Saturday, October 23, 2004
Northern Uganda is suffering the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world with 20,000 children caught up in a war, the United Nations warned.
[Photo courtesy http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_pictures/3944133.stm]
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Rebellion in northern Uganda 'is worse than Darfur war'
Copy of report by David Blair, Africa Correspondent (Filed: 23/10/2004) Independent.co.uk:
A guerrilla war in northern Uganda, where 20,000 children have been taken captive be brutal rebels, is the world's worst "neglected humanitarian emergency", the United Nations said yesterday.
Jan Egeland, the UN's under-secretary for humanitarian affairs, described the insurgency waged by the Lord's Resistance Army for the past 18 years as a "moral outrage".
After briefing the UN Security Council in New York, Mr Egeland said: "Northern Uganda to me remains the biggest neglected humanitarian emergency in the world."
Devoid of any popular support, the LRA resorts to abducting children, then brainwashing and brutalising them for use as soldiers and sex slaves.
The number of children kidnapped has doubled in the past two years and at least 1.6 million people - virtually the entire rural population of northern Uganda - have been forced to flee their homes and move to squalid refugee camps.
The number of refugees has trebled since 2002 and exceeds the total in the war-torn region of Darfur in Sudan. But northern Uganda has received only a fraction of the international aid given to Darfur.
President Yoweri Museveni's regime insists that the war against the LRA is being won. On Thursday, Mr Museveni described the rebels as a "crushed force" - a claim he has regularly made for at least the past six years.
Britain's ambassador to the UN, Emyr Jones Parry, said the war was "one of the great crises out there which is not recognised enough".
The LRA received weapons and training from Sudan's Islamist regime throughout the 1990s.
That support has come to an end, but Joseph Kony, a self-styled "prophet" who leads the rebels, has rejected offers of an amnesty and vowed to fight on.
Friday, October 22, 2004
LALOGI CAMP, Uganda, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Punishing military strikes against northern Uganda's rebels have yet to benefit refugees packed into squalid camps where often only drink and sex can blot out hunger and despair, aid workers say.
Uganda's army has claimed significant victories in recent weeks against the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a brutal sect that kidnaps children to turn them into soldiers. But life remains desperately harsh for the estimated 1.6 million people who have fled to camps in fear. "Things have improved," aid worker Ben Omaro told Reuters. "Half the top rebel commanders have been killed or surrendered, but the people here do not even have the basic needs of life.
"The biggest problem we have here is starvation," he said as he watched supplies of maize and beans being unloaded from trucks at Lalogi Camp, about 600 km (373 miles) from Gulu town, epicentre of the brutal war.
HIV/AIDS is rife in the camp, fuelled by alcohol abuse and promiscuity. "When people have nothing, they are left with only sex and drinking," Omaro said. "Immorality is now very high. These people have given up on life."
Senior U.N. envoy Jan Egeland on Thursday described the crisis as the world's most neglected humanitarian emergency and urged the international community to provide more aid and put more pressure on the parties to end the killing.
The LRA, led by self-proclaimed prophet Joseph Kony, has been terrorising northern Uganda for 18 years. The group mutilates its victims and has kidnapped tens of thousands of children, taking them to southern Sudan where they are forced to become fighters, porters and sex slaves.
Egeland, the U.N's Emergency Relief Coordinator, said he hoped the peace process in southern Sudan would help end the LRA's long reign of terror. In the meantime, the people of northern Uganda still live in fear, and most would starve without food aid from the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP).
Gesturing to the sacks of grain, Omaro said the food, while welcome, was nowhere near enough to feed the camp's 19,000 residents. Children, their bellies distended by hunger, wandered naked around the makeshift shelters.
The aid convoys are heavily guarded by Ugandan troops because of the risk of attack from marauding bands of LRA rebels, who appear to have no clear objective beyond overthrowing the government of President Yoweri Museveni.
Fear of abduction, killing and mutilation by rebels has forced farmers to abandon their fields. "They have no way to cultivate their land, because if the rebels catch you far away from the camp and the soldiers you are finished," Omaro said. "All civilians are now their enemies."
Sunday, October 03, 2004
KAMPALA, Oct 3, 2004 (Xinhua) -- Uganda and Sudan plan to build a modern railway line linking northern Ugandan city Gulu and southern Sudan city Juba via Nimule of Sudan, reported local press on Sunday.
Ugandan Minister of Works, Transport and Communications John Nasasira was quoted as saying at weekend when meeting the project planners in Kampala that "we have been in constant contact with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and are planning on a joint permanent commission when the time come."
