Connect with us

Latest News

Peace a distant and naive dream as PM Kabila refuses to resign

Published

on

The UN peacekeepers are on red alert – a call has just been put out on the radio.

“Red zone, red zone”. There’s a ripple of sound around our truck as they cock their weapons ready.

The two-truck convoy we are in is entering one of the areas in the north east of the Democratic Republic of Congo identified as a ‘hotspot’.

Village after village in parts of Ituri province appear to have been attacked.

Many of the homes have been set alight and are destroyed through fire. Some are smashed to the ground, leaving just a pile of gravel.

On some of the walls still standing, there’s graffiti scrawled by various rebel groups. Many of the communities have been deserted, leaving behind the shells of vandalised buildings and the scraps of lives scattered around the dust.

There have been repeated attacks directed against residents. In Kafe village, which sits on Lake Albert, many have fled in boats across to Uganda which now houses the most number of refugees in Africa.

The DRC is a mineral-rich country but its people are poor
Image:
The DRC is a mineral-rich country but its people are poor

The UN Uruguayan contingent we are with set about fortifying their position in Kafe, laying out barbed wire, filling sandbags, setting up lookout posts surrounding our camp.

Peacekeepers have been killed and aid workers kidnapped elsewhere in this country, so they are under strict instructions not to take any chances.

:: Militia attacks displaced children with machetes in war-ravaged DR Congo

Few areas are considered safe in the restive DRC right now. There are more than 16,000 UN peacekeepers in the country – the largest peacekeeping operation in the world – but peace seems a distant naive dream here right now.

The upsurge in violence which is threatening to engulf the DRC is being put down to the political instability amid increasingly strident calls for President Joseph Kabila to step down.

His second mandate expired in December 2016, but so far he has resisted calls for him to resign and hold elections.

Various government statements from ministers have insisted recently he will respect the constitution – and elections will be held in December but it has done little to quell the unrest or halt the violence.


A severely malnourished child in the Democratic Republic of Congo



Video:
Plight of DRC’s ‘internally displaced’

It has all added to the growing humanitarian crisis leaving swathes of the country desperate for food and huge numbers of the population displaced – having been frightened away from their homes and communities and moved to other areas of the country.

They are now living in large crowded, squalid camps under tarpaulin bamboo tents where disease is festering and where despair is the only commodity not in short supply.

Aid agencies say the humanitarian situation in the former Belgian colony is reaching breaking point with more than 13 million people needing help – that’s the same number as in Syria.

Yet there is little worldwide awareness of what is going on in this mineral-rich country. DRC should be rich, her people should go to sleep with full stomachs every night.

The country is Africa’s largest producer of copper and has more than half of the world’s stock of cobalt under its soil.

Yet it is pitifully low on the UN Human Development Index and hasn’t experienced a peaceful transition of power since independence in 1960.

UN soldiers patrol the area surrounding the village of Kafe
Image:
UN soldiers patrol the area surrounding the village of Kafe

The increasingly autocratic DRC authorities have denounced the mounting humanitarian concerns as exaggerated.

The President and his administration are deeply unpopular and his army, of which he is Commander in Chief, is much feared.

Many suspect the Congolese soldiers are somehow involved in stoking the unrest.

The President has used it as an excuse not to hold elections in the past. And his administration has said it won’t attend an aid donor conference in mid-April which was due to raise billions for the country’s struggling people.


Mave, 11, ran away from two militiamen but they caught up and hacked at her head and neck



Video:
‘They cut me like they were killing a goat’

The UN convoy rolls into another village. They stop to chat to the residents. Their presence, they hope, instils some calm amongst the population and acts as a deterrent to the multiple militia groups doing the attacking.

In the crowd of hungry people, many of whom have fled their homes in Tche, we spot a small baby on the back on a child who herself only looks about eight years old.

The baby is crying. It’s a sick, hungry, wailing cry. It turns out Novita has been surviving here with her baby sister and four-year-old brother for three weeks now.

The three of them have been on their own for three weeks. They’ve somehow survived by begging for scraps from strangers.

They got separated from their parents when their village was attacked. They have no idea where their parents are or even if they’re still alive.

They look dusty, noticeably thin and terrified. They tell us the last time they ate was a couple of days ago.

The surrounding adults appear somewhat embarrassed at our questions about who is looking after them. Everyone here is hungry. Everyone. The UN Captain turns to me. “Yes. It’s awful. Truly, truly tragic.”

Source link

Latest News

Climate change: President Xi Jinping vows to end Chinese funding of coal plants abroad at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) | Climate News

Published

on

China will stop funding new coal-fire projects abroad, President Xi Jinping announced at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

China was the last significant public financier of overseas coal – predominantly in Africa and Asia – delivered under its enormous global infrastructure project known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

But international pressure on Beijing to stop financing the most polluting fossil fuels has intensified, as the world attempts to meet Paris Agreement targets to prevent runaway climate breakdown.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Is President Biden’s pledge enough to help developing countries tackle climate change?

