The Quickie

A bite-sized look at this week's news…

Archive for the ‘Sarah Nicholas’ Category

Congo Crisis Background

Posted by sarahnics on November 8, 2008

The Democratic Republic of Congo is trying to recover from its five year long war, dubbed “Africa’s World War,” which involved seven countries and devastated the entire region.

The war officialy ended in 2003, however peace  talks seems to have had no affect on the rebel forces continuing to kill thousands of people, resulting in one of the worst humanitarian crisis’ the world ever witnessed.

The war is directly connected to the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda in 1994, where nearly 800,000 Tutsi and some Hutu were slaughtered by the Hutu government.

Rwanda’s post war Tutsi government then invaded Congo in 1996 to pursue the Hutu militia. Rwanda then installed the rebel leader Laurent Kabilaas president, who then started stirring up hatred for the Tutsi in Congo.

This triggered off the war which raged from 1998 to 2003, and involved Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Uganda.   

Peace Talks

In 2001 Kabila was assassinated, his son Joseph gained power and soon began peace talks, which are still in place today, but are on very unstable with talks of outbreaks of violence across the Congo.

The largest UN peacekeeping force is stationed in Congo with 17,000 troops, and the International Criminal Court in The Hague launching inquiries into investigating war crimes.

The task of keeping control in country the size of western Europe,  lacking even the most basic infrastructure and troops having to use jungle paths and rivers as their paths.

Also with dozens of groups, heavily armed, and some reportedly being backed by the Rwandan or the Ugandan governments or powerful politicians, it seems almost impossible to keep the peace.

Humanitarian Crisis

According to the International Rescue Committee, since the start of Africa’s War, some 5.4 million people have died from violence or war related illness since 1998.

Militias regularly target civilian men, and women, children and thousands of families are in a constant battle for their lives.

Aid agencies say rape is endemic in regions where militias are a constant occurrence. They live to brutalise villagers and loot, and the very old an very young are the worst affected.

More than 340,000 Congolese are displaced from their homes and have taken refuge across the region, although some are beginning to make their way home.

Sarah Nicholas (

For the main article click here:


Posted in Sarah Nicholas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Congo Refugees Promised Help

Posted by sarahnics on November 2, 2008

Congolese refugees who have fled the fighting in eastern Congo have been promised help from the West, however the idea of the European Union sending troops in to protect civilians have not been mentioned.

Desperate people rushed from their homes to mob the French Foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and the British Foreign minister David Miliband at a camp in North Kivu Province, where a recent rebel offensive triggered a humanitarian crisis.

The ministers were on a trip to assess what kind of help the EU could give to Congo’s government, the UN peacekeepers and aid workers in order to cope with the thousands of starving people.

Humanitarian Assistance

France proposed the idea of the bloc, sending 1,500 troops to Congo to help the existing 17,000 UN peacekeepers in their mission to deliver humanitarian assistance.

However while both Mr Kouchner and Mr Miliaband said a humanitarian operation was in process, they indicated the option of and EU deployment, which has previously encountered resistance from other EU members, was only under review.

Mr Miliband told ITN news, “I don’ think we’re here to discuss and EU force. We’re here to discuss the humanitarian situation.”

The ministers who earlier met with the Congolese President Joseph Kabila travelled on to neighbouring Rwanda to lobby with President Paul Kagame’s government to support a lasting peace deal in North Kiva.

Congo and Rwanda have had problems in the past, each accusing the other of backing rival rebel groups.

“Catastrophic Situation”

The recent offensive attacks by Tustsi rebel forces loyal to renegade General Laurent Nkunda, and killings and looting by Congolese army troops have created what aid workers describe as a “catastrophic situation” in North Kivu.

However a ceasefire by Nkunda seems to be holding.

While Mr Miliband and Mr Kouchner said pledged more European aid, refugees say that what is really needed is more security.

“We really want to return home. Food is not the problem,” said refugee Emilie Manigera in Kibati to ITN news.


Sarah Nicholas (

For the background article click here:

Posted in Sarah Nicholas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sharia Law-Background

Posted by sarahnics on October 31, 2008

The case of Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow stoning is not an unusual one. There have been many other cases which have caught international recognition, where women have appealed to the Western world for help.

More and more muslim states in Africa are beginning to adopt Islamic law, prompting international pressure to amend these laws.

Sharia Law

Sharia law derives from the teachings of the Koran and from Sunna, which is the practice of the prophet Mohammed.

It is practised in varying degrees in different Islamic countries, ranging from beheadings in Suadi Arabia to the more relaxed practises in Malaysia.

Sharia means “the path to the watering hole,” illustrating that the Islamic way of life is more than just a criminal justice system.

Sharia is a religious code of living, and is adopted by muslims in various degrees as a a matter of personal conscience, it is also used as a law in certain states and is enforced by the courts.

Some of the modes of conduct of living under Sharia law decrees many things from prayers to giving to the poor, also that men and women should dress modestly.

Within Sharia law there is a set of offences know as Hadd offences. These offences carry specific penalties set by the Koran and the Prophet Mohammed.

These include unlawful sexual intercourse, false accusation of umlawful intercourse, drinking alcohol and theft.

Unlawful sexual intercourse carries a penalty of stoning or flogging, while theft is punished with cutting off a hand.

Death by stoning

Other women have had media attention for similar offences, Safiya Huseini was one such person who was sentanced to death by stoning, she was accused of having a child with her married neighbour.

She had her child after her divorce but mantained that the child was her ex husbands, she won her appeal in October 2002, on the grounds that she had sex out of wedlock before Sharia law took effect in her state of Nigeria.

This case was soon followed by another, Amina Lawal was sentanced to death by stoning after she gave birth to a daugther out of wedlock, proof that she did indulge in unlawful sex.

The man who was said to be the father of her daughter did admit to having a relationship with her but denied having sex with her.

All charges against him was dropped as no witnesses came forward.

She tried to appeal her case on the same grounds as that of Safiya Huseini, but it was denied by the courts.


Sarah Nicholas (

For the main article click here:

Posted in Sarah Nicholas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Somali woman stoned to death

Posted by sarahnics on October 30, 2008

A woman in the African state of Somalia has been stoned to death after an Islamic sharia law court found her guilty for committing adultery.

The 23 year old woman was said to be bound hand and foot before being buried up to her neck, then was pelted to death, in front of thousands of people in the town of Kismayo.

While the execution took place, witnesses said that guards opened fire, killing a child when relatives started to run forward.

A local Islamist leader said that the woman had pleaded guilty to the crime of adultery.

Sheihk Hayakalla told the BBC, “She was asked several times to review her confession, but she stressed tha she wanted Sharia law, and the deserved punishment to apply.”

Unfair Treatment

Relatives of the condemned woman, later named as Asha Ibrahim Dhuhulow, say that she was unfairly treated.

Her sister told The Metro Newspaper, “The stoning was totally irreligious and illogical, Islam does not execute a woman for adultery unless four witness and the man with whom she committed sex are brought forward publicly.” 

One witness Abdullah Aden said, “We were told she submitted herself to be punished, yet we could see her screaming as she was forcefully bound, legs and hands.”

The last execution performed in public happened when the Islamists ruled Mogadishu and most of south Somalia for half of 2006.  

Islamist leaders said the woman breached Islamic laws and had to be punished, but promised that the guard who shot the child would be severely punished.

Sarah Nicholas (

For the background article click herer:

Posted in Sarah Nicholas | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Invisible Aborigines

Posted by sarahnics on October 24, 2008

The fate of the Aborigines is a sad one to contemplate. Pushed out of their homes by the government, they have been left to settle in what has become known as the slums of Austrailia.

The Aborigines are the most diasadvantaged group in Austrailia, with a life expectancy 20 years younger than their white counterparts, due to a high level of ill health, imprisonment and unemployment.

Living in such dismal conditions means that many Aborigines have succumbed to alcohol and drug abuse as a way of escaping from their surroundings.

As a result there are also high levels of prostitution, child abuse and domestic abuse, with indigenous women 50 times more likely to suffer from domestic violence than white women.

Alcohol Abuse


A report showed that an Aborigine life is claimed by alcohol abuse every 38 hours.

Suicide is the greatest cause of death amongst intoxicated indigeous men, for women it is either liver cirrhosis or stoke.

The plague of alcohol abuse is running rampant in the indigenous areas, becoming such a problem that the government finally had to take notice.

The feeling behind the alcohol and drug abuse is said to come from a feeling of being left behind by the mainstream Austrialian society.

Talking to the BBC, Pastor Ray Minniecon said, “To understand alcohol abuse we need to look at the ways in which our people have been treated over the last 200 years. Most of this stuff is just a broken spirit of the Aboriginal people… and alcohol abuse becomes the substitute for the spirit we would like to have.”

As a reaction to the dangers of alcohol abuse, the government have banned alcohol and child pornography from indigenous areas, as a way to curb the problems.

Petrol Sniffing


Despite the actions of the government, it has not stopped people from attempting to escape the realities of their lives.

People have resulted to sniffing petrol in a bid to obtain the ‘high’ they usually get off alcohol.

However that is not the only problem running rife in the area, child abuse is also another astonishing factor.

A report found that children were being exposed to pornography, and were attempting to imitate it amongst themselves.

Also children as young as five were found to have contracted sexually transmitted infections.

Young girls were being prostituted for drugs as well as the newly preferred substance of petrol.

Meaning that more than an alcohol ban needs to be done by the government to improve the lives of Indigenous people.


Sarah Nicholas (


For the main article click here:

Posted in Sarah Nicholas | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Aboriginal Petrol Sniffing On The Increase

Posted by sarahnics on October 20, 2008

Australian officials have reported that there has been an increase in petrol sniffing in Aboriginal communities, that have controversially been taken over by the government.
The government have taken control of dozens of Northern Territory Aboriginal settlements, in a bid to curb the excessive child abuse and alcoholism trouble that has been plaguing the area.
A report blames the rise in child abuse on the rising levels of alcoholism and extreme poverty. As a result the government banned alcohol and child pornography in a bid to quell the levels of reported and unreported child abuse cases in the territories 45 communities.
However the problem of alcoholism has progressed to people becoming addicted to petrol sniffing. As a way of escaping from the many troubles that people are facing in these extremely poverty stricken areas.

Cheap Escape
Tribal leaders believe that the governments attempts to curb alcoholism by issuing the ban, has directly lead to the sharp rise in petrol sniffing. Where the chemical fumes can provide a cheap escape and respite from the many troubles facing the Aborigines.

Aboriginal children as young as five have been reported as developing addictions to the fumes. Petrol abuse can cause brain damage, depression, high blood pressure and in some cases heart disease and miscarriages.

Some communities have put forward extreme measures in order to tackle the problem. Such as sending addicts to harsh outback camps, in order to try to wean them off the fumes and to keep them away from temptation.

Also the new introduction of a specially designed unleaded fuel has helped somewhat with the problem. As it helps to rid the area of the fumes that is such a temptation to addicts.

Desperate Measures
Although measures are in place to try to deal with the problem, tribal leaders still believe that many other problems remain. Therefore in some areas the situation may worsen in the coming months.

There is also a belief that the petrol sniffing escalates during the tropical Australia’s wet season. So with many areas cut off by the high rivers and impassable roads, boredom will set in, causing people to indulge in the drug abuse.

Sarah Nicholas (

For the background article click here:










Posted in Sarah Nicholas | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Famine Crisis Background

Posted by sarahnics on October 14, 2008

In June the UN Summit for the world food programme devised an emergency  plan to  end the world’s hunger.

Official figures at the time showed that 850 million people were already facing famine or malnutrition, with rising food and fuel prices threatening to push the figure over a billion. Pushing the risk of further riots and instability in affected areas.

The UN World Food Programme said it was releasing an additional $1.2 billion in food aid to help those in 60 of the most worst affected nations. With the United States pledging to commit $5 million to help fight world hunger.

However the first day of the summit was steeped in controversy with the presence of President  Ahmadinejad of Iran and President Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
The country of Ethiopia has suffered its worst drought since the famine of 1984. Although Ethiopia is in the midst of its rainy season the land is bone dry, with the expected rain fall way below that of average.

For many, this means that they have lost the crops which enable them to survive, if people can even afford to buy the seeds to plant their crops. Many have lost their cattle and their very livelihood, leaving many with very limited options.

Many are left to starve or are eating anything they can get their hands on. Others are suffering from malnutrition, with entire families being threatened with disease. The only thing left to do, is for the west to help with food aid and to pray for rain.

‘Toxic Cocktail’
Other than the lack of rain and the inflation of food and petrol prices, the rebellion of the Somali region is disrupting the transportation of food. Diseases are running rampant in the area which is also contributing to the crisis. Creating what Oxfam calls a ’toxic cocktail.’

The scenes from the 1984 famine, where 1 million people died, and caused the world to stand up and take notice, will not happen again, according to aid workers. This is partly due to the structures put in place after the tragedy in 1984, so that another incident like that would never happen again.

However it can still be a crisis on a large scale if the world fails to pay enough attention to the issue. Underestimating how large a problem it is and how many people are affected. The world should not be slow to act on the problems in the Horn of Africa.

Sarah Nicholas (


For the main article click here:

Posted in Sarah Nicholas | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Millions Set To Die In Ethiopia’s Famine Crisis

Posted by sarahnics on October 14, 2008

Millions of Ethiopians are set to die in the onslaught of a new famine crisis, as it reaches an all time high. The people of Ethiopia are on the brink of starvation, and with the continued drought there will be a massive crisis, warns Oxfam.
The Ethiopian government has announced that the number of people in need of emergency aid has risen from 4.6 million to 6.4 million since June. With a further 7.2 million people already receiving government handouts of food and cash aid.

The country has been left in dire need of help from Western Countries as it tries to cope with the strain on resources.

Ethiopians are already struggling to cope with the trebling of the cost of grain this year, with the number of people on the verge of severe hunger rising by the day. The most affected are those who can no longer afford to buy food from the markets after their crops have failed.
Oxfam have released figures from the United Nations showing that there is $260 million shortfall for agencies trying to address Ethiopia’s crisis. The warning issued by Oxfam is reminiscent of the crisis of 1984-1985 famine, during which more than 1 million Ethiopian people died.

However Ethiopia is not the only region that is in danger of facing a food crisis. A summit in New York showed that progress on the pledge to reduce world hunger by 2015 had only reached the half way point.

Slow To Act

Oxfam attacked the ‘lack of urgency’ in dealing with the food crisis that is affecting a sixth of the world’s population. The crisis in the Horn of Africa which is affecting more than 17 million people is leaving aid agencies struggling to close the $700 million gap needed to deal with the crisis.

With the world’s economy in the midst of a financial crisis the fate of the world’s hungry hangs in the balance. Also the underestimation of the problem by Ethiopia’s own government means that many more will have to suffer before the world fully awakens to the plight of the Ethiopian people

Sarah Nicholas (

For the background article click here:

Posted in Sarah Nicholas | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »