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Jemen: Flüchtlingsdrama

Sonntag, Mai 20th, 2012

“Record number of African refugees migrating to Yemen – UN


Somali refugees wait on Yemen's Red Sea coast for transport to Aden. Photo: UNHCR/R.Nuri

Somali refugees wait on Yemen’s Red Sea coast for transport to Aden. Photo: UNHCR/R.Nuri


18 May 2012 – A record number of African migrants fled to Yemen this year, with 43,000 people having reached the Middle Eastern country in only four months, the United Nations refugee agency said today, adding that it is concerned with the rise in insecurity and trafficking in the region.
“All those who had decided to make the crossing exposed themselves to extreme risks and dangers at every stage of their journey,” a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Andrej Mahecic, told reporters in Geneva. “They faced shocking levels of abuse and violence by smugglers, as well as arbitrary arrests and detention, closed borders and forced returns, trafficking, lack of access to shelter, water, food or medical assistance.”

During the same period last year, some 30,000 people had made the journey. However, Mr. Mahecic said the increase in the overall number of new arrivals reflects the growing Ethiopian population that is moving due to drought and the dire economic situation in the country.

“Those who make it often arrive exhausted, dehydrated, malnourished and in a state of shock,” Mr. Mahecic said.

According to UNHCR, while all Somali arrivals were automatically recognized as refugees in Yemen and had access to documentation and freedom of movement, this has not been the case for Ethiopian nationals.

“The situation was profoundly different and more difficult for Ethiopian nationals,” Mr. Mahecic said. “Few Ethiopians decided to seek asylum upon arrival to Yemen – to avoid detention and deportation, they attempted to evade contact with the authorities.”

Many Ethiopians were then picked up on the beaches by criminal groups involved in the trafficking and smuggling of people to other Gulf States, and there have been reports of consistent violence and abuse as many Ethiopian migrants fell victims to robberies, abuse and extortion.

“For Ethiopian nationals who did not fall under the protection of the Refugee Convention, there was virtually no protection space,” Mr. Mahecic said. “They were extremely vulnerable and often became easy prey for traffickers and smugglers.”

In addition to the influx of migrants, Yemen is also coping with a significant internal displacement. There are currently 470,000 people who are registered as internally displaced, and UNHCR estimates that there are an additional 95,000 people who are still unregistered.

Some 103,000 people arrived in Yemen last year, which is also a record number since UNHCR began compiling statistics in 2006. This year, UNHCR has appealed for $60 million to address the humanitarian needs of the nearly 220,000 refugees and almost half a million internally displaced people in Yemen. So far the agency has received a third of the funds.

News Tracker: past stories on this issue
Senior UN official concerned about worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen


(Quelle: UN News Centre.)

BRD: “Ausbildungshilfe” für Golf-Monarchien

Dienstag, November 29th, 2011

“The Arab Spring of “Security made in Germany”

By Eric Töpfer

Investigative journalists have revealed a secret mission by the German Federal Police to train border guards in Saudi Arabia. The episode sheds light on the much broader engagement of the German security-industrial complex in arming authoritarian monarchies in the Gulf region.

More than 500 German police officers are posted to foreign countries. They act as liaison officers, train colleagues, bolster border controls, support document checks at consulates, guard German embassies and police crisis regions under the flag of the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) or the European Union. [1] It is well known that the largest of the German police force’s foreign missions are taking place in Afghanistan and Kosovo where almost 300 officers complement the military engagement of NATO troops. Nonetheless, it came as a surprise when it was revealed in April 2011 that another major mission is taking place in Saudi Arabia. Two weeks after soldiers from the oil-rich kingdom crossed the border into Bahrain to defend its ruling elite against the democratic protest movement, it coincided with a TV magazine FAKT report that dozens of German Federal Police officers were training thousands of border guards in the desert. [2] Moreover, the mission was reported to be closely linked to a billion dollar deal, involving European arms giant EADS-Cassidian, that includes the installation of a high-tech surveillance system along Saudi Arabia’s 9,000 km sea and land borders. It is “the world’s most important contract for security technology,” according to Cassidian CEO Stefan Zoller. [3]

Deal involving EADS exports

Although the German government denies that the training mission was sine qua non for the deal between EADS and the Arab kingdom, the details that became public suggest another story. In spring 2007, high-level talks began between EADS and the German Ministry of Interior (MoI); EADS manager Stefan Zoller met with MoI State Secretary August Hanning to discuss the planned modernisation of Saudi Arabia’s border controls. They continued their exchange in October, considering a possible project design, and at the end of the year EADS submitted its bid to the Saudi Arabian Interior Ministry. At the same time the German Federal Police presented a training programme to officials in Saudi Arabia’s capital city of Riyadh. (…)”




Jemen: Angst um das kulturelle Erbe

Mittwoch, Juni 23rd, 2010

“Yemenis fear for their musical heritage

More than 300 songs have been recorded in a preservation bid (File)

SANAA (Reuter) “With her eyes, she aimed her arrows carefully and hit my heart,” goes a famous Yemeni song about love at first sight, a poetic tune that has doubtless served as a backdrop for many long Sanaa afternoons.

Holding a pear-shaped oud, an Arabic lute, the singer will sit among listeners who have gathered after lunch to while away the hours chewing the mild stimulant qat, a narcotic leaf that is both hugely popular and legal in impoverished Yemen.

“Sanaanis say the melodies are difficult, difficult to learn. But they are beautiful, especially the words”
Rafiq al-Akouri

The tune is one of a collection of traditional songs of the Yemeni capital that UNESCO in 2003 declared a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”, said to be at risk of disappearing as younger generations turn to pop music.

Yemen has since moved to record and preserve the city’s musical heritage, and over 300 Sanaani melodies and their words have been recorded, said Rafiq al-Akouri of the Yemeni Centre for Musical Heritage, which led the project.

“Sanaanis say the melodies are difficult, difficult to learn. But they are beautiful, especially the words”, Akouri said.

Qat sessions are often the setting for Yemen’s ancient tradition of sung poetry, dating back to the 14th century and which many fear may die out as few younger Yemenis want to master what is a demanding art.

Listeners at such sessions can make for a lively audience, singing along, clapping out complicated rhythms and heckling. But sometimes they may just sit and listen to the stories being told in the music.

Yemen, home to a deeply conservative Muslim society, has been slow in opening up to the rest of the world. Around 70 percent of its 23 million population live in the countryside, much of which consists of impassable mountain ranges and desert.

Foreign influences

“Unfortunately this generation now is only running after video clips and explicit songs … there is no one to transmit their heritage to them”
Abdulbasit al-Harithi

Instability and corruption have prevented significant foreign investment outside Yemen’s declining oil industry, and globalization has had little visible impact in a country where more than 40 percent of people live on less than $2 a day.

Yemen is trying to cement a truce to end a civil war with Shiite rebels in the north, quell separatism in the south and fight a resurgent regional al-Qaeda arm that has made the country’s impenetrable terrain a base.

But the growing number of satellite television channels and the Internet also means Yemenis are increasingly exposed to foreign influences. Tastes have gradually become more diverse, with Western or more modern Arab music gaining in popularity.

Some traditional instruments, such as the turbi, a traditional Yemeni lute, or the sahn, a metal plate that is used as a percussion instrument, have already died out or are on the brink of disappearing.

“Unfortunately this generation now is only running after video clips and explicit songs … there is no one to transmit their heritage to them,” said violin player Abdulbasit al-Harithi, who leads Yemen’s National Music Ensemble.

“The result is the disappearance of a culture,” he added.

But not all young Yemenis are turning their backs on their country’s musical traditions, even if now many are motivated primarily by commercial interests, looking to earn their keep by playing at weddings and other festivities.

“Many artists now are doing it solely for the income, but there are some passionate people,” said 25-year-old Imad al-Suwaidi, who works in a shop selling musical instruments and himself plays the oud.

Suwaidi says most of his friends prefer modern music and shares the fear that the gradual loss of Yemen’s musical heritage will lead to an erosion of identity.

“Of course I worry about it,” he said. “If you don’t have a past, you don’t have a present.”

(Quelle: Al Arabiya.)

Pakistan: Die europäischen Extremisten und ihr Burka-Bann

Freitag, Juni 18th, 2010

“The European Extremists and their Burqa Ban

By Sajida Farheen Farhee

Sajida Farheen Farhee, a media research analyst at Geo TV, writes that "placing restrictions on women wearing the veil in the public sphere is as much a violation of their rights as is forcing them to wear it."

The European tradition of secularism appears to be haunted by the Islamic veil. After Belgium became the first European country to ban the burqa in public places, many others such as France, Austria, and the Netherlands are trying to follow suit. And while the question is still up for debate in most places, France has taken the plunge and joined Belgium’s boat in placing a total ban on the burqa.

On May 18, French President Nicolas Sarkozy received full backing from the Council of State – France’s highest legal advisory body – to pass the legislation that imposes this ban. The banning of the veil is in accordance with the state view that such clothing is “an affront to the nation’s values.” Now if a woman is caught wearing one beyond the enforcement date, she will be charged a fine of €150, or can choose to take a citizenship course as punishment. Furthermore, fathers and other relatives who force their women to wear the burqa can face imprisonment for up to a year, or pay an exorbitant fine of €15,000.

Placing restrictions on women wearing the veil in the public sphere is as much a violation of their rights as is forcing them to wear it. Both violate basic human rights, but I am surprised as to why, for the West, the latter is an act of extremism but not the former. When Islamic countries force women to cover their heads within state premises it is considered as extremist, illiterate and conservative behaviour. But when western countries deprive Muslim women of their right to cover their face and body, it becomes justifiable and is accepted.

Many human rights organisations have raised their voice against the ban on the burqa. Amnesty International said a ban would set a “dangerous precedent.” In an official statement, they said it would “violate the rights of freedom of expression and religion of those women who wear the burqa or niqab as an expression of their identity and beliefs.”

“I’m not oppressed; it was my choice, I chose to wear the naqab” is a recurring refrain among the many women who have been living in the West for several years now and wearing the burqa of their own free will. With the law banning the burqa, they feel they are being discriminated against. “People should have the right to wear what they want to wear, the government should not dictate what people should wear.” Others treat it as an attack on their faith and are ready to pay a fine rather than stop wearing the veil.

The ban exposes the dual standards of the supposedly ‘liberal and secular’ West. The French president, who calls himself the most moderate leader, recently said: “The burqa has no place in France.” Moderate indeed!

There is speculation that the ban on the the veil will have serious consequences for European countries on the economic front. France is the second most popular holiday destination for Middle Eastern travellers after Britain, and veiled women are a common sight in the luxury stores on Paris’ shopping boulevards. The full-face veil is particularly common in the Gulf, and France now risks losing hundreds of thousands of Middle Eastern tourists who fear their privacy will be violated if the country enforces the ban.

According to the manager of a UAE-based travel agency, “People from this region are particularly sensitive about their privacy. They want to enjoy themselves without the fear of harassment.” A general manager at a Saudi-based travel agency says since most Middle Eastern tourists travel in family groups, if even one member in the group wears the veil, France will automatically be struck off their holiday destinations.

Some time back, the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), the sport’s Zurich-based governing body, replaced the Iranian girls’ football team with Thailand’s for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games in Singapore as some of the Iranian girls covered their heads. FIFA had to lift that ban after a letter it received from the Iranian authorities that stated: “The entire world should respect Muslims’ rights and consider Islamic rules and values as a crucial factor when dealing with Muslim countries’ women football teams. If the hijab covers the hair without violating the rules of the game, the female footballers must be allowed to use it and the Iranian players should be allowed to participate in this summer’s Olympic games in Singapore.”

This, and President Obama’s statement, “In the United States our basic attitude is that we’re not going to tell people what to wear,” makes Muslims and all human rights organisations hope that Europe, particularly France, will review the ban on the burqa.

This article originally appeared in the June 2010 print version of Newsline under the shortened headline “The European Extremists.”


(Quelle: Newsline.)

Somalia: VerliererInnen des Klimawandels

Donnerstag, Juni 10th, 2010

“Charcoal Production Wreaks Environmental Havoc in Somalia

By Amanda Wheat

For centuries Somali culture has been shaped by the weather. Forecasters, called “Xidaars,” are the most respected members of communities. Using an ancient combination of Persian and African astronomy to herald the rain and warn of oncoming drought, they define the crop and livestock cycles for pastorally based Somali communities. Although Somalis are no strangers to devastating droughts, uncertainty about weather patterns are rising with the temperature.

As the climate changes and crops dwindle, not only is the validity of these ancient practices questioned, many Somalis are forced to find alternate means of income. The result is an increase in charcoal production, which further compounds the degradation of Somalia’s forests and livelihoods.
“Drought cycles in Somalia are becoming more frequent and rain is just erratic. It’s getting warmer and warmer and [agricultural] production has fallen because crops can’t produce with these unpredictable seasons,” said Ahmed Awale, Executive Director of Candle Light for Health, Education and Environment.

Created in 1995 by a group of dedicated social workers; Candle Light is one of the most active non-profit organizations promoting sustainable practices in Somalia. With projects in forest revitalization and soil erosion, Candle Light serves as a key actor in Somalia’s efforts to cope with climate change.

But coping is not enough. As crops fade under the scorching sun and sheep surrender to thirst and heat, Somalis have been forced to seek out other means of generating income. The main result is an increase in charcoal production.

Charcoal is created by burning wood at high temperatures. The Bioenergy for Development report released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Association (FAO) stated that charcoal contains twice as much energy per ton as wood. It is easy to package, which makes it faster and cheaper to export. Taken together, these factors add up to the mass depletion of forests and woodlands.

Meanwhile, the harmful trade is perpetuated by foreign investors. A case study by the Information Center for the Environment (ICE) estimated that Somalia is producing over 150,000 metric tones of charcoal per year. Less than 20 percent of this charcoal is used domestically; over 80 percent is exported to Persian Gulf states. These foreign actors provide the monetary incentive for Somalis to continue burning their forests.

The decentralized government of Somalia makes it possible for this exploitation to continue. “The government is non-existent which just pushes this continuous vicious cycle of poverty,” said Mr. Awale. “Climate change makes the cycle worse and so many people are weak, they just don’t make it.”

Mr. Awale added, “We know the charcoal is bad. It affects bio-diversity and wild life. But without crops and livestock we have no alternatives. The insecurities of the country are too great for us to focus on alternatives. Alternatives take time and money, we have neither of these.”

Candle Light has partnered with numerous other aid organizations including the United Nations Development Fund, Care International, and the Food and Agriculture Association to gain support for the implementation of various environmental programs that will ease the effects of climate change and charcoal production.

Their efforts in reforestation are underway via seed dispersal initiatives and tree nurseries. To combat drought, Candle Light has built rock damns to reduce water runoff. They’ve also created numerous school environmental clubs and published a public newsletter, Deegankeena (Our Environment), to spread awareness and foster environmental education.

But without a more secure government and outside help, even the most active participants feel defeated in the eye of an uncontrollable change. “The future here is bleak,” said Mr. Awale. “People are destroying the environment because of insecurities, but at the same time these insecurities are affected by the actions of the rest of the world. The developed countries have much larger carbon footprints than we do, and we are the ones suffering. The world must know what is happening to the poor people of the [Global] South.”‛

(Quelle: MediaGlobal.)

Saudi-Arabien: Langsame Unterstützung der Frauenrechte

Dienstag, Juni 1st, 2010

“Women’s Rights Gain Focus in Saudi Arabia


After years of stymied efforts, the reform focus in Saudi Arabia is centering on women’s rights. A recent survey by the Researchers Center for Women’s Studies in Riyadh (Markaz Bahithat li Dirasat al-Mar’a) examining Saudi newspapers and websites showed that from mid January to mid February 2010 some 40 percent of articles in print media and 58 percent of articles on websites treated women’s issues. Empowering women has become a priority for local activists and various initiatives are springing up to secure their basic rights. The most recent and ambitious of these efforts is a national campaign, driven by local actors, calling for women’s participation in municipal elections scheduled for autumn 2011. 

Prominent human rights activists, women’s rights activists, writers, and elected municipal council members are spearheading this national campaign for electoral participation, which was launched in March 2010.  The goal is to coordinate activities on this issue throughout the Kingdom, including advocacy and media coverage, public meetings and speeches, writing to officials, and training candidates. The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has not yet ruled on the issue of allowing women to vote or to register as candidates. 

The relatively liberal position taken by King Abdullah on fostering the role of women in Saudi society has created an opening for such initiatives. The King appointed a woman to be deputy minister of education, the highest public office in the country to be held by a woman so far, in February 2009. A few months later, a member of the Senior Religious Council was fired from his post after condemning King Abdullah University of Science and Technology’s coed environment.  In December 2009, Lama Alsulaiman was the first woman to win a seat in the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) in Jeddah and became the Vice Chairman of the most prestigious business organization in the country. Following that, the Ministry of Commerce appointed four women board members to CCIs: Faten Bundaqji and Aisha Natto in Jeddah, and Hama AlZuhair and Sameera AlSowaigh in the Eastern Province.

Taking into consideration the social and religious restrictions on women in the society, Saudi businesswomen have made major strides in the last few years toward breaking down barriers and gaining legislation that created a less restrictive business environment. For instance, in 2008 Prince Khalid Alfaisal, Governor of Mecca, modified Article 160 of the Labor Law which prohibited men and women from interacting in a business environment. The Ministry of Labor also revised labor laws in 2008 in order to give women the choice to work. Women no longer require a male guardian’s approval to get or leave a job. In the same year, the Ministry of Trade also reversed a ban on women staying in hotels alone. A new law is expected to give women the right to travel abroad without a male guardian’s approval and the ability to use their national ID cards to travel to GCC states. 

Among many individual initiatives related to women’s rights is a campaign called ‘Where are my rights?’ headed by Khloud Alfahad, a businesswoman from Khobar, who seeks to educate women about their basic rights and equality between the sexes via publications, a website, and frequent media coverage. Suad Alshamary, the first women lawyer in the Kingdom, has pursued many cases related to violations of women’s rights to divorce and protection, child care and support, and compensation for injury. In cooperation with other lawyers, she is currently pushing for legislation to set the age for legal marriage in order to avoid the barbaric forced marriage of young girls.  Other initiatives include establishing centers to protect victims of domestic violence as well as campaigns on divorce rights, family laws, and the rights of women married to non-Saudis. Most women’s rights initiatives are currently headed by individuals rather than associations due to the heavy restrictions on civil society organizations in the Kingdom.  

The growing activism of women—spurred in part by their awareness of the greater involvement in public life of women in neighboring states such as Bahrain and Kuwait, as well as attention from international figures such as Yakin Ertürk, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council on Violence Against Women—have prompted tense debates between traditional ultra conservative religious leaders and an increasingly outspoken liberal intellectual elite. Among the debated issues are gender interaction in schools and colleges, women’s sports, participation in elections for the chambers of commerce and municipal councils, women’s driving, male guardian sponsorship, domestic violence, definition of marriage age, and inheritance laws.

Conservative religious leaders still enjoy much influence and have been able to slow many liberal initiatives undertaken by the cabinet to expand women’s role in government and to allow them entry into new sectors of public life. But while women face a long road to achieve their full rights in Saudi Arabia, as long as the King continues to support moderate change and women rights activists remain active, gradual and sustainable reform can take place.
Jafar Alshayeb is a Saudi writer, human rights activist, and chairman of the Qatif municipal council.”

(Quelle: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.)

Siehe auch:

Meet One Kick-Ass Saudi Woman