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  • RSS BBC News – Africa

    • South Sudan treason charges dropped April 24, 2014
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    • Deadly car bomb strikes Nairobi April 23, 2014
      Four people, two of them police, are killed in the Kenyan capital Nairobi by a car bomb outside a police station.
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    • Bomb 'kills senior Egypt policeman' April 23, 2014
      A senior Egyptian police officer has been killed by a bomb blast in the capital, Cairo, officials say.
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      South Africa's public broadcaster says it refused to broadcast an advert from the controversial politician Julius Malema, saying it incited violence.
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      Islamist militants in Mali say French hostage Gilberto Rodrigues Leal, who was kidnapped in 2012, is dead.
    • Three children found dead in London April 23, 2014
      A woman, originally from South Africa, is arrested after three children are found dead at a house in south London.
    • Moroccan Jew asks to join Islamists April 23, 2014
      A Jewish lawyer in Morocco challenges the political establishment by asking to join the ruling Islamist PJD party, it is reported.
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      Environmental campaigners in Sudan are promoting the country as a tourist destination for bird watchers in a bid to boost revenue, which could then be used to protect nesting sites and rare birds from extinction.
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      As Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o is named the world's most beautiful person a new documentary explores the beauty debate from an African perspective.
    • VIDEO: Ethiopia's Jewish community divided April 24, 2014
      Thousands of Ethiopian Jews have been left disappointed by an Israeli government decision to end a 30-year-old programme that saw tens thousands of Ethiopian Jews airlifted to the Holy Land.
    • VIDEO: Deadly car bomb strikes Nairobi April 24, 2014
      A car bomb has exploded outside a police station in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, killing four people.
    • VIDEO: Horror of S Sudan massacre filmed April 23, 2014
      The White House has strongly condemned the massacre of civilians in South Sudan calling it a betrayal of the people by their leaders.
    • VIDEO: Grim journey through 'new Rwanda' April 22, 2014
      The United Nations says the on-going conflict in South Sudan has a disturbing echo of events in Rwanda 20 years ago.
  • RSS BBC News – Home

    • Lifestyle quiz to secure a mortgage April 25, 2014
      Mortgage applicants will face tougher questions about their lifestyle from lenders, under new rules about to come into force.
    • Russia 'destabilising' Ukraine - US April 25, 2014
      The US accuses Russia of "deception and destabilisation" in eastern Ukraine, warning of further sanctions unless Moscow defuses the crisis.
    • UK science to get £200m polar ship April 25, 2014
      UK scientists are to get a £200m icebreaker, which will be one of the biggest, most capable polar research vessels in the world.
    • Miliband plans zero-hours crackdown April 25, 2014
      Ed Miliband is to outline plans to tackle the "epidemic" of zero-hours contracts in a speech in Scotland later.
    • Probe over Hillsborough insult posts April 24, 2014
      The government says it is making "urgent inquiries" into reports Whitehall computers were used to make insulting comments about the Hillsborough disaster.
    • MPs urge action on foreign prisoners April 25, 2014
      Foreign prisoners are not being deported quickly enough to help cut costs and relieve overcrowding in jails, MPs warn.
    • Obama in S Korea amid nuclear fears April 25, 2014
      US President Barack Obama arrives in Seoul for a visit that comes amid concern North Korea may be planning a fourth nuclear test.
    • New hearing for Briton in US prison April 25, 2014
      A US judge orders a hearing to consider new evidence relating to the 1987 double-murder conviction of a British businessman in Miami.
    • Tech giants settle hiring court case April 25, 2014
      Technology giants Apple, Google, Intel and Adobe settle a class action lawsuit alleging they conspired to hold down salaries.
    • Terrorism financing suspect arrested April 24, 2014
      Officers from the Metropolitan Police arrest a man in London on suspicion of financing and encouragement of terrorism.
    • Health atlas shows risks by area April 25, 2014
      A new online map of England and Wales allows people to enter their postcode and find their community's level of risk of developing 14 conditions, such as heart disease and lung cancer.
    • William and Kate at Anzac Day events April 25, 2014
      The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge pay their respects to Australia's war dead on the final day of their tour.
    • Coalition Church 'split' and AGM 'anger' - papers April 25, 2014
      Claims the coalition is split over the role of the Church of England, shareholders 'anger' at Barclays AGM and the debate over crime figures attract headlines.
    • MPs' 'localness' level measured April 25, 2014
      Almost two-thirds of MPs are "local" to the area they represent, research suggests.
    • Girl gives father's CV to Mrs Obama April 24, 2014
      A young girl offered US First Lady Michelle Obama her father's CV during questions at the White House's Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.
    • Ramires to miss rest of league season April 24, 2014
      Chelsea midfielder Ramires accepts the Football Association's charge of violent conduct for fracas in defeat to Sunderland.
    • Champion O'Sullivan trails Perry April 24, 2014
      Ronnie O'Sullivan trails Joe Perry 5-3 after the first session of their second-round match at the World Snooker Championship.
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      Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp rules himself out of contention to become the next manager of Manchester United.
    • Rutherford breaks British record April 25, 2014
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      Former Rangers, Hearts and Scotland defender Sandy Jardine dies aged 65 following a battle with cancer.
  • RSS Reuters: Politics

