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  • RSS BBC News – Africa

    • South Sudan treason charges dropped April 24, 2014
      South Sudan withdraws charges against four top politicians accused of the alleged coup plot that triggered the civil war.
    • Nigeria rapist to be stoned to death April 24, 2014
      An Islamic court in northern Nigeria sentences a man of 63 to death by stoning for raping a girl of 10 and infecting her with HIV.
    • Lupita Nyong'o named most beautiful April 24, 2014
      Kenyan Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o, 31, is named the world's most beautiful person for 2014 by the US People magazine.
    • 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.
    • DR Congo train in deadly derailment April 23, 2014
      At least 63 people have been killed after a freight train overloaded with passengers derailed in Katanga in south-eastern DR Congo, officials say.
    • 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.
    • SA row over 'banned' Malema advert April 23, 2014
      South Africa's public broadcaster says it refused to broadcast an advert from the controversial politician Julius Malema, saying it incited violence.
    • Mali group says French hostage dead April 22, 2014
      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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      Oscar Pistorius' family denies claims the athlete took acting lessons ahead of his testimony in the murder trial of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp.
    • Al-Jazeera trial sees video evidence April 22, 2014
      A court in Egypt is shown video and audio evidence in the trial of three al-Jazeera journalists accused of terrorism-related offences.
    • VIDEO: Film features plight of African park April 24, 2014
      The lethal realities of life in Virunga National Park are the subject of a British documentary which has just had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.
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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.
    • VIDEO: What is 'beauty' in Africa? April 24, 2014
      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.
    • VIDEO: Footage shows Nigeria kidnap school April 22, 2014
      More than 180 Nigerian schoolgirls remain missing after being snatched from their classroom last week.
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    • Netanyahu: Abbas must end Hamas pact April 24, 2014
      Israeli Prime M Netanyahu tells the BBC Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas must abandon his pact with Hamas if he wants peace talks to resume.
    • Mother charged with triple murder April 24, 2014
      Mother charged with three counts of murder after three children found dead at house in south-west London
    • New Russia drills after Ukraine raid April 24, 2014
      Russia announces new military exercises on its border with Ukraine, after Kiev orders troops to move against separatists in the east.
    • FBI probe teacher 'abused boys in UK' April 24, 2014
      A convicted paedophile abused children at a private school in London where he taught, its chair of governors confirms.
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      Barclays shareholders vote to approve the bank's remuneration package, which includes higher bonuses despite a 30% fall in profits.
    • Firefighters to stage fresh strikes April 24, 2014
      Firefighters in England and Wales are to stage strikes on 2, 3 and 4 May over a long-running pensions row, the Fire Brigades Union says.
    • Post Office staff agree pay deal April 24, 2014
      The postal union, the CWU, says it's secured a pay deal covering more than 3,000 staff at Crown Post Offices worth up to 7.3% over 3 years.
    • Police make Syria plea to UK women April 24, 2014
      British counter-terrorism police chiefs make an unprecedented appeal to Muslim women to persuade their relatives against travelling to Syria to fight in the civil war.
    • Crime falls 15% in England and Wales April 24, 2014
      Overall crime in England and Wales falls by 15% in 2013, an official survey shows - but there are signs, according to police figures, of rises in certain categories.
    • Ecclestone denies bribery in Germany April 24, 2014
      Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone denies charges of bribery at the start of his trial in Munich and says he will fight to clear his name.
    • Cyber gang leader jailed for scam April 24, 2014
      The leader of a gang which stole £1.25m from two of Britain's major banks in a "sophisticated and organised" cyber attack, is jailed for five-and-a-half years.
    • BBC suspends its CBI membership April 24, 2014
      The BBC announces it is to suspend its membership of the employers' organisation the CBI during the Scottish independence referendum campaign.
    • Treats in moderation make kids happy April 24, 2014
      Seven-year-olds are happier when they are allowed sweets, snacks and television in moderation, suggests a study of children's well-being.
    • Warhol works found on Amiga disks April 24, 2014
      A dozen previously unknown works created by Andy Warhol have been recovered from 30-year-old Amiga disks.
    • Martinez tips Moyes for rapid return April 24, 2014
      Everton boss Roberto Martinez backs predecessor David Moyes to make a quick return to management.
    • Rangers' finances fragile - Easdale April 24, 2014
      Rangers are in a "fragile" financial state and would not survive a second administration, a club shareholder tells BBC Scotland.
    • Woods hopeful of summer return April 24, 2014
      Tiger Woods hopes to return to competition this summer but is more concerned with his long-term fitness, his agent says.
    • Home nations in Euro 2020 scrap - SFA April 24, 2014
      Scotland will need to outdo their closest neighbours if Glasgow is to be a Euro 2020 host city, says SFA chief Stewart Regan.
    • Thursday's gossip column April 24, 2014
      Olic rejects Stoke, Man Utd want Shaw and Cavani, Moyes in shock Spurs link, Barcelona revive Luiz interest, and Wenger to sign new deal.
    • Labour to cut ties with Co-op Bank April 24, 2014
      The Labour Party is looking to sever its links with the troubled Co-op Bank, bringing to an end one of the oldest political partnerships in the UK.
  • RSS Reuters: Politics

