Thursday, November 14, 2019

Zimbabwe First Lady Exhibits Culinary Skills
14 NOV, 2019 - 00:11

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa joins Ms Christine Mushanawani (right) and Ms Sharon Mvududu (left) in cooking sadza in Epworth yesterday. Picture by John Manzongo

Tendai Rupapa
Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe Herald

First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday exhibited her culinary skills when she joined women from Epworth to prepare sadza, roasted chicken, vegetables and soup while launching a cookery project in the area.

It was a marvel to see the First Lady doing pots and pans, ensuring her meal does not get burnt, just like any mother out there.

The cookery project is made up of seven groups of 20 people, and was launched as part of Amai Mnangagwa’s empowerment projects for women in Epworth.

The First Lady initiated the income generating projects through her Angel of Hope Foundation.

The foundation, in conjunction with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, provided training in various topics including hygiene and safety, costing, marketing plan and basic bookkeeping.

The First Lady brought a nutritionist, Ms Sharon Mvududu, from the Ministry of Health and Child Care, who taught the women skills ranging from cleanliness to nutrition.

Amai Mnangagwa challenged youths and men to form groups and come up with projects so that she can assist them.

She pledged to give women in the sprawling settlement small grain seeds to plant, while imploring youths to shun prostitution and drug abuse, among other vices.

Amai Mnangagwa taught participants gathered at KwaRueben hygienic practices and deportment.

She promised to provide them with apparel for the kitchen so that they look presentable while serving customers.

In her address, she urged beneficiaries of her projects to guard them jealously.

“I am a mother and a mother is not selective, she loves all her children, that is why I initiated these projects for you,” she said. “I love you Epworth. I am impressed with what I saw, the kitchen we prepared food in is very neat and the caterers were smart too.

“On personal hygiene, make sure you are smart from head to toe before you enter into the kitchen to cook for the public. You must also know the type of food your customers want so that you don’t waste food, inozosara isina kutengwa morasa.”

The First Lady, who is the country’s health ambassador, urged women in the cookery project not to use too much spices and ensure food was served while hot.

She jokingly said she was going to set-up her own takeaway restaurant in Epworth to induce competition and keep beneficiaries of her projects on their toes.

She issued out recipes to the women.

All the seven groups on Tuesday received kitchen utensils and ingredients from the First Lady so that they start their food vending business once cleared by relevant health authorities.

One of the beneficiaries, Mrs Esther Chinyanga, said as women from Epworth, they were looked down upon, but now they have gained confidence through the First Lady’s empowerment initiatives.

“Our mother laid a firm foundation for us by giving us training, kitchen utensils and ingredients from which we hope to build from,” she said. “She is not a selective mother, and what she did for us is evidence that she loves all her children countrywide. We promise to work hard to keep the projects alive.”

Provincial Development Officer in the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Mr Enerst Chimboza applauded the First Lady for initiating the projects.

He pledged his ministry’s support in ensuring the projects are kept running.

During a recent interface with Amai Mnangagwa, residents of Epworth asked for help to start projects to generate income and sustain their families.

To escape current economic challenges, youths in the area had also turned to drug and alcohol abuse.

The visit by the First Lady made them turn the corner as most of them can now earn an honest living through sewing reusable sanitary pads, making detergents and opening food outlets.

On Tuesday at Angel of Hope Foundation offices in Belgravia, Harare, Amai Mnangagwa and her team were busy at work, with experts from Superior Detergents on the ground training beneficiaries on how to make laundry soap, lotions, petroleum jelly and dish washing liquid.

The First Lady is on record saying her programmes are not partisan.
Angola Seen Returning to Growth in 2020 After Four-Year Slump
By Henrique Almeida and Candido Mendes
Bloomberg
October 15, 2019, 10:13 AM EDT

 President vows to continue to diversify economy, fight graft
 Angola’s economy contracted after oil putput, prices dropped

Angolan President Joao Lourenco expects Africa’s second-biggest oil producer to return to growth next year as the government accelerates efforts to diversify an economy battered by a decline in crude prices and output.

“Angola’s economic crisis started in 2014 and it got worse, not just because of lower oil prices, but because the country is indebted and is honoring its commitments,” Lourenco said in a state-of-the-nation speech in parliament on Tuesday. “In 2020, we expect the economy to return to growth due to rising output from the non-oil sector.”

Angola’s gross domestic product contracted for the past three years and is expected to shrink 0.2% in 2019, according to the latest Bloomberg survey. Angola’s crude exports in November may fall to the lowest level in at least 11 years, according to the country’s loading program. The drop has put a strain on a country that depends on oil for more than 90% of its exports.

Diversifying the economy and battling graft has been a cornerstone of what Lourenco has called a “new Angola” since taking power in the 27-million strong nation in 2017 from Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who ruled for 38 years. Transparency International ranks Angola one of the world’s most corrupt nations.

Lourenco, a former army general, said there are 45 cases in court to recover more than $4.1 billion allegedly stolen from the state. Authorities have also seized other sums of cash, cars and more than 70 properties, he said. Last year, Angolan lawmakers approved a law to allow for assets that were illegally acquired by public officials to be confiscated.

Angola is seeking to improve its finances after signing a three-year, $3.7 billion-loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund, Lourenco said. Some of the measures include the privatization of dozens of state-owned companies or assets, the phasing out of subsidies on several products, such as refined fuel, and measures to ensure the sustainability of Angola’s debt, according to the IMF.

The plan is for public debt to decline to less than 60% of gross domestic product in 2022 from about 90%, he said.
In Angola, a 35-Year-Old Woman Steps Up to Boost the Economy
By Henrique Almeida and Rene Vollgraaff
Bloomberg
November 6, 2019, 6:17 AM EST

In the midst of Angola’s oil boom, in 2011, Vera Daves de Sousa, then the head of research of a local bank, was a regular guest on TV discussing financial markets and the economy of Africa’s second-biggest crude producer.

That’s how the 28-year-old caught the interest of Archer Mangueira, chairman of the Capital Markets Commission, who was looking for young talent to help start debt trading on Angola’s stock exchange.

“He saw me on TV and said: ‘whoa,’ she looks very confident, she knows what she’s talking about. Why not!” Daves de Sousa, who’s now 35, said in an interview. “He invited me to be a board member.”

The commission marked the start of Daves de Sousa’s career in Angola’s male-dominated political world, where army generals who played a role in the country’s 27-year civil war used to occupy prominent positions.

To prepare for her TV appearances, Daves de Sousa said she studied for hours to learn how to “communicate in very simple terms.” Today, she’s facing a more daunting task: appointed finance minister a month ago, she’ll have to revive an economy that’s forecast in 2019 to contract for a fourth consecutive year -- the worst recession since war ended in 2002.

“She has a big challenge ahead of her,” said Goncalo Moura Martins, chief executive officer of Portuguese construction company Mota-Engil, which has been in Angola since 1948. “The country is suffering from a series of circumstances linked to lower oil prices and needs to face these problems with courage.”

Austerity Measures

In 2014, under former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, Angola was among the world’s fastest-growing economies, benefiting from the highest oil prices ever seen and achieving a per-capita gross domestic product of $4,164, according to the World Bank.

Since then, oil prices have fallen far below $100-plus per-barrel levels. Under a $3.7-billion loan program agreed last year, the International Monetary Fund is urging the government to impose austerity measures such as reducing public debt, scrapping fuel subsidies and weakening the kwanza, which is expected to push inflation to 24% next year, from 17.5% this year, according to the finance ministry.

Daves de Sousa, who practices yoga in her free time, said she’s determined to reduce the presence of the state and diversify the economy. This will take time: crude oil still accounts for more than 90% of export revenue.

“We are looking to change that paradigm,” she said. “We want to invite the private sector to play a more important role.”