    • Arkansas judge strikes down voter ID law as unconstitutional April 25, 2014
      LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Reuters) - An Arkansas judge declared the state's new voter identification law unconstitutional on Thursday since it stipulates that voters must meet an additional requirement before casting a ballot.
    • Exclusive: Obama may call EU leaders in Russia sanctions push - sources April 25, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama is expected to speak to several European leaders on Friday to try to nudge the EU toward fresh sanctions against Russia over Ukraine, sources familiar with the matter said.
    • Colorado lawmakers advance bill to crack down on 'revenge porn' April 25, 2014
      DENVER (Reuters) - A bill that would criminalize the posting of intimate images over the Internet as an act of humiliation - so-called "revenge porn" - passed its first test in the Colorado state legislature on Thursday, sailing unanimously through a key committee.
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      SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - A bill banning the sale of single-shot handguns that can be modified into semi-automatic weapons advanced in the California legislature on Thursday as lawmakers sought to close what the bill's supporters say is a loophole in the state's gun safety laws.
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      NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate Banking Committee will vote next week on three nominees to the Federal Reserve's board, including Stanley Fischer for vice chairman, in a big step toward bulking up the U.S. central bank's depleted ranks.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House is considering small steps in the near term to ease the threat of deportation for some undocumented immigrants, but advocates in communication with the administration expect President Barack Obama to make bigger changes later in the year.
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      DENVER (Reuters) - A conservative advocacy group has pulled a photograph used in an attack ad against Democratic Senator Mark Udall that depicted him with a grim-faced President Barack Obama in the aftermath of the Colorado theater massacre, after victims' families complained.
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    • Mississippi sets 20-week limit on abortions April 24, 2014
      (Reuters) - Mississippi will ban abortions after more than 20 weeks of pregnancy from July, joining other conservative U.S. states that have placed restrictions on the procedure.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some of them have been locked up for a dozen years. Some are suspected fighters from Yemen, Russia or Pakistan, arrested by U.S. forces in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Several have been linked to al Qaeda.
    • Exclusive: White House considers former banking lawyer for Fed board - sources April 23, 2014
      NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A former lawyer with the American Bankers Association is being considered by the White House as a possible nominee to the board of the Federal Reserve, according to sources familiar with the efforts
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      NEW YORK (Reuters) - The board of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey on Wednesday delayed a scheduled vote on whether to provide $1.2 billion in loan guarantees to World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, the latest holdup for the project.
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      (Reuters) - The U.S. Democratic Governors' Association on Wednesday sued the state of Connecticut, saying its laws on political spending are unconstitutionally broad and limit the ability of political groups to buy independent ads backing candidates.
  • RSS CNN.com – Africa

    • Luxury shoes made in Ghana April 15, 2014
      Fred Deegbe was standing outside a shop window five years ago, marveling at the shiny pair of wing-tip Oxfords he'd just bought, when he started wondering whether such beautiful designer shoes could ever be produced in his country, Ghana.
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      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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      She started her business with just £100, lugging her beauty bag from door to door, but some 25 years later Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
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    • Secrets of 'gorilla whisperer' March 25, 2014
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    • Savannah from the sky March 13, 2014
      It's almost impossible for a photographer to find fresh visual perspectives these days. Brooklyn-based Zack Seckler had to travel to a different continent and strap into an ultra-light aircraft to find one. His Botswana series presents the country from between 50 and 500 feet, providing a unique and captivating view of the savannah.
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      No one knows where 77 abducted girls in Nigeria are -- and surprising still, no one's particularly shocked.
    • Slum dweller means business April 22, 2014
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    • Human viruses killing last gorillas? April 22, 2014
      They are the world's largest primates and yet the constant threat of illegal poaching, deforestation and now human diseases mean that soon the world's mountain gorillas could be completely wiped out. Meet the woman trying to fix the situation before it's too late.
    • Is this the new Oprah? April 18, 2014
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    • Ancient tribe living in the past April 18, 2014
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    • Web dismantles stereotypes April 21, 2014
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      Boko Haram's lethality is indisputable.
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    • Rating Pistorius's defense April 16, 2014
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    • Pop art condoms saving lives April 15, 2014
      The Center for African Family Studies in Nairobi has teamed up with Kenyan artist Michael Soi to create eye-catching condom wrappers to promote safe sex and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among young people.
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Resorting to border jumping

Posted by African Press International on February 12, 2012

SOUTH AFRICA: Asylum-seekers resort to border jumping

A group of migrants find easy access through an open gate in the border fence

MUSINA, – At the Beitbridge border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa, asylum-seekers from all over the continent used to jostle with Zimbabwean migrants to gain entry into a country widely perceived as a place of freedom and safety.

But since border officials began turning away or arresting so-called “third-country nationals” seeking asylum in April 2011, they have joined the steady stream of undocumented Zimbabweans who brave dense bush, ruthless gangs, razor wire and the aptly named Crocodile River, to enter the country illegally.

“I paid R290 (US$38) for someone to drive me from Beitbridge to the bush,” said Simeon Mulekezi, a 24-year-old refugee from Burundi. “There were people from Zimbabwe who said they’d help us cross the river but they wanted money so I decided to cross by myself even though the water was up to my neck. I was with four Zimbabweans but none of us knew the way. We got lost for 24 hours and saw a lot of animals. I was scared, but luckily I didn’t meet a lion.”

While Mulekezi survived his ordeal unscathed, “some were robbed in that bush, some were raped,” he told IRIN.

Prior to April 2011, third-country nationals like Mulekezi were able to enter the country via Beitbridge where they were issued with a temporary permit, known as a section 23, which gave them 14 days to report to a refugee reception office and formally apply for asylum.

Following this apparent change in attitude towards asylum-seekers, Mohamed Hassan, who heads the International Organization for Migration (IOM) office in Musina, noted that, “we’ve received reports that many people from Somalia and Ethiopia were coming through the bush… They cross the river with the help of guides, but sometimes these very people rob them and many times they find a group of thugs waiting for them.”

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which runs mobile clinics in and around Musina, has been treating migrants who have suffered violent attacks by border gangs known as `guma-guma’ for years, but according to Christine Mwongera, MSF’s project coordinator in Musina, staff have seen an increase in trauma cases since the end of 2011.

“The Zimbabweans have been going through this for more than a year, but now it’s other nationalities as well,” she told IRIN.

Her observation was confirmed by Christopher Sibanda, head of security for Maroi Farm, 25km west of Beitbridge, who regularly picks up migrants who have wandered onto the property after climbing through one of the many holes in the nearby border fence.

“Every day we find border jumpers. It’s worse this year, we see people from other nations [besides Zimbabwe] – Somalis, Congolese, Rwandese,” he said. “Most are in a bad state. A week ago we found four people dead; maybe they got lost in the bush and died from hunger and exhaustion.”

Robbed and abandoned

He added that some drowned trying to cross the river, particularly during the rainy season, and that he found others stripped of their clothing and possessions after having been robbed and abandoned by their guides or the `guma-guma’.

“We feel pity for them. Sometimes we make them food or give them directions to the road.” Other times, Sibanda hands the migrants over to the army which took over border security from the police in 2010.

SLIDESHOW: Border Jumpers

Photo: Mujahid Safodien/IRIN
View the Slideshow

Owner of Maroi Farm, Hannes Nel, said the migrants cut his fences, poached animals and posed a fire risk, but that the army troops deployed along the border lacked the resources to stem the flow. “The fence is in such a poor state, they might as well leave the gates open,” he commented.

Indeed, while accompanying Sibanda on one of his patrols, IRIN observed a group of some 10 migrants walking through an open gate in the fence and getting into a waiting vehicle.

Captain George Mills of the Musina police admitted that only a fraction of the vehicles smuggling people from the border were intercepted. “Since the new year… there’s been an increase. We don’t have the manpower, so most are passing us.”

If the purpose of discouraging third-country nationals from approaching the official border post was to improve security, the result may have been the opposite. “When they are coming through the border, you have the opportunity to obtain biometric information,” Hassan of IOM commented. “However, if they come through irregularly, that is when you don’t know who is in the country.”

More border jumpers also means more potential victims for the `guma-guma’. Mills said that police operations targeting their activities rarely resulted in convictions as few illegal migrants were willing to open cases, let alone testify in court. “When we make an arrest and the case comes to court, you can’t find the complainant or witnesses so we can’t proceed and have to release them,” he told IRIN.

Fear of authorities also prevents many of the migrants attacked or injured while crossing the border from seeking health care. “Their aim is to get an asylum permit. Health is not their priority, even if they’ve been sexually abused or had trauma,” said Mwongera of MSF. “If you’re undocumented, you want to stay invisible.”

MSF partners with the local health department to provide medical and counselling services to survivors of sexual assaults at the Thuthuzela Care Centre in Musina Hospital, but knowing that the first port of call for most of the asylum-seekers is the Refugee Reception Office in Musina, the organization has set up a mobile clinic across the street. Staff also make nightly visits to the town’s four shelters where migrants waiting for documents or lacking the funds to continue on to urban centres like Johannesburg and Cape Town are given a place to sleep and one hot meal a day.

Shelter

The shelter for male migrants run by a local church on the outskirts of town consists of little more than a row of tents, and conditions at the women’s shelter are only slightly better with one large room accommodating dozens of women and their children in bunk beds. Two more shelters take in unaccompanied children. All are church run, although UNHCR provides meals at the men’s shelter and other organizations such as MSF and IOM donate blankets and other non-food items.

“There is no government capacity to provide these services,” said Maureen McBrien, who heads the UNHCR office in Musina. “However basic, these churches are doing all they can to provide.”

During January, many asylum-seekers were forced to prolong their stay in Musina as officials at the Refugee Reception Office began refusing to assist those without section 23 permits despite the fact that such permits were no longer being issued at the border. In a 1 February press release, MSF described the situation as a “cruel Catch-22”, and on the same day, Lawyers for Human Rights won a court case which forced the Department of Home Affairs to accept an asylum application from a Zimbabwean woman who had been arrested after being turned away from Musina’s refugee office for not having a section 23 permit.

Following the case, large numbers of newly arrived asylum-seekers who had been hanging around Musina for fear of proceeding any further without documents were finally admitted to the Refugee Reception Office and allowed to apply for asylum.

“Yesterday they gave us the forms, so today we’re hoping to make our applications,” said Mulekezi, who was waiting for the office to open its gates early on Friday morning. “I’m wishing to go to Cape Town because there’s freedom there.”

ks/cb
source www.irinnews.org

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