Sole survivor tells of tragic incident off #Libya’s coast, 55 lives lost


A year and a few months after the “left-to-die boat” case lead to international indignation, another dramatically similar incident reveals how, despite the changed geopolitical situation, migrants keep dying in the Mediterranean sea in appalling conditions.
Last year, in March 2011, 63 people who had left Tripoli in the attempt to reach the Southern shores of Italy, died after drifting for 14 days at sea. This incident occurred during the international military intervention in Libya and as such in meticulously surveyed waters. Several damning reports were released on the failures of a series of actors and a legal case was filed in France for non-assistance. Now, despite the fall of the Gaddafi regime and the end of the international intervention in Libya, Boats4People has learned during an interview conducted this morning in Zarzis, Southern Tunisia, about another tragic case that shows once again the dramatic effects of the European migration regime.
Abbas, an Eritrean national who is the only survivor of this incident, was found on Tuesday at 14:30 by a Tunisian fisherman 35 miles off the coasts of Zarzis. He was hanging onto the remains of the rubber dinghy with which he had left Tripoli around 14 days earlier with 56 people on board (20 Somalians, 2 Sudanese and 34 Eritreans), among which his older brother and two sisters. After approximately 26 hours of navigation, the boat, which was in very bad conditions, capsized and only Abbas managed to hold onto the boat, whose engine was nevertheless damaged after falling into the water. He drifted alone for fourteen days in the open sea, occasionally sighting in the distance other vessels. After finally rescued by a Tunisian fisherman yesterday, a patrol boat of the Tunisian “Garde National Maritime” was sent out and took him onboard at 15:30. He was brought to the hospital in Zarzis, where he received treatment for dehydration and extreme exhaustion.
Boats4People denounces once again the policy of border closure that oblige migrants to resort to dangerous means to cross the Mediterranean as well as the criminalization of assistance to migrants in distress at sea, which have de facto transformed the Mediterranean in a cemetery.
In collaboration with researchers of the Forensic Oceanography project at Goldsmiths College, Boats4People will keep inquiring to determine if any measure could have been taken to avert the tragic fate of the passengers of this boat.
Boats 4 People says a video of the interview will soon be made available, and offers more information on the incident, via near-real-time mapping platform WatchTheMed:


How the Arab World Uses Facebook and Twitter


Social media has been often touted for the role it played in the popular uprisings that have spread across the Arab world since December 2010. Despite the buzz, you may be surprised that only 0.26% of the Egyptian population, 0.1% of the Tunisian population and 0.04% of the Syrian population are active on Twitter.

Of all the countries in North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter is most popular in Kuwait, where 8.6% of the population is active users, defined as those who tweet at least once per month. Facebook’s more popular throughout the region. In its most popular country, the U.A.E., some 36.18% of the population is on Facebook.

Khaled ElAhmad (who goes by the Internet alias Shusmo) created these two infographics, exploring Facebook and Twitter trends in the Arab world, using His data comes from a Dubai School of Government report on Arab Social Media.

Take a look through the two infographics, which also show growth of the social networks by country and overall membership stats. Did you expect more people to be active social media users? How do you think your country’s habits compare? You can also check out infographics on how China and India do social networking.


via How the Arab World Uses Facebook and Twitter [INFOGRAPHICS].

Thousands still flee #Somalia every month

Child being measured for signs of malnutrition

 A year after troubled Somalia was ravaged by the worst drought in decades, no end seems in sight to more than two decades of suffering and Somalis continue to flee their country to escape conflict, human rights abuses and adverse weather conditions.

In the first four months of this year, some 20,000 Somalis sought refuge in neighbouring Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Yemen. Although the levels are lower, they are significant. On average 40,000 Somalis fled their homeland each month between June and September of 2011.

In May, the Dollo Ado camps in eastern Ethiopia, which were already hosting more than 150,000 refugees, saw a significant increase in new arrivals, from less than 980 in the first half of May to more than 2,000 in the second half.

The newcomers say they are fleeing increased physical insecurity and dwindling food resources. Specifically, they cite fear of being caught in military operations, forced recruitment, poor rains and crop destruction by caterpillars as reasons for leaving Somalia. “We are working with the Ethiopian authorities to identify a site for a sixth camp in this already crowded and environmentally fragile area,” Andrej Mahecic, a UNHCR spokesman, said in Geneva.

Meanwhile, at Dadaab in north-east Kenya, more than 460,000 refugees continue to live in a precarious security environment. The threat of improvised explosive devices, shootings, kidnapping and banditry remains high. Deliveries of assistance and activities in the camps are continuing regardless.

Mahecic explained that the priority and toughest challenge for UNHCR and its partners throughout the past year has been to reduce the unprecedented mortality and malnutrition rates among Somali arrivals.

“Despite life-saving medical care and therapeutic feeding programmes in the Dadaab and Dollo Ado refugee camps, many of the newly arriving children have been beyond help – dying within hours or days of arrival. At the peak of the influx last summer, the estimated death toll was as high as 17 deaths per 10,000 people every day,” he noted.

At the onset of last year’s crisis, UNHCR and its partners set up critical nutrition programmes in reception and transit centres and in the camps. “Combined with mass vaccinations and other public health measures, these massive efforts saved lives over the past 12 months,” Mahecic said. “Mortality and malnutrition rates began to drop from record highs in September last year, but it took another six months before they fell below the levels usually seen in an emergency – less than one per 10,000 per day,” he added.

Today, Ethiopia’s Dollo Ado camps are reporting an average crude mortality rate of 0.8 per 1,000 per month and an under-five mortality rate of 2.2 per 1,000 per month. In Kenya’s Dadaab refugee complex the crude mortality rate is 0.2 per 1,000 per month, and 0.6 per 1,000 per month for children under five years of age.

“Another vital achievement has been the reduction in the high malnutrition rates, unseen in decades,” Mahecic said. Malnutrition was especially alarming among refugee children – in June and July last year, more than half of Somali children arriving in Ethiopia were acutely malnourished. That rate was somewhat lower among those arriving in Kenya, but equally disturbing – between 30 and 40 per cent.

Mahecic said the results of the most recent mass screenings show a sharp reduction of malnutrition among under fives in Dadaab (seven per cent). In Dollo Ado, the malnutrition levels among children also stabilized with all camps showing a positive trend. In the older Melkadida and Bokolomayo camps, acute malnutrition rates have fallen to 15 per cent. UNHCR is currently preparing a follow-up survey in the newer Kobe and Hilaweyn camps and expects to see significantly reduced levels of general acute malnutrition.

Massive water, sanitation and hygiene programmes went hand-in-hand with these efforts and were integral to the vast improvements in the health conditions of the Somali refugee population.

Meanwhile, neighbouring countries have been bearing the brunt of the Somali displacement and they continue to need international support. Some 300,000 people fled Somalia last year alone. Today, more than 980,000 Somalis live as refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia, Yemen and Djibouti.


News from Iran – Week 21 – 2012


News of the Prisoners

A- Transfers

  • Mousavi’s senior adviser Ali Reza Beheshti Shirazi transferred to hospital.
  • National-Religious activist Masoud Pedram has been transferred back to Ward 350 from Ward 2-A solitary.

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Rastin Aalemi, student in Mazandaran University arrested.
  • Sholeh Afshari, Baha’i, arrested in Isfahan.
  • Ali Aghazadeh, merchant in Tabriz bazar, arrested.
  • Hossein Ahmadian arrested in Maragheh.
  • Mostafa Avazpour, arrested in Tabriz for protesting against Lake Urmiah drying up.
  • Mohammad Eskandarzadeh arrested in Tabriz for protesting against Lake Urmiah drying up.
  • Bahram Ferdosian, Baha’i, arrested in Isfahan.
  • Abolfazl Garamani, student in Mazandaran University arrested.
  • Mehran Keshavarz, Sepah soldier, arrested in Urmiah for protesting against lake drying up.
  • Pouria Khaleghi, student in Mazandaran University arrested.
  • Rouhollah Khani arrested in Urmiah for protesting against lake drying up.
  • Askar Khaniari arrested in Urmiah for protesting against lake drying up.
  • Hasan Mirzakhani arrested in Tabriz for protesting against Lake Urmiah drying up.
  • Akbar Mohajeri arrested in Tabriz for protesting against Lake Urmiah drying up.
  • Hamid Noghoudi arrested in Urmiah for protesting against Lake Urmiah drying up.
  • Ghader Norouzi arrested in Tabriz for protesting against lake drying up.
  • Esrafil Omidi, student in Shahid Beheshti University, arrested in Urmiah for protesting against lake drying up.
  • Mana Pirali, Baha’i, arrested in Isfahan.
  • Mehrdad Raha arrested in Urmiah for protesting against lake drying up.
  • Mobin Rastemian student in Mazandaran University arrested
  • Fariborz Reisdana, economist, member of Iran Writers Association, arrested to serve out a 1-year prison term.
  • Azam Tabibi, Baha’i, arrested in Isfahan.
  • Afsaneh Toghi arrested inside Tabriz University for protesting against Lake Urmiah drying up.
  • Arrests at a private party (9 men + 6 women) where alcohol was served.
  • Tens of people arrested in East and West Azarbaijan for protesting the drying up of Lake Urmiah.


  • Clergy/blogger Ahmad Reza Ahmadpour ended his hunger strike after being granted furlough.
  • Journalist Rahman Bouzari was transferred to Evin prison on Saturday to start serving his 2 years sentence.
  • Mahdieh Golroo, student activist, was released at the end of her sentence.
  • Women’s rights activist Mahboobeh Karami was released on bail a little while ago. She’d been detained since May 15 last year.
  • Teachers Trade unionist Ali Poursoleiman was released after completing his one year sentence.
  • Author and literary translator Mohammad Soleimaninia has been released on bail.

D-Other News

  • Mohammad Sedigh Kaboudvand has been on hunger strike since May 4th.
  • Iran to retry Kurdish Moradi brothers sentenced to death.
  • Mohammad Reza Motamednia has ended his hunger strike after 42 days.
  • Political prisoner Mansour Radpour has died in custody in Rejaei Shahr prison.
  • Imprisoned blogger Hossein Ronaghi Maleki has started a hunger strike.
  • Prison officials recently admitted to using trained dogs to attack prisoners as a punishment.

News of injustice in Iran

  • Mostafa Armin, Kurdish activist, sentenced to 15.5 years in prison + exile for Moharebeh.
  • Nioosha Badi Sabet, Baha’i, sentenced to 1 year in prison + 1 year suspended.
  • Saeed Derayat, Kurdish activist, sentenced to 4 years in prison.
  • Ali Divsalar, Baha’i, sentenced to 2 years in prison + 2 years suspended.
  • Anisa Fanaian, Baha’i sentenced to 4 years and 4 months..
  • Abolfazl Ghadiani sentenced to one extra year in prison for writing to Khamenei.
  • Court of Appeals upheld 3 1/2 years in prison+70 lashes for Mashhad Ferdowsi University student Mohammad Ghafarian.
  • Solmaz Ghasemi, Baha’i, sentenced to 1 year in prison + 1 year suspended.
  • Sarah Haj Ebrahimi Baha’i, sentenced to 2 years in prison + 2 years suspended.
  • Mousa Hatefi, Kurdish activist, sentenced to 7 years in prison.
  • Reza Jolodarzadeh Editor-in-Chief of banned weekly Sobhe Azadi has been sentenced to 1 year in prison.
  • Sabah Khaiat sentenced to 6 years by Appeals.
  • Ali Marhamati, Kurdish activist, sentenced to 4 years in prison.
  • Shamis Nourani, Baha’i, sentenced to 1 year in prison + 1 year suspended.
  • No one found guilty for the 4 death of Hoda Saber (political prisoner died after 9-days hunger strike) and Haleh Sahabi (died at father funeral) Prosecutor.
  • Amir Seif sentenced to 5 years + 74 lashes on anti-national security acts by participating in protests and insulting officials.
  • Two people executed in Esfahan on Saturday.
  • Seven people executed in Lakan prison in Rasht on Sunday.
  • 14 people hanged on Monday of which two men in Sanandaj, one man in Sari and one in Kermanshah.
  • Man convicted of alcohol consumption was lashed in public in Mianeh.
  • 3 people were hanged in Adelabad prison in Shiraz on Tuesday.
  • A man received 74 lashes in public in Dashte Azadegan in Khozestan province
  • One pubic hanging in Ilam on Thursday.

University – Culture

  • Education Ministry is cooperating with theological seminaries to produce elementary school textbooks.
  • Members of music group [rap band ] “vibrations” were arrested in Mahabad.
  • Reuters Bureau Chief in Tehran, Parisa Hafezi ‏has been banned from leaving Iran.
  • 9 internet cafes shut down due to using proxy filters.
  • Asghar Farhadi received EU Media prize in Cannes – he will direct his next film in France.
  • Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami relocates to Japan for Cannes entry ‘Like Someone in Love’.
  • Iran to issue media licenses to foreign media from Latin America and “Islamic Awakening” countries.
  • The Elamite rock bas-relief of Kurangun in the Baba Meydan region of Fars Province, faces destruction.
  • Shiraz Payamnour University English language and literature student Yekta Fahandezh has been expelled for being of Baha’i faith.


  • Protests in Urmiah on Monday against drying up of the Lake.
  • Preschool teachers protest in front of Parliament.
  • Clandestine Gay Rights Rally in Tehran.

Economy in Iran

  • Water bills to rise 20%.
  • $1 = 1700 tomans.
  • South Korea’s largest oil refiner SK Energy will stop Iranian crude imports from July.
  • 800 Metro workers have not been paid for five months in Ahvaz.
  • Iranian oil exports to China down by 23% in April compared to last year.
  • Iran plans a new oil terminal outside the Strait of Hormuz to protect its exports.
  • Hundreds of brick making factories closed down; thousands of seasonal workers unemployed in Kermanshah.
  • Fire erupts in petrochemical plant in Khuzestan province.
  • Iran to export oil products to Ecuador.

Iran  abroad

  • FM Ali Akbar Salehi left for Kuwait on Sunday.
  • Iran calls back ambassador from Azerbaijan.
  • Three Iranian truck drivers were abducted in Syria.
  • Hojjat 0l-Eslam Mohammad Mohammadi, the Supreme Leader’s representative and head of the Islamic Charities Organization, met with Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah.
  • Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili met with Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani.
  • Ahmadinejad meets with Sudan’s presidential adviser.
  • Ahmadinejad invites Syria’s Assad, to visit Tehran to take part in a meeting of Non-Aligned Movement.
  • Iran and Afghanistan have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation on an anti-narcotics campaign.
  • There are currently 5,700 Iranians registered as refugees or asylum seekers in Turkey.

Politics in Iran

  • Iranian diplomat accused of child molestation in Brazil fired from Foreign Ministry.
  • Former deputy head of the Central Bank accused in fraud case attends government meetings.
  • Deal signed to split oil revenue between outlets of IRGC and Basij militia.


  • Iranians buying oxygen tanks to escape Tehran’s polluted air: 5 minutes of oxygen, for $3.
  • Landmine explosion kills two.
  • Bodies of 98 Iranians and 13 Iraqis killed during 1980-1988 war returned to their native countries on Monday.

News from Iran – Week 20 – 2012

Ronak Safarzadeh

News of the Prisoners

A- Transfers

  • Javad Alikhani transferred to Modarres hospital for kidney stones problems.
  • Chair of Participation Front Mohsen Mirdamadi was transferred to hospital from Evin on Sunday.
  • Narges Mohammadi transferred to Evin clinic and then to Zanjan prison.
  • Sarir Sadeghi transferred from Pelak 100 to Shiraz prison.
  • Riaz Sobhani transferred from Rejaei Shahr handcuffed and shackled to a hospital in Tehran

B- Arrests/Incarcerations


  • Zahed Banafeshi arrested on May 1st in Sanandaj, released on bail from Intelligence detention center.
  • Babol University student activist Moein Ghamin has been released after 23 days in detention.
  • Shirkoo Kordi arrested on May 1st in Sanandaj, released on bail from Intelligence detention center.
  • Mohammad Latifi arrested on May 1st in Sanandaj, released on bail from Intelligence detention center.
  • Human Rights activist member of One Million Signatures Campaign and a member of the Cultural and Social Association of Women of Azarmehr in Kurdistan, Ronak Safarzadeh, an Iranian Kurd, released after 55 months
  • Hamid Tarimoradi arrested on May 1st in Sanandaj, released on bail from Intelligence detention center.
  • Iran Freedom Movement member Mohammad Tavasoli has been released on furlough.
  • After more than 2 years in prison, student activist Sina Zahiri was released from Rejaei Shahr prison.

D-Other News

  • Silent demonstration for saying condolence to ...

    Moussavi & Rahnavard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

    Activist Peyman Aref has been summoned to court once again.

  • Opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi, under house arrest, met with his family.
  • Iran opposition leader Mir-Hossein Moussavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard, under house arrest, met with Rahnavard’s mother.
  • Imprisoned writer, democratic theorist Massoud Pedram on hunger strike.
  • Iran demolishes houses of activists in Ahwaz.
  • Relocating Evin prison is postponed for lack funds for prisons.
  • Isfahan prisons hold 3 times the number of prisoners for standard capacity of the prisons.
  • Imprisoned labour activists on hunger strike in Tabriz prison.

News of injustice in Iran

  • Sahar Beiram Abadi, Baha’i, sentenced to 2 years in prison + 1 year suspended.
  • Scientist Dr. Omid Kokabi is sentenced to 10 years for refusing to cooperate with IRGC.
  • Saman Ostevar, Baha’i, director of a pre-school in Bam, sentenced to 2 years in prison + 1 year suspended.
  • Mehdi Ramezani, father of Ramin, killed during Iran Election protests, sentenced to 3 years in prison.
  • Sirvan Saberi, Kurdish political activist, sentenced to 3 years in prison; he is in Sanandaj prison.
  • Nahale Shahidi Baha’i, sentenced to 2 years in prison + 1 year suspended.
  • 13 people were tried and convicted of espionage for Israel.
  • Majid Jamali Fashi who pleaded guilty for the murder of nuclear scientist Massoud Ali-Mohammadi will be executed on Tuesday May 15.
  • One execution in Zanjan on Wednesday.
  • One woman and 6 men hanged in Kermanshah, 3 men in Ardebil, and 16 persons in Yazd prison on Thursday, a total of 26 people in one day, of which 5 women and 5 Afghans.
  • 4 fingers of a convicted thief were amputated in Mashhad prison.

University  – Culture

  • The manager of Tehran book fair reported that 120 different books were collected from the fair for what he called a “violation of the fair’s regulations.”
  • 397 satellite receivers collected in Arak last week.
  • Wave of university professors forced to retire.
  • Khamenei’s fatwa (religious ruling) on the illegality of using anti-filtering was blocked.
  • Political Prisoner Mohsen Mirdamadi secretary general of Participation Front expelled from Tehran University.
  • Parviz Shahriari, major figure in Iranian education -jailed under both Shah and Islamic Republic, dies at 85.
  • Book documenting life of Supreme Leader Khamenei banned.


  • Last week a group of students from Marivan Azad University gathered in front of the governor’s office in protest to what they call “life dangers.”
  • Sugar cane and food industry workers in Shushtar gathered to protest low wages and a lack of transparent contracts.
  • Protests in Sistan-Baluchistan turn deadly.
  • Battle between armed forces and workers at the Art College in Karaj University.

Economy in Iran

  • Eram textile factory in Tehran which employed more than 200 workers has reduced the number of workers to 180.
  • 200 workers lost their jobs after “Nab” vegetable oil was closed.
  • USD 1 = 1593 tomans.
  • Iran, unable to sell oil, stores it on tankers.
  • US dollar jumps 7% (from 1580 tomans to 1695 tomans) overnight.
  • Statistics Center: Unemployment fell 1.2% to 12.3% in Iranian year ending March 19, 2012.
  • Sharp rise in Tehran rents.
  • Iran subsidy handouts to increase from 45,500 tomans ($27) to 73,000 tomans ($43) per person per month.
  • Iran to raise petrol prices to 700 -1200 tomans per liter with second phase of subsidy reform.
  • 325 fertilizer plants shut down in Iran / 15,000 workers laid off.
  • Two factories in Zanjan have laid off 140 workers, after not paying their salaries for five months.
  • Oil exports reportedly show 90 % fall in two weeks – sanctions held responsible.

Iran  abroad

  • Iran turns off tracking systems on tankers.
  • Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs departs for South Africa and Namibia.
  • Iran still shipping arms to Syria, UN report finds.
  • Islamic Republic of Iran threatens Google with lawsuit if they use a name other than “Persian Gulf”.
  • Japan bank freezes Iran accounts after court order.
  • Arab hackers launch cyber-attack against Iranian Oil Company.
  • Sri Lanka announces reduced purchases of Iranian oil.
  • Communications jamming, monitoring, and surveillance equipment, target for new sanctions on Iran.
  • Iran to host the 12th international mathematics conference on September 2-5.
  • Two Iranian pilgrims abducted in Syria were released and handed over to Turkish officials on the Turkey-Syria border.

Politics in Iran

  • Head of Iran’s Assembly of Experts: it is acceptable to issue a warning to the Supreme Leader.
  • Battle for the next Majlis speaker’s post: Haddad Adel vs. Larijani.
  • Rafsanjani: Iranian government must allow criticism of Iran’s Expediency Council leader; people must be allowed to make constructive criticism of the government
  • Iranian Azeris set up national council in Turkey, aspire for independence.
  • Majlis approves increase in subsidies in second stage of the Subsidy Reform Plan.
  • Iran’s parliament approves $462 billion budget.


  • EU force frees Iranian dhow from Somali pirates.
  • Remains of 57 Iranian soldiers killed during the war in the 1980s found in Faw peninsula in Iraq.
  • Health Ministry is concerned: Increasing alcohol consumption, alcoholism in Iran.
  • Air pollution alert issued in Tehran.
  • Another retired Sepah Commander dies of heart attack.