SITUATION OF WOMEN IN SUB-SAHARAN COUNTRIES

Patricia López Calero, a member of the Red Cross cooperating program in Mauritania, Senegal and Mali, gave me the chance to interview her last Wednesday 15th. I was really interested in her work and therefore we spent almost two hours talking. The topic we mostly discussed is the position of women in sub-Saharan countries as well as the possible threat to their rights if the terrorist group Boko Haram came into power.

Her first experience travelling to Africa took place thanks to a scholarship and she was able to visit Mauritania. She affirmed persistently that she was really shocked by the culture and the extremely high poverty level. On one hand, the differences between western culture and traditions and African values made a huge impact on her. On the other hand, she was surprised by the ability of families to live with the minimum resources and their acceptance capacity.

Right after this short introduction, we started discussing the topic itself: the situation of women in Africa and the role of Non Governmental Organizations (NGO’s). According to Patricia, there are a large number of ONG’s that try to solve the gender issues due development projects mainly focused on international cooperation. One of the most important and pursued aims of the NGO’s settled in Africa are the commonly known as “woman issues” which involve aspects such as inequality and maleness. A great percentage of these organizations try to provide women a good and stable livelihood based on the income access. This access will surely empower woman and their families so that finally autonomy and entrepreneurship credits could be reached thanks to an economic independence. Other important points to take into account as ONG’s objectives are the fight against the gender violence, malnutrition, scission and forced early marriage as well as the promotion of children rights, family planning and birth control, education and access to sexual healthcare.

Image Carmen(Women demonstrating for their rights in Congo. 2010.)

Women demonstrating for their rights in Congo. 2010. Secondly, Patricia López mentioned a problem that needs to be as soon as possible considered as such: the terrorist group Boko Haram and specially their expansionist policy. The aim of this terrorist group is to impose a “sharia” in many African countries, starting by Nigeria. She pointed out that in case this group came into power, the female sector would suffer terrible consequences regarding their basic human rights. As a professional in African traditions and the meaning of “Sharia”, Patricia declares that this religious measure would cause an educational catastrophe in the country, as million of girls would be forced to abandon schools. This would cause the rise of the illiteracy rate and, this way, woman basic human rights would be put into question. Education is for this terrorist group a way to stop progress in African countries, and to sum up, a way of controlling citizens and their thoughts. When population do not have the chance to attend school, they would not question reality at all, so it would be easier to impose an unfair system based in a complete involution of society. As an example, she told me a case of a young girl helped by the Red Cross that was raped and therefore sentenced to prison. So, if these types of injustices take place without any kind of imposition of the “sharia” values, what could happen if Boko Haram establishes it after reaching power?

Due to the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping that affected almost 230 girls, the social media (specially twitter) started a viral movement called “Bring Back Our Girls” that mobilized a mass of people and made them realise and be aware of the dangerousness of Boko Haram and their devastating aims. Patricia López coincides that social media movements are part of a first step when denouncing the situation of women in subSaharan countries, but are definitely not enough. A second step is required: the population has also to participate in active demonstrations that demand politicians a real and substantial change.

In order to improve the situation of women affected by the pressure and political inequality, the European Union and the United States play an important role. Development projects are necessary but insufficient as they are experiences that focus on really little areas. National and international policies are measures needed, such as the implementation of the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Woman) so that African women could decide their own future without the participation of the state. These women need to be also the protagonists of a developed political system, far from paternalistic values.

Another important aspect that Patricia pointed out several times during the interview was the measures that could be imposed by developed countries to improve the situation of women in Africa. First of all, what we commonly refer to as “developed countries” need to stop causing or even feeding armed conflicts due to geopolitical interests. Also organizations such as the World Bank, the World Trade Organization or the International Monetary Fund should really focus on international integration and cooperation instead of only promoting the developed countries system around the world.

Before finishing the interview, member of the Red Cross cooperating program with Africa Patricia López summarized all her ideals in one short and full-meaning sentence “We don´t have to improve the situation of African women, they have to do it on their own. What we have to do as members of developed regions is to stop preventing the economic development of African countries. We need to realise that they are an independent country with own values and traditions and no one should interfere in the national identity of a region.”

Carmen Santana Garcia, Sub Saharan Africa

Boko Haram in Sub Saharan Africa , by Kelly Engambe

Nowadays, many sensible subject are not so easy to develop with people, because they are subjected to censorship, and particurlarly because we don’t benefit many times of different opinions about these subject. It was time to break down the fronteers of information and being open on other opinions.