Used to always being the youngest person in the room, Daves de Sousa’s rise to prominence was swift. First, she replaced Mangueira as head of the Capital Markets Commission in 2016. The following year, her former boss, who’d gone on to become finance minister, hired her as secretary of state for Treasury. Last month, she succeeded Mangueira again after he become governor of Namib province, this time as Angola’s first female finance minister.

“She was one of the best students I ever had,” said Alves da Rocha, a professor of economics at Angola’s Catholic University, who co-authored a book on public finance with Daves de Sousa.

She’s also a hard worker, said Jose Matoso, an adviser to the chief executive officer of the Capital Markets Commission, who used to work with Daves de Sousa during her time there.

“She has an incredible ability to learn very quickly and work for 10 to 12 hours a day without getting tired,” said Matoso. “I used to think to myself: does she ever stop to drink, eat or sleep?”

While Angola boasts Africa’s richest woman -- Isabel dos Santos, the former president’s daughter -- that doesn’t mean it’s more advanced than its peers when it comes to gender equality. Angola ranked 125 out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 gender gap report.

“Angolan women are assuming positions of greater responsibility but the top, more prominent positions, continue to be occupied by men,” said Eva Santos, founder of the non-governmental Woman Leadership in Angola. “There is still a long way to go.”

Wealth inequality also remains widespread. After ruling for 38 years, Dos Santos stepped aside in 2017 to be replaced by Joao Lourenco. Most Angolans welcomed the change as an opportunity to better distribute the income from the country’s vast oil and diamond riches. Many residents of the capital, Luanda, live in trash-strewn shantytowns outside the center, a jarring contrast with the high-rise luxury hotels and office buildings along the palm tree-lined bay area.

Some are getting impatient: dozens of people demanding work tried to make their way to the building in Luanda last month where Lourenco gave his state-of-the-nation address. More than half of those 24 years or younger can’t find jobs.

Another obstacle Daves de Sousa will probably face is demands from other ministries to spend more on security, said Antonio Estote, an independent economist and professor at the Universidade Lusiada de Angola. About a fifth of fiscal spending next year will go to defense, security and maintaining public order, according to the 2020 budget proposal.

“A woman saying no to generals is not very common in Angola,” Estote said.

Daves de Sousa, for her part, said she’s grateful to Lourenco for appointing a young woman to a strategic position in government.

“It took a lot of courage of the president to make that decision,” she said. “I feel a responsibility to make sure that with my performance I keep the door open for more women and to play the role of an inspirational leader.”

— With assistance by Candido Mendes
Russian Security Personnel Reportedly Beheaded by ISIS-linked Islamists in Mozambique
Seven Russians killed in two separate attacks in Mozambique
One attack saw four fighters ambushed, shot and then beheaded by extremists
ISIS began claiming attacks in Mozambique's northern provinces in June
Russia signed a deal with the Mozambique government to provide military aid in 2017, but has previously denied having any troops in the country

05:29 EST, 1 November 2019

Seven Russian armed security guards have been killed by ISIS-linked militants in Mozambique - including four who were shot and then beheaded, some reports indicate.

Purportedly the Russians, fighting for the state-affiliated Wagner Group, were killed in two separate attacks last month, according to sources in the Mozambique military.

Both attacks were ambushes in Mozambique's northern Cabo Delgado state, where ISIS first announced its presence in June this year.

The second attack, on October 27, saw Russian fighters attacked alongside troops from the Mozambique Defense Armed Forces (FADM).

A source told the Moscow Times that ISIS militants placed barricades across the road then began firing on the convoy.

Four Russian armed guards were shot dead at the scene and then beheaded, according to the source, while a fifth was shot and wounded and later died in hospital.

Mozambique media reports that 20 FADM troops were also killed in the same attack.

Another, previously unreported, attack happened on October 7 and saw two Russians shot dead in the same province.

Again, the attack was the result of an ambush and also involved FADM troops, though it is unclear if any of them were killed or how many were killed.

Russia has been supplying arms and military equipment to Mozambique to help in its fight against Islamist insurgent groups since signing a pact in early January 2017.

However, the deal did not stipulate the supply of fighters and as recently as October 8 Moscow denied it had any troops stationed in the country.

Wagner fighters are not technically Russian soldiers as they are employed by a private company and not the state, but the firm's owner Yevgeny Prigozhin is said to have close links to Putin and Wagner is also known to recruit from Russia's GRU.

Until this year they had largely been fighting against a local Islamist group called Ansar al Sunnah, which is trying to depose the government and establish an Islamist state in its place.

The group is known locally as al-Shabaab, but has no ties with the Somalian armed group of the same name, and few known links with any group outside the country.

ISIS first announced its presence in Mozambique in June in a statement released by its Central Africa Province group, which is also active in the DRC.

The terror group's media arm said 'several' Mozambique soldiers had been killed in the attack, while weapons and rockets were seized 'as spoils'.

Since then it has claimed a steady string of attacks, largely targeting  Christian settlements and military bases in the country's north, near the border with Tanzania. 
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Staff Concludes Visit to Mozambique
An International Monetary Fund (IMF) staff team led by Ricardo Velloso visited Maputo during November 6–12, 2019, to take stock of recent economic developments and update macroeconomic projections.

At the end of the mission, Mr. Velloso issued the following statement:

“As a result of Tropical Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, real GDP growth decelerated to 2¼ percent (year-on-year) in the second quarter of 2019, affected by a weak performance in agriculture. Inflation declined to 2¼ percent (year-on-year) in October, from about 5 percent a year earlier, as tight monetary conditions more than offset the supply shock to prices induced by the cyclones. The exchange rate has been broadly stable; and international reserves at the Bank of Mozambique increased to about US$3.9 billion at end-October, covering 6¾ months of next years’ projected non-megaprojects imports.

“The outlook for 2020 is for a strong rebound in economic activity and low inflation. Real GDP growth is projected to reach 5½ percent in 2020, from 2.1 percent projected for 2019, supported by post-cyclones reconstruction efforts, a recovery in agriculture, and economic stimulus from further gradual easing of monetary conditions and clearing of domestic payments arrears to suppliers. Construction and other activities should also be boosted by investments in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) megaprojects. Inflation is projected to remain low, increasing slightly to 5 percent at end-2020, from 3 percent at end-2019.

“Consistent with the advice laid out in the latest Article IV consultation, the mission recommended gradual fiscal consolidation over the medium term, with a view of eliminating the primary fiscal deficit by 2022, while protecting or increasing well-targeted social spending. Financing should continue to rely on external grants and highly concessional loans given the high level of public debt. The mission welcomed the significant progress on clearing domestic payments arrears to suppliers and noted that, despite some progress, additional efforts will be needed to address the VAT refund backlog.

“The mission noted that there is ample room for the Bank of Mozambique to continue easing monetary policy given well-anchored inflation expectations, provided this easing is supported by a prudent fiscal policy stance. It welcomed the Bank of Mozambique’s strong commitment to maintain a flexible exchange rate and safeguard financial sector stability.

“The mission welcomed the authorities’ comprehensive diagnostic of governance and corruption challenges in Mozambique, which was published in August and was supported by IMF technical assistance. It encouraged the Government to implement the reforms under the roadmap outlined in the report.

“The mission welcomed the ongoing efforts by the Attorney-General’s Office to bring accountability to the issue of the previously undisclosed loans, as well as the Government’s initiatives to fight corruption and strengthen transparency.

“The mission noted that the recently-concluded Eurobond exchange lowered interest payments and extended maturities broadly in line with the baseline scenario in the debt sustainability analysis published in April. However, as also noted in that analysis, gradual fiscal consolidation and success in the Government’s strategy to secure additional debt relief from international private creditors remain critical for public debt sustainability.

