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north✦south International current affairs magazine for news & views to bridge the global divide A P R I L 2 010

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contents

✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

16 18 33 22

31

24

26

28 27

25 02 Editorial

24 ✦ features

34 Environment

03 Letters to the Editor

24 Algeria protests against French far right minarets poster

35 Innovations

04 News and Briefs 15 Over the Top 16 ✦ Cover story Refugees worldwide create headache.  alestine refugees: long17 P running dilemma

25 The A400M transportaircraft project saga goes on 26 The Falklands again

36 Business Briefs 46 Arts & Entertainment 48 Travel & Tourism

27 New Iraqi government will take months to form

18 A  lgeria failed to live up to 28 Climate change panel under scrutiny its commitment to Sahrawi refugees 29 Libyan-Swiss dispute: mediators banned from enter20 Drought-stricken Syrians ing Schengen countries lack funding

50 Science News 52 Motoring 54 Forthcoming Events 59 ICT

31 Nigeria’s cycle of violence 21 Global statistics of continues Internally Displaced People

60 Sports

22 Afghan, Iraq conflicts open 32 Remittances flow keep Haiti alive refugee floodgates

62 Book Reviews

23 Africa: a protracted challenge 33 France rings alarm bells on deforestation

63 Life & Style

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north✦south Group Publisher: The Lord Newall, DL -----------------------------------------------------------Editor: Ali Bahaijoub

editorial ✦

Africa Editor: Desmond Davies Business Editor: Jason Sturgess Europe Editor : Reiner Gatermann Associate Editor: Kaye Whiteman Asia Editor: Franklin Adesegha Associate Editor: Anthony Layden Travel & Tourism Editor: Michael Barnard Art & Entertainment Editor: Saskia Willis Associate Editor: Michael Knipe World Affairs & Book Review Editor: Guy Arnold North America Editor Jem Sturgess Staff Reporters: Robert Colville, Sam Standing Marketing & Advertising: Roy Finchett IT Consultant: Andrew El-Khalidi ✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦

Address: North-South Publications Head office, 10 Beaufort Court, Admirals Way, Marsh Wall, London E14 9XL, United Kingdom Tel: 020 79879588 Fax: 020 79879923 Email: northsouthmag@aol.com Website: www.northsouthmag.com ✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦✦

Subscription rates UK: £ 30.00 annually Eurozone 40 Euros USA: 60 dollars Rest of the World: £ 45.00 Back issues including postage: £5.00 Copyright @ North-South Publications

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U

nder the 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee was defined as a person having “a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” In Africa alone, there are some 2.7 million refugees and asylum-seekers. There are a further 6.3 million uprooted within their own countries, with the continent home to almost half of all of the world’s internally displaced persons (IDPs). The number of refugees may be dropping but not fast enough and their problems are getting harder to solve. The UNHCR, the UN agency tasked with the job to look after most of them, counted 10.5 million around the world in 2008 down from a peak of about 16 million in the early 1990s. But millions more are uprooted and do not count as refugees if they stay within their own countries, such as most of the 2.7m Darfuris or Congolese made homeless by fighting in western Sudan and in eastern Congo. The official figures also ignore 4.2 million Palestinians whose families were displaced by war in 1948 after Israel was founded and who are helped by another UN body, UNRWA. Most of them live in shanty towns in their host countries. A total of 3.1 million people were displaced in Pakistan in 2009 due

to conflict and only over one per cent of the $537 million appealed for by the Pakistan Humanitarian Response Plan for 2010, UN agencies, NGOs and other aid actors, has been funded. One in three Africans is chronically hungry, despite $3 billion spent on food aid for the continent annually and $33 billion on food imports. Much of the $33 billion could be better diverted to domestic production for regional and global trade, contributing to poverty reduction and repositioning Africa in the global economy. The earthquakes in Haiti and Chile left millions without shelter and their economies in tatters. Poorer countries now host more than 80 per cent of all refugees because richer ones like to keep asylum-seekers at arm’s length by paying for aid nearer to where they fled from. Donor countries may be willing to provide cash for those marooned in remote camps, but do not seem to care whether a long-term solution is the answer or whether it is much harder to find. About a third of refugees worldwide spend their days in camps and in Africa well over two-thirds. This intolerable situation leads to criminality, sexual exploitation, joblessness, aid dependency, rampant diseases, despondency, lack of prospects for the younger generation and a greater chance of it being dragged into war as mercenaries or even terrorists. It is time the international community wakes up to the plight of refugees and IDPs to address the issue before the situation gets out of control and refugee camps become a breeding ground for would-be international criminals, bandits, pirates or simply terrorists.

Ali Bahaijoub Editor


letters

✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Iraq Invasion I believe that the American President George Bush and his cronies (Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld… etc) should be accountable to the American public for the loss of lives of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians and the unprecedented catastrophic damage caused to Iraq physically and morally. And this is all based on the unfounded pretext of weapons of mass destrcution that turned out to be the biggest hoax of the century. Michelle Hargreaves, Birmingham, United Kingdom

Iraq was the most prosperous country in the Middle East until the American President George Bush and his poodle, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, destroyed it and killed thousands of innocent people. Was Saddam Hussein a threat to the US or Britain? No. Was he a threat to his neighbours? No, because he learnt his lesson after the fiasco of invading Kuwait. Was he arrogant, stupid and a brutal dictator? Yes. But his stupidity does not warrant an invasion or the destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure. It was for the Iraqi people to oust him and change the regime and it was wrong for Bush and Blair to do so. Yvonne Bailey, Marbella, Spain

It was a messy American affair that George W. Bush and Co created in Iraq and they should be ashamed of themselves for having caused thousands of deaths unnecessarily and for what? Greed? Yes, it was Dick Cheney’s initiative so that he could take over Iraq’s oil and enrich his company Halliburton which got most of the contracts in a devastated country. How can he live with the thought that he got rich on people’s misery, deprivation and loss of life? Bush’s invasion of Iraq will go down in history as the most brutal and unjustifiable provocation and it will take Americans and Iraqis years if not decades to get over it. Francoise Dupuy, Monaco

Hugo Chavez The Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is on a power trip and he will eventually fall flat on his face because he has already lost the support of his people who do not like his way of stifling the country’s fledgling democracy and trying to accumulate as much power as possible to stay in charge. I am afraid we have another Fidel Castro emerging in Latin America and he is definitely the front runner to take his mantle. Please, pray for the salvation of Venezuela and its people. Pedro Morales, Mexico

Tony Blair was dragged into the Iraq war because he wanted to ingratiate himself with George Bush. Had he followed his people’s instinct and appeal not to invade Iraq, he would have been a better man and probably still Prime Minister. His fatal mistake was not listening to the British people who were overwhelmingly against the invasion of Iraq. He can still be prosecuted for lying to Parliament and the British public and he probably must have some sleepless nights thinking about the hundreds of thousands of victims and their bereaved families in Britain, Iraq, the US and other nations. Can he live with that? Jeremy Blunt, London, United Kingdom

Nigeria Nigeria is going through a patchy and dangerous period and the recent violence and political vacuum have illustrated how fragile the political order is in the most populous country in Africa. If law and order is not restored and the political vacuum is not filled sooner than later, the country could plunge into chaos and mayhem, a state of affairs that would have dire consequences for åNigeria and neighbouring West African states. Vincent Brahams, Lagos, Nigeria

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Palestinian women become breadwinners Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, which has led to many Palestinian men – the traditional breadwinners – being imprisoned, killed or injured by the Israeli Defence Force has forced Palestinian women to find new ways to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads. “High rates of unemployment and poverty have forced many women to become the breadwinners for their families due to many Palestinian men being imprisoned for political offences and unemployed,” says Reem Abboushi, executive director

of Asala or The Palestinian Business Women’s Association. “Many women have also been widowed with large families to raise. Earning money can mean the difference between starvation and survival for these women and their families,” Abboushi told Inter Press Service. Asala, based in the central West Bank city of Ramallah, was established in 1997 as a microfinancing organisation aimed at empowering Palestinian women through financing their business ventures. ✦

US yet to sign Mine Ban Treaty 11 years on As the 11th anniversary of the Mine Ban Treaty entering into effect came and went last month, the US remained one of only 37 countries to have yet to sign on to the agreement. The US does, however, comply with many of the provisions of the international treaty, which prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and export of anti-personnel mines. According to the International

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Campaign to Ban Landmines, the US has not used anti-personnel mines since 1991, has had an export ban in place since 1992 and has not produced them since 1997. It is also the world’s largest individual contributor for mine action and victim assistance programmes. But advocacy groups say this is not enough. “The last 11 years have shown that the Mine Ban Treaty is working,” said Steve Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch. “Deadly antipersonnel mines are no longer viewed as a legitimate weapon of war, and it is time for the US to recognise that reality with a decision to sign on to the treaty.” ✦

Libya’s $10 billion arms deal Libya is in the process of reforming its army and has signed several arms deal including one with Russia worth $2 billion. More arms deals are expected during 2010 with several Western countries and could exceed $10 billion. Quoting a military-diplomatic source, Interfax news agency said Libya was planning to buy about 20 fighter planes and S-300PMU2 air defence systems. The agency also said that Libya might acquire T-90S tanks, and modernise more than 140 T-72 tanks and other weapons.

More than 27 million Americans on antidepressants The number of Americans on antidepressants doubled from about 13.3 million in 1996 to 27 million in 2005 and during that period the pharmaceutical marketing machines raked in billions of dollars.


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Pact against cluster munitions set for August The convention banning the use of cluster munitions will enter into force on 1 August after the 30th country ratified the pact in February. Burkina Faso and Moldova both submitted their instruments of ratification of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, ensuring that the pact prohibiting explosive remnants of war known as either cluster munitions or unexploded ordnance (UXO)

becomes part of international law. First used in the Second World War, cluster munitions contain dozens of smaller explosives designed to disperse over an area the size of several football fields, but often fail to detonate upon impact, creating large de facto minefields. They are also notoriously inaccurate. The failure rate makes these weapons particularly dangerous

Egyptian ‘lethal force’ against migrants deplored

called on the government to end the “deplorable” use of “lethal force.” She underscored the need for an urgent independent inquiry into the killings of some 60 people – and the wounding and disappearance of dozens more – on the Egyptian side of the Sinai border with Israel since 2007, when the two countries agreed to bolster border controls. ✦

With dozens of unarmed migrants attempting to enter Israel via the Sinai Desert having been killed since mid-2007 by Egyptian security forces, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has

Russia accused of pressurising journalists over 2014 Winter Olympics Russia is pressuring local journalists to toe the Kremlin line on preparations to host the 2014 Winter Olympics at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, blocking coverage of environmental problems and evictions, according to Paris-based Reporters Without Borders. “The authorities are making sure there are no discussions concerning any arrangements for the Olympic Games,” Andrei Ballin, co-author of a new report, told Reuters last month. “In the local media there is

no mention of this debate.” A spokesman for the regional authorities said they would not comment on the report. The Sochi Games are seen as the personal project of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Russia has pledged to spend $12 billion. private and public money on developing the city. In Vancouver last month, Russia finished a disappointing 11th in the medals table after winning just 15, three of which were gold. ✦

for civilians, who continue to be maimed or killed for years after conflicts end. Some 98 per cent of victims are civilians and cluster bombs have claimed over 10,000 civilian lives, 40 per cent of whom are children. ✦

Yemeni government tackles small arms proliferation The government of Yemen has begun imposing tough new restrictions on arms dealers in local markets as it tries to curb the proliferation of small arms in the country. A survey carried out in 2009 by Abdussalam al-Hakimi, assistant professor of sociology at Taiz University, concluded there were 9.9 million small arms in Yemen, including 1.5 million in the hands of government security and military forces, and 30,000 available in arms shops. Individuals owned the rest, with 60 per cent of families surveyed saying they had weapons in the home. The fear is that the restrictions will merely push the trade underground.

US State Department asks for $52bn budget The US State Department has asked for a budget of $52.8 billion for fiscal year 2011, a $4.9 billion increase over 2010. Of this increase, $3.6 billion will be spent in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. Last year, the US tripled the

number of civilians on the ground in Afghanistan and this number is expected to rise by hundreds more, with $5 billion budgeted for this. The State Department’s request includes $3.2 billion to be spent in Pakistan to combat

extremism, among other projects. For war-ravaged Iraq, where the US is supposed to be winding down its military presence, the budget request includes $2.6 billion. The Pentagon’s spending in Iraq, though, will drop by $16 billion.

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40 years of landmark global pact on nuclear weapons Last month marked the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which forms the foundation of the world’s nuclear non-proliferation regime. The pact opened for signature in 1968 and went into force in 1970. Comprehensive safeguards agreements with the International

Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are in place for 163 of the 190 non-nuclear-weapon states, which have signed onto the Treaty. Under these agreements, the IAEA can verify that a state is fulfilling its international commitments not to use nuclear programmes to develop nuclear weapons. ✦

Adapting fisheries Waste tea leaves could become cheap and aquaculture to climate change source of biofuel Waste tea leaves could be a cheap source of biofuel that does not compromise food security, according to Pakistani scientists. Researchers from the Nanoscience and Catalysis Division at Quaid-i-Azam University used a nanocatalyst, metal nanoparticles that accelerate reactions, to produce biodiesel from used tea leaves. For the full length research paper visit: http://www.academicjournals.org /AJB/abstracts/abs2010/8Feb/ Mahmood%20and%20Hussain. htm ✦

Fisheries and aquaculture can adapt to climate change by applying best practices, exploring new options and changing focus. A policy brief, compiled by 16 international agencies, considers what policymakers can do to help fisheries and aquaculture cope with climate change. Fish and shellfish provide essential nutrition to three billion people worldwide and livelihoods to more than 500 million in developing countries. For more details visit: http://www. worldfishcenter.org/resource_ centre/Multi-agency%20Policy%20 Brief%20on%20fisheries%20and%20 aquaculture%20for%20COP15%20 %28low%20resolution%29.pdf ✦

Five steps to reform water policies A five-stage strategy published by the Global Water Partnership could help reform water policies and institutions, ensure water security, address critical development challenges, reduce poverty and

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environmental degradation. The authors also highlight accompanying activities. For full report visit: http://www.gwpforum. org/gwp/library/GWP_Policy_ brief8_English.pdfa ✦

EU working on nuclear waste law The European Commission will table legislative proposals on the treatment of nuclear waste by the year’s end, its president, José Manuel Barroso, announced last month during a major confrence on civil nuclear power hosted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. Barroso said the treatment of radioactive waste was a major issue of public concern. The new law would set standards for waste management that all member states would have to follow. Moreover, the Commission president said he would start pressing for European safety standards for nuclear plants to become binding worldwide.

Chile to open up quake data to global community Chilean seismologists are taking the unusual step of allowing free access to their earthquake data, to promote global natural disaster research. ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Eurozone rescue could change EU treaty, warns Merkel German Chancellor Angela Merkel has given her backing to a proposed European Monetary Fund to rescue ailing eurozone member countries but warned this would mean changing the European Union treaty. In Berlin, Merkel said that while details would have to be sorted out, the EU needed to have a mechanism to help itself if it hit difficulties, even if it meant

changing the EU treaty. “I think the idea [of a European Monetary Fund] is a good one,” Merkel told Berlin-based journalists at the Foreign Press Association, adding issues such as who would contribute and how independent it would be still have to be looked at. The idea of an IMF-style rescue fund for Europe has been mooted for countries with budget

difficulties such as Greece to tap into it in future. The European Commission said it was working with Germany, France and other European countries on the plans but a spokesman said it was too early to say whether the fund would be just a financial instrument or a new institutional body with its own staff and budget. ✦

Large agribusiness Uphill struggle for Palestinian amputees accused of harming 15-year who have had their small landholders Palestinians legs amputated as a result of old In an increasingly globalised food sector dominated by large trans-national corporations, small landowners are getting a smaller portion of the food dollar, the Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, warned last month. ✦

Brazil to investigate military dictatorship Brazil has established a National Truth Commission (NTC) to investigate the country’s military dictatorship of 1964-1985, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told the Human Rights Council in Geneva last month. ✦

Dilma Rousseff next Brazilian president? Brazil’s governing Workers’ Party endorsed Dilma Rousseff as its candidate in October’s presidential election. Rousseff is President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s chief of staff and was handpicked by him as his successor. She has pledged to continue Lula’s pragmatic economic policy. ✦

Israeli attacks are facing an uphill struggle to get prosthetic limbs, according to technicians at the Artificial Limb and Polio Centre in Gaza. The problem has been caused by Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip since June 2007, which has interrupted imports of both the limbs and the raw materials with which to make them. “We use hundreds of different parts, plastics and materials to make prosthetic arms and legs. Without even just one of the materials, the limb cannot be made,” said Mohamed Ziada, one of five specialists at the centre. A below-the-knee prosthetic costs about $800 at the centre. An above-the-knee limb is twice as much, and an arm costs $1,200.

Palestinian amputee Jamila al-Habbasht

Although seemingly expensive, Ziada told the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks it was a fraction of the cost charged in other countries. The centre now has 250 new amputees following Israel’s 23-day assault on Gaza at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009 to add to the 5,000 cases it had before the war. ✦

First woman UN police chief appointed An experienced Swedish police officer has been appointed as the top UN police official, marking the first time in the world body’s history that a woman has ever held the position. Ann-Marie Orler, who first came to the UN to serve as Deputy Police Adviser in 2008, has been Acting Police Adviser since last year.

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20 Kenyans named in ICC investigations EU launches fraud International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo last month named the 20 people he said were most responsible for the deadly post-election ethnic violence that swept Kenya in December 2007 and January 2008. Some 1,000 people were killed in the clashes, which forced over 300,000 others to flee their homes.

Last November, the ICC opened an investigation into the violence. The list of 20 is sealed. “At this stage, the names are indicative only,” the Prosecutor stressed. “The allegations concerning the named individuals will have to be measured against the evidence gathered independently by my office.” ✦

Kosovo deal depends on Serbia’s EU membership, says ambassador A definite solution to the Kosovo problem can be found once Serbia becomes a member of the European Union, Ivo Viskovic, Serbian ambassador in Berlin, told EurActiv Germany in an interview. But he stressed that a solution for Kosovo was not an official condition of Serbian accession. Viskovic said the decision of the International Court of Justice, which has been examining the

legality of Kosovo’s declaration of independence at Serbia’s request, was expected in June. The ambassador explained that Belgrade would be ready to renegotiate after its release. While Serbia was prepared to make certain sacrifices and concessions, it would not accept the acquisition by Kosovo of formal international or military sovereignty, he stated. ✦

whistle-blowing website

Brussels has launched a new website making it possible for citizens and European Union officials alike to anonymously report suspicious use of EU funding to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). The portal, referred to as the Fraud Notification System, makes it “easier and more secure” for EU officials, businesspeople and members of the public to notify OLAF of potential cases of fraud, corruption or other irregularities. Previously the EU’s anti-fraud office had relied on free phone numbers and email to receive the tip-offs from outsiders it needs to fulfil its task of protecting the Union’s financial interests. The portal can be accessed at: http://fns.olaf.europa.eu/

‘Electric cars won’t reduce carbon footprint’ Switching from diesel to electric cars will not dent transport’s carbon footprint over the next 15 years as long as Europe’s electricity supply remains based on fossil fuels, according to Danish analysis. The study, prepared for the Danish Petroleum Industry Association by consultancy Ea Energy Analyses, compared the CO2 emissions of cars using different engine technologies from petrol and diesel to hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars.

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It found that carbon emissions per kilometre barely differed between the different cars when considering the full ‘well-to-wheel’ energy production cycle, a trend that they expect to continue until 2025. According to the analysis, CO2 emissions from hybrids and electric cars are similar, while diesel cars emit eight per cent more carbon. Emissions from petrol cars, on the other hand, are around 35 per cent higher

due to less efficient use of energy compared to diesel, they said. ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Afghan deaths lower in first two months of 2010 The number of civilian deaths caused by the conflict in Afghanistan in the first two months of 2010 was slightly lower than in the same period in 2009, according to two Afghan human rights groups. Some 163 civilians died and 187 were wounded in violent incidents in different parts of the country

in January and February 2010, compared to 201 deaths in the same period of 2009, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said. “Ninety-two civilian deaths have been attributed to the armed opposition and 71 to pro-government Afghan and

foreign forces,” Fareed Hamidi, a commissioner of the AIHRC, told the UN Integrated Regional Information Networks. The Afghanistan Rights Monitor, a non-government rights body, had slightly different figures: 201 civilian deaths in the first two months of 2010 as against 297 in 2009. ✦

Sri Lanka to tighten control on NGOs Africa lags behind The Sri Lankan government plans to amend a 1980 law that would tighten control over local and international nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), which have grown to several hundreds from a few dozens from the time fighting broke out between Tamil rebels and government troops in the early 1980s. Government officials now say that the 1980 NGO Act does not allow them enough room to deal with accusations that some international NGOs are involved

in political work. Newton Perera, additional secretary to the Ministry of Internal Administration that oversees NGOs, says the amendment would just bring the country’s laws in line with modern developments. However, Jehan Perera, executive director of the National Peace Council, is wary about the development. “It is inevitable that the government wants to control the activities of NGOs. But we knew this was going to happen eventually. We will lose our free hand,” he said. ✦

Environmentalists take EU to court over biofuels Four environmental groups have sued the European Union’s executive for withholding documents they say will add to a growing dossier of evidence that biofuels harm the environment and push up food prices. The lawsuit, lodged with the EU’s General Court, the bloc’s second highest court, alleges several violations of European laws on transparency and democracy. The suit was filed last month by ClientEarth, Transport & Environment, the European

Environmental Bureau and BirdLife International. At stake is the EU’s commitment to its goal of getting a tenth of its road fuels from renewable sources such as biofuels by 2020 - a target that has spawned an EU

in ‘green’ projects

Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world in developing renewable energy projects with initiatives aimed at producing clean and ‘green’ energy remaining largely underexploited, warned a new report released last month by the UN Environment Programme. Its assessment noted that the entire continent had just over 120 carbon market projects up and running or in the pipeline in areas ranging from wind power to forestry schemes, and harvesting methane gas from landfills to fuel electricity generation makes up 20 per cent of all such initiatives. Larger economies in Africa such as Egypt and South Africa are home to the lion’s share of the schemes, with 32 and 13 projects respectively, while Zambia, Madagascar, Cameroon and Mali only have one or two projects each and several countries have none, according to the report.

industry worth around €5 billion ($6.8 billion) a year and a big market for imports from Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia. ✦

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Kenyans debate legislation on GM crops A year after Kenya’s President, Mwai Kibaki, approved legislation that would allow the cultivation of Genetically Modified (GM) crops and set up a National Biosafety Authority (NBA), researchers

Spider silk provides clues for fog harvesting The discovery of how spiders’ webs catch dew could lead to improved ways of harvesting water from the air or catching the morning dew. Chinese researchers studying the silk of the spider Uloborus walckenaerius found that dry spider silk has a “necklacelike” structure of fibres connecting “puffs” of tiny, randomly arranged fibres. When water condenses onto these puffs, they form tightly packed

and biotechnology students have expressed concern that the law has not been implemented. Kenya’s biotechnology community is concerned about the gap between the

knots, rougher than the smooth ‘joint’ fibres that connect them. When a water droplet condenses, it slides along the smooth joint to its nearest knot where it coalesces with others to form a larger drop. To test whether this structure was responsible for the effective watercatching, the scientists created artificial silk using nylon fibres coated in a polymer solution that forms knots in a similar way. They say their findings could lead to new materials for collecting water from the air. ✦

Egypt’s mobile subscribers reach 55.3 million

China signals major shift into GM crops

Egypt's national telecommunica­ tions regulator said that the total number of mobile subscribers in Egypt reached 55.35 million at the end of December 2009, a yearon-year growth of 34.1 per cent. ✦

China plans to start farming genetically modified crops on an industrial scale, according to its first policy missive of 2010. ✦

India has banned the planting of genetically modified eggplant (Bt brinjal) until both scientists and the public accept it as safe. ✦

in layers of sugar could prove an effective way of storing them without refrigeration, according to researchers. ✦

Sweet technique could keep virus India says no to vaccines cool first GM vegetable Suspending live virus vaccines

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passing and the implementation of the country’s biosafety legislation. However, civil society organisations have vigorously opposed the legislation.

African countries fight banana disease Two deadly banana diseases are notoriously hard to detect and seven African nations are setting up a spatial surveillance programme. The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), based in Nigeria, is to lead the programme, which will focus on limiting the spread of banana bunchy top disease (BBTD) and banana Xanthomonas wilt (BXW) which threaten the livelihoods and food security of over 70 million people in subSaharan Africa. Policymakers and researchers from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia met in Kigali, Rwanda recently to be trained in disease surveillance and control methods. These countries have all either reported the presence of BBTD or are at high risk of contracting it from a neighbour.


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Computer giants tackle internet terrorism Computer giants, including Microsoft and Google, are joining forces to identify ways to combat terrorists’ use of the internet to recruit members, organise criminal acts and raise money. The move is being coordinated by the UN Working Group on Countering the Use of the Internet for

Terrorist Purposes, which is holding talks with CISCO, Symantec and others to examine the technical issues involved in the issue. There is a high level of crime on the Internet, and “it is essential that you bring in the private sector, [which is] an essential partner in moving

Iceland moves closer to EU membership Iceland has taken an important step towards EU accession, as the European Commission officially recommended opening membership talks with the island country. As expected, Czech Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle said Iceland had been given the green light by the Commission after fulfilling the Copenhagen criteria for EU membership: stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy and human rights, the existence of a functioning

forward,” Richard Barrett, who co-chairs the Working Group, told the UN News Centre. ✦

Electronic waste mountains soar

market economy and ability to take on the obligations of membership. The Commission’s opinion takes account of political, economic and legal criteria. In all these respects, Iceland’s performance was deemed satisfactory, hence the positive recommendation. ✦

Tomatoes to remain fresh a month longer

African Green Revolution possible

Indian scientists have ‘silenced’ two genes in tomatoes to make them remain fresh for a month longer. ✦

World Food Prize winner Gebisa Ejeta argues that, with the right support, Africa can achieve its long-awaited Green Revolution. ✦

With the mountains of hazardous waste from electronic products growing exponentially in developing countries, sometimes by as much as 500 per cent, the UN Environment Programme has called for new recycling technologies and regulations to safeguard both public health and the environment. So-called e-waste from products such as old computers, printers, mobile phones, pagers, digital photo and music devices, refrigerators, toys and televisions, are set to rise sharply in tandem with growth in sales in countries like China and India and in Africa and Latin America over the next 10 years, according to a UNEP report.

Laotian towns face migrant influx Small towns in Laos are experiencing an influx of migrants in search of better living conditions, increasing the strain on infrastructure

There are an estimated 139 small towns in Laos, and and services such as water and many of those along economic sanitation, officials say. corridors – bordering Cambodia, The country’s rate of China, Thailand and Vietnam – urbanisation is 4-5 per cent a are seeing influxes from rural year. areas. ✦

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news

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Tobacco company takes on Uruguayan government Measures taken by Uruguay to deter smokers have drawn a legal challenge by Philip Morris, one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, under a treaty designed to protect foreign investors. The company objects to three recent regulations enacted by Uruguay that restrict the branding that can be featured on cigarette

packages. Under Uruguayan law, health warnings must cover 80 per cent of each cigarette package. The company argues that this restriction prevents it from effectively displaying its trademarks. While health warnings on cigarette packages are commonplace today, Philip Morris

Concern over Myanmar’s new electoral laws

Researchers find way to boost El Niño prediction

New electoral laws unveiled by authorities in Myanmar do not meet UN expectations of what is required for an inclusive political process in the country, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon warned last month. According to media reports, the new laws relate to the registration of political parties and prohibit anyone with a criminal conviction from being a member of an official party. Myanmar is expected to later this year conduct its first elections in over 20 years as part of a government-designed timetable towards greater democratisation. ✦

Satellite imagery of construction of new launch site in Iran Through the use of commercial satellite imagery from DigitalGlobe and GeoEye, IHS Jane’s has revealed that a new launch pad is being constructed at Iran’s Semnan space centre that could ultimately launch Tehran’s next-generation Simorgh rocket. ✦ 12

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Including the temperature changes of the Indian Ocean in forecasting models could greatly increase the predictability of El Niño and La Niña events, helping farmers and planners prepare for droughts, according to research published in Nature Geoscience. Analysing temperature changes in the Indian Ocean allows forecasts to be made 14 months in advance, several months earlier than at present. See full report at:

charges that Uruguay’s measures are ‘extreme’ and ‘unprecedented’, going beyond what is necessary to reduce the harm caused by smoking. The rules have required it to withdraw several brands of its cigarettes, leading to a “very substantial loss of market share,” according to a spokesperson for the company. ✦

http://www.nature.com/ngeo/ journal/v3/n3/full/ngeo760.html ✦

1,011 billionaires worldwide in 2010 There are 1,011 billionaires around the world in 2010, up from 793 last year, according to Forbes magazine. Of those 89 are women, up from 72 in 2009. There were 611 billionaires who increased their wealth in the past year. The fortunes of 62 fell, while 77 stayed even. There are 403 billionaires in the US with a net worth of $1.3 trillion; this is up from 359 in 2009 and a value of $1.1 trillion. There are 248 billionaires in Europe with a net worth of $1 trillion, up from 196 billionaires

last year with a fortune of $665 bn. In the Asia-Pacific region there are 234 billionaires worth $729 billion, compared with 130 billionaires in 2009 valued at $357 billion. The Middle East and Africa have 65 billionaires with a fortune of $181 billion, up from 58 last year worth $156 billion. The Americas (excluding the US) accounts for 61 billionaires with a net worth of $304  bn, compared with 50 billionaires last year valued at $175 billion.


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

New Latin America and Caribbean body by 2012

Carlos Slim world’s ‘Health disaster’ richest person warning on drugs

After meeting in the Mexican resort of Playa del Carmen, the leaders of 32 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean agreed to set up a new regional body by 2012, it will be a rival to the Organisation of American States, in which the US and Canada, but not Cuba, take part. At the summit, the Latin American leaders expressed support for Argentina’s claim to sovereignty over the Falkland (or Malvinas) Islands, which was triggered by the arrival of an oil exploration rig in the islands’ offshore waters. ✦

Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim is the world’s richest person, with a fortune estimated at $53.5bn, according to Forbes magazine. Of the 97 billionaires making their debut on the Forbes list, 62 are from Asia, while for the first time China is now home to the most billionaires outside of the United States. It is only the second time since 1995 that Gates has lost the crown as the world’s richest person, Forbes said, estimating Gates’s fortune at $53bn.Prolific investor Warren Buffett came in at No. 3 with $47 bn. The top trio regained $41.5 billion of the $68 billion they had lost the previous year, Forbes said. ✦

Creation of thematic centres of excellence The World Alliance of Cities Against Poverty ended its biennial congress in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, last month with a call for more transparent, accountable, responsible and democratic governance as a precondition for overcoming poverty. It also approved the establishment of thematic centres of excellence to

assist cities to share best practices and to engage in a common search for sustainable solutions in a number of sectors, including water and sanitation, gender, ITC, health, human rights and climate change. The cities to host these centres include, respectively, Florence, Huy, Malaga, Monaco, Nantes and Rotterdam. ✦

Towards reconciliation between India and Pakistan? The first formal talks between India and Pakistan have been held since the terrorist attack on Mumbai in November 2008. On the eve of the meeting in Delhi, the two countries

traded allegations over shooting in the disputed territory of Kashmir, which remains the core of the longstanding dispute between Delhi and Islamabad. ✦

Failure to harness drugs could unleash a “health disaster” in the developing world, the head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, has warned, underscoring that poor nations lacked the necessary treatment facilities and law enforcement capacities to rein in narcotics. “This seems to have been forgotten by people in rich countries calling for a loosening of drug controls,” Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa told the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which held its 53rd session in Vienna last month. Costa asked: “Why condemn the Third World, already ravaged by so many tragedies, to the neo-colonialism of drug dependence?” He noted that East Africa was witnessing increased heroin use, while cocaine use was on the rise in West Africa and the use of synthetic drugs increasing in the Middle East and South East Asia. “While rich addicts go to posh clinics, poor addicts are being pushed into the gutters or to jail,” he emphasised.

World data production reached 1,200 exabytes

The amount of data the world is producing has gone up from 150 exabytes (billion gigabytes) five years has issued the first ever guidelines ago to 1,200 exabytes this year, of procuring safe and effective according to one estimate, and will medicines to treat the disease. ✦ continue to increase at a massive rate. Managing the deluge is difficult, but companies and governments are beginning to do so, and thereby to transform business and public life. ✦

Safeguarding malaria treatment The World Health Organisation has warned that if not used properly, artemisinin-based combination therapy, known as ACTs, which has transformed treatment of malaria in recent years, could become ineffective. In this regard it

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EU parliament rebels against anti-piracy deal The European parliament has defied the EU executive by casting a vote against an agreement between the EU, the US and other major powers on combating online piracy and threatening to take legal action at the European Court of Justice. A strong majority of MEPs (663 against and 13 in

Asia-Pacific has huge gender gap The countries of Asia and the Pacific have not duplicated their economic success in the realm of gender equality, according to a new UN Development Programme (UNDP) report, which found that discrimination and neglect are threatening the very survival of women in the region. “Empowering women is vital for achievingdevelopmentgoalsoverall and for boosting economic growth and sustainable development,” said UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, who unveiled the publication in the Indian capital, New Delhi. The region’s women suffer from some of the lowest rates of political representation, employment and property ownership in the world. Their lack of participation, the 2010 Asia-Pacific Human Development Report found, is also retarding economic growth.

favour) voted against the AntiCounterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), arguing that it flouted agreed EU laws on counterfeiting and piracy online. In addition, the parliament’s decision stated that MEPs would go to the Court of Justice if the EU did not reject ACTA rules,

including cutting off users from the internet “gradually” if caught stealing content. Though MEPs cannot participate in the ACTA talks, without the consent of the European parliament, EU negotiators will have to go back to the drawing board and come up with a compromise. ✦

Review of climate change body ordered The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, tasked with preparing regular scientific reports on the impact of climate change has announced that the body, which is facing growing attacks from global warming sceptics, will undergo an independent and comprehensive review. In 2007, the Nobel Peace

Prize-winning IPCC issued its Fourth Assessment Report, which found the warming of the climate was outpacing natural variability, driven largely by human activity. But its credibility has come into question after revelations that the landmark publication contained some mistakes, including over the rate of Himalayan glacier melt. ✦

UXO with white Report accuses phosphorous being Chavez of human destroyed in Gaza rights violations Special bomb disposal units are currently destroying unexploded ordnance (UXO) containing white phosphorus in the Gaza Strip. The exercise is expected to take place over the coming months to deal with the remains of Operation Cast Lead, the three-week military operation started at the end of 2008 against Hamas by Israel. ✦

A report issued by the Organisation of American States has accused Venezuela of committing systematic human rights violations. They include limiting freedom of speech and tolerating crimes against opposition leaders. See full report at: h t t p : / / w w w. c i d h . o a s . o r g / Comunicados/English/2010/20V10eng.htm ✦

Bill Gates gets population award The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development are this year’s winners of the UN Population Award, which is given annually to individuals and institutions for outstanding 14

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contributions to population concerns and their solutions. Established by the General Assembly in 1981, the awards will be presented at UN headquarters in New York on 3 June. ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

over hetop! t Chinese make Fugitive jumps out of speeding car to avoid police money by A driver who was being chased by cops, jumped out of (and over) his speeding car in a bid to escape on foot, but almost killed himself in the process. Police had tried to pull the man over as part of a routine traffic stop in North Texas, USA, when he slammed his foot down, speeding off. He then led several patrol cars on a wild chase, swerving between other vehicles (hitting a few) and even driving off-road in a bid to escape. When this didn’t work he obviously thought he would do better on foot.But he wasn’t going to do a sensible thing like stopping before getting out. Footage from a helicopter shows

him swinging the car door open as he speeds down a road, then climbing onto the bonnet of the moving vehicle. He then jumps off - narrowly avoiding being run over by one of the pursuing cop cars - and starts running away from the road. Unfortunately for him, this chase didn’t last as long as the previous one and after getting about 50 metres he fell over, and was quickly jumped on by cops. Officers say the man tried to flee because he was wanted for violating parole on a burglary charge. He now faces an additional charge of evading arrest. ✦

Dubai ‘bearded lady’ marriage off An Arab country’s ambassador to Dubai has had his marriage contract annulled after discovering the bride was cross-eyed and had facial hair. The woman had worn an Islamic veil, known as the niqab, on the few occasions the couple had met. The envoy, who has not been identified, told a Sharia court

her mother had tricked him by showing him pictures of the bride’s sister, Gulf News reported. He only discovered the deception when he lifted the woman’s veil to kiss her. The court had annulled the marriage contract but rejected a $130,000 (£83,000) compensation claim for gifts he had bought his intended, the report said. ✦

Man run down by his wife... twice A New Zealand man is recovering from injuries after being run over by his wife… twice, according to local media. Sandy Telford ran over her husband, Terry, as she backed down the driveway of their rural property in the Hawke’s Bay region, 350 km north-east of Wellington. Not realising what she

had done, Telford then drove her car forward, running over him again. Police said the woman was distraught and too upset to speak to them. Ambulance authorities said the husband suffered moderate head, chest and back injuries, but was “conscious and talking” after the incident. ✦

sleeping on hospital floor

The people in this photo are waiting for the hospital they’re sleeping in to open so that they can buy a ticket to see the doctor. They won’t go to the appointment though; they’ll simply sell their ticket to a scalper, who will then sell it to someone who actually needs it, for a much higher price.

German drinkdriving bishop quits The head of Germany’s Protestant Church has resigned, four days after being caught drink-driving. “My heart tells me quite clearly that I cannot stay,” Bishop Margot Kaessmann (pictured) was quoted as saying. Arrested in Hanover, she was charged with passing a red light while three times over the legal limit. The 51-year-old became Germany’s youngest bishop in 1999. She was appointed last year to lead the 25 million-strong Lutheran Church. According to prosecutors, Bishop Kaessmann had been “completely unfit to drive” when she was stopped in her Volkswagen Phaeton in Hanover. She faces a fine of a month’s salary and a one-year driving ban for the offence. ✦ north✦south

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cover story

Refugees worldwide create headache The number of refugees worldwide in any year varies substantially according to wars, prevailing violence or attacks upon human rights, writes Guy Arnold

I

n 1992 the number of refugees around the world was 17 million, a figure that appears close to the norm. A similar number of refugees were recorded in 2005 while in mid-2009 there were 16 million refugees and 26 million internally displaced persons (IDPs), making a total of 42 million people requiring assistance. Since its creation in 1950 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has helped about 50 million refugees. Its most important function is to ensure

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respect for refugees’ basic human rights including their ability to seek asylum. Of all the UN agencies, the UNHCR almost always works at grassroots levels in response to crises while more than 500 nongovernmental agencies (NGOs) work as operational partners with the UNHCR. The pattern and movement of refugees and IDPs constantly changes. In 2005, a typical year, Asia hosted 42 per cent of all persons of concern to the UNHCR, followed by Africa 24 per cent,

Europe 18 per cent, Latin America and the Caribbean 12 per cent, North America three per cent and Oceania 0.8 per cent. During the same year four countries – the United States, Australia, Canada and Sweden – resettled the most refugees. Countries that became hosts to refugees in 2005 were Chad, Benin, Uganda, Ghana and Yemen while the main source countries for new refugees were Togo, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Central African Republic and Iraq. As migration in all its forms has moved close to the top of many countries’ agendas so it encounters new attempts by would-be host countries to keep the flow of refugees at bay. Thus, in 2006 Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands tried to introduce a new European policy whereby asylum seekers would be removed to countries outside Europe while their cases were processed but the move was defeated by Germany, France and Sweden. The High Commissioner, Antonio Guterres, launched a report, The State of the World’s Refugees which stated: “In the past few years, asylum issues and refugee protection have become inextricably linked with the question of international migration, particularly irregular migration.” The latest UNHCR report (June 2009) listed substantial new displacements in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Somalia.


