Posts Tagged ‘awareness’

10th January, 2011 – Rebecca-Anne Fowler

Video from the Sudanese Australian Celebrations in Sydney last night for the start of Referendum.

The dancing and singing is amazing, these women are amazing, resiliant and so beautiful.  Thank you to the Sudanese Australian Community for inviting me to share this wonderful night with you all.

So today is my second last day at the HARDA office for this years African Men’s English Program. Tomorrow we will be having our graduation for 2010 and my students are excited yet aprehensive.

“What will we do for the next 8 weeks?” is a common question that is arising. With both our classes and TAFE classes finished for the year the men seem to be at a loss at what they will do with their time. Alot of them are asking about employment over the holidays, what can they do to gain some casual employment.

I feel troubled by the prospects of them going back to the parks they were sitting in before we were able to gain their attendance.  With all the weeks of nothing ahead (f0r our single students) they are at a loss. It pains me that i can not do more. I feel like i’m sometimes caught between a rock and a hard place. But yet again, i am only one person. I do what i can to make the lifes of those around me better and i guess that is all i can do.

I am looking forward to our graduation ceremony tomorrow morning and i know my students are as well. They have invited their families and i am hoping to see a great turnout in support of them. I have started to receive the tutor reports and am amazed at how well some of them have come in the last 12 months due to our program.  It makes me feel like we are doing something worthwhile and giving back to those who need our help.

I have made some wonderful friends with the Sudanese males that i have been involved with and the stories they can tell, wow they will blow you away.

Just this morning one of my students was telling me that he finally got to speak to his sister last month after 24 yrs of absence. She had no idea he was living in Australia and had not seen him since he was a small boy. I think of my own family and not seeing my sister for 24 yrs and how hard that would be on my family so i can only imagine how hard it has been for him. Living here in Australia with NO family. A Lost Boy, still searching for the life he wants. It pains me to hear his stories, so we made a pact, we will go to Sudan together one day and meet with his family. I myself am not rich, i struggle on financially with my own family and life but somehow, someday, god will help us take this journey together, so i can retrace his steps, meet his family and learn more about how my fellow friends from southern sudan have been forced to live for far too long in unresolved war like conditions. Ipray for nothing more than peace for southern sudan and for my friends to be able to return home to a democractic society that they so enjoy here in Australia.

I have also been trying to get on here and blog about my experience at the Horn of African Youth Conference a fortnight ago but am having issues with my internet cable (kids have tripped over it one too many times and its not working) and then my camera decided it did not want me to print the pics on the SD card when i took it to officeworks. So once i have fixed the “Technical” issues facing me ill have the blog up and the pics of the weekend up as well. (I am blogging from the HARDA office this morn).

Also Please Please Please if you want to do something  for someone this Christmas purchase one of our Shirts or Products from ALL FOR CHARITY STORE and 100% of the profits made are used to support a Child Headed Household in Uganda of 5 Children. Betty the eldest girl is a budding scientist and we would love nothing more than to see her acheive her goals. For more information on Betty and her family, please VISIT HERE

-Freeuganda

Tuesday 23rd November 2010

I was at the HARDA (Horn of Africa Relief & Development Agency) office today as usual for my Tuesday Morning Volunteering to co-ordinate the African Men’s English Program. We had a great conversation at our Morning Tea session and i thought it was worthwhile to discuss.

John, (our dear leader) had raised the subject of how hard it was for African Refugee’s to gain employment in Australia and what services are available out there for further training. It was a great topic. A few of our students were really encouraged and opened up to us. “I worked for 20 months after coming to Australia as a printer” Santino from our level 3 english classed divulged. “In Sudan i worked as a printer in Khartoum”. He also added. “In Australia i learnt great lessons in my 20 months working, that quality of product is very important, the machinery is different and up to date in technology, that arriving on time to work is very important.” Santino advised. “I’ve applied for over 30 jobs in the Construction Industry” Spoke Ateem, “yet i’ve not gotten a job yet”. Ateem previously worked in construction for 12-18 months but was unable to continue his employment due to his english skills. This is why they attend our Mens English and Computer Classes, so he can gain a better understanding of the english language and how to adjust to life here in Australia in a casual and stress free setting. Even though they have completed 500 hours of English training through TAFE, they found that coming from a non english speaking country (in particular Dinka, tribal or Arabic languages) it is much harder to understand and learn english. They found that TAFE did not make them feel confident in learning the english language and they could not have too much extra help due to the high amount of students per teacher. Our courses offer low student to teacher ratio to ensure effective learning and absorbing of information.

This journey i have begun with the Southern Sudanese Community in NSW has been an amazing journey full of interesting, heart breaking and couraging stories of life. I really cannot fathome how there is so much racism and misinformation surrounding these lovely people living in our beautiful and free country. My dear Aussies, i ask of you to just take the time to get to know these wonderful and resilient people and the friendships you will make are ones that will last the tests of time. My friends have such wonderful faith and kindness to share with the world, their amazing culture and traditions are to be retained for their future generations and their expressions of love and life through dance and song is to be adored. They make the most amazing music and dances i have seen.

So its now time for me to sign off for tonight but i leave you with a refreshed and revamped website that i have been working on tonight to update my information as my paths entangle and my life takes on new challenges and projects, i hope to continue on this journey with you.
-Freeuganda

Khartoum — The ruling National Congress Party NCP on Saturday expressed its dissatisfaction with the voter registration process for the South Sudan referendum in the North saying there were clear violations that undermines the credibility of the process.

