Category Archives: Women and Children

South Sudan’s Women Deminers Brave Danger to Change Their Children’s Future

All Africa (Thomas Reuters Foundation)
By Stefanie Glinski

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Photo: PHOTOESSAY: South Suday’s Deminers Brave Danger to Change Their Children’s Future. A growing number of women deminers are clearing up bomb and unexploded ordnance – most of them mothers wanting to provide safety for their families, writes Stephanie Glinski for Thomson Reuters Foundation. Margaret J…..

11 July 2017: Juba — A growing number of women deminers are clearing up bomb and unexploded ordnance – most of them mothers wanting to provide safety for their families

Margret has decided that South Sudan is not a place to raise children, but she is changing this for future generations.

That’s why – 10 years ago – the mother of two joined the country’s 400 to 500 deminers, digging up remnants of past and present wars – bombs, unexploded ordnances and landmines.

She’s one of a growing number of women to take up the risky business, most of them mothers wanting to provide safety for their families.

“It’s my way of contributing and making this country better,” she said. “I sent my children to Uganda, but I want them to come back one day. It’s a sacrifice for me, but a gain for those returning when the war is over.”

Landmines have a long history in South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation that won independence from Sudan in 2011 after a long and violent liberation struggle. After just two years, a political squabble escalated into renewed civil war in late 2013, fracturing the new nation along ethnic lines.

More than four million mines and explosive devices have been found and destroyed in South Sudan over the last decade, says the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). While some accidents are recorded, UNMAS believes that at least 90 percent go unreported.

WAR REMNANTS
Margret currently works around Kolye village, a 30 minute drive on unpaved bumpy roads from the South Sudanese capital Juba in a lush setting of green fields and mango trees.

The area saw heavy fighting between the Sudanese army and southern rebels during Sudan’s long civil war which ended in 2005, paving the way for the South’s independence.

Deadly anti-personnel fragmentation mines were laid by Khartoum’s forces to protect their barracks.

More than a decade later, they are still killing civilians.

“Soldiers placing mines think carefully about how humans behave, where they go and what they do. That is why mines are found alongside roads, in market places or by water points,” said Jan Møller Hansen of DanChurchAid’s demining project, the organisation that also employs Margret.

While mines are easy to place, they are hard to remove. After an eight-week training course, Margret has dug out hundreds of them throughout her career and – on a good day – she can cover up to 30 square metres (320 square feet).

“We can use the safe land to build roads, hospitals and schools and that’s what excites me the most,” she smiled.

According to UNMAS’s demining chief, Tim Lardner, it will take at least another 10 years to clear up the whole country that is roughly the size of France.

South Sudan signed the Mine Ban Treaty less than six months after independence in 2011, deeming anti-personnel mines illegal and their removal mandatory.

Renewed war has complicated efforts to remove mines from previous conflicts, while rebel forces, without providing evidence, have accused the government of laying new explosives in violation of the treaty, a charge it denies.

Continue reading South Sudan’s Women Deminers Brave Danger to Change Their Children’s Future

Children Now More Than Half of the 65 Million Displaced

IPS
By Tharanga Yakupitiyage

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Refugees at the Greek-Macedonian border where a makeshift camp had sprung up near the town of Idomeni. The sudden closure of the Balkan route left thousands stranded. Credit: Nikos Pilos/IPS

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 20 2017 (IPS) – Around 20 people are newly displaced every minute of the day, according to a new report.

In its annual Global Trends report, the UN’s refugee agency UNHCR has recorded unprecedented and concerning levels of displacement around the world.

“We are used to looking at the world and seeing progress, but there is no progress to be made in terms of conflict and violence that is producing people who have had to flee,” said the Director of UNHCR’s New York Office Ninette Kelley, ahead of World Refugee Day.

In just two decades, the population of forcibly displaced persons doubled from 32 million in 1997 to 65 million in 2016, larger than the total population of the United Kingdom.

Of this figure, almost 23 million are refugees while over 40 million are displaced within their own countries. Approximately two-thirds of refugees have been displaced for generations.

Despite the slight decrease in displacement in the last year, the numbers are still “depressing” and “unacceptable,” Kelley told IPS.

“Each individual number really reflects a deep level of human loss and trouble and is experienced every minute and every second of every day,” she stated.

Much of the growth was concentrated between 2012 and 2015, and driven largely by the Syrian conflict which, now in its seventh year, has forcibly displaced over 12 million representing over half of the Middle Eastern nation’s population.

However, the biggest new concern is now South Sudan where renewed conflict and food insecurity is driving the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.

At the end of 2016, 3.3 million South Sudanese were displaced, equivalent to one in four people, and the figures have only continued to rise in 2017.

Continue reading Children Now More Than Half of the 65 Million Displaced

Message from Pax Christi Executive Director – Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN

Pax Christi USA
Dear Pax Christi USA Member,
As a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur (SNDdeN), I am humbled to join the ranks of the  outstanding leaders who have served as executive director of Pax Christi USA. I look forward to the challenge and to working with you as we approach the 40th anniversary of the Catholic peace movement in the United States. Continue reading Message from Pax Christi Executive Director – Patricia Chappell, SNDdeN

More Dangerous to Be a Woman than a Soldier

By Saaleha Bamjee

MIDRAND, South Africa, Sep 30, 2011 (IPS) – African women who bear the brunt of the continent’s conflicts now demand to play a defining role in peacekeeping.   A resolution to foster women’s political participation in the domain of peacekeeping and conflict management was accepted on Friday at the 2011 Women’s Platform for Action in Africa (WPAA).  Under the auspices of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), the WPAA meeting emphasised the urgent need for better female representation at national levels, where women can actively take part in decisions to prevent war and mediate conflict. Continue reading More Dangerous to Be a Woman than a Soldier

Gender aspects of climate change

EcoJesuit
Irene Dankelman
One of the most persistent inequalities in our societies consists of the (socially constructed) inequality between women and men. And this is despite the progress that has been made in recent years in achieving Millennium Development Goal 3 on gender equality, mainly by improving the access of girls to education. Women are less involved in decision making, they hold less often a top position in the labour markets, and they are less rewarded for the same work. In many countries and communities, oppression, poor living and health conditions, as well as violence against women, form a major concern. Not without good reason, it is still emphasized that the majority of people living in poverty are women and children. Continue reading Gender aspects of climate change

Strauss-Kahn: a metaphor for IMF practices

Leonardo Boff
Theologian
Earthcharter Commission

One might think that it is a tragedy that the head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, succumbed to his vice, the obsessive search for perverse sex. Running naked after a Black maid in suite 2806 of the Sofitel Hotel in New York City, he grabbed and forced her to have sex. The details were thoroughly described by the New York District Attorney. For the sake of decency, I will not repeat them. It was not a tragedy for him: it was just one more person in this world whom he has victimized. Afterwards, he got dressed, and went directly to the airport. Continue reading Strauss-Kahn: a metaphor for IMF practices

Strauss-Kahn: a metaphor for IMF practices

Leonardo Boff
Theologian
Earthcharter Commission

One might think that it is a tragedy that the head of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, succumbed to his vice, the obsessive search for perverse sex.  Running naked after a Black maid in suite 2806 of the Sofitel Hotel in New York City, he grabbed and forced her to have sex. The details were thoroughly described by the New York District Attorney.  For the sake of decency, I will not repeat them.  It was not a tragedy for him: it was just one more person in this world whom he has victimized. Afterwards, he got dressed, and went directly to the airport. Continue reading Strauss-Kahn: a metaphor for IMF practices