URGENT EMAIL ACTION: Stop forced Roma evictions in Serbia

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An entire Roma community in Belgrade, Serbia, is being forcibly removed from a settlement in Belgrade. Most are refugees from the Kosovo war. They have nowhere else to go. Take action today.

UPDATE – 1 March 2012

Roma families in Serbia face eviction

Roma families in Serbia face eviction

Thirty-three Roma families, many of whom had fled the war in Kosovo, could be forcibly evicted from their homes in Belgrade, Serbia. The eviction has been set for the 7th of March. Take action now

If evicted, the Roma families from Belgrade  are likely to be re-housed in metal containers. Some from Kosovo have been offered places at  collective refugee centres which are not only inadequate but have already been slated for closure by the government. Others have been told that they must return to Kosovo, where they may be at risk of  discrimination, or be left homeless.

The same families were previously threatened with forced eviction in November 2011. After Amnesty and other human rights groups took up the campaign – and thousands of you took action – the eviction was delayed and a working group comprising of government, city authorities and human rights groups was set up to prepare a resettlement plan for residents. However, at a recent meeting of the working group, the Ministry for Environment, Mining and Spatial Planning announced that evictions would go ahead as soon as the weather allows. Read more

via Stop forced evictions in Serbia – 1.

That Kony video has everyone talking

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Did you watch it, what did you think, and has the criticism (if you didn’t share it initially) changed your opinions?

Blank map of Africa

Click on Uganda

Ancient American” blogger Brian Henry Connor had many of the misgivings and questions as me after watching:

I watched “Kony 2012”, today, guys. Its not often that something spurs me to write. Something really has to bother me to get the Ancient American treatment.
Let me just start by saying, whoa! Am I the only who thinks that, for a video about the plight of African children at the hands of a ruthless warlord, there is very little about the children and an awful lot about this guy and his kid and their organization and the great things they’ve done? Well, no, I’m not. In the latter half of the day criticism of “Kony 2012” swept the Internet with the same force and determination that the video had as it swept Facebook and Twitter throughout the morning. And I’m glad I’m not the only one.
“Kony 2012” is a puzzling video and accompanying social media campaign put out by Invisible Children, a top-secret military invisibility-technology research corporation and a non-profit that advocates for “stopping Kony.”
What caught my attention in the whole Kony tsunami, and I have not see widely publicised, is this release from AFRICOM, Note the date, 22 Feb:
The United States will continue to support the governments and people of Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan as they work to counter the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a vicious insurgent group that has terrorized central Africa for more than 25 years.
“The U.S. is working to pursue a comprehensive, multifaceted strategy to help the governments and people of this region to end the threat posed by the Lord’s Resistance Army and reduce the human consequences of the LRA’s atrocities,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Karl Wycoff said in a telephone briefing February 22, 2012.”
 US State Department and military are part of a global effort on this;
The United States is cooperating closely with multilateral organizations, including the African Union, European Union and United Nations, as well as with the governments of the affected countries, as part of a unified effort to defeat the LRA.
Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan are seeing results from their efforts to fight the LRA:
“With our support, these four military forces continue to make progress in reducing the LRA’s numbers and keeping them from re-grouping,” [Wycoff] said. “We believe it is critical that the militaries in the region continue to work together to keep the pressure on the LRA and protect their own citizens. In the long run, it is Africans who are best-suited to address African security matters. In this case, four nations decided that they wanted to work together to address a common security challenge, and we’re glad to help.”
They don’t only want to capture Kony, the entire LRA is targeted, which, by definition, must include child soldiers:
“Military efforts to capture the LRA constitute only one part of a broader strategy, and must be nested within a program of civilian programmatic efforts,” [Wycoff] said.
It seems AFRICOM is “partnering” with Invisible Children, since both claim to be working on and funding the High Frequency Radio Early Warning System:
“In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, Wycoff said, the U.S. and African governments are partnering with civil society and nongovernmental organizations across the four countries to develop early warning systems and increase information about LRA movements. He said they are funding projects to help remote communities in LRA-affected areas develop protection plans, install mobile towers to increase telecommunications capacity and establish a high-frequency radio network to enhance information sharing.”
To summarise: Anyone who thinks this is a campaign about the need to persuade US Military to continue funding operations in Africa that target the LRA/Kony because it is at imminent risk of being withdrawn is completely wrong. Anyone who thinks this is a campaign to save children in Uganda from Joseph Kony is mostly wrong. Anyone who says Invisible Children is not linked to US military operations in Africa needs to explain the AFRICOM statement above. Anyone who is now thinking about problems in Africa and how to combat them is at least doing something right.

Mali immigrants in New York plan United Nations peace protest

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Bourema Niambele

Bourema Niambele is organizing a peace march at the U.N. to call attention to the conflict in Mali. Photo: VIOREL FLORESCU / NY Daily Star

A conflict a world away is hitting agonizingly close to home for the burgeoning Malian community here in the Bronx and upper Manhattan .

Since January, the Malian government army has been clashing with Tuareg rebels who want independence for the northern region of country. The conflict has forced more than 120,000 people in the West African nation to flee their homes.

“Everybody is talking about what is happening there,” said Assetou Sy of the Malian Cultural Center in Norwood. “People are worried about it.”

Local activist Bourema Niambele has organized a “Peace in Mali” demonstration on Friday at the United Nations to call on the international body to intervene.

“We need the support of the international community to stop this kind of thing,” he said. “We don’t need this in our country.”

Niambele has been rallying support at meetings in the Bronx, where an estimated 8,000 Malian immigrants live, and Manhattan, where some 12,000 reside.

He took to the airwaves on local radio stations in hopes of amassing at least 100 demonstrators for Friday.

With presidential elections due in late April, it’s critical that this all be resolved soon so everyone can vote, Niambele added.

“We want a peaceful resolution of this conflict,” he said.

A former French colony, Mali is hailed as one of the healthiest democracies on the African continent since a military coup ended a dictatorship in 1991.

Since then, the landlocked nation of more than 15 million people has been relatively politically stable.

The government army briefly clashed with Tuareg rebels over land in the 1990s and again in 2007. This latest skirmish ends two years of peace.

According to United Nations reports, an estimated 31,000 Malians have fled to Mauritania; 29,000 are now in Niger; 19,000 refugees are in Burkina Faso; and another 81,000 people have been displaced within Mali.

“These (rebels) are opportunists who are doing everything to have this separation,” said Morimoussa Kamissoko, of University Heights, who plans on attending Friday’s rally. “It’s ridiculous. Mali is one nation. This is not something we want.”

Fatoumata Ouattara, of Harlem, was so upset by the conflict she couldn’t eat for days.

“I just want them to put the weapons down. We don’t want fighting,” she said. “I want everyone to sit down at one table and talk about this peacefully. War will not resolve anything.”

For Cisse Mariam Wague, of Concourse Village, it’s hard to be so far away and hear of all the fighting in her homeland. She plans to do her part at the rally.

“In Mali, we have a democracy. We don’t fight about power,” she said. “My country has always been peaceful and we want to stay that way.”

NY Daily News.