The 208-km high-speed railway line is to be constructed by a German company, Jahre Thormahlem Schwei-Btechnik, which has presented its feasibility study. The Gulu-Juba line is estimated to cost 688 million Euros ( about 800 million US dollars).
"At the moment, we cannot tell who is going to fund the project, but we shall look at the proposal and then solicit for the funds. As you see it is an expensive project, but the government will definitely contribute," Nasasira said.
Thursday, September 30, 2004
Military sources said Kony had come from his hideouts in Sudan with around 200 fighters.
The LRA has been fighting to replace President Yoweri Museveni's regime with one based on the Bible's Ten Commandments.
Monday, September 20, 2004
The Ugandan army suffered no casualties in the attack late Saturday on Lord's Resistance Army rebels hiding in a forested valley, 90 miles north of the Ugandan border, Lt. Paddy Ankunda said.
￼Ugandan rebel leaders, who rarely speak to journalists, could not be reached for comment.
"It was a fierce battle. We basically used aerial power to bomb their positions," Ankunda said by telephone from Gulu, 225 miles north of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. "The ground forces then closed in to check the area to see how many rebels had been killed."
The shadowy Lord's Resistance Army, fighting an 18-year rebellion, claims to be trying to overthrow Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, but the force mostly attacks civilians to steal food and abduct children for use as fighters, laborers or sex slaves.
Sudan backed the Ugandan rebels until December 1999, when the two countries signed an agreement that allowed the Ugandan army to flush out the insurgents in southern Sudan.
Ugandan troops entered southern Sudan in March 2000 to expel the rebels in "Operation Iron Fist."
[Courtesy Associated Press http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/ap20040919_1542.html]
Sunday, September 12, 2004
Richard Onera said he was kidnapped nine years ago when he was just 13. He described the hardships of rebel life -- hunger, isolation and fear -- and appealed to three of his friends still hiding in the bush to give themselves up.
"Nyero, Ogwal, Kobi," he said, "our battalion leader ... has already surrendered, why not you?"
Onera, who participated in a radio program called "Come Back Home," had surrendered just three days before the broadcast. He is one of about 600 LRA soldiers and commanders to defect since January, a dramatic sign that the nearly two-decade war with Uganda's armed forces may finally be ending. The radio show, which is heard across northern Uganda, is credited by many here with enticing scores of rebels like Onera to put down their arms.
The conflict began in 1986 after a revolt by soldiers from northern Uganda's dominant Acholi tribe. They were angry that a southerner, Yoweri Museveni, had seized power. Since then, more than 30,000 people have died in fighting between the LRA and government forces, and some 20,000 children have been kidnapped by the rebels to serve as fighters, porters and sex slaves, aid groups estimate. The ragtag militia is known for its brutality, hacking off limbs, lips or ears with machetes.
The insurgency, which is led by a self-proclaimed mystic named Joseph Kony who once said he would rule Uganda according to the Ten Commandments, has displaced about 1.5 million people, many of whom live in squalid camps.
The war has been a constant blemish on an 18-year period of relative prosperity in Uganda. During Museveni's tenure as president, Uganda has made a remarkable social and economic recovery after three decades of war and widespread human rights abuses under two previous dictators, Milton Obote and Idi Amin. Since 1990, there has been a 20 percent reduction in poverty, a surge in school enrollment, more professional security forces and a decline in HIV/AIDS rates.
Although sporadic attacks by the LRA continue -- official and unofficial estimates say there are anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand rebels still active in northern Uganda -- the mass desertions are the most positive sign that Kony, who reportedly controls his soldiers through intimidation and pronouncements of his divine powers, is losing the hearts and minds of his soldiers.
Kony himself barely escaped capture in July after Ugandan troops destroyed his headquarters in southern Sudan. Two of his wives have turned themselves in and four more were captured, Ugandan army sources say.
"It's the first time in the history of this conflict that groups of soldiers are coming out with their commanders," said Lt. Paddy Ankunda, a Ugandan army spokesman. "It's definitely a sign of weakening."
The Ugandan armed forces, which many observers say have prolonged the conflict through corruption and incompetence, have scored several military victories in recent months, including the capture in July of Kenneth Banya, the LRA's third-in-command. The military claims that 1,255 LRA rebels have been killed and 993 have surrendered since the beginning of this year.
In addition, a peace agreement signed in May between Sudan and another rebel group, the Sudanese People's Liberation Army, promises to deny the LRA access to its longtime refuge in southern Sudan, across Uganda's northern border.
"The Sudanese are finally getting some control over southern Sudan, so the LRA will have no base of control," said Ankunda.
