Reports this year of illicit moneys from African countries stashed in a Swiss bank – indicating that corruption lies behind much of the income inequality that affects the continent – have grabbed international news headlines.
Secret bank accounts in the HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm unearthed this year by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) were said to hold over 100 billion dollars, some of which came from Africa, including some of the poorest nations on the continent.
When these funds leave the region, they deny the very nations that need them most…
February 23, 2015
February 2, 2015
Africa loses at least $50 billion a year to illicit practices like tax fraud, corruption and organized crime, a worrying situation that is hurting the continent’s economies, a UN-mandated study group warned Sunday.
Illicit financial flows — which range from international corporations dodging taxes to the trafficking of weapons and minerals — are a barrier to creating jobs on the world’s poorest continent, according to the group headed by ex-South African president Thabo Mbeki.
“Large commercial corporations are by far the biggest culprits of illicit outflows, followed by organized crime,” said Mbeki in the report commissioned by the United Nations and African Union to study illicit cash flows.
“We are also convinced that corrupt practices in Africa are facilitating these outflows.”…
December 26, 2014
UNITED NATIONS — Under intense pressure from the government of Sudan, the United Nations is planning to shrink its floundering peacekeeping force in Darfur, even though renewed fighting there has chased more people from their homes this year than during any other in the past decade.
The withdrawal plans come right after the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, announced that she had decided to suspend the genocide case against Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, because world powers have done nothing to secure his arrest.
The twin retrenchments are emblematic of the limits of international attention at a time when Darfur has been overshadowed by newer crises and conflicts around the world, from the civil wars in Syria and South Sudan to the Ebola epidemic…
November 1, 2014
War on Poverty is 50 years old. Over that time, federal and state governments have spent more than $19 trillion fighting poverty. But what have we really accomplished?
Although far from conclusive, the evidence suggests that we have successfully reduced many of the deprivations of material poverty, especially in the early years of the War on Poverty. However, these efforts were more successful among socioeconomically stable groups such as the elderly than low-income groups facing other social problems. Moreover, other factors like the passage of the Civil Rights Act, the expansion of economic opportunities to African Americans and women, increased private charity, and general economic growth may all have played a role in whatever poverty reduction occurred.
However, even if the War on Poverty achieved some initial success, the programs it spawned have long since reached a point of diminishing returns. In recent years we have spent more and more money on more and more programs, while realizing few, if any, additional gains. More important, the War on Poverty has failed to make those living in poverty independent or increase economic mobility among the poor and children. We may have made the lives of the poor less uncomfortable, but we have failed to truly lift people out of poverty.
The failures of the War on Poverty should serve as an object lesson for policymakers today. Good intentions are not enough. We should not continue to throw money at failed programs in the name of compassion…
November 1, 2014
The New York Times and other media are reporting a drop in Ebola infection rates and empty beds in the emergency field hospitals set up by the U.S. military in Monrovia. While there is Ebola all along the border between Liberia and Ivory Coast, Abidjan has not reported any cases. The World Health Organization has stated that Nigeria and Senegal are Ebola free. Perhaps even more important, no new Nigerian cases have been announced since the WHO’s declaration. Especially in Liberia, a public communications campaign on Ebola has taken off.
But, it is too soon to break out the champagne…
Get your Africa facts right: websites seek to stem flow of misinformation | World news | The Guardian
September 30, 2014
Inaccurate media reports are hardly limited to Africa, but there’s a greater chance of international newspapers getting things wrong – and not admitting so – when it comes to the continent, Seay said.
“When most western outlets have just two or three people covering a continent of 11 million square miles, it very easy to make mistakes, even unintentionally. It’s a recipe for disaster in terms of quality of coverage.”
Around half of Africa Check’s investigations are triggered by readers wanting to know anything from the veracity of claims made by pop stars to supposed disease-busting local herbs. Operating out of Lagos and Johannesburg, the not-for-profit organisation funded by grants and individual donations has a team of five full-timers working alongside volunteers and freelancers, and hopes to expand to Kenya and Senegal next.
Anton Harber, a highly-regarded South African former investigative journalist and co-founder of the project, explained its ultimate aim. “I imagine a situation in which every public figure and journalist feels nervous about what they say or write because Africa Check might just catch them out.”
September 30, 2014
“…In the space of a week 150,000 refugees from Syria streamed into Turkey, adding to the million-plus refugees Turkey has accommodated in the three-and-a-half years since the devastating conflict in Syria began. In one 48-hour period more than 60,000 Syrians came over the border. In 2014 the number of people seeking asylum will hit a 20-year high, according to the UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency. That 20-year anniversary relates to April 28th and 29th, 1994 on the Rwandan-Tanzanian border, when 250,000 people walked across the bridge at Rusumo Falls, as victims of genocide floated past in the river below.
As Syrian Kurds carried what little they had left into Turkey, the sea that borders the west of the country was in the midst of its own nightmare. The New York Times reported this month that at a funeral in Sicily of 18 migrants who died trying to reach Europe from Africa, Msgr Angelo Giurdanella said in his homily: “The opposite of love is not hatred, but indifference.” Around 120,000 migrants have been rescued by Italian ships in the Mediterranean this year. More than 2,200 have died trying to cross the Mediterranean this year. In a few days in mid-September, at least 750 migrants were feared to have died trying to make the crossing. To put those deaths in context in terms of media coverage, the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster in January, 2012 claimed 32 lives. Nearly 70 times that number of migrants have died in the Mediterranean area trying to reach Europe so far this year…”