UNHCR Calls For Action Against Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa

Angry protestors in the Soweto area of Johannesburg killed four people, allegedly for stealing local jobs, according to media reports.

map_south-africa
Map of South Africa

Many others, including refugees and asylum-seekers, have been affected by earlier rounds of violence, while tension has also been observed in KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape provinces.

In a statement, the “UNHCR is calling on the authorities to ensure that those responsible for acts of violence and violations of human rights are brought to account. We urge all possible efforts to avert future attacks, including incitement or attempts to block peaceful solutions. If unchecked, such xenophobic attacks could lead to further damage and destruction,” agency spokesperson Charlie Yaxley told journalists in Geneva on Tuesday.

UNHCR is supporting government efforts to assist people who have been displaced or who were affected by displacement.

Migrants Photo Courtesy of Guy Oliver
Migrants Photo Courtesy of Guy Oliver of IRIN

Mr. Yaxley reported that staff have visited refugees and asylum-seekers affected by the recent violence in Soweto to assess their situation and needs.

“Many foreign shop owners have been affected by the violence and their small shops – often their only means of livelihoods – have been looted and destroyed,” he added.

Just over 280,000 refugees and asylum-seekers are currently living in South Africa, according to UNHCR data.

The UN agency has welcomed public expressions of support from many citizens there who have been calling for peaceful coexistence and harmony with foreign nationals in the country.

UN News Service

Opinion- Deportations Must Be Banished Among Africans

The debate around immigration has intensified the past few years on the Western Hemisphere.

South African Refugees photo courtesy of CFR

In fact, it has become a prominent conversation that has seen the rise of far-right politicians who owe their success to anti-immigration populism. 

Migration is not a new phenomenon.

For as long as the world has existed, beings have been moving around. The current conversations around migration are not much about the fact that people move but more about the fact that poor and vulnerable citizens of developing countries are migrating to so-called rich nations in search of safety, security, and prosperity. 

From Syrian refugees that are escaping a bloody civil war and are stranded at the gates of Europe, to African migrants that die by thousands in the Mediterranean in their attempt to reach the “colonizer’s land” to the Latin American migrants that are arrested and separated from their children at the border of the United States and Mexico, sad and disheartening are the stories of migration that have dominated mainstream and social media the past months. 

Illustration – courtesy of UC Davis Poverty Center

Amid such devastating news that make one regret belonging to this antipathic generation, very little is said about the millions of people who migrate within their continent and region. In Africa for instance, 92% of migrants go to another African nation. The remaining 8% are divided among other continents with less than 3% making it or attempt to make it to Europe.

The “conflict-torn and property wretched continent “ whose people despite all the past decades of imperialist attacks and pillage have demonstrated an unparalleled form of resilience and are still progressing economically at a faster rate than any other continent in the world has been welcoming far more immigrants from Asia and Europe than it is sending out. 

It is understandable that western nations reject taking their share of the blame when it comes to exploiting other nations, causing and feeding conflicts that leave millions of people displaced and puts their lives in jeopardy. Nonetheless, the hypocrisy of the West lays in the argument of the fascists and the racists who claim vehemently that they are being invaded by other races and soon enough, they will lose their identity. 

Poverty Map of Africa photo – courtesy of Behance

First of all, culture and identity are dynamic. The French culture today was not the same a century ago and the American one wasn’t the same half a century ago. No one can stop identities from changing and drastic immigration policies motivated by the fear of the unknown and hatred toward the most vulnerable and the poor will not save the West from losing its contemporary identity which in a few decades or centuries might look gregarious to the future occupants of this planet. 

The West does not have anything against migrants but it has everything against poor people.

The American President Trump made it clear that their country wouldn’t mind receiving Norwegian migrants and when a former president of France Nicolas Sarkozy talked about “immigration choisie”, their selective immigration process is a way of ensuring that the most educated and the wealthiest migrate to their countries. 