Mandoor Al-Mahdi, a senior NCP official, told the government sponsored Sudanese Media Center SMC that the Sudan People Liberation Movement SPLM, in control of the South, is exercising intimidation against potential voters in the capital and also those urging Southerners to register.The official alleged that SPLM members are present at polling stations to persuade Southerners not to register.

He added that these incidents were reported to the South Sudan Referendum Commission SSRC to rectify the situation but no action was taken.The presidential adviser and NCP figure Al-Sheik Beesh told SMC that they will not recognize the outcome of the referendum if the registration process continues in this non-transparent manner.Voter registration began on Monday for the January 2011 referendum on whether oil-producing southern Sudan should secede from the north.

It is widely expected that Southerners will choose independence.In Khartoum, registration centers were empty as many southerners who live in the Sudanese capital made the trip south to enroll or abstained from registering altogether for fear of intimidation by the ruling party in the North.

The presidential assistant Nafie Ali Nafie toured the registration centers in Khartoum this week and appeared visibly angry on TV saying that the low turnout was a result of SPLM instructions. He has also reportedly clashed with poll workers after they turned away a prospective voter who did not have the required documentation to register.

However, the SPLM made similar accusations to the NCP that it is seeking to pressure Southerners in the North to vote for unity through “citizens’ committees” by collecting the phone numbers of those who registered.

The SPLM’s Atem Garang said southerners were being told: “You must vote for unity when you come and vote next time.”

“It is intimidation. It is against the law,” Garang told a news conference in Khartoum. He also denied that they had asked Southerners in the North to boycott the registration process.

The southern Sudanese, we never urged them not to register because we want them to be free. When we talk about a free and fair referendum, it means when you are going to registration you must be free. We did not to talk to them to boycott the registration,” Garang said.

Around five million southerners, living in both north and south Sudan and abroad, are eligible to sign up for the referendum which could result in the African continent’s largest country being split into two.

For the south to secede in a valid referendum, there must be an absolute majority of a minimum of 50 percent for independence plus one vote, and 60 percent of those eligible must also have cast their ballots.

via allAfrica.com: Sudan: NCP Threatens Not to Recognize the Referendum Outcome.

“A very serious situation and its not a good sign that threats are being made. The north needs to remember they agree’d to split peacefully if the referendum decided separation. I pray this does not re-ignite the situation and bring about more unrest in Southern Sudan” -Freeuganda

I’d like to just let you all know that we have a great selection of Invisible Children T-Shirts and DVD’s and Journals available here in Australia. Whilst our Aussie Dollar is high against the US we are reflecting our prices to match the US Prices. SOOOOO for the next 2 weeks (possibly longer as long as the $$ stays high) we will keep the price accordingly!

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Bracelet Dvd’s are $20
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Standard Logo Tee is $20
I “Heart” LRA – Rescue Event Tee is $20
AK-47 Rescue Event Tee is $20 (1 only left in Australia)
Legacy Journal (with Rescue DVD) $10


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Bracelet and Journal by: Invisible Children

All pictures are copyrighted to Invisible Children

* Rights group wants phone network and radio stations

* Says U.N. member countries should send in elite military

* U.N. says has not got enough troops, asked to withdraw

By Katrina Manson

KINSHASA, March 28 (Reuters) – The United Nations must boost peacekeeping forces in areas of Africa where Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels operate to stop massacres such as one that killed more than 300 people in December, a rights group said.

The Ugandan rebel group has killed and abducted people on a regular basis for the last 23 years, from Uganda, Sudan, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo, Human Rights Watch noted in a report.

It said the United Nations has fewer than 1,000 peacekeepers in this vast and and often impenetrable areas where the rebels mount their attacks.

The U.N. says the LRA killed more than 1,200 people in a 10-month period throughout 2008 and 2009, while the rights group puts the death toll in a massacre previously unreported in the remote northeast last December at 321.

“The four-day rampage demonstrates that the LRA remains a serious threat to civilians and is not a spent force, as the Ugandan and Congolese governments claim,” Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher at HRW, said.

HRW also wants the Congolese government to work with mobile phone companies to bring network coverage to the area.

One witness cycled 60 km (40 miles) to find a telephone to inform the U.N. of the massacre, and villages that were subsequently attacked knew nothing of nearby attacks.

via Troops, cash needed to fight Uganda rebels-group | News by Country | Reuters.

My Opinion

(“Donor aid should come in areas where Uganda needs development not in governance,” Mr Museveni said. “I am already an expert in governance who can again lecture me about governance?”)  – “Honestly who is this guy kidding? he is an expert in governance!? so why is his country full of corrupt politicians and military officials and its countrymen do not know, information is not made public? why do people have no access to clean water? why do you have rebels attacking innocent civilians, why, why, why? oh it must be because you have such great governance skills!

Sheesh, i have not heard such crap before as what i hear from this man repeatedly! Taking into consideration it was this man who abolished term limits for presidents, thus allowing him to be president as long as he wants to.  Acts of intimidation by military and politicians of the opposite party, tortures and abductions, missing people and murder.  Not to mention the current bill going through legislation that will effectively ban “free media”. Without media free from government control, just like Iran, the country will become a dictatorship country.  Museveni YOU ARE a Dictator. You overtook a government with military force (albeit he was a dictator too) and committed crimes against humanity yet you say it was all Dr Obote and his army, I suggest to you that it was NOT all him and that you also, are responsible for mass murder, conscription of children for military use, crimes against humanity and corruption.  Regardless of the crimes committed by  Dr Obote and his army, you sir are just as evil as him. You have dictated to your country men what they need to hear and not what is actually happening. You have twisted your reasoning and bargained your way into a position of power, like Kony, you will not relenquish that power, until you do, Uganda will suffer.

