August 26, 2013
Fighting Back In Liberia

From a Guardian article written in May 2012, Diane Taylor describes the a Liberian woman who lived to see a war criminal, Charles Taylor, sentenced for his crimes against her family:

Black Diamond was 18 and a promising student when civil war broke out. She enjoyed a peaceful childhood in Voinjama, a town in the north of the country where her father worked as a doctor. During one of Taylor’s troops’ regular raids, in April 2000, her parents were killed and Diamond was gang-raped.

After regaining consciousness after the attack, she found her way to the headquarters of Sekou Conneh, the leader of Liberians United for Reconciliation & Democracy (Lurd) and begged him to take her in. When the compound was attacked soon after she arrived, she simply grabbed an AK-47 and joined in with the fighting.

Many of the women who joined the rebels were rape survivors who felt that joining the rebels was the best way to protect themselves from further predations by Taylor’s troops:

Rising swiftly through the ranks Diamond became a colonel in Lurd’s Women’s Auxiliary Corps, developing a reputation as a ferocious fighter. Many of the women were, like her, survivors of rape by Taylor’s troops and many had come to the conclusion that becoming a fighter was the best way to protect themselves against further rapes. Diamond still refers to them fondly as her “girls”. Of the 12 she fought closely with, six died in the course of the war. “Becoming a fighter was the best thing I could do under the circumstances,” she says now. But she remains haunted by all the horrors she witnessed.

As an ex-combatant, she is stigmatized, but she isn’t ashamed of what she did:

"Liberian women have always been strong and we are proud to have the first female president in Africa. Before the war, rape was almost unknown in our country. When the rapes started, I and the other girls who fought were determined not to be victims. We wanted to fight back to show our attackers they couldn’t get away with such things and that they, not we, should feel shame for the rapes."

She welcomes the opportunity to work with anyone who can help her spread the message of peace to try to protect the next generation from the horrors she experienced. “I am doing this for my girls,” she says. “Those who are lost and those who are living presently.”

h/t The Feminist Wire

June 17, 2013
kohenari:


To date, more than 1,400 of the 2,000 African migrants being held in Israeli detention facilities have filed requests for asylum. Until two weeks ago, the state hadn’t responded to a single one.
Since then it has rejected every claim it has processed.

(Israel begins sweeping rejection of Eritrean asylum claims)

Leonard Fein offered some statistics back in May:

In recent years, there have been 4,322 applications for refugee status; according to Physicians for Human Rights, three have been processed and approved. (The figures are murky. A different report estimates between 35,000 and 38,000 asylum seekers, the vast majority of whom, knowing how slim are the odds that they will actually be processed, let alone approved as “legitimate” refugees, have not applied for asylum. Of those who have applied, less than one percent have been processed and accepted as refugees.)

To be fair, I’m not sure if “less than one percent” is par for the course.  Perhaps most of the asylum seekers genuinely don’t have compelling stories, or can’t avail themselves of the proof necessary to make their case.  On the other hand, Israel’s government may have more pragmatic reasons for denying asylum, such as trying to prevent another source of racial tension in the region by admitting large numbers of African migrants into Israel.  This, of course, creates its own set of problems (namely, the use of race as a determinative factor in asylum petitions rather than actual danger to the applicant’s life).  Nonetheless, the situation of African migrants in Israel remains a sticky issue.

kohenari:

To date, more than 1,400 of the 2,000 African migrants being held in Israeli detention facilities have filed requests for asylum. Until two weeks ago, the state hadn’t responded to a single one.

Since then it has rejected every claim it has processed.

(Israel begins sweeping rejection of Eritrean asylum claims)

Leonard Fein offered some statistics back in May:

In recent years, there have been 4,322 applications for refugee status; according to Physicians for Human Rights, three have been processed and approved. (The figures are murky. A different report estimates between 35,000 and 38,000 asylum seekers, the vast majority of whom, knowing how slim are the odds that they will actually be processed, let alone approved as “legitimate” refugees, have not applied for asylum. Of those who have applied, less than one percent have been processed and accepted as refugees.)

To be fair, I’m not sure if “less than one percent” is par for the course.  Perhaps most of the asylum seekers genuinely don’t have compelling stories, or can’t avail themselves of the proof necessary to make their case.  On the other hand, Israel’s government may have more pragmatic reasons for denying asylum, such as trying to prevent another source of racial tension in the region by admitting large numbers of African migrants into Israel.  This, of course, creates its own set of problems (namely, the use of race as a determinative factor in asylum petitions rather than actual danger to the applicant’s life).  Nonetheless, the situation of African migrants in Israel remains a sticky issue.

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Filed under: politics israel africa 
June 1, 2013
"Getting free medical care in a Catholic hospital by a Jewish doctor is like the whole world coming together. It’s the way the world should work."

Dr. Rick Hodes, the medical director of the Jewish American Joint Distribution Committee.  Hodes works with sick patients in Ethiopia, and  has arranged for hundreds of children to receive life-altering surgeries that they could not afford or access on their own.

February 6, 2013
"Today, the ‘savage nature’ of Africa is still on display, in American headlines: ‘Uganda’s rebels in murderous spree,’ ‘Congo a country of rape and ruin’ ‘Africa’s Forever Wars.’ Sometimes the savagery doesn’t come from the ‘savages’ themselves. It comes from poverty—’NIGERIA: Focus on the scourge of poverty’—or disease—’AIDS at 30: Killer has been tamed, but not conquered.’ Other times, all the savagery blends together: ‘Starving Babies, Raped Mommies, Famine in Africa—Do you care?’ All I can imagine from these headlines is that Africa—all 54 countries, all 11.7 million square miles of it—must be a very deadly place. But I’ve lived there. It’s not."

Jina Moore, “The White Correspondent’s Burden.” (via utnereader)

This is a problem that I’ve seen more than one commentator bring up.  Western coverage of Africa tends to paint the entire continent as a chaotic, war-torn locale where starvation, poverty and political violence are ubiquitous.  To be fair, I think there is plenty of poverty and violence that does exist in Africa, and worth being concerned about.  But there are also places in Africa that do not meet this description.  And it’s always helpful to keep a little perspective when reading the endless stream of bleak reporting on Africa’s affairs.

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Filed under: politics africa 
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