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isreali_migrant_laws_displace_refugees
A group of 20,000 people gathered in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, Israel on January 5 to protest Israeli migrant laws. Most, if not all, of the protesters are African refugees attempting to draw attention to their desire for asylum and end the laws that could put them in detention or erase their right to work.

Al Jazeera reports that this is the largest such rally by migrants in Israel’s history. The rally transpired after a mass walk-out from a detention facility in December by hundreds of asylum seekers from Africa. These people had been detained there for a night and the following day were banned from work.

The Voice of America News states that, “Israel’s parliament passed a new law last month allowing authorities to indefinitely detain migrants who lack valid documents and ban them from jobs.” Most of the African protesters have come from Eritrea and Sudan and are seeking asylum because of poverty, violence and political chaos.

Haaretz quotes one of the protesters explaining that, “We didn’t come here to stay our whole lives; we want to return to our home countries once the situation improves.” Eli Yishai, former Interior Minister of Israel advised that the Jewish people should be sympathetic to the suffering of others as long as it would not put the state in danger. This is because he firmly believes that the African refugees want to change Israel, despite their claims against his belief.

There are currently 38,000 refugees from Eritrea and 15,000 refugees from Sudan living in Israel. In total 60,000 migrants have, according to Israeli authorities, crossed into Israeli territory from the border they share with Egypt since 2006.

Due to the sheer volume of people entering the country, Israel spent $377 million dollars on a border fence to stem the flow of immigrants in 2013, reports Al Jazeera. This fence evidently did its job because though 10,000 people crossed the border in 2012, only 36 were able to enter in 2013.

Legislation was passed on December 10 allowing authorities to detain illegal immigrants entering the country for up to a year without trial. This did not go over well with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) as they, as well as other groups have already filed petitions against the new law. Despite all of the issues, the new bill had passed by 30 votes in favor and only 15 against out of the 120-member Knesset.

– Lindsey Lerner

Sources: VOA, Times of Israel, Al Jazeera
Photo: Al Jazeera

Stability
For the region of Sudan and the people who live there, resilience and adversity are far more than just words. They are a waking reality. Sudan has been plagued by decades of war and social unrest resulting in genocide, widespread hunger, a diminishing economy and economic turmoil. In terms of development, Sudan ranks 171 out of 187 countries on the 2013 Humanitarian Development Index. Making matters worse is the ongoing economic loss of oil dependent revenue which has drastically decreased by 75 percent due to the separation of South Sudan. As the economy tanks, so does the food supply in the region, which is in dire need for roughly 2.9 million conflict-affected people in Darfur.

Luckily, rebuilding the country from the inside out seems to be top priority for more than 100 internationally recognized organizations who are trying to raise $1.1 billion for programs in the area which would help approximately 3.1 million people. With roughly half of the population population living below the national poverty line, it’s no wonder how dangerously in need some of the people in the region really are. As one of the top 10 recipients of foreign humanitarian assistance last year, Sudan has been largely dependent on outside assistance to help the country recover and pick itself up when it comes to agriculture and economic opportunity.

Recently, the European Union announced its humanitarian efforts for the 2014 year, which will include aid totaling $20 million, which will be implemented in increments over the next three years in the area and will support food security measurements. With the cooperation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO,) the grant will be incorporated into poverty campaign programs as well as provisions for agricultural technology and seeding. These efforts are in hopes to help recover Sudan’s economy and to encourage agricultural growth in an area where only four percent of arable land is actually cultivated.

Also lending its hand to the efforts in Sudan is the World Food Programme (WFP,) which provides essential food assistance to those most vulnerable in the region for the last 50 years. Starting in 1963, WFP has made Sudan one of the organizations largest operations and has provided food assistance to 3.9 million people. Some of the food assistance that has been contributed include; dried skimmed and whole milk, dried and canned fruits, and vegetable oil from countries such as the United States, Austria, New Zealand, Australia, and Germany. The main goal for the WFP is to promote long-term food security in hopes to build resilient communities in the heart of conflict.