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide AS the High Commissioner also stated: “While some displacements may be short-lived, others can take years and even decades to resolve. We continue to face several longer-term internal displacement situations in places like Colombia, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia. Each of these conflicts has also generated refugees who flee beyond their own borders.” The UNHCR lists 29 different groups of 25,000 or more refugees in 22 nations who have been in exile for five years or longer and for whom there are no immediate solutions in sight. At least 5.7 million refugees are living in limbo. However, while two million refugees and IDPs were able to return home in 2008, refugee repatriation was down by 17 per cent, the secondlowest figure for repatriation in 15 years. In recent years the UNHCR has become increasingly concerned with assisting IDPs in addition to its main mandate of assisting refugees who have crossed international boundaries. According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), the global total of IDPs has stood at 26 million over

the past two years. No single agency has responsibility for all of them. The UN has introduced a “cluster approach” in which individual organisations are assigned roles in displacement situations based on their expertise. At the present time a relentless series of internal conflicts are generating millions of uprooted people. Colombia has one of the world’s largest internally displaced populations, estimated at three million, while Iraq had 2.8 million IDPs at the end of 2008. There are more than two million IDPs in Sudan’s Darfur region, 1.5 million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and 1.3 million in Somalia. Developing countries, which are least able to bear the burden, host approximately 80 per cent of all refugees. Refugees may be pitied when first they flee from war or some other catastrophe but all too often they come to be regarded as a burden. The 1951 Geneva Convention defined refugees as people who have left their place of habitual residence “owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political

opinion.” Since 150 countries have signed the convention refugees should be able to enter and stay in such countries. States that have signed the 1951 Convention are legally committed to respect the rights of refugees and this includes not forcing them to return to the country where their lives or freedoms could be endangered. One result of this commitment has been the creation of refugee camps in which refugees may spend years without any possibility of work or education; such camps become centres of despair, ill health and crime. The number of refugees worldwide at any given time and the efforts that are made to cope with their situations and provide an adequate response to their needs act as a barometer of the world’s most acute problems. There are special situations that can only be resolved when refugees return to their homelands: one such case is Zimbabwe from which four million people have fled to escape the tyranny of President Robert Mugabe’s regime. Another concerns the Palestinians many of whom are now third generation exiles. ✦

Palestine refugees: long-running dilemma

T

he most long-lasting and intractable of all refugee problems concerns the refugees created by the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, now numbering 4.6 million. This figure comprises both the refugees from the 1948 war and the 1967 Six Day War, and their descendants, many of whom are now third generation refugees. They represent the most intractable refugee problem since 1945. During these two wars Palestinians either fled the fighting or were expelled by the Israelis. A special UN agency, the United Nations Relief and Works

Agency (UNRWA) was specifically created to look after the Palestinian refugees in the wake of the 1948 war. UNRWA defines a Palestine refugee as a person “whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, or June 1967, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.” Descendants of Palestine refugees under the authority of UNRWA are the only group to be granted refugee status on the basis of descent. As a result of the fighting of 1948, 400,000 Arabs from

the territory that the Jews had conquered and a further 300,000 from the West Bank who fled into Transjordan became refugees. These formed the nucleus of the Palestine refugee problem that was to continue thereafter, and they would later provide the hard core for membership of the PLO. On 11 December 1948, the United Nations passed a resolution to the effect that Arab refugees should be free to return to their homes in Israel, but this was never to be effectively implemented since the Israelis insisted that any such return of the Arabs must be related

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Palestinian refugee camp 1948 to a general settlement and the “right of return” became one of the sticking points in any subsequent attempts to agree a resolution of the Palestine question. As a result of the Six Day War of

1967, between 300,000 and 420,000 Palestinians fled the territories occupied by Israel, including a number of demolished Palestinian villages as well as the “emptying” of refugee camps. Various attempts

to achieve a settlement from 1967 through to the new century all collapsed. The key to the conflict in the Middle East between Jews and Arabs or Israel and its neighbours is the denial by the Arabs of the legitimacy of the Jewish state. The Israelis, on the other hand, who had had no state of their own since the Roman induced diaspora of 135CE and had suffered numerous persecutions over the centuries were determined to hold onto the newly created state that had been sanctioned by the United Nations in 1948. As of 2010 there was no indication that any settlement was insight. ✦  Guy Arnold

Algeria failed to live up to its commitment to Sahrawi refugees

“A

lgeria fails to live up to its commitments under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol with respect to the Sahrawi refugees from the Western Sahara. Perhaps worse, it fails even to acknowledge its responsibility for their treatment on its territory, pretending they are actually under the jurisdiction of a state-in-exile, the “Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic” (SADR), according to a report published by the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI). The report also points out that many Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps, in southwestern Algeria, require documented permission from both the government of Algeria and the Polisario movement to move about or travel. “The criteria and procedures for issuance of such documentation are not publicly available nor is either government willing to reveal them. Interviews with refugees inside and outside the

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camps reveal the process to be cumbersome and onerous and the criteria arbitrary and restrictive,” said the report adding that, “refugees can travel to Mauritania with only their Polisario identity cards but not if they declare or give rise to suspicion that they intend to continue on to the Moroccan side of Western Sahara”. The report notes that “Algeria also restricts the five-day family visits organized by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to expensive and difficult to arrange air rather than land routes, resulting in a 21-year backlog. Even if refugees could travel freely throughout Algeria and reside wherever they chose, Algerian law makes it virtually impossible for them to obtain permits to work legally.” Even if Sahrawi refugees receive permission to leave the camps near Tindouf, it is virtually impossible for them to work legally in Algeria, the report said. The refugees in the Tindouf

camps, in Algeria, have been there for the last 35 years. Algerian officials maintain that the refugees in the Tindouf camps had fled from the Western Sahara in fear for their lives from the Moroccan army after Spain handed over the territory to Morocco following the Madrid Accord of November 1975. The Moroccans, however, point out that they were dragged into the camps by the Algerian army and the Polisario guerrillas to be used as a human shield and a bargaining chip following armed clashes between Moroccan and Algerian forces in January 1976 after which 136 Algerian soldiers were captured. Spanish troops withdrew from the territory in February 1976 and since then the Algeria-backed Polisario, claiming to represent the inhabitants of Western Sahara, has been at loggerheads with Morocco in the battlefield and diplomatically. The Moroccan authorities have repeatedly said that the number of refugees has been inflated by other


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide Saharan tribes mainly the Tuaregs, the Chambas and Reguibat from the Sahel region, which was beset by chronic drought in the 1980s. They have also been calling for an international census of the inhabitants of the camps to identify the number of refugees and their origin but the Algerian authorities have constantly refused to respond favourably to such a request from the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross. The Algerian-backed Polisario runs four refugee camps near Tindouf but they are accused of allegedlyembezzlingsystematically the aid they receive from international donors according to independent reports from the UNHCR and the UN World Food Programme. Algeria is party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, its 1967 Protocol and the 1969 Convention governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa. However, no registration of the Sahrawi refugee population in the Tindouf camps has ever been undertaken. The European anti fraud office (Office Européen de lutte Anti-Fraude “OLAF”) provided a satellite imagery report commissioned from the European Commission Joint Research Centre, Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen, which, according to them, endorsed the view that the population of Sahrawi refugees in the area surrounding Tindouf was around 91,000 (with a margin of error of 7,000). A 2005 report by the Office of the Inspector General – OSDI- of the UNHCR concluded that, “the various doubts raised about the numbers of Sahrawi refugees in south-western Algeria are well-founded. The IGO would like to recommend that a full standard registration exercise

Tindouf refugee camp (PROFILE), with DOS support, be undertaken by UNHCR in order to establish the number of refugees receiving international protection in Tindouf. Any sub-standard registration exercise, as with the 1999/2000 pre-registration exercise, would lead to new controversies on refugee figures. In the event that the Algerian authorities refuse to allow the registration of Sahrawi refugees in the Tindouf area, UNHCR should seriouslyconsiderreducingwithout delay the beneficiary number to 90,000. This figure was mentioned by a Polisario representative, Mr. Haddad, during his early March 2005 visit to UNHCR Geneva”. In fact since there was no positive response from the Algerian authorities to the UN request to conduct a census in the Tindouf camps, the UNHCR adopted in 2009 the figure of 90.000 for its humanitarian aid to the Sahrawis in the camps. Various other sources have questioned the numbers of Sahrawi refugees in Algeria. A US Committee for Refugees (USCR) report on Western Sahara reported 80,000 refugees in Algeria. Another report referred to allegations of diversion of humanitarian aid by the Polisario and “accused the Polisario of diverting humanitarian assistance to support the army and to replenish the private accounts of the Polisario President’s family”.

The same report included several statements by NGO workers or others, like Enfants refugiés du Monde, indicating that they believed some humanitarian assistance, not limited to food items, was not reaching the designated beneficiaries. This was substantiated by the UNHCR Inspector General’s Office May 2005 report pointing out that “humanitarian assistance was being diverted in order to supply troops, a protected source at Headquarters indicated in March 2005”. For not being forceful enough to impose protection, accountability and registration of refugees on Algeria and the Polisario, the UNHCR has somewhat compromised its autonomy and mission to serve the refugees in the Tindouf camps. The refusal of Algeria to allow the international registration and documentation of the Tindouf refugees has prevented the UNHCR from profiling their humanitarian and protection needs or monitoring aid distribution. Although, the UNHCR is an apolitical institution, it is still responsible for monitoring aid distribution and ensuring that aid is given to appropriate recipients. In March 2008, Interfaith International testified before the UN Human Rights Council that the Polisario diverted and sold aid to other countries and spent lavishly

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on military parades and festivals, which contribute to their ability to maintain control over the refugees in the name of national unity and self-determination. (76) The Polisario has used aid distribution as a means of social and political control over the population in the Tindouf camps, but humanitarian aid has also allowed the Polisario leadership to use the revenues for other purposes, rather than for caring for the refugees. The situation begs the question whether humanitarian aid is to support the Polisario’s political agenda or the refugees. Attempts at self reliance by individual Sahrawi refugees confined to the camps are constantly frustrated by the strict controls on freedom of lack of employment, access to markets and goods, and other impediments such as lack of individual documentation of their status. Neither has the UNHCR seriously

attempted to establish any secure process, free of intimidation, which would allow refugees in the camps to seek voluntary repatriation. The finger of blame is directed at the Algerian authorities’ responsibility for being negligent in enacting national legislation to protect and enforce refugee rights. The Algerian government 2008 National Poverty Strategy did not include a strategy for Sahrawi refugees, highlighting that Algeria maintains its claim that the refugees are the responsibility of the UNHCR and the Polisario Front. The Sahrawi refugees have substantial rights under international law that are either routinely violated or just as routinely ignored by the Polisario, Algeria, and the UNHCR. Among these are the right to be documented, the right to freedom of movement and employment, the right to adequate health care

and education, and the right to access legal protections in the host country’s judicial system. The updated version of the UNHCR Global Appeal 2009 categorised the Tindouf refugees under the Country of Algeria, thus highlighting the state responsibility of Algeria under international law. Indeed, another report by Group Rights and International Law concluded that “over the past 30 years, facts and realities on the ground have changed, while UNHCR’s and Algeria’s policies on refugees have not. The international system has done little to protect these refugees’ rights in what has become one of the longest encamped refugee situations in the world. It is legally, morally, and financially imperative that Sahrawi refugees in Algeria be granted all their rights under international law so they don’t stay warehoused another 30 years”. ✦ Ali Bahaijoub

Drought-stricken Syrians lack funding

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huge shortfall in funding for life-saving emergency assistance to a droughtstricken region of Syria has forced the humanitarian arm of the United Nations to review its response plan for the population suffering under the three-year dry spell, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned. The ongoing drought in

north-eastern Syria has devastated the livelihoods of more than one million people, driving hundreds of thousands to urban areas where they face extremely difficult living conditions, according to OCHA. To date, UN assistance has focused on providing food aid and agricultural packages to farmers and herders in a bid to keep them on their land and re-start agricultural work,

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particularly with the promise of rainfall during the winter months. However, with the $43.6 million drought response plan – prepared to complement government efforts already in place – receiving less than 30 per cent of its funding by the end of February, the UN country team’s efforts to assist those in need have been severely restricted. Syria has also born the brunt of over two million Iraqi refugees and internally displaced persons and had hardly been helped out with the problem by the invading forces. As well as the Syrian drought response plan, there are appeals for Afghanistan ($871 million), the occupied Palestinian territory (over $664 million) and Yemen ($177 million), and a humanitarian action plan for Iraq ($193 million). ✦ Ali Bahaijoub


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Global statistics of Internally Displaced People (IDP) About 26 mil. people worldwide are internally displaced according to figures compiled by the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). A break down of the statistics in some 50 countries is as follows: Countries Afghanistan

Number of IDPs (rounded)

Government figures

At least 235 000

Algeria

- Undetermined -

Angola

19 566

Armenia

8 400

Azerbaijan

573 000 to 603 000

Bangladesh

60 000 to 500 000 Bosnia and Herzegovina 124 593 Burundi 100 000

UN figures

Other figures

At least 235,000 1 00, 000 (EU, 2002) 19 566 (UNTCU, Nov. 2005) 8 400 (NRC, 2005) 572 531 (April 2008)

603 251 (UNHCR, Dec 2008)

500 000 (2000) 124 593 (Sep 2008)

60 000 (Amnesty International, 2000) 124 593 (September 2008) 100 000 (OCHA, Nov 2006)

Central African Republic 162 284 Chad 168 467

162 284 (OCHA, Nov 2009) 168 467 (OCHA, Sep 2009)

Colombia

3 303 979 to 4 915 579

Congo

7 800

Côte d’Ivoire

- Undetermined -

Croatia

2 402

Cyprus

up to 200 500

Republic

2 100 000

Eritrea

10 000

Ethiopia

200 000 to 400 000

Georgia

252 000 to 279 000

New caseload: 32 000 (Dec 2008)

old caseload: 221 597 (UNHCR, 2006)

Guatemala

- Undetermined -

- Undetermined - (NPP Oct 2007)

242 000 (UNFPA, May 1997)

India

At least 500 000

Indonesia

70 000 to 120 000

Iraq

2 764 111

Israel

- Undetermined -

Kenya

400 000

Kosovo

19 700

3 303 979 (Dec 2009) 7 800

4 915 579 (CODHES, Jan 2010) 7 800 (OCHA, Nov 2006) apr. 40 000 in western part (UN, Sep 2009)

2 402 (June 2009)

2 402 (UNHCR, June 2009)

200 457 (Republic of Cyprus, Dec 2008)

210 000 (May 2003, UNFICYP)

0 (Turkish Rep. Cyprus, Oct 2007)

2 million (OCHA, 31 July 2009) Government claim all returned or resettled No UN inter-agency assessment since 2006 200k-300k (UN agencies, Jun 2008)

At least 500 000 (IDMC, Dec 2008) 70k to 120k (IDMC, Mar 2009) 2 764 111 (UNHCR, Nov 2009) 420 000 (BADIL, May 2006) 43 777 (Daily Nation, 03 June 2008)

43 777 (Daily Nation, 03 June 2008)

77 880 (Kenya Red Cross Society)

70 000 July 2006 (UNHCR, Dec 2007)

50 000 to 600 000 (Jul 2006)

Lebanon

90 000 to 390 000

Liberia

- Undetermined -

Macedonia

736

Mexico

5 500

Myanmar

At least 470 000

At least 470 000 (Oct 2009)

Nepal

50 000 to 70 000

OCHA, July 2009

Niger

At least 6500 IDPs

Nigeria

27 000 palestinians refugees (June 2008)

undetermined (UNHCR, 24 July 2007) 736 (Feb 2009) 10 000 (ICRC, Jun 2003);

- Undetermined PalestinianTerritory (occupied) 129 000 to 149 000 Pakistan 1 250 000

1 210 000 (Sep 2007)

Peru

150 000

150 000 (May 2007)

Philippines

125 000 to 188 000

Russian Federation

18 000 to 82 000

Rwanda

- Undetermined -

Senegal

10 000 to 70 000

Serbia

230 000

Somalia

1 300 000

Sri Lanka

400 000

101 019 Vanni IDPs (Feb 2010)

6 000 IDPs in east (Sep 2009)

Sudan

4 900 000

4.1 million (UNHCR, Jan 2010)

4.9 million (IDMC, Jan 2010)

Syria

433 000

Timor-Leste

At least 400 IDPs

Togo

1 500

Turkey

954 000 to 1 200 000

Turkmenistan

- Undetermined -

Uganda

437 000

Uzbekistan

3 400

Yemen

250 000

Zimbabwe

570 000 to 1 000 000

Global Total

26  0 00  0 00

24 547 (OCHA, Oct 2004)

129 000 (NGO BADIL, Sep 2009)

2.4 million newly displaced in May 2009

50 000 to 60 000 (April 2008) 188 000 (IOM, 7 Dec 2009)

18 402 (2009)

82 150 (Various, 2009) 64 000 (IOM, June 2003)

10 000 (ProCas-GTZ, April 2008)

226 079 (UNHCR, Sep 2008) 1 300 000 (UNOCHA, Dec 2009)

433 000 in Syria (Sep 2007) 71 households (IOM, Dec 2009) 1 500 (OCHA, Nov 2006) 953 680 to 1 201 200 (Dec 2006)

over 1 million (NGOs, Aug 2005) 437 000 (UNHCR, Dec 2009) 3 400 (IOM, May 2005) 250 000 (UNHCR, Jan 2010) 36 000 (2008)

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960 000 (ZimVAC Jun 2007).

april 2010

21


Afghan, Iraq conflicts open refugee floodgates Since the US and its allies undertook their wars against Afghanistan and Iraq, the number of people fleeing these conflicts has grown exponentially, writes Desmond Davies

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ne of the major fallouts of the Western invasion of, first, Afghanistan and then Iraq has been the number of refugees that are coming out of these war-ravaged countries. Where movement of Afghan and Iraqi citizens under the regimes of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein was nominal (apart from the Kurdish area of Iraq), the flow now has reached epic proportions. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has acknowledged that the wars in these two countries have fuelled the flow of refugees – making Iraq and Afghanistan the top two on the list of countries with the highest numbers of refugees. These two countries also provide the highest numbers of asylum seekers in the European Union and the US. But, despite this, the EU and the US, who are the cause of the conflicts that have disrupted Afghan and Iraqi societies, have not completely opened their doors to the large numbers of refugees the violence has spawned. “These statistics show that ongoing violence and instability in some parts of the world force increasing numbers of people to flee and seek protection in safe countries,” the

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High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres noted. “There is an acute need for countries to keep their asylum doors wide open to those who are in genuine need of international protection.” Many of the Iraqis who fled overseas endure harsh living conditions and indignity as refugees and asylum seekers. Some hope for resettlement in third countries. But only a tiny fraction of the estimated two million Iraqi refugees and asylum seekers in the Middle East end up being resettled in a third country. Since 2007 the cases of 38,889 Iraqi refugees have been submitted for resettlement by UNHCR Syria. Of that number 17,293, or around 50 per cent, have departed. There were 218,363 Iraqi refugees registered with UNHCR Syria as of December 2009. For Iraqis, the improved security situation in some parts of Iraq is not enough to persuade them to return. The UNHCR says it is not promoting returns of refugees to Iraq and the refugee agency firmly opposes forced returns of persons of concern who are fearful for their safety. One consequence of the USled invasion of Iraq has been the

increase in attacks on Christians in the country – something that did not happen under Saddam. Last month the UN reported that 4,320 Iraqi Christians had been displaced following recent unrest in the northern city of Mosul. In October 2008, more than 12,000 Christians fled Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, following an upsurge in attacks, threats and intimidation, with some returning later after hearing that the security situation had improved. Deadly attacks against Christians in the city occurred again in December 2009. In addition, Christian university students are reportedly not attending classes and workers are not attending their places of work. The US and Western governments involved in the conflict in Iraq are hoping that last month’s elections would ease the tension in the country and encourage refugees to rerun home. The elections were widely seen as a test of Iraq’s democracy and a step towards stability after years of sectarian conflict. But they have only brought mixed reactions from Iraqi refugees still concerned about the situation back home. Several Iraqi refugees said their country needed time to heal before they could safely return, while others said they were optimistic and many hoped the polls would end sectarianism and allow people to go home. Many of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees living in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, said they voted in the 7 March elections to help bring about change and stability. They were pleased that all parties in Iraq, reflecting the religious and political


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide spectrums, had participated, fuelling hopes for change. Those who did not vote were sceptical that the ballot would bring about transformation. Iraq’s independent electoral committee set up polling stations in several countries in the region to enable Iraqis overseas, including refugees, to vote. But returning en masse is still out of the question. Elizabeth Campbell, a senior advocate with Refugees International, wrote in her blog in November that in a recent survey, 83 per cent of Iraqi refugees interviewed in Jordan and Syria said they had no plans to return to Iraq due to insecurity, lack of jobs, and their inability to access or petition for their original homes and property. Most host governments in the region are not actively considering any form of permanent residence for Iraqis, Campbell said. In the case of the 1.7 million Afghans in Pakistan, the situation is slightly better. Their refugee cards will be extended until December 2012 and the Afghan government will have to

enhance its reintegration services, the resettlement country,” said according to a tripartite meeting Farah Dakhlallah, a UNHCR of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the spokesperson in Syria. UNHCR last month. Each country has an annual “UNHCR plans to assist around quota of refugees it will take. 165,000 people who may opt The UNHCR identifies potential to return to Afghanistan from cases for resettlement. Those Pakistan and Iran in 2010,” Nader people are then interviewed by the Farhad, a UNHCR spokesman in UNHCR and if considered eligible, Kabul, said, adding that the return a standard case file is prepared would be gradual and voluntary. and submitted to a particular The two neighbouring countries resettlement country by UNHCR. have also agreed to introduce “a Refugees do not have a choice flexible visa regime” to facilitate as to which country their cross-border movements, the case is submitted to, although the presence of relatives in a UNHCR said. Since 2002 about 3.5 million particular country may be taken Afghans have returned home from into consideration. A refugee has Pakistan. About 900,000 Afghan the right to refuse resettlement in refugees also live in Iran, which has a particular country but this does expelled hundreds of thousands not mean their application will of economic migrants over the then automatically be submitted past three years, according to the for resettlement in another country, government. UNHCR experts say. Still, for many Afghan and The UNHCR says it assesses Iraqi refugees, the hope is for the eligibility of refugees for resettlement in a third country. resettlement on the basis of their But this is not a straightforward vulnerability. “UNHCR has a exercise. “A refugee cannot specific set of criteria based on apply for resettlement, but his vulnerabilities,” says Dakhlallah. case is submitted by UNHCR “We take the whole situation into and then accepted or rejected by consideration.” ✦

Africa: a protracted challenge

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lthough the number of refugees in Africa is falling, those who are in exile have been in that position for a considerable length of time. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, at the beginning of 2009, there were more than 10 million people of concern to agency in sub-Saharan Africa, including some 2.1 million refugees, 305,000 asylum seekers, more than 6.3 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and an estimated 100,000 stateless people. But, the UNHCR says, in contrast with global trends, the number of refugees in the region is on the

decline. However, the problem is that nearly 98 per cent of the refugees who remain have been trapped in exile for protracted periods. Comprehensive strategies, including voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement, have helped many refugees in the region find a durable solution. While repatriation has remained the main solution, it is encouraging that local integration is also becoming a more realistic option. This is particularly the case in asylum countries in West Africa, but also elsewhere, most notably Tanzania, which is reviewing the applications

for citizenship of some 165,000 Burundian refugees. The UNHCR is working with governments and other partners to make these solutions sustainable. Many IDPs, too, are returning to their places of origin and the UNHCR has helped some one million IDPs to return in 2009. Nonetheless, the UNHCR and its partners in the region are still protecting and assisting some 6.3 million IDPs for whom no solutions had been found. Moreover, many more people have been displaced both internally and externally by conflict and natural disasters. ✦ 

Desmond Davies

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23


features

Algeria protests against French far right minarets poster

A

lgeria lodged an official protest after French electoral authorities approved a campaign poster by the far right National Front party that it believes is an abuse of the Algerian flag. The poster shows a veiled woman next to a map of France that is covered with an Algerian flag and minarets as missiles above the caption “No to Islamism!” The French Foreign Ministry said that Algeria’s complaint was “legitimate”. A Marseilles court has thrown out an attempt by anti-racist group, Licra, to have the poster banned. Two more organisations, Mrap and SOS Racisme, have also launched legal action against the National Front. The National Front is a virulent campaigner against immigration and its leader Jean-Marie le Pen has faced several lawsuits for racist remarks against migrants, Muslims and Jews. There are about six million Muslims in France making Islam the second religion in the country after Christianity.

