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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Rescued Boko Haram girls 'need counselling'

independent.ie

Published 29/04/2015 | 22:13
Protesters outside Nigeria House in London demonstrating for the girls abducted by Boko Haram  
Protesters outside Nigeria House in London demonstrating for the girls abducted by Boko Haram
Some of the nearly 300 girls and women freed by Nigeria's military from the forest stronghold of Boko Haram were so transformed by their captivity that they opened fire on their rescuers, and experts said they will need intensive psychological treatment.

The military was flying in medical and intelligence teams to evaluate the former captives, many of whom were severely traumatised, said army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman.
He said earlier that none of the schoolgirls kidnapped from the north-eastern town of Chibok a year ago appeared to be among the 200 girls and 93 women rescued yesterday. But today he said further screening was needed before their identities could be determined.
"The processing is continuing; it involves a lot of things because most of them are traumatised and you have got to put them in a psychological frame of mind to extract information from them," Col Usman said.
A counsellor who has treated other women freed from Boko Haram captivity said some had become indoctrinated into believing the group's Islamic extremist ideology, while others had established strong emotional attachments to militants they had been forced to marry.
Some of the about 90 women and girls freed by the army four months ago in Yobe state, for example, had upset their community on their return by maintaining that the militants were good people who had treated them well, the counsellor told the Associated Press.
"The trauma suffered by the (abducted) women and girls is truly horrific," said Amnesty International's Africa director for research and advocacy, Netsanet Belay. "Some have been repeatedly raped, sold into sexual slavery or indoctrinated and even forced to fight for Boko Haram."
That is what appeared to have happened this week when the Nigerian military said troops rescued the women and girls while destroying four Boko Haram camps in the Sambisa Forest.
Boko Haram used some of the women as armed human shields, a first line of defence who opened fire as the troops approached, according to an intelligence officer and a soldier who were in Sambisa during the rescue. The soldiers managed to subdue the women and round them up, said the men.
No-one knows how many captives are in the hands of the Islamic extremists, who have carried out a campaign of killings and kidnappings that has seen thousands of girls, women and young men seized to be used as sex slaves and fighters. Amnesty International said earlier this month that at least 2,000 women and girls have been taken by Boko Haram since the start of 2014.
Among them are the nearly 300 girls abducted from their school in Chibok on April 14 2014. Dozens escaped as they were taken in trucks into the Sambisa forest, but 219 remain missing.
The plight of the schoolgirls, who have become known as "the Chibok girls", aroused international outrage and a campaign for their release under the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. Their kidnapping brought Boko Haram, whose nickname means "Western education is forbidden" in the local Hausa language, to the world's attention, with even US First Lady Michelle Obama becoming involved as she tweeted a photograph of herself holding the campaign sign.
Nigerian military and counter-insurgency spokesmen have said they have information indicating at least some of the Chibok girls still are being held in the Sambisa Forest.
Col Usman said operations were continuing today, as the military evacuated the women and girls freed a day earlier and took them to an undisclosed location.
"Sambisa Forest is a large expanse of land, so what we were able to get is four out of several terrorist camps in the forest," he said of the national game reserve that sprawls over 60,000 square kilometers (23,170 square miles).
Some kidnapping victims who have escaped from Boko Haram have been detained for weeks for security screenings, and Amnesty International called on authorities "to ensure that the trauma of those 'rescued' is not exacerbated by lengthy security screening in detention".
"Amnesty International is calling on the authorities to ensure that their physical and psychological well-being is paramount," the group said in a statement.
Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, now the UN special envoy for global education, welcomed the rescue of the girls and women but called for the immediate release of all abducted girls.
"It is time to end the nightmare. For a year, families have not known whether their daughters are dead or alive, married off, sold off or violated as a result of their captivity," he said. "We want all girls released."
Nigeria's military largely stood by last year as Boko Haram took over dozens of towns and declared a large swath of north-eastern Borno state an Islamic caliphate.
That changed when a multinational offensive led by Chad began at the end of January. Now, Nigeria's military says it has driven the Islamic extremists out of all towns with help from troops from Chad and Niger while Cameroonian soldiers have been guarding their borders to prevent the militants from escaping.
A month ago the Nigerian military began pounding the Sambisa Forest in air raids, an assault they said earlier they had been avoiding for fear of killing kidnapped women and girls, or inciting their captors to kill them.
Boko Haram continues to attack isolated communities. The government of neighbouring Niger said a Boko Haram attack on Karamga island in Lake Chad over the weekend killed 156 militants, 46 soldiers and 28 civilians.
Press Association
 

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Brainwashed Boko Haram captives shot at rescuers

independent.ie

Michelle Faul in Lagos

Published 30/04/2015 | 02:30
Former members of insurgent group Boko Haram gather in front of Chadian soldiers in Ngouboua, Chad, April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Moumine Ngarmbassa
Former members of insurgent group Boko Haram gather in front of Chadian soldiers in Ngouboua, Chad, April 22, 2015. REUTERS/Moumine Ngarmbassa
Some of the nearly 300 girls and women freed by Nigeria's military from the forest stronghold of Boko Haram were so transformed by their captivity that they opened fire on their rescuers.

An army spokesman said troops rescued the women and girls while destroying four Boko Haram camps in the Sambisa Forest.
Boko Haram used some of the women as armed human shields, a first line of defence who opened fire as the troops approached, according to an intelligence officer and a soldier who were in Sambisa during the rescue. The soldiers managed to subdue the women and round them up, said the men.
The military was flying in medical and intelligence teams to evaluate the former captives, many of whom were severely traumatised, said army spokesman Col Sani Usman.
He said earlier that none of the schoolgirls kidnapped from the northeastern town of Chibok a year ago initially appeared to be among the 200 girls and 93 women rescued on Tuesday, but further screening was needed to make sure.
"The processing is continuing, it involves a lot of things because most of them are traumatised and you have got to put them in a psychological frame of mind to extract information from them," Usman said.
A counsellor who has treated other women freed from Boko Haram captivity said some had become indoctrinated into believing the group's Islamic extremist ideology, while others had established strong emotional attachments to militants they had been forced to marry.
Some of the about 90 women and girls freed by the army four months ago, for example, had upset their community on their return by maintaining that the militants were good people who had treated them well, said the counsellor.
"The trauma suffered by the (abducted) women and girls is truly horrific," said Amnesty International's Africa director for research and advocacy, Netsanet Belay. "Some have been repeatedly raped, sold into sexual slavery or indoctrinated and even forced to fight for Boko Haram."
No one knows how many captives are in the hands of the Islamic extremists, who have carried out a campaign of killings and kidnappings that has seen thousands of girls, women and young men seized. Amnesty International said at least 2,000 women and girls have been taken by Boko Haram since the start of 2014.
Irish Independent

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Raped, plundered, ignored: central Africa state where only killers thrive

theguardian

The Central African Republic is all but lawless, with just 200 police to guard 4.6m people from rebel gangs who attack women, kill men and recruit children at will. Despite repeated warnings, the international community has done little, even as arms continue to flood into the country

