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Feb-22-2011 00:13printcomments

Africa: Faces in Words

New weekly update on the breaking stories in the African nations.

Somalia faces

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Unseen, unheard; no one should be the bearer of these two words. Unfortunately, Africa is often in the forefront of this association.

Our common humanity should change this; we should never look away because it is too distant. Our commitment to one another, to human rights, and the ability to learn should always keep us connected no matter the severity and complexity of problems.

Important insights from last week, not to be missed:

Somalia facing cataclysmic crisis: With a single tear in her eye, a teenage girl takes her last breath of life, another victim of famine in Somalia. Somalia is facing a cataclysmic humanitarian tragedy and is on the brink of a drought crisis threatening some 2.4 million people, according to a UN official. "Somalia… is on the brink of a much larger disaster due to the threat of a country-wide drought," UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said in New York on Thursday, AFP reported.

Enough Project puts out road map for new international process to end Darfur conflict: The Washington-based Enough Project called on the US Administration to launch of a post Doha "proactive mediation style" to end the eight year conflict in Darfur saying any effort to domesticate the conflict will be unproductive.,38031

Zimbabwe: Newspaper Vendors Harassed: Vendors selling Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) independent newspapers, which include "Newsday" and other leading South African publications, are reportedly being harassed by suspected supporters of the Zimbabwe African National Union - Political Front (Zanu-PF) political party and state agents.

Government urged to show restraint after shooting of journalist: Reporters Without Borders said it was “shocked” at the shooting by a ministerial bodyguard today of freelance journalist Julius Odeke and called for the guard to be punished and for journalists be allowed to work freely during today’s general election.,39587.html

Chad’s North West: The Next High-risk Area? - For more than five years, public attention relative to Chad has been focused on the armed rebellion in the east and the crisis in the Darfur region of neighboring Sudan, while totally neglecting the country’s North West. However, there are serious risks that the rise of trans-Sahara drug trafficking and terrorism, emergence of radical Muslim movements in neighboring countries, development of inter-communal violence, decline of local traditional justice systems and lack of state governance will destabilize that ignored region. The authorities in N’Djamena need to move to change the governance system there and defuse the multiple roots of potential conflict before a crisis explodes.

Increase in Attacks - 2011 Starts Badly for Journalists: Reporter Without Borders condemns the failure of the government to act in the face of the growing number of attacks on freedom targeting journalists. Nepal has reached an extremely worrying level of attacks on the media, mostly the responsibility of political parties and religious groups. “We call on the authorities to do everything to end these attacks, prevent a culture of impunity taking hold and dissipate the permanent feeling of insecurity which acts as brake on the creation of a free press,” the press freedom organization said.

One more Al-Midan journalist freed, four still held: Reporters Without Borders is partially relieved that three employees of the opposition weekly Al-Midan who had been arrested on 2 February were released on 12 February. But it is very concerned about the five who are still being held. The detainees have been beaten and subjected to torture, including electric shocks and sleep deprivation.,39474.html

Many HIV/Aids patients suffer pain needlessly: Recently released global data by UNAids points to enormous progress in preventing and treating HIV. More people than ever before now live with HIV as a chronic disease, rather than dying from it, because they are getting antiretroviral treatment. Kenya is a good example. Over the past year, the number of people taking the drugs has risen by 25 per cent.

Somalia: Stop war crimes in Mogadishu: The scale and severity of the crimes during the intense fighting in Somalia in recent months demonstrates the need for an international commission of inquiry, Human Rights Watch said today. A recent Human Rights Watch investigation found that all of the parties to the armed conflict have been responsible for indiscriminate attacks on civilians since May 2010. Some of these attacks may amount to war crimes.

Democratic Republic of Congo: aid for 90,000 isolated people in Haut - It is one of the most isolated areas in the country. Brought in with support from the National Red Cross Society, the seed and tools will be distributed in the districts of Ango, Banda, Doruma and Nyangara, benefiting some 90,000 people, both local residents and others who have fled there. "Over the past two years, most of the population has fled violence connected with the presence of the Lord's Resistance Army," explained Abdallah Togola, the ICRC delegate in charge of the operation. "Though some have by now been able to return to their homes, they have often lost everything, including food reserves from a number of harvests." Many others, he said, had taken in displaced people as an act of solidarity and were now sharing their meagre resources with them.


Alysha Atma spends many hours working on projects that support and benefit the beleaguered people of African nations who spend way too much time off the western media's radar. This writer explains that she is a culmination of all her experiences, most importantly knowledge she says, and all that she still needs to learn; lessons of love, laughter and the extraordinary giving of both young and old. She says she has the enormous fortune of learning from the best; every person around her, and the amazing strength and fortitude of those she has never met but will always strive to listen to. "I continue to work and write because I believe in the power of community and the power of one, both contradictory to each other and yet can move together in a very powerful way. I feel a responsibility to use my place, freedoms and connections here in the US to stand up and yell for those who need my voice and actions. I have seen such strength in my fellow humans that I cannot even begin to comprehend, they have traveled distances, have gone without food, water, shelter and safety for days and weeks at a time. I have a responsibility as a fellow human to put our common humanity before anything else. Everyone deserves to look towards tomorrow, to dream of a safe future and to have a peaceful present." You can write to Alysha Atma at:

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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