Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Kenya closing its refugee camps Somalis and South Sudanese affected

Kenya is part of the Swahili Coast, Swahili languages and culture as well as a popular tourist destination in East Africa. There is more to Kenya than just safari adventures and wildlife. Nairobi has been experiencing an economic and construction boom. Mombasa and Lamu are also cities worth visiting for the Swahili architecture and Indian Ocean.

Kenyan President Kenyetta announces closer of Daadab Refugee Camp

The Kenyan government recently announced that it will be closing all of its refugee camps in the country soon. Kenya has hosted over a 500,000+ refugees generally from neighbouring countries Somalia and South Sudan for several decades now. Although it signed the 1961 United Nations Treaty on Refugee rights and has emphasized with refugees, the government has stated that the camps are only supposed to be temporary and that national security is what's driving the closure. Over 600,000 Somalis live in the world's largest refugee camp Daadab in Eastern Kenya near the border of Somalia. Since 1991, hundreds of thousands of Somalis who arrived at the height of Somali Civil War have grown up and a new generation has been born in Daadab. Like refugees in other hosting countries such as Jordan, Sudan or Lebanon, refugee children and parents were and are still not permited to leave the camp to look for work, go to school with local Kenyan children or even integrate into Kenyan society. Daadab residents have been labelled as refugees and treated as non Kenyan residents or nationals despite the fact that over hundreds of thousands of Daadab residents are Kenyan, want to stay inside the country and have never been to Somalia. Some families can't go back while others have been protesting for their right to stay in Kenya and want to be part of Kenyan society. However, the Kenyan government has insisted that the residents who are currently in Daadab can go to Somalia. Nevermind the fact that only few parts of the country and Mogadishu are peaceful.

Dadaab refugee camp has turned into a tent city of over 80,000 people. It is located in an isolated region of Kenya where the nearest town is hundreds of miles away. To understand the scale, imagine being in a desert valley and being surrounded by nothing else but flat rocky terrain and very few bushes and all of a sudden seeing a huge town without any roads or long lasting infrastructure.


Somaliland which is a semi-autonomous region of Somalia in its Northwest, is the most safest and peaceful region in the entire country. Somaliland declared its indpeendence in 1993 and since than has done well in developing itself without the recognition of the world and African Union. It has one of the stable governments in Eastern Africa and has low crime. But Somaliland has yet to be an fully sovereign country like South Sudan in 2011 and Eritrea was in 1993.

Proud Somalilanders

Kakuma Refugee Camp becomes permanent home

In Northwest Kenya in Turkana County is the refugee camp Kakuma Refugee camp home to some 53,000 South Sudanese refugees fleeing the on going war in South Sudan. For over twenty years, Kakuma has helped to shelter and save thousands of South Sudanese families from being displaced, reuniting larger families, served as a literal refuge for thousands of South Sudan's now famous lost boys and girls who walked thousands of kilometers from their villages, towns and homes during the earlier Sudanese Civil Wars in 1980s-2005 for safety from ongoing bombings by the Sudanese government. Many South Sudanese were able to return home in recent years while others have been resettled in the United States or Britain and other countries.

As Sudanese armed forces continue to do in Nuba Mountains and Darfur, have used disportional force and collective punishment against millions of civilians mostly women and children and elderly and men to fight rebels. Justification is seen to tied to National Security. Now the various South Sudanese rebel group are using the same national security and anti government opposition justification to bomb parts of South Sudan to push back government troops. .

Sadiq Khan, London's New Mayor

Sadiq Khan recently won London's mayoral campaign. Much like the craziness of the current U.S. elections, the conservative Mayoral candidate, Zac Goldsmith went to great lengths to smear his opponent. He targeted Khan's religion and background. Cameron also did the same. While riding on his supporters' fear of an imagined nefarious ISIS plot to take over London with Khan somehow being a closeted extremist. Throughout the campaign, Goldsmith returned to the tired argument that somehow British Muslims who are second and third generation Britons, are an enemy within London and Britain. Khan kept calm and focused on reiterating his platform on housing and improving city infrastructure and local issues affecting ordinary Londoners. At the end, ordinary Londoners were having none of the fear factor cloud their choice of candidate. Much to the shock of Goldsmith, Members of Parliament and some Londoners, Sadiq Khan was elected as London Mayor on Saturday, May 11th.

The new mayor of London Sadiq Khan with his printed Manifesto

What makes Sadiq Khan unique, is he is British, was born in and is from London, was a MP for his home town of Tooting, understands the intricate workings of politics, is the son of a bus driver, grow up in housing council, has survived the smear campaign and is Muslim. Despite his background, he has succeeded. He has said he would not visit the United States if Trump becomes president (due to Trump's views on Islam) and he wouldn't be the only mayor or politician to do the same. He has already stood up to Trump's foolish by calling out his ignorance on Islam. Khan is tough as all city mayors have to be with the stress and expectations that comes with governing a city of millions of people. The Western media is both surprised and interested in Khan's win and what his next step will be. Khan will have a lot on his plate to manage. Not only is there a housing shortage in London, economic challenges, the gross gap between the wealthy and poor continues to get bigger on a daily basis, he will also be looking at a possible Brexit from the European Union, increased in migration with the coming summer, foreign policy issues, international trade and finances. This is just a few of many more issues. All the while, Khan will need to keep Londoners' needs met and problems to a minimal. Currently, Khan is getting adjusted to his new office is meeting with follow mayors from Europe (Paris Mayor Katherine Hidalgo met with him already) and interviewing with journalists. Meanwhile Khan's old MP seat for Tooting is being sought after by doctors.

London isn't a simple cup of tea

Everyday faces of London. As in any big city, crowds of people are moving and standing still. The media image of the city doesn't match the reality.

 London is one of the largest cities in Europe in terms of its metropolitan size and population. It is home to 8.6 million people of which 1 million is Muslim. Cities change overtime. Modern London isn't the time warp 1960s, Austin Powers jolly England. Anyone who visits the city knows Londoners are ethnically diverse representing Africa, Asia, the Americas and continental Europe of course. Contrary to the alarmist Far right, multicultural diversity isn't seen as a nightmare by the city. Most visitors would be surprised that people aren't rushing off to noon time tea, that the red iconic telephone booth is all but gone from the street corners (the few that remain around Parliament) and the cute double decker buses are just like other modern city buses. The tube still exists as it has done for a 150+ years. You won't see Londoners jumping up and down for the royal family. As for the cockney accent, it has been scattered and shares room with multiple British accents (colloquial English, the BBC accent isn't part of everyday speech) in the city. London has over 300+ languages spoken. The most popular foods are kebab, curry, pizza, Caribbean cuisine ie Jerk Chicken, fish and chips. Indian food has now become the national dish of Britain.

Mayor Khan's first speech following the elections

The Far right and the moderate conservatives and non political nationalists are equally stunned but are nervous that a Muslim if one wants to bring religion up, is the head of a major European city. Keep in mind that Netherlands' second largest city Rotterdam has a Muslim mayor. Yet the right wing and nationalists are not spontaneously combusting over it. The religious smear hid a much deeper fear of a non white majority London. Groups like PEGIDA, Golden Dawn, Lega Nord, Front Nationale and the English Defense League have been on the defensive when it comes London and British identity (and wider European identity) considering the recent events around the world. The ongoing migration crisis and movement of new people to Britain and other parts of Europe who are non-White, some Christians, indigenous religions and mostly Muslim have frightened many European nationalists and citizens whose fears have reached alarmist portions. Many but not all, Europeans (especially in the West) fear a changing Europe. A more multicultural and multi ethnic Europe that mirrors the continent's medieval history. To Islam is not new to Europe. African and Asians have been entering and exiting Europe for centuries. Neither is African and Asian migration

When the Moors ruled Europe

There is nothing wrong with nationalism and having pride in one's culture and . It's when the nationalism infuses with violent xenophobia and bombastic politician/businessman speeches that border on fascism and encourages thug/hooligan style violence that's when nationalism becomes a problem

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Solomon Islands, People and Climate Change Hydro politics

Solomon Islands located in the Pacific Islands, is East of Papua New Guinea, North of Australia and West of Fiji, Vanuatu and Tuvalu.

The Solomon Islands are located off the coast of Papua New Guinea in the Melanesia region of the Pacific Ocean or the South Pacific as the islands and its neighbors are sometimes called. The Solomon Islands does not usually make the news. It has been a relatively peaceful island for over seventy years. As a matter of fact, the last major war in the islands took place during World War II. The capital city is Honiara. The local language contrary to popular belief is not English but a Pidgin Kreyol English called Pijin. Pijin is related to Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea and Torres Strait Creole in Australia. In addition to Pijin, hundreds of Polynesian languages are spoke on the islands.

Solomon women

As with neighbouring islands, the Solomon Islands has the reputation the world over for being laid back, beautiful island get away. It's home to 571, 171 people and over 1,000 mountainous islands. The Solomon Islanders are friendly people who are unique for being one of the few dark skin people in the world to have natural blonde hair. The blonde hair gene is indigenous to Solomon Islanders (the gene has no connection Europe) and is part of 5-15% of the population.  Even rarer are Solomon Islanders with blue eyes. The oddity is both surprised and stumped scientists, DNA specialists and geneticists who have been studying the Solomon islanders. Keep in mind that most islanders have black hair and brown eyes like most Papuans, other Melanesians and Polynesians. 

Like many other Pacific islanders, they are the descendants of the African migrants who left mainland Africa over 100,000 years ago. Hence the name Melanesia given by British and other Europeans to the islands inhabited by African/Black Pacific Islanders. Oh yes, the islanders are also the indigenous people (see Negritos in Phillipines) in their respective homeland and have preserved their cultural heritage in spite of colonialism and at times isolation in its long history. What makes the Solomon Islands interesting is that even though its close to PNG, Australia, Indonesia and is a short flight to mainland Asia, it's still considered a "mysterious" vacation spot since it's not as well known as Fiji, Bora Bora or Tuvalu. Nevertheless, Solomon islanders have good relations with their neighbours and are part of regional economic unions and trade agreements. The islands' main exports are processed wood, palm oil and coconut oil. China, Australia, UK, South Korea and Singapore.

Tomo News 5 islands in Isabel islands

Last week, the Solomon Islands did get the world's attention. Many villages and 5 islands were lost to the sea. There are seven large islands out of the 1,000 that make up Solomon archipelago. The seven islands were left in tack except for the Northern islands that lost its territory. Like the island nations of Vanuatu and Tuvalu, the Solomon Islands face being submerged under water and the islanders made homeless. It is a real threat that seems to inch closer each year as normal seasonal weather becomes more frequent and harsher than previous ones. Climate change has affected many Pacific islands mostly through the Ring of Fire natural disasters i.e. reoccurring monsoons, typhoons and earthquakes. Flooding and erosion is a serious reoccurring problem that threats millions of people living in island nations along the coast of small and large countries.

Converging anniversaries: It's not just coincidental

May 15th and 16th marks very important milestones anniversaries for this year.

Rabbi  speaks on Nakba Day in Montreal in support Palestine and Palestinians' rights and return

May 15th is Nakba day across Occupied Palestine. Nakba Day is the day of mourning commemorated each year since 1948 by millions of Palestinians and the world's people mourning the death of Historical Palestine and the creation of Israel. Nakba Day is similar to the Native American Day of Mourning in United States also known as Thanksgiving.

Israel since its creation has transformed itself from being a self declared refuge for Zionists into an apartheid state who can't listen to anyone or any superpower to put an end to the violent and oppressive military occupation on Palestinians across East Jerusalem, Gaza and West Bank. To halt the dehumanizing treatment of Palestinians. The United States continues to be Israel's biggest supporter and cheerleader. Israeli Hasbara propaganda media and PR films and Israel First no matter what supporters continuously work overtime to drive home the Israeli perspective and narratives on bombings in Gaza, illegal settlement/colonies in Occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank at the expense of the Palestinians. Netanyahu gets his way every time. Even though the UN has tried and warned Israel to abide by International Law and at least allow Palestinian refugees to return home.

Apartheid in South Africa and poverty

Ironically it has also been 68 years since apartheid came into existence in South Africa. South Africans today are celebrating their democratic government but are also remembering the thousands who died fighting against apartheid. They are also commemorating the Palestinian Nakba.

Sykes-Picot Agreement 1916 History narrated in Kurdish

It is also a 100 years since the Sykes-Picot Agreement that created the modern Middle East. Like the Berlin Conference in 1884, the Sykes-Picot divided up the Middle East (North Africa is NOT part of the region it is part of the African continent) into various states by drawing lines in the sand. It also allowed France and Britain to rule over the newly created countries as manadates which were really colonies of the British Empire. Only a few pro-Western ally leaders in Syria, Saudi and Iraq had a vague of idea of the borders creations. As usual, Western imperialists did not consult the majority of ordinary people in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Saudi Arabia or Yemen or UAE. The imperialists knew full well the people would've revolted. ISIS has vowed to undue the Skyes-Picot Agreement by creating a borderless Caliphate. ISIS' 5 year plan has semi succeeded by has chased away millions of people in multiple countries and has killed millions more. Is it little shock than that millions of refugees' great grandparents only learned after the fact that their homelands were divided up, lived on the wrong side of the border and now had colonists from a world way ruling over them, did not want anything to do with Europe and would fight against the colonist system? Now a 100 years later, the great-great grandchildren are experiencing a mass exodus to other countries.

50 years after the Cultural Revolution DW News

May 16th is the 50th anniversary oft he Cultural Revolution in China. Taking place in 1966, the Cultural Revolution was seen by Mao Zedong and the larger Communist Party as a path to leading China into a new revolution of success if you will. It was meant to correct some of communissm's flaws and short coming that led to protests and disatification with communism. Zedong and the government attempted to educate millions of Chinese under an indigenous Chinese communist ideology  or "communism with Chinese characteristics." In short it would benefit the majority of society to have a politically and culturally yet successful communist state that could work independently in the world. For communist system to succeed in the way Zedong and the party wanted, the critics would have to be muted. Some 16 million Chinese were killed including students, children, farmers and critics of the government. The cultural revolution is regarded as both one of the infamous government programs ever launched but also one of the surprisingly successful societal shift that had a lasting impact on China. China was able to avoid having its government collapse in the same vain as Vietnam at the same time. It allowed China to work outside of the Soviet sphere of influence for the most part and led to China's 1970s opening and economic growth beginning in the 1980s. It took China only 30+ years to complete its own industrial revolution and lift some 600 million people out of poverty. The two greatest economic achievements in recorded human history that has yet to be repeated anywhere else. 

 Discussion on the effects of the Cultural Revolution in Chinese

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Macedonia identity and protest

Macedonia, once part of Yugoslavia, has been slightly peaceful for the past few decades. It is famous for being the Balkans crossing point of migrants heading towards the prosperous European countries

Macedonia is a landlocked country in the Balkans. It is a country of 2.1 million people making it a long with the Baltic countries one of the smallest European countries in terms of population. It is surrounded by Albania, Greece, Bulgaria and Kosovo and Serbia. Macedonia would eventually like to join the EU despite the regional bloc's ranging problems. Macedonia is more famous for being the homeland of Alexander the Great or Alexander of Macedon. This coupled with Greece's claim to Macedonia as Greek (Macedonians are Slavic people) has caused friction between Greece and Macedonia. While both countries haven't fought a war over Macedonia being Greek, its been a century's long cultural battle. Roughly 103 years ago, in 1913, Macedonia was partitioned between Greeks and Bulgarians. Greece has made itself the official guardian for everything connected to Ancient Greece. Macedonia bordered Ancient Greece but was not a part of Hellenic Empire. The fact that there is a Northern Greek province named Macedonia that borders both Macedonia and Bulgaria, does not help. Macedonia has constantly argued it is not Greek and has its own unique culture, language and history. The Macedonia capital Skopje, is famous for its old Bazaar and historic buildings left over from Ottoman rule of the Balkans. It's official name is the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia or FYRM. When it broke away from the crumbling Yugoslavia in 1992, it was spared the ethnic cleansing and violence in neighbouring Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia. However in 2001, Albanian rebels demanding better rights for the Albanian minority in Macedonia, launched a low intensity insurgency. The Albanian rebels has been accused of being terrorists, disrupting the peace and a nuisance to the politicians. The earlier insurgency of the early 2000s have died down yet anger at the Macedonian government remains.

Macedonia Timeless Tourism Ad

Ordinary Macedonians have been protesting against the government in Skopje and across the country for the past two weeks. Ignored by most of the world, Macedonians' anger at government corruption, voter fraud and ongoing scandals with wire tapping have pushed the country to a boiling point. Government officials and other politicians are startled by Macedonian citizens' nonstop demonstrations in front of parliament and ministry buildings but have brushed aside the 1,000+ demonstrations as harmless. As the protests have been occurring since 2015. As many politicians the world over do, the current Prime Minister and other ministers are going against the people 's calls to investigate and bring transparency into Macedonian government. The former Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was forced to resign after massive protests in early January 2016. Some observers are comparing Macedonian protests to Ukraine's now infamous Midan revolution. Or are the current protest another coloured revolution in the making complements of NATO? The protests led to the resignation of several ministers and businesspeople.

Skopje Protesters storm the Macedonian President's office in wake of the scandal April 13, 2016

While the protests continue up in Skopje, on the Macedonian and Greek border, migrants from Syria, Eritrea, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh are clashing with Macedonian police to pass through the country and the closure of the Macedonian Railways. Summer is coming. Another impending summer rush of migrants into Europe will be happening. The war in Syria has not ebbed and many Syrian cities remain destroyed, bombed out skeletons such as Aleppo, Homs, Kobani and many others.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Migration fears, Refugges, borders and out of place

La Ciudad Multicultural: La globalización, diversidad y el intercambio mercantil

There is an unwritten rule that everyone in the world has the right to free movement and can go where they please. Throughout human history people have moved from their homelands to new countries for a variety of reasons ie trade, war, economics, the urge to travel and curiosity among other things. Today migration is seen as mostly economical. Historically, migration was a combination of diverse factors. The way Europeans both politicians and ordinary citizens are acting, it would seem as though Europeans have never interacted with Asia and Africa. Interactions between all three continents have been going on for over 2 millennia in multiple forms. Western colonialism and imperialism began in the 15th century. That is another thing: Europeans have been going around the world colonizing and disrupting societies without permission or consultation from government to the conquered land. So called European settlers in the Americas, Australia and Africa would be condemned as illegal migrants or aliens nowadays. No one is pointing out the double standards today. Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU president did point out in an excellent plea, that it was only 70 years ago that Europeans themselves were refugees and were treated with scorn within their own borders. Past experiences would make one emphasized with equally traumatized refugees. Also remember there are millions of Europeans of African, Asian and American (vice versea) descent living across the continent. They are the Non European Westerners who are 2nd-fourth generation British, German, Dutch and yes Italians.

Britain's Multicultural Society told by British people themselves

National Identity: Who is French? And what does it mean? France 24 TV News

The European fear of a migrant continent or a Black Europe as Muamar Gaddafi once rightly prophesied is partly shaped by the media's play on the black and white explanation of world events. The kindergarten explanation of Good guys vs bad guys. Spun into the media playbook is orientalism, otherizing Asia and Africa, demonizing whole regions of people, cultures and religions and viewing the world through a paternalistic and condescending lens. Dehumanization equally condemns migrants and refugees for being stuck on Fortress Europe's borders or suffering from devastating wars and sectarian conflicts like Yemen, Syria fueled by Western powers, compliance corrupt allies ie Saudi Arabia and Qatar and proxy terror warriors used by both sides against civilians. It is only when millions of refugees and migrants race to Europe for safety that the EU politicians suddenly, scream don't come here. As though, the EU and U.S. were entirely freed from causing chaos.

Largest refugee populations in the Fertile Crescent

Keep in mind that Lebanon, Turkey and Jordan have each taken in over a million refugees and hosts hundreds refugee camps in their respective borders. Lebanon is one of the few countries in the world where 1 out of 3 citizens are refugees not only from Syria, but from Iraq, Palestine and many other countries. Jordan has been hosting millions of Palestinian refugees since 1948. It continues to  host over 2 million+ refugees from Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and Sudan.

Sudanese Refugee child looks out his tent in Jordan. Photo by Telesur TV News.

A few months ago, Jordanian officials deported over hundreds of Sudanese refugees from Darfur and other marginalized regions of Sudan back to their home countries. Some 800 Sudanese refugees had been seeking asylum and a safe refuge in  Jordan for months if not years. Some Sudanese refugees have managed to make it to Israel only to be faced with Zionist racism and demonization by Israeli government (both the current far right and even liberals) and ordinary citizens. Many of the Sudanese living in Jordan have been deported to Egypt. There is a small Sudanese community living in Cairo, Egypt. They also face racism and discrimination and are denied any opportunities to work or attend schools in Cairo or other parts of Egypt. Many Sudanese see Egypt as a transit country. Some have decided to make Egypt their second home in spite of the Egyptian government's blind eye to their human rights, law of refugee status or pleas from local NGOs and Sudanese community groups. Once deported back to Sudan, the Sudanese refugees from Jordan often disappear at Khartoum airport, face torture, threats or they're condemned as enemies of the state. Should it come as a surprise for many, that some of the refugees than find a way to migrate to Europe or Israel? Where the refugees feel they will be treated better than in Sudan or Egypt?

One of Jordan's largest refugee camps Zaatari has transformed into a medium size city of nearly 80,000 people. This is from its initial function as a temporary refugee camp. That's the irony with refugee camps, they are meant to be temporary.

Life in Zaatari Camp, Jordan

Many of the well known Palestinian towns such as Rafah, Nusseirut, Balata, deshiesh started out as tent covered refugee camps. The camps are known for creating both dependency from NGO and foreign Aid and despair among long term residents. Even when refugees try to be independent and create businesses, they still feel isolated. Often times, camps are separated from the general population of a host country. Many Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon are not  allowed to work or attend schools in the host countries they relocated to. The Lebanese government was notorious for treating the millions of Palestinian refugees with a cold shoulder for several decades. All this was done in the hopes that the refugees would go home after a year or few months. No one for saw the near 70 year hold Zionism has on Palestine and what  remains of it. Human rights advocates couldn't have imagine the destruction currently happening in the Middle East by the Anglo-American invasion, Saudi/Qatari interventions and NATO allies in Libya and Yemen Libya's destructive destabilization has made it easier for many people and families to migrate to Europe. There is internal migration going on inside Libya, Eritrea and Yemen.

With the recent EU-Turkey summit centering on how to fix the ongoing migrations from Asia to Africa and Europe, the EU has been popping a collective blood vessel over the one million migrants and refugees within Germany, Italy, Greece, Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia. Summer is coming in the next three months. Even with the temporary to permanent border closers in Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia and Serbia, migrants and refugees will find a way around the borders. It's been public knowledge for years, that migrants have always found creative and insane ways  to go over and under borders. The U.S. Mexico border has many stories about  migrants riding inside the gas tanks and sometimes under seats of cars entering the U.S. In Europe, migrants and refugees have snuck abroad England bound trucks, ran across the Euro tunnel, coming by over crowded and dangerous boats, some bicycling from Russia into Norway and the fortunate people travelling by train. Africans and Asians (referring to the continent not a specific region) have moved back and forth to Europe for centuries. This latest migration is the most recent. Globalization has made migration more accessible and favourable for many people some migrating for a new life, business ventures and safety. Ongoing environmental and climate changes will make certain that migration continues.