I think the Donor countries have every right to call out Museveni on his lack of governance not his expertise.  Alot of his countries budget is made up from donor funds sent by these countries.  If he has and still is letting down his countrymen by being a dictator, imagine how hard their lives would become if the donor countries pulled their funds, i suggest mass malnutrition and poverty and crime would seriously escalate. Northern Uganda has finally found some kind of peace and people are moving home from the IDP camps. The country is finally coming slowly with stability and yet this man continually pushes the boundaries with his “im holier than thou” attitude. He seems to think that he is superior to his fellow man.

I really hope that for the sake of All Ugandans, Museveni is not re-elected president again, as i feel that the country will stop going forward and rather start heading in reverse. All the things that have been achieved will become like a distant memory. ”

Rebecca Fowler – Freeuganda

The Report

President Museveni has hit back in a continuing row with donors telling them not to ask questions about governance. The President’s comments on Friday came on the same day this newspaper revealed that three senior western diplomats had written to the Electoral Commission over the slow pace of reforms ahead of next year’s election.

Put aid elsewhere

Speaking during the launch of a book on economic reforms in Uganda, President Museveni said donors should not tie development assistance to demands for better governance and democracy. “Donor aid should come in areas where Uganda needs development not in governance,” Mr Museveni said. “I am already an expert in governance who can again lecture me about governance?”

While President Museveni has previously told off donors, his latest comments come amidst growing local and international pressure on his government to improve governance and protect civil liberties.

The United States government, which is a key ally, has made democracy and good governance top of its agenda in Uganda under the Obama administration and is closely monitoring the road to the election.

The US ambassador to Uganda, Mr Jerry Lanier and his counterparts Martin Shearman (UK) and Joroen Verhaul (Netherlands) on March 3 co-wrote to Badru Kiggundu, the Electoral Commission chairman, warning that a failure to carry out reforms could erode confidence in the EC and put the credibility of the 2011 election at risk.

The government has brought four Bills to Parliament in response to calls for electoral reform but donors, the opposition and independent viewers say these are inadequate.

President Museveni’s statement indicates the government’s unwillingness to respond to pressure to implement more radical reforms such as disbanding the Electoral Commission as called for by the opposition.

Donors still fund a third of the national budget but say governance failures are affecting development and national stability. The World Bank resident representative recently issued its strongest statement yet in a scathing criticism of the government’s failure to deal with corruption.

Opposition chips in
While the President wants to keep donors out of the domestic political sphere, the opposition wants more involvement by the international community.

Responding to the envoy’s letter to the Electoral Commission, the acting Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Mr Christopher Kibanzanga (FDC; Busongora South), said: “The donors have the key; they pushed President Museveni to accept multi-partyism [in 2005] and when they called him over the Anti-homosexuality Bill, the President immediately changed his position.”

MP Kibanzanga added: “If the donors tell him to accept the electoral reforms we are pushing for as the opposition, there is no doubt Mr Museveni will accept them within days.”

Information minister Kabakumba Masiko, however, said it was irregular for diplomats to bypass the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and transact business directly with domestic institutions. “They should use the right channel and work with [government] to concretise democratic gains in the country and the achievements so far made by the EC,” she said.

via Daily Monitor: Truth Everyday; Uganda News, Business, Travel, Sports, Elections  – Museveni hits back in row with donors.

By Milton Olupot

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has said he is ready to be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC), if he committed crimes against humanity.

The President said this during the launch of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Communication Bureau in Kampala on Friday.

Parliament last week passed the ICC Bill, three years after it was tabled. The Bill makes a provision in Uganda’s law for the prosecution and punishment for international crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Asked by journalists whether he would surrender any of the government officials or himself to the court now that Uganda had passed the Bill, Museveni said he would be willing to stand trial.

“I would be very happy to be tried. If I committed crimes against humanity, I should be tried,” he replied.

Mengo has threatened to drag some government and security officials to the ICC for quelling the September riots, in which more than 20 people were killed.

The President, however, noted that the law in Uganda allows for private prosecution. He wondered why those who talk about the ICC have not brought any criminal charges against security officers.

“Certainly if any of our officers committed any crimes, we would have tried them here,” he said. “Since we came to power, we have executed 123 people for killing others. Those going to The Hague are wasting their time.”

Responding to the question that LRA leader Joseph Kony was in Darfur and being facilitated by the Sudanese government, Museveni said Ugandan troops pursuing the rebels in the Central African Republic had sent a brief that Kony and a small group of his fighters had disappeared near Darfur.

He, however, assured Ugandans that Kony and his fighters would never come back to Uganda.

“If the Sudanese want to accommodate him in Darfur, that is upon them. Darfur is 1,000 miles away from Uganda. Why should I worry about a man who is 1,000 miles away?”

Kony and his commanders were indicted by the ICC in 2005. The court wants them to face trial for crimes against humanity. In their 22-year war, the LRA killed, maimed, raped and abducted civilians in northern Uganda.

The Bill passed last week is intended to enforce the law in Uganda after the Rome Statute was adopted by the UN in 1998 and ratified by Uganda in 2002.

