(GIN)—Residents of a suburb of Accra are blaming government for failing to take action and prevent flooding fatalities, which are again mounting one year after heavy rains and a gas station explosion took more than 150 lives.
Accra, the capital city, has been swamped after four days of torrential rain last week.
“In all we have 10 to 12 who lost their lives during this rainy season,” National Disaster Management Organisation regional coordinator Sandy Amartey said in a press interview.
“We have two women and an eight-year-old girl who were walking, and a wall fell on them and they died,” Amartey said. “A nine-year-old boy was electrocuted at Amamoma, site of Cape Coast University, and six children drowned,” Amartey added.
But local area residents reminded government of its promise to prevent similar tragedies a year ago.
“Every day they say they will solve this [flood] problem. But nothing changes. All my properties have been destroyed,” Nii Nai, a resident of Adabraka, an Accra suburb, told the AFP newswire.
HADI—THE FACE OF AN IMMIGRANT ON WORLD REFUGEE DAY
(GIN)—The UN’s World Refugee Day is a global observance of the plight of thousands of women, men and children forced to flee their country under threat of persecution, conflict and violence.
Severe drought and the loss of harvests, farm animals and clean water have also pushed many from their homes to attempt risky crossings on unsafe vessels for which they often give their life savings.
This year, Hadi, a refugee and young father from Burkina Faso, West Africa, was able to tell his story on a video posted on Twitter and Facebook, prepared by the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. (The video is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Fh9Mjrtso0.)
“Why I left, I wasn’t safe in my country, it’s very hard to live there,” he said. “Here, we are rebuilding our lives from trauma, from tragedy … We came to live in peace.”
When Hadi left, Burkina Faso was in the throes of a coup d’etat. With the exile of the president, Blaise Campaore, there were high hopes for a democratic transition. It was not to be.
The majority of immigrants resettled in New York State in 2014 were not from Hadi’s country but from Burma (Myanmar), Bhutan, Somalia and Iraq. According to the Bureau of Refugee and Immigrant Assistance, of the 4,085 refugees resettled in New York State, 95 percent were resettled in upstate New York. Only 215 were resettled in New York City and on Long Island.
In a blog post on the Reuters website, Raj Patel and Eric Tang, university professors, called this World Refugee Day “the most contentious one in recent memory.”
After the Vietnam war, they noted, one million immigrants were admitted to the U.S. from Southeast Asia—the single largest wave of refugees in U.S. history. But once in the U.S., the bloggers wrote, the refugees were cast aside, placed into housing in some of the most devastated neighborhoods and sent to poverty-wage jobs, where many of them remain.
Those fleeing Syria today are finding the same playbook—social isolation, state dependency and working poverty, Patel and Tang wrote in their blog. In addition, only 2,500 refugees have been admitted to the U.S. since the beginning of the Syrian war, a far cry from the 10,000 initially pledged for one fiscal year alone.
As regards the Somalis, those who found shelter in neighboring Kenya have until November before Dadaab, the world’s largest refugee camp, will close. According to President Uhuru Kenyatta, the camp had been used as a base by Al-Shabaab terrorists to plan and execute attacks on Kenya.
UN Chief Ban Ki-moon has pledged to help secure funds so that the refugees are repatriated safely and with dignity. But Ahmed Awad, Somali’s ambassador to the U.S., was doubtful that a camp built 25 years ago could be closed in a few months’ time.
A video produced by the U.N.’s Refugee Agency tells the stories of refugees around the world. It can be seen online at http://www.unhcr.org/refugeeday/us.
ANGOLA FINDS ANOTHER PLUM JOB FOR PRESIDENT’S WEALTHY DAUGHTER
(GIN)—Angola’s aging president has found a new and lucrative job for his daughter, Isabel dos Santos, who already holds the title of Africa’s richest woman.
This month, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, 73, tapped his daughter to head Sonangol, the national oil company. Using a presidential decree he also sacked the company’s directors in a move some have called unconstitutional.
“With matters of natural strategic resources, the president cannot change the rules as he pleases,” said Rafael Marques, an Angolan human rights activist. “He must make a request from parliament. He didn’t do that and therefore Sonangol’s reforms are unconstitutional.”
June 9, a group of lawyers challenged Isabel dos Santos’ appointment and presented their concerns to the Supreme Court. The main opposition party, the Union for the Total Independence of Angola, has also requested an inquiry into the company shake-up.
Gary van Staden, an analyst at NKC African Economic in Paarl, near Cape Town, concurred. “In this day and age, I don’t think leaders in countries like Angola should be appointing their children to head key parts of the economy and key parts of government. I think it will be perceived as very negative and I think there will be some fallout for them from this.”
Isabel dos Santos already owns a 25 percent stake in Angola’s first private mobile phone operator and is a major shareholder in other big companies in Angola and Portugal. Her wealth is estimated at $3 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Angola vies with Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer and also produces diamonds.
The Russian-educated dos Santos, Africa’s second-longest serving president, has said he will quit “active politics” in 2018 after leading the country since 1979. His son Jose Filomeno dos Santos already runs Angola’s $5 billion sovereign wealth fund.
Despite the questionable appointment of Isabel dos Santos, experts from PricewaterhouseCoopers and Boston Consulting Group are said to be ready to assist in the company’s reorganization.
But they may be cautioned by the current court case against Goldman Sachs for its trading advice to a Libyan fund that wound up losing its shirt while the U.S. banker made millions in profits.
Meanwhile, Luaty Beirao, a rapper known as Ikonoklasta, was moved to a prison hospital, where he is said to be on a hunger strike.
The rapper is an outspoken critic of the dos Santos’ government and has called for a fairer distribution of the state’s oil wealth.