Archive for October 22, 2011

ARE SOUTHERN AFRICANS TURNING INTO CITIZEN-LESS ZOMBIES?

October 22, 2011

ARE SOUTHERN AFRICANS TURNING INTO CITIZEN-LESS ZOMBIES?

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Citizenless or stateless? Whichever is right, the situation in southern Africa seems to point to the compass of common folks sandwiched in terrifying conflicts ending up without clear citizenship status.

Maybe the better phrase is “their citizenship has turned fluid due to political thermodynamics.” Tragic! We can only but commiserate with our brothers and sisters in southern Africa who have been caught in the maelstroms of the south, whose very own entitlements have disappeared on account of statelessness or citizenlessness.

The affected folks are forced to eke out a living that is very uncertain, much like those fiction zombies that have turned into foul carcass walking listlessly in search of fresh flesh and blood.

Below is a situationer about the subject coming from the UNHCR.

[Philippines, 22 October 2011]
Source: http://www.unhcr.org/4e8d6de26.html
Statelessness: Falling through the cracks in southern Africa
News Stories, 6 October 2011
© UNHCR/P.Rulashe
Rosalind Elphick, a lawyer with UNHCR’s statelessness project in Musina, South Africa, counsels Luwizhi on developments relating to his case.
MUSINA, South Africa, October 6 (UNHCR) – Luwizhi has been on a paper chase for the last four years – not as a student pursuing higher education, but as someone seeking documents while bouncing between being an asylum-seeker, migrant worker and stateless person.
Luwizhi was born in 1975 to a Zambian father and a Malawian mother who had met and married in Zimbabwe as migrant workers decades ago. He grew up in Zimbabwe and had a Zimbabwean identity card with the word “citizen” stamped on it. For a while, he worked at a mine in Mashonaland East province and headed the worker’s committee.
A charismatic speaker, he was courted by two political parties to increase grassroots support ahead of the 2008 elections. But the attention soon turned ugly, with one party following and visiting him at odd hours.
In mid-2007, he fled to his mother’s village south of Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital. When he arrived, she told him a group of men had come to the homestead looking for him. A quick description confirmed that these were the same men who had sought him out the night before at his work place. He then escaped to Musina, South Africa’s northernmost border town with Zimbabwe, crossing illegally in the dead of night.
As an asylum-seeker in South Africa, Luwizhi worked as a gardener. In 2010, the South African government started the Zimbabwe Documentation Project to regularize the status of thousands of qualifying Zimbabwean migrants. It also allowed asylum-seekers to change their status and obtain work, business or study permits valid for four years.
Luwizhi’s employer insisted that all his workers change their status and obtain work permits. Luwizhi didn’t argue with this as he saw it as a chance to explore better job opportunities in the mines surrounding Musina. Soon after, he decided to apply for a passport with the Zimbabwean authorities in South Africa.
“I got the shock of my life when they told me that I ceased to be a Zimbabwean citizen in 2002, with the implementation of the 2001 Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Act,” he said in disbelief. The law forbids dual citizenship in Zimbabwe and requires people with a claim to foreign citizenship – even if they are not aware of it – to renounce it in order to keep their Zimbabwean status.
“The law on citizenship in Zimbabwe has become increasingly restrictive,” said Rosalind Elphick, a lawyer working in Musina for UNHCR’s partner, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), on the agency’s regional statelessness project. “The only claim Luwizhi has is that he was born on the territory. In Zimbabwe, he doesn’t qualify at all for citizenship because the Constitution requires him to have at least one blood relative who is Zimbabwean as a parent or grandparent – and he has neither.”
Luwizhi lamented, “So who am I? Where do I belong, because Zimbabwe is the only country I have ever known as home? That my parents were from other countries is meaningless because I know of no family in Zambia or Malawi.”
By this time he had also surrendered his asylum application, rendering him undocumented and stateless in South Africa. He could have been arrested for breaking immigration laws, but luckily his asylum-seeker status was reissued after LHR appealed to the Musina Refugee Reception Office.
South Africa is not party to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons or to the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness. However, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation appears to have taken an interest in the issue.
‘They have given LHR an audience on the matter and have really been cooperative, interested in the statistics we have and wanting to hear our stories,” said Elphick. “Separately, we’ve managed to uncover several groups of people who are stateless or at risk of becoming stateless in this country.”
LHR is working hard to present its findings to South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs, the ministry charged with managing immigration as well as handling refugees and asylum-seekers.
In the meantime, Luwizhi is grateful that he can approach LHR for counselling and advice. “They’re really interested in my situation and I have every confidence that somewhere along the line, they will help me overcome this problem,” he said.
By Pumla Rulashe
In Musina, South Africa
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FUND HIV RESEARCH FIRST!

October 22, 2011

FUND HIV RESEARCH FIRST!

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Smug! Arrogant! Sadistic! One may quip at the title which makes HIV funding as mandatory.

Let’s all face it, fellow global citizens: HIV is tearing down populations, and the reversal towards an HIV-free environment just isn’t around the corner yet. The contingency of the moment HIV-wise is to make HIV research as tops in terms of funding.

“Cease not the lab researches till the vaccine for the ailment be found, disseminated and effectively curb the ailment!” would be Ceasar-like directive aimed at shoring up resources for the dreaded disease. Maybe we need such directives sometimes in order to get things moving fast and get over with the pandemic.

Below is a reportage from the scidev.net regarding the subject.

[Philippines, 22 October 2011]
Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/health/hiv-aids/news/vaccine-research-is-top-hiv-aids-funding-priority-.html
Vaccine research ‘is top HIV/AIDS funding priority’
Source: Nature
6 October 2011
Vaccine research and development should be the top funding priority for HIV/AIDS, if global organisations are able to raise US$10 billion over the next five years, according to a panel that included Nobel laureate economists.
A US$100 million per year boost to vaccine research funding — relatively modest, the panel said, and about ten per cent above current levels — could speed up vaccine development, a meeting heard in Washington DC, United States, last week (28 September).
“Even though the vaccine is elusive and we do not have it yet, it’s clear that this research has led to an understanding that has enormously improved our ability to fight this disease,” said Nobel economist Vernon Smith, of Chapman University, California, United States.
The panel was convened by the RethinkHIV project — funded by the Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC) — which aims to help policymakers and donors find the most cost-effective ways to tackle the disease in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It commissioned researchers looking at the economics, epidemiology and demography of AIDS to identify a series of cost-effective interventions and then asked the panel of economists, which included three Nobel laureates, to review the researchers’ findings and rank them in order of priority.
At last week’s meeting, the panel presented its findings to advocacy groups including the Global HIV/AIDS Program of the World Bank, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the US Department of State and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and an international economic advisor, who was not involved with the project, is skeptical of the validity of the Copenhagen Consensus process.
“This … process of evaluation has been misguided and inaccurate from the start on just about every issue. This kind of question, US$2 billion over a year over 5 years, posed in an artificial way to a group of people who may be Nobel laureates but who have no expertise on these issues, has just come up with one misleading issue after the other,” said Sachs.
But Bjorn Lomborg, director of the CCC, said some of the world’s top economists had showed that there were a lot of “amazing opportunities” to help people have better lives. “HIV/AIDS is not a done crisis,” he said.
Link to full article in Nature News Blog
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