It will enable Uganda to co-operate with the ICC in the investigation and prosecution of people accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It further provides for the arrest and surrender to the ICC of persons alleged to have committed crimes against humanity, in addition to enabling the ICC conduct proceedings in Uganda.

A total of 110 countries have ratified the Rome Statute. The US and China have not done so.

via Welcome To The Sunday Vision online: Uganda’s leading weekly.

My Thoughts

“President Museveni needs to stand trial for his crimes against humanity.  It is well documented and the early NRA used child soldiers as well as  forced conscription of children into the NRA. Museveni is just another tyrant who has only fixed the area’s that he wanted fixed. He may have bought relative stability to the south but what about the north? for 24 yrs he allowed Kony and his LRA Rebels to pillage, rape and abduct the Acholi and Luo of Northern Uganda. Then the Ugandan military pushed them over the border into DRC, Sudan and CAR – now the LRA are committing the same crimes in those countries.  As he say’s “why should i worry about a person who is 1000 miles away” – he never worried even when kony was in the North of Uganda. He didn’t care as Kony was more prone to attack the civilians than the soliders. Its as if Museveni wanted to destroy the Acholi. There are also documented cases of Museveni’s NRA pillaging, Raping and Torturing civilians in the North as well. Stealing cattle and maiming/murdering those who stood in the way.

Museveni MUST be investigated by the ICC and must be tried for his part in the NRA take over of DR Obote’s government.

I really feel for the people of Uganda, Amin, Obote & Museveni are all tyrannts, who have manipulated their government and rulings to suit themselves. They want the power and money and therefore will use it against any who challenge them.

My only hope is that the 2011 elections in Uganda are a Free and Fair election and that someone else is elected president. Museveni believes that Roads are the key to the country’s future. Infastructure, Electricity, Access to clean water and health care and what the country needs in order to survive, with less poverty and illness.

Mr Museveni, Shame On YOU! ”

Rebecca Fowler – Freeuganda

Since the signing of a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army in 2006, about two thirds of the 1.8 million IDPs who lived in camps at the height of the crisis have returned to their areas of origin.

However, much work remains to be done to ensure that these returns are sustainable. Basic infrastructure and services in the return areas are inadequate or non-existent. Lack of access to clean water poses a risk of epidemics, and clinics and schools struggle with a lack of facilities and qualified personnel. While returnees have begun to grow their own food, the food security situation of many is still fragile, particularly as low rainfall since April 2009 means that harvests are predicted to be more than 60 per cent lower than normal.

Significant numbers of those who remain in the camps are there not out of choice but because they are unable to return to their home areas. Some IDPs cannot return because land disputes prevent them from accessing land, while IDPs with special needs and vulnerabilities are unable to support themselves in the return areas. Returnee communities need assistance to reintegrate these vulnerable IDPs.

The government and its international partners in northern Uganda have struggled to manage the transition from humanitarian emergency assistance to recovery and development. The government is in the process of reasserting its authority in the north, and is formally in charge of coordination and the provision of planning frameworks. However, a lack of capacity at the local level means that government authorities frequently struggle to discharge their operational responsibilities. (…)

via IDMC | Internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Uganda.

YouTube – “Northern Uganda: A History of Suffering” pt. 1.

Lira: about 1,300 civilians have died in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 10 Months following Human Rights abuses allegedly committed by rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army, according to latest periodic reports by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

One report on southern Sudan reveals attacks on civilians in Western and Central Equatoria States, between December 15 2008 and March 10 2009.

The report on the DRC states that at least 1,200 civilians were killed, including women who were raped before execution. According to the report, more than 100 people were wounded by gunshots and stabbing and about 1,400 people were abducted and some executed or are missing.

Sexual slavery”During their captivity, abductees were subjected to forced labour in fields, forced to carry looted goods or personal effects or recruited into the LRA. Women were forced to marry LRA members, subjected to sexual slavery, or both,” the report released last week said.

It adds: “Thousands of homes, dozens of shops and businesses, as well as public buildings, including at least 30 schools, health centres, hospitals, churches, markets, and traditional seats of chiefdoms, were looted, set on fire and over 200,000 people were also displaced.”

Describing harrowing experience from victims, the report called on the international community to co-operate with the ICC in investigating, arresting, and transferring all LRA leaders accused of international crimes.

The report also accused the DRC army, FARDC, of human rights violation of the displaced persons instead of protecting them.

“Soldiers of the Congolese armed forces, supposed to protect civilians, also committed human rights violations, including executions, rape, arbitrary arrests and detentions and illegal, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and extortion,” the report said.

The report stated that attacks, systematic and widespread human rights violations carried out since mid-September 2008 against Congolese civilians may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The Sudan report on the other hand based on 27 confirmed attacks, reveals that at least 81 civilians were killed in attacks and many others injured.

“The evidence presented in this report suggests that LRA actions may amount to crimes against humanity,” the report says. The reports recommended that the United Nation Mission in Sudan should exercise its protection of civilians since its mandated to prevent further loss of life.

“The international community, including governments, should cooperate with the ICC to search for, arrest and surrender the LRA leaders accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The international community should support meaningful peace efforts between governments in the region and the LRA,” the report recommends.

Issues in report

Women were forced to marry LRA members, subjected to sexual slavery or both.

Thirty schools, health centres, hospitals, churches, markets, and traditional seats of chiefdoms, were looted, set on fire. Over 200,000 people were displaced.

