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November 30, 2022

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 13:20
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Uganda Rebel Victims Torn Over ICC Plans to Launch Proceedings Against Fugitive Kony

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 13:18
Victims of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda have had mixed reactions to plans by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to launch proceedings in absentia against the group's fugitive leader, Joseph Kony.  While some say the action against the leader of the bloody two-decade conflict in northern Uganda would be welcomed, others say it's pointless without Kony being brought to justice.  Kony is the International Criminal Court’s longest standing suspect at large. In 1987, he launched his rebellion against the ascent to power of President Yoweri Museveni. After investigations into the Lord’s Resistance Army rebellion opened in 2004, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Kony in 2005. Kony is wanted on 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The allegations against him include murder, cruel treatment, enslavement, rape, and attacks against the civilian population. Despite efforts by different nations, including the United States, to capture him, however, the rebel leader remains elusive. Last Thursday, Karim Khan, the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, announced he had applied to launch hearings against Kony in the rebel leader’s absence. Khan said the move will intensify efforts to find Kony. He noted that it will represent a meaningful milestone for victims who have waited patiently for justice for almost two decades. Retired Bishop Nelson Onono Onweng spoke with VOA about a May 19, 2004, raid in Lukodi village, which was then a camp for internally displaced people in the Gulu district of northern Uganda. Onweng lived in the camp and was a religious leader there. Onweng said that on that fateful day, LRA rebels, led by Dominic Ongwen, raided the village, leaving more than 60 people dead. Seventeen of the dead were close relatives of the bishop. Ongwen is serving a 25-year prison sentence. The bishop said that as a victim, he and others will have confidence in the court if it can deliver justice, even in Kony's absence. “If they keep waiting until Kony is captured and taken to court, those witnesses may all be dead, and evidence may get lost,” he said. “So, if they could do, because it has taken too long.” ICC prosecutor Khan argued that if the charges are confirmed in Kony’s absence, a future trial following his arrest could move more quickly and effectively. Beatrice Akello, a legislator from northern Uganda, said the move is not helpful if Kony is not heard. “Who will be defending him [Joseph Kony]?” she asked. “After passing the judgment, how will they execute it? I don’t want this thing of dilly dallying. If people want to help us, let them come out and help us. But they should not pretend to be helping us when they are not.” The Ugandan government has failed multiple times to capture Kony. Henry Oryem Okello, Uganda’s state minister for foreign affairs, said the latest move will place Kony under pressure. “This will be a Kony out there in the bush who’s now found guilty as opposed to a Kony who is out in the bush there, who’s not subjected to a judgment of guilty on crimes [against] of humanity,” he said. The LRA was responsible for the abduction of upwards of 60,000 people, including 20,000 children, many of whom were recruited as soldiers. The LRA also displaced close to 1.5 million people and killed an estimated 100,000 others. Kony’s deadly operations were based in northern Uganda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

DRC, Rebel Groups Resume Peace Talks in Kenya

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 13:12
The East African Community bloc has opened new talks on peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with representatives of major rebel groups attending for the first time. The DRC government, rebel group and local representatives are gathered in Nairobi to find ways to end the chronic conflict in the east of the country that has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced millions. Speaking at the third Inter-Congolese dialogue, former Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta called on all parties to the conflict to open their minds to peace and said foreign armed groups must be disbanded. “We are here as part of the East African Community to find a way and work with you to find peace. A peace that the Congolese have not seen for more than 20 years,” Kenyatta said in Swahili. “Some children have never set foot in a classroom because of the conflict, and some men never got the opportunity to farm their land to bring themselves out of poverty because of conflict.” Officials in the meeting said some 53 rebel groups have accepted a ceasefire, including the M23 rebel group. Kenyatta said foreign armed groups in the DRC must be disbanded and the sovereignty of the country respected. Forces from neighboring Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda are currently in eastern Congo, chasing after rebel groups they accuse of trying to destabilize their countries. The Kinshasa government has not been happy, especially with Rwanda, which it accuses of supporting M23, a claim denied by Kigali. M23 has been fighting fiercely with the Congolese army and claims to be protecting the Tutsi communities against the government and other rebel groups. Kenyatta said communities must accommodate each other to build a stable and peaceful nation. “We have no choice but to live in peace with our neighbors and if we differ, it's your responsibility to make sure that you get a solution and call them to a peace talk so that you can build your village, towns, region and country together,” Kenyatta said in Swahili. The Congolese government said the peace talks are not about only the M23 rebel group but all other armed groups operating in the country. Serge Tshibangu, special envoy to the DRC president, said this is the last time the government is engaging in talks with rebel groups. He warned rebel groups who are not part of this process that there is still time to join the peace process and that they didn’t want to be left behind and end up killed by regional forces down the line. There have been previous peace talks between the government and rebel groups, but all have failed to bring peace. The current talks are expected to end over the weekend.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 13:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Resetting Ties: Pakistan-US Relations After Afghan War

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 12:49
After playing an outsized role during the nearly two-decade-long U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, Pakistan was not included in the Biden administration’s national security strategy this year. Sarah Zaman looks at how U.S.-Pakistan ties evolved in 2022 and the impact of U.S-China competition on stability in South Asia.

Chinese Students Take Aim at Beijing During Seoul Solidarity Protest

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 12:31
Over 100 people, including dozens of Chinese students, called for an end to China’s zero-COVID policy and lashed out at the country’s authoritarian political system during a demonstration Wednesday in South Korea’s capital, the latest overseas show of support for protests that have swept mainland China.  The protesters, who gathered on the street in Seoul’s Hongdae neighborhood, held signs reading “Dictator out” and “Free China” as they called for Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party to step down.  Others held blank white sheets of paper, which have become a protest symbol amid Chinese government censorship, and called for freedom of expression and the right to vote.  Over a dozen cities worldwide have seen demonstrations in solidarity with the protests in China, which began as a localized backlash against severe pandemic restrictions but quickly turned into the country’s biggest nationwide show of public dissent in decades.  At the Seoul gathering, several dozen protesters were South Korean residents, but most of the attendees appeared to be Mandarin speakers, including many from mainland China. As the protest got larger throughout the night, most of the chants turned solely to Chinese.  Zhang, a 25-year-old student from Beijing, told VOA she feared harassment or punishment by Chinese authorities if they found out she attended the gathering but said she was inspired by the protest culture she has witnessed in Seoul. “When I first came to Korea as an exchange student, I was surprised to see people express their discontent with the administration of [former South Korean President] Moon Jae-in on the streets. I was surprised to see these images of Korea, and my thoughts changed,” Zhang said.  “I think it’s natural for people to protest when there's a problem in society,” she added. Tens of thousands of mainland Chinese young people study at South Korean universities every year.   The Chinese students occasionally draw headlines for their fierce nationalistic defense of the Chinese government, especially after many South Korean students expressed solidarity with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. That dynamic makes it even more striking that some Chinese students, at least in small numbers, stood side by side Wednesday with Koreans as they criticized Beijing.  A mainland Chinese woman who attended the Seoul gathering said she is as surprised as anyone at the developments of the past week. “We heard chants [by demonstrators in mainland China] calling for the [Chinese] government to step down. … I did not even think it was possible for these kinds of words to come out of someone’s mouth,” said the woman, who did not provide a name.   Now, she is trying to do what she can to keep up the protest momentum overseas, even as there are signs that the demonstrations are slowing in China. “I am convinced that we should do more in Korea and abroad,” she said. “South Korea also gained democracy by struggling one by one. We see this as the beginning."

RFE – The Acronym that Continues to Confound and Bewilder Practitioners

AILA member Vaman Kidambi shares insights into the confusion surrounding "Requests for Evidence" (RFEs) and how seemingly extremely similar, if not identical, cases result in different outcomes, urging USCIS to reengage with stakeholders on this issue.

The post RFE – The Acronym that Continues to Confound and Bewilder Practitioners first appeared on Blog: Think Immigration.

