Sunday, December 25, 2005

UN captures DR Congo rebel town

An operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, involving helicopter gunships and 1,900 UN and Congolese troops, has taken a key town from a rebel militia.

The town of Nioka has been captured, UN military spokesman Major Hans-Jakob Reichen, told the BBC.

The town, 80km (50 miles) north of Bunia, had been a rebel stronghold.

The joint operation, which began on Thursday, was against a militia led by Peter Karim. He has now fled northwards, the UN says.

Two of his bodyguards have been captured and the UN and Congolese troops hope to take him as well.

The militia he leads has been accused of atrocities against civilians in the region, which borders Uganda and Sudan.

Full report (BBC) 24 Dec 2005.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Angelina Jolie and John Prendergast's Congo Journal

Note Congo Journal by Angelina Jolie, John Prendergast and read Ripples of Genocide: Journey Through Eastern Congo.

[via Ali's Salon with thanks]

'Cursed' gold - on the trail from militia-controlled gold mines to Uganda

See On the trail of DR Congo's 'cursed' gold, a report by BBC correspondent Will Ross in Mongbwalu dated 3 June 2005.

Note he is following the gold trail to Uganda which begins in Mongbwalu, in DR Congo's Ituri district.

DR Congo 'backs new constitution'?

DR Congo's infrastructure has been wrecked by war and misrule but on 20 Dec 2005 BBC report also says DR Congo 'backs new constitution'.

According to the report, voters in the DRC have overwhelmingly backed a new post-war constitution in a referendum, early results indicate - and the president of DRC's electoral commission said the 'yes' campaign had won 78% of votes, compared to 21% for the 'no' campaign, on a 34% count.

However, according to a 16 Dec 2005 BBC report - DR Congo set for 'mystery' vote - voters in DR Congo were set to vote on a new constitution last Sunday but many complained they did not know what it contained.

African democracy

Photo: These women queued for a copy of the draft constitution.

DR Congo backs new constitution?

Photo: This man is one of the lucky few who has got a copy of the constitution.

Read BBC's Q&A: DR Congo vote.

DR Congo 'backs new constitution'?

Photo (AFP/BBC) Huge crowds turned out to welcome President Joseph Kabila when he made his first official visit to Bukavu.

Vist Ali's Salon of News and Thought for DRC news and list of Presidential Candidates.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Photos from the Rutshuru mission

Congo

Good news, Louis of Telegraphe Congolaise is safe, well and blogging. See Too much gun talk, keep on scrolling and be sure to click on each of the photos for great magnification and read On the march.

Asylum questions for DR Congo

What happens to asylum seekers who are sent home? As part of a BBC World Service investigation, Jenny Cuffe has followed the footsteps of failed asylum seekers sent back from Europe to the Democratic Republic of Congo. What she found raised questions over how European governments are treating those they deport. Full story 1 Dec 2005 (BBC). Note, the report says:

Although Africa's bloodiest conflict has cost an estimated four million lives since 1998, many EU countries judge it safe to send failed asylum seekers back. They say that there is a transitional government which plans elections next year.

Malnutrition is widespread in Congolese prisons. United Nations has described the regime in DR Congo's prisons as one of rape and torture. If prisoners do not have relatives to bring them food, they may eventually die of starvation, it reports.

Human rights lawyer Celestin Nikiana has started to list the prisoners in Makala. He has found two of the prisoners to be former asylum seekers who have been there for more than five years without charge: Alain Londole, who was returned by Belgium, and Willy Ayi-Ansha, sent back by Italy. Mr Nikiana believes there is at least one other asylum seeker, returned from Belgium, being kept in the prison's political wing.

The UN has also criticised unofficial jails run by DR Congo's national intelligence service. These are said to be places where prisoners are subjected to "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment and even torture". Human rights campaigners say they have information that one former asylum seeker is being kept in one of these secret centres.

Although campaigners have warned some people deported from Europe may be put at risk, they have not yet been able to produce convincing evidence.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

DR Congo troops to Uganda border

"We have transported 300 Congolese soldiers to Aba in our helicopters and another 200 are on the way there by road," United Nations military spokesman Thierry Provendier said, Reuters reports.

The force will number 1,000 men by the end of this week, he said.

Full report (BBC) October 4, 2005.

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UN airlifts Congo troops to deal with Uganda's LRA rebels

The U.N. has airlifted several hundred Congo government soldiers to a remote corner of the country to deal with heavily armed Ugandan LRA rebels who have entered and refuse to disarm, a U.N. spokesman said on Tuesday.

The helicopters flew the troops to Aba, an isolated town near the Democratic Republic of Congo's northeastern border with Uganda and Sudan, U.N. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Thierry Provendier said in Kinshasa.

Full report Kinshasa, Oct 4 (Reuters)

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UN mission in DR Congo has said it intends to use all means necessary to drive out the LRA

LRA rebels are suspected of ambushing a civilian pick up truck in north east Uganda, shooting the driver and two passengers, and killing a fourth with an axe, repots the BBC October 4, 2005.

Note, the report states "DR Congo has warned Uganda not to try to disarm an LRA force in its territory" - and ends by saying "the UN mission in DR Congo has said it intends to use all means necessary to drive out the LRA group."

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Ugandan troops amass at border of DR Congo

From Michael at Uganda-CAN October 3, 2005:

Thousands of Ugandan troops have begun gathering at the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the West Nile region of Uganda, purportedly in preparation to engage Lord's Resistance Army forces across the border, reports AllAfrica. A contingent of approximately 400 LRA forces crossed into Congo over a week ago, and requests from UN and Congolese officials for the LRA to disarm have been ignored.

Although Uganda's Minister of Defense last week claimed that Uganda would under no circumstances enter the DRC, President Museveni has this week stated that if UN and Congolese troops do not take immediate and aggressive action, Uganda's military would be sent across the border. Uganda played a central role in destabilizing eastern Congo during the civil war that ended in 2004, and many fear that if Ugandan forces cross the border again, more chaos could ensue. Several small armed insurgencies still plague the region today.

Uganda-CAN urges the Government of Uganda and UN to delay attacks on the group until robust efforts have been made to open negotiations with the rebels.

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Sunday, October 02, 2005

Submissions Welcomed For Spotlight On Darfur 2

If you wish to contribute a blog entry for Spotlight on Darfur 2, please contact Eddie Beaver at Live From The FDNF in time for 16 October 2005 deadline.

Jim Moore, co-founder of Sudan: Passion of the Present, recently posted a note from Eddie on this initiative with an important PINR report from Michael Weinstein.

Note, Catez Stevens in New Zealand initiated and hosted Spotlight on Darfur 1 round up of posts authored by 14 different bloggers from around the world. Jim Moore, in praise of this, writes:

"In my view this work is so fine as to be almost historic. It combines the literary quality of a small, carefully edited book, with the global accessibility of works on the web."

Spotlight On Darfur

Last May, Catez also produced The Darfur Collection.

Image courtesy Tim Sweetman's post Let Us Weep.

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UN investigates DR Congo graves

A UN spokewoman told the BBC the remains were believed to be those of Congolese and Rwandan Hutus killed by Rwandan soldiers in 1996.

At the time the Rwandan Army was venturing into the DR Congo trying to find those responsible for mass genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

The graves were exhumed by Congolese troops.

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DR Congo militia deadline expires

A deadline set by the Democratic Republic of Congo for all foreign militias to leave the country passes.

Full story at BBC News Africa 30 Sep 2005.

Rebels in East DR Congo

Photo: Militia have been most active in the east of DR Congo (BBC)

A peace deal ended DR Congo's civil war in 2002, but the government exerts little control in the east.

Uganda has meanwhile threatened to use force against Lord's Resistance Army rebels sheltering in DR Congo.

MONUC road

Photo: UN patrols are a reminder that life is still far from normal in eastern DR Congo.

17,000 United Nations peacekeepers in DR Congo are not enough, said Ibrahim Gambari, UN under secretary general for political affairs.

"To disarm them all will require an enormous peacekeeping force, which the UN doesn't have, and which member states are not willing to fund," he said.

Uganda and Rwanda sparked DR Congo's civil war by invading and supporting local militias, after accusing DR Congo of backing rebel groups.

Under the 2002 peace deal, all militias were supposed to be disarmed.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Diamond miners laboring in an illegal mine of the DR Congo

"Before you buy that next piece of gold and diamond jewelry for your loved ones or for yourself, remember these images of the laborers and slaves who suffered to extract, cut, and polish that beautiful jewel from the jungle," writes Bill at Jewels in the Jungle:
"Help save lives by supporting the rule of law and justice, transparency in the diamond and gold mining industries and trade, fair wages, and humane working conditions for the people shown in these photo essays."
Diamond miners laboring in an illegal mine of the DR Congo

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Congo army says will forcibly disarm Ugandan rebels

MONUC report Sep 26 confirms the Democratic Republic of Congo's army said on Sunday it would forcibly disarm 400 Ugandan rebels who have crossed into the northeast of the country and are refusing to lay down their weapons:
"A regional military commander, General Padiri Bulenda, told Reuters he would have to disarm the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels in order to prevent thousands of Ugandan soldiers from crossing the border into the Congo to hunt them down."
The report ends by saying:
"Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni has repeatedly warned Congo's fragile transitional government that he would take action against Ugandan rebels in Congo if he felt they were a threat to his country.

A source close to Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila called the presence of Ugandan soldiers on Congo's border "a distraction from pressure being applied on Museveni because of his meddling in Congo and attempts to prolong his presidency at home"."
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Museveni to occupy Southern Sudan?

A blogger in America, Menya Kilat, has an interesting theory on connections between Uganda and Southern Sudan and wonders if LRA leader Kony is the red herring to allow Museveni occupy Southern Sudan.

It is a theory I do not share. But, when it comes to African politics, nothing would surprise me.

The US recognises the LRA as a terrorist organisation.

A report today by the BBC says Kony remains with his fighters in southern Sudan and the UN says it has held a meeting with LRA rebels for the first time.

Kony's deputy Vincent Otti is in DR Congo talking to the UN. Uganda says Otti and about 50 fighters left their hideouts in southern Sudan's lawless mountains last week and crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday.

[Cross posted to Sudan Watch and Uganda Watch]

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Congo Refugees Return, Determined to Vote

Note this post by Publius Pundit pointed out by Captain Marlow [with thanks]

CONGO'S REVOLUTIONARIES

Thousands of Congo's displaced exiles are returning to their homeland in extreme hardship solely for the privilege of voting. Don't anyone ever tell me they had the option to vote here in the states and just didn't do it. Look at what these brave revolutionaries in Congo are doing.

The news item is here and Robert or I will put together a news and blogger roundup if there is any further information we can get:

Thousands of Congolese refugees are piling their furniture, bicycles, pots and pans onto barely seaworthy boats and heading back to their war-ravaged homeland, determined to vote in presidential elections.

"I want peace, I want to vote and I want a good life for my children," said Mukato Selemani after crossing Lake Tanganyika aboard a blue barge from Tanzania on Saturday, nine years after fleeing pillaging gunmen. A real citizen will not miss the elections.

Selemani, 29, does not even know if his village still exists.

But he joined the thousands of refugees making the journey back home in hopes of voting in the election next year - their vast mineral-rich country's first in nearly half a century.

Read the whole thing here.

Congo election return

Photo: An unidentified woman refugee carries her belongings from a boat on Lake Tanganyika near the town of Baraka, Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday, Sept, 17, 2005.

Those in Tanzania represent nearly half of an estimated 380,000 Congolese refugees still living in neighboring countries, said Jan Hesemann, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Congo, with nearly 30,000 of those who escaped the war having returned since last October.(AP Photo/Anjan Sundaram/Yahoo)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Uganda says top LRA rebel wants asylum in DR Congo

Uganda-CAN picks up on a report by New Vision that claims President Museveni has demanded the immediate extradition of Kony and remnants of his army that have recently crossed into the DR Congo (DRC).

According to the report, sixty fighters led by Kony's second-in-command Vincent Otti recently fled northern Uganda and southern Sudan to cross into northeastern DRC. The Uganda People's Defense Forces (UPDF) claimed the rebels are hiding in Garamba game park in the DRC.
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Uganda says top LRA rebel wants asylum in DR Congo

The deputy leader of Uganda's rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is asking for political asylum in Congo after fleeing into its remote northeastern jungles, Uganda's defence minister said today.

Uganda says Vincent Otti and about 50 fighters left their hideouts in southern Sudan's lawless mountains last week and crossed into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Sunday.

But the Congolese government said on Friday it had no information about the group's presence on its territory or of any asylum request.

See full story Sep 23 2005 (Standard)

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

US promises support for military operations to fight LRA

Xinhua reports that US National Security Advisor Steve Hadley has assured Uganda of his country's cooperation in the planned joint operation between Uganda, Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) against remnants of rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

On a group of LRA ebels entering the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) through southern Sudan, Hadley said US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton will take up the matter of UN Observer Mission in Congo to improve UN presence and performance in the DRC.

LRA rebels have killed tens of thousands of civilians and displaced over 1.4 million people in their 19-year-old rebellion in northern Uganda.

[via Uganda-CAN with thanks]

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Thursday, September 15, 2005

Africa's peace seekers: Petronille Vaweka

Out of the mist of a rural African morning, a great lion springs into the path of a young woman walking to work in the fields.

Tail twitching, the beast stares at her, ready to pounce.

But she knows better than to flinch. Moving slowly, she bends her knees and places her iron hoe gently in the dirt.

Staring straight back, she begins talking to the lion. "I'm not your enemy," she says. "I'm only going to the field, and I won't hurt you."

The lion watches. The woman stands silently. Moments pass. With a swish of his tail, the lion leaps away.

Petronille Vaweka, a top official ineastern Congo, grew up hearing this story about her grandmother's courage. She tells it today as a defining tale in her own life - a life devoted to using the power of words to disarm the gun-toting militias that stalk the villages in this lawless corner of Africa.

"If you are facing someone who is violent, you must never use force," Ms. Vaweka recalls her grandmother saying. "The first thing is to put down all your instruments. Then look at them, right into the eye."

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The militia leader's conditions were clear: No large contingent of bodyguards could come with her; no United Nations peacekeepers. Vaweka, on a mission to free two kidnapped government workers, would be allowed to negotiate for their freedom accompanied only by her husband and a few aides.

She agreed, despite the militia's menacing reputation. The Patriotic Resistance Front of Ituri (FRPI in French, the main language) is one of the groups implicated in the brutal killing of nine Bangladeshi UN peacekeepers in a Feb. 25 ambush. FRPI leader Germain Katanga is now in prison awaiting trial.

Vaweka knew this was her task, and hers alone. She's the top official in the fledgling government of Ituri, a province the size of West Virginia in a country as big as Alaska and Texas combined. Ituri is one of Congo's richest regions - and one of its most violent. It's chockablock with gold, diamonds, oil, and coltan (a rare ore used in cellphones and laptops). But the UN estimates that 60,000 people have died here since 1999. Greedy outsiders - including leaders in neighboring Uganda and Rwanda - have stoked ethnic tensions and supplied the region's many militias with weapons to fight for control of the riches.

Read full story by Abraham McLaughlin, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, September 14, 2005.
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BRINGING ORDER:

Africa's peace seekers:  Petronille Vaweka

Photo: Petronille Vaweka (center) talks with an Army chief. (Jiro OSE/Special to the CS Monitor)
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TIMELINE:

Click here to see at a glance the march to peace in Congo, Africa's heartland.

DR Congo
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A SHADOW OF THEIR PAST PRESENCE:

DR Congo

Photo: Many of the militias, like this one on the streets of Fizi, in eastern Congo, are now part of the new national army forged under a peace deal signed in 2003.
FINBARR O'REILLY/REUTERS/CS Monitor
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PEACEKEEPERS:

DR Congo

Members of the UN mission in Congo, known as MONUC, patrol Bunia. There are more than 16,000 UN troops and police in the country.
JAMES PALMER/WPN/CS Monitor
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A COLLECTOR'S ITEM:

DR Congo

Photo: An AK-47 rifle is given to a United Nations peacekeeper as part of the disarmament process in Bunia, Congo.
GUY CALAF/WORLD PICTURE NEWS/CS Monitor

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Sudan: Spotlight on Darfur 1 and The Darfur Collection

Huge thanks to Catez Stevens in New Zealand for initiating and hosting Spotlight on Darfur 1, a great round up of posts authored by 14 different bloggers from around the world.

Spotlight On Darfur

Catez also produced The Darfur Collection last May.

Please email Catez at Allthings2all if you have a post for the next Spotlight on Darfur 2 or 3.

Picture courtesy Tim Sweetman's post Let Us Weep.

Thanks to Global Voices for their third post and links to Congo Watch featuring this initiative.

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina aid - Blogbursts - Spotlight on Darfur 1 and Darfur Collection

Further to an earlier post here below, I have just received word from Catez saying Spotlight on Darfur has been put forward to 5 September as the blogosphere has had planned blogbursts on Hurricane Katrina aid. This means bloggers can email Catez with posts until Sunday 4 September.

Thanks to Global Voices for picking up on my post at Congo Watch publicising the initiative.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Spotlight on Darfur 1 and The Darfur Collection

Last May, Catez Stevens at Allthings2all in New Zealand kindly put together The Darfur Collection.

Now, Catez is initiating and hosting Spotlight on Darfur 1 starting September 1. It will feature posts on the current Darfur situation from various bloggers. If you are a blogger and would like to send in a post for inclusion in the Spotlight on Darfur please email Catez for details.

Eugene Oregon at Coalition for Darfur helpfully writes Reminder: Spotlight on Darfur 1.

Note, Catez is planning a regular series of Spotlight on Darfur. If you have missed Darfur 1, there is still plenty of time to prepare a post for Spotlight on Darfur 2 or 3 or 4 ...

Monday, August 29, 2005

DR Congo rebel threatens invasion

Renegade Congolese rebel leader Gen Laurent Nkunda has threatened to re-invade eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to bring "peace" to the area.

He accuses President Kabila of being dictatorial.

In a 17-page letter, seen by the BBC, Gen Nkunda said the transitional administration of President Joseph Kabila was corrupt and intent on promoting instability in the east.

He said the decision to stop more than 200,000 Congolese refugees living in neighbouring countries from returning home to Kivu to participate in the elections showed President Kabila's unwillingness to foster peace.

Elections were due before the end of June under the terms of the 2002 peace deal, but MPs have backed a six-month delay.

According to the BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in Kinshasa, the United Nations refugee agency has said it is not logistically feasible to organise the return of the refugees before the completion of the electoral registration process.

Full story at BBC Aug 29, 2005.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Over 6,000 Sudanese refugees in Uganda to be repatriated

Over 6,000 Sudanese refugees in Uganda are to be repatriated, says report at ReliefWeb Aug 26.

Note, currently, there are over 188,000 Sudanese refugees in Uganda. The Sudanese refugees take the biggest percentage of the 230,000 refugees in Uganda. Other refugees in the east African country are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and others.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Ex-rebel becomes Burundi leader after a 12-year war leaving 300,000 dead

Report from the BBC today:

Former Burundi rebel leader Pierre Nkurunziza has been sworn in as president, marking the end of 12 years of war which has left 300,000 dead.

He becomes the first leader chosen through democratic means since 1993.

It marks the end of a five-year peace process designed to end the conflict between Hutu rebels and an army led by the Tutsi minority.

Power will be shared under the peace deal with Tutsis guaranteed a share of power and government jobs.

"I pledge to fight all ideology and acts of genocide and exclusion, to promote and defend the individual and collective rights and freedoms of persons and of the citizen," he said in the Kirundi language in a ceremony attended by several African heads of state.

Outgoing President Domitien Ndayizeye said this was "the most important day in Burundi's history."

His Frodebu party was defeated in local and parliamentary elections earlier this year by Mr Nkurunziza's Forces for the Defence of Democracy, before MPs elected the ex-rebel as president last week.