The West has always felt insecure and constantly leaves in paranoia. This paranoia has caused humanity two world wars that left millions of people dead. The insecurity of the West pushes it to constantly see a threat in whatever people or nations they are unable to profit from beyond exploiting them physically, economically and politically.

There is this attitude that is intrinsic to western nations which makes them constantly see others as foes they do not just need to compete with but must dominate and control. As a result, they are always seeking to grow their economic, military and political power.

And the poor, undereducated and unskilled migrants are not the kind of people they foresee can help them achieve that. Rather, they see them as a liability and the very selfish and parasitic West that has stolen from every single continent cannot afford to share the massive wealth it has acquired at the expense of billions of people’s dignity whose very existence is threatened by poverty, climate change, terrorism, civil wars all of whom are the direct consequences of the West’s insatiable imperialist conquests and selfish neoliberal politics. 

African migrants- courtesy of the Citizen

The media which is the most effective brainwashing tool used by populists to indoctrinate their ignoramus citizens have played a role in depicting migration as a new phenomenon that will eventually lead to the destruction and the fall of the West. A destruction that failed to occur when the same western nations were butchering millions of Africans, Asians, Native Indians for many centuries. 

The one thing that the West can never claim as its invention is migration and nothing can the Europeans and their American cousins do to stop it. The exhibition of inhumanity Western governments are getting better and better at will only further alienate them from the rest of the world. A world that they need more than anyone else. 

When you are born on a land as dry as Europe, you can’t afford arrogance because everything you own, and use was produced from the resources of other continents. And the sooner the West sucks in its belligerent pride, the better for them because it has more to lose from that hatred than the world has to gain.

Author: Farida Bemba Nabourema is a Togolese human rights and political activist.

US:Guilty Verdict Brought Down On Former Liberia Rebel NPFL “Defense Minister” Tom Woewiyu

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Convicted Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu

A federal jury in Philadelphia has brought down a guilty verdict in the U.S. government trial of former rebel spokesman and defense Minister of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu. He was convicted on Tuesday of 11 counts of immigration fraud, making false statements and perjury.

The guilty verdict marked the end of another attempt to hold former war actors and human rights violators in Liberia accountable for their actions during the country’s horrendous civil way. Another notorious war actor Mohammed Jabbateh who went by the nom-de guerre “Jungle Jabbah” was convicted at a trial in April in Philadelphia and sentenced to 30 years in federal prison.
NPFL leader and former Liberian President Charles Taylor was prosecuted by the Special Court for Sierra Leone and found guilty and sentenced in 2012 to 50 years in prison. Today, he sits in a jail in the UK serving his sentence.
His ex-wife Agnes was picked up by British authorities in June, 2017 and accused of committing the offences between 1989 and 1991. She has denied all the charges. Her trial is set for October. 

Woewiyu, a close associate of former Liberia President Charles Taylor was a founding member of the NPFL rebel outfit that attacked the West African nation in December, 1989 in an attempt to dislodge former President Samuel K. Doe. The rebel group waged a merciless campaign of death, destruction, looting and displacement of nearly a million people internally and externally.

Map of West Africa
Map of West Africa

The former rebel official had resided in the U.S. since 1972 but traveled back and forth to Liberia as the NPFL waged its murderous campaign. He attempted to apply for U.S. citizen in 2006 but was denied based on information obtained by U.S. authorities that he was a member of the NPFL; information which he did not initially disclose on his citizenship application.

The 12 person jury deliberated fro about 8 hours before arriving at their guilty verdict. He was found not guilty of 5 of the 16 counts in the indictment. Woewiyu who will be sentenced on October 15th is facing significant jail time which in effect may amount to a life sentence. He is 73 years old.

Pressure is mounting on the new administration in Liberia to bring to trial, those named in the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) as bearing the greatest responsibility for alleged human rights and economic crimes in the country. The seven month Weah Administration has signaled that prosecution of alleged war criminals is not a priority.