“The mission welcomed the progress in the development of the LNG megaprojects in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. It reiterated the importance of building stronger institutions to help ensure that the fiscal revenue from such projects transform the lives of the Mozambican people, playing a significant role in sustainable development and poverty reduction. In this context, the mission welcomed the Government’s intention to save part of the capital gains tax—from the sale to Total of Anadarko/Occidental’s share in one of the projects—into an embryonic, future sovereign wealth fund.

“The mission held fruitful discussions with President Filipe Nyusi, Prime Minister Carlos do Rosário, Minister of Economy and Finance Adriano Maleiane, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Ernesto Max Tonela, Bank of Mozambique Governor Rogério Zandamela and other senior government officials, private sector, and the donor community. The mission thanks the authorities for their availability and cooperation as well as the arrangements made to facilitate our work.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).
'It's Mind Blowing': Historic Wins for Two Somalian Americans Amid Ugly Smears
Safiya Khalid and Nadia Mohamed, ages 23, came to the US as refugees, and won city council seats in Lewiston, Maine, and in St Louis Park, Minnesota

Amanda Holpuch in New York
Guardian
Mon 11 Nov 2019 09.53 EST

Safiya Khalid, 23, was elected to the city council of Lewiston, Maine. Photograph: Michele Stapleton

When 23-year-old Safiya Khalid was elected to the city council of Lewiston, Maine, last week she nabbed a collection of “firsts” – youngest person ever elected to the council, and its first Somali-American – but the race for her had always been about making sure everyone in the city felt the sense of community her family experienced when they moved there from war-torn Somalia.

“What I received here in Lewiston, my family and I in 2006, I want to open that to all people in Lewiston and to encourage young people to live and work in Lewiston and that means building a vibrant community for all of us,” Khalid told the Guardian.

Khalid was one of dozens to secure a historical election seat in local and statewide elections on Tuesday. Boston diversified its city council, Kentucky elected its first black attorney general, Virginia elected its first Muslim state senator, and in Tucson, Arizona, the city elected its first Latina mayor.

This deepening crack in the old traditions of political power arrived four months after Donald Trump told four female members of Congress to go back to their country – including Ilhan Omar, a former refugee from Somalia like Khalid.

Khalid has vivid memories of her first few weeks in the United States, when she lived in an apartment with her brother and mother in New Jersey. Struggling to overcome the language barrier, Khalid’s mother started to stand outside each day saying, “As-salamu alaykum” (peace be upon you) to each person who walked by, hoping to connect with somebody in this brand new country.

Khalid, then seven years old, would watch from the window every day with her two-year-old brother, as their mother was ignored and pushed out of the way until a young man responded appropriately: “Wa alaykumu s-salam” (peace be upon you too). Her mother dissolved into tears and hugs in the stranger’s arms.

“It was the most beautiful sight you’d ever seen,” Khalid said.

The young man did not actually speak Somali, but they were able to manage some communication because he spoke Arabic, and the next day, he brought a Somali family over to give them a short tutorial in American life.

Khalid’s mother resisted the family’s offers to get them set up in New York City and insisted on moving somewhere more close-knit. They suggested Lewiston, Maine, and the next day, the family took a bus to the northern city. Khalid said her family “found what we were looking for” in the city of 36,000.

Seeking a city council seat there 13 years later, Khalid campaigned on a platform of affordable housing, supporting small business, encouraging investments to the city, addressing lead contamination issues in old homes and expanding resources for the education system.

After receiving training through Emerge Maine, which helps Democratic women who want to run for office, Khalid embarked on an intense door-knocking campaign that she estimates brought her to the homes of more 1,000 people from March to election day.

“I’m young and I don’t know everything, to be honest, and I want to have the input of the community and have them be stakeholders in the process,” Khalid said.

The most negative reactions she received were a polite “no thank you,” but an ugly campaign to discredit her emerged on social media in the weeks before the election.

People from the other side of the country were messaging her on Facebook with violent threats and racist comments, prompting her to shut down her page to focus on the election.

Now that she’s won, the troll campaign has blurred as accolades pour in from political giants. Julián Castro tweeted Khalid was “an inspiration” and Hillary Clinton shared her photo and story online. “It’s mindblowing,” Khalid said, adding that she would have to start using Twitter more because she didn’t use it much before.

This week, she became the first Somali-American to be elected to Lewiston’s city council.

Nadia Mohamed, who like Khalid is 23 and a former refugee from Somalia, was also recovering from the onslaught of international attention she received after winning a seat on the city council in St Louis Park, Minnesota.

Mohamed asked her brother to see what people were saying online this week – which included a conspiracy that she doesn’t speak English (she does, perfectly) – but avoided examining the social media reaction herself. “It’s not worth my time,” Mohamed said, reveling instead in how great it felt to have won the election.

After living in countries where the majority of people were black until she was 10, it took some time for Mohamed to get used to being somewhere where her race, ethnicity and Muslim faith put her into boxes she hadn’t realized existed before.

“It didn’t sit well with me that I felt like a visitor, so I started doing community engagement,” Mohamed said.

For the past three years, she has been working on the St Louis Park police department’s Multicultural Advisory Committee (Mac) to improve relations between different communities in the city.

It was through this community-building work that she met Thom Miller, whose seat she is taking on the city council. Mohamed said Miller asked her for help to find a more diverse candidate to take his seat on the all-white city council. Mohamed spent two weeks thinking about people who could be a good fit until it clicked: she could run.

“I went back with 1,001 questions,” Mohamed said. “I’m like: ‘Listen, I’m thinking of running, but am I too young? I am still in school – is that going to get in the middle of my education? What’s going to happen?’”

She said Miller told her to relax and focus on the community.

With the same energy and enthusiasm she used while hosting Iftar dinners to help community members better understand Islam, Mohamed began knocking on doors, asking people what they wanted from their city council.

“It really gave me a sense of home,” Mohamed said. “I have pretty much knocked on every door in the city.”

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Seven Things You Should Know About the Crisis in Somalia
Tria Garcia
Norwegian Refugee Council
11. Nov 2019

 Somalia Natural disasters Internal displacement War and conflict

Somalia caught the world’s attention in 2011 when a famine killed over a quarter of a million people. The country has been struggling with extreme weather changes, violence and disease for nearly 30 years and is increasingly subject to severe climate shocks that are worsening a prolonged humanitarian crisis. Here are seven things you should know about the crisis in Somalia:

#1 It’s a complex crisis

The humanitarian crisis in Somalia is one of the longest and most complex in the world. The country is experiencing both armed conflict and worsening climatic shocks across different regions, a dangerous combination that has resulted in massive displacements, both within Somalia and across its borders.

Through 2018, more than 880,000 Somalis became displaced from their homes. 300,000 fled from fear of violence and attacks, and over 500,000 mostly farmers and pastoralists were displaced due to the impacts of climate shocks such as flooding or drought. Pastoralists raise and herd livestock as their main source of income and are commonly located in drylands. Pastoralist communities represent 60 per cent of Somalia’s population.

This year, an additional 575,000 Somalis have been displaced from January to November adding to more than four million Somalis in need of humanitarian assistance. Providing aid is difficult because the many internally displaced people are located in areas with active armed conflict and limited infrastructure.

#2. People are suffering from the impact of extreme weather conditions

In 2011, 260,000 people died from a famine in Somalia. Half of them were children. Five years later, Somalia experienced another prolonged drought from 2016 to 2017 that displaced over a million people. Fortunately, the humanitarian sector stepped up just in time to prevent another famine.

In 2019, the impact of drought has threatened hundreds of thousands lives, placing additional strain on communities, stretching available humanitarian resources and displacing 300,000 people.

Through late October, an additional 273,000 people were displaced by widespread flooding, and many communities continue to be exposed to extremely heavy rains that are damaging farmland, homes and infrastructure. More than a week after the onset of the floods, thousands of people in the worst-affected areas are sheltering under trees or in emergency tents after their homes were washed away.