Malawi Launches Africa's First Children's Malaria Vaccine

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 12:01
Malawi and the World Health Organization are rolling out a new malaria vaccine for young children that backers say will reduce deaths from the mosquito-borne disease. The RTSS vaccine was pilot tested on more than one million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi and recommended a year ago by the WHO. Despite a low effectiveness rate of 30%, the vaccine has raised hopes that some of the more than 400,000 people who die annually from malaria can be saved.  Malaria remains a huge public health problem in Malawi, with about one third of its 20 million people getting infected each year.  According to the ministry of health, the disease kills five Malawians every day, most of them children under the age of five or pregnant women who were not presented early enough for care.   The health ministry says the first phase of the vaccination campaign will target 330,000 children, who were not reached during vaccine trials.  The vaccine, sold by GlaxoSmithKline as Mosquirix, is meant for children under the age of five and requires four doses.  "Malaria is major problem in children. They are the ones at highest risk of dying," said Dr. Charles Mwansambo, Malawi's secretary for health. "That's why even when we were doing the earlier studies, we found that once we get maximum benefit, we should target this age group. The main reason is that they are the ones that are most likely to die from malaria."  Last year, the government launched a nationwide anti-malaria initiative known as Zero Malaria Starts with Me, aimed at eliminating the disease by 2030.  Mwansambo said the vaccine is a key part of that initiative.  "It actually prevents about 33 percent of deaths. Meaning that if you add the 33 to those that we can prevent using insecticide treated nets, if will also add on those [we can] prevent by indoor residual spraying, it [can] add up to something significant that will end up eliminating malaria," he said.  However, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, backers of the vaccine, have raised concerns about whether the vaccine is worth the cost.  In July, the Associated Press quoted Philip Welkhoff, director of malaria programs for the Gates Foundation, as saying the foundation will no longer offer direct financial support for the vaccine, although it will fund an alliance backing the vaccine.  He said Mosquirix has much lower efficacy than the foundation would like and that the vaccine is relatively expensive and logistically challenging to deliver.  Dr. Neema Kimambo, a WHO representative in Malawi, said the malaria vaccine itself is not a silver bullet but part of a combination of all interventions to fight the disease.  "Where it [vaccination] was done, we have seen how it has reduced under-five deaths and we believe that as we expand now, we are definitely to save more lives of children under five," she said.  Maziko Matemba, a health activist and community health ambassador in Malawi, said he hopes the malaria vaccine efficacy will improve as time goes by.  "I have an example with COVID-19. When we had AstraZeneca, the efficacy when it started — as you know it was also a new vaccine — it was less that certain percentage and people said no it was less than this. But over time, we found that the efficacy has gone up," Matemba said. "So we are monitoring the launch of this new vaccine with keen interest. "I know that other partners are saying the worthiness of investment is not worth it, but looking at the way we are coming from, Malawi in particular, this could be one of the tools to prevent malaria."  Besides WHO, other partners supporting Malawi in the fight against malaria include USAID, UNICEF, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and a global health nonprofit organization, PATH.   

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 12:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 11:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Depositors Storm Lebanon Banks

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 10:59
Lebanon’s beleaguered banks have been seeing a spike of armed holdups by desperate and angry depositors who try to get their money back after their deposits were frozen. The armed holdups are the latest consequence of Lebanon’s imploding economic conditions. For VOA, Nicole Di Ilio has more from Beirut.

Ukraine Ramps Up Security at Diplomatic Missions After Blast at Embassy in Spain

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 10:19
Ukraine on Wednesday ramped up security at its embassies abroad after Spanish police and government said an employee at the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid was injured opening a letter bomb.  The staff member suffered light injuries and went to hospital under his own steam, police said in a statement.  Ukraine's Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba has ordered all Ukrainian embassies abroad to "urgently" strengthen their security, according to a statement from Ukraine's foreign ministry.  The minister also urged his Spanish counterparts to "take urgent measures to investigate the attack," the statement said, adding that whoever was behind the attack "will not succeed in intimidating Ukrainian diplomats or stopping their daily work on strengthening Ukraine and countering Russian aggression."  The letter, which arrived by ordinary mail and was not scanned, caused "a very small wound on the ring finger of the right hand" of the employee, Mercedes Gonzalez, the Spanish government's representative in Madrid, told broadcaster Telemadrid.  Detectives are investigating the incident, aided by forensic and intelligence investigators, Spanish police said. Spain's High Court will lead the investigation.  An officer at Ukraine's embassy to Spain declined to comment.  The residential area surrounding the embassy in northwestern Madrid has been cordoned off and a bomb disposal unit is deployed at the scene, state broadcaster TVE reported.   

Hong Kong Rags-to-Riches Publisher Facing Security Law Trial

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 10:07
Jimmy Lai broke into Hong Kong's rambunctious media world 30 years ago armed with the belief that delivering information equates with protecting freedom. Lai's own freedom is at stake as he fights charges of endangering national security as former publisher of his now-defunct pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily. Already serving a 20-month term for other offenses, the 74-year-old Lai could face up to life in prison if he is convicted under a sweeping National Security Law that Beijing has imposed on the former British colony, silencing or jailing many pro-democracy activists. The high-profile trial slated to begin Thursday has also sparked controversy over whether Lai's British lawyer will be allowed to defend him. Hong Kong's pro-Beijing leader John Lee has asked China to issue a ruling that could block the veteran barrister, Timothy Owen, from representing Lai. If Beijing intervenes, that would mark the sixth time the communist-ruled government has stepped in despite its promise to respect Hong Kong's judicial independence and civil liberties for at least 50 years after China took over from Britain in 1997. The Department of Justice has asked for the trial, which will be overseen by three judges, to be suspended pending a decision about Lai's defense lawyer from Beijing. Business beginnings Lai's legal troubles derailed a stunning career for a man smuggled into Hong Kong from the Chinese mainland at age 12. After getting only a primary school education, he started out working in a glove factory and sprinted up the ranks to found the casual clothing chain Giordano in 1981. Following the crackdown on 1989 student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, he became an outspoken advocate for democracy, founding Next Magazine the year after. Attacks on Giordano by the Chinese government prompted Lai to sell his shares in the business and devote himself to the media world. In 1995, Lai launched the Apple Daily, which quickly became one of the city's top selling newspapers with its sometimes outrageous coverage of politics and celebrities. The publication survived a newspaper price war and expanded into Taiwan in the 2000s. Apple Daily pioneered the use of short animated films online to accompany news reports. Its investigative scoops and critical reports on the government attracted a strong following. Apple Daily also adopted a strong pro-democracy stance, often urging readers to join in protests. Lai participated in mass protests in Hong Kong in 2019, meeting with then-U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss since withdrawn legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. Opposition against the bill morphed into months of sometimes violent protests as demands for greater democracy in Hong Kong escalated. The protest movement, which eventually was snuffed out, lacked any clear leader, but Lai's high profile made him a target of the authorities. Apple Daily denounced the enactment of the National Security Law in June 2020. Lai told The Associated Press that "Hong Kong is dead," but said he would stay. "If I leave, not only do I disgrace myself, I'd discredit Apple Daily, I'd undermine the solidarity of the democratic movement," he said. Groundbreaking charges In August that year, Lai was arrested on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces. More than 200 officers raided the offices of Next Digital, Apple Daily's parent company. Arrests of its top executives, editors and journalists and the freezing of $2.3 million worth of assets forced the newspaper to shut down in June 2021. It sold a million copies of its final edition. In recent hearings, Lai has appeared tanned, possibly due to outdoors time in Stanley Prison — the city's largest maximum security lockup — and in good spirits. Lai is charged with two counts of conspiracy to collude with foreign forces and one charge of collusion under the National Security Law. His trial is Hong Kong's first to center on allegations of "collusion with foreign forces." Lai also was charged with sedition under a colonial-era law that has been used to quash dissent. Next month, Lai is due to be sentenced for fraud related to subletting of office space to a company he also controlled. In an interview in July 2020, Lai seemed unfazed. "If I have to go to prison, I don't mind. I don't care," he said. "I cannot worry, because you never know what kind of measures they will take against me."

Algerian Police Release Dissident Writer

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 10:07
One of Algeria's most prominent writers, Lazhari Labter, said Tuesday that he had been set free, days after he was arrested for reasons that remain unclear. The 70-year-old, who played a prominent role in the North African country's 2019 Hirak protests that unseated longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, had been arrested by police officers on November 20, according to his family. On Tuesday, Labter's own Facebook page carried a post sending "a very big thank you" to those who had expressed "their solidarity, their support in the difficult times that I have known these last days." He said he was back with loved ones and needed rest but vowed to stay "loyal to my principles of justice and freedom." Labter, a prolific journalist, editor and poet, is known for penning the "18 commandments" of the 2019 protests, urging peaceful demonstrations against the authorities. He has also published some 40 books, including poetry, and two comic novels. The author, who has worked for the International Federation of Journalists, is a former president of Algeria's editors' union and was a founding member of the national journalists' syndicate.  According to local rights group LADDH, several Algerian journalists remain in the country's prisons, either having been convicted or awaiting trial. Reporters Without Borders ranks Algeria 134th out of 180 in its 2022 World Press Freedom Index. 

