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Back Issues

Pambazuka News 439: Calling on the AU to lead on women's rights

The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa

Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

CONTENTS: 1. Features, 2. Comment & analysis, 3. Advocacy & campaigns, 4. Obituaries, 5. Books & arts, 6. Letters & Opinions, 7. African Writers’ Corner, 8. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 9. Highlights French edition, 10. Zimbabwe update, 11. Women & gender, 12. Human rights, 13. Refugees & forced migration, 14. Emerging powers news, 15. Elections & governance, 16. Development, 17. Health & HIV/AIDS, 18. Education, 19. LGBTI, 20. Environment, 21. Land & land rights, 22. Food Justice, 23. Media & freedom of expression, 24. Conflict & emergencies, 25. Internet & technology, 26. eNewsletters & mailing lists, 27. Fundraising & useful resources, 28. Courses, seminars, & workshops

Help Pambazuka News become independent. Become a supporting subscriber by taking out a paid subscription. Donate $30 a year.

Highlights from this issue

- SOAWR calls for AU to secure women's rights in Africa
- Hilary N. Ervin & Caroline Muthoni Muriithi on what the global downturn means for women's rights in Africa
- Norah Matovu Winyi calls for the AU to implement the African Women's Rights Protocol
- Lyn Ossome on promoting women's rights at the 13th AU Summit
- Mary Wandia argues that securing women's rights will boost food security and economic growth
- Anushka Sehmi on the need to protect the rights of elderly women
- Walden Bello critiques orthodox perspectives on the global food price crisis
- Mphutlane wa Bofelo on achieving fair growth in South Africa

- Kate Tissington says SA's Constitional Court has let down Joe Slovo residents
- The Tanzania Gender Networking Programme analyses Tanzania's latest budget

- Le Niger d’une rébellion touarègue à une autre: Mêmes causes, même effets

- Rural women farmers call for increased investment in agriculture
- Phil Ya Nangoloh says Congolese refugees in Namibia fear for their lives
- Support peace and development, say no to military action
- Solidarity statement on the SOAS cleaners
- Tanzania's Mara region experiences Barrick Gold toxic spill
- CPJ alarmed by DRC'S ban on RFI broadcasts

- AU leaders should be accountable to citizens, writes Kofi Ali Abdul
- Meles - has the die been cast? asks Ethiopian Recycler
- We need writers like wa Bofelo, says A. Khwezi ka Ceza

- Giovanni Arrighi: Internationalist par excellence

- Africa in Motion 2009

- Mildred Kiconco Barya interviews Segun Afolabi, 2005 Caine Prize winner
- Cool Papa by Roland Bankole Marke
- Poetry for Africa by Kingwa Kamencu

- Anthony Yaw Baah and Herbert Jauch on increasing Africa's benefit from ChinaZIMBABWE UPDATE: China justifies veto of sanctions
WOMEN & GENDER: Mass rape in Goma prison
CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: Protect civilians in armed conflict
HUMAN RIGHTS: Call for cessation of torture in Angola
REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Resettlement programme for refugees launched in Chad
ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: SADC to mediate in Madagascar
CHINA-AFRICA WATCH: Chin-Africa news roundup
HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Men and care in the context of HIV
EDUCATION: Education “forgotten” in post-conflict aid
DEVELOPMENT: Global finance ignores world’s poor
LGBTI: Research puts rural gays under spotlight in South Africa
ENVIRONMENT: Alternative fuel saves trees in DRC
LAND & LAND RIGHTS: India cultivates Africa
FOOD JUSTICE: Ethiopian wins World Food Prize
MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Congo neighbours in media control plot
ENEWSLETTERS & MAILING LISTS: AfricaFocus: Uganda: Recovery from conflict?
PLUS: seminars and workshops, and jobs

*Pambazuka News now has a page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit


It's time to secure the rights of women in Africa

Solidarity for African Women's Rights


This special issue of Pambazuka complements the work of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) coalition in advocating the ratification, domestication and implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Through a series of five articles, it highlights key human rights issues currently affecting women on the continent, putting them within the context of the debates happening at the 13th African Union Summit. The theme for the summit, held from 24 June to 3 July 2009, is ‘Investing in agriculture for economic growth and development’.

The special issue puts the women’s agenda within the theme of the summit, as well as highlighting other violations against women that need to be addressed by African leaders. It is a call on all African Union member states to ratify, domesticate and implement the African Union Protocol on the Rights of Women as it provides a framework for the protection of women in Africa.

Global downturn: What now for African women?
Women's rights and the world financial meltdown
Hilary N. Ervin & Caroline Muthoni Muriithi

A call to action: Implement the Africa Women's Rights Protocol
Norah Matovu Winyi

Promoting women's land rights at the 13th AU Summit
Lyn Ossome

Safeguarding women’s rights will boost food security
Mary Wandia

Denied the right to a dignified life:
The forgotten women of Africa
Anushka Sehmi

The world financial meltdown: What now for African women?

Hilary N. Ervin & Caroline Muthoni Muriithi


cc hdptcar
As the global economic crisis takes its toll on Africa’s fiscal revenues and household incomes, Hilary N. Ervin & Caroline Muthoni Muriithi fear that the continent’s achievements in human rights and development may be reversed, worsening the condition of women already struggling against an ‘entrenched patriarchy’. Despite embracing commitments to gender equity on paper, Ervin and Muriithi say many countries lack the funding and resources to implement policies and legislation. Programmes focused on women, largely funded by multi-lateral donors, are likely to decline as aid dries up the authors warn, while at a domestic level many households will prioritise the education and welfare of sons over daughters, with ‘long-term consequences for overall development’. Calling for the ratification and implementation of the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa, Ervin and Muriithi suggest that ‘investment in women's livelihoods, particularly in African economies,’ should be ‘a central focus of governments’ economic recovery policies’.

A call to action: Implement the Africa Women's Rights Protocol

Norah Matovu Winyi


cc Juan Falque
In the five years since the adoption of the Protocol to the Africa Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, some 26 countries have ratified Africa's first regional human rights instrument. But with 27 countries yet to do so, the challenge remains to see each African nation commit to fully upholding women's rights. Moral arguments aside, implementing women's rights offers clear social and developmental benefits for all, argues Norah Matovu Winyi, benefits which will only be realised through sustained political will.

Promoting women's land rights at the 13th AU summit

Lyn Ossome


cc Maristella
With Sirte, Lybia, hosting the 13th African Union summit this week, Lyn Ossome of Solidarity for African Women's Rights (SOAWR) challenges African heads of state to keep women's land rights on the developmental agenda. At a time of marked global economic difficulty, women remain acutely vulnerable to unstable food prices and restricted access to land, meaning that African governments must now more than ever challenge discriminatory laws and customs, Ossome argues. If the AU's summit is offer progress, Ossome contends, African heads of state must make strong commitments to policies favourable to women's empowerment such as subsidising non-industrial agriculture and securing women's land tenure.

Safeguarding women’s rights will boost food security

Mary Wandia


cc Find Your Feet
African women play a critical role in ensuring the food security of the continent, writes Mary Wandia in the run-up to the 2009 African Union Summit (24 June-3 July), which has its official theme ‘Investing in agriculture for economic growth and development’. Highlighting that women contribute 60-80 per cent of the labour used to produce food both for household consumption and for sale, Wandia writes that improved women’s ‘access, control and ownership of land and productive resources are key factors in eradicating hunger and rural poverty’. Yet while land is ‘critical for improving women’s, social security, livelihoods and their social status’, culturally embedded discrimination continues to weaken their land rights and livelihood options, Wandia cautions. It is therefore essential, Wandia argues, for governments to ensure that women’s rights are comprehensively addressed in the AU ‘Africa land policy framework and guidelines’, scheduled for adoption at this year’s summit.

Denied the right to a dignified life

The forgotten women of Africa

Anushka Sehmi


cc United Nations Photo
Traditionally African culture dictated that elderly citizens be treated with respect, writes Anushka Sehmi, but as economic constraints erode the extended family system and fuel rural-urban migration, many old people languish in villages with no-one to care for them. With a quarter of African women left widowed by mounting conflict, disease and poverty, Sehmi explores abuse of and discrimination against elderly women in the light of cultural practices such as widow-inheritance and land ownership. Noting that ‘there is almost no legal or policy framework’ that safeguards the rights of elderly women in Africa, Sehmi calls for states to ratify and implement treaties that protect them, such as the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and for marginalised groups to ‘be engaged and educated regarding their civic and political rights’. It is up to us to lobby and push our governments to perform this task, says Sehmi, or ‘these forgotten women will forever be denied the right to a dignified life’.

The global food price crisis

A critique of orthodox perspectives

Walden Bello


cc joespake
In an extract from his forthcoming book Food Wars, Walden Bello critiques the orthodox views of economist Paul Collier on the global food price crisis. Collier argues that not enough food was produced to meet increased demand from Asia, thanks to a failure to promote commercial farming in Africa, the European Union ban against GMOs and the diversion of American grain to biofuels production. Bello counters that a globalised system of production has 'created severe strains on the environment', 'marginalised large numbers of people from the market, and contributed to greater poverty and greater income disparities within countries and globally'. Defenders of peasant agriculture, says Bello, blame 'capitalist industrial agriculture, with its wrenching destabilisation and transformation of land, nature, and social relations' for today’s food crises, with 'rates of profit determining where investment will be allocated' rather than the desire to satisfy 'the real needs of the global majority'.

Achieving fair growth in South Africa

Mphutlane wa Bofelo


cc András Osvát
Deeply dissatisfied with the South African government's current economic record and policies, Mphutlane wa Bofelo calls on the country's leaders to implement a model of socio-economic redistribution. Rather than pursuing the spending cuts and reduced public sector prescribed by classic neoliberal orthodoxy, the Zuma administration should instead work towards the real and lasting developmental benefits to be found in spreading wealth around, wa Bofelo argues. For if labour and economic disparities simply breed social unrest, wa Bofelo contends, promoting fairer policy will foster social cohesion and people's lasting participation in a genuinely egalitarian society.

Comment & analysis

Joe Slovo residents let down by court

Kate Tissington


cc Jerome Love
‘A better life beckons for the people of Joe Slovo informal settlement,’ the South African government has said, following a decision by the Constitutional Court that the settlement’s 20,000 residents will be evicted to Delft make way for the N2 housing project. Describing the statement as ‘utter nonsense’, Kate Tissington writes a personal reaction to the judgement, which, she argues, ‘has effectively allowed government to get away with a national project that was misconceived from the start’. Relocation from the settlement would ‘severely disrupt the lives of residents’, increasing their commute to work and essential services and damaging the existing community and social networks upon which they rely, says Tissington, pointing to government's failure to understand people’s needs. While it is unlikely that the eviction will go ahead as envisioned, says Tissington, the court’s judgment is ‘technical, cowardly and naive in the face of the obvious’.

Sustainable development for all

Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP)


cc Katie Freeland: klf photography
Efforts to increase domestic revenue and reduce dependency on foreign donors and the allocation of substantial resources to education and health are among the aspects of the new budget welcomed by the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme's (TGNP) budget analysis task team. Critical of plans to privatise water and the government's prioritisation of large-scale producers over peasant and small-holder farmers in its response to the economic crisis, TGNP has called for more measures to ensure that the budget 'adequately serves the majority of Tanzanians, especially poor and marginalised women, children, and the disabled'.

Advocacy & campaigns

Burundi are being forcibly repatriated from Tanzania

Daniel Neumann

Fahamu Consultant


Burundian refugees are being forcibly repatriated from Tanzania. Fahamu's consultant visited Tanzania on a research mission and has filed his report.

Africa: Rural women farmers call for increased investment in agriculture


African Rural women farmers from Burundi, Burkina Faso, Mali and Malawi participating in the Gender Pre- Summit meeting in Addis Ababa Ethiopia convened by the Women, Gender and Development Directorate of the Africa Union and UNDP, have called on African heads of states to honour their commitment to increase investment in agriculture to 10% of their overall annual budgets.

Namibia: Congolese refugees fear for their lives

Phil Ya Nangoloh


Congolese (DRC) nationals living at the Osire refugee camp in Namibia have constituted themselves into the Association of the Voiceless (AV), a refugee rights group formed to voice concerns over dissatisfactory conditions at the ORC. The ORC is situated some 220 kilometers northeast of Windhoek.Owing to their membership in the AV, these refugees and asylum seekers have allegedly received both open and veiled threats, including imminent death, from Namibian Police officers at the camp.

Support peace, say no to military action


A few weeks ago, a new piece of legislation was introduced in the US Congress, calling for development and justice in northern Uganda. While the bill boasts many excellent provisions, it also includes a statement of policy that would allow AFRICOM to pursue the Lord's Resistance Army in DR Congo. This petition asks members of Congress to be more attentive to the need for peace in this troubled region

Solidarity statement on the SOAS cleaners


Nine cleaners from the School of Oriental and African Studies were taken into detention after a dawn raid by immigration police on Friday 12th June. Five have already been deported, and the others could face deportation within days. One has had a suspected heart attack and was denied access to medical assistance and even water. One was over 6 months pregnant. Many have families who have no idea of their whereabouts. This petition is an expression of solidarity, and well as a call for a halt to the deportations.

Tanzania's Mara region experiences Barrick Gold toxic spill

Evans Rubara


Following a toxic spill in the north of Tanzania's Mara region by the Canadian company Barrick Gold Corporation, Evans Rubara of Norwegian Church Aid Tanzania [mp3] is interviewed by Zahra Moloo of Montreal's Amandla! radio about the situation on the ground, local mobilisation and the potential extent of environmental degration. Overflows of toxic sludge have been a regular fixture for residents in the area, with fields and livestock being exposed to contaminated water. Questions also remain over the relationship between the local community and the mining giant, with reports of shootings from security personnel, denial of the use of road infrastructure and land grabbing commonplace.

CPJ alarmed by DRC's ban on RFI broadcasts


In a letter to president Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Committee to Protect Journalists urged the Congolese government to lift its ban of RFI in the eastern cities of Bunia and Bukavu.


Giovanni Arrighi: Internationalist par excellence


Salimah Valiani


Socialist scholar Giovanni Arrighi was a man who lived the knowledge he was seeking and who built his life around it, writes his former student Salimah Valiani.

Books & arts

Africa: Africa in Motion 2009

CAS symposium on realities and representations of reconciliation in Africa


Africa in Motion 2009 aims to incorporate a number of screenings and events that confront issues of trauma, conflict and reconciliation. This symposium aims to foster discussion and understanding of old and new research dealing with the various realities and representations of reconciliation in Africa.

Letters & Opinions

Another good article from wa Bofelo

A. Khwezi ka Ceza


This is yet another good article from this guy. We need writers like him, who look at serious issues that affected our society, despite the euphoria that first came with the 'sainthood' of Mandela, the British conservativeness of the Mbeki era and now the Zunami, which is already promising to inflict more sufferings for the ordinary citizens. I suggest you give him a regular column.

AU leaders should be accountable to citizens

Kofi Ali Abdul


Kofi Ali Abdul campaigns for the 850 million citizens of the AU member states to be able to vote for representatives in the Pan African Parliament, arguing that AU leaders must be accountable to the people.

Meles: Has the die been cast?

Ethiopian Recycler


Ethiopian Recycler wonder why no one is not suspicious that Meles may be part of the problem.

African Writers’ Corner

An interview with Segun Afolabi

Mildred K Barya


With this year's Caine Prize for African Writing shortlist now announced, Mildred Kiconco Barya interviews Segun Afolabi, the 2005 winner of the prize. The winner of the 2009 prize will be announced at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, on Monday 6 July.

Cool Papa

Roland Bankole Marke


Papa, you’re the apple of my eye
Clothed me in love like happiness:
Worked hard striving to nurture me
Papa, I’m honestly so proud of you.

I cherish him with child-like passion
Oh papa, papa you’re innately cool
So awesome, wonderful, cool to me
What a blessing, you raised no fool
Our bond is as solid as igneous rock.

Some kids wished they had my dada
Dada personifies my precious jewel
His love runs deep like Sewa River
Today, tears of joy saturate my life
Thank you God: for my caring papa.

From infancy, he loved and cared
Proudly, championed my fragile life
Without him life would be chaotic
A bond anchored as the baobab tree.

Poetry for Africa

Kingwa Kamencu


Poetry is dangerous,

It’s that so often talked about
Double edged sword
That cuts both ways.
It’s more lethal
Than Zuma’s Umshini Wami,
More deadly than the now ubiquitous
Post election violence panga
More than Rwanda’s genocidal machete.
It’s deadlier than Sierra Leonese, Sudanese child soldiers,
More powerful than the Shona-Ndebele, Majimaji, Mau Mau wars put together.

It can bless you
Or curse you
Deliver you to your grave-
Ask Pushkin.

It can build continents,
Empires, kingdoms,
And just as quickly,
Tear them down.
Ask Africa

Be careful how you use your words,
What you confess,
You will, without a single doubt
Soon possess.

So let’s sing dangerously progressive
Subversively possessive
Poetry for our motherland,

Africa will arise
Not by Zuma’s Umshini Wami,
Or the P.E.V.’s menacing panga,
Rwanda’s machete,
North African child soldiers
Or Shona-Ndebele, Majimaji, Mau Mau resistance ire.

Africa will arise
By our dreamy
Amazing words,
Our outlandish prophecies,
Our ridiculously zany confessions
Of a better beautiful, peaceful, abundant Africa
Whose reach
Is within
Our possession.

Emerging powers in Africa Watch

Increasing Africa's benefit from China: Developing a strategic approach

Anthony Yaw Baah and Herbert Jauch


cc colodio
In a wide-ranging summary of China's activity on the African continent, Anthony Yaw Baah and Herbert Jauch of the African Labour Research Network (ALRN) argue that African governments must develop a more strategic approach if their countries are to truly benefit from the Asian giant. Now Africa's third largest trade partner after the US and France, China's no-strings-attached approach to aid and investment has made the country popular with many African leaders. While China's demand for raw materials has pushed up the global prices of several commodities extracted in Africa, limited processing takes place on the continent. If African countries are to avoid the role of mere material suppliers, they must look to shape relations with China more to their own advantage, Yaw Baah and Jauch contend. With serious doubts over working conditions within much of Chinese-run industry, the need for workers' collective bargaining and direct action is becoming ever greater. If governments are not to subordinate social and labour issues to economic growth for fear of losing foreign investment, Yaw Baah and Jauch conclude, they will need to develop their own agenda and positions of negotiation.

Highlights French edition

Pambazuka News 105: Ces feux qui couvent au Niger


Zimbabwe update

China justifies veto of Zimbabwe sanctions


China's veto of proposed sanctions against Zimbabwe by the United States and Britain last year has been vindicated by the formation of the inclusive government, outgoing Chinese Ambassador Yuan Nansheng has said. Addressing a press conference on the eve of his departure to a new posting in Suriname, Yuan said it was likely that Zimbabwe could not have proceeded to form an inclusive government without the vetoes by China and Russia.

Constitutional stakeholders meetings begin


The process for a new Zimbabwean constitution kick started on Wednesday when the Parliamentary Select Committee began constitutional hearings across the country. Political commentator Professor John Makumbe said the meetings that took place began with the registration of various interested groups in the five provinces. The stakeholders were told go back to their provinces and nominate representatives to attend an All Stakeholders conference in July, which will elect thematic committees.

Government denies diamond killings


A Zimbabwean minister has denied any killings in the eastern Marange diamond fields, where rights groups have sounded the alarm over the forcible evictions of small-scale miners. Zimbabwe's deputy mining minister Murisi Zwizwai told a meeting of the Kimberley Process, the international scheme to curb the sale of "blood diamonds" , that the situation in Marange had been brought under control.

State concedes Mukoko’s abduction was illegal


A state prosecutor on Thursday conceded that the way human rights campaigner Jestina Mukoko was abducted by state security agents, was illegal. The 53 year-old former news reader has taken her case to the Supreme Court, seeking a permanent stay of her prosecution. A full bench of the Supreme Court heard submissions from state prosecutor Fatima Maxwell that they did not dispute Mukoko’s evidence that she was abducted and held incommunicado against her will, which also violated her human rights.

Women & gender

Côte d’Ivoire: Children selling sex, having babies


The baby was born and 12 days later died on a dilapidated upper floor of the Adjamé market in Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital Abidjan. The mother, Aminata*, is barely 15. She does not know who the father is. Aminata exchanges sex for money – so she can eat, she said. Aminata is among scores of young girls – some as young as 10, according to a local NGO – who sell their bodies at Adjamé market, known locally as ‘Biêlôgô’; in the Dioula language, lôgô means market and biê means the female sex organ.

DRC: Mass rape in Goma prison


Twenty female detainees in the central prison in Goma, a large town in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), were raped during a recent riot, officials have said. "Twenty female prisoners were raped on Monday [22 June] night during an attempted prison escape by a group of militia sentenced to long terms and jailed in the prison," Oscar Kasangandjo, the public prosecutor in Goma, told IRIN.

South Sudan: Women ready to take their place


When the women of South Sudan welcomed the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, they were cognizant of the fact that true democracy will be realised only when their human rights are realised. It is a young democracy battling to stay afloat against the backdrop of a fragile peace arrangement. A 22-year-war rained terror on the land, and caused unimaginable levels of destruction, killing two million people and displacing four million more according to U.N. estimates.

Women Making Airwaves for Peace

Call for Applications


Women Making Airwaves for Peace (WMAP) is a five-day seminar that gathers around 30 women community radio broadcasters from the Asia Pacific region. It is a space where participants share their experiences, particularly best practices towards engendered peace building and disaster management -- enabling community radio to empower women in crisis situations.

Human rights

Angola: Rights body call for cessation of torture


The human rights body has urged the Angolan government to halt unlawful detention and torture of people suspected of rebel activities in oil-producing province of Cabinda. According to the 27 paged report released by Human Rights Watch today, Angolan armed forces and state intelligence officials have arbitrarily arrested 38 people belonging to the Liberation Front of the Enclave of Cabinda accused of state security crimes in Cabinda between September 2007 and March 2009.

Angola: Stop military abuses in Cabinda


The Angolan government should immediately end the unlawful detention and torture of people suspected of rebel activities in the oil-rich enclave province of Cabinda, Human Rights Watch said. In the 27-page report, "‘They Put Me in the Hole': Military Detention, Torture, and Lack of Due Process in Cabinda," Human Rights Watch shows a disturbing pattern of human rights violations by the Angolan armed forces and state intelligence officials.

Kenya: Mau Mau in UK court bid


Five Kenyan independence fighters who are now in their 70s and 80s have launched a compensation claim for alleged human rights abuses under British colonial rule. The suit was filed at the high court in London on Tuesday and follows the British government's rejection of a demand for compensation and a formal apology made in 2006.

Rwanda: Jury still out on effectiveness of 'Gacaca’ courts


Rwanda’s traditional `Gacaca’ courts, set up in 2001 to try some of those responsible for the 1994 genocide and to decongest the prison system, wind up on 30 June, but questions remain as to how much they achieved. Gacaca courts have tried at least 1.5 million cases (with about 4,000 pending). However, at least 100 genocide survivors, have been killed - most of them after testifying against suspects in these courts, according to the umbrella organization for survivors, IBUKA.

Uganda: Act swiftly on long-term detainees


The Ugandan minister of justice should immediately inform 17 individuals who have languished in prison for years of their legal status, Human Rights Watch has said in a letter to the minister of justice. The individuals have long awaited "minister's orders" from the minister of justice to determine whether they should be imprisoned, released, or placed in the appropriate custodial care.

West Africa: Togo abolishes the death penalty


Togo's parliament has voted unanimously to abolish the death penalty. The vote was witnessed by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. He has been campaigning for a global moratorium on the death penalty as a first step towards its total abolition.

Zimbabwe: Tsvangirai challenged to implement reforms


Amnesty International's Secretary General, Irene Khan, expressed concern about the continuing harassment and intimidation of human rights activists, journalists and lawyers in Zimbabwe during a meeting with the prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai. The talks -- in London on Monday -- came a week after a six-day Amnesty International mission to Zimbabwe, led by Ms Khan.

Refugees & forced migration

Africa: AU plans landmark convention on internal refugees


African countries are set to adopt a ground-breaking convention providing rights to millions of people forced to flee their homes because of conflict. Africa has some 12 million internally displaced people (IDPs) who are uprooted within their own country. Unlike refugees -- people who have fled to another country -- IDPs benefit from little or no protection. The convention, the brainchild of the African Union, will for the first time provide them with similar rights to refugees, according to a draft seen by Reuters.

Chad: UNHCR launches resettlement of refugees


The UN refugee agency has begun a pilot programme to resettle 1,800 refugees in Chad to the United States, with a first group of 11 from several countries flying out of N'Djamena at the weekend. The group that left on Sunday included seven urban refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), three urban Sudanese refugees and one person from the Central African Republic (CAR) who had been living in Dosseye camp in southern Chad.

Kenya: Thousands displaced in ethnic clashes in southwest


Tension remains high in Kenya's southwestern district of Kuria East, on the Tanzania border, where at least 6,000 people have been displaced by inter-clan fighting, humanitarian officials said. "Although there is relative calm in the district, with no reported incidences of attacks or torching of houses in the past few days, tension remains high in the area," James Kisia, deputy secretary-general of the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), said on 24 June.

Morocco: African refugees targeted


More than 300 African refugees are gathered at the gates of the Moroccan United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), asking to be moved to another country because their rights are not respected in Morocco. Several refugees say they have been beaten up by Moroccan UN personnel. On Tuesday morning, the refugees who are from Angola, Senegal, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia and some other countries, entered their ninth day of protest in front of the Moroccan office of the UNHCR in capital Rabat. Their numbers are steadily growing.

Somalia: Clashes force another 26,000 from their homes


Ongoing clashes between Government forces and insurgents have uprooted another 26,000 people from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, in the past five days, the United Nations refugee agency has reported. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that there are now 160,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) resulting from the fighting that has been taking place since early May between Government troops and the opposition Al-Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam groups.

Emerging powers news

China-Africa news roundup


Sanusha Naidu does a roundup of the week's Sino-African news

Elections & governance

Guinea-Bissau: Beyond rule of the gun


This latest policy briefing from the International Crisis Group warns that the killings of General Tagme (the chief of defence staff) and President Vieira in March, as well as the recent assassinations of opposition leaders and former ministers, are an indication the democratic process cannot cope. The military’s use of force has overwhelmed state institutions. Both the political elites and the international community must send a strong message condemning the widespread abuses committed by the armed forces.

Guinea-Bissau: Election a test for region’s stability


Guinea-Bissau’s election on Sunday to replace its slain president will be a test for West Africa’s ability to stop the retreat of democracy as well as for a state destabilised by drug smugglers and army rivalries. The fact the vote is happening at all is something of an achievement within four months of President Joao Bernardo “Nino” Vieira being shot dead and after the killing of a top contender and another senior politician during the campaign.

Madagascar: SADC steps in to mediate


Where many have tried and failed, now the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has called on Madagascar’s political rivals to consider peaceful dialogue to end months of political crisis. Heads of State of the 15-nation regional body met in South Africa on 20 June to consider the political and security situation in the Indian Ocean Island after the last mediation attempt by the African Union (AU) collapsed on 16 June.

Morocco: New political party sweeps local elections


The new Authenticity and Modernity Party (PAM) edged out the Istiqlal Party on Friday (June 12th) to win the greatest number of seats in Morocco's communal elections. The accomplishment may change the political landscape in Morocco. According to a Saturday announcement by Interior Minister Chakib Benmoussa, Fouad Ali El Himma's PAM received roughly 18% of all votes cast and won 6,015 seats (21.7%) of the 27,795 contested.


Africa: Africa has vast agriculture potential, UN study


A vast stretch of African savannah land that spreads across 25 countries has the potential to turn several African nations into global players in bulk commodity production, according to a study published by FAO and the World Bank. The book, entitled Awakening Africa’s Sleeping Giant - Prospects for Commercial Agriculture in the Guinea Savannah Zone and Beyond, arrives at its positive conclusions by comparing the region with northeast Thailand and the Cerrado region of Brazil.

Global: Global finance ignores world's poor


As government officials from around the world descend on New York for a UN conference on the economic crisis and its impact on development, the main issue up for debate is how the poorest countries can influence the way the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank operate.

Nigeria: G-8 Invites Yar'Adua to next month's summit


Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua has been formally invited to attend this year's G-8 Summit of the world's industrial nations holding in Italy. Next month's meeting, holding from July 8 to 10, 2009 at L'Aquila will be the third since President Yar'Adua was sworn in on May 29, 2007 and the first he is being invited to attend.

Southern Africa: Climate proofing the Zambezi


The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched a USD$ 8 million initiative to help build the disaster resilience of 600,000 people living along the Zambezi river in seven southern African countries. The Zambezi River Basin Initiative (ZRBI) is a response to "a dramatic increase in the numbers of floods along the river basin” according to Farid Abdulkadir, IFRC disaster management coordinator for the southern Africa region.

Southern Africa: Expensive funerals cause household hardship


In Southern Africa, funerals are generally considered an individual’s most important rite of passage and households may spend the equivalent of a year’s income for an adult’s funeral. Loans might be taken out with money lenders, if need be, in order to have a funeral that befits the status of the household and of the person who has died. This paper argues that increases particularly in mortality in middle age (primarily AIDS related) can lead to economic hardship for households that experience the death of a relative, especially if burial insurance policies have not been taken out and if types of funerals do not change to reflect changes in mortality patterns.

Health & HIV/AIDS

Africa: Men and care in the context of HIV


What drives the enormous burden of AIDS-related care which falls on women and girls? What strategies are needed to reduce this burden? Rather than focusing only on ways to increase men's participation in shouldering a more equitable share of the burden of AIDS-related care, this paper by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women starts out with an analysis of the structural forces that affect how AIDS care is provided.

Africa: More information on causes of death needed to fine-tune ART services


Knowing the causes of death as well as mortality rates among patients on antiretroviral therapy in Rwanda may help improve service delivery, Innocent Turate and colleagues reported in a study presented at the HIV Implementers’ Meeting in Namibia earlier this month. Loss of patients to follow-up continues to be a significant problem for treatment programmes in many parts of Africa, but measures to improve patient retention in care require a better understanding of why patients are lost to follow-up, and in particular, the number of deaths and the causes of death among those who start treatment.

Cote d'Ivoire: 2 swine flu cases confirmed


A new case of the swine flu, confirmed by the Institut Pasteur laboratory, has brought to two the number of people infected by the AH1N1 virus in the Cote d'Ivoire, health sources told PANA here Thursday. The latest case involves a 20-year-old girl who was in close contact with the first case, confirmed on Monday. They were among the 57 passengers on board the Brussels Airlines aircraft which flew in from Brussels via Monrovia, Liberia, on 19 June.

Global: Uprooted must be included in national HIV strategies


UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres has said more must be done to ensure governments include refugees and internally displaced people (IDP) in their national strategies for dealing with HIV/AIDS. In a wide-ranging address Monday afternoon to the UNAIDS governing body, the Programme Coordinating Board (PCB), Guterres said people on the move – whether refugees, IDPs or migrants – can be more vulnerable to HIV.

Namibia: Women take legal action over alleged sterilisations


Two HIV-positive Namibian women who allege they were sterilised against their will in public hospitals are seeking redress through the courts, the first of more than 20 known cases, according to the International Community for Women Living with HIV/AIDS (ICW). The ICW raised the alarm over what it terms forced or coerced sterilisations among HIV-positive women more than a year ago, after hearing accounts of it through its regular forums for HIV-positive young women.

South Africa: Time to rethink testing


It has become a given – test more people for HIV and you'll get more people on treatment earlier, plus cut down on risky sex. But recent research on the behaviour of people who test HIV negative, has led some doctors to question the testing gospel. Speaking at the monthly meeting of the South African HIV Clinicians society, Dr Francois Venter said what seemed a strong relationship between increased testing, treatment and behaviour change is not necessarily valid in the South African context.

Uganda: 40% of HIV patients in diagnosed late


Forty percent of patients with HIV in Uganda only have their infection diagnosed when they are already ill because of HIV, or have developed AIDS, investigators report in a study published in the online edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes. The authors believe that this figure is likely to represent the lower bound for number of patients diagnosed late.


Africa: Education "forgotten" in post-conflict aid


Education is the forgotten aspect of post-conflict humanitarian aid and aid for refugees”, New Security Foundation Chairman Dr Harold Elletson told delegates at a ground-breaking session on ‘post-conflict distance learning’ during eLearning Africa in Dakar, Senegal. With these words, he initiated a debate which should prove to be a hot topic at this year’s Security and Defence Learning Forum in Berlin.

Africa: Love is in the ear


Inaugurated last year by Deutsche Welle, a radio project called “Learning by Ear” is reaching into parts of Africa where computers are yet to be seen. Today, more than 33 million people on the African continent are able to listen to this distance-education programme. Its popularity lies in its unconventional format and true-to-life stories that embrace diverse themes depicted in the form of features, interviews and even soaps.

Global: Education stimulus for developing world


Lost in the recent debate in Congress over expanded funding for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), was the key question of how that money should best be spent in order to promote a global economic recovery. Here in the United States, our own economic stimulus included unprecedented levels of funding, over $100 billion, in new education spending.


South Africa: Research puts rural gays under spotlight


The University of South Africa (UNISA) together with Gay Umbrella, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) organisation in the North West Province, have joined forces in a two year systematic research project that will provide important insights into the rural perspective of gays and lesbians. The project is set to focus on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals in rural areas of the North West Province with a view to get a closer look at their lives and the challenges they face on a daily basis in terms of empowerment.


DRC: Alternative fuel saves fuel and trees


Banana peels, sugar cane and manioc are widely found in the trash piles that collect outside of homes in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. They're also the ingredients being used by environmental advocates to create a light, inexpensive cooking fuel that could ease deforestation in the region. Clement Kitambala, a Congolese advocate, and Ned Meerdink, an Advocacy Project (AP) Peace Fellow, came upon an idea online to make briquettes out of organic waste material. Mr Kitambala, who also produces the environmental newsletter Tunza Mazingira ("Conserve the Environment" in Swahili), secured $150 in funding from a United Nations fieldworker to construct a wood press for making the briquettes (shown below). He recently produced the first batch of about 500.

Land & land rights

Africa: India cultivates Africa


In a new wave of outsourcing, Indian firms are acquiring swathes of farmland in poor African countries to produce food meant to be exported to India. But food policy experts are lambasting the strategy as “ neo- colonialist”. They say such deals exploit the natural resources of poor countries who are themselves facing acute food shortages.

South Africa: Live or die for eNkwalini


This film is about the eNkwalini community’s struggle for land rights. It highlights the attacks by the local neighbouring farmer who has been trying to evict them since 2005 when he started to demolish their houses. The film tells a story of a rural community that is waging a struggle against ferocious tides of oppression. It is a story about a territorial war between the poor rural community and rich land owner.

Food Justice

Africa: Ethiopian wins World Food Prize


Developing drought- and parasite-resistant sorghum hybrids are just some of the achievements of 2009 World Food Prize Laureate Gebisa Ejeta, a professor of agronomy at US-based Purdue University. The Ethiopian scientist — announced as the 2009 Laureate on 11 June — was responsible for Africa's first drought tolerant and high-yielding hybrid sorghum varieties, which improved crop productivity and birthed a commercial sorghum seed industry in Sudan.

Zimbabwe: Bumper crop, but Zimbabwe hungry


Some three million people face hunger in Zimbabwe, despite a significant rise in food production, the UN says. Good rainfall over the past year has boosted production of the staple crop, maize, by 130% to 1.1m tonnes.But about 2.8m people will still face food shortages this year, warned the report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Food Programme.

Media & freedom of expression

Africa: Congo neighbours in media control plot


The media regulation bodies of the Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa) and the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) have signed an agreement on the control of political propaganda programmes. The agencies signed a commitment not to allow any of their media to advertise political propaganda programmes from either of their countries’ for any politicians. The signing ceremony took place last Saturday in Kinshasa.

Gambia: Detained journalist granted bail without charge


Augustine Kanja, a reporter of privately-owned Banjul-based The Point newspaper, was on June 24, 2009 released on police enquiry bail in the sum of 50,000 Dalasis (approx. 1700 US$). Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s sources reported that although Kanja has not been charged with any offence, he has been asked to report daily to the Serrekunda Police station.

Gambia: Seven detained journalists granted bail, another arrested


Four newspaper journalists and three executives of the Gambian Press Union (GPU) charged with three counts of publishing with “seditious intention” were on June 22, 2009 granted bail by the Kanifing Court in the sum of 200,000 Dalasis (about US$7, 000) and two sureties each.

Mauritania: Journalist arrested and detained


Hanevy Ould Dahah, managing editor of the online newspaper Taqadoumy was on June 18, 2009 arrested and detained by gendarmeries in Nouakchott. The paper reported on its website that Ould Dahah was handcuffed and led to a police station in Nouakchott, the capital.

Senegal : Court jails two journalists, publisher exonerated


A magistrate court in Dakar, capital of Senegal on June 16, 2009 sentenced two journalists of the Week-End, a privately-owned weekly magazine, to three months imprisonment for defaming Mme Aida Mbodji, second deputy speaker of the country’s national assembly.

Sierra Leone: SLAJ intensifies campaign to repeal criminal laws


The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has announced that it would on July 13, 2009 march through the streets of Freetown, as part of its long-sustained pressure to get the country’s Supreme Court to give a ruling on the case it filed in February 2008 challenging the constitutionality of provisions of the Public Order Act of 1960.

Conflict & emergencies

Global: Protect civilians in armed conflict


The United Nations Security Council should make sure that its existing commitments to protect civilians during armed conflict are actually carried out, Human Rights Watch has said in a letter to council member states. On June 26, 2009, the Security Council will hold a debate to discuss its work on civilian protection, in which all UN members can participate.

Nigeria: Government offers amnesty to militant


Nigeria's President Umaru Yar'Adua has unveiled details of a 60-day amnesty for militants in the Niger Delta. Ministers of Nigeria's Council of State have approved the proposal - an effort to end years of attacks on the region's beleaguered oil industry. A presidential pardon, rehabilitation programme, education and training are being offered to militants taking part.

Somalia: Spiralling violence claims hundreds of lives


The United Nations refugee agency has voiced its grave concern over the escalating violence and worsening displacement crisis in the Somali capital, where local hospitals report that over 250 civilians have been killed and nearly 1,000 others wounded since fighting erupted last month.

Internet & technology

Africa: eLearning Africa


eLearning Africa brings people together to exchange ideas and create partnerships. The conference has been the birthplace of numerous fruitful collaborations, and at this year’s event, the ECDL Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation registered in Ireland, and the Senegalese Ministry for Technical Education and Professional Training signed a significant agreement for the development of IT skills and education in Senegal. Their joint venture will promote digital literacy by introducing the “International Computer Driving licence” (ICDL) in Senegal.

Tanzania: 'Know your CD4' campaign improves knowledge


A large-scale drive to improve knowledge of CD4 cell counts among people receiving HIV care in a Tanzanian district resulted in increased uptake of CD4 testing, an increase in treatment initiation and an improvement in patient retention, Tanzanian researchers reported at the HIV Implementers’ meeting earlier this month in Namibia.

eNewsletters & mailing lists

Uganda: Recovery from Conflict?

AfricaFocus Bulletin Jun 24, 2009 (090624)


This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains a statement by the Washington-based Africa Faith and Justice Network, a participant in the coalition lobby effort for the billin the UC Congress, but an outspoken opponent of the military option; the full statement from the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative; an open letter from Resolve Uganda stressing the need for U.S. support for reconstruction; and additional references to recent analytical background material from the Enough Project, Conciliation Resources (London), Institute for Security Studies (Pretoria), and Ronald Atkinson's two-part series in the Independent.

Fundraising & useful resources

Africa: New fund for innovative knowledge sharing launched


Africa’s poor and vulnerable communities rarely have the opportunity to share their valuable experience and learn from others in broader or more formal exchanges of knowledge on climate change adaptation. The AfricaAdapt network, which is funded by the joint UK Department for International Development (DFID)/International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Climate Change Adaptation in Africa Programme , is launching its new Knowledge Sharing Innovation Fund promoting new ways of sharing knowledge that can help address this problem.

South Africa: Pro Bono HIV/Aids legal clnic


People who are HIV+ often have to cope with more than illness. Sometimes health rights are violated and access to treatment is denied or severely limited. Because of HIV+ status, there is discrimination at work. Discrimination is also suffered when it comes to housing and insurance. It is for this reason that ProBono.Org, a non-profit clearing house increasing access to justice via pro bono legal services, provides a weekly legal clinic where HIV+ people can access free legal advice and services. This service is available to people throughout South Africa. All you need to do, is call in on a Tuesday morning.

Courses, seminars, & workshops

Global: Human Rights Defenders Fellowship Program - 2009

Call for Applications


The purpose of the Fellowship program is to offer a possibility for human rights defenders at risk to take some time out from their normal work to undertake a project which will further develop their capacities and contribute to the protection of human rights defenders internationally. Front Line Fellowships will now be offered on a more flexible basis for periods of one to six months.

Global: McGill conference on global food security

October 5-7 2009


The global economic crisis has had a devastating impact on the world’s hungry. In the past year, approximately 100 million people have been added to the ranks of the roughly 1 billion people worldwide considered by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization to be undernourished, according to its report issued June 19, 2009.

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