There have been a number of lasting efforts that have been implemented into the region including food voucher programs, the Safe Access to Firewood and Alternative Energy initiative, and the Farmers to Market program which gave local farmers and women a second chance at a normal life. In a country where the future is beginning to brim with potential, it is important to acknowledge the harsh realities and challenges that the Sudanese people face, all for the sake of trying to build a better life and bring stability in Sudan.

– Jeffrey Scott Haley
Feature Writer

Sources: World Food Programme – Sudan, World Food Programme – 50 Years, Sudan Vision Daily, Ahram Online

Poverty_in_Khartoum
Khartoum has faced many challenges since the early 1800s and, as a result of rapid urbanization since the 1970s, has thousands of migrant families living in poverty. The influx of these displaced families, who occupy the greater Khartoum region, was so sudden that the government never developed a physical planning model. With a growing population and insufficient resources, the city now has various areas of extreme poverty.

The people of Khartoum face several obstacles including lack of food, water, education and health centers. There are no jobs available and the dwindling unemployment rate maintains this state of poverty. In fact, after the civil war with the South, Khartoum’s post-conflict condition never reached a point of stability. Instead, environmental factors in neighboring cities such as heavy droughts, forced several families to move from rural to urban areas. Currently, there are about two million displaced people living in Khartoum, approximately 28% of its total population.

The lack of job availability and trained individuals has led the Governor of Khartoum to demand skills training for the youth. Several organizations such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the European Commission are working to create projects that will allow young individuals to acquire vocational training. Furthermore, though most of the current vocational training centers are run down, these organizations will offer funding for renovating existing centers. These centers will enable young men and women to acquire training in some of the following disciplines:

  • Engineering design
  • Building & construction
  • Auto-mechanics
  • Metalwork & welding
  • Electrical engineering
  • Food processing
  • Hotel & catering services
  • Hair care & related services

By giving so many individuals the opportunity to learn skills, the mindset of the entire community will shift gears since more and more people become employable. This training will foster an entrepreneurial mindset that will surely spur more businesses and bring innovation to a city lacking hope.

Maybelline Martez

Sources: UNIDO, Thinkquest
Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

sudan_child_marriage
The recently released African Report on Child Wellbeing 2013 highlights a startling law in Sudan that has devastating consequences for its female population: the legal minimum age to be married is ten. The report, published by the African Child Policy Forum research institute, called on Sudan to raise its legal age of marriage to 18 to comply with international child rights standards.

Such a call is sorely needed; surveys conducted in 2010 found that nearly 38 percent of Sudan’s girls were married before the age of 18. In Blue Nile State, that number is over 60 percent – and a full fifth of girls there are married before the age of 15. The effects of marrying so young are devastating for girls. UNICEF has termed child marriage “a fundamental human rights violation that impacts all aspects of a girl’s life.”

Likely no aspect is more impacted than a girl’s health. Child marriage makes early pregnancies more likely, the consequences of which can be deadly. Fatal complications related to childbirth and pregnancy account for 50,000 deaths of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 worldwide. For girls between the ages of 10 and 14, the picture is even bleaker: they are five times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth than women who are between the ages of 20 and 24. Sudan’s maternal mortality rate is 730 per 100,000 live births. By comparison, it’s 21 in the United States.

In addition to the dire health risks related to early pregnancy, girls married before the age of 18 are also more likely to be beaten, raped or infected with HIV by their husbands and abused by their in-laws. They are also far less likely rise out of poverty. Furthermore, children born of child brides are more likely to die before their first birthday. Those who survive are more likely to face poverty, be malnourished and grow up without an education.

Sudan’s official minimum age of sexual consent – the advocated-for age of 18 – should protect its girls from many of these destructive consequences. Yet its Personal Status of Muslims Act of 1991 allows an exemption that protects a spouse from being charged for sex within marriage even if one of the parties is under the age of 18.

