In Obama’s Speech, Their Voices

New York Times


When President Obama made a landmark speech against modern slavery on Tuesday, many of us in the news media shrugged. It didn’t fit into the political narrative. It wasn’t controversial, so — yawn — it wasn’t really news.   But women like Sina Vann noticed. She’s a friend of mine who was trafficked as a young girl from Vietnam into Cambodian brothels — where she was regularly punished by being locked inside coffins with scorpions and biting ants. Now an anti-trafficking activist with the Somaly Mam Foundation, she sent me an exuberant e-mail (in fractured English, her third language) with a message for Obama: “We are survivors here so proud of you, you are the big president in U.S. and you take action of trafficking. So you give victims from around the world have hope.” Continue reading In Obama’s Speech, Their Voices

Sudan, South Sudan reach partial deal

Mail and Guardian

Sudan and South Sudan have reached agreements on a demilitarised border zone and oil production but made limited progress on contested areas.  More Coverage.  “There is agreement on some areas,” said South Sudan delegation spokesperson Atif Kiir, while his Sudanese counterpart Badr el-din Abdullah Badr spoke of “progress on many issues,” with both saying a deal would be inked on Thursday. Continue reading Sudan, South Sudan reach partial deal

New sites for South Sudan refugee camps must be found, as Blue Nile conflict enters second year


“The Maban camps are among the most challenging environments Oxfam has had to provide aid in.” Pauline Ballaman

Refugees survived “year of hell” – now at risk of disease

Camps sheltering more than 100,000 Sudanese refugees in South Sudan’s Maban county are ticking timebombs, on the brink of a major outbreak of disease, international agency Oxfam said today.  At least 16 refugees have already died from an outbreak of water-borne Hepatitis E in the past few weeks and aid workers fear this figure could escalate in the coming months. Oxfam called for new, safe locations to be urgently identified for thousands of the refugees, to ease the burden on the overcrowded camps in Maban. Continue reading New sites for South Sudan refugee camps must be found, as Blue Nile conflict enters second year

REFLECTION: Let the weapons fall from our hands! A gospel plea for peace

Pax Christi USA

Scott Wrightby Scott Wright

Pax Christi USA National Council member

As we approach October 4, the Feast of St. Francis, the rumors and preparations for still another war in the Middle East evoke memories of the build-up to war in Iraq that occurred ten years ago.  In the last fifty years, the United States has initiated or intervened in a succession of wars in Southeast Asia, Central America, and the Middle East. These wars have caused enormous human suffering and loss of life, and brought pain and sorrow to families everywhere, including here at home. Can we endure the prospect of yet one more war against Iran? Continue reading REFLECTION: Let the weapons fall from our hands! A gospel plea for peace

Nigeria:35 Killed in Boko Haram Crack Down


Abuja—Nigerian forces have killed at least 35 suspected members of the outlawed Boko Haram group following a crackdown on the Islamists in their hideout in the country’s northeastern city of Damaturu, the military has said.  A military spokesman said that the operation took place Sunday overnight in Adamawa and Yobe states after a round-the-clock curfew had been imposed  in Damaturu, Yobe’s capital, earlier on Saturday.  “The Joint Task Force has succeeded in killing 35 Boko Haram terrorists in shootouts between Sunday evening through Monday,” said Lieutenant Lazarus Eli, a military spokesman.  More than 60 other suspected Boko Haram members were arrested in the crackdown that saw soldiers go door-to-door in three of the town’s neighbourhoods, resulting in an exchange of fire with the Islamist militants. Continue reading Nigeria:35 Killed in Boko Haram Crack Down

Nicaragua Ends U.S. Military Training

America Magazine

Nicaragua can now be added to the list of countries that no longer send soldiers for training to a U.S. Army school in Georgia. School of the Americas Watch reports that Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega, right, decided on Sept. 6 to end his country’s participation in the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation.   The institute was formerly called the School of the Americas, and many S.O.A. graduates had been associated with human rights abuses in Latin America.   A delegation of S.O.A. Watch activists, including its founder, the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, met with Ortega in September to push for the withdrawal. “We’re very encouraged. This has energized our movement,” Father Bourgeois said. “To have Daniel Ortega…say that Nicaragua will not participate in the future is a big deal.” Nicaragua joins Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela in withdrawing from the school.