France's poisoned legacy in the Central African Republic

theguardian

Latest mission to the former colony in 2013 was to protect people displaced by sectarian conflict – now French troops are accused of engaging in child abuse
People flee Bangui for Cameroon by road in 2014
People flee Bangui for Cameroon by road in 2014 Photograph: Fred Dufour/AFP
It was named Operation Sangaris, after a butterfly with a tiny lifespan native to central Africa. France hoped that its peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic (CAR) would be similarly short-lived.
“The situation in the Central African Republic has become alarming, and even terrifying,” the French president, François Hollande, said in December 2013, ordering the deployment of 1,200 troops to reinforce the 400 already stationed there. “This operation will be short.”
Now the French troops sent to protect the tens of thousands displaced by the cycle of violence stand accused of exploiting the lawlessness engulfing CAR to engage in brutality themselves.
Some say France, with its long imperial history in Africa, is still motivated by guilt after its failure to halt the 1994 Rwandan genocide. More recently, it has launched successful armed interventions in former colonies including Ivory Coast and Mali. Its continued political, economic and military presence meant it was better placed than any other major power to intervene in the CAR, one of the most failed and forgotten states on the continent.
The poisoned legacy of French colonialism in the CAR has been half a century that saw five coups, a self-declared emperor whose lavish coronation was inspired by Napoleon, and barely functional infrastructure and institutions. Its natural wealth of gold, diamonds, timber and uranium has attracted warlords such as the cult-leader-like Joseph Kony.
The latest debacle was triggered in March 2013 when president François Bozizé, mired in corruption, fled by helicopter after being ousted by an unwieldy coalition of rebels, bandits and guns for hire known as the Séléka. One of its leaders, Michel Djotodia, declared himself president, becoming the first Muslim to rule the majority-Christian nation of 4.6 million people.
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Médecins sans Frontières described it as “a crisis on top of a crisis”, which only deepened a few months later when Djotodia tried to disband and disarm the Séléka. The rebels span further out of control, killing, looting and burning villages. Predominantly Muslim, they were joined by mercenaries from neighbouring Chad and the dreaded Janjaweed from Sudan’s Darfur region.
In retaliation, some Christians took up arms in vigilante militias known as “anti-balaka” — meaning anti-machete — and launched counterattacks against the Séléka and perceived Muslim collaborators. They perpetrated atrocities of their own, giving the Séléka a pretext for yet more aggression. The cycle of violence swept up thousands of child soldiers.
For all its troubles, the CAR had not previously suffered sectarian conflict and the world was slow to respond as the death toll ran into thousands. Warning that the CAR stood “on the verge of genocide”, France ordered the deployment of 1,200 additional soldiers, following a call for help from the interim government and a UN security council resolution. They joined 3,500 soldiers from a central African support mission.
At the start of 2014, a quarter of the country’s entire population was internally displaced. International pressure forced Djotodia to step down, and soon the Séléka were retreating north, where they continued to target Christians. But as the anti-balaka made inroads elsewhere, villages emptied of their Muslim populations, with homes looted and mosques torched. In the capital, Bangui, the Muslim population dropped from up to 145,000 to just 900.
Members of the mainly Christian anti-balaka militia, February 2014.
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Members of the mainly Christian anti-balaka militia in February 2014. Photograph: Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images
Amnesty International called it ethnic cleansing and warned of a Muslim exodus of historic proportions. Many Muslims were left feeling resentful towards French peacekeepers and the new president, Catherine Samba-Panza, a Christian who studied in France and has two of her three children living there.
By September, the number of French soldiers had risen to 2,000 – still insufficient to cover remote villages often inaccessible by road in a territory bigger than France itself. They remained answerable to the French defence minister and distinct from the central African contingent, which evolved into an African Union (AU) force and then an expanded UN peacekeeping mission.
Human Rights Watch issued a warning that said: “Horrendous killings in southwestern Central African Republic indicate that the French and AU peacekeeping deployment is not protecting remote villages from deadly attacks.”
The number of French soldiers has dipped slightly and elections are due later this year, but violence between the Séléka and the anti-balaka continues. “Even though it no longer makes the headlines, the Central African Republic is still deep in the quagmire, with little sign of progress or even hope,” The Daily Maverick website noted earlier this month.
David Smith, a director of Okapi Consulting and CAR analyst, said: “French forces have come and gone in the CAR over 50 years. There have been very few periods in that geographical space when they have not been there.”
Asked if they had made a positive difference this time, Smith replied: “Absolutely, because no one was in charge in the CAR when they deployed. If the French forces had not secured the airport and the route to the border with Cameroon then the situation would not have been stabilised, food supplies and medicine would not have reached Bangui and a lot more people would have died. The African force at the time was not able to do it.
“Is it enough? No. The country is one and half times the size of France and there are areas with no roads. There are deaths going unreported and vast parts of the country where no one knows what’s going on. What’s really needed in the CAR is a functioning national army but I don’t think the international community has the appetite, time or resources to stay long enough to make it work.”

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UN aid worker suspended for leaking report on child abuse by French troops