Former Liberian Warlord Prince Y. Johnson
Former Liberian Warlord Turned Senator Prince Y. Johnson

International investigators say they will not relent in pursuing warlords across the globe and where ever they are found. According to a source, a major target is a former warlord and now a Senator in the Liberia government Mr. Prince Y. Johnson who is responsible for the capture, torture, death and mutilation of former President Samuel K. Doe in September, 1990. Johnson is alleged to have summarily executed hundreds of innocent civilians in areas under his control during the war.

An estimated 250,000 persons died in the Liberia war.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberian “Economic Migrants” Return From Niger

Monrovia, Liberia: About 166 Liberian migrants who had been stranded in Niger for months arrived home Thursday after their repatriation was facilitated by Niamey and supervised by the UN migration agency, IOM.

ECOWAS radio in the Liberian capital reported that the

Liberians arrived at the Roberts International Airport ((RIA) onboard a flight chartered by the government in Niamey.

They were screened jointly by officials of the Liberia immigration service and the Liberia refugee agency, LRRRC, before being taken to a safe location for re- unification with their families and relatives.

Most of the returnees appeared to be economic migrants in search of “greener pastures” like other African migrants who journeyed via North Africa, but their hopes more often were dashed.

In a separate development, police authorities this week reported hauling some 700 kilos of illicit drugs in a swoop on the Monrovia Central prison and others here.

Inmates claimed the drugs entered; thanks to visitors frequenting the over crowded prison daily.

Our Monrovia correspondent quoting Police said one senior prison warden was arrested in connection with illegal

Infiltration at South beach prison, built in the 60s to accommodate 300 inmates, but now holds more than one thousand pretrial detainees and convicts.

Hard core drugs consumption is pervasive throughout Liberia with communities in Monrovia competing for first place in proliferation of ghettos for substance users.

Smoking in public places is banned in Liberia, but distraught youngsters provokingly roam streets including Broad street puffing fumes of illicit drugs, which police say, embolden them to prey on unsuspecting persons.

By Tepitapia Sannah In Monrovia

West African Journal

Son of Guinea’s First President Faces Forced Labor Charges in Texas – AFP

The son of Guinea’s first president and his wife face up to 20 years in prison if found guilty in Texas of holding a young woman as a domestic slave.

Denise-Cros-Toure and Mohamed-Toure Courtesy CNN

Denise Cros Toure and Mohammed Toure

The AFP quoting US Justice Department officials say Mohamed Toure, 57, and Denise Cros-Toure, 57, appeared in a federal court in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday to face a criminal complaint of forced labor.

Toure is the son of Ahmed Sekou Toure, the first president of the west African coastal nation of Guinea. He was Guinea’s leader from 1958 until his death in 1984.

The couple arranged for the unnamed victim, who spoke no English, to travel alone from her village in Guinea to work at their home in Southlake, Texas, in January 2000.

 “The victim’s Guinean passport indicated that she was five years old at the time,” the statement read.

“Throughout the years, until the victim escaped in August 2016, the defendants forced the victim to labor in their home for long hours without pay.”

Salacious allegations

The young woman was required “to cook, clean, do the laundry, perform yardwork, and paint,” as well as care for the couple’s five children.

Even though the victim was close in age to the children, “the defendants denied her access to schooling and the other opportunities afforded to their children.”

The couple allegedly took the victim’s passport “and caused her to remain unlawfully in the United States after her visa expired,” isolated her from her family, “and emotionally and physically abused her.”

The victim eventually with help from some former neighbours in August 2016, the statement reads.

Map of GuineaAn attorney for the couple, Scott Palmer, fiercely denied the allegations in an email to The Washington Post.

“The complaint is riddled with salacious allegations, fabrications, and lies,” Palmer told The Post.

He said the couple were looking forward “to revealing the motivation of this woman to lie, betray, and attempt to destroy the family that took her in at the request of her father.”

AFP

UN Pressures Liberia To Implement TRC Report

Liberia – TRC Full ReportThe new Weah administration in Liberia has been put on official notice by a representative of the United Nations regarding the implementation of recommendations of the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

DSG Amina Mohammed
UN Deputy Sec General Amina Mohammed

Addressing a National Peace Conference in the capital Monrovia on Thursday, the Deputy UN Chief said, “…It is also critical to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation, and for the legislature to pass key bills that will support local inclusion and reconciliation.. These would be timely measures that would assure Liberians that there is strong resolve to see a conclusion to the process…”

Madam Amina Mohammed who is visiting Liberia as representative of the UN to participate in the official end of the UN Mission in the West African country told the conference that, “…To ensure reconciliation and a peaceful and prosperous future, it will be crucial to deepen efforts to address the underlying causes of conflict in Liberia” adding that ” Prevention is critical in averting a relapse into violence.”

The country was plunged into one of modern day’s most brutal armed conflict beginning December, 1989 with a rebel invasion led by now convicted former President Charles Taylor.

An estimated 250,000 people died and another 1.5 million others were internally and externally dislocated. Neighboring counties also saw a spill-over of the Liberian armed strife on to their territories. Thousands others were maimed, raped and mutilated by bands of militias.

UNMIL Peacekeepers From Nigeria
UNMIL Peacekeepers From Nigeria

Following peace talks and cessation of hostilities among warring parties in Liberia, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was set up after UN Security Council Resolution 1509 passed on September 19, 2003.

The UNMIL office was charged with supporting the implementation of the cease-fire agreement and the peace process; protecting United Nations staff, facilities and civilians; supporting humanitarian and human rights activities; as well as assist in national security reform, including national police training and formation of a new, restructured military.

With the gradual consolidation of peace, global body, in 2015, ordered the phased drawn down of peacekeepers. Initial troop strength was 15,000. Total UNMIL fatalities in the Liberian theater was 202 peacekeepers.

UNMIL formally ends its mission on March 30, 2018.

In its final report, the country’s TRC recommended the following leaders of warring factions for prosecution for human rights violations, including violations of international humanitarian laws, war crimes and egregious domestic laws of Liberia and economic crimes:

Charles Taylor – NPFL 

Prince Y. Johnson – INPFL 

*Roosevelt Johnson – ULIMO – J 

Alhaji G. V. Kromah – ULIMO – K 

George Boley – LPC 

Thomas Yahya Nimley – MODEL 

Sekou Damate Konneh – LURD 

*Francois Masssaquoi – LDF 

War lords Roosevelt Johnson and Francois Massaquoi are deceased. LPC militia leader George Boley was picked up by the Federal U.S. authorities in 2010 on immigration charges and subsequently deported to Liberia.

Several alleged human rights violators from the Liberian war have been identified and are facing prosecution in the US and Europe.

Emmanuel “Chuckie” Taylor, son of former President Charles Taylor – sentenced to 97 years  in prison in January, 2009 in a major torture case that grew out of a US investigation into arms trafficking in Liberia.

Jucontee Thomas Woewiyu – a former Defense Chief  and spokesperson for Taylor’s rebel faction and legislator in Liberia. He was picked up in Philadelphia in 2014 and is facing immigration fraud charges. Trial is pending.

Agnes Reeves Taylor – ex wife of former President Taylor was arrested in June, 2017 in the UK and accused of torture and war crime offenses and goes to trial in October, 2018.

Martina Johnson – a former commander in Taylor’s rebel militia who was arrested in Belgium in 2012 and is awaiting prosecution.

Colonel Moses Thomas – a former Presidential guard commander who has had civil suit brought against him in Philadelphia by survivors of a church massacre in 1990 in Liberia.

Alieu Kosiah – a ULIMO rebel commander/ fighter who was arrested in Switzerland in 2014 and accused of war atrocities. He prosecution is pending

Isaac Kannah – charged in an October 2012 indictment with perjury and obstruction of justice for lying in deportation proceedings of George Boley. He was arrested on January 10, 2017, by Immigration and Homeland Security in Philadelphia.

Mohammed “Jungle Jabbah” Jabbateh – former Liberian rebel fighter convicted of immigration charges in October, 2018 in Philadelphia and accused of horrific crimes during the war.

An international investigator based in Washington DC says they are pursuing other alleged perpetrators around the world for arrest and prosecution.

Former President Charles Taylor
Former President Charles Taylor

Among several recommendations  advanced in the 370 page TRC report, several Liberians associated with warring faction leaders, their leaders, political decision makers, financiers , organizers, commanders and foot soldiers were recommended for public sanctions.

These individuals were to be barred from holding public office; elected or appointed for a period of thirty (30) years when the TRC Final Report was issued in June, 2009.

Allen Brown Sr.

Randall Cooper

Ethelbert Cooper

Toga McIntosh Gayewea

Jackson E. Doe

D. Bob Taylor

Dew Mason

Nyan Menten

Clarence Simpson

Harry Yuan

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Isaac Nyenabo

Kabineh Ja’neh

Archie Williams

Tonia King

J. Apollo Swen

Mr. Gayewea is a senior adviser to current President George Weah. Mr. Nyenabo was appointed by former President Johnson Sirleaf in February, 2015 as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary accredited to the Kingdom of Belgium with accreditations to the European Union, Luxemburg and the Netherlands. Associate Justice Ja’neh currently serves on Liberia’s highest court, the Supreme Court.

A current and close advisor in the orbit of President George Weah is Liberian businessman Mr. Emmanuel Shaw who was named in the TRC Report for further investigation.

Also listed for investigation is the current Liberian Ambassador to the United Nations Mr. Lewis G. Brown. Both men are associated with convicted warlord and former President Charles Taylor.

A prominent Taylor associate and militia combatant during the civil war Robert R. G. Bright was this week appointed by President Weah as a Cabinet level Economic Advisor.

DSG Amina Mohammed
UN Deputy Sec Gen Amina Mohammed Meets President George Weah

A prominent international war and economic crime investigator and source says they are concerned about the resurfacing of Taylor associates in the Weah Administration and want to know whether Taylor is still involved in the Liberian political theater.

An ex-wife of Taylor is the current Vice President of Liberia. Madam Jewel Howard Taylor was hand picked by President Weah as his running mate in the 2018 Presidential election. Although President Weah has denied any on-going communication with Taylor, observers says they are puzzled by the stocking of the Weah Administration with Taylor linkages.

A diplomatic source says international partners have privately warned President Weah about any connections he may be entertaining with Taylor.

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia map
Political Subdivision Map of Liberia

Diplomatic and international pressure are being ramped up on the new Weah Administration to be decisive and commit to implementing the TRC recommendations.

The Sirleaf Administration and prior Legislature failed to implement the recommendations, citing risk to national cohesion following years of back to back wars. Observers and activists , however, say, failure to fully implement the recommendations is not an option since they represent the only sure way of holding war perpetrators accountable for their roles and genuine reconciliation.

A former warlord and from the northeastern political sub-division of Nimba County Prince Johnson is a sitting legislator who has vowed to resist any attempt to prosecute him for alleged war crimes. Johnson who led the erstwhile  rebel militia known as the Independent National Patriotic Front (INPFL)  is responsible for the capture, torture of former Liberian President Samuel K. Doe and civilians in September, 1990 at the height of the conflict.

Main rebel leader Charles Taylor who won controversial Presidential elections served between 1997 – 2003 but was forced to step down from office by sustained rebel attacks and international pressure. He fled to Nigeria under a brokered deal but was eventually indicted by the U.N. Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone War Survivors
Sierra Leone War Survivors

Nigeria, under pressure from the U.S., agreed to turn Taylor over to the Court.

