Tag Archives: violence

COVID19: EU supports Africa women

European Commission among the other prominent international players has been alarmed by the rising levels of violence against women and girls, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic confinement measures but also following the social-economic stress and insecurity that many families have to face.

In sub-Saharan Africa women are disproportionally more exposed to both health and economic risks, and this is linked to their roles and responsibilities in their communities or society as a whole. Unfortunately, according to available statistics the threat of child marriage is also greater when communities are affected by shocks like disease outbreak, when all the referral systems to prevent and respond to gender-based violence may underperform.

Responding to the significance attributed by the EU to gender equality and women and girls empowerment, including Africa, the European Commission currently invests in around 40 ongoing projects targeting or contributing to the elimination of violence against women and girls on the African continent amounting to approximately €310 million. The most significant one for a total amount of €250 million is the Spotlight Initiative (Africa envelope), – the largest global programme to eliminate violence against women and girls, with an initial investment of €500 million, launched in September 2017. The Initiative aims at eliminating all forms of VAWG in partner countries from five regions: Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Caribbean and Pacific.

In Sub Saharan Africa the objective is to prevent, combat and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, including the elimination of harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The programme is implemented in eight African countries (Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe) for a total amount of €220 million.

The African regional programme complements eight countries programmes with a substantive allocation of €30 million. An allocation of 10% of the overall Africa investment budget supports the women’s movement which is implemented by two existing UN Trust Funds (the UN Women Peace and Humanitarian Fund, and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and Girls).

According to the EU officials, following the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the Commission is adapting and refocusing the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to identify risk factors related to pandemic context and to respond to critical needs. Efforts are currently focussing on ensuring swift action to counter increased domestic violence, boost prevention, support survivors and support civil society organisations.

The EU supports the scale-up of existing hotlines, shelters and equipping health, police, justice and social protection sectors for women and girls. One good example is Mozambique, where Spotlight Initiative funding is being used to strengthen the preparedness of staff working in health centres and shelters to better assist victims. Protective gear and hygiene material is being supplied in these centres and shelters. Spotlight also supports police in better responding to violence cases by providing transport and mobile phones.

Other projects are mainly implemented by Civil Society Organisations (NGO). The EU contribution to these projects is close to €60 million, and they are implemented across the African continent.

The inclusion of the prevention of and response to gender-based violence, and is aligned to COVID-19 national prevention and containment measures, is the EU ongoing mission, for example, in Uganda, a consortium led by CARE Denmark, in partnership with other three international and four national NGOs, working on empowerment, accountability and leadership for refugees and host communities, will continue to provide prevention and response services to survivors of gender-based violence and work on other protection issues.

Experiences of past epidemics lead to conclusion that intimate partner violence and sexual exploitation and abuse increase during these periods. Based on this knowledge CARE and partners have adapted the assistance: case management will be provided remotely, while social workers stationed at the health facilities will support gender-based violence screening. For high risk cases, face-to-face interactions will continue, while maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene precautions. The EU’s humanitarian contribution to this action is €2.3 million. In 2019, it is estimated that the EU allocated approximately €26 million of its humanitarian aid budget to the prevention and response to gender-based violence worldwide.

Most EU-funded projects to eliminate violence against women and girls are implemented in partnership with the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) or with international organisations. When the European Commission works with international organisations, the European civil servants also often work with CSOs. For the Spotlight Initiative it is foreseen that at country level, 30-50% should be delivered through CSOs. CSOs also play a crucial role in the design and the governance of the Spotlight Initiative, at national, regional and global level.

Following the COVID crisis, the EU is also providing flexible support to women’s organisations and grassroots organisations, including the much needed core funding. In this context, the EU in close collaboration with the UN is re-directing around €15 million to support and ensure business continuity of CSOs and mitigate challenges and risks linked to the COVID-19 crisis through two above mentioned UN Trust Funds. In the short term, the funds support activités to counter the increase of domestic violence under COVID-19 crisis, prevention, support to survivors, including Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and help provide a lifeline to women’s organisations, CSOs working on gender-based violence related issues.

The Commission adopted its Communication on a global response to COVID-19 in April 2020. This “Team Europe” response is a joint effort between the European Union, its member states and European financial institutions to mobilise resources to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to ensure a comprehensive response, the EU’s response includes both urgent, short-term emergency measures, and more medium to long-term measures such as research and health systems strengthening (right to health), and mitigating the economic and social impact.

The response also includes social protection actions, addressing all inequalities and non-discrimination and promotion of human rights. The Communication recalls the importance “to promote and uphold good governance, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality and non-discrimination, decent work conditions, as well as fundamental values and humanitarian principles”.

EU calls Malawi for unity

Ambassadors of the United Kingdom, The European Union, Norway, German, Ireland and the United States of America in Malawi released a joint statement on May 6.

They expressed concern over the violence which they said was fueled by political motives and led to injuries.

The development partners called on political actors in Malawi to stand united in the defence of human rights and rule of rule, and against acts of violence, incitement of violence or hate speech.

We support those calling for restraint and hope that all cases of violence are investigated comprehensively and transparently in line with the laws of Malawi, so that those responsible can be brought to justice,” reads part of the statement.

Recently, there have been acts of violence against UTM members in the Southern Regions. On Monday night (May 4), a UTM office in Lilongwe was also torched by unknown assailants and eight people sustained burns.

The violence is happening as parties are campaigning ahead of the 2020 fresh presidential elections.

Supporters of Malawi’s opposition took to the streets of Blantyre on May 6 as their presidential candidate presented nomination papers for the July re-run of last year’s election. The outcome initially returned President Peter Mutharika to office, but the result was historically overturned in a landmark court ruling in February.

No expulsions of Nigerians took place

A hundred African Facebook pages posted information about “51 Congolese were expelled from France” on March 1 after incidents two days earlier in Paris, on the sidelines of a concert by Congolese star singer Fally Ipupa. (Image: Paris, Gare de Lyon before fire).

This is false: no case of eviction has been recorded by the Congolese authorities, no plane from France landed in Kinshasa on Sunday and the photos accompanying these claims date back several years.

Nigeria: Dozens killed in Kaduna

More than 50 civilians were killed on Sunday evening in six villages in Kaduna province of Nigeria in an attack which started March 1 afternoon.
The mlitiary opearation of Nigerian ground forces and aviation is ongoing.

Image: social media.

Buhari to visit S.Africa amid crisis

Nigerian high commissioner is recalled and a special envoy will be send to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to address recent xenophobic attacks during urban violence outbreaks, said Information Minister Lai Mohammed at a press briefing in Abuja.

South Africa has already temporarily closed its diplomatic missions to Nigeria in Lagos and Abuja fearing reprisal attacks against its citizens, according to CNN.

The closures follow outbreaks of violence earlier this week in South Africa. At least five people were killed and 189 arrested during xenophobic attacks and looting in Johannesburg, Pretoria and elsewhere. Foreign nationals from countries including NigeriaZambia, Kenya, Ethiopia were targeted.

In spite of the violence outbreak South African President Cyril Ramaphosa reaffirmed the bilateral relations  as “firm and strong” and added that the two partners  were resolute in their shared commitment to build an Africa at peace with itself and others.

The statement came amid the deteriorating diplomatic relations between the two African countries, after Nigeria introduced plans to evacuate its nationals in South Africa following a wave of xenophobic attacks.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to visit South Africa in next month to “reinforce strong bonds”, following the attacks against West Africans.

 

South Africa urban violence outbreak

South African police  have arrested dozens of people in Johannesburg on September 2 after rioters looted shops, burned tyres and blocked road junctions – the second outbreak of urban rioting in a week. (Image: Johannesburg).

Police had no answer what exactly had triggered the violence, however it is generally considered that the social context has deteriorated: unemployment at close to 30%, widespread poverty and income disparities have all been blamed for recent outbreaks and attacks on immigrants.

Last week, hundreds of protesters in the administrative capital Pretoria set fire to buildings, looted mostly foreign-owned businesses and clashed with police, who started to fire rubber bullets at the crowds in attempt to stop further devastation.

Taxi drivers issued an alert to commuters asking them to avoid Pretoria downtown.

However, Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said Nigerian shops had been targeted by “mindless criminals” and promised to take “definitive measures“.

Combating sexual violence in conflict

On the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict, the European Union and the United Nations join their voices to call on the international community to accelerate its efforts to eliminate the scourge of all forms of sexual violence, including as a strategy and tactic of war and terror.

On the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict we salute @DenisMukwege, Sakharov and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and all those who fight against the horrors of sexual violence“, the European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, the wrote in his Twitter micro blog.

More must be done to stop barbarity against women as a weapon of war.

Zimbabwe internet paralysis

Zimbabwe suffered an internet paralysis  on January 18 as a result of the authorities extended communications ban to exchange emails after days of deadly protests over fuel price increases.

According to the governmental sources three people died during demonstrations that broke out on January 14 as a reaction on President Emmerson Mnangagwa decision to augment fuel prices by 150%.

NGOs and activists say the death toll was much higher and that security forces used arms and carried out mass arrests to quell the unrest. According to the NGOs there were 12 deaths, 78 gunshot injuries, 46 cases of vandalism & looting, 242 cases of assault, torture, & dog bites, 466 arbitrary arrests & detentions.

Flows of injured people streamed into a hospital in the capital after the clashes with security.

Cameroon refugees continue to arrive to Nigeria

The principal and one teacher are still with the kidnappers. Let us keep praying,”  said Samuel Fonki, a minister of the Presbyterian Church in Cameroon who negotiated to free 78 children, adding that one child had escaped independently.

The freed children were unharmed although their clothes were dirty and they appeared exhausted,

Cameroon Army spokesperson Didier Badjeck said the kidnappers released the children after the military found out their location. Two other children were still missing, along with the principal and teacher, he confirmed.

The number of Cameroonian refugees fleeing violence and seeking refuge in Nigeria crossed the 30,000 mark this week, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) report.  Refugees fleeing the South-West and North-West Regions of Cameroon have been arriving since September 2017. Almost 600 arrived in refugee settlements in the last two weeks.

Cameroon Court rejects demands for elections rerun

Cameroon’s Constitutional Council rejected the last of 18 petitions demanding  for a re-run of an October 7 election that the opposition said was marred by fraud, leading to the expected result to extend President Paul Biya (85) uninterrupted rule to four decades.

President Biya is currently the longest ruling elected leader of Africa, and the oldest ruler in Sub-Saharan Africa, ascending power 36 years ago.

Under Biya rule Cameroon became an absolute ‘champion’ of Human rights violations:

Already this year hundreds of civilians have been killed in a violent conflict between the Cameroonian military and in separatists. Ongoing clashes between insurgents fighting for a breakaway republic in Cameroon’s English-speaking region and troops took away lives of many,  but also caused  a displacement tens of thousands more since the conflict intensified late last year. In return for military violence insurgents have abducted and killed soldiers and policemen in guerrilla raids.

 

 

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