would not be in a position to contain Al-Shabab or the Islamic State, says E.J. Hogendoorn, deputy director of the Africa Program at the International Crisis Group.

Obviously, this will give them the chance to expand their reach, he told VOA.

Sool and Sanaag

Somaliland and Puntland have had a long-running dispute over the provinces of Sool and Sanaag, which run from the Gulf of Aden all the way to the eastern borders of Ethiopia.

Violence erupted again this January when Somaliland troops attacked and captured the town of Tukaraq, which headquartered a customs station for Puntland.

The Somaliland attack on Tukaraq was carried out while President Mohammed AbdullahiFarmajo of Somalia was visiting Puntland, in what the ICG described as a warning from Somaliland to the Somali government against getting involved in the contested areas.

Ali Ibrahim, a development expert working with an International NGO in Somalia, said it is hard to determine the strength of the sides in the disputed region.

Both sides claim they are stronger, well-armed, and have the necessary skills to defend their ‘land’, Ibrahim said.

Shabab, IS have toeholds

Although Puntland and Somaliland have enjoyed relative peace and security compared to the rest of Somalia, there are pockets where al-Shabab and the IS faction are present and continue to threaten and attack security forces, mostly in Puntland.

On July 20, al-Shabab seized the small town of AfUrur, 95 kilometers south of the coastal city of Bosaso, in Puntland. The town has been a scene of previous heavy fighting between the terror group and Puntland security forces, including the attack of June 10, 2017, described as the deadliest on security forces since Puntland’s founding in 1998.

There’s a mountain range that kind of basically spans this region, called the Galgala Mountains, in which there’s been an al-Shabab faction for quite some time, said the ICG’s Hogendoorn. As far as we know, they do operate within this region. And, depending on whether you consider it to be Somaliland or Puntland areas, this is an issue.”

The Islamic State in Somalia, which broke away from al-Shabab, is reported to have presence along the coastal region of Puntland.

ISIS in Somalia doesn’t control any territory, but maintains influence and a very small presence in northern Puntland, said U.S. Air Force Major Karl Wiest, spokesman of U.S. Africa Command.

In May of this year, IS fighters attacked a Puntland army base near the town of Qandala on the Gulf of Aden. They had taken over Qandala twice in 2016 and 2017 before been driven out by Puntland forces.

These groups [al Shabab and Islamic State] are a threat to peace and stability of Somaliland and Puntland, said Ibrahim.

Direct Threat

The United States has been actively working with the Somali government to try and degrade the terrorist threats from all parts of Somalia.

These violent extremist organizations pose a direct threat to Americans, our allies, and interests in the region, Major Wiest told VOA in a written response.

Over the past seven years, the U.S. has carried out many drone strikes against terrorist targets in Somalia, most notably killing al-Shabab emir Ahmed Godane in 2014.

One of those targeted in Puntland last year was IS faction leader Sheikh AbdulkadirMumin. Although regional leaders told VOA that Mumin escaped alive, several militants were killed.

Over the weekend, a joint delegation of the East African bloc IGAD and the U.N. Mission in Somalia visited both Puntland and Somaliland in an effort to ease the tension around Tukaraq and prevent a full blown war between the two states.

If that happens, the terror groups will get an upper hand to grow, peace and stability will be compromised [and] political and economic instability [will ensue], said Ibrahim.

According to Crisis Group’s Hogendoorn, involving the different clans in addressing the threat of jihadi expansion in the area, is a more durable solution..

What is necessary is for the governments, both federal and state level, to find more of an accommodation with different clans that currently support Al-Shabab and Islamic State, Hogendoorn said. And, were these clans to join with the government in opposing Al-Shabab and Islamic State, that will be a much more durable solutionthan any kind of foreign military operation.

Source: Voice of America

SOUTH AFRICA’S WOMEN’S MONTH KICKS OFF WEDNESDAY WITH PROTEST MARCHES AGAINST GBV

JOHANNESBURG– Women’s Month in South Africa will kick off Wednesday with widespread marches across the country to protest against gender-based violence (GBV).

Protests organized under the hashtag, Total Shutdown, want women to stay away from work and school for one day. Demonstrators will, among other issues, demand stronger sentencing by the courts in gender-based violent crimes, crimes against women to be included in school curricula and strengthening the presence of social workers at schools.

The Women’s League of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), has called on women to call out men who have abused women.

The League’s young women’s unit has posted the names of men, some of whom are members of the ruling party, who have been found guilty of violence against women on its Facebook page.

Women’s Month begins on Aug 1 and commemorates the women who marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria in August 1956 to protest the apartheid-era Pass laws.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

BANKS REFUTE SOUTH AFRICAN COMPEITION COMMISSION’S ALLEGATION OF FOREX RIGGING

PRETORIA– Commercial banks in South African which have been implicated in the rigging of foreign exchange dealings of the Rand against the US dollar say the Competition Commission has failed to provide enough facts regarding the alleged collusive transactions.

The 23 banks were giving testimony before the Competition Tribunal during the second day of the Competition Tribunal hearings Tuesday.

Most of the banks which gave testimony on Tuesday want the tribunal to dismiss the cases against them because of lack of evidence. They again argued jurisdiction, prescription and that there is no proof that they participated in collusive transactions.

They have also argued that the matter has been prescribed because it happened three years ago. The alleged collusive transactions took place from 2007 to 2013.

The banks are said to have made massive profits by manipulating the Rand-US dollar rate and the competition commission says consumers have suffered the consequences of this.

The competition commission has refuted claims that it took too long to investigate this case, saying it was only made aware of it by Absa Bank three years after the collusive transactions took place.

Its investigation found that the banks had a general agreement to collude on prices for bids in relation to currency trading.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK