“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Jordan to house Syrian refugees deep in desert

A new camp for Syrian refugees is opening in a remote part of Jordan's desert after long delay. Aid organizations criticize the location, but say the facility could offer better conditions than Jordan's Zaatari camp.

Buses stand ready at the border between Syria and Jordan - the first refugees are set to reach the camp at Azraq on Monday (28.04.2014). By mid-week, the Jordanian government will officially open its new refugee camp, intended above all to alleviate the troubling situation at the Zaatari camp. In early April, a young Syrian was shot dead there when Jordanian security forces suppressed an uprising.

In recent years, residents have repeatedly protested - sometimes violently - against what they call poor living conditions. Zaatari, with its nearly 100,000 residents, is considered the world's second-largest refugee camp. The UN administrator there described it as the most challenging facility of its kind in the world. Starting now, new refugees will be placed there only in exceptional cases.

The new center for refugees is expected to address some of the shortfalls of the last camp, due primarily to the fact that the 20 aid organizations cooperating with the UN's refugee office (UNHCR) had time to prepare for the incoming residents.

Violent clashes erupted at the
Zaatari camp this month
The Azraq facility could already have been opened last fall. But Jordan's government initially decided against this, saying the influx of refugees seemed to be dying down. That trend proved short-lived.

"Normally, the refugees are there first, and then we build a camp for them," said Steffen Horstmeier of the aid organization World Vision. "In Azraq, it's the other way around. Here, we were able to think through the camp and then build it."

Village-like structure

Azraq doesn't have any tents, which are often used elsewhere as an initial emergency solution. The refugees here will move into huts made of corrugated metal. World Vision was responsible for installing the toilets and showers in the camp, which is divided into a series of smaller villages set to house 15,000 people each. Two of these residential areas are finished, and two more could be added in a few months to bring the total capacity to 60,000.

"The upper limit is probably around 100,000," estimated Horstmeier, who heads the World Vision office in Jordan's capital, Amman.

Thanks to the camp's structure of individual villages separated from each other by several hundred meters, the aid organizations aim to avoid uprisings such as those seen in Zaatari.

"Hopefully, the result will be smaller communities where people aren't just sitting on top of each other and where tensions won't arise so easily," Horstmeier said.

Steffen Horstmeier of World Vision in an Azraq dwelling

Remote, hot, stormy

There's plenty of space to expand the Azraq facility, since it lies in the middle of the Jordanian desert. Many refugee organizations have criticized the choice of location as too remote - 30 kilometers (19 miles) away from the next village and 50 kilometers from the next larger city. The only human habitation in the direct vicinity is a military camp.

The Jordanian government stipulated the site. Temperatures there currently stand at around 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). In the summer, that number can quickly climb to 45 degrees, including sand storms that have proven capable of making brick houses collapse.

"The site is definitely not ideal," Steffen Horstmeier said. "We've tried to make the best of it."

German aid group Syrienhilfe criticizes camps like the one at Azraq for failing to provide refugees with the opportunities they need. The small association's volunteers have used their own network to assist Syrian refugees since 2012.

"Of course, anything helps," said Syrienhilfe chair Karsten Malige, a land surveyor. "But particularly in the large camps, although people are given a home, they're not given any hope."

The Azraq camp also includes a
playground for children
Malige said the refugees have no way to support themselves and pursue jobs, which he calls "a discouraging move and a degradation."

Few prospects

Refugees in Jordan are not allowed to work. But many violate that law in order to earn a living. Around 80 percent of the Syrian refugees in Jordan do not live in camps, but rather in cities or towns. They find shelter in a range of places, from cellars to apartments with inflated prices.

"Jordan's government is afraid that refugees from Syria are suddenly going to storm the labor market," said World Vision's Steffen Horstmeier, adding that the Jordanian health and school systems are already overburdened. Refugees now make up one-tenth of the total population. "Jordan is going to need support for a very long time," Horstmeier added.

It's a similar story to other countries in the region. In total, the UNHCR has registered 2.7 million Syrian refugees abroad - with more than a million inSyria's small neighbor Lebanon alone. Turkey has taken in around 700,000 Syrians, while Iraq and Egypt now host 300,000.

However, Syrians have also increasingly been returning to their home country, said Karsten Malige of Syrienhilfe, explaining: "For financial reasons, but also because of a lack of prospects. That's in spite of the battles taking place there and despite the danger to their lives."

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Palestinian unity government will reject violence, Abbas says

Yahoo – AFP, Hossam Ezzedine,  26 April 2014

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas gestures as he gives a
 speech during a meeting with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)'s 
Central Council in the West Bank city of Ramallah on April 26, 2014 (AFP
 Photo/Abbas Momani)

Ramallah (Palestinian Territories) (AFP) - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Saturday the new unity government he is set to head with the backing of Hamas would reject violence and recognise Israel and existing agreements.

Abbas was speaking to the Palestine Liberation Organisation's Central Council, which had convened to chart a course of action after Israel suspended US-brokered peace talks in response to a reconciliation deal with the Islamist Hamas.

The agreement between the rival Palestinian factions came as the United States and Israel had been hoping to extend the faltering peace talks beyond their April 29 deadline.

Palestinians gather to celebrate the
 agreement to form a unity government
 in Gaza on April 23, 2014 (AFP Photo/
Mahmud Hams)
Israel said it would not negotiate with a government backed by Hamas, the armed Islamist movement ruling the Gaza Strip, which is pledged to the destruction of the Jewish state and has always rejected peace talks

"The upcoming government will obey my policy," Abbas told the PLO council. "I recognise Israel and reject violence and terrorism, and recognise international commitments."

And he stressed that the new government would not be charged with negotiations, but rather the PLO, which "represents the entire Palestinian people."

A senior Hamas official in Gaza concurred in a reacting to what he called a "mostly positive" speech.

“It is not the government’s mission to take care of political issues," Bassem Naim, an adviser to Hamas' Gaza premier Ismail Haniya, told AFP.

"It has only three main missions: unifying the Palestinian organisations, preparing for elections and reconstructing Gaza,”

The PLO is the internationally recognised representative of the Palestinians and their interlocutor in peace talks.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) was created as part of the Oslo peace process in the 1990s to administer the occupied Palestinian territories.

Abbas heads both, as well as the secular Fatah party, which dominates the PLO.

A new Israeli air force military cargo plane
the 'Samson' C-130J Super Hercules (C)
flies with Israeli military planes over Israeli
flags at Nevatim air force base near the
southern Israeli city of Beer Sheva on
April 9, 2014 (AFP Photo/David Buimovitch)
Under the Wednesday PLO-Hamas agreement, Abbas would head an "independent government" of technocrats, to be formed within five weeks.

That new interim administration would be charged with holding parliamentary and presidential elections within six months of taking office.

Israel and Western nations view Hamas as a terrorist organisation, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Abbas must choose between reconciling with the Islamist group and negotiating peace with his country.

Earlier Saturday, Netanyahu spokesman Ofir Gendelman wrote on Twitter that "abbas forged a pact w/ a global terrorist organisation," noting Hamas was on the "terror lists" of various states, including the United States and Egypt.

No recognition of 'Jewish' state

Abbas also reiterated that the Palestinians would never recognise Israel as the "Jewish state," saying they recognised it as a state in 1993 and should not have to accept its religious identity, which has been a central Netanyahu demand.

He pointed out that no similar demand was made of Egypt or Jordan when they signed peace treaties recognising Israel.

And he said the Palestinians would refuse a state that did not have east Jerusalem as its capital.

Hamas's Naim said the Abbas "speech had mostly positive points, and we cannot but support it on... not recognising (Israel as) the Jewish state."

US State Department spokeswoman
 Jen Psaki speaks at the daily briefing at
the State Department in Washington,DC
on March 10, 2014 (AFP Photo/Nicholas
The dispute over recognition and Israel's continuing construction of settlements in the occupied territories presented major obstacles to US Secretary of State John Kerry's dogged efforts to coax the two sides towards a historic peace agreement.

Efforts to extend hitherto fruitless talks to hit a wall last month when Israel refused to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners.

The Palestinians retaliated by applying to adhere to 15 international treaties as Abbas listed conditions for extending the talks beyond the deadline.

Abbas reiterated on Saturday he would agree to an extension if Israel freezes settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, frees the prisoners and begins discussion on the borders of a promised Palestinian state.

Last week, Israel dismissed the same conditions.

"If they don't want to commit there is the other solution -- for them to take over everything," Abbas said, implying a consequence of not renewing talks could be the dismantlement of the PA.

After Abbas's speech, the PLO meeting adjourned until the evening.

Related Articles:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bustard act: Saudi prince accused of slaying 2,000 near-extinct birds while on safari in Pakistan

  • Fahd bin Sultan is said to have killed 1,977 houbara bustards in 21 days
  • He had been granted a permit to kill a certain number within a small area
  • But it is claimed he far exceeded his allowance and hunted in banned zone
  • Arab royals have long hunted houbara, considering its meat an aphrodisiac
  • Bird is covered by protection laws but Pakistan can grant special permits
  • Hunting sees global houbara population shrink by 30 per cent annually

Daily Mail, John Hall, 22 April 2014

Hunt: Fahd bin Sultan is said to have killed
1,977 houbara bustards in just 21 days while
on holiday
A Saudi prince has been accused of killing 2,000 birds that are on the verge of extinction while on a safari holiday in Pakistan earlier this year.

Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud - who is commonly known as Fahd bin Sultan - is said to have killed 1,977 near-extinct houbara bustards while on a 21-day trip to Chagai in Pakistan's Balochistan province in January.

An additional 123 bustards - which are covered by laws to protect endangered species - were slaughtered by members of the prince's travelling party, bringing the total killed to 2,100.

Fahd bin Sultan, 63 -the governor of Saudi Arabia's Tabuk Province and the second eldest son of late Crown Prince Sultan - is accused of hunting illegally in protected areas, according to a report by Karachi-based Dawn News.

The website claims to have seen a document titled ‘Visit of Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud regarding hunting of houbara bustard' which they say was prepared by Jaffar Baloch - a divisional officer in the local forest and wildlife department.

The report allegedly says the prince and his party hunted for 21 days - from Jan 11, 2014 to Jan 31 - and had been granted special permits by the Pakistani federal government which allow important visitors to bypass laws preventing the hunting of houbaras.

These permits still require the recipient to kill no more than 100 birds over a 10-day period however, and only allow them to do so in certain areas.


It is not known if Fahd bin Sultan or any or his party will face punishments for violating the rules over how many birds they killed and for hunting with falcons outside the specified areas.

Houbaras are highly valued by Arab royals, who consider the meat to be an aphrodisiac.

For decades sheikhs have travelled to remote areas of Pakistan in time for the bird to make its winter migration from Central Asia. India banned the hunting of houbaras in early 1979.

At risk: Hunting in Pakistani sees the global houbara population shrink by
 between 20 and 30 per cent annually. Houbaras are highly valued by Arab royals,
who consider their meat to be an aphrodisiac

The ongoing hunting in Pakistan has seen global houbara numbers fall to around 110,000 - with that figure decreasing by between 20 and 30 per cent every year.

After a particularly aggressive hunting season last year, Pakistan introduced an interim ban on killing the birds.

The move proved popular with local environmental campaigners who have grown tired of Arab sheikhs flouting hunting laws, but the Pakistani government appears to have subsequently eased the restrictions, issuing at least 33 houbara hunting permits already this year.

One reason they are likely to have done so is because Arab royals bring a huge economic boost to the poor regions in which they hunt.

They are said to travel in a convoy of private jets while on safari, with some transport planes given over purely to falcons and hunting equipment.

The sheikhs also make large donations while travelling in Pakistan's poor rural areas - paying for new schools and mosques to be built, as well as funding the repair of rundown roads and airports.

Read more:
Arab royal hunts down 2,100 houbara bustards in three week safari

Related Article:

Spain's King Juan Carlos poses in front of a dead elephant
on a hunting trip in Botswana, Africa. Photograph: Target
Press/Barcroft Media

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Hamas, Fatah reach deal on unity government, Israel reacts sharply

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he has to choose between peace with Israel or Hamas. It comes after Hamas and Fatah agreed to a unity government.

Deutsche Welle, 23 April 2014

Militant group Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) have agreed to form a technocrat unity government, according to a joint statement by the two groups.

"An agreement has been reached on the formation within five weeks of an independent government headed by president Mahmud Abbas," the statement said.

The announcement came after Fatah and Hamas started their first reconciliation talks since 2007 when Hamas - an opponent to US-led peace talks with Israel - was voted into power in Gaza.

The agreement could pave the way for elections and a national strategy towards Israel. It could give Abbas some degree of sovereignty in Gaza but also help Hamas, which is hemmed in by an Israeli-Egyptian blockade, to become less isolated.

It is unclear, however, whether the unity government will be established, as Hamas and Fatah have failed to implement a 2011 Egyptian-brokered unity deal aimed at ending the political divide between Gaza and the Palestinian Authority-ruled West Bank.

Sharp rebuke from Israel

Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu reacted sharply to the news, as the apparent unity deal coincides with meetings between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to try to extend the US-sponsored peace talks beyond an April 29 deadline.

"Does he (Abbas) want peace with Hamas or peace with Israel?," Netanyahu said to reporters on Wednesday.

"You can have one but not the other. I hope he chooses peace. So far he hasn't done so," he said.

Israel's Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said in a statement that Abbas, who heads the Palestinian Authority that exercises limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank, "cannot make peace both with Israel and Hamas, a terrorist organization that calls for Israel's destruction".

Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdeineh, however, said Palestinian unity was an internal matter.

"Abbas chooses peace and the unity of the Palestinian people," Abu Rdeineh said. "The choice of unifying the Palestinian people enforces peace, and there is no contradiction whatsoever between reconciliation and negotiations."

US-led peace talks stalled

The US-led peace talks reached a stalemate when Israel refused to release a fourth and final group of Palestinian prisoners, in line with an earlier agreement. Since then, both sides have made demands the other deems unacceptable.

Over the weekend, Palestinian negotiators warned they may hand responsibility for governing the occupied territories back to Israel and dismantle he Palestinian Authority, if the Jewish state fails to release the prisoners and freeze settlement building.

But Israel says the demands are unacceptable. "He who makes such conditions does not want peace," an Israeli official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

ng/rc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

Monday, April 21, 2014

S.Sudan rebels slaughter 'hundreds' in ethnic massacres: UN

Yahoo – AFP, 21 April 2014

South Sudan People's Liberation Army soldiers patroling the town of
Bentiu, on January 12, 2014 (AFP Photo/Simon Maina)

Juba (AFP) - Rebel gunmen in South Sudan massacred "hundreds" of civilians because of their ethnicity when they captured a key oil town last week, the UN said Monday, calling for a probe into one of the worst reported atrocities in the war-torn nation.

In the main mosque alone, "more than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded," the UN mission in the country said. Civilians including children were also massacred at a church, hospital and an abandoned UN World Food Programme compound, it said.

Toby Lanzer, the top UN aid official in the country, told AFP after visiting the town of Bentiu he had witnessed the "most terrible sight".

"There are piles of bodies lining the streets where they had been executed, in the market, outside and inside places of worship... the majority wearing civilian clothes," he said.

Fighters took to the radio to urge men to rape women from the opposition ethnic group and said rival groups should be forced from the town, the UN said.

South Sudan's army has been fighting rebels loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar, who launched a renewed offensive this month targeting key oil fields.

The conflict has an ethnic dimension, pitting President Salva Kiir's Dinka tribe against militia forces from Machar's Nuer people.

UN human rights investigators said that after rebels wrested Bentiu from government forces in heavy battles last Tuesday, the gunmen spent two days hunting down those who they believed opposed them.

The UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) "strongly condemns these targeted killings," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York.

"The mission calls for these atrocities to be fully investigated and for the perpetrators and their commanders to be held accountable," he added.

Reminding the government and rebels of their obligation to protect civilians, Dujarric said the mission "calls on them to immediately cease targeting unarmed civilians" and to respect a January ceasefire that has fallen to pieces.

Both South Sudanese and Sudanese -- some from the war-torn Darfur region -- were killed, UNMISS said.

Peacekeepers are photographing those killed to provide documentation before burial, Lanzer said, with video footage shot by UN workers showing digger machines loaded with corpses.

Hate radio urged rape 

"They (the rebels) searched a number of places where hundreds of South Sudanese and foreign civilians had taken refuge, and killed hundreds of the civilians after determining their ethnicity or nationality," the UN statement said.

Map locating Bentiu, a key oil town in South Sudan (AFP Photo)

Some rebels took to local radio to "broadcast hate messages declaring that certain ethnic groups should not stay in Bentiu, and even calling on men from one community to commit vengeful sexual violence against women from another community," it added.

Shortly after the town was captured rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang praised the "gallant forces" for completing "mopping and cleaning up operations in and around Bentiu".

At the Kali-Ballee mosque, where hundreds had taken shelter, the rebels "separated individuals of certain nationalities and ethnic groups and escorted them to safety, while the others were killed," the UN report said.

At the hospital, "several Nuer men, women and children were killed for hiding and declining to join other Nuers who had gone out to cheer" the rebels as they entered the town, the UN said.

Similar killings were reported at the Catholic church and World Food Programme compound.

Peacekeepers later rescued more than 500 civilians, many of them wounded, from the hospital and other sites, as well as guarding "thousands" of civilians as they continue to stream towards the UN base, where more than 22,000 people are now crammed in for shelter in desperate conditions.

"Those in the camp have less than a litre (quart) of water per person per day, and that is simply not enough in the heat of South Sudan," Lanzer said.

- Ceasefire deal in tatters -

The capture of Bentiu came two days before gunmen stormed a UN compound in an attack in which at least 58 people were killed, with peacekeepers fighting back to protect more than 5,000 civilians sheltering there whom the attackers had wanted to kill.

The UN Security Council said that attack on Thursday may "constitute a war crime".

The surge in fighting in the four-month conflict comes amid warnings by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that more than one million people are at risk of famine in the war-torn country.

The January ceasefire deal is in tatters, while peace talks in luxury hotels in Ethiopia have made little if any progress.

Bentiu is the first major settlement to have been retaken in a renewed offensive by Machar's forces, with the rebels saying Monday that fighting continued in Unity state.

They could not be contacted for comment on the reports of massacres.

The conflict in South Sudan, which won independence from Sudan only in 2011 and is the world's youngest nation, has left thousands dead and forced around a million people to flee their homes.

The fighting has been marked by reports and allegations of atrocities by both sides, with ethnic massacres, child soldier recruitment and patients raped and murdered in hospitals by attacking forces.

The United States, the key backer of South Sudan's independence, has threatened targeted sanctions against those responsible for the violence.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

EU undermines its own development policies

Deutsche Welle, 20 April 2014

The EU is one of the largest donors of development aid, but these policies have not played much of a role in the European election campaign. Economic interests, meanwhile, are jeopardizing its effectiveness.

Euro rescue, the banking union, a reduction of bureaucracy and more power for the European Parliament: these topics have been dominating the European election campaign in Germany. The fact that the various parties aren't talking up the fight against poverty in Africa, promoting economic development in Asia or calling for the strengthening of democracy and human rights in Latin America seems, at first glance, logical. After all, they are the elected representatives of EU citizens.

"It is unfortunately the case that development policy plays a subordinate role in the voting decision," said Norbert Neuser, a member of European Parliament with the Social Democratic Party, and also part of the Parliament's Committee on Development. In recent years, the EU has achieved much with its development work in cooperation with Africa; the focus on the UN's Millennium DevelopmentGoals has led to measurable results.

Development work can curb migration

The objective of EU development aid is to promote good governance, along with human and economic development. This includes promoting the sustainable use of natural resources, as well as contributing to the fight against hunger and poverty. According to the European Commission, efforts to contain migration are not among the stated objectives of the EU's development work.

Poverty and a lack of opportunities have
forced many to flee to Europe
However: development success can help ensure that people remain in their home countries. In Ethiopia, for example, the EU has devoted 200 million euros ($276.3 million) to road construction. As a result, people living in remote villages now have a faster and more secure route to larger cities, where they can sell their products on markets, which has reduced rural poverty significantly.

Contributing to development and the reduction of poverty in the developing countries of the South are therefore in Europe's best interest. After all, those who don't see a future at home end up leaving. Like the people on crowded refugee boats picked up by the Italian, Spanish and Greek coast guards, or the hundreds of people that have tried to reach European soil by scaling the fences surrounding the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in northern Morocco.

Export subsidies ruining African farmers

More than half of world's official development assistance (ODA) comes from the EU and its member states, with a focus on cooperation with the so-called ACP countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Of the 79 ACP countries, many are former European colonies.

In the Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009, the EU pledged to a coherent policy when it comes to development. Accordingly, any European policy decisions in the areas of foreign relations, agriculture or economic expansion must not interfere with the objectives of development policy.

African farmers can hardly compete
with EU agricultural exports
The reality, however, is different. "On the one hand, the EU wants to do everything possible to fight poverty and hunger," said Christa Randzio-Plath, the vice president of the Association of German Development NGOS (VENRO). "On the other hand, they work against this development effort with food exports. What good is it to small farmers in Africa if their markets are flooded with cheap EU agricultural products?"

True, the EU subsidies for agricultural exports to Africa amounted only to 150 million euros this year. And in January, the EU commissioner responsible for agriculture and rural development, Dacian Ciolos, announced that export subsidies would be eliminated entirely - without giving a specific timeline. In any case, the damage is already done: decades-long export subsidies for products like poultry, for example, have driven many African farmers to ruin.

Unequal partnership

It's not just agriculture that has been affected, as European fishing fleets cast their nets off the African coast."Fisheries agreements allow the EU to benefit from African fishing stocks, and not the local population," said Randzio-Plath.

The EU does pay compensation to states that give European fishing vessels access to their waters and fish stocks. Senegal, for example, receives about 16 million euros per year, Mozambique a little over 4 million and Mauritania, 86 million euros. But according to the World Wildlife Fund, the market value of these catches is usually significantly higher than the compensation. In addition, coastal fishermen also lose their livelihood.

After the EU fishing fleets have taken what
they need, not much is left for locals
MEP Neuser is also critical of the various economic partnership agreements that the EU is currently negotiating with the ACP states. "There is definitely a need for some counseling in this area, since the policies that we're negotiating there aren't very fair for the developing countries."

The EU has stated that partnership agreements are meant to encourage development in the ACP countries. But according to aid agencies, the opposite is the case. "In their current form, economic partnership agreements are far-reaching free trade agreements which mainly benefit European exporters."

The partnership agreements would require African countries to open their markets to European exports. They would also liberalize the service sector, allowing European investors to get involved in projects supplying services like drinking water, for example. But examples from other regions have shown this usually leads to price increases, without much improvement in quality.

Elites must take responsibility

But lack of coherent policy from the EU is only one side of the coin. The "failure of the elite" in many African countries cannot be pinned on Europe's development policies, said Neuser, giving the "negative example" of Nigeria. "It's a very rich country thanks to its oil reserves, but enormous amounts are disappearing and the elites are unbearably rich," he said.

The EU must "confront the elites floating on their oil fields and raking in the money," said Neuser. One way it could help would be to assist with the development of efficient tax systems. The EU could also contribute by closing its many tax havens, stemming the flight of capital from Africa.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ugandan men to go on trial on homosexuality charges

Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa face life imprisonment if found guilty in first such case since introduction of new anti-gay law

theguardian.com, Barbara Among in Kampala, Thursday 17 April 2014

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, who signed a new anti-gay
law in February 2014. Photograph: Carl Court/PA

Two Ugandan men will go on trial next month accused of homosexuality, the first people to be charged since a controversial new anti-gay law was passed.

Prosecutors said on Wednesday that they had sufficient evidence against Kim Mukisa and Jackson Mukasa, who denied the charges when they first appeared in court earlier this year. They have been held in Luziro prison in Kampala since December.

Mukisa, 24, a businessman, was charged with "having sexual knowledge of a person against the order of nature" and Mukasa, 19, with permitting a person to have sexual knowledge of him against the order of nature.

They are the first Ugandans to face trial on homosexuality charges, with an earlier case collapsing before it reached court and the majority of those arrested paying stiff fines to avoid prison.

Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni signed the anti-gay law in February. It punishes first-time offenders with 14 years in jail and allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of "aggravated homosexuality".

Since the law was passed several donors have cut aid to Uganda, while others have diverted development support to projects that promote human rights.

Mukisa and Mukasa, however, have been charged under the 1950 Penal Code Act, which also prescribes life imprisonment if a person is found guilty of homosexual acts.

They are expected to defend themselves during the trial, which is scheduled to start on 7 May.

Related Article:

Ugandan President Praises North Korea Security Training

Naharnet - AFP, Naharnet Newsdesk, 17 April 2014

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni has thanked North Korea for providing military training, reports said Thursday, dismissing those who criticize a security deal which included training police and special forces.

"There are people who are not happy with them, but I have not seen any problem with them," Museveni said Wednesday, according to the Daily Monitor newspaper, speaking at the passing out parade of almost 700 police officers trained by the North Koreans.

Museveni -- veteran head of the east African nation since 1986 -- also extended his "warm greetings" to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, who succeeded his father to run the Stalinist state in 2011.

Uganda's police chief Kale Kayihura last week told Agence France Presse that reported United Nations investigations into the security deal would be "welcome", adding that the two nations "deal in a transparent way."

North Korean officers also trained Ugandan tank crews and special forces, Museveni said.

"I thank the government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea," Museveni added, according to the report. "They always give us technical support."

Opposition parties criticize the police for blocking demonstrations and breaking up rallies with force when they defy orders not to march on the streets.

Earlier this month Uganda's police dropped the word "force" from their name in a bid to shed an image of brutality and corruption, although a spokesman said they stopped short of calling themselves a "service", for fear of being seen as going soft.

For the third year running, the Ugandan police this month topped the list of state agencies singled out for torture in the 2013 annual human rights report released by the state-funded Uganda Human Rights Commission.

Ugandan troops are fighting in Somalia against al-Qaida linked Shebab insurgents, as part of a U.N.-backed African Union force.

They are also fighting in neighboring South Sudan, backing government forces against rebel troops.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ethiopian government cancels anti-gay rally

Homosexuality 'not a serious crime' says government official, in country where gay sex punishable by 15 years in prison

TheGuardian, Associated Press, Wednesday 16 April 2014

Dark days for gay Africans. The Ethiopian government cancelled the anti-gay
rally but homophobia remains rife. Photograph: Stringer/Mexico/Reuters

A planned anti-gay rally in Ethiopia has been cancelled by the government, according to officials.

In addition, a plan by the legislature to add gay sex to a list of crimes ineligible for presidential pardons has been dropped, according to Redwan Hussein, an Ethiopian government spokesman.

Gay Ethiopians face severe penalties for living in the open. Same-sex acts are punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a 25-year jail term is given to anyone convicted of infecting another person with HIV during same-sex acts.

But the government does not appear ready to further demonise homosexuals. Redwan said the anti-gay rally was on certain groups' agenda, but not the government's.

"It is not a serious crime," he said. "Plus, [homosexuality] is not as widespread as some people suggest. It is already a crime and a certain amount of punishment is prescribed for it. The government thinks the current jail term is enough," said Redwan, who confirmed that gay crimes would not be added to the list of unpardonable crimes.

Hostility toward gays across Africa is high. Uganda and Nigeria increased penalties against homosexual acts this year. Gay people in other countries face severe discrimination and harmful physical attacks.

Two groups had been planning to hold the rally in Addis Ababa on 26 April. Dereje Negash, chairman of a religious group affiliated with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, said the cancellation happened after the church had asked the government to prevent the rally.

"Currently I'm being threatened by the gay community for organising the rally. Despite the threat, I will continue to pursue my struggle against the gay community. I believe I have been given a task by God to do this. I will do this even if it means life or death," Dereje said.

Dereje said his group is not seeking the harassment of gay people, but he wants Ethiopian law to increase the punishment for gay sex.

Dereje said that gay sex tourism is increasing in the country and he wants it stopped. "We believe the gay people should be supported to get out of their bad life. We have helped hundreds of people to abandon gay acts so far," he said.