Thursday, June 01, 2006

French Eurizons team blog

This is a quick post...I am very busy these days and unfortunately the 2 weeks thing is on again. Hopefully, by then I will be posting regularly and will have changes and topics that I have previously promised to post;)

In the meantime, I had a comment whereby I was informed about a blog the French Eurizons team are running, definitly worth checking out!-I will be linking to this in the future when progress in regards to Eurizons is reported...

Click here to view their blog.

Will be back soon

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Health aid needs at least 25 billion dollar a year

"Rich countries would have to give $25 billion to $70 billion more each year for developing nations to meet the health-care needs set out in the Millennium Development Goals, a World Bank study said on Thursday.

Beyond the targets set for 2015 by leaders of the Group of Eight rich countries last July is the momentum of a burgeoning global population the World Bank expects to reach 7.5 billion by 2020 and 9 billion by 2050, the study found.

"While birth rates are declining, because you still have so many women in the child-bearing years -- because of population momentum -- global births don't begin to decline until 2030 so in absolute numbers you still have a lot more births," said George Schieber, one of the report's co-authors.

"As populations age, then you get people in the very high expenditure groups of the elderly and noncommunicable diseases, so they're going to be putting a lot more pressure on the health system," Schieber added.

Health-care systems worldwide are already struggling to cope with sharply rising costs in dealing with HIV/AIDS and efforts to head off the possibility of a human pandemic of bird flu, the report shows.

But demographic changes alone over the next 20 years will mean most low- and middle-income countries will face 2 to 3 percent annual increases in health-care spending, it said.

"At least in communicable diseases there are low-cost methods of preventing it or treating it so it really has to do with the momentum and the demographics," Schieber said.

One major obstacle is government resources in meeting these growing needs. The report cited International Monetary Fund programs that preclude countries from using increased grant funding for health spending like hiring more health workers." Read full report here.

"Bob Geldof: Africa must be allowed to trade its way out of poverty "

Read this.

Abuse against African girls

"Nine out of 10 girls in eastern Africa have suffered physical or psychological abuse, including rape at the hands of relatives, a pan-African advocacy group said in a report.
"In eastern Africa nine out of ten girls are abused on a regular basis by the people they trust most," Assefa Bequele, head of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), a child-advocacy group, said in a report released in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa on Wednesday, to coincide with two-day conference on violence against girls in Africa."

"Nearly one in two girls has been raped in Uganda, 29.7 percent in Ethiopia and 26.3 percent in Kenya, but reporting of sexual abuse to the police is low across all countries with Ethiopia as the lowest (1.5 percent) and 4 percent in Uganda, according to ACPF. "

"In Ethiopia, one in every two girls is a victim of unwanted sexual touching, 18.9 percent are regularly hit with a stick, while 55,2 percent sometimes. 21.2 percent women are usually hit on the head and 16.5 percent whipped with belts, according to the ACPF. "

Read full article here.

Cholera spreading...

"Angola's fast-spreading cholera epidemic claimed seven lives in the last 24 hours and has touched most corners of the southern African country, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday.
The United Nations agency said the outbreak, which has infected nearly 39,000 people and killed more than 1,400 in three months, had reached 12 of the country's 18 provinces.
More than half of the infections have occurred near the capital Luanda, on the Atlantic coast."
Read more here.

In Sudan:
"More than 500 people have died in a cholera outbreak in southern Sudan, where two-thirds of the population drink unclean water, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.
Southern Sudan's towns are overflowing as hundreds of thousands of people return home after a peace deal signed last year to end more than two decades of civil war. Living in crowded, unsanitary conditions, diseases such as cholera and meningitis are spreading fast.
An outbreak of acute watery diarrhea began in late January, and the first cases of cholera were confirmed in February. Since then, it has spread to six of the 10 southern states." More here

Tanzania debt cancellation

"Tanzania is among 18 member countries of the African Development Bank (ADB) expected to benefit from an $8.6 billion debt cancellation.
The bank's president Dr Donald Kaberuka said it have a good portfolio in Tanzania "and it is one of the best performing, and that is why we are increasing powers of country offices in the ongoing reforms".
He said funds from the debt relief will be used for fighting poverty in the respective countries. "

"Sheku Sesay, the resident representative of the ADB Country Office in Tanzania said, "In respect to African Development Fund contribution to the initiative, it is estimated that about $8.54 billion of its debts held by 33 regional member countries will be cancelled, covering outstanding debt which was disbursed as at end December 2004."
The amount each eligible country, including Tanzania, will benefit from, is expected to be endorsed by the governors of ADB Group this month, before the bank informs the respective countries. "
Read in full here.

Children and AIDS, what you don't know

"Some 2.3 million children under 15 years of age are living with HIV, with little access to treatment, according to a report by child advocacy groups.

"Children are the missing face of the AIDS pandemic," Ann Veneman, executive director of UNICEF, the U.N. Children's Fund, told a news conference on Friday in introducing a report by seven humanitarian groups.

Over 90 percent of the children with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are in sub-Sahara Africa, where diagnosis is rare, treatment is expensive and most available drugs are produced for adults, the report said.

"If we cannot diagnose children, obviously we can't treat them," Veneman said.
A vast majority of the infants are infected by their mothers during pregnancy, where drugs are available to prevent transmission to infants but only about 10 percent receive them. The children rarely are given needed anti-retroviral drugs, the report said.

"Without treatment, most children with HIV will die before their fifth birthday," said Dean Hirsch, president of World Vision International, a Christian aid organization.
Charles MacCormack, president and CEO of Save the Children USA, said AIDS among adolescent females as well as the mother-to-child transmission were increasing, despite affordable treatments available over the past 15 years.

The new report and an earlier one by UNICEF showed that each year more than 650,000 children under 15 are infected with HIV for a current total of 2.3 million in 2005. Children under 15 account for 1 in 6 AIDS-related deaths. A child under 15 dies of an AIDS-related illness every minute, and a young person aged 15-24 contracts HIV every 15 seconds.

All three officials emphasized a lack of research to combat AIDS in children, which means that treatment is less precise and more expensive. Development of new drugs are focused mainly on adults.

Although Africa governments have pledged to spend 15 percent of their budgets on public health, less than a third have done so, MacCormack said. He also said that pledges from the Group of Eight industrial nations have not fully materialized.

Veneman and Hirsch spoke out in favor of for sex education, tailored to age groups, and the need to keep girls in school. In some African nations, one third of girls under 18 are the victims of forced sex, often during forced marriages."More here.

"Only one HIV-positive child in 20 in developing countries receives the treatment they need"

Slavery

I read this article a while ago and forgot to post it here, one paragraph really moved me, I will quote it here:

"The manifest states the ship was laden with five cases of clay beads, 410 rolls of cloth, 640 muskets, two tons of lead bars, 14 tons of iron and 1,000 copper bars.
It set sail down the Bristol Channel on an unspecified date in 1730 bound for the Niger delta. In return for its cargo of 18th- century bric-a-brac, the captain bought 250 humans. In the words of the merchant who sent the consignment, they were to be "Bonny Negroes". Each life was worth 1.6 rolls of cloth, two-and-a-half guns, 72kg of metal and a handful of beads."

250 humans for that?! What is all of this worth and how do you estimate a human's worth?! Don't worry, OF COURSE I am aware of the history of slavery, this is nothing new, but seriously, I wish one day I can work out the mentality of these people who trade in slaves, and believe it or not, they still exist today, maybe under a more fancy name...But they are there.

Chad update

"The UN's humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said a fraction of the funds needed to feed the refugees had been raised.
He said Chad's refugee crisis had been "overshadowed" by events in Darfur.
The Darfur conflict has killed some 200,000 people and created 2m refugees. Many have fled to Chad, to be joined by Chadians fleeing internal unrest.
Touring refugee camps in eastern Chad, near the border with Sudan, Mr Egeland told the Reuters news agency the security situation in the region had descended into "total chaos".
Aid agencies estimate they need $180m to feed the refugees in eastern Chad.
"Only 16% of the humanitarian funds required to feed these people has been met so far," Mr Egeland is quoted as saying" Read in full here.

-----------------------------------------------------

"The U.N. refugee agency on Friday said it is "very disturbed by reports of ongoing infiltration of armed Sudanese rebels inside and near some refugee camps in eastern Chad and fear further recruitment of refugees for military activities."
"We strongly condemn the infiltration of refugee camps by any military presence. This situation is totally unacceptable. It violates the civilian and humanitarian character of the refugee camps and risks making refugees and humanitarian workers a target.""

"Describing the latest reports of refugee camp infiltration, UNHCR said "men identified as belonging to a Sudanese rebel armed movement were spotted earlier this week in the northern Oure Cassoni camp" near the Sudanese border.
"The camp, which shelters some 27,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur, has been suspected of being used as a rest and recuperation base for Sudanese rebels. This is the first time however, that rebels have been seen so openly in broad daylight, in vehicles and walking around the camp," the UNHCR said in a statement.
"We immediately informed the local authorities about the infiltration. On Wednesday and Thursday we met with our implementing partners, local authorities, camp gendarmes and refugee leaders. The refugees were clearly reminded of their rights, duties and obligation not to engage in political nor military activity in Chad and most specifically not in the camps."
The agency urged authorities in Chad, rebel groups and refugees "that infiltration of the camps cannot continue. If not stopped, it could result in the suspension of humanitarian activities.""
Read more here.

-------------------------------------------------

Same day as the report just mentioned, Human Rights Watch released a briefing on the situation in Chad.
"Witnesses showed Human Rights Watch researchers one of the massacre sites in four adjacent villages approximately 70 kilometers west of the Sudan border, and confirmed that a total of 118 people were killed on April 12 and 13, a period when Chadian rebel groups based in Darfur were pursuing a westward offensive on the Chadian capital, N’djamena" Footage is available on the HRW link above.

"Survivors described unarmed villagers being surrounded and then gunned down or hacked to death with machetes by militiamen wearing blue Sudanese military fatigues and turbans. Witnesses described their attackers as Janjaweed and noted that Chadians who had recently migrated to Sudan were among them. The recent militia attacks in Chad seem to be part of a wider pattern of cross-border violence that Human Rights Watch has documented over the past year, during which time the Sudanese state of West Darfur, which borders Chad for more than 500 kilometers, has become increasingly volatile. More than a dozen armed groups, including four factions of the Darfur rebel movements, several Sudanese government-backed militias, and Chadian rebel groups are active along the porous border. Livestock raiding has become common, but the April attacks on the four Chadian villages were unusual for the high number of deaths. "

"UGANDA: LRA rebels ready to talk peace "

"The insurgent Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is ready to engage the Ugandan government in talks to end two decades of fighting that has killed thousands and displaced close to two million people in the country's north, rebel leader Joseph Kony has said."

"The LRA commander-in-chief said he was ready to talk peace with the Ugandan government and had "no problem" with President Yoweri Museveni. He also said he accepted an offer of mediation extended by Machar. South Sudan - where the LRA operates from - is now run by the SPLM/A, which signed a peace deal with the Khartoum-based Sudanese government in January 2005." Read in full here.

Yahoo! have this thing I enjoy reading through called Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone. Here is a good documentary of what life is like for some Ugandans. I want to quote this bit:

"An estimated 50,000 Ugandans (30,000 of them children) from four northern regions walk from their homes in outlying rural areas to what they consider safer urban centers, like the city of Kitgum. They sleep in tents, schools, porches or verandas -- wherever they can find a place to lay their heads. "

Volunteers and peacekeeping

Check this out.

Southern Sudan

I first thought I should post this along with the Darfur update, but figured that I would put it seperately, as there is a point I wish to put forward, or rather a question?

A BBC article has this:

"International medical organisation Medecins Sans Frontiers has withdrawn its international staff from several clinics in southern Sudan.
The agency says attacks by militia have made large areas in the provinces of Upper Nile and Jonglei too dangerous to operate in.
The violence began in April, when an attack was carried out in the village of Ulang, where MSF operated a clinic.
Last year's peace deal was supposed to end 21 years of war in southern Sudan.
"We are concerned about the growing number of violent incidents," says MSF co-ordinator Cristoph Hippchen. "

"Last year's peace agreement between the government in Khartoum and the main southern rebel group, the SPLA was supposed to end the violence, requiring all militia groups to integrate into the SPLA, or be disbanded.
But a number of organisations are refusing to comply, and in some areas the SPLA is attempting to disarm them by force."

Right, so peace deals all over again...do they really work, the same question I have asked before and said 'time would tell', well there is time in another situation and the story it's telling isn't pretty...I'm officially exhausted!

Darfur latest

"Sudan appears to have taken the first step towards a UN mission being deployed in Darfur, under intense international pressure.
The UN says it has reached an agreement with the government for an assessment team to be sent to the troubled region.
After meeting Sudan's president, UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said the mission would assess requirements for the possible arrival of UN peacekeepers.
However, Sudan has still not agreed the deployment of a UN force.
Khartoum says it would prefer the current African Union peacekeepers there to be given more support. "

"After three days of meetings in Khartoum, Mr Brahimi said a joint UN and African Union team would arrive in the next few days.
The aim of the mission will be to assess the needs of the current African Union peacekeepers and also the requirements for a possible transition to the UN. " Read in full here.

Human Rights Watch has a briefing addressing the implementation of the peace deal signed:

"Relief workers are struggling to reach hundreds of thousands of civilians in dire need of food, water, shelter and protection from further attacks in Darfur, in the face of mounting insecurity, targeted attacks on aid workers and administrative obstruction by the Sudanese government. Under international humanitarian law (the laws of war), the warring parties must allow impartial humanitarian agencies to assist civilians, and attacks on aid workers or deliberate obstruction of relief efforts can constitute war crimes. The deteriorating rights situation in Darfur comes despite numerous commitments by both the Sudanese government and rebel movements to respect an April 2004 ceasefire and protect civilians. The U.N. estimates that it has no access, or limited access, to at least 650,000 civilians in need of assistance. Even in areas where humanitarian agencies have safe access to civilians, the government of Sudan has obstructed relief activities with a campaign of “administrative harassment.” Administrative restrictions include delaying visa and travel authorization and using a new law regulating the activities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to impose arbitrary and onerous regulations on humanitarian agencies. "

On this, "Jan Egeland, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator, said attacks against aid workers had been relentless and access difficult. He said the under-equipped African Union force in Darfur needed immediate help and that international funding had to increase, especially from Gulf nations.
"The next few weeks will be make or break. We can turn the corner towards reconciliation and reconstruction, or see an even worse collapse of our efforts to provide protection and relief to millions of people," Egeland told the 15-nation U.N. Security Council of his recent trip to Sudan and Chad.
"The next few weeks will be absolutely critical for millions of people in this region," he said." Otherwise "malnutrition and mortality rates would multiply in some areas, within weeks, not months." " Read full article here.
"Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha also read a written statement declaring the government would allocate more money for aid to Darfur and to offer 20,000 tonnes of extra food to the World Food Programme to cover a donor gap this year." Read here.

Ivory Coast arms latest

I have previously posted this; here is the latest:

"The two sides in Cote d'Ivoire's more than three-year war, rebel leaders and loyalist army chiefs, on Tuesday said a first phase of disarmament was under way, with some combatants returning to designated disarmament sites.

Independent confirmation of the troop movements was not immediately available however from the UN mission in Cote d'Ivoire, which has been charged with overseeing disarmament, a key step forward in securing peace.

According to an Ivorian army spokesman, 96 loyalist troops stationed in a town close to the UN-patrolled no-man's land separating the rebel-held north from the government-run south, were dispatched to the nearby capital Yamoussoukro on Monday.

The move inaugurated a so-called pre-regroupment phase, meant to prepare the return to barracks of tens of thousands of combatants.

"This is a very important step," army chief of staff Philippe Mangou said during the ceremony. "We are completing the first phase of disarmament in keeping with the peace process initiated by the prime minister."

Later this week, troops near the port city of San Pedro will be gathered at designated sites, an army spokesman told IRIN on condition of anonymity.

And in the rebel capital Bouake, spokesman Sidiki Konate said rebel commanders were ready to pull back fighters to designated sites in the northern towns of Botro and Bouna on Tuesday.

"First, we are going to pinpoint out current position on a map and then we are going to draw up maps with our new positions," Konate said. He did not say how many fighters would be gathered at the sites.

A deadline for disarmament has not been set. Rebel and army chiefs are expected to discuss a timetable on 31 May."

Read full report here. [Dated May 23, 2006]

Hotel Rwanda

Last night I got to watch Hotel Rwanda...Really hit me badly, I know of all the atrocities portrayed, not new to me, but this is why Hollywood works pretty well. You can read whatever statistics there are, news headlines, my blog :P, it won't give you the full visual experience of the tragedy.

You have to watch the movie if you haven't, if you have, feel free to share your comments...

I thought I have to post this here.

'Forty-five 747s crashed today....'

"Forty-five 747s crashed today, everyone on board was killed and oh, by the way, they were all children": coming from James Morris, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to clarify how bad the hunger is widespread in this world, and among children, and how the world hears it and goes all "na na na, I can't hear you". Do forty five 747s REALLY need to crash to serve as a wake-up call?!

"The world produces enough food to feed everyone, with 17 percent more calories per person today than 30 years ago, according to the World Hunger Education Service.
But the distribution is unequal.
Pressure on scarce resources, drought, growing inequality and conflict have aggravated malnutrition among the unemployed in urban slums, landless farming families, the orphans of AIDS and the ill.
Making things worse is a surge in natural disasters, which numbered 400 in 2005, up from 100 in 1975, according to World Bank estimates. In the last decade, 2.6 billion people were affected by natural disasters compared to 1.6 billion in the previous decade. "

"Hundreds of thousands turned out across the world on Sunday for a global march against hunger organized by the WFP.
"We know how to solve the problem," Morris said. "We can feed a child for 30 euros a full school year."
Morris was speaking at the World Economic Forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, where business and political leaders debated ways to promote wealth, peace and stability in the Middle East.
He warned against relying on macroeconomic statistics as a sole gauge of development, saying they hide a disparity in many countries between rich and poor.
Without progress in combating problems like iron deficiency -- which the WFP says hinders the mental development of 40 percent to 60 percent of children in developing countries, progress risks being held back.
"Feeding children of zero to 2 years of age is the most powerful investment a country can make in its future economic wellbeing," said Morris. "

Read full report here.

We are irrepressible


I hear stuff like this and it hurts so badly. A non-violent pro-democracy activist being imprisoned for nothing. Now we are starting to see a new trend of this behaviour, people imprisoned for freedom of expression on the internet, websites blocked for calling for democracy, or blogs deleted. This is NOT right, as simple as that.

Please sign the Amnesty pledge calling for internet freedom. Click here for more information on the irrepressible campaign. This will be presented in the November 2006 UN conference discussing the internet. Your voice counts, please spread this message.

Back, at least for now

Well not really two weeks:D hehe...
I will make a summary of the latest from Africa...
One thing I wanted to touch on: I know I have not been reporting everything, especially things like Somalia. I was very busy and seems like some things were not included along with others on this blog. I try my best to give a balanced account, I try.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Apologies

I won't be blogging for a couple of weeks. But after that I have a lot planned for adding to this blog. I have previously promised to give an account on the question of "does aid work?", that is one of the plans. Stay tuned.

Global Week of Action for AIDS

"The Global Week of Action is taking place the week before a major UN meeting on AIDS, known as UNGASS. At this international meeting in New York (31st May-2nd June), heads of state and decision-makers will come together and review how the world is doing in the fight against AIDS. " Read more about what's happening here.

"They will analyse the small gains, the big losses and make new promises to contain the epidemic. They will decide what the priorities are, and how much money will be spent on what. ActionAid International will be there, campaigning for the meeting to commit to AIDS treatment for all by 2010."

Read more about the UN meeting here.

Which seat would you like?

Have you signed the million faces petition as part of Control Arms ? The petition asks for an international arms trade treaty, arms kill needlessly every single day, arms have stirred up violence in conflict-torn countries, arms are used to take families' cattle in the middle of drought, and yes I can go on and on with the examples, so I think I will stop here. As part of the campaign, a new interactive spot has been set up, with al the World Cup fever in the air, it can also be incorporated here.

You have 1 new message (s)

Read here (pdf).

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Are you walking?

The world is walking today...it is Walk The World 06 (wtw06). 416 locations in 117 countries. Thousands of people are rallying in order to promote the state of children starving everyday. Click here for more information. And remember to feed a child through the website.

Chad crisis growing

"Janjaweed militia from Darfur are attacking Chadians, forcing about 100 a day to flee their homes and head for camps where food and water already are in short supply, a U.N. official said.
With more than 200,000 refugees from the conflict-torn Darfur region of Sudan already sheltered in U.N. camps in desolate eastern Chad, the rising tide of displaced Chadians is stretching resources.
"They are coming in approximately two trucks of 50 persons per truck a day," Steve Adkisson, a representative of UNICEF, the United Nations children's agency, told Reuters.
"By the best estimate, there are somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000, with the recognition that the number continues to rise," said Adkisson, whose agency provides water and health care to the displaced people. " Read in full here.

Then you get this:
"Chad accused neighbouring Sudan on Tuesday of organising a new alliance of Chadian rebels to try to oust President Idriss Deby and it appealed to the international community to intervene."

There has already been ongoing opposition to the president within the country.

"The United Nations is looking to create an international force to help protect civilians and refugees in Chad from attacks by armed groups spilling over from Sudan's Darfur region, a U.N. official said on Thursday [on a report dated 11 May 2006].
"We have a seriously deteriorating security situation in Chad and the government's capacity is also diminishing in terms of security response," Kingsley Amaning, humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations in Chad, told Reuters.
"Therefore along with the (Chadian) government we are looking at the possibility of putting in place an expatriate, international force that will support government efforts to provide security in the areas where we are operating." Read in full here. Nevertheless, "Chad's rebels were not concerned about a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Darfur. But they would oppose such a force for Chad, because it could help to prop up Deby." More here.

Hyenas attack!

What the hell?!

Arms in Ivory Coast

"Efforts to identify potential voters and disarm combatants are expected to begin Thursday in strife-torn Côte d'Ivoire, in preparation for elections that must take place by the end of October. However, the guns held by rebels and fighters that support the government aren't the only weapons giving cause for concern.

There is also alarm about the spread of illegal small arms in this West African country.
"The proliferation of light weapons has reached worrying proportions in Côte d'Ivoire," says Ali Ouattara, president of the Ivorian chapter of Amnesty International.
Noted Justice Minister Mamadou Koné, "It stems from the porousness of borders that characterises the countries of our sub-region, and is linked to different armed conflicts which preceded the Ivorian crisis."

This was in reference to Liberia and Sierra Leone, which experienced lengthy civil wars between the end of the 1980s and the early years of this century. Weapons used in these conflicts could easily be taken across frontiers to be placed in service elsewhere.

About 10,000 small arms are estimated to be in circulation in Côte d'Ivoire, says Ouattara. According to Koné, some are used in armed robberies and drug trafficking."


"Observes Désiré Adjoussou, president of the National Commission to Fight Against the Proliferation and Circulation of Small Arms in Côte d'Ivoire, "The phenomenon of bandits that target roads is increasing."

Light weapons are also taking a toll in local disputes.

In parts of the south-west, clashes between indigenous inhabitants and people from elsewhere have been reported for two months. According to the Ivorian press, the deaths of 523 peasants killed with caliber 12 rifles have been recorded to date.

Further north in the areas controlled by rebels, IPS [Inter Press Service] observed that fighters carry weapons that are not officially registered." Read full article here.

Just another reason to call for an international arms trade treaty.

Africa growth prospects

This article shows the economical growth trend of Africa over the past year and what is expected next:

"The prospects for Africa's economies have improved over the past year, according to the OECD.
The Paris-based think tank says that Africa as a whole is set to grow by 5.8% this year and 5.5% in 2007.
But there is a big difference between countries who were oil exporters and those who have to import oil.
In 2005 oil exporting African countries grew by 5.5%, compared to just 4.4% for those who were oil importers.
Conflicts and natural disasters in countries like Sudan, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia and Nigeria also continue to dampen overall economic growth.
The joint study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the African Development Bank highlights the importance of rising commodity prices, including oil, for boosting African growth.
It says that Africa's economies expanded overall by 4.9% in 2005, with per capita income rising by 3%. "

"But the report noted that oil-importing countries faced very different challenges" from those who benefited from rising oil and commodity prices.
The report notes that democracy has started to take root in a number of countries in the last decade and that there are fewer conflicts. However many countries are still riddled by corruption, which is hindering private-sector development. "

"The OECD urges those countries who have benefited from higher oil and commodity prices to use their windfall gains wisely. "

"The shortfall in infrastructure development, such as roads, ports, and airports, has been a key factor hindering the prospects for long-term growth, The OECD says. "

"For countries who are oil importers, the report warns that higher oil prices will stoke up inflationary pressures from which consumers have so far been shielded by subsidies and price controls.
Their trade balances are also under pressure, as higher oil import bills combine with lower prices for agricultural products such as cocoa and cotton".

"And the OECD says that although development aid is set to increase, it is unlikely to be high enough to "allow countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015". "

WHO on Neglected Tropical Diseases

The WHO has a good report on Neglected Tropical Diseases, read full report here.

"Approximately 1 billion people — one sixth of the world’s population, or 1 person in 6 — suffer from one or more neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), such as Buruli ulcer, cholera, cysticercosis, dracunculiasis (guinea-worm disease), foodborne trematode infections, hydatidosis, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis, trachoma and trypanosomiasis. Several of these diseases, and others such as dengue, are vector-borne. Often, those populations most affected are also the poorest and most vulnerable and are found mainly in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Some diseases affect individuals throughout their lives, causing a high degree of morbidity and physical disability and, in certain cases, gross disfigurement. Others are acute infections, with transient, severe and sometimes fatal outcomes. Patients can face social stigmatization and abuse, which only adds to the already heavy health burden."

When discussing the successes of campaigns of eradication and treatment, the WHO says:
"Since 1985, 14.5 million patients have been cured of leprosy through multidrug therapy; today, less than a million people are affected by the disease. Before the start of the Guinea-worm Eradication Programme in the early 1980s, an estimated 3.5 million people in 20 endemic countries were infected with the disease. In 2005, only about 10 000 cases were reported in 9 endemic countries, and the programme is moving towards eradication. Onchocerciasis has freed more than 25 million hectares of previously onchocerciasis-infected land available for resettlement and agricultural cultivation, thereby considerably improving development prospects in Africa and Latin America."

"Increased awareness and advocacy are needed to draw attention to the realistic prospect of reducing the negative impact of NTDs on the health and social and economic well-being of affected communities."

Read full report for more. Insightful.

Email hoaxes, surprise, surprise!

The usual, hoax forwards, they annoy me to hell!-now a new flavour of these is in town. Check it out here.

"ActionAid UK today issued a warning over a hoax email which tells people the charity has awarded them £850,000 to help social and business development in their community."

"The emails said the charity, together with the European Council, is giving £100m to 150 international beneficiaries worldwide in different categories, based on Internet random selection.
The scam is to obtain people's bank account details or tell them they must pay a small amount to collect their money.
The people who sent the emails used the surnames of two men associated with ActionAid.
The emails listed telephone numbers which turned out to be barred from callers.
It also, though, gave fax numbers and an email address."

Excellent, please don' t tell me you ever fell for one of those. Word of advice? NEVER trust forwards. I am probably stating the obvious here:) But anyway, if you get the above mentioned forward, please contact ActionAid by sending an email here.

Ich Liebe FUßBALL!

Right, all the excitment with Fifa World Cup is in the air, hell, I hear you. Put MTV, FIFA and UNICEF together, what do you get?

"The 'Superfans' PSA series – produced by MTV and UNICEF – brings together 15 world-class players from 15 countries in a virtual 'Team UNICEF' to pledge support for the 2006 FIFA World Cup campaign theme, UNITE FOR CHILDREN UNITE FOR PEACE. The video spots also unite these players with young footballers in a series of unexpected vignettes shot around the globe". More here.

"The PSAs will be shown to hundreds of thousands of football fans before each of the 64 matches of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany this summer". More here.

Watch the Superfans series here!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Zimbabwe's growing concerns

This is a good article on the socio-economic situation in Zimbabwe. As I have previously posted, the country is suffering from a record high inflation rate above 1000%. The article brings in perspective opinions of activists who criticise both the country and the surrounding ones for not cooperating to help homeless people. It also touches on this: "efforts to assist victims were being largely thwarted by the government, which accuses NGO's of working to further the political agenda of the main opposition party". Here we go again....

Nigeria heading towards democracy

A BBC.co.uk article has this:

"Nigeria's vice-president has said that the Senate decision to throw out a bill which would have let the president seek re-election will strengthen democracy. "

"The question of allowing President Olusegun Obasanjo a third term has divided Nigeria and the ruling party.
Nigeria had many years of military rule until Mr Obasanjo was elected in 1999.
Mr Obasanjo has not publicly said whether he wanted to remain in office but the BBC's Alex Last in Lagos says it now appears that Nigeria will have a new president next year. "

"Our correspondent says there is "shock and disbelief" around the presidential camp.
Mr Obasanjo's special advisor on the National Assembly Senator Florence Ita-Giwa told the BBC's Network Africa programme that the president had been consulting with party leaders.
"He had no intention of staying if he is not wanted," she said, adding that it was a shame that the third term issue had overshadowed many other constitutional amendments in the bill. "

""It confirms that democracy has a teeming army of believers and converts, who will defend it even in the face of inducement, blackmail, harassment, threat and intimidation," Mr [Atiku] Abubakar said following the Senate's decision. "

"Human rights lawyer Gani Fawehinmi, who contested the 2003 elections, said he was "delighted" by the news.
"Obasanjo's dream has been killed. It is the end of a sit-tight rule in Nigeria, political robbery and gangsterism," he told the AFP news agency.
"Democracy has triumphed over dictatorship." "

"Our correspondent says some people say the government may try again to change the constitution but all the politicians and analysts he has spoken to say there is no way back. "

Bono in Africa

""In a small African country the three issues -- debt, aid and trade -- come together in an unholy trinity," the U2 frontman told Reuters as his plane landed in the capital Maseru with a delegation of activists and private sector executives. "

Bono began a 10-day tour in Lesotho on Tuesday, this week, "where he will unveil a new initiative to fight AIDS in the ailing textile industry".

"Billed as "Measuring Success and Promises Kept" Bono plans to highlight the progress in the treatment of HIV/AIDS in Africa, the search for economic growth and rich nations' pledges to cancel some debts and more than double aid to Africa by 2010.
The 10-day trip also marks four years since he traveled to Africa with then-U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill to urge wealthy nations to do more for the world's poorest continent. On this tour Bono hopes to show that even more needs to be done for countries like Lesotho, where a once-vibrant textile sector has been hit by low-cost Asian producers and uncertainty over duty-free access to the U.S. market".

"Bono will announce a new initiative to fight HIV/AIDS in Lesotho's textile and garment industry with U.S. clothing maker Gap Inc., which has signed onto his Red Products branding plan to raise cash to fight the epidemic. Gap is contributing 50 percent of its profits from the sale of GAP Red products to a global fund for AIDS in Africa and has committed to produce some of the Red Products in Africa. "

Next day, he "visited a rural AIDS clinic on Wednesday that he says shows how global resources can be used to provide HIV/AIDS sufferers with free testing and treatment.
In this small town, which has a single factory making T-shirts sold at U2 concerts, the Paballong clinic and its two nurses treat 266 patients with free antiretrovirals funded by the Global Fund for AIDS.
Bono supports the Fund with profits from his Red Products branding initiative..."

"Just a few years ago drugs to combat the spread of AIDS were unavailable in most parts of Africa, but increased global funding and cheaper anti-retroviral drugs have increased access to treatment".
Read full article here.

On the latest update, "Bono promised on Thursday to keep up the pressure on the United States and other wealthy nations to make good on their promises of increased aid for Africa and to keep the funds rolling in.
In Rwanda on a six-nation tour of Africa, the U2 lead singer and anti-poverty campaigner said there were signs the elite Group of Eight industrial countries were back-tracking on last year's promises to double aid to Africa by 2010 to $50 billion."

"Addressing a news conference after touring a hospital in the capital Kigali, Bono criticised the U.S. House of Representatives' appropriations committee for cutting President George W. Bush's request for $3 billion more for foreign aid down to $600 million.
The cut will affect funding for HIV/AIDS treatments in Africa among other things."

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Email Putin

With the G8 meeting taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia this year, 15th-17th July 2006, we need to put the constant pressure on them to keep up to their promises that revolve around increasing aid, debt cancellation, etc.

Please send an email to President Putin, this will not take any time from you, it could help save lives.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

UNICEF Horn of Africa food crisis appeal

"Tens of thousands of children are facing the prospect of a slow death by starvation in the Horn of Africa. Despite recent rains, a two-year drought has already killed half the livestock and UNICEF fears that the nomadic pastoralists and their children who roam the vast region could be next.
“There is a population of about 40,000 children under the age of five who are so acutely malnourished at this stage that they need sustained help,” said UNICEF Emergency Communication Officer Gordon Weiss. “Otherwise they face the very real prospect of death in the coming months.”
Launching a multimedia report, 'Child Alert: Crisis in the Horn of Africa', as well as a funding appeal for $80 million, UNICEF seeks to heighten awareness of the drought crisis. UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah said today that recent heavy rain had actually deepened the crisis in some areas, while providing limited relief in others...To date, however, less than a third of UNICEF’s humanitarian appeal for the Horn of Africa drought crisis has been funded by donors." Read in full here.

Bird flu dance!

I had to post this here...we know now that Cote D'Ivoire has confirmed the arrival of the avian flu. How are the Ivorians dealing with it? Easy: they are making a "bird flu dance"!

Must-read!-hehe

Neglected drugs

"Over the past 30 years, the number of drugs targeting neglected diseases is ten if we consider the most neglected diseases, 18 if we add malaria, and 21 if we add tuberculosis. These totals still represent only around 1% of all new drugs (1,556) launched during this period — a situation that is essentially unchanged from five years ago."

Medecins Sans Frontieres has an interesting report on neglected drugs, check it out here.

Single drug to combined-Malaria treatment

"The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that 13 pharmaceutical companies have agreed to comply with WHO's recommendation to phase out single-drug artemisinin medicines for oral treatment of malaria. This group includes the main producers of high quality artemisinin monotherapies. The companies will now focus their marketing efforts for malaria primarily on Artemisinin Combination Therapies (ACTs), in line with WHO recommendations.
The use of single-drug artemisinin treatment, or monotherapy - especially on a wide scale for the treatment of uncomplicated malaria - hastens development of resistance to artemisinin in malaria parasites. When used correctly in combination with other anti-malarial drugs in ACTs, artemisinin is nearly 95% effective in curing uncomplicated malaria and the parasite is highly unlikely to become drug resistant."
Read full article here

Zambia gives you a reason to be proud

Read here.

People's Poll results

"People across Britain believe they could do a better job of ending world poverty than high-profile figures from the Pope to Tony Blair.
Oxfam's 'I'm in' People's Poll, which was launched in February and has received nearly 9,000 votes from people all over Britain, has identified the names of the top ten people who the nation believe can do most to end injustice; and the top choice for the voters was 'me'. "

"The final top 10 is as follows:
1. Me
2. George Bush
3. Bob Geldof
4. Bono
5. Tony Blair
6. Gordon Brown
7. Nelson Mandela
8. Bill Gates
9. Pope Benedict XVI
10. Oprah Winfrey "

Read full article here.

"Africa's worst war"

"The four-and-a-half year conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo has been described as the worst since World War II.
An estimated 3.3 million people have died as a result of the war making it the "tragedy of modern times", according to a report issued by the International Rescue Committee aid agency.
The IRC said that only about 10% of the victims died violently, with the vast majority dying from starvation and disease due to the activities of the various armed groups operating in the country.
"This is a humanitarian catastrophe of horrid and shocking proportions... Yet, the crisis has received scant attention from international donors and the media," says IRC President George Rupp.
Africa's worst ever war began following the invasion of the north and east of the country by Rwanda and Uganda, to, as they said, prevent armed groups attacking them from Congo's territory.
This brought in armies, which have now left, from other countries to fight on the side of the Congolese Government.
However, ethnic clashes between the Hema and Lendu in the troubled north-eastern province of Ituri remain a potential stumbling block to peace. " Read full article here.

Chad refugee situation

"The world is overlooking the plight of refugees in eastern Chad, some 200,000 of which are from neighbouring Sudan's Darfur region, the UN says.
The UN's humanitarian chief Jan Egeland said a fraction of the funds needed to feed the refugees had been raised.
He said Chad's refugee crisis had been "overshadowed" by events in Darfur.
The Darfur conflict has killed some 200,000 people and created 2m refugees. Many have fled to Chad, to be joined by Chadians fleeing internal unrest.
Touring refugee camps in eastern Chad, near the border with Sudan, Mr Egeland told the Reuters news agency the security situation in the region had descended into "total chaos".
Aid agencies estimate they need $180m to feed the refugees in eastern Chad.
"Only 16% of the humanitarian funds required to feed these people has been met so far," Mr Egeland is quoted as saying."

"Eastern Chad has seen a recent influx of refugees from within the country, fleeing fighting between the government and rebels seeking to overthrow it.
Other Chadian refugees in the area have claimed they have been attacked by Janjaweed militia who have crossed the border from Sudan. "
Read full article here.

On another report:

"The United Nations is looking to create an international force to help protect civilians and refugees in Chad from attacks by armed groups spilling over from Sudan's Darfur region, a U.N. official said on Thursday.
"We have a seriously deteriorating security situation in Chad and the government's capacity is also diminishing in terms of security response," Kingsley Amaning, humanitarian coordinator for the United Nations in Chad, told Reuters.
"Therefore along with the (Chadian) government we are looking at the possibility of putting in place an expatriate, international force that will support government efforts to provide security in the areas where we are operating."
U.N. humanitarian chief Jan Egeland earlier met Chad's President Idriss Deby to discuss the situation in the country's long and porous border region with Darfur, where armed groups have been mounting cross-border raids on villages.
"It's very clear that Chad has limitations with its present armed forces being small and its police force being even smaller, and that's why ... we are looking at other methods to try to protect the civilian, refugee and displaced populations," Egeland told reporters.
U.N. officials gave no details which countries might provide soldiers for any mission or how large it would be.
Chad's army has been stretched by rebel attacks culminating in an assault on the capital N'Djamena last month. "

Cholera epidemic in Angola

"LUANDA, Angola (Reuters) -- The death toll from Angola's cholera epidemic has risen to more than 1,200, the World Health Organization said on Monday, with development aiding the spread of the disease as people travel on improved roads.
WHO reported a total of 1,219 deaths since mid-February and 33,776 cases. Last week it had recorded 1,156 deaths.
In the last 24 hours alone, 590 new cases and nine deaths have been reported, the WHO said in a statement.
This is the first outbreak in the seaside capital of Luanda in more than 10 years. Interior parts of Angola have not seen cholera for even longer as people rarely traveled internally during the civil war which ended in 2002.
"It's following the commercial roads, the truck routes," WHO analyst Jordi Sacristan told Reuters.
The disease seemed to be aided by both Angola's continued poverty and its reviving infrastructure.
"This is a price of development," said Jose Van Dunem, Angola's deputy health minister, who also blames heavy rains.
"Cholera follows the water and bad health. In the slums some people get water from road-potholes ... (this) creates the best conditions for spreading," he said.
Van Dunem called for better education and sanitation in the slums as the surest way of defeating the epidemic -- and there were signs his message was trickling down.
"I am going home to today, I feel better," said Adriano Costa a young patient in Cazenga who admitted to drinking bad water. "When I return home I will treat water to drink and when my children bathe -- it's worth the effort.""

""When the outbreak first started we were in the middle of it here. There were beds by the ditches," says Zola Messo, the doctor in charge of the center, pointing to the irrigation canals that surround the center.
"The number of cases is increasing, but we opened two more (care centers) nearby," Messo said.
Angola, sub-Saharan Africa's second largest oil producer after Nigeria, is in the middle of a reconstruction boom fueled by high oil prices. Yet despite its oil wealth most people continue to subsist on less than $1 a day."
Read full article here (note that this is dated May 15, 2006)