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Mar-06-2011 18:39printcomments

Africa: Faces in Words

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

Faces of Somaliland
Faces of Somaliland courtesy:

(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:

Somaliland clashes leave 123 dead - At least 123 people have been killed after troops from the self-declared republic of Somaliland attacked and opened fire on local clan militia in the Buhodle district. The conflict erupted late Wednesday as Somaliland forces based in the village of Kalshale in the Buhodle district launched an attack against local clan militia called SSC (Sool, Sanaag, Cayn), a Press TV correspondent reported on Thursday.

100,000 people flee from aerial bombardments in Darfur - While the world is shouting shame about the use of warplanes against Libyan civilians, the use of air power against civilians in Darfur is off the radar of the world’s attention.

Genocide in All but Name, for the “Crime” of being Gay - Scott Mills travels to Uganda to find out why it is that a Steadman poll shows that only four percent of Ugandans believe that homosexuality should be decriminalized. It’s a shocking picture: a lesbian victim of “corrective rape”; a gay activist brutally murdered; a witch-hunt on homosexuals in local media; and person after person unapologetically proclaiming that they’d like to see the death penalty introduced for homosexuals.

Sudan: Protesters Describe Torture by Security Officers - Sudanese national security officials subjected large numbers of youth protesters to severe physical and sexual abuse following protests in January and February, 2011, Human Rights Watch said today. Based on testimony and information collected by Human Rights Watch, the students and youth, some as young as 18, were subjected to harsh beatings, electric shocks, and other abuses that amount to torture. Security officials are also implicated in the rape of a female youth activist in February.

Inside a Refugee Camp at the Libyan-Tunisian Border - Thousands of foreign workers and many Libyans are continuing to flee Libya for neighboring Tunisia. U.N. officials at the border describe the situation as an emergency heading for a crisis.

Reflecting on untold stories of Southern Sudanese Women - The two decades of civil war (1983-2005) in Sudan had affected many lives and livelihoods in Southern Sudan. An estimated two million people lost their lives; more than four millions were internally displaced, while more others sought refuge in neighboring African countries as well as Western countries. As women all over the world celebrate their contributions and achievements, I would like to draw attention to Southern Sudanese women’s untold and/or forgotten stories of courage and survival during one of the longest civil wars in Africa, and shed light on women’s courage and resilience in difficult and dangerous circumstances. Two important factors motivated me to reflect and uncover the untold, usually forgotten history of women in Southern Sudan. First the story of my paternal grandmother, and some Southern Sudanese women I met in Yei town, Kajiko, and Kogbo villages, in July 1997. Second, casting my vote in the Southern Sudan Referendum on January 9, 2011, prompted me to highlight the experiences of women in conflict situation. The goal of reflecting on women’s untold stories is to recognize and emphasize the role and contributions of non-combatant women to the Southern Sudan liberation struggle.,38193

Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: tradition opposes exclusion - Victims of sexual violence often face further suffering through social exclusion. In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, members of the community trained to provide psycho-social support by the ICRC encourage relatives and society to accept the victims on the grounds of custom. Sensitive subjects are broached through theatre or by traditional leaders.

Central African Republic: Sophie Ndotah ‘There is nothing left to go back to and nobody to take care of us back home’ - Years of crisis have left the healthcare system in Central African Republic in shambles. There is one doctor for every 3,000 people, a nurse for every 1,000 and 37 percent of the population have to walk an average 10km to reach the closest health centre.

Many struggle to Survive in Somalia’s Capital - After two decades of civil war, Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, remains one of the world's most dangerous cities. More than 100 people died in fighting just last week, according to officials. But every morning, hundreds of thousands of people wake up there and somehow make it through another day.

Africa: Educate the Girl, Empower the Women - Picture a mother, hunching over a field with a Medieval-style hoe in hand, spending day after day tilling the soil under a beating hot sun - only to retire home to care for her family without electricity or running water.

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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Luke Easter March 6, 2011 7:46 pm (Pacific time)

We look away because there are no billions of gallons of oil. We look away because there is no gold. We look away because the diamonds are already controlled.

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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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