The poster resembles a poster that a Swiss nationalist party published during the mosque and minaret referendum last November in Switzerland. The Swiss agency that designed the original poster says that it will sue the National Front for plagiarism. Switzerland voted last November to ban the construction of minarets, a move that harmed the country’s international image. The country’s biggest political party, the rightwing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), had forced the referendum under Swiss regulations on the issue after collecting 100,000 signatures within 18 months from eligible voters. There are an estimated 400,000 Muslims in a country of 7.5 million people, making Islam the second largest religion behind Christianity. In France, the controversy reveals deep-seated unease in relations between the country’s six million Muslims, the French state and the National Front. In the Netherlands, the farright Party for Freedom (PVV) has triggered a heated debate and aroused concern among the mainstream parties in two key cities just three months before a general election, in which it hopes to become the largest party in parliament. The PVV, led by the Islamophobe Member of Parliament, Geert Wilders, came first in municipal elections in Almere, east of The posters that caused the fury

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Amsterdam, and second in The Hague, according to partial results. Wilders’s party was set up in 2006 to “stop the Islamisation of the Netherlands”, and stood only in the two cities, out of 394 municipalities. Exit polls showed that the PVV could win 27 of the 150 seats up for grabs in June. Given the large number of parties in the Netherlands, that would make it the largest party in parliament. A win for Wilders could spark tension and possibly conflict and may introduce disharmony in a country renowned for its religious tolerance and liberal political system. Islamophobia in Europe seems to be a growing trend after 9/11 in the US and the explosion of bombs in London in July 2005. The question remains whether this unjustifiable trend will end, leading to normality between all religions or lead to further tension that would add fuel to the fire and result result in a conflict of dire consequences for all concerned. ✦  Ali Bahaijoub


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

The A400M

transport aircraft project saga goes on

E

uropean governments have decided that the A400M transport aircraft project was too big and too costly to fail and following months of negotiations, seven European governments reached a deal last month with EADS, the parent company of aircraft manufacturer Airbus, which should rescue the troubled A400M transport aircraft project from failure. At a time when persistent gaps in European military capabilities are defying solutions, and with defence budget cuts expected, many governments have begun to look more closely at multinational cooperation to generate improved capabilities at better value for the taxpayer. Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom agreed to increase the purchase price by €2 billion to €22bn and to provide €1.5bn in export finance in exchange for a share of sales revenues. The governments also waived their right to possible damages arising from delays to the project so far, and agreed to accelerate payments to Airbus ahead of deliveries. The project is four years late and substantially over budget. Although the deal will help EADS to reduce its losses on the A400M project, on 9 March it announced a charge of €1.8bn against profits to add to the €2.4bn loss provision it had already taken. European governments first established the programme for a future military airlifter in 1982. As they contemplated potential replacements for their ageing

fleets of C-130 Hercules and Transall C-160 transport planes, several options were available. One was to buy a mixed fleet from the United States – a combination of tactical airlift in the form of the updated C-130 and the larger ‘strategic’ C-17 Globemaster. The former is manufactured by Lockheed Martin and the latter by Boeing (since its 1997 acquisition of McDonnell Douglas). The European Staff Requirement was for a new aircraft larger than a C-130 or C-160, but smaller than a C-17. After the purchasing group issued a formal request to Airbus for proposals in 1997 against the staff requirement, Airbus Military was formed in 1999. Previously, Airbus had manufactured only commercial aircraft. Italy and Portugal dropped out in 2001 and 2002 respectively, and the seven remaining customer nations signed a contract in May 2003 for 180 planes at a total price of €20 billion. The argument for the A400M was that it would be a highly capable and versatile European plane, bridging the divide between tactical and strategic airlift. The project was also considered as a venture to strengthen Europe’s defence-industrial base and would enable European forces to tackle many airlift operations with a single type of aircraft. The A400M made its maiden flight on 11 December 2009 and first deliveries to customers were not expected before 2013, four years late. Total costs were estimated at just over €31 billion, compared with the €20bn initially agreed

price. It was also doubtful whether the aircraft would be able to meet prescribed performance targets. A 2008 report by the French senate suggested the A400M was up to 12 tonnes heavier than expected, bringing into question its specified range of some 4,500km while carrying a 30-tonne payload (its maximum payload is 37 tonnes). Airbus disputed the finding but admitted in 2009 that the plane was some seven tonnes overweight. At the same time the company disclosed that it had run into trouble with the plane’s back-up navigational system and a terrainmasking capability enabling lowlevel flight. The engines and the engine software also posed the biggest technical difficulties and had to be rewritten for the aircraft to obtain civil certification. During a visit to Paris in February, the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, told the media it was a project of “strategic importance”. A keenly awaited deal on the future of the A400M military transport plane, affecting up to 10,000 European jobs, was then given the push by Germany and France as the latter had ordered 50 of the cargo planes. The plane will meet the demanding requirements of both operational and humanitarian missions and the project seems now to be on track and it is for EADS to deliver otherwise Airbus Industry’s reputation will be damaged and no other European venture will ever take off in fear of another fiasco. ✦ Ali Bahaijoub

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The Falklands again

A

new row has erupted between Britain and Argentina about the “possession” of the Flaklands/ Malvinas 28 years after the war of 1982 that led to the deaths of 649 Argentines and 255 Britons. Today the population of the Falklands is 3,500 and their average per capita income is a healthy $30,000. There is a British military presence in the islands comprising 1,076 troops and four naval vessels, together constituting a deterrence force. A new air base is being constructed so that, if necessary, reinforcements could be flown in from Britain. What, then, is the agenda? The answer, of course, is oil. This precious commodity, which all nations seek, acts as a malignant sore that breeds greed, corruption and international strife. It has been known for years that there is oil off the Falklands; the question is how much? Latest estimates, improbably, suggest a high resource of 60 billion barrels but even if that figure

proved to be true probably only a fraction of the amount would be recoverable. A more realistic figure for recoverable oil is 3.5 billion barrels. Assuming that exploitation goes ahead the next question to address is whether or not the oil field extends between Argentine and Falkland territorial waters. A small British oil exploration company, Desire Petroleum, has at great expense had a rig towed to the Falklands but for major exploration to be feasible the oil companies would have to have land bases in Argentina. Thus, leaving other political questions aside, AngloArgentine cooperation would be essential. Meanwhile, however, Argentina has again raised the issue of its rights over the Islas Malvinas – this has never been far below the surface although over the last years relations between the two countries have been correct if not especially warm. The imminent possibility of British oil companies drilling in the offshore waters of

the Falklands has coincided with a meeting in Cancun, Mexico, of the Rio Group of Central and Latin American states and these unanimously backed Argentina’s claim that the Islands should by right be returned to them by Britain. President Chavez of Venezuela added fuel to the flames by declaring that Queen Elizabeth II should understand that the days of imperialism are over and that Britain should quit the Falklands. These events also coincided with an official visit to a number of South American states by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who was confronted with the Falklands question at each of her stops. She therefore offered her mediation between Argentina and Britain. She received a dusty answer from London. The Foreign Office says the Falklands are a British territory and therefore there is nothing to mediate. Prime Minister Gordon Brown was annoyed that Hillary Clinton took a stand between the two countries; he felt that she should have backed the British position (right or wrong) because of British support for the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan. Argentina has made plain that it does not intend to resort to force. If major oil resources are uncovered and it makes sense to exploit them the best solution for good relations between the two countries would be to form a joint Anglo-Argentinian oil company and share the proceeds. In an oil hungry, resource hungry world of touchy nationalisms, that perhaps is to ask for too much. ✦  Guy Arnold

Bone of contention between the UK and Argentina: the Falkland Islands

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✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

New Iraqi government will take months to form

D

espite improvements in the general security situation in Iraq, dozens of bombs in Baghdad heralded Iraq’s general election on 7 March. The turnout was lower than in 2005 when Sunni Arabs boycotted the vote to protest against the shift in power to the nation’s long-oppressed Shiite majority after the US-led invasion. However, most Iraqis wanted to cast their ballots to exercise their democratic rights and defy

vying for just 325 parliamentary seats. No bloc is expected to win an outright majority. The election was seen as an important test for Iraq’s fledgling democracy. First, the new members of parliament have to elect a speaker, by recent tradition a Sunni Arab. According to the constitution, a president must be elected, possibly a Kurd, as before. By the summer, the new members of parliament may set down what they call “the road to 163”. That

insurgent attacks. US President Barack Obama hailed the Iraqi voter turnout saying: “I have great respect for the millions of Iraqis who refused to be deterred by acts of violence, and who exercised their right to vote today.” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that the turnout “reconfirms the commitment of the Iraqi people to a democratic Iraq. It deserves respect from us all.” Rival alliances led by the Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, and by Iyad Allawi, a more secular predecessor, scored well. But preliminary results made it clear that no group will win an outright majority in parliament. However, it may take months to form a coalition government if the situation remains calm. there were about 6,200 candidates from 86 factions

is the number of MPs needed for a majority in the legislative chamber. Months of haggling is likely to ensue as The State of Law alliance, a predominantly Shia group led by the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, is said to have done well, as is the more secular and cross-sectarian Iraqi National Movement led by alMaliki’s predecessor, Iyad Allawi, another Shia and main rival. Both men said they had won, without solid evidence to support their claims. No party or electoral alliance will emerge close to the 163 figure on its own. Yet even if al-Maliki and his close rival, Allawi, each get as few as 70 seats out of the 325 on offer, they could still be front-runners to form a government. The new parliament will be as fragmented as the old one but Iraqi politicians will have

Bone of contention between the UK Iraqi PMthe Nuri al-Maliki and Argentina: Falkland Islands

to work harder to accommodate each other and build a coalition. The outcome will be decisive in terms of Washington’s plan to start pulling out US troops over the next five months and withdraw entirely by end-2011. This was the second general election since the fall of Saddam Hussein but is it a turning point towards peace? Due to the continuing conflict, violence against the media has become common and media professionals have embarked on self-censorship. The Obama Administration has talked of the March elections in Iraq as being a transformative event that would put the country on track for a stable future and allow for the withdrawal of US combat troops in August but Iraq’s fragile political order may prove an unexpected stumbling block that could derail US policy in Iraq. ✦ Ali Bahaijoub

Ex-PM Iyad Allawi

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27


Climate change panel under scrutiny

The last couple of months have been rather embarrassing for the body charged with monitoring global warming.

Crop yields in Africa under pressure

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ost food crop cultivation in Africa is rain-fed, but climate change is affecting vital rainfall patterns and pushing up temperatures, diminishing yields that could halve in some countries by 2020. This warning has been widely quoted since it first appeared in a synthesis report for policy-makers in 2007 by the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Clouds of doubt gathered over the statement after it emerged that the IPCC report had based the projection on a non-peer reviewed research paper -otherwise known as “grey literature”. The claim was published in the Sunday Times newspaper in the UK on 7 February, in a report headlined “Africagate: top British scientist says UN panel is losing credibility”. A flood of allegations from all quarters then began to question the credibility of the 2007 assessment report. Governments

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and policy-makers use the IPCC assessment reports to formulate plans and strategies for coping with climate change. So, is the projection incorrect? The IPCC and other scientists say we will have to wait until the end of August 2010 to find out. On 10 March the UN announced that a Netherlands-based group of 15 national academies of science would review how the IPCC does its work. The Panel publishes periodic assessments by the three committees that deal with the causes of climate change, its impact, and mitigation options. The review committee will also consider whether the IPCC should use non-peer reviewed papers. The projection that crop yields could be reduced by 50 per cent in some African countries, contained in the synthesis report, was based on a paper cited in the Panel’s report on impacts. Written by Ali Agoumi, a Moroccan climate expert, the paper “is a summary of technical

studies and research conducted” in three countries - Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia - submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, “and is a perfectly legitimate IPCC reference”, wrote a group of scientists involved in the panel’s reports on the popular blog RealClimate, run by them on 14 February. “The IPCC cites 18,000 references in the AR4 [Fourth assessment report]; the vast majority of these are peer-reviewed scientific journal papers ... it is indispensable to use grey sources, since many valuable data are published in them,” the scientists said in defence of grey literature. “Reports by government statistics offices, the International Energy Agency, World bank ... This is particularly true when it comes to regional impacts in the least developed countries, where knowledgeable local experts exist who have little chance, or impetus, to publish in international science journals,” the scientists


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide commented. Yet it is not the use of grey literature that seems to be the issue. David Lobell, of Stanford University’s Programme on Food Security and the Environment, who has worked extensively on projecting the impact of climate change on crop yields in Africa, called the IPCC statement in the synthesis report “ill-advised”. “The original syntax was technically correct (i.e., worst years are 50 per cent yields drops, and these could become more common), but it was easily misinterpreted as a statement about average yields,” he said. IPCC officials often quoted the statement to illustrate the possible impact of climate change on food production in Africa, when the document on which it was based only referred to three North African countries. “Part of the problem was that the scientific literature on some

of these issues was quite lacking at the time [when the report was being compiled – the report takes three years to be written],” Lobell acknowledged. “One risk now is that people could interpret the IPCC statement as being wrong, saying that Africa doesn’t really face a threat, or that other IPCC statements are also in doubt. In fact, we think Africa faces some of the toughest impacts on agriculture in the world, just not as extreme as the IPCC statement suggested.” The Sunday Times report in the UK was among several that followed a controversy dubbed “Climategate”, which broke in November 2009, ahead of the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December. The row started when hacked emails by the Climatic Research Unit at the University in East Anglia, one of the centres that supplied data to the IPCC, were published

on a website for climate change sceptics. Since then, newspapers across the world have published allegations by climate change sceptics, organisations, government officials, and other publications that the IPCC manipulated climate change data or used non-peer reviewed papers as the basis for some of its projections. The UN panel defended its work until it was forced to admit in January that it had erroneously projected that 80 per cent of the Himalayan glacier area would very likely be gone by 2035. The panel had sourced the projection from a document produced by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which had used an interview by a scientist with the magazine, New Scientist, in 1999 as the source of the projection, and not a scientific publication. ✦

IRIN

Libyan-Swiss dispute: mediators banned from entering Schengen countries

L

ibyan mediators, who are trying to resolve a two-year dispute between Libya and Switzerland, are among the 188 Libyans on a blacklist, banned from entering Switzerland. At a press conference held at the embassy (people’s bureau) in London in mid-March, to clarify the Libyan position, the ambassador Omar Jelban said it seemed that the Swiss had no desire to resolve the problem. The festering diplomatic row started after the arrest in Geneva of Gadaffi’s son, Hannibal on charges, later dropped, of mistreating two domestic employees. Libya arrested two Swiss men on visa charges, cut off oil supplies and withdrew billions of dollars from Swiss banks. (The Libyans insist

that the arrest of the Swiss men has nothing to do with the dispute with Switzerland). Switzerland banned 188 named Libyans – the country’s entire ruling elite, including Colonel Gadaffi. In 2009, 207 visa applications from Libyans seeking to enter Europe’s 25state Schengen free-travel zone were rejected at Switzerland’s request. Other Shengen countries were required to follow suit but Italy and Malta protested. In mid-February 2010 Libya stopped issuing visas to Schengen country nationals. Both Jelban and Libya’s UN envoy, Abdulrahman Mohammed Shalgham, have called for independent arbitration to resolve the dispute. “We want a solution. We are ready to accept any verdict from the arbitration panel”,

Shalgham said. Arbitration was agreed by the Swiss President and the Libyans on 20 August 2009 but little progress has been made in this direction. The Swiss President did in fact apologise for the incident but the Libyans are unhappy with media coverage of the dispute and claim that most reports are biased against Libya. The Arab League Council at ministerial level issued a statement on 3 March 2010 in which it called on the Swiss government “to accept arbitration on the incident regarding the apprehension of a Libyan diplomat in Switzerland and its circumstances, and punish those whom the arbitrators prove responsible and compensate the aggrieved party in accordance with the settlement agreement signed

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Hannibal in the eye of the storm

by the Swiss President with the Libyan side on 20 August 2009.” Libya also has the support of the Arab Maghreb Union whose general secretary “regrettably noticed the procedures recently taken by the Swiss authorities which aim at limiting the freedom of movement of Libyan citizens to Switzerland”. During his London press conference, Jelban provided a detailed statement of the history of the dispute. The statement noted: “The Libyan diplomat [Hannibal] and members of his family were arrested in a highly dramatic fashion. Their arrest, which involved the use of more than 20 police officers, was illegal and carried out by the use of excessive force in flagrant violation of the Geneva Criminal Law, including the use of arms when they entered into the residence of the diplomat’s wife who was pregnant, sick and attending to her three-year old child.” The statement added: “The Swiss authorities did not allow the Libyan People’s Bureau (embassy) to pay a consular visit to the Libyan

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Gaddafi

national, thus violating the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations. “On 16 July 2008, the General Peoples Committee for Foreign Liaison and International Cooperation (foreign minstry) issued a diplomatic note to the Swiss government stating that the Leader of the Revolution does not have any objection, as a father, for law to be applied on his son if found to be in violation, but he cannot understand the excessive use of force, which is supposed to be directed against terrorists, drug traffickers and members of armed robbery gangs. “The Swiss police did not give due consideration to the presence of the child when his parents were illegally and inhumanely arrested. They have also failed to provide answers to the independent investigation committee’s questions regarding his whereabouts and how he was being treated”. The current stalemate is also described in the statement presented at the London press conference: “Due to Switzerland’s failure to abide by its commitments, and because of the unilateral

actions they took, the Great Jamahiriya (Libya) declared that it would not enter into direct negotiations without the participation of European parties to act as guarantors. The Great Jamahiriya then accepted the German mediation and the Spanish mediation later. Several meetings, in the presence of the German mediator, were held. Conclusions were reached regarding the major issues which include, firstly, the need to set up an International Adjudication Tribunal to study the case, summon witnesses and examine the evidence to identify who is responsible for what happened and what were the motives behind that.” The improvident issuing of blacklists and trading of insults will only escalate the dispute which is snowballing and involving more and more Arab and European states. Shalgham’s call to cancel the blacklist and go to arbitration is the voice of reason which has been totally absent as both sides try to demonise each other. ✦  Ali Bahaijoub


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Nigeria’s cycle of violence continues

T

he horrific slaughter of at indigenes are Berom Christians. least 100 people in three Most settlers are Hausa Muslims. nearby villages near Jos, Many Christians believe Hausa Plateau State, Nigeria, in March Muslim settlers seek to seize was the latest in a brutal cycle political control and impose of violence that had engulfed Sharia law. They fear an extremist the Hausa-speaking Muslims Islamist agenda and jihad. Many Muslims believe the and Christians from the Berom community in the state. Plateau State government wishes Some 200 young men are under to drive them out of certain areas. Meanwhile, the military has arrest for the killings in the villages of Dogo Nahawa, Zot and come under fire for its role. Plateau Ratsat, and the police were nowhere State Governor Jonah Jang and near bringing the situation under the Elders Christian Forum group control. The attacks appeared to - among others - accuse the army of be in retaliation for violence in the failing to act on early warnings of villages around Jos in January, violence. The military, for its part, when most of the victims were insist it was only told of the mass said to be Muslims. killings after they occurred. Witnesses and officials said the Bringing the violence under perpetrators came from the mainly control may yet prove to be one of Muslim Fulani group while most the many challenges facing victims were Christians from the acting President Goodluck whose supporters Berom group. “Some were paid to Jonathan do it, some were volunteers,” said have been manoeuvring to try to the local Police Commissioner, formalise his position following the Ikechukwu Aduba who believed three months absence of President there would be more arrests and Umaru Yar’Adua who remains too the cycle of violence was not ill to rule despite his return back over. Explosions of violence have home after a successful surgery in crackled along Nigeria’s Middle Saudi Arabia. Jonathan dissolved Belt ever since the country was the cabinet in a bid to consolidate created. Distinct ethnic groups, his authority and dispel the Tiv, Jukun, Pyem, Kofyar, Berom, heightened political uncertainty in the Hausa-Fulani and many Africa’s most populous nation.The more, live along this dividing line surprise move left civil servants in between the Muslim north and charge of ministries until a new mostly Christian south. The fertile land and jobs were a powerful draw for migrants seeking work. People travelled to Jos from all over Nigeria. People in the region are either classified as indigenes or settlers. Indigenes are able to prove their ancestry in the state. Settlers, whose grandparents and greatgrandparents settled there, cannot. Settlers find it difficult to get jobs in local government, or apply for educational scholarships. Most

Acting president goodluck Jonathan cabinet is formed after Nigeria’s 36 State governors and senior ruling party officials have put forward nominees.The process could take weeks as rival interest groups jockey for position. Since becoming acting President, Jonathan has been reshuffling the cabinet and forging ahead with an amnesty for militants in the oilrich Niger Delta. Nigerians want an end to the bloodshed but much will depend on who is in charge after the cabinet is formed. However, there is the risk of disafected former ministers mounting court challenges to the constitutional legality of Jonathan’s executive powers and that could plunge the country into another political paralysis that may prove too costly.✦ 

Franklin Adesegha

Troops confront protesters in Jos north✦south

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Remittances flow keep Haiti alive Money from Haitians living abroad has been a welcome lifeline for friends and relatives recovering from the devastating January earthquake.

H

aiti’s economy depends on the estimated $1.5 billion a year in remittances sent home by its million-strong Diaspora. Dilip Ratha, lead economist at the World Bank, said the figure could be even higher, accounting for perhaps half the national income. The money is funnelled into the country via banks, transfer agencies or informal “mailmen” (facteurs), who make deliveries for friends and family, sometimes for payment. A 2007 Humanitarian Policy Group report for the Overseas Development Institute estimated that “an unknown but certainly large” amount of remittances were delivered this way. The 7.0 magnitude earthquake on 12 January 2010 halted nonemergency travel into Haiti for a time, putting a temporary stop to the facteurs and preventing the central bank from distributing funds to branches in the countryside. Haitians in the US and elsewhere were forced to find other ways to help relatives. One place they turned was Fonkoze, a microfinance institution with 42 branches scattered throughout Haiti, which works with money transfer services like MoneyGram and Unitransfer, and the City National Bank of New Jersey. “A woman in New Mexico called me in a panic - she hadn’t ever done anything like this before,” said Katleen Felix, a New York-based liaison for Fonkoze. “There were many calls like that.”To keep these vital funds flowing, US Democratic Party Senators John Kerry and Evan Bayh asked Western Union and MoneyGram money transfer services to reduce or eliminate fees for people sending money to Haiti. 32

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Western Union noted that it had reduced its transaction fees on 15 February, and would maintain them until the end of this year. Moneygram said it had offered $1 transfer fees in the wake of the earthquake, but on 14 February it had returned to its normal pricing schedule of 2.4 per cent on average. Both companies detailed charitable assistance they were providing to Haiti. Also helping the flow of money is the decision by the US government on 18 January to allow 200,000 of the roughly 500,000 undocumented Haitians in the US to be granted “temporary protected status”, preventing their deportation for 18 months and enabling them to use formal remittance networks. Many believe the status will likely be extended for at least an additional 18 months. Hervé Sabin, founder of the Rural Haiti Projectiv, which runs a number of youth development programmes in the Haitian countryside, said the remittance networks allowed money to arrive in the country in a “structured manner”, and this was vitally important in a time of such instability. The director of the remittances and development programme at the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, Manuel Orozco, agreed, but thought the structure could be improved. Before the earthquake Haiti had about 400 remittance transfer points, “a relatively small, insufficient number, given the volume of monthly transfers that enter the country,” he said. “Modernising the networks and promoting access will contribute to development: half a million of remittance-recipient households have a stock of savings between

Lifeline: Western Union in Haiti $200 and $1,000, the majority kept informally,” Orozco noted. “Funnelling those savings through banks and microfinance institutions could increase the country’s meagre credit portfolio available for small businesses, which currently represents only five per cent of all credit.” The World Bank’s Ratha pointed out the “need to leverage these flows for local and national development (without directly interfering with these flows). The challenge would be to tame a temptation on the part of the government and the donor community to treat remittances as a substitute for aid or public spending on rebuilding efforts, especially in communities where migrants’ relatives reside.” How much money will Haitians be able to send home? Fonkoze’s Felix said they were plundering their bank accounts, cashing out their 401K retirement savings accounts, “maxing” out credit cards, and holding fundraisers. Orozco cautioned that the “capacity of the Diaspora to help its homeland beyond current levels is quite limited.” ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

France rings alarm bells on deforestation

T

he French President Nicolas Sarkozy opened an international conference on deforestation in Paris last month with the participation of ministers from 30 heavily forested countries and 12 potential donor countries. The event was aimed at giving a boost to the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) programme, which focuses on reducing deforestation in poor countries by half by 2020. When there was no agreement on REDD at Copenhagen, six countries, including the US and France, announced 2.6 billon euros of finance for a mechanism known as REDD+ in 2010-2012. The programme is to be financed by aid from rich countries or by carbon trading, which allows countries going over the agreed limits on carbon emissions to swap them with those that look likely to do so. The scheme could generate 20 billion euros a year to protect forests in tropical countries, according to the UN. But critics claim that carbon trading, which was first proposed at the Kyoto climate change conference in 1997, may hand rich countries a licence to pollute while endangering indigenous peoples and allowing conversion of land into industrial tree plantations. The Paris conference follows in the footsteps of the December 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference and planned to prepare for two conferences in 2010, one in Bonn, Germany, in April, and the other in Mexico City from 29 November to 10 December. A follow-up from the Paris conference is also planned in Oslo, Norway, in May. Deforestation is clearing the planet’s forests on a massive scale,

often resulting in damage to the quality of the land. Forests still cover about 30 per cent of the world’s land area, but vast areas the size of Panama are lost every year. The world’s rainforests could completely vanish in a hundred years at the current rate of deforestation. The Atlantic Forest in Brazil is a unique rainforest that once covered more than a million square kilometers. Today, the forest is reduced to less than five per cent of its original size. Deforestation of the Atlantic Forest comes from coastal development, as well as uncontrolled logging and agriculture and charcoal production. The earth’s forests are under pressure. Tropical forests are

fast disappearing due mainly to logging, mining, hydropower and the hunger for land. Every year more than 8.5 million hectares of tropical rainforests are being razed. More than 12 million hectares of forest land is lost to urbanization or allied activities each year. This has resulted in a rapid global decline in some regions. The process of deforestation has many negative effects on the environment. The most dramatic impact is a loss of habitat for millions of species. Seventy per cent of Earth’s land animals and plants live in forests, and many cannot survive the deforestation that destroys their homes. ✦  Ali Bahaijoub

Deforestation - the facts and figures • About 13 million hectares of forest are destroyed every year; • Six of the ten countries which have lost the most forest over the last five years are in Africa; • Those ten countries lost 8.2 million hectares; • Logging, combustion and decomposition of trees gives rise to 20 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, as much as the combined emission of cars, lorries, trains, airplanes and boats. • Deforestation is the major contributor to Indonesia and Brazil becoming the world’s third and fourth CO2 emitters. • In Nigeria 81% of its original forest cover is now permanently lost. • The tropical rainforests of Brazil are less by 90-95%. • The forests of Central America are down by two-thirds lowlands, since 1950. • Countries like India, Mexico, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Sri Lanka, the Congo and Ghana have lost much more than 50% of their rainforest cover. • - Harvesting of forest cover has left Afghanistan with a little over 25% forests throughout the country

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environment ✦

Turning trash into cash in Asia-Pacific A new scheme in Asia and the Pacific will enable cities, which are dealing with ever-increasing heaps of waste, to transform ‘trash into cash.’ Exploding urban populations and economies in the region have resulted in a surge in solid wastes that municipal governments are finding difficult to dispose of, as dumpsites fill up and land for new ones is becoming harder to come by. Unveiled by the Economic and

Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific and Waste Concern, a Bangladeshi non-governmental organisation, the scheme will sell carbon credits, demonstrating that recycling trash can be extremely profitable. Millions make a living from recycling waste, both from inorganic recyclable waste and organic waste, which can be turned into compost and can generate initial start-up costs

Disasters wreak serious havoc over past 10 years Disasters killed more than 780,000 people over the past 10 years, affected more than two billion others and cost a minimum of $960 billion, according to figures released by the Centre for Research and Epidemiology of Disasters. Earthquakes, such as the one that hit Haiti in January, were the deadliest, accounting for 60 per cent of deaths. In terms of human losses, Asia is the continent that has been struck again and again by disasters during

the last decade, accounting for 85 per cent of all fatalities. The most deadly disasters of the past decade were the Indian Ocean tsunami, which hit several countries in Asia in 2004, leaving 226,408 dead; Cyclone Nargis, which killed 138,366 people in Myanmar (2008); and the Sichuan earthquake in China (2008), causing the deaths of 87,476 people. In addition, 73,338 people were killed in the earthquake in Pakistan (2005) and 72,210 in heat waves in Europe (2003). ✦

Climate chief to step down The head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate change, Yvo de Boer, has made the “difficult decision” to step down from his position, citing his desire to pursue new opportunities to advance progress on the issue in both the

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private sector and academia. He will stay in his current position until 1 July, before joining the consultancy group KPMG as a Global Adviser on Climate and Sustainability and working with several universities.

Governments agree to protect sharks A landmark agreement to protect shark species threatened with extinction has been reached by over 100 countries that signed up to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. The CMS agrees to prohibit the hunting, fishing and deliberate killing of sharks species covered in an appendix to the CMS – the great white, basking, whale, porbeagle, spiny dogfish, shortfin and longfin mako sharks. Over-fishing, fisheries by-catch, illegal trade, habitat destruction, depletion of prey species, pollution with a high risk of mercury intoxication, boat strikes and the impact of climate change on the marine environment all seriously threaten sharks.

EU backs bluefin ban The European Commission has said that the European Union should press for an unprecedented ban on international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna, a species driven towards extinction by insatiable demand from Japan, where a single fish can fetch $100,000. The most recent scientific report showed that stocks of Atlantic bluefin tuna were “in such a bad shape” that the Commission considered the matter to qualify for inclusion in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), said Environment Commissioner Janez Potoçnik. This would mean a strict regulation and a ban on international trade in the fish. ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

ınnovatıons ✦

Man drives car with thought-powered arms A former mechanic who lost his arms in an industrial accident four years ago is able to drive again thanks to thought-powered artificial limbs. Christian Kandlbauer, who lost his arms after being electrocuted by 20,000 volts, retook his driving test and passed. Using the nerves that previously controlled the healthy limbs, the 22-year-old Austrian merely has to think what he wants his arms to do and the command is obeyed. The thought from his brain creates a particular electrical impulse in the nerve endings at the site of amputation. Those impulses are picked up

Robot that cleans up indoors

by electrical connections to the artificial arm, which respond to the specific impulse and so causing the arm to move as he wants. Kandlbauer, who became the first recipient in the world of such ‘intelligent’ artificial limbs two years ago, now drives to work in a modified disabled car after passing his test. ✦

Brain-cooling motorcycle helmet An extraordinary new ‘brain-cooling’ motorcycle helmet could save thousands of lives each year. Called the ThermaHelm, the incredible piece of equipment comes with an inbuilt device that acts like an instant ice pack after a sudden

impact. By cooling the brain it is thought the carbon fibre helmet can reduce the risk of long-term brain damage and save lives. The British creators will launch the £299 helmet next month. ✦

The NaviBot from SAMSUNG is a robot vacuum cleaner with some cool new features. Inside is a tiny camera that takes 30 photos per second of the room and uses the images to plot a course around the four walls, getting rid of dust and dirt as it goes. Using the camera, it works out the quickest and safest way around, avoiding bumping into furniture, and while it has plenty of juice in the tank, you won’t have to worry about the battery running low. As soon as it does, NaviBot returns to its docking station and waits there for two hours until full of electricity again. And because he (we’ll call it a he) is so clever, he can even start off again from exactly the same spot where he left off. Two types of brushes remove even the most messy mess and it’ll even work when you’re out the house. There’s even an option to set an area that shouldn’t be cleaned. The product goes on sale in the United Kingdom in April.

The world’s thinnest and smallest waterproof camera Japanese electronics giant Sony is to launch the “world’s thinnest and smallest” waterproof camera the TX5 at just 17.7mm slim. Like its rival Olympus snappers, this dust-proof, shock-proof and freeze-proof, has a 10.2 megapixel

sensor plus 4x optical zoom. There is even high-definition movie shooting in 720p. Out in five colours, it’s perfect whether you’re around the pool or trying not to spill beer over it on a night out in the pub.

Lots of techno gubbins inside produce automated modes for all occasions while the usual features such as anti-blur will make your images as pretty as, err, a picture, the manufacturers say. ✦

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busınessbrıefs ✦

IMF report advises on stimulus exit strategies

UK attracted US records £50bn investment smallest trade deficit in 8 years despite recession The US trade deficit in 2009 totalled $380.66 billion, the smallest trade imbalance in eight years, according to the Commerce Department. It said that was because the recession cut sharply into imports, lessening domestic demand as consumers spent less on non-essentials. But government economists believe that will shift in 2010 as the US economy recovers from the recession and demand for imports grows, the Commerce Department reported. The recovery in employment has been slower in coming. Since December 2007, the United States has lost 8.4 million jobs. ✦

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“Even during the recession we last year attracted more than 30 overseas investment projects every week - in total worth £50 billion and which created 35,000 jobs”, said Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, at the global investment conference in London in February adding that “in the last ten years inward investment has helped employ over 800,000 of our workforce: 11,300 inward investment projects have created more than 400,000 jobs and safeguarded over

As the global economic crisis winds down, it is more urgent that policymakers formulate, communicate, and begin to implement strategies for exiting from crisis-related stimulus policies, the IMF advises in a new report. The objective is to attain strong, sustained, and balanced growth. This requires large scale fiscal adjustment when the recovery is securely underway, normalizing monetary policy while unwinding crisis monetary measures, gradually withdrawing financial sector support, and ensuring consistency of policies both within and across countries. See full report at: http://www.imf.org/external/ np/pp/eng/2010/020410.pdf 410,000 more. Businesses from 53 countries are now backing and growing projects in every region of the country”. ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

China imported Global pension assets up 14% more Saudi to $29.5 trillion in 2009 crude than US Saudi Arabia’s oil exports to the US last year dropped below one million barrels a day for the first time in two decades just as China’s purchases increased above that level. The new trend highlights a shift in the geopolitics of oil from west to east. ✦

2010 tough year for Gulf banks This

year

will

be

another

difficult one for Gulf banks as they continue to clean up their loan books and this will weigh on their financial performance, said Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services report. The global economic slowdown and financial crisis have put the banking sector in the Gulf to the test over the past 18 months. To date, about one-third of 30 ratings on banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), have a negative outlook. However, the outlooks on most Saudi banks and on all Qatari banks remain stable. The financial standing of Gulf banks as a group remains under pressure despite recent signs

of

recovery

in

their

respective national economies.

The total value of pension assets managed globally rose by 14 per cent to an estimated $29.5 trillion in 2009, recovering from an 18 per cent drop in 2008. The Pension Markets report from International Financial Services London (IFSL), the independent organisation promoting financial services throughout the world,

Google faces EU anti-trust complaints The European Commission has asked Google to defend fresh antitrust complaints amid accusations that the search engine buries competitors’ adverts in places that are less visible to users. Three price comparison websites, Foundem, ejustice.fr and Ciao!, have accused Google’s search engine of burying their ads at the bottom of websites because their products were in direct competition with Google. “We follow the users and everything else will follow,” Google’s legal counsel told

notes that the sharp rise in pension liabilities globally over the past two years poses a major challenge to the funding of defined benefit (DB) pensions. In the United Kingdom the pensions balance for FTSE100 companies reached a record aggregate deficit of £96 billion in mid-2009. ✦ journalists, arguing that the company itself does not decide where competitors’ ads end up, as this was the task of its algorhythm called PageRank. PageRank, according to the company’s legal adviser, Julia Holtz, ranks websites according to their overall popularity on the Web. “We are confident that our business operates in the interests of users and partners, as well as in line with European competition law,” said Holtz, denying the websites’ claims. The search engine said it would be answering all three complaints separately as soon as possible, adding that the Commission had simply asked for information and had not yet issued an objection to Google. ✦

US interest-bearing debts amount to $15.6 trillion In the entire world, the United States government and its agencies have, by far, the largest pile-up of interest-bearing debts ($15.6 trillion), the largest accumulation of unsecured obligations (over $60 trillion), the largest yearly deficit ($1.6 trillion), and the greatest indebtedness to the rest of the world ($4.8 trillion),

according to Money and Markets, adding that in proportion to the size of its economy, only Japan has more debt than the US. But unlike Washington’s debts, nearly all of Japan’s are financed by its own citizens who are loyal, long-term savers far less likely to pull out in a storm.

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New cases of tax evasion in Europe New cases of tax evasion in several European countries are exposing the limits of the informal agreements reached between the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and tax havens such as Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein. The cases surfaced in January when anonymous former clerks at Swiss private banks offered the German

ministry of finance copies of CDs containing data on German citizens who maintain secret bank accounts in Switzerland, and who use them to evade taxes. Early in February the German government announced that it would buy the CDs, for some €2 million ($2.7 million). The data contained in the CDs would allow the German fiscal authorities to legally pursue the evaders and

collect more than €400 million ($543 million) in additional taxes. The government's decision to buy the CDs and use the data to launch inquiries into the tax evaders' financial dealings have triggered a wave of corrected tax declarations in recent weeks. Similar cases have been reported in France and even in Switzerland. ✦

Moody’s downgrades Kuwaiti bank Japan remains Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the bank financial strength rating of Gulf Bank in Kuwait to D- from D+. In line with this, Gulf Bank’s long-

Big business holds EU to commitments The European Round Table of Industrialists has launched a comprehensive paper entitled

Vision for a competitive Europe in 2025, which urges governments to cut public spending in a number of areas.

term global local currency and foreign currency deposit ratings were also downgraded to Baa2 from A3. The rating reflects the significant challenges still facing Gulf Bank, despite its progress in overcoming the large losses arising from its transactions in complex derivative instruments in 2008 and its subsequent recapitalisation in January 2009.

Frustrated by the failure of the Lisbon Agenda, big business has stepped in to force Brussels and governments across Europe to deliver on political promises designed to improve Europe’s competitiveness in the face of mounting challenges from climate change, an ageing population and Asian rivals.✦

world’s second largest economy Japan has narrowly retained its title as the world’s number two economy ahead of China and extended its recovery from a brutal recession, especially in the fourth quarter of 2009. ✦

AIG’s $100m bonus pay-out slammed US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has condemned the decision by American International Group, which was bailed out last year by the US government, to pay out $100 million in bonuses to 200 key staff. He said the move by AIG, which received $182 billion in taxpayers’ money, was “an outrageous failure of policy”. ✦

Financial crisis ‘presents chance for change’ The UN Conference on Trade and Development has implicitly argued that even in the most economically disastrous circumstances, one has to see the brighter side of things - however gloomy the outlook. In its Trade and Environment Review 2009-2010, UNCTAD

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said the global economic and financial crisis and the interrelated climate, food, and water crises had imposed themselves as “defining parameters for policymaking today”. “Understanding the causes and consequences of these crises,

and drawing lessons from them should spur dramatic economic and policy changes,” it said. These changes have to come primarily in three areas: energy efficiency, sustainable agriculture and renewable energies for rural development. ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

BAE systems lands $400m fighter jet contract British company BAE System has been awarded a five-and-a-halfyear contract worth £400 million to provide support for the radar and defensive aids on the fleets of the Typhoon’s manufacturer, Eurofighter, not only represents

the largest European industrial programme, supporting 100,000 jobs in 400 companies across the continent, but it is also the most advanced example of technology within the European industry base. ✦

Robust global demand for mobile phones to continue Global demand for mobile telephones remains strong, despite the economic crisis, with the number of individual mobile cellular subscriptions likely to top five billion this year, up from 4.6 billion in 2009, Hamadoun Touré, Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), told an industry

congress in Barcelona. He said that advanced services and handsets in affluent countries and increased takeup of mobile banking and mobile health-care services in poorer nations were driving the continued demand. ✦

UK pension assets total $2.3 trillion and US $15.6 trillion The UK, with pension assets totalling $2.3 trillion, remains the second largest market, accounting for nine per cent of total assets worldwide.

UK assets are only exceeded by the dominant US market where assets of $15.6 trillion make up 60 per cent of the global total. ✦

Protecting poor consumers in developing countries Current efforts by lawmakers in the United States and Europe to put in place meaningful new protections for financial consumers are generating fierce policy debates and leading those working in developing countries to consider what it means for them. At the same time, borrower defaults in several microfinance markets have focused attention on the issue of responsible finance, and fuelled the debate over whether financial services

for the poor can sometimes do more harm than good. “At its core, responsible finance means fair treatment of clients and ethical delivery of financial services in ways that protect their interests and enhance their welfare,” said Kate McKee, senior policy advisor at Consultative Group to Assist the Poor and co-author of a new report on consumer protection in developing countries. ✦

Australian regulations weather financial crisis Strong regulatory frame­ works and sound policies have helped Australia weather the global crisis better than most countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the grouping said in a new report. But further efforts were needed to harmonise regulations, strengthen competition and streamline infrastructure regulation if Australia was to reduce unnecessary costs to business and boost productivity, the report said.

UK urged to make £13bn spending cut The British government should make spending cuts worth £13 billion ($20 billion) by 2015/2016 to reduce the budget deficit, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has suggested.

‘Business friendly’ Bahrain reaps dividends Efforts to mvake Bahrain and its economy more business friendly has attracted growing interest from the Gulf and beyond, Rasheed AlMaraj, the Governor of the Central Bank of Bahrain, said. ✦

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Strategic move for Zain’s Africa asset sale The decision by Kuwaiti telecom group Zain to sell its African assets is a strategic move and not due to financial pressures, according to reports citing one of the firm’s main shareholders. India’s Bharti Airtel is in exclusive talks to buy most of Zain’s African business, the Indian firm’s third attempt at gaining a foothold in a continent that offers a vast opportunity for major subscriber growth. Under the exclusivity period, the companies had until 25 March to seal the $10.7 billion deal, which would be the second largest in the industry this year after Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim’s move to consolidate his telecoms empire. Zain pulled back from an expansion last year, rejecting an offer from France’s Vivendi for its African assets.

Libya to allow more foreign banks to set up shop Libya plans to issue more licences for foreign banks to enter joint ventures with local banks to boost the economy. The Libyan Central Bank will allow more foreign banks to operate in Libya amid efforts to revitalise the economy

and bring foreign capital into the country. Foreign banks are to be allowed to own 49 per cent of joint bank ventures with full management control, while domestic partners will own the remaining 51 per cent. ✦

3G Mideast mobile market to reach over 25m by 2012

Deutsche Bank takes on £3bn BMW UK longevity risks

The number of 3G mobile phone users in the Middle East is forecast to reach over the 25 million mark by 2012, a rise of 40 per cent in five years, according to a report by business researchers at RNCOS. ✦

Deutsche Bank has taken over the longevity risks of nearly £3 billion ($5bn) of pension liabilities from BMW’s United Kingdom (UK) scheme. It was the largest deal ever done in corporate longevity insurance doubling the size of the market overnight. ✦

Harsh winter hits European economic recovery Severe winter weather has significantly hampered economic growth in continental Europe, and especially in Germany, at the start of 2010. The bad weather dealt another blow to the region’s recovery hopes. ✦

Oil companies to invest over $100 billion in Iraq International oil companies will invest more than $100 billion in Iraqi oil deals under the first and second round of licences, according to newspaper reports citing Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Al Shahristani. The deals will provide thousands of job opportunities for Iraqis as the

contracts stipulate that the number of local workers should not be less than 58 per cent of the projects’ total workforce. The oil production ceiling Iraq is looking to attain through the two licensing rounds is 12 million barrels a day.

Small orders for New York Exchange The average size of an order submitted to the New York Stock Exchange in 2005 was $19,400. Last month, orders sent to the exchange were averaging $6,400. ✦

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Qatar’s $2.6bn Energy City to complete in 2012 Qatar’s Energy City (ECQ), a $2.6 billion development aimed at attracting international energy companies, is set to be completed in 2012 following some delays amid the global slowdown last year. ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

East Asia’s seas threaten economies The East Asian Seas State of the Marine Environment report has warned that economically important coastal habitats and ecosystems are under pressure as 40 per cent of coral reefs and half of all mangroves have already been lost. Coral reefs generate an estimated $112.5 billion and mangroves $5.1 billion annually.

The East Asian Seas – which includes the region between China, the Republic of Korea and Australia – have some of the world’s highest concentrations of shipping and fishing vessel activity. They account for 50 per cent of global fisheries production and 80 per cent of global aquaculture production.

Sudair City work to start soon Construction work on the initial phase of the $40 billion Sudair City industrial project in Saudi Arabia is expected to begin within months, a report said.

Kuwait 4-year Singapore exchange explores plan boosts global trading economy, Moody’s EU eyes The Singapore Exchange is exploring the possibility of potential links with exchanges and clearing-houses in Europe, North America and north Asia that would allow it to offer global trading in commodity products. ✦

Kuwait’s $104 billion development plan which parliament passed could boost the Gulf state’s nonoil economy if implemented correctly, said Moody’s Investors Service. ✦

Egypt to build first nuclear power plant Egypt plans to build its first nuclear power plant in the Mediterranean coastal town of El-Dabaa, reviving Egypt’s civilian nuclear power program after more than two decades.

Lebanon’s commercial banks’ assets reach $115bn in 2009 The consolidated balance sheet of commercial banks operating in Lebanon shows that total assets reached $115.2 billion at the end of 2009, up 22.3 percent from the end of 2008, as reported by Lebanon This Week , the economic publication of the Byblos Bank Group. ✦

India’s ‘green’ industries A burgeoning middle class and expanding green industries make India an attractive proposition for expanding European firms, according to Poul Jensen, Director of the European Business and Technology Centre in India. However, understanding local business culture and laws was the difference between success and failure, he told EurActiv in an interview. Even in challenging economic times, India has turned in impressive GDP growth of 6.5 per cent and some sectors promise even stronger returns for businesses brave enough to tackle the Indian market, says Jensen. “Some sectors have much higher growth than that. If you consider transport and energy, the growth is much higher because these are facilitators of growth,” he added. ✦

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Egypt IT sector to top $2 billion Egypt’s IT spending is expected to increase from $1.3 billion this year to $2.1 billion by 2014, according to Business Monitor International’s forecasts. BMI explained that the Egyptian IT market growth would remain below pre-economic crisis levels in 2010, but economic recovery, tenders delayed from 2009 and higher incomes boosted by pay raises for civil servants and other groups should help to keep sales on an upwards trajectory.

Business bribery monitoring kicks off As from last month, countries that are party to the 38-member Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Anti-Bribery Convention are being monitored to see how their companies comply with new guidance on how to combat bribery in international business deals. “Too few companies are aware of how damaging foreign bribery is to their business, their industry and the world economy. Bribery distorts everyone’s ability to compete in a global market,” said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría. “This is the most comprehensive guidance ever provided to companies and business organisations by an international organisation on this issue and marks another step forward in the fight against bribery.” ✦

Iran plans to double Iraq trade to $8 billion Iran hopes to double trade with Iraq to $8 billion this year, according to an Iranian diplomat who shrugged off Western-backed sanctions aimed at curbing business with the Islamic Republic. ✦

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Aid to developing countries falling Although aid to developing countries in 2010 will reach record levels in dollar terms after increasing by 35 per cent since 2004 it will still be less than the world’s major aid donors promised five years ago at the Gleneagles and Millennium + 5 summits, according to a new review by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Though a majority of countries

will meet their commitments, the underperformance of several large donors means there will be a significant shortfall, said the review. Africa, in particular, is likely to get only about $12 billion of the $25 billion increase envisaged at Gleneagles, due in large part to the underperformance of some European donors who give large shares of official development assistance to Africa. ✦

China is Brazil’s top trading partner China took over from the US as Brazil’s top market in 2009. As a result of the international financial crisis, Brazil exported 42 per cent less to the US last year than in 2008. In contrast, it sold 23 per cent more to China, but these exports were almost exclusively commodities, led by iron ore and soybeans. The drop in the US market is a double blow, because the shortfall is mainly in manufactured goods, which generate more added value and more jobs. Three-quarters

of Brazil’s exports to the US are industrial products, which account for only 24 per cent of its sales to China. ✦

SWFs regain appetite for foreign investments Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) gradually regained their appetite for foreign investments in 2009 having cut-back on cross-border spending for much of 2008, according to the International Financial Services London (IFSL), the independent organisation promoting British financial services worldwide. IFSL’s report Sovereign Wealth Funds 2010 shows that the $10 billion invested by SWFs in the first half of 2009 was the slowest start to a year since 2005. Activity picked up in the second half, and much of the

$50bn invested during this period was in foreign markets, primarily Europe and North America. The financial services sector accounted for less than a fifth of investments in 2009, down on its 45 per cent share seen since the start of the decade. Instead, a larger proportion of funds was allocated to industry, commodities, real estate and other non-financial sectors. The China Investment Corporation was particularly active during the year with $15bn invested internationally. ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

‘Microfinance repayment not caused by financial crisis’ Recent repayment troubles in Nicaragua, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Morocco, and Pakistan markets did not stem from the financial crisis, according to a new report by Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, but from the way that microfinance operated in

China unseats Japan as second largest manufacturer China has overtaken Japan as the world’s second largest industrial manufacturer, after the US, according to the UN Industrial Development Organisation’s International Yearbook of Industrial Statistics 2010 released last month. China’s share of the global total of manufacturing value (MVA) has inched up to 15.6 per cent, just knocking out Japan, which stands at 15.4%. The US maintains its rank at 19 per cent. The three countries combined produce half of the world’s manufacturing output. In spite of China’s lead in terms of the absolute amount of production, Japan is still the world’s most industrialised country, in terms of MVA per capita, totalling nearly $9,000 compared to $700 for China. ✦

Qatar to grow 18.5% in 2010 Qatar’s gross domestic product will grow by 18.5 per cent this year as gas exports increase, leaving the economy at risk of overheating in the medium term, according to the International Monetary Fund.

fast-growth markets. The authors examine recent repayment troubles in these four disparate microfinance markets and concluded that the problems observed were closely associated with the growth phases each country experienced from 2004 to 2008.

Far from being the root cause of the problems in these countries, the authors argue that microfinance globally had weathered the difficulties of the financial crisis relatively well, giving observers confidence that microfinance will emerge strong from the crisis. ✦

France and Germany against trading of sovereign debt The European Union, "driven by France and to a lesser extent Germany," will try to restrict the trading of sovereign debt to those who own the underlying bonds, according to diplomats who say the move is aimed at preventing a repeat of the Greek crisis elsewhere. Sources close to the EU's policymaking process reveal that current thinking on regulating Credit Default Swap (CDS) trading is limited to sovereign not corporate debt. Regulation, the sources said, would be restricted to "insurable interest," essentially meaning

that only those who own the underlying bond can take out insurance on it. Credit Default Swaps have been in the political limelight since the Greek debt crisis highlighted that the swaps were hiding the true level of the country's budget deficit and allowing markets to bet on Greece defaulting on its debts. Sony Kapoor of financial thinktank Re-Define believes the European Commission will likely seek to limit CDS trades to around 100 per cent or 125 per cent of insurable interest.

SWFs’ assets fell 3% in 2009 to $3.8tr Assets under management of Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) fell by 3 per cent in 2009 to $3.8 trillion according to the International Financial Services London (IFSL). The underlying value of SWFs’ portfolios probably increased by 15 per cent in 2009 if negative positions on equity market investments at the end of the previous year are taken into account. There was an additional $6.5 trillion held in other sovereign investment vehicles, such as pension reserve funds, development funds and state-owned corporations’ funds and $6.1 trillion in other official foreign exchange

reserves. IFSL projections are for SWFs’ assets to increase to $5.5 trillion by the end of 2012. Countries with SWFs funded by commodities’ exports, primarily oil and gas exports, totalled $2.5 trillion at the end of 2009. Non-commodity SWFs totalled $1.3 trillion and are projected to increase their 34% share of assets in 2009 to 38% by 2012. Non-commodity SWFs are typically funded by transfer of assets from official foreign exchange reserves, and in some cases from government budget surpluses and privatisation revenue. Asian countries account for the bulk of such funds. ✦

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Record 80,000 Multinationals cost developing countries $107 billion in trade complaints against UK banks mispricing Customers lodged more than 80,000 complaints against banks in the United Kingdom from 1 July to 31 December last year, according to figures released by the Financial Ombudsman Services last month. The FOS received 20,190 against Lloyds Banking Group, the highest recorded. Reacting to this, a spokesman for Lloyds Banking Group said: “With over 30 million customers, the group has the largest customer base in the UK. The vast majority are happy with the service we provide and this is reflected in the low number of complaints we received in relation to the high number of accounts we hold.”

Europe gives goahead for first GM cultivation in 12 years In a controversial move, the European Commission last month gave the green light for the first genetically-modified potato to be cultivated in the European Union – the first GM cultivation in the EU in 12 years. German chemical company BASF plans to begin cultivating Amflora, a GM potato, this year on 250 hectares in the Czech Republic, Sweden and Germany. The firm said it expected peak licence fees of about €20-€30 million a year. The decision includes strict cultivation conditions to prevent GM potatoes from remaining in the fields after harvest and to ensure that Amflora's seeds are not inadvertently dispersed into the wider environment, the Commission explained, in a bid to allay cross-contamination fears.

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New research by US think tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI) shows that developing countries are losing up to $107 billion a year in tax revenues as a result of trade mispricing by multinational companies, and the figure is growing each year. The amount represents an average of 4.4 per cent of the entire developing world’s average revenue. The report refers to trade mispricing as “the deliberate overinvoicing of imports or underinvoicing of exports, usually for the purpose of tax evasion”. GFI research shows that countries like Zimbabwe are losing more than 30 per cent of their tax revenue to trade mispricing, with others also

losing significant amounts, such as Nicaragua (27 per cent), the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mali (both 25 per cent). Moreover, the report shows that trade mispricing trends are increasing over time, as tax revenue losses from worldwide trade mispricing have increased from $65 billion in 2002 to $135 billion in 2006. It concludes that trade mispricing is one of the most prominent drivers of illicit financial flows, mostly channelled through tax havens, which have been estimated to amass over $1 trillion a year. ✦

More profit for Standard Chartered Standard Chartered, with strong results in its Asian, African and Middle East divisions, chalked up its seventh successive year of record profits and earnings last year with a 13 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to $5.15 billion. “Our strategy very much focuses

on Asia, Africa and the Middle East and these economies performed very well,” said Group Finance Director Richard Meddings. On the back of this, Standard Chartered paid out $4.9 billion in pay and bonuses to its 77,000 staff. ✦

UK offers households ‘green’ loans British households will be able to take out soft loans to improve the efficiency of their homes under a proposed new law to fight climate change and cut fuel poverty, the government said. The aim is to overcome the high upfront cost of home insulation. The cashstrapped British government hopes high demand will entice private sector lenders including banks, energy companies and low-carbon technology installers to supply loans at low rates of interest.

The plan depends on new legislation to tie new loans to a house rather than a person, allowing residents to move house independently of whether they have re-paid the debt or not. "By spreading the repayments over a much longer period - more like 25 years than the eight years that someone might want to live in a house - that's what makes it financially affordable," Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband told Reuters." ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

US slams duties on Chinese steel pipes The US has announced new countervailing duties of between 11 and 13 per cent on imports of Chinese steel pipes in the most recent episode in an ongoing trade feud between the two countries. The US Department of Commerce move came in response to a petition requesting countervailing duties filed last October by US Steel and several other companies as well as the United Steelworkers union. They claimed the American steel industry had been significantly harmed by subsidies that China provides to its domestic

manufacturers of certain steel pipes. Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Yao Jian said: “This is the United States abusing its own trade relief measures.” The US imported $130 million of the pipe from China in 2007, but the amount nearly tripled to $382 million in 2008. The group of petitioners is also pushing the White House to impose additional anti-dumping tariffs on the same pipe of at least 60 percent. A decision on that request is expected in April. ✦

Europe needs China builds $22 bilion €28bn for energy security ‘eco-city’ Europe will need to invest up to €28 billion in electricity infrastructure over the next five years to secure its key energy goals, including integrating renewable energies into the grid, Konstantin Staschus, secretary general of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, told EurActiv in an interview. Staschus presented ENTSO-E's draft Ten Year Network Development Plan, stressing that it is the first Europe-wide exercise of its kind. "What we had before were national and regional plans but no EU-wide overview. You could call this transparency of transmission infrastructure planning," he said. He added that although the plan is non-binding, it could become "a feedback loop" between transmission system operators, investors and policymakers to guarantee that networks are part of the equation when new electricity generation is decided upon.✦

Tianjin in northern China is to be home of a $22 billion eco-city housing 350,000 people and covering 30 sq km (11.5 sq m). It will take 10 years to complete. Located in Binhai New Area, a region earmarked for rapid economic growth and well linked to Beijing and other major economic centres, it is part of an agreement between the governments of China and Singapore. The aim is for Tianjin to become an international centre for environmental expertise and green innovation, serving as a model for eco-cities across the developing world. Tianjin's highlights will include innovative public transport and pedestrian-oriented urban design to limit the use of private motorised transport (to fewer than 10 per cent of journeys), a wetland to provide natural treatment for recycled wastewater, and the use of organic waste to produce heat and power, with 60 per cent of the city's waste being recycled. ✦

Investors backed microfinance in 2009 Although world markets have been volatile in the wake of the global financial crisis, investors' faith in the microfinance sector during 2009 remained steadfast, driving equity valuations higher even as the asset quality and profitability of microfinance institutions (MFIs) deteriorated, according to a new report. The report by the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor and investment bank J.P. Morgan shows that MFI equity valuations continued to rise across all regions last year, with MFIs in the private equity market trading at 2.1 times their book value. However, in 2010, investors are likely to be more concerned about asset quality and funding structure as well as management and governance, says the report.

Want to reach decision makers in emerging markets in Asia, Africa, Latin America & the Middle East ?

north✦ south For advertising rates etc, contact ROY FINCHETT Tel & fax: 44. (0) 208 343 4083 Mobile: 44. (0) 7904 348834 Email: roy.finchett@btinternet.com

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arts

&

entertaınment ✦

Spring art around the Globe

T

here seems to be an abundance of exciting exhibitions around the globe this spring, offering new interpretations of great artistic movements and artists from the world of modern art. The Van Gough Museum in Amsterdam presents Paul Gaugin: The Breakthrough into Modernity which features 60 works that illustrate the artist’s vivid style. Still in Amsterdam, The Hermitage is dedicating a show to the pioneers of modern art, called Matisse to Malevich which is set to run until September. Madrid has two Impressionist

exhibitions which include wonderful pieces on loan from Musee d’Orsay in Paris, by Monet, Degas, Courbet and Moreau on display at the Mapfre and a Monet & Abstraction show housed at the Thyssen-Bornemisza. Talking of Paris, The Pompidou plays host to one of the greatest painters of our time, Lucian Freud, whilst the Musee Maillol presents That’s Life! Vanities from Caravaggio to Damien Hirst, which certainly sounds like an interesting mix. Finally, across the globe, The Met, New York is showing, for the first time, its entire collection of Picasso paintings, sculptures, drawings and ceramics. ✦

Mystery of greetings from Michelangelo

A

n archive of documents belonging to Giorgio Vasari, the man hailed as the father of Western art history is to be sold, despite the fact that an Italian government order states that the documents should never leave the home of Vasari. The archive is said to include 17 letters from Vasari’s friend, Michelangelo, along with correspondence from Renaissance popes and the 16thcentury Florentine ruler, Cosimo I de’ Medici. Last year, an Italian mayor was told by an official that it had been bought by a Russian tycoon for €150m. Agreement was said to

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have been reached just days before the death of Count Festari, the archive’s owner. Upon investigation, it was discovered that the government order could indeed be lifted and that unless the Italian state could outbid the tycoon within six months, ownership of the documents would be granted to him. The announcement of the sale prompted outrage from the art world who estimated the archive to be worth no more than €10m. Further confusion ensued when a lawyer said to be representing the unidentified buyer declared that his client had died in a car

crash, but the date he gave for the fatal accident was 14 days before the sale deal was said to have been made at a hotel in Moscow. The mystery should at last be solved as government debt collectors are now in possession of the archive and it shall be auctioned to raise funds to cover a tax bill allegedly unpaid by the family that has owned it for generations. ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Pick of April’s film releases Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Directed by: Oliver Stone. Starring: Michael Douglas, Shia LaBeouf, Carey Mulligan.

‘G

reed is good’ is Gordon Gekko’s mantra which made him a legend in the financial world. However, following a long stint in jail, Gekko finds himself on the outside of a world he used to rule and it’s now all about recreating himself in a different era. But whilst attempting to redefine himself, a young investment banker discovers that Gekko is still the master of manipulation.

Nightmare on Elm Street Directed by: Samuel Bayer. Starring: Jackie Earle Haley, Kyle Gallner

F

reddy’s back! A re-make of the horror classic that sees a group of teenagers being stalked in their dreams by a petrifying Freddy Krueger. As long as they can stay awake, they’re safe. Just when we’d almost forgotten him, it’s back to sleeping with the lights on!

City Island Directed by: Raymond De Felitta. Starring: Andy Garcia, Paul Diomede

B

ased upon the original screenplay about a Bronx prison deputy who recognises an inmate as his grown-up child from a relationship twenty years ago. The deputy (Garcia), decides to become the prisoner’s guardian, but his attempts to hide the nature of his relationship fail and a complex tale of deceits unfolds.

