73% drop in migration from Horn of Africa to Gulf countries due to pandemic

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia – New data published by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) this week confirms a nearly three-fourths decline in migration from the East and Horn of Africa regions toward Gulf countries through Yemen during 2020.

These findings are especially significant because African migration through Yemen to the Gulf of Arabia has been high for the past four years. Despite reduced arrivals in 2020 — due in part to Coronavirus-related restrictions — risks for migrants increased, with more detentions, exploitation and forced transfers.

Data released by IOM show that the number of migrants crossing via Yemen from the Horn dropped from a high of 138k in 2019 to 37k in 2020. Forced returns from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were also significantly reduced, passing from nearly 121k Ethiopian migrants in 2019 to 37k in 2020.

Border closures, which have left thousands of workers stranded, resulted in many workers from the East African countries facing exploitation from people smugglers when trying to get home. As of September 2020, some 3,000 migrants were stranded within the East and Horn of Africa, in addition to tens of thousands of other migrants from the region stranded in Yemen.

By Henok Alemayehu

Myanmar military urges government employees to come back work

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YANGON, Myanmar – Myanmar protestsMyanmar’s military called for government employees who are participating in the civil disobedience movement (CDM) to get back to their respective departments. If they do not come back to their jobs by Feb. 25, they will face legal actions, the state administration council warned.

Since the military staged the coup, people in big cities have protested, calling on both government and private employees to join the CDM. Even though some ministries are participating, some are have hesitated.

The CDM campaign is being led by Min Ko Naing and J-Me, the student leaders in the 1988 uprising.

“The CDM campaign is to stop the mechanism of the military administration and reduce the blood shed of innocent people,” stated Min Ko Naing.

By Htay Win

Simultaneous riots in three Ecuadorian prisons leave 62 dead in a gang-related power struggle

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Spurred by the murder of a released gang member, the Litoral Penitentiary in Guayaquil, the Turi Rehabilitation Centers in Cuenca, and the Cotopaxi prison in Latacunga were “out of control” Tuesday and reporting gruesome deaths, according to Edmundo Moncayo, director of the Ecuadorian Penitentiary System.

Police were carrying out operations to stabilize the situation but 7 hours into the riots only the largest of the 3, the Guayaquil prison, was reported pacified. The rioting prisons house 70% of the 38,000 prisoners in the country. With 1500 guards in the system, a number the prison system has said is so low that it “hinders immediate response actions,” prison fights in 2020 left 51 dead.

By Milan Sime Martinic

15 Ethiopian peacekeepers in South Sudan refused to return home

15 Ethiopian peacekeepers in South Sudan refuse to return home
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ADDIS ABABA – Fifteen Ethiopian peacekeepers have said they do not want to return to Ethiopia from South Sudan, according to the UN.

According to their report, 169 South Sudanese peacekeepers were returning to Addis Ababa, but 15 members of the force said they did not want to return to Ethiopia. The 15 were all from Tigray.

The Ethiopian Defense Forces (EDF) Facebook page, citing the army’s director general of indoctrination, Major General Mohamed Tesema, said the news was that the peacekeepers were members of the 15th Motorized Peacekeeping Battalion. Tesema said the battalion is returning to Ethiopia after completing its stay in South Sudan.

“Those peacekeepers have been trying to create chaos by rolling and shouting at Juba airport saying they will not go to our country,” Tesema stated.

He described the actions of the individuals as “disgraceful” and said they did not represent the members of the armed forces.

The privately-owned Sudan Post reported that the soldiers, who did not want to return to Ethiopia, said they were concerned about the “law enforcement” being carried out by the Tigray regional government and that they were concerned about what would happen to them once they returned. The soldiers were said to have been forced to board the plane.

The troops are currently under the protection of the South Sudanese National Security Service.

Ethiopia was one of the first countries to contribute troops to the UN peacekeeping mission, and currently there are around 8,000 troops serving, representing about 8% of the UN’s peacekeeping force worldwide.

The military overthrew the TPLF leadership in the wake of the Oct. 24, 2013 military offensive between the federal government and the TPLF. In connection with this, several suspected members of the TPLF and members of the armed forces were arrested, and arrest warrants were issued. The exact number of people killed in the conflict is unknown, but it is expected to be in the thousands.

In addition, more than 60,000 people have fled the conflict to Sudan, and millions more are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to humanitarian organizations. Following the announcement of the end of the military operation in Tigray State, an agreement was reached with the UN to provide humanitarian assistance to the region. But the International Committee of the Red Cross warns that the number of people in need is “extremely high.”

By Henok Aleayehu

UF researcher moves Brazil to rescue legacy of man who helped end slavery

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The tomb of Brazilian abolitionist Francisco José do Nascimento, known as Dragão do Mar — Sea Dragon — whose contribution to the end of slavery in Brazil is widely regarded, has been identified by U of Florida student Licinio Nunes de Miranda after being lost and forgotten for more than 100 years and is now marked with a new monument. Brazilian media report this has spurred a movement to remember and honor the Sea Dragon, and to teach the value of his impact.

By Milan Sime Martinic

Facebook to restore news feeds in Australia after government agrees to change its approach to force tech companies to pay for news content

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Reversing a decision to block all news in Australia which was broadly seen as a heavy-handed move and which ended up taking down health and emergency services along with government pages, the technology giant said the government had agreed to change a proposed Media Bargaining Code that would have dictated compensation for linking to news.

In comparison to Facebook’s reaction to Australia’s recent new law, Google struck a deal in which it would provide news publishers with some money for the links Google Search used.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Malaysia defies court order and deports 1086 Myanmar nationals

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Despite a Kuala Lumpur high court’s temporary stay barring the removal of some 1,200 refugees, the country’s director-general of immigration said in a statement that those sent back on Myanmar Navy ships left voluntarily, adding that no persecuted Rohingya or asylum-seekers were included in the group. The court’s stay was issued at the request of Amnesty International who argued the lives of people would be at risk in deteriorating conditions under a regime with a track record of cruelty.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Facebook deletes main page of Myanmar military

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Under a policy not to allow the platform to be used to incite violence, Facebook announced that the Myanmar military’s “continued spread of misinformation” violated its use policies and that Facebook was “treating the situation in Myanmar as an emergency” and acting to “significantly reduce the distribution of all content” on pages and profiles run by the that military.

By Milan Sime Martinić

ICC rules past trauma not a defense against the war crime of forced pregnancy

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The international court concluded a case against a former child soldier whose defense included that he had been a victim himself when he was abducted and conscripted into Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army at the age of 10. The acts for which he was tried took place later on, when he was a high ranking commander of that force.

The ruling establishes for the ICC that “suffered victimization in the past is not a justification, nor an excuse to victimize others,” as was argued by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in her opening statements of the trial in 2016.

The ruling is considered to be somewhat of a landmark because it expands the ICC’s definition of war crimes and crimes against humanity to include forced pregnancy and forced marriage.

By Milan Sime Martinić

Nigeria remains Africa’s top economy as Egypt and South Africa shuffle places again

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In the 3-way see-saw to be at the top African economy, Egypt beat out South Africa again taking its place as the continent’s second-biggest economy, leaving Nigeria at the top, a position it has held since 2020 when it overtook South Africa.

The International Monetary Fund records show that for years the three counties have been in constant competition for the #1, #2 and #3 spots.

By Milan Sime Martinić

EU no longer recognizes Guaidó as Venezuelan president

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MARACAY, Venezuela – Although the European bloc continues to consider him a privileged interlocutor in matters dealing with Venezuela, the EU downgraded Guaidó’s diplomatic status from that of interim president of the country.

EU states agreed they could no longer consider Juan Guaidó as interim president due to his loss of position in the Venezuelan congress last December.

His previous status granted Guaidó access to all assets and funds confiscated from Nicolás Maduro, as well as giving him access to high officials in the political and economic spheres and greater ability to promote the democratic movement he is a part of both inside and outside Venezuela.

The USA and Great Britain, however, still consider Guaidó to be president.

By Luis Alejandro R.

Bolivian town wants to charge woman for calling town “ugly”

Uyuni Salts
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Authorities in the tourist town of Uyuni, famous for its salt flats, are demanding the extradition (from one department to another) and prosecution of a Bolivian singer who goes by the pseudonym Frances P. The musician in a social media post said the town was so ugly she would not move there even for $3,000,000.

Bolivian law has a “duties of tourists” clause that prohibits “discriminatory comments.” Bolivia has in the past arrested a newscaster for making derogatory comments about another city.

By Milan Sime Martinić