Phillip Okin, a coordinator with the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, an organization that promotes negotiations between the LRA and the government, says LRA rebels are scattered, hungry and demoralized.
"The pressure is very high, very productive for peace talks," said Okin.
Nevertheless, Ankunda says the army has no plan to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict. "Our role is military," he said. "We mediate with fire."
According to recent interviews with LRA returnees, the increase in deserters is mainly due to the growing awareness among rank-and-file soldiers of a government amnesty program, which has been in effect since January 2000. Even though child soldiers are forbidden contact with the outside world, they have found out about the amnesty on transistor radios.
At Unyama, one of more than a hundred camps of mud huts scattered across northern Uganda, most residents greet talk of the war's end with guarded optimism.
"We just pray that (President Museveni and Kony) are coming together at last," said camp leader Raymond Lamoka.
Lamoka has good reason to hope for a quick solution. Many of Unyama's 24, 000 residents suffer from malnutrition, tuberculosis, malaria, AIDS and skin diseases. Hundreds of barefoot children with distended bellies roam alongside wide trenches teeming with sludge from overflowing latrines. Residents survive on donations from the U.N.'s World Food Program, which are delivered sporadically in armed convoys.
Unyama has also been attacked frequently by the LRA since 1996. As a result, many of its children make the hour-and-a-half walk each night to Gulu, the northern town that has been the epicenter of the war, to sleep in protected shelters, churches, and hospitals.
When the war does end, few here believe the wounds it has inflicted will heal quickly.
The Museveni government, which has been accused by its critics of downplaying the effects of the conflict, recently issued a report saying it will take at least 30 years to rebuild the north after the violence ends.
The government will also have to deal with an AIDS infection rate in the region that is four times the national average and prepare ex-rebels and the displaced for transition back to village life.
"Thuggery is a real fear," Okin says. "The war has gone on so long. So many have weapons hidden away."
Meanwhile, "Come Back Home" has inspired a radio station in the northern city of Lira to launch a similar program, and radio host Oryema continues to give substantial air time to rebel defectors.
"We don't call them rebels. We call them my brothers, my sisters," said Oryema. "For child soldiers guilt-ridden with the atrocities they have committed, this sounds so sweet to them."
Saturday, September 11, 2004
90% OF POPULATION IN NORTHERN UGANDA SHELTERING IN 180 REFUGEE CAMPS - 1.6m have fled their homes - 30,000 abducted as slaves and soldiers
As the world focuses on the crisis in Darfur, three times as many people have been suffering for many more years in two other conflicts involving the Sudanese government.
And, while money has flowed in to help the 2 million people in Sudan's Darfur region who have been caught in 18 months of civil war, few funds are available for the 6 million Sudanese and Ugandans affected by related conflicts that have lasted more than 18 years.
A UN official recently returned from a trip to northern Uganda, where more than 1.6 million people have fled their homes because of an 18-year-old civil war between government forces and the rebel Lord's Resistance Army.
The rebels, operating from bases in the southern region of neighboring Sudan, rarely try to hold territory in Uganda and concentrate their attacks on civilians. The group has abducted more than 30,000 women and children to use as servants, concubines and child soldiers, according to UNICEF.
As a result, more than 90 percent of the population in northern Uganda has taken shelter in 180 refugee camps.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Ugandan government supported the southern-based Sudan People's Liberation Army in its battle with the Sudanese government in Khartoum. Sudan's government, in return, backed the Lord's Resistance Army, a cult-like group that has little contact with the outside world.
UNICEF reports that more than 12,000 children have been abducted by the LRA since June 2002. [Photos from the AP]
Two young boy's get treated for severe burn wounds in the Lira hospital in northern Uganda, Monday, Feb 23, 2004, after a massacre believed to be committed by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group in the Barlonyo camp 26 kilometers north of the town that killed at least 200 people. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)
A Ugandan soldier walk past a charred body, Monday, Feb 23, 2004, in the Barlonyo camp 26 kilometers north of the Lira in northen Uganda after a massacre believed to be committed by the Lord's Resistance Army rebel group in which at least 200 people were killed. (AP Photo/Karel Prinsloo)
Tuesday, September 07, 2004
Heads of United Nations agencies in Uganda have asked the international community to give greater attention to northern Uganda humanitarian crisis, like it is for Sudan's Darfur region.
Resident Representatives of the World Food Program (WFP), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and UNAIDS, told visiting European Union parliamentarians the situation in northern Uganda was no different from Darfur.
"The Darfur issue is a very recent one but it has been given huge, world-wide publicity and support, while Uganda's case which is over 17 years is not treated equally," said Ken Davies WFP Resident Representative.
