Monday, 25 January 2016

Sudan Water scarcity and social problems

Once the largest country in Africa, Sudan was split into two along North and South lines. Sudan itself is connected historically and culturally to Egypt. It borders multiple African countries on all sides. Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt and is most famous for being the home of  several African Empires of Kush, Merowe, Nubia, parts of Punt and Karima.

Sudan isn't in the news much especially in international news. The other Sudan, South Sudan makes the news occasionally but only when the ongoing conflict is mentioned. For most Sudanese outside the conflicts across Sudan is the continual water scarcity even in the Sudanese capital Khartoum and other cities. The fact that the Nile River is polluted doesn't get mention either. Cooking gas is also becoming scarce in the capital too among other necessary commodities.

Water scarcity in Khartoum and other Sudanese towns in Arabic without subtitles

Mini documentary produced by 3ayin

Water is the most important commodity around the world. More sacred than even petroleum, water scarcity and water pollution is already causing conflicts and wars the world over. Sudan is no different. Like Egypt, Sudan is a large desert country. If it was not for the Nile, Sudan would not have developed empires, civilizations and sustained its modern day society. The Nile means life in Sudanese culture. Ordinary Sudanese rely on the Nile for farming, crop production, drinking water, sanitation and survival. The Nile River is a main background character in many Sudanese movies and TV series. Sadly, the Nile has become a victim of water contamination. It is one of the most polluted rivers in Africa unsurprisingly.

Despite the dangers that pollutants bring, many Sudanese across the country still use the Nile and water for their daily lives. The major water treatment plants in Khartoum and elsewhere has not kept up with rapid urbanization or population growth. Many city residents and farmers take it upon themselves to build their own water towers for their homes and businesses. Most people rely on portable water trucks in Khartoum and other cities. Many Sudanese farmers rely on ancient shadufs in Egypt, the world's first water pumps for irrigation and rising cattle. The late rainy seasons or lack of rains has made farming difficult for some. The Sudanese government has built a large dam, Merowe Dam over the fourth cataract of the Nile near the town of Karima. The dam construction was met with protests by Nubian Sudanese who have long complained that the Khartoum government is destroying long standing communities and ancient Nubian architecture, cultural heritage and monuments (built by the Pharaohs mind you) by flooding important ancient sites belonging to Karima, Kush and Nubian Empires.

Water is political too 

Cairo is famous for relying on and dictating how the Nile is used by other countries including Sudan. Sudan has also staked its claim to the Nile and has refused to let Egypt control its own access to the main Nile and also its equally important estuaries the Blue and White Niles.

Khartoum on the River Nile.

Bashir government still harrassing and killing Sudanese

Sudanese family share their story of the war by Khartoum. Filmed by 3ayin

Sudanese civilians continue to be killed in Darfur, Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Abyei by their own government. Sudanese activists have been calling for an independent investigation into the massacre of 52 civilians in El Geneina, West Darfur that was carried out by the Sudanese Army. The Janjaweed still exists in Darfur but has been renamed the Rapid Support Forces. The RSF is integrated into the larger Sudanese Army but is still known as the Janjaweed by most Darfuris. Even in Khartoum and other cities, Darfuri students have been targeted by the government for their outspoken criticisms and joining university protests. In addition, Janjaweed/RSF forces continuing to displace already dispossessed Darfuris to newer areas inside Darfur while dismantling refugee camps. The Darfuri IDPs and displaced have protested against their second and third displacement to the local state governor. Darfur has been granted a referendum vote for April 11th of this year. However many Darfuris disagree with taking part in the referendum to decide Darfur's provinces as five states or one single region since it is being imposed by Khartoum.

The Sudanese police in Eastern Sudan in the cities of Port Sudan, Kassala and Ingessina Hills have also attacked, tortured and killed peaceful protesters. The protesters are made up of university students, poets, cultural artists and ordinary women, men and even children. Sudan like Egypt has a long history of social movements and protests against injustice, hikes in fuel and bread and the government. Even before Bashir came to power in 1989, Sudanese have been protesting against repressive governments and their disproportional strict policies. Ongoing protests both large and small are happening in Khartoum, Port Sudan, Gadarif, Kassala and Darfur region towns: El Fashir, El Geneina and Nyala. Protesters call for a more inclusive Sudan, one that is Democratic, secular, multi ethnic and multi religious free from racism, unapologetic state terrorism and a fairer justice system and equal access to infrastructure and water.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Terror attacks in Nigeria and Baghdad

Continual terrorism in Nigeria

The New Year is only 12 days old and already various countries are seeing horrific terrorist attacks. Northern Nigeria particularly Adamawa and Maidugari and smaller villagers on the Nigerian/Chadian border, Cameroon and Chad are witnessing more terrorist attacks by Boko Haram. the attacks have been on the rise for years now. Since pledging alliance to ISIS last year, Boko Haram have been amping up their attacks against innocent civilians men, women and children through suicide bombings and gruesome beheading. Boko Haram's tactics are meant to purposely cause psychological trauma and fear among civilians. Despite Nigerian President Muhammadu Bahari's sworn pledge to destroy Boko Haram, attacks have increased and the terror group's taunts towards the government has not eased Nigerians' minds on the president's delivery. Nigeria's north eastern countryside has faced the most attacks including massacres. The most infamous terror attack being the ethnic and religious cleansing in Baga, the village nearly wiped off the Earth a year ago by Boko Haram's scorched Earth attack. The Cameroon and Chadian armies and police continue to aid Nigeria along with the AU in beating back Boko Haram terrorists and their militants who have felt a revival of a sorts in strength. Britain has offered help to Nigeria to halt Boko Haram's threat, viewing the terror group on the same level as ISIS. As a regional and global threat, African countries are helping to defend themselves and civilians from facing similar gruesome terrorism within their own borders.
 Kenya is also facing renowned attacks by al Shabaab, another terror group still based in Somalia that have kept with their cross border terrorism ranging from suicide bombings to attacks on Kenyan university students and gatherings. Both al Shabaab and Boko Haram are using wahhabism to justify attacks against civilians both Muslim and Christians.

Abiguel's Story


Some 2.2 million Nigerian civilians have been displaced by ongoing terror attacks (). Many Nigerian families especially school children have spent months to years living in internally displaced and refugee camps in neighbouring Chad and Cameroon. Many Nigerian IDPs and refugees want to return home to their home towns as soon as terror threats and attacks are completely if not permanently ended. 

 Politics of Boko Haram


Baghdad & Iraq: Destroying the cradle of civilizations 

For centuries, until recently, Baghdad was known as the cradle of civilization and the centre of learning across the Middle East. The city between the Tigris and Euphrates is still home to historical monuments, cultural centres and holds archives of the earliest human civilizations in the world behind Egypt and other African/Asian empires. While ordinary Baghdad residents have done everything humanely possible to give themselves and families normal environments of calm and peace, ISIS has also been threatening them, the Iraqi national government and cities outside the Iraqi capital with further threats. The Iraqi army are currently pushing ISIS back from the outskirts of smaller towns near Ramadi. The city was laden with explosive IED traps that Iraqi soldiers are cautiously attempting to remove even as they chase after ISIS sympathizers and lookouts. After winning Ramadi, ISIS terrorists and their copycat systematizers attacked a shopping mall in Baghdad which killed 17 Iraqis. Without regard to civilians' religions or ethnic origins, ISIS has continued to see Baghdad and Iraq as its personal battleground in the same manner it views Syria. Baghdad has been fortunate on several occasions to avoid a complete takeover by ISIS' remorseless foot soldiers and American made military weapons. To upend its own cruelty, ISIS recently put several of its own fighters to death by burning them alive for loosing Ramadi to the Iraqi army. 

Tourism in Iraqi Kurdistan-No Joke from Unravel TV

The Peshmerga in Iraqi Kurdistan along with their brethren in Syria and Turkey are also fighting to keep ISIS from further encroaching on Kurdish lands. In spite of the massive spike in terrorism and violence across Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan remains relatively peaceful and prosperous to the chagrin of ISIS and neighbouring countries facing the same fate as Iraq. Iraqi Kurdistan functions as its own independent state with its own autonomous government providing social services and infrastructure. This hasn't stopped the Kurds from helping their neighbours to defeat ISIS. Even self proclaim independent Christian fighters from the United States, Canada and the EU have made it their own personal mission to aid Iraqi Christians in local militias in fighting against the terror groups. Iraqi Christians like their Syrian counterpart continue to flee Northern Iraq. The Yazidi Kurds are also searching for safety within Kurdish areas. Many Yazidi women and girls still face the horrors of attacks, rapes, sexual slavery and massacres by ISIS in Mosul and Syria. Some of the Yazidis who have escaped from ISIS and returned home are getting their revenge on the terror group. The United States hasn't ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq again and Syria for the first time. The idea alone has given ISIS its willpower to threaten the U.S. and Western Europe with attacks if ground troops were to appear in Iraq. 

Escaping ISIS: Frontline PBS

Monday, 4 January 2016

Biblical Floods in USA and El Nino

The United States has a history of reoccurring biblical type floods. Above people using their cars as boats following the 1927 Great Mississippi flood. Nearly 90 years later, Americans are still using their cars as floating devices and are still being inundated by Mississippi waters.

Submerged houses in flooded Missouri 2015-2016. Photo by Japan Times.

Climate refugees and displacement caused by freak storms is nothing new. You just have to read into history to see circular floods, climatic and human destruction that has transformed societies the world over. The United States is not invincible to climate change or environmental destruction. Every year, the floods and storms in the Midwest and across the country seem to get worst and more deadly. Mother Nature is more of a threat to Americans than even terrorism. The United States' own ecosystem has reached its limits each time it has to repair itself following a natural diaster. While El Nino takes a slow but gradual route to make landfall in California, Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico states, much needed rain continues to pour over the Western and Midwestern United States. While Californians were grateful for the divine rain for drought starved state, the New Year's rain has been causing grief for other regions in the United States. Los Angeles is preparing along with other towns in Southern California for possible flooding. Stores and houses have been sandbagged and local news media has warned city and suburb residents to be cautious as the rainstorm continues for the following and possible next weeks. The Bay Area is also expected to see floods and mudslides as El Nino approaches to land. The last great flood to strike Los Angeles was in 1938.

Missouri governor on historic floods MSNBC News

In the Midwestern states along the Mississippi River (the United States' version of the Nile River) December and New Year floods has literally swamped small towns and submerged whole blocks, forests and houses. The states of Missouri and Illinois have taken the hardest hit from the Mississippi's biblical floods that destroyed many levees along its banks and has killed 25 people. Missouri governor Jay Nixon has said he's never seen floods of this magnitude before. Neither have Missourians and Illinois residents. The floods have exhausted ordinary Americans and made politicians and local emergency response teams nervous on how to handle a possible onslaught of rain and floods. St. Louis saw the floods reach the outskirts of the city while Memphis, Tennessee is expected to see floods soon.

The Great flood of 1927 and how it changed America

The Mississippi has constantly flooded in the past. The most famous flooding of the Mississippi occurred in 1927. The Great Mississippi flood led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people along the Mississippi Delta and three states Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. It caused a demographic shift. The great flood parallel the infamous Hurricane Katrina destruction of small and poorer neighbourhoods in New Orleans. As usual, local and ordinary Americans bore the brunt of the climatic destruction. Just as now, emergency response was chocked and politicians were unable to decipher what they had experienced. The rain is still coming.

Louisiana town following the 1927 Great flood.