A statement released by secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has called for an immediate cease-fire to the conflict unfolding in Goma, an eastern part of the DR Congo. 100,000 refugees are now in desperate situation and the fighting has prevented their access to humanitarian assistance. Since conflict has unfolded in the region in the recent weeks, 250,000 refugees have been displaced from their homes. The secretary-general has called and mobilize a UN response to address the needs of the 100,000 refugees threatened by the conflict. Our thoughts are with those in Goma and our hope is that the fighting will end so that others will not suffer.

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According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch recently condemned the nation of Egypt for shooting refugees crossing the Sinai desert region on their flight for asylum in Israel. In July of 2007, news about a seven-month pregnant woman being shot by Egyptian border guards only highlighted the 33 other refugees who have been killed by Egypt’s “Shot-to-Stop” policy towards those fleeing from their home. 32 of those killed have been black Africans. According to the article:

Since 2006, more than 130,000 refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants have passed though Egypt and crossed the Sinai border into Israel, according to the report. African migrants have complained about the difficulty of social and economic integration in Egypt.

The report emphasized that Egypt began a shoot-to-stop policy following a meeting between the Israeli prime minister and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in late June 2007. In the meeting, the two leaders discussed the flow of refugees into Israel by way of Egypt.

“We are not saying that Israel ordered Egypt to kill people; there is no evidence of that,” explained Van Esveld, “but what we are saying is that it seems that Egypt has responded to Israeli pressures with this policy of lethal force.”

A report entitled, Sinai Perils: Risks to Migrants, Refugees and Asylum seekers in Egypt and Israel, points to the fact that the Egyptian government has not allowed African refugees to make asylum cases and have tried them in military courts before deporting them (hundreds in numbers) to conflict zones where the refugee’s well-being is jeopardized. It is important to note the experiences of black African refugees is drastically different than refugees from Palestine and Iraq.

boston.com

President-elect, Barack Obama. copyright: boston.com

On Tuesday, November 4th, 2008, the people of the United States voted Senator Barack Obama to become their forty-fourth President. He becomes the first African-American to be elected into the highest office of the United States. In his victory speech at Grant Park in his home city of Chicago, Obama stated the following:

To those who would tear the world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you…

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To President-elect: I hope you will keep your promise of promoting diplomacy in this world and support the work of international organizations and NGOs working to promote peace. I voted for you in hopes that you will keep your promise of not forgetting those in the “forgotten corners of the world,” especially the millions of refugees and displaced people who are in need of a new era of global politics.

America has been a nation of great humanitarian tradition. In the past couple of years it has struggled to uphold its promise to other nations. While I know one person cannot solve all that plagues our world and heal the pain of refugees everywhere, I hope you will hear the voices of those who have been displaced and do your part in promoting peace, protecting the most vulnerable, and leading the international community closer to achieving global harmony.