The Human Impact

Not enough focus on child soldiers in “Kony 2012″ -War Child

The focus of a film calling for the capture of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony should have been on helping child victims instead, Amanda Weisbaum of non-governmental organisation War Child UK said on Wednesday.

The 30-minute film about Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who is accused of terrorising northern Uganda for more than 20 years, went viral on the Internet after it was released last month.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes. He is accused of abducting children to use as fighters and sex slaves. So far, regional forces and foreign troops have been unable to capture Kony.

“Kony 2012″, made by charity group Invisible Children, has been viewed almost 87 million times on YouTube and almost 18 million times on Vimeo.

In the film, which has been criticised for inaccuracies, director Jason Russell juxtaposed shots of his son with suffering Ugandan children.

Invest in women in conflict zones to promote change

Where would you put your money as an investor? A leading campaigner against gender-based violence says there is only one answer – invest it in women in conflict zones.

“Conflict zones have the biggest potential for change,” Eve Ensler, founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women, told delegates at the Skoll World Forum for Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford last week.

“If I were an investor I’d invest in conflict zones and women who live there,” said Ensler, author of the award-winning play, “The Vagina Monologues.”

“No choice” for Afghan girls brought up as boys

In Afghanistan’s largely conservative, male-dominated society, a son is often viewed as a family’s most valuable resource.

So important for the family’s reputation that the parents sometimes decide to raise one of their daughters as a boy.

“When you don’t have a son in Afghanistan…people question the good life that you have,” BBC Persian reporter Tahir Qadiry told me in London last week.

“Rampant feminist” Cindy Gallop tackles love, sex, porn

Easy access to hardcore pornography on the Web and a general lack of sex education for youth is changing attitudes about lovemaking, according to entrepreneur Cindy Gallop.

“I date younger men – they tend to be men in their 20s – and in dating younger men I encounter the real ramifications of the creeping ubiquity of hardcore pornography in our culture,” Gallop, 52, said during an interview at London Web Summit, where she gave a presentation.

“I can personally testify we now have an entire generation growing up that believes that what you see in hardcore porn is the way that you have sex.”

Epidemiologist uses film in fight against S.Africa gold-mine TB

Jonathan Smith is trying to fight disease with facts, figures and – emotion.

Smith is using data-driven research as the basis for a documentary film he hopes will raise awareness about the plight of migrant workers in South African gold mines who, according to a 2011 report published in the American Journal of Public Health, contract tuberculosis (TB) at a rate 10 times higher than the populations from which they come.

Working conditions in the mines create a high-risk environment for TB transmission because of poor ventilation, exposure to silica dust and high HIV rates, said Smith, an epidemiology lecturer at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, in an interview.

Migrant workers are sent home “to die” by the mining firms once they contract TB, spreading it into other parts of Africa already hard hit by the disease, he added.

What good is ‘crowd-sourcing’ when everyone needs help?

In a recent blog post I referred in passing to some of the hype surrounding “crowd-sourcing” projects in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake.

That’s not to criticise the volunteers – mostly in the United States – who collectively devoted hundreds of hours to charting the needs of quake survivors on online maps, based on SMS texts sent from the disaster zone.

My point was that their gate-crashing of the relief response in Haiti posed a welcome challenge to the traditional humanitarian system – but also generated hyperbole about the effectiveness of crowd-sourcing in actually saving lives.

After 20 years: still no aid for Bosnian rape and torture victims

Nearly two decades after war ended in Bosnia and Herzegovina, hundreds of women who survived rape and torture in the conflict are still seeking reparations and justice, with only 40 cases of sexual violence having been prosecuted so far, an Amnesty International report says.

“Justice is not only about seeing the perpetrators punished, but it’s also being able to function in everyday life,” Elena Wasylew, the campaigner for Amnesty’s Balkan team, told TrustLaw in a telephone interview from Sarajevo, where the report is being released on Thursday.

“When you ask the women, what does justice mean to you, they say justice means ‘I can access healthcare, that my children can access healthcare, that I can go to work and I don’t have to be ashamed about what happened to me,’” said Wasylew, who has worked closely with women survivors in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) over the last several years.

Nothing prepared me for what we saw in Baba Amr – Paul Conroy

 

Sunday Times photographer Paul Conroy describes the impact of the February 22 shelling of the Baba Amr district in the Syrian city of Homs. Conroy escaped after suffering leg injuries.

Nothing prepared me for what we saw in Baba Amr – Paul Conroy (mp3)

The bombardment killed U.S. journalist Marie Colvin, French photographer Remi Ochlik and seriously injured French journalist Edith Bouvier.

Conroy spoke at an event hosted by the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) on Tuesday in London.

Will Twitter put the U.N. out of the disaster business?

How is communications technology transforming disaster response?

A business that doesn’t communicate with its customers won’t stay in business very long — it’ll soon lose track of what its clients want, and clients won’t know what products or services are on offer.

In the multi-billion dollar humanitarian aid industry, relief agencies are businesses and their beneficiaries are customers. Yet many agencies have muddled along for decades with scarcely a nod towards communicating with the folks they’re supposed to be serving.

That’s because relief agency “lines of accountability” – to use a much-loved piece of aid jargon – are to the donor governments who fund the bulk of their activities, rather than to the people on the ground who are caught up in the crisis.

Could corruption be worse in Tunisia, Egypt after Arab Spring?

The “Arab Spring” was fuelled in part by popular desire to weed out corruption. But could graft in fact be on the rise in Egypt and Tunisia?

It could indeed be rising massively, according to Nicola Ehlermann-Cache, a senior policy analyst at the Paris-based think-tank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“Unfortunately, informal reports have been made to me – certainly in Tunisia, Egypt and Iraq – (by) people claiming that corruption is rising tremendously,” she said last week as a panelist at the International Bar Association’s (IBA) annual Anti-Corruption Conference in Paris.

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