    • Caroline Kennedy backs Hillary Clinton for 2016 April 24, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Caroline Kennedy, the current U.S. ambassador to Japan, says she would support Hillary Clinton if the former secretary of state seeks the presidency in 2016, and she hopes Clinton decides to run.
    • U.S. trade bank chief warns lawmaker 'political games' threaten exports April 24, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers will only hurt American exports and jobs by playing "political games" that threaten to shut down the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the bank's president said on Thursday.
    • Obama reaffirms commitment to Japan on tour of Asia allies April 24, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama assured ally Japan on Thursday that Washington was committed to its defense, including of tiny isles at the heart of a row with China, but denied he had drawn any new "red line" and urged peaceful dialogue over the islands.
    • 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.
    • Pentagon dossier to detail secretive U.S. Afghan detainee policy April 24, 2014
      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.
    • Obama seeks to ease Asian allies' doubts during visit to Japan April 23, 2014
      TOKYO (Reuters) - President Barack Obama will use a state visit to Japan on Thursday to try to reassure Tokyo and other Asian allies of his commitment to ramping up U.S. engagement in the region, despite Chinese complaints that Washington's real aim is to contain Beijing's rise.
    • Pentagon dossier to detail secretive U.S. Afghan detainee policy April 23, 2014
      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.
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      ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday his first trip to Latin America as Pentagon chief would add "muscle and sinew" to growing North American defense ties and highlight the importance of helping partner nations improve their militaries.
    • Georgia governor signs gun carry rights expansion into law April 23, 2014
      ATLANTA (Reuters) - Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed a broad expansion of gun carry rights into law on Wednesday, allowing legal gun owners to take weapons into bars, churches and government buildings under certain conditions.
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      SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - California lawmakers, their reputation tarnished by fraud and corruption scandals, on Wednesday took a break from normal business to attend ethics training, the latest step by the state Senate to repair its image as elections loom.
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      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department laid out new clemency guidelines on Wednesday that are expected to make thousands of drug offenders eligible for a reduction in the sentences they are currently serving.
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      TOKYO (Reuters) - The United States put last-minute pressure on Japan to compromise in tough trade talks on Wednesday, shortly before President Barack Obama was to arrive for a state visit.
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      BERKELEY, California (Reuters) - California Republican gubernatorial hopeful Neel Kashkari called for free college tuition for students pursuing math and science degrees, part of an education reform plan released Tuesday that would also model public schools after charter schools.
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      LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A U.S. congressman from a Los Angeles community is seeking to lure the factory that makes the bestselling Sriracha-brand hot pepper sauce to his district after residents in its current location complained about the smell.
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      (Reuters) - A New Jersey legislative panel investigating the "Bridgegate" traffic scandal subpoenaed the press spokesman to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and three other officials on Tuesday.
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      TOKYO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in a tense Asian region on Wednesday, faced with the delicate task of assuring Japan and other regional allies of America's commitment to their defense without hurting Washington's vital ties with a rising China.
    • U.S. top court upholds Michigan ban on college affirmative action April 22, 2014
      WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday further undermined the use of racial preferences in higher education by upholding a voter-approved Michigan law that banned the practice in decisions on which students to admit to state universities.
  • 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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      At 23, many people around the world are still at university -- at that age, Gossy Ukanwoke had already started one.
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      "It was like taking a big leap of faith."
    • 'Uncle Ebo' revives Ghanaian theater April 15, 2014
      African Voices meets James Ebo Whyte a passionate storyteller with a series of successful plays to his credit.
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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.
    • Embracing Ghana's natural beauty April 1, 2014
      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.
    • Africa's most endangered April 16, 2014
      Africa is home to much unique wildlife, but many of its iconic species are threatened. Find out more about its most endangered animals.
    • Secrets of 'gorilla whisperer' March 25, 2014
      Zain Verjee visits Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable National Park -- the home of half of the world's endangered mountain gorilla population.
    • 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.
    • Why the abduction isn't shocking April 22, 2014
      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
      Most success-hungry entrepreneurs would tell you there's not enough hours in the day -- try saying that to Buken Makokha.
    • 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
      Meet Mo Abudu: 'Africa's Oprah Winfrey.' The glamorous 49-year-old is conquering the continent one media empire at a time.
    • Ancient tribe living in the past April 18, 2014
      The Hadza are one of the oldest people on earth. Today, they battle for land, and continued survival.
    • Web dismantles stereotypes April 21, 2014
      The new Web series "An African City" is fun, trendy and over the top.
    • Why you should fear Boko Haram April 17, 2014
      Boko Haram's lethality is indisputable.
    • You gotta try South African BBQ April 17, 2014
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    • Inside an Ebola isolation ward April 16, 2014
      Dr. Sanjay Gupta goes into an ebola clinic to find out what life is like for the patients inside.
    • Rating Pistorius's defense April 16, 2014
      After five days of intense cross-examination, has Olympian Oscar Pistorius helped or harmed his defense that he did not intentionally kill his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkam?
    • 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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The humanitarian legacy – Iraq

Posted by African Press International on April 23, 2013

BAGHDAD/DUBAI,  - Ten years after US forces took over Iraq, opinions on the progress made are as polarized as ever.

On one side, the Iraqi and American governments argue, the gains have been significant.

“Despite all the problems of the past decade, the overwhelming majority of Iraqis agree that we are better off today than under Saddam’s brutal dictatorship,” Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki wrote in a 9 April opinion piece in the Washington Post, marking 10 years after the fall of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

Paul Wolfowitz, who served as the US Deputy Secretary of Defence between 2001 and 2005, wrote the same day in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that given the hardships under Hussein, “it is remarkable that Iraq has done as well as it has thus far.”

Others are more circumspect in evaluating these gains, looking to the 1980s – under Hussein’s rule – as a time when Iraqi society was much further ahead.

“By all measures and standards, there has been a deterioration in the quality of life of Iraqis as compared to 25 years ago,” said Khalid Khalid, who tracks Iraq’s progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the UN Development Programme (UNDP). “The invasion comes on top of sanctions that came before it and the Iran-Iraq war. It’s one continuous chain of events that led to the situation Iraqis are facing now.”

Mixed blessings

In the early 1980s, Iraq was regarded by many as the most developed state in the Arab world. The Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, the Gulf War of 1991 and subsequent years of sanctions took a heavy toll on developmental indicators, yet Iraq continued to have strong state institutions, even if they were used repressively to maintain Hussein’s power. For example, even after 10 years of an international embargo, the system of food ration distribution operated effectively.

The US invasion and subsequent civil conflict changed this, said Maria Fantappie, Iraq analyst at the International Crisis Group, as violence and de-Baathification drove away the human resources needed to run effective institutions. In many ways, the country has yet to recover.

“In 2003, that heritage of an efficient Iraqi state was completely lost,” Fantappie said. “We have the consequences of this until today… We are not yet at the level of state institutions that can deliver services equally to all citizens.”

Iraq is the only country in the Middle East where living standards have not improved compared to 25 years ago, the World Bank says. In areas such as secondary school enrolment and child immunization, Iraq now ranks lower than some of the poorest countries in the world.

“The war is just such a series of mixed blessings,” said Ned Parker, a former fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and long-time Iraq correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. “For every positive development, there’s a negative development that counters it.”