Though this exemption in Sudan’s legal code accounts for the lowest legal marriage age in Africa, a number of other countries are not doing much better. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Seychelles, Cameroon, Niger, Swaziland, Tanzania and Malawi, the legal age of marriage is 15. In Senegal, Guinea-Bissau and Zambia, the age is 16.

– Kelley Calkins

Sources: CIA, Reuters, UNICEF, African Report on Child Wellbeing, Reuters
Photo: Trust

elton_john_bono
Famous celebrities and world leaders alike channel their influence to promote the various causes they are passionate about. Below are 5 famous advocates for global poverty:

1. Bono

Lead singer of Dublin-based band U2, Bono is one of the most influential celebrity advocates fighting global poverty. He is the co-founder of the organization ONE, which is a campaign of over 3 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. He is also creator of other campaigns including Debt AIDS Trade Africa (RED) and clothing company EDUN. Bono recently performed at the 2013 Global Citizen Festival, calling on audience members to help put a stop to extreme poverty by 2030. He was granted knighthood in 2007 and dubbed a “Man of Peace” for all his philanthropic work. He serves as a role model to all celebrities and is passionate about a greater cause.

2. Angelina Jolie

While filming Tomb Raider in Cambodia, Jolie first became personally aware of worldwide humanitarian crises. Since 2001, she has traveled on field missions around the world and interacted with refugees and other displaced people in more than 20 countries. She founded the Jolie-Pitt Foundation with actor Brad Pitt. The foundation focuses on eradicating extreme rural poverty, conserving wildlife, and protecting natural resources. Among the many philanthropic endeavors she has undergone, some include building an all-girls primary school in Afghanistan, opening a refugee camp and recently, undergoing a double mastectomy, bringing awareness to cancer and women’s health.

3. Elton John 

Famous musician Sir Elton John has seen many of his close friends die from HIV/AIDS in his lifetime. In their honor, he established the Elton John Aids Foundation in 1992 to fight the disease worldwide. The organization has raised over $125 million to support programs in 55 countries through education, health services and elimination of prejudice and discrimination. In 2004 he was the most generous person in music of the year, donating over $43 million to organizations across the globe. In 2008, he donated 120 motorcycles to the African nation of Lesotho to be used by doctors and nurses to visit patients in remote areas.

4. George Clooney

Clooney is one of the most charitable stars in Hollywood, focusing his energy on a mission to stop the human rights atrocities occurring in Darfur. He famously founded the group Not On Our Watch to stop the genocide occurring in Sudan. He has personally visited the area several times and met with victims and world leaders alike.

5. Bill Clinton

Former U.S. President and founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, Clinton set up his organization to promote aid for a number of humanitarian causes. His organization focuses specifically on climate change, economic development, global health and women’s rights. Though there has been some controversy over the Clinton Foundation in recent years, it remains a well-known global advocacy network for aiding poverty-stricken countries.

– Sonia Aviv

Sources: ONE, TED, Look to the Stars, CQ Researcher, Clinton Foundation
Photo: Charles Cannon

4_Liter_Challenge
4Liter Challenge is a movement that asks Americans to try to live on only the essential amount of clean water. The idea is to help Americans understand the problem of lack of clean water through experience.

There is an online sign up for a system where use of water can be documented and shared via social media. Using social media helps the organization to spread awareness for clean water globally. During the challenge, participants must try to live on only 4 liters (about one gallon) of water a day for up to five days. The challenge aims to help Americans consciously think about how they use water.

An estimated 783 million people do not have access to sanitary drinking water. The UN reports “it is not yet possible to measure water quality globally, dimensions of safety, reliability and sustainability,” so this figure is probably an underestimate.

4 liters is the absolute essential amount of water required to survive, but 50 is generally recommended to maintain a healthy life. Moreover, 80% of disease derives from lack of sanitized drinking water. According to PR Web, “4,500 children die every day from water borne diseases.”

