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Food insecurity soars in conflict-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo (14.08.2017)

Around 7.7 million people require urgent humanitarian assistance, FAO and WFP warn.

ROME, Italy, August 14, 2017 – Amid rising violence and displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), 7.7 million people face acute hunger – a 30 percent increase over the last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned today in a new report.

According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis released today, between June 2016 and June 2017, the number of people in “emergency” and  “crisis” levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 4 and 3) – which precede “famine” levels on the IPC scale – and requiring urgent humanitarian food assistance  rose by 1.8 million, from 5.9 million to 7.7 million.

This means that more than one in ten people living in rural areas suffer from acute hunger.

Hunger is on the rise due to escalating and prolonged conflict and displacement in central and eastern DRC, mainly in the Kasaï and Tanganyika regions, where there has been widespread violence. Some 1.4 million people have been forced to flee their homes over the past year.

The report noted that the humanitarian situation has been exacerbated by the spread of fall armyworm infestations and cholera and measles outbreaks.

In conflict-ridden areas, over 1.5 million people are facing “emergency” levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 4) according to the IPC report, which means people are forced to sell everything they have and skip or reduce their meals.

“In conflict-ridden areas, farmers have seen their villages and fields pillaged. They have not been able to plant for the last two seasons. There is a lack of local markets providing for their food needs. Conflict toppled with armyworm infestations destroying crops in over a quarter of the country’s vast territories are devastating for rural communities. The situation is set to get worse if urgent support does not come in time,” said Alexis Bonte, FAO Representative ad interim in DRC.

“Farmers, especially those displaced – majority women and children – desperately need urgent food aid but also means to sustain themselves, such as tools and seeds so that they can resume farming. Many of the displaced women lost their husbands. Farming, for them, is a way to get back on their feet, and face the future with dignity and hope,” added Bonte.

Coping with acute hunger

Between 50 to 80 percent of people in some of the areas affected by hunger struggle to make ends meet and to have something to eat. In several areas, people only eat once a day, and their meals – based on corn, cassava or potatoes – do not meet their daily nutritional and calorie needs. Food prices have been rising for the last three months. In some cases, diets are limited to starches and leaves.

Others have to resort to reducing or skipping meals, selling assets, borrowing money and sending family members to beg or eat elsewhere.

Chronic malnutrition affects 43 percent of children under five – more than 7 million children – in DRC.

Widespread displacement – some 3.7 million people are displaced in DRC – and a steady flow of refugees from neighboring countries putting a strain on already stretched resources as well as the alarming spread of fall armyworm infestations, which affects 50 out of DRC’s 145 territories, have been exacerbating food insecurity. This particularly in areas with high levels of poverty and malnutrition and chronic food insecurity.

Much of the recent deterioration is down to the worsening plight of people in Kasaï.

“WFP is extremely concerned about food security and nutrition, which are deteriorating in many parts of DRC,” says WFP’s DRC Country Director, Claude Jibidar. “But nowhere is the situation more alarming than in Kasaï. We call on all parties to allow passage for life-saving assistance, and on the international community to help meet pressing needs.”

Support is urgently needed

FAO and WFP call for an urgent increase in the provision of lifesaving food and specialized nutrition assistance to combat malnutrition as well as seeds and tools so that farmers can plant again and regain their livelihoods.

In conflict-hit areas of Kasaï  and Tanganyika regions, FAO is providing vegetable seeds and hand tools to rapidly boost food production and increase the availability of nutritious foods among displaced and hosting communities. Ultimately, livelihoods are people’s best defense against hunger and catastrophe. In 2017, FAO is seeking to assist 2.1 million people in DRC to tackle hunger, restore food production and build more resilient livelihoods.

WFP continues to support DRC’s most vulnerable people. It has deployed staff in two of Kasaï’s hardest hit provinces, Tshikapa and Kasaï Central, where it will launch food distributions in the coming days. Elsewhere in the country, WFP is providing logistics capacity including air and road transport, fuel and storage to the wider humanitarian community.

RDC: ARPTC – “Mesures preventives a prendre face a l’usage absif des reseaux sociaux” (07.08.2017)

RDC: “Declaration du Bureau du Moise Katumbi” (07.08.2017)

President Yoweri Museveni Age Con-undrum!

It is strange how this becomes a thing, how these sort of things suddenly means so much. That is because someone loves to rewrite history and also his own. Since the Age Limit of the Presidential Candidate is fixed in the 1995 Constitution and Article 102(b). Which states the age that a President can have when running. For the old liberation hero, or liberator are trying to liberate himself from his past and his age. So he can run without amending the constitution, even if he has already pigeon-holding it.