The report describes the report as systematic and widespread human rights violations carried out since mid-September 2008 against Congolese civilians may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity.

DRC army accused of violating rights displaced persons instead of protecting them.

As reported: allAfrica.com: Uganda: LRA Kill 1,300 in Sudan, DRC.

n Kismayu town, 500 kilometres south of Mogadishu, the authority of al-Shabaab, the strongest Islamist movement opposing the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), issued orders to be observed by the people.

Sheikh Ibrahim Hassan, the Public Awareness Officer of the Authority, announced through a local Radio, Al-Andalus that male inhabitants in Juba regions including Kismayu must grow beards, shave moustaches and shorten their trousers to above the ankles.

Sheikh Ibrahim stated that all adult men in the area ought to comply with the directives within three days, effective December 19. Any opposition to the orders would bring punishment.

Although al-Shabaab (youth in Arabic) rules many parts of southern and central regions of Somalia, the Juba regions with a long border with Kenya appear to have attracted the full authority of the movement.

On December 10, the administration recently appointed by al-Shabaab at Dhobley border town, next to Liboi in Kenya’s North Eastern Province introduced restrictions on a number of social aspects. All businesses are to close during the prayer times that are observed by Muslim faithful.

Da’ud Hassan Ali, the new administration’s Defence Officer, had announced that anybody found running a business as the muezzin calls for prayers would be penalised.

“When the muezzin calls the worshippers to prayers, not even a single person is allowed to wander in the streets,” said Mr Ali. The next target had been the female lot. Women had been ordered to cover their bodies from head to toe with extra heavy clothing.

“This is the notation of Islam on women,” said Ali. “They should not fail to observe the dress code,” he added.The Al-Shabaab officer indicated that his administration had allocated a place for smokers and Khat (miraa) chewers to buy and consume the commodity. “No one is allowed to sell or consume the stuff in public,” remarked Ali.

In October 2008, the Islamist authority in Kismayu banned khat flights to Kismayu. The mind-stimulating commodity used to come from Kenya and its chewing is very popular, especially among male Somali adults.

The latest orders involving beards, moustaches and trousers as imposed on men generated heated reactions.

Opponents insist that only a nationwide, stable Islamic rule can issue such directives. Their view is that al-Shabaab or any other authority in Somalia is not very permanent. Hence, could not introduce decisions with lasting effects.

“Some of the instructions given by al-Shabaab are so personal that even an Islamic State could not introduce,” commented Mr Aw Ali Husein Garweyne, a moderate Islamist in Mogadishu.

“Our Prophet Mohammed gave us the faculty to use some of his examples like beard and moustache, but never made it mandatory,” he added.

According to Aw Ali, some of the directives being enforced by al-Shabaab cannot be justified by the Islamic books of reference. He cited the Jihad, suicide missions or single dress rule as example.

Even President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of the TFG recently labelled un-Islamic the strict dress code enforced by al-Shabaab. He noted that Islam only tells women to cover themselves properly, locally known as asturaad, without dictating specific type of clothes and design.

Addressing the city council in Mogadishu, President Ahmed joked that the Islamist militants even want to know the underwear of women to note whether they match their standard. “It is neither religious nor cultural to ask about underwear,” said the president.

Meanwhile, tittle-tattle has recently been circulating that a woman was killed at Yakhshid district in North Mogadishu by al-Shabaab. The owner of a teashop at a mechanical garage, her crime was to have had a radio and listening to Radio Mogadishu, a government controlled broadcaster.

“Only in service since October this year, Radio Mogadishu is indeed fast becoming popular.

On Sunday December 27, Sheikh Ali Mohamoud Raghe alias Sheikh Ali Dhere, the Spokesman of Al-Shabaab held a press conference in Mogadishu.

He stated that listening to Radio Mogadishu amounted to a crime and anybody found tuning to the station would be treated like being a government partisan.

“Radio Mogadishu has an un-Islamic agenda,” said Sheikh Raghe. “Listening to it is like directly helping the enemy of Islam,” he said. Al-Shabaab’s statement looks to have had an immediate negative impact because more people are now curious to listen to the radio.

To make matters worse, the government decided to expand Radio Mogadishu’s coverage area by broadcasting through a satellite, reaching listeners in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Continuing his argument, Aw Ali says that neither growing beard nor trimming the moustaches is mandatory. “They are the best way to appear, but not necessarily compulsory,” remarked Aw Ali. “I believe these people are working for gaalo (non-Muslims) to spoil our religion,” said the manager of a teashop in South Mogadishu. According to other sceptics, al-Shabaab is imposing orders and restrictions in order to show their power to command.

allAfrica.com: Somalia: Al-Shabaab Orders on Radio and Beard Cause Confusion.

Civilians attacked, bombed, and cut off from aid in Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), along with stagnant funding for treating HIV/AIDS and ongoing neglect of other diseases, were among the worst emergencies in 2009.

Continuing crises in north and south Sudan, along with the failure of the international community to finally combat childhood malnutrition were also included on this year’s list. The list is drawn from MSF’s operational activities in close to 70 countries, where the organization’s medical teams witnessed some of the worst humanitarian conditions.

via MSF’s Top Ten Humanitarian Crises of 2009.

Daily Monitor: Truth Everyday; Uganda News, Business, Travel, Sports, Elections  – ROAD TO 2011: Big battle for Gulu on the cards.

Kampala — ANOTHER LRA rebel commander has surrendered in eastern Congo, the Ugandan army has said.

