CAIRO, 14 June 2012 (IRIN) – On 30 April the Egyptian government launched a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of cervical cancer and offer free immunization to 15,000 unmarried women on the assumption that they would not have had any sexual contact.
Cervical cancer is caused by sexually-acquired infection; prevention and treatment are unaffordable for many of Egypt’s poor.
According to Omar Abdel Aziz, a gynaecologist from Cairo University, 80 percent of women in Egypt are prone to cervical cancer and there are 100,000 new cases a year, making it the second most widespread form of cancer in women after breast cancer. Continue reading “Poverty and Culture Undermine Cervical Cancer Treatment” »
14 April 2011 –Although the political stand-off in Côte d’Ivoire ended earlier this week, the humanitarian crisis spawned by months of violence continues, United Nations agencies and their partners stressed today as they appeal for $160 million to scale up aid to affected populations inside the country.
Today’s appeal represents a five-fold increase over the $32 million initially sought by aid agencies in January at the onset of the humanitarian crisis stemming from the fighting that ensued after Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after he lost the UN-certified presidential run-off election last November to Alassane Ouattara.
Mr. Gbagbo finally surrendered on Monday after more than four months of turmoil in the West African nation. UN aid officials have estimated that up to 1 million Ivorians have been displaced by the violence, with some internally displaced and others forced to flee into neighbouring countries – particularly Liberia, which is hosting 135,000 Ivorians.
“The humanitarian crisis is not yet over,” said the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Côte d’Ivoire, Ndolamb Ngokwey. “All across the country, it will take many months to restore people’s dignity and rebuild livelihoods.
“Aid agencies will be here as long as it will take but we need to start now. We are asking for only $74 for each person affected,” he stated.
The $160 million appeal aims to provide food security, nutrition, education, protection, water, health care and sanitation to as many as two million people throughout Côte d’Ivoire. It will also allow UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, to significantly scale up relief programmes, notably in the commercial capital of Abidjan and in the west.
The appeal also seeks funding for aid to the north, an area that has received little attention during the past four months, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
Humanitarian agencies have also appealed for $146 million to address the needs of the Ivorians who have sought refuge in Liberia.
Meanwhile, the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) reports that the security situation in Abidjan is improving. In addition, water, electricity, and basic services have been restored in some areas, and businesses are re-opening and traffic is returning to the streets.
“I would not be surprised to see that cars, taxis will emerge increasingly in large numbers by the end of the week,” said Y. J. Choi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of UNOCI. “We will help encourage people to leave their homes and resume their activities,” he added.
In an effort to do just that, the mission organized a peace parade today in which a caravan of dozens of cars drove through the main streets of Abidjan to mark the improved security situation there.
Mr. Choi, who took part in the event, did acknowledge that some districts of the city were not yet secure, noting for example that there is still sniper fire in Yopougon. He also pledged that UNOCI will continue to help Côte d’Ivoire meet the challenges it faces.
Hamadoun Touré, spokesperson for UNOCI, said that Abidjan had seemed like a ghost town for the past several weeks. “People were scared to go out while they were short of basic needs like food, water and medicine,” he told the UN News Centre.
“It [the parade] is a signal to encourage them to try and lead a normal life,” he said, adding that this was the right time to hold such an event since fighting has ended in the city and the post-electoral crisis has reached a turning point with the capture of Mr. Gbagbo.
UN News Center
Violence is escalating in the west African nation of Ivory Coast, where president-elect Alassane Ouattara is trying to oust incumbent Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to leave office after losing an election.
Categories: Issues Tags: Colonel Muammar Ghaddafi of Libya, cote d'ivoire, Human Rights, Ivorian refugee crisis, ivory coast, Laurent Gbagbo, libya, Mohammad Gaddafi, Muammar Gaddafi, Ouattara, UN, UNHCR
The branches of government in a democracy are as follows: the Executive branch, the Legislative branch and the Judiciary. Even though the electronic media is not a direct institutional branch it forms part and parcel of any successful political set up that can be described as a good democracy. The media is the interface or the intermediary between the three main branches of the democratic system and the people or rather citizens that these branches are expected to serve. Thereby, a complex system of checks and balances and transparency is established creating an environment of government accountability to the citizens of the state. In the absence of the media therefore, democracies will not empower citizens the way they are expected to.
Over the years however, the media has taken several shapes and forms. Since Johannes Gutenberg’s 15th Century discovery of the printing machine, mankind has found new and innovative ways to disseminate information. From the talking drums of our ancestors to the World Wide Web which makes internet communication possible, the methods of spreading information have improved substantially making the electronic media a more vital feature in democracies. It is the belief of several political pundits that, the success of the National Patriotic Party in the 2000 Presidential elections was heavily influenced by the free media in Ghana.
Will the media however always play a positive role in Ghana’s democracy? How can the media which, is expected to be an instrument of freedom corrupt the country’s democratic system? It must be noted that, the positive role of a free electronic media in a vibrant and dynamic democracy such as what is currently being practised in Ghana can be abused. So instead of the media playing a positive role in the organization of general elections for instance it could even destabilize the social as well as political harmony prevailing in the country at the moment. This usually happens, when politicians are able to infiltrate the ranks of media practitioners in the country. So political reportage can become propaganda machinery designed to endorse government policy and advance the agenda of political parties. The media’s role can also be undermined by the commercialization of news agencies in Ghana whereby reporters seek or endeavour to sensationalise stories and events for popularity and ratings.
The war in Iraq spearheaded by the Bush administration enjoyed public support in America but it is believed that the majority of the supporters of the war which was described as illegal by the then Secretary-General of the United Nations Mr Kofi Annan, were convinced that Iraq and its former leader the late Saddam Hussein were involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York city and Washington DC. The war at one point was termed as a “Rush Limbaugh/Fox News War — based on the premise that in our current media environment if you tell a lie forcefully and frequently enough, the lie will triumph”. The Fox news network was therefore used as an outlet for misinformation and misdirection thereby securing support for an illegitimate war that threatened international peace and stability and cost billions of dollars that contributed to a decline in the US economy. A free media can therefore be an instrument of deception if not utilised properly.
It is also widely believed that radio stations were used to incite the very tragic genocide of Rwanda in 1994. Radio presenters and journalists analyzed normal political and social events in a tribal context creating the impression that social chaos was imminent unless certain members of the society were eliminated. The outcome was the massacre of nearly one million Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Most of the killings were carried out by civilian Hutus against their Tutsi neighbours and has been described as one of the worst tragedies in the history of mankind.
These are a few examples of how the wrong use of a liberalized electronic media system can ultimately destroy or defeat the essence of democracies and engineer a national atmosphere of deceit, hostility and mayhem.
A free media must therefore have its limits, if it is going to be constructive in Ghana. Even though, the criminal libel law has been repealed the ambience of free expression that has been created must not be exploited to print false articles and publications about politicians and public figures.
In 1973 two prominent American journalists namely, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein exposed a political scandal that came to be known as the Watergate scandal. They successfully exposed campaign malpractices in the Presidential campaign of Richard Nixon resulting in the resignation of the former American President after he had been successfully inaugurated. The actions of the two journalists significantly changed the political landscape of America and has garnered exemplary behaviour from Presidential aspirants in the US ever since. The landmark case of Watergate therefore, marked a triumph in American political history and showcased the very important role that the media generally plays in democracies.
Prospective journalists training at schools of journalism in Ghana must familiarise themselves with cases such as the Watergate scandal so that they can be conversant with the merits or relevance of political neutralism to a free national media. Outfits such as the National Media Commission (NMC) must ensure that there is integrity among Ghanaian journalists and regulate their activities in such a way that political reportage in the country will be fair, accurate and balanced.
The electronic media therefore has a very important role to play in Ghana’s democracy. If properly practised and executed, the liberalised press can guarantee the freedoms of Ghanaians by ensuring that politicians or elected officials account to the people of Ghana. If the tenets of good governance such as transparency and the implementation of good Human Rights policy are going to be realised the electronic media must be perceived as the fourth and arguably the most important branch of government.
Categories: Issues Tags: branches of government, Bush administration, democracy, democratic system, genocide of Rwanda, Human Rights, kofi annan, National Media Commission, National Patriotic Party, Watergate scandal
The Ivorian political situation between President- Elect Allasane Quattara and Laurent Gbagbo has led to a huge flow of many refugees into the northeastern and eastern parts of Liberia, especially to the border towns of Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties. The fighting between the two arch rivals Quattara and Gbagbo is too graved to the extent that it could lead to the instability of Liberia despite the presence of huge United Nations Mission in Liberia. What is unfortunate to note is that Liberians are combating each other in Ivory Coast. The wounds from the Liberian civil conflict between some ethnic groups has not being resolved. For instance, there is a history of confusion between the Gios and the Manos on the one hand and the Krahns on the other hand. In fact, there is an intrinsic psychological problem that has developed between the two ethnic groups as the result of the killing of Thomas Qwinonkpa of Nimba County by the Krahn ethnic group and the killing of President Samuel Kanyon Doe by Prince Johnson of the Gio ethnic group and many more situations. It is stated that the two tribes are seriously engaging each other in Ivory Coast. This fighting could lead to an offshoot to another round of the Liberia conflict which will hinder the peace process. When will this intrinsic psychological conflict end between these two ethnic groups? How could Liberians be engaged in another country’s conflict? Interestingly, there is a similarity of ethnic relationship that exists in Ivory Coast and Liberia.
Despite the disarmament of 103, 109 ex-fighters with 27,000 weapons destroyed, there is still challenge of illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons in the Liberian society. The Liberian National Security Document (2008) stated that 9,000 ex-fighters did not benefit from the Rehabilitation and Reintegration phase of the program. Some of the fighters did not disarm and others crossed the borders to Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Unfortunately, the international borders with these countries are porous and the proliferation of small arms and light weapons are very much likely. The Government of Liberia and the International Community should exert every effort to ensure the Ivory Coast conflict is speedily resolved because there are many variables that could interplay to another Liberian war if the conflict remains unsettled.
The Ivory Coast conflict has the propensity to hinder the peace process in Liberia. Liberians should be cautious about their role in the Ivorian crisis and learn to live in peace and harmony with their neighbor. Every Liberian should know by now that the fourteen years of war brought total destruction and suffering to the people of the country. There will always be socio-economic opportunities for a stable country.
Categories: Issues Tags: cote d'ivoire, Government of Liberia, Human Rights, International Community, Ivorian refugee crisis, ivory coast, Laurent Gbagbo, Liberia, Ouattara, Rehabilitation and Reintegration, UN, UNHCR
The next two months remain crucial in the history of foreign direct investment in South Africa. Wal Mart, the US retail giant is negotiating its grand entrance to Africa’s growing markets and this deal is reported to be its biggest acquisition since 1999 when it bought Asda, the British supermarket. A few months back, the international company offered to pay billions to facilitate its 51 % ownership share of South Africa’s biggest retailer MassMart. The deal was approved by Massmart shareholders in January this year. However, if recent objections in South Africa to Walmart’s anticipated entry into the African market are anything to go by, then it is assured an uphill battle in the next coming months. South Africa’s powerful trade unions seem determined to take the retail giant head on and continuously express a strong desire to oppose the merger. Also, government has so far shown strong determination to oppose a deal that stands in contrast to South Africa’s economic development plans and its strategic priorities for the next years.
Since the announcement of the Massmart/Walmart merger numerous yet critical and necessary questions have arisen around the desirability of the deal in particular the implications it is likely to have for South Africa’s retail industry, small –to medium –sized enterprises and the country’s job creation project. The Competition Commission, a body tasked with regulating the South African market in the public interests recommended to the Competition Tribunal that the deal be approved without conditions. This decision was highly questioned by those who specifically maintain that Wal Mart needs to guarantee job security for its workers and voluntary bind itself towards using domestic suppliers. The Competition Tribunal had scheduled public hearings on the deal last week but these have been postponed to May to allow opposing parties to the deal an opportunity to prepare for a cross examination of witnesses provided by Massmart/Walmart.
Critics of Wal Mart’s operation and practices whether in the USA, Chile, Argentine, or India raise issues which create many uncertainties and questions about the deal. Also, Wal Mart’s alleged poor global reputation as an employer and increasing allegations of its lack of respect for workers rights including its negative attitude towards labour union activities cannot be ignored. Reports by Human Rights Watch and other human rights activists also paint a depressing picture thus making it absolutely necessary for South Africa to ensure a proper scrutiny of the merger. Obviously, there are two sides to any story and Wal Mart has in the past disputed the allegations. Nevertheless, the risks of ignoring the issues raised by those with direct experiences of Wal Mart operations are simply too much to be left unaddressed. When Norway disinvested from Wal Mart its pension fund’s ethics committee alleged that “Wal-Mart is involved in “serious and systematic human rights abuses”, consistently flouting international rules on child labour, health and safety, underpaying women and blocking unionisation in the workforce”. Can South Africa afford to turn a blind eye to these allegations?
What is in South Africa’s best interest? Without doubt, the country needs direct foreign investment, but at what cost? Trade Unions maintain that they want ‘responsible’ foreign direct investment. It is therefore clear that South Africa needs to vigilantly apply its mind on this merger and any further dialogue should be in line with its strategic plans and priorities.
Categories: Issues Tags: African business, african economic growth, african economy, business in africa, Competition Commission, Competition Tribunal, foreign direct investment, growing markets, Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, Wal Mart
GENEVA, March 29 (UNHCR) – The Ivorian refugee crisis is spreading further across West Africa, with Ghana and Togo receiving a growing number of new arrivals. While the southern city of Abidjan has been relatively calm in recent days, fresh clashes were reported Monday in Côte d’Ivoire’s west, centre-west and east.
In the west, renewed fighting has been reported in the town of Duékoué, which has experienced several waves of violence since December. Hostilities have also spread to the town of Daloa, some 100 kilometres east of Duékoué, and to Bondoukou near the Ghanaian border.
“UNHCR continues to advocate with both forces for civilians to be protected from harm,” said the UN refugee agency’s chief spokesperson, Melissa Fleming, at a press briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.
In neighbouring Liberia, Grand Gedeh County in the east has registered over 10,000 newly arriving Ivorians in the last week alone, mostly in the Gbarzon and Tchein districts. Around 300 to 400 people are still arriving every day, and refugees tell UNHCR that many more are on their way.
“Several people say they left family members behind in their panic, including children. To reach Liberia, they cross the Cavally River with very few possessions and usually no money. Some could only carry bundles on their heads,” said Fleming.
The remote locations, rough terrain and long travel time between locations mean that UNHCR staff can only register refugees and distribute at one place at a time. The agency has dispatched relief items and is working with the World Food Programme to ensure food distribution and provision of high energy biscuits for all new arrivals. Additional staff have been deployed from Saclepea further north to strengthen the response.
A total of 24,507 refugees are now in Grand Gedeh, accounting for 22 per cent of the total 112,000 Ivorian refugees who have fled to Liberia since the crisis erupted after a presidential election in late November.
On Côte d’Ivoire’s eastern flank, Ghana has received 3,129 new refugees, mainly from Abidjan and its suburbs. UNHCR has set up a transit centre at the Elubo border crossing, as well as a refugee camp in the town of Ampain that can hold 3,000 people. The agency is providing food and relief items while racing to complete works on water, health and sanitation facilities.
The search is on to identify a second, bigger camp with the authorities. Fleming noted, “Although the number of refugees in Ghana is relatively small, the rapidly deteriorating conditions in Côte d’Ivoire require that we be prepared for a major influx. In the coming days, we will be deploying a team of six emergency staff to Ghana.”
Further east still, in Togo, some 857 Ivorians – over 60 per cent of them male – have also found safety in the capital Lomé. They fled through Ghana from Abobo, PK-18, Adjame, Williamsville and Yopougon, which are among the most populous and dangerous districts of Abidjan. Some in the group told UNHCR their properties were looted, others that they had been physically assaulted. Several women said they were raped.
In total, some 116,000 Ivorians have fled to eight West African countries since the post-election crisis started. In addition to Liberia, Ghana and Togo, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin and Nigeria are also hosting Ivorian refugees.
Of the US$97 million UNHCR needs for this emergency response, donors have thus far funded US$20 million.
By Fatoumata Lejeune-Kaba
24 March 2011 –A week after the Security Council authorized “all necessary measures” to protect civilians in Libya from Colonel Muammar Al-Qadhafi’s forces, speedy and decisive action by the world community remains crucial amid serious concerns of human rights abuses, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
“The international community has acted together to avert a potential larger-scale crisis. I expect the international community to continue to exercise full diligence in avoiding civilian casualties and collateral damage,” he told the 15-member body in a briefing requested by the resolution at the start of consultations on the air and missile strikes launched by several countries to enforce a no-fly zone and hit pro-Qadhafi forces besieging civilians in cities.
“Given the critical situation on the ground, it is imperative that we continue to act with speed and decision. The resolution places great responsibilities on the UN system. I assure you that we will work closely with Member States and regional organizations to coordinate a common, effective and timely response,” he said, citing the resolutions goal of stopping “the brutal campaign of violence by the Libyan regime against its own people.”
Mr. Ban stressed that although the Libyan authorities have repeatedly claimed to have instituted a ceasefire, there has been no evidence that that is the case.
“To the contrary, fierce battles have continued in or around the cities of Ajdabiya, Misratah and Zitan, among others. In short, there is no evidence that Libyan authorities have taken steps to carry out their obligations under Resolutions 1970 or 1973,” he said, referring to last week’s resolution and an earlier one calling for a ceasefire and full protection of civilians.
“We continue to have serious concerns… about the protection of civilians, abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law, and the access of civilian populations to basic commodities and services in areas currently under siege.”
He detailed the recent visit to the North African country by Special Envoy for Libya Abdel Elah Al Khatib. In Tripoli, the capital, Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa told Mr. Khatib the Government had been forced to act by perceived threats from Al-Qaida and Islamist terrorists, adding that it offered amnesty to rebels who laid down their arms and rebel forces should also be required to abide by any ceasefire.
In Tobruk, eastern Libya, Mr. Khatib met with the armed opposition, who reiterated their call for a ceasefire and lifting the siege Government forces on some cities in rebel hands. “They also expressed deep concern about the hardships inflicted on the Libyan people and demanded an end to the use of tanks and heavy weaponry targeting civilians,” Mr. Ban said.
Yesterday Mr. Ban discussed with African Union Commission Chairperson Jean Ping cooperation between the UN and the regional organization on Libya, and tomorrow, Mr. Khatib will go to Addis Ababa for an AU meeting which representatives of both the Libyan Government and the opposition will attend in a bid to reach a ceasefire and political solution.
“My Special Envoy’s mission [to Libya] was too brief to reach definitive conclusions about the human rights situation, but they found many worrying signs, including threats and incitement against the armed opposition,” Mr. Ban said.
“Colonel Qadhafi’s threats were aired repeatedly on national television. Journalists continue to be arrested. Foreign reporters in Tripoli told the UN mission about the population’s general state of fear, tight control by the security services, and instances of arrest and disappearances.”
He noted that some 336,000 people have left or fled Libya since the beginning of the crisis, which began five weeks ago as mass protests by civilians seeking an end to Mr. Qadhafi’s 41-year rule, and there are also contingency plans to deal with possible new waves of migrants and refugees of up to 200,000 to 250,000. Meanwhile, the $160 million flash appeal to deal with the exodus and other aspects of the crisis is 63 per cent funded.
Mr. Ban, who was speaking to the Council on his return from a visit to Egypt and Tunisia, where largely peaceful mass protests led to the ousters of entrenched leaders in those countries before the eruption of violence in Libya, said that he was setting up an expert panel, as requested by the resolution, to monitor implementation of sanctions, which include an arms embargo and assets freeze on Libyan Government officials.
As also requested by the resolution, he noted that so far the United Kingdom, France, United States, Denmark, Canada, Italy, Qatar, Belgium, Norway, Spain and the United Arab Emirates have sent letters confirming their participation in the actions to protect Libyan civilians. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has also informed him of its decision to begin an alliance operation in support of the arms embargo.
UN News Center