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

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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.”



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Year of the Overcomer-Prophet Elvis Mbonye

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The eagerly awaited first fellowship of controversial Prophet Elvis Mbonye left viewers shocked as he declined to issue his now famous prophecies citing a refusal to settle for the new normal. In an on online service watched by thousands, the Prophet said him prophesying would “ be a concession to gathering online, rather than physically” further stating that it is not the will of God that church should meet online!

The Covid-19 SOPs given by the government and Ministry of Health have heavily impacted gatherings and as a result, ministries with large congregations have resorted to online services. The prophet however insists that this is a ploy to diminish the influence of the Kingdom of God.

He however proceeded to give the Prophetic Word of the year , saying “This is the year of the Overcomers” amidst cheers from those present. He also stated that this would not be a “gloomy” year, probably meaning that this would be a good year. Given that many of his prophecies have actually come to pass, should we pay more attention to him? We eagerly await the prophecies this year.

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Kabuleta blasts Media over “COFIT” reporting in new rant.

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Presidential hopeful Joseph Kiiza Kabuleta has expressed dissatisfaction with the media over what he says was”alarmist reporting” over the Covid-19 pandemic which he calls “COFIT” a term we believe is a wordplay between covid and profit, a view held by many that claims that the disease was exaggerated to maximize funding and corruption. Kabuleta has come to be known for his straight shooting style and admirable command of facts and policy, even being touted as the “smartest candidate” in the race.here is the full statement:

MEDIA AND THE COFIT ENTERPRISE

By Joseph Kabuleta

“Don’t look at where you fell, but where you slipped”
AFRICAN PROVERB

We know where the media fell. They fell when they were caught in the crossfire between opposition politicians and trigger-happy security hitmen; when they were unfairly targeted as they went about their noble duty of covering this explosive elective season. Sadly, some journalists are nursing wounds; others weren’t so lucky.
But it’s important for us to understand where they slipped.

If someone is sitting by the roadside sipping on his brew and he sees a gang of people sprinting past him, as if for their lives, it’s understandable if he impulsively joins without asking questions. But if after nine months he is still sprinting, and has still not asked any questions, then there’s something terribly wrong with him.

When we first went into lockdown in March, it was probably the best course of action because we didn’t know the full extent of the Cofit threat. But in the first 90 days, it was clear to all and sundry that it was never going to rank among Uganda’s top health challenges. And that’s not my opinion.

The Daily Monitor on July 15th quoted Dr Baterana Byarugaba, the Mulago Hospital Executive Director, describing the Cofit strain in the country as a mild form of flu which does not require hospital admission since it can be treated at home or in lower health facilities.
“l told Ugandans right from the beginning that the type of coronavirus we expect in Uganda is the mild one. It can be treated at health centre II, III, IV or the district hospital,” the top Medic said.

I read the story with glorious delight supposing that finally common sense, (or should I say science sense) would inform our decisions as a nation. But it’s difficult to know where science stops and politics starts. It’s become clear over the months that Cofit is not just a virus that causes respiratory problems, it’s a lot more than that; it’s a weapon in the hands of politicians that gives them power beyond their wildest dreams. In America, for instance, Democrat Congressman Jim Clyburn said Cofit is a “tremendous opportunity to restructure things to fit our (leftist) vision” while actress and activist Jane Fonda said that Cofit was “God’s gift to the left.”

Our media could have taken the side of poor Ugandans by showing the immense suffering and death from preventable sicknesses that resulted from the harsh Cofit measures; they could have highlighted the plight of businesses permanently closed and workers rendered redundant and sent back to villages. They could have wondered why truck drivers were testing negative in Kenya and positive in Uganda, or wondered why Cofit deaths only started after Prophet Museveni showed us a macabre lineup of coffins in his address, or why every celebrity who dies since then is ruled as Cofit (no autopsy required)

They could have told us that according to Worldometer, Cofit has a 0.28% mortality rate (or a 99.72 survival rate) and that it doesn’t rank anywhere in the Top 10 of Uganda’s health challenges; they could have told us that a child dies of malaria every two minutes (and Uganda accounts for 3% of the world’s malaria fatalities), which means that more Ugandans die from mosquitoes in ten days than Cofit has (allegedly) killed in the nine months it’s been on our lips.

Ugandans (especially of my age) have lived through real pandemics. As a young man growing up in the early 90s, nobody had to remind me that AIDS was real. Goodness me, I knew it was! And I didn’t need police to force me to wear protection, I knew the consequences. The fact that we are constantly being reminded that ‘Cofit is real’ tells a story of its own.

The media could have asked why Uganda, with one of the lowest Cofit cases or deaths, still holds on to a 9:00pm curfew when Kenya moved to 11:00pm in September, as did South Africa and several countries. The media could have told us that Malawi, Burundi, Tanzania and, recently, Ghana all held successful elections with full blown campaigns in 2020, and we aren’t hearing people dropping dead from Cofit in any of those countries. May be they should have tried to find out if people are dropping dead in Tanzania which altogether ignored all Cofit measures and went on to acquire middle-income status while Ugandans were still in lockdown.

They could have told us about the asymptomatic Cofit patients who were filmed dancing the night away in hospital wards, or of people suffering from other diseases who dare not go to hospital because they fear to be given a fake Cofit label and held for two weeks against their will.

The media could have told us that Cofit deaths across the world have been grossly inflated. Minnesota lawmakers say Cofit deaths could have been inflated by 40% after examining death certificates (according to The Washington Examiner) while Fox News reported that in Colorado 45% of Cofit corpses “were also found to have bullet wounds”.

They could have told us that 22 European countries, all of which had tens of thousands of Cofit deaths, opened their schools in the fall, and there has not been any reported spikes in cases as a result. They could have told us that more people have been killed by security men enforcing Cofit measures than by the virus itself.

Well, they could have…but they didn’t. And that’s where they slipped.

Instead they chose to go down the path of alarmist reporting and in so doing became, inadvertently or otherwise, enablers of Uganda’s trillion-shilling Cofit enterprise. Like Squealer in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, the media used flowery language to drum up fear by keeping people’s eyes transfixed on swelling numbers while the thieves carried their loot and stashed it away, and loan money was distributed among family members or used in regime prolongation.

The recent joint television news bulletin, and the adverts that followed, were the peak of hysterical reporting. “Zuukuka Tusaanawo” (wake up, we are perishing) screamed an advert featuring top media personalities. What a load of……(fill in appropriate word).

Remember, all the tyranny we have witnessed in this season has been done in the name of Cofit, and such sensationalist reporting justifies it; it gives dictators like Museveni the perfect pseudo-moralistic cover to unleash their most despotic fantasies while actually pretending that it’s for the good of the people. Unfortunately, the terror has now spread to the very media people whose hyperbole enabled it in the first place. There is such a thing as the law of cause and consequence, after all.

Instead of the media walking out of pressers and threatening to boycott government functions, let them threaten to stop all Cofit reporting. Museveni himself would come running with chocolate in hand.

If the president extended curfew by just two hours, for instance, he will have put as many as 200,000 Ugandans back to work especially in the hotel, restaurant and entertainment industries; but he doesn’t care, and sadly neither do many middleclass Ugandans who suppose that it’s their moral obligation as responsible citizens of the Global Village to fret over Cofit just because their ‘fellow citizens’ in Europe and America are doing so. Of course they can afford to do that because their corporate jobs have, for the most part, insulated them from the devastation of the government-instituted Cofit measures. They can enjoy working at home, beer in hand, as they listen to CNN and BBC and still expect the full complement of their salaries at the month end, and that makes them feel every bit like ‘their brothers’ overseas.

Such aspirational conformists are more likely to be offended by my stance on Cofit because they haven’t traversed crook and creek of this country and seen the damage reigned on this fragile society; not by the virus, but by the measures supposedly instituted to mitigate it.

You see, perhaps the most enduring damage this regime has done to our society is creating a three-part hierarchy of class and needs. At the zenith are a handful of connected ‘1986 generation’ and their families who feel entitled to all power and wealth. Beneath is a small (and shrinking) middleclass, and at the bottom of the pyramid is a mass of peasants. Every society, to various degrees, is ordered in the same fashion, but what makes Uganda unique is that the megalomaniacs at the top don’t give a nickel about the plight of the middleclass and the middleclass in turn don’t care a bit about the quandary of the peasant. The charlatans at the top will impose punitive taxes on the middleclass, then dip into NSSF coffers at a whim to share out their savings, and no one can stop them.

And the middleclass Ugandan, armed with his medical insurance, and safe in the knowledge that his wife is unlikely to die in child birth (20 Ugandans do EVERY DAY), and his children are very unlikely to die of malaria (20 do EVERY DAY), or from malnutrition (thousands do every year), will go around trumpeting Cofit because it’s more relevant to his status than malnutrition or malaria.

I could just as easily go down that path. I could also close my eyes to mothers failing to get breast milk because they can only afford half a meal a day (black tea with a piece of cassava), and the malnourished babies that emerge as a result; I could close my eyes to the teenage girls that were given out in marriage because schools closed, or those given out to meet family needs; I could ignore the fact that our president is opening 5-star markets in cities which have 1-star referral hospitals; I could also choose to look the other way and enjoy my middleclass lifestyle, but as an aspiring leader, I cannot.

As a leader, my aspiration is to remove the privileged/entitled class, to expand the middleclass (and their income), and to shrink the peasantry; but mostly to blur the lines that separate each category.
It doesn’t bode well for our country if the average Corporate Ugandan knows more about racism in America than about extreme poverty in Teso or Busoga because that disqualifies him/her from the solution to those local problems.

And finally, I have come to the realization that the biggest pandemic afflicting our country is poverty and the virus that causes it is called M7-1986. Vaccination against it is January 14

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Muntu Blocked in Kamwenge

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Alliance for National Transformation presidential candidate Gen. Mugisha Muntu has been blocked from campaigning in Kamwenge according to a statement he released earlier today.Below is the full statement:

STATEMENT
Today in Kamwenge, as we have done since the start of the campaign season, we headed out to speak with the people. We had earlier in the week agreed on the venue with security agencies. No one had anticipated that it would rain as much as it did, making it impossible for us or the people to access.

After identifying an alternative place only 100m away from the original venue, negotiating with the owner and communicating the same to the public, we headed to the second venue only to be stopped by police.

Our policy has always been to do all we can to be reasonable, even in the face of unreasonable action on the part of the state. We engaged the police leadership in a civilized, respectable manner well knowing that they intended to not only frustrate us, but cause us to act in ways that would give them an excuse to cause chaos. This was on top of their intimidating the radio we had booked and duly paid to appear on.

While we are confident that we are on the right side of both the law and reason, we have chosen not to endanger the lives of our supporters or the general public by escalating the situation. We will do everything humanly possible to avoid a single life being lost or blood being shed on account of our campaign.

And yet this truth remains: the regime’s days are numbered.

ChangeYouCanTrust

CountryBeforeSelf

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