Catching Our Eye

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  • Boko Haram’s survivors now facing HIV/AIDS

    Published: Dec. 2, 2016

    At least 5,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in 27 camps in Nigeria’s north-eastern Borno State have HIV/AIDS, a local official has revealed.

    Speaking to the media on Thursday (1 Dec.), Hassan Mustapha, the Coordinator on HIV/AIDS in Borno, said most of the patients were women who were rescued from captivity in Boko Haram camps.

    More than 1,000 patients were identified in Bama camp and 3,000 in Gwoza camp, while over 1,000 others are living in host communities.

    Some of those affected were not effectively accessing anti-retroviral therapy because of stigmatisation, Mustapha said.

    “The IDPs living with such ailments are constantly challenged… Most of them are shy, while some are afraid to be identified by others as carriers. They sometimes complain to us that they are not allowed to go out of the camp to access drugs in other centres.

    “The honest truth is that the government is not paying priority attention to the plight of such persons,” Mustapha said.

    As a result, many of the IDPs living with HIV/AIDS had already died of the scourge because they were not properly counselled and sensitised on the need to enrol under the HIV/AIDS control programme, he said.

    According to Human Rights Watch, displaced women and girls were sexually exploited by officials, including security forces and camp leaders.

    The UN says 75,000 children are at risk of dying of hunger in north-east Nigeria, as the region deals with the aftermath of Boko Haram violence. As many as 14 million people are in need of humanitarian aid in the region, the epicentre of the seven-year insurgency which has claimed more than 20,000 lives and displaced more than 2.5 million people in Nigeria and neighbouring Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

    Source: Premium Times.

  • NE Nigeria has ‘more refugees than all of Europe’

    Published: Nov. 29, 2016

    “North-east Nigeria has been hit by a displacement crisis that dwarfs any migration flows seen in Europe in recent years,” reports The Guardian.

    The small town of Monguno in Borno state, which has a population of 60,000, is sheltering 140,000 Nigerians who have fled their homes – comparable to the number who have left North Africa for Europe so far this year.

    “Since the Boko Haram insurgency began, more people have migrated to Monguno alone than left all of North Africa for Europe in the first nine months of this year,” writes The Guardian’s Patrick Kingsley.

    “About 40% more people have been displaced throughout Borno state (1.4 million) than reached Europe by boat in 2015 (1 million). Across the region, the war against Boko Haram has forced more people from their homes – 2.6 million – than there are Syrians in Turkey, the country that hosts more refugees than any other.

    “The comparisons mirror a wider trend across Africa. Of the world’s 17 million displaced Africans, 93.7% remain inside the continent, and just 3.3% have reached Europe.”

    “No matter how many problems Europeans have, it’s nothing like this,” Modu Amsami, the informal leader of Monguno’s nine IDP camps, told The Guardian. “Please, I’m appealing to Europeans to forget their minor problems. Let them come here and face our major problems.”

    Boko Haram has specifically targeted Christians, most notably in its abduction and forced conversion of 276 mainly Christian schoolgirls from the town of Chibok in 2014, but in its desire to install an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria the group has also attacked buildings linked to the police and the UN.

  • Burkina Faso: citizenship for kidnapped Australian

    Published: Nov. 29, 2016

    An Australian surgeon kidnapped by jihadists in Burkina Faso nearly two years ago, and whose whereabouts remain unknown, has been declared a citizen of the West African nation, an official decree announced on Wednesday (17 Nov.).

    Ken Elliot was abducted along with his wife Jocelyn in January 2015 by Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists from the northern town of Djibo, near the border with Mali and Niger.

    The Christian couple, in their eighties, had run the sole medical clinic there since 1972.

    Joceyln Elliot was released by her captors this February, but her husband has not been seen and it is believed he is being held outside Burkina Faso.

    The kidnapping – claimed by the Islamist group Ansar Dine – prompted an outpouring of support for the Elliots. The people of Djibo pleaded for the couple’s release on Facebook, and hundreds of students with placards reading “Free Elliot” took to the streets of the town with their teachers.

    Djibo residents also launched an Internet petition demanding Ken Elliot be freed.

    The government decision has brought some encouragement, said Seydou Dicko, president of a group which has been campaigning for the release of Dr. Elliot.

    ''We have learned through media that Dr. Elliot has naturally been granted the citizenship because, for us, he was Burkinabe'', he said.

    ''This also allows us to think that Dr. Elliot was not forgotten. And it also enables us to raise our hopes high by asking our government to do more, knowing that a Burkina citizen is now held outside Burkina Faso''.

    The couple’s abduction coincided with a jihadist assault on an upmarket hotel in Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou, which left at least 30 people dead, including seven missionaries.

    Jocelyn Elliot has refused to leave Burkina Faso, vowing to wait for her husband’s return to continue their medical work.

    Sources: The Guardian, RFI

  • Israel resettling Eritrean refugees in 3rd country

    Published: Nov. 29, 2016

    Eritreans seeking asylum in Israel are being given the option of resettling in a third country, often Uganda and Rwanda, says Al Jazeera.

    But Israel’s ‘policy’ of transferring arrivals from Africa has been criticised. Andie Lambe, executive director of the International Refugee Rights Initiative, an NGO that has conducted extensive research into the departure of East African refugees from Israel, says: “What does it mean when an unknown third country is someone’s best option? To me that says they never really had a choice at all.”

    Musgun Gebar is an Eritrean national who accepted the offer of a transfer to Uganda. He was being held at a detention centre in Israel’s Negev Desert where, he claims, he was given three options: go home to Eritrea, stay at the camp indefinitely, or accept departure to a third country of Israel’s choosing.

    Israeli authorities have admitted they have an agreement with two African countries to relocate unwanted asylum seekers, but have denied rumours that it is in return for arms and military training. Both Uganda and Rwanda deny any deal with Israel, and say they have not given refugee status to any refugees arriving from Israel.

    Many Eritreans flee their country to escape a “brutal” and “oppressive” government, including Christians not belonging to denominations recognised by the state. According to the Christian charity Open Doors, “believers are imprisoned in horrific conditions in their thousands – some in metal shipping containers in scorching conditions”.

  • Pakistan bishops call for new census

    Published: Nov. 28, 2016

    Pakistani bishops have called for a new population census to help give a more accurate count of religious minorities, says Agenzia Fides. The last population census was in 1998.

    Up-to-date figures will help the government assign the right proportion of public service jobs to minorities – a provision designed to help balance inequalities. Official figures show that Christians make up two per cent (3.9 million) of Pakistan’s population.

    A statement from the annual Bishops’ Conference said: “We appeal to the government so that it supports this practice, and controls irregularities”. The statement also condemned “the increasing corruption in the country” and the management of public affairs in accordance with private interests.

    The bishops asked priests, catechists and teachers to encourage the Christian population to register their names in the data-collection process. A new census was planned for 2016 but has not yet been made official.

    The bishops also heard that the Catholic Church and other main Protestant denominations are studying a bill to reform the Christian Marriage Act, which dates back to 1872. As the Act stands, it includes provisions “markedly different from the Personal Laws [relating to marriage] for other faiths in Pakistan”.

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