He was subsequently arrested and tried in Netherlands and convicted of ” aiding and abetting, as well as planning, some of the most heinous and brutal crimes recorded in human history” and sentenced in May, 2012 to fifty years in jail.

Taylor who is serving his sentence at a UK facility, may die in prison due to his age and length of the sentence.

Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier
Former TRC Head Counselor Jerome Verdier

In 2017, the former head of Liberia’s TRC and human rights lawyer Counselor Jerome Verdier, who fled Liberia for fear of his life, after issuance of the TRC Final Report released a statement in which he said, “…We are glad that the international arrests, detentions, deportations and travels ban of these war and economic crimes perpetrators will continue until they are eventually prosecuted for their heinous and egregious  crimes against human kind. There will be no hiding place. Not anymore..”

President Weah has not indicated if he will fully implement the TRC recommendations.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

UNHCR Reports $269.6 Million Funding Gap for Its West Africa Operations

The UN office responsible to catering to world refugees says there is a huge funding gap for its West Africa operations.

West_Africa_map
Map of West Africa

According to its 2018 Funding update issued on Tuesday, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) disclosed that of its target of $289.1 million dollars, it has received only $19.4 million representing only 7 percent of its overall target.

The funding gap is $269.6 million for its West Africa sub-regional offices:

Burkina Faso –  8% funded. Gap is $22.9 million
Cote d’Ivoire – 7% funded. Gap is $14.8 million
Ghana – No funding. Gap is $8.1 million
Guinea – No funding. Gap is $653,401
Liberia – No funding. Gap is $11.6 million
Mali – 7% funded. Gap is $19.8 million
Niger – 8% funded. Gap is $79.9 million
Nigeria – No funding. Gap is $80.3 million and
Senegal Regional Office – minor funding. Funding gap – $39.1 million

Germany, the European Union, Italy, Sweden, UN Peacebuilding Fund, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNESCO and private donors in Italy made restricted contributions with Germany making the bulk of the contribution – $1.9 million dollars.

Burkinabe Refugees
Burkinabe Refugees

Their combined contributions to West Africa refugee assistance totaled $19.4 million.

Other international major donors who made un-restricted and regional funding include:

Sweden – $98 million
Norway –  $43 million
Netherlands -$39 million
United Kingdom – $32 million
Denmark – $25 million
Australia – $19 million and
Switzerland – $15 million

Another 26 donors, including  the only African country of Algeria, also made un-restricted and regional funding to the mission of the UNHCR in West Africa.

Food insecurity, migration from conflict hot areas including some early instances of climate change are forcing people into long term refugee situations in the African sub-regional which could be further destabilized unless adequate funding is secured. Donor fatigue and internal economic pressures on donor countries are challenging the ability of the UN to easily raise the needed funds to provide assistance for refugees.

One major donor missing from the UNHCR latest update is the United States.

The UNHCR, which was  founded in 1950, works to protect and assist refugees around the world.

Liberia

In a separate development, the National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have released their Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response Bulletin for the period between January 29 – February 4, 2018 .

Political Subdivision Map of Liberia map
Map of Liberia

According to the bulletin,  a total of  274 suspected cases of immediately reportable diseases was made with 31 deaths.

Of this number, Nimba County in northeastern Liberia is reported to have a measles outbreak with 202 suspected cases with the next highest occurrence of 58 in Montserrado County, the seat of the capital.

Eight maternal deaths were reported from Bong (2), Montserrado (2), Maryland (1), Nimba (1), Margibi (1) and River Gee (1) Counties.

Reported causes of death were: Postpartum hemorrhage (3), Eclampsia (1), Abrutio placenta (1), Sepsis (1), Pulmonary embolism (1) and Cardiac pulmonary arrest (1)
All eight deaths was reported to have occurred in the health facility.

Of the recent meningococcal outbreak in the West African country, all contacts remain in medical surveillance.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine