When a Somali interpreter from the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) approached Idil in July 2013 asking her to “befriend” a Ugandan soldier in exchange for money, she was struggling to survive.
Idil (not her real name) had fled to the capital, Mogadishu, during the 2011 famine and was stuck in a camp for displaced people with little food. The interpreter took her to the main AMISOM base. “He told me that I should do as the soldier said,” she told us. “At first I was scared. He was old enough to be my father. After having sex, he paid me $20.” Idil had sex for money with the soldier for a month before he returned to Uganda.
The African Union deployed soldiers to Mogadishu in 2007 to restore stability at the height of renewed fighting. Those soldiers have often been credited with pushing the Islamist insurgent group Al-Shabaab out of several towns across south-central Somalia, and protecting the country’s weak central government. Yet, some AMISOM soldiers have also taken advantage of the country’s most vulnerable women and girls.
Idil was one of 21 women Human Rights Watch interviewed who told us they had been sexually exploited or abused by the African Union’s Ugandan or Burundian troops. The AU Commission code of conduct, with which AMISOM troops must comply, not only prohibits sexual abuse such as rape, but also sexual exploitation – taking advantage of someone’s vulnerability, of differential power, or of trust, for sexual purposes.
The morning roll call will be a particularly morbid affair on the first day of school in Gaza this Sunday. Hundreds of students, killed in the recent fighting, will be forever marked absent.
Many students are too badly injured or maimed to attend the first day of school. And thousands of students will need to adjust to sharing schools that escaped damage, because their old school now lies in rubble or remains a shelter for displaced families.
According to the United Nations and Gaza’s Ministry of Education, 228 school buildings were damaged to varying degrees during the latest fighting—143 government schools, 75 schools run by the UN, and 10 private schools – including 26 severely damaged or destroyed.
Priorities right now include clearing school buildings of any leftover explosive remnants from the fighting, and ensuring that displaced families living inside many dozens of schools find suitable alternative shelter. Textbooks and furniture will also need to be quickly replaced.
Gaza’s schools were already overstretched before the fighting, with a shortage of almost 200 schools. Around 90 percent of schools will now be running on a double shift, cutting each student’s school hours to just four hours each day. The school year is already starting three weeks late, and students will have weeks of psycho-social counselling and support before they are ready to study the regular curriculum. These students face tough challenges if they are to catch up with their compatriots in the West Bank in time for competitive exams next year.
Photo: A damaged classroom in the Jabalya girls school in Gaza. At least 10 Israeli munitions hit in and around the school on July 30, 2014, while more than 3,200 people were sheltering there. The attack killed 20 people. © 2014 Anne Paq/Human Rights Watch
The weekend news dump from the Obama administration was an immigration two-fer. First came word that the president would not take executive action to change immigration policy before the November congressional elections. Buried under that news was the less splashy but deeply troubling announcement that the administration plans to build a huge immigrant family detention center in Texas. Both spell bad news for immigrants without legal status and their families.
The decision to delay any administrative reform of immigration policy may reflect concern that the Republican Party would use the issue to win control of the Senate. That political calculus may or may not prove correct. But what’s not in doubt is that while the administration delays, tens of thousands of immigrant families with deep roots in the United States may be broken apart and millions more will continue to live in fear of the same fate.
These families – a majority (over 60 percent) have lived in the US for over a decade and over four million have US citizen children – are now on notice that they continue to be at risk, at least until the November elections, maybe even longer. And if they’re broken up via deportation before President Obama provides relief, only a vote by Congress can bring them back together. (The comprehensive reform bill passed by a large majority in the Senate last year would have allowed deportees with close family members in the US to reenter the US and apply for provisional legal status. But that kind of congressional remedy won’t be available anytime soon, in light of a House of Representatives that recently voted to strip away protections even from newly arriving children.)
Meanwhile, in another harsh anti-family move, the Obama administration is continuing a vast expansion of family immigration detention with a new facility in southern Texas, which would house 2,400 people. Prior to June, the US government had fewer than 100 beds dedicated to family detention; with the just-announced center, it will have close to 4,000. This, even as the number of children crossing the border with Mexico continues to decline, and despite a broad recognition and international standards that children should never be held in immigration detention, which can cause them long-term psychological and emotional damage. Even more galling, the administration is working to deny bond to detained immigrant families, arguing that they are “national security” threats.
No wonder the administration chose to release these bits of news on a weekend, to minimize media attention. I guess if there was any time to try to hide shameful anti-family policies, this was it.
Photo: A stroller inside a room in one of the barracks of an immigration detention center at the Federal Law Enforcement Center (FLETC) in Artesia, New Mexico, on June 26, 2014. © 2014 AP Photo
I’m terribly sorry I haven’t been around lately, I’ve been extreeeemely busy.
me having adult conversations
The apparent execution of the freelance journalist James Foley on August 19, 2014 in Syria by the Islamic State would be a war crime if confirmed. Groups detaining journalists should immediately and unconditionally release them.
The Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS), released a video of Foley’s purported execution. The group announced that it also is holding the US citizen journalist Steven Sotloff and that his fate depends on future US policy measures against the extremist group. Deliberate murder of civilians and hostage taking during an armed conflict are war crimes.
“James went to Syria because of his commitment to exposing the horrors civilians faced since the uprising against the government there,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch. “He, like the other journalists who are now held prisoner in Syria, courageously risked his life so that the world might know the truth and act to ease the suffering of the Syrian people.”
Foley, a US citizen, had been missing in Syria since November 22, 2012. Despite his family’s persistent efforts, including a global campaign to free their son, very little was known about his situation and whereabouts throughout the period of his abduction, including which group was holding him. In its publicized execution of the journalist, the Islamic State claimed that his killing was in retaliation for US military intervention against the group in Iraq.
Prior to his abduction, Foley worked as an independent journalist in the Middle East for five years. He covered the conflicts in Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria for the GlobalPost, Agence France-Presse, and other international news agencies. In addition to his journalistic work, Foley had assisted Human Rights Watch with the video documentation of human rights violations. He was also one of the filmmakers who filmed the work of the Human Rights Watch emergency team for the independent documentary “E-Team”.
Photo: James Foley (left) filming in Sirte, Libya on September 29, 2011. © 2011 Getty Images
SIERRA LEONE, Kenema : A girls suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus has her temperature checked at the government hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on August 16, 2014. Kenema hospital estimates that 15 of their staff have died treating ebola patients, at least 12 of them were nurses. AFP PHOTO/CARL DE SOUZA
Sure, the Ferguson case is very very unfortunate, nobody is covering up the sun barehanded but RT’s overall goal is a bit obvious.
Yes, I have a strong anti-RT sentiment. Why? because I hate every yellow press out there, specially those whose particular work is government funded. Don’t believe me? why is RT governed by what was formerly known as RIA Novosti? a federal agency that operates under the Ministry of Communications? Still don’t believe me? well you’re out of luck, you might want to research yourself or ask Svetlana Mironyuk or Liz Wahl about it, I’m sure one of them knows a thing or two. What that country needs is more journalists like the late Anna Politkovskaya, people who use events to support the truth and free press, not someone else’s agenda.
Islamic State militants have killed at least 500 members of Iraq’s Yazidi ethnic minority during their offensive in the north, Iraq’s human rights minister told Reuters on Sunday.
Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said the Sunni militants had also buried alive some of their victims, including women and children. Some 300 women were kidnapped as slaves, he added.
"We have striking evidence obtained from Yazidis fleeing Sinjar and some who escaped death, and also crime scene images that show indisputably that the gangs of the Islamic States have executed at least 500 Yazidis after seizing Sinjar," Sudani said in a telephone interview, in his first remarks to the media on the issue.
Sinjar is the ancient home of the Yazidis, one of the towns captured by the Sunni militants who view the community as “devil worshipers” and tell them to convert to Islam or face death. (REUTERS)
(Photos by REUTERS/Rodi Said)
Amazing colorized photos from The First World War.
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How does this only have 9 notes
Both government and opposition forces and their allies committed extraordinary acts of cruelty that amount to war crimes in South Sudan since fighting began there in December 2013. In some cases, the actions amounted to potential crimes against humanity.
We’ve never witnessed an American dream, we’ve only lived an American nightmare. - Malcolm X
This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
- Four Egyptian protesters were killed on Thursday when security forces clashed with demonstrations to honor the one year anniversary of the crackdown on protesters in Rabaa which left a thousand dead.
- The police chief in Tripoli, Libya, has been assassinated.
- The US sent $10 million in Pentagon emergency spending money to assist France’s fight against terrorism in northwestern Africa.
- The appointment of the Central African Republic’s first Muslim PM, Mahamat Kamoun, has been rejected by rebel group Seleka.
- Israel and Gaza began a five day ceasefire on Thursday.
- Rahed Taysir Al-Hom, who headed northern Gaza’s sole bomb disposal unit, died defusing an unexploded 500kg bomb on Wednesday.
- AP videojournalist Simone Camilli and his freelance Palestinian translator Ali Shehda Abu Afash were killed when a previously unexploded bomb detonated in Gaza.
- For Gaza’s wounded, and its overwhelmed hospitals, an excruciating battle continues.
- Canadian law professor William Schabas has been appointed head of the UN’s commission to investigate Israel for war crimes in Gaza — to Israel’s vocal displeasure.
- Assad’s forces have retaken Mleiha, a key Damascus district.
- The Islamic State has seized a number of towns in Aleppo.
- After weeks of struggle, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed to step down, accepting Haider al-Abadi’s candidacy.
- The rise of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and of the Islamic State/ISIS and its inextricable connection to US involvement in Iraq.
- The Islamic States is putting effort into establishing cells outside of Syria and Iraq.
- IS seizes on wheat supplies as an economic weapon.
- Watch Vice’s full-length documentary on ISIS here.
- The situation with the Yazidis stranded on Mount Sinjar seems to have both markedly improved and been overestimated in the first place… did US intelligence misjudge the humanitarian situation? Yazidi leaders strongly resist the claim that the crisis is over.
- A helicopter delivering aid on Tuesday in northern Iraq crashed, killing the pilot, and injuring New York Times reporter Alissa Rubin.
- EU foreign ministers are holding an emergency meeting in Brussels today to discussing arming the Kurds.
- Attah Mohammed Noor — Balkh province’s governor, former warlord, and powerful ally of Abdullah Abdullah — has warned of “civil unrest” should the vote recount be biased.
- Pakistan foiled a militant attack on an airbase on the outskirts of Quetta.
- Pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk on Wednesday ambushed a Bush carrying Ukrainian soldiers — twelve of whom were killed. An unknown number were taken captive.
- Russian Alexander Borodai has resigned as prime minister of the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, ceding the title to a Ukrainian named Alexander Zakharchenko. Its military leader, Igor Girkin — AKA Strelkov — has also resigned.
- Tensions between Russia and Ukraine are aggravated by a Russian aid convoy to the separatists.
- Putin sought to act as peacemaker between Azerbaijan and Armenia after renewed fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh territory has resulted in dozens of deaths recently. Both Azerbaijan and Armenia, however, are skeptical of Russian intentions — both agreeing that Russia should not send in peacekeeping forces.
- Azerbaijan has detained four of its most prominent human rights activists and advocates.
- NATO is close to an agreement to bolster its presence in Eastern Europe.
- WIRED profiles Edward Snowden.
- Former DARPA head Regina Duggan reportedly violated internal ethics regulations in discussing products sold by the company she founded with Pentagon officials during her tenure.
- I wrote a feature article for The Atlantic online about a war photograph from Desert Storm.
Photo: Al Shaaf neighborhood of Gaza City. A Palestinian man surveys the destruction. Alessio Romenzi for TIME.