This interview permit me to question , Kelly Engambe, the son of Anguios Nganguia Engambe, leader and president of the PAR (Parti pour l’Action de la République Mâ, in the Republic of Congo. Customs officer and consultant beside monetary institution, Mr Engambe is famous as a well informed politician. He prepare an aim at the presidency of the Republic of Congo.Pere Kels

(Anguios Nganguia Engambe, president of PAR)

Kelly Engambe, student in a business school in Paris (France), accepted to responde to my questions. As the son of a leader of a political party, he follow the activities of his father, and is a brillant student, and have no cause to envy of his father
It really was an honnour for me to interview the son of such a politician for this project.

Kels

(Kelly Engambe,
         son of Anguios Nganguia Engambe)

The first point we focused on was around the terrosrism in Sub Saharan Africa, and more particularly the most heated subject which make news : Boko Haram, the terrorist group. First of all, to explain what we name by « Sub Saharian Africa », I will explain that this is the major part situated at the south of the Sahara desert. This area embrace many states of Africa, that we name ‘’Black Africa’’.

On the question of terrorism threat and it evolution through the years in Sub SaharanAfrica, Mr Engambe talked to me about about many changes on the military procedures and the objectives of terrorism organization in Sub Saharian Africa. He compared Boko Haram with others terrorists organizations, especially with ‘’AQMI’’ and ‘‘Al Shabbaab’’ through the years, and what kind of changes he observed : « Since some years, an organized terrosrism tend more and more toward a military model with a special objective : to dominate a state and impose on this territory an fundamentalist ideology. Boko Haram is the production and the fruiting of a fragmented and an unstable word where a massive terrorism appears. Here, we talked about a terrorism based on the idea of a radical Islam. Boko Haram can be consider as an advance version of organizations like ‘’Al Shabbaab’’ or ‘’AQMI’’. They have at one’s disposition money and developed weapons at state of the art, which make them more dangerous than ‘’AQMI’’ for example 10 years ago. They have access to the social network and the evolution of Internet too. Boko Haram is like a 2.0 version of the other ones »

Then, I carried on the expansion of Boko Haram in Sub SaharanAfrica and the threat that can represent the group in the future for the Democratic Republic of Congo. We discussed during a few times about the supervision at the fronteers beetween the different countries in Sub Saharian Africa. I understood by his responses and his explications how fragile was the fronteers, because many time Africa face with the lack of control at the fronteers of many countries, and above all by the corruption in the nigeria army, that represent a scourge and is partially responsible of the expansion of the different extremist group. After this, he let me though indirectly that Boko Haram was a danger for every country, and not only the west part of Sub Saharian Africa : « Since 2002, Boko Haram made around 10000 dead people in Sub Saharan African, and more than 1 million of refugee. And I think that Boko Haram control a territory around 40000km2 , that is just unbelievable. Of course, if the African Union doesn’t undertake drastics perspectives, it could be a danger not only for Sub Saharian African and Congo, but for the others continent too ». I personally wanted to check the figures gave by Mr Engambe, and the result was more terrifying that what he said : Boko Haram control a 50000 km2 territory in Sub Saharian Africa, and made around 13000 dead people since it creation.
The last aspect I focused on for this topic was by questionning him on the complacently or not, in general, of the means use to stop this organization. Many african government express their support to the Nigerian government in this quest of the destruction of Boko Haram. In spite of that, terrorism always growth day by day in this area.

Marwan Jaber, Sub Saharan Africa

Interview with the secretary of the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in France.

On Thursday, 12th of March, I had the pleasure to interview, through phone call, Mr. Sulaiman Bashir, the secretary of the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in France. I get this interview, thanks to a friend who knows him, and he put me in relation with him. Mr Sulaiman Bashir entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1980. He was appointed to work in the government of Nigeria, and now he is the first secretary of the ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria based in France.

He kindly answered to all my questions, but of course he couldn’t go deeper on certain topics. We talked about a sensitive subject, which is the terrorism and in particular about Boko Haram.

The first point we focused on was the terrorism in general in Sub-Saharan Africa. I asked him why this region is she so exposed to all kinds of terrorism attacks. He said to me “ if you look deeper, you will see that there are a lot of forms of terrorism, and Sub-Saharan Africa area is not the only part of the world where there is terrorism, you can find it in America, as in Asia, or in Europe. But in fact you are not totally false, because the geographic position, the poverty and the lack of control in this area allow them to install some terrorist camp”.

Then I continued which the topics of Boko Haram, and he told me that before all he has to give me the background and explain to me that Boko Haram was a sect until 2009, the year of the death of its founder Muhammad Yussuf. Then, after a period of infighting for his succession, it’s his current leader Aboubacar Shekhau who did it as an Islamist terrorist group.

After the presentation, we talked about their strategy. Did they really have a “strategy of massacre”? Because last few weeks we saw that they had literally attacked around 16 villages in the same time. That means that they are prepared and that they have a military organization?

He explained me that there is undoubtedly a strategy in Boko Haram massacres and propaganda by the deed. Through this, his chief aims to maintain his leadership and influence over the other groups like Ansaru, and by the fact, recruit new fighters.

He said “In addition, like all terrorist groups, they want to hold the civilian population in hostage, by using the fear. But our work, it’s to protect them, and our aim is to stop boko haram in the few months going. We trust our president, and we know that he will fix this situation. This group can’t be compared to a military organization, but as a mercenary group because they use terrorist strategy and the handling of fear”.

Later we talked about the government. And what they did to resolve this situation. He told me that since May 2013, the Nigerian military has conducted operations in the northeast of the country where three states Borno, Yobe and Adamawa were placed in an emergency state. He said, “We had already taken some strategic towns, like the state of Baga. And now, we have some help from the African Union, and from the ONU”. I felt that he didn’t want to linger on this question, so we just go on.

In adequacy of what he told me about this organization at the beginning of the conversation, I told him that I want to know why did they really do that? This is for religious or for political reasons? Because through the media we don’t really know what are the reasons of this group. And what is the challenge for the government?

He responded to me with truth and told me that for sure, there is a big challenge for the government, because the electoral campaign is coming, but they are confident about it.

Concerning the aim of Boko Haram,” I think that the religious reason is unavailable because as a muslim I know that killing is forbidden by the divine law, so I can’t believe that their main reason is just religious. And about the political reasons, that’s not completely false because they want to destabilize our government to take the power, and establish a dictatorship.

Added to this there are the repeated attacks of Boko Haram in Cameroon, Niger and in Chad, the Islamist group tries to take strategic points to make their own law on their own territories, but it will never happen”.

So, you told me that this group was founded in 2002, and since 2009, they began to make serious attacks against the government and the civilians, so my next question is about their funding. How can they continue to fund a war like that? Because at this step we can call this a war.

“Yes, of course, it’s a war. And about the funding all that I can tell you is that they receive a lot of gifts of the faithful, and from some Nigerian businessman and wealth man against our President, so that’s why before I told you that for sure there is a political reason to their acts”. He also told me that Boko Haram now multiplies the bank robberies. But some movements as Ansaru, are also funded by other international terrorist organizations. I asked him if this is the Islamic state and if there is also some political man from the current Nigerian government who financially helps this organisation, he just laugh, so I can take is for a yes, but nothing is sure. So he told me that is why behind that, this is a question of power.

I finished the interview asking him about what did he think about all this situation, and about the fact of having a country divided by religions. Because in the North there are mostly muslim peoples, however in the south there are mostly Christian peoples. He just laughs again and told me that this is like this since a lot of years, and there are no explications, and that never made a problem for someone.

It was really interesting to interview him, because that’s a subject that affect the worldwide, and allowed me to learn more about it.

By Raphael.

First Radio Sub-Saharan Africa

Radio Sub-Saharan Africa

Radio Sub-Saharan Africa

EBOLA CAUSES AN HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

Due to the recent events that took place in the past months, everyone had finally realised what Ebola is; a threat.

Curiously, we suddenly changed our minds about this infection when it spread to our countries, to our homes. Was Ebola a threat or a matter to take into account before its expansion? Were we really conscious of the situation of the main affected areas? And the most important question: have we done enough to help the citizens affected in those areas? We believe we definitely didn’t. Let´s focus on the sub-Saharan Africa region.

First of all, western countries governments have not send sufficient medical aids, and when they did, almost 18,600 African citizens were infected and other 7,000 had already died.

In fact, not only medicines are needed. To fulfil the treatment against Ebola, basic means such as drinking water are extremely important. The treatment focuses mainly on the blood and water loss and without these means the treatment would be completely useless. The precarious conditions suffered by many African states such as Nigeria makes that treatment impossible to carry out.

Ebola outbreaks in the last years and number of victims. Retrieved from   http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-05/mapping-worlds-ebola-outbreaks

Ebola outbreaks in the last years and number of victims. Retrieved from http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-05/mapping-worlds-ebola-outbreaks

It is true that national and international organizations (World Bank, United Nations, and World Health Organization, for instance) are investing and providing financial help to the most affected African countries, but due to the economic crisis suffered by countries like Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leona, that budget is definitely not enough.

More than 1,600 million of dollars are being lost due to the lack of tourism that just makes the situation much more untenable than it was. Also the close of frontiers that has been implemented in Western countries and the reduction of trade is a measure that clearly contradicts itself: investing money to improve the situation and then forgetting about the possible effects of the non-expansion measures. According to the ECA (Economic Commission for Africa), “the decrease of sales in markets and shops, the lack of activity in restaurants and hotels would make the Ebola expansion not just a health issue but an economic one”.

Secondly, the Ebola virus multiplies in West Africa, but this epidemic has killed in western countries only 1,500 people in 35 years. We have to take into account that Ebola is a haemorrhagic fever virus, which is extremely contagious and causes death in 80% of cases.

The fact that nowadays the governments and the international authorities can’t control hurriedly and efficiently a disease like Ebola, reflects some kind hypocrisy very common of well-developed countries.

Actually, a few cases in Europe (Spain, France, the United-Kingdom) and in USA, cause a global alarm whereas thousands of cases per day are diagnosed in Africa. It is surprising that the financial aid sent by Cuba clearly surpasses the one sent by Europe, a region that claims to have a brilliant and solid health system.

Why not sending much more help and financing investigation? Maybe because developing a vaccine costing millions of euros and takes years. As mentioned before, the disease has so far caused 1,500 deaths in 35 years. Definitely, the development of a vaccine would be unprofitable for laboratories as not enough cases affect their areas.

However, when the disease arrives to Europe or even the USA, these countries become to be really aware of the infection and start to take it seriously.

Are we only going to care about a world issue such as Ebola when it could be a threat for us, the members of the developed countries?

Thirdly, since the beginning of the Ebola propagation, many NGO’s plans to eradicate the disease in West Africa estimated the needed around 250 billions of euros. The truth is that a great part of the financial aid came from countries that suffered of the infection. Kenya sent 170 doctors, Ghana became the logistics centre of the UN, Nigeria sent more than 250 medical professionals to three of the most affected areas and provided more than 3,5 millions of dollars to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leona. Also countries such as Ivory Cost and Namibia donated more than a million dollars. According to the Director of Social Affairs of the African Union Olawale Maiyegun,the African response has been tremendous and reflects a huge sense of solidarity because of the lack of resources that these countries possess”.

Meanwhile, the disease continues its expansion in the Africa continent. Surely we often hear and read in the media that there are problems to develop a vaccine or develop a really effective treatment. The truth is that the cases that affected Spain, for instance, have been treated and cured in a 100%, while in Africa the 80% of the cases end up in the death of the patient.

One question can be asked in order to explain this paradox: Did the different organisations invest accurately on the disease’s treatment and cure in Africa?

Just to keep providing some data, according to the Global Burden Disease Compare website created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, the illnesses related with contagious infections and communicable diseases in general are the main causes of the 68,46% mortality rate in Africa. On the other hand, in Western Europe, only the 4,24% of mortality is represented by this kind of diseases. Casualty?

In conclusion, there is a need to not only to provide medical aids, but funding to encourage the creation of infrastructure to make African countries strong and able enough to combat diseases by themselves. The global aim should not be only to stop the expansion of Ebola in Africa, but to reaffirm their health system and turn weak countries into solid ones.

It could also help if Western countries start to treat infected citizens as human beings, not only as walking viruses.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2740639/Shocking-moment-runaway-Ebola-patient-bundled-Monrovia-ambulance-causing-panic-local-market-turned-looking-food.html#v-3762894820001

EXPECTED GLOBAL EFFORTS TO STOP BOKO HARAM

Mr Ban Ki Moon, during the meeting of the AU

During the day of the 31h of January, the general secretary of the ONU has taken the decision on the African Union (AU) to create an African regional force to fight against the army of Boko Haram Boko Haram.

The General Secretary of the UN, Mr Ban Ki-moon, on Saturday 7th, had coped with the idea of a regional force from the African Union to fight against the Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram, which come to conduct further deadly attacks in northern Cameroon. Denouncing the brutality unnamed of the militia Boko Haram, Mr Ban Ki-Moon felt that the situation need a “regional and international cooperation” to fight against the group.

The AU will then request a resolution of the UN Security Council for the deployment of the force, according to Smail Chergui, Commissioner for Peace and Security of the organization. The AU also plans to ask the UN to create a fund to finance it.

“Africans are willing to send their troops to the effort, but it is also morally important that the UN and the international community are alongside the Africans for this fight, which is not unique to Africa” according to Chergui. The United Nations could consider participating in this regional force by bringing “advisers and logistical support,” according to a diplomat. Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger, Chad and Benin had already agreed end of 2014 to establish a force of 3,000 men to fight against Boko Haram, but because of disagreements between Abuja and its neighbours, this force was not still operational.

The soldats deployed against Boko Haram

The soldats deployed against Boko Haram

Since 2009, more than 13000 people died because of the attacks of this world known terrorist group, and more than 1 million of people were displaced. Definitely, the entire globe needs to take into account this worrying situation and little by little international organizations are starting to react and avoid unnecessary deaths.

The strategy that is going to be followed in order to solve this conflict has already being supported by the African Union. The next step is to get the support of the United Nations Security Council so that finally economic help could be achieved in order to start the military mission.

The Commissioner of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union, Smail Chergui, informed about the UN intention to create a force composed by 75000 man and woman. This force has the aim to avoid the terrorist group expansion that has caused the declaration of states of emergency regions like Chad, Niger or Cameroon.

According to Ban Ki-Moon, Boko Haram has “committed unspeakable brutalities. These terrorist group should be fought thanks to regional and international cooperation”. Journalists affirmed that during the AU Summit many military experts agreed to debate in deep the possibility of creating a regional armed force in a meeting that took place between the 5th and 7th of February, although no news have been reported.

According to Dlamini-Zuma, the president of the AU Commission, Boko Haram “has already spread beyond the Nigerian borders, so the situation requires a collective, effective and decisive response”.

A 10 YEAR OLD GIRL AS A MEANS TO KILL IN NIGERIA

boko-haram

The 10th, of January, a 10 year old girl, that was previously kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram, went into a Nigerian market, with a bomb strapped to her body and killed 19 people.

Boko Haram, a jihadist islamist group, whose the current leader is Abubakar Shekau, launched a series of simultaneous attacks in northern Nigeria. They have for objective to establish the sharia in the whole of the country. Since one month, the terrorist group progress in the North of Nigeria, and in borders countries, killing and burning villages of the area.

Last July, they had already tried to send a little girl, of ten years old, who was wearing an explosive pack, in the State of Katsina, but this tentative failled. This kind of attack is very frequent from the group: they also plan to use animals which wearing explosive as a suicide bomber.

One of the most shocking attacks of this group took place the 10th of January on a Saturday morning, when an explosion occurred around 12:40h. The group had strapped a bomb on a 10 year-old girl that finally exploded in a crowded market in Maiduguri, a large city in northeastern Nigeria, in the state of Borno.

Soon, Boko Haram claimed to be responsible of this attack, a new that spread worldwide in a matter of hours.

At least 19 people died in the explosion, including the bomber girl, and other 18 were hurt. The explosion cut the body of the suicide bomber in two, projecting a part of the other side of the street. According to Ashiru Mustapha, a member of a local group of self-defense, the bomb exploded while the child was being body-searched at the entrance of the market.

There is no reason to justify the behaviour of this terrorist group, but they certainly have a specific aim.

Their objective is to impose the “sharia” among the area that has the highest population of Africa: Nigeria. This region is divided into a Muslim majority in the North and a Christian one in the south.

The clear division causes a rejection of the “sharia” principles in the South, which are so important to Boko Haram and their supports. Basically, Boko Haram uses exactions, massacres, attacks and kidnappings, in order to make the countries adopt their political and Muslim measures.

The use of children in their attacks has a hard to hear explanation. Boko Haram aim to shake up the international community and make the developed countries feel weak and powerless. Another reason would be that children are innocent and pretty easy to manage and influence. It is almost completely impossible to detect if a young girl goes into a crowded market with a hidden bomb.

In the recent years their attacks have been intensified in order to challenge the Nigerian army. Their ambitions may have been expanded to the total destruction of the Nigerian government, a threat that can become part of reality someday.

Because of this attack, the African Union began to take some restrictive measures and help the Nigerian government to avoid that this terrorist group continues to extend all over the region.