Displaced people, particularly children, mothers and the elderly are now facing serious hunger, health and protection risks in an area already receiving little to no humanitarian assistance due to insecurity and conflict.

#3. The country has experienced extended violent conflict

Somalia has experienced armed conflict for nearly three decades. In recent years, non-state armed groups have carried out bombings, suicide attacks, armed assaults and kidnappings. At the same time, military operations have resulted in the sporadic death, injury and displacement of civilian populations.

In some areas, civilians are required to pay fees to armed groups or are pressured to participate in hostilities, and in others, clan-related conflict is increasing among pastoralist and farming communities as natural resources decrease due to flooding and drought. All of these aspects make for a very challenging environment to deliver assistance.

For several years, violence has prompted populations to flee to urban areas where aid is more accessible.

#4. Poor health and communicable diseases are killing people

Massive displacement and food insecurity have a major effect on the health of the population. 1.5 million people need humanitarian assistance in 2019 due to inadequate nutrition.

In 2019, almost one million children risk being acutely malnourished, carrying severe implications for their future health and that of subsequent generations. This is among one of the factors that cause one out of seven children to die before they reach five years old.

On top of that, Somalis are exposed to serious risks from the outbreak of diseases such as cholera, measles and diarrhoea, spread easily in congested living conditions and where there is a lack of clean water and sanitation.

#5. People are fleeing to the big cities

The different factors within Somalia’s crisis are forcing people to move to urban areas to seek humanitarian assistance. Many urban migrants live in camps or informal settlements and have limited access to information about their rights and available services. Families set up makeshift shelters wherever they can, putting them at risk of violence, exploitation, abuse and disease.

The need for space, food, water and shelter places strain on resources in urban areas. The capacity of host communities with limited systems in place are then stretched, leading to forced evictions and extreme vulnerability among displaced populations.

Over many years, Somalis have also fled to neighbouring countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Yemen. Some people are now returning to Somalia, either in the hope of re-establishing their lives or due to a lack of safety in the country they have fled to for protection.

Read more on how NRC works to solve Somalia’s eviction crisis.

#6. Somalia is hosting other refugees

Somalia also receives refugees from its neighbouring countries. The country currently hosts 39,000 refugees, mostly from Ethiopia and Yemen.

In the coming months, Somalia expects to receive over 90,000 returnees that have been seeking refuge in Kenya and Yemen.

#7. Women, children and minorities are the most vulnerable

Women, children and members of minority groups are particularly vulnerable during displacement.

Women and girls, especially those living in informal urban centres, are at risk of gender-based violence, and often have less access than others to opportunities to earn a living. A lack of sufficient infrastructure forces many women and girls to walk in dangerous areas to find water or firewood, exposing them to additional risks and causing many to seek support from aid agencies.

Female-headed and child-headed households, and members of minority groups become more vulnerable due to the absence of their social and community networks. Displaced people that belong to different clans than that of their host community face an increased risk of violence and abuse.

One third of those who need assistance are children, most of whom are out of school. This makes them more vulnerable to exploitation through child labour, including possible use in hostilities.

Read more on how NRC helps Somali women build resilience.

How NRC helps:
Our emergency teams are on the ground, responding to the ever-increasing IDP needs. We target those forced to flee in our activities, from building shelters to tackling agricultural challenges, to enabling them to acquire new skills that can increase their resilience to withstand shocks in the future.

We assist the people living in areas that are extremely difficult to reach. These people often receive little assistance due to the difficulty in accessing the area and often don’t have enough resources to flee elsewhere.

We build latrines and water systems in camps that help both the people and their livestock.

We combat the widespread food insecurity by providing cash transfers, nutrition seminars and livelihood training seminars. We also support environmental conservation activities.

We provide catch up classes and youth education programmes, train teachers, and rebuild classrooms.

We assist the safe returns of Somali refugees, raise awareness about the rights of displaced people, and provide counselling for land and property rights.

We construct temporary, transitional and permanent shelters to internally displaced people, and distribute essential household items.
UN Calls for Action as Somalia Floods Affect 200,0000 Children
UN delivers vital supplies as 370,000 people displaced by floods around the Horn of Africa nation.

6 Nov 2019

UN delivers vital supplies as floods displace 270,000 people in Somalia [Associated Press]

At least 200,000 children are among more than half a million people affected by flooding in Somalia, the United Nations children agency said, calling for decisive action to help those at risk of malnutrition and disease outbreak.

In a statement on Tuesday, UNICEF said thousands of families are living in makeshift camps or in the open and are in dire need of clean water, sanitation, safe shelter, health and food supplies.

The UN humanitarian agency said on Wednesday heavy rains have affected 547,000 people in Somalia and displaced 370,000 people.

"Children are very vulnerable in times of emergency," said UNICEF Somalia Representative Werner Schultink.

"If we do not act decisively, the impact of these floods will be felt in Somalia long after the water levels recede," he added.

The rains and flooding have destroyed infrastructure and livelihoods in the Horn of Africa nation, according to the UN, which on Monday began delivering vital food packages and supplies to thousands of displaced people.

In the town of Beledweyne, in central Somalia, a river overflowed and at least 10 people died when a boat capsized trying to rescue stranded residents, locals said.

Schools have been forced to shut their doors due to flooding, while the rising waters also caused damage to buildings and widespread disruption.

Education officials said students and teachers have been forced to flee to higher ground where aid agencies are providing life-saving assistance, including shelter, to a quarter of a million people.

"A total of 86 schools have been affected by the floods. Around 700 teachers are also out of work as locals flee to higher ground due to floods in Beledweyne City and surrounding regions,'' said Mohamed Osman Elmi, education head of Hiran region.

It is the second flood to affect Beledweyne in less than a year. In 2018, floods forced the Ministry of Education to postpone national examinations.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo toured the hardest-hit areas earlier this week and promised government support to end recurrent floods such as those that have hit Beledweyne.

''Last year, we witnessed a similar tragedy, we hope this will be the last kind of floods witnessed in Beledweyne. We will work with neighbouring countries and all relevant authorities to mitigate the crisis and ensure our people don't have to suffer again,'' the president said.

Weeks of flooding have destroyed basic infrastructure in the city. Roads have been turned into rivers and farmlands have been destroyed.

The threat of waterborne diseases remains the biggest fear for aid agencies and local authorities. Humanitarian aid has arrived in the town from aid agencies, government and local communities.

East Africa has been experiencing torrential rains which have been exacerbated by a weather phenomenon known as the Indian Ocean Dipole.

This is the Indian Ocean equivalent of the Pacific Ocean-based El Nino. It is currently at its strongest since 2006, according to the regional trade bloc of eight East African nations known as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
Muslim Woman Says Denver Arena Worker Told Her to Remove Hijab, Refused to Let Her Enter
Gazella Bensreiti said the Pepsi Center employee told her to "take that thing off" and said she could not come in until she removed her hijab.

'It is hard enough to wear hijab': Muslim woman on alleged discrimination

Nov. 13, 2019, 9:57 PM EST
By Minyvonne Burke and Suzanne Ciechalski
NBC News

A Muslim woman said she was discriminated against after a Pepsi Center employee demanded she remove her hijab before entering the Denver arena.

Gazella Bensreiti, 36, a mother of three girls, said in a Facebook post that she was at the arena Nov. 5, where her 8-year-old daughter was going to sing the national anthem with her school choir.

When Bensreiti went to pick up her ticket, she said a female employee told her "take that thing off," referring to Bensreiti's hijab, a headwrap some Muslim women wear in public.

Bensreiti said she refused to take it off, telling the worker that she wears it because of her religion.

"She responded, 'I don’t care, you can’t come in with it on.' I then asked if she’d be willing to take me to the side so that I could remove it and show her my entire head in private. Again, she told me no," Bensreiti wrote, adding that a group of white men standing in front of her still had baseball caps on.