‘Captain’ Ocen turned himself in to the Congolese army in Paika two days before Christmas, according to Capt. Peter Mugisa, the UPDF spokesman for West Nile region.

Ocen was one of the LRA officers under the command of Okello Kalalang who committed horrendous atrocities in northern Uganda and eastern Congo.

“Kalalang was one of Kony’s most notorious commanders who burnt down houses after killing and abducting hundreds of Congolese,” said Mugisa.

The LRA carried out reprisal attacks after the armies of Congo, Southern Sudan and Uganda launched a joint military offensive on the rebel bases in Garamba National Park.

The offensive, dubbed ‘Operation Lightning Thunder’, was launched after LRA leader Joseph Kony refused to sign the final peace agreement after two years of protracted talks in Juba, Sudan.

Mugisa said Ocen surrendered with a gun and 30 rounds of ammunition, as well as four fighters under his command. They were transferred to the battalion headquarters in Duru.

This brings to 56 the number of fighters who have defected since the joint operation started a year ago.

According to figures released by the UPDF on Monday, another 305 rebels were killed, 41 captured and 513 abductees rescued since December 2008.

Mugisa noted that the continued surrender of LRA fighters signals the end of the insurgency.

“This trend implies that the UPDF have dealt the LRA bandits a decisive blow through comprehensive combat engagement,” he said.

“The remaining LRA fugitives no longer deserve to be called rebels. They are bandits because they are scattered in four countries with no clear central command structure.”

Ocen is expected to be flown to Entebbe or Gulu army headquarters.

Samuel Obali, who surrendered in November, said they were also forced to surrender because of the constant pursuit by the UPDF forces in the CAR, DR-Congo and Southern Sudan.

“We had no food, water, medicine and lacked communication with the central command. We had to organise ourselves and surrender to the Congolese Armed Forces in order to survive.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Monday released a damning report, saying at least 1,200 people were killed, 1,400 abducted, and 230,000 displaced in eastern Congo during 10 months of LRA rampage.

“These attacks and systematic and widespread human rights violations carried out by the LRA may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity,” the report said.

A second report, issued the same day, described a similar pattern of LRA attacks in neighbouring Southern Sudan.

It documented 30 LRA attacks between December 2008 and March 2009 in Western and Central Equatoria states in which at least 81 civilians were killed, 74 abducted and 11 villages pillaged.

As reported: allAfrica.com: Uganda: Notorious LRA Rebel Surrenders.

Enough, the anti-genocide project at the Center for  American Progress, released the following statement today regarding incursions by the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group against civilians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

Recent interviews conducted by Enough Project researchers traveling in Haut Uele and Bas Uele in Province Orientale, in northern Congo, suggest that the Lord’s Resistance Army–a transnational terrorist group with a 20-year record of atrocities–is threatening to repeat the massacres it committed during Christmas 2008, in which over 800 Congolese civilians were brutally murdered. Meanwhile, Congolese army units deployed to protect local populations from the LRA continue to commit grave abuses against Congolese civilians. // The LRA have killed nearly 1,500 Congolese civilians and abducted 3,000 more (including at least 700 children) since the Ugandan army launched an offensive against the LRA in December 2008. The presence of 6,000 Congolese soldiers in Province Orientale–many of them integrated brigades of former rebels and local militia from the troubled Kivu provinces in eastern Congo–has actually made matters worse. The U.N. Mission in the Congo, or MONUC, has deployed to the affected region, but peacekeepers conduct only limited patrols in some LRA-affected area that provide little deterrent against LRA attacks and Congolese army abuses. A battalion of Tunisian reinforcements that was supposed to deploy in June 2009 has yet to arrive.

Read the full report Below

allAfrica.com: Congo-Kinshasa: Lord’s Resistance Army’s Sends Chilling Threat to Congolese Civilians – We Will Celebrate Christmas With You Page 1 of 1.

We hear everyday about children who are victims of violence and it is sad to know that today is the same. I was directed to a news report by a friend who works in the area in the report and what i read was saddening and disturbing.  Here is part of the news report:

Nyamyezi and Kaitabigere villages in Nyankwanzi sub-county, Kyenjojo district, after a young man hacked to death five people, including his father and stepmother, on Tuesday evening.  In a gruesome attack, 5 people aged: 75, 35, 35, 16 & 14.

After the murder of the mother and the two oldest sons, the family is now headed by 12-year-old Alex Akampulira. He has to look after his three siblings of nine, six and three years.

The youngest children are in the picture below:

9, 6 and 3 yrs of age, left to be looked after by a 12 yr old.

These children require help to support them through a local non profit in Uganda. you can contact the non profit by emailing me freeuganda@care2.com and i will give further information as i receive it.

This is such a sad story of yet more children being the innocent victims of violence. I hope that you, the world, can open your hearts and help. Full Report Here

Pictures remain the property of NewVision or their respective owners.

So i’ve finally decided!! I’m submitting my application to University of Western Sydney for Bachelor of Social Sciences Peace and Development!  It was a tough decision between that and Bachelor of Communications Journalism but i finally decided. I think it would be a great thing to be formally trained in an area i am passionate in. I’m really looking forward to going to University, as i really never thought i would get a chance to do it.

Through volunteering with Invisible Children i have uncovered a side of me that id never really knew existed. I want to continue to expand, grow and further my knowledge so i can in turn be of more help to those who require it the most.

