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Mar-29-2011 23:12printcomments

Africa: Faces in Words

Weekly update on the breaking stories in the African nations.

Children at Atiak IDP in Northern Uganda

(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:

Libyan minders assault woman raped by Gaddafi troops (video) - A distraught Libyan woman has told journalists in Tripoli how she was raped by government troops, before being bundled away by officials. Iman al-Obeidi sought out foreign reporters in the capital's Rixos hotel on Saturday morning, weeping and claiming that troops had detained her at a checkpoint, tied her up, abused her and then led her away to be gang-raped.

Uganda: IDPs hit by ARV shortages, poor HIV care in the North - Internally displaced people in northern Uganda face a difficult choice - whether to return to their ancestral villages or stay in camps hoping for better access to healthcare, as antiretroviral (ARV) drugs are in short supply.

Nigeria: Put Human Rights a Heart of Elections - Candidates in Nigeria's April 2011 elections should put the country's pervasive human rights problems at the heart of their political campaigns, platforms, and upcoming debates, Human Rights Watch said today in a "Human Rights Agenda" to candidates. If elected, they should carry out long overdue reforms, Human Rights Watch said.

In Ivory Coast, Gbabgo and Ouattara Camps attack press - The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns ongoing attacks, threats, and intimidation against journalists and news outlets covering the bloody political standoff in Ivory Coast. The government and supporters of incumbent ruler Laurent Gbagbo have been targeting newspapers critical of Gbagbo while rebel fighters backing his U.N.-backed rival Alassane Ouattara have also harassed journalists.

US Groups Help Africa’s War-Affected Women - The Maryland-based group Women for Democracy and Peace in Africa states as its goals helping African women displaced by violence and encouraging them to take part in politics and peacemaking.

Congo-Kinshasa: In Water-Rich Nation, 50 million Lack clean Water to Drink - An estimated 51 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) - or three quarters of the population - have no access to safe drinking water, even though the country holds over half of Africa's water reserves, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said in a new study released today.

Cameroon bans paper, gives Editor suspended sentence - Authorities in Cameroon must end judicial harassment of journalists reporting on public corruption, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today after a court handed an editor a suspended prison sentence and banned his newspaper for reporting on alleged mismanagement of a transportation company.

Kenya: Condom recycling highlights gaps in HIV prevention programming - Media images of men in northern Kenya washing condoms for re-use have underscored the need to improve HIV communication and close gaps in the supply of condoms in rural areas.

Uganda: Torture, Extortion, Killings by Police Unit - The Ugandan police Rapid Response Unit frequently operates outside the law, carrying out torture, extortion, and in some cases, extrajudicial killings, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Ugandan authorities should urgently open an independent investigation into the unit's conduct and activities and hold accountable anyone responsible for human rights violations, Human Rights Watch said.

Interior Minister demands Apology in exchange for release of two Journalists - Somali interior minister Abdishakur Sheikh Hassan (picture) is demanding a public apology from Shabelle Media Network, the owner of Radio Shabelle, as a condition for the release of two of its most senior journalists who have been held for the past 48 hours. The minister wants it to apologize for a radio programme on 22 March that questioned the competence of the transitional government’s president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.,39900.html

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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