40 years on, the musical that still hits a note

O

pening in London this month for the first time in 40 years, is the award-winning musical Hair. The show’s producers are transferring the entire cast from Broadway to the Gielgud Theatre in London’s West End where they shall perform until January 2011. One of the U.K’s leading theatre impresarios, Sir Cameron Mackintosh, who worked as a backstage assistant on the original London production, will oversee the staging of the production which tells the story of a hippy community facing the prospect of serving in Vietnam. According to Sir Cameron, today’s conflict in Afghanistan has given the show so much relevance again. If Broadway was too far to travel, perhaps a night out in London is more the ticket! ✦

green s e o 9 Tribeca film festival g th

A

pril sees the opening of the ninth Tribeca Film Festival which will play host to the world premiere of the fourth and final animation film Shrek. Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff founded the Tribeca Film Institute following September 11th, with the aim of educating, entertaining and inspiring filmmakers and film lovers alike. The Institute creates innovative programmes that use the power of film to promote understanding, tolerance and global awareness and also supports the cultural and economic revamp of New York City and Lower

Manhattan. DreamWorks’ Shrek Forever After will come in glorious 3D with voices provided by the loyal Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas. This time around, the friendly green ogre is fooled into signing a contract which results in him being transported to an alternate version of the Land of Far Far Away where he and his wife Fiona have never met. We are guessing the producers are looking to match box-office takings from Shrek the Third which hit $798m back in 2007. ✦ north✦south

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travel

& tourısm ✦

Iran threatens to ban airlines over ‘Arabian Gulf’ name Iran has threatened to ban airlines from using its airspace if they refer to the waterway between Iran and

Arab states as the “Arabian” instead of “Persian” Gulf. Iran says it is the Persian Gulf, the Arab states say it is Arab. The definition of the key waterway for global oil and gas supplies has long been a touchy issue among the countries bordering the Arabia/ Persian Gulf. Iran’s unusual move reflects tension in the region over Iran’s dispute

with the US and its allies over its nuclear enrichment activities and the position of Arab Gulf states caught between links to Washington and fear of Tehran. Most of them offer facilities to US military forces and purchase US military hardware. The Saudi-based Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation said it had scrapped the Islamic Solidarity Games which were to be held in Iran in April because of a dispute over whether the Gulf waterway is “Arab” or “Persian”. ✦

Boeing looks set to overtake Airbus again Boeing is set to take back its crown as the world’s biggest civil aircraft maker from Airbus, its European rival, within four years, according to Jim Albaugh, the head of the US group’s commercial aircraft business. Boeing, maker of the 747 jumbo jet, the 777 twin-engined long-haul aircraft and the best-selling 737 short-haul jet, lost the top spot to

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Airbus in 2003, when the European manufacturer overtook its US rival for the first time. Although Boeing has secured more orders than Airbus since it started to market its new 787 Dreamliner, Airbus has had the upper hand on deliveries each year. In 2009, Airbus delivered

498 jets to Boeing’s 481. Several airlines are still awaiting delivery of the Dreamliner. ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Dubai’s second airport to open on 27 June Dubai’s second airport, Al Maktoum International, is to open on 27 June, according to Paul Griffiths, Dubai Airports CEO. The world’s largest airport will launch with freighter operations in four months time

with passenger operations being introduced at a later date. No exact date has been announced for passenger operations. Al Maktoum International is part of the $33bn Dubai World Central development in Jebel Ali. ✦

Nigeria to boost security at airports The Nigerian government has acted to boost security at international airports in the country, as a major rollout of full-body imaging systems began at selected US airports. Rapiscan Systems stated

that “multiple” Secure 1000 scanners are to be deployed at international airports in Nigeria, joining systems from OD Security that are already in use at Lagos, Harcourt, Kano and Abuja. ✦

Passenger traffic in China up 19% in 2009

486.1 million passengers used airports in China in 2009, a 19.8 per cent increase on 2008, according to statistics released by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Beijing Capital International Airport, one of the 166 airports under CAAC control, posted year-

on-year passenger traffic growth of 16.78 per cent to reach 65.33 million becoming one the busiest international airport in the world and propelled to third place behind Atlanta Hartsfield, in the US, and London Heathrow in the United Kingdom.

Growth of 3% to 4% in international tourist arrivals for 2010, UNWTO Berlin’s 2010 Tourism fair took place last month as the tourism industry was starting to leave behind one of the most

difficult years of its history, after international tourist arrivals fell by 4 per cent in 2009, while earnings were estimated to have fallen by

JAL trims losses Japan Airlines (JAL) reported widening losses as the airline published third quarterly results in February, but it said that the figures were better than expected as it undergoes a governmentled restructuring under new leadership. As a result, the carrier may not need all of the $6.73 billion in state-backed loans granted in January 2010 to help pay for its restructuring.

approximately 6 per cent. The return of growth to international tourism in the last quarter of 2009 and the first results from January 2010 suggest that recuperation is underway. In this framework, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) forecasts a growth of 3 to 4 per cent in international tourist arrivals for 2010. ✦

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science news ✦

Poor parenting blamed for all society’s ills The politicisation of parenting is damaging family relations and education, an academic has warned. Professor of sociology Frank Furedi in the UK said there was a pervading prejudice that virtually all of society’s problems were caused by poor parenting. There was an attempt to “weed out” unfit parents and intervene before they even had children, he said. In an article for Spiked online, he likened “parental determinism” to Hitler’s eugenics and Stalinism. Professor Furedi, sociology

Key cancer gene ‘link to poverty’ There is a genetic explanation for why women from poor backgrounds are less likely to beat breast cancer, British scientists say. Poor lifestyles may trigger a key gene mutation linked to worse prognosis, the British Journal of Cancer reports. The researchers tested samples from 246 women and found that a woman’s postal area could be connected to the “health” of the p53 gene in her tumour cells. Cancer charities said adopting a healthy lifestyle was advantageous. The link between socio-economic status and a poorer outcome from various cancers has been detected before, with both unhealthier lifestyles and a tendency to be diagnosed later blamed for the differences.

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professor at Kent University author of Paranoid Parenting, said the myth of parental determinism had been institutionalised in Whitehall. He said: “The idea of a onedimensional causal relationship between parenting and socioeconomic outcomes, dreamt up by the British think tanks and policy makers, threatens to take public discourse to a new low. “In comparison with the parental determinism, the economic determinism of Stalinism or the racial determinism of the old eugenics lobby seem positively subtle.” The idea of early

intervention was conceived byTony Blair’s regime which “promoted the fantasy that the government could fix society’s problems by getting its hands on the nation’s toddlers before their parents had chance to ruin them”. “He believed it was possible to spot tomorrow’s ‘problem people’ even before they were born,” he added. ✦

At-risk children ‘can buck trend’ Unborn babies in the UK whose mothers suffer stress or illness or use drugs or alcohol can be more susceptible to both good and bad parenting, a study claims. Depending on the care they get, says the study, these children can do better or worse than their peers in developing skills such as application and empathy. the British think tank Demos said targeted support for families of at-risk children could help them “buck the trend”. Demos analysed data from more than 9,000 UK households for its report. The Building Character report says there are two main theories why some British-born children are more susceptible to the influence of good and bad parenting. It could be a result of evolutionary natural selection, or another possibility is that “different pre-

birth factors, including the ill-health or stress of the mother, may be hardwiring heightened susceptibility into the developing baby even before the child is born”. ✦

Carbon and biodiversity: a demonstration atlas

A report published by the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre highlights areas where high carbon content and high biodiversity overlap. The authors argue that by identifying target areas, such spatial analyses can help tropical countries reduce greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change while maximizing biodiversity benefits. See full report at: http://www.unep.org/pdf /carbon_biodiversity.pdf ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Children copy parents drinking habits, researchers

Circumcision ring cuts AIDS risk The most powerful force against AIDS in Africa may be circumcision, according to experts who say a ring-shaped device that is mostly painless and requires less time for health workers has been developed. The Chinese-made device, the ShangRing, has been tested in a small study in Kenya and a larger test is set for later this year.

Parents underestimate the influence their own drinking habits have on their children’s attitude to alcohol, a UK government research suggests. A Department for Children, Families and Schools study suggests children from heavydrinking British households are more likely to use alcohol themselves. And half of young people who have drunk alcohol were given it by their parents. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will invest about $4 million into studying the device. The ShangRing consists of two plastic rings, one slightly smaller than the other, that trap the foreskin

It comes as ministers urgeparents to help their children make sensible decisions about drinking alcohol. The department commissioned research to get a clearer idea of the attitudes and use of alcohol among parents and young people. The study was based on 4,000 interviews with parents, children and young people. in between them. With the use of some anesthesia, the foreskin can then be snipped off without major bleeding or stitches. The device is kept on for 10 days to allow the wound to heal. ✦

Happy people less prone to heart disease People who are typically happy and enthusiastic are less likely to develop heart disease than those of a gloomier disposition, researchers say. An increased risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke has previously been linked to getting angry or stressed, but a study by American

researchers, published in the European Heart Journal, claims to be the first to show an independent link between emotions and coronary heart disease. The findings suggest that it may be possible to help to prevent heart disease by boosting a person’s mood,

says the lead researcher, Karina Davidson, of Columbia University, New York. “Everyone should try and inject some fun into their daily routines to counteract any effects of stress on their health, rather than waiting for holidays,” she said. ✦

Scientists warn of harmful chemical in fruit juice Fruit juices drunk by millions of children each day could contain a harmful chemical linked to cancer, scientists have warned. Researchers have found high levels of antimony - which can be lethal in large doses - in many popular brands. Scientists from the University of Copenhagen found that bottles of fruit juice and squash contained up to 2.5 times more of the substance as is deemed ‘safe’ in tap water, under EU guidelines.

In some cases the levels of antimony were 10 times higher. The scientists believe that the chemical is leaching its way into the fruit juice from the plastic bottles which hold it. Previous research found traces of the chemical in bottled mineral water which experts believed was leaching in from the plastic container. The team has expressed ‘concern’ over their findings, published by the Royal Society of Chemistry, which they say raises fears for the health of millions of children. ✦

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motoring ✦

Spyker sports-car maker relocates production to UK Described as “created with passion for the most passionate of drivers”, Spyker sports-car is switching its vehicle assembly The Netherlands to the United Kingdom in order to secure the marque’s future and achieve major cost reductions. The switch of assembly to the UK will affect a third of the 135 workforce that has been based in the Netherlands, where output last year totalled 43 premium sports cars. Spyker, which produced its first car in 1898, has since 2000 established a strong foothold in the super-car market niche with cars hand-built by a group of dedicated craftsmen using the very best materials available. After the war ended in 1918, Spyker resumed car production and built a series of successful models, one of which established a new endurance record by driving continuously for 36 days over a distance of 30,000 kilometres (18,000 miles). The original Spyker operations ceased in 1925 but its brand name and reputation for technologically advanced, exotic and dependable cars was passed to the new Spyker company launched in 2000. (www. spykercars.com)

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Ten fuel-saving Qatar to stage tips for motorists first major motor 1. Service your engine show in January A poorly maintained engine can increase your fuel consumption by up to 50 per cent. Replacing dirty spark plugs can improve your fuel consumption by up to 5 per cent. 2. Keep your tyres at the right pressure If your tyres are under inflated by just 1psi, your fuel efficiency can be reduced by up to 3%. So pump up those tyres up once a week or whenever you fill up. 3. Avoid carrying excess weight For every extra 50 kg you carry, your fuel efficiency can drop by 1-2%. So clear your car of unnecessary items that just add weight to your vehicle. 4. Take the roof rack off If you’re not using your roof rack or your roof box, remove it. A roof rack can affect the aerodynamic efficiency of your vehicle, creating drag which can result in your car using up to 5% more fuel. 5. Check the air filters Air filters keep impurities from damaging your engine. Replacing a clogged air filter can help improve your fuel economy by as much as 10% and can help protect your engine. 6. Use the correct oil Using the manufacturer’s recommended lubricant can help improve fuel efficiency by 1-2%. Higher quality motor oils can also help your engine operate more efficiently. 7. Check the seal on your fuel cap Fuel evaporates every time you open the fuel cap. Make sure your cap is properly screwed on every time after every fill up.

Qatar will host its first ever international motor show in January 2011. “Qatar has emerged as a leading destination in the Gulf region for international exhibitions, conferences and special events,” Ahmed Al Nuaimi, Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) chairman told a press conference in Doha to launch the event. The Qatar Motor Show will feature leading motor industry names, concept cars, supercars and environmentally friendly technology. The Qatar Motor Show take place from January 2629, 2011 at the Doha Exhibitions Centre. ✦ 8. Plan your trips Cutting down on the time spent in the car is the easiest way to conserve fuel. To reduce driving time, combine all your short trips and errands into a single journey or call ahead to avoid wasted journeys. 9. Keep hydrated Drink water because when you well hydrated, you concentrate better. If you ever feel drowsy while driving, pull over and rest at the first opportunity. 10. Keep calm That way you’ll be able to drive smoothly and anticipate what’s going on ahead of you. When you keep calm you drive smoothly and anticipate what is ahead of you. You also drive with plenty of distance between your car and others.


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Electric taxi cab gears up for London Electric taxis could soon hit London’s streets, after a prototype model was unveiled. Britain’s Eco City Vehicles has launched an electric prototype of the Mercedes Vito taxi, which it will trial later this year to test its suitability for use as part of London’s iconic black taxi fleet. “The eVito is the first all-electric wheelchair accessible taxi with a 25foot turning circle to be launched in

the world and a major step toward our goal to become a leading supplier of niche eco-friendly vehicles,” said Eco City boss Peter DaCosta. Since its launch in 2008, the Mercedes Vito has proved to be a serious competitor to Manganese Bronze, the maker of London’s traditional black taxis. The Vito now has a 30 percent share of new black cab taxi sales in London. ✦

Glut in batteries for hybrid cars in five years A costly technology bubble is forming around the lithium-ion batteries that will power future electric and rechargeable hybrid cars, according to Roland Berger Strategy Consultants pointing out that battery producers now building factories in the US, Asia and Europe, some with generous government

subsidies, will by 2015 end up with twice the capacity they need to supply plug-in cars. The leading industry consultancy believe that the capacity glut will result in a shake-out of battery producers and just six to eight of the 20 or so global players will survive the next five to seven years. ✦

Motorists who pass driving test second time safest, study Motorists who pass their driving test second time round are the safest on the roads, a study by British researchers has shown. The researchers found those who pass on their second attempt have fewer points on their licence and are less likely to suffer road rage or be stopped by police. They are also less prone to being cautioned for using their mobile

phone behind the wheel, have had the fewest accidents in the last five years, and are unlikely to scare passengers with their driving. However, the research found that those who took more than two attempts to pass have more bad driving habits. Drivers who need a dismal four, five or six efforts before making the grade have the worst record behind the wheel. They run more red lights, admit to driving the wrong way down one-way streets and have been stopped by police for speeding more than any other driver. They have also had their car clamped, hit stationary objects whilst trying to park their car and claimed on their insurance more than anyone else. ✦

Swiss debut for Lexus IS250C convertible Lvexus is claiming ‘world best performance for a three-part roof’ on its new, convertible, IS250C. The roof goes up or down in just 20 seconds and to ensure driver comfort in even the coldest weather, heater capacity has been boosted, says Lexus. Access to the rear seats has been made easier by increasing the length of the doors by 300mm, compared to the saloon. The front seats also have a one-touch ‘walk-in’ button that automatically folds and slides the seats forwards. The instrument binnacle has been redesigned to ensure it can be read in bright sunlight and all other body panels have been redesigned to blend in with the convertible’s folding roof. What the IS 250C does share with the saloon are the 204 bhp 2.5-litre V6 engine and six-speed automatic transmission.

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forthcomıng ✦

events

European eAccessibility Forum & Public Services in Paris 12 April

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The 4th European eAccessibility Forum and eAccessibility of Public Services in Europe conference is taking place in Paris, France, on 12 April. The conference will provide a unique opportunity to discuss the complementary aspects involved in making an accessible information society a reality in Europe. It will provide an opportunity to hear at first-hand about experiences from users with disabilities, public organisations and industry.

The speakers are specialists involved in organisations representing users and consumers with disabilities, research organisations and companies operating at a European level or worldwide. The conference will also consider the harmonisation of good practices all over Europe. For more details visit: http:// inova.snv.jussieu.fr/evenements/ colloques/colloques/index. php?c=62&l=en&a=0#contenu ✦

From Economic Recovery to Sustainability in Valencia 13-16 April

Tecnimap Conference in Zaragoza 6-7 April

The European RTD Framework Programmes: From Economic Recovery to Sustainability conference is taking place in Valencia, Spain, from 13-16 April. The conference is a high-level public event featuring a series of new public-private partnerships, notably factories of the future, energy-efficient buildings and the European green cars initiative. This conference will be a platform for the European Commission to launch a 4th public-private partnership on Future Internet. For more information visit h t t p : / / w w w. r2sconference.eu/ ✦

The Tecnimap Conference and Exhibition are scheduled to take place in Zaragoza, Spain, from 6-7 April. Tecnimap is the 11th in a series of conferences on information technology for the modernisation of public administration. It aims to share practices and experiences related to the usage of ICT in eGovernment services. It is the largest Spanish event on eGovernment and it is taking place during the Spanish Presidency of the EU. This year’s event encourages the participation of other Member states and European institutions. For more information visit: http:// www.tecnimap.es/en ✦

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The Health 2.0 Europe conference is taking place in Paris, France from 6-7 April The Health 2.0 Europe conference is taking place in Paris, France, from 6-7 April. The event will integrate the best of European web/mobile based technologies, and compare, contrast and contextualise them with leading examples of Health 2.0 from North America. It will show what works in the context of Europe’s evolving health care systems, whether there are commonalities across European systems that can lead to economies of scale and what the “boundary-less” online world means for consumers and physicians working in distinct health care systems. For more details visit: http://www. health2con.com/paris2010/

Augmented Human Conference in Megeve 2-4 April “Augmented Human (AH)” International Conference is taking place in Megeve, France from 2-4 April. This event will focus on scientific contributions augmenting human capabilities through technology for increased well-being and enjoyable human experience. The best paper of the conference will receive an award. For more information visit: http:// www.augmented-human.com ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Interoperability for Enterprise Software and Applications in Coventry 14-15 April The I-ESA 2010 - International conference on Interoperability for Enterprise Software and Applications is taking place in Coventry, United Kingdom, from 14-15 April. Enterprise Interoperability (EI) is the ability of an enterprise or more generally an organisation to work with other enterprises or organisations without special effort. Nowadays enterprises’ competitiveness is largely determined by the ability to interoperate seamlessly. Industry’s

need for EI has been one of the significant drivers for research into the future of the internet. EI research will embrace and extend contributions from the internet of things and the internet of services, and will go on to drive the future needs for the internets of people, processes, and knowledge. The event aims to bring together the world’s leading researchers and practitioners in the area of EI.More details at: http://wwwm. coventry.ac.uk/iesa2010/Pages/ Conferenceprogramme.aspx ✦

Campus Party Europe - Technology online in Madrid 14-18 April The Campus Party Europe Technology, creativity and digital culture online is being held in Madrid, Spain, from 14-18 April. The event will bring together 800 projects from 27 countries of the European Union related to astronomy, robotics, modding and development of software, information technology security, blogs or digital creativity in any of its facets. The projects will be

chosen from all those presented for evaluation through the event’s web page. In parallel to the innovation awards, the MICINN Challenge invites European internet users to share their projects on how to contribute to the fight against poverty and exclusion through new technologies. For more information visit: http://www. campus-party.eu/Innovation_ awards.html ✦

Health-e-Child Final Conference in Sestri Levante 23-24 April The Health-e-Child Final Conference is taking place in Sestri Levante, Italy, from 23-24 April. Following four years of development, a series of awards from major international conferences culminating in the first prize at ICT08 and Europeanwide press recognition, the Health-e-Child consortium will discuss, compare and assess its results with stakeholders from the relevant worldwide research communities while attempting to envisage the social impact of innovation on paediatric

healthcare. The event will discuss modern aspects of personalized healthcare from innovative new health IT to clinical advancements in Paediatrics, while contributing to the progress made throughout the VPH community. For more information visit: http:// conference.health-e-child.org/ ✦

✦ Events april 2010 Telecom World Congress in Amsterdam 20-22 April Telecom World Congress is being held in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from 20-22 April. The event is where telecoms operators and their partners come together to discuss challenges and opportunities in 2010 and beyond. It will focus on innovation, strategy andleadership. For more details visit: http://www.terrapinn.com/2010/twc/

Med-e-Tel 2010 conference in Luxembourg 14-16 April Med-e-Tel 2010 conference is taking place in Luxembourg from 14-16 April. Med-e-Tel focuses on ehealth and telemedicine applications and a wide range of other medical ICT applications and on the convergence of information and communication technology with medical applications, which lead to higher quality of care, cost reductions, workflow efficiency, and widespread availability of healthcare services. For more information visit: http://www.medetel.lu/index.php

8th Eastern European eGov Days: in Prague 21-23 April The “8th Eastern European eGov Days: Changing Concepts & eGovernment as a Service” is taking place in Prague, Czech Republic, from 21-23 April. The annual Eastern European eGov Days have become a recognised platform for dialogue and knowledge transfer between Western and Eastern European countries. The event brings together about 200 professionals from both private and public sectors. The EU eGovernment Action Plan for 2015 will be discussed in both parallel sessions and plenary panels. For more information visit: http:// www.epma.cz

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events

Power and Electricity World Asia conference in Singapore 5-9 April The Power and Electricity World Asia conference is taking place in Singapore from 5-9 April. The event will focus on the latest policies, industry developments & business strategies to achieve

growth in Asia pacific energy sector. Critical issues facing the electricity markets in Asia, will be addressed.. For more details visit: http://www.terrapinn.com/2010/ asiapower/ ✦

Low Cost Airlines Data Centres Europe conference World MENA in in Nice 22-23 April Cairo 12 April The 6th Data Centres Europe coneference is taking place in Nice, France, from 22-23 April. This annual EU conference for data centres will this year include a special focus on enterprises and their evolving outsourcing needs as emerging private clouds, new technologies and market changes impact across the sector. The event is accompanied by an industry exhibition, special workshops and an Awards Dinner. For more details visit: http://www.datacentres.com/dce/ ✦

Low Cost Airlines World (MENA) Middle East and North Africa (MENA) conference is being held in Cairo, Egypt, on 12 April. As airlines in the Middle East continue to make headlines with recession defying strategy and expansion plans, the event will bring together airline executives and distinguished speakers to discuss the latest strategies. For more information visit: http://www.terrapinn.com/2010/ lcamena/ ✦

Oil & Gas Outlook Africa in Cape Town 6-9 April Africa’s Key oil & gas conference is taking place in Cape Town, South Africa, from 6-9 April. This is Africa’s event where the industry will introduce and seek out opportunities and new ways of investing in Africa. The African oil and gas industry has embarked upon large scale infrastructure and exploration projects in the last decade and continues to do so, even with Oil being seen as one of the most volatile commodities on the planet. For more information visit: http://www.terrapinn. com/2010/oilza/

SatCom Africa in ohannesburg 12-15 April SatCom Africa conference is taking place in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 12-15 April. The event will focus on telecommunications,

broadcasting and other related fields. For more information visit: http://www.terrapinn.com/2010/ satcomza/ ✦

Aviation Outlook MENA in Cairo 12-15 April The third annual Aviation Outlook Middle East and North Africa (MENA) summit is taking place in Cairo, Egypt, from 1215 April. The event provides a forum for leaders of the airline and aviation industries to

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analyse and discuss threats, challenges and opportunities in the market in a bid to formulate strategies for sustainable and continued growth. For more details visit: http:// www.terrapinn.com/2010/aome/ ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

Oil & Gas Outlook in Rio de Janeiro 13-15 April Oil & Gas Outlook conference is being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 13-15 April. Sitting upon 12.2 billion gallons of oil reserves, Brazil is one of the world’s fastest growing oil producers. Last year’s discovery of vast offshore reserves made Brazil the stage for the most current open ocean deepwater extraction strategies. To profit from Brazil’s rich reserves, oil executives need a thorough understanding of the local regulatory regime.

Companies are lining up to bid for onshore and shallow water development blocks. From exploration and production to offshore drilling to financing projects to partnering with Petrobras, the event is designed to address how oil companies can successfully finance, plan and execute these projects and provides industry leaders with a platform to do business and network. For more details visit: http://www. terrapinn.com/2010/brasiloil/ ✦

Changing Concepts & eGovernment as a Service in Prague 21-23 April The 8th Eastern European eGov Days: Changing Concepts & eGovernment as a Service is being held in Prague, Czech Republic, from 21-23 April. The event has become a recognised platform for dialogue and knowledge transfer between Western and Eastern European

countries. The event brings together professionals from both private and public sectors. The EU eGovernment Action Plan for 2015 will be discussed in both parallel sessions and plenary panels. For more information visit: http://www.epma.cz/ ✦

Airport Show in Dubai 25-27 April The 10th annual Airport Show is being held in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, from 25-27 April. The event is firmly established as one of the world’s leading shows devoted exclusively to airport construction, operations, technology and services. It offers a combination of highquality networking and

business opportunities through the roundtable discussions, Innovation and Project Seminars and the Hosted Buyer programme. The event is supported by leading international industry associations and local government authorities. For more information visit: http://www.theairportshow.com/ home.aspx ✦

Smart Metering Implementation Summit in Washington 26-28 April Smart Metering Implementation Summit is being held in Washington DC, USA, from 26-28 April. The event will provide the opportunity to exchange strategies and best practices for implementing a more stable grid. Gain practical knowledge on how to create a

strategy to overcome operational, technical and regulatory issues pertaining to full AMI deployment. Key smart metering priorities will be discussed at the summit. For details visit: http:// www.smartmeteringsummit.com/ Event.aspx?id=269848 ✦

✦ Events april 2010 Telecom World Congress in Amsterdam 20-22 April Telecom World Congress is being held in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, from 20-22 April. The event is where telecoms operators and their partners come together to discuss challenges and opportunities in 2010 and beyond. It will focus on innovation, strategy andleadership. For more details visit: http://www.terrapinn.com/2010/twc/

Infrastructure Investment World Americas in New York 26-29 April Infrastructure Investment World Americas conference is taking place in New York, USA, from 2629 April. The event is the annual infrastructure conference dedicated to unlocking the investment, financing and development potential for the US infrastructure market. For more information visit: http://www.terrapinn.com/2010/IIWA/

Spring meeting of IMF and World Bank in Washington 24-25 April The spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank is scheduled to take place in Washington DC, USA, from 24-25 April. More information at: http://www. imf.org/external/index.htm http://www.worldbank.org/

Geospatial Intelligence Middle East in Manama 11-14 April Geospatial Intelligence Middle East conference is being held in Manama, Bahrain, from 11-14 April. The event, in its third edition, provides a forum for defence and security organisations. For more details visit: http://www.defenceiq. com/events.cfm?p=3

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events

Knowledge and Info Management for Oil and Gas in Aberdeen 27-29 April

The Knowledge and Information Management for Oil and Gas conference is taking place in Aberdeen, Scotland, the United Kingdom, from 27-29 April. Capturing, retaining, and transferring company’s most valuable asset, the need for cost effective information management and integration is more critical than ever. The event provides a learning experience on how to

use the tools you need to drive improved performance through case studies that focus on the most value-driven, cost-effective and practical strategies for managing one of the company’s most valuable assets: knowledge and information. For more information visit: http://www.oilandgasiq.com/ events.cfm?p=2 ✦

LatAm Mining Congress in Coral Gables 27-30 April

Enterprise Mobility Exchange in Brussels 28-29 April

The third Latin American Mining Congress is taking place in Coral Gables, Florida, USA, from 27-30 April. The event provides the opportunity to meet directly with the region’s mining and investor community. It also serves as a platform to discover new investors, business partnerships and the most valuable investment opportunities. For more details visit: http:// w w w. t e r r a p i n n . c o m / 2 0 1 0 / latmining/ ✦

The 6th annual Enterprise Mobility Exchange conference is taking place in Brussels, Belgium, from 28-29 April. The event brings together experts from the workforce mobility community to discuss best practice mobile workforce strategy, examine the latest technological innovations and highlight a selection of award winning case studies from across a number of industries. For more details visit: h t t p : / / w w w. o i l a n d g a s i q . c o m /events.cfm?p=2 ✦

Water & Environment Conference in London 28-29 April The CIWEM will hold a two-day Annual Conference in London from 28-29 April that will address multidisciplinary issues across all areas of the global water and environment sector. There will

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be a mix of keynote speakers, offered papers, exhibitions and networking. For more details visit: http://www.ciwem.org/events/ annual_conference/

Military Satellites Summit in Washington 27-28 April The fourth Military Satellites Summit is taking place in Washington DC, USA, from 27-28 April. The event plans to optimise the lines of communication by discussing programme needs, capabilities and future goals with the rest of the satellite community. For more information visit: http://www.defenceiq.com/ events.cfm?p=3

Strategies for ultra-broadband infrastructure in Berlin 26-27 April The National strategies for ultrabroadband infrastructure deployment: Experiences and challenges conference is taking place in Berlin, Germany, from 26-27 April. Many carriers in the world are today investing in high bit rate broadband infrastructure or are planning to do so. In parallel, many governments in North-America, Asia and Europe have initiated ambitious broadband deployment strategies. Against this backdrop, this international conference will analyse the different strategic elements of these approaches. For more information visit: h t t p : / / w w w. w i k . o r g / i n d e x . php?id=492&L=1 ✦


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

informatıon & communıcatıon ✦

technology

Intel and Nokia merge platforms Intel, the world’s largest chip maker and Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone maker have merged operating systems to create a single platform for mobiles.The new MeeGo platform, unveiled at the MobileWorld Congress in Barcelona, will be used to power phones, netbooks, TVs and incar entertainment systems.The opensource software has been created by merging elements of Intel’s Moblin

and Nokia’s Maemo software. Ian Fogg, an analyst at Forrester Research, said that the merger was a “bold play” and placed MeeGo into a “competitive position with Android, iPhone OS, Google’s Chrome and even desktop software like Ubuntu”. The technology heavyweights said that the software would run on “multiple processor architectures”, meaning that it will not be confined to devices just containing Intel chips. ✦

Cyber attacks hit 57% of Mideast businesses Fifty seven per cent of businesses across the Middle East have suffered two or more cyber attacks in the past six months, according to a poll conducted by the internet security firm Trend Micro. The firm warned that businesses need to do more to protect their company data

and computer systems from web viruses. The poll also found that 98 percent of employees admitted to surfing the internet for non-work related activities, with 42 percent admitting to doing this regularly, and 31 percent spending one to four hours of work time doing so.

Experts identify Google hackers

US analysts believe they have identified the Chinese author of the critical programming code used in the alleged state-sponsored hacking

attacks on Google and other western companies, making it far harder for the Chinese government to deny involvement. ✦

Alex laptop aids computer novices People confused and frustrated by computers can now turn to a laptop called Alex built just for them. Based on Linux, the laptop comes with simplified e-mail, web browsing, image editing and office software. Subscribers in the United Kingdom, UK, pay £39.95 a month for telephone support, software updates and broadband access. Its creators hope the laptop and its simple suite of software prove to be

a popular alternative to the Windows and Mac operating systems. “Alex is not designed as a supercomputer,” said Barney MorrisonLyons, head of technology at The Broadband Computer Company which is behind Alex. “We’re not buying into the current computer market.” The idea behind Alex was to make using a computer a “simple and enjoyable” experience, said Andy Hudson, one of the founders of the

How Google Buzz works Google Buzz is to compete with the social network Facebook. It lets you post updates containing text, images, videos and links – basically, anything you like. These can be seen by your friends. Similarly, you’ll start to see updates from your friends appearing right in your inbox. Buzz promises a lot of flexibility and can automatically pull in updates from other networks, like Twitter and Flickr (though not yet Facebook), so you don’t have to check them all separately. With versions available for several types of mobile phone, Buzz seems to put more of an emphasis on location than other services. Because Buzz is built into Google Mail, there’s nothing to set up. It uses your existing contacts to create a network of your friends – unlike, say, Facebook, where you have to manually add your mates. There’s a video up on YouTube which explains how it all works: h tt p : / / w w w. y o u t u b e . c o m /watch?v=yi50KlsCBio company. Subscribers to Alex receive a USB stick which contains user-encrypted data and enables them to log on to their desktop from any Alex computer.✦

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sports Homophobia in British football still taboo Professional footballers in Britain have refused to appear in a campaign video against homophobia because they fear being ridiculed for taking a stand against one of the sport’s

most stubborn taboos. Both players and agents declined a request by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) to take part in a video which was to use high-

Medvedev’s fury over Olympic flop

President Dmitry Medvedev has called on Russian Olympic officials to resign, following the nation’s worst ever performance in the winter games in February. Those in charge of preparing Russian

athletes for the Vancouver games “should take the brave decision and submit their resignations,” he said.“If they cannot do it, we will help them,” Mr Medvedev added. Russia, traditionally a winter sports powerhouse, ended 11th in the medals table, with just three golds. Russia has experienced a steady decline in its Olympic performances since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The games in Vancouver were particularly painful for the nation because of the failures in sports such as ice hockey and figure skating. ✦

Real tops list of richest football clubs The Spanish club, Real Madrid, has topped the league table of the world’s richest football clubs for the fifth straight year, according to Deloitte’s sport unit, the independent accounting firm. Its Football Money League, based on data for 2008/09 season, also says Real is the first global sports team to see annual revenues top 400m euros (£357m). Real’s archrival, Barcelona, is in second place ahead of Manchester United who dropped to third. Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are fifth, sixth 60

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and seventh respectively. United would have been top of the Money League if the Pound Sterling was still at June 2007 rate. But they point out that, despite exchange rate issues, seven of the top 20 in its table are from England, the other three being Tottenham (15th), Manchester City(19th), and relegated club Newcastle United (20th). All the 20 clubs represented are from the “big five” European leagues, with Germany contributing five clubs, Italy four, and France and Spain two each. .✦

profile players as figureheads in the association’s drive against antigay prejudice, according to The independent. ✦

South Africa ‘more than ready’ to host World Cup, Zuma The South African President, Jacob Zuma, has said that his country is more than ready to host the 2010 World Cup. Speaking during a visit to Wembley stadium as part of his three day state visit to the United Kingdom, Zuma said: “At the beginning, many people said it would be very difficult for South Africa to host this. We can say now without any fear of contradiction that we are ready, if not more than ready.” Also present at the Wembley stadium were England manager Fabio Capello, Football Association chairman Lord Triesman and England 2018 World Cup bid ambassador John Barnes.


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

The toughest foot race on earth Marathon des Sables, the toughest foot race on earth begins in Morocco from April 1 to 12, the organisers have announced. It covers 243km (151 miles) which run over six days (seven for some) equivalent to 5 1/2 regular marathons. That’s a speed of between three and 14 km an hour for competitors aged between 16 and 78. In addition to that, competitors have to carry everything

they will need for the duration (apart from a tent) on their backs in a rucksack (food, clothes, medical kit, sleeping bag etc). Water is rationed and handed out at each checkpoint. You will have to prepare all your own food throughout the race and experience mid-day temperatures of up to 120°F, of running or walking on uneven rocky, stony ground with 15 - 20 per cent of the distance being in

sand dunes. The heat, distance and rubbing will trash your feet and may cause severe trauma if incorrect shoes and equipment are used. Mental stamina probably constitutes at least 50 per cent of whether you will complete the distance or not. ✦

Players are too rich, too soon England soccer boss Fabio Capello has blamed millionaire culture for players bad behaviour. In his comments on the off-field problems involving former captain John Terry, and team mates Wayne Bridge and Ashley Cole, Capello said: “They are important players. “They have to be an example to the children, for all the fans.

“For that reason, they have to stay careful in every moment and sacrifice something in their lives. “They are young players, young boys, rich boys and this is the problem.” Capello wants no more scandals ahead of the World Cup finals. He said: “I hope so and it will be really important that the players in

Golf official blames Parkinson’s A golf official has blamed embezzling more than £60,000 for gifts and holidays on the effects of his Parkinson’s disease medication. George McIntosh, 53, of Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, in Scotland, admitted his crime, but said the drugs he was taking gave him “compulsive generosity”. he father-of-three took the money from the Scottish Golf Union and Newmachar Golf Club. The court heard McIntosh stole about £20,000 from the North East District Association of the Scottish

English football clubs freeze spending spree English football clubs are keeping their money to themselves after ignoring the January transfer window in a move to cut spending.

Golf Union by writing cheques for large sums. He also withdrew cash from the union’s bank account between 2004 and 2007. The court heard the golfing body’s finances were not audited at the time. He embezzled a further £47,000 from Newmachar Golf Club after working on a voluntary basis for free and becoming aggrieved that his successor was being paid for the role. ✦

As teams struggle with massive debt and soaring player wages, experts predict club spending on players this year could be the lowest. After the spending sprees of the past few years including last year when clubs blew about £175m on players, a

this last period have to be careful in their private lives at every moment.“ Terry lost the England captaincy following reports that he had an affair with the former girlfriend of team mate Wayne Bridge. Ashley Cole and wife Cheryl have separated after allegations that husband Ashley sent nude text messages of himself to other women. ✦

Morocco to host first under-17 African Youth Games Morocco will host the first under-17 AfricanYouth Games from 9-15 May 2010. The Games will bring together 1,200 African athletes representing 53 national Olympic committees in Africa to compete in 14 individual and team sports.

new era of austerity has been forecast. According to the accountancy firm KPMG, only £7m changed hands in the first14 days of the window this year compared with %8.8m in the first fortnight of January 2009.

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book revıews ✦

WESTERN SAHARA CONFLICT: Historical, regional and international dimensions

WESTERN SAHARA CONFLICT: Historical, Regional and International Dimensions Ali Bahaijoub, North-South Books, 2010 price: £20.00

T

he issue of the Western Sahara has now dragged on for 35 years with no apparent end in sight to the conflict. This rather convoluted dispute entered into Ali Bahaijoub the consciousness of the world in 1975 when the Spanish colonialists left the Western Sahara and the Moroccan government decided to assert its authority over the territory that it says it has always controlled. And that is when the trouble really began. The dispute has created divisions in Africa. Indeed, Morocco, a founding father of the Organisation of African Unity, walked out of the pan-African body in 1984, four years after it recognised the POLASARIO as the legitimate government of an independent Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). POLISARIO, claiming to be the main liberation movement in the territory, declared an independent SADR on 27 February 1976, a day after Spain formally left the territory. Although it took six years for the OAU to recognise the SADR, the interim period had been one of intense diplomatic activity by POLASARIO to state its case internationally and to garner support. There is no denying that the organisation has had a long lead over Morocco when it comes to the war of words – more so in non-French-speaking Africa. 62

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That was one reason why the SADR had so much support from African governments when it was accepted as a member of the OAU. The apparently one-sided nature of this flow of information has more or less helped to prolong the stalemate that has developed over the Western Sahara issue. This is why this new book, Western Sahara Conflict: Historical, Regional and International Dimensions by Ali Bahaijoub, is most welcomed. As the title suggests, the book covers the whole gamut of the Western Sahara problem. This has clearly contrived to throw a lot of light on an issue that has flummoxed so many. Bahaijoub’s work is actually an extension of his 1987 PhD thesis, which he successfully submitted to the London School of Economics. Since then, the conflict has become even more complicated and confusing. For instance, the POLASARIO camps in the Algerian desert, where many sought refuge in 1975, are portrayed as the Western Sahara by the SADR government. And there are many who have been fooled by this after a visit – claiming later that they were in the territory of Western Sahara. In all this, it is the refugees in the camps who are the unfortunate pawns. Bahaijoub says that many are held against their wishes and that the camps are more or less prisons. “It is worth mentioning that no international organisation is allowed into the Tindouf camps without the authorisation of the Algerian military command,

and the refugees’ predicament will unfortunately continue to deteriorate regardless of the lack of transparency and accountability,” writes Bahaijoub. Not surprisingly, the POLASARIO has failed to come up with a true figure of the refugees in the camp so that the UN can organise a referendum to decide their future. Bahaijoub argues that this stalemate suits both the leadership of the POLASIRIO and the Algerian military. The Algerian government, under the grip of the army, has bankrolled POLASARIO for many years, turning it into a well-financed organisation. How else can the POLISARIO, without any tangible source of income, operate some 50 “diplomatic” missions – a lot more than what many African states can afford? This is an interesting book that clearly explains the intricate nature of the Western Sahara conflict, drawing a great deal on documentation and accords showing Morocco’s ancient claims over the territory. It also shows that the stalemate perfectly suits the leadership of the POLASARIO and the Algerian military. But the most important bit of all is that we now have a volume that throws a completely new light on the long-running Western Sahara debate. Those who have been confounded by the arguments – legal or otherwise – would do well to get a copy of this book.✦ Desmond Davies


✦ news & views to bridge the global divide

life & style ✦

Diamonds regain their sparkle as an investment Since the 16th century, diamonds have been considered as a symbol of enduring love and as a girl’s best friend. But recently diamonds have become an attractive investment. Indeed, people are not only buying the precious stones to wear, but also as an investment and trading in polished diamonds on an exchange, just as they would do with stocks and shares.

While people have been trading in gold, stocks and shares online for years, last year, a company at the heart of the diamond district in Antwerp, Belgium, launched an online trading platform for diamonds. DODAQ is not only the world’s first online diamond exchange, but also the first public exchange for the polished stones. ✦

Michelle Obama campaigns Fashion bloggers against childhood obesity on the rise US First Lady, Michelle Obama, initiated a campaign to tackle childhood obesity in the country. The initiative is being supported by the food industry. Obesity, considered an epidemic in the US, affects one in three children aged six to 19. ✦

Women think Beyonce has best body The American female singer Beyonce is considered to have the best body in the eyes of British women, but males prefer Hollywood actress Megan Fox, according to a study conducted by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment to mark the DVD and Blu-ray release of Jennifer’s Body starring Megan Fox. The study revealed that as well as being women’s overall body choice, Beyonce boasted the sexiest individual assets. ✦

Fashion has finally woken up to the power of the internet and fashion designers and retailers are increasingly showing their products online. The emergence of bloggers is also taking the catwalks by storm and have become an important part of the fashion industry not only breaking news but making it . The following bloggers are now on the rise but judge for yourself: »» ashadedviewonfashion.com »» bryanboy.com »» catwalkqueen.tv »» facehunter.blogspot.com »» feelslikewhitelightning.com »» gofugyourself.com »» jakandjil.com »» libertylondongirl.blogspot.com »» madamesays.com »» nymag.com/daily/fashion »» redcarpet-fashionawards.com »» stylebubble.typepad.com »» tavi-thenewgirlintown.blogspot.com »» thelovemagazineblog.wordpress.com »» themoment.blogs.nytimes.com »» thesartorialist.com »» theselby.com »» thethoughtfuldresser.blogspot.com »» whatisjameswearing.com »» whatkatiewore.com

north✦south

april 2010

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Each month, our global current affairs magazine brings you news, views and commentaries related to both developed and developing countries.

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G20 Summit: Make or Break

for Global Financial and Economic Crisis

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The cost of Iraq and Afghan conflicts

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What the World Expects of Obama

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Global banks suffer financial earthquake. Who Is nEXt?

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EU AT THE CROSSROADS ✦

✦ Rough Times for East European Economies ✦ Towards US-Syrian Rapprochement?

✦ US: Obama’s Foreign Policy Tasks

✦ New Dawn in China-Taiwan Relations

✦ Ireland: Double-digit Growth Halts

✦ Is Germany Disillusioned with EU? ✦ North-South Korea Tension increases ✦ Warrant issued for Al Bashir’s arrest

✦ Somali pilots follow ancient route

✦ Global Food Crisis Persists

✦ UN for reform of financial system

✦ Zimbabwe: Doubts over Coalition

✦ Malta punches above its weight €

Obama Nobel Prize surprise

✦ Livni breaks ranks with Olmert Talat

Christofias

Angola: 30 years of Dos Santos

✦ Ghana: Kufur about to step down €

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Urgency of climate change

✦ Will Mbeki’s successor unite ANC?

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Commonwealth at 60

✦ Will Cyprus become reunited?

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✦ Emerging nations emerge from shadows

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✦ Interview with Morocco bank Chief

✦ Migration: Africa and EU

✦ Gaza: Picking up the Pieces

Afghan militancy on the rise

Yemen slides towards chaos

Sri Lankan camps discord

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No.1

China

Religions in Crisis?

Is Global Security a myth?

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iRAQ: Warmongers vs Peacemakers

...the new power in waiting?

Medvedev Gen Abdelaziz

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Russia - Georgia conflict

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