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UN Special Rapporteur Alston questions the US Government on the extreme poverty in the United States!

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”Franklin D. Roosevelt

Yesterday, something rare happen, the United Nations addressed big issues within the United States and their ways of governing. Clearly, this is starch message. If this was a poorer and weaker state. The United States Special Rapporteur Phillip Alston would have condemn their actions. Instead, he is describing it and addressing it. Which is a fresh look from the United Nations, that is worried about the growing poverty in the US. It is special that it happens in this period and time. When the ruling party and majority in both chambers of the Congress. Is working on a bill to give tax relief to the wealthiest, the corporations and growing deficit on the federal budget. Clearly, the value of the middle-class and the poorest doesn’t matter in this calculation. Since, the taxes will grow for the ordinary and the poor, while the richest get more cash.

Therefore, what the UN Special Rapporteur is writing is damning. It is demeaning. This isn’t a fairy-tale or a Disney adventure. This isn’t the dream of gaining fortunes at Silicon Valley. This is the real deal, the issues, the ghetto’s, the slums and the ones living on food-stamps all around the US. The way the United States is governed, might be also a reason for the rampant poverty. Since the Federal State is so far away and the limitations on the States. Barres the State governments from actually delivering necessary welfare and provisions to help their poorest citizens. It could be in their DNA, as everyone is supposed to be self-made and can become millionaires. Even if it is just a tiny group of people who is able to go from the slums and ghetto’s and become vastly wealthy. They are more rare, than the norm. The Rapporteur really paints a story of an American Nightmare and not the American Dream. Alston is describing a bleak picture and shows, that the United States got a lot of work to do. If their citizens are supposed to have equal rights and equal opportunities, because the contrasts and the different spectrum’s of wealth should worry the politicians. Clearly, it doesn’t when we know how the Tax-Plan is and who will benefit in the coming years.

The reality that I have seen, however, is very different. It is a fact that many of the wealthiest citizens do not pay taxes at the rates that others do, hoard much of their wealth off-shore, and often make their profits purely from speculation rather than contributing to the overall wealth of the American community. Who then are the poor? Racist stereotypes are usually not far beneath the surface. The poor are overwhelmingly assumed to be people of color, whether African Americans or Hispanic ‘immigrants’. The reality is that there are 8 million more poor Whites than there are Blacks. Similarly, large numbers of welfare recipients are assumed to be living high on the hog. Some politicians and political appointees with whom I spoke were completely sold on the narrative of such scammers sitting on comfortable sofas, watching color TVs, while surfing on their smart phones, all paid for by welfare. I wonder how many of these politicians have ever visited poor areas, let alone spoken to those who dwell there. There are anecdotes aplenty, but evidence is nowhere to be seen. In every society, there are those who abuse the system, as much in the upper income levels, as in the lower. But the poor people I met from among the 40 million living in poverty were overwhelmingly either persons who had been born into poverty, or those who had been thrust there by circumstances largely beyond their control such as physical or mental disabilities, divorce, family breakdown, illness, old age, unlivable wages, or discrimination in the job market” (…) “There is no magic recipe for eliminating extreme poverty, and each level of government must make its own good faith decisions. But at the end of the day, particularly in a rich country like the USA, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power. With political will, it could readily be eliminated” (…) “Reflecting on these developments, leading poverty experts have concluded that: Because of this rising joblessness, the U.S. poverty population is becoming a more deprived and destitute class, one that’s disconnected from the economy and unable to meet basic needs. … 40 percent of the 1999 poverty population was in deep poverty … [compared to 46 percent of the 2015 poverty population … . Likewise, rates of extreme poverty (i.e., living on less than $2 per day per person) are also increasing, again because of declining employment as well as growing “disconnection” from the safety net” (Alston, 2017).

This words are striking, these words are address big problems within the American society. That cannot be taken easy. There isn’t proper institutions, programs or even state provisions to help out the ones need. The growing poverty and extreme poverty is weird when you consider the vast amount of wealth residing the same nation. It is like it was rigged to be this way and they are playing demographics and also politics must really be damaging. Since, there aren’t any clear indication that these issues are addressed or significantly cared about by the federal state or the states themselves. The ignorance of the needs of their own, should shatter anyone caring about fellow human beings. That they accept the dire poverty, while the riches families can own estates bigger than some European Kingdoms.

If that isn’t a signal of something in need of change, while so many are struggling to survive and to pay the next rent. That there are a lack of understanding of the generation after generation of struggling individuals in the ghetto’s and slums. These are not looked after or tried to fix, but with small patches and civil society based organization who try to do charity. However, they cannot make them prosper or change the evil circle of lack of jobs and no safety net from the state.

This is political choice and by political will, by the ones that actually are in power. They have to show their concern. Give their legislation and make sure that these people are addressed and have a future. Since they can leave the groundwork and framework so they can live life beyond the hand-to-mouth. But actually own a home and live decent. Instead of struggling with every single penny. Worrying about if either you or any other person in the family ending up in the hospital. If so, they have to collect more debt and struggle more because of lack of coverage and funds to be able to pay for health-insurance. That could be typical issue for Americans on the poverty line. The forgotten by all powers and shown these days by the tax-plan as well, who will make Medicaid and other programs get grave cut. While the corporations are getting tax-holidays.

There is something really wrong these days in America. The riches are really poor. They cannot afford to pay tax or even contribute to the society they are earning their fortunes in. They are so poor, they cannot stomach paying points on the dollars, so the poorest and their workers can get some social benefits. So they can be more healthy and work better for them. Instead, their greed and their draconian ways, will make the extreme poverty even worse and grow numbers of people in dire needs. With time, the corporations will also have fewer costumers. Since they cannot afford to buy their products. So it won’t gain growth, when making more people poor, while a minority will get even wealthier. Peace.

Reference:

Alston, Phillip – ‘Statement on Visit to the USA, by Professor Philip Alston, United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights*’ (15.12.2017)

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RDC: UDPS – “Concerne: Information de Manifestation” (13.12.2017)

RDC: Lettre du Abbe Vincent Tshombe – “Objet: Manifestations pacifiques pour l’application de l’Accord de la Saint Sylvestre” (05.12.2017)

ICGLR Condemns the Attack on MONUSCO-FIB, and FARDC troops in Beni, Eastern DRC (09.12.2017)

The Allied Defense Force (ADF) back in the spotlight after an attack on FARDC and MONUSCO yesterday!

The Ugandan based militia, which has two groups ADF-NALU and ADF, one led by the now detained Jamir Mukulu and the other one led by Seka Bukulu. The biggest group is the last one, which has about 1,000 militants, while Mukulu is about 30 people. That meaning since the reports on the attack, it wasn’t the ADF under Mukulu attacking MONUSCO yesterday, but the militant group under Bukulu, since there we’re 72 militants killed, while 15 Tanzanian Peacekeepers was killed, 5 FARDC soldier and 43 wounded as well. Therefore, the killings yesterday was substantial and the biggest attack on MONUSCO since 2010.

This attack happens while the governments of Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo are having meeting in Mbarara, discussing provisions against insecurity and across the borders. The continuation of the Operation Sokola 1 that has been on since 2014. Still, the problem of ADF and others in the region are there.

For those of you who has no knowledge of ADF. I will give some information about who they are and amount. Just briefly. Before what happen yesterday and also in Mbarara. As the discussions between GoU and GoDRC. Which will entail certain changes at the end of the day. Since the ADF has its origin in the Rwenzori mountains, before becoming a vital part of militias in and around North-Kivu.

Allied Defense Force origin:

The Alliance of Democratic Forces (ADF) is made up of Ugandan opposition forces, supported by the Government of Sudan, which fought the Government of Uganda. According to the UN, most of its members are Islamists who want to establish Sharia law in Uganda” (…) “The ADF is led by a Muslim, Jamir Mukulu and operated in western Uganda. Historically it has used Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) territory for its bases. However, the ADF was initially severely crippled by the establishment of Laurent Kabila’s Government in the DRC in May 1997 and by its subsequent provision to the UPDF of access to rebel bases in the DRC” (…) “By March 2016 attacks on civilians in the Beni region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had killed at least 550 people over 18 months. Congolese officials placed the blame on the Allied Democratic Forces, characterized as a Ugandan Islamist movement, but a report from the Congo Research Group says it may not be that simple. Jason Stearns, lead author of the report, agreed that the ADF was partly responsible but said the group was not working alone. “The first conclusion [is] that the ADF is not really what people make it out to be,” he said. “It’s not this foreign Islamist force; it’s a force that is much more rooted in local society. And the second conclusion is that it’s not just the ADF but also others who are involved in the massacres.” (Global Security, 2016).

ADF has a financial support network that includes local and international sources. In 2014, the Group documented that ADF received financing through international money transfers, the theft of Congolese army salaries and the delivery of funds to camps by recruits and ADF agents. The Group also received credible information that ADF derived funding from harvesting timber in its area of control” (UNSC, 2015).

ADF-NALU comprises some 800-1,400 combatants, without including the women and children in its ranks. Based in the northwestern Rwenzori Mountain region, along the border with Uganda, the militia is a “tightly controlled organization”, subsisting on illegal logging and gold mining as well as a “network of car and motorcycle taxis operating between Butembo, Beni and Oicha”, and “money transfers from London, Kenya and Uganda, which are collected through Congolese intermediaries in Beni and Butembo”, according to a UN Group of Experts report. Butembo, Beni and Oicha are in North Kivu Province” (IRIN, 2014).

In December:

Representatives from two countries will reflect on solutions to security issues between districts in South West Uganda and North Kivu Province. Among the Ugandan districts represented in these meetings, the same sources cite Rubirizi, Kisoro, Kanungu Rukingiri Bundibujo, Ntoroko and Kasese.

According to other security sources, for the past few days, there are already discussions and discussions between the FARDC and the Ugandan army to launch joint operations for the neutralization of Ugandan rebels of the ADF, active in the territory of Beni. In addition to members of the provincial government of North Kivu, some senior officers of the 34th military region, Operation Sokola 1 and the Congolese National Police represent the DRC at this bilateral meeting that will last four days” (Radio Okapi, 2017).

The Attack today:

The Congolese army (FARDC) claims to have killed 72 Ugandan rebels of the ADF during an attack on a MONUSCO peacekeepers’ base on Thursday, 7 December 2017 in Semuliki in the Beni territory (North Kivu). Contrary to Monusco’s assessment of five Congolese soldiers killed in the attack, Operation Sokola 1 North’s spokesman, Captain Mak Hazukay, speaks of a death in the ranks of the army. “This is the position of the Monusco that was attacked, we came in reinforcements (…) 72 ADF elements were killed and 1 soldier found death during the attack”, said to ACTUALITE.CD, Captain Mak Hazukay, spokesman for Operation Sokola 1 North in Beni” (Actualite.cd, 2017).

So after yesterdays attack, we can wonder if the Ugandan People’s Defense Force (UPDF) and FARDC will go after ADF. Like they have done with Lords Resistance Army (LRA) in Operation Lightning Thunder, the Garamba Offensive. It sent the LRA packing and got them to leave the territory of the DRC. But they were able to leave, so they are causing havoc instead in the Central African Republic.

We can wonder if they are planning something similar now with the ADF in the Kivu Provinces. To get rid of the 1,000 militants, who are robbing the FARDC and trading timber. Since Operation Sokola 1 haven’t been sufficient to target the ADF.

We can also wonder, since the Mbarara Sessions occurred at about the same time. It was just as it needs funds for new mobilizing and such. That the strike against MONUSCO. Just appeared as the neighbors wants to address the problems of the ADF. Like the military movements will come as even the returning soldiers in the UPDF from Somalia as well. It is just like everything is fitting like a glove for all parties involved. UPDF have extra soldiers used to combat in Somalia, while the Kivu’s is under fire and the FARDC needs support from not only peacekeepers, but serious military personnel who can actually fight the militants. It is just a perfect scenario for the leadership in Kinshasa and Kampala. While the Kivus’ are suffering in insecurity. Peace.

Reference:

Actualite.cd – ‘ RDC : 72 rebelles ADF tués lors de l’attaque contre les casques bleus à Beni selon les FARDC’ (08.12.2017) link: https://actualite.cd/2017/12/08/rdc-72-rebelles-adf-tues-lors-de-lattaque-contre-casques-bleus-a-beni-selon-fardc/

Global Security – ‘Allied Defense Force (ADF)’ (15.12.2016) link: https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/adf.htm

IRIN – ‘ADF-NALU militia in DRC’ (27.01.2014) link: http://www.irinnews.org/report/99538/briefing-adf-nalu-militia-drc

Radio Okapi – ‘La sécurité des districts frontaliers en discussion entre la RDC et l’Ouganda à Mbarara’ (08.12.2017) link: https://www.radiookapi.net/2017/12/08/actualite/societe/la-securite-des-districts-frontaliers-en-discussion-entre-la-rdc-et?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A%20radiookapi/actu%20%28Radiookapi.net%20-%20Actualit%C3%A9%29

United Nations Security Council – ‘Letter dated 12 January 2015 from the Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo addressed to the President of the Security Council’ (12.01.2015) link.http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_2015_19.pdf

Statement of the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union on the Attack on United Nations Peacekeepers and Congolese Soldiers in North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo (08.12.2017)

Addis Ababa, 8 December 2017: The Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has learned with shock of the heinous attack carried out yesterday night against the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and Congolese soldiers, in the North Kivu province. The attack resulted in the killing of 15 Tanzanian peacekeepers and 5 Congolese soldiers, while 53 members of the Mission were wounded.

The Chairperson of the Commission strongly condemns this abject attack. He conveys the African Union sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishes speedy recovery to the wounded. He expresses the African Union solidarity with the peoples and Governments of Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as with MONUSCO and the entire United Nations family. He looks forward to speedy and concrete steps to identify the perpetrators of this crime and bring them to justice.

The Chairperson of the Commission commends MONUSCO for its vital role in the Democratic Repubic of Congo, particularly in the current context marked by preparations for the holding of the elections planned for December next year. In this respect, he underlines the need to avail MONUSCO all the support it needs to facilitate the discharge of its mandate.

Bears Ears National Monument: Energy Fuels Letter to U.S. Department of the Interior – ” Re: Review of Certain National Monuments, Federal Register Notice of May 11, 2017″ (25.05.2017)

North Kivu – Attack on MONUSCO troops at Semuliki, at least 14 Peacekeepers and 5 FARDC soldiers killed (08.12.2017)

Democratic Republic of Congo: New ‘Kivu Security Tracker’ Maps Eastern Violence (07.12.2017)

Over 500 Killed, 1,000 Abducted in Kivu Provinces in Past 6 Months.

GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, December 7, 2017 – The new Kivu Security Tracker will map violence by armed groups and Congolese security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s eastern Kivu provinces, Human Rights Watch and the New York University-based Congo Research Group said today. The joint project will monitor the worst violence in North and South Kivu provinces through maps, graphs, and analytical reports.

According to initial results from the Tracker, from June to November 2017, at least 526 civilians were killed in the Kivus, at least 1,087 people were abducted or kidnapped for ransom, and there were at least 11 incidents of mass rape.

“As civilians suffer alarming attacks in eastern Congo, the Kivu Security Tracker will provide policy makers, journalists, activists, and others with an innovative new tool to better understand the violence,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “We hope the Tracker will be used to more effectively address the root causes of Congo’s conflict, support communities affected, and hold those responsible to account.”

Since the Tracker began documenting incidents in June, a team of 14 Congolese researchers based across North and South Kivu have spoken daily with victims of abuses and their families, witnesses, customary chiefs, clergy, activists, and government officials to document abuses and seek to identify the armed actors responsible. Project staff in Congo and abroad then verify their reports with reliable sources before publishing incidents on the website, providing comprehensive and timely accounts that are updated as additional information becomes available.

The Tracker records violent incidents by armed groups and members of the Congolese security forces, both in armed conflict and political violence. The data set includes violent deaths, clashes between armed groups, abductions, kidnappings, mass rapes (with at least five victims in a single attack), property destruction, and the repression of peaceful political demonstrations. Nearly 800 incidents were logged during the first six months of reporting.

The Tracker is intended to promote greater understanding of events in a country facing increased violence. Last year, 922,000 people were displaced in Congo, more than anywhere else in the world. In October, the United Nations declared a “Level 3 emergency” in Congo, a category only given to three other countries: Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The Congolese conflict, however, is marked by enormous complexity – the Tracker maps areas of control for 120 armed groups in just two of the country’s 26 provinces. This has made it difficult for policymakers to devise solutions and for media to tell the story behind the violence, the organizations said.

The Tracker helps address this challenge. By highlighting patterns and trends, and through a graphic representation of the violence, it aims to make the conflict more comprehensible. The initial findings indicate that much of the violence in the Kivus goes unreported. Ninety percent of the incidents documented on the Tracker, amounting to 70 percent of violent deaths, were not mentioned at all in international media. More than half are absent from the best available academic trackers of violence.

While many factors contribute to the violence, some trends stand out. Congolese security forces were responsible for over 100 violent deaths over the past six months, more than any single armed group and roughly one fifth of total killings documented. One of the worst single incidents documented was a massacre of at least 39 Burundian refugees by Congolese security forces in Kamanyola, South Kivu, on September 15.

The Tracker’s findings also suggest that the conflict in eastern Congo has been exacerbated by the country’s general political crisis, as President Joseph Kabila has delayed elections and used violence, repression, and corruption to entrench his hold on power beyond the end of his constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ended on December 19, 2016. Armed groups have formed coalitions to challenge Kabila’s extended presidency, while the government has cracked down violently on peaceful protesters.

“Levels of displacement in Congo today are higher than ever recorded,” said Jason Stearns, director of the Congo Research Group. “The current political crisis is not just a question of elections, but it’s about the millions affected by persistent and deadly violence. Solving the crisis will require nuanced engagement in the conflict, but also the political will to challenge those responsible.”

Kasai, Democratic Republic of Congo: Millions at Risk as Funding Dries up (06.12.2017)

With 3.2 million people desperately short of food, WFP has stepped in with emergency assistance.

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, December 6, 2017 – An acute hunger emergency in conflict-ravaged Greater Kasai could turn into a long-term disaster, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today. While the agency has been working against the clock to help ever more people, the cash is quickly running out.

“We’re letting down those who need us most,” said Claude Jibidar, WFP’s Representative in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). A tightly planned surge had made a big difference, Jibidar explained, but WFP had largely funded this from its own meagre resources. “Without immediate donor support, many – particularly women and children – will die.”

The eruption of violence in what used to be a poor but peaceful region has claimed countless lives. Some 1.4 million people have been forced from their homes. Traditionally high malnutrition rates have sky-rocketed.

With 3.2 million people desperately short of food, WFP has stepped in with emergency assistance. A lull in fighting has allowed more staff to be deployed. Aid workers have fanned out into the Kasai countryside. WFP has co-ordinated multi-agency logistics and humanitarian flights. As a result, the number of people assisted has grown rapidly – from 42,000 in September to 115,000 in October and 225,000 in November. Last month, 13,500 children were given special fortified foods.

But donors’ reluctance to commit to Kasai is jeopardizing this effort. While WFP plans to feed almost half a million people in December, so depleted are the agency’s coffers that only half-rations can be distributed.

Hunger not only puts lives at risk: it forces people into prostitution and increases the risk of sexual violence, Jibidar stressed. “Government partners must do all in their power to spare Kasai from the kind of decades-long humanitarian catastrophe that has plagued other DRC regions.”

 

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