Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) On Decline In Senegal

http://players.brightcove.net/665003303001/SJg0bzqkZ_default/index.html?videoId=5166644786001

In the West African nation of  Senegal, the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) among younger women is trending downwards.

Senegal Map
Senegal Map

According to a report from the English and Wales based Charity 28 Too Many quoting data released in 2015 from the Agence Nationale de la Statistique et de la Demographique of Senegal and the Senega: Enquette Demographique et de Sante et de Sante 2015, the prevalence of FGM among women between the ages of 15 – 49 is 24.2%.

According to the group End FGM European Network FGM “comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).”

FGM which is carried out by traditional health practitioners and herbalists or community elders in Senegal is done on girls before they reach the age of 10 and around two thirds about 67.6% by the age of 5, according to the data used.

An emergency-room doctor in the U.S. Midwest has been arrested and charged with performing female genital mutilation on girls between the ages of 6 and 8, in the first criminal case brought under a 1996 law that outlawed the practice. Jumana Nagarwala, a 44-year-old doctor at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan, is accused of performing genital mutilation on young girls as far back as 2005, according to a criminal complaint released Thursday. The U.S. Department of Justice said she
Ceremony in Senegal Announcing End to FGM

According to data, 50% of women between the ages of 15 – 49 were “cut, flesh removed.”

In the south of the country, FGM is widely carried out and accounts for 76.9% and about 6.9% in central Senegal.

Citing the prevalence of FGM across the West African nation, the data used notes that among various ethnic groups  “…the highest practicing group include the Mandigue 71.1%, Sonike 60.9%, Poular 50.7% and Diola 47.9%. The lowest prevalences are found among the Wolofs 1.3% and the Serers 1.1% citing low sample sizes. FGM prevalences among Animists is 44.8%, among Muslims 25% and 7.8% among Christians. 14.4% of women and 15.7% of men believe that FGM is a religious requirement.”

The practice of FGM shows a decline in women between the ages of 15-49 now at 24.2% compared to 28.2 in 2005 in Senegal. Data further shows a decline of the practice among younger women.

Legislation was passed in 1999 by the Senegalese Government which specifically sanctioned the practice of FGM.

International Practice of FGM

FGM In Africa
FGM In Africa

The United Nations says that FGM is practiced in various communities in the following African Countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

In some western countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, it is reported that FGM is practiced among diaspora populations from places where the practice is common done.

However, there is an increase  effort to fight and eliminate the practice in Africa and Western countries including the formulation and enforcement of stringent legislation.

In April, 2017, the Voice of America reported that  “An emergency-room doctor in the U.S. Midwest has been arrested and charged with performing female genital mutilation on girls between the ages of 6 and 8, in the first criminal case brought under a 1996 law that outlawed the practice. Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, a 44-year-old doctor at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan, is accused of performing genital mutilation on young girls as far back as 2005, according to a criminal complaint released … The U.S. Department of Justice said she “performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims.”

US-DOJ LOGO
US Department of Justice

The US Government says it considers FGM a “…serious human rights abuse, and a form of gender based violence and child abuse…”

Criminal consequences of performing or assisting in FGM  against US law is 5 years in jail and fines or both and may have serious immigration consequences for immigrants who are convicted.

Effects of FGM

Some of the most common problems associated with the practice of FGM include:

  • Severe bleeding, pain and shock which sometimes lead to death
  • Infection, which sometimes lead to death
  • Urination and menstrual obstruction
  • Increased risk of urinary tract infections and HIV
  • Mental health problems, including PTSD
  • Sexual dysfunction, including dyspareunia
  • Complications in pregnancy and childbirth, which sometimes lead to death

Videos courtesy of Al Jazeera

By Emmanuel Abalo 

West African Journal Magazine

Sub-Saharan African “Slave” Migrants Being Repatriated From Libya

Following revelation and an outcry against the purported  “slave auctions” of mostly black African migrants in the North African nation of Libya, several African countries have begun receiving their repatriated nationals.

Migrants
Migrants in Libya

With assistance from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) the Government of Sierra Leone  on Wednesday received 164 of its citizens.

The Journal du Cameroun website quotes IOM officials as saying the the returnees which included men, women and children were flown to Freetown in the early hours of Wednesday with the help of the IOM.

According to IOM officials,  the returnees had voluntarily asked to be flown back home after going through  what they described as “difficult experiences”.

IOM
IOM

The European Union (EU) and the Government of Libya provided tickets for the Sierra Leonen returnees while the IOM is providing financial assistance packages to facilitate reintegration in their various communities.

The returnees are being temporarily accommodated  at the National Stadium in the capital Freetown.

Meantime, the Government of Burkina Faso has recalled its Ambassador to Libya over reports of the “auction” of black African migrants in the north African nation.

About 135 Burkinabe migrants were recently repatriated with assistance from the IOM.

Gambian Migrants
Gambia Migrants

In the Gambia, about 1500 returnees who were repatriated from Libya have begun receiving packages from the IOM for resettlement.

As part of its Freedom Project, CNN recently uncovered a ” slave auction market” of black African migrants in Libya in multiple locations in the country.

The Government of National Unity (GNA) of Libya, while announcing an investigation, responded to the report saying, “We affirm again that the practical solution is to address the real reasons that drive people to leave their home countries, treat them and develop final solutions for them.”

The Chairman of the African Union and Guinean Presidnet Alpha Conde has condemned the auction of Africans as slaves.

Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

Ghana: Catholic Bishops Call For Repair of Road

Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo
Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo

A call has been issued to the Akufo-Addo government  in Ghana to speed up the rehabilitation of the Eastern Corridor road which is in a deplorable condition.

The Ghana Conference of Catholic Bishops Conference, in a communique released at the end of its annual meeting held in Ho, cited the poor state of the road and the health and development risk posed. “…Lives of motorists, traders and tourists are in danger…” the Bishops said and called for the government to prioritize the project.

On the political crisis in neighboring Togo, the Ghana Catholic Bishops called for an intervention to ensure that all Ghana nationals in Togo and along their common border were safe.

Map of Ghana-Togo-Benin
Map of Ghana-Togo-Benin

Citizens of Ghana were urged to treat Togolese refugees with love and warmth. Several hundred Togolese nationals fled their government crackdown following protests against President Faure Gnassingbe.

Protesters are calling for his resignation and an overhaul of the political system in Togo to end the family grip on power.

However, President Gnassingbe has shown little interest in stepping down.

West African Journal

 

 

 

 

Togolese Refugees In Ghana Returning Home

Reports from Ghana quoting the country’s  Refugee Board say that some Togolese nationals have begun returning home following the recent security crackdown against anti government protesters in Lome. 

Ghana -Togo Map
Ghana-Togo Map

Violent protests against the government of President Faure Gnassingbe forced hundreds of Togolese nationals to cross over into Ghana. A number of people were killed as a result of the protest.

According to the Program Coordinator for the Ghana Refugee Board, Tetteh Paddy, quoted by the Starfmonline website, “about half of the Togolese refugees have returned home although the political crisis in Togo is not over yet.”

Coordinator Tetteh said further that “The last check we sent a team up North to go and do verification and registration and we registered 355 [refugees] which meant that many of them have returned. At some point they were about 600.”

Help has been requested fronm the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and local organizations to care for over 300 Togolese refugees.

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

Tragedy: Bodies of 26 Nigeria Women Pulled From Mediterranean Sea

ROME — In a rather tragic circumstance, it is being reported that the bodies of 26 young Nigerian women and girls have been retrieved from the Mediterranean Sea over the weekend and taken to Italy.

Map of Italy
Map of Italy

According to the New York Times , officials have launched an investigation into how the young Nigerian women died.

A official in the port city of Salerno says, “It is a tragedy for mankind.” He says local prosecutors will start work quickly to determine if the deaths were homicides. The bodies of the deceased and nearly 400 migrants who were also rescued from the Mediterranean Sea were taken to Salerno.

Marco Rotunno, the communications officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Italy estimates that the young women were between the ages of 14 and 18.

Migrants
Migrants

According to the New York Times report, the bodies were found floating in the water by the Spanish Navy on Nov. 3, and survivors on nearby rubber dinghies, which had partly capsized, told the authorities that they were Nigerian and had departed from Libya.

No one has claimed any of the bodies and it is still unknown if any of the surviving migrants are related.

Hundreds of Africans make the perilous journey through north Africa, especially Libya, to Europe in search of a better life. European navy officials say they have seen an increase in migrants in the last few years but with tragic results too.

Meantime, latest reports now say 2 arrests have been made. Al Mabrouc Wisam Harar from Libya and Mohammed Ali Al Bouzid from Egypt were arrested later on Tuesday.

The were captains of the boat on which the nearly 400 migrants were crammed.

West African Journal and Wires Services

 

Liberian Refugees In U.S. Worried About Possible End To TPS Program Next March

Philadelphia, PA USA

Liberian beneficiaries of Deferred Enforced Departure also known as DED in the United States may have reason to be apprehensive about their own future given the decision of the Trump Administration to end Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for thousands of citizens from Central America and Haiti.

It can be recalled that the current TPS designation for Liberians was extended by President Barack Obama but now expires on March 18, 2017.

In a memorandum issued on September 16, 2016 to then Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, President Obama directed him “to extend for an additional 18 months the deferred enforced departure (DED) of certain Liberians and to provide for work authorization during that period.”

Flag of Liberia
Flag of Liberia

According to the Memorandum, “Pursuant to his constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States, President Obama has determined that there are compelling foreign policy reasons to again extend Deferred Enforced Departure (“DED”) to Liberian nationals who are currently residing in the United States under the existing grant of DED. The President accordingly directed that Liberian nationals (and eligible persons without nationality who last resided in Liberia) who are physically present in the United States, have continuously resided in the United States since October 1, 2002, and who remain eligible for DED through September 30, 2016, be provided DED for an additional 18-month period. See Presidential Memorandum—Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians, September 28, 2016 (“Presidential Memorandum”).

Note that only individuals who held Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on September 30, 2007, the date that a former TPS designation of Liberia terminated, are eligible for DED, provided they have continued to meet all other eligibility criteria established by the President. The President also directed the Secretary to implement the necessary steps to authorize employment authorization for eligible Liberians for 18 months, from October 1, 2016 through March 31, 2018.

Department of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a provisional immigration status granted to eligible nationals of designated countries suffering the effects of an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. During the period for which the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated a country under the TPS program, beneficiaries are not required to leave the United States and may obtain employment authorization.

TPS does not lead to permanent resident status, however, when the Secretary terminates a country’s designation, the alien will return to the status he/she had prior to TPS or to any other status he/she may have obtained while registered for TPS.”

In the case of Liberia, since 1991 the U.S. granted TPS to thousands of Liberians citizens who fled the brutal civil war.

Liberians in the U.S. benefitted from a series of extensions to their initial TPS designation until expiration on September 28, 1999 based on a determination of the then U.S. Attorney General the late Janet Reno who stated that “Based upon a more recent review of conditions within Liberia by the Departments of Justice and State, the Attorney General finds that conditions no longer support a TPS designation. A Department of State memorandum concerning Liberia states that “[t]he divisive civil war in Liberia which began in 1990 ended with the Abuja Peace Accords in 1996. Since 1997, the country in general has not experienced ongoing armed conflict. In September 1998, violence erupted suddenly in Monrovia. * * * Since then, however, no further general conflict has occurred.” The memorandum also states that “Although conditions in Liberia remain difficult, the overall situation is not sufficiently adverse to prevent most Liberian nationals in the U.S. from returning to Liberia in safety.” It concludes, “The Department of State finds that sufficient grounds to recommend a further extension of TPS for Liberia do not exist. We therefore recommend that TPS for Liberia be terminated on its current expiration date of September 28, 1999.”  

Following the expiration of TPS designation for Liberians, then President Bill Clinton, made the determination that for “foreign policy reasons, protection from removal should be extended for a year after that date.” Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status was extended to Liberians and subsequently extended. The last extension was issued in September, 2016 by President Obama and expires in March, 2018.

According to the DHS, DED is similar to TPS in that it allows aliens of a particular nationality to remain and work in the United States without the threat of deportation. The President issues a DED directive based on his constitutional authority related to foreign policy, whereas the Attorney General has statutory authority to designate a country for TPS.

USCIS
US Custom and Immigration Service – USCIS

Apprehension amongst Liberian DED beneficiaries was heightened late on Friday, November 3, when the Washington Post reported that on last Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on last Tuesday, dispatched a a letter to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke informing her that for over 300,00 nationals of Central America and Haiti, conditions which had been used to justify their Temporary Protective Status in the U.S. no longer existed to warrant the continuation of this designation and protection.

Many of the Central American and Haitian migrants, in addition to their TPS status were allowed to live and work in the U.S.

Reports say scores of Central American and Haitian nationals, in anticipation of the revocation of their TPS status have been making their way north through unofficial border crossings to seek sanctuary in Canada.

Liberia
Map of Liberia

Liberian activists and some members of the U.S. Congress have been lobbying the new Trump Administration to continue the extension of DED designation upon expiration in March of next year. However, the Trump Administration has shown no inclination to further extension and protection. Any cue from the new US government can be found in its latest decision to terminate protection of Central American and Haitian nationals when protections end early next year. Another indication of the leaning of the U.S. Government was its decision to terminate the 2014 – 2016 Ebola-related TPS designation in May of this year for some nationals of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Many Liberians on DED have put down roots, held long term jobs, purchased homes and businesses and have children and grand children who are American citizens. If DED status is revoked for these Liberian nationals, individuals with no other lawful immigration status on March 19, 2018, will no longer be protected from removal or eligible for employment authorization in the U.S.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

Gambian Migrants Voluntarily Return Home

Gambia’s Minister of the Interior says about 165 nationals have voluntarily returned home from the north African nation of Libya.

map-gambia
Map of Gambia

Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty  disclosed that the batch of Gambians returned home on Thursday.

Gambian returnees now total 1,467, the Interior Minister said.

Earlier this year, another group of Gambian migrants returned home.

Scores of  Gambians often leave home to attempt the perilous journey to Europe and other parts of the world because of tough economic conditions back home.

Help is being provided to resettle and re-integrate the returnees, the Interior Minister said.

Africanews. reports that the Gambian government, has, meantime, has entered a deal with the European Union in the area of irregular migration. Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty signed the 3.9m euro deal on behalf of the government.

Source: Africanews.

U.S. President Trump Wants End to DV Program; Africa To Be Affected

Philadelphia, PA USA

If U.S.President Donald Trump has his way, the ending of the immigration lottery program will close the opportunity to hundreds of thousands of African nationals to join family members who are either American citizens or permanent residents in the United States.

USCIS
US Custom and Immigration Service – USCIS

The U.S. Diversity Visa Program popularly known as “DV” allows 50,000 people into the U.S. every year under the State Department program, which tilts toward “countries with historically low rates of immigration.”

According to the State Department, the Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) Program, as provided for by law “is to promote immigration from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States.” The program is an internet-based “lottery” system that randomly selects individuals from a global pool of eligible entrants and qualifies them to apply for immigrant visas.

Nationals of 53 African countries are eligible to apply fot the 2019 fiscal year. According to the U.S. State Department, natives of the West African country of Nigeria are not eligible to apply for 2019 ” because they are the principal source countries of Family-Sponsored and Employment-Based immigration or “high-admission” countries.”

President Trump’s call to end the DV Program was the direct consequence of the most recent terror attack in New York on Tuesday by an Uzbek national who immigrated to the U.S. in 2010 under the program.

Many African families take advantage of the DV program to re-unite their families in the U.S. and take advantage of the opportunity of realizing the ‘American dream” and a better life.

Diversity visa recipients are given lawful permanent residence status also known as “green card residents” and work permits which then allow them work and live permanently in the U.S. with the eligibility option of become U.S. citizens, if they choose.

According to the Pew Research, a U.S. based fact think tank, quoting the most recent data of fiscal 2015 from the State Department, “…about 12% of the 14.4 million people who applied for the visa lottery were citizens of Ghana (1.7 million)…”

Country Map of Africa
Country Map of Africa

Other African countries are also cited in the data, according to Pew. “In some countries, a marked share of the population has applied for the program. In the Republic of Congo, for example, 10% of the country’s citizens applied for the program in fiscal 2015. Other African countries with high shares of applicants included Liberia (8%), Sierra Leone (8%) and Ghana (7%).”

The Washington Postreports that the DV Program was “originally conceived as a way to help Irish citizens fleeing an economic crisis back home, the only requirement is that entrants be adults with a high school diploma or two years of recent work experience. Winners can bring their spouses and minor children. There is no application fee.

Millions apply each year. Fewer than 1 percent are randomly selected to undergo background checks and receive a green card, which grants them permanent residency in the United States and puts them on a path to American citizenship. There were 11,391,134 applicants in fiscal 2016, the most recent data available…”

Conservatives in the U.S. have targeted the program for years and are currently supporting legislation that favors a “merit-based” immigration system. Since 2005, the U.S. Congress has tried but failed to end the DV Program including cutting off funding, Many conservatives blame an increase in terrorism and violent crime in the US. on immigration laws

President-Donald-Trump-USA
President Donald Trump

In remarks on Wednesday at the White House, the U.S. President who has taken a tough stance on immigration since a candidate in the 2016 Presidential elections said he would ask on Congress “to immediately initiate work to get rid of this program.”

“I am today starting the process of terminating the diversity lottery program. It sounds nice. It’s not nice. It’s not good,” Trump said to reporters just prior to a midday Cabinet meeting,

President Trump later tweeted that “We are fighting hard for Merit Based immigration, no more Democrat Lottery Systems.”

Reporting By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine