The Lost Boy: Arif’s Story; As told by Alice Farmer, children’s rights researcher

This photo shows two asylum-seeking boys standing on a staircase as they are detained at Belawan Immigration Detention Center in September 2012

I was disturbed by this story when reading it on http://www.hrw.org, these boys or rather children are from various nationalities; their story shows they are resilient and brave in finding their path in such  remarkable journeys alone. Read on please….

A story as told by Alice Farmer, children’s rights researcher

I met Arif, a 16-year-old boy from Afghanistan, in a Pizza Hut near Jakarta, Indonesia. He dressed neatly, with his hair carefully slicked back. He held himself with confidence, dressed in a pressed, white t-shirt, but beneath the exterior I saw a boy who lived thousands of miles away from his family, who had risked his life repeatedly for safety and opportunity.
We were meeting to discuss Arif’s experiences while locked up in Indonesia’s immigration detention system. But his story began when, at 15, he borrowed $7,000 from his oldest brother, who lived in Australia, to hire smugglers to sneak him out of Afghanistan and into Indonesia. He ultimately planned to join his brother in Australia, where he hoped to claim asylum, go to school and build a new life.
Over pizza, Arif told me about his first attempt to reach Australia by boat. This part of his story would not go well, I knew. Inevitably, the stories I hear from so many of the boys I interview – my boys, as I think of them – involve harrowing events.
Each year, a growing number of asylum-seeking and refugee children—primarily from Afghanistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Burma— enter Indonesia in search of safer lives. Their numbers have risen each year over the last five years – a total of about 2,000 by this year. The families of some of these children, often teenage boys like Arif, sent them off in the hope they would find a safer place, but it means they take this dangerous journey by themselves. More than 1,000 unaccompanied children like Arif entered Indonesia in 2012. Yet Indonesia does not help these children find safe housing or enter school, and they often end up either in immigration detention – where they can be held for up to 10 years – or fending for themselves.
In detention, children are housed in overcrowded conditions with adults they don’t know, and some aren’t allowed to go outside their building for weeks or months. Some have been beaten by guards or watched others being beaten. They may have one toilet for scores of people, inadequate food, and the buildings may flood during the rainy season. Indonesia has no refugee law, so these children can’t live there legally, which often means they can’t attend school or build a future.
Half-way through the 15-day boat journey to Australia – a voyage on which hundreds of children perish each year – Arif’s ship began to sink in the Indian Ocean. He and the other passengers were rescued by a passing cargo ship and returned to Indonesia, where Arif was locked up in immigration detention. Even though he was 15, he shared a cell with adult men. When he tried to escape, Arif said, the guards beat him in the center’s courtyard, hitting and kicking his back, face, and ribs, while other detainees, including a 7-year-old Iranian boy, watched.
He was moved to another detention facility. Afraid of what could happen to him, he bribed the guard with $400 to let him out.
Once again, Arif paid a smuggler to put him on a boat to Australia. This time, he almost died. The boat slowly sank, and most of the passengers drowned. Arif survived by clinging for three days to the boat’s side, crawling higher as the boat sank lower. Three days without food. Three days without water. He was eventually rescued and returned to Indonesia, where he now lives in a shelter run by a non-governmental organization.
I have interviewed many boys who, like Arif, are traveling alone. They are often their family’s last hope – their parents sell off their last piece of land or borrow money to help them flee the violence or poverty of their homelands. They are resilient and brave, undertaking these remarkable journeys alone. They also carry a heavy weight on their shoulders – they know the sacrifices their family made to send them into safety, and they are desperate to make good on their opportunities, no matter how slim.
I get angry just thinking about the treatment these boys receive in Indonesia. It’s not just that they’re locked up and treated badly. It’s also that these kids have so much riding on finding a home and a job, and so much potential.
It would not cost Indonesia much to give them a couple of years of education and a place to sleep. These boys would do nothing but work hard, pay taxes, and send money home. They would be such an asset to any country.
I grew up living in London with American parents, and have the luxury of being able to work in the United States and the United Kingdom as well as other European Union countries. It’s the opposite experience of so many, who have to struggle for the right to be anywhere.
I began working with refugees in law school. At the time, it was a pragmatic decision. I had a summer grant to do public interest work, and the grant was bigger if I went abroad, so I went to the Balkans. After graduation I took a job with the US Department of Justice, where I worked on asylum and torture cases, then was hired by the UN Refugee Agency.
While at the refugee agency in Liberia, I learned on a deeper level how much someone’s identity is shaped by belonging to a place. Being from two different countries, I was conscious of belonging to two places while also not completely belonging to either. There, I came face-to-face with people who felt forced to flee the places where they were deeply rooted. They left everything behind and were rarely welcomed into any country.
Their kids face the same issues, but at a crucial point in their development. Kids in my own world worry about what schools they’ll attend, but the boys I interview will be lucky if they ever go back to school. I know kids who can’t make it to school without a lift. By comparison, one of my boys, who traveled from Iran to reach the European Union, got frostbite on his feet crossing mountains.
Although he is now living in relative freedom, Arif could be rearrested by Indonesian authorities at any time. He received refugee status from the United Nations, but Indonesia has no asylum laws. This means that although he has this certificate from the United Nations saying he’s a refugee, the Indonesian government doesn’t recognize it. While there, Arif will always be in peril of being locked up, detained, abused, and neglected.
Yet some of my boys have made it to the other side. One went to England from Afghanistan at age 14 knowing little English and having studied only at Koranic schools. Three years later, he was only one year behind his English classmates and taking high-level math classes. Another fled Côte d’Ivoire for Malta. When I asked him about the main issue he had in immigration detention, it was that he couldn’t pursue his métier, French for passion or profession, which was football (soccer). The next time I saw him, Malta’s national football team had offered him a contract to play for them.
Arif told me that he’s going to take another boat to Australia. He feels he has so few options in Indonesia that he needs to try again, despite the dangers of the perilousjourney. I hope he makes it. He’s bound to make a success of himself in Australia if he arrives safely

Nigeria Is the 8th Most Corrupt Country in the World

Published By: ireporterstv – Today

According to Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer 2013, The non-profit anti-corruption body surveyed residents in 107 countries.

Nigeria, Russia and Mexico are among the world’s biggest countries with active corruption indices. Liberia and Mongolia lead the table.
According to the report, the world’s corrupt nations differ in many ways. Four are located in Africa, three in Latin America and two in Asia.
These nations also vary considerably in size and population. Mongolia has just 3.2 million residents, while Mexico, Nigeria and Russia are three of the largest countries on the globe, each with more than 100 million people.
In Nigeria, 84% of those surveyed by Transparency International claimed corruption had increased in the past two years, a higher percentage than almost any other country in the world.
Troublingly, 75% of those surveyed also said the government was, at best, ineffective at fighting corruption, worse than in all but 10 countries.
TI says Nigeria is heavily dependent on the oil industry, yet the government refuses to act on accusations that the oil companies are underreporting the value of the resources they extract and the tax they owe by billions of dollars.
The report adds that “certain transparency groups also blamed politicians for encouraging corruption.
In 2012, Nigeria had just the 37th largest GDP in the world, despite having the world’s seventh largest population.
In Liberia, the majority of Liberians surveyed said they believed the country was run either largely or entirely by a few entities acting in their own self interest.
“A world-leading 86% of residents who spoke to Transparency International claimed their government had been either ineffective or very ineffective at fighting corruption, while 96% of residents claimed Liberia’s legislature was corrupt, also the highest percentage of any nation.
“A stunning 75% of residents surveyed claimed they had paid a bribe to secure some service, trailing only Sierra Leone.
“In all, 80% of the population had at one point been asked to pay a bribe. Recently, President 
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf fired the country’s auditor general for corruption.
“Many of those surveyed in the highly corrupt countries also felt their governments were not holding up their end of the bargain.”
According to the report, “in seven of the nine countries, more than half of those questioned felt their government was ineffective at fighting corruption.
In Liberia, 86% of residents surveyed said their government was ineffective at fighting the problem. This was the largest proportion of any of the 107 nations Transparency International surveyed.
While corruption appears to affect every part of the public sector, certain segments were much worse than the rest.
“Globally, at least 60% of respondents claimed political parties and police were corrupt. Additionally, more than 50% of people stated their legislature, their public officials and their judiciary were corrupt.
“In the world’s most corrupt nations, those institutions were, naturally, even worse. In Nigeria, 94% of people claimed their political parties were corrupt, the most in the world.
“Similarly, 96% of Liberians reported their legislature was corrupt, also the most in the world. In eight of the nine most corrupt nations, more than 80% of residents considered the police to be corrupt.”

GAMBIA/SENEGAL FINAL COMMUNIQUE

FINAL COMMUNIQUE OF THE 6TH SESSION OF THE JOINT COMMISSION BETWEEN THE REPUBLIC OF THE GAMBIA AND THE REPUBLIC OF SENEGAL
BAN JUL,9TH JULY 2013

On the 8 and 9 of July 2013, the 6th Session of the Joint Commission between the Republic of The Gambia and the Republic of Senegal was held in Banjul, under the auspices of Her Excellency Madame Susan Waffa-OGOO, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of The Gambia and His Excellency Mr. Mankeur NDIAYE, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad of the Republic of Senegal.

This high level meeting is part of the framework of implementing executive directives given by His Excellency Yahya A J J JAMMEH, President of the Republic of The Gambia and His Excellency Mr. Macky SALL, President of the Republic of Senegal, who are desirous of seeing that the cooperation reflects the excellent brotherly and friendly relations that happily bind the two countries and their highest authorities.

This 5th Session of the Joint Commission afforded the two Heads of delegation the opportunity to exchange points of view on issues of mutual interest at both the regional and international levels.

The meeting has also enabled the experts to review cooperation on different sectors whose legal framework is composed of several conventions, agreements and memoranda, but also to reinforce and deepen these areas, for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries.

Thus, the Gambian and Senegalese experts have had fruitful discussions on economic, sectoral, technical, cultural and scientific matters, in a cordial and brotherly atmosphere.

At the end of the deliberations, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of The Gambia and the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Senegal and Senegalese Abroad signed the Report of the meeting.

Earlier on, the two Ministers underscored the renewed commitments of the two Governments to put everything in place to ensure the construction of the bridge across River Gambia in a bid to facilitate the movement of persons and goods, increase the flow of bilateral trade and contribute immensely to the sub—regional process of integration.

The two Ministers also expressed their delight about the availability of the Senegalese Side to favourably consider the request to avail the Gambian Side with French teachers in basic education as part of technical assistance and augmentation of the number of sponsored Gambian students in Senegalese Universities.

They also underscored the important dimension accorded to the reinforcement of cooperation on security, through notably, the exchange of regular strategic intelligence and expertise.

The Republic of The Gambia and the Republic of Senegal, through their Foreign Ministers, are particularly satisfied with the option of giving a significant boost to the cultural exchanges and trans-border cooperation.

Furthermore, they expressed satisfaction about the engagement undertaken by the two Sides to reinforce the legal framework of their cooperation through the signing, at the earliest convenience, of draft Agreements on Culture, Tourism and Sports.

Conscious of the strong political will expressed by the highest authorities of the two countries, the two Sides reached satisfactory conclusions which open the way to greater perspectives of cooperation.

The two Sides are programmed to meet in Dakar in 2015, for the 7th Session of the Senegalo-Gambian Joint Commission.
__________________________________________________________________________

Published on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 16:04 | Written by Ousman Njie

Nelson Mandela ambulance broke down on the way to hospital

Nelson Mandela enjoying his 89th birthday celebrations at the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Johannesburg. Photograph: Denis Farrell/AP
The emergency ambulance carrying Nelson Mandela to hospital two weeks ago broke down; says South African presidential spokesman. Mac Maharaj confirmed that the vehicle had engine trouble and  the former president was tranferred to another ambulance. But he said there was no threat to Mr Mandela as he was surrounded by intensive  care nurses  the whole time. 

American network CBS quotes sources as saying he had to wait for 40minutes. The CBS report says the transfer to another ambulance took place in freezing winter temperatures. 
Mr Mandela, 94, was being transported from Johannesburg to hospital in Pretoria in the early hours of 8 June.  He was admitted in a serious condition with a recurrence of longstanding lung problems and has been in intensive care since. It is his third stay in in hospital this year. 
There has been little infornation about his condition for some days. President Jacob Zuma said on 13 June that his health continued to improve but his condition remained serious. 
More recently, one of Mr Mandela’s grandsons, Ndaba Mandela, said his granfather was getting better and he hoped he would be home soon. 
Mr Maharaj confirmed the ambulance breakdown in an interview with local TV station. ENCA.
“I appreciate the concern caused by this ” he said. ” I want to assure the public that all care was taken to ensure that former President Nelson Mandela’s medical condition was not compromised by this incident”
Mr Maharaj said Mr Mandla was in a convoy with a full complenent of medical staff and no-one could have predicted the engine problem. “it happens in life.” he said.
The presidential spokesman dismissed speculation surrounding Mr Mandela’s medical conditon calling for things to be done “in a dignified way” and urging the media to rely on updated from the presidential office.
Mandela was jailed for 27 years for his role in the fight against apartheid and is believed to have suffered damage to his lungs while working in a prison quarry. 

After leading the struggle against white minority rule under the apartheid system, Mr Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994. He contracted tuberculosis in the 1980s while being held in prison on the windswept Robben Island.

In his autobiography Nelson Mandela declared that:

“I was not born with a hunger to be free. I was born free. Free in every way that I could know. Free to run in the fields near my mother’s hut, free to swim in the clear stream that ran through my village, free to roast mealies [corn] under the stars … It was only when I learnt that my boyhood freedom was an illusion … that I began to hunger for it.

It is everyone’s wish that the former president of South Africa is free from this illness and returns home.

Philipines destroy illegal ivory

The philippines is destroing millions of dollars worth of ivory smuggled in to the country from Africa in a bid to discourage its illegal trade. Heavy machinery began crushing the ivory in a car park on Friday. 
The stockpile was built up over the last decade as customs officials seized several illegal ivory shipments. 
Wildlife campaigners say there has been an increase in the illegal trade in tusks over recent years – much of it reportedly through the Philippines. 
“This act is a strong statement to the rest of the World that the Philippines will not tolerate the illegal wildlife trade,”
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.
Destroying the stockpile ensures that seized ivory cannot be stolen from government warehouses and sold on the black market. 
The international trade in Ivory had been banned since 1989, to protect Africa’s elephant populations, some of which are endangered.