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Archive for May 4th, 2011

African Liberation Day May 21, 2011

Posted by African Press International on May 4, 2011

African Liberation Day 2011 is perhaps one of the most significant ALD events. It comes during a time where imperialism is deepening its wars against Africa and African people around the globe.

Imperialism, led by neocolonial U.S. president Barack Obama drops bombs on the people of Libya. Meanwhile, imperialist intervention has reated crisis following elections in Ivory Coast. Africans in Haiti ontinue to suffer occupation and attacks that began following Haiti’s successful slave rebellion and worker’s revolution in 804, while police violence and economic quarantine continue to be the orm in African communities in the U.S.

However, even as imperialist white power deepens its war against Africans and other oppressed peoples, the resistance to these attacks grows. This struggle of African and other peoples against white power — whether in white face or in the black/brown faces of Obama, Mubarak, etc — is taking center stage, from Egypt to Congo, Haiti to D.C.

This historic African Liberation Day event was called for by Africans and others at the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations Conference on the Other Wars as an event to oppose imperialist wars in Africa and against Africans worldwide, and will be happening simultaneously with ALD events in England and the Bahamas.

Join us at this historic African Liberation Day for music, presentations, workshops and an incredible African marketplace as we celebrate the ongoing struggle of African people for liberation and oppose the imperialist wars against Africa and Africans everywhere!

Presented by the African People’s Socialist Party,

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Thousands have still not received the shelter assistance they need

Posted by African Press International on May 4, 2011

MYANMAR: Three years later, still no shelter

BANGKOK, 3 May 2011 (IRIN) – Three years after Cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar, thousands still need shelter assistance, officials and aid workers say.

“This is an area where there are still huge needs,” Arne Jan Flolo, first secretary of the Norwegian Embassy, which has been a major supporter of the ongoing shelter effort in Myanmar’s Ayeyarwady Delta since 2008, told IRIN in Bangkok.

The UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) estimates some 375,000 people (75,000 households) need housing across the south, 36 months after the worst natural disaster to strike the Southeast Asian nation.

“Yes, there has been progress, but there is no denying we need to do more,” Chris Bleers, country director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), added. The council has assisted in the construction and strengthening of more than 6,000 shelters in Myanmar’s badly affected Labutta Township.

A recent survey by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) reported that at least 62 percent of households in the delta still live in shelters that are not disaster resistant.

Massive needs

According to the government, more than 750,000 homes were badly affected by Nargis, which swept across the low-lying delta and parts of Yangon Division on 2 and 3 May 2008, killing more than 138,000 people, destroying 360,246 homes and damaging another 390,053.

But despite the enormity of the disaster, shelter was never given the priority it deserved from donors, say aid workers.

“The response of the international community was definitely not commensurate with the scale of the need,” Bleers said.

“I don’t know why more people have not stepped up. It simply doesn’t make sense,” said Olive Orate, project coordinator for the delta with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), one of just four agencies still working on shelter in the delta. It will likely wrap up operations by end-2011.

Photo: Contributor/IRIN
75,000 households have received no assitance

To date, ADRA has constructed 240 shelters in Labutta and would like to do more, but lack of financial resources is preventing it from doing so.

“Of course we want to do more. We simply can’t,” Orate said, noting the government had allocated two sites of land about 3km inland in Labutta where more than 1,000 units could be constructed, but did not have the resources to do so.

“There are still a lot of people along the shoreline who are living in almost temporary shelters,” Orate said.

Slow response

Under the Post Nargis Recovery Plan (PONREPP), of the US$173.6 million recommended for shelter recovery, just $30 million has been received, making it the least funded sector of all.

As a result, mainly female-headed households, households of elderly people without family support, as well as the disabled have been prioritized for assistance.

“Those families not falling into these categories are left to rebuild on their own based on the very dubious assumption that they can recover their livelihoods sufficiently to be able to do so,” Srinivasa Popuri, UN-HABITAT country programme manager, explained.

In fact, just 175,000 households have received any kind of assistance from the UN, government or NGOs, including 65,000 fully constructed units, with the rest receiving repair assistance in the range of $80 to $120 per family.

According to UN-HABITAT, more funding is needed for the shelter sector, with the minimum cost of a disaster-resilient shelter about $600. A $300 shelter lasts for two monsoon seasons, one costing $600 for seven to nine years and a $1,000 shelter for 10 to 12 years.



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Residents of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, are understandably more concerned with dodging bullets than avoiding HIV

Posted by African Press International on May 4, 2011

SOMALIA: Stigma, insecurity hold back HIV fight in Mogadishu

MOGADISHU, 3 May 2011 (PlusNews) – Residents of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, are understandably more concerned with dodging bullets than avoiding HIV, but this lack of knowledge means widespread ignorance about HIV prevention, while people who are HIV-positive are often ostracized by their communities.

Today, Nasteho Farah Elmi is an active member of an organization for people living with HIV/AIDS, but six years ago, when her family found out she was HIV-positive, they sent her away.

“When my relatives found out… they gave me 50,000 Somali shillings [US$1.80] because they didn’t have any idea about the disease; they thought it could even be transmitted by looking at me,” Elmi told IRIN/PlusNews. “Moving from Afgoye [southern Somalia] to Mogadishu was strange because I didn’t know where to live.

“By Allah’s mercy I formed a Somali civil society organization named SOPHA [Ururka Faya-dhawrka Soomaaliyeed], which has supported me,” she added. “Now I am married a man who has HIV too and we continue to live together here in Mogadishu.”

According to local civil society organizations in Mogadishu, more than 300 HIV-positive individuals are registered and receiving care and support, including food supplements from the UN World Food Programme.

“Five places are testing [for HIV] in Mogadishu… people are referred for psycho-social support after they are diagnosed,” said Mohamed Sa’id, social director of the local NGO, South Central People Living with HIV. “Our members include civil servants, soldiers and so on, but they are not known because if anyone knew them, we are afraid they will be discriminated against.”

But it is particularly hard to work in areas of Mogadishu controlled by the Islamist insurgent group, Al-Shabab.

“We [SOPHA] have two centres; a treatment centre in Marka, in Lower Shabelle region and our head office is in Mogadishu’s government-controlled areas,” said Elmi. “In Al-Shabab-controlled areas, we can’t hold workshops because they already prohibited international aid organizations to operate in areas they control in south-central Somalia. For this reason, we hold the workshops in the government areas.”

According to Dahabo Abdi, a local journalist, the result is precious little HIV knowledge in the city. “The people of Mogadishu do not receive enough awareness, except sometimes radio stations speak about it,” she said.

“We are not like [the self-declared republic of] Somaliland, where I have seen in the media that the people are discussing HIV/AIDS in public,” said Osman Libah, deputy health minister of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.

Nevertheless, Elmi remains optimistic that the limited work going on in Mogadishu is having some impact on the attitudes of the city’s residents.

“Several years ago, people never welcomed us because of the stigma they have about the disease, but nowadays it seems that things are changing.”



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Rising food prices have led to protests

Posted by African Press International on May 4, 2011

UGANDA: Government “won’t budge on food prices”

Rising food prices have led to protests (file photo)

KAMPALA, 3 May 2011 (IRIN) – The government of Uganda will not reduce taxes or consider food subsidies, despite an increase in violence that has led to a “national crisis”, according to the UN.

Minister of Information Kabakumba Masiko said the consistent government line since the “walk-to-work” protests began on 8 April still stood, though she maintained other measures were in place to address stability in the East African country.

“On the supply side, we are ensuring there will be enough food for our people,” she said. “The Bank of Uganda is also mopping up the excess currency that is contributing to the inflation.”

Opposition politicians and critics have blamed the lack of food and fuel reserves for contributing to skyrocketing prices.

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, inflation jumped another 3 percent last month, reaching an annual 14.1 percent in April from 13.1 percent in March, while crop inflation rose from 29.1 percent in March to 39.3 percent.

The demonstrations against the rising cost of living have been led by opposition leader Kizza Besigye, who has vowed protests will continue.

On 29 April, riots broke out across the capital, Kampala, and five other centres across the country, killing at least five people and injuring hundreds more.

“We just woke up angry,” said George Lubwama, 27, a barber in Kasubi, where one person was confirmed by Red Cross officials to have been shot dead after live rounds and tear gas were used by security forces trying to dispel angry rioters.

The epicentre of violence in the city, Kisekka market, was taken over early in the morning by an elite military group led by President Yoweri Museveni’s son – journalists were reportedly barred from entering the area and threatened.

The height of the violence was widely seen as a protest against the violent arrest of Besigye the day before. Security forces smashed the former presidential candidate’s car window and sprayed him directly in the eyes with tear gas after an hours-long standoff, after which Besigye was thrown into a police vehicle.

The footage of the brutal arrest on 28 April was widely circulated and has brought criticism from domestic and international human rights bodies alike.

On 1 May, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called the manner in which Besigye was arrested “shocking”.

“The excessive use of force by security officers was plain to see in the television footage of the event. While I do not condone the violent rioting that followed, the Ugandan authorities must realize that their own actions have been the major factor in turning what were originally peaceful protests about escalating food and fuel prices into a national crisis,” Pillay said.

Meanwhile, Ugandans continue to feel the impact of increased food prices following a sharp increase in fuel prices in the past few months.

A Kasubi taxi driver, Robert Kawuki, says the rising costs have severely affected his livelihood. “It’s hurting me to the extremes,” he said.

Lubwama added that the politicization of “walk-to-work” protests was hurting those most affected. “He [Museveni] is fighting Besigye, but the greatest rebel is the economy now,” he said.



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