Article 102 states: “A person is not qualified for election as President unless that person is—

(a) a citizen of Uganda by birth;

(b) not less than thirty-five years and not more than seventy-five years of age; and

(c) a person qualified to be a member of Parliament” (Constitution of 1995).

So in Mbarara, St Luke Kinoni Church of Uganda, the archives there are settling that Yoweri Museveni was baptized on the 3rd August 1947. In the first edition of the Mustard Seed he himself remembers: “The third childhood memory I retain was when we were baptised, along with Mzee Amosi Kaguta and Esteeri Kokundeka, on the 3rd of August 1947, at Kikoni Rwampara. By that time, I was almost three years” (Yoweri Museveni, Sowing the Mustard Seed, 1997). If his memory is correct when writing in 1996/1997, then he would be born about 1944 and would be 73 years old in 2017.

Well, there are documents proving it difficult to know his age. He got married on the 25th August 1973 at Christ Church at Turnham Green in London. Where he married his wife Janet Museveni. At this document. At this document he was an Army Officer and bachelor at the age of 27 years. That means he was born in 1946. This would mean that with this document and some easy calculation, say that the President is 71 years old.

The the latest official document is the birth certificate of Mohoozi Kainerubaga Tubuhaburwa who was born on the 24th April 1974, where Yoweri Museveni was the father and the mistress Hope Rwaheru. At this document it said his birthplace was Tare, Rwanda, but also said he was 30 years old. Another different was his occupation, he was an Operative in the Uganda State Research Bureau. This means again he was born in 1944. To settle him again to be 73 years old.

So there is a few lies somewhere as the documentation of his life is seemingly showing different ages and times. So he is twice said to be born around 1944, while his marriage certificate from United Kingdom says something else. What is inspiring is that on 25th August 1973 in the United Kingdom as he got married to Janet he was 27 years old, but by the birth of his son Muhoozi, he became 30 years old at the Loitokitok General Hospital, Coast Province in the Republic of Kenya, on the 24th April 1974. All of this is inspiring how the President could be 27 years old in United Kingdom and in Kenya, in the year after become 30 years of age. Also, either he was an operative at the Uganda State Research Bureau or he was Army Officer. This again proves how the records are differing in quick phase.

His documentation even says he was born in Tare, Rwanda, so if it wasn’t for the coup d’etat and the bush-war. Than he would have been dismissed for his birthplace, but none will challenge him on that. Then again to be running for 2021. He would no matter how you see it be older than 75 years, by both admissions. Since you have to add the years in-between 2016-2021. So with being either 71 or 73. Means you will add 4 years to the tally. It means if he was 71 years old, means he is 75 years old in 2021 and the other 77 years old. Which means he is to old to run!

But it is allowed to question the paperwork and difference in it, as it is in such short time, such massive differences! Peace.

The DRC Armed Group Leader Sheka Handed Over by MONUSCO to the Congolese Authorities (07.08.2017)

Sheka has been wanted since 2011 by the Congolese justice system for crimes against humanity, including mass rape and child recruitment.

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, August 7, 2017 – Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka, leader of the armed group Nduma Defense of Congo (NDC), was transferred on Friday August 4th to Kinshasa and was handed over by MONUSCO to the Congolese judicial authorities. Sheka has been under MONUSCO supervision in Goma since his surrender on 26 July.

He is accompanied by two alleged NDC combatants who also surrendered and are subject to judicial warrants of arrest for crimes against humanity including rape and child recruitment. The individuals will be detained, awaiting trial, in a location where MONUSCO will have access to ensure that relevant international human rights standards are observed.

The United Nations, through the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, called on the DRC government to “take all necessary measures to ensure that Sheka is promptly tried in adherence to basic standards of due process and that the charges against him appropriately correspond to all the crimes committed”.

Sheka surrendered to MONUSCO in the village of Mutongo about ten kilometers north of Walikale in full knowledge of the fact that he is the subject of an arrest warrant and will be brought to justice. Sheka has been wanted since 2011 by the Congolese justice system for crimes against humanity, including mass rape and child recruitment. NDC fighters are alleged to have raped almost 400 civilians, including 300 women, 23 men and 61 children, in 13 villages on the Kibua-Mpofi axis in the Walikale (North Kivu) between 30 July and 2 August 2010. United Nations have also documented the alleged recruitment of at least 154 children by this rebel group.

“Sheka’s surrender is a positive sign. A fair trial would be a significant step in the fight against impunity and a victory for victims of abuses by armed groups who have the right to justice”, said Maman Sidikou, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in the DRC.

RDC: Declaration Politique Conjointe des Forces Politiques et Sociales Soutenant la Candidature de Moise Katumbi (05.08.2017)

RDC: Communique du Gouvernement – “Sur le rapport nouvellement publié de l’OCHA sur la violence à Kasai” (04.08.2017)

DRC: Victims’ harrowing accounts indicate Government complicity in ethnic-based massacres in Kasai – UN report (04.08.2017)

GENEVA (4 August 2017) – Violence in the Kasai provinces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo appears to be taking on an increasing and disturbing ethnic dimension, a report by the UN Human Rights Office has warned. Information gathered by a team of UN human rights investigators* suggests that some of the violations and abuses committed in the Kasais may amount to crimes under international law.

The report is based on interviews with 96 people who had fled to neighbouring Angola to escape the violence in Kamonia territory in Kasai. The UN team was able to confirm that between 12 March and 19 June some 251 people were the victims of extrajudicial and targeted killings. These included 62 children, of which 30 were aged under eight. Interviewees indicated that local security forces and other officials actively fomented, fuelled, and occasionally led, attacks on the basis of ethnicity. The UN Mission in the DRC has identified at least 80 mass graves in the Kasais.

The team saw people who had been seriously injured or mutilated, including a seven-year-old boy who had had several fingers cut off and his face totally disfigured. A woman whose arm had been chopped off recounted how she managed to escape, hiding for several days in the forest before reaching the Angolan border and being airlifted to hospital. Some of the refugees pleaded with the UN team to be heard, and two of the people they interviewed died shortly afterwards from their injuries.

“Survivors have spoken of hearing the screams of people being burned alive, of seeing loved ones chased and cut down, of themselves fleeing in terror. Such bloodletting is all the more horrifying because we found indications that people are increasingly being targeted because of their ethnic group,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. “Their accounts should serve as a grave warning to the Government of the DRC to act now to prevent such violence from tipping into wider ethnic cleansing.” 

“I call on the Government to take all necessary measures to fulfil its primary obligation to protect people from all ethnic backgrounds in the greater Kasai area,” he added.

The fighting began in August 2016 between the Kamuina Nsapu militia and the Government. The UN team was able to confirm that another militia, called the Bana Mura, was formed around March/April 2017 by individuals from the Tshokwe, Pende and Tetela ethnic groups. It was allegedly armed and supported by local traditional leaders and security officials, including from the army and the police, to attack the Luba and Lulua communities who are accused of being accomplices of the Kamuina Nsapu.

According to the report, “the Bana Mura allegedly undertook a campaign aimed at eliminating the entire Luba and Lulua populations in the villages they attacked.” In many of the incidents reported to the team, FARDC soldiers were seen leading groups of Bana Mura militia during attacks on villages.

“The Government’s responsibility includes ensuring that those who organised, recruited and armed the Bana Mura or other militias are identified and prosecuted,” the High Commissioner stressed.

Many Luba and Lulua witnesses and victims said that the Bana Mura militia carried out what appeared to be well-planned attacks on several villages in Kamonia territory in April and May. Wearing white bandanas made from mosquito nets and bracelets of leaves, the Bana Mura attacked Luba and Lulua inhabitants, beheading, mutilating and shooting victims; in some cases burning them alive in their homes.

In one of the most shocking attacks, in the village of Cinq, 90 patients, colleagues and people who had sought refuge in a health centre were killed, including patients who could not escape when the surgical ward was set on fire.

Victims’ accounts included a woman who told the team how the militia killed her husband, attacked her daughter with machetes, and shot her and her 22-month-old son, who later had to have his leg amputated at a hospital in Angola. The team also heard accounts of rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence.

People also told the UN team that the Kamuina Nsapu militia carried out targeted killings, including against the military, police, and public officials.

In all incidents documented by the team, the Kamuina Nsapu were reported to have used boys and girls, many aged between seven and 13, as fighters. Witnesses also said groups of girls called “Lamama” accompanied the militia, shaking their straw skirts and drinking victims’ blood as part of a magic ritual that was supposed to render the group invincible. All the refugees interviewed by the team said they were convinced of the magical powers of the Kamuina Nsapu.

“This generalised belief, and resulting fear, by segments of the population in the Kasais may partly explain why a poorly armed militia, composed to a large extent of children, has been able to resist offensives by a national army for over a year,” the report says.

Given the situation in the Kasais, the report highlights the need for the team of international experts on the situation in the Kasais, established in June by the UN Human Rights Council, to be granted safe and unrestricted access to information, sites and individuals deemed necessary for their work.

This report will be put at the disposal of the international experts, as well as any other judicial institution addressing the human rights situation in the Kasais, in an effort to advance accountability efforts in this regard.

RDC: Communique du Rassemblement – “Memo a l’Attention de Monsieur Corneille Nanga, President de la Commission Electorale Nationale Independante (CENI).” (03.08.2017)

RDC: CENI – “Portant Suspension du Processus de l’Election des Gouverneur et Vice-Gouverneur dans les Provinces du Kasai” Central et de la Mongala (02.08.2017)

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