So…Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes are in the air for me and my life and i really am excited. I’m going to apply to start mid year so that way i have around 6 months to get my medication settled and hopefully all my ongoing tests done and be cleared for start June 2010!

Hi Everyone. I am seeking sponsors to help send me go on my Volunteer Trip to Northern Uganda. CLICK HERE to visit my Sponsorship Page

During my time in Uganda i will be visiting what is left of the Displacement Camps in Northern Uganda as well as spending some volunteer time in the Invisible Children office in Gulu. and the Compassion centre in Kaboywa and visiting the Northern Ugandan Villages that are currently being rebuilt.

Northern Uganda has been rocked by a raging war over the last 23 years and peace is only now starting to return to Northern Uganda. These people have been in displacement camps since approx 1996 and require help, councelling, food and much more to re-start their lives in their old villages. visit www.invisiblechildren.com to watch the documentary and see what they are doing for the people of Uganda.

Travelling Between June – December 2011 and staying for 3/6 weeks.

I am currently a volunteer for Invisible Children Australia and sponsor 6 children Uganda as well. I am aiming to spend 3-6 weeks in Uganda doing volunteer work and expanding my knowledge on the area and affected persons so that i can fully understand the needs of these people to help continue to commit myself to the Invisible children cause as Company Secretary for IC AUS – All Australian positions are volunteer only and we are not employed by Invisible Children or receive any monetary goods or cash for our actions.

As a mother of 3 children myself i am currently unable to cover all the costs associated with getting the tickets and travel arrangements covered as well as the associated costs with the camera’s and such to be able to document this journey for my sponsors. I have been a volunteer my whole life with my parents through Lions Club International but have found my own calling in invisible children.

I will be documenting my journey through Uganda through video and pictures. I have created the website FreeUganda and currently run this as well as the twitter page @freeuganda and a blog as well as run the offical Invisible Children OZ Twitter @InvisibleOZ and i also run ALL FOR CHARITY store with 100% of profits are donated.

Each sponsorship amount is greatly appreciated and i urge you all to join up to FreeUganda to check out what is going on in Uganda and the status of sponsorship etc.

I Thank you kindly for your sponsorship as without your support i will not be able to fulfill this mission in my life.

Thats right!! Until 10/12 you can get FREE SHIPPING to AU when you purchase over $45 worth of products from our store.

All For Charity

Remember! 100% of the royalties on each item made is donated to either: Invisible Children, The Coalition (to stop the use of) Child Soldiers and to a Child Headed Family in Uganda of 5 Children – You can view more details here re: betty and her family.

All these items have been created to raise awareness whilst the royalties go to great non-profits or direct to betty (via joy for children uganda) to help where needed.

If you go through our webstore via the link above and purchase something from someone else’s store, we ill be paid a referral fee for this and in turn any and all referral fee’s we receive we will pass onto Betty in Uganda/Invisible Children.

So far we have made in Royalties $45 and this will be donated at the end of December 2009. To give you an idea we make between 0.40c and $7.50 royalties depending on the item.

I want to thank everyone who has purchased items from this store, your helping to bring awareness to those around you and also helping those who are far away.

THANK YOU

So i’ve kinda neglected my journals a bit lately as ive been quite busy at work and home. I’m finishing my job in December of this year and moving further up the NSW coast to be near Newcastle due to my health issues with being a hypothyroidism.

So lately what i’ve been doing is not as much as i normally do but that will all change again soon.  Ive been steady on twitter with both the official Invisible Children AUS Account and my own personal one. Designing shirts and stuff for the All For Charity Store and spending some overdue quality time with my kiddies. Also don’t forget to visit my website FreeUganda

Ill update my journal shortly with things i’ve done over the past month, highlights if you will of things attended, people met etc.

I really thank you all for following what i do and would ask that this Christmas, give the gift of giving! purchase something from a non profit or agency that supports those in need, a gift that keeps on giving! In such hard economic times we need to stand together and support the missions of change happening all around the world. Change can come, but it requires perseverance and dedication. are you dedicated?

My All For Charity store has just gotten even better at supporting Africa.  Our range has now gone EDUN LIVE – a great range of African farmed cotton and made tshirts. Information as below:

From EDUN LIVE, the Adam Organic t-shirt is super comfy and ultra soft. A straight-fit tee, its 100% Ecocert certified organic, ring-spun African cotton, combed for comfort (145g.) Tumble dry low. (Not pre-washed). Washes like a dream. Made in Uganda using sustainable manufacturing practices.

From EDUN LIVE, the Eve Organic t-shirt is ultra soft. A straight-fit tee, it’s 100% Ecocert certified organic, ring-spun African cotton, combed for comfort (145g.) Reinforced stitching. Tumble dry low. (Not pre-washed). Washes like a dream. Made in Uganda using sustainable manufacturing practices.

So feel great knowing that not only are the profits of the shirts going back to those in Uganda – (betty’s family and Invisible Children) but also the shirts themselves are sustaining those in Uganda!

The situation in northern Democratic Republic of Congo where Lord’s Resistance Army rebels operate is getting worse, a medical charity says.

Medecins Sans Frontieres told the BBC hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing renewed rebel attacks.

LRA leader Joseph Kony once operated from Uganda but his fighters now cover a vast area of central Africa.

Analysts says attempts this year by regional armed forces to halt the brutal campaign have so far failed.

The armies of Uganda, southern Sudan and DR Congo have been carrying out offensives against the rebels since Mr Kony refused to sign a peace deal late last year.