In a pre-recorded video address, President Xi told the UNGA China will “step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy, and will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad”.

Bernice Lee, director of Futures at global affairs think tank Chatham House, said recipient countries were already “moving away from [coal] plants anyway”.

“But it is a big deal, credit where credit is due,” she said. “It is important that this is now formalised and locked into the system.”

The move could be a significant step towards tackling global emissions, potentially culling $50 billion of investment across 44 projects, according to US think tank Global Energy Monitor (GEM). The Chinese President did not specify when the commitment would come into effect – although his country has not directed any BRI funding toward coal power plants so far this year.

But China itself accounts for half of the world’s coal consumption, according to Our World in Data.

The country’s “substantial domestic plans” for new coal plants is “the next new frontier” said Ms Lee.

The move is not just about tackling climate change but also about geopolitics, according to Dr Rebecca Nadin, director of ODI’s Global Risks and Resilience programme.

“Beijing also hopes the announcement will send a clear message to developing countries that they don’t need to… rely on the US’s ‘Build Back Better World’ (B3W) or the G7’s Clean Green Initiative, if they want a clean energy future.

“The message is now very much that China can provide that, either as financier, technology provider, knowledge broker or development partner.”

The announcement came hours after the US President Joe Biden promised to double his country’s aid to help poorer nations cut emissions and cope with climate change, bringing the total to $11.4bn (£8.3bn).

In May the Group of Seven (G7) countries vowed to end all new finance for coal power abroad by the end of this year, and to rid forever their own power systems of unabated coal in the 2030s.

China’s announcement could help galvanise COP26, United Nations (UN) climate talks hosted in Glasgow in November, as it had been under pressure to end the financing as a part of its updated package of climate pledges to be submitted to the UN.

However China has yet to confirm it will attend the talks, the COP26 president Alok Sharma told Sky News on Sunday.

Analysis by Thomas Cheshire, Asia Correspondent

China was the biggest financier of coal projects abroad – so Xi’s pledge is a big deal. Simply, “it leaves no international financing for new coal”, according to Lauri Myllyvirta, an analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA).

Coal’s appeal had been waning internationally. A recent analysis from CREA found that overseas coal capacity linked to China was more likely to be cancelled than built, because of economic reasons and public opposition.

But this is now the official end – and hopefully prevents overseas coal creeping back if conditions were to improve.

So, good news. But, as ever, the more important issue is China’s own use of coal.

It still relies on it a huge amount and remains the world’s biggest polluter. Xi has promised that emissions will peak by 2030

But even if that is achieved – and that’s a big if, with new coal power stations still being built – experts say it will be too late to prevent the worst effects of warming.

Watch the Daily Climate Show at 6.30pm Monday to Friday on Sky News, the Sky News website and app, on YouTube and Twitter.

The show investigates how global warming is changing our landscape and highlights solutions to the crisis.

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

US-Mexico border crisis: Vehicles form barrier at Texas crossing to deter Haitian migrants – as VP Kamala Harris criticises ‘horrible’ tactics | US News

Published

on

Parked vehicles have created a steel barrier which stretches for miles along the US border with Mexico in the latest measure to deter migrants from crossing into Texas.

The US has been expelling Haitians from a large makeshift camp at the border, which at one point had attracted more than 12,000 migrants.

Around 8,600 people remain at the camp beneath the Del Rio International Bridge, which spans the Rio Grande from Texas to Mexico’s Ciudad Acuna, after more than 3,000 migrants were moved.

Texas Department of Safety vehicles line up along the bank of the Rio Grande near an encampment of migrants, many from Haiti, near the Del Rio International Bridge, Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, in Del Rio, Texas. The U.S. is flying Haitians camped in a Texas border town back to their homeland and blocking others from crossing the border from Mexico. 
PIC:AP
Image:
The vehicles have been lined up along the bank of the Rio Grande near the camp. Pic: AP

Law enforcement officers on horseback were pictured using what appeared to be aggressive tactics against the migrants – and a barrier has now been set up along the border, using vehicles belonging to the Texas National Guard and the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Greg Abbott, the Republican governor of Texas, has backed his approval of the tactics – and criticised the Biden administration for not doing more, claiming local people and officials had “taken the lead on securing the border”.

But US Vice President Kamala Harris criticised the way the migrants had been treated, when she said: “What I saw depicted, those individuals on horseback treating human beings the way they were, was horrible.”

She added she supported an investigation into the horseback incidents, while homeland security officials called the images “extremely troubling”.

In recent days, US authorities have removed at least 4,000 people from the site for processing in detention centres.

More than 500 Haitians have been deported to their homeland on four flights, with repatriations set to continue on a regular basis, the US Department of Homeland Security said.

A U.S. border patrol officer grabs the shirt of a migrant trying to return to the United States along the Rio Grande river, after having crossed from the United States into Mexico to buy food, as seen from Ciudad Acuna, in Ciudad Acuna, Mexico September 19, 2021. REUTERS/Daniel Becerril
Image:
A migrant is pursued by a US patrol along the Rio Grande river

Some of those returned reacted angrily as they stepped off flights at Port-au-Prince airport in the Haitian capital after spending large amounts of money to travel from the troubled Caribbean nation via South America, hoping for a better life in the US.

The disturbances underscored the instability in the Caribbean nation – it is the poorest in the Western hemisphere, where a presidential assassination, rising gang violence, and a major earthquake have spread chaos in recent weeks.

The rapid expulsions were made possible by a pandemic-related authority adopted by former president Donald Trump in March 2020, which allows for migrants to be immediately removed from the country without an opportunity to seek asylum.

Unaccompanied children are exempt from the order, a decision which was made by President Joe Biden.

 United States Border Patrol agent on horseback tries to stop a Haitian migrant from entering an encampment on the banks of the Rio Grande near the Acuna Del Rio International Bridge in Del Rio, Texas on September 19, 2021. - The United States said Saturday it would ramp up deportation flights for thousands of migrants who flooded into the Texas border city of Del Rio, as authorities scramble to alleviate a burgeoning crisis for President Joe Biden's administration
Image:
Tactics by US border patrols on horseback have been widely criticised. Pic: Getty Images
Migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. take shelter in make-shift migrant camp near the International Bridge between Mexico and the U.S., as they wait to be processed, in Del Rio, Texas, U.S. September 21, 2021. REUTERS/Go Nakamura
Image:
Migrants seeking asylum in the US take shelter near the Del Rio International Bridge

Mexico has also begun moving Haitian migrants away from the border, authorities said on Tuesday, signalling their support for the US as the situation creates a political headache for Mr Biden.

Republican politicians with an eye on the 2022 midterm elections, when they will bid to retake control of Congress, have been quick to portray the camp as the result of a push to end some migration restrictions.

There are also reports that some of the Haitian migrants facing expulsion back to their homeland are instead being released in the US, with some observed at the Del Rio bus station by Associated Press journalists.

Source link

Continue Reading

Latest News

Lithuanian defence ministry urges people to ‘throw away’ Chinese phones after discovering censorship tools | Science & Tech News

Published

on

The Lithuanian Ministry of Defence has urged people to stop buying Chinese phones and throw away the ones they already possess after discovering censorship software.

It followed a report from the country’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) which found that Xiaomi devices were censoring terms deemed to be offensive to Beijing.

According to an analysis by the Lithuanian NCSC, the Chinese company’s flagship devices sold in Europe have a built-in ability to detect and censor particular terms.

The phrases included “demonstration”, “free Tibet”, “long live Taiwan independence”, and “church” according to the Lithuanian authorities.

Although the censorship capability had been turned off for devices in the European Union, the ministry of defence warned that it could be turned on remotely.

“Our recommendation is to not buy new Chinese phones, and to get rid of those already purchased as fast as reasonably possible,” said Defence Deputy Minister Margiris Abukevicius, according to Reuters.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Chinese Ambassador banned from parliament: ‘Standing up for free speech is critical’

A spokesperson for Xiaomi declined to comment when contacted by Sky News.

The call to throw away Chinese phones comes amid growing tensions between Lithuania and China over the former’s support for Taiwan – which China claims as part of its own territory.

China demanded Lithuania recall its ambassador in Beijing last month and recalled its own envoy from Vilnius in a protest over Taiwan announcing its mission in the country would use the name of Taiwan, instead of the city of Taipei, which is typically used in other European nations and in the US.

Professor Alan Woodward, a cyber security expert at the University of Surrey, told Sky News: “We all know there are different builds of phones for different countries. If you want to sell a device in a country then you have to obey the laws there.

“But to have censorship software left in that can be remotely activated… that’s a whole different level of one country effectively exporting its domestic regulations via technology,” he said.

Professor Woodward said he could understand the thought process behind the Lithuanian warning: that if one Chinese vendor has included a censorship capability to please Beijing then that made it harder to trust others haven’t done so too.

“Lithuania is a small market so I can imagine this might blow over, but the censorship software seemed to specifically be addressing items that were part of the tension between the two countries,” added Professor Woodward.

“That starts to look like a deliberate attempt to interfere,” he said.

“I’m sure other countries are also looking at these devices, so it behoves the Chinese government to make sure that they aren’t trying to export their censorship regulations elsewhere or else they could destroy trust in all Chinese vendors, and that won’t end well for anyone.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending