UN Report: Reproductive Rights Influence Family Size

Family size is closely linked to reproductive rights, according to the State of World Population 2018 report.
The U.N. report says people in developed countries tend to have lower fertility rates because of greater access to family planning services, modern contraceptives and age-appropriate sex education.
The director of the U.N. Population Fund office in Geneva, Monica Ferro, says in places where reproductive rights are constrained, either due to lack of resources or government mandates, people have a limited ability to choose the size of their families.
“Many sub-Saharan African countries, for example, have fertility rates of four or more births per woman,” Ferro said. “At the other end of the spectrum, you have some eastern Asian and European countries with fewer than two births per women. In both cases, individuals face obstacles to the full realization of their reproductive rights.”
The world population is expected to increase by 2.5 billion by 2050, to nearly 10 billion people, with sub-Saharan Africa expected to contribute more than half of that growth.
Women in Africa must overcome many legal and social barriers to achieve control of their fertility, Ferro said.
“Women may not have the access to medical services,” she told VOA. “They may not have the access to child care. They may not have access to all the institutional and social support that comes with being ready or being able to plan your fertility.”
To make freedom of choice a reality, the report urges countries to offer universal access to quality reproductive health care, including modern contraceptives and better education.
It also advocates for a change in men’s attitudes toward a woman’s right to choose the number, timing and spacing of children.

Source: Voice of America

Victims of Zimbabwe’s Post-Election Violence Seek Justice

In Zimbabwe, an inquiry is under way into what caused at least seven deaths during a post-election protest.
Adrian Munjere, 31, says he is lucky to be alive after a stray bullet from an assault rifle fractured his right hand.
Munjere told a commission on Zimbabwe’s post-election violence that he witnessed troops firing live rounds to disperse opposition supporters during the Aug. 1 protest.
“I am bitter at the whole system,” he told VOA after giving testimony. “I am looking forward to getting compensation because I feel like I cannot use this hand anymore to [do] anything manual or anything heavy. It is not like the compensation I want is going to cover for this damage — no. It is just so that I can sustain myself.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa appointed the independent commission, which is headed by former South African President Kgalema Motlanthe. The commission has three months to bring closure to the shootings, in which at least seven protesters were killed and dozens of people were injured.
Opposition protesters were in the streets Aug. 1, demanding the release of Zimbabwe’s July presidential election results. The government says police were overwhelmed, so the army was called in. The army has been silent on who was responsible for the killings.
Mnangagwa was declared the winner two days later.
Jacob Mafume, spokesman for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, says the commission is a charade.
“And for serious people to continue hearing testimony about how people demonstrated, and about how people expressed themselves, without dealing with the critical issue who asked for deployment, who gave live ammunition, and who gave the order to shoot, and who in particular shot, so that they can be interviewed to understand what was going through their mind, and what was their orders. It is a shame that President Motlanthe could lend his name to such a comical show,” Mafume said.
But former South African President Motlanthe says he is hopeful some answers will come out of the commission.
“Our tasks will be to identify the actors — their leader’s strategies and motives; to inquire into the intervention by the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the maintenance of law and order; to investigate circumstances which necessitated the involvement of the military in assisting in the maintenance of law and order; to consider whether the degree of force was appropriate in ensuring public safety, law and order,” Motlanthe said.
It is not only Zimbabwe’s opposition protesters who are seeking compensation from the commission.
A senior official from the ruling ZANU-PF party told the commission that opposition protesters set his $100,000 bus on fire because it was decorated with party logos.

Source: Voice of America

Nigeria Says Muslim Insurgents Killed 2nd Female Aid Worker

The Nigerian government says a second female aid worker kidnapped earlier this year by an extremist Islamic group has been murdered.
The information ministry late Monday identified the victim as Hauwa Mohammed Liman, who worked at a hospital supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Liman and Saifura Khorsa, who also worked for the ICRC, were abducted in March during a raid on the remote town of Rann in Borno state, along with Alice Loksha, a nurse who worked at a health center supported by the U.N.’s children agency UNICEF. The women were kidnapped by militants with the Islamic State West Africa Province, a breakaway faction of the Islamic State-affiliated group Boko Haram.
The group murdered Khorsa last month, and released a video threatening to kill one of the other women by Monday if the government did not meet its demands, which have not been revealed.
The Information Ministry said the government “kept the line of negotiations” with the captors open, and did “all within its powers” to save Liman’s life.
“The news of Hauwa’s death has broken our hearts,” said ICRC’s Regional Director for Africa, Patricia Danzi. “We appealed for mercy and an end to such senseless murders. How can it be that two female health care workers were killed back-to-back? Nothing can justify this.”
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres strongly condemned the killing of Hauwa Mohammed Liman and expressed concern for all remaining hostages, in a statement issued by his spokesman.
In addition to Loksha, the ISWAP is also holding 15-year-old Leah Sharibu, a 15-year-old Christian schoolgirl kidnapped in February from the town of Dapchi.
Boko Haram, which promotes an extreme form of Islamist fundamentalism and opposes Western-style education, is blamed for the deaths of more than 30,000 people and for the dislocation of more than two million others as part of an insurgency that began in 2009. The group made international headlines in April 2014 when it abducted 276 schoolgirls from a secondary school in the northeastern Nigerian town of Chibok. According to #BringBackOurGirls, the social media campaign and organization that formed after the kidnapping, 112 girls are still missing.

Source: Voice of America

US Says 60 Militants Killed in Somalia Airstrike

The U.S. military says 60 al-Shabab militants were killed in Friday’s airstrike near the town of Harardhere in central Somalia.
A statement Tuesday from the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) says the strike was conducted in coordination with the government of Somalia.
“We currently assess this airstrike killed approximately 60 terrorists,” the statement read. It said the airstrike was the largest such attack against al-Shabab since November of last year, when another U.S. airstrike killed about 100 fighters of the Islamist militant group.
The Africa Command says there were no civilians killed or injured in the attack on Oct. 12.
Al-Shabab has yet to comment on the airstrike or reported fatalities.
A Somali official says the strike happened near the village of Jowle, about 20 kilometers southwest of Harardhere. The official, who did not want to be named, put the death toll at 117.
He says when the attack occurred, the militants were gathered at a camp and were planning to travel to the Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions, where villagers have put up resistance against al-Shabab.
The villagers, known as Ma’awisley, a reference to the sarong many of them wear, have been battling the militants because they are “fed up” with al-Shabab demands for money and the group’s recruitment of young boys as fighters.
Intermittent clashes have been taking place between Ma’awisley and al-Shabab since late last month in the two regions. Both sides have suffered casualties, and on Oct. 1, the leader of the Ma’awisley, Hibad Ali Dasar, was killed near the town of Adan Yabaal in Middle Shabelle.
The day after the death of Dasar, the chief of the Somali army, General Dahir Aden Indhoqarsho, expressed support for villagers standing up to al-Shabab.
The United States has been conducting airstrikes against al-Shabab in support of the Somali government. U.S. forces have carried out 27 airstrikes this year, and 33 in 2017.
The attacks have killed a number of top al-Shabab leaders, including the group’s former emir, Ahmed Abdi Godane, on Sept. 1, 2014.

Source: Voice of America

Mass Expulsion of Congolese from Angola Could Spark Humanitarian Crisis

The United Nations refugee agency warns the mass expulsion of an estimated 200,000 Congolese from Angola into Congo’s unstable Kasai Central Province could trigger a humanitarian crisis.
Ethnic tensions that triggered a brutal conflict in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2016 are still running high. The U.N. refugee agency says the arrival of another 200,000 people into the area could further destabilize this fragile region.
Over the past two weeks, Angola has expelled the Congolese migrants, who were working as informal miners in the northeastern part of the country. Angolan authorities say they want to shut down this illegal activity.
But, UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch says the sudden arrival of such a huge number of people has created a chaotic situation in Kasai, which is unprepared to handle them.
“People have been arriving in DRC through different border points with whatever belongings they can bring. We have heard complaints of violence, including sexual violence and harassment, bodily frisking and theft of belongings, at the hands of the security forces on both sides of the border,” he said.
Baloch says the UNHCR is also concerned about reports that a small number of refugees may have been caught up in the mass movement and been forced to return to the DRC. Angola currently hosts some 68,000 refugees and asylum seekers.
The UNHCR notes that mass expulsions are contrary to obligations under the African Charter. The agency is appealing to the governments of Angola and the DRC to work together to ensure safe and orderly returns.
In the meantime, it says those who have been forcibly returned are in dire straits. Most have few if any belongings and all are in need of food, water, shelter, and other basic services.

Source: Voice of America