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New Era Newspaper Thursday July 20, 2017

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16 AFRICA

16 AFRICA Thursday, July 20 2017 | NEW ERA Migrants rescued crossing Sahara Desert Photo: Nampa/AFP and at last… Migrants with a child disembark from the Italian rescue ship Vos Pruence run by NGO Medecins Sans Frontieres as it arrives in the early morning of July 4, in the port of Salerno carrying 935 migrants. including 16 children and 7 pregnant omen rescued from the Mediterranean Sea. NIAMEY Twenty-three west African migrants, including a sevenyear-old girl, were found alive after being abandoned in the depths of the Sahara, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said Tuesday An IOM worker told AFP the migrants were found some 300 kilometres (180 miles) from the Niger city of Agadez, a key hub on the edge of the Sahara for African migrants trying to reach Europe. The group, which included Gambians and Senegalese, told the IOM they had been abandoned by their driver. They waited for him for six days before giving up and walking for two more days in the desert. They were finally spotted near a well by local authorities who called the IOM, the official said. Rescue operations – and grisly discoveries – have become routine in the Sahara. “Hundreds of west African migrants have been found dead, or have disappeared or been rescued in dire straits in Niger’s part of the Sahara,” a group of Agadez officials said in a recent report. In May and June alone, the bodies of 52 migrants including babies were found in the desert, while another 50 or so who went missing are probably dead, according to the IOM. Last week the European Union gave Niger 10 million euros (.5 million) in aid to help it stem the flow of illegal migrants seeking to cross into Libya and from there to Europe. – Nampa/AFP Leading HIV activist Prudence Mabele died feeling ‘betrayed’ JOHANNESBURG Leading HIV and gender activist Prudence Nobantu Mabele died broken from betrayal by her own organisation. This was revealed by people close to Mabele during her funeral service on Wednesday morning at Rhema Bible Church in Randburg. Mabele, who was the founder and executive director of Positive Women’s Network, succumbed to pneumonia at the age of 46 in a Rosebank hospital in Johannesburg. She broke ground in 1992 in South Africa by publicly revealing her HIV-positive status. Mark Heywood, cofounder of Treatment Action Campaign, delivered an emotional pledge speaking directly to Mabele, saying that he was sorry that Mabele died feeling betrayed. “Two years ago you wrote to me to complain about people who stabbed you in the back. I’m sorry you died feeling betrayed,” Heywood said. “At the time of your death I hear people lament that civil society is divided. There are two streams in civil society. Yours is the stream that flows cleanly and clearly. We are divided against corruption, against those who are parasitical on the response to Aids. We will build unity. Yes we will. But it will not be a fake unity. It will be unity with the poor, the marginalised, the violated and discriminated against.” Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, health minister Aaron Motsoaledi, and director of United Nations Women, Phumzile Mlambo- Ngcuka, were among the mourners at the funeral. Heywood said that Mabele’s life-long activism was an inspiration to others, adding that South Africans had a responsibility to fulfil some of Mabele’s wishes. “You were an activist, a warrior woman, a woman in a line of activists, some of whom are still larger than Prudence Nobantu Mabele life. Indeed the best leaders I know are women who have risen to fight in solidarity with other women,” Heywood said. “A book should be written about your life. We need to tell your story not just to those who know it but to those who don’t because it is a story of courage and hope. “Recently I saw a picture of you marching to demand the resignation of Jacob Zuma. For you Prudence, we will call on deputy president Ramaphosa and the honest members of the ANC to vote President Zuma out of power on August 8 because we cannot have a good response to aids in a corrupt government.” Mabele was also hailed as a fearless and brave campaigner who lobbied government for access to treatment when politicians were resistant to roll-out anti-retrorviral treatment. Mabele also sat on the board of the South African National Aids Council, advising government on issues of sexual and reproductive health, as well as HIV. Her friend, Bev Ditsie, said Mabele was a woman of truth who visited Aids patients at public hospitals and confronted nurses about unhygienic conditions. “Sadly, while she was sleeping in hospital, she was being backstabbed by her own organisation,” Ditsie said. Positive Women’s Network chairperson, Susan Nkomo, said that the organisation would keep Mabele’s flame burning, adding that she was a champion of strategy and spoke the language of the people on the ground. – Nampa/ANA Morocco sentences 25 to prison over W. Sahara killings RABAT A Moroccan court on Wednesday sentenced 25 Sahrawis to prison terms ranging from two years to life over the killing of 11 members of the Moroccan security forces in contested Western Sahara. The verdict in the case, which has been closely followed by human rights campaigners, was delivered at dawn by the Court of Appeals in Sale near Rabat, the official news agency MAP reported. Morocco and the Algeriabacked Polisario Front independence movement have accused each other of provoking the deadly clashes between police and Sahrawi protesters at a camp for displaced people in Gdeim Izik in November 2010. In 2013 a military court sentenced the 25 defendants to jail terms ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment. International rights groups condemned that trial as “unfair” and in July the Court of Cassation ordered a civilian court to examine the case. Morocco says Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony mostly controlled by Rabat, is an integral part of the kingdom. The Polisario Front demands a referendum on self-determination for the territory. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch this week issued a joint plea for the Moroccan authorities to ensure the verdict in the trial was not based on confessions or statements “obtained under torture or other ill-treatment during police interrogations”. The NGO Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture has criticised what it called an “unfair trial” that took into account “confessions signed under torture”. In May the defendants and their lawyers announced they would no longer attend the trial, alleging “irregularities”. The Moroccan authorities have sought to underline what they called the “transparency” and “fairness” of the civil trial, which was open to the press and international observers. – Nampa/AFP ICC judges to rule on release of Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo THE HAGUE War crimes judges will rule Wednesday whether former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo can be released from prison for the rest of his trial on charges arising from deadly election violence that rocked his nation in 2010. Gbagbo, the first ex-head of state to be tried by the International Criminal Court, has appealed a March decision that he must stay behind bars in a UN detention centre until the end of the legal process. Both Gbagbo, now 72, and his former militia leader Charles Ble Goude, 45, have pleaded not guilty to four charges of crimes against humanity including murder, rape, and persecution in five months of bloodshed that wracked the Ivory Coast. About 3,000 people died in the turmoil that swept Abidjan – once one of Africa’s most cosmopolitan cities – in the aftermath of the November 2010 presidential polls that Gbagbo lost to bitter rival Alassane Ouattara. His highly divisive trial at the tribunal in The Hague opened in January 2016, and is set to last three to four years. ICC prosecutors accuse Gbagbo of trying to cling to power “by all means,” while his defence team has charged that Ouattara seized power by force with the help of France. Abidjan was turned into a warzone between late 2010 to 2011 as clashes flared between the rival forces. After a months-long standoff, Gbagbo was arrested by Ouattara’s troops aided by UN and French forces, and turned over to the ICC in 2011. In March, his defence team made a new bid to win Gbagbo’s release, arguing he “has already been detained for almost six years and has pathologies that affect his physical and psychological wellbeing”. The prosecution said the former Ivorian strongman still enjoyed a strong network of support and if he were freed “could abscond to a territory out of the reach of the court”. In a majority two-to-one decision, the judges ruled he had to stay in jail. But in a dissenting opinion -- which Gbagbo’s defence has seized on -- judge Cuno Tarfusser said his detention “has exceeded the threshold of a reasonable duration and that, in light of his age and health, the risk that he might abscond from justice becomes increasingly unlikely”. A five-judge appeals court will “deliver its judgement” on the appeal at 1430 GMT on Wednesday, the court said in a statement. His lawyer, Emmanuel Altit, told AFP they are urging the appeals chamber to “apply the law”, saying there are strict criteria about keeping people in detention and the initial judges had failed to prove he was a flight risk. Gbagbo “wants to shed light on the truth, he wants to show what really happened. He wants to show the reality of the networks, which were implicated, including those of the French authorities,” Altit said. Rights activists thought it was unlikely he would be freed. Carrie Comer of the Federation International for Human Rights (FIDH) said her organisation shared concerns that Gbagbo “was a flight risk” and highlighted “the sheer gravity of the crimes that he is accused of.” – Nampa/AFP

Thursday, July 20 2017 | NEW ERA WORLD 17 After the battle: Mosul looks to rise from the ashes MOSUL The battle over, it’s now time to start rebuilding Iraq’s second city, parts of which were literally flattened during the offensive against holed up jihadists of the Islamic State group. But before this can happen, the chaotic mess caused by the conflict that devastated Mosul must be cleared away. Standing outside his damaged house in the west of the city, Manaf Yunes looked on as a worker removed rubble from a balcony. “I don’t have any money because I haven’t been paid for three years. I had to borrow to be able to begin renovating,” the 57-year-old former official said. On July 10, the authorities announced they had defeated IS in Mosul after a nine-month campaign that unleashed destruction of almost unimaginable dimensions on the ancient city. According to a preliminary assessment, it will cost more than billion just to restore basic services such as running water, electricity, schooling and medical care to all of Mosul, said Lise Grande of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Iraq. The western sector was the hardest hit. “The levels of destruction we are seeing are the worst in Iraq. Western Mosul represents one of the largest and most complex stabilisation challenges the UN has faced,” Grande told AFP. West Mosul has been eviscerated, its buildings half collapsed or shattered, craters in the road Photo: Nampa/AFP New challenge… This file photo taken on July 9 shows a general view of the destruction in Mosul’s Old City. The battle over, it’s now time to start rebuilding Iraq’s second city, parts of which were literally flattened during the offensive against jihadists of the Islamic State group. sprouting tangles of misshapen and broken water pipes. According to Abdel Sattar Habbo of the local municipality, more than 90 percent of west Mosul’s infrastructure and public services was destroyed. And the figure for private property is nearly as high, at 70 percent. He put the cost of the damage at several billion dollars, and said between three and four months would be needed just to “stabilise” the west of the city. By that he meant bringing back on line – even partly – necessities including water, power and public services to enable “a return to life”. “Based on preliminary assessments, we estimate that 0 million is needed to help restore the main electricity, water and sewage grids and rehabilitate key public facilities including hospitals, schools and houses in the most heavily damaged neighbourhoods in western Mosul,” said the UNDP’s Grande. In the old town, where the jihadists battled to the last in the final hours of the most ferocious clashes, “almost one-third of the housing stock is most likely severely damaged or completely destroyed”, the UN wrote in a recent report. Erfan Ali, head of the UN Human Settlements Programme in Iraq, told AFP that despite the destruction, the medical sector was already on the mend. “Some major hospitals... have been almost completely destroyed,” he said, while others were “completely looted and burned” when Mosul was under IS occupation. “However, the health sector is gradually recovering, and almost half of the hospitals are currently working, which means in most cases that some floors have been rehabilitated,” he said. In the east of the city a semblance of normal life has resumed, with crowded streets and shops and restaurants again open for business. And in west Mosul, despite the widespread destruction, hesitant steps are already being taken to bring the area back to life. As rubble is removed, workmen from the municipality lay new pipes in trenches dug in roadways to repair the sewerage system. While they await the beginning of major reconstruction projects, residents of battered Mosul must do what they can to cope. For electricity they rely on neighbourhood generators, and water is supplied by tank trucks or NGOs. Aid groups have given out “construction kits” of wooden planking, plywood panels and tarpaulins to nearly 12,700 families, said Melany Markham, spokesperson in Iraq for the Norwegian Refugee Council. Outside Manaf Yunes’s house in the west of the city, there are now bags of cement and stacks of breeze blocks. The front of his home bears the scars of war. A booby-trapped vehicle exploded outside the building, blowing in its windows and destroying part of the balcony. A wooden board now covers a large hole in his bathroom wall. “We built this house bit by bit,” he said, gloomily, and now work must begin again. - Nampa/AFP Philippines’ Duterte threatens to end peace talks after attack MANILA Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to end peace talks with communist rebels on Wednesday, hours after suspected guerrillas wounded four of his military bodyguards in an ambush. Aides said Duterte, 72, was not in the convoy when gunmen opened fire on two Presidential Security Group vehicles along a highway on the main southern island of Mindanao, where martial law is in effect. The government blamed the New People’s Army – the 4,000-member armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines – and threatened to shelve peace negotiations unless the guerrillas stopped targeting soldiers in the south. “The president directed the government panel... not to resume formal peace talks unless the reds (leftist rebels) agree to stop their attacks against government troops in Mindanao,” said a statement issued by the presidential palace. The latest communist attack came as government forces on Mindanao fought Islamic State group-inspired militants who have been holed up in the southern city of Marawi since May 23. The communist party, which is waging Asia’s longest-running insurgency, called on its armed wing on Tuesday to launch offensives in response to Duterte’s plan to put Mindanao under martial law until the end of the year. A 60-day martial rule is now in force on Mindanao as part of the military campaign in Marawi, but the Duterte government said Tuesday it needed more time to accomplish the mission. The communist insurgency that began in 1968 and which the military says is now mostly waged in Mindanao has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives. The rebels have been in off-and-on peace talks with the government since Duterte, a self-described socialist, was elected last year. Both sides declared unilateral ceasefires, but these did not last. Duterte suspended formal peace talks in May after both sides failed to resolve a dispute over a rebel order for fighters to step up attacks. To try and end the two-month impasse, Duterte was planning to send negotiators shortly to an unspecified venue and informally discuss a possible bilateral ceasefire agreement, the government statement said. But it warned that for formal peace talks to resume, the rebels must commit to “suspending operations against the military and the police and stopping all their extortion activities on the ground”. A senior Mindanao military official, Brigadier-General Gilberto Gapay, said the communists were behind the attack on the Duterte bodyguards. “This is part of their nationwide call for armed groups to oppose martial law by launching intensified offensives against government forces,” Gapay told radio station DZBB in Manila. - Nampa/AFP iplomats from US, ussia hold ‘tough’ alks - State Dept ASHINGTON enior diplomats from Washingon and Moscow held a “tough, orthright” conversation conerning bilateral tensions, the tate Department said Tuesday, ncluding over Russian access to iplomatic compounds in the US. hat spat was high on the agena at Monday’s talks in Washington between Thomas Shannon, the US State Department’s No. 3, and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov. The Kremlin has demanded Washington restore diplomatic access to two compounds in the states of New York and Maryland, which the Obama administration restricted in December following initial suspicions of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election. “The conversation was tough, forthright, and deliberate, reflecting both parties’ commitment to a resolution,” the State Department said of Monday’s talks. “The United States and Russia seek a long-term solution that would address areas of bilateral concern that have strained the relationship.” “The talks reflected a spirit of goodwill, but it is clear that more work needs to be done.” The meeting, which lasted three hours, had originally been scheduled for June, but Moscow had canceled it over new US sanctions linked to the conflict in Ukraine. After the meeting Ryabkov, asked by journalists if the issue of the diplomatic compounds had been resolved, replied: “Almost, almost.” The development came as the White House said it was nominating former Utah governor Jon Huntsman as ambassador to Russia. Huntsman previously served as US ambassador to Singapore and China. In December then president Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats for suspected spying and ordered the residential complexes shut down. When President Vladimir Putin and US counterpart Donald Trump met for the first time at the G20 summit in Hamburg this month, the Kremlin strongman raised the question of the diplomatic sites “quite unambiguously,” Russian spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. Putin had initially abstained from evening the score of the diplomatic row, awaiting the Trump administration’s response. But hopes that the US president would follow up on campaign pledges to boost relations have fizzled as the White House struggles to contain the snowballing scandal over possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Russia has now threatened to take belated “counter actions” in retaliation to the US measures. – Nampa/AFP

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New Era Newspaper Vol 22 No 167

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