Bensreiti said in a phone interview after the incident that she asked to see the arena's written policy on religious head coverings but never got it.

As the situation was unfolding, her 8-year-old daughter who was with her became visibly upset and worried that her mother wouldn't be able to see her perform.

"I reassured my daughter, 'No, I'm not leaving until I see you perform,'" she said.

Bensreiti said the employee eventually went into an office and when she came back out, told Bensreiti to go ahead "without making eye contact or even acknowledging me as a human being, but ushered me like an animal."

Bensreiti also accused the worker of yelling at her in front of other people. She said she was eventually able to get her ticket but said the incident left her in tears.

Gazella Bensreiti, center, with her daughters, from left, Mariam, 10, Noor, 8, and Suadd, 13.Gazella Bensreiti, center, with her daughters, from left, Mariam, 10, Noor, 8, and Suadd, 13.Gazella Bensreiti
"I have never experienced this type of trauma in my entire life. I know my rights as an American citizen. Not only did she traumatize me and my daughter, she infringed upon my civil rights. I have never felt so embarrassed and broken before," the post read

The Colorado chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations held a news conference Wednesday afternoon with Bensreiti, to call on Pepsi Center officials to investigate the incident and change its policy regarding religious attire of people attending events.

Bensreiti got emotional as she talked about the incident.

“Wearing the hijab to me is part of my religion. It’s hard enough to wear your hijab and live your life as a Muslim woman," she said.

A spokesperson for the Pepsi Center called the incident a "misunderstanding" and said the employee "didn't recognize Ms. Bensreiti was wearing a hijab." Bensreiti was allowed to enter the venue after a supervisor intervened, the spokesperson said in a statement.

"Pepsi Center prides itself on creating a safe and inclusive environment for all patrons regardless of race, gender, religion, national origin, disability and sexual orientation," the statement read.

It continued: "We have reached out to Ms. Bensreiti and look forward to engaging in honest discourse that leads to greater awareness and an opportunity to further celebrate the diversity that makes Denver such a special place. While the matter is still under review, we are taking steps to modify our screening process and provide additional education for our staff.”

Bensreiti said that after seeing her daughter perform, they left the arena instead of staying for the game. In the car, her daughter broke down crying.

"I think that her actions came from a place of ignorance," Bensreiti said about the woman. " I do just truly hope that she also learns form this experience and anyone else watching to learn about other people, learn about other religions, learn about other cultures.

"Don’t attack someone...based on what you see," she added. "Encourage people who see injustice happening to speak up and make their voices heard."

Minyvonne Burke is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.
Judge Calls USC Dad a 'Thief,' Gives Longest Prison Sentence So Far in College Admissions Scandal
Joey Garrison
USA TODAY

BOSTON — Toby MacFarlane, a former real estate and title insurance executive from California, was sentenced to six months in prison Wednesday for paying $450,000 to get his daughter and son admitted into the University of Southern California as fake athletic recruits.

It marks the longest prison sentence so far handed down among 13 parents and one college coach in the nation's college admissions scandal.

More:College admissions scandal tracker: Who's pleaded guilty, who's gone to prison — and who's still fighting

U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton stressed that MacFarlane participated in the nationwide admissions scheme led by college consultant Rick Singer "not once, but twice," taking seats at USC away from two deserving students.

He told MacFarlane his actions should be tolerated no more than a common thief's actions, "because that's what you are — a thief."

“Higher education in this country aspires to be a meritocracy. Those who work the hardest or make the best grades rightfully get accepted into the best schools," Gorton said. "You had the audacity and the self-aggrandizing impudence to use your wealth to cheat and lie your way around the rules that apply to everyone else."

Gorton also sentenced MacFarlane to two years of supervised release, 200 hours of community service and a $150,000 fine.

MacFarlane, 56, of Del Mar, California, must report to prison by Jan. 2. He did not comment to reporters outside the courthouse as he exited before quickly stepping into a nearby Starbucks. MacFarlane pleaded guilty to fraud conspiracy charges in June.

Addressing the court, MacFarlane, himself a USC graduate, apologized to his family, friends, former business partners and his alma mater, as well as "all of the students who applied and didn't get in."

“I am truly sorry. I love that school and it is heartbreaking to me that I brought a shadow on it," he said, adding he set a "terrible example" for his children. "They didn’t deserve this. I’m working to make it up to them and regain their respect.”

Gorton opted to impose a harsher sentence than called for in sentencing guidelines, citing the “fraudulent, deceitful" nature of MacFarlane's conduct. The judge's decision could be a preview of how he will approach other parents who go before him — including actress Lori Loughlin — who have pleaded not guilty. 

More:Lori Loughlin pleads not guilty to new charges in college admissions scandal

MacFarlane, a former senior executive at WFG National Title Insurance Company, made two separate payments of $200,000, one in 2014 and on in 2017, to the sham nonprofit operated by Singer. Singer, in turn, facilitated his children's admissions into USC through bribes to one current and two former USC employees. MacFarlane also made a $50,000 payment to USC athletics.

The first transaction involved the admission of MacFarlane's daughter into USC as a fake soccer recruit. He then paid Singer again to admit his son into USC posing as a basketball recruit.

"The defendant knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew it wasn't accepted at the school," Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Rosen told the judge. "So what does he do? He does it again with his son.”

Rosen said MacFarlane deserved prison because he was the first parent who paid into Singer's "side-door" recruitment scheme twice. He asked the judge to "send a message" as a result.

MacFarlane's defense attorney, Ted Cassman, sought a lighter sentence, arguing his client was less culpable than other parents sentenced in the admissions scheme. Unlike other parents, he said MacFarlane did not seek out Singer for cheating but for his consulting services.

He said MacFarlane already suffered "swift and severe" collateral consequences from his conduct. He also pointed to MacFarlane's divorce, which separated his family and pressured him to buckle to Singer's offer.

“It was during this period that Mr. Singer offered an easy way out," Cassman said. “And foolishly and tragically, Mr. MacFarlane took the easy way out.”

More:Napa Valley vineyard owner gets five months in prison for college admissions scheme

The toughest prison sentence previously ordered was five months for Agustin Huneeus, a Napa Valley, California winemaker. Huneeus, who agreed to pay Singer $300,000 is the only defendant to take part in both the recruitment scheme and Singer's plot to cheat on college entrance exams. U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani handed down the sentence of Huneeus and 11 other parents while Judge Douglas Woodlock sentenced one other parent.

Twenty-nine defendants, including 19 parents, have either pleaded guilty in court or agreed to plead guilty to charges in the historic admissions case.

Igor Dvorsiky, a former administrator for the ACT and SAT, pleaded guilty in court Wednesday to racketeering charges for accepting nearly $200,000 in bribes to opening a private school he operated in Los Angles for cheating in Singer's scheme. He admitted to opening it on 11 occasions, involving 20 students, for cheating.

Reach Joey Garrison and on Twitter @joeygarrison.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Sudan’s Prosecutor Orders Arrest PCP Leader Over 1989 Coup
Ali al-Haj, Secretary-General of the Popular Congress Party (Al-Sharq Al-Awsat)

November 12, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s prosecutor general has issued arrest warrants against those individuals involved in the Islamist coup d’etat that brought general al-Bashir to power thirty years ago, including the leader of a splinter group from al-Bashir’s party

Sudan’s Freedom and Change Forces (FFC) on Tuesday announced that the criminal prosecution continues its proceedings against the authors of the 30 June 1989 coup d’état, including leaders of the Popular Congress Party (PCP) which split from the National Congress Party (NCP) in 1999, ten years after the Islamist coup.

In a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, the Coordinator of the FFC Legal Committee Mohamed Hassan Arabi said that the Prosecutor Ahmed al-Nur al-Hala has asked the penitentiary authorities to hand over Omer al-Bashir, Ali Osman Mohamed Taha, Nafei Ali Nafei and Awad Ahmed Jazz. "

All the four NCP leading members have been arrested since 11 April 2019.

