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A March in Solidarity with Migrants Who Perished Trying to Reach Europe

Human Chain in Strasbourg (Photo Suzanne Lehn)

Signs at the March in defense of migrants in Strasbourg (Photo Suzanne Lehn)

“Europe is fighting its own make-believe enemy”: This is the message that a dozen of associations in defense of migrants wanted to convey when they organized a human chain between the tramway station “Droits de l'Homme (Human Rights)” and the EU Parliament station in Strasbourg on November 26. In order to put Human Rights back at the core of Europe” and oppose the policy adopted by the European Agency of Border Control Frontex, protesters held signs that narrate the tragic plight of migrants trying to reach Europe. For the past 20 years, more than 20,000 migrants have died or disappeared trying to make the journey from their hometowns into Europe.   

Here are a few photos of the event :

chaîne humaine migrants

The Human chain in front of the EU Parliament in Strasbourg (photo Suzanne Lehn)

Les participants attendent leur tour de parole avant de se diriger vers le Parlement européen (photo Suzanne Lehn)

Protesters are taking turn speaking up as they move toward the parliament (photo Suzanne Lehn)

Dans le fond, la Cour Européenne des Droits de l'Homme (photo Suzanne Lehn)

In the background, the European Court of Human Rights (photo Suzanne Lehn)

Online Networks Help Relief Flood-Plagued Côte d'Ivoire

Abidjan and other regions of Côte d'Ivoire have been plagued by heavy downpour and floods for the past weeks [fr]. Local residents got organized on social networks to bring relief to stranded citizens. On twitter and facebook, #CIVSOCIAL is the hashtag for emergency humanitarian reliefs. It was created in 2011 in the aftermath of the post-electoral crisis. The hashtag was revived again as floods marred Abidjan and the rest of the country. The facebook page CIVSOCIAL has collected images, videos and testimonies as well as calls for donations for each afflicted borough.  Here is a video of one of the flooded borough :

Heartbreak for Ibrahim and Djouma in the Central African Republic

Ibrahim and Amadou - screen capture of UNHCR video on YouTube

Ibrahim and Amadou – screen capture of UNHCR video on YouTube

Djouma and Amadou Moussa are Ibrahim's parents. Djouma and Ibahim are the two lone survivors of an incredibly violent attack by militiamen that took the lives of 5 of Ibrahim's siblings in the Central African Republic, near the border with Cameroon. The militiamen came while  Amadou Moussa was away. Djouma, 30, recalls the attack

They found me with my children in the house; they gathered all the small children and slaughtered them with machetes. They killed six people, including five children in my presence [..] Ibrahim was among the six children they took. When they hit him with the machetes, they thought he was dead.

As seen in the video, Ibrahim bears the scar of the machete attack on his head. But Ibrahim came through, against all odds. Ibrahim's story epitomizes the ongoing plight of refugees from the Central African Republic in Cameroon. 20,000 refugees have crossed the borders since the beginning of the war. A petition was sent to US secretary of State John Kerry to remind him to take the “necessary steps to ensure that the peacekeeping operation is fully funded in FY2015.”

  

 

Apocalyptic Scenes in Andranondambo, Madagascar as Villages Fight Over Land

L'Express Mada reports that the entire village of Andranondambo in the South of Madagascar was destroyed [fr] during an inter-village conflict that stems from a dispute over land rights. The civilian conflict, which lasted from May 20 to 22, left no residents of the village alive. One of the military police officers recalls [fr]:

A notre arrivée, un chien errant était en train de dévorer un bras arraché d’ un corps. Dans une maison anéantie par les flammes, nous avons mis la main sur une dépouille. L’air était irrespirable [..] Même l’école publique et l’église d’Andranondambo ont été ravagées. Les toitures en tôle ont été arrachées avec tous les mobiliers.

When we arrived, a dog was eating what was left of a corpse. In a nearby home destroyed by fire, we found more corpses. The stink was unbearable. Even the public school and the church were ravaged. All the materials from houses were taken apart.

The land dispute started in 1991 when an important source of sapphire and mica was discovered in the Andranondambo. The rush of land miners pushed local villagers away to another village Ambato­tsivala. Since then, the two villages have been at odds over land rights but the conflict has never reached such a harrowing level of violence until recently.

Asylum Seekers Face Uncertainty in East Timor

Sharna Jade Bremner probes the situation of asylum seekers in East Timor:

Asylum seekers have been arriving in Timor since the early 2000s, however the exact number that are still in the tiny half-island nation remains unclear. Fear and anxiety are rife in the asylum seeker community, and many people are reluctant to identify themselves in a way that may see them targeted by authorities.

Sri Lanka Plans to Deport 1,500 Pakistani and Afghan Refugees

A Christian man stands inside his destroyed house in Gojra town. Image by Muhammad Tahir. Copyright Demotix (4/8/2009)

A Christian man stands inside his destroyed house in Gojra, Pakistan. Image by Muhammad Tahir. Copyright Demotix (4/8/2009)

Facing persecution in Pakistan, many Ahmadiyya Muslims and Christians have taken refuge in Sri Lanka. These refugees are mostly held in Boossa and Mirihana detention centers and have to live on government-provided rations as they are not eligible for work.

According to the media, the Sri Lankan government is preparing to deport about 1,450 Pakistani and 50 Afghan refugees who have apparently fled to rural areas in Sri Lanka. More than 1,400 of the targeted refugees have been registered as asylum seekers at the UN refugee agency office in Colombo.

Human Rights Watch has requested the Sri Lankan government not to summarily deport these minorities. Meanwhile, Pakistan has disowned these refugees and an uncertain future awaits for them if they are deported.

W3Lanka English blog opines:

The practice of deporting them is very unethical. They can be economic migrants per se the claim of the Pakistan government. What if they are actually threatened people?

The Unintended Consequences of Pakistan's Operation Zarb-e-Azb

On June 15, 2014, the Pakistan Army launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb, a joint-military operation involving Pakistan against armed insurgent groups such as the Taliban (TTP), al–Qaeda, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).

The operation started exactly a week after the terrorist attack on the Karachi airport. Kashif Aziz at Chowrangi fears that innocent people will suffer and seek refuge elsewhere to avoid the military attacks and the backlash of the militants:

This offensive in Waziristan will bring a fresh wave of IDPs [internally displaced people] to other parts of Pakistan. They need to be accommodated with care.

Hope the operation will end swiftly and without much collateral damage.

Information Hub for Humanitarian Aid for Bosnia and Herzegovina Floods

POINT, the international conference on political accountability and new technologies in Sarajevo, has used its skills to aid in relief of the ongoing disaster affecting three Balkan countries – Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia. BosniaFloods.org, the first tool developed by the participants, specifically targets Bosnia, because the situation in this country was made particularly abysmal because its government structure hindered disaster coordination.

In Bosnia, the floods and landslides directly affect over 1.36 million people, about 1/4 of the population, and lack of information in English inhibits people abroad who would like to help. The multinational team congregates and translates bits of information currently spread around the web. It addresses their credibility, mindful that in Serbia and possibly elsewhere there were attempts to swindle prospective donors via false bank accounts. Money is probably the easiest kind of aid to send. The people affected also need food, clothes and medical aid that can be delivered from other European countries, as well as volunteers who could coordinate such efforts within their countries.

Why Rwanda Accuses France of Aiding 1994 Genocide

As Rwanda pays tribute to the victims of the genocide 20 years after the tragedy, President Kagame states again that France must “face up to the difficult truth” of its role in the 1994 genocide [fr]. As a result of this statement, France has pulled out of the commemorative events and former Foreign Affairs Minister of France demands that president Hollande defends the Honor of France and its army.  Rémi Noyon at French site Rue 89 lists the reasons why Rwanda accuses again France of aiding the genocide [fr] :

 1) La France va « de facto » prendre le commandement de l’armée rwandaise face au rebelles du Front patriotique rwandais (FPR).

2) La France craint alors que l’offensive tutsi ne soit télécommandée via l’Ouganda par les Anglo-saxons, et ne vise à enfoncer un coin dans l’influence de la France sur la région

3) La France ne semble pas s’intéresser outre mesure aux négociations de paix.

4) Les soldats n’embarquent pas le personnel tutsi présent à l’ambassade de France (sauf une personne). Ils seront tous massacrés.

5) Quant à l’opération Turquoise, elle continue à diviser : elle a certainement permis de sauver des vies tutsi, mais l’armée est accusée d’être restée passive – et donc complice – face aux atrocités.

1) France commanded some branches of the Rwandan army against the rebels of the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

2) France feared that the Tutsi offensive was remotely piloted via Uganda by anglophone countries and was intended to drive a wedge into the influence of France in the region. 

3) France did not seem overly interested in peace negotiations before the conflict.

4) The soldiers did not evacuate any  of the Tutsi staff present at the Embassy of France (except for one person). They ended all being killed.

5) As for Operation Turquoise, it continues to divide: it certainly saved Tutsi lives, but the army is accused of having remained passive – and therefore was accomplice – to the atrocities.

 

 

Video: Distributing Food in Yarmouk Camp-Syria

FAJER PRESS posted a video of the besieged Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus while receiving food parcels to feed the 18,000 remaining residents of the camp, who have been forced to eat stray animals to survive amid critical food shortages.

The video is dated December 30, 2013.

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