Daily Archives: October 2, 2017

North West Human Settlements on winners of Provincial Govan Mbeki Housing Awards

Women contractors scoop Govan Mbeki Housing AwardsTwo women developers yesterday scooped at least four awards each at the Bokone Bophirima Govan Mbeki Housing Awards which were held in Delareyville.Palesa Manch of Sun Success Construction Projects won ...

Get your slice of the $45bn World Bank pie

The World Bank has urged South African companies to stake a claim to the $45 billion that the group has set aside for projects on the African continent.Speaking at a seminar on doing business with the World Bank on Friday, Executive Director of the Wor...

UNHCR: Countries Increasingly Using Refugees as Political Football

GENEVA � The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, warns that asylum for people fleeing war and persecution is eroding as countries increasingly use refugees as a political football to further their local and national interests.

As the UNHCR opened its annual weeklong refugee conference in Geneva, the agency reports a record 65.6 million people were forcibly displaced by war and persecution worldwide as of the end of last year, including 22.5 million refugees who had crossed international borders. So far this year, the UNHCR reports more than two million people have fled their countries as refugees.

In a somber assessment of the current global situation, Grandi noted that in just five weeks, half a million Rohingya refugees have fled terrifying violence in Myanmar. During the same period, he says more than 50,000 refugees were fleeing South Sudan, 18,000 were escaping fierce clashes in the Central African Republic - and the list goes on.

Grandi said refugees, in some ways, always have been used for political purposes. But, he added that this seems to have escalated in recent years. He said refugees have become a prominent issue in local and national politics and even in relationships between countries.

Protection is constantly being tested. And, at times, it even seems that refugees have become a commodity, traded between states. Principled leadership has frequently given way to an erosion of refugee rights, driven by confused and sometimes frightened public opinions often stirred up by irresponsible politicians, Grandi said.

Consequently, he said immigration and asylum measures have become more restrictive, even in previously welcoming countries that have their own histories of exile and migration.

Grandi said refugee protection is eroding in many parts of the world, including in industrialized countries. He said the protection environment is deteriorating in traditional countries of asylum in Europe, in the United States, in Australia.

Source: Voice of America

Western Cape Social Development commemorates Human Trafficking Awareness Week

Human Trafficking Awareness Week: Department to continue fight against scourge

Today is the start of Human Trafficking Awareness Week, which runs from the 2nd to the 6th October 2017.

The Western Cape Department of Social Development will commemorate the period, joined by our key specialist NGO partners, to lead a silent protest on Wednesday (04-10-2017) along St. Georges Mall in Cape Town to raise awareness about the dangers of human trafficking.

South Africa continues to be a source, transit and destination country for victims of trafficking. Criminal traffickers are increasingly becoming organized crime syndicates, and use deceptive means to potentially abduct and traffick adults and children.

The Western Cape Department of Social Development (DSD) continues to warn the public, especially parents, to be extra vigilant.

Nationally, the social development department has dealt with 220 cases of human trafficking in 2016.

As a province, we have also dealt with cases of trafficking, including a case last year of five young boys from KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), who had been recruited and deceived into travelling to Cape Town under the impression of having secured places at a top soccer club's training academy.

More recently, in August this year, the Department intervened in a case of a 22 year-old woman from Gauteng who was trafficked to Cape Town for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Given the complex and underground nature of trafficking, reliable statistics are difficult to come by, especially for children. However, research conducted in the Trafficking in Persons in the SADC Region: Baseline Report: 2016 shows that poverty & unemployment are viewed as the primary push factors behind the trafficking of persons in SA.

To combat human trafficking, the provincial DSD is a member of the Western Cape Provincial Trafficking in Persons Task Team.

This sees us work closely with our partners the South African Police Services (SAPS), the Hawks, the National Prosecuting Authority, the International Organization for Migration, and specialist NGOs, which we fund to render services.

The Task Team shares best practices; addresses challenges in process flow and contributes to the capacitation of the sector. DSD is responsible for the identification of Victims of Trafficking and the provision of safe space/care in the form of shelters (shelter services includes the provision of psycho-social services).

DSD has allocated just over R27.7-million for shelter services under the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP).

The VEP provides safe accommodation for adult victims of human trafficking and their children through a growing network of 16 shelters, across the province.

The shelter services provide for basic needs like food, clothing and security. The victims can also access psycho-social support, and other needed services like medical and legal assistance and skills development to enable economic empowerment.

Residents can report any suspected cases of trafficked women and/or children to the police or to the DSD Hotline on 0800 220 250. Alternatively, the public can seek assistance from our social workers at any of our local offices closest to them.

Source: Government of South Africa

PODCAST: Keith Harper was the first American Indian to Become a US Ambassador

When Keith Harper was confirmed as President Obama's representative to the UN Human Rights Council he became the first American-Indian to achieve the rank of Ambassador. The longtime attorney for native American rights soon put his knowledge of tribal culture to use in Geneva where he represented the United States on the top UN human rights body.

Ambassador Harper is a Cherokee Indian. He was born in San Francisco and from an early age was animated by a civil rights movement known as Red Power. After law school he represented a number of Native Americans and Native American causes and this culminated in a multi-billion dollar class action lawsuit against the federal government that he successfully litigated.

We spend this first few minutes of this conversation with a timely discussion the work of the Human Rights Council. The Trump administration is currently deciding whether or not to continue American participation in the council, and Harper makes the case that despite its flaws American interests are better served working with the institution than criticizing it from the outside.

About the Human Rights Council

This is a 47 member body in which each member state is elected by the entire UN membership to three year terms. One of its flaws that critics sometimes identify is that some of the members of the council have pretty lousy human rights records themselves�and this is undoubtedly true. But the reason they get elected to is because the membership of the council is apportioned based on a UN principle known as equitable geographic representation. This means that a certain number of seats are reserved for a certain number of countries in each region. (There are more African countries than there are western European countries so it would stand to reason that Africa gets more seats.) Problem arise when regions negotiate amongst themselves to nominate an equal number of candidates as there are seats so you get uncompetitive elections that result in countries like Burundi getting a seat.

That is one of they key flaws of the council. American officials also consider its undue focus on Israel to be another problematic bug. But despite these flaws, Harper makes a compelling argument for why the United States should nonetheless stay engaged. He also discusses at length some tangible outcomes in the service of human rights that the council achieved while he was the US ambassador there.

If you have 45 minutes and want to learn about how the Human Rights Council work and how a pioneering individual became the first American Indian to become a US Ambassador, have a listen.

Source: UN Dispatch