Pierre Nkurunziza

"We have won the battle," said Mr Ndayizeye (pictured above).

The BBC's Rob Walker in the capital, Bujumbura, says Mr Nkurunziza's journey to power has been an extraordinary one - from school teacher to rebel leader and now finally, to president.

He has said his first task will be to try and engage the last remaining rebel group, the National Liberation Forces (FNL) in peace talks.

"I hope he will bring back peace quickly and help us overcome poverty," said Fatuma Siniremera, a 56-year-old Nkurunziza supporter during a rally on Thursday.

But some Tutsis remain fearful of Hutu rule.

"I am very pessimistic about whether he will change anything," Dieudonne Hakizimana said.

The power-sharing deal agreed and now finally implemented is seen as a crucial success for the continent and one which could have wider benefits for the volatile Great Lakes region.

Our correspondent says Mr Nkurunziza takes control of a country which is virtually destroyed but which has huge expectations of his ruling party.

He says the new leader will need all the support he can get from the international community if he is now to deliver on the much-needed dividends of peace.

But the challenge ahead is not just physical.

Deep divisions from the civil war remain and many believe those will only be healed if the new government deals with the issue of justice for crimes committed by all sides.

On the eve of his inauguration, six mainly Tutsi parties said Mr Nkurunziza should be brought to justice for crimes they say he committed as a guerrilla leader during the civil war.

A Burundian court passed the death sentence on Mr Nkurunziza in 1998, but he was granted an amnesty in the peace accords.

No elected government has ever served out its term in Burundi.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Save the Children (UK) Report: Forgotten Casualties of War: Girls in armed conflict

Save the Children's report at:

http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/temp/scuk/cache/cmsattach/2698_GAAF%20report.pdf

[With thanks to Congo Girl's post DRC: 12,500 Girls members of armed groups, NGO report says]

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

European cloth with African appeal

007 in Africa writes about Cloth and posts an image of fabric purchased from Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Congo (but made in Cote d'Ivoire or European countries) - and notes a little known fact:
Most African cloth is actually fabricated in Scandinavian countries with designs created by African stylists. So the cloth I bought on the market is most probably made in Europe rather than in Africa. European cloth with African appeal.
Congo Girl posts more textiles.

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Uganda to expel DR Congo rebels

Uganda has announced it will expel six rebels from Democratic Republic of Congo after the UN voiced its concern over their presence in the county.

Uganda's internal affairs minister said the men had been declared persona non grata and must leave by Thursday.

The six are part of a group the UN says planned to use Uganda to launch a rebel movement to seize power in DR Congo.

UN Security Council resolutions oblige Uganda to prevent its territory from being used by regional armed groups.

[Why is there not such a resolution for Sudan?]

Full story at BBC Aug 24, 2005.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005

Police probe Australian miner over alleged role in quelling Congo revolt - Forbes.com

Report at Forbes.com via Eric at Sudan: Passion of the Present, with thanks:

08.19.2005 SYDNEY (AFX) - Federal police are investigating claims an Australian mining company helped government forces put down an uprising in the Democratic Republic of Congo during which troops killed up to 100 people, officials said.

Human rights groups have alleged that Anvil Mining provided vehicles and other assistance to troops sent in last October to quell a rebellion in the village of Kilwa, 50 kilometers from one of the company's mines.

Armed rebels took over the southeastern town, leading the Perth-based Anvil to suspend operations at its copper and silver mine and evacuate staff.

The government flew in troops who took back control of Kilwa, apparently using vehicles from Anvil.

According to a UN report, up to 100 people died in the fighting.

Anvil has denied playing any role in the killing and said the vehicles used by the troops were commandeered by the military.

The Australian Federal Police told the national news agency AAP that it had opened an investigation into the case.

The company issued a statement Friday saying it had not yet been contacted by police but 'has no concerns should any investigation be undertaken'.

A Melbourne law firm representing several human rights groups who have accused Anvil of breaching international human right laws over the incident welcomed the police decision to investigate. (dm/br/dk)
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From Eric: these stories relate to the recent allegations against Anvil Mining; it looks like there%u2019s now an official investigation...

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200508/s1441149.htm

http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2005/s1441337.htm (program transcript)

http://finance.news.com.au/story/0,10166,16313902-31037,00.html, http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=52039, and http://seven.com.au/news/topstories/101281 (AAP story)

http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200508/s1441929.htm (Anvil 'has no concerns' about police investigation)

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/anvil-denies-link-to-congo-massacre/2005/08/19/1123958227561.html?oneclick=true (Anvil denies link to Congo massacre)

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Friday, August 19, 2005

Why Africa won't condemn Zimbabwe blitz

Excerpt from BBC report today:

Foreign ministers from the G8 grouping of the world's richest and most powerful countries have called on other African leaders to denounce the forced evictions which are causing so much suffering in Zimbabwe.

Yet many of those other African governments have overseen similar brutal evictions in their own countries, and yet have suffered very little outside criticism.

The sad truth is that what is going on in Zimbabwe at the moment is not at all unusual.

From one end of Africa to the other, governments have set about slum clearance schemes without any consideration for the people who live there, or any sense of responsibility for what happens to them afterwards.

Genocide suspect Michel Bagaragaza flown to Hague, Netherlands

BBC reports today that a Rwandan accused of playing a leading role in the 1994 genocide has been transferred to the Netherlands. Full Story.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Spiegel interview with African economics expert James Shikwati: "For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!"

Not sure what to think about Der Spiegel Interview July 4, 2005 with African Economics Expert: 'For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!'

The Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati, 35, says that aid to Africa does more harm than good. The avid proponent of globalization spoke with SPIEGEL about the disastrous effects of Western development policy in Africa, corrupt rulers, and the tendency to overstate the AIDS problem.

[via INCITE: Aid to Africa: Please Stop - with thanks]

Africa's digital future - Kenya pilots Pocket PC education: The Eduvision pilot project

Note this copy of a BBC report today about an extraordinary experiment aimed at using technology to deliver education across the continent.

Kenya pilots Pocket PC education
By Richard Taylor
Editor, BBC Click Online

In the final report of Click Online's Africa season, we visit Kenya where a trial project using handheld Pocket PCs could help reduce the costs of education in poor communities.

Mbita Point, on the eastern shores of Lake Victoria, hosts a small rural community.

A few minutes walk from the main town lies the local primary school, housed on the campus of a renowned research institute.

As the only school in the area with access to electricity, Mbita Primary enjoys a relatively privileged location.

This aside, it suffers from the same problems encountered by other public schools.

Since the Kenyan government introduced free primary school education two years ago, the resulting influx of kids has meant that resources are spread as thinly as ever.

In the future the students will be able to complete their assignments on these books and send them to the teacher.

Classrooms are crowded, and the all-too-familiar scenario of children sharing outdated textbooks is still very much in evidence.

However, in Class Five, things are just a little bit different. Fifty-four 11-year-old students are willing guinea pigs in an extraordinary experiment aimed at using technology to deliver education across the continent.

In the Eduvision pilot project, textbooks are out, customised Pocket PCs, referred to as e-slates, are very much in.

They are wi-fi enabled and run on licence-free open source software to keep costs down.

"The e-slates contain all the sorts of information you'd find in a textbook and a lot more," said Eduvision co-founder Maciej Sudra.

"They contain textual information, visual information and questions. Within visual information we can have audio files, we can have video clips, we can have animations.

"At the moment the e-slates only contain digitised textbooks, but we're hoping that in the future the students will be able to complete their assignments on these books and send them to the teacher, and the teacher will be able to grade them and send them back to the student."

Pocket PCs were chosen in place of desktops because they are more portable, so the children can take them home at night, and also because they're also cheaper, making them cost-effective alternatives to traditional methods of learning.

Eduvision co-founder Matthew Herren says families pay upwards of $100 a year for textbooks.

"Our system is something that we hope will be sustainable, and the money that they use towards textbooks could be used to buy e-slates instead, which can last more than a year, thereby reducing the cost of education."

Moreover, the potential offered by e-slates is enormous. The content stored on them can be dynamically updated wirelessly, hence the need for wi-fi.
This means that they could include anything from new textbooks which have just come on stream, to other content like local information or even pages from the web.

The team have also devised a rather neat system for getting the information onto the devices.

First off, content is created and formatted for use on the e-slate.

A central operations centre distributes the material over a cheap satellite radio downlink to a satellite radio receiver in the school.

The information passes through a base station which beams it out wirelessly to the students. And so a new and enjoyable way of learning is born.

"I like using [the] e-slate because I can take it home to use it at night and I can use it because it has [a] battery," said Viola, a pupil at Mbita Primary.

Fellow pupil Felix had a few problems: "At first I found it difficult, but when our teacher, Maureen, told me to go in early to teach me, I went. The next day I found it easy."

Potential pitfalls

Although the kids are certainly enthralled by the novelty of the hi-tech gadgetry, their teachers are a little more realistic.

"There are too many drawbacks," said Robert Odero, a teacher at the school.

"One is the lack of electric power in most of our schools, and since the machine needs constant recharging for it to be effectively used this would affect the users as well as the teachers.

"Another thing is the delicate nature of the machine. Given the rugged terrain of our country and the paths our kids use on their way to school, these things could easily fall on the way."

According to Eduvision co-founder Matthew Herren, the e-slates are fragile because the project is in a pilot stage.

"In any implementation in the future that's on a larger scale we will have them custom made to our specifications and coated in rubber and made much hardier," he said.

"At the same time, with textbooks there's no reason why a student couldn't drop all of their books into a pail of water and damage them as well."

There are plenty of concerns which have given pause for thought during the 18 months the pilot's been running.

The Eduvision team says all the issues can be solved and that the technology could be rolled out across countries and even extended beyond education.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of sceptics who believe it will never make it off this campus.

Kenya's Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technology believes the project's flawed not just in design, but in its very conception.

"We need to be careful that we don't bring about too many experiments, and this is another such experiment being done without ensuring that we have the right environment for it to be assured of success," said Kilemi Mwiria.

"I think it's a big leap, a big giant leap for schools, students and communities that don't even know what a desktop computer is, as well as what you can use computers for.

"I think to suddenly bring even more advanced technology is being a bit unrealistic."

Few people could deny that this project is both novel and enterprising, and even while it's still in testing, Eduvision concede that they themselves have still got a lot to learn.

But they are convinced it will play a part in Africa's digital future.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

DR Congo: New Congolese rebels from Uganda cause worry

Today, I started a new blog called Niger Watch and posted at Uganda Watch. So, it has been helpful updating this blog up with part of a Great Lakes news round-up by Congo Girl for which I most grateful. Thanks CG!

Donors agree to provide $100 million more for polls - European donors and the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo committed themselves on Tuesday to provide an additional €85 million ($100 million) for democratic elections in the central African country, but officials say more money is still needed. - 12 Jul 2005 (IRIN)

UN says it needs an extra US $190 million for polls - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has issued a two-page report to the Security Council in which he gave details of almost US $190 million in additional costs the UN requires to support upcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). - 14 Jul 2005 (IRIN)

Some 32,000 displaced by attack in South Kivu - The UN said on Tuesday that some 32,000 civilians were displaced from their homes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) Kalonge Chiefdom, in Sud Kivu Province, following an attack earlier in July by Hutu Rwandans militias. - 20 Jul 2005 (IRIN)

New Congolese rebels cause worry - The United Nations mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo says it is concerned by the creation of a new rebel group in neighbouring Uganda. The BBC has seen a document announcing the formation of the Congolese Revolutionary Movement (MRC), which says it is fighting for the rights of the people in DR Congo's eastern Ituri and North Kivu regions. - 20 July 2005 (BBC)

Two mass graves reported in eastern village of Ntulumamba - Two mass graves believed to contain the remains of 39 civilians killed on Saturday in Ntulumamba village, in Kalonge Chiefdom 75 km north of Bukavu, have been reported to the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC), a UN spokeswoman said. - 13 Jul 2005 (IRIN)

DR Congo's towns besieged by rapists - The town of Walungu - a quiet trading centre perched on top of the fertile hills of South Kivu province - is a town under siege. - 5 July 2005 (BBC)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Africa: Niger children starving to death

This morning, I received an email from someone together with the following message and link to Hilary Andersson's report at BBC News online:

** Message **
Another one for you to worry over. As we shall increasingly discover, very many people are living in the wrong place, and shouldn't have been born, anyway. The great fear amongst Niger's neighbours is that these starving folk will move across over their borders, in search of food. What is your solution?

** Niger children starving to death **
Children are dying of hunger in feeding centres in Niger where 3.6m people face food shortages, aid agencies warn.
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It is difficult to know what to say. My first reaction to Andersson's news on Niger is that it seems to have come out of the blue. The way the aid agencies sound in the report you would think they had shouted it from the rooftops and nobody responded. I receive daily email alerts on Africa but this is the first I've heard of such a crisis in Niger.

Hilary Andersson, a first class reporter, says little foreign aid has gone into Niger to deal with the crisis so far; aid agencies in the country predict the situation will get worse in the coming months and say the world has responded too late.
"The crisis in the south of the country has been caused by a drought and a plague of locusts which destroyed much of last year's harvest. Aid agency World Vision warns that 10% of the children in the worst affected areas could die. Niger is a vast desert country and one of the poorest on earth. Millions of people, a third of the population, face food shortages.

"There are children dying every day in our centres," says Milton Tetonidis of Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders). 'We're completely overwhelmed, there'd better be other people coming quickly to help us out - I mean, the response has been desperately slow.'"
Note, the report clearly states
"the hunger in Niger was predicted months ago - but that did nothing to prevent the present disaster - a severe drought last year, combined with a plague of locusts, destroyed much of the crop that was needed to feed the people and the cattle they rely on".
The report says the "international community" has reacted too late to the crisis. I guess the "international community" comprises the UN and donors from 191-member states. What became of all the donations and aid pledged over the past year - not to mention the public outcry on behalf of Africa and intense lobbying on Darfur? Where are all the African voices shouting about Niger? And all those who complained about white-man helping Africa with global campaigns such as Make Poverty History and Live 8? It is sickening to know about Niger at such a late stage. What has the African Union and its neighbours - and massive number of church goers - done to avoid such a terrible crisis in Niger? Once again, the onus appears to be on the West to come to the rescue - when will it end? How much longer do we have to stomach getting criticised by Africans for coming to Africa's aid?

Going by what happened in Darfur last April [the UN admitted, when put under to pressure to answer questions later on, that it failed to respond to the world's worst humanitarian crisis quickly enough] one has to conclude the UN is not on the ball and fails to act proactively. The report says "UN bodies and NGOs are appealing for donations through their websites" - when are the African fatcats who were educated in the West going to get a grip and start doing something constructive. We cannot keep going on like this. Even the head of the African Union recently said that if Africa is not sorted within the next 27 years, by which time its population will double, Africa will not be manageable for the rest of the world. It's food and aid needs will be too great.

Sorry to admit it is emotionally draining blogging about African politics and Africa's crises. I'm afraid I cannot take on blogging about Niger right now unless I get some helping hands. If any blogger would like to co-author Sudan Watch, Congo Watch, Uganda Watch, Ethiopia Watch [and possibly Niger Watch], please make contact. In the meantime, if any blogger can put together news items/summaries/round-ups and/or blog round ups for any of those sites, please email me and I will publish them asap with full credit and blog link. Depending on suitability of content, some posts could appear at more than one blog. Thanks.

Note these snippets from Hilary Andersson's report on Niger:

A severe drought last year, combined with a plague of locusts, destroyed much of the crop that was needed to feed the people and the cattle they rely on.

Now, across the windswept plains of the Sahel, carcasses of cattle litter the landscape.

Rains have come - but so late they are now a curse, bringing malaria and other disease.

Families are roaming the parched desert looking for help. One family we came across did not even know where they were going.

"I'm wandering like a madman," the father said. "I'm afraid we'll all starve."

They were hundreds of miles from the nearest food distribution point.

Aid agencies estimate that tens of thousands of children are in the advanced stages of starvation.

Children are dying daily in the few feeding centres there are, where their place in the queue could make the difference between life and death.

Amina is so starved she cannot eat even if she wants to.

"She vomits as soon as I give her food or water," says her mother.

"As far as I'm concerned, God did not make us all equal - I mean, look at us all here. None of us has enough food."

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

DR Congo villagers burnt to death

BBC report says UN peacekeepers are tightening the screw in eastern DRC:

The UN peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of Congo says at least 30 people were burnt to death in their huts on Saturday night.

Monuc sent 50 peacekeepers to Mamba village, in South Kivu province, to verify reports it had been attacked by Rwandan Hutu militias.

They discovered a village burnt to the ground and two mass graves.

Witnesses said 39 villagers, mostly women and children, had been locked in their huts which were then set ablaze.

UN officials say at least 50 others were wounded.

The BBC's Arnaud Zajtman in the Congolese capital Kinshasa says the massacre took place 40 km west of Bukavu in the park of Kahozi Biega, a rebel stronghold where UN peacekeepers have only recently begun patrols.

The UN believes the massacre could be a warning to the local population not to co-operate with the peacekeepers.

Much of the South Kivu region is under the control of the FDLR, which is accused of playing a lead role in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which about 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu militias.

Speaking from his exile in Brussels, the leader of the Hutu rebels, Ignace Murwanashyaka, denied ordering the attack, and blamed a splinter group.

Hutu rebels fled Rwanda and crossed into Eastern Congo 11 years ago after their alleged involvement in the Rwandan genocide.

An estimated 15,000 Hutu rebels are still active and represent one of the main threats to security in the area.

Several rounds of negotiations and a UN-sponsored voluntary disarmament programme have failed to restore peace to Eastern Congo.

The rebels say that they will return peacefully to Rwanda only when the political situation allows, but recently the UN peacekeepers and the Congolese army have threatened to use force to disarm the militiamen.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Live 8 global concerts underway

Concerts are taking place around the world to put pressure on political leaders to tackle poverty in Africa.

Three billion people are watching. So far, 1.5 million people have added their name to the message being delivered to the Group 8 leaders on Wednesday in Scotland, UK. No matter where you are in the world, please add your name to The LIVE 8 List and visit Make Poverty History if you have not already done so.

Japan kicked off the first concert.

Live 8 Tokyo

Photo: Japanese band Rize started proceedings in Tokyo (Material and photos courtesy BBC)

The biggest concert, in London's Hyde Park, has opened with Sir Paul McCartney singing with U2 in front of an audience of up to 200,000. Bill Gates and Kofi Annan made a surprise appearance on stage to say a few words for the cause. Click here for line-ups of other Live 8 concerts.

Bono

Photo: Great performance by Bono and U2

Mariners begin Sail 8 round trip

The first of the boats answering Bob Geldof's call to ferry people from France for the G8 protests has left Portsmouth harbour. Full report.

Sail 8

Photo: Geldof wants protesters to collect their 'French cousins' (BBC)

Thousands flock to poverty march

Make Poverty History March

Thousands of protesters are taking part in a Make Poverty History march in Edinburgh, Scotland as musicians perform in Live 8 concerts around the globe.

Early estimates are of about 100,000 people involved in the event to highlight their message to G8 leaders meeting at Gleneagles on Wednesday.

1.5 million turned up for Live 8 in Philadelphia.

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

New Statesman threatens a blogger - Defending Oxfam and Barbara Stocking's rebuttal

This afternoon, I contacted American blogger and journalist Curt Hopkins after receiving an email from Kathryn Corrick, Online Manager at the New Statesman (a UK magazine on political, cultural and current affairs) telling me to cut the majority of a post entitled "In Darfur, Sudan 700,000 people rely on Oxfam to survive" published at my blog Sudan Watch 2 June 2005.

Curt is director of the Committee to Protect Bloggers. They have good connections with Media Bloggers Association which has as its General Counsel the Coleman Law Firm.

The email from the New Statesman does not explain what they propose to do if I ignore it, so I emailed Curt at the address given at his blog Morpheme Tales.

See the post NEW STATESMAN THREATENS BLOGGER that Curt published today in response. I would have liked to have written a more in-depth post on this but will have to make do for now with posting just the link to Curt's post. I've overdone my time online today and am over tired.

By the way, the folks that do great petitions for the Committee to Protect Bloggers are at Sudan Activism Blog

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Joe Trippi's blog announces ONE blog is alive

American readers might like to follow ONE Blog which covers the Live 8 event in America. Just like Live Aid concert 20 years, Live 8 is being held on the east coast of America, in Philadelphia.

[via Joe Trippi's Blog ONE is alive with thanks]
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Great links and images at Live 8 Concert - live 8 - with thanks to Live 8 Concerts for sharing the pointer in the comments at Congo Watch post entitled "The Greatest Show on Earth July 2: Geldof's Live 8 concerts to promote G8 Summit and Make Poverty History Campaign."
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Buzztone promotes Live 8: The world's largest interactive event

A few minutes ago I received an email from Nick Lezin of Buzztone saying he is working on promoting Live 8. Buzztone, The Change Agency, is smart looking marketing firm with a perfect sounding pitch.

Nick says, on Saturday, Live 8 will become the largest interactive event the world has ever seen:
"Worldwide concerts featuring the biggest names in music-U2, Destiny's Child, Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band, Tim McGraw, Madonna, Sting and more-along with one million spectators and millions of viewers. All coming together with one purpose-to make poverty history. You can check out all of your favorite performances, on-demand throughout the summer-available to everyone, only at AOL Music.com

Make sure to check it out and add your name to the live 8 petition. If you would like to help spread the word about this great cause, go to http://www.buzztone.com/live8 for a variety of Live 8 content that you can host on your blog or website. We have banners, blurbs about Live 8, and the official press release available."
If you are a blogger and can put something up, please send Nick [nick AT buzztone DOT com] a link so he can check it out. Thanks.

Note, a BBC news report June 23, 2005 says AOL which has exclusive rights to broadcast the Live 8 event on the internet, also licensed it to North American TV and radio stations. Also, the report says AOL will screen the five main concerts on the internet and make them available for download six weeks after the event.

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Monday, June 27, 2005

Africa Calling Live 8 at Eden in Cornwall, England, UK

Live 8 - Africa Calling

The Eden Project in Cornwall, England is to stage a major Live8 concert on 2nd July under the banner of "Africa Calling" presented in association with WOMAD and its co-founder Peter Gabriel, together with Senegalese superstar Youssou N'Dour.

The evening itself will be hosted by Peter Gabriel, who has championed World Music for the past 25 years. Youssou N'Dour and Peter Gabriel have invited many of their favourite African artists to perform at the event.

Live 8 Africa Calling at Eden in Cornwall

The concert will be held on the stage in the Eden arena with the world's biggest greenhouses providing a spectacular backdrop in the crater.

This outstanding line-up will bring the spectacular Eden site alive with unbeatable African party spirit. Transmissions will be made from the event by the BBC as part of the Live8 celebration.

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This Week's Good Idea - Send a message to the G8

Snippets from Keith's insightful post:

Next week is the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY festival in Edinburgh before the start of the G8 summit. Even if you can't go, you can send a message to the G8 leaders.

When you live around people who are struggling to provide for their families day by day, much of the political posturing, and criticism of Live 8, "Saint Bob", and stuff is really hard to listen to. There is injustice in the status quo, resulting in millions of people dying. The answer can never be charity alone, if we don't address the fundamental injustices. How can we not fight to change it? We need to recognise that for the poor to get a good deal, we need to be willing to pay a price, and that international structures and decisions should reflect this. Surely this is an expression of righteousness - to help others at our own cost. You too can send a message to the G8 leaders to tell them you want them to act for the poor.

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Saturday, June 25, 2005

Global Call to Action Against Poverty July 1 - International White Band Day

July 1, the first Global White Band Day will see people around the world wearing their white bands and wrapping public buildings in white to send a message to the G8 world leaders that they demand action on trade justice, debt cancellation, and more and better aid. International White Band Day will prove to be one of the largest global actions ever taken.

Below are just some of the White Band events planned. More will be announced soon. For more information or to get in touch with national coalitions, please visit the GCAP Country Coalitions section.

July 1 International White Band Day
Source: GCAP - United Kingdom Coalition against Poverty: Make Poverty History.

Massive white bands will be wrapped around buildings across the world, including:

- The Soweto township of Johannesburg, South Africa, a group of shacks will be wrapped in a white band, to symbolise perpetuating poverty in Africa.
- In Freetown, Sierra Leone, the famous cotton tree, planted by freed slaves when the nation was founded, will be draped in a white band.
- In Senegal, the slavery archway will be wrapped in a white band.

From June 30 to July 14 the Sydney Harbour Bridge, in Australia, will be wrapped in a white band, with the Australian coalition's slogan "Make Poverty History" across it.

- The Coliseum in Italy.
- The Brandenburger Tor in Germany.
- In Paris, France, the Trocadero's buildings which sit either side of the Eiffel Tower, will be wrapped with two white bands.
- In Spain, bridges will be wrapping on the main highways of Spain.
- In Georgia all the trees along the Central Avenue of the capital, Tbilisi, will be wrapped in white bands.

[via White Band Blog with thanks]

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Friday, June 24, 2005

The Greatest Show on Earth July 2: Geldof's Live 8 concerts to promote G8 Summit and Make Poverty History Campaign

50,000 people are dying, needlessly, every day of extreme poverty. Everyday, poverty kills 30,000 children in Africa alone. Another 100 will have died in the time that it takes you to read this post.

Live Aid July 13, 2985 logo

Image: Live Aid concerts were staged on 13 July 1985 to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia. It is estimated the concerts reached an audience of 2 billion people, raised $140 million and saved 1-2 million lives.

Once again, the ball is rolling on tackling extreme poverty and after many years of hard work by the British Government, Sir Bob Geldof (of Live Aid fame), Bono (leader of the Irish rock band U2) and many others involved in the Commission for Africa things are starting to come to fruition that could, eventually, lead to the scrapping of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

With only eight days left before the Live 8 concert is beamed to billions of people around the globe on July 2, things are hotting up here publicity wise in Britain. The countdown is beginning to the greatest concert on Earth.

There are just 13 days to go before the G8 Summit takes place at the Gleneagles Hotel in Scotland, UK July 6-8.

LIVE 8 concerts

This year, the UK -- as well as holding the presidency of the European Union (EU) for the second half of the year starting next week -- holds the presidency of the G8, which is why the summit is hosted in Britain with British Prime Minister Tony Blair in the chair.

Tony Blair's Commission for Africa

Tony Blair has travelled to the countries of the G8 leaders to garner support for initiatives on the environment and to help make poverty history.

Tony Blair in Ethiopia at his Commission for Africa

Photo: Mr Blair last year in Ethiopia at a meeting of his Commission for Africa

Britain's Chancellor, Gordon Brown, was born in Scotland, UK where the G8 summit is to be held July 6-8 at the famous Gleneagles Hotel. He and Tony Blair have spent several years lobbying hard to help countries such as Africa. They have worked closely with Bob Geldof, Bono and many others on the Commission for Africa which, after initial meetings in Ethiopia chaired by Mr Blair, produced its first report 11 March 2005.

Bono

Photo of Bono by Barry Brecheisen. [See article "Bono Assembles an Army" and Bono's DATA campaign website Debt AIDS Trade Africa.]

Britain's Make Poverty History campaign brings together a cross-section of over 100 charities, campaigns, trade unions, faith groups, church leaders and celebrities who are united by a common belief that 2005 offers a unprecedented opportunity for global change.

At last year's G8 summit, Tony Blair came close to getting Britain's proposal for cancelling the debts of the world's poorest nations accepted, but US President George W. Bush rejected it. This year, the historic proposal succeeded. On June 11, 2005, following a meeting of G8 finance ministers held at Gleneagles, Scotland, Gordon Brown announced the world's richest countries had agreed to write off the debt owed by 18 mainly African countries. This is just the beginning.

Nelson Mandela and Gordon Brown

Photo: Nelson Mandela and Gordon Brown [see below copy of Mandela's poverty speech given ahead of the meeting of G8 finance ministers June 11, 2005]

On Saturday 2 July, as the leaders of the G8 summit gather, tens of thousands of people will attend a rally in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, to demand trade justice, debt cancelling and more and better aid for the world's poorest countries.

Bob Geldof and friends have generated global publicity for Live 8, G8 summit and Make Poverty History campaign, sponsored by America Online, BBC, Nokia Nseries, 95.8 Capital fm, O2.

British TV news reports say the British police, coastguards and security forces were alarmed when Geldof used the media to call for one million people to turn up in Edinburgh. He launched Sail 8 and called for those with access to a boat to set sail on July 3 and recreate D-Day to be part of the Long Walk to Justice. He even called for sailors to bring over as many French as possible to support the protest action against poverty.

Sir Bob Geldof and Sail 8

Photo: Bob Geldof calls for sailors and boat owners, to form a massive flotilla across the English Channel in July as part of the global call for action against poverty (GCAP). Dame Ellen MacArthur is supporting the Make Poverty History campaign and international transport and travel companies have pledged their support by providing planes, trains, coaches to get people to Edinburgh by Wednesday 6 July when world leaders arrive for the G8 meeting.

Henry Northover of Make Poverty History says:
"It is imperative that thousands turn out on the streets of Edinburgh on 2 July to demand action from the G8 that they fulfill their promises to halve poverty by 2015."
Bob Geldof, with the help of some great supporters, is chief organiser of the Live 8 concerts. Unlike Live Aid in 1985, Live 8 is not about raising funds for charity, it is about raising awareness of extreme poverty and the G8 Summit 2005. Live 8 aims to reach as many people around the world as possible. Geldof has spent the last few months browbeating top names in the rock business to participate. Groups like The Who and Spice Girls may reform for the special event that will be beamed by satellite all over the world and reach an audience of 2 billion. There is even talk of Status Quo, the band that opened Live Aid with "Rockin' All Over the World".

The aim of the global Live 8 concerts is to fight world poverty. Live 8 will take place on July 2, ahead of the G8 summit July 6-8 . So far, the latest concert locations are: Johannesburg, Tokyo and Toronto which add to a growing list of venues that includes London, Philadelphia, Paris, Rome, Berlin and Cornwall. According to the BBC, Geldof, who originally co-ordinated five main concerts in Europe and the US, said he decided to arrange more after the European Union agreed to double its development aid to poorer nations. He said he hoped former South African president Nelson Mandela - who has also campaigned for the alleviation of poverty in Africa - would head the Live 8 Africa concert.

British blogger and journalist Stephen Pollard, in a May 23 article in the Times, suggests activists campaign for property rights and the rule of law - in other words: for better governance which is what I have said here in many previous posts. Another point he made is for campaigns to focus on:
"...not to abolish free trade but to extend it - attacking, for instance, the EU Common Agricultural Policy and its immoral tariff barriers against the developing world. The EU spends EUROS 2.7 billion a year subsidising farmers to grow sugar beet; at the same time it imposes high tariff barriers against sugar imports from the developing world. And the EU’s agricultural tariffs average 20 per cent, rising to a peak of 250 per cent on certain products. The European market remains barely open to the majority of low-cost textiles from the developing world."
The Live 8 concerts around the globe on July 2 will mark the start of The Long Walk To Justice. It will be watched and listened to by more than 2 billion people.

Find out more, including where the concerts are taking place, how to get tickets and who is performing: www.live8live.com. Apparently, there may be arrangements to allow hundreds of thousands more into the London concert at Hyde Park on the day.
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Educ8 The G8

Does your school want to hold a MAKE POVERTY HISTORY day or week of events during the G8 summit? You can dowload lesson plans to introduce the G8 here. The lessons are suitable for a variety of subjects, and help pupils critically engage with the concept of the G8, as well as the themes of Africa and Climate Change.

Understanding the G8 - Lesson Plan1 (suitable for ages 10 to 13)
Understanding the G8 - Lesson Plan 2 (suitable for ages 13 to 16)
Assembly ideas and suggestions for getting involved.
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Live 8 List

Wherever you are located in the world, you can add your name to The Live 8 message addressed to the 8 most powerful leaders in the world:
"At this year's G8 summit meeting, it is within your power to put an end to this tragedy. It is an extraordinary opportunity which it would be shameful to ignore. We urge you to take these 3 steps to make extreme poverty history...

- double the aid sent to the world's poorest countries,
- fully cancel their debts,
- change the trade laws so that they can build their own future."
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Bloggers talking about Live 8

See Joi Ito's post Technorati Live 8 launches re tags, badges and tracking what bloggers are saying.
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Make Poverty History Campaign

What is Make Poverty History campaign? BBC explains about the campaign that bids to end poverty trap.

Click here to get the code for a whiteband on your website and here for white bangles.
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Mandela's poverty speech

Via BBC News online: the full text of Nelson Mandela's speech in London's Trafalgar Square for the campaign to end poverty in the developing world.
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Quotation

'Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world'. - Nelson Mandela
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Bono launches ONE campaign
Photo: ONE is a new effort by Americans to rally Americans - ONE by ONE - to fight the emergency of global AIDS and extreme poverty. The campaign was launched at a rally in Philadelphia with the help of U2's Bono.

Readers, especially those from America, might like to follow the ONE Campaign and Joe Trippi's blog.

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