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Getting an Education for Afghan Girls

Via UN News Centre:

04-21-afghan-girls.jpg

Although over 6 million children returned to Afghanistan’s classrooms a month ago at the start of a new school year, United Nations agencies said today that half of the war-torn country’s young people are excluded from receiving an education, the bulk of them girls.

This is the case even though the enrolment of girls, who were barred from going to school under the repressive Taliban regime, has increased significantly in the past five years, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

‘We still have 1.2 million girls of school age who do not have access to schools,’ said Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Country Representative in Afghanistan. ‘We have a lot of work to do to make sure all conditions are met so that schools are friendly to girls.’

UN agencies have been working with the government to build new schools, conduct teacher trainings (particularly female teachers), and talking to communities about the importance of education in attempts to fill this huge gap.

This week is actually Global Action Week for Education. Their “Education for All” goal has a large focus specifically on education for girls, whom are effected disproportionately throughout the world.

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Getting an Education for Afghan Girls

Via UN News Centre:

04-21-afghan-girls.jpg

Although over 6 million children returned to Afghanistan’s classrooms a month ago at the start of a new school year, United Nations agencies said today that half of the war-torn country’s young people are excluded from receiving an education, the bulk of them girls.

This is the case even though the enrolment of girls, who were barred from going to school under the repressive Taliban regime, has increased significantly in the past five years, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

‘We still have 1.2 million girls of school age who do not have access to schools,’ said Catherine Mbengue, UNICEF Country Representative in Afghanistan. ‘We have a lot of work to do to make sure all conditions are met so that schools are friendly to girls.’

UN agencies have been working with the government to build new schools, conduct teacher trainings (particularly female teachers), and talking to communities about the importance of education in attempts to fill this huge gap.

This week is actually Global Action Week for Education. Their “Education for All” goal has a large focus specifically on education for girls, whom are effected disproportionately throughout the world.

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Bad Moon Rising Over Northern Uganda

northern-uganda-3.jpg

Just a few weeks ago, a peace deal between the brutal Lords Resistance Army and the government of Uganda was as close as ever to being sealed. The peace process failed, though, when LRA leader Joseph Kony refused to attend the signing ceremony. Now, according to the invaluable Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the Lords Resistance Army is once again gearing up for another fight.

IWPR reports that over the last few weeks, the Lord’s Resistance Army has kidnapped hundreds of children in the Central African Republic and Southern Sudan and transported them to military training facilities in lawless eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The LRA, is it seems, is once again committed to war, not peace. To make matters worse, the article suggests (and I’ve heard experts speculate as well) that the government of Sudan is backing the LRA in an effort to destabilize Southern Sudan, which holds a referendum on independence in 2009.

In an interview with The East African Enough analyst Julia Spiegel — who just spent a month observing the peace talks in the small border town of Ri-Kwangba — explains what can be done to reign in Kony. The interview is not available online, but a portion is extracted after the jump. What do you think should be done to Kony in order to salvage the talks?

First, a concerted effort must be made by the Ugandan government and key international players to press Kony to make a choice about his future. He can either sign the peace deal and begin assembling his LRA forces in Ri-Kwangba; agree to a third country asylum arrangement representing exile or banishment
from northern Uganda as a consequence for his crimes, thus removing himself from the battlefield and giving peace a real chance; or walk away from the agreement and formalize his status as a regional warlord, which will trigger a regional manhunt that will leave him on the run for the rest of his life.

But ultimately, he must feel a cost for his failure to meet deadlines and uphold agreements; he has continually rejected carrots and has faced no real sticks. As a result, Kony has been able to gain time, money and medicine out of these peace efforts without making any real commitments or deliverables. Now Kony must be forced to make a choice. But this requires an effective communication channel to be made between the government, the international community and Kony himself. If he rejects these negotiation attempts in the next few months, then it will be clear that all peaceful options for resolving this conflict will have been exhausted, and thus the international community should, with regional states and UN peacekeeping missions in neighboring countries, rapidly develop a containment and apprehension strategy focused on capturing Kony and the other LRA leader’s indicted by the International Criminal Court.

(Image viaDismal World)

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Bad Moon Rising Over Northern Uganda

northern-uganda-3.jpg

Just a few weeks ago, a peace deal between the brutal Lords Resistance Army and the government of Uganda was as close as ever to being sealed. The peace process failed, though, when LRA leader Joseph Kony refused to attend the signing ceremony. Now, according to the invaluable Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the Lords Resistance Army is once again gearing up for another fight.

IWPR reports that over the last few weeks, the Lord’s Resistance Army has kidnapped hundreds of children in the Central African Republic and Southern Sudan and transported them to military training facilities in lawless eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. The LRA, is it seems, is once again committed to war, not peace. To make matters worse, the article suggests (and I’ve heard experts speculate as well) that the government of Sudan is backing the LRA in an effort to destabilize Southern Sudan, which holds a referendum on independence in 2009.

In an interview with The East African Enough analyst Julia Spiegel — who just spent a month observing the peace talks in the small border town of Ri-Kwangba — explains what can be done to reign in Kony. The interview is not available online, but a portion is extracted after the jump. What do you think should be done to Kony in order to salvage the talks?

First, a concerted effort must be made by the Ugandan government and key international players to press Kony to make a choice about his future. He can either sign the peace deal and begin assembling his LRA forces in Ri-Kwangba; agree to a third country asylum arrangement representing exile or banishment
from northern Uganda as a consequence for his crimes, thus removing himself from the battlefield and giving peace a real chance; or walk away from the agreement and formalize his status as a regional warlord, which will trigger a regional manhunt that will leave him on the run for the rest of his life.

But ultimately, he must feel a cost for his failure to meet deadlines and uphold agreements; he has continually rejected carrots and has faced no real sticks. As a result, Kony has been able to gain time, money and medicine out of these peace efforts without making any real commitments or deliverables. Now Kony must be forced to make a choice. But this requires an effective communication channel to be made between the government, the international community and Kony himself. If he rejects these negotiation attempts in the next few months, then it will be clear that all peaceful options for resolving this conflict will have been exhausted, and thus the international community should, with regional states and UN peacekeeping missions in neighboring countries, rapidly develop a containment and apprehension strategy focused on capturing Kony and the other LRA leader’s indicted by the International Criminal Court.

(Image viaDismal World)

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Judged by the Company We Keep?

We all know that the U.S. is by far the largest debtor to the United Nations. In fact, the U.S. represents 94% of all debt to the U.N. regular budget. This means that 6% of the debt to the UN regular budget comes from other countries.

Often people will respond by saying, “Of course the U.S. has the largest debt, since they are the largest contributors.” This is certainly a valid point. The U.S. is expected to pay 22% of the UN’s regular budget–more than anyone else in the world. Obviously then, if we miss any payment at all, it will represent a large percentage of the debt. The question then, is this:

How does the U.S. proportion of the debt stack up to others when compared to the amount they are expected to pay?

I crunched these numbers, and I found out something interesting. There are two countries that stand out when you compare their percentage of the debt and their expected payment: the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both of these countries have a percentage of the total debt to the UN regular budget that is 426% of what they are expected to pay annually. For comparison, Japan’s debt stands at just over 5% of what they are expected to pay each year.

This statistic says a lot about comparative attitudes toward the UN and engagement with the rest of the world. If this is the preferred measure of those who would withhold funding from the UN, it should give them pause to realize the company they keep by doing so.

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Judged by the Company We Keep?

We all know that the U.S. is by far the largest debtor to the United Nations. In fact, the U.S. represents 94% of all debt to the U.N. regular budget. This means that 6% of the debt to the UN regular budget comes from other countries.

Often people will respond by saying, “Of course the U.S. has the largest debt, since they are the largest contributors.” This is certainly a valid point. The U.S. is expected to pay 22% of the UN’s regular budget–more than anyone else in the world. Obviously then, if we miss any payment at all, it will represent a large percentage of the debt. The question then, is this:

How does the U.S. proportion of the debt stack up to others when compared to the amount they are expected to pay?

I crunched these numbers, and I found out something interesting. There are two countries that stand out when you compare their percentage of the debt and their expected payment: the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Both of these countries have a percentage of the total debt to the UN regular budget that is 426% of what they are expected to pay annually. For comparison, Japan’s debt stands at just over 5% of what they are expected to pay each year.

This statistic says a lot about comparative attitudes toward the UN and engagement with the rest of the world. If this is the preferred measure of those who would withhold funding from the UN, it should give them pause to realize the company they keep by doing so.

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