He further pointed to the issuance of arrest warrants against all the military who played a leading role in the coup.

"For the civilians, arrest warrants have been issued for Ali al-Haj and Ibrahim al-Sanusi, but they have not been arrested so far," he further said.

Al-Sanusi is also a leading PCP member.

Furthermore, "The criminal prosecution issued a travel ban for all the defendants."

Also, he confirmed, on Monday, the arrest of Youssef Abdel Fattah, an Islamist military who took part in the coup.

The military council, which took power following four-month protests, arrested the prominent leaders of the former regime but didn’t try them.

Only al-Bashir has been tried on charges of illegal possession of foreign funds and corruption.

PCP Political Secretary Idriss Suleiman denied the arrest of the PCP secretary-general Ali al-Haj saying "(Arabi’s) statements about the arrest and travel ban, are pure political statements rather than assertions of fact."

He told Sudan Tribune that "There is a clear confusion between politics, politicians and the judicial organs, and this is a calamity that the country is suffering from nowadays."

"It is not allowed to speak on behalf of the judicial organs. This chaos will lead the country to the abyss."

"Any party, whatever its weight, should not interfere in the question of justice and law," further stressed, Ali al-Haj’ deputy.

The FFC coalitions are under huge pressure from their supporters who blame them for not trying the Islamists for the 1989 coup, human rights violations, corruption and other crimes committed during the past 30 years.

Officials in the transitional government say they have been appointed in September and the judiciary organs in October, adding they are doing the maximum to speed up the instruction of the cases against the old guards.

On 13 May, nearly a month after the ouster of al-Bashir, Sudanese lawyers lodged a complaint against al-Bashir and his aides accusing them of "undermining the constitutional order" and masterminding the military coup of 30 June 1989.

On 22 June, the Public Prosecution heard the last elected Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi in the case against al-Bashir.

(ST)
Sudan’s Islamist PCP Supports al-Bashir Handover to ICC
Ali al-Haj speaks in a press conference to announce his support to al-Bashir handover to the ICC on 11 Nov 2019 (ST photo)

November 11, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Ali al-Haj Secretary-General of the Islamist Popular Congress Party (PCP) on Monday voiced his party’s support for the handover of ousted President Omer al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"Since the time of its late founder, Hassan al-Turabi, the Party has demanded that Bashir surrender himself to the Court and respond to the charges directed against him of responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide," al-Haj told a news conference.

He added that "the position of the party remains the same and has not changed neither after the death of Turabi nor after the fall of the regime."

The PCP was part of the al-Bashir government until the collapse of his regime. Also, al-Haj had refused calls by the Party’s youth to join the revolution.

His support for al-Bashir handover comes after statements by the ruling coalition FFC and Prime Minister Handok saying the former president would be delivered to the war crimes court in The Hague.

To explain his position the PCP leader further said, "There are no courts (in the country) that can try al-Bashir, especially since the justice institutions in Sudan are not yet completed."

"Handing al-Bashir over to the ICC is an old demand that reflects our vision," he stressed.

The ousted president is accused by the ICC of masterminding war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide and issued two warrants of arrests against him in 2009 and 2010.

In another context, al-Haj said the FFC government considers the dissolution of the PCP and the National Congress Party of al-Bashir and other Islamist groups.

He further warned against such a move saying it is aimed at empowering the left.

Sudanese government officials said they consider the dissolution of the NCP as the latter has launched a campaign against the government using the government’s failure to draw financial support or to remove US sanctions on Sudan.

(ST)
Sudan’s Hamdok Calls for Strategic Partnership with European Union
Federica Mogherini shakes hands with Sudn PM Abballah Hamodk on 11 November 2019 (EU photo)

November 11, 2019 (BRUSSELS) - Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok Monday called for a strategic partnership between Sudan and the European Union pointing that his country needs EU support to face political and economic challenges.

Hamdok was in Brussels for a meeting with EU foreign ministers and parliament, as they wanted to show their political support for the Sudanese people after the collapse of the totalitarian regime of former President Omer al-Bashir.

Federica Mogherini EU foreign policy chief told reporters after meeting Hamdok that the European Union is strongly supporting the encouraging transition in Sudan politically and economically.

"We just announced additional financial support for humanitarian aid and we exchanged views with the Prime Minister on the most pressing needs on which the European Union is going to accompany the civilian and democratic transition of the country".

Mogherini went further to say that Sudan’s transition "could represent not only success in itself, but also an inspiration for the rest of the region, for Africa, for the Arab world, and for our world in general".

The head of the EU foreign policy council was alluding to the €55 million of additional humanitarian aid to Sudan announced by Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management.

European officials believe the EU should mobilize the international community to provide Sudanese government with the needed financial and technical support stressing that Trump administration despite its initial role against the military failed to show the needed support for the Sudanese revolution.

The lack of strong international support during the first two months encouraged the elements of the former regime to regroup and organise themselves as they found an opportunity in Washington rejection to send a strong signal of support to Hamdok government.

The visiting Sudanese Minister held separate meetings with the different foreign ministers to discuss ways to support his government but also was invited to meet the EU lawmakers to speak about the situation in Sudan and to respond to their questions.

In his speech to the EU parliament, Hamdok called for a partnership between the EU and Sudan saying that his country is facing important challenges particularly ending the war and achieving peace and the economic crisis, and Sudan removal from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

Besides the pledged economic and financial support, he said this partnership should be extended to support his government to achieve peace, political transition and development.

He added that European enterprises can invest in the field of energy, mining and agriculture and also the capacity building of the civil institutions.

"Fully cooperation with the EU and building a strategic partnership," he concluded.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council issued a statement after the informal meeting with Hamdok reiterating their support to his government.

EU foreign ministers "reaffirmed the EU’s strong political commitment to support the civilian transitional government, as well as the EU’s readiness to provide financial aid for the transition, including in support of economic reform".

"They highlighted the importance of ensuring that the civilian transition remains an inclusive process, including an appropriate role for youth and women".

(ST)
Al-Burhan Says Ready to Defend Sudanese Revolution
Al-Burhan wearing transitional clothes waves his hand greeting the tribal meeting in Shendi, northern Sudan on 9 November 2019 (ST Photo)

November 9, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan is facing "difficult conditions", said the head of the Sovereign Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan before to stress their readiness to protect the Revolution and confront those who try to abort it.

"We are ready to protect the revolution that came out for the sake of Sudanese people, to provide a decent living and fight corruption," Burhan told a crowd in Shendi town of the River Nile state.

"We will give our souls to preserve the cohesion of the country," he stressed.

Al-Burhan made his speech during the signing ceremony of a reconciliation pact between the tribes Al-Awadah Al-Jaleen and Al-Ababdah in the northern city of Shendi on Saturday.

He stressed that the regime change that took place in the country was real and was achieved with the army’s participation.

He also called on the Sudanese to stand behind the transitional government and to build an equal and peaceful Sudan

"Nobody will lose if we reconcile for the sake of the country," he added in a very patriotic speech addressed to the tribal leaders but also the whole nation as the government is engaged in talks with the armed groups to end the war in Darfur and the Two Areas.

The head of the Sovereign Council was accompanied by several members of the transitional government to show the unity and harmony among its civilian and military components.

Al-Burhan gradually cleared the military council from the Islamists generals and recently operate a reform in the army structures and removed more generals.

Recently he put aside his military fatigue and appears in civilian clothes.

For his part, the revolutionary minister of the religious affairs Nasr al-Din Mufreh called to spread peace, tolerance and respect in the country stressing that Sudanese do not worth living in the cycle of war.

Mufreh said that the civil and military components of the Sovereignty Council form "one family" working for Sudan, and stressed the need to dedicate all the energies after the revolution to build the future of the country.

He further urged the Resistance Committees, formed during the 4 months of protests before the ouster of al-Bashir to carry out their duties and new tasks in following up the good distribution of flour and services after they have been mutated to the Committees Of Services And Change.

(ST)
Sudan Denies RSF’s Participation in Libya’s Armed Conflict
RSF militiamen (Sudanreeves.org photo)

November 9, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese army Saturday strongly denied the participation of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militiamen in the ongoing fighting in Libya alongside Haftar Armed Forces against the forces of the UN-recognized government.

According to al-Jazeera TV, a recent confidential report by the Panel of Experts of the International Sanctions Committee on Libya accused the RSF commander and member of the Sovereign Council of dispatching 1000 militiamen to eastern Libyan in July.

"Hameti sent Sudanese troops to Benghazi in order to enable the forces of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar to attack the capital Tripoli," the report stressed.

Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) Spokesman Brigadier General Aamer Mohamed al-Hassan told the Sudanese Tiba TV that "these claims come within the framework of the systematic cunning against national institutions against the national institutions".

He further pointed out that the Rapid Support Forces are working according to international and UN conventions and that the Sudanese army is striving to enhance their capacities.

The military spokesman went further to say that the Sudanese army is not a security company to be at this level (of mercenarism) as stated in the alleged UN report, stressing that the army will not pay heed to such rumours.

The report is expected to be debated by the Security Council’s sanctions committee on Libya at the end of the month. After what it will be released for the public in December.

The AFP which, also obtained the report said that the 85-page report mentions "the presence of Chadian and Sudanese armed groups in support of forces affiliated" with Sarraj and Haftar".

In a statement released on 5 September, UN Spokesperson issued a statement saying UN Security Council sanction committee on Libya held a meeting with diplomats from Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Mali, Malta, Morocco, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

The Committee members during the meeting "addressed various aspects of the sanctions regime, emphasizing, in particular, their concern about the ongoing violations of the arms embargo and the need to fully and effectively implement the sanction measures," said the statement.

(ST)
Hamdok Arrives in Brussels for Meeting with EU Foreign Ministers
November 11, 2019 (KHARTOUM) - Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok arrived Sunday to Brussels for discussions with European Union Foreign Ministers on ways to support Sudan to achieve the democratic transition.

The visit is seen as a window for Hamdok who faces huge internal economic challenges to show Sudanese people that the European Union is supporting his efforts to get the needed economic and financial support to achieve the needed reforms.

The minister according to a statement released in Brussels last week will hold a meeting with the EU Foreign Affairs Council, chaired by Federica Mogherini, the European Union top diplomat.

"The discussion (with Hamdok) will be an opportunity to discuss ways in which the EU could play an active role in supporting and consolidating the political transition in Sudan," said a statement released by the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 7 November.

Hamdok’s delegation includes Madani Abbas Madani, Minister of Industry and Trade, Lina Sheikh Omer Minister of Labour and Social Development, and Makki Mirghani Osman Planning Undersecretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

A European Union delegation visited Khartoum on 30 October, and among others, met with the three Sudanese officials who impressed the visiting delegation.

Hamdok and his delegation are expected to brief the EU official about the immediate and mid terms needs but also the preparation of the next-month meeting of the Friends of Sudan group in Khartoum.

The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement about the meeting saying that Paris will be represented by Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs.

The informal meeting with Hamdok "will provide an opportunity to express the EU’s concrete support for the political transition underway in this country," said the statement.

The Sudanese news agency SUNA reported that Hamdok on Sunday met with Patrick Gomes the Secretary-General of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States which based in Brussels.

According to the official agency, Gomez invited Hamdok to take part in the upcoming ACP meeting which will take place in Nairobi next year to ratify a new cooperation agreement with the European Union as the Cotonou Agreement is expiring.

Sudan by taking part in this meeting will be a full member while of the new agreement while the procedural measures to join the Cotonou Agreement are complicated and will take nearly a year to finalize it.

(ST)
Students Should Not be 'Agents of Separatism' - Ethiopia PM on Varsity Violence
Africa News

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has tasked university students to guard against being used as agents of separatism. His call comes on the back of deadly violence in a university in the country’s north.

Violence was reported on the campus of Woldiya University located in the Amhara regional state, which incident led to the death of at least two students over the weekend.

Abiy’s reaction to the incident was via a tweet which was subsequently retweeted by his office. A translation of his message read as follows: “Our educational institutions are enriching knowledge and deep thinking skills.

“Their (varsity) students should not be agents of separatism, but rather as a bridge to developing ideas and bringing communities closer to healthy exchanges.”

The privately-run Addis Standard’s report on the incident said thirteen others had been injured in the violence.

The portal cited a number of sources that disclosed that the victims: Shambel Alemu and Hassan Amin Mohamed, both first year social science students, were violently killed.

The report said: On the circumstances of the death of Shambel and Hassan, a student who spoke to the VOA Afaan Oromoo said one of them died after having been “thrown off of a building” whereas the second victim was “beaten to death.”
Amhara Ruling Party Backs Ethiopia PM's 'Controversial' United Party Plan
Africa News

The Amhara Democratic Party, ADP, the governing party in Ethiopia’s Amhara regional state has backed plans by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to reconstruct the ruling coalition into a united national party.

Announcing the decision, a top regional official, Lelaku Alebel Addis wrote on Twitter: “Cognizant that it intertwines Ethiopianism with identity & [because] it is a means to implement a genuine federalism, the Central Committee of Amhara Democratic Party (ADP) decided to join the new multinational party & continue the struggle.”

ADP’s move is seen as a major endorsement for Abiy’s plans which has met opposition from a number of activists and politico-security analysts.

The idea of the proposed Ethiopia Prosperity Party, EPP, has been widely debated on social media but no official announcement has been made. Elections are scheduled for next year with the PM stressing that they will hold despite security concerns.

The ruling Ethiopia People Revolutionary Democratic Front, EPRDF, comprises four main parties with five other satellite parties. The four main parties being:

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
The Oromo Democratic Party, ODP.
The Amhara Democratic Party, ADP.
The Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement, SEPDM.

The TPLF are known to be stiffly against the idea of a united party. Some reports suggest that even with his own ODP, Abiy is facing some challenges to the proposal.

The SEPDM on the other hand, led by Minister of Peace, Muferiat Kamil; have also not commented on the move.

The region the party governs, the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region, SNNPR, is currently facing a referendum that aims to carve out a new region by the Sidama people. If successful, it will be Ethiopia’s 10th regional state.
Nigeria, DRC, Ethiopia Among Top Global Contributors to Pneumonia Deaths
Africa News

Pneumonia killed more than 800,000 babies and young children last year – or one child every 39 seconds – despite being curable and mostly preventable, global health agencies said on Tuesday.

In a report on what they described as a “forgotten epidemic”, the United Nations children’s fund UNICEF, the international charity Save The Children and four other health agencies urged governments to step up investment in vaccines to prevent the disease and in health services and medicines to treat it.

“The fact that this preventable, treatable and easily diagnosed disease is still the world’s biggest killer of young children is frankly shocking,” said Seth Berkley, chief executive of the GAVI vaccines alliance.

Pneumonia is a lung disease that can be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. Its victims have to fight for breath as their lungs fill with pus and fluid.

It can be prevented with vaccines, and treated with antibiotics and – in severe cases – with oxygen, but in poorer countries, access to these is often limited.

Nigeria, India, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia accounted for more than half the children who died of pneumonia last year – most of them babies who had not reached their second birthday.

“Millions of children are dying for want of vaccines, affordable antibiotics and routine oxygen treatment,” said Kevin Watkins, chief executive of Save the Children. “This is a forgotten global epidemic that demands an urgent international response.”

