January 25, 2015
International Security, ISIL, ISIS, peter singhateh, Peter Singhatey, Suicide Bombers, Terrorism, Women
When Women Become Terrorists – NYTimes.com.
SINCE the terror attacks in Paris two weeks ago, the French police have been on the hunt for Hayat Boumeddiene, the partner of Amedy Coulibaly, one of the slain gunmen. She is now suspected to be in Syria. Some news reports speculate that Ms. Boumeddiene, 26, may have been “the more radical of the two.” Yet one of the first questions that French authorities intend to ask her is, they say, “if she did this under influence, if she did it by ideology, if she did it to aid and abet.”
While much will be made in the coming months of France’s intelligence failures, the West’s inability to appreciate the role that women play in terror should come under the highest scrutiny. Take the role of women in the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL. While the group oppresses many women, many also flock to its ranks. Roughly 10 percent of its Western recruits are female, often lured by their peers through social media and instant messaging. The percentage is much higher in France: An estimated 63 of the 350 French nationals believed to be with the group are women, or just under 20 percent.
This story is both a new one and an old one. Women have long been involved in terror of all stripes, from female neo-Nazis in Europe to Chechen “black widow” suicide bombers…
January 21, 2015
African Center for Strategic Studies
Africa, Ebola, Gambia, Health, peter singhateh, Peter Singhatey
Is this the beginning of the end for the Ebola outbreak in West Africa? | GlobalPost.
Schools reopened in Guinea this week, just as Mali became the region’s latest country to be declared Ebola-free by the World Health Organization, following Nigeria and Senegal.
The two developments are signs that life is slowly returning to normal as West Africa recovers from the world’s worst-ever Ebola epidemic.
It is far from over yet. But there is, at last, hope that the end of the outbreak may be within sight.
There have been 21,614 cases of Ebola in this epidemic, and 8,594 deaths, according to the latest WHO figures. But crucially, the number of new cases is declining in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the countries worst affected.
Last week Sierra Leone and Guinea both recorded their lowest weekly totals of confirmed cases since August, while Liberia had its lowest weekly total since June.
Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, has said he is “confident” the outbreak can be ended, provided “nothing unexpected happens.”…
January 20, 2015
African Center for Strategic Studies
Africa, Development, Ebola, Health Care, Liberia, peter singhateh, Peter Singhatey, Proverty
U.S.-built Ebola treatment centers in Liberia are nearly empty as outbreak fades – The Washington Post.
TUBMANBURG, Liberia — Near the hillside shelter where dozens of men and women died of Ebola, a row of green U.S. military tents sit atop a vast expanse of imported gravel. The generators hum; chlorinated water churns in brand-new containers; surveillance cameras send a live feed to a large-screen television.
There’s only one thing missing from this state-of-the-art Ebola treatment center: Ebola patients.
The U.S. military sent about 3,000 troops to West Africa to build centers like this one in recent months. They were intended as a crucial safeguard against an epidemic that flared in unpredictable, deadly waves. But as the outbreak fades in Liberia, it has become clear that the disease had already drastically subsided before the first American centers were completed. Several of the U.S.-built units haven’t seen a single patient infected with Ebola.
It now appears that the alarming epidemiological predictions that in large part prompted the U.S. aid effort here were far too bleak. Although future flare-ups of the disease are possible, the near-empty Ebola centers tell the story of an aggressive American military and civilian response that occurred too late to help the bulk of the more than 8,300 Liberians who became infected. Last week, even as international aid organizations built yet more Ebola centers, there was an average of less than one new case reported in Liberia per day…
January 13, 2015
Africa, Development, Education, Oil Prices, peter singhateh, Peter Singhatey, Proverty
Will the world’s hungry benefit from falling oil prices? – TRFN | Reuters.
ROME, Jan 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A slump in global oil prices has brought cheaper food to many of the world’s poorest, but from the slums of Manila to the fields of Malawi, the benefits are not universal.
Globally, 805 million people still face chronic hunger, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation. While the poorest in cities may see a reduction in food bills, those in rural areas, not integrated into world food markets, may not.
The price of oil dropped by half last year, the second-biggest annual decline ever, hitting a five-and-a half-year low. Oil prices have a knock-on effect on the price of food, which fell for a third straight year in 2014.
“For many poor people who spend a lot of their budget on food, this is good news,” said Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute. “There is a high correlation between oil and food prices.”…
January 12, 2015
Africa, Fatou Bensouda, ICC, peter singhateh, Peter Singhatey
Is the War Crimes Court Still Relevant? – NYTimes.com.
UNITED NATIONS — Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court, is about to face her toughest trial yet: to demonstrate that the court has enough muscle to tackle the gravest human rights cases, even if it means confronting the world’s most powerful countries.
Since its inception in 2002, the court has been laden with a growing pile of cases, defiant government authorities, and a United Nations Security Council that has called for investigations but done little to advance them. The court has convicted a tiny fraction of those it has charged. Many more have eluded arrest altogether, and the prosecutor has battled charges of bias against African leaders — a charge that Ms. Bensouda, a Gambian, has strenuously rebutted.
Ms. Bensouda, who assumed her job in June 2012, has had to acknowledge her own limitations in recent months. In December, she announced that she would “hibernate” the genocide case against Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, because she had been unable to secure his arrest. The same month, she said she would drop charges against Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, for his role in the violence that swept the country following the 2007 elections, citing his government’s lack of cooperation with her office.
The year ahead brings far more formidable challenges and with them the opportunity to assert the relevance of the court.
The Palestinian situation is no doubt the most politically delicate item on her agenda. Palestine joined the I.C.C. last week, and authorized the prosecutor to scrutinize alleged crimes committed on Palestinian land since last June, before the last Gaza conflict began. Israel and its principal ally, the United States, have forcefully criticized the Palestinian move, and even a preliminary inquiry by her office is likely to face a pushback, including from Washington.
Additionally, Ms. Bensouda has said she is looking into allegations of torture by American soldiers in Afghanistan. There’s a chance, albeit slim, that she could go further and open an official investigation…
January 12, 2015
Africa, Boko Haram, i am charlie, Nigeria, peter singhateh, Peter Singhatey, Terrorism
I am Charlie, but I am Baga too: On Nigeria’s forgotten massacre | Daily Maverick.
There are massacres and there are massacres. The Paris massacre was tragic, but it was hardly the worst thing that happened last week. Not even close.
For that, we must head to Nigeria, and to the town of Baga – or at least to the spot on the map where Baga once stood, because there’s not much left of it now.
Reports of the massacre there are necessarily hazy; the nearest journalists are hundreds of kilometres away (even there, they are not particularly safe), and information comes almost exclusively from traumatised refugees and unreliable government sources.
Still, enough facts have emerged to know that something terrible happened here; something apocalyptic.
Baga is in north-eastern Nigeria, on the border with Cameroon. It is no stranger to massacres. In April 2013, nearly 200 people, mostly civilians, were slaughtered by the Nigerian armed forces in a military offensive designed to push out Boko Haram. This, however, was just a teaser. A taste of the horror that was to come.
Over the course of five days, beginning on Saturday last week, Boko Haram fighters entered the city with Nigerian soldiers fleeing before them, and destroyed it and anybody that was too slow in escaping – men, women, children. “The whole town was on fire,” said one eyewitness, while others speak of roads lined with corpses. The body count varies, but Amnesty International puts it at over 2,000 deaths – or the rough equivalent of 133 Charlie Hebdo attacks…