The average American uses around 500 liters of water a day. Sustainability is not just a third world problem.  Increasingly, preservation of clean water is becoming a global environmental issue worldwide. Additionally, Problems accessing clean water are often exaggerated by political instability or natural disasters. Global unity is needed to solve these challenges in order to provide clean water.

In 2010 the UN recognized access to sanitation and water as a human right. This right states that the sufficient amount of water is 50 to 100 liters, water must be affordable and accessible, and its collection time should be under 30 minutes. The 4Liter challenge was started by DIGDEEP water. In line with the UN goals, DIGDEEP’s focus is human rights and building sustainable water sources worldwide. A core value of the organization is “Water is precious, and so is human dignity.”

All funds raised by the 4Liter campaign will go to sustainable water projects in South Sudan, Cameroon, and New Mexico. These projects aim to promote sustainability using adjusted, locally implemented programs that empower communities.

– Nicole Yancy

Sources: DIGDEEP Water, PR Web, Aleteia, UN
Photo: LXX Magazine

Omar Al Bashir Denied US Visa UN General Assembly War Crimes ICC The Hague Genocide
As police cracked down on protests against the slashing of fuel subsidies in Sudan, which have resulted in at least 50 deaths, the country’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Ahmed Karti used the nation’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly to protest the U.S. decision to deny a visa to the country’s president, who faces international war crimes and genocide charges.

Despite an outstanding warrant for his arrest from the International Criminal Court, linked to the conflict in the Darfur region in which around 300,000 people have died since 2003, Sudan’s president Omar Hassan al-Bashir planned to attend the U.N. General Assembly this past week and had already booked a hotel in New York.

Ali Ahmed Karti called the alleged visa denial an “unjustified and unacceptable action,” while the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Samantha Power, had called Bashir’s intention to travel to New York “deplorable, cynical and hugely inappropriate.”

The U.S. has never denied a visiting head of state who wants to speak at the United Nations entrance into the country. Under a treaty between the U.S. and the U.N., Washington is obligated to issue the visa as the world body’s host country. Despite this, the country had made it clear that it did not want al-Bashir to arrive in New York. Had he been granted entrance, al-Bashir would have been the first head of state to address the world body while facing international war crimes and genocide charges.

Meanwhile, in Sudan, protests broke out in Khartoum and other Sudanese cities over high fuel prices, while the country’s internet was cut off on the third day of protest. In an effort to turn a wave of popular anger into a full-fledged uprising against the 24-year rule of al-Bashir, 5,000 protesters demonstrated in some of the biggest protests in many years in the Khartoum area.

The country’s economy has worsened in the past few years, especially after southern Sudan seceded and took the country’s main oil-producing territory. Still, al-Bashir has managed to keep a grip on the regime, surviving armed rebellions, U.S. trade sanctions, an economic crisis, and an attempted coup last year. He also continues to enjoy support from the army, his ruling party, and wealthy Sudanese with wide-ranging business interests.

– Nayomi Chibana
Feature Writer

Sources: AP, Reuters, ABC News
Photo: The London Evening Post

sudan-humanitarian-crisis
From 1983 to 2005, the people of Sudan endured the Second Sudanese Civil War. Conflict between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) resulted in the deaths of two million people and the displacement of four million more. In 2005, the Sudanese government and SPLM signed a Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which eventually led to the establishment of an independent state of South Sudan.

Despite the Peace Agreement and separation of South Sudan, many members of the SPLM and other revolutionary groups—collectively known as the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF) – remained in Sudan’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. Since 2011, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) have engaged in a comprehensive campaign to repress and eliminate these revolutionary forces in the country’s southern states.

To achieve this objective, the SAF has initiated indiscriminate aerial bombings and ground assaults in territories held by the SRF. Eyewitness accounts describe government soldiers forcing civilians from their homes and destroying entire villages. The attacks have exacerbated a humanitarian crisis in a region that is already afflicted by severe food and water shortages. Many civilians have had no choice but to flee the territory.

The United Nations estimates that more than 200,000 Sudanese have fled to already-overcrowded refugee camps in Ethiopia and South Sudan. These refugees face a long and daunting journey by foot through the Nuba Mountains. Those that arrive at a camps are often afflicted with a range of health problems including malnutrition, water born illnesses, skin diseases, respiratory infections and potentially fatal diseases such as Hepatitis E.

Compounding the situation is the fact that many camps are hindered in their ability to care for refugees by a lack of water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities. In the rainy season, roads are impassable and all food and medical supplies must be flown into the camps. Ewan Watson, a spokesperson for the International Committee of the Red Cross, says that many refugees “found shelter in camps whose stretched resources were insufficient to cover peoples’ basic needs.”

While many civilians have fled, those that remain in the region are unable to farm or harvest because of the aerial and ground attacks. This has intensified food shortages, malnutrition, and disease. The Sudanese government has also cut off all foreign aid to people living in territories controlled by the Revolutionary Forces. The Enough Project—an advocacy group focused on genocide and crimes against humanity—reports that more than 80% of households in the state are surviving on one meal a day.

Despite growing international pressure, there are no signs that the SAF will abate their assault on the southern states. As food, shelter and land become more scarce, the number of refugees fleeing Sudan will increase. In a region that has known little peace, the humanitarian crisis in Sudan appears to shift continuously from bad to worse.

– Daniel Bonasso

Sources: Enough Project, The Lancet, Overseas Development Institute
Photo: EPACHA

sudanese_conflict
In order to understand the conflict between Sudan and South Sudan, it is necessary to understand the colonial history of Sudan. Sudan consisted of kingdoms and tribal communities until the Turko-Egyptian invasion of 1821. The Turko-Egyptian invasion was motivated by the expansionist ambitions of the Ottoman empire and its interest in commodities, such as slaves, ivory, gold, and timber. The Turko-Egyptian and North Sudanese collaborated against those of South Sudan and exploited them into slavery. Turko-Egyptian rule lasted for sixty years, but during this time, South Sudan was not fully incorporated under the new administration. The Mahdist administration, 1883-1989, also struggled to maintain control over South Sudan.

During this time, Belgium and France both attempted to maintain some control over Sudanese territory. However, after the French attempted to annex South Sudan to the French territories in West Africa, a conflict developed between the British and French over South Sudan known as the Fashoda incident. In 1898, Egyptian and British forces teamed up to reconquer Sudan. This incident resulted in the signing of the Condominium Agreement, which established Sudan’s current borders. France and Belgium eventually receded from Sudan, giving Britain-Egyptian forces full control over the country. During this time, Britain created separate administrative policies for South and North Sudan. These policies, which included immigration and trade laws, coupled with differing official languages, treated North and South Sudan as two separate entities.

British forces established an Advisory Council for North Sudan, in which all six provinces of North Sudan were represented and the council had the power to decide what was administered where. However, no such council was established in South Sudan. Rather, in 1946, British forces suggested that the North colonize the South. Since the South was not represented in the Council, the choice to colonize South Sudan was made without consulting anyone from the South and the South was betrayed by the British.

When Sudan achieved independence from British-Egyptian forces in 1956, independence was seldom felt in the South as the North assumed full control over the colonial state. The parliamentary republic, which was established at the onset of independence, failed to incorporate the South and this has led to years of civil unrest. Since achieving independence, the South has been politically marginalized, socio-economically ignored, if not retarded, and culturally subjugated by the North. The South, which is predominantly Christian and Animist, is culturally different from the Arab Muslim North. Yet, the North has used Islam as a weapon by denying basic rights to those who do not convert to Islam. In addition, the North has forced Islam and Arabization onto the Southern populations through educational systems which aim to kill indigenous languages and culture.

The military-led government of President Jaafar Numeiri agreed to autonomy for the South in 1972, but this Peace Treaty was undermined in 1979 when oil was discovered in South Sudan. After the discovery, the Numeiri government attempted to deny the South ownership of the resource by redrawing the southern boundaries to include the oil reserves. The new boundaries, however, violated the Addis Ababa Agreement which accepted the boundaries from colonial rule. Rather than improving the living standards of the Sudanese, it led to further conflict between the North and South. Civil war broke out in 1983 when Numeiri divided South Sudan into three regions, each with a governor appointed by himself, and declared Arabic the official language. To make matters worse, Numeiri imposed Shari’a law on all of Sudan. Since then, the government has waged war on South Sudan, whose forces are known as Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

Throughout the 22 year conflict, Southern villages were ransacked and destroyed. Numeiri was eventually removed from power and replaced by Al-Bashir, who is supported by the Nationalist Islamic Front (NIF). Al-Bashir was able to maintain control until 1999, when SPLA forces began to gain control over large areas outside of more populated cities. In addition, SPLA forces made huge gains by attacking transportation lines and government forces. But by 2000, the South was hit with a widespread famine and the government did nothing to help its people. With the help of the United Nations and the United States, Operation Lifeline Sudan began to deploy food and supplies to areas affected by the conflict. By 2002, 2 million lives had been lost due to the genocide by the Bashir government. Throughout 2003 and 2004, the international community pressured the Sudanese government and the conflict began to die down.

In 2005, Sudan and South Sudan ended the 22 year conflict. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was underpinned by an agreement to 6 years of Southern autonomy, with a vote on succession at its end, split revenues from southern oil evenly between north and south sudan, islamic law in the north but to be voted on in the South, and if the succession vote was negative, the north and south were to combine forces. Six years later, in July of 2011, a vote for succession was held in Sudan and South Sudan gained independence from Sudan. Since then, South Sudan has been recognized by the international community after being accepted into the United Nations.

Kelsey Ziomek

Sources: Global Witness, University of Pennsylvania, Pulitzer Center, University of Massachusetts
Photo: ABC

dog driving car race
You may have seen the new ad campaign for Nespresso, the Nestle-subsidiary coffee brand, which features George Clooney losing beautiful women to its instant coffee packs. Yes, that George Clooney and yes, he is advertising coffee. But he’s doing it because he cares about Sudan.

Earlier this month, Clooney joined Nespresso’s Sustainability Advisory Board in Paris to unveil their grand development strategy targeting Sudanese coffee growers. Nespresso, which already runs a reputable fair trade program with coffee growers in Guatemala, plans to branch out to South Sudanese and Ethiopian farmers with the same program. The company expects to double coffee exports in both countries by 2020.

Clooney, who has a deep-seated passion for Sudan’s development, says the move will shift Sudan’s national earning power away from crude oil, the profits of which hardly reach either the government or the people, and toward small-scale farming. It will bring prosperity directly to the Sudanese themselves.

“The problem with oil [is] that a company takes the oil from beneath the feet of the people living there via a pipeline, the back of a truck and a dock in Khartoum,” said the Hollywood actor at the press conference. “Oftentimes the government gets a small proportion and it doesn’t seem to trickle down.”

Clooney’s plans don’t stop there, however. He’s pouring all his earnings from the advertising position back into a satellite-monitoring program to curtail human rights abuses by Sudan’s military dictator, Omar-al-Bashir, who is charged with war crimes at the Hague. Bashir, obviously unhappy with the set-up, ordered Clooney’s arrest on his arrival the Sudanese embassy in Washington last year.

“He says that I’m spying on him and how would I like it if a camera was following me everywhere I went,” said Clooney. “I go, ‘well welcome to my life Mr. War Criminal.’ I want him to have the same amount of attention that I get. I think that’s fair.”

— John Mahon

Sources: The Guardian, Yahoo