This was during a meeting at the UNDP office in Kampala, between some EU MPs and heads of European health NGOs from some of the latest entrants from the ex-East European states into the EU.
The UNDP Resident Representative to Uganda, Dr Daouda Toure, chaired it.
"The conflict in northern Uganda goes as back as 17 years and the last three years have been the most serious, as it has spread from three districts to eight or nine with people living in over 188 displaced camps," said Toure.
But Davies said Joseph Kony appeared to be under serious threat than ever before.
There have been LRA attacks last week; and no one is absolutely confident that the situation will not slide back. Mr Davies said there are almost an equal number [to Darfur's] of 1.6 million people, presently in about eight districts, displaced into 188 different camps of displaced persons.
"Its mind-boggling! The biggest camps have up to 75,000 people; they're in many ways worse off than any refugee settlements, because they have no UNHCR protection and supplies. So they're surviving on WFP food assistance; we're feeding about 75 percent kilo-calories a human being needs to survive and we buy about two-thirds of that food in Uganda, which ironically makes the WFP the largest purchaser of food commodities in Uganda.
The EU MP from Lithuania, Mrs Birute Vesaite led the team. Mr Toure said the UNDP and UN agencies are working hard to alleviate the situation in IDPs but said rebellion must end for better services and socio-economic development activities to take place.
Monday, September 06, 2004
Meet ups are for people interested in peace for Sudan (and other topics).
You can sign up and get together - in person - with others in your locality. And even start your own Meet up.
Because I am unable to attend a Meet up, I have created a "virtual" Meet up via this post.
Below are links to bloggers - mostly regular reads from my sidebar - who have written about the Sudan.
Here's sending you all a warm hello - and a big thank you for your posts on the Sudan.
See you at the next virtual Meet up here in October :)
Bye for now. With love from Ingrid and Ophelia xx
PS Special thanks to Nick for alerting me to the Meet up date that enabled me to complete this, and the following two posts, in time.
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POEM FOR SUDAN
By Virginia Barros in Portugal
This poem was composed in English by Virginia Barros (blogging under the name of Monalisa) - of Sítio da Saudade - especially for today's Meet Up.
Virginia is a Portuguese blogger who lives in a small town in Portugal. See her beautiful locality in the photo of a bridge - here below. She kindly emailed me this poem for Sudan, in response to my previous post publicising the Sep 6 International Sudanese Peace MeetUp Day. Warm thanks to Virginia for her poem for Sudan:
In my comfortable
And warm room I sleep
I sleep quietly
And you die
Suffering horrors that my brain
Does not obtain to imagine
Because all of us sleep tranquil
And in the same minute
The great pain of the planet
Doesn’t affect us
We pass by lifeless
Indifferent and silently
and we wake up
Thinking to be happy
But the happiness
is spotted of blood and barbarity
Because we let the heartless
Take the world
and we do nothing.
[Photo courtesy of Osterreich Hilft Darfur ORF ]
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SUDAN: INTERNATIONAL MEETUP DAY
Sep 6 Labor Day - Sudan Campaign
Eugene Oregon at Demagogue received this email from Rev. Dr. Keith Roderick of Christian Solidarity International and the Sudan Campaign:
This Labor Day, Monday, September 6, the Sudan Campaign is inviting everyone to take a “day on” rather than a “day off” to protest the ongoing genocide in Sudan. Demonstrations have been held at the Sudan embassy everyday since June 29th, and they will continue. Over 50 persons have offered themselves for arrest by committing non-violent acts of civil disobedience to draw attention to the urgency and seriousness of the issue. Radio personality and activist, Joe Madison, has been a hunger strike for six weeks. In light of the UN findings that the Khartoum regime has not fully complied with the UN mandate issued over 30 days ago, it is time to move to a new level of pressure, economic.
The Sudan Campaign hopes to accomplish 3 goals at the Monday protest:
(1) To thank the Red Cross and other humanitarian aid organizations that have begun massive operations to feed the displaced and starving people of Darfur (celebrating the end to the fast of the Black Eagle, Joseph Madison)
(2) To decry the weakness of the response of the United Nations to the failure of the government of Sudan to comply fully with the mandate given them by the UN thirty days ago
(3) To announce and to launch a bold new strategy of our drive to bring peace to all of the people of the Sudan: Demand that U.S. citizens, their pension funds and their corporations divest themselves of all investments of money in their names in corporations doing business in the Sudan.
Please join us and/or distribute flyers available at the Sudan Campaign and Passion of the Present and encourage others to do the same.
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DOWNLOAD GENOCIDE POSTER AND FACTSHEET
At www.blockstreet and building.com
Please feel free to download Sudan poster and factsheet - courtesy Passion of the Present at www.blockstreet and building.com
Join with others to take creative action and blog about it.
Blog about contacting the media and elected officials.
GET LINKED: Join Save Darfur to moblise national action.
GIVE: For a list of aid organisations working in Sudan go to InterAction or DEC UK or download Songs for Sudan album (see link in next post here below)
COME TO: Passion of the Present for daily news and community.
SPREAD THE WORD: on the latest - Sep 12 Rally at the U.N. in New York - to Stop Sudan Genocide.
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THANK YOU TO ONE AND ALL
For blogging the plight of Sudanese in Darfur and Chad
Sudanese women are silhouetted at Abu Shouk camp in North Darfur, Sudan, where more than 40,000 displaced people are receiving food and shelter from international aid agencies. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) (September 01, 2004)
Alistair Coleman (kudos to the BBC + Caversham for great coverage on Sudan)
The UK Today - thanks to Clive for the info on EDMs and how to make contact by fax and email with our MPs
Norman Geras - great weekly postings on Sudan
Gavin Sheridan - oil and China posts (btw great work being done in Sudan by Ireland's GOAL aid agency)
Scottish Webring members (and kudos to Scotsman.com for great reporting on Sudan)
Bob Piper - always kindly posted on Sudan
Doug Floyd lyrics of Sudan Song and list of the album's tracks
Doug at Quadrophrenia for posting the lyrics of Song for Sudan.
Jim Elve at BlogsCanada - The Suffering Continues Unabated
Officially Unofficial - BlogsCandada - The Suffering Continues Unabated
BlogsCanada E Group Blog Multi-partisan Political Punditry
Jim Elve another awesome post on aid links courtesy BBC
E Group Blog - Multi-partisan Political Punditry - Arjun's great discussion thread on: "Should Canada Intervene?"
Boris Anthony another neat post on A failure of will
Lost Below the 49th: Darfur, ReDux - check out link to great piece on Romeo D'allaire (and his book)
Lost Below the 49th Crazy Canuck returns
Arjun Singh Sudan Genocide: UN finds No Significant Progress...
Arjun Singh has written great posts on Sudan at CanadaBlogs e-group.
Sébastien Paquet - real neat posts as usual
Loic Le Meur (has not posted on Sudan, as far as I am aware, but Loic has many links in his sidebar for anyone wishing to connect up with French bloggers)
Robert Corr - Time for action (best Sudan intro in the blogosphere)
Jonathan Rowbottom hosted interesting discussion thread
Virginia Barros' Sítio da Saudade: Sudão powerful post on Sudan (also see above Poem for Sudan)
Ado (who is Dutch and works in Tokyo at Joi Ito's)
Joi Ito re Images of genocide
Joi Ito's list of posts on Sudan
finalvent on China, Japan, Russia and oil
finalvent on Darfur
finalvent re Sudanese FM visit to Japan Sept 5-9 for talks on Darfur
finalvent - more on oil
Rajan's first of the great round ups on Sudan
Rajan's second great Sudan Genocide roundup
Rajan's third and, for the Sep 6 meetup, his latest Sudan Genocide roundup
Aiseh, man thoughtful post on Compassionate Infidels
Jim Moore's Journal - April 22, 2004 post that started it all (here at this blog I mean!)
Jim Moore's Journal - April 23, 2004 post that I picked up on and have been blogging about ever since (*yawn*)
Sudan Day of Conscience
Ethan Zuckerman Top Ten Worst Dictators
Ethan Zuckerman Making Room for the Third World in the Second Superpower
ChaiTeaLatte Madhu kindly linked to several posts and got my blog Instalanched
Instapundit - regular posts on Sudan and esp re oil
Nicholas Genes has written some super posts - his doc buddy Jonathan Spector is now safely back home in the US after working with MSF in Darfur
Pauly's Side of the Truth - has just written another great post on Sudan
Jonathan Broad "Dallaire on Darfur: It is happening...again" (a must-read)
Gary Silberberg - regular postings on Sudan
Patrick Hall - exclusively Sudan posts - neat finds
Allied - one of the few great female bloggers writing about Sudan
Squirrel in DC - link to Samantha Power's great piece in New Yorker on her travels in Sudan
Cheers to The Register for publicising Oxfam's "Songs for Sudan" download album for Darfur.
[Note: sincere apologies to those I've missed out, I've not checked through four months of archives in my main blog. If I have missed you, please email me or comment and I will add your link here - or write a special post later on. Thanks.]
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Note to Jim: Sorry, unable to post image of Passion of the Present's poster. Flickr is superb but for some reason I couldn't get it to show. Instead, I've posted a link to the download at www.blockstreet and building.com
Here is a photo of the town in Portugal where Portuguese blogger Virginia lives. Virginia kindly volunteered to compose, in English, a poem for Sudan, especially for today's "virtual" meet up.
[Photo - with thanks to Sítio da Saudade - courtesy of Rui Vale de Sousa - apologies to photographer, this transmission has cropped right side of picture, full image avail at www.ruivaledesousa.com or copy and paste it into a page in your computer and whole image should appear]
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UPDATE September 8, 2004:
Seems there is no accurate way of knowing who is all blogging about Darfur. Technorati's lists are invaluable (blogosphere would not be the same without it) as you can also search on key words Sudan and Darfur and read blogs that have published using those words during previous 7 days.
Trouble is, the list changes every week, and sometimes there are hundreds to click through. It takes too much time to keep up with. As much as we'd like, we can't visit every blog posting on Sudan. Also (but not too often) links to this site, and others, do not show up in Technorati's listings.
So, if you have posted on the Sudan and are not linked here or at Passion of the Present, please do please make contact in comments or by email - even if it is just to say the word hi - with your blog URL to link here for readers interested in seeing what others are saying, doing and thinking about the Sudan. Thanks. Don't be shy. These two writers took the time and trouble to comment:
AUTHOR OF SUDAN POSTS AT WAVEFLUX BLOG
Is the best sousaphone player in South Carolina
Hello and thank you to the author of Waveflux in St Louis, USA for his neat posts on the Sudan that include Who will save the people of Darfur? - and:
- contact info on officials who may have influence
- copy of a reply received from Sen. Jim Talent's office
- great post for the Day of Conscience
- and Passion of the Present's poster.
In his "about" section, Waveflux writes that a band director once called him the best sousaphone player in the state of South Carolina - and says "that's saying something, because those things are heavy" (but, to be fair he admits, the ones he played way back when were mostly made of fiberglass).
Sousaphone (SOO-zah-fone) is a brass instrument invented by John Philip Sousa which was adapted from the tuba. The Sousaphone has a forward bell which coils around to rest upon the player's shoulder thus allowing the instrument to be carried with greater ease while marching.
[Photo - with thanks to Waveflux - courtesy of G. Leblanc Corporation]
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ARCHITECTURE FOR HUMANITY
Hello to founder Cameron Sinclair
Hello to Cameron and thank you for commenting at my virtual meet up post at Passion of the Present.
Cameron is the the founder of Architecture for Humanity and was trained as an architect at the University of Westminster and at the Bartlett School of Architecture in London.
During his studies, he developed an interest in social, cultural and humanitarian design. His postgraduate thesis focused on providing shelter to New York's homeless population through sustainable, transitional housing.
After completing his studies, he moved to New York where he has worked as a designer and project architect. Since 1996, Cameron has worked on projects in more than 20 countries including England, Mexico, Russia, South Africa and the United States. [read more ...]
Thursday, August 26, 2004
Three years ago, British Prime Minister Tony Blair appealed to the world to heal the wounds of Africa. As Foreign Secretary Jack Straw prepares to fly to the Sudan tomorrow, the continent is still riven by strife, war and famine.
"The state of Africa is a scar on the conscience of the world. But if the world as a community focused on it, we could heal it. And if we don't, it will become deeper and angrier" - Tony Blair, 2 October 2001.
IVORY COAST: REBELLION
What is going on? The country, which produces 40 per cent of the world's cocoa, is effectively split between north and south following a rebellion two years ago by Muslim northerners over national identity and land ownership.
What is Britain doing to help? Britain is taking a low profile with no direct aid. The African Union, is attempting to organize elections in October to end the standoff.
What is the solution? No signs of early resolution to stalemate
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: WAR
What is going on? Sporadic fighting continues despite 2002 peace agreement. Congolese Tutsi rebel soldiers occupied eastern town of Bukavu for a week in June
What is Britain doing to help? Britain backs the UN peacekeeping mission and is also pressing Uganda and Rwanda to end any involvement, which they deny
What is the solution? Conflict expected to continue
What is going on? Political crackdown continues ahead of elections next year
What is Britain doing to help? Britain hopes South Africa will intercede with President Mugabe to resolve standoff
What is the solution? Stalemate will only be removed when Mugabe leaves power - quietly, it is hoped
SUDAN: ETHNIC CLEANSING/FAMINE
What is going on? Rebellion in Darfur provoked government crackdown leaving 1.2 million homeless and 50,000 dead
What is Britain doing to help? Largest single cash donor having provided £63m in humanitarian aid. Backs African Union efforts and UN
What is the solution? No easy answer. Sanctions could prove disastrous
What is going on? Mystical Lord's Resistance army has terrorised northern Uganda for years with vicious campaign that has forced 1.5 million people from their homes
What is Britain doing to help? Britain has supported President Museveni with £740m in development aid since he came to power
What is the solution? Negotiations with Sudan-based leader Joseph Kony doomed to failure, miltary solution seems inevitable
RWANDA: ETHNIC STRIFE
What is going on? Rwanda continues to deny Congolese accusations that it has its soldiers in Congo in violation of a peace agreement. Ethnic tensions in Rwanda still strong after 1994 genocide.
What is Britain doing to help? UK is largest single donor, providing nearly £33m last year. But government rejects calls to use aid to pressure President Kagame
What is the solution? Peace in Rwanda depends on solution for Congo
BURUNDI: CIVIL WAR
What is going on? 160 Tutsis were the victims last week of low level civil war
What is Britain doing to help? Britain is stepping up aid with £8m budgeted for 2004-5. UN just set up political mission
What is the solution? Solution depends on settlement in DR Congo
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On the trail of the killers who harvest child body parts for muti medicine
21 August 2004, Independent UK news report by Basildon Peta, Southern Africa Correspondent, copied here in full:
They first hit 10-year-old Sello Chokoe with a blunt instrument, causing a gash on his head. They then chopped off his penis, his hand and his ear. They were harvesting his body parts for "muti" - the murderous practice of traditional African medicine
Yet it is far from a normal part of such medicine. "In my many years of service in the South African police, I have not encountered this sadistic taking of a young innocent life," said police inspector Mohlahla Moshane as he led us to the spot.
The murder site is a few kilometres away from Sello's village, Moletjie, in northern Limpopo province. There stands a distinct and lonely hill in a vast grass and shrub veld.
The unsuspecting Sello was lured to the spot after being asked to look for a neighbour's donkeys. After a carefully planned ambush, his killers wedged him between the two large rocks to performed their macabre ceremony.
Sello seems to have dragged himself from the rocks where he had been abandoned. A woman collecting firewood found him and he was taken to hospital, but died a few days later. He was buried last Sunday in his fear-wracked village.
The practice of muti provides a disconcerting counterpoint to the contemporary image of the new South Africa. Dr Gerard Lubschagne, who heads the investigative psychology unit of the South African police service, conservatively estimates lives lost to ritual murders at between 50 to 300 every year. "We don't have accurate figures because most murders here are recorded in our records as murders irrespective of motive," he says. "Most people might also not regard a murder as a muti matter but just dismiss it as the work of some crazy killers."
Dr Lubschagne admits the rate of murders signals a very worrying trend in South Africa. Despite South Africa being the most developed African economy, a huge chunk of its population still believes power and wealth are better stoked by witch-doctors than stockbrokers and market analysts. "People who want to do better, people who want to be promoted at work, gamblers and politicians who want to win and even bank robbers who seek to get away with their criminal acts turn to muti," Dr Lubschagne said.
How the body parts are used varies with what customers want to achieve. They are eaten, drunk or smeared over the ambitious person. Various parts are used for different purposes. A man who had difficulty in producing children killed a father of several children and used his victim's genitals for muti. In another case, a butcher used a severed human hand to slap each of his products every morning before opening as a way of invoking the spirits to beckon customers.
Mathews Mojela is the head teacher at Sello's primary school. He has worked in rural areas for nearly a quarter of a century and says muti is founded in the archaic belief that there is only a limited amount of good luck around. If one wants to increase his wealth or luck, then it should come at another's expense.
The screaming of a child while his body parts are being chopped off is also regarded as a sign calling customers to the perpetrator's business, Mr Mojolela said. It is also believed that magical powers are awakened by the screams. Eating or burying the body parts "capture" the desired results. Robert Thornton, an anthropology professor at the University of Witswatersrand in Johannesburg , who has done research in traditional healing, says children like Sello are targeted because it is believed that the power of the virgin is greater than that of a sexually active adult.
The main motivating idea is what Professor Thorntorn describes as "symbolic logic", the idea that another person's penis will strengthen the perpetrator's, or that the perpetrator's far-sightedness will be improved by devouring the victim's eyes. Blood is thought to increase vitality.
Professor Issack Niehaus of the University of Pretoria fears that muti killings will increase as the inequalities of wealth become more entrenched. He said: "I would expect the occult economy - that is the belief in using magical means to gain prosperity - to increase as poverty worsens."
At the spot where Sello was murdered, Inspector Mashane said "A young kid is carefully lured into this bush and mutilated without any witnesses. If he survives, perhaps he is the only person who could help identify his killers."
One of the few victims who lived to tell his story was Jeffery Mkhonto, who six years ago was mutilated by an organised gang set to harvest body parts. He had been lured to the house of a neighbour for food and ended up being castrated.
Dr Lubschagne says muti killings are difficult to investigate because there is no clear relationship between perpetrator and victim. Yet other reports have also suggested that the muti victim is often known to the perpetrators and is easily lured and murdered in the process. Communities themselves are often too afraid to come forward with evidence because of fears of a magical retaliation.
At Sello's homestead, even the elders were too afraid to point any fingers directly at a neighbour, a traditional healer, although many villagers implicated him in Sello's murder in muffled tones. The neighbour had allegedly sent Sello to fetch his donkeys without Sello's mother's permission. Peter Kagbi, who is in his late sixties, was questioned for four days by the police over Sello's murder before being released pending further investigations. Mr Kgabi confirmed that he had sent Sello to fetch the donkeys, but he denied taking part in the murder.
He said he saw nothing wrong in sending Sello without the mother's permission as he had done that on similar errands before, a point hotly disputed by the boy's family. Mr Kgabi said he had been threatened by the community and told they planned to burn him alive because he was a wizard.
"Some are accusing me of killing Sello but I did not," he said. "I have not fled my home despite the threats because if I do, the community will regard that as an admission of guilt."
Even the eventual capture and conviction of Sello's killers would do little for his brokenhearted single mother, Salome, 39, who lives with her two remaining children on a £15 a month social grant from the government.
"Anything that does not bring back my son is hardly of any importance to me now. No mother wants to lose a child this way," she said.
Her emotional state will not be helped when she learns that Sello's body parts probably were sold for no more than £200 each, the price normally charged for a child's body parts in the muti industry.
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This blog is dedicated to Dr James Moore [more later -- this weblog is in the process of being set up]
Sunday, August 08, 2004
With an armed rebellion threatening to undermine Uganda’s progress to economic development, child soldiers emerge as central figures amid deadly violence and growing humanitarian emergency.
The bustling capital city of Kampala, located in the south, exemplifies Uganda’s transformation from a country plagued by economic decay to prosperity. With a revitalized GDP growth of more than 8% over the past three years, Uganda comes across as a compelling story of hope for other African nations. However, an armed insurgency in northern and eastern Uganda has created one of Africa’s largest displaced populations.
The 18-year old rebellion of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) against the government has forced over 1.6 million Ugandans - half of them children - to flee to squalid and overcrowded camps in order to escape wanton attacks and killings. The number of internally displaced persons has almost tripled since 2002. Attacks on soft civilian targets continue, carried out by child soldiers much younger than their victims.
The most disturbing aspect of this humanitarian crisis is the fact that this is a war fought by children on children - minors make up almost 90% of the LRA’s soldiers. Some recruits are as young as eight and are inducted through raids on villages. They are brutalized and forced to commit atrocities on fellow abductees and even siblings. Those who attempt to escape are killed. For those living in a state of constant fear, violence becomes a way of life and the psychological trauma is incalculable. Fearing abduction, streams of children, often with mothers in tow, leave their homes every night and walk for hours from surrounding villages to reach the relative safety of major towns, only to trek their way home in the first light. Some 40,000 “night commuters” sleep under verandas, in schools, hospital courtyards or bus parking places to evade the snare of the LRA.
Since the rebellion began in the 1980s, some 30,000 children have been abducted to work as child soldiers and porters, or to serve as “wives” of rebels and bear their children. These numbers have soared, with 10,000 children abducted in the past 18 months alone.
Despite the gravity of the humanitarian situation, less than 10% of the $130 million requested by the humanitarian community for 2004 has been received. In some areas, malnutrition rates as high as 30% have been recorded among children. Fear of rebel attacks badly hit the planting season for 2004, threatening to aggravate the already severe food shortages in the coming months. Health facilities barely function as stocks run out and health workers flee to escape LRA attacks.
Even as a peace process makes significant progress in neighbouring Sudan, the peace in Uganda is made tenuous by these developments. The “success story” that Uganda represents in the minds of the world’s economic policy makers presents a jarring contrast with the tragedy of conflict in the north and east that shows no signs of abating.
[via UN 10 Stories the world needs to know more about]