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Libya civil war: 10,000 people missing, rights group says | News



Libya has faced a tidal wave of internal conflict that has claimed thousands of lives since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow in 2011.

Between civil wars, the Abu Salim prison massacre, Gaddafi’s regional conflicts, and a tendency to “disappear” political dissidents during his reign, many thousands of Libyans have lost loved ones to political conflict and instability.

This is the reality of war and dictatorship. But the widespread disappearance of human beings is often overlooked as a consequence.

Sunday marks the International Day of the Disappeared. Each year August 30 draws attention to those who have gone missing and the resulting suffering of their families and friends.

The cost of war

Across the African continent, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has recorded 44,000 people as missing. Shockingly, almost half of these people were children at the time of their disappearance.

But the ICRC only records a missing person when a family member opens a case with the organisation.

“This caseload is a drop in the ocean,” said Sophie Marsac, ICRC’s regional adviser for the missing and their families in Africa.

In Libya, for instance, the ICRC has registered more than 1,600 people as missing. But according to the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), which aims to keep a record of every disappearance, some 10,000 people are currently disappeared in Libya alone.

It is not an unusual number after such a long period of conflict and instability. The conflicts and atrocities that accompanied the breakup of Yugoslavia, for example, are estimated to have seen 40,000 people go missing. While in Syria and Iraq, the ICMP’s estimates start at 100,000 and 250,000 people, respectively.

Largely, these numbers comprise those who went missing during years of dictatorship and conflict. But, in Libya, a significant portion can also be attributed to slavery, human trafficking, and Libya’s position on the migration route to Europe.

The moral importance of these findings cannot be overstated. Every missing person leaves behind a family, often with little support, facing psychological, legal and economic challenges for years after their loved ones disappear.

“I hardly sleep,” said Kaltum, from Nigeria, whose daughter went missing nine years ago. “I feel it in my heart that my daughter is alive. I still have hope.”

Kaltum’s daughter went missing in Nigeria nine years ago. More than half of the 44,000 cases of missing people registered with the ICRC in Africa are children [Courtesy: ICRC]

‘I still have hope’

Today, there are organised international efforts to determine the fate of missing individuals around the globe.

In the Western Balkans, for example, the ICMP pioneered the use of DNA matching and strict database informatics to locate and identify thousands of missing people. And today, 70 percent of those who disappeared following the conflicts of the early 1990s have now been accounted for.

In Libya, the ICMP said it has made remarkable progress since signing a cooperation agreement with the government in November 2012.

Alongside the Ministry for the Families of Martyrs and the Missing (MFMM), the ICMP helped develop the Libyan Identification Centre to act as a focal point for investigations across the country. And since then, the ICMP has significantly enhanced the technical and scientific capacities of the MFMM by providing specialised training courses in forensic archaeology, crime-scene management, and DNA reference-sample collection.

Altogether, the ICMP has helped authorities identify 150 individuals, and collect genetic reference samples representing more than 2,500 missing people from all over Libya. Given the political instability sweeping across the country, this is a significant result.

However, much of the organisation’s work is “intelligence-based”, meaning a lot of time is spent interviewing witnesses and survivors of political crimes before heading out into the field to search for physical evidence.

Since the outbreak of civil war in 2014, the continued threat of violence has made such operations incredibly dangerous, forcing the ICMP to suspend its Libyan mission.

Excavations in mass graves found in Tarhuna liberated from Haftar militia

Excavations of mass graves found in Tarhuna, Libya in June [Hazem Turkia/Anadolu]

New challenges

International organisations have come to expect such challenges in their line of work. But these difficulties have only been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept across the globe.

It is now impossible for ICRC analysts to gather large groups of people to listen for names or look through photos, and with many countries suspending travel between states or provinces, it has become extremely difficult to undertake large-scale searches.

So the ICMP helped pioneer the use of satellite imagery and spectral analysis to identify the boundaries of mass graves.

According to the ICRC, their family links-tracing websites – Trace the Face Southern Africa and Trace the Face Europe – have been useful amid the limitations associated with COVID-19, as relatives can now continue their search remotely using a vast database of digital photographs.

These tools help keep the search for the missing alive. But, despite the best efforts of the ICMP and the ICRC, thousands are still left wondering about the fate of their loved ones.

It is not just about closure for the families of missing persons, but about government responsibility, justice, and societal healing.

Alongside obvious ethical obligations, states also have a legal responsibility to account for the missing. The vast majority of these disappearances are a product of political crimes, and it is the state’s responsibility to hold those responsible to account.

As Kathryne Bomberger, director general of the ICMP, explained: “Accounting for the missing is a moral obligation, but it is also – and this is crucial – a legal obligation.

“All families of all missing persons have a right to justice. States are legally obliged to investigate the whereabouts of the missing and the circumstances of their disappearance in line with the rule of law,” she told Al Jazeera.

But effective efforts to discover missing people necessitate cooperation between countries, international institutions, and civil society. By involving the state in the discovery and prosecution processes, Bomberger said the organisation also hopes to strengthen national institutions.

In Libya, for example, the ICMP has helped facilitate cooperation between civil society and local government, and has helped develop an institutional and legal framework to account for missing persons.

Such operations are vital to the development of strong institutions, and by guaranteeing the rights of its citizens the state also bolsters its own legitimacy – something often lacking in post-conflict societies.

Beyond this, the process of searching for and discovering missing individuals also helps build an accurate record of a nation’s history, which is itself key to maintaining peace in delicate, post-conflict states.

Such societies are fragile and by exploiting popular fears and resentments, unscrupulous leaders can often drag them back towards violence and civil war. But a historical record based on scientific fact greatly reduces the possibility for future leaders to foment distrust, hate, and conflict.

“Accounting for the missing is an investment in peace and stability,” Bomberger said.

Future prospects

Nevertheless, the future of these projects appears relatively uncertain.

In Libya this week, renegade commander Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) rejected the ceasefire announcement made by the UN-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA). These two factions represent the main forces in Libya’s ongoing civil war, and Haftar’s dismissal casts doubt over what was at least a fragile peace.

Combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, charities and international organisations are facing more and more obstacles in their search for the missing.

But these organisations are incredibly resilient. In Iraq, for example, the ICMP has helped establish legislative, government, and civil society initiatives that are working together to locate missing persons, prosecute those guilty for their disappearance, and support the families of the missing.

All this has been achieved despite continuing unrest across the country, demonstrating the remarkable progress that can be made given the necessary effort and political will.

As Marsac explained: “International Day of the Disappeared should remind us that an untold number of families are searching for a loved one, many of them parents looking for a child. The tragedy of missing people is a humanitarian crisis and one that cannot be forgotten as the world focuses on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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