Looking at the data

IRIN has taken a look development and humanitarian indicators for Iraq, which show a decade of fits and starts, with progress in one area met by stagnation in another.

Of course, statistics in Iraq are often “wrong, simply not available or politically misused,” as one researcher put it. While a wealth of information and data exists, it comes from a multitude of sources using different methodologies, and much of it is based on relatively small sample sizes. The UN’s Information and Analysis Unit said in a 2008 report: “As is typical in volatile working environments, data reliability in some instances is questionable, contradictory figures exist, and geographic coverage of the indicators is often compromised for either security or political reasons.”

There are also huge discrepancies when national statistics are broken down by region, with the capital Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdish region in the north often the only governorates ranking above national average in measures of development. As Médecins sans Frontières wrote in a recent article in the Lancet journal, “Much more attention needs to be given to remote areas, where the reality for Iraqis has not substantially improved over the past 10 years.”

What is more, much of the progress is seen in indicators tracking inputs, like how many children enrol in school, rather than outcomes, such as how much they actually learn, said Sudipto Mukerjee, deputy head of UNDP in Iraq.

But even with these caveats, the best available data offer a complex portrait of a country that has seen improvement over the last decade, but is still largely struggling. For example, a recent overview of Iraq’s headway towards the Millennium Development Goals found great strides in the eradication of poverty over 1990 levels, but slower progress on primary education enrolment, which still lags behind 1990 levels.

A million Iraqis remain refugees, and over a million are internally displaced; sectarianism holds sway over political institutions; and healthcare is undermined by a lack of medical personnel, unreliable utilities and fragile national security. Women and girls, who once enjoyed more rights than other women in the region, now regularly find themselves excluded from school and work opportunities, though great progress has been made towards gender equality in recent years. While living conditions, clean water access, poverty rates and education levels are all disappointing compared to historical highs in the 1980s, they are greatly improved from the years Iraq spent under sanctions. And increased decentralization of power has offered some hope for the future.

No easy narrative can be accurately applied to the country’s experiences over the past 10 years, and in many ways, the direction the country has taken may only become clear over the decade to come.

Every day this week, we will bring you our findings on each of the following indicators. Check back regularly!

Water and Sanitation
Electricity
Displacement
Education
Poverty/Economic Growth
Health
Food Security/Malnutrition
Governance/Human Security
Gender
Aid work

In the process of our research, we’ve come across some interesting bits and pieces. For more, check out:

A recent Op-Ed by Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, where he makes the case that Iraq has progressed

The case for why the US intervention was necessary and successful – by Paul Wolfowitz

An entire issue of the Middle East Research and Information Project dedicated to the 10-year mark of Hussein’s toppling

The Guardian newspaper also has a special section on its website dedicated to articles on Iraq 10 years on from the invasion

A pioneering project to track the costs of American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Costs of War

The National Democratic Institute has done a series of public opinion polls in Iraq since 2010. Here is the latest.

The UN’s Joint Analysis and Policy Unit for Iraq is a wealth of detailed, statistical information, including the Iraq Knowledge Network survey the UN helped conduct in 2011.

Over the years, a number of other household surveys have been conducted by the government in collaboration with various UN agencies, including the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), supported by UNICEF; the Iraq Household Socio-Economic Survey (IHSES), supported by the World Bank; the Iraq Living Conditions Survey, supported by UNDP; and the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis, supported by WFP.

The government Central Statistics Organization has assembled statistics on human development indicators from various sources, from 1990 onwards, which you can find here.

The World Bank also allows you to download full sets of comparative statistics and the World Health Organization keeps year-by-year statistics since 1999 on each of the health-related Millennium Development Goals.

If you want to crunch numbers, check out the UN Human Development Reports over the years.

The UN recently took stock of Iraq’s progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, with less than 1,000 days to go before the deadline.

IRIN has coverage many of these issues over the years. Our Iraq archives are here.

An interesting debate in Foreign Affairs magazine about whether Iraq is on track.

The US auditor on Iraq reconstruction’s latest and final report that says $60 billion invested in Iraq’s reconstruction had “limited positive effects”

And on that theme, check out this cynical, almost satirical, book (and subsequent blog) by Peter Van Buren: We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.

af/ha/rz

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