Daily Archives: July 6, 2019

‘No to dictatorship!’: Algerians rally on independence day

ALGIERS� Tens of thousands of Algerians have taken to the streets Friday to celebrate their country’s independence from France and continue calls for a new democratic leadership in the wake of former President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s resignation in April.

Amid extra-high security and resurgent anger at authorities, crowds wearing Algerian flags on their shoulders, heads and waists poured onto the streets of the capital Algiers for Friday’s pro-democracy protest on the country’s national holiday to mark Algeria’s 1962 liberation from French rule.

Demonstrations were also held in at least a dozen other cities.

Protesters were also venting their indignation at the arrests last week of several activists brandishing Berber emblems and of Lakhdar Bouregaa, a veteran of Algeria’s independence war.

Authorities accused the activists of threatening Algeria’s unity by celebrating Berber identity. They also say the 82-year-old veteran is damaging the army’s morale by criticising the powerful military chief, Ahmed Gaid Salah.

What shame a man who liberated the country spends the 57th year anniversary of independence in prison read one banner. Calls to free Bouregaa rang out at protest marches in other cities where citizens marched.

In Algiers, authorities deployed an unusually large number of police, who confiscated Berber flags from protesters entering the city. Police surrounded the plaza at the central post office that has been a nucleus of the revolt.

Bouteflika resigned on April 2 after weeks of nationwide protests and under pressure from the country’s powerful military over his bid for a fifth term in office.

Since then, demonstrations have continued in Algeria every Friday to pressure key Bouteflika-era officials and allies of the former leader into stepping down and to call for accountability for widespread corruption within the upper echelons of the government.

On Friday, protesters also chanted slogans against any elections organised by a mafia gang.

An already delayed presidential election was postponed again early last month from a planned date of July 4, after only two potential runners � both little known � submitted their candidacies.

Yes to a civilian state! No to a military dictatorship read one sign.

Another read No dialogue with traitors, in reference to an appeal this week by interim President Abdelkader Bensalah for dialogue in advance of presidential elections.

Bensalah has proposed to create a new entity to arrange the elections, and promised that both the government and military would not take part.

On Saturday, political parties, civil society representatives and national personalities are due to hold a meeting dubbed the National Forum for Dialogue, which is being held outside the orbit of Bensalah’s planned talks.

The initiative seeks to put in place mechanisms to end the crisis and move, in a reasonable timeframe, towards the organisation of a presidential election, according to Abdelaziz Rahabi, a former minister who has backed the protests.


From Libya to Texas, Tragedies Illustrate Plight of Migrants

They are trapped in squalid detention centers on Libya’s front lines. They wash up on the banks of the Rio Grande. They sink without a trace � in the Mediterranean, in the Pacific or in waterways they can’t even name. A handful fall out of airplanes’ landing gear.

As their choices narrow on land and at sea, migrants are often seen as a political headache in the countries they hope to reach and ignored in the countries they flee. Most live in limbo, but recent tragedies have focused attention on the risks they face and the political constraints at the root of them.

A record 71 million people were forcibly displaced around the world in 2018, according to a report last month by the U.N. refugee agency, in places as diverse as Turkey, Uganda, Bangladesh and Peru. Many are still on the move in 2019, or trapped like thousands in detention in Libya, where an airstrike on Tuesday killed at least 44 migrants and refugees locked away in the Tripoli suburb of Tajoura.

Most of those in Tajoura and other Libyan detention centers have been intercepted by the Libyan coast guard, which has become the go-to border force for the European Union, which can’t get 28 governments to agree about migration. Despite the rhetoric about migration crises in Europe and the U.S., the top three countries taking in refugees are Turkey, Pakistan and Uganda. Germany comes in a distant fifth.

Source: Voice of America

Massive Displacement in Eastern DR Congo Poses Health Hazard

The International Organization for Migration warns massive displacement from renewed inter-ethnic fighting in DR Congo’s Ebola-affected Ituri province poses a serious health hazard.

At least 160 people were killed during renewed clashes early last month between Lendu farmers and Hema herders in Ituri province. U.N. agencies report the violence has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and sent more than 7,500 refugees fleeing for their lives into neighboring Uganda.

The International Organization for Migration reports people who have fled the frontline of the conflict are living in abysmal conditions that create a fertile ground for the spread of disease, most worryingly Ebola.

The latest World Health Organization figures put the number of Ebola cases at 2,382, including 1,606 deaths. The bulk of these cases and deaths are in conflict-ridden North Kivu province About 10 percent are in Ituri.

The inter-communal fighting has displaced an estimated 400,000 people. IOM spokesman, Joel Millman, says his agency manages 12 displacement sites in Ituri’s Djugu Territory. Thousands of people unable to cram into these overcrowded camps, he says, are sheltering in spontaneous sites.

Poor hygiene conditions in displacement sites severely increase the risk that Ebola, as well as cholera, measles and acute respiratory diseases, will spread,” Millman said. “Many of these people are seeking assistance in Ebola-affected Bunia, where the displacement site officially called General Hospital Site has received more than 5,000 new Internally Displaced Persons, increasing the site’s population to 10,000 or twice its capacity.

Millman says plans are underway to relocate many of the IDPs to a new improved settlement on land owned by Bunia’s Catholic Diocese.

He says IOM also is reinforcing its Ebola surveillance and disease prevention activities at Ituri’s Points of Entry at International borders. Measures include hand washing, hygiene promotion, and screening travelers for possible Ebola infections.

On June 11, the first case of Ebola spread across the border from DRC to Uganda. A five-year old boy and his grandmother subsequently died from the deadly virus.

Millman says IOM is working to reduce disease transmission to new areas and across borders by expanding its preparedness measures to include Uganda, South Sudan and Burundi.

Source: Voice of America