Category Archives: International

South Africa Condemns Australia’s Asylum Plan

By Chuma Kisu

Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

According to reports, South Africa has criticized an Australian government minister for suggesting that white South African farmers should get special visas so they can flee “horrific circumstances.”

Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton oversees immigration and has drawn international criticism for heading a tough crackdown on asylum-seekers from Asia and the Middle East. According to reports, he said the South Africans deserve “special attention” for acceptance on refugee or humanitarian grounds.

In reports, Dutton cited reports of land seizures and violence targeting the minority white farmers, who control a disproportionate share of the country’s land.

“If you look at the footage, you hear the stories and you read the accounts, it’s a horrific circumstance that they face,” Dutton told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph late Wednesday, March 14, 2018.

“I’ve asked my department to look at options and ways in which we can provide some assistance because I do think on the information I’ve seen people do need help, and they need help from a civilised country like ours.”

The offer was swiftly rebuffed by South Africa, with its foreign ministry saying that no section of the country’s population was in any danger.

In a statement on Wednesday, South Africa’s foreign ministry said: “There is no reason for any government anywhere in the world to suspect that any South African is in danger from their own democratically elected government.

“That threat simply does not exist,” the South Africa’s foreign ministry added.

The statement added that South Africa regretted that the Australian government “chose not to use the available diplomatic channels to raise concerns or to seek clarifications on the land distribution process in South Africa.”

Dutton’s comments come just months after asylum-seekers and refugees held by Australia in a remote Pacific camp were awarded $56 million for being illegally detained and treated negligently in the country’s largest human rights class action settlement.

The Australian capital Canberra, which denied liability, sends asylum-seekers who try to reach Australia by boat- rather than through official channels- to facilities on Nauru in the Pacific and Papua New Guinea’s Manus Island.

Thousands March In Brazil After Councilwoman is Killed

Slain Rio Councilwoman Marielle Francco.

Slain Rio Councilwoman Marielle Francco.

By Chuma Kisu

Protest marches were held across Brazil Sunday after a popular Rio City Councilwoman and her driver were shot dead by two men in what appears to have been a targeted assassination.

Marielle Franco, 38, was a groundbreaking politician who had become a voice for disadvantaged people in the favelas that are home to almost one-quarter of Rio de Janeiro’s population. Favelas are shanty homes built for the poor where grinding poverty, police brutality, and shootouts with drug gangs are routine.

Richard Nunes, Rio’s head of public security, said there would be a “full investigation” into the deaths, which came despite the military taking charge of policing in the city last month after a surge in violence.

According to reports, two men in a car fired nine shots into the vehicle carrying Franco and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes on Wednesday night. March 14, 2018. A press officer in the back seat was injured, but survived, the officials said. Both officials said it appeared Franco was targeted.

In response, thousands gathered in front of the Municipal Theater in downtown Rio de Janeiro to protest the death of Franco. Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International condemned the killings, while friends, colleagues and politicians paid tribute to her.

On Thursday afternoon, crowds gathered outside Rio de Janeiro’s council chamber chanting “not one step backwards” ahead of a ceremony in honor of Franco inside. Many wept as her coffin was carried inside. The spontaneous demonstration brought together union members, feminists, leftists and residents of the city’s poorer communities.

Franco had criticized police killings. In January, 154 people were killed as a result of police action in Rio state, according to state government figures, a 57% increase from January 2017.

In February, President Michel Temer signed a decree putting the military in charge of security in Rio. An army general, Walter Braga Netto, was put in charge of public security and soldiers have carried out operations in gang-run favelas in a controversial attempt to curb rising crime.

Franco was a black single mother from the favelas in a field dominated by privileged white men. Skeptics wondered if she could get elected, yet her tally of votes was the fifth-highest of more than 50 city councilpersons.

In her brief tenure, she had become a beacon for justice on issues including racism and LGBT and women’s rights. She was an outspoken critic of the aggressive, militarized policing of the favelas, where residents live under the brutal control of drug gangs, but are also terrorized by the state military.

Cyclone Dumazile Hits Madagascar

By Chuma Kisu

Cyclone Dumazile over Madagascar

Cyclone Dumazile over Madagascar

According to international sources, massive flooding is gripping Madagascar as a tropical cyclone swirls close to the island.

The storm, named Dumazile, formed Saturday, March 3, 2018 and since then has been throwing torrential rain across Madagascar.

The cyclone is moving painfully slowly, at only 11 miles per hour, ensuring the heavy rain continues to fall for a prolonged period.

In the north of the island nation, Antsiranana has reported nearly eight inches of rain in the last 48 hours. In the east, Toamasina has been hit by 210 mm.

According to international sources, Antsiranana is likely to have seen the worst of the weather and conditions in the city should now improve, but Toamasina is likely to see more heavy rain over the next couple of days.

As the storm moves southward, its winds are strengthening. In approximately 24 hours, Dumazile is expected to reach its maximum intensity, with sustained winds of 122 miles per hour with gusts of up to 150 miles per hour.

With winds this strong, it would be classed as a powerful Category 3 hurricane on the 5-point Saffir-Simpson scale if it were situated in the waters around the Americas.

The eye of the storm, where the strongest of the winds are located, is forecast to remain over the sea. Rain is expected to be the greatest hazard for the region, with further flooding likely.

Madagascar is no stranger to tropical cyclones. In January, powerful cyclone Ava killed dozens of people when it slammed into the island. Again it was the east of the country which was worst hit, with Toamasina seeing some of the worst of the damage.

South Sudan Close to Drought

Drought in South Sudan.

Drought in South Sudan.

By Chuma Kisu

South Sudan is close to another famine, aid officials said on Monday, February 26, 2018. This is after more than four years of civil war and a number of failed ceasefires in the country.

Almost two-thirds of the population will need food aid this year to stave off starvation and malnutrition as aid groups prepare for the “toughest year on record,” members of a working group including South Sudanese and United Nations (UN) officials said.

“The situation is extremely fragile, and we are close to seeing another famine,” Serge Tissot of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in South Sudan said.

“The projections are stark,” he added.  “If we ignore them, we’ll be faced with a growing tragedy.”

A total of 5.3 million people – 48 percent of the population – are already in a “crisis” or “emergency” situation, according to a survey published by the working group.

According to reports, the oil-rich east African nation, which gained independence from neighboring Sudan in 2011, has been torn apart by war since late 2013, when troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and then-Vice President Riek Machar clashed.

Since then, more than four million people have been forced to flee their homes, creating Africa’s biggest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Machar and Kiir signed a peace deal in August 2015 and formed a unity government that following April. It broke down three months later, and fighting has continued.

According to the UN, the conflict has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people and left more than half of the country’s 12 million people in need of humanitarian aid.

The UN declared a famine in two districts in February of last year, but said that crisis the had started to ease in June 2017.