The report said pneumonia causes 15% of deaths in under-5s, but accounts for only 3% of spending on research into infectious diseases, lagging far behind other diseases such as malaria.

REUTERS
Boko Haram Insurgents Release Two Hostages in Borno
TVC Nigeria

Two persons abducted by Boko Haram insurgents in Borno state have regained their freedom.

One of them is a pastor with Living Faith Church, Moses Oyeleke, who was abducted on the tenth of April.

The other person, Ndagilaya Umar, is a female teacher at Government Science Secondary School, Askira.

Their release was secured through the efforts of Governor Babagana Zulum and two non governmental organisations.

It also involved support, logistics and intelligence from the army and the Department of State Services.
Activist Alleges DSS Offered N1m Bribe to Stop #FreeSoworeProtest
TVC Nigeria

Image result for Adeyanju alleges DSS offered N1m bribe to stop FreeSoworeProtestCoalition of Civil Society groups today protested continued detention of Omoyele Sowore by the Department of State Services.

The protesters are seeking the release of Mister Sowore who is accused of treason and has been in detention more than one week after meeting his bail conditions as pronounced by the court.

But the DSS had in a press statement said that Mr Sowore is still in its custody because no one has come to receive him.

One of the protesters, Deji Adeyanju, has alleged that he was offered one million naira not to participate in the protest. He made the allegation during the march at the DSS office in Abuja.

Mr Adeyaju displayed the money which is in five hundred naira denomination and even mentioned names of those who offered the bribe.

There was also another allegation by a reporter with Guardian Newspaper, Oludare Richard, of being assaulted by officials of the Department of State Services while covering the protest.
Gunshots at Protest Demanding Release of Nigeria's #RevolutionNow Leader
Abdur Rahman Alfa Shaban
Africa News

Nigerian operatives fired live bullets to disperse protesters demanding the release of a journalist turned politician at a sit-in in the capital Abuja on Tuesday.

Scores of protesters had gathered at the offices of the Department of State Services, DSS, demanding the release of Yele Sowore, publisher of the Sahara Reporters news website.

A court in August allowed the state to hold Sowore for a 45-day period half of the 90-day duration requested by the spy agency. He was arrested earlier in the month after he spearheaded a political protests dubbed “Revolution Now.”

Officers of the DSS arrested him and detained him despite two court orders granting him bail. There has been a huge push by activists and human rights groups demanding his release.

At a point, the rather high bail bond was what thwarted his release on bail but after the conditions were revised and met, the DSS was reported to have said that no one had come to receive him despite the court order.

The treason charges that he faces has been ridiculed by Nigerians who insist that the call was not to overthrow the government but to push the government to act on the country’s many challenges especially ob security and the economy.

But prosecutors told the court that Sowore’s #RevolutionNow” campaign was aimed at removing the President and Commander–in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through unconstitutional means.

The accused was the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, in the last general election, and has been in custody of the DSS, since August 2.
Guinea President Replaces Security Minister Amid Socio-political Crisis
Africa News

Guinea President Alpha Conde announced on Monday that he was replacing his security minister following deadly protests against suspected efforts by Conde to extend his mandate.

Conde, 81, is due to step down next year when his second and final five-year term expires, but he has refused to rule out running again and asked his government in September to look into drafting a new constitution.

Conde’s opponents fear a new constitution could be used as a reset button on his presidency, allowing Conde to run again like other African leaders who have amended or changed constitutions in recent years to stay in power.

Protests in Conakry, the capital, and the bauxite-mining north against such a move have resulted in at least 13 deaths over the past month.

The presidential statement read on national television on Monday evening did not provide a reason for the sacking of Security Minister Alpha Ibrahima Keira, but a senior government official told Reuters it was related to Keira’s “difficulty managing the socio-political crisis.”

Government spokesman Damantang Albert Camara will replace Keira as security minister. Conde also announced that he was replacing his health and justice ministers.

The government has said it would investigate the deaths during the protests, which opposition leaders and residents said were caused by security forces’ opening fire on demonstrators.

Conde’s first election victory in 2010 raised hopes for democratic progress in Guinea after decades of authoritarian rule. But his critics accuse him of cracking down on dissent and violently repressing protests – charges he denies.

A dozen opposition and civil society leaders were sentenced to prison last month for their role in organising the protests.

REUTERS

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Coup in Bolivia: Five Lessons
THE Bolivian tragedy eloquently offers us lessons that our peoples and popular social and political forces must learn and record in our consciousness forever.

Atilio Borón | internet@granma.cu
November 11, 2019 12:11:32

THE Bolivian tragedy eloquently offers us lessons that our peoples and popular social and political forces must learn and record in our consciousness forever.

Here is a brief list, as events develop, a prelude to a more detailed analysis in the future.

First: No matter how well the economy is managed in an exemplary fashion, as the Evo government did - with growth, redistribution, investment all assured, and all macro and microeconomic indicators improved - the right wing and imperialism will never accept a government that does not serve their interests.

Second: Manuals published by various agencies in the United States, and their spokespeople disguised as academics or journalists, must be studied, so we recognize signs of an offensive in time.

These writings invariably highlight the need to destroy the reputation of popular leaders, with accusations of misappropriation, corruption, dictatorial behavior, and ignorance, which in the specialized jargon is known as character assassination.

This task is entrusted to social communicators, self-proclaimed “independent journalists,” who given their quasi-monopoly control of the media drill such defamations into the brains of the population, accompanied, as seen in this case, by hateful comments directed toward native peoples and the poor in general.

Third: Once the aforementioned has begun, next come right wing political leaders and economic elites demanding "a change," an end to Evo's "dictatorship," who, as the unpresentable Vargas Llosa wrote a few days ago, is a "demagogue who wants to eternalize his term in power.”

I suppose he is toasting with champagne in Madrid, watching coverage of the fascist hordes looting, burning, chaining journalists to posts, cutting a female mayor’s hair and covering her with red paint, destroying result reports from the last election, fulfilling the mandates of Don Mario, freeing Bolivia from an evil demagogue.

I mention this case because Vargas has been, and is, the immoral standard bearer of this vile attack, a horrendous crime that has crucified a popular leadership, destroyed democracy, and established a reign of terror run by hired gangs, to punish a worthy people who have the audacity to seek freedom.

Fourth: "Security forces" now enter the scene. In this case we are talking about institutions controlled by numerous military and civilian agencies of the United States government.

These professionals train the local forces, arm them, conduct joint exercises and educate them politically. I had the opportunity to verify this when, on Evo’s invitation, I presented a course on anti-imperialism for high ranking officers in the nation’s three armed forces.

On this occasion, I was horrified by the degree of penetration, among these individuals, of the most reactionary U.S. slogans, inherited from the Cold War era, and by the open irritation they felt given the fact that the country had an indigenous President.

What these "security forces" did was to withdraw from the scene and leave the field open for the uncontrolled action of fascist hordes - like those in Ukraine, in Libya, in Iraq, in Syria - to overthrow leaders who annoyed the empire - or attempt to do so, in the last case - and thus intimidate the population, activists, and government figures themselves.

In other words, a new socio-political phenomenon: a military coup “by default,” letting reactionary gangs, recruited and financed by the right, impose their rule. Once terror reigns, and the government is defenseless, the outcome is inevitable.

Fifth: Bolivia’s security and public order should never have been entrusted to institutions such as the police and the Army, colonized by imperialism and its lackeys in the national right wing.

When the offensive against Evo was launched, a policy of appeasement and not responding to the provocations of fascists was chosen.

This served to embolden the right wingers and increase their confidence. First, they demanded a recount; then, cried fraud and called for new elections; finally insisting on elections without Evo - as in Brazil, without Lula.

At last, Evo's resignation. Given his refusal to accept the blackmail, terror was sowed with the complicity of police and the military, forcing Evo to resign. By the book, straight from the book. Will we learn these lessons? (From the author's blog)