Colombia Journalist Killed by Gunmen on Motorcycle

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 10:07
Gunmen on a motorbike shot dead a Colombian journalist, local authorities said Tuesday, the latest killing in the country which has seen a rise in murders of reporters. The prosecutor's office wrote on Twitter that it had "learned of the death of the journalist and social leader Wilder Alfredo Cordoba" in the southwestern town of La Union. La Union Mayor Fabian Echeverria told AFP that gunmen on the back of a motorbike had shot Cordoba, who was "around 40 years old," three times as he traveled in a rural area on Monday afternoon. Cordoba was the director of a local television channel who "published information criticizing local government and about insecurity in the region on his Facebook page," the Colombian Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) wrote on Twitter. The organization urged authorities to look into Cordoba's journalistic work "in connection with his murder." Echeverria has offered a reward of $4,000 "for information leading to the identification and arrest" of those responsible. The prosecutor's office said they had dispatched investigators to the crime scene. According to FLIP, violence against journalists in the country has been on the rise, with nearly 770 falling victim to some form of aggression in 2021. The International Press Institute said it was "alarmed and deeply saddened" by the fourth killing of a journalist in Colombia since August. In October, a journalist was killed in a similar fashion by gunmen on a motorbike in the northern municipality of Montelibano.

UN Puts Baguette on Cultural Heritage List

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 10:07
The humble baguette — the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world — is being added to the U.N.'s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. UNESCO experts gathering in Morocco this week decided that the simple French flute — made only of flour, water, salt, and yeast — deserved U.N. recognition, after France's culture ministry warned of a "continuous decline" in the number of traditional bakeries, with some 400 closing every year over the past half-century. The U.N. cultural agency's chief, Audrey Azoulay, said the decision honors more than just bread; it recognizes the "savoir-faire of artisanal bakers" and "a daily ritual." "It is important that these craft knowledge and social practices can continue to exist in the future," added Azoulay, a former French culture minister. With the bread's new status, the French government said it planned to create an artisanal baguette day, called the "Open Bakehouse Day," to connect the French better with their heritage. Back in France, bakers seemed proud, if unsurprised. "Of course, it should be on the list because the baguette symbolizes the world. It's universal," said Asma Farhat, baker at Julien's Bakery near Paris' Champs-Elysee avenue. "If there's no baguette, you cant have a proper meal. In the morning you can toast it, for lunch it's a sandwich, and then it accompanies dinner." Despite the decline in traditional bakery numbers, France's 67 million people still remain voracious baguette consumers — purchased at a variety sales points, including in supermarkets. The problem is, observers say, that they can often be poor in quality. "It's very easy to get bad baguette in France. It's the traditional baguette from the traditional bakery that's in danger. It's about quality not quantity," said one Paris resident, Marine Fourchier, 52. In January, French supermarket chain Leclerc was criticized by traditional bakers and farmers for its much publicized 29-cent baguette, accused of sacrificing the quality of the famed 65-centimeter (26-inch) loaf. A baguette normally costs just over 90 euro cents (just over $1), seen by some as an index on the health of the French economy. The baguette is serious business. France's "Bread Observatory" — a venerable institution that closely follows the fortunes of the flute — notes that the French munch through 320 baguettes of one form or another every second. That's an average of half a baguette per person per day, and 10 billion every year. Although it seems like the quintessential French product, the baguette was said to have been invented by Vienna-born baker August Zang in 1839. Zang put in place France's steam oven, making it possible to produce bread with a brittle crust yet fluffy interior. The product's zenith did not come until the 1920s, with the advent of a French law preventing bakers from working before 4 a.m. The baguette's long, thin shape meant it could be made more quickly than its stodgy cousins, so it was the only bread that bakers could make in time for breakfast. The "artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread" was inscribed at the Morocco meeting among other global cultural heritage items, including Japan's Furyu-odori ritual dances, and Cuba's light rum masters.

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 10:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

Syrian Children Compete in 'Camps World Cup'

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 09:38
While fans from around the world revel at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, hundreds of children in the war-torn region of Idlib, Syria, compete in the Camps World Cup, a football tournament featuring players who are growing up in displacement camps or as child laborers. Mouneb Taim reports from Idlib, Syria, with Heather Murdock in Istanbul.

Checkers Champion, 11, Helps Ukraine War Effort

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 09:22
Eleven-year-old Valeria Yezhova, a checkers world champion in Ukraine, is one of many Ukrainian children who had to evacuate with her family when Russian forces started the full-scale invasion last February. Now, she has returned to her home and become an inspiration for millions of children. From Kyiv, Anna Chernikova has her story. Camera: Eugene Shynkar  

VOA Newscasts

Voice of America’s immigration news - November 30, 2022 - 09:00
Give us 5 minutes, and we'll give you the world. Around the clock, Voice of America keeps you in touch with the latest news. We bring you reports from our correspondents and interviews with newsmakers from across the world.

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