theguardian

Anders Kompass said to have passed confidential document to French authorities because of UN’s failure to stop abuse of children in Central African Republic
French soldiers on patrol in Bangui. A report into sexual abuse of children by some French peacekeepers has been leaked to French prosecutors
French soldiers on patrol in Bangui. A report into sexual abuse of children by some French peacekeepers has been leaked to French prosecutors. Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images
A senior United Nations aid worker has been suspended for disclosing to prosecutors an internal report on the sexual abuse of children by French peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic.
Sources close to the case said Anders Kompass passed the document to the French authorities because of the UN’s failure to take action to stop the abuse. The report documented the sexual exploitation of children as young as nine by French troops stationed in the country as part of international peacekeeping efforts.
Kompass, who is based in Geneva, was suspended from his post as director of field operations last week and accused of leaking a confidential UN report and breaching protocols. He is under investigation by the UN office for internal oversight service (OIOS) amid warnings from a senior official that access to his case must be “severely restricted”. He faces dismissal.
The treatment of the aid worker, who has been involved in humanitarian work for more than 30 years, has taken place with the knowledge of senior UN officials, including Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the high commissioner for human rights, and Susana Malcorra, chef de cabinet in the UN, according to documents relating to the case.
The abuses took place in 2014 when the UN mission in the country, Minusca, was in the process of being set up.
The Guardian has been passed the internal report on the sexual exploitation by Paula Donovan, co-director of the advocacy group Aids Free World, who is demanding an independent commission inquiry into the UN’s handling of sexual abuse by peacekeepers.
It was commissioned by the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights after reports on the ground that children, who are among the tens of thousands displaced by the fighting, were being sexually abused.
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Entitled Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces and stamped “confidential” on every page, the report details the rape and sodomy of starving and homeless young boys by French peacekeeping troops who were supposed to be protecting them at a centre for internally displaced people in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic.
Donovan said: “The regular sex abuse by peacekeeping personnel uncovered here and the United Nations’ appalling disregard for victims are stomach-turning, but the awful truth is that this isn’t uncommon. The UN’s instinctive response to sexual violence in its ranks – ignore, deny, cover up, dissemble – must be subjected to a truly independent commission of inquiry with total access, top to bottom, and full subpoena power.”
The UN has faced several scandals in the past relating to its failure to act over paedophile rings operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kosovo and Bosnia. It has also faced allegations of sexual misconduct by its troops in Haiti, Burundi and Liberia.
The treatment of Kompass, a Swedish national, threatens to spark a major diplomatic row.
This month, the Swedish ambassador to the United Nations warned senior UN officials “it would not be a good thing if the high commissioner for human rights forced” Kompass to resign. The ambassador threatened to go public if that happened and to engage in a potentially ugly and harmful debate.
The abuses detailed in the internal report took place before and after Minusca was set up last year. Interviews with the abused children were carried out between May and June last year by a member of staff from the office of the high commissioner for human rights and a Unicef specialist. The children identified represent just a snapshot of the numbers potentially being abused.
The boys, some of whom were orphans, disclosed sexual exploitation, including rape and sodomy, between December 2013 and June 2014 by French troops at a centre for internally displaced people at M’Poko airport in Bangui.
The children described how they were sexually exploited in return for food and money. One 11-year-old boy said he was abused when he went out looking for food. A nine-year-old described being sexually abused with his friend by two French soldiers at the IDP camp when they went to a checkpoint to look for something to eat.
The child described how the soldiers forced him and his friend to carry out a sex act. The report describes how distressed the child was when disclosing the abuse and how he fled the camp in terror after the assault. Some of the children were able to give good descriptions of the soldiers involved.
In summer 2014, the report was passed to officials within the office of the high commissioner for human rights in Geneva. When nothing happened, Kompass sent the report to the French authorities and they visited Bangui and began an investigation.
It is understood a more senior official was made aware of Kompass’s actions and raised no objections. But last month Kompass was called in and accused of breaching UN protocols by leaking details of a confidential report, according to sources.
Kompass’s emails have been seized as part of the investigation into the alleged leak. One senior UN official has said of Kompass that “it was his duty to know and comply” with UN protocols on confidential documents.
Bea Edwards, of the Government Accountability Project, an international charity that supports whistleblowers, condemned the UN for its witch-hunt against a whistleblower who had acted to stop the abuse of children.
“We have represented many whistleblowers in the UN system over the years and in general the more serious the disclosure they make the more ferocious the retaliation,” said Edwards. “Despite the official rhetoric, there is very little commitment at the top of the organisation to protect whistleblowers and a strong tendency to politicise every issue no matter how urgent.”
UN sources confirmed an investigation by the French was ongoing – in cooperation with the UN – into allegations of a very serious nature against peacekeepers in the Central African Republic.
On Wednesday the French government confirmed that authorities in Paris were investigating the allegations. A statement from the defence ministry said the government “was made aware at the end of July 2014 by the UN’s high commission for human rights of accusations by children that they had been sexually abused by French soldiers.”
An investigation was opened shortly after by Paris prosecutors, it said.
“The defence ministry has taken and will take the necessary measures to allow the truth to be found,” the statement added. “If the facts are proven, the strongest penalties will be imposed on those responsible for what would be an intolerable attack on soldiers’ values.”
The ministry said the abuse was alleged by around 10 children and reportedly took place at a centre for internally displaced people near the airport of the capital Bangui between December 2013 and June 2014.
The ministry said that French investigators had gone to the CAR from 1 August last year to begin their inquiry.
A spokesman for the UN office of the high commissioner for human rights confirmed an investigation was under way into the leaking of confidential information by a staff member.

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Hollande: no mercy over claims French soldiers abused children in CAR

theguardian

French president responds to allegations that peacekeeping troops sexually abused children at displacement camp in Central African Republic
French soldiers on patrol in Bangui
French soldiers on patrol in Bangui. Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images
The French president, François Hollande, has vowed to show no mercy over allegations that French peacekeeping soldiers sexually abused starving and homeless children in the Central African Republic.
“If some soldiers have behaved badly, I will show no mercy,” he told reporters on a visit to Brest, north-west France.
A French judicial source has told Reuters that a certain number of French soldiers accused of the abuse had been identified.
A leaked United Nations report obtained by the Guardian revealed the alleged abuse of about 10 boys aged eight to 15 at a camp for internally displaced people in CAR’s capital, Bangui. Le Monde reported that more than a dozen French soldiers were alleged to have committed abuse.
The details of the alleged abuse have sent shockwaves through France.
The political opposition has criticised the Socialist government for staying quiet over the allegations even though it was notified in July last year and immediately informed prosecutors, who launched a preliminary inquiry. One opposition UMP MP told French TV it was a shame that details of the scandal had emerged in a foreign newspaper.
But Pierre Bayle, a spokesman for the defence ministry, told reporters: “There is no desire to hide anything.” He said the government had wanted to allow the judicial inquiry to take its course and the justice system to do its work.
The French army on Thursday promised “zero tolerance” and “total transparency”. A spokesman said French soldiers were subject to the same laws as everyone else in France.
The army has also launched its own inquiry to establish whether there was any “disfunction in the command chain”.
Meanwhile, Laurence Rossignol, the French families minister, told French TV: “We know very well that during wars or when countries are in chaos, women and children are victim to predators. That means that if those who are there to protect them are themselves predators, from a certain point of view they have committed a double crime.”
She said there would be no complacency from the French defence ministry.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Beware: City tricksters’ new way of swindling online sellers

Nairobi News


Posted on Dec 2, 2014 11496 Views

Be sure to counter-check every detail of potential buyers when transacting business online. FILE PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS 
Be sure to counter-check every detail of potential buyers when transacting business online. FILE PHOTO | NAIROBI NEWS

By EVELYNE MUSAMBI

Beware. There is a new wave of crime in Nairobi involving online business transactions.
Con men have devised a new trick of using your phone to stage-manage fake mobile money transfer and rob you of  your items without paying a dime.
They borrow your phone, then distract you with an innocent red-herring as they save their phone number on your phone. The phone number is saved using  the name of  mobile money transfer service.
Afterwards they send you an SMS worded as a successful transaction. Because the number is saved on your phone, the message will be received under the name of the mobile money transfer service.
Last week, Christie* posted photos of her washing machine online for sale.
On Sunday morning, she received a call from a man whose identity on Truecaller (an application that identifies numbers not saved in one’s phonebook) was Prof Nderu.
“We agreed that he would view the machine in the course of the day. We arranged and he passed by my house at 4pm. He inspected the machine and said it was ok,” said Christie.
NEGOTIATIONS
During the price negotiations, the buyer requested that he consults his wife first before making a final decision.
He called the wife and after a few minutes, requested to use the Christie’s phone to finish the conversation as his airtime had run out.
“He then asked me to get him a glass of water. I went to get him the water and came back when he had finished with his wife. He told me that he will discuss his wife their best price and get back to me that evening,” explained Christie.
Early Monday morning, the buyer called with his usual line identified as Prof Nderu on Truecaller and said he would send some guys to pick up the washing machine.
“The transport arrived later at 5.30pm. I asked them for money but they said that they are only transport guys. I went back to the kitchen, the phone was on charge, to call the guy about the cash and found he had ‘M-Pesad’ me. I called and thanked him,” said Chistie.
CHECK BALANCE
She, however, noticed that the balance in the received text only showed the amount that was sent to her yet she already had some money in her account. This raised an alarm she immediately ordered the “transport men” to stop.
“I checked my balance and it only showed the balance I had before. The monies sent were not reflecting. I called the guy but he insisted that he had sent. I went back and counter-checked the messages from M-Pesa. I checked his message again and to my shock, I found that it had been saved as M-Pesa on my phone with the number 0705…… I was shocked,” she recounted.
After inquiring from the transport guys the real identity of the guy who sent them, they said they had only met him around Yaya Centre where he paid them a deposit to pick and transport the item to Komarock.

http://nairobinews.co.ke/beware-city-tricksters-new-way-of-swindling-online-sellers/