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Fighting disinformation and raising awareness of the risks of exile: These are the goals of the Saloum Rapatak association, which has been active in Senegal for more than seven years. Jimane – whose real name is Ousmane Thioune – is a radio host and the president of Saloum Rapatak, an organisation based in the city of Kaolack, 189 kilometres southwest from the Senegalese capital of Dakar. He tells Leslie Carretero how his organization raises awareness of the dangers of illegal migration.

What is the role of Saloum Rapatak?

We want the Senegalese people to stay and invest in their country. Young people are the future. If they leave, who will run Senegal in the years to come? Who will take care of the fields? Senegal is not a poor country; one can work the land or raise livestock. We are in a stable country, not at war. We must believe in ourselves and invest here!

Through concerts, radio shows and forums, we educate young people about the risks of immigration. We go to meet the residents of the villages in the region. They are the least informed, it is important that they know the reality of exile and that they can have a future in Senegal. Migrants who have returned to Senegal after experiencing hell share their experiences. Some, for example, went all the way to Mali, just to return home after having become aware of the dangers.

Why is there such a need to raise awareness?

Young people leave here every week in the hope of reaching Europe. But they don’t know what awaits them on their route. Smugglers organize departures from Kaolack in the shadows, and lie to those wishing to leave. They tell them that everything will be fine and that the journey is safe, but that is not the case.

Senegalese youths detained in a prison for irregular migrants in Libya, where the conditions have been described as horrible. Many embark on the journey unaware of the dangers on the way / Photo: IRIN

The traffickers take the migrants by bus to Mali, and then on to Niger. From there migrants cross the desert in often catastrophic conditions. Arriving in Libya, they are entrusted to another man. In war-torn Libya, weapons are prevalent. It’s very dangerous. And people from sub-Saharan Africa are frequently mistreated there. One young man told me he had been attacked in the street and put in prison by the militia. Once he was locked up, they tortured him and asked his family to send money in exchange for his release. People have to know what’s going on there so they don’t listen to what the smugglers tell them.

Another problem comes from Senegalese immigrants themselves. They don’t talk about the problems they experience but instead glorify their situations. We are fighting many forms of disinformation.

Why did you launch this project?

About 10 years ago I learned that friends had left by bus from the central market in Kaolack, heading for Europe. They lived well in Senegal, they had a nice life. I said to myself, “These people are crazy. Why leave everything from one day to the next?” I haven’t heard from them since. I think they are dead. I think it’s terrible.

 http://www.theafricancourier.de/

Kenya court annuls presidential election result


Marking a major setback for Kenya's president, the country's Supreme Court has accused the electoral board of committing "irregularities and illegalities" during the election.


Kenya's Supreme Court on Friday annulled the presidential election result, saying the electoral board committed "irregularities and illegalities." The August 8 election pronounced President Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner.


"The presidential election held on August 8 was not conducted in accordance with the constitution," said Judge David Maranga, announcing the verdict of four out of the court's six judges.



The electoral board "failed, neglected or refused to conduct the elections in accordance with the constitution," Maranga added.
Opposition leader Raila Odinga, Kenyatta's challenger during the presidential election, rejected the initial result in the wake of the vote, prompting violent protests that left at least 16 people dead and dozens more injured.

'Historic day'
Odinga and his National Super Alliance, a coalition of opposition groups, were given access to the electoral commission's electronic server to verify the result of the election.
Supervised by independent technology experts, Odinga claimed to have discovered that the electoral commission's computers were manipulated to hand Kenyatta the victory.


"This is a historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa," said Odinga after the court's announcement.
The Supreme Court's ruling marked the first time a presidential result had been overturned in Kenya.
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

http://www.dw.com/en/top-stories/s-9097

The Special Chamber of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, constituted to deal with the dispute concerning delimitation of the maritime boundary between Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean (Ghana/Côte d'Ivoire), will deliver its Judgment at 11 a.m. on Saturday, 23 September 2017.

The Judgment will be read by Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, President of the Special Chamber. The Judgment will be read at a public sitting. The reading of the Judgment will be broadcast live on ITLOS’s website.

Background
In September 2014, the Government of Ghana dragged Côte d'Ivoire to ITLOS in Hamburg, Germany, after the francophone neighbour began laying claim to some offshore oil concessions and adjoining seabed being developed and exploited by various companies, including Tullow Oil plc., within Ghana’s territory.

Ghana’s resort to ITLOS under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) followed 10 failed attempts at negotiations between the two countries. Ghana wants ITLOS to declare that it had not encroached on Ivory Coast’s territorial waters. Ghana filed its suit based on Article 287 Annex VII of the 1982 UNCLOS.

Côte d'Ivoire, in February 2015, filed for preliminary measures urging the tribunal to suspend all activities on the disputed area until the definitive determination of the case, dubbed: “Dispute Concerning Delimitation of the Maritime Boundary between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire in the Atlantic Ocean.”

Ghana maintained that Côte d'Ivoire began issuing threatening letters to oil companies operating in the disputed area after millions of dollars had been invested to develop the affected oilfields.
Exploration and exploitation work on the Tweneboah-Enyera-Ntoumme (TEN) project being operated by Tullow Oil Plc., and its partners would have been affected had the tribunal ordered a suspension of all activities.

However, in April 2015, ITLOS, in its provisional measures, said ongoing projects in the disputed fields, including the $7.5-billion TEN project could proceed while the substantive case was being dealt with, but ordered that Ghana should not start new explorations within the same fields.

The provisional measures followed legal and technical representations made by both countries at ITLOS’s Special Chamber in Hamburg, Germany, on March 29 and 30, 2015, after which ITLOS ruled thus:

THE SPECIAL CHAMBER,
(1) Unanimously
22
Prescribes, pending the final decision, the following provisional measures under article 290, paragraph 1, of the Convention:

(a) Ghana shall take all necessary steps to ensure that no new drilling either by Ghana or under its control takes place in the disputed area as defined in paragraph 60;

(b) Ghana shall take all necessary steps to prevent information resulting from past, ongoing or future exploration activities conducted by Ghana, or with its authorisation, in the disputed area that is not already in the public domain from being used in any way whatsoever to the detriment of Côte d’Ivoire;

(c) Ghana shall carry out strict and continuous monitoring of all activities undertaken by Ghana or with its authorisation in the disputed area with a view to ensuring the prevention of serious harm to the marine environment;

(d) The Parties shall take all necessary steps to prevent serious harm to the marine environment, including the continental shelf and its superjacent waters, in the disputed area and shall cooperate to that end;

(e) The Parties shall pursue cooperation and refrain from any unilateral action that might lead to aggravating the dispute.

(2) Unanimously
Decides that Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire shall each submit to the Special Chamber the initial report referred to in paragraph 105 not later than 25 May 2015, and authorises the President of the Special Chamber, after that date, to request such information from the Parties as he may consider appropriate.

(3) Unanimously
Decides that each Party shall bear its own costs.

(signed) Boualem BOUGUETAIA, President of the Special Chamber (signed) Philippe GAUTIER, Registrar

Before ITLOS’s provisional measures, Côte d'Ivoire had, in a 27-page application signed by its Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Mr Adama Toungara, urged the tribunal to also direct Ghana to refrain from granting any new permit for oil exploration and exploitation in the disputed area.

It also prayed the tribunal to direct Ghana to refrain from any unilateral action entailing a risk of prejudice to the rights of Côte d'Ivoire ast and any unilateral action that might lead to aggravating the dispute.

Côte d'Ivoire argued that it would suffer severe and irreparable economic injury if its request was not granted by the tribunal.

It also accused Ghana of attempting to prejudice the tribunal’s decision by going into the merit of the case with volumes of documents and witness statements, but Ghana faulted its neighbour for departing from the law, making baseless accusations, being inconsistent, and failing to produce witnesses and expert evidence.

Ghana also reminded Côte d'Ivoire of its lack of consistency and merit in filing for preliminary measures.

The absence of credible data and evidence from Côte d'Ivoire, according to Ghana, at the time, was due to that country’s handicap in producing factual documents to back its case.

Ghana, which was led by then-Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opong, also reminded the tribunal of Côte d'Ivoire’s failure to challenge the evidence of its technical witnesses, which, according to it, tore Côte d'Ivoire’s case in shreds.

“We invite you to firmly decline the application before you,” Mrs Appiah-Opong said, with the argument that Côte d'Ivoire had failed to prove that Ghana had encroached on its territorial waters to warrant the stoppage of activities, including the exploration of oil in the disputed area, until the final determination of the dispute.

“There is no justification in law, logic, and fairness or on the evidence for the measures sought. They will be unprecedented, an invasion of sovereign rights that stand in the face of representations made by Cote d’Ivoire for more than four decades, on which others and we have relied,” she stressed.

Leading a team of local and international lawyers and technical staff from relevant agencies, Mrs Appiah-Opong told ITLOS’s five-member panel that “until Ghana was well advanced with its oil exploration programme on its side of the boundary, there were no difficulties”.

“At the time when Cote d’Ivoire had much more oil and gas production than Ghana, there were no claims about moving the maritime boundary,” she added.

“In 2009, Cote d’Ivoire started to make representations to Ghana about its desire to alter the boundary. Yet, its public position did not change. None of its inconsistent positions has any proper justification in law.”

The tribunal is presided over by Judge Boualem Bouguetaia, with Judge Rudiger Wolfrum, Judge Jin-Hyun Paik, Judge Thomas Mensah and Judge Ronny Abraham as members.

Judges Mensah and Abraham were appointed by Ghana and Ivory Coast, respectively, in accordance with the rules of the tribunal.
The two countries ended their oral submissions in February 2017.


WORLD SIGHT DAY: THE STATE OF EYE CARE DELIVERY AND VISUAL MORBIDITY IN GHANA
World Sight Day (WSD) is a global event that focuses attention on blindness and vision impairment. Observed on the second Thursday of October each year, the primary goals of WSD are to raise public awareness of blindness and vision impairment as major public health challenges, to influence governments to participate in and commit funds to programs which target blindness prevention or sight restoration programs, and to educate the public on blindness prevention, and to generate support for VISION 2020-related programs. On this day, all major professional groups involved in eye care delivery; the Ghana Optometric Association, The Ophthalmological Society of Ghana, and the Ophthalmic Nurses Group organize programs to commemorate the occasion.


As WSD is observed, it is rational that the state of eye care and visual disability/impairment is made known to stake holders involved in eye care delivery and the public at large. This article thus seeks to discuss briefly, eye care delivery in Ghana with emphasis on human resource, epidemiology of visual impairment/blindness and some impacts of visual impairment.


Eye care delivery in Ghana
Eye care services in Ghana are rendered by government hospitals and clinics, facilities within the Christian Health Association of Ghana (CHAG), and private facilities (Drislane, Akpalu, & Wegdam, 2014). Approximately one-third of Ghana’s health facilities are operated under private ownership. In fact, a McKinsey study in 2008 found that over 50% of health service provision in Ghana is delivered by the private sector.


The eye care team in Ghana primarily comprises ophthalmologists, optometrists, and ophthalmic nurses. Currently, there are 91 ophthalmologists, 370 optometrists, and about 500 ophthalmic nurses in the country. These numbers are woefully inadequate for a country with a population of about 27 million people. Compounding the issue of inadequate eye care professionals is the inequity in the distribution of available care professionals. According to 2013 Ghana Health Service statistics, about 75% of eye care professionals are concentrated in the urban areas leaving rural dwellers with limited access to eye care.


The country’s eye care system is financed by four main sources: Government of Ghana, internally generated funds, development assistance for health, and out-of-pocket expenditures made by households. Overall, the health care delivery system in Ghana is seemingly underdeveloped with significant proportion of the population having limited access to basic health care services.


Epidemiology of blindness and visual impairment in Ghana
Ghana has a seemingly higher prevalence of visual disability. According to World Health Organization estimates, the prevalence of visual impairment in Ghana is 27 per 1,000 population (approximately 720,000 people) and prevalence of blindness of 9 per 1,000 population. Approximately 1% of the Ghanaian population suffers severe visual impairment (Ghana National Blindness and Visual Impairment Study, GNBVIS, 2017).


Overall, cataract is the leading cause of blindness in Ghana, accounting for 45 - 50% of the burden of blindness in 2013. The prevalence has marginally increased as a more recent survey conducted between February 2015 and November 2016 by the GNBVIS Group found a cataract prevalence rate of 54.8%, translating to approximately 112,000 cases of blindness resulting from cataract. According to a 2008 report of the National Eye Care Unit (NECU), approximately 48,000 new cases of cataract blindness are recorded each year in the country.


Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in Ghana. The country ranks high among the most affected countries in the world for glaucoma. A study by Ntim-Amponsah and colleagues found the prevalence of glaucoma among adult Ghanaian population is 8.4%, second only to St. Lucia’s 8.8%. The seemingly higher prevalence of glaucoma visual impairment could partly be attributed to late presentation of patients to eye care facilities. For instance, a survey at Bawku Presbyterian Hospital found that among patients seen for the first time and diagnosed of glaucoma, 34% were irreversibly blind (GHS, 2013).


Refractive errors (short-sightedness, long-sightedness, and astigmatism) remain the leading cause of visual impairment blindness in Ghana. In the recent study by the GNBVIS Group to profile blindness and visual impairment in Ghana, refractive error was found to be the leading cause of visual impairment in Ghana, accounting for 44.4% percent of visual impairment cases.


According to data at NECU, the topmost 5 eye conditions seen in Ghana, based on number of patients seen in outpatient departments: are acute red eye, refractive error, cataract, glaucoma, and uveitis. In fact, acute eye conditions rank among the top 10 causes of outpatient morbidity in the country.


Prevalence of visual disability is higher in rural regions than urban regions. The lower accessibility of eye care professionals and facilities (GHS, 2013) could account for the uneven distribution of the prevalence of visual disability in Ghana. The fact that poverty has a significant association with visual disability, and most of the 24.2% of the population who live under the poverty line inhabit deprived, rural areas (Central Intelligence Agency, 2016) also explains this pattern of distribution of visual impairment.


Several factors account for this seemingly high prevalence of visual impairment in Ghana. The overall limited number of eye care professionals in Ghana is a major contributing factor to visual disability in Ghana. Most eye diseases and conditions such as refractive errors, trachoma, cataract, and to an extent, glaucoma results in disability only when the affected is unable to access eye care services. With the limited eye care workforce in a country with a positive annual population growth, the prevalence of visual impairment is not expected to reduce significantly anytime soon. Self-medication and reliance of unorthodox eye care practices by some people also contributes to the higher prevalence of visual impairment resulting from infection. There are several anecdotal reports people resorting to the use of breast milk, sea water, urine, and herbs as forms of medication to treat certain eye infections. These practices perhaps delay case resolution, worsen the conditions and subsequently results in impairment.


Impacts of Visual impairment
Visual impairment has negative impacts on the affected individuals and the nation at large. Visual impairment causes a considerable economic burden (direct and indirect) for affected persons, their caregivers and society at large. Direct economic loss to the affected persons and their care givers derives from the considerable costs incurred in the provision of surgical and non-surgical interventions. Indirect economic loss results from considerable absenteeism at work due an affected person’s inability to work or a caregiver’s unavailability to work, resulting in diminished economic productivity (Köberlein, et al., 2013). More often than not, persons with blindness are unable to partake in economic discourse with the end result being extreme poverty. In fact, a positive association has been found between productivity loss among caregivers and the magnitude of visual impairment since time spent by caregivers increases with the extent of vision loss.


In addition to the aforementioned, also affected by visual impairment are one’s mental health and cognitive abilities. In fact, persons with visual impairment have higher risk for depression, anxiety, and other psychological problems (Kempen et al., 2012). Visual impairment also impacts negatively academic attainment. It is worthy of note that children with visual impairment are more likely to have poor academic performance (Kulp et al., 2016). Uncorrected refractive errors are largely implicated in visual impairments’ association with poor academic performance. Children with uncorrected refractive errors may experience blurred vision, headache during reading, sore eyes, itchy eyes and tearing. School children with these symptoms have a propensity to be less engaged in academic-related activities, hence the diminished academic attainment.


Last but not least, visual impairment significantly affects the activities of daily living (reading, socializing, pursuing hobbies, etc.) of persons with visual impairment. It results in loss of social independence and reduction in mobility which leads to reduction in one’s quality of life (QOL). It must be stressed that QOL diminishes with the onset of visual impairment (Rein et al., 2007).


Conclusion
Visual impairment is a bane of Ghana’s socioeconomic development. The government of Ghana and all stakeholders in the eye care delivery system should be more proactive in efforts to make eye care more accessible to underserved areas and to reduce the spate of visual disability. Equally important is the need for all the eye care professional sub-groups to forge greater collaborations to maximize their output in the quest to reduce the overall prevalence rates of blindness and visual impairment in Ghana.


Contributing Authors:
Dr. Kwaku A. Osei, O.D.
Dr. Justice A. Akpabla, O.D.
Dr. Yvonne Adu-Agyeiwaah, O.D.

Raise Hope for Congo was a campaign of the Enough Project launched in 2008 which worked to build a constituency of activists to advocate for an end to the ongoing conflict in eastern Congo. We need the full force of our activist base behind us to ensure this new approach is successful, so we combined the Raise Hope for Congo campaign back into the full Enough Project constituency base in order to amplify our efforts.

The campaign collaborated with national and local groups across the U.S., as well as local Congolese organizations, to build this grassroots movement.

Raise Hope for Congo focused on educating activists and their communities about the conflict in eastern Congo, the role of conflict minerals funding the conflict, and the effects of sexual violence as a weapon of war used against Congolese women and girls.

Together with the leadership of a few key companies, legislators, and a number of Congolese and international activists, Raise Hope for Congo helped transform the supply chains of the world’s leading electronics companies to weed out conflict minerals and help build a conflict-free minerals trade in Congo; partnered with Maman Shujaa, the Hero Women of Congo, to successfully have former Senator Russ Feingold appointed as the highest-level U.S. Special Envoy to Congo and the Great Lakes Region, and maintained the pressure needed to ensure his successor, former Congressman Tom Perriello, was appointed; andpresented at the United Nations alongside Ambassador Samantha Power and actor and activist Robin Wright on the linkages between conflict and sexual- and gender-based violence.

Beginning in 2015, the Enough Project broadened our efforts to focus on what we believe to be the real underlying cause of conflict in Congo and other conflicts in East and Central Africa: grand corruption linked to violence that manifests in a system of violent kleptocracy. This shift was informed by our work on addressing the conflict minerals crisis in Congo, and there is still much to be done to combat the conflict gold trade, impunity, and kleptocracy in Congo and to support the Congolese reformers calling for change.

Source: The Enough Project, Center for American Progress

According to a lady who sent in this video Exclusively to us Thousands of Nigerian Girls In Middle East Have Been Turned Into Sex Slave,

Read her email below;

Good afternoon Gossip Mill Nigeria please help us and publish this story
Pls I ve a video to share so as to call d attention of our leaders that a reliable to help stop d suffering in Oman
I was once a victim BT a return in peace that I can’t give ven explain how I made it back I ve frds still suffering and crying for rescued
I ve a video of one of d omani trying to rape Mr and that was my escape root home.

In October I told an Agent I wanted to travel since my business was not moving well So he said there ve people in Oman looking for nanny and house help So I agreed and paid him 400k D visa came out on 11th and I traveled on 19th of October 2016 I got to Oman save, a Philippian guy came to pick me up to me to a house I was locked up till morning So an Arab man came and took me to muscat D day I got there on my first night he’s eldest son came and wanted to rape me BT I was able to drag with me D guy keep coming every night So I complained to my agent cos my employees does not understand English just Arabic.

So my agent advice I should make a video so I did After I did d video I was taken to d office without d family knowing my mission So I got to d office My agent in Oman retrieved my passport from my boss and my 1month salary So I was ask to stay in a room on getting to d room I meet an Igbo lady from Aba by name Stella Nathan.

Stella was locked up for 3weeks without food So since I had evidence against them I was returned to Nigeria same day..November 22 so I called Stella’s family and d family paid d sum of $1500 to d people be4 she came back home We ve so many people hoping to return BT they won’t allow them Our gals are suffering in Oman We normally wake up 4am and go to bed 12midnight
We need help I ve some number with me d ladies keep chatting me cos I was able to write my number on d wall of d room. there is another lady still trapped there her name is Senami Abiodun she is still crying for help in oman, So many people are there crying for help to return Pls Nigeria gals need help D maid and nanny job is too much we suffer rape in Oman

Source http://gossipmillnigeria.com/2017/09/nigerian-lady-who-traveled-to-oman/

CHINA is "colonising" smaller countries by lending them massive amounts of money they can never repay, it's been claimed. The country is accused of leveraging massive loans it holds over small states worldwide to snatch assets and increase its military footprint. Developing countries from Pakistan to Djibouti, the Maldives to Fiji, all owe huge amounts to China. 

Already there are examples of defaulters being pressured into surrendering control of assets or allowing military bases on their land. Some are calling it "debt-trap diplomacy" or "debt colonialism" - offering enticing loans to countries unable to repay, and then demanding concessions when they default.

Sri Lanka provided a prime example last year. Owing more than $1billion (£786million) in debts to China, Sri Lanka handed over a port to companies owned by the Chinese government on a 99-year lease.

And Djibouti, home to the US military’s main base in Africa, also looks likely to cede control of a port terminal to a Beijing-linked firm. America is eager to stop the Doraleh Container Terminal falling into Chinese hands, particularly because it sits next to China's only overseas military base.

Last March ex-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Beijing encouraged "dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty". A report from The Center for Global Development offers some insight into the spreading China debt.

It shows how infrastructure project loans to the likes of Mongolia, Montenegro and Laos have resulted in millions or even billions in debts, which often account for huge percentages of the countries' GDPs. Many of these projects are linked to the "Belt and Road" initiative - a bold project to create trade routes through huge swathes of Eurasia, with China at the centre.

Participating countries often undertake work on roads and ports with part-funding from China. More recently, China's debt empire has been rearing its head in the Pacific, prompting fears the country intends to leverage the debt to expand its military footprint into the South Pacific.

Beijing's creation of man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea for use as military bases suggests the concern may be warranted. In April China made these intentions more obvious - approaching Vanuatu about setting up a military base.

Australia expressed alarm at this move, which would effectively increase Chinese military presence on a key gateway to Australia’s east coast, The Times reports. Vanuatu owes £191million to China, according to one think tank. Among the projects this money funded was the largest wharf in the South Pacific - considered capable of accommodating aircraft carriers.

Tonga also carries some big debts and has already admitted to struggling with repayments. Tongan PM Akilisi Pohiva said on Wednesday that he was concerned Beijing was preparing to seize assets from his country. He urged other Pacific islands to join voices in calling for loan write-offs.

Two loans from China's Export Import Bank totalling more than £91million equal a quarter of the country's GDP. He told Australia's ABC: “It has become a serious issue. We have debt distress.”

Pohiva said with China debt becoming so prolific, it was no longer a problem to be dealt with individually. He added: “I think these small countries will eventually come together to find a way out.”

China defended its lending practices, saying they were "sincere and unselfish", and insisting it only lent to countries that could repay. Tonga is one among a list of South Pacific countries that have taken on debt in recent years.

Sydney’s Lowy Institute think tank, which has closely monitored China’s activities in the Pacific, estimates Beijing has poured nearly £1.4billion into Pacific countries since 2006. Other big debtors include Papua New Guinea, which owes roughly £498million in development and aid debt, Fiji, which owes £496million, and Samoa, with debt of £181million.
By Gerard du Cann -The Sun

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