The rebels are infamous for carrying out mutilations and have kidnapped tens of thousands of children to be fighters and sex slaves.

Tens of thousands of people have also been made homeless during the LRA’s two-decade insurgency.

‘Living in fear’

MSF says roads in northern DR Congo are now so insecure that aircraft are being used to take supplies and staff to remote locations.

“The situation is really bad: the people are living in constant fear, they’re fleeing,” MSF’s Operational Director Meine Nicolai told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

“The violence pops up in different areas and it’s really expanding. It came to Congo in 2008 and now it’s going more and more eastwards so the area is expanding and people live in constant fear.”

Ms Nicolai said civilians were being targeted.

“People are kidnapped, raped, their houses are burned; they’re fleeing, they leave everything and there’s no way that they can return.”

She said people desperately need food, water, medical care and psychological support.

Reports from the region suggest there are several groups of LRA fighters: some in DR Congo and another 1,300-strong force in the Central African Republic, led by one of Mr Kony’s deputies.

Mr Kony himself is reportedly moving northwards, with reports suggesting Ugandan special forces are using helicopters to attack his group from Yambio in southern Sudan.

BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut says there are also suggestions, yet to be confirmed, that Mr Kony’s aim is to take his forces into the Sudanese region of South Darfur.

Last year Mr Kony, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity,

failed to sign a peace deal with the Uganda government brokered by southern Sudan.

READ THE FULL REPORT HERE

Attacks attributed to Ugandan-led rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have killed at least 188 civilians and displaced 68,000 in Southern Sudan since January 2009, with 137 abductions also reported, according to the UN.

“Many innocent people are losing their lives every week, and the United Nations is very concerned about the killing, abduction, maiming and displacement of innocent civilians,” said Ameerah Haq, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan.

In Sudan, Western Equatoria State has been hardest hit by the recent upsurge in attacks blamed on the LRA, which have also taken place in several regions in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Central African Republic (CAR).

Very unfair

“During the last six weeks alone, 11 incidents of LRA attacks have been reported, seven of them in the first week of September,” Mr Haq told reporters on September 11 during a visit to Yambio, the state capital of Western Equatoria.

In Nairobi, Mr Justin Labeja, the head of the LRA’s peace negotiating team, questioned the authorship of the attacks.

“It is very unfair because nobody can come up with clear concrete evidence. Who can say this is the LRA of (leader Joseph) Kony who is doing this?” he said.

What the “real LRA” is any more is hard to pin down. When it emerged in northern Uganda in the late 1980s the LRA was made up almost exclusively of people from the region’s Acholi community, fighting perceived marginalisation.

The LRA now includes nationals from Sudan, the DRC and CAR – many as a result of recruitment-by-abduction. In Southern Sudan “LRA” has been used as a catch-all label for any armed group which attacks civilians.

However, those displaced by the latest attacks reported tactics which bore the hallmarks of the LRA, including grotesque killings and targeting church congregations.

Combating the small groups of guerrillas – experienced in jungle warfare and able to slip across international frontiers with apparent ease – has become a hard task.

Providing food

“There is not much coming from the (Sudanese) state, they are not able to provide the security that they (people) need,” said Mr Haq.

“While the humanitarian community is providing food and other non-food items, the food itself is becoming a magnet for LRA attacks… The answer to that is really how we can provide security around a perimeter.”

Extra troops from the south’s military, the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), have been sent to the region, according to spokesman Maj-Gen Kuol Diem Kuol.

“We are working hard and doing all we can to ensure the safety of civilians in the region,” he explained.

The main military force are Ugandan troops, whose soldiers have established camps in Sudan to try and hunt down the now mobile LRA units in Southern Sudan, DRC and CAR.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan (UNMIS) has just 200 blue helmets based in the sprawling region of Western Equatoria.

Officials said the force has been stretched by a string of recent violent inter-ethnic clashes elsewhere in Southern Sudan.

Its mandate, one official added, needed to be beefed up by the UN Security Council to allow active military engagement against the LRA.

“We need an integrated approach to really provide security to these people, [and] that will require the support of the UN and UNMIS,” said Jemma Nunu Kumba, the governor of Western Equatoria.

“UNMIS needs to get involved just like MONUC (the UN peacekeeping mission) in Congo (DRC), to be able to repulse the rebels when they are attacking the civilians,” he added.

‘’The LRA will remain a problem and we will be unable to go home until pressure is really put on them by all sides’’

Those displaced by the LRA say more effort is needed, not simply to hunt the rebels, but to provide security that would allow people to return to their homes.

“The LRA have killed our people, and they took two of my children,” said Karina Zeferino, who fled after attacks in August on her hometown of Ezo, close to Sudan’s border with CAR.

She trekked the 155km to Yambio town with her remaining young daughter.

After the attacks, peacekeepers airlifted UN staff and aid workers from Ezo by helicopter, shutting down international humanitarian work in that area.

“People are suffering, but we cannot go home because the LRA will attack again,” added Zeferino, holding her child tightly to her side. “There is no help for us there, so that is why we have come to Yambio, but it is hard here too.”

“The LRA will remain a problem and we will be unable to go home until pressure is really put on them by all sides,” said Gaaniko Bate, a leader of the ever-growing Makpandu camp in Southern Sudan, which hosts some 2,530 refugees from DRC.

“These people will not be easily stopped,” he added. (IRIN)

As reported on Nation.co.ke