Monday, June 20, 2005

World Refugee Day

Refugee Day

Photo and caption via Reuters: "A Sudanese refugee girl sits in the shadow of her hut as they celebrate Refugee Day at Ikafe camp in northwest Uganda near the borders of Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo June 20, 2005. Marking World Refugee Day with his first overseas trip in the role to Ikafe camp, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said on Monday that nations like Uganda that host hundreds of thousands of refugees from neighbouring African conflicts should serve as a lesson to the West, where asylum policies are increasingly restrictive. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)"

Note, "celebrate" is not a word I would use in connection with World Refugee Day. Not sure what the new UN High Commissioner Antonio Guterres is getting at when he says Sudanese refugees in Uganda should serve as a lesson to the West. What is he suggesting, that millions of people from the Sudan, DR Congo, and Uganda, to name a few countries in Africa, be given residency in tiny countries like England with the British taxpayer footing the bill?

I suggest the lesson lays with African people and their leaders - not the West. African countries are rich in oil and other natural resources. Billions of dollars of taxpayers money have gone from the West to Africa. It is the fault of corrupt African leaders and African people not getting their act together for so many years that is the problem. For too long poor people in Africa have been marginalised and denied access to the law and land/property ownership. And too many are coming to the West to get educated and not returning home to spread their knowledge, training and skills. The fault lays with African people and their leaders, not the West. They need to wake up. The population of Africa will double in 27 years time. If Africa does not pull itself up by its bootstraps like many Asian countries have done so admirably, it will become unmanageable for the rest of the world. African people must get educated and get rid of despotic dictators who spend Africa's wealth on arms and decades of continual war.


A said...

Hi Ingrid, thanks for your comment on my Memorial Day post.

I think it will be quite hard for the many Africans in extreme poverty to pull themselves "up by the bootstraps" from their present situation. I don't think they'll be able to do it without some serious assistance from the rich nations. The recent agreement on debt relief was a big step in the right direction, but it should be extended to all the poor countries in Africa. And from my perspective, when my government spends almost $500 billion on military spending, we ought to also be at least meeting the 0.7% GDP contribution rate towards African poverty reduction. We're nowhere close. I also fault certain Western governments for leaving behind the deeply flawed and corrupt governments from the colonial era which gave rise to many of the dictators who you speak of. Those governments, Britain's included in the case of Sudan, bear some responsibility for current events, I think.

Anyway, thanks for continuing efforts with regard to Darfur. I often refer friends to Sudan Watch for more information about the situation. Keep it up!

Ingrid J. Jones said...

Hello Ansel. Good to hear from you. Thank you for your kind words and interesting commnet.

Sorry if my post implied that Africans in extreme poverty pull themselves up by their bootstraps. I am talking about Africans as a whole.

There are millions of Africans who are educated and not poor. Where are their voices? Where are the African (and Arab) voices on the Sudan - or any Africans commenting at this blog? Strange how I get responses at Congo Watch and Uganda Watch, but nothing - not even anonomously concerned with Sudan.

What about the millions of Africans who gained an education, training and skills that they could have taken back to Africa?

What about all the people, including Africans, moaning about Bob Geldof, Bono, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown's efforts over the past several years to cancel the debts of the world's poorest nations - work on the CAP (Britain has presidency of the EU this year as well as the G8)?

People whinge and criticise without getting off their own backsides to do anything to help or protest. I've just read a comment at a blog in Uganda that criticised Live 8 for putting on a concert for "miserable Africans" -- without many black bands.

The Live 8 concert is to raise awareness of the G8 which is being held in Gleneagles Scotland next month. Musicians such as Geldof have the pulling power to bring bands together who command world publicity have done more to help Africa than any African musicians/bands I've ever heard of.

Sorry I do not agree with your argument that it is the fault of any Western government. My father served 25 years in the British army and we lived in Nairobi Kenya for three years because of the Mau Mau war. Time has stood still in many parts of Africa because of poor governance that you cannot blame on the British.

It's about time Africa and Africans around the world started taking responsibility and stop blaming white man and, at the same time, which I find the most galling - criticising and being unappreciative of the billions of dollars of help that is given to Africa from the sweat of the brow of ordinary folk who work very hard in the West to pay those taxes and contribute work, skills and donations to charities and churches.

As stated here in an earlier post, the head of the African Union recently said in 27 years time the population of Africa will double which will make it unmanageable for the rest of the world.

Things need to start happening and soon. Britain has done, and continues to do, everything it can to help. Many countries around the world, especially in Europe and the US have tried to help. Where is the stinking rich members of the Arab League? And oil rich neighbours. Sudan is oil rich and other African countries are hugely wealthy in natural resources. Where is the good governance in Africa? Why are milliions upon millions of Africa putting up with it for so long?

So far, America refuses to pay 0.7% GDP - Bush says it does not fit in with their budgetary process.

The regime in Khartoum stole power through the gun barrel from a democratically elected government some 17 years ago and has been at war with the Sudanese ever since at a cost of 2.5 million lives and six million people across the Sudan in need of food aid from the West. Sudan has had its independence for at least 50 years.

Africans should get out of their lazy convenient habit of harking at the past and criticising the West's help. Thousands of politicians, representative of millions of people around the world are trying to help Africa.

You can draw a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. Change must come from within Africa. African solutions to African problems. When are they going to start? And where is the leadership? As many educated Africans